Up Close & Personal

Yes, they are real

Yes, they are real

From our visit to the Lazy 5 Ranch a few weeks ago.

Blogging has been throttled back a bit. It is a seasonal/priorities issue.


Some of these critters had really bad breath.

Some of these critters had really bad breath.




Yes, you have to sign a damage waiver…just in case.

Yes, you have to sign a damage waiver…just in case.

Farm Breath

Farm Breath

Hey, you lookin at me?

Hey, you lookin at me?

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Hey Girls, Read This, Please

This post is intended for my three daughters….but I’m sure any dad will want to read this.

Parents, Daughters & Boyfriends

Parents, Daughters & Boyfriends

Something to think about….think hard.

Will a Cheap Wedding Help your marriage?

Thanks to the WSJ and Sarah Portlock

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Remember When?

Another memory from 1973 grade…..those were the days, but they did dress a little funny.

This might be one to learn again……

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A Walk In The Rain

I mentioned this story yesterday after realizing I never posted it.

A Walk in The Rain, Revisited….orginally published in The Mount Alumni magazine, Summer of 2006

The Mount on a rainy day.

The Mount on a rainy day.

For many years now I typically make at least one trip a year to Emmitsburg, MD where I attended Mt. St. Mary’s College, graduating in 1982. I suppose that aside from the fact I worked at the local Fire/EMS Dept. and at the Emergency Dept. at Gettysburg (PA) Hospital, my existence there was that of a typical college student. I went through the motions, took the tests and graduated. I then made my way to the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and became an undertaker. I then had to meander through a few decades before coming to the realization of appreciating how important those forty-eight months were in forming the man I was to become.

It was the third week in April 2005 that I was to make the drive from South Carolina to New Jersey for my nephew’s First Holy Communion. My wife and three daughters were not able to take the trip with me, so I left a day early and drove all the way to Maryland and spent that evening and most of the following day at The Mount. It had been almost two years since my last sojourn there and I was looking forward to this visit more so than I usually did.



Mid April in Aiken is already early summer, but when I awoke in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland that morning, it was thirty-eight degrees and raining. As I walked around the foggy, damp campus, my mind raced, recalling places, people and events as usually happens when I visit. There was a moment that I came to the realization that most of the men and women who were preparing to graduate in just a few weeks were born the year I was dispatched from this Mountain, diploma in hand. It was really the first time in my life that I realized I wasn’t a kid any longer.

There is a very old cemetery on the side of the mountain, just above the college that dates back to 1808. This cemetery has since been enlarged and developed into one of the first “College Cemeteries” in the Country. Someday, when my time is up, that is where my earthly remains will rest.

The road into the cemetery

The road into the cemetery

In the original, older section, there is, what is affectionately referred to as “Priest’s Row”. It is where the “Men of the Mount” lay buried. Their monuments are testimonies to their wisdom and dedication to the college and to their faith. Being the second oldest Catholic College in the Country, the faculty was, at one time, all priests. They dedicated their lives to the pursuit and teaching of wisdom and philosophical discernment, not political correctness, social engineering or memorization for exams. They instructed countless thousands on how to analyze a situation, weigh consequences and to make sound decisions with certainty. They stayed and taught until they died, not because they had tenure and could take it easy, but because they humbly understood how important their contributions were. They probably also anticipated the future, realizing that there would come a time that classic teachings would become diluted with modern thought as they often are today.
Fr. Paul planned ahead also. He died last week.

Fr. Paul planned ahead also. He died last week

Even after all these years, I still learn from them. One of the highlights of my visits is the time I spend with those buried there. I go there to pray, reflect and to relax a bit. It’s difficult to put into words, but as I stand at the graves, I read their names….Forker, Delaney, O’Neil, Dillon, Kaliss, Byrd, Fives, Kline, Philips. I recall and give thanks for the indelible impact they each have etched on my being as a man. I think of challenges I face today and wonder what they would offer up as a path for me take to conquer any task at hand. My life is less because they are physically gone, but I am forever grateful because they lived. Whatever meager successes I achieve are but a small part of their legacy. I wish I could go back in time to when they were alive, (and I was 20!). If I knew then, what I know today, I would have listened harder and spent more time in their company.

Requiescat in Pace……”May they Rest in Peace”.

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They Say It Comes In Threes.

What is “it”?…death.

Today, I learned of the death of three men that have played important, albeit different roles in my life.

I received an e-mail this afternoon from my college announcing the death of a great priest and then the death of the man who was the head of the Pyschology Dept. when I was a young, impressionable Psych major.

Here is the press release from Mt. St. Mary’s University announcing the deaths.

Mourning the Loss of Two Members of the Mount Family

Dr. Kiernesky was an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle as one of my roomates would say. He fueled my passion for learning about obscure facts and had a sense of humor that was as dry as the Sahara. Shortly before he retired, I ran into him on campus during one of my visits and we talked for over an hour.

Fr. Paul was one of the priests that made The Mount the great institution that it was. I mentioned him in the middle of one of my posts, called “What I Did On My Day Off”

On another occasion, I wrote an article that was published in the Mount Alumni Magaizine, called “A Walk In The Rain”, which is one of my favorite articles. I thought I had posted a blog of that article, but apparently I never did as searching for it came up empty. Look for it soon.

Around 4:30 this afternoon, my wife called to tell me that her Uncle Joe died. Not unexpected and the end of a life well lived. I wrote about my times with Joe here and then again here.

Joseph F. Scott 1924 -2014

Joseph F. Scott
1924 -2014

Joe was a war hero, college president, master horseman and a fun guy to be with. As he is eulogized over the next few days, there will be lots of great comments, but no one will ever say that Joe never said a mean word about anyone. Joe was involved in Jersey City Politics and if he didn’t like you, he was not shy about saying so…. Joe was on the second wave at Normandy, marched through Bastogne and spent the winter in the Ardennes Forest during what is known as the Battle of The Bulge. He was where it was happening.

Three men who have in their own way, impacted my life.

They will be missed.

They will be remembered.

Your work is done.

Eternal rest grant onto them…..Rest in peace.

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The Rings

Today was an unusually busy day at “the office” as I met with four different families arranging for cremations.

It was dark when I left home and it was dark when I returned there.

The fourth and final meeting was for a man I knew from my church and Knights of Columbus in Aiken. Several years ago, I helped him when one of his sons died.

I met with his daughter, who lives out of state and it was about a half hour into our discussion that she stopped me and asked me if I had noticed that we were wearing similar rings?

Well, I hadn’t but now that she pointed it out, I was surprised that I had not. They were remarkably similar.

I told her the story about how my mother bought that ring for my father when they got engaged in 1954 and how her uncle was the jeweler that made it.

She told me that her mother had bought that for her father when they got engaged in 1951.

The stones were the same, but set on different angles. What are the chances?

No way?

Side by side, mine on the left.

Side by side, mine on the left.

The funny part was that her dad was a standout football and basketball player at Clemson University and the fact that he had a garnet ring (USC Gamecock’s color…they are arch-rivals) left me scratching my head.

What I didn’t tell her was that I don’t wear that ring too often, but when I was worried about playing Saturday evening, I decided to wear it to remind me of my father’s strength when he faced adversity.

Call me sentimental, but every time I looked at it, I felt his confidence.

Since it was already out, I wore it today.

I need to call Dad and tell him.

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Living Large, Living Like…


I’m pretty sure that this was the biggest event that I ever had the opportunity to play at and we had a great time.

A family photo during one of the breaks. Daniel, Kelliann, Me, Alicia, Megan, Niko, Elissa & Cole

A family photo during one of the breaks.

The weather was perfect for Barkaritaville.

All three of our daughters were there with their boyfrinds as were some of our friends who came out to support us and the SPCA.

We sounded pretty good, playing on the City of Aiken’s $172,000.00 mobile stage which got us six feet off the ground.

From left: Gavin RIley, Jim "Mr. P" Paczynski, Rich Weisert, Dan "The Doctor" Boone and your SVU. Welcome to Bark-A-Rita-Ville!

From left: Gavin RIley, Jim “Mr. P” Paczynski, Rich Weisert, Dan “The Doctor” Boone and your SVU.
Welcome to Bark-A-Rita-Ville!

People danced, came up to talk to us during breaks, made requests for songs and seemed like they really enjoyed our music. I mention that because the last few times we played, it was not like that.

For me, it is always a great rush of excitement to stand up in front of anyone, never mind a couple of hundred people and hope I remember my parts.

There is more to life than working every day.  Life is short and dead is for a very long time.  Enjoy life.

There is more to life than working every day. Life is short and dead is for a very long time. Enjoy life.

There is often a very fine line between excitement and terror. I must admit, that it was close to terror for me during the day yesterday. I will go so far as to admit that this 54 year old kid called his parents in the morning to tell them how scared he was about playing later in the day. Luckily, I was able to focus that enegry/stress in a positive fashion and everything worked out.

No reason to start thinking about quiting my day job, that’s for sure, but I’m already thinking about next time.

It’s great fun and I am thankful that I am able to enjoy this.

I snapped this couple's photo as we were packing up and they were leaving.   Thanks for coming to support the Aiken SPCA and please drive gently

I snapped this couple’s photo as we were packing up and they were leaving. Thanks for coming to support the Aiken SPCA and drive gently.

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