ea700c32-5960-4e46-91b2-2d20b9778667_800 cropped

Check the calendar. Check the latitude. It’s Winter. We’re in Chicago. Any questions?

With all the permafrost settling in over Chicagoland, you’d think driving would be old hat to us hardy Midwesterners. But in running my errands this afternoon, I saw ample evidence to the contrary. People slush sliding into ditches instead of making their intended turn; mailboxes and street signs being side-swiped at every hand. The simple act of getting from the car to my front door has taken on a certain Iditarod-esque quality that may yet have me featured on America’s Funniest Videos.

Though I’ve gotten to work safely (and on time) every morning this week, I have needed to inject a new component into my daily commute; namely sitting in the car for a few minutes once I get there just to give myself some time to release the rigidity from my tensed back and shoulders. Slick roads, pot holes the size of small villages and people who refuse to scrape their windows clear have all conspired to stress me out before I even start my day. Come on people. Life is challenging enough as it is. After watching all the weather hysterics the morning newscasts seem to thrive on, it’s a wonder we even venture out at all.

Snow storms, traveling, car wrecks and house fires – all of them pump adrenalin. Mom lifts car to free child…our bodies are marvelous mechanisms. But we are not designed to burn that brightly for very long.


The animal kingdom is pretty much the same thing. A cheetah can run 70 to 75 mph in bursts up to a 1/3 of a mile. Built for speed, the cat can go from 0 to over 60 mph in less than 3-seconds. Pretty impressive (unless you happen to be a gazelle). So while the cheetah may do gazelles, he doesn’t do marathons. After such bursts of output, he’s got to stop and rest. While never as fast as a cheetah (even when I had new red gym shoes), there is a wild kingdom lesson to be learned here.

Lots of us are going through our own version of blizzard, fire, locusts and robocalls at dinnertime. Maybe your dad is in the hospital. The brakes on the car need work and you’ve still got the heat bill to pay next week. But you’re doing it. You are keeping your life held together. It may be by hook or crook, but you’re doing it!

And then comes the let-down moment when you feel your fists unclench. Or as I was remembering earlier today, maybe it is the moment the realization hits that someone you really loved has died…they aren’t coming back. I remember my moment after Elsie died.

recliner1 in pencil

We’d done everything we could for Rick’s mom and it wasn’t enough.

We had handled the stage four diagnosis and the hospice it led to. We had handled being in the room with her with our cousins the moment she slipped away. And even though I remember all of us hugging each other as we howled in the hallway outside her room, we handled it. We handled the funeral director and her funeral arrangements. We’d even handled the insurance company. But once the well-wishers and extended family had gone, the house was truly quiet for the first time in days. And in the living room? Her empty chair. What do you do?


For all my evolution and self-awareness, I know what I did. I drew the blinds, locked the door and swallowed half a bottle of brandy, sobbing myself into a stupored sleep. My head was tired. My heart was breaking.

I needed to sleep.

I do not recommend you follow my example. Do not try this at home. But at one time or another, we all need to crash. To that end, I’ve included a few helpful day-in/day-out hints that fall along the lines of what some really smart people have helped me with since those cold, stony days.

I’ve learned it gets easier when I accept the way I’m wired…that I need to make time to relax; decompress or generally get a grip on my temper when I’m under extreme duress.

be good to yourself- fb timeline cover by xanthe berkeley - photography

There’s a method in all of this. There is so much we can’t control. But there are some things that are ours alone. Joy. Forgiveness and a good night’s sleep – all of them are ours for the taking. Laugh hard, love deep. But along the way, brush the snow off your car. Allow extra time and change your wiper blades. Take the steps to give yourself the gift of a soft landing. You’re worth it.

I love you mom. Star bright, good night.




7 Ways to Relieve Stress in Under an Hour

Guy or gal, your can regain your cool even quicker than you lost it with these simple techniques. There’s real science and some really interesting fun-facts behind why these techniques work in surprising ways. Written by Kelly Mickle, the full article was published in O Magazine (December, 2012). Her bullet points are:

10 Minutes: Chew a Stick of Gum

12 Minutes: Brew Some Black Tea

15 Minutes: Try a DIY Massage

20 Minutes: Put Pen to Paper

30 Minutes: Put on Music You Love

45 Minutes: Take a Tech Break

60 Minutes: Clean House

Read more:






(November 10, 1924 – January 16, 2014)

Russell Johnson, the actor best known for playing the Professor on the sitcom hit “Gilligan’s Island,” died Thursday at age 89.”

The main joke about the Professor, one of the seven castaways stuck on the tropical island somewhere in the Pacific, was that he had the genius to create anything from two coconuts and bamboo, but he couldn’t fix a hole in a boat. But setting aside the inability for some to just accept the show’s basic premise, let’s look at what magnificent inventions the Professor was able to create during the show’s three seasons.

With the aid of the Russell Johnson fan site, here’s are some of the Professor’s most creative island inventions:

He used bamboo, the ship’s horn and radio batteries to create a lie detector; he made a battery recharger from a coconut shell and a helium balloon made from raincoats sealed with tree sap.

Many things he invented required pedal power to go, including a bamboo sewing machine, a washing machine, a water pump and a telegraph.

While the Professor may have gotten ripped for not getting the crew off the island during the series, he did do his best in the post-series TV movie “The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island,” in which he managed to combine two airplanes to create a new airplane to get them home. It’s not his fault that Gilligan fell out of the plane midflight and the Professor had to turn around to rescue him.”

Johnson died from kidney failure at his home in Bainbridge Island, Washington(1)

Los Angeles Times: By Patrick Kevin Day – January 17, 2014, 11:25 a.m.,0,2172738.story#ixzz2qnVY09JJ; PHOTO part of with source attribution to:

(1)Who knew? Read more including Johnson’ getting shot down by the Japanese and breaking both ankles in the process…this, after flying 44 combat missions during WWII which qualified him for the GI Bill which got him into the Actor’s Lab and his career in the movies and early television:

Single Fern

Dave Madden RIP


(December 17, 1931–– January 16, 2014)

Dave Madden, ‘The Partridge Family’s’ Reuben Kincaid, Dies at 82

Dave Madden, best known as the sad-sack band manager in the 1970s TV show “The Partridge Family,” died today at the age of 82, Yahoo has confirmed. The actor’s former agent told TMZ that Madden died of “congestive heart and kidney failure” in Florida.

Madden played the character of Reuben Kincaid on the show about a family of musicians, who travel around in an old school bus to perform.

He often was vexed by the antics of the Partridge kids, led by David Cassidy and Danny Bonaduce.

“I’m saddened by the loss of such a sweet man,” Cassidy told Yahoo in a statement from his rep. “He was supportive and kind on the set and off and he will be missed by many.”

Bonaduce told Yahoo via phone that Madden “was as close to me as any member of my family. I don’t think I’ll be able to get into the Magic Castle now without him. If he had a choice, he would probably want to be remembered as a really good magician… that was his thing.”

Shirley Jones, who played the widowed mother/bandleader on “The Partridge Family,” added, “Dave was a great person and was one of the reasons ‘The Partridge Family’ worked so well. He will certainly be missed.”

Aside from the iconic role, Madden also appeared in many TV shows, including “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” and in the series “Alice.”Canadian-born but raised in Terre Haute, Indiana, Madden joined the United States Air Force before he became an actor. He served overseas in Libya, where he put his entertainment skills to use at camp shows, according toIMDb.


You should check out an excellent tribute from Melanie, a WordPress blogger I’ve just discovered…in Chicago of all places! I’ve really enjoy her take on people and events I thought I knew. Her site (Chitownstar: is one of my new simple pleasures. Pretty cool. Thank you Melanie.

You know it’s good when someone has the understated elegance to close out their tribute by simply saying:

We’ll miss you Reuben! Heaven can come on and get happy now.

Single Fern

Ruth Duccini


(July 23, 1918 – January 16, 2014)

Ruth Robinson Duccini, 95, one of the last ‘Oz’ Munchkins, dies.

Ruth Robinson Duccini, one of the last members of the troupe of diminutive actors who played Munchkins in the 1939 film classic “The Wizard of Oz,” died Thursday after a brief illness at a hospice in Las Vegas, said her son, Fred Duccini. She was 95.

The actress, who lived for many years in Los Angeles before moving to Arizona and later Nevada, was one of 124 “little people,” then called midgets, who appeared with Judy Garland in the musical fantasy based on the novel by L. Frank Baum.

In her later years she appeared at “Oz” events across the country. She returned to Hollywood in 2007 when the Munchkins received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The only surviving “little person” Munchkin is Jerry Maren, 93, who portrayed a Lollipop Guild Munchkin, according to Stephen Cox, author of the book “The Munchkins of Oz.”

A full obituary appears at

Sources:,0,427370.story#ixzz2qrkVUoKQ and




The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Every once and awhile I find a movie that does its book justice. This is the first one for me in this new year. Poignant, funny and completely approachable, this tale is more than just a quirky rite-of-passage. It gave me pause; made me laugh as truly as other moments saddened; and when it was all done and said, brought me joy…the very same things I wish for you in this new year.


Charlie (Logan Lerman), an endearing and naive outsider, coping with first love (Emma Watson), the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he belongs. The introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors, Sam and Patrick, who welcome him to the real world.”

 SOURCE: SPOILER ALERT: A good synopsis of the book can be found under the pen of Hayley Ashman and brought to us by Tamsin Howse, the Editor-in-Chief of KiKi & Tea. Ms. Howse speaks to the site being created for the love of writing, and for us, the readers. Another good addition to my email subscription list. and


Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.

Visit Eric and see his other work at: or

Driver reaches out of car window and uses glove to clear off snow in River Forest: (Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune):; Cheetah facts:; cheetah-running:; Recliner in B&W (The Fat Fingers of Justice, a WordPress blogger):; grievingdad2:; be good to yourself- fb timeline cover by xanthe berkeley – photography:; We Accept the Love graphic (Perk5-300×300):




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About dan4kent

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dan lives in the Chicagoland area. With a grown son from a previous marriage, he has since built a committed relationship of 34 years with his partner Rick, the Love of his Life. Having written his whole life, he blogged the past 7-years because he has to write…he can’t help it. Know the feeling? There’s ‘good‘ to be found in all of it. “If all I do is leave someone (or something) better than I found them, then I’ve done my part. Thanks for letting me grace your screen, if only for a little while.”
This entry was posted in Life, Life Lessons, Love and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. purplemary54 says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party. I hate missing things.

    I’ve commented on this to other people, but I can’t quite stop doing things for my dad in my head. Every time I go grocery shopping, I notice things I used to buy because he liked them, and I have to remind myself I don’t need to buy those anymore. It’s hard. I’m doing okay, but I don’t think I’ve unclenched yet. I suspect when it happens, I’ll be a hot mess for quite some time.

    • dan4kent says:

      Me too, but we saved a place. So excellent for you to share your shopping thoughts. Nothing wrong with any of it…you sound, dare I say, like you’re functioning in a perfectly normal fashion. Hardly one to be normal, I am reminded that Theresa Caputo might say those moments in the store are the precise moments when your Dad’s Spirit is with you. For him to love you that much! Don’t worry. Hot messes are what lead to pouring old gold into new forms. So pumped to be on the Planet at the same time as you. That makes me a lucky dog. Travel well in the meantime. Dan

  2. katecrimmins says:

    I always think life is harder in the winter. It’s more intense. It shouldn’t be but it is. I wonder if people in tropic climates think differently.

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