Why I Still Write:


"It is never too late to be what you might have been" ~George Elliot

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." ~George Washington Carver

"Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." ~Henry VanDyke

"With kids, the days are long, but the years are short." ~John Leguizamo (in inStyle)





One Mile At A Time *UPDATED*


This story is Part II of "LIFE ISN'T FAIR." Growing up is hard; thank God I remember my own struggles. I like to believe they give my almost-12-year-old son hope when he understands I was the same way, and I think I turned out ok. It's hard to always have faith and trust that everything is going to be fine. Read more.





Louie


This story is the thousand-ish word version of my elk hunt in 2016. I was talked into submitting it and it was published that following spring in ELK HUNTER magazine. .Read more.





Camera Condemnation


Yesterday’s Thought Of The Day: Don’t do anything in public that you wouldn’t want broadcasted on YouTube.

…Followed quickly by …and thank God I grew up in the era before cell phones and WIFI.

My most common thought growing up was, REMEMBER THIS. Remember this when you have kids. Remember this when you’re older so you remember what it’s like.

So, for the most part, when my kids are going through their varying degrees of difficulty, I reach back into the archives and try to recall how it felt to be 5, 8, 11… And if I was the same way, it helps me understand how best to parent them. At least, it’s one of the tools I use to try to raise my kids to be respectful, smart, caring, independent, self-sufficient human beings. (Yet to be seen, but so far, so good.)

I’m not and never have been perfect. Matter of fact, 90% of my motivation for being however well-behaved I was was the simple fact that we lived in a small town and whatever I did in public was reported back to my parents by the village. Didn’t matter where I was… it seemed like any time I had a single toe out of line, I heard about it within 24 hours. (…This is probably why I gravitate to the woods as much as I do. ALONE. The hills may have eyes, but they don’t report back to my folks.)

My world was small. I didn’t understand inflation, economics, war, espionage… For better or worse, I had a very protected childhood. (Please see the “Growing Up Onchuck” tab for confirmation.) As a result, I mostly remember feeling like every good or bad thing going on in my life was the literal rise and fall of my empire. A bad grade, a missed assignment, a comment or look from the guy that I liked… those small daily events, however atomic in the overall worldview, made or broke my day. That made my thoughts positively fierce; I had no sense of perspective.

If I’d had the ability to broadcast these thoughts through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… Ugh. I’d have either been blocked, sued, or offered a publishing deal. Kids can be mean. All kids do and say (and wear) things that they regret. I think back to my most embarrassing moments and I’m glad they’re grainy with age and probably not historically accurate any longer. Imagine those same moments broadcast for the world in 4K. (Or… what’s better resolution than 4K? Do they have that yet? And while we’re at it, I thought we all agreed to boycott whatever came after Blu-ray!)

I’m grateful that I never had the opportunity to humiliate myself for the whole world to see on repeat and set to funny music; and may I never be granted that opportunity. And should that video of my first grade school play somehow come to light, at least the bunny outfits and the resolution make it hard to tell that it’s really me.




Christmas Spirit


Christmas like a Mother. MY Mother.Read more.





Where You Should Be


Early or running late, I'm right where I should be. Read more.




LIFE ISN'T FAIR


I don't have all the answers. But I have pondered the same questions my ten-year-old is now asking me. I have a better view sitting on top of my 41 years than he does sitting on his 10. So I see things differently. Life ISN'T fair, but it's still pretty great.Read more.





B&W


Caution: This story contains mature concepts that may be unsuitable for younger viewers. Read more.




Toothpicks


While in college, I heard that after every meal you should brush your teeth. If you can’t do that, you should chew gum. And if you couldn’t do that, you should use a toothpick.

I was recently informed that using a toothpick in public is rude. Huh! News to me! Naturally, I tried to come up with the number of times I could have offended someone and realized I usually grab them on the way out of a restaurant or after dinner in my own home. So hopefully I’m not on anyone’s list of rude and insensitive people.

I understand that we all take in information differently. Some, like my kids, require a distraction-free zone, constant eye contact, and repetition all while obtrusively in their personal space. I tend to retain conversations better when I’m almost distracted. Squeezing a stress ball, taking notes, doing the dishes, folding laundry, utilizing a toothpick…

Then there’s the fact that my “condition” is a genetic flaw. For as long as I can remember, my dad and his brothers have always reached for a toothpick after a meal. When we’d have family over for dinner, the toothpicks were passed around like after dinner mints. I distinctly recall the Onchuck Boys all leaned back in their chairs, legs crossed, one arm across their chest, the other wielding their toothpicks as they discussed their plans for local land domination. Their sons, too. And, well, me. It was this ritual that spoke to a great meal, good company, and satisfying conversation. It was these after dinner dialogs that clarified the day’s events, spurred on tomorrow’s plans, and encouraged good oral hygiene.

It’s not like we deliberately spoke with a toothpick in our mouths. We took them out to speak; it actually helped to have to do that first because it gave you more time to evaluate what you were going to say. It also landed an air of sophistication to the conversation… Like a judge’s gavel banging on the podium, it called attention to the speaker. One is clearly busy using a toothpick mulling over some facts of life or what was just said. When one pauses to take out the toothpick after proper contemplation to speak, all those around should wait. And listen. And learn.

The toothpick: a tool of good oral hygiene, yes. An after-dinner family ritual, in my family at least. An instrument of more thoughtful conversation, sure. But if you’re perceived as being Rude while utilizing a toothpick, you’re doing something wrong.




My Theory on Bad Things


Caution: This story contains mature concepts that may be unsuitable for younger viewers. Read more.




Hoarder?


At work I’m not IT, Tech Support, or a Network Technician. I understand a bit about how computers function and interact with printers, network, and I’m not afraid to replace parts. With budget cutbacks, these qualities have made me popular and probably the most common phrase shared between coworkers at the office next to, “What now?” is “Ask Trish.”

My new coworker Darby asked me for an adapter to make her computer function with her dual monitors. I opened and shut the most likely file cabinet drawer. Opened and closed the second-most likely drawer in another file cabinet. The drawer above that was only keyboards. The fourth drawer was a hit: blue 15-pin female to HDMI. At which point, I turned around and saw the look of horror on her face.

“Hoard much?”

She’s a millennial-deprecating millennial, and while I like her, she’s younger than me and didn’t grow up where or how I grew up.

“Ever been saved by something you picked up in the ditch?” I countered.

“No.”

“Well, then. Until you have, don’t ask me to get rid of things that may help to keep you functioning in the future.”

Back when my summer job entailed the smallest of the Farmall fleet, a trailer, and a nice riding lawnmower, I toured the country between jobs at a whopping 5 miles an hour. I always said I could speed-walk faster than that tractor could take me, but I needed the mower to do my job. But it afforded me a luxury I didn’t know was a luxury at the time.

Traveling a country road that slow, I had plenty of time to study the ripeness of the tiny ditch-side strawberries, locate and identify all the roadkill by smell then sight, and discover trash and treasures that wound up in the ditch. Most of the time the trash was beer cans and hubcaps. But sometimes I found whole bungee cords, complete load-binders, and tools- like wrenches and screwdrivers. Since I hadn’t quite learned the value in packing a small tool set with such accessories as bungee cords and load-binders, these were incredibly useful when the trailer came off the hitch that one time. (Thank goodness for the chains!) And when that part on the tractor broke and I needed to strap it down where it belonged so I could get to my next location....Also, when the weld broke that held the tongue to the trailer. And a screwdriver will work in a pinch for a trailer pin.

My Aunt Kathi had a saying taped to their fridge: “Use it up, wear it out, make do or DO WITHOUT!” Amen.

So, yeah. I keep things that may still have use. Sometimes I don’t know for a year or two. Darby, you will be pleased to hear I threw away all of those 3.5” floppy disks. Last month. And recycled those 12” IBM monitors.