Five Tips for Stress Free/Work Free Weed Eating After Age 50

We were all weekend warriors and yard fanatics when we were young and raising a family (free labor) but after you turned 50, priorities and body parts began to shift. It seemed like a good idea 20 years ago to plant all of those shrubs and flowers but now a rock garden and a condo sound pretty good. As with many things, there is a new right way to do things if we really want there to be and so allow me to share five tips for proper weed eating after age 50. Only four things are required to get started:

1. A battery-powered weed eater
2. One battery and charger
3. A wet towel
4. Lazy streak, poor health or poor work ethic..any one of these will suffice but if you have all three it is even better.

Tip One
Purchase a Battery-Powered Weed Eater


The most important tool to make this work well is to purchase a battery-powered weed eater. A gas weed eater is good in the sense that you can never get them started so little work is done but the danger is that you still burn a lot of calories trying to get it started and maybe even sweat a little which we are trying to avoid. Nor is an electric weed eater with an extension cord a good idea unless there are constant power outages in your area. The miracle of the battery-powered weed eater is that the battery runs out. It is critical to purchase just one battery which should give you about 20 minutes of spinning the string. This time can be spent cutting grass or if out of sight, a pair of vice grips can hold the trigger down and you can talk to your neighbor while it cuts the air.

Tip Two
Secure a Wet Towel


As you leave the house, ask your wife for a damp towel, presumably to help you cool off in the grueling sun. As soon as you have a safe opportunity (wife not looking), use the wet towel to moisten your shirt in areas usually reserved for sweat. You may have to use your water bottle that you have also asked your wife to provide, presumably to fend off dehydration, to drench areas that the towel could not get.

Tip Three
Work in the Worst Area of Your Yard


It is important that your wife thinks that you are trying. By choosing the worst part of the yard, there is built-in empathy and sympathy. Progress is slow and hard. It is you and her against the darned old worst part of the yard. If it is near a lake where the danger of snake bite or gator attack can be introduced as a possibility, you will fare even better. Hopefully, that part of the yard is also hidden from her view. Turn on the weed eater while constantly checking to see if your wife is near. The more you run the motor the quicker the battery dies down. If a few blades of grass or weeds get in your way, don’t drop your head and complain…nobody is perfect. Stay in this area of the yard until the battery dies.

Tip Four
Oversee the Charging of the Battery


Electricity can be deadly. Volunteer (though not verbally to your wife) to make sure that the charging of the “only” battery you own goes well. It is better that your wife not know the sacrifice in the face of danger that you are preparing to make. Choose a comfortable seat as this may take several hours. Take this opportunity to re-hydrate and re-energize your body with staples that you may have around the house. If you can not find any, a quick trip to the closest convenience store will provide you with nutrition and sustenance.

Tip Five
Enjoy Your Work Product

IMG_9951Not everyone has the ability or desire to do what you have done. Take a moment to enjoy the journey. Allow several hours for this part of the work day as it may be the most important.

IMG_9953Upon waking up, check the battery. Stare at it for ten seconds and make a “hmphh!” sound and then plug-in the charger. Make sure that any feelings of guilt are immediately disregarded.

You are done. Another Saturday of weed eating (and a few chips and sodas) are under your belt. You will find that this method only slightly adjusted will work well with other projects that you may have on your honey do list. It is not however, recommended for projects such as getting the house ready for sale or for divorce proceedings.

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Five Reasons Why You Should Attend Your 40th High School Reunion

“The good old days are now.”
Tom Clancy

class reunion 40 078

There are a variety of reasons why most of us don’t attend high school reunions. Most of them are just excuses that wilt away after the first few minutes of arriving. You soon realize that nobody else remembers names well either and that looking at name tags is only socially awkward for a moment and can be minimized by wearing dark sunglasses. You also realize that the relentless process of aging is a common challenge that nobody avoids. Yes, there are excuses for not attending but there are more compelling (yet sometimes subtle) reasons that make attending your reunions every now and then a must.

After just attending my 40th High School reunion, allow me to suggest five reasons why you should attend yours.

Reason One
These Are Your True Friends

These are the friends that you grew up with…that you probably knew in grade school…that came over for dinner and spent the night at your home. These are friends whose parents you admired, respected and sometimes feared but who you knew really did love you. These are the friends with whom you discovered and did many things for the first time…your first time driving…your first date…your first kiss. You played sports with them and took tests with them. Though you may have not seen them for decades, the memories of your youth are a huge part of what makes you who you are and so your bond with these friends extends beyond the years. It is the basis for true friendship and true kinship. A great reason to go to your reunion is that a few hours of fellowship with each other is all that is needed to remind you that you were lucky to have grown up together. That is worth the effort to be there.

Reason Two
We Are Mortal

class reunion 40 163

One of the most sobering parts of the reunion was a poster that was painstakingly made with great love and care that showed our classmates who are deceased. On the poster among other classmates, was a beautiful girl who was one of my first heart-throbs, the funniest guy in the class, a fellow football player, a great grade school friend, a guy I had just spoken to recently…it is impossible that these classmates are no longer alive and yet they are gone. This poster will never shrink and will only grow over time. A great reason to go to your reunion is to renew friendships with awesome people there is no promise you will ever see again.

Reason Three
Your Friends Need You and You Need Them

I had a different feeling at the conclusion of the reunion than at the beginning. In the natural process of catching up on everyone’s life you haven’t seen in many years, what should be obvious to all of us began to sink in. Life is tough and each of us goes through trials that challenge us to the very core. There was not enough time at our reunion to share all of our burdens but I became more sensitive to the deeper emotions of our classmates as the hours went by. Underneath the laughter and smiles there was in many cases, sadness and despair. Health challenges..the death of a loved one…a child in trouble. A long drawn out discussion was not needed. Sometimes a longer than normal hug communicated compassion and shared burdens. A kind word…an understanding look…even shared silence lifted spirits. Sitting on a football bleacher a moment of faith was shared with me… sitting on folding chairs moments of empathy between old friends closed the decades of being apart. A great reason to go to your reunion is to make it not about you but about your friends and to be there for them and to share in life’s burdens with them. I was lifted by the strong shoulders of my classmates.

Reason Four
Laughter Is Just Plain Good for Your Soul

You cannot go to a reunion and not spend most of your time laughing. It is impossible. There are just too many sports blunders and school bloopers to keep one from slapping his knees and wrenching his gut. Even though our memories may have faded, there are just too many people with partial recollections to stop the stories from coming. They may not be accurate but they sure are funny….at least to us. I am convinced that there is something therapeutic to remember and laugh. It is good for the soul and is another great reason for going to your reunion.

Reason Five
We Are at the Age When Our Ability to Change the World Is Near It’s Peak

I was so impressed by my classmates that came. We had people from all different vocations and backgrounds. The one thing we had in common was almost 60 years of wisdom. We are at an age and stage in life where some of our best work still lies ahead of us and we are in a position to achieve it. Whether through helping with grand kids or working with charities or as volunteers, we now know the ropes…we know how to get things done. While at the reunion, I heard of dreams and aspirations regarding making this world a better place that reminded me of what is most important. Your 40th reunion will be full of people who care and who have the talent and resources to make the world better. Attending my 40th class reunion reminded me that people are good and that there is great cause for hope in our future.

I am sure there are many more excuses to skip your next reunion than there are reasons to attend….but the reasons  to go are more compelling. May I recommend that you let your hair down (if you have any), relax and unwind. You will have a good time and be a blessing to your friends and they to you if you just go. The good ol days can be now also.

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Should My Wife Pick Up the Dead Roach?

“And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul? Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul.”


The other day I saw a huge dead roach on the floor and the thought of picking it up to discard it was disgusting. Then in a flash of male brilliance, it occurred to me that it would be best for me to leave it right where it was so that when my wife discovered it later on in the day, she would know that the pest service was working. I left it right where it was with only a tinge of lingering guilt.

A few days later, I saw another big dead roach on the floor and went through a similar thought process. After all thought I, knowledge is the food of the soul…or was that Plato that said that? Regardless, I left it for my wife to see and do with as she wanted but was comforted that she would have increased knowledge regarding the success of our pest control.

Later, when I came upon the third dead roach, I decided to actually take a picture of it and write down a few thoughts. Of course, I could not take just one picture. I had to get down real low and get different angles to get the best shot possible. It took several minutes to get a real good shot. I could no longer justify leaving it there so I picked it up and tossed it in the trash can. My wife will just have to suffer through not having the added information and knowledge.

As I reflected on the poor dead fellow in the picture below, he started looking pretty familiar. Then a light went off and I realized that it was just a picture of me…wow…what I cad I had been.

Alas, the male brain can justify about anything. It is a highly capable self serving mass that seems dormant most of the day but occasionally turns on to take care of needs and wants (mostly wants) only to soon return to its dormant state.

But there is hope…because when you have been married long enough, your wife does not even have to be present to prod you towards improvement. There is an emotional encouragement (nagging) chip that each wife implants in her husband’s brain right after the wedding ceremony.  Throughout your marriage, she encodes signals that somehow know when to surface with their messages of encouragement (nagging). The male brain tries to suppress it but when presented with enough constant and solid evidence, the chip will take charge of the male brain. It comes to life when you have been lazy or incompetent and demands a better performance. My wife may be sleeping or even out of the country but that chip she planted in my head is always just one bag of  BBQ chips away.

So, I guess it is nice to know that our pest control works and that I have been able to serve my family well by getting that information to my wife. In an effort to improve the information flow and increase of knowledge between my wife and me, I will look for other ways to help.  For example, I also want her to know when I eat all of my vegetables at dinner so I am going to start leaving my empty dishes on the table as proof. Surely she will be happy to know each time that I am a member of the clean plate club…surely she…..bzzt….ow! Turn it off…please!

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My Wife Is Not a Turtle…but

“A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars.”
Carly Simon

I was surprised this week as I came around the fire pit in my yard, to find a softshell turtle. It was immediately apparent that the shell on this turtle had been crushed and yet here she was, some 100 yards from the lake, laying her eggs.


One can only imagine the epic battle she went through, probably in the jaws of a gator. What helped her escape? Did her outer armor do its job and the gator just finally give up? We will never know, but it is clear, that for this survivor, life goes on.

I am touched by this example. She probably does not swim through the water with ease as she used to when her shell was sleek and perfect. She may have aches and pains as she moves around…and yet she keeps moving…she keeps pushing…she keeps living.

Now I am the first to insist that I am not comparing my wife to this old battle scarred reptile…but you know…there is honor in making it through many of the challenges that life throws our way. Raising kids, earning a living, running a home, being an awesome mom and wife…all of that takes its toll. But when a woman makes it through all of that, she has earned the love, respect and admiration of generations.

Now some men may seek the sleek…the shell that has not been tested by the battles of life. That is a shell game that risks losing what is really good and lasting about life for what is temporary and empty.

Again, I insist that I am not comparing my beautiful wife to this turtle…but you know…when I am in life’s mud and swamps, I want to be with someone that has paid the price and survived the battles.

No comparison intended but…even if she seems like a snapper from time to time, life is so much better having created awesome memories with someone that I can share and speak with of the rest of my life. And if she thinks I am a loggerhead at times, it just shows how perceptive and wise her age has made her.

And even if she has spent most of her adult life as a “gopher”…gopher this kid’s forgotten homework or gopher that kid’s medicine…she has done it with the energy and zeal that would make any of her reptilian counterparts jealous…that is if she had any reptilian counterparts…

No…I am happy with the old battle axe…not to make any comparisons to weapons of war…She has cared for me when my shell has been broken and put me back together better than Humpty Dumpty’s men. Her battle scars are what make her sleek and attractive and I would shell out anything to be by her side forever.

I am not comparing her to a turtle or anything close but if she were in a race with a hare, I would bet on her.

IMG_9668If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends. If you would like to be notified of future blogs by Gary, please hit the “follow” button at the top of this blog. If you are using a smart phone the “follow” icon is sometimes at the bottom of the blog.

Let’s Make Showers Stress Free Once Again

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me I’d still have to say it.”
George Burns

It seems like taking a shower should be a reward at the end of the day when nice hot water washes away your troubles and, for just a moment, you are relieved of the worries of the world. That’s how my showers start. Then it comes time to wash my hair and the stress begins.

For some reason, one bar of soap is not sufficient to shower properly any more. I remember when a bar of Lava would take everything off your skin except freckles and that seemed to be just fine. Then came beautiful colored shampoos and maybe even Head and Shoulders but it was still an easy process for men to follow.

Then came marriage and the shower evolution took place. I mean how many soaps and conditioners and detanglers and body lotions and shampoos are really necessary. Tonight my shower started out stress free and quiet. Then it came time to wash my hair and there were three unidentifiable big bottles in the corners of the tub and another one sitting right outside the curtain on the floor.

The light was dim and I of course didn’t have my reading glasses on so it was fruitless to try and read them. I made out “Aloe” on one of the bottles and assumed that must not be shampoo. My wife was out of town so there was no help coming. I was on my own. I finally just picked a bottle and washed my hair with whatever was in it.

I don’t mind using shampoos with names of flowers or scents of herbs. I don’t even mind shaving with a razor that has a pink handle. But would somebody please make a shampoo that, when it is in a bottle, looks like shampoo that a woman can and would buy and that a man can properly identify in a shower that is dimly lit with no reading glasses? If my wife, as a woman, has to buy two bottles instead of one then put shampoo in both of them but label one shampoo and the other conditioner. And use two inch letters that say “Shampoo”. Write it vertically if you have to.

As I get older and balder, I realize that stress free showers are right around the corner for me regardless of the smorgasbord of tall skinny plastic nameless bottles that may fill my shower corners. In the meantime, I may go back to Lava…or maybe use Aloe…or rubbing alcohol…or Nyquil…or Hydrogen Peroxide…or whichever other bottle whose label I can’t read is sitting within reach of the shower.

Let’s make showers stress free and make shampoo bottles for dummies and then take it one step further and make shampoo bottles for men.

Sustained Effort Makes Things Work…Rock Steady

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”
Winston Churchill

Throughout most of the 90’s, we held concerts at our water park in Central Florida. Water Mania was a new water park and was hardly a match for the much more established competitor, Wet-N-Wild. We did not have a big budget and needed to do something to make us stand out. So at great risk, we decided to hold concerts at our massive wave pool.

As a revenue source, it was unreliable and often times very costly. On one concert alone, we lost $50,000. The chance of rain was always a threat. The chance that not enough people would show up to cover the cost of the concert, was always a possibility.

As a security risk, it was challenging. We had to have scuba divers underwater in the pool to make sure nobody disappeared underneath the carpet of inner tubes. Our friendly water park staff had to make the transition to becoming tough security enforcers typical of concerts.

As a marketing tool however, it was effective. We were up against bigger attractions with multimillion dollar ad campaigns. It did not work over night but over the years, it did what it was supposed to do…it put us on the map. Many people who would have otherwise not visited our young water park, made their way out to hear the bands. For some, it is their first memory of the park and it eventually helped make Water Mania an icon in Central Florida.

scan0001Bachman Turner Overdrive

Kenny Loggins

Molly Hatchet

Bad Company


Greg Allman

The Outlaws

Little Feat

The Marshall Tucker Band


We closed Water Mania after twenty years of business in 2005. During the years that we did the concerts, we were constantly evaluating the risk reward tradeoff. It was tough on our family and staff but in the end, it was worth it. Sometimes simply sustained effort makes things work and it is not always clear while you are in the middle of doing it, that it is a good idea.

Consider your children. Sometimes it just seems like it is too hard to keep them pointed in the right direction, day after day after day. And then one day, they are gone from your home and on their own. At that point, you will know for sure what you already suspected…that every ounce of energy that you spent in their protection and development was worth it. Sure you have had a few bad nights and sure there will be more in the future but your effort made your family a family…you put your family on the map. You did your part…and it was worth it.

Would I do concerts again if I had a chance to start over? I would like to say yes but there is not enough rain insurance in the world to make my wife happy about it…so I guess the answer would have to be no…It was a dream that it happened and something that I will never forget. Sustained effort is what most of us need to achieve our dreams. Rock Steady.

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I Am Glad My Mom Was Not A Paramecium

“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”
Pablo Picasso
 paramecium mom


I am glad that my mom was not a paramecium because…well…I would have been one too. Since they mostly just split to make more, I wouldn’t have had a father either. And on those heartbreaking days when I just needed a hug, her numerous little cilia just wouldn’t be long enough to really reach around me.

I am glad my mom was not a flea. I love dogs but not that fond of drinking blood. I love to jump but would rather drive a jeep. I don’t think mom and I would have had that much of a relationship. I mean, if I got on a rabbit and she stayed on the dog, when would we have ever met again?

I am glad that mom was not a sparrow. I would have loved to fly but I never really got into sunflower seeds…and even though the Lord notices a sparrow when he falls, I wouldn’t really have had any knees to bend down on to learn to say my prayers.

I am glad my mom was not a salmon. I like the water but not really the ocean that much…too many predators. At least, I would have had a dad but then both of them would have died at about the time I would have been born…and so many brothers and sisters…I never would have known them all.

I am glad that mom was not an elephant. She would have protected me for sure but I am not sure that I would have liked the gentle nudge of her huge feet…and she would not have been happy with her big ears and teeth in the family photo. I would have never been picked up to cry on her shoulder or felt the gentle pat on my back that all would be okay.

My mom carefully selected the right mate and honored him his whole life. She has nurtured and protected me and my siblings since birth. She has provided shade from the constant and sometimes brutal challenges of the world. She has cried with us and laughed with us and encouraged us. She alone has been the stake in the ground that has prevented the vicious storms and whirlwinds of life from scattering us abroad. She has been the home to come home to. She has been mom.

I am glad that mom was not a paramecium but if she had been, I would have gladly swum the swampy waters with her. She makes any world she lives in a better place…a piece of heaven…a home.

Happy Mothers Day Mom!

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