Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Poem #12: Adventure Is A Verb

Today I leave for a 12 day tour of Germany. I will report back on my adventures after I return, as I am uncertain of the availability of Internet access in my family's old country. Until then, I encourage you to pursue adventure according to this recipe:

Adventure Is A Verb

Devour life.
Eschew Life’s beaten track.
Bushwack off-trail
cutting broad swaths
through Life’s gangly grasses.
Surmount Life’s precipices and ford its floods,
leap its chasms undaunted,
yoke its vagaries and tame its tauntings.
Laugh at its idiocies and revel in its variety and inconsistency.

Don’t leaf through Life’s pages haphazardly,
but studiously glean understanding
and fervently peruse its wealth.

Life is a privilege, a joy -- each day a gift.
Don’t merely meditate on life – initiate.
Don’t merely consider – decide.
Don't merely complain - improve.
Don’t merely dream – create.
Don’t merely plan – accomplish.
Don’t merely hope – perspire.
Don’t merely experience – engage.
Don’t merely dawdle - delve.
Don’t merely exist – thrive.

Wring joy from every Life-moment’s droplet
and significance from every nuance.
Make Life an active verb, not passive,
present, not past nor future,
to be devoured, not nibbled,
a glorious opportunity to be savored.

Or wasted.

copyright 2003 by Chuck Morlock

Photo by Chuck Morlock in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

Life's Two Tools

You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape.

If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40.
If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Suggested FEMA Guidelines for New Orleans

Biking Moraine Hills State Park

We biked about 14 miles today through the rolling hills, forests, and prairies of Moraine Hills State Park, and at McHenry Dam we spotted this Great Blue Heron (lower left side of photo) stationed below the dam awaiting fish that might come soaring over the spillway. A dozen or more human fishermen were also engaged in that pursuit.

We also saw a deer and later a magnificent Indigo Bunting which did not cooperate with a photo opportunity.

Poem #11 - Now and Then

My adventures with words continues as I explain the urgency to seek and welcome adventures of all types. We all have a limited time upon this beautiful planet (and should thank God for our promised time after this life!) I wonder how we'd all utilize our time here most efficiently if we knew our own personal dates of demise, our "best if used by" time frame. Would we live more for today and look less to the future? Would we accomplish more today and procrastinate less? Would we heap adventure upon adventure today, and truly appreciate all that occurs today, if we knew there would be no tomorrow? Each person can only answer these questions for one's self, but I encourage all to think more about the joys of "now" and let "then" take care of itself.

Now and Then

It's always Now,
never Tomorrow,
never Yesterday,
never Then.

You cannot control Then,
only Now --
can never newly enjoy Then,
only Now.

Live for Now,
relish Now,
for true joy resides neither in Later nor Before
but solely in Now.

copyright 1997 by Chuck Morlock


Here's a photo of a guy I believe is living for and enjoying today!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

WaucondaFest IV

Stopped again at the WaucondaFest for supper and heard a group called "Stockwood" which bills itself as the youngest Beatle tribute band. They were wonderful, all dressed up in their Beatle suits and bowl haircuts, and playing well on the guitars and drums and even harmonizing like the original English moppets.

If your're noticing that they DO look pretty young -- I asked one of the grandmothers who was there -- and learned the boys are 10, 12, 12, and 14, and they've been performing together for 3 years already!

Keep up the good work guys, and good luck to you!

Hey Hey! Holy Mackerel! No Doubt About It...

The Cubs are on their way! -- or so go the lyrics of one of the Cubs' songs. Well, this year they are an elevator team -- up and down, up and down, just like the stock market -- with the exception that the Cubs are down more than up for the year.

Yet this weekend they swept all three games from the White Sox, and this year took 5 of 6 from them. Too bad we won't play them any more this season. Realistically, we're going to have to "wait until next year" (as I've been forced to say for my entire life) before we might be able to say we're World Champs. But for this year, at least we're Chicago Champs! (Sorry, Kasia!)

Fairfield/Gilmer Update

I biked to the intersection reconstruction project again to check on progress and found that the Gilmer Road uphill approach to the new bridge has been graded and paved, as has the cloverleaf ramp down to Fairfield. The photo below looks east towards the intersection, and the paved ramp is visible heading off to the left.

The second photo is from the western end of Gilmer looking east at the continuation of Gilmer once the bridge beams and decking are constructed (with Fairfield running below.) You can see that the concrete work for the beam supports is nearing completion.

This next photo is on Fairfield looking north towards what will be the overpass for Gilmer (by the cranes.) A Honda Civic was being driven along this stretch by a guy who rolled down his window and said to me, "I'm 4 wheelin!" (I didn't know Civic sedans had 4 wheel drive capability!)

Poem #10: Deer Stalker

After biking to the intersection reconstruction, I headed over to catch the Millennium Trail to go back home, and as I rounded a 120 degree turn through the old apple orchard area, I came across this deer crossing in the trail. He stopped and watched me and then began heading down the trail towards me, finally stopping when he was just 10 feet away.

He was most curious about me and we just watched one another for a few delightful minutes until a jogger came by and the deer moved off the trail, watched the runner pass, and then a minute later left to continue browsing the tall prairie grasses.

This encounter reminded me of a similar meeting in Deer Grove Forest Preserve seven years ago while I was hiking there -- an event which gave birth to the following poem.

Deer Stalker

She stalked me through her forest
that torrid summer day
as I trod the timeless trail.

I felt no fear of her
as she curiously
emulated my trek’s path.
Behind a tree I hid --
and she found me.
Around a bend I darted --
and she found me.
Down a rise I scampered --
and she found me,
elongated slender brown neck
craning in search of
her elusive prey,
me, the trespasser,
the treader of her turf and
abrader of her abode.

‘Twas all in fun, with no harm done,
but what if she (not curiously)
had wanted me as game trophy?
Had stalked me round her stomping ground,
then shot me dead in chest or head
or in my heart for sport or lark?
With tables turned, I think I’ve earned
a whole new view on venison stew.
copyright 2000 by Chuck Morlock

Saturday, June 23, 2007

WaucondaFest III

Did 15 miles on the bike today and then dropped in on the Fest again for a late lunch. Love that "Taste of Wauconda" and the opportunity to sample various restaurants' fares. Today was day two of the Chicago Crosstown Classic between the Cubs and White Sox, and I was amazed at how many folks at the Fest sported shirts of the two teams -- far more Cubs than Sox, I might add. The most notable: A shirt with a likeness of Harry Caray and the words "Holy Crap! The Sox Suck Still!" Amen -- but unfortunately, so do the Cubs AGAIN!

Birds of a feather...

Six baby birds appeared on my deck rail today -- just sitting there, waiting patiently as momma left, found food, and flew back to feed each young'un. Each time she returned, their little wings began beating the air and their mouths popped wide open in gleeful anticipation of a morsel.

This youngster below received a full-grown dragon fly which was apparently much too large for it to handle as he eventually dropped it and flew off, leaving the half-dead lunch slowly and ineffectually beating its wings on the deck rail.

When I looked out a few minutes later, it was gone -- whether it recovered and flew off or was consumed by another bird, I don't know. I can't help but hope it flew off and will continue to eat mosquitoes for us.

Poem #9: Books

As a retired English teacher, I've always loved books. I love my computer, too, but I much prefer holding paper and cardboard in my hands and lovingly turning pages than scrolling down a screen. And I must admit I cannot toss a book away. I recall my father reading paperback novels and tearing out chapters and tossing the pages away as he finished sections. I can't do that. As the photo below shows, I retain books (and the photo only shows my den shelving -- not the shelves of books elsewhere in the house!) Below the photo, I try to explain the magic with which books enthrall me.

I confess
I’m addicted to books!
Books to read. And reread.
Then read again
lovingly to pieces.
Constant companions
surrounding and permeating my life,
encompassing and enveloping my being,
transporting me to places I’ve been,
haven’t been,
never shall be,
but where I become,
where I am.

Effective. Affective. Infective.
Infusing introspection.
Furnishing retreat. Release. Recapture. Replenishment.
Evoking images. Emotions. Memories. Dreams.
Indispensable to my happiness,
augmenting my knowledge,
enlightening my awareness,
exhilarating my spirit,
illustrating my mortality.
Reaffirming. Criticizing.
Empowering. Exasperating.
Pacifying. Inspiring.
Congratulating. Angering.
Filling voids and creating voids.
Lifeblood. Lifepreserver. Lifemate.

Beacons generating hope.
Compasses steering my personal plotline.
Counselors consoling my ebb and flow.
Steadfast welcomed friends
patiently, persistently, diligently
guiding this addicted wanderer to
and through

Copyright 2003 by Chuck Morlock

Friday, June 22, 2007

WaucondaFest II

Went to the Fest again for supper tonight and to hear some more music, and saw these two t-shirts: 1) "Proud of my 6 pack" (worn by a guy sporting a full keg under the shirt); and 2) "Rehab is for quitters" (who looked like he wasn't a quitter.)


Think he got the message?

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Wauconda, a village of about 12,000, is over 150 years old, and was the setting for the lake scenes in the film "The Blues Brothers." Wauconda has hosted WaucondaFest for decades, as well as annually hosting the only professional rodeo in the Chicagoland area.

There are rides for adults and kids, booths with games of chance, food from a dozen or more local eateries, and constant bands performing.

The food tent had plenty of empty tables when I ate, though a few minutes later a sudden rain squall sent everyone inside and any movement became difficult.

What's in a name?

Another Shakespeare line, "What's in a name?" (Romeo and Juliet) applies to these signs in our politically charged society:

I wonder if either, both, or neither was elected, and whether their names played any role in the outcome.

Poem #8: Integrity

Shakespeare said it this way in Hamlet as Polonius bids farewell to his son, Laertes, with this advice: "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." Self-honesty is the hallmark of maturity, self-awareness, and self-actualization, and when later in life you can finally understand yourself, respect yourself, accept yourself, then you can begin to comprehend and approach integrity. I choose to summarize in these poetic terms:


When what you say
and think
and feel
and do

coincide precisely
without excuse
or rationalization
or tiptoeing around the facts.

Like its kin, reputation,
a lifelong task to establish
and much harder to rebuild
once compromised.

A blooming garden
demanding daily weeding
lest dandelions creep in, choking veracity
and impeding blossoms.

Never random,
not an occasional life choice
nor an accidental life occurrence
but a daily, conscious, concerted lifestyle.

None can bequeath it to you.
None can snatch it from you.
It is your gift to yourself,
and only you can destroy it.

copyright 1998 by Chuck Morlock

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Pick-me-up truck

I took my new RAV4 in today to have the hitch installed. A 2 hour job, they said. I also took my bike and rode 24 miles during that 2 hours instead of sitting in their waiting area. Well, the 2 hour job still wasn't near being finished at the 4 1/2 hour mark, so I got a loaner to get me back home. Of course, I needed a vehicle that would allow me to transport my bike back home, too, and the only such loaner available was the biggest honking pick-me-up truck I've ever been in -- a shiny red 4 door, 4WD, loaded with extras Toyota Tacoma with 5.7 liter engine. Wow! What a machine it is! Another new adventure for Chuck! (But, no, I won't trade my RAV4 for it.)

The Death of Innocence

It was 1955. Television, still in its infancy, reflected the mores of the times. Sitcom parents slept in separate beds, the moms wore dresses around the house, covered with an apron during the hours of meal preparation, the dads dressed in suit and tie or at least a white shirt and sweater even around the house, foul language never was heard from the tube, infidelity and nudity were absent, violence occurred only in cartoons, and there was no sex or innuendo in shows or music. Commercials never mentioned diseases and undergarments were truly unmentionables and un-showables. And a half-hour show was almost a half-hour long since there were far fewer commercials.

Most families ate together without TV or radio blaring, and one-line jibes and put-downs between family members and friends had not yet displaced meaningful conversation. Many moms were stay-at-home parents and had supper on the table when dad returned from work. Our one television set (when there finally was one) was black-and-white, received four over-the-air channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, and WGN), and I was the remote (“Put on channel nine” or “Turn the volume up.”) The programs we watched were dictated by Dad – shows like “Sing A-long with Mitch Miller,” “Lawrence Welk,” “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” “Father Knows Best,” “I Love Lucy,” and “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx. I recall how Dad got home from work at 5:30 and supper was immediately served, and even though “The Mickey Mouse Club” was on then, I couldn’t watch it because it was supper time.

Then life changed and the innocence of the era ended. On October 16, 1955, three days before my tenth birthday, John and Anton Schuessler (13 and 11) and their friend Robert Peterson, 14, went bowling and did not return home for supper. They lived about five miles from us on Chicago’s northwest side. Two days later, hikers found their naked, battered, strangled bodies in Robinson Forest Preserve alongside the Des Plaines River. We kids didn’t understand the ramifications of this event since nothing of this magnitude had ever occurred before, but our parents were shocked and worried and clamped down on our comings-and-goings. Photos of the Schuessler brothers’ funeral cemented our parents concern and fear. Then fourteen months later on December 28, 1956, Barbara and Patricia Grimes, 15 and 13, did not come home from a theatre, and their beaten, raped bodies were discovered 25 days later in Du Page County. Finally, in August of 1957, Judith Anderson disappeared while going home from a friend’s house, and a week later her mutilated, dismembered body surfaced inside two 55-gallon drums floating in Montrose Harbor, not far from our house.

These six horrific murders in two years signaled a drastic change, as our local world suddenly and violently became a far more dangerous place. Parents feared for the safety of their children, and the children, too ignorant to fully comprehend the new order and the dangers around, rebelled against the new restrictions. Though our wider travels across all of Chicagoland on the CTA were reined in, my buddies and I continued our adventures around our north side neighborhoods, adventures that became clandestine and unknown to our parents.

copyright 2005 by Chuck Morlock

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Enough said!

  • The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.
  • How long a minute is depends upon which side of the bathroom door you are on.
  • The one who snores always falls asleep first.
  • To err is human. To blame it on someone else is even more human.
  • Experience is something you too often acquire just after you need it.
  • Nothing is impossible to the boss who doesn’t have to do it himself.
  • When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
  • You can always spot a well-informed man because his views mirror yours.
  • Tact is often a euphemism for lie.
  • Squirrels are fortunate. There is no lack of nuts in the world.
  • Sit at the feet of the master long enough and they start to smell.
  • Time may be a great healer, but it is a lousy beautician.
  • Amateurs built the ark and professionals built the Titanic.
  • Age doesn’t always bring wisdom. Often it comes alone.

Listen up, Sonny Boy!

I took this photo near Asheville, NC, and always wondered what the little tyke had done wrong to get disciplined by the drill sergeant parent (notice the tyke up on his tip toes.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Poem #7: Reading Is...

For 34 years, my daily adventure was the role of high school English teacher/reading specialist, and I was often asked what "reading" actually is. The following poem explains my vision of the complex, indispensable skill called "reading."



...is deriving infinite meaning from the finite page --
unique, intimate, living mind-pictures from
another’s perceptions,
boundless constellations of imagery
bursting from page to brain to soul.

...is experiencing without direct experience --
feeling the unfelt
and seeing sights unseen,
the ultimate vicarious living.

...is journeying around the world,
within the world,
beyond the world,
within your mind’s world.

...is navigating the vastness of the universe,
the minuteness of the atom,
the depths of profundity,
between two cardboard covers.

...is achieving in the solitude of your mind
heartening cognizance that you are not alone,
while discovering in the words of others
the untrammeled, inviolate you.

copyright 1997 by by Chuck Morlock

Sandhill Cranes

I did an early 15 mile bike ride on the Millennium Trail to beat yet another in our string of 90+ degree afternoons, and found our perennial resident sandhill cranes in the tallgrass prairie. It's a real sign of summer to me when they return to our area, and I often wonder what kind of adventures they've had since we last met.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Singing Hills Serenades

My place backs up to the 610 acre Singing Hills Forest Preserve, and every evening I enjoy the serenades of the frogs dwelling in the pond and each day the melodies of the songbirds (for which "Singing Hills" was named) around my bird feeders.

Softball again

Another 90+ degree Sunday and another softball game for Steve. He hits a scorching line drive that handcuffs the second baseman (actually sent him to the ground clutching a very tender area)...

...and beats it out for a hit as a teammate scores (photo below) one of their six runs, much better than last week's run production.

Steve then scores on another hit. The sun was baking the infield and you can see the dust billowing behind every base runner. (Unfortunately, the other team finished with 26 runs.)

Poem #6 : The Corridors of our Lives

Man plans and God laughs, for just how much control do we as humans actually have?


The corridors of our whimsical lives
travel neither straight nor trim,
but ever wend
and ever bend
with wanton wile and whim.

We scheme and plan our next life-steps
as humans are wont to do,
but we never know
where our life-path will go
when our days' travels are through.

Should we do this
and should we do that
as alternatives we debate,
but serendipitous chance and choice
invariably meld into fate.

So, since the best laid plans we make
are all worth less than zip,
just ride with life's tide,
smile wide inside,
and learn to enjoy the trip.

copyright 1997 by Chuck Morlock


I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for
man to direct his steps.
-- Jeremiah 10:23

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Father's Day

Scott and Sarah (on right) and Steve and Kasia (on left) took me to Biaggi's Italian restaurant in Deer Park for Father's Day where we enjoyed another wonderful meal.

Then we adjourned to my place for some conversation and more dessert as we watched movies of my latest trip to Arizona, Texas, and Mexico.

Thanks guys for another great Father's Day!

Friday, June 15, 2007

RAV Rave

As we biked today, I got a call announcing my new car was being delivered this afternoon, so after we biked and ate lunch, I went to the dealer, Pauly Chevrolet in Crystal Lake. Here is my new RAV4 V6 4WD. I love it!

I loved my Nissan Xterra for the 7 years I had it, and especially appreciated its off-road capability. Over 1000 of its miles were on 4WD roads in Colorado, Arizona, and Tennessee and it never let me down, but it was time to go for new safety features and improved mileage, so now its RAV time!

Who says Illinois is flat?

Patti labors up the 4/10 of a mile long incline on the Fox River Trail at Valley View as Len follows behind her. It was already in the mid-80s when we began biking at 9:30 am (but at least it was HUMID!) and eventually hit the 90s before we finished our 19 miles, and we all generated additional heat on the uphills along this section -- especially this the highest one.

Patti and Len attain the summit of this hill in Norris Woods on the northern end of the St. Charles community.

Len completes the long downhill and begins crossing the 2 bridges spanning the Fox River at this point where the Fox makes a huge bend. Dave has already passed me, but at such a fast speed due to the steep downhill that he was a mere blur in the photo.

On the right road?

Highway sign department motto: We're from the government and we're here to help you!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I tend to procrastinate. More about that later.

Deer Grove Redux

Deer Grove Forest Preserve is Cook County's first and oldest preserve at over 90 years of age, and for nearly 20 years it served as my main locale for hiking and biking until moving 2 years ago. Today I revisited my old friend, doing 12 miles on the mountain bike/equestrian trails.

What used to be lovely dirt surface, often single track with rocks and roots and ruts and downed trees to prevent inattention, has now been "citified" (above) so it more closely resembles Rockefeller's carriage trails in Acadia National Park in Maine. Fortunately, a few segments still are single track (below).

Over the 75 minutes I was riding, I only encountered a pair of walkers, 2 solo runners, and several deer (this one as curious about me as I was about her)

but the majority of the inhabitants of the woods today were the 17 year cicadas -- tens of thousands of which now inhabit the treetops -- and the deafening din they are emitting to attract mates was like an amplified symphony of cacophonous tunes. It was wonderful! And soon their brief lives will expire and the birds and other wildlife will gorge themselves on the protein-rich carcasses.

Above is the "shell" they abandon and which will add nutrients to bellies and soil, and below are 2 cicadas I found going at it on the trail -- completely oblivious of me.