Well, after almost three years into this pandemic Kate and I finally contracted COVID. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky to have gone this long without getting it, but that is of little comfort considering how we’re feeling at the moment.

I came down with it first, and Kate the next day, so her symtoms have been a day behind mine, which has been a cruel insight for her as she sees what is coming next. Yesterday was my worst day, or so I hope, which means today is hers. She is barely able to function and we’re running low on groceries.

Even though we’ve had numerous offers of help we have been hesitant to ask. We try not to be a burden to anyone, but today was the day we had to seek some kind of assistance. So, we had one friend do some grocery shopping for us, while some other friends picked up a Starbucks order for us. To be honest, anyone who knows us knows that I don’t cook, so with Kate feeling so poorly I decided to order some prepared food from Starbucks that Kate likes and that can be reheated in the microwave. We’ll see how that goes.

For anyone who’s already been thru this, then you know how unpleasant it is. For us its severity is about the same as the worst case of flu that we’ve ever had. We were a young married couple at the time and my mother came to our rescue with groceries and medicine. I vividly remember my mother coming into the house after I warned her not to as we didn’t want her to be exposed to such illness, but she came in anyway and I can still see her sitting in my chair in the corner of the living room, checking on us and making sure that we were all set. A mother’s love, care and concern never changes, no matter the age of her child.

Yesterday Kate was so sad over the fact that she hasn’t seen any sun in weeks and she felt as though she was going to snap. Well, late this morning we caught a brief glimpse of sunlight, but Kate was stretched across both parts of our sectional sofa at the time and was sound asleep. Knowing how much she needed her rest I resisted the urge to wake her so she could see the light peeking through the grey sky. I was torn between the medicine of rest vs the hope of a new day and light. In the end I choose a restorative rest for her, hoping that is what she needs and will be the best thing for her at this point.

I have tried working remotely these past two days, but finding myself tiring quickly I was limited to how much I could accomplish. So, between fitful naps I started re-reading a book that I first read back in 2003. It’s titled “The Secret Life of Cowboys” by Tom Groneberg. It’s about a young man who leaves the city life after college and pursues his dream to become a cowboy. It is a story filled with joy and heartbreak. Tom tells his story in a way that is brutally honest. He doesn’t hold back and I only wish I could tell a story the way he does.

The author brings to light the fact that with great pain, suffering and sacrifice you can find strength in their lessons, and sometimes you need to learn that your success lies in learning from your defeats. While sorting thru our book collection over the years I could never bring myself to part with this book, and I’m glad that I did not. I like his gritty writing, and I like his story. It has brought me comfort knowing that even though Kate and I feel miserable at the moment, if we hang tight, keep our faith in each other and in God, a brighter day lies ahead.

COVID will run its course and hopefully with no long-term effects for us. And for the moment I will take solace in the fact that it could be worse, that we have loving friends and family who are keeping tabs on us, and that God is great, especially during trying times.

A special thank you to everyone for your well wishes, concern and help. As always, thank you for reading. Looking forward to sunnier days and better health!

Control your perspective, control your happiness

I have a summer refuge where I love to spend quiet time. It’s our back patio. My wife & I designed the space to be a place of tranquility.

One of my favorite summer things to do is to have my morning coffee on the patio and to review everything in my life that I am thankful for, and luckily for me, that’s a long list.

This morning was one of those mornings, and even though not everything is as I would hope I still decided that life is good and I savored the moment.

Before heading back into the house to get ready for the day I checked the news which reinforced the view that not everyone thinks life is good at the moment.

For everyone out there that has decided to make political activism their life’s mission, good for you. As I have mentioned in previous posts, following politics is part of my job responsibilities, especially as to how pending legislation affects small business.

With that said, I don’t care which side of the aisle you’re rooting for, and I’ve been on both sides at one time or another in my life, if your happiness is dependent upon a particular political outcome then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Trust me, politics is a blood sport and political decisions go back and forth depending on the wind that day. Now, I wish it wasn’t that way, but that’s the reality of politics, but that’s not my point with this blog.

I learned a while back that your happiness is dependent on you, the choices that you make, and on your perspective of life in general. There are so many outside influences that have an effect on your daily life that you have to be careful and prioritize those things that are most important to you and not let everything else overshadow them. Just to clarify, I’m not talking about fleeting happiness, like when you get a free upsize at the coffee shop, I’m talking about overall happiness, your collective life and being, also known as the Big Picture.

For me its my Faith, wife, home, family and business. And as my wife will tell you, I defend the sanctity of home with a fervent passion. When we invite you into our home it is with love, acceptance and respect. That’s how we live, and I will expect no less from anyone else within the walls of our home. And that’s an important way in which we keep our lives in balance and happy in a world that seems to grow crazier by the day.

Please note that I didn’t say you have to agree with our life philosophies, whether it be religious or political, just respect our view as we will yours. It’s ok to disagree with someone’s view, it’s not ok to attack them for it. Honestly, I prefer to talk with people who have opposing views as it’s a challenge for me and helps me to grow. Unfortunately those days seem to be behind us.

But as usual, I digress. My point is, don’t let other people or events, whether it be politicians, employers/employees, SCOTUS decisions or something as mundane as today’s weather forecast determine if you’re happy. Instead focus on all that you have been blessed with and be thankful for each and every one of them! And if you’re a person of faith and believe in God, then be sure to thank Him, even when you’re having a tough day. Your happiness resides within you, sometimes you just have to reach a little deeper to find it. It’s there, it’s always there, it just gets buried sometimes with all of the other trivial nonsense that is day to day life.

As always, thank you for reading. To quote the lyrics of a Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

In memory of Chloe, our Bernese Mtn. Dog that was a shining example of how to be happy every day!

Life is a matter of Perspective

I recently came across the below graphic and it reminded me that how we approach life is a matter of one’s perspective –

As we look back at this difficult time in our history, let us be thankful for the fact that for many of us even though it has been a tough time, it has not been an impossible time. Most of us have lived to fight another day, and though we miss the many we have lost, we will never forget them and we were blessed to have them for the time that we did. Hopefully we were able to make someone’s life better during this time, and by doing so, perhaps we made our lives a little better too.

How fortunate are those individuals who have had pets during this time, and how fortunate those pets are that were able to spend extra time with their families. Thank you John Fenwick for giving us such an inspirational perspective on 2020, which has carried on thru 2021.

As always, thank you for reading. Looking forward to the day when this pandemic will be behind us. In the meantime, stay safe, and stay well.

To Chloe, where ever you are –

Cleft Palate you say!

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I was born with a cleft palate and lip. This is a medical condition where your upper lip and roof of your mouth does not fully come together before you are born, thus leaving a gap from your lip thru the roof of your mouth. It’s not pretty, but fortunately it’s repairable.

It has caused me numerous problems over the years, from difficulty eating as a baby, to reconstructive surgery, a misaligned bite, teeth that were crooked, one of which even came in sideways! Let’s just say the social hurdles were just as difficult, if not more so!

Recently one of my upper teeth became infected which resulted in an emergency visit to my dentist. We had talked two years earlier that this tooth was probably going to be a problem for me in the not too distant future, and he reminded me of that conversation. My quick reply was to ask him to cut to the chase and tell me what is involved in fixing my current situation.

He proceeded to tell me that the particular tooth in question is located right where the cleft was in my mouth, and with the reconstructive surgery that I had, there appeared to be a gap in my upper jaw line where there should be bone, which means there may be no way to install an implant to replace the damaged tooth. So, that means either leaving a gaping hole in my already lacking smile, or have a bridge made that would connect to the existing teeth.

My dentist made an appointment with an oral surgeon who will be taking 3D x-rays in order to properly assess the situation, after which I will be meeting with my dentist to see what they think the proper course of action should be.

What is leading me to write this blog is that for the first time in my life I actively sought out a support group for cleft palate patients, and though I found some, I didn’t see a lot out there that I would consider. What I did find was a young man with a cleft that was wondering about God, and how a kind & merciful God could allow someone to be born with such an affliction. He went on to complain about the hand he was dealt, and wondered if anyone else out there felt like he did about God and religion due to their medical condition.

Now, as a man of faith, and no stranger to heartache & tragedy, I can only offer my simple understanding of such matters. As part of the human experience, not only do we know great joy, love & happiness, but we also must endure great pain and sadness. And for someone with a birth defect, many times that pain and sadness must be endured on a daily basis. Trust me, there is no shortage of callus people in the world who are more than happy to comment on or question you about your obvious differences.

God knows & understands the human condition far better than we can comprehend, and God does not promise us that we will not experience pain & sorrow in our lifetime. It is however, during times such as this, if you’re willing & open to accept it, that a kind, loving, & merciful God offers & promises His love, His mercy, and His strength so that we can endure such trials and tribulations. God is our bridge over troubled waters, our calm amidst the storm.

Trust me, there were times when I asked God, “Why me God, why must I suffer from such an affliction?” But eventually you realize, if not you, then who? Would you wish this on someone else, anyone else? I think not. When I was born, my parents did not have all of the emotional & financial support that’s available today, but somehow they managed. And in the process, they wouldn’t allow me to feel sorry for myself. This was the hand I was dealt, and I would have to learn to live with it to the best of my abilities. And thankfully, with their firm guidance, and God’s grace, the necessary abilities were instilled within me and I managed to live a pretty successful and full life.

Every night when I lay my head down to sleep I thank God for that day of my life and for all of the blessings that He has bestowed on me, including my beautiful wife. As I see it, you can either blame God for all that is not right with your life, or you can ask God for His help to make your life right. For me, I chose the latter, and it truly has made all the difference for me, and for what I have been able to accomplish.

Hopefully when all of the tests are finished for my latest oral challenge and my medical team reviews the options with me, the fix will be simple. If that happens to not be the case, then I will ask God for his guidance, strength and mercy to be able to endure however this may go. And to all of my cleft palate brothers and sisters out there who are enduring the heartache of living with such an affliction, I ask that you turn to God and ask for His help with all of your struggles and pain, for He is kind, He is merciful, and He will listen.

And to all of you who take time out of your daily life to read my blogs I offer a simple “Thank you.”

Life in Pieces…..of the puzzle


(Puzzle piece created at our nephew’s wedding)

For many of us, at some point or another in your life you ask what your purpose in life is, why are you here? For most people who have children that question is answered with their first born. You realize that it’s no longer all about you, your wants and your needs. It’s now about raising a loving, caring, compassionate, and capable person. And sometimes, even with all of your best efforts, examples, teachings and sacrifices, it doesn’t always go the way you would like or had hoped for.

For those of us who were never blessed with children the answer to the question of our purpose in life is harder to answer, if not almost impossible. When I ponder that question I first view life as a puzzle, one with a lifetime of moments, experiences, relationships, trials, and tribulations that each make up a piece of life’s puzzle.

So as I progress in my blogging experience I have come to catalog my life in singular experiences, moments, and relationships, individual pieces of life’s puzzle, that when taken together as a whole begin to create a picture that is uniquely mine, while simultaneously creating a unique picture piece for those individuals with which I interact. Thus my piece of the puzzle also has a place in someone else’s puzzle of life. (At this point of the blog I’m not sure if I’m playing 3 dimensional chess or going down a rabbit hole!)

For years my wife and I focused on spending time with our parents, everything from dining out, to family gatherings and vacations. For the longest time it was the six of us and we were content with that. We knew we would have a hole in our hearts when they were gone, but we never realized what a hole would be left in our lives when they passed.


(Parent’s Night at Rosalie’s Cucina in Skaneateles)

We also spent a lot of time with our nieces and nephews, everything from school plays, concerts & sporting events, to our annual boy’s & girl’s night vacations. And now we’re starting to experience the same with their children, our great-nieces & nephews.


(Great-nephew James after ice cream)

The pieces of the puzzle filling in around our family are all of our friends, some of which have been with us since the beginning, while others have come and gone, filling a unique purpose at the time. I once read that friends are a gift that we give ourselves, and I could not agree more!


(Celebrating our Anniversary with friends in Key West)

So, I can’t speak for my wife, but as I look at my purpose in life, I have realized that I’m here to add pieces not only to my life’s puzzle, but to life’s puzzle in general, and to help others fill in their puzzle where otherwise there might be missing pieces. And sometimes the pieces I create fit pretty well, where as others not so much. I don’t think life’s puzzle has smooth edged pieces which delineate the outer most pieces and provide a framework, but instead consists of smooth and jagged pieces, depending on the life experience involved.

And if there is no outer framework, how do we know where the pieces go, especially when they don’t always fit perfectly, and how do we hold them all together? For me, it’s Faith. It’s believing in a God that knows not only where the pieces will fit, but what pieces should be created in the first place. Now, I may not always agree with the creation of certain pieces of the puzzle, but I can’t see or envision the whole picture as God sees it, so I just have to have Faith that everything will come together for a reason, and as it should.

I remember questioning how it was that Chloe, our Bernese Mtn. Dog, came to be THE dog in our life, especially after years of my wife saying no to having a dog. What was it about this one dog that she said yes to? And why, after having Chloe for a year and I was ready to give up on her and give her to another family, that my wife said absolutely not, Chloe is family?

That question was answered one night at my father’s nursing home. Chloe had been there many times visiting with Dad, and so I stopped with Chloe in the car after a late night at the office because Dad was in his final days and I made a point of stopping to see him every day. Being it was so late I commanded Chloe to stay in the car while I went up to see him. Dad was having a particularly difficult & painful night, so I was there longer than usual. At one point I excused myself and told Dad that I would be right back as I had to give Chloe a break. I let Chloe out of the car, she did her business, and as we approached the car she pulled hard on her leash towards the nursing home, and refused to get back into the car. I tried to argue with her and ordered her back into the car, but instead she pulled me towards the entrance of the nursing home and would not take no for an answer. We took the elevator to the sixth floor, and when the doors opened Chloe pulled me down the hallway towards Dad’s room, and once she was thru his door she relaxed her stance, went over to his bedside and gently licked his outstretched hand. And for a few moments Dad’s pain was minimized as he stroked her fur and she returned the favor with her gentle kisses. She then laid on the floor between his bed and my chair, and stayed there until we left to go home. It was the last time Dad saw Chloe, and it was at that moment that I realized why we had this dog, and the relevance of her piece to the overall puzzle of life.

My point is, we don’t always know why certain pieces are given to us, or necessarily what to do with them, but they are there for a reason, and though we may not know what to do with them at the moment, they will eventually fit into place when & where the time presents itself.

So yes, my purpose in life is a puzzle to me, literally and figuratively. And I’m not sure that we’re ever meant to finish the puzzle, but at some point the time comes when we pass from this earth and we stop adding to it. My only hope is that in my rush to experience my pieces of life that I have not overlooked, or worse yet, lost any pieces to my puzzle, and that my pieces of life add to all of those individuals that I connect with and am blessed to know and love.

Now that I think about it, it sounds to me like I just might be playing 3 dimensional chess IN a rabbit hole with this particular blog!!


(“Did someone say rabbit hole?”)