Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: off to college



In a little while from now our youngest daughter, Hannah, will be heading off to college.
My wife and I will be staring at something of an empty nest;
a new frontier and previously distant horizon for the two of us.
While we’re incredibly excited for her to embark on this wonderful journey our hearts are a wee bit melancholy.
It’s almost like this time in our lives was so far off in the distance that we needn’t give it a second thought.
The days of the Murphy family all living under one roof has all too rapidly come to an end.
That we would always be together was an illusion I unconsciously chose to create.
It’s what father’s do, I guess.
Little girls turn into teenagers and teenagers turn into young women and the time comes when they ultimately fly away.
Thank God it’s not forever.
There will be one less bell to answer and much less laundry never mind the savings on the water and electric bill.
(each daughter took at least 3 showers a day, or so it seemed)
I should be happy.
Somehow, I am not.
I will now be cooking for me and Pamela (more savings?)
This house chef is seriously jonesing his favorite customers, the ones who always said the meal was great
(even if it moderately sucked).

Change is an inevitable fact of life and nothing can alter that,
not the weather,
not God,
not even American Idol with Steven Tyler.
When change does happen in a major way as it will this coming September,
I will still scratch my cueball noggin and wonder where the hell the last 25 years of my life went.
I do have much to show for it though in three exceptional, vibrant, creative and beautiful young women ready to change the face of the world for the better.
They are all destined for great things.
Lofty, but heartfelt.
Like the Wally Lamb book title says,  ‘I know this much is true’ (Not the Spandau Ballet song!)
They all managed to somehow find their wings
and my wife and I are so very thankful and ultimately blessed that they did.

To my little Hannah(shine)-

Dad’s going to miss having you around.
Who else would leave a friend’s house on a Saturday night @10PM
to get their father a head of garlic and a can of chick peas because he wanted to make hummus?
To see you begin this incredible journey in your life makes my heart swell with pride because you have worked so hard and are so deserving of it.
I will also tell you that with being away from my cooking for a time,
Thanksgiving Dinner will be the very best you have ever had in your life.
Truth. (yes, you can pick the bacon off of the turkey)
And although my heart will break a little when we get back to an ‘all too quiet’ house,
I know that you’re but a heartbeat away.
As will I be.
So shine, Hannah . . .
Close your eyes,
dream big,
don’t take any shit from anybody and shine
just shine . . .


3 Musketeers

On the eve of my daughter Hannah graduating High School,
I am a bit melancholy.
Maybe it’s because I know that life is going to change again for me, my wife and the girls.
Maybe it’s because my three daughters have almost all but left the ‘nest’ that was (and always will be) their home.
Maybe it’s because this event makes me realize that no matter how much I wanted to slow down the tick of the clock, slow down the lazy, hazy summers when I had all three of them to myself, pushing them on swings and endlessly enjoying the rides in the ‘StoryLand’ of their dreams, that time was not something I could ever control.
They just keep growing, like flowers in a distant and beautiful Spring meadow; a place I will always try to dream of.
I miss those days of innocence and sense of landing.
It was firm ground back then.
I had them.
They had me.
We all had home.
These days, I am a different kind of Dad that’s trying hard to answer different kinds of questions.
More complex questions than I had originally hoped for.
While my three stars are searching the galaxy for their corner of the sky, I hope and pray they find their
True North.
The world will be a better place because of them.
I just know it.
I could never ask for more than that.
Me and Pam are proud as a peacocks.
For today, leviathan congratulations to my little feisty one, Hannah. [Mark is proud]
Just know that all of you are but nebulae; stars that are just beginning to shine.
And 3 Musketeers?
My favorite candy bar . . .

love you all,

Empty House (redux)

I was doing some work on my blog last Sunday and found a new template that I loved.
It’s the one you’re looking at right now.
It’s called ‘Absynthe’.
I wanted to make sure everything worked and entered some text in the ‘search box’ in the upper right hand corner of the site.
As I scrolled through the search results, I came across a post called ‘Empty House’.
Hmmm, I thought, and I clicked on it.
I wrote this post in late August of 2008 before Jenna went off to college.
I always wax philosophical whenever a daughter leaves the homestead.
Although I can’t for the life of me remember writing it
(1200+ posts will do that to you, I guess)
I read it with the eyes of a new reader, a wonderful and incredibly insightful moment for me.
As I read the post, I felt warm tears forming.
Since the death of my father, life looks a bit different to me these days.
I read my own words and got blown away.
I felt weird.
I’m not supposed to be that jazzed by something I wrote, am I?
Yet, I was.
I am not blowing my own horn here just saying that the craft of writing is a magical thing.
Sometimes it gives you back something totally unexpected.
Very unexpected.
Check out ‘Empty House’.
After checking Google, it looks like I did write this.
And I did check Google, several times.


If these old walls could speak,
I wonder just what they’d be saying
the comings and goings of life; the hellos, the goodbyes
tears of the restless nights, memories of suppers shared, stories told

time shuffles his feet like that of an old man
that just can’t help but grow older,
he’s now quiet as a mouse
listening to the days gone by in this almost empty house

Sunny days and skies of blue, little girls saying, “I love you”
echoes from a heart that breaks
Simply because it knows,
that nothing can ever stay the same,
life is ever changing and the tiny souls once held in gentle hands,
aren’t meant to be held forever
But it’s so damn hard to understand and accept ‘temporary’
Take them to the edge and tell them to “fly”;
towards all that makes their hearts happy,
all their souls desire,
every dream they could ever hope to find
just fly . . .

We’ll watch you walk away embracing this wonderful thing called life
but inside we’re still calling out your name
Although you can’t hear it, we want it that way
maybe we just needed to tell you

in everything you do, know that this almost empty house will always wait for you
Doesn’t matter how long or how far away you’ve been, it remembers,
like we remember . . .
that whenever you’re here, you are truly home.


Moving the World

I will be absent from the blog until sometime next week due to our graduating college student.
It was only 4 short years ago that I posted THIS.
Where did the time go?
That said, Pamela and I are so damn proud of her we can’t tell you.
I wrote a very personal note to her that won’t make it here, sorry to say.
I wanted to post it but decided it was best left in the hands of the person I originally wrote it for.
I shall return soon but wanted to, at the very least,
explain my sudden disappearance.
Hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day filled with hot dogs, cheeseburgers and much beer.
(and Cigars!)
Please remember to say a prayer for all those that gave of their lives so we could enjoy our freedom.
See all of you soon.
Congratulations, Sarah!

12 more things my daughters have taught me

  • Crappy ringtones are unacceptable. Upload a favorite song for free at
    My current ringtone is the first 40 seconds of ‘We won’t get fooled again’ by The Who.
    ‘Panama’ by Van Halen let’s me know when Pamela is calling.
  • Even a 50 year-old guy can learn to use Word (T9) to text on a cell phone.
    Drives them crazy that I can text almost as fast as them now.
  • What life used to be like when I was 20 and how much fun I had.
  • To never give up. Ever.
    (who’s teaching who here?)
  • What phrases like ‘cover flow’ and ‘shake to shuffle’ mean. (Ipod terms)
  • How to upload a Wordle to my cell phone. (Pam and I have Zero for Zooz on our cells) (Zooz Wordle)
  • My day off is not for me to rest. It’s the day I cook one of them a favorite meal, ultimately receiving a load of laundry that needs to be done . . .  ahem, Sarah . . .
  • Silence is a legitimate answer (as is yup, nope, uh-huh and dunno)
  • Time is like a river . . .  to the sea
  • Life is not always fair.
  • College girlfriends can be incredibly vicious. And really nice. (all in the same day)
  • That I am truly blessed to have 3 (and 4) such incredible women in my life.
  • watch out guys, these girls are tigers.


Pamela and I were outside raking the endless falling leaves the other day,
actually it was on our anniversary.
I know, romantic, huh?
It’s a mundane chore such as this that allows the grey matter to play around a bit,
reminisce about autumns past, maybe even give the constantly buzzing hemispheres in my cranium a bit of a vacation from the vagaries of the daily rat race.
I began thinking about my life as being partitioned into ‘seasons’,
and that from where I stand I am currently in the midst of my own personal autumn.
It’s a time of great change, a biological necessity and ever so slight rewinding of the clockwork that makes me tick.
I accept the fact that my life has experienced changes from as far back as my days of ‘spring’.
I do find it sad though that my endless summer has come and gone taking with it certain elements of youth, the embers of the burning innocence that once defined my life reshaping my thoughts on a daily basis.
This is my autumn, I think,
when my eyes focus on an enormous pile of leaves that need to be raked onto the tarp and dragged behind the shed (where all the bad leaves go).
I stare at the pile of vibrant colours,
the burnt yellows and searing reds, like a fire in front of me.
Things change and life continues to change me.
Caught inside the moment, in my mind I see three little girls going down the slide headfirst into a pile of leaves that I’ve left just for them, Pamela running into the house for the camera, never one to miss an opportunity for a silly photo.
I see myself raking, smiling, listening to those echoes of laughter and the beautiful sounds of a fall
that was so damn very long ago.
It’s no surprise that I miss it, almost as much as I miss the old me that was raking those very leaves.
I shake myself out of this melancholy daydream and notice
that the sky above me is a putty grey replacing the daydream skies of an innocent blue from a thousand moments ago.
As I drag another tarp full leaves to the opposite end of the yard,
I smile, because off in the distance I can hear the sound of a rusty swing
going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth . . .
And as the leaves continue to fall, I continue to rake


{for my 3 young ladies}

Go higher than you ever thought you could.
Climb the ladder of success, whatever that is for you.
Climb your way to the top.
Take as long as you need: no one is watching the clock (except maybe you).
Before you reach out to hold onto something, make certain it’s strong enough to support you.
Grit your teeth and scrape your knees and bleed and sweat.
If your mountain is simply to get through the day, then scale it.
When you get to the top, look back at what you’ve accomplished.
Now smile or holler or cry.
Before you head for the valley and the next mountain, remember the women who have gone before you and the ones who will follow your climb.

~Rachel Snyder

transcribing patience

I haven’t been around much for a number of reasons.
The biggest is that I’ve been transcribing a vocal arrangement for my daughter Sarah.
(from a recording I did years ago with my sister, Maureen for her wedding in ’83)
Sarah belongs to an ‘a cappella’ group at her college and wanted to do the version of
“When I fall in love” that I sang many years ago.
It’s an SATB arrangement that divides into six parts in some sections.
Yeah, crazy. But really nice in a Manhattan Transfer kind of way.
I can’t find the sheet music I used so I must use my ears to transcribe this Jazz vocal nightmare.
Truth be told, I’m kind of enjoying it.
It will however keep me from doing too much here for now.
Hope you folks don’t mind.
And I pray these girls want to sing on Sunday night.
If not, Mr. Murphy will not be wearing his slappy-dappy-flappy-happy hat.
(I have no idea what kind of hat that would be, but I’m quite sure it’s outrageously ugly)
Cross your fingers for me, folks.


Positive Thinkers have Twelve Qualities in Common

  • They have confidence in themselves
  • They have a very strong sense of purpose
  • They never have excuses for not doing something
  • They always try their hardest for perfection
  • They never consider the idea of failing
  • They work extremely hard towards their goals
  • They know who they are
  • They understand their weaknesses as well as their strong points
  • They can accept and benefit from criticism
  • They know when to defend what they are doing
  • They are creative
  • They are not afraid to be a little different in finding
    innovative solutions that will enable them to achieve their dreams

*by Susan Polis Schutz

For Sarah, Jenna and Hannah
* hope you read this ladies . . .

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