Genteman Farmer

I never really thought much about the land…the land from which we draw sustenance.  I know that most of us have a connection through our ancestors.  Somewhere in our lineage are those who at some time or other have scratched a living from the land, but few of us have actually pulled a cultivator behind a tractor to prepare a field for planting or even mowed a pasture. Until I retired from the corporate world, my connection to the land was tenuous at best.  As a restless teenager, I used to visit an aunt and uncle in the panhandle of Texas who were honest-to-god cotton farmers. They lived in a small frame house just north of Lubbock; some irrigation...

On Writing

The urge to write has always lurked in the recesses of my brain, and at various times manifestited itself in different, even unusual, ways. My first writing outputs were of the write-on-command type. You know the kind. Five hundred words on the Ural River Valley, or an essay on the objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand. The subject, form, and length determined by someone else. I wrote because I was required to in order to satisfy some other requirement, such as a class assignment. Indeed, I got pretty good at it… not only for myself, but for others as well. I found I could knock out a paper on almost any topic (typed, double-spaced, with one carbon copy) at...

My Lover, My Friend, My Wife

My Darling Wife, Sandra Faye Fernandes, nee Lyday, was born on September 1, 1942 in Port Arthur, Texas.  Almost a year before my birth.  I, of course, have relentlessly reminded her of her age seniority to me, saying that she fit right into my penchant for older women.  I don’t think she ever thought it was funny.  Still doesn’t.  Her father, James Tilden Lyday, called “Tilt” by all, and his wife, Faye, had reluctantly left their farm in Fannin County, Texas for the promise of a high paying and patriotic job in one of the many petrochemical plants in South Texas supporting the war effort.  That didn’t last long, but there Sandra...

God’s Reward

Yes, they are.  God’s reward, that is.  Grandchildren are god’s reward for not having killed your own kids.  I posted a piece called “It Doesn’t Get Better Than This,” on August 5, 2007, which was something of a paean to the joys of grandparenting.  Upon rereading it recently, I’m prepared to double down on everything I said or tried to say then.  I’ve also alluded to traveling with grandchildren in a series of posts in 2012 under the rubric of “Europe with the Grandkids,” wherein I referenced our familial policy of undertaking a major travel outing with each of our grandchildren on or about their 12th...

I Yam What I Yam

Of course, all of you of a certain age, remember the deeply insightful words of Popeye, and the title of this post, first uttered by him in 1933 and subsequently by Robin Williams as Popeye in 1980…my personal fave.  Without trying to put Popeye on the couch, it is generally understood that he meant…what you see is what you get, don’t expect anything more.  Not a bad proscription for us all.  But what is missing is the how.  How did Popeye get to be who he was?  From whence cometh his sparkling personality?  What about those bulging muscles…was it really the spinach?  Was his mom a good looker?  Did his dad go to sea? John Locke first...

The Commencement Address

Public speaking is everyone’s nightmare, but giving a commencement address whether at Harvard or your granddaughter’s pre-k, is a special form of torture.  Yes, I know it’s an honor and all that, but you know, in your heart of hearts, it’s a no win situation.  First of all, no one is really interested in what you might choose to say.  And if you come up with something really clever, I can assure you, it’s already been done.   The best you can do is to make them laugh a couple of times and stay in their seats until it’s over. For some obscure reason, those of us who are asked to risk this form of public humiliation take our...