Tag: wisdom

The Wisdom of Grandfathers

Something that I think we are in danger of losing as our society turns more toward social media and texting for communication is talking to and gaining wisdom from those who came before us.

Erwin Klippel

My Grandfather Klippel was a pretty handy guy. He worked for Remington Arms in Ilion, NY, as a gun assembler, and if memory servers me correctly, he built the prototype for the Remington Model 1100 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun.

As a young man, he’d gone out west to study to be an airplane engine mechanic, but unfortunately, had to give that up to come home and help on his family’s farm. But he could build a camp, drive a truck, pour concrete, raise chickens, or tell you where to dig your well. And he had an endless supply of witty, often whimsical comments and stories to tell.

He played semi-pro football, and I understand he was also quite a dancer and rode an old Indian motorcycle around, at least until he met my Grandmother. He also taught me how to split wood with an ax, which incidentally helped me to embarrass a lot of bigger and stronger guys when it came to ringing the bell with a big hammer at state fairs. Looking back, I am glad they didn’t get too upset by that!

But, most importantly, he had a lot of wisdom and was always willing to share.

Never a borrower be, but …

One of my favorite stories my mother shared with me about her father involves a rusty old saw.

When my mother was a little girl, she was helping my Grandfather repair one of the chicken coops in the back yard. He needed some sort of saw that he did not have. He hated to borrow things but had little choice, so he went to a neighbor and asked to borrow that particular kind of saw.

His neighbor was kind enough to loan him the use of the saw, but the saw was in terrible shape. It was dull, the blade was rusted and pitted, and the handle was loose. My Grandfather made the saw work, and when he was done, he took it into his workshop and began to work on the saw. With my mother watching, he cleaned and polished the blade, sharpened it, and repaired the loose handle.

My mother asked him why he was doing all that. She could not understand why he would spend the time fixing a saw he had borrowed. Clearly, she said, the saw’s owner wasn’t concerned about it.

My Grandfather turned to her and said, “Ardis, always return something in better shape than when you borrowed it. Doing that can only serve you well in life.”

That bit of wisdom had a big impact on my mother, and later, also on me.

We need more people today to think like that!

I hope you will check out some of my other posts by clicking here!

Early Morning Cat Fu

Our early morning constitutional …

cat fu

Sophie and I take a walk every morning to start our day. It was a beautifully crisp fall morning and we were enjoying our walk. Urgent matters behind us, we were headed back toward the hacienda, when suddenly a rather large yellow feral cat stepped out of the brush and faced us down. Both Sophie and the cat spotted each other at precisely the same time. The cat froze, it’s tail twitching in an irritated manner, but it did not move. Sophie froze as well, and so began an epic stare-down! Neither Sophie nor the cat would move. Just an occasional twitch of the cat’s tail while Sophie remained coiled like a spring … ready to leap.

It was like the story of the two old masters

I used to tell kids in my children’s karate classes a story about two old Okinawan karate masters where were manipulated into a challenge match. They met on the beach at sunrise, and faced each other as the villagers gathered to see the epic fight. Shifting into their ready stances, each fixed a powerful gaze on the other and waited.

I watched as the cat stood its ground, staring at Sophie with its own ‘powerful gaze.” Sophie stared right back, not blinking and immovable. Neither were willing to give ground or surrender to the other’s “chi.”

In the story of the two old masters, after an hour of watching the masters face each other unflinchingly, the villagers, some what disappointed, deemed the challenge match a tie … and everyone went home.

In the case of Sophie and the cat, after several minutes, I called it a tie and we all went home.

cat fu
I didn’t get a picture of the cat, so this will have to do …

Lessons learned …

Each of the old masters understood that the first one to attack, would die. That is why there is “no first strike in karate.” You cannot move without creating an opening. All the other combatant has to do is be patient and skilled enough to take advantage of that opening.

In the case of Sophie and the cat, I think the cat, obviously being the older and wiser of the two, decided it was too fine a morning for a spat, and nonchalantly sauntered back off into the underbrush.

Sophie, on the other hand, seemed very proud of herself, having just saved her master from the evil ninja cat that leapt out from the dark woods to wreak destruction and vengeance on the entire universe!

It was definitely an interesting start to a new day!

If you have time, please take a minute and check out Serpents Underfoot and Adirondack Bear Tales on Amazon.com.

Success Secrets: Measure Twice, Cut Once

I’ve sawed it off twice and it’s still to short!

Wisdom is a key to success.

Where do we find the wisdom to achieve success? For me, one source was listening to the wisdom of my elders.

I spent many wonderful hours as a child with my grandparents. During those times I learned many valuable life lessons, tidbits of wisdom, and humorous stories. My grandfathers were very different, but each had a great deal to offer their grandsons. This should certainly not be taken as to make light of the influences my grandmothers had on me as well. They were both incredible women who worked very hard and sacrificed so much to get their families through a very tough period in our country’s history. Their influences were very strong as well. However, this particular post is about one lesson from one grandfather.

The experiences of my grandparents, growing up and raising families during the Great Depression and World War II gave them a unique view of the world. They had a real down to earth wisdom that seems to be so often lacking today. It saddens me sometimes to see intelligent people make serious miscalculations because they simply don’t take the time to look twice.

I remember working on a project with my grandfather that involved cutting 2 x 12’s for floor joists. My grandfather was supervising my work. We were in the early stage of building our family camp in the Adirondacks. My grandfather had a lot of practical life experience in building projects, and had also built their camp down the road. He was a jack-of-all-trades kind of man.

Measure twice, cut once …

The actual circumstances are a bit fuzzy. This was many years ago. But, I remember that I had just cut a 2 x 12 to fit as the next floor joist to be put in place. Unfortunately, I had cut too short. So short, in fact, that it could not be used and the 2 x 12 had to be discarded. If you have been involved in any building projects, you just might know how expensive 2 x 12’s are.  I don’t remember my Dad saying anything, but that meant another trip to the lumber yard for one more 2 x 12. My hope is that we were able to use the “now too short” 2 x 12 some where else in constructing the camp. I am sure we did, but really don’t remember. It would have been pretty expensive to use it as firewood!

Surprisingly, I was allowed to continue in my “saw man” job. Maybe they figured I “needed to get back up on that horse that had thrown me.” As I picked up the tape measure to cut another 2 x 12, my grandfather quietly commented, “Measure twice, cut once.” I followed that advice and the next joist fit perfectly … success!

I know this phrase did not originate with him, but it was the first time I had heard it. It stuck with me my entire life.

Save your self some grief.

successSo, the next time you are tackling some kind of a problem or working on a project, or you reach for that saw, you might remember the phrase, “Measure twice, cut once,” and take a step back to double-check that what you are about to do … actually fits or corrects the issue at hand. You might find that your success rate indeed goes up!

Shameless plug!

And, be sure to check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, on amazon.com!  It is getting rave reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads!  It must have something going for it. I am busy at work on the sequel. Feedback so far has been terrific and I think it is going to be great!