Tag Archives: Will Jones

Love and Happiness Recipe ©

A love story by Will Jones

loveMy wife and I celebrated our thirty-first anniversary this month. Recently, our oldest son, our daughter-in-law and our one and only granddaughter visited from Boston. The whole family gathered for four joyous days. If there is a recipe for love and happiness, from July 7th to July 11th it looked like this:

Take one beautiful wife and add three handsome, healthy loving sons. Stir in one beautiful daughter-in-law, one beautiful fiancé and one beautiful girlfriend. Season with one beautiful, heart-melting granddaughter and two loyal, affectionate grandogs. Add one proud and grateful husband-father-grandfather. Blend all together for a long weekend of food, friends and fun at the beach. Serves nine to your heart’s delight.

Feeling love and seeing it in action is a grand feast of heart and soul. The recipe isn’t the same for everyone, but it tastes so good when you get it right.

Bon appetit! 

photo by woodleywonderworks

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Saxophone Jones ©

Will Jones plays the saxophone

saxophoneMONDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) — Music lessons may help keep the brain healthy as people grow older, a new study suggests.

I’ve been noodling around on the guitar since the 60’s, and while I can competently strum some chords and sing a few songs without disturbing the neighborhood cats, I’m not a musician. But, by degrees, I’m moving in that direction.

A long time jazz fan, years ago I bought a tenor saxophone at a local pawn shop and swore I’d learn to play. From time-to-time I’d take it out of its tattered case and work my way through some of the exercises in the Belwin Saxophone Method book I purchased, but soon I’d run out of motivation and go back to plunking the guitar. I’d blame it on being too busy with work, children, lack of natural talent, or just plain laziness.

All that changed when I retired.  I decided it was now or never. I hired a teacher, started taking lessons, practicing daily and learning to read music. A few months ago I played “Happy Birthday” at a friend’s party and recently I played “Summer Time” at a going away party for friends leaving on a one year, round-the-world adventure. I am not now, nor will I ever be, a threat to Stan Getz or Lester Young, two of my tenor sax heroes, but I’m improving all the time.

I’ve told my three adult sons that I plan to live and torment them until I’m at least ninety. I want to know how it’s all going to turn out for them. I figure playing the saxophone will keep my brain healthy and help me achieve my goal. My teacher says I’m almost ready to play in the back row of the County Band. I think I get to wear a royal blue blazer and maybe a funny hat. Does it get any better than that?

photo by Fred Jala

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Freedom Fighters ©

4th of July

A Story by Will Jones

 By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

~ From “The Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

On April 19, 1775, 500 militia and minutemen defeated 700 regular British troops at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. Forty-nine Americans and seventy-three British soldiers died, and the Americans harassed the British along the Battle Road all the way back to Charlestown. So began the American Revolution and the eventual establishment of one of the world’s greatest democracies.

On May 17th of this year, during a trip to Boston to visit my son, my daughter-in-law, and our three-month-old granddaughter, my wife and I walked part of the Battle Road between Lexington and Concord and spent over an hour at the area around North Bridge in Minuteman Park.  Although I grew up in Philadelphia and visited its historic sites, including Valley Forge, many times, never before did I feel the powerful spirit of the Revolution that I felt on the battlefield of Concord. Never before did I fully understand the great gift those brave men gave us on that unforgettable day two-hundred-and-thirty-six years ago.

Maybe it was because my granddaughter was with me, or maybe because it was a pristinely beautiful spring day, but I was completely alive to the heroics that took place on that field, able almost to see the troops, hear the shouts and musket fire, and smell the smoke rising from the hollow along the Concord River.  It seemed miraculous to me that the farmers who took up arms to defend their freedom were willing to sacrifice their lives for it, as if they somehow knew the historic importance of what they were doing.

America is not right now experiencing one of its greatest eras, and it is easy to become cynical and pessimistic about the future. But on this 4th of July, I am going to remember the feeling I had at Concord, the pride I felt in being an American, and the debt of gratitude I owe to the nameless heroes who fought for the freedom my family enjoys today.

 photo by Will Jones

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Grandchildren ©

A Story by Will Jones

Until February, our three sons, ages 31, 28 and 22, had blessed us with two…granddogs: Daisy, a sweet-natured, affectionate, red-nosed pit bull, and Sweet Pea, a somewhat aloof, reluctantly affectionate, but otherwise lovable beagle. Of course we dreamed of being real grandparents, like so many of our boomer friends. You can imagine our joy when our oldest son and his wife announced last summer that they were expecting. 

Never mind that they lived in Boston, about as far away from our California home as possible without leaving the country.  Digital photos and Skype would keep us close until we could visit.
In September we signed up for a May trip to New York with friends and added on an extra five days in Boston to personally meet who would by then be our three-month-old grandchild.

The blessed event occurred on February 13th, 2012: a healthy, serene baby girl. My son created a Picasa album almost immediately, and we Skyped twice in the first couple of months.  But nothing, other than the birth of our own children, prepared us for the outpouring of love we would experience when we arrived in Boston on May 14th.

For five full days we were with our granddaughter every moment except when we returned to our B & B to sleep. Everywhere we went we rode on either side of her in the back seat so we could gaze into her expressive blue eyes, laugh when she flashed a sudden smile, talk to her in response to her wordless chatter, feel the pressure of her tiny hands wrapped around our fingers, wonder at her calm beauty when she slowly fell asleep, her dark lashes resting on her rosy cheeks.

We took her to her first Red Sox game at Fenway Park; we visited Lexington and Concord, her first history lesson, and the Jack Kerouac Memorial in Lowell, her first American Literature lesson; we strolled through scenic parks on perfect spring days under new green foliage and among vibrant wildflowers.  We fell gloriously, deeply in love.  Leaving was difficult, but we’ve circled the calendar…our Boston family will be here on July 7th! In the meantime, wonderful photos and great memories will nourish us. Having a grandchild…everything we heard it would be…and more.

 photo by Will Jones

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Huckster ©

A Story by Will Jones

“Red ripe New Jersey tomatoes,
three pounds for half a dollar!
Sweet corn, sweet corn, ripe peaches and plums!”

The huckster drove down the narrow alley
calling out his summer temptations,
his strong voice echoing and beckoning
in the red brick canyons like a Siren’s song.
The women poured out the basement doors
in their aprons, their hands wet with dishes and wash,
carrying small snap purses with just enough change
to transform another predictable dinner
into a fresh and sumptuous summer feast.

The tanned huckster, flashing his white teeth
and practiced smile, the one the ladies liked,
his fast hands weighing on a hanging scale,
brown bagging in a magic flash like a shell game carny.
As the women retreated, one by one,
back to their day’s work,
his voice drifted and faded
around the next corner, into the next canyon,

“Red ripe New Jersey tomatoes,
Three pounds for half a dollar!
Sweet corn, sweet corn, ripe peaches and plums!

photo by Ajith_chatie

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness ©

A Story by Will Jones

Standing in the Reception Room in the big brick building on Ellis Island where millions of immigrants first arrived in America, it was easy to visualize the wooden benches lined with hopeful people of every age and nationality, and to hear the din of a dozen languages echoing off the plaster walls and tile ceiling. In 1926, my mother, then six years old, her mother and three siblings were among those hopefuls.

After a long trip in steerage, they arrived from Scotland on the USS California to join my grandfather who had come to the states in 1923 to work on the railroad in Philadelphia until he sent enough money home for his family to follow him. My grandmother, already thirty-seven and desperately seasick for the entire trip, bore two more children and lived to be one-hundred-and-four.

My wife and I visited Liberty Island and Ellis Island on a recent trip to New York to see some Broadway shows and visit with family.  The Big Apple was kind to us, especially gracing us with spectacular spring weather which led to lazy strolls in Central Park under full sunshine and an amazing canopy of new green leaves. And, biggest miracle of all, no humidity!

From New York we traveled to Boston to visit our son and daughter-in-law, and our three-month-old granddaughter, Saskia, our first grandchild. For a full five days we were enchanted by her beauty and her emerging personality. I think I learned more about love from watching her and interacting with her in those five days than I’ll ever be able to teach her.

I looked for traces of her great grandmother and her great great grandmother, who made that perilous and courageous journey eighty-six years ago, and I think I saw them in Saskia’s eyes, those windows to the soul that told me this baby, who neither of them will ever see, was worthy of their sacrifice. God bless America. God bless Saskia and her wonderful parents, Devin and Sarah. God bless us all.

photo by will jones

How to Eat Cactus Apples©

A poem by Will Jones

From my experience, I recommend
eating them with your imagination.
Do not, while walking the trail alone,
succumb to the allure
of the ripe fallen fruit
gathered in a fertile mound
at the foot of the cactus.
Do not, in childlike innocence,
bend down and pick up the reddest fruit
with the seemingly smooth skin.
Do not peel the skin back with your thumbs.
Do not raise the fruit to your nose
and inhale its exotic tropical fragrance.
Do not plunge your index finger and thumb
into the juicy golden flesh and extract
a shimmering morsel of sweetness.
Do not place the shimmering morsel of sweetness
in your mouth and swish it around
like newly poured wine.

If you do not do these things,
you will not find your tongue and palette
studded like a bed of nails
with countless microscopic cactus quills.
You will not find yourself spending the rest
of your hike around Paradise Mountain
plucking and spitting like a man with
a mouthful of loose tobacco

You will not find yourself
distracted from the moment
and the glories of the hike
by composing in your head
a poem about how to eat cactus apples,
hoping you won’t forget your best ideas
before you get home and put them all on paper.

 photo by doingslo

Vacation vs. Hurricane©

This story written by Will Jones

 With summer approaching, I recall a memorable vacation my family took in 1964.  My father, a captain in the Philadelphia Fire Department, decided it would be a good idea to visit Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A high school classmate of mine had moved there, which seemed to be the only motivation he needed to suggest the most ambitious adventure we had ever undertaken.

I was fifteen when my parents, my younger brother, my sixty-four-year-old grandmother, Nanny Jones, and I piled into our ’61 two-tone Chevy Biscayne, a cheaper model with a “three-on-the tree” manual transmission. No air conditioning. Think about it: twenty-five hundred round trip miles through the south in the hottest, muggiest month of the year.

The outbound trip is a story in itself. Details include mechanical failure, wrong turns on blue highways in Georgia, withering temperatures, and all five of us sleeping in the same motel room at night.  Even worse, dad and Nanny competed to see who could snore the loudest.

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale with no reservations, but found wonderful accommodations right on the beach at the Sandy Shoes motel in Ft. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. I visited my friend, and we enjoyed the warm water, but on the third day a hurricane blew in.  It was spectacular to watch the storm develop, but not so hot when we had to evacuate to a motel across the road, away from the ocean surge.  Torrential rain followed howling winds. We watched part of a roof blow down the street. The next morning there were fish in the swimming pool and the beach was essentially gone. A day later we had to pack up and head for home.

We caught the storm in Georgia and struggled through wind and rain for two more days.  Right after we arrived, riots broke out in the city, the rest of my father’s vacation was canceled and we didn’t see him for a week. In late September our beloved Phillies blew a six game lead over the last ten days of the season and missed going to the World Series by a game or two. The ill-fated vacation, the turmoil in the city, and the historic collapse of my home town team are forever linked in my mind. What a summer.

My three sons are grown men. I wonder what vacations stories they’ll tell their children?

photo by Leszek.Leszczynski

Maurice’s Campground©

This story written by Will Jones

Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
to see the total eclipse of the sun.
~ “You’re So Vain,” Carly Simon

Will we ever know who Carly was singing about?
One man? Three? More than three?
It doesn’t really matter, does it.

What matters is the walk through the dunes
Back from the beach to Maurice’s campground
On that early evening in July 1972.

How the sun’s light, extinguished in Nova Scotia
But only partially shadowed here on the Cape,
Grew dimmer as false twilight descended.

How the dune birds stopped singing,
And how the hawk,
Reacting to the approaching darkness,

Swooped down in the fading light and
Taloned the skittering mouse
Who’d made a fatal mistake.

What matters is what happened earlier
In the warm sand
with the ocean nearby

When we were invisible briefly,
Our ardor sheltered by the incessant
Sound of waves crashing on the shore.

We remember this in the silent half-light
As we walk back to the campground,
As the hawk, rising above the sandy path,

Its prey firmly grasped,
Levels off,
Flies into the eclipse.

photo by www.FranceHouseHunt.com

 

Role Reversal

This story written by Will Jones

Both my younger brother, Kevin, and I left home when we were still in our teens.  He settled in New York and I eventually settled in California after a few years in Colorado.  Our parents lived first in Philadelphia and then in Norristown, just outside the city.  We visited home as frequently as we could, but from the late sixties and early seventies until both of our parents died, father first in 1999 and mother second in 2009, we were never more than temporary guests.  My parents visited me in both of the western states where I lived, but for forty years they mostly stood and waved as I pulled away from the curb in front of their house.  When I was younger I’m sure their thoughts included concerns about my well-being and my future, and when I was older happiness about my career and family life.  Either way I know they were sad to see me, and later my family, go.

Yesterday I stood in front of my house as I watched two of my sons leave for a surf trip.  They were headed up Highway 1 through Big Sur and then on to Santa Cruz.  My oldest son lives in Boston with his wife and their two-month-old daughter, our first grandchild.  We’ll be visiting them in May.  At sixty-three, I’m now the waving parent alternating thoughts about safety, future and happiness as I watch my children grow farther and farther into their adult lives.  Such bittersweet feelings.  Each is his own man, each with unique looks and talents, each fully engaged with life from his own perspective and personality.  I’m of two minds when I think about them, both now and as I visualize and dream about their futures: part of me wants them to enjoy their youth but also be planning for a more or less “conventional” life that will make their middle and later years  secure and free from financial fear.  The other part of me wants them to live free of convention and create thoughtful lives based on their passions and individuality without succumbing to all of the pressures applied by the oppressive economy of modern life.  Somehow, I guess, I want them to have it both ways.

My boys are 31, 28 and 22.  Each has started down the road to his future, but they have a long way to go.  My path didn’t become clear until I was in my middle thirties and later on I had to make some big personal changes to hang on to a good life that was slipping away from me.  Today my life is better than I ever could have imagined, and that includes great relationships with my sons.  I admire their strength, their courage and their fierce individuality, but I also have those concerns about safety and security that my parents had decades ago as they watched me pull away from the curb without knowing when they might see me again.  Our farewell yesterday went like this: my sons waved and called out “Peace!” I replied, “Love and truth!” as they swung a left and soon vanished from my sight, following the grail road to the future.

 

Read more of Will’s writings at   www.everydaypeoplewilljones.blogspot.com

photo by Paro_for_Peace