Captivating Clouds

I like clouds.  I am mesmerized by them.  Clouds are the forerunner of rain.  I like rain!  Many years ago MJ and I were thinking about moving to Portland, Oregon.  A colleague asked me if I realized that it rained 90% of the time in Portland…and I replied…really!  On my daily walk at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…I was in my element.  It was cloudy…

IMG_3564 2All too often the weather is a harbinger of our souls.  We find ourselves in the midst of 2020…and it has brought us not one Act nor two…but a three Act play of anxiety and confusion and sadness.  The beginning of a new decade and a year with such a catchy ring to its’ name…has left us reeling and searching for answers.  

IMG_1872 2Many of us like our lives to fit in a neat and tidy box with colorful wrapping paper and a lovely red ribbon on the top of it.  As the Coronavirus is lessening in some of our states…it is increasing in others.  The stock market plunged 700 points today on the fear of a resurgence of COVID-19.  We have a race problem in our country…that is a cancer on our nation.  We will either choose to deal with it with substantive change…or be consumed by our learned prejudice!  Our planet is experiencing a world-wide recession that is really a depression.  Times like these call for some healthy introspection and reflection and renewal…

IMG_5172 2We will come out on the other end of our 2020 Shakespearian tragedy…but we will not be the same…  Business as usual will not suffice for our walk through the roaring 20’s!  We are going to have to start seeing each other…not averting our eyes and ignoring the wrongs that we witness in hope that someone else will come along and right them!  

IMG_8162The master plan for the 20th Century cannot be retrofitted on to our 21st.  To continue to address problems in the same manner that we have always addressed them…and to expect different results…is a fools errand!  We will either learn to work together as equals and partners on our walk back to Jerusalem…or we will struggle in the kingdom of the blind until we succumb to our lonely narcissistic despair and destruction. 

IMG_1112Have you ever been a member of an office staff that worked together and respected each other and strove for the same goal of success for the organization?  I have…and it is brilliant!  It is fun to go to work each day and the camaraderie of shared purpose is enlightening and energizing!  There is no favorites daughters or sons…there is not big ‘I’ and little ‘you,’ rather there is a palatable need for each other and the skills and efforts that each bring to the organization…  The faster that we abolish our hidden agendas and self serving falsehoods…the quicker that we will jointly find solutions to the plethora of problems that plague us as we continue to rely upon our tribal instincts and beloved conspiracy theories…

IMG_2113Clouds are a marker of change… on the horizon.  Positive change is good, and necessary, and needed…as we emerge from our 2020 tragic  wake-up call…

Tightrope Walking! — The Jazz Man

Phase 4 begins Friday…in Illinois. We can eat inside the restaurant of our choice as long as social distancing is observed and tables are spaced 6 feet apart. For standing areas restaurants need to limit capacity to 25%. Indoor theatre are limited to 50 people or 50% of capacity. Outdoor venues are limited to 20% capacity. These measures are […]

via Tightrope Walking! — The Jazz Man

A Wonderful Father’s Day!

Yesterday was a fabulous and fascinating Father’s Day!  It possessed the trifecta of the components of my perfect day…Mary Jane and Aaron and Jonathon!  When those three musketeers are with me I have need of nothing!  

IMG_4996We enjoyed a Mexican Feast from Don Sol!  Then we settled back for a scary Kevin Bacon movie.  It was a prime example of a quality movie that did not receive glowing reviews…

IMG_0146I can think of nothing that has inspired me more than my family.  Since I was 20 years old my life has been revolved around them!  Whenever obstacles were in my life path…they were my reason for surmounting the high hurdles.  Aaron and Jonathon bring MJ and I…constant joy!  We still see each other, almost, daily…and we value our sons counsel and opinions.  We are planning on traveling to Maine in September if the pandemic allows…

IMG_1205I heard on the radio today that we are in the midst of a very active pandemic.  Florida is becoming the new hot spot in the nation for cases of Covid-19  with many states in the South and west of the United States exhibiting concerning spikes in illness.  For a while I was pleased to see that there were more people wearing face masks and practicing the 6 feet rule of social distancing when I did the grocery shopping…that is no longer the case.  The majority of people in our section of Illinois are no longer wearing masks…and seem unconcerned regarding social distancing.  Many speak of a fear of the second wave of the Coronavirus…I am still afraid of the first wave…which we are in the midst of!  Simply because our 2020 pandemic has lasted a few months…does not signify that we get off for good behavior!  We Americans did not believe that the plague or the pandemic would come to us…after all we have been raised to believe that we are the greatest country on the face of the earth!  The audacity of a third world virus interfering with our first world lifestyle…  But it has…and it is just getting started…

I heard a scientist and health professional speak of a growing movement to not believe science and to make light of its assertions.  Our president said, last evening at a rally in Oklahoma, that the United States is testing to much for COVID-19…and that is the reason that we have so many cases…  If that is the case…do pregnancy tests cause pregnancy?

I heard my friend, Rick, say the other day that he had been excited regarding his attendance at a Rolling Stones concert in St. Louis, Missouri…as well as the Doobie Brothers, on another date, but that both had been canceled due to the pandemic.  He felt confident that they had done the right thing by canceling the performances!  I identified with my friend,  as MJ and I as well as Ron and Ira Kaye had tickets to a John Fogerty concert in St. Louis this summer…and it was canceled…  Indeed businesses have to open up, at least in some manner, to facilitate the livelihood of so many Americans…but none of us wants to be the first test case…for a virus that can snuff out our life…like a candle in the wind!

I am the proud owner of a new Swiss Army knife that Aaron gave me for Father’s Day.  It is a ‘Boss’ knife.  The case of the cutting instrument is made of walnut.  Jonathon gave me two vinyl LP’s…one of the recently departed…John Prine, and the other the new release of Norah Jones…two of my all time favorites!


We Baby Boomers are rebels and we wear our freak flags proudly!  But we were also taught that education is vital to our success and our continued understanding of a complex and every morphing world!  ‘Science is the intellectual and particular activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.’   Dictionary


New Ties and Bowling Balls and Father’s Day

Thank you, Jonathon!


My family is always looking for a good reason to celebrate life. Christmas and birthdays and holidays of all sorts are cause for rejoicing and cheer. So this weekend is a big deal of course. Tomorrow is Father’s Day! I guess this means it’s time for many to get their dad a new tie or bowling ball. Whatever the present or presents might be; the true gift is that of a great father.

I’ve always had a friendship with my father. He has always been cheering me on in my corner. If I send him a text message then I always know there will be a speedy reply. If I have a major life achievement then I can be certain he’ll be there to smile and take my smiling pictures. If I am sad then he’ll offer words of hope and wisdom. If I’m happy then I know he’ll be…

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Life Without Strings! — The Jazz Man

When I was a lad living in Sauk Village, near Chicago, my friend, Steve, had a group of marionettes. I was mesmerized by them! Steve lived across the street from me. He would bring them over and put on a puppet show for me and a group of my 3 and 4 year old colleagues. Steve was a few […]

via Life Without Strings! — The Jazz Man

A Sign Of The Times

As I walked through the small section of Morris Library that is open to the public I saw our iconic bust of Abraham Lincoln with his necessary face mask on.

IMG_6548Campus was quiet and serene as it patiently awaits for the 2020 pandemic to pass over.  I saw my old friend, Ed, and he and I commiserated regarding how we have spent our shut in time.  We agreed that it is not as hard on us retired people…due to our lives already being much slower than they were at one time.

IMG_4392I have noticed that everyone that I encounter has experienced a transformation…we have been changed!  Life is not as simple as we one time believed…  We are all re-thinking how we conduct our business.


MJ and I enjoy art shows.  We have been art admirers and amateur connoisseurs for well over 20 years.  We are accustomed to attending these events in St. Louis, Missouri or on cruises.  The last time we attended an art event was on a Caribbean cruise in 2018.  Beginning Thursday we will be attending one through the miracle of the internet and the comfort of our home.  

IMG_6436I encounter a lot of happy people that appear to be free of the fear of COVID-19 and subsequently have neither face mask nor social distancing or knowledge of the medical fact that the Coronavirus has not taken a holiday…  Through the pervasiveness of politics and misleading political rhetoric many have accepted that false premise that the pandemic battle has been fought and the enemy has been vanquished!  I learned long ago that leaders, in politics and religion and business, pronounced admonishments of truth that were in reality hidden agendas that benefited them and not me.  I recall a manager and a university administrator presenting their perception of departmental conditions   As  I attentively listened to their counsel I began to understand that the department or the university was failing…because they were failing.  All was not lost for me, as long as I did my job and followed the rules of the organization, but in my bosses eyes everything was going down the tubes because they were circling the drain!


I had a minister that felt that virtually everyone in our little church was less than adequate and did not pull their religious weight.  As I observed this faith leader over a significant period of time…I determined that the problem was not contained within the congregation…but in the frustrated preacher!

It is possible for a political leader to speak to us from the chaos of their soul and their compelling fear of rejection and defeat.  An effective and powerful evaluation tool for determining the veracity of political leaders is their consistency of message.  Have you ever heard from someone that you thought was a your friend…only to discover that they had a hidden agenda that served their own needs and had little to do with your wellbeing?  


We are raised with a many stories.  Those narratives that inspire us to be ‘people who need people,’ as the renown Barbara Streisand sang of, truly does make us ‘the luckiest people in the world!’  As we march forward in our troubled world…let us write our story with love and compassion and the courage to hold up our fallen brother and sister, and mother and father, and son and daughter…


We can choose to live our lives in fear and distrust and conspiracy theory…or we can live in love and forgiveness and the reality of God’s greater gift to the human family…each other!

A New Idea! — The Jazz Man

It a wonderful and temperate day in Carbondale! I am a bit like Goldilocks in that I do not care for the hard bed…or the soft bed…but only the bed that is just right! I laughed when I saw a posting on Facebook of a Golden Retriever who was carrying a long stick in her […]

via A New Idea! — The Jazz Man

A Present In The Present to Open

A wonderful Jonathon Brooks Blog!


The more I give thanks I find more and more things to be grateful for. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for my family who are also my friends. I am thankful for my job. I am thankful for the weekends and the weekdays. I am thankful for any and all who have ever shown me an ounce of kindness. I practice the art of giving thanks daily for the large and small stuff this life has to offer. My divorce from pessimism and melancholy was many years ago. It was a difficult divorce, but I’ve never looked back and regretted it.

An attitude of gratitude leads to a joyful life. If you have good friends then be grateful for them because they are not forced or required to be your friend. If you have a job that pays nine dollars per hour then rejoice because you…

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Someone To Care

We enjoyed a wonderful visit with Ron and Ira Kaye yesterday afternoon.  Each time that I am with them my spirits lighten and my sense of humor is re-found!  We have had the great privilege of visiting with them in; Florida, and New Mexico, and Hawaii.  They are the epitome of traveling companions!  Whenever we are together, I think of all of the previous reunions that have been so enriching!  It was a special treat to enjoy a glass of wine and MJ’s homemade peanut butter cookies…and it reminded me of our fun before the 2020 pandemic.

Two of my good friends have left very kind comments on my recent blogs…and they humbled me and I was honored by their appreciation!  I believe that I remember every kind word that has been said to me…through my 62 1/2 years.  I have heard it said that what we need today is not more successful people….But more kind people!  I know that untold millions of our human family are thirsty and hungry for someone who cares about them.  The company or the university that you work for can have a plethora of outstanding programs…but many will never be a part of them if they have not connected with another human being in the organization!  Churches can have newsletters and bulletins and zoom meetings…but I may never be a part of the excitement unless I feel that someone wants me and has taken the time to ask me to be a part of the mission.

I wrote in a previous blog that I felt inspired by a Bible School that I attended when I was 8 years old, in Eldorado, Illinois.  It was held at the First Christian Church…and I attended alone because I wanted to know God better.  A few years ago when I was a member of our church board, called the session in the First Presbyterian Church, I and another elder were part of a confirmation class for a few of our young people.  I was paired with a fine young gentleman who loved God and was very serious about his faith.  We were tasked with sharing our faith with each other…and his testimony blessed and edified me!  There are many young people that are young Timothys and Titus and Mary and Marthas…in our daily life…if someone will invite them to the feast.

I knew and worked with thousands of students during my career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale.  The majority of them were looking for someone to connect with and who would be their friend.  Many would love to participate in you faith walk…if they were asked…

We are surrounded by lonely people.  In our journey back to Jerusalem…it is not about how can I fill my physical church…it is about how many people can I demonstrate the love of Christ…that I have experienced!

When Jesus was crucified it appeared that the church was over and done…  The Master…the Rabbi…was dead and had been entombed.  When the apostle Peter was singled out by a person as having been with Jesus…he said, ‘I know not the man !’  Thomas exclaimed that he would not believe that Christ had risen from the dead unless he could place his fingers in the nail holes in his hands and thrust his hand into his riven side…  The church was not gone…it had been transformed!

What Is The Magic Formula That Brings People To Church? — The Jazz Man

Have yo0u ever thought about a pervasive problem so much that your head hurt? Or have you sought the counsel of experts who provided you with a plan for success that in some ways had no relationship to your institution or demonstrated mission? I recall the organization that I worked my career in, Building Services, […]

via What Is The Magic Formula That Brings People To Church? — The Jazz Man