Having moved beyond the intellectual confines of my career in finance, I now have time to ponder the great questions of our time. Like for instance, why do people overuse the word ‘so’ so darn much? Do they not realize in conversation it makes them sound like ignorant hillbillies from Kentucky or West Virginia- or perhaps Idaho? I mean seriously why must you be so sorry or so happy or so sad? Just be sad or sorry or for God’s sake be happy.
A few years back I was on a consulting engagement visiting a co-op in a very rural area of the Missouri Ozarks. The town only had one motel and I’m being generous calling it a motel. It was a fishing camp on a river and its marque board advertised water-beds in every room. I didn’t check into it, but I believe they might have offered an hourly rate.
As it turned out, the motel was one of the few things the town had going for it. The town was so small not only did it lack a stop-light, it had no restaurant either. So what’s a traveling consultant from the city supposed to do? Fortunately my planned stay was just one night. After a day of consulting the client offered to take me to dinner. I said, “Where are we going, there’s really nothing here?” Continue reading
Before writing, family history passed from generation to generation through complex storytelling. Thousands of years ago it was easy enough to tell your children not to throw stones at the lion. Much more effective was the passionate telling of a story, around a camp fire, of what terrible things happened to the little boy who threw stones at the lion. Through storytelling not only would the child understand the cause and effect of such behavior, he would also be provided a tool to instruct his own children when the time came. In current times we have plenty of opportunity to learn through books and film that a certain behavior will have consequences. Yet, storytelling remains an important part of passing a family’s culture and experience through the ages.
One Christmas during the time our family was living in Japan my father bought two handmade porcelain china dolls for his brother’s two pre-teen daughters. The dolls were fairly expensive and unique. He lovingly packed them in shipping boxes and mailed them to his brother’s home in Oregon along with a letter to each niece. My parents were excited about the gifts they had sent their nieces for Christmas and hoped the girls would appreciate and enjoy them.
Think back to when you were a kid in elementary school and there was something you really wanted. You might have asked for it on your birthday, had it on your list to Santa or some other special occasion. It could have been a special trip, an activity or a thing you were just dying to have. For me it was a Schwinn Varsity Sport ten speed bicycle. The year was 1967, I was 12, and had just moved across the country from Washington DC to Spokane Washington the previous summer. I wanted that bike more than anything. The bike was about $75 and I had no money and no real means to earn money. These days, Baby Boom parents would have bought their son the bike just for having made the move with the family. Not so my dad. As a Navy Commander and combat pilot he expected discipline in his troops and his children. No amount of pleading, begging or similar tactics would sway the Commander. His only suggestion was that I find a way to earn some money. Continue reading
We first met her on a crisp Colorado fall day in 1999, around the time when golf clubs are being stored for the winter and skis are being readied for the season. From the moment we met, there was never a doubt we would be taking her home that afternoon. And it wasn’t long until she found her place in our family. It has been over fourteen years and our girls are now in their twenties, yet the memories of them with Molly when they were younger are still fresh. When she first joined our lives, the girls were in second and fifth grade. That first Christmas we purchased a permit to go into the forest to a cut a tree. And of course Molly went with us. I still smile when I see the pictures we took with the girls and Molly next to our fresh cut tree. She has accompanied us on countless ski trips, softball tournaments and birthday parties. She even spent a semester with my younger daughter at the University of Colorado! Later in life Molly visited a number of western states with us, with the family’s favorite being trips to the shores of Priest Lake in northern Idaho. Continue reading