Haiku Thoughts

The Haiku is simple. Five syllables in the first line. Seven in the 2nd line and five in the 3rd.

Try it, It can be fun. Here is a pageful!

Time has its own time——–It unfolds at its own pace——–Fast or slow, it goes. 

I read and I write——–Working to fill a time with thought——–It works and then does not.

Been smoke and cloud-filled——–Not a good time to go out——–Try to be fulfilled.

Age is a topic——–What to do with it?——–A question I try to answer.

This day is just fine——–Sun, blue skies, mountains so clear——–One of those sweet days.

Often our state of world——–Troubles me and I know zero——–Or can do nothing.

Nice to be in touch——–Hearing from you, so good——–Thank you for doing.

This day is vital——–How many more are left us——–Enjoy the gift.

How lucky to be——–I see, I hear, I feel now——–What else do we need?

Time cannot be held——–It is not a thing or place——–Or river that flows.

Enjoy each moment——–It leaves too soon and now what——–Waiting is foolish.

We are so unique——–None the same and yet we try——–Be yourself and glad.

Words are a challenge——Be sure of how you use them—-Often misunderstood.

Nature offers so much——–vTry saying this as Haiku——–It is original. 


My Thoughts on Aging

I’m compelled to write a paper having to do with “My” aging process. Maybe there’s a lesson for some others I stay in touch with and maybe not, but this is about me in any case.

I consider myself lucky. I will be 95 years young this coming December 5th.   I’m feeling fine; I still exercise, read, write, enjoy being with people, and am very aware that time is precious.  And that’s probably the main point I’ll try to make in this paper.

I have a sense of three very distinct parts to my life. That is what I’d like to share with you. The first is the present. It is where I live, spend much of my time, and try to be with each minute of the present. That means Listening as best I can to what others are saying. This is not easy since I wear earpieces, and the sounds in our dining room bounce off walls and resonate throughout the large room. I concentrate on what is said, not what I have to say. This is fine with me since I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life getting people to listen to me. So obviously, I’m learning Lots more about others and worrying less about what they learn from me.

The next important part of my life is my history. I DO NOT LIVE IN MY HISTORY but use it to explain the reasons behind my attitude and behavior towards most things in the present. I draw from my history as history and do my best to clarify that it is a resource I draw from, not to be confused with current events.  I consider myself blessed to have excellent recall, and I use this in my storytelling.

Finally, the day will come when it is our final day. We all have a diminishing future. It is important to maximize each moment, and I do. Whether with Lenette, friends, my cat (Mia), or reading, eating and enjoying our snuggly bed.  I fear not and know I’ve been blessed.  So have most of us.

Please don’t interpret this as a premonition of anything. I feel I’ll be around and hopefully remain creative for a good couple of years.  I’m still enjoying—so, why not?  


Life is an unknown———So let it come as it will————–Today is our day.

Call of the Wild—Pt. 2

After Heidi let the Husky go, he crawled off into the forest. Brutus was now up and jumped in joy on Heidi, showering her with kisses as if knowing she saved his life. They continued chasing each other around, fully appreciating the results of this horrific event. Lenette and  I remained a bit in shock, although relieved and elated with the realization that Heidi saved Brutus’s life and us from injury or worse.

The campers and staff had been at camp for about a week when I told the full story one evening at campfire.  I concluded with a warning to be careful if they came across the Husky. I knew the dog offered little danger to people but was a potential killer of other dogs. In the early sixties, incidentally, there were no restrictions on bringing pets to camp.  This proved to be good for the kids, and few problems resulted from the dogs and their relationship with campers and other dogs. Heidi was the head of the pack, and none tested her.

We did not have our own Lake (which we created the following year), so we asked and were given permission to enjoy and use the hunter/dog owner’s large pond located a mile from camp and our horse corral. He learned to keep his dog chained since he did not want his neighbors to kill his dog to protect their own.

On one occasion, a gang of us were at the pond for testing and swim safety lessons. During lessons and fun, one of the campers yelled the Husky was off-leash. One of the staff had their dog with them, and the Husky was heading for it. I quickly grabbed the dog and headed out to the end of the diving board, looking for something to defend the staff member’s dog. But the campers membered the story I told them at campfire and began to scream for Heidi. When she heard the call of the campers, she leaped into action, crossing the field in seconds. When the Husky saw her coming, he turned and ran for his life, heading for his barn and safety. Even so, he couldn’t outrun Heidi. She struck powerfully, knocking him to the ground, where he flipped onto his back and surrendered completely. Heidi stood above him for a long moment before turning towards the campers and returning for a hero’s welcome. None that shared this experience will ever forget it.

Incidentally, Heidi spent almost all of her time with Kim, a wonderful horse wrangler. Amazingly, she kept the horses under strict control when kids were at the corral. It was her job to help Kim, and none could be better.


Call of the Wild—Pt. 1

We continue with animal stories. This is a true story.  I shared it around a campfire with campers and staff at Shasta soon after it happened.  And because of this, avoided a potential disaster.

It all began about a week before camp in June 1962. We bought the land in 1959, which is a great story because of how it happened, but I’ll save this for another time. In any case, Camp Shasta was located about 2 miles south of the original owner of the land camp was built on.  The man we bought the land from was a Gyppo-logger, a professional hunter, and a guide for people that hunted prize black bears and mountain lions. He also owned a large Alaskan Husky that he used on his hunting trips in the area. This dog had developed an ugly reputation as a “dog killer,” so this man had to keep his dog chained or face the likelihood that a neighbor would kill his dog to protect their own.

About a week before the staff and kids arrived at camp, Lenette and I decided to check out the forest and hike to Richardson Creek, our property line to the north. Brutus and Heidi, as always, went with us and played their way around every tree and smell they found. Near the Creek, we heard a growl and saw the big Husky heading for Brutus. The rope around his neck was torn, so I quickly surmised that he broke away from where he was tied and intended nothing good. I instantly grabbed Brutus and, with him in my arms, prepared to use the flat side of my machete to protect against the Husky. He dove at me at the same time as I hit him with all my might. The machete ripped from my hand flew to the ground, and the Husky had Brutus in his mouth. When the Husky grabbed Brutus, Heidi (all 125 pounds) hit the Husky, who dropped an unconscious Brutus. I instantly began to seek a rock or branch to attack the Husky and saw that Heidi and the Husky were engaged in a life and death struggle. I was in “Call of The Wild!” But this was not Buck and a wolf in fiction, but real and now.   Both dogs were on their back legs to gain height and traction. They boxed at each other, seeking an advantage, and Heidi found it. She grabbed the Husky by the neck and threw him to the ground. Within an instant, Heidi had his throat in her jaws.  I pulled on her tail and screamed for her to let the Husky go. Heidi’s eyes found mine; she hesitated but let go and backed off slightly. 

Story to be continued.  Sy 


I have many “dog stories” to tell, and I’ll try to share them over the next few papers.

This is the story of Lizzy, an Otter Hound and one of the most unusual members of our family of animals. Most of you never met her, but she was about as unique as any animal we’ve ever had. This is a rare breed, about the size of a Shepard, slim, fast, and a lover of water.  Her most unique feature was her fur, which stuck out in a wild and independent way—which she most certainly was.  She had her own ideas about almost everything and showed those independent characteristics whenever we went out into the wilderness to play and hike.  Besides Lizzy, our animals at this time also included: Toulouse Lautrec, a Bassett Hound about as close to the ground as a dog could get, Bear, a big and gentile Mt. Pyrenees, and two cats that fancied themselves as dogs. 

During this period, we lived in the country south of Reno with almost nothing around but sage. To the west was Mt. Rose and a Ski area, Slide Mountain.  The three dogs and two cats spent much of their day in this country. Yes, the cats went with the dogs almost everywhere, keeping close to them regardless of where they roamed. Together they spent hours in the fields, often returning home as the sun set. At first, it was Bear that they followed, but as Lizzy grew, her breeding took over, and she became the group leader. In this case, it meant all followed her. Being a full-blood Otter Hound, her history was group, and that’s what she demanded from the other animals.  They were her group.

Lizzy seemed to always know where she was. One day we went into a meadow of deep snow, and the animals went crazy with joy. They loved the snow and ran wild for hours until exhausted before they followed us as we cross-country skied. They did, but not Lizzy. She took off for the hills near us. Some time passed, and we gathered up the animals for our trip home, but not Lizzy. She disappeared into the hills; we knew not where she had run. We called to no avail. We did not see her, but she saw us and played her game of independence. We had no choice but to start the motor and at least act like we’re heading home. It was getting dark. But Lizzy saw it all and understood she’d better join us…  or? Then, out of the darkness, Lizzy appeared with a look as if to ask the question: what about me? That was typical Lizzy, and we all left for home.


Our Beloved Animals

Animals have been an important and fulfilling part of our lives. I’m sure this is also true for many of you, so sharing a few experiences with our animals might bring back memories of your own. Perhaps you can share some of those in the comments.

After Lenette and I were married, we had three animals. Brutus was our first, a brown and black Beagle who entertained us with his math expertise and other antics. While sitting up in my arms looking like Charley McCarthy, he—so help me, responded to my questions with barks. If I asked him the answer to two times three, he barked six times. Two from four, two times, and so on. He could count, multiply, divide, and subtract numbers. I swear I gave him no help whatsoever. He knew.

Brutus’ best friend was our huge German shepherd, Heidi. She was a puppy brought over from Germany and given to us as a gift. She grew into a remarkable protector of our family, which, of course, included Brutus and Cleo (a pure white cat who in her lifetime arranged to have a total of 60 kittens). Every time Cleo had kittens, Heidi would stick her head in the birthing box, pick up each kitten almost as if to swallow them. Then she’d take them to her box and totally clean them before returning them to the birthing mother. Clearly, the three animals cared for each other.

At dinner, Cleo the cat would play games with Heidi’s bowl and food. Many evenings we would watch Cleo attempt to take over Heidi’s food bowl by slowly pulling Heidi’s bowl towards her. After each relatively successful move, Heidi would move slightly closer to Cleo until they were a head apart. This continued until Heidi’s bowl came within range of Cleo’s mouth. At this point, Heidi would let out a warning growl and a curl of her upper lip, showing a canine. Only then did Cleo withdraw to a safe distance. Regardless of the games they played, they loved each other.

There was a German Shepherd that lived on our street. This dog roamed off-leash looking for trouble and was known for attacking other dogs in the neighborhood. One morning, Lenette was gardening out front with Brutus on leash and was attacked by this dog. In our back yard, Heidi instantly leaped over the six-foot fence and went to the aid of Brutus. Cleo also did not hesitate and joined in the attack on the criminal animal. Had I not saved the attacking dog Heidi and Cleo would have torn the shepherd apart. Sadly, his owners had no choice but to put their dog down.

Okinawa-Part 2

The return journey from the caves to the compound and my squad proved uneventful. It did not take long to figure the truck out, and I passed my first test behind the wheels. A week went by, and my Sargent instructed me to build an outdoor warehouse for equipment found in the fields and separate what might be repaired and stored from the stuff they were dumping in the ocean. He added that I pick up a few prisoners to use as laborers to do the heavy lifting.

On my trip to the compound, I saw the same three that came out of the cave and whom I drove (a harrowing journey, to be sure) to the compound. We recognized each other, and all of us smiled. I’m sure that reaction was all about survival—but even so, I arranged to have them brought to the location where the warehouse was to be built. How could I know then we were to become close and caring, and yes, the best of friends?

There was Yamamoto, in his late thirties and a former bank executive from Hiroshima, Ohara in his late twenties, a former streetcar conductor in Tokyo who was tall and muscular, and Kato, a small guy who was a former actor in Tokyo. I was nineteen, the youngest and least experienced. This was the original team that eventually built the best and largest outdoor warehouse on Okinawa with forklifts, cherry-pickers, a crane, and three trucks. The staff soon grew to a dozen.

Using Life Magazine, we taught each other our languages. My Japanese and their English became good enough so that we communicated, laughed a bundle, and got things done. My trust in the three of them was total. I never questioned any of their decisions, and whatever equipment was requested (radios, field telephones, etc.) was handled smoothly and effectively. For all we achieved, they always made sure I got credit for the results. They taught me leadership.

A story of caring: A PW ran away, apparently heading for a cave. I grabbed my carbine and headed off to find him. Ohara and Kato tackled me and held me down, explaining that Yamamoto went for the runaway. I immediately thought I lost two prisoners! Ohara and Kato tried hard to assure me that all would be well, and Yamamoto would return with the runaway. An hour or so later, he did just that. Yamamoto then lined our workers up with me in the front and spoke harshly to the prisoner. After which, he slapped him across the face… then, we all went back to work.


Okinawa-Part 1

Humans need each other. To begin with, we could not exist without others bringing us into this world. Of course, we understand this and why our parents are so vital to us. What takes place beyond our conception and the nurturing that parents provide is that as we grow, so does our need for others. I have shared the story below many times because it so strongly emphasizes that our need for each other as humans never goes away. And, when we meet and serve each other’s needs, our regard for each other grows more important.

On Okinawa, the war was over, but many Japanese Soldiers remained alive and well while living in very elaborate caves. The potential for danger was a problem that had to be resolved, and while doing so, I met three Japanese soldiers who became my “best friends.” I was part of a squad that drove into the hills near Naha, the largest city in Okinawa. We had two prisoners with us that we would send into caves to convince anyone inside that the war was over and that the best thing they should do was lay down their arms and come out. They would be safe and cared for—proof of which was provided by the two sent into the cave.

If they did not come out, we would proceed to blow up the entrance to the cave. But in this case, three soldiers came out with the two we sent in. From the looks on their faces, it was clear the three thought they would be killed. At that moment, the Sargent yelled out, “Ogulnick! Take the prisoners to the compound.” We had arrived in a ½ ton truck, so it meant he wanted me to drive and take them to the compound. I had never driven anything before, but boy did I want to. I had no intention of telling the Sargent that “I could not drive.” If I faced a typhoon and other life-threatening experiences, then I could drive a truck, no problem.

I got into the driver’s side and immediately began to read the metal instruction plate placed on the dash. The three prisoners and guard climbed into the back of the truck. I got the motor turned on, and with pure fear and excitement, I began the task of heading downhill in one of the many gears. The truck responded in a series of jerks, and the four in the back immediately fell to the floor, holding on for dear life. All this while I began my first ever experience as a driver of a vehicle. (Story continues next week.) Sy

Was it Now… Or Forever?

I keep writing that experiences have the potential to teach us something about ourselves, others, and life in general. It only demands that we be present at the moment and be open to what is taking place. It sounds simple but is not, only because most people are not in the present. Instead, they are distracted… living in yesterdays and tomorrows. A common mistake made in living one’s life.

When I worked with kids and staff from the late forties to the 70s, I had no choice except to be as present as possible. I needed to be in the moment, ready to answer the needs and problems of those I was responsible for as they arose. People and events kept me present, not because I disciplined myself to be present, but my responsibilities demanded that I be present, ready, and able for others. This meant that any unusual happening or call to action captured my full attention. Following is an actual experience. What took place could not have happened, and yet it did…

It was a beautiful Sunday in July, mid-1950s, and for some strange reason, I decided to drive to our Day Camp, “Purple Sage,” located in Malibu Canyon, and go for a horseback ride. It was a rare desire since I frequently rode a horse around camp, checking on the kids and activities when it was in session. In any case, I felt compelled to go to camp and take a Sunday ride. When I arrived at the corral, a horse I had never ridden came over and nuzzled me as if to say, “I’ve been waiting for you; let’s go for a ride.” It was Strawberry (A Strawberry Rhone) with a gentle reputation, round back, an easy ride. She decided for me, and in any event, the horse I usually rode paid no attention to me, so Strawberry was my ride. Her round back made it easy for me to ride her bareback with only a hackamore around her nose—no bridle or saddle. How much sweeter a ride can there be?

We crossed into fields owned by Bob Hope and began a gentle ride which soon became a full-out run, and suddenly in that exact moment, it was not me, and it was not 1950. In that instant, I became a warrior attacking a village in the steppes of Asia. At full speed, we hit a gopher hole, and Strawberry and I tumbled forward. When I got up, Strawberry knelt, waiting for me to mount. Slowly and in deep thought, we headed back to the corral. Crazy as it seems, I was sure it happened, and I was equally sure the horse felt it too.

I am in the now———-Maybe not but possible———Is real always real?

Learning From Experience

Experience does not force learning upon us. Yet every event and experience has the potential to teach us if we are receptive. Still, even in the best of well-planned events, the outcomes are never guaranteed. This is why I stress that the more present we are, the more each event/experience is potentially loaded with meaningful lessons from which we may benefit. The point to make here is that if we are not present in the moments of an experience, we may miss its lessons. Allow me to share a profound experience and what I learned about myself.

Those of you that read my book know that in September of 1945, I was on an LST in the middle of the Pacific heading for Okinawa. An LST is a small vessel that displaces only about 10 feet of water and is built to land on shore with tanks and trucks. As fortune would have it, we were heading directly into a large Typhoon. Due to the storm’s size and the type of ship we were on, the only course of action was to deal with the storm, which meant heading directly into it.

The ship was loaded top to bottom, and everything was tied down, including all hatches leading to the deck. As we drew closer to the storm, the captain announced over the” bitch box” that prayer services were being conducted in the mess hall and directed that all crew head into the bowels of the ship. I decided to witness the typhoon, and if we went under, I would be witness to that too.

The space between the hatch and the deck was roped, so there was no getting out on the deck, but I could get outside the hatch and stand between the rope and hatch. Through the hatch window, I was full witness to what was to take place. It was the most awesome experience I have had. Briefly: Cigar-shaped clouds began to rush towards me; waves began to grow until they were totally above my head. I was looking at all water, watching the waves and water disappear as we were lifted to the very top of a mountain of ocean.

We were a cork, riding on the crest of each wave or bobbing in its valley. I am sure I fell asleep for brief periods being overwhelmed by the experience, but I witnessed a power of nature beyond anything before and since. As the storm grew in intensity, I began to feel no fear of death. In fact, I felt a certain strength that I do not remember having before this event. It was a sense that whatever life threw at me, I would be able to handle.