There's More to Life Than Work

(At Least, That is What I'm Told)

[Photo] In truth, work is fun. The work that I do is especially fun. And if you can get paid to do the things you enjoy, you are ahead of the game.

However, we all need to recharge our batteries from time to time and this is what I do to "get a life".

A Short Bio:

I was born and raised in the Baltimore and Annapolis area of Maryland, along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. I grew up with the opportunity to sail and to fish, and was blessed with having many acres of woods around the house that I could explore. As a child I thought the woods were a fantastic place full of new life to discover, places to explore, and new sights to see. To a child's mind the woods were still a wild place and it seems I never grew tired of exploring what the woods had to offer.

Now I realize how fragile these places are and how easily we destroy them. As an adult I support groups like The Nature Conservancy in the hope that there will still be places where we can all enjoy wildlife and that last vestige of untaimed land.

I went to The University of Maryland as an undergraduate, studying mostly Physics and Mathematics, and got a B.S. with a joint major. I took other courses, but was disappointed by the multitiered educational system that limits both the access and the quality of courses offered to nonmajors. I became disillusioned with higher education in general.

Then I went to The College of William and Mary (now Willam and Mary University) for my M.S. and Ph.D. It was illuminating. I found there a school dedicated to providing a quality education at all levels that was without imposed limitations. My eyes were opened to what a quality school could be.

When I left William and Mary and moved to New Hampshire, I fell in love in so many ways! This part of the country is beautiful. The air is clean and the water is clear. You can sail in the summer, ski in the winter, and hike all year 'round. And if New Hampshire is good, Maine is even better. My first year out of graduate school I learned to ski and started exploring the White Mountains.

My third year out of school, I met a woman from New Hampshire, Sandra Louise MacWilliams, who seemed to understand me, and liked me in spite of it. In March of 1986 we got married and a year later we moved to Delaware. (Well, when the grants fall through and there is a good opportunity elsewhere, you move in spite of everything else.)

[Photo] [Photo]

The good news is we came back. In June of 2003 we moved back to New Hampshire and back to the university. We love it here and we are thrilled to be back in this part of the country.

When we can we still go to Maine, although now it is less of a trip. We enjoy Acadia tremendously, although we are looking forward to reconnecting with the White Mountains. Acadia, the Coast of Maine in general, and inland New Hampshire are some of my favorite places in all the world and I can only hope that everyone who lived here can fully appreciate how fortunate they are.

I still sail and plan to get back to Annapolis during the summers to go out with my dad on the Chesapeake Bay. My boat sits idle, but I keep promising myself to finish the restoration and take it back out on the water.


And then there are the monsters. We have cats. Our first two are siamese littermates born in August 1994 and they have taken over the house for their own. Only by there grace are we allowed to remain -- that and we provide the food. The names posed a bit of a problem at first.

We named them Stanley and Garnet after the two folk singing Rogers brothers from Canada. We did this after a coworker of Sandy's thought that the names "Lewis" and "Clark" lacked name recognition. You could not ask for two sweeter or more lap-loving boys. They always greet friends and strangers alike with a head butt and a request to be petted. [Photo]

We adopted a new monster late in the summer of 1999. He was living under cars in Philadelphia when Bob Leamon and Oe found him.

[Photo] He fit in almost immediately and we named him Fisher, after Archie Fisher the great Scottish folk singer. He was born somewhere around May 1999. Don't ask me how he can sleep this way. I can't.

Fisher was a bit hard on the older cats at first. We kept finding tufts of fur about the house and Fisher liked to play rough. Garnet likes to be chased, but Fisher didn't know when to stop.

Eventually, the older boys accepted Fisher and all returned to their natural state of existence -- sleeping! Nothing generates heat like a pile of cats and on a cold night I am thankful that they sleep with us. [Photo]

You would think we would learn, but one day shortly before Holloween 2002 my wife called to tell me that a black kitten had been abandoned by the parking lot where she works. It was very young and had no chance of fending for itself.

And then there were four. A few days of hissing and spitting (the cats did some, too) and everyone settled down to a life of chase and sleep.
[Photo] We named him Boo and the truth is he is almost impossible to photograph. In this photograph he is hardly visible except for the eyes gleaming out from the sea of black.

Then he opens his mouth and those bright white teeth shine and give him away.

Regretably, we lost Stanley in the very early hours of September 14, 2011. He was in rough shape. Arthritis had been limiting his mobility and we knew that his kidneys were failing. He died at home and in a form he remains there now.

Not long after we lost Garnet as well. He went down hill very fast. He was in complete renal failure and failing to take up the water he drank. He was rapidly wasting away, losing his strength and coordination, so we put him to sleep on October 18, 2011. It was just barely a month since his brother had passed from much the same thing. They were sweet little guys, real lap cats who seemed to live on affection, and we miss them.

Time passes and these things come on their own schedule. Starting early in 2013 Fisher had slowed a lot. He took the stairs one at a time, not bounding up and down as he used to. He was born with just one kidney and it was starting to fail. On March 23, 2013 we took him to the vet to assess his status. He had stopped eating and drinking a few days before and was just taking a little cold milk. He had lost weight. It was time. Fisher was always thinking. There was a light in his eyes you could not deny and as a result he was always getting into trouble. If we were brushing our teeth, he wanted to drink from the faucet. If we were having dinner, he wanted to stand up and look over the edge of the table, then reach for whatever was close. A knife always meant meat in his mind. Not a day went by that someone didn't yell "Fisher!", but now I miss all that. The house is much too quiet.

Shortly after we got the first cats I returned to keeping tropical fish. I kept fish for years as a child, but school and moving got in the way. Now that I am again in the hobby, there is so much new to learn. I am breeding fish that years ago I could never have even kept alive.

I know that the combination of cats and fish sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but so far not one fish has fallen prey to the cats. The cats do sit and watch the fish for hours, and maybe plan their ultimate demise, but so far there have been no casualties.

I am presently keeping several species of cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, some cichlids from South America, and a selection of rainbows from Australia.

So now we are back in New Hamsphire, enjoying all the old haunts and finding new places to explore, enjoying hikes, and learning what has changed and what has remained the same. The sailing is great. The fishing is, too. It's a good life.

We never know what is around the corner, what new opportunity will present itself, or what new difficulty must be overcome. That is the nature of life. Whatever the future may bring, we are enjoying the present and hope to greet the future with the same enthusiasm and opportunity for change that we find here and now.

One thing is certain - those airfares home to Maryland to visit the family are something we need to work into the family budget.

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Last modified: June 8, 2017