Monday, December 31, 2012

Geezers Gather

  I am now convinced the the 2012-13 ski season is in full swing.  Today there was a quorum of geezers for the morning coffee break and even more were on the hill throughout the day.   In effect it was a reunion day for the geezer group.   Several tables were occupied in various configurations of friends and acquaintances along with some youngsters who may one day become geezers.
   Of course the lady companions will not be specified as geezers.   They must all be too young to qualify for that status.
  The geezers at coffee break are pictured below.   One table included Pat, Dick, Tony and Bob S. with me sitting in for a time.   Another table included Gene and Joe.   Cliff had the company of his grandson Caleb!  Someday Caleb may be a geezer and I am sure will carry with him fond memories of grandpa Cliff skiing with him as he grows up.    To round out the group Pete and Larry are pictured with their family representatives who clearly do not qualify as geezers.  Another table not pictured included Jack, Carol and Jim Brown.
    While on the slope I also encountered Pret and Nita Goslee and Mary.   Pret is our 90 plus hero that sets the standard for the rest of us.   A joy to to seem him enthusiastically enjoying skiing.   And we should also commend Nita his every loving spouse who is his greatest cheerleader.
Dick, Tony, Bob S., and Pat

Caleb and Cliff

Joe and Gene

Geri, Pete, ?, Larry and Doug
   Here is wishing a Happy New Year to all the geezers gathered today at Greek Peak and those we hope to see returning to the slopes in 2013.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fat Ski Day

 Yesterday we had about five inches of new snow in the morning.   The accumulation of snow made the skiing interesting along the edges of the trails.  Some trail edges remained untracked and provided an opportunity to enjoy the performance of rockered fat skis.   Even in the heavily travelled sections of the slope the fat skis performed well by busting through the soft moguls.   I have noticed that many geezers avoid these conditions or at least find the deeper snow to be more exhausting.
    In the East we usually are faced with firm to icy surfaces so the ski of choice is usually narrower.  Yesterday was the exception.   There is almost no greater pleasure than gliding through several inches of fresh snow.   Of course the conditions we had yesterday pale in comparison to the foot or more of powder of the slopes in Utah.   (Note that I have been viewing the "face shots"  on Facebook of my son and grandson skiing at Snowbird in Utah).    They are skiing on really fat skis!
   With the snowfall today and more anticipated tonight, I am looking forward to another fat ski day tomorrow.   Even though I would have liked to be out there today, I recognized that that my legs need a recharge by a day off the slopes.   I like to think I am still am "Tough Old Geezer Skier" but even with that toughness, I still have enough of a brain to take time to recharge the batteries.
   To all a Happy New Year and may 2013 bring us many fat ski days.
Son Colin -Powder Day in Utah
Mildly Fat Skis -Greek Peak

Friday, December 28, 2012


   Holidays and new snow brings out a plethora of skiers.   With a limited number of trails open the slopes can appear to be covered with skiers.   The view can be compared to a host of ants spilling out of an anthill.   Today was  such a day for me at Greek Peak.
  I arrived later in the day and was forced to park a good ways from the lodge.   By that time there was a huge number of people on the slope.    A crowded slope is not the favorite condition for a geezer skier.  However, there were a number of the geezers present.  We managed to slalom around the skiers of various abilities and survive without any mishaps.   We all look forward to the passage of the holidays and return to the sparsely populated slopes with mid week skiing.   I suppose we should be happy to see all those paying customers that can make the ski area profitable.   Even though I do hate crowds on the slope, it is gratifying to see families and children enjoying their outings.   In addition we get treated to beautiful winter scenes such as shown below.
Ants (Skiers) on The Hill

Winter Wonderland

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Where Are the Geezers?

  Greek Peak has had a slow start for the 2012-13 ski season but today things are looking up.  Over a foot of snow falling last night enabled opening several lifts and many more trails.  However, I am wondering where are all the geezers?   Perhaps last season was so discouraging that some have dropped out or maybe they are waiting for the holiday crowds to disappear.   At least there were a few of the geezers available for coffee yesterday.   Welcome back Alan!   Glad to see you returning to the slopes.
   In lieu of geezers to ski with,  I was happy to enjoy the company of my daughter and son-in-law on the 24th of December.   There were a  limited number of trails and lots of people, but we had an enjoyable early morning session before the major crowds arrived for the free ski day.   Most geezers would seriously avoid the free day but I like seeing people enjoying the slopes.   I am amazed at the variety of skis that show up on that day.   Some of them are real antiques.
   I am looking forward to convening the coffee breaks for the geezer crowd after the holidays.  I hope there will be some new stories.
Viki, Matt and Geezer Gerry - 24 December 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Verse of Song

  Every ski area has a multitude of trails.   Metaphorically one could think of these trails as different verses of a song.  Yesterday I skied at Song Mountain on only two verses of the song.  In search of skiing opportunities I am will to go wherever at least a local area is open.  Song Mountain was open with surely limited terrain.  Two trails of man made snow off the beginners chair were available.  Fortunately the crowd was small and the sun was shining and the surface conditions were excellent where there was snow.   Two hours of simple runs was enough.  However, all of us there were pleased to be on the slopes.  Only a few geezers were present.   The boarders built some jumps and managed to amuse me with their frequent crashes.   A friendly Ski Patrol provided a welcoming presence as well.   I am looking forward to singing "skiing" all the verses of Song Mountain some time this season.  My low price season pass makes this area an attractive diversion for this year.
A Slope on Either Side of the Lift - Bare Otherwise

Intriguing Snow Surface

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chasing the Snow

  If you don't have snow at your local ski area, you have to go to where it is!  Yesterday was a day of travel and skiing at Gore Mountain.   Gore probably is the nearest open ski area from Cortland, New York.  Through the good graces of a gang of Cortland skiers that have an annual trip to Gore, I was invited to participate in their activity and have the pleasure of being a passenger.    Many thanks to Russ and Mark for sparing me the need to drive.
   Our departure from Cortland was at 6:00 AM.   A bit early for me as a retiree but essential for us to reach Gore in a reasonable time.   Actually on the slope by 10:00 AM.   By the time we all assembled there were 13 of us in the group.   I guess I would identify myself as the only "geezer" skier.   All of them were younger with some of them in the aspiring geezer category.   The group had been skiing together for over 20 years and certainly had a history.   For this geezer it was hard to absorb all the names and faces.   Perhaps I have half to two-thirds of them fixed in my mind.
  I was cordially welcomed into the group and for the most part I was able to keep up their pace for at least a part of the day.   Only a few slopes were open by the support of man-made snow.  All were intermediate level runs.  Most of the players for the day were getting out for the first time or second time.  We all were feeling the burn after a few runs.   Fortunately for me and I guess for all of us, there were intermediate stops on the way down from the top to rest the legs and share some stories.  This was a bunch of very good skiers.   Perhaps for the first time I recognized that as I move through the late 70's I am beginning to lose some of the stamina I used to have.
   In the interests of safety, by  2:00 PM it was time for me to call it a day.   One other had the same idea so at least I wasn't the only one to give up early in the day.   As the afternoon progressed, members of the group kept trickling in to the lodge.   The heroes of the day were those who caught the last gondola  just before the 3:45 PM closure.  More power to those youngsters.
   Although there were limited trails open, there was sufficient variety to eliminate boredom.   Every run on the same slope can be different.  One can take a different line,  change the number of turns, and stop in different locations.  In addition, temperature, light, and snow texture changes throughout the day.   It was a great day chasing the snow.
Proof That I Was There

No Natural Snow

Ski Patrol Heading Up the Slope
   The end of the day was capped with an excellent dinner in Rome, New York and safe travels to Cortland by 9:30 PM.   Feeling a bit of a burn in the legs today, but if there was skiing nearby, I would be out there.  Let's hope for mother nature to dump some snow soon!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day One - New Season

  Today was opening day at Greek Peak for the 2012-2013 season.  It is always a pleasure to return to the slopes with the anticipation of renewing old friendships and enjoying the skiing experience.   There was only a small representation of geezer skiers.  Perhaps a total of a half dozen of the geezers appeared this morning.   Two slopes were available.  One for beginners and an intermediate slope for the rest.   Even if one keeps in shape with other activities, skiing affects muscles in a different way.   After seven runs it was time for the traditional coffee break.   After a few wrap up runs on the beginner's slope it was time to call it a day.   Best wishes to all that come later in the day.  We will look forward to many more enjoyable days on the slopes.
Andy Ready to Wrap it Up

Gerry Hiding Behind the Goggles

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Depression Baby

   I recently viewed Ken Burns documentary of the dust bowl.   In the depths of the great depression families of the dust bowl suffered almost unimaginable hardships and through the strength of the human spirit survived either in place or by moving on to new locations.    My maternal grandfather and family emigrated to South Dakota in the 1910's to try find greater opportunity.   He and my maternal grandmother were immigrants from the Netherlands before that and had established a successful farm in upstate New York.  However, my grandfather had a wanderlust.   The new venture was a disaster because of a drought starting in 1910.   My mother who was born in 1906 vividly remembered the difficulties of their time South Dakota decades after my grandfather gave up and returned to New York State.   Just like the people of the 1930's dust bowl, some of my ancestors stuck it out and other such as my grandfather gave up a moved to more verdant areas.
   This all leads me to think of my parents as optimists.   I was a depression baby!  Born in 1935 in the depths of the depression to a mother who had been widowed by her early twenties.   My father owned no property but basically ran the home farm for the benefit of his mother and special needs brother after his father died when he was 17.   Those were hard times.  We weren't exactly dirt poor but we were close to that at times.   Because we were farmers, we never lacked for food.  However, there was little money for other amenities.   No running water or central heat.  An outhouse served for waste disposal.   The good news for us depression babies is that things markedly improved in the 1940's in spite of World War II or perhaps as a result of it.
Sad State of My Boyhood Home
    Most of my cohort of depression babies of my area moved on the successful lives.  Many stayed where they grew up and prospered in the local economy often in the trades or in farming.  Others went on to professional careers in teaching, business, and nursing.   It is good to reflect on the strength of the human spirit that survives and thrives beyond the worst of times.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Let Sleeping Babies Lie

  I still can't believe I am a geezer enough to be a double great grandfather.   But truly that is the case and the two great granddaughters are gems.   Fortunately they live close enough for us to visit and see first hand their progress.   The magic of Facebook with modern parents gives us almost daily updates on their development but there is nothing like an hour or two with them.
   Sunday we had chance to visit Keelin and her parents in Binghampton.  Keelin is the daughter of grandson Tamdan and his wife Haley.  They both have busy, busy lives but were gracious enough to give up some Sunday time for our visit.   Keelin was awake and happy when we arrived and I held her for a while until she became a bit fussy.   I am skilled at a number of things but the maternal side is underdeveloped so she ended up being handed off to Nancy.   Although Keelin remained alert for a while sucking on her pacifier, it wasn't long before she was sound asleep.   See photo below.   Ah well, for those of us more senior folks that suffer frequent sleep interruption,  the sight of the pure contentment of a sleeping baby is a gift.   And yes it is wise to let sleeping babies lie!
Great Granddaughter Keelin

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Back of the House

     In the restaurant business there is the front of the house and the back of the house.   The front is where the food is consumed and the back is where it is prepared.  I think that all organizations have back and front parts of their operations.  A week or so ago I took a stroll on the Cornell campus and focused on the activities comprising the "back of the house" support for teaching and research.  A couple of photos below show the kind of support we are grateful to have.
      Ski areas sure have a lot of "back of the house" activity to deliver a fun time on the slopes.   One needs to appreciate the lift attendants, snow groomers, ski patrollers, ticket sellers and mechanics who keep the whole operation going.   Many thanks to all those support people who make our time on the slopes enjoyable.   As the new season approaches I think I will try to more fully appreciate all those good people in any organization that are the unsung workers in the "back of the house".  I look forward to another season of feasting on the slopes.
Traffic Control

Monday, October 15, 2012

What's Your Lens?

   When explaining to me the reason for a book's or person's point of view my wife will tell me that a particular lens has been used.   I guess it means that the view is shaped by the distortions or focus that the metaphorical lens imposes on the situation.   Recently I  have been musing about the variety of lenses people use to view the world.
    Several recent events that I have experienced have underlined the importance understanding different points of view.   As many of  us anticipate the onset of the new ski season we react in a number of ways.   For the geezers who have 30, 40 or even 50 seasons under their belt there can still be an enthusiastic anticipation of one more great season on the slopes.  We can hope for lots of snow, great conditions, and another year enjoying the camaraderie of our associates and friends.  Even after so many yeas of skiing we can still feel the stir of excitement that we initially experienced in our first year of skiing.
   A week or so ago when we had a turn of colder weather, one of my Cornell associates stopped by my office on her way to coffee and asked me if I was looking forward to the ski season.   Her visit was prompted by not only her own anticipation of a new ski season, but more so by her 4-year old son's expectation to be skiing in a few days.   Observing his enthusiasm through veteran skier's eyes is heartwarming.   May he have lifetime pleasure at the sport.   In these early stages, his lens tells him he is an expert skier.  However, his mother's view holds at least more instruction to keep him in control and safe on the slope.
    This past week I also attended my 60th High School Class Reunion.   Our class of 28 graduates have met several times in the years following our graduation.   In the early years post graduation we did not meet.  However, we did begin to meet with our 25th reunion.   Our 50th was our biggest bash with the highest attendance.  Post the 50th we have had a lunch or dinner meeting almost annually.   At these gatherings the lens guiding the discussion tends to point to the past.   Certainly we have many good shared memories.   However, I sometimes find the sole discussion of the past depressing.   I prefer to view life focused on the future and enjoying the things yet to come.
    To conclude, I prefer to focus on the now and the future.   As an example, on my commute to the office, I try to put myself in the mindset of the artist, the agriculturalist, the naturalist. I can enjoy the rain, the sunlight, the cloud formations, falling leaves, new buds,  harvested fields, and especially the progress of new construction projects.   Onward good people.   I plan to make my lens pointing forward and as rosy as possible.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No Longer Valued

    Conversation with my colleagues during my coffee breaks today centered around the evolution of education in my academic discipline.   In my early career and education the identity was engineering applied to agriculture.  We were concerned about agricultural machinery, farm structures, electrification, soil and water involving drainage and tillage and so on.   Our education focused on assuring that our students were well versed in mathematics, engineering principles and engineering design.   We were agricultural engineers.
    However, by the late 1980's the advances of biological sciences began to intrude upon our domain.  The focus on the physical began to be replaced by a burgeoning emphasis on biology and the engineering of biological systems.  In part our knowledge in the traditional engineering disciplines and agriculture was subsumed by the biological revolution.   As chair of my department in the late 1980's I recall writing about the coming emphasis on biology and the opportunities it afforded for our institution.   Educationally we needed to evolve to become a biological engineering discipline.   Some aspects of our traditional knowledge certainly no longer had the same value.  And perhaps it became no longer relevant to the needs of our students and society.  To remain valued and relevant we had to change both as mid or even late career faculty to embrace the new norm.   We did change.   From Agricultural and Biological Engineering in name  and practice starting 1988 to Biological and Environmental Engineering in the 2000's.   In the new normal we manipulate  biological systems with an engineering mind set to produce devices, processes and products relevant to the new world.   From this point on, the debate will be about how we need to adapt our education to be relevant for the next generation.   Perhaps we need to give our graduates not just the tools for the current environment, but also instill in them attitudes and capabilities to adapt to new paradigms.
     As I review the history of technology it is clear that some things we once valued become irrelevant as new technology evolves.  At one time the ability to operate a telegraph key was a prized skill.  With the advent of radio, television  and now the internet that skill is irrelevant.   In the early stages of computer programming, skill in machine language was prized since speed and memory were limited.  Today with massively parallel computing these older skills are much less relevant.
    Finally in my musing about value and relevance I conclude that all of us have a need to feel and be valued by someone or some institutional entity.  Even though we may no longer be operating at the cutting edge of intellectual creativity we still can remain relevant.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Life Lessons

   I just read of the tragic death of a 22 year old West Pointer from a accidentally self inflicted gunshot wound.   While demonstrating his weapon to some friends he removed the magazine and then for whatever reason he pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger.  Unfortunately a round had remained in the chamber and he was fatally wounded.   As a youngster, I grew up with guns in the home.  They were all long guns used for hunting deer, squirrel, rabbits etc.   My father had a severe aversion to hand guns.   He was always safety minded and ingrained in me forever the rule you never pointed your gun at  yourself or any other human being at any time.   This rule was rigidly enforced!   Thus in the 60 years my dad hunted he never inflicted a wound on himself or anyone else.   However, he did not escape the stupidity of a hunting companion.  Fortunately the ammo was bird shot from a significant distance that hit him in the back of his hunting jacket with no penetration of the skin.
    Ownership and use of a gun is a huge responsibility.   In my opinion civilians have little need for a hand gun other than recreational target shooting.   The decision to use a weapon for protection is huge and the margin for error is very small.   The statistics show that the presence of a hand gun in the home sharply raises the probability of accidental death of the residents.
   The young man that died was not as fortunate as I was to have a  responsible father who ingrained safe behavior.   I grieve for his death and for the deaths of all those that die from gunshot wounds.   I am grateful for the life lessons of my father and mother that have protected me in many ways over my life time.


Thursday, August 23, 2012


     A dental appointment took me to Syracuse today so I took this opportunity to visit the Carousel Mall (Destiny?).   A new Apple Store has just opened so I wanted to look at the latest iPads and iPhones.   After my Apple Store visit, I noticed I was in the vicinity of the Food Court which also houses the Carousel.
   The Carousel is a part of my personal history.   During my youth we would occasionally visit Roseland Park in Canandaigua, New York  where I would ride the very Carousel that has been installed in the mall.   This carousel has a long history since it was manufactured in 1909.   After use in many other places this carousel arrived at Roseland Park in 1941 and remained there for 43 years until Roseland Park closed.   The Pyramid Companies of Syracuse purchased it in 1985, restored it, and installed it as the theme piece of the new mall.   I have fond memories of riding this carousel, grabbing the rings from the  supply chute and attempting with my toss to hit the bell with the ring.   Today, about 65 years after my first ride on this carousel I bought my token and took another ride.  Not only did I enjoy my ride, I also enjoyed the looks of pleasure on the faces of the youngsters around me.  However, it didn't seem like the carousel moved as fast as it did when I rode it as a kid. Maybe the modern age safety requirements slowed it down.
The Carousel

A Beautiful Horse - Originally Hand Carved
    Beyond the ride itself there is great beauty in the decorations, mirrors and painted horses.   It is indeed a work of art.   For me the mall at Syracuse will always be the Carousel Mall even if they try to rebrand it Destiny.
A Post Ride Smile

A Dad and His Sons - More Generations of Carousel Riders

On The Horse - Mirror Image

Friday, August 17, 2012

Information Outpost - Cornell 2012

   The 2012-2013 Cornell academic year was kicked off today with the arrival of the Class of 2016.   Each year the emeritus faculty and retired staff volunteers man information outposts at the main entry points to the campus.   We enjoy welcoming the parents and students and helping them find their way to their dorms, registration sites and local businesses.   Most of them are suffering from a bit of stress and appreciate a smiling face and assurances that they can find their way to specified locations.
   Every form of conveyance can be observed.   Vehicles range from U-Hauls to pickup trucks to  huge SUV's to totally stuffed compact cars to an occasional mega luxury vehicle.   I was blown away by a very hot Porsche Panamera sedan.   An amazing piece of machinery.   Depending on the model and options your can buy it for as low as $80,000 or as much as $176,000.  I guess it is good that their is enough wealth around to keep this manufacturer in business!
   Cornell's needs blind admission brings an eclectic mix of students and parents.   With a yearly expense at full cost of over $50,000 we have the wealthy clientele who find that expenditure only a blip on their yearly income.   On the other hand we also have the capable student from the a low income single parent family who is able to attend Cornell with a combination of financial aid, loans, work-study and a modest family contribution.   I like to think that Cornell can bring together both the 99% and the 1% and all in between to learn and appreciate the range of paths each life can take.

Left to Right - David, Jeannette, Art, John, Ann

Left to Right -David, Art, John, Ann, Gerry
   All of us who work at the outposts have a great love for Cornell and are happy to give back to the Cornell community that has enriched our lives.   And our two hour shifts gives us a chance to swap a lot of stories and reminisces of our time at Cornell.  See the photos above of my companions for today.  Even an hour of rain failed to dampen our spirits.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Patio Project - Entertainment?

     A year or so ago I wrote about construction entertainment when our local Walmart was being built.   I continue to love to watch the progress of construction projects.  In my commute to the Cornell campus several times a week I get to observe the progress on a major housing project opposite the Dryden High School.   Each trip I see a bit more progress.   In time the project moves from surveying to earth moving to drainage and infrastructure to footings and then the erection of the structures.   Eventually the structures will be complete, the roads will be put in and the landscaping will be finished.   A great sense of accomplishment when the project is done.
    When we moved into our present home we thought it was perfect and we would have no need construction projects.   Not so!!  So now I am into our own construction project.  Nothing major.   Just the addition of a ground level patio off our sun porch.  We envision entertaining outdoors as well as sitting in the morning breezes a bit closer to nature.   Since I have built many decks and enjoy the process of creating a new structure I am in the do-it-yourself mode.   The plans have been completed, the building permit obtained and the materials have been purchased and delivered.    Construction is under way.  See photos below.
    As a farm boy I helped my dad with construction projects and in my college days I worked on numerous construction projects including water pipe lines in Fairport,   the New York State Thruway across the Montezuma swamp and a building for Rochester Gas and Electric in Sodus, New York.   We work long and hard on those projects.  Even up to 12 hour days on the Thruway.   Over 55 years later in my geezerhood I notice that I no longer have the stamina of my youth.   After four to six hours of work on my patio project I am pooped!   On top of that my hands and legs will suffer muscle cramps even if I consume tons of Gatorade.   In spite of these annoyances, I am enjoying the completion of our patio project.   And when it is done, the pleasure of sitting on the finished patio will be enhanced by the satisfaction of creating a new structure myself.
Staked out Area

Platform in Progress

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


  If one is accustomed to living in rural upstate New York, a visit to New York City and Eastern Long Island is always a study in contrasts.   Upstaters live in a sea of greenery and easy access to wide vistas of rolling hills, farms and a multitude of lakes and streams.   By contrast the city is marked by oodles of concrete, massive buildings, bustling traffic and a cacophony of sounds.   The vistas tend to be marked by iconic buildings such as the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.
   Although millions choose to live in an urban megalopolis, there still is an innate human desire to experience greenery.    Millions will flock to any green space available.  Small havens of greenery are a welcome respite from the concrete jungle.   When I am in the city I enjoy observing the presence of tree lined streets and avenues,  tiny parks, and even larger parks like Central Park.   Recently we visited a relatively new linear park that is elevated above the city NYC streets.  It is the High line park built on the abandoned elevated railroad of the New York Central.   This park was dedicated in 2009 after the concerted effort of several individuals and the support of Mayor Bloomberg.   After this railroad was abandoned volunteer vegetation began to appear and flourish.   Local observers were inspired to build upon the presence of the new greenery with a vision of a linear park including walkways, newly planted grass and plants and areas to rest.  The park is a delightful haven.   In our walk of this park we enjoyed the contrasts of flowers, trees and grass with the surrounding man-made structures.     Within each human is the pride of our ability to create man made structures but at the same time we are nurtured by the gifts of the natural world.   Here is some evidence of our appreciation of both the man-made and the natural world.   Perhaps each of us has an individual perception of the balance of contrasts we wish to live with.   I, for one will tilt my balance toward the natural world - even if I am an engineer!
Old Rails

Turrets of Buildings
Trees, Shade and Rest

Sculpture Among the Flowers

Flowers Proliferate

Empire Sate Building View

Adjacent Church

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Museum Learning

Farmer Wayne with Restored Plow
   Thursday's adventure was a journey to the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, New York.   Cooperstown is about a two hour drive from our home through the back roads and farms of central New York.   Modern and marginal farming are a part of the rural scene.   The Farmer's Museum captures the essence of bygone farming and rural living with exhibits of tools, businesses, and trades of the colonial through 1800's period.
   I was particularly interested in the farm machines and tools of the past.   Since I have been working with the model artifacts of the now defunct Cornell University Agricultural Museum I was especially interested in the full sized plows and other agricultural machinery on display.  Much to my delight I saw full sized models of ancient plows, harrows, threshers, dump rakes and so on.   Many of these implements were full sized versions of models from the Cornell Agricultural Museum.   During my visit I had a chance to converse with "Farmer Wayne" who serves as a part of the museum crew in period costume welcoming and informing visitors.   We shared stories of plow design and use and the vagaries of proper plow adjustment.   He also showed me a plow they had restored using the skills of the museum's blacksmith and other artisans of their group.  I was able to identify the plow as a late 1800's model similar to a model we have in our Cornell collection.
     In addition to observing the farm equipment Nancy and I also learned about the early practice of medicine, unusual pharmaceuticals, printing, and early law practice.   It was further striking to observe the tools of the various trades of basket making, barrel making, plumbing, leather working, carpentry, tinsmithing and on and on.   There was a huge amount of knowledge and lore on display.   One cannot but wonder how we would be able to recreate all those skills if we were suddenly thrust into a world without cell phones, computers, electricity and all the modern conveniences.  Undoubtedly the old codgers who had preserved the skills of the 1800's and colonial America would be in high demand.
    I have no desire to live in the America of the 1800's, but it is good to admire the ingenuity of our ancestors and to learn that one can survive and thrive in any era.
1800's Era Mower

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Geezer's Love Story

  One of the special privileges of being a pastor's spouse is being a part of the ministry to past and present parishioners.   Today we visited with a previous parishioner whose wife passed away on Friday.   She was 89 and they had been together since 1945 when they were married when he had a brief leave from the service in the Navy.   They had remarkable life together and his stories of their courtship, marriage, and child raising were both poignant and sweet recollections of long loving marriage.   They are both of a generation that served our country and society with generosity and integrity.   Tuesday we will attend her funeral and I am sure the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will have more to tell about their great love story.   Nancy, who has considered Marilyn to be a second mother, will provide part of the eulogy.   We will mourn, but we will also celebrate an exemplary life and love story.   Passing with dignity is such a gift!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Days Getting Shorter

  Director, author and celebrity Nora Ephron recently passed away at a far too young an age of 71.   She hardly made it into "geezerhood".    She had written some thing about aging and observed that as one reaches the senior years you should make it a point to enjoy the things your really like since the "days are getting shorter".   I think she meant that one eventually runs out of time.  Our earthly lives are finite.
   I have to agree with her philosophy.   With the shortening of the days available to live life, I plan to concentrate on enjoying my special pleasures and at the same time continue to give back to friends, family and  professional endeavors whenever I can.   Thus, I will continue to enjoy my daily apple fritter, my specially brewed coffee, tooling down the highway in my little Smart Car, and solving my daily crossword puzzles.   In season I will enjoy tennis with my wife and friends and skiing with the geezers as many days as the winter will allow.   I will also endeavor to treasure the remaining days of Nancy's and my now nearly 30 year marriage for the days to come.
    Now that we have passed the longest day of the year, we are in the period of shortening the hours of daylight.  And by late December we will again experience the shortest day.   However, then the days will lengthen once again.   This rhythm of the year is a reminder existence is governed my a rhythm too.   Birth, life, death and rebirth!   The generations go on and on and on.   Each of us has our time.   Make the best of the time you have!
June 20, 2012 Shadow - My Benchmark for the Length of Days

Monday, June 25, 2012

Museum Displays

     I have been writing a history of the Agricultural Museum at Cornell to preserve some of the heritage of  this component of Cornell that was established in 1873.   Between 1873 and today the museum was disbanded and the collections were either lost, trashed or in some cases stored at various locations on campus.  There were six major components to the early museum and only fragments of three of the major components still exist.   I have restored the remnants of  two of the collections; the Rau plow models and the sales and patent models of agricultural machinery.   This activity has sparked my interest in museums in general and more specifically museums that display agriculturally related items.   Therefore, I have been on a quest to understand how museums select and display their wares.   Also the quest has led me to observe displays of artifacts in other settings.   Beyond the Johnson Art Museum on the Cornell Campus one can find a multitude of historical artifact displays in a number of other buildings.
     My curiosity has taken me to observe antique veterinary medicine instruments displayed in a hall way adjacent to the Veterinary College Library, the glass models of invertebrates at the Mann Library and the Corson-Mudd atrium and the Rouleaux mechanical models at Upson Hall.   Each of these sites have done a magnificent orderly presentation of their collections.    Saturday I enjoyed viewing the collections in the Central New York Living History Center in Homer, New York.   Several weeks ago I also had a chance to see an impressive set of displays at the Shelburne Museum in  Shelburne, Vermont.   All of these activities have given me inspiration for setting up a display of  the remaining Cornell Agricultural Museum artifacts in Riley-Robb Hall.
An Elegant Display - Corson-Mudd Atrium
    Our mini-museum now has a proposed site and plans are under way to acquire trophy cases and signage to tell the story of the Cornell Agricultural Museum.   At the same time we look backward at the history of engineering in agriculture as displayed in our collections we will also display items of the present and point to the future.   I think geezers are especially qualified to help preserve history, but also can creatively point to the trends for the future.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Being Perfect?

  A couple a weeks ago I heard excerpts from a poem by Ron Padgett about "How to Be Perfect".   I love the comments he makes in the poem.    As we approach Father's Day I think one of the lines is especially appropriate.   "Don't expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want to."  
   As a father and step-father I have had the privilege of parenting seven children.   I always hoped that I would be good in the parenting role and even hoped they would love me.   Especially I hoped they would appreciate my presence and forgive my imperfections since I clearly am not perfect nor ever will be.   I am truly blessed, however.   During this week, leading up to the big day on Sunday, I have received many beautiful expressions of love and appreciation from our brood.   And even received appreciation from a grandchild and family.   What a blessing ti is to move into geezerhood and participate in  the success of generations of family.
Just a Sampling of the Group - June Picnic

Friday, June 8, 2012

Senior Games - Round Robin

  I finished up my New York Empire Senior Games tennis matches this morning.   Five matches over two days was a pretty exhausting schedule.   My opponents were feeling it about as much as I was.   We all were feeling the effects of some pretty competitive matches upon our feet, legs and bodies.   However, it was a great time of camaraderie even though we all have a strong will to win.   There were five men in my singles 75-79 group.  Dave Shannon and Dave Usher certainly were the superior players and proved it with a one-two finish followed by Walt Schoonaker in third.   This years format was lots of fun since we used a round robin scheme which had each one of us playing the other four.   With the 8 game pro set matches the matches were not as long but still had enough games to give everyone a chance to come back from being down.
    Past tournaments have used a one and done for the loser format which can be discouraging for someone to travel hundreds of miles to play and have their participation finished in as little as an hour. The French Open has been played over the last couple of weeks and I truly can agonize with the players that go out in the first round.   One and done has to be tough on the psyche!   I guess they do get some money to show, but that has to be a hard way to make a meager living.   Truly the grunts in the trenches that fill out the brackets in the lower seeds don't get the appreciation they deserve.   In the past Nancy and I have gone to the semi finals of the U.S. Tennis Open and sat high in Ashe Stadium while the stars performed.   More recently we have gone to the early rounds and enjoyed sitting a few feet from the lesser known players competing in their matches on the perimeter courts.   I think I have enjoyed the latter experience the most.   They may not be the very best in the sport, but they are professionals and give it their best.
    I don't know how entertaining the geezer tennis players are for the gallery but we still give it our best shot and thank the Lord we are enjoying life this side of the grass.   Oh for the love of the game!
   As and end note, Nancy and I for the first time competed in mixed doubles.   We had a great time even in a losing effort.    And our marriage remains as strong as ever!
Victor ready to receive.

Dave Usher -Great serves.

Gerry - Post match smile

Walt -Preparing to serve.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Loose Change

  I know of a couple of people who compete with one another to see how much loose change they can collect in a  year by looking for coins on the ground, asphalt or pavement in public places.   They contribute these coins to charity and enjoy the hunt for carelessly lost money.   To amuse myself I have taken up this chase myself.   Whenever I am walking alone in public places, parking lots or sidewalks I keep my eyes peeled for the sparkle on the misplaced coin.    When one is walking alone, it provides distraction and amusement and the thrill of the hunt.   In the last month my total take has been one dime and two pennies.   Not much value in today's world.
   Respect for the penny has been lost in recent years.    Inflation and the cost of penny production has reduced the usefulness of the penny.     And to some merchants the penny is a nuisance.   During my visit to McDonald's today to pick up my apple pie dessert the customer ahead of me was paying in part for his purchase with a whole bunch of pennies along with a few nickels and dimes.   After he left the servers were bemoaning the pennies that they had to deal with and in fact the manager even said they should not accept that many pennies in payment.   I thought their attitude was disrespectful of the customer.   The whole episode made me angry.   Actually I was angry enough to confront the servers to remind them that if they really wanted to welcome customers they should smile and say thank your very much for your business.   Even if it meant dealing with pennies!    Maybe all this is an indication that I grew up in a different era.
    In my childhood a penny could get you a couple of pieces of candy and a perhaps a stick of gum.   Loose change had great value to a kid.   My dad had his favorite easy chair that was a gold mine for loose change.    He always carried his change in his overalls pockets and often had holes in the pockets.  In addition when he would lean back for nap the change would sometimes fall out of his pocket.   All that I had to do was to slide my hand down beside the cushion and dig out the loose change.   This change supplemented my dollar a week allowance and bought many a comic book or candy bar.    Such fond memories of the joy of loose change.   So now in my geezerhood I revert to the joy of finding loose change, even if it has little buying power.   I'm from the waste not, want not generation!
Dad Relaxing at a Picnic - Coins in the Grass?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Vermont Adventure

  Being a grandparent means having opportunities to enjoy the successes of grandchildren.   Four of my grandchildren currently attend the Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelburne, Vermont.   One of the traditions of the school is to have a Grandparent's Day when grandparents and special friends are invited to spend a day at the school.   So Thursday May 17, 2012 I travelled to Vermont to enjoy some time at their school and to attend a concert by the students and community members.   This school requires every student to learn to play a stringed instrument so there was a large orchestra with significant talent.    Voice instruction is also provided.
    The Thursday night concert was all Vivaldi performed with extraordinary competence.   Granddaughter Jenny had a solo part that she performed beautifully.   The setting for the concert was the Carriage House of the Shelburne Farms estate.   The grounds and buildings are magnificent and are set on the shores of Lake Champlain.  
   Grandparents day started at  8:30 A.M. with an introduction by the Waldorf School leader.   After the introduction we adjourned to be with our grandchildren.    There were only two sessions so it was not possible to visit all three grandchildren in K-8.   Since Carson is graduating from 8th grade to public school next year I made a special effort to get to his display of accomplishments during his tenure at the Waldorf School.   He has become a capable photographer and his iPad display of his work was exceptional.    After my visit with Carson I was off to join the kindergartners and granddaughter Kiara at play in their room.   Yes,  this old geezer can still get down on the floor to play with the young ones.    We grandparents were also treated to the morning snacks of soup and bread that their group had prepared and baked.   A delicious treat.    On the way out I still had a chance to visit grandson Turner's 4th grade class to say hello and see his schoolmates.
     Following my school visit I travelled to the Shelburne Museum to spend several hours examining a variety of exhibits.   Because I am anticipating setting up exhibits of the artifacts from the Cornell Agricultural Museum I was especially interested in the manner of displaying antique tools and devices.
     The Vermont visit continued with time at son Colin's house and a stay through Saturday at daughter Tange's house.    We even had time for some tennis.
     Although I travelled to Shelburne via the Essex ferry, I chose to return via the new New York - Vermont Champlain Bridge.    It is a stunningly elegant design.   The grand opening was this past Sunday so there was all kinds of activity at the bridge as I passed over it on Saturday.
     All in all the three days were a great geezer adventure.
Tange, Turner, Kiara 

Granddaughter Jenny right and friend at Shelburne Farms

Carson and projects display

Kiara, right front in kindergarten - Snack Time