A night to be thankful

Absolutely beautiful night for sitting on the porch, listening to the Tigers and doing some journaling. The frogs and crickets are serenading me. It’s early August, not too hot, and I’d be happy to sit here for many, many days.

A beautiful night on the porch

The house behind me is pretty quiet – I can hear Max and Maggie playing a game together in the basement, laughing quietly and enjoying time together. Another few weeks and they’ll be heading out, back to college, and I’ll miss the sounds of them laughing…. or fighting, or singing, or all of the sounds I’ve gotten used to hearing again since they moved back in waaaaay back in March, when the pandemic was just starting and we weren’t sure how long the interruptions would be. Of course I’ll be worried about them, and I still hate that they’re going, but they have leases on apartments, and most of their classes will be online, and so I have to trust they’ll be okay. Ugh.

Jeanne went to sleep a little early, she had a long, busy day. Some exciting things happening for her that’ll be announced soon enough. Yesterday evening the four of us took the dogs for a nice walk as the sun was setting, walking around the neighborhood. We were laughing, watching FlipFlop pull Max on his skateboard (which he LOVES to do!), and Sneakers was pulling on Maggie because she wanted to chase them… as we followed behind Jeanne said “Aw man… we aren’t going to get many more nights like these” and I knew she was right. The kids will be moving out soon, and who knows when or even if they’ll move back in. Sneakers is not doing well – she’s almost 16 and had a good life, but probably won’t be with us much longer, so we’re really trying to enjoy the time we have with her now. Even if you take the pandemic out of the equation, the constant shifting of sand beneath our feet will be bringing us to a new place again soon.

Can we take the pandemic out of the equation? I mean, all we can do is be as careful as possible, and wait. Wear our masks, wash our hands, Hope people do their best, and hope for a vaccine. And do our best to manage the change that keeps coming as time drifts on, gently dragging us along (and sometimes not gently at all).

Thing is, every time I can remember thinking “Aw man, this is the end of an era” in our family, or with friends, later I also found myself having nights like last night, or tonight, once again, where I wound up thinking “This is beautiful. I’m a lucky, lucky man.” So, even though everything is so up in the air right now, I have faith that as much as I love tonight, I’ll have more moments like this again in the future. Hopefully I’ll remember to take the time to recognize them.

For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the back-and-forth of this ridiculous ball game as the Tigers keep finding ways to give away the lead, and listen to the frogs and crickets reminding me to just breathe, and savor.

Amazing Anniversaries and Other Awesome Things

The last couple of weeks have been full of positive things.  Not everything, of course, but right now I feel like focusing on the things that are making life wonderful.

My son came home from Germany!  After 7 months, it’s great to have him back.  Now he’s prepping for Western Michigan University in the Fall.

Jeanne and I celebrated 25 years of marriage.  Can’t believe it’s already been that long!

This week is my 5 Year Anniversary of coming home from the hospital after my meningitis coma “vacation”, as my wife calls it.  So many memories popping up on Facebook, and nice comments from people.  It was 5 years ago yesterday that I came home after being gone for two and a half months in St. Joe’s of Ann Arbor.  So, as I do every year, I celebrated by taking them fruit and chocolate gifts, and “Thanks for keeping me alive” cards!  If you see a doctor, or a nurse – thank them.  They’re heroes.  Without those amazing people I would’ve missed my kids graduating high school, my 25th wedding anniversary, the pride of seeing my kids go to other countries and become independent amazing human beings… and so many other things.

Other great things:  Opened The Gin Game, the 76th production at Williamston Theatre, to great reviews and thrilled audiences.  Held general auditions for our upcoming 14th Season, which I am IN LOVE WITH.  Our summer show, which is a co-production with Tipping Point Theatre, opened at their space and is terrific, and I am excited to get it to Williamston.  The new season of Major League Baseball is upon us – and even though the Tigers are going to have a challenging rebuilding year, it’s going to be fun to watch.

Jeanne and I have had a fun time looking at houses lately.  We love the house we’re in, but with us entering the “Empty Nest” phase of life, we’re looking to downsize a little bit.  It’s been 17 years – I’m done raking so many leaves!  🙂   So, big changes coming there, which are exciting!

So much happening.  I hope things are going well for you, too.  Spring is finally here, and with the new warm weather and sunshine we can enjoy looking forward to what comes next.

My Son!

As amazing as it sounds, my son had his last day of High School today! I’m so proud of him. Up next for him: a year in Germany, for his Gap Year Student Exchange Program, before he goes to college. I think the current plan is to come back after that and go to college for music composition and production.

I am super proud of his abilities as a musician and a composer, and jealous! I can’t wait to hear his music as he grows, and studies, and his talents expand even more.

Here’s a link to his Sound Cloud account, where he has a number of his songs posted. Check it out!

One of his songs, Jump, has over 11, 000 listens! His song Again was just chosen by the head of the Chelsea show choir, Company C, to be included in their Spring performance, where it was played with choreographed dancers performing to it. That was a pretty amazing honor for Max!

So, in honor of my son’s last day at school, here is a pic montage designed to make me cry.

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Every time…..

Every time this shows up in the mail, I think of my Dad.

I think back to when I was in high school, and told him I wanted to go to college for theatre. I was ready to be told I should find something more stable, I was ready to be lectured about responsibility and the future.

Instead, all he asked was “Do you think you can make a living at it?” When I said I thought I could, he just nodded, and said “Okay. Great. Your mom and I will help any way we can.” And that was it.

So when my membership card from SDC arrives I, naturally, get a sense of pride that I’m following my dream and making it work, and I’m thrilled that I’m contributing to the world the way I’d hoped to… but I also feel like I’m keeping a promise to my Dad. I know he was proud of me, of all his kids, but putting this card in my wallet every year makes me feel worthy of the trust and faith he had in me on that afternoon, sitting together in our kitchen, over 30 years ago.

On Tuesday I start rehearsal for Doublewide, a play about a guy who spends his life working in a factory and doing everything he can to provide a good future for his family.

Thanks, Dad. This one’s for you.

A beautiful night

It’s gorgeous out. I’m on the back deck, just got back from a terrific night at the theatre – a great show, fabulous audience, good feelings all around.

Sitting out here, 68 degrees, everything’s wet from the rain, the wind blowing gently, the dogs chasing the ball, and each other, playing.

I look at the newest pictures I’ve acquired on my phone, and here’s this one – taken a couple days ago by our friend Teresa.


What a picture. What a kid. I see the love of life he has in this picture, and his gentleness. And I think of how much I want to do right by him, how much I want to help him be the man he wants to be. Part of me wants to slow that down but, of course, I can’t – all I can do is try to be the best me I can be for him. Is it enough? I don’t know. Do we ever know?

And yet, as I sit here not knowing, I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet – for a lot of reasons, but mostly because he, his sister and his mom are in my life.


Pic Post Thursday!

Random photos from random moments in the life of a random Dad, Husband, Artistic Director and geek…

The week in review:
This can’t be good, right?

Since the “service engine” light was distressing, Maggie and I got Pinkberry!
Okay, the “Service Engine” light may not have been the actual reason we got Pinkberry, but while we were having it, we discussed the fact that we’re less than two months away from the Warrior Dash, which we’ll be running together this July! Here’s me at the end of last year’s Dash: That’s why, despite the Pinkberry, this week I started really hitting the elliptical runner in the basement again, and last night the kids had me working my cardio by joining them in a long battle of “Just Dance” on the Wii:(“It’s easy, Dad – see the guy on the screen dressed all strange like you used to dress in the 80’s? You just follow all the moves he does until the game ends or you fall over and we roll you out of the way… whichever comes first.”)

Aaaaand lastly, the reviews for The Understudy at Williamston Theatre have been good so far, and audiences seem to be really enjoying it, but just to be safe we’re considering adding a new actor for the show:
Here’s Milo Lepard, son of Emily Sutton-Smith and John Lepard, hanging out on the set of The Understudy. He’s learning all the parts, just in case…

And now, a weekend full of shows! Hope your week has been good!

Sunday Night Quotes: Growing/Playing… and some rambling

People tend to forget that play is serious. -David Hockney

My son had his birthday party this weekend, the “kids” party, where he got to invite a bunch of friends over to spend the night. He’s turning 12 in a couple of days. (Wow, those years went by quickly.) He asked for a Hunger Games party, since he’s read the books and seen the movie… so we set up a Hunger Games party!

Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold. -Joseph Chilton

Our yard and our neighbors yard were the battle arena. There were about 14 kids, all using foam swords, lots of Nerf dart-guns, and foam balls to throw at each other. They each wore 3 “life ribbons” (Flag Football style), and you lost a life by getting a ribbon pulled off or by getting hit with a weapon. Of course, hidden around the yard were lots of fun things, like…
Also hidden, among the helpful treasures, were traps, like “poison berries” that made you lose a life ribbon if you opened the box.

Almost all creativity involves purposeful play. -Abraham Maslow

They had a blast, and played 2 games well into the night! Walking around as the “GamesMaster” was fun, because I got to watch all the action, maybe be helpful or mischievous now and then, and take some fun pictures:
The remnants of an epic battle…note the weapons, supply bag, and discarded Life Ribbons. Really hits home, no?

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. -Khalil Gibran

A fallen warrior…

As the night wore on, I watched different kids respond differently. Some were teaming up, some stayed loners. Some played with honor and fairness, some bent the rules whenever they could.

We grow neither better nor worse as we get old, but more like ourselves. -May Lamberton Becker

The thing that was the most striking was how much fun they had, while also taking it so seriously – strategizing, plotting, but also pulling details from the books and movie into the game and weaving storylines, calling each other by character names. They created drama, but disputes were largely solved by the group.

And all the while, I watched my son – who I’m pretty sure was just born yesterday – as he enjoyed his day. He was loving being the center of attention, but also gracious to his friends. He moved through the “cliques” and made sure everyone was having fun, and no one was being left out… I was really proud of him, and amazed at how grown he’s become. Sometimes I think I’m too hard on him, or I’m too strict, or I’m not patient if he’s doing things in a way that I wouldn’t do… seeing him at his party reminded me that he’s a young man now. How *I* would do something doesn’t have to be the way he would do it. The Dad part of me has to keep hoping that by example, suggestion, and hopefully more discussion than discipline, I can do my job and help him grow into an adult of good character… and seeing him be a kid of good character was pretty great.

Too many people grow up. That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don’t remember what it’s like to be 12 years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well I won’t do that. -Walt Disney

So tonight, when I got home from work, I found him sleeping in my bed. Sometimes he’ll crawl into bed with Jeanne if I’m not home. As I looked at him sleeping there, I realized that soon I wouldn’t be picking him up anymore, soon he’ll be too big or won’t want to be lifted… and that’s a loss that I know will come soon, but one that I’m just not ready for. As I gently picked him up to carry to his room, his arms wrapped around my neck and he nestled his head on my shoulder.

And, sure, I could’ve just set him on his bed right away – but tonight, I just couldn’t bear to do it. Tonight, I just listened to him breathe, and I held him until my arms ached. This moment, this could be the last time I get the chance to do that. This event horizon that we’re on right now, we stand on a thin line and I can look to one side and see his childhood, and just a step away in the other direction is his adult life, and I know that step has to be taken, but…

I thrill at what the future holds for my kids… but I will miss moments like carrying them to bed more than I’m capable of expressing.

How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child’s board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted. -Voltaire

Sunday Night Quotes: Parenting

Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence. -Plato

Every cliche about kids is true; they grow up so quickly, you blink and they’re gone, and you have to spend the time with them now. But that’s a joy. -Liam Neeson

Fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise. -Allan Bloom

Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you. -H. Jackson Brown

(“Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to do in life”, I said.)
Yeah…but that’s what I have you for. -Maggie Caselli