Keep your nose clean, it’s Father’s Day

June 19, 2017 – Yesterday we celebrated Father’s Day and honored all of the men who do right by their families every day.

Real dads (and moms) know firsthand that being a parent is a difficult, but rewarding job. Running a corporation or operating on a human brain, for example, pale in comparison to being fully responsible for the outcome of a human being during the first 18 years of his or her life.

While it’s true that moms usually get their due respect – and their share of the blame at the psychiatrist’s office in later years – dads are no longer overlooked in the child rearing process. We’re not the “Wait until your father gets home” generation anymore, and the role of a dad is every bit as important.

Dads are the wise owls, ready to bestow their wisdom and advice about navigating through the harsh reality of life, while moms coddle and coo, arms open wide with compassion, forgiveness and love. All of this is stereotypical, of course; growing up in my home the roles were often interchangeable.

I can’t pinpoint the wisest advice I ever got from my dad, but I remember the phrases he used most often in my childhood, and I catch myself sounding like him whenever I say something like “This simply mystifies me” or “This is what you call your boring game.” I refer to them as dadisms. Others include “What’s on your alleged mind?” and “Common sense would indicate…”

His favorite and most widely used dadism had to do with keeping one’s nose clean. “Are we going to the shore this summer, dad?” “If you keep your nose clean.” “Can I go to the movies later?” “If you keep your nose clean.” You get the picture. The origins of the phrase, which date back to 1887, obviously mean to keep out of any kind of trouble. To a kid like me who took things literally, all sorts of images would run through my head when he said those words, from scrubbing my nose with a toothbrush (I thought it would fit nicely) and soap, to thinking about how I could turn my head upside down when I took a shower.

Happy Father’s Day, dad, and to every other man who has the honor to be called dad.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Out of Focus

June 16, 2017This week’s photo challenge is out of focus.

My favorite out of focus shot is an attempt to take a photo of a stained glass object hanging on the inside part of a window with the camera lens against the outside glass pane.

I was bummed when this shot was out of focus. I had it pictured so differently in my head.

Another failed attempt to capture the Philadelphia Museum of Art at night…even with a tripod. One of these days…

The best education I know

June 12, 2017 – Forty years ago this past weekend I graduated from high school. Many members of my graduating class flooded Facebook over the weekend with our graduation photos to show our pride and promote our 40th year reunion coming up in November. Of course, we all said the same thing…we can’t believe those 40 years passed so quickly.

Back then, Jimmy Carter was president, the first Apple computer was on the market, Elvis died at 42, Star Wars was playing in theaters across the country, and a gallon of gas cost 65 cents.

I wanted to share just how different my life turned out from what I originally planned, and perhaps offer a few pearls of wisdom to new graduates. However, looking back on what I can remember about my 17-year-old self, and what I expected to accomplish, I’m drawing a blank. I don’t recall thinking about my future at all in 1977. There are no memories about what I wanted to be or where I thought my life would go. I hadn’t thought about college yet, or a career and I certainly had no plans to get married and have children. Even though I didn’t make a plan, all of those things simply happened along the way when they were supposed to.

Turns out, like many teenagers and some very fortunate adults–according to “The Power of Now” author Elkhart Tolle–I was a live in the moment kind of a person. Tolle, whose philosophy states that living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment, believes that to be the ultimate goal. Too bad back then I didn’t realize what I had achieved.

I’d like to think I’m still that way, but I realize that I missed out on bits and pieces of my life worrying about things that I have no control over. Even though I do my best to live in each moment, I’m not always able to, and I don’t believe many adults can. But I’m OK with that, because I stay in the moment more often than not.

So, if I was to offer any sage advice to new graduates, it would be to live in the moment as often as you can. Tolle’s theory of “The Power of Now” is right on, it’s just not practical for many of us to live that way every second. I believe it’s necessary at times to think about and plan for the future. And it might even be helpful to go a little crazy once in a while; if anything, it makes you appreciate the good times.

I read once that a Chinese philosopher said, “When you do the dishes, become the dishes.” In other words, be aware of what you are doing in the moment and do it well. Very wise words.

Life teaches many us many lessons along the way, whether we have a plan in place or not. And even if we have a plan, it doesn’t always let us follow it they way we expect to. A happy compromise is an open mind and expandable plan with plenty of room for change. That’s the best life advice I have to offer.

Congratulations to the class of 2017!

The Wonders of Lavender

June 5, 2017 – I never had much desire to visit France — I’m more of a fan of the Mediterranean countries, at least when I vacation in my mind — but these gorgeous photos of the country’s lavender fields make me want to pack my bags and go. With lavender’s ability to sooth nervous tension, relieve pain and help insomnia, the people in this region must be the happiest and most well-rested people on earth.

In my region of the world, June is lavender harvest season, and there are two close lavender farms in Bucks County, Pa. Peace Valley Lavender Farm and Carousel Lavender Farm are both located near the town of New Hope. Here are a few photos of each farm — although they don’t come close to those taken in France since they were taken after harvest.

peace valley sign

Lavender was used 2500 years ago in the mummification process in Ancient Egypt. It is also said that Cleopatra used a perfume infused with lavender to seduced Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

It is said that Cleopatra used a perfume infused with lavender to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

Queen Victoria used to require that her furniture be polished with a lavender-based solution, and she also sipped tea infused with lavender to settle her stomach and ease her headaches.

Queen Victoria used to require that her furniture be polished with a lavender-based solution, and she also sipped tea infused with lavender to settle her stomach.

peace valley shop 2

Lavender has the following properties: antibacterial, antidepressant, analgesic, and antiseptic. During London’s great plague, people would tie bunches of lavender to their wrists to fight infection and bacteria.

carosel sign

The lavender bud is covered in tiny hairs that contain the essential oils.

The lavender bud is covered in tiny hairs that contain the essential oils.

Back in the Elizabethan times, when baths weren’t common practice, lavender was used to perfume clothes and bed linen.

Back in the Elizabethan times, when baths weren’t common practice, lavender was used to perfume clothes and bed linen.

In French classrooms teachers used to crush lavender to calm disruptive and nervous students.

In French classrooms teachers used to crush lavender to calm disruptive and nervous students.