Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I apologize for the delay in posting. I have had a few computer issues and it has been a busy time.

I thought it might be fun to finish the year with a little humor.

Getting Together for the Holidays (Granite Grumblings, 2011) is a piece I wrote a few years ago after a particularly exciting holiday season. I suspect many of you have had similar experiences.

Cherish these experiences because it is such a blessing to have the oppoprtunity to get together with your loved ones. Just remember to keep your sense of humor.

Have a great New Year.

Glenn K. Currie

Getting Together for the Holidays


Christmas is over, and we have survived. But, lately, it seems like every holiday is a close call.

Our family is getting older. The kids are married and in their late twenties, and while we are blessed to still have three of our parents who are able to share the holidays, they are also getting older and less mobile. The combination has made for some interesting celebrations.

Last year, for Thanksgiving, the kids could not make it back from Colorado and Texas, and my brother-in-law was convalescing with us after just having major back surgery. Nevertheless, we decided to get the rest of the family together. It resembled a Red Cross treatment center.

In the kitchen, my wife, cool and efficient on the outside, as she prepared a twenty-two pound turkey and sixteen different vegetables, was internally running on a treadmill as she tried to maintain order in the chaos that reigned throughout the house.

My dad was spending most of his day in the bathroom trying to deal with an elderly affliction that would eventually relieve itself in a way that sent our plumbing system to its knees, begging for mercy. My brother-in-law was spending his time flat on his back in the living room, sharing his misery with a changing audience of wheelchairs, walkers and canes, that were in almost constant motion as they sought entry to that major attraction, the only downstairs bathroom.

As the day moved along (at a walker’s pace), my father, exuberant from his recent victory over our plumbing system, decided to walk without his walker, and tripped over our 110 year old (in dog years) dog. The poodle, who is also deaf and nearly blind, never saw it coming, and, as far as I can tell, never knew it happened. My father did a remarkably agile rolling fall, and emerged unscathed, except for some slight dizziness.

We then all sat down to a wonderful dinner filled with warm talk, remembrances and laughter. The events of the day were catching up with me quickly, however. And after getting everyone home about 4:30, I decided to make a quick visit to the Emergency Room to see if I should be concerned about the heart palpitations that started hitting around the time of dad’s fall. After several hours of tests and observation, it was determined that I was simply suffering from (surprise) stress.

Susanne, meanwhile, had managed to get her brother back upstairs to bed and we ended the day burying the stress under turkey sandwiches.

This year we decided to take a pass on a family get together for Thanksgiving, because the kids were still away and we had learned that we needed younger recruits to successfully handle a holiday. We decided to wait until Christmas, when my younger daughter and her husband would be with us. We knew this would still be fraught with some risk since I would be a pre-existing casualty for the season with recently completed bi-lateral hernia surgery, and would be even more useless than usual. But with extra young people around, the feeling was how hard could it be? For the record, I was still on painkillers at the time and cannot be held responsible for any participation in this decision.

The omens were not good, however, as our brand new washing machine conked out the day of the arrival of our houseguests. And let me state that although the Maytag manmay be sitting by the phone collecting cobwebs, there is apparently a two week wait to get a Whirlpool repairman to make a visit.

Despite this, however, Susanne, an expert in strategic planning, had sufficient clean laundry to see us through and she cooked the meal a day ahead of time. We felt ready to just focus on each other and enjoy Christmas Day.

Things started going wrong almost immediately. My mother’s-in-law wheelchair went missing from her room at the assisted living center and we had to borrow a different larger one which proved very difficult to get up the stairs to our house. The result was a lot of heavy lifting (but not by me). Then minor disaster struck. My daughter and son-in-law were picking up my folks, and while Craig was bending and twisting over my dad to buckle his seat belt, he popped out his back, which had probably been previously stressed working on the wheelchair. Craig, who is six feet four, then rode in the back of the Saab back to the house. It took a half-hour to get him out of the car. And we had to use farm implements (an edger and a hoe) as makeshift canes to get him into the house.

Fortunately, once in the house, we remembered that we happened to have an extra walker in the basement. (Doesn’t everyone?) This brought the vehicle count in the house to two walkers, a wheelchair (and a cane). I could go with this and write a new Christmas carol but I’ll spare you.

My brother-in-law soon arrived, still nursing a bad back after a year, and was able to provide Craig with lots of sympathy and advice.

The rest of the day went relatively well. There were a few minor collisions between walkers and wheelchairs, and the dog fell down the stairs once, but generally, it was quiet. The plumbing worked, everyone enjoyed their presents, and my father and I played Christmas carols before we all sat down to a masterful pre-cooked turkey dinner.

My daughter and wife, the only two remaining able-bodied residents (women always seem to be the survivors), were able to get my mother-in-law in her wheelchair back out to the car successfully. Then my daughter took her husband to the Emergency Room where Craig was able to get some pills that made him pretty happy.

In retrospect, despite the fact that ER visits seem to be becoming a family tradition, and the whole day played out against a backdrop of terrorist threats and mad cow disease, we all felt pretty fortunate.

We had survived another holiday, and in reality we were very grateful. We had been able to get together with most of our family, and we were able to keep our sense of humor and laugh off the minor problems, rather than crying over major ones. And it truly is a joyous time of the year for Christians. A day of warmth and remembrance and hope for the future. And I pray that we will have the opportunity for many more such holidays.

My only request is that next time, we demand that my older daughter and her husband also be in attendance. Clearly, we need a few more able-bodied reinforcements around for our kind of rowdy celebration.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Take A Breath

I think that we spend too much of our Christmas season shopping. I know that we now get that programmed into us from the early days of October, and the retailers have actually deleted Thanksgiving from their memories in a desperate effort to make us shop until we drop. But we don’t have to agree to their terms.
Think back for a minute to the best Christmas presents you ever got. Were they highlighted by the “have to have” gifts that advertisers told us we needed to ask for. Or were they the ones that stick with you over the years because you actually loved them.

For me, one was actually a train set from when my Dad was a kid. He pulled it out and helped me set it up on Christmas morning. Others were a set of blocks that looked like big dominoes and a Frisbee that we played with in the snow all winter. They were things that actually involved my parents participation. Even my first two wheel bike was special because, yes, I really wanted it, but also because my Dad spent hours putting it together, and I knew how incompetent he was with all things mechanical.

Do you really think your kids favorite memories are going to be focused on whether you were able to get them a Singing Elmo or the latest version of the Cabbage Patch Kids craze?
Retailers will pillory me for saying this, but most of the electronic gifts out there just create more distance between you and your family. Real family memories aren’t created by everyone sitting around the house playing with their IPhones. Even video games are a little questionable. Are you going to look back and remember who got the most kills or was best at stealing cars? Okay, maybe. I still remember wiping my Dad out playing the NHL Hockey table game

I spent most of a morning the other day going through some home-made Christmas and birthday cards that my children made for me when they were young. I saved them all, and rereading them is like a new gift every time. Thes are far more precious than any little gifts they tried to buy.

I guess my point is that a great Christmas isn’t necessarily created by turning yourself into a mall-walking zombie. Sometimes the best present you can give your kids or yourself is to just spend a little more time with them.

Maybe an unstressed parent who spends his or her time at home doing things with the family will make for better memories than putting yourself into the emotional wasteland that comes from battling the retail demons in search of the “perfect” gift to show how much you care.

I know every family is different, but it might not hurt to take a breath this week, reintroduce yourself to your family and have a great Christmas.
And whatever you do, don't get your kid a Daisy BB Gun. He'll shoot his eyes out. (Okay, I admit it, I always wanted one of those, too. And I never got it.) 

Glenn K. Currie


Thursday, December 19, 2013

 This is that time of year when some among us bend over backwards to make sure the kids know that “Santa” isn’t real and Christmas trees are really part of a pagan celebration. They hammer us with guilt about all the power being used by holiday lights and try to make sure that Christmas Carols aren’t sung in public parks.

The Art of Christmas (Granite Grumblings: Life in the “Live free or Die” State, 2009) is an open plea for all of us to step back from the politics and intellectual gamesmanship that attempts to pierce the spirit of the season.

At the very least this is a season when people get a few days off, so even the skeptics and avid non-believers have the chance to benefit from the season. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all took this opportunity to stop looking at our efforts to change the world and took a moment to look inward at what we can do to fix the soul that powers each of us.

Let’s gently agree to disagree on lots of stuff for a few days, and see if we can agree on a central theme that has been part of the season for countless generations.

Peace on earth, goodwill to men (and women).

Glenn K. Currie

The Art of Christmas

There have been lots of Grinches out there the last few weeks, telling us why we are all idiots for having the temerity to use our imaginations during this Christmas season.

We see frequent articles and letters criticizing the folly of those who disagree with “established science” and what it can tell us about the birth of Christ and creation. For good measure they toss in critiques of Santa Claus as well. It seems that those who have all the answers, can’t wait to share them with all of us pathetic fools who buy Christmas trees, rejoice in hope and gather together to share the joy of our beliefs.

Perhaps we all need to take a step back and develop a little perspective about “established science”. Science, through the ages, has been just like politics and religion, in that those in power believe they have all the answers and consider it a grievous affront for anyone to take issue with their boundless wisdom. 

It was the “established” scientific community that decreed the world was flat, the Sun revolved around the Earth, heavier than air machines could not fly, the platypus could not exist, and no one could really throw a curve ball (it was an optical illusion). And they didn’t come running with early acclaim for Einstein or Edison either. Almost every major scientific advance came only after withering criticism or disbelief by those with all the answers. The new discoveries were advanced by people who had questions and imagination and a willingness to admit that there are many possibilities in the universe.

Today we see much the same thing happening. It is a human condition, I guess, for those with a little intelligence to often decide they have a lot of intelligence, and appoint themselves the arbiters of all things possible. We still see it in politics and religion, and we certainly see it in science.

We also see it too often in the news. If something cannot be proven “scientifically”, it is discarded as the ravings of lunatics. Perhaps this is very similar to the treatment that would have occurred one thousand years ago if someone had started talking about the internet or cell phones or electricity. In those days such rantings would probably have gotten you burned at the stake. Today the punishment is more humane. Individuals are just pilloried with ridicule and scorn if they let their imagination soar into areas like the mysteries of creation. Those with all the answers have shown no real love for inquisitive minds or goodwill toward men.

It is frankly astonishing to me to see how agitated some in the scientific community get when someone implies that there are certain things that may be beyond all our understanding. They lash out with vituperation and personal assault, demanding that absolute proof be provided for every belief.

If a bumblebee were forced to prove he could fly, he would probably never make it off the ground. Sometimes, it takes a little faith. But unproven theories are the beginnings of all the great discoveries. And new revelations confound “established science” with great frequency. It has been a mix of imagination, wonder and a little humility, along with intelligence, curiosity and persistence that has led to most of the great discoveries in history. In all areas of religion, politics and science, the great minds needed to be able to see beyond the “established” thinking of their times. 

Perhaps some day there will be another revelation for those with all the answers. Until that time, however, maybe these people could take a break. Why not take a nice vacation with those foolish days off that you have received. And give those of us who still take some things on faith, the chance to enjoy the wonders and the joys of this season. Let us give wings to our imagination and our exploration of the secrets of the universe, and let our children still enjoy the excitement of Santa Claus. Mostly, just give us all a chance to relax in the pleasure of loved ones and share the gifts that we give and have been given.

And maybe all of us can take a moment to step outside on a cold starry night and reflect on the wisdom of thinking we have all the answers.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


In keeping with the feelings generated by our latest snowstorm (about ten inches) and the fact that most of us will soon be out running around in the stuff, it seems like an appropriate time to let all of you outsiders know what makes New Hampshire natives tick.

Without a doubt, we are a strange group that engages in activities which are hard to explain to the casual observer.

Winter Insanity (Granite Grumblings; Life in the “Live Free or Die State”, 2011) is a piece I wrote a while ago when I felt a need for therapy during a particularly long winter.
Glenn K. Currie


Winter Insanity


Down south they love to show pictures of the winter storms that assault those of us who live in New England. They know it’s good for the tourist business, and it also reinforces their notion that most of us are crazy.

 After three months of weather like we have had this year, there may be more than a little substance to the insanity charges. All you have to do is look at some of the video of recent storms, and you can see ample cause for thinking that people might be on the verge of some kind of breakdown.

I see tortured souls with glazed eyes peeking over head-high snow banks, and cars upside down on median strips. There are pictures of snow-clogged roads where you need Lojack to find the car you parked the previous night, and icicles precariously hanging over entrances, promising instant death to the unwary. And let’s not forget the bursting pipes causing picturesque frozen waterfalls down the sides of unsuspecting homes.

Even in ordinary times it is hard to refute that at least some of us may be a few shingles short in the roof department.

One clear example is the image that many of us project by the clothes we wear. Sure, we feel we are being practical, but to the outside world we conjure up visions of Johnny Carson in red plaid. Headgear is the most visible part of our winter dress and sends a powerful message to others. The mix of psychedelic ski hats, earflap caps, mufflers, face masks and ear muffs (sometimes in combination), makes us look like a bunch of hicks (and yes, I am aware that is the look that many of us are going for). When this is combined, however, with the multi-layered, double-wide, coat look, we have a presentation that causes others to speculate about our sanity. I even wonder myself sometimes, since I have heard of people slipping on the ice and lying there for hours because there hands can’t reach the ground and there head is too muffled up to yell for help. 

And then there is the general skepticism with which much of the world views our choices of exotic winter sports. Let’s analyze why some might say we are crazy for participating in some of these.

Snowmobiling- Think about this. Bikers (perhaps not the most solidly-grounded group to begin with) put away their big hogs for the winter because they figured out, probably after years of study, that riding around in 10 degrees below zero wind chill isn’t the most fun in the world. But some of our citizens love nothing better than to jump on snowmobiles, stare frostbite in the face, and head out across frozen lakes, where they risk becoming submersible popsicles. The ultimate pleasure, I am told, is to race these noisy vehicles into the wilderness, where they can enjoy the quiet beauty of a winter wonderland.

Ski Jumping- Here is a sport where the objective is to go downhill as fast as you can in order to launch oneself off a take-off pad that sends you flying off the mountain. You then try to execute a controlled crash a few hundred feet below so that you don’t kill yourself.

Snowboarding- This appears to be a combination of downhill skiing and demolition derby. Participants get out on the side of a mountain, strap a board to their feet, and then slide down the mountain while dodging trees, skiers, and other snowboarders, most of whom are fifteen year old kids. These are kids who have not yet learned fear, relish being out of control, and will not be eligible to drive a car for another year; at which point, they will become the most dangerous people on the highways.

Polar Bear Clubs- This is supposedly a sport. It consists of screaming, near-naked people who run across the snow in the middle of the winter, dive into ice cold water, jump around for a couple of minutes turning blue, and then drive to the nearest hospital.

Snowshoeing- Participants in this growing sport snap on a pair of clown shoes, and then go wandering in the deep snow into the most inaccessible parts of the forest. This is only good news to the hungry carnivores who live there and like warm-blooded mammals who are slow afoot.

Ice Fishing- This sport involves sitting in a smoke-filled wooden hut, huddling around a hole in the ice and waiting to freeze to death. Once in a while an unsuspecting fish will be caught because the poor fish couldn’t imagine anyone being stupid enough to sit out on a frozen lake all day holding a long string.

I could go on but I think you may be getting my point. The message we are sending to the rest of the country could be misinterpreted and lead to the conclusion that we are all idiots.

Now some of you are probably smiling and thinking that you would never get tarnished with those accusations because you go to Florida in the winter. This is not necessarily an indicator of superior intelligence and doesn’t really help our reputation. Let’s analyze Florida for a minute. This is a flat, hot place covered with swamps, parking lots and golf courses. The average age is 106, and it is the only place in the world where the sixteen year old driver is in a low risk insurance category. No one uses the beaches, it is suggested that golfers wear helmets, and the only time people smile is when the 6 o’clock news shows the latest New England blizzard.

The single valid reason a person would go to Florida is to watch spring training, which only occurs in March. The rest of the year, a trip to Florida is almost prima facie evidence that the winter has indeed made you crazy. You say you are going there to see Mickey Mouse? Think about that for a moment. You are hopping on a plane and flying 2000 miles to see a fake mouse. That will certainly convince the skeptics.

I guess you can see why some people get the wrong impression about us. They don’t understand that all of this is just a way of blowing off a little steam as we enjoy the challenges and rewards of being hardy New England residents.

I know that, personally, I find these long winters very relaxing. They give me the chance to appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons and to be a little more introspective. And I have found a winter sport that makes a lot more sense than the craziness that attracts some of you. I have become a major participant in the art of indoor bike riding. I just hop on my stationary bike and log in the miles. This gives me all the exercise of riding a real bike, and I don’t have to go anywhere. I can just pedal and pedal…and look out the window at the snow…and I’m still right here…looking at the snow…and pedaling…



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I love The Song (In the Cat’s Eye, 2009) for its simplicity. The symbolism of this little poem is, perhaps, too obvious, but it speaks to the power and the impact of a single voice.

It seems appropriate to use it here as part of the celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela, whose quiet voice did  in fact break down the wall of silence around apartheid and awaken a sleeping world.

 Glenn K. Currie

The Song

A lone bird,

Resting in the arms

Of a tulip tree,


His song carried

Across glazed fields

And into the snowy wood.

I stood

At a stone wall

Between forest and farm,

And listened

To the simple notes


A sleeping world.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Road Untraveled (In the Cat’s Eye, 2009) is a poem I wrote for some friends and read at their wedding. All of us hope to find a friend in life with whom we can share our journey. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have that dream come true. It is a great gift.

If it were in my power, this would be what I would wish for all of you. For those of you who have already found that person, God has blessed you. For those still searching, may you be blessed soon with someone with whom to walk the “untraveled road”.
Glenn K. Currie

The Road Untraveled

(For Rocket and Robin)

There are no maps for roads untraveled.

Twists and turns are only charted,

As viewed in our rear view mirrors.

Destinations are places in dreams,

Never quite matching reality.


Each of us faces so many variables,

So many decisions made and not made,

That finding a fellow traveler,

To share life’s journeys, life’s choices,

Often seems the stuff of fairy tales.


Yet sometimes, the heavens align,

And some of us are blessed

To find a partner,

To share both the dreams, and the reality.

Such events are cause for celebration.


We gather together in recognition

When this miracle happens.

That in the vast expanse of the universe,

We do not have to be alone.

That warmth exists outside the stars.


We rejoice in the looks and touches

Of love and friendship.

The chance to see the world in broader spectrum.

In the opportunity to seek out

An untraveled road…together.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thoughts to Keep Things in Perspective

It is okay not to know everything. But strive to know the right things.

Parents will never have all the answers. But if you can pass on to your children a reverence for the beauties of life and the world that sustains it, you will probably have given them a good start at finding answers on their own.

Part of what makes our stay on earth precious is that we know it is finite. Don’t waste it.

Knowledge is the gift that we hope to get to replace the theft of our youth.

Wisdom is probably something as simple as just knowing not to make the same mistakes over and over. The constant search for wisdom may be one of those mistakes that keeps us from finding it.

The reason most intellectuals turn out to be idiots is that they are smart enough to destroy themselves but not smart enough to save themselves.

The most successful “livers of life” that I have known shared some common traits. They approached life …and death with a sense of curiosity, inner strength, humility, passion and, above all, humor. Ultimately, their sense of humor seemed to serve them well when questions became more important than answers.
Glenn K. Currie



Friday, December 6, 2013

Thoughts on Poetry

People ask me sometimes why I write poetry when the general public seems to flee from the concept. This is a little misleading because poetry is still widely involved in people’s lives in the music that we listen to. But, with a few exceptions, poetry is not at the top of the reading lists of most of the public.
I thought the holidays might be a good time to talk about my thoughts on poetry and why I continue to write despite the obstacles erected by the publishing industry, the sometimes stultifying views of the internal gatekeepers in the medium, and the efforts of many universities to make poetry as unreadable as possible.

Writing poetry is one of those pursuits that everyone thinks they can do. One of my workout friends is always composing little poems (usually that start with someone from Nantucket) and criticizes me constantly for not writing more poems that rhyme. Poems can be short, they can be about anything, and if you are suitably inscrutable in what you write, everyone will think you’re a genius.

I had noticed in college that all the old guidelines had disappeared. The key to a successful poem was to get out there as far as your imagination would take you, and then throw all the words off a cliff. If they landed in a way that made no sense and had no relevance to life, you became famous as a “breakthrough” artist. This is still the case, as seen in an essay by Tony Hoagland a few years ago in Poetry magazine. He stated that “systematic development (of a poem) is out: obliquity, fracture and discontinuity are in”. In general, it seems that Poetry magazine has remained true to that approach.

As a college student, this seemed right up my alley, so I became a poet. The trouble started when I wound up in Vietnam and realized that the mangled obfuscation of modern poetry was just as irrelevant to the real world as the mangled obfuscation of what the war had become.

So I started writing poetry that actually made sense to me. This, of course, totally blew my credibility among the purveyors of dissociant free verse and ended my dreams of hanging out in coffee shops with wasted groupies who wanted to toast my brilliance.

So now I hang out in coffee shops with people who drink real coffee, and read newspapers which will soon be lost to a dissociant society. I suspect that many modern poets will hardly know the difference.

In the meantime, as a relic of the old days, I will continue to write poems about real life that I hope will find their way to those who actually stop and look at our universe without electronic filters, and aren’t studying the latest fashion highlights of the “emperor’s clothes”.


Glenn K. Currie


Thursday, December 5, 2013

blog note:
I believe the comment section is now working. Sorry for anu inconvenience.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Just a blog note. I am told that the blog is not allowing people to send comments. I apologize for that and will work in the next couple of days to correct the problem. In the meantime if any of you need to reach me, please send an email to GlennKC@aol.com.

Thoughts on Friendship


A real friend is someone who helps you keep your balance in an unbalanced world. The texture of the relationship they bring to your life may be fine or coarse, subtle or broad. Sometimes you don’t realize the import they have on your life until after they are gone.
For most of us, real friendships are rare. Modern lifestyles seem to leave little time to develop anything more than superficial relationships. Ask yourself how often in a day you actually exchange a meaningful sentence with someone.

Occasionally I meet someone and think, it would be really interesting to get to know them better. Then life moves along and so do we.

We should rejoice in the few times in our lives when we actually make a real connection with someone. But even then, we get so busy with our cell phones and virtual worlds, that we often let relationships stagnate.

This Christmas, one of the great gifts you might give yourself, is to take a little more time to foster your friendships. The internet, or something like it, will always be there to provide the cold comfort of life, but this season is a good time to remember that the soul also needs a little care as well. And the warmth of human relationships is part of what fills the need.

If you are lucky enough to have some good friends, take a moment this season and thank them for traveling this earth with you…and especially for being willing to put up with you.

Glenn K. Currie

Monday, December 2, 2013

I am going to take this time between the holidays to talk about some of the things that we perhaps don't focus on enough during this period of hope and redemption. Perhaps it's a little preachy but then it's my blog and I want to look at what makes us special, not what makes us all the same.

Although we often don't seem to use it, man has the unique ability to comprehend the world around him. But comprehending that something is there and has an impact on our lives doesn't necessarily mean that we understand it. The mysteries of the universe and fireflies, hummingbirds and belly buttons are not things most of us take the time to focus on. In fact, I would bet that modern man spends a lot less time trying to understand the universe than did his ancestors, and not because we already have it all figured out.

We seem to pause only slightly, look up but briefly from our TV's and iphones, to think about our particular journeys. Our passages through life seem, to many, to be less important than the moment. We have this enormous gift of being able to analyze and learn from our choices and yet we seldom use it. There are questions everywhere, the pursuit of which can make life worth living. The answers may be somewhere beyond our reach but seeking them out can surely help sustain the journey.

Sometimes people seem to stop pursuing answers because they think they have them all. They become jaded by their "omniscience" and miss out on the wonderful emotions that come from actually taking chances and opening their minds to new things. There is a certain inner peace that comes to those who accept that they don't have all the answers, and that "wonder" and "awe" are emotions that can fill the soul. For many of us, this is what makes Christmas such a wonderful season. It is the chance to step back and look at the world with a fresh perspective, and to see hope and love and mystery in a world filled with daily problems that seem overwhelming.

Oh wait, I forgot, it's really about getting to the mall on Thanksgiving evening so we can get really cheap stuff. I guess that's another mystery to contemplate.


Glenn K. Currie