Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow shovel at my door

I'm working away at my computer and the doorbell rings. We have one of those Wagnerian doorbells that sounds as if we should have a butler. Hearing it always makes me smile. On my way to the door, I'm wondering who is driving around in the snow, and I'm also wondering if they had trouble getting up my driveway, since I did not blow it out today.

As I glance out the window, I see no car. I look through the glass on the door. Nobody.
I open the door, look down, and see Joey, a neighbor's son. Joey is dressed in a bright snow suit and has a new, red snow shovel, which is quite bit longer than he is tall.

Now, Joey is the kind of kid everyone should have for a neighbor. He's about 8 or 9 years old (forgive me if I got that wrong), and he always waves and says hello to people. Last time he stopped by, he asked if he could sled down my hill. I told him, "Yes, have fun!" Then I added, "But be careful." Why do we grownups always have to add that last remark, I remember thinking at the time.

"Hello, Joey," I say.

"I was looking for some work to do. Can I shovel around your driveway up by the house?"

"Would you like to earn some money?" I ask.

"No," he answers, "I just want to do some work."

I think for a moment as Joey looks at me intently. My driveway is about 75 yards long and steep—too much to shovel by hand, even for an adult who is in good condition. Well, he did say, "...up by the house..."

"I'll clean it all out tomorrow with the tractor," I tell him. He seems disappointed so, thinking about the door in front of the shed, I add quickly, "But I may have a place you could shovel."

Joey is sharp. He senses I am reaching. He says, "No, it's OK if you don't have anything."
Then we say goodbye and he walks the 200 feet back to his house.

I make a mental note to call up his dad to arrange some work for Joey. This lad's efforts must not go to waste.

It occurs to me that Joey is always looking out for the other guy. It's a attitude that looks good on a person of any age. Don't you think?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Greenfield Village

Most every American recognizes the names of Edison, Firestone, Frost, Webster, and Ford and can  associate each name with its respective fame: Light bulb, phonograph, moving picture for Edison; tires for Firestone; poetry for Frost; dictionary for Webster; and motor car and assembly of motor cars for Ford. However, let's add one more for Henry Ford: he is responsible for having the foresight for initiating Greenfield Village, located next to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where the history of these giants, and many other greats, is preserved and open to the public for a small admission fee.

As the sign above indicates, Edison assembled a team of inventors and set high goals for them: one major invention every 6 months and one minor invention every 10 days. He set up his experimental facilities in the small village of Menlo Park, New Jersey, in 1876.
Henry Ford brought many of the original buildings to Greenfield Village where visitors can walk through them and listen to guides tell stories about these great men and point out specific facts about the laboratories.
Edison's light bulb invention in the picture below is one of my favorite lab sites.

Edison's facilities cover several acres at Greenfield Village, and Nancy and I trekked through them all, but we were fascinated by a number of other attractions, too.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year and 2010

To start the New Year properly, I want to thank all those hardworking care givers out there, including pre-school teachers, elementary school teachers, nursing home personnel, and other senior care workers, especially those Nancy and I met during 2010 as we made over 90 trips to places where I performed over 60 shows for over 3500 children and adults.

(Now I can willingly go on to thank high school teachers, fire-fighters, law enforcement personnel, and snow plow workers, etc. but, you see, I'm limiting this discussion to those workers we meet on our visits.)

It's always easy to criticize, and one doesn't have to wait too long during any given day to hear a negative comment about "nursing homes" or "those teachers."
But I proclaim that at every place Nancy and I visited we saw children or older folks being treated with love and respect; we saw smiles; we saw workers who like what they do and are darn good at it. We saw proud professionals who face hard challenges every day as they teach our young people and care for our aged.

At the schools, the kids and their teachers gave us more inspiration and energy than we could possible give to them; and at senior care facilities, staff members and residents never failed to delight us with their stories and humor.

On every trip, Nancy and I rediscovered that doing our shows at schools, libraries, senior/community centers, museums, etc. gave more to us than we gave to them. We look forward to another year of the same.

Nancy and I wish to salute those workers and wish them a Happy New Year and continued success in their professions!

And although we hope to be invited to do our show at many, many new places in 2011, we also hope to be invited to return to those places we visited in 2010.