55 Photos (Quick, Run Away) of My Guys

I’m slowly posting lists of 55.

55 Photographs is a collection of places I’ve been.
55 Sustaining Verses is a collection of, well, sustaining verses.

Now I give you 55 pictures of the guys I wrap my life around.
1 husband, 3 sons, 5 grandsons (no pictures of the 6th until he arrives)

Only one girl—my sister-in-law—is included because I
couldn’t bear to omit one of the best pictures taken in the 1960’s.

If pictures of dead animals bother you, click away. Now.
My guys hunt. My guys fish. My guys eat.
Please know that I held back. And I will hear complaints
about inclusions and omissions from my sons.
I could have done 55 Field and Stream Photos.

There is no order and I didn’t count pictures per person.
I didn’t try to be fair. Fair is where you take the hogs in August.


1. Come with me on a journey


2. It should make you smile


3. What does this mean?


4. Let’s go!


5. Misty Morning’s Ebony Splendor — our beloved first pet.


6. A happy artist


7. Comforting arms


8. Joy in music


9. The prince of solemn faces


10. Samwise


11. Good stock


12. What a hoot!


13. Relaxing after a hard day fishing


14. A degree doesn’t stop the silly faces


15. Adorable


16. Hi-Ho Silver!


17. ~ swoon ~


18. Easter handsomeness


19. A cup of coffee


20. A family tradition


21. The first fish caught


22. The guys



23. His first Officiant gig



24. For the love of frogs


25. Alaska summer job


26. Backpacking


27. Faneuil Hall


28. Virtue Flat


29. Meal on the beach


30. Melt my heart


31. Howdy, partner!


32. He’s a man’s man


33.  Mama makes the best treats


34.  Anticipation


33. The rigors of archery hunting.


34. The results of archery hunting


35. Fishing with Opa


36. Yu-uhm!


37. Success on the heights


38. The Bear


39. Papa on the trampoline


38. Happy with Daddy


39. Run at life. Attack it!


40. Concentration


41. The boy who beats me at Memory.


42. Just a swanging


43. Five grandsons, and one more on his way.


44. Stinkers, all.


45. Sometimes it’s better to close your eyes.


46. On the ladder to the tree fort.


47. He loves limes. So do I.


48. A penetrating look.


49.  He’s a loveable scamp.



50. The mystery of this boy’s thoughts


51. Daddy’s home: all is well


52. Say goodbye to youth


53. Docking station


54. Coaxing a smile.


55. Was all this really necessary?

Guys Singing

I thought about naming this post Guys Belting, but figured that might be misconstrued.

There is something about men singing that thrills me, that sends currents of electricity crackling through my limbs, a frisson of delight. From my earliest moments I was raised with the sound of guys singing. Though my dad’s income was scant, there was an abundance of books and music in our home. In the chapel of my childhood, we split hymns, e.g. everyone on verses 1 and 2, men only verse 3, women verse 4, all on the last verse.  The men’s verse was always my favorite. There was a potent oomph, a deep well, a pleasing sound when they sang.

Two (among a thousand) things I love about my church: 1) there are no silent men when we sing. Male participation is universal. 2) The guys sing like they have testosterone in them. It is glorious. 

Random guy-singing memories:

• Hearing my seven year old sing as he washed the dishes

• My four brothers singing in a spontaneous quartet at the 1996 Harper reunion.

• Loving the way Garrison Keillor sings. His voice isn’t excellent, but he puts himself into the singing.

• The sound of singing in the shower

• My brother (who sings in the opera) practicing with the volume UP in the garage when he visits us.

• Watching teen-aged boys playing frisbee on the lawn after church, singing as they play

• Hearing my son(s) sing to his baby

• Listening to my grandson sing Come Thou Fount

Another grandson singing You Are My Sunshine

• My husband singing his seventh grade fight song at a dinner party a few years ago

• Puddling up whenever my brother (pictured above) sings Children of the Heavenly Father

Yesterday, a friend said that her husband likes to belt out How Can I Keep from Singing? My estimation of him jumped up five notches. I like guys that belt it out.

I long to live in a culture, like South Africa or Wales or Estonia, where singing is so deeply woven into daily life, that folks find it impossible not to sing. Can you imagine waiting in line (subway, Costco, at school) with strangers, and everyone joining in a song? Our headphones/ear buds keep us isolated. [Aside: this is why I loathe personal DVDs in the car.] Singing connects us in a powerful way. Aren’t the best times at a party when everyone sings along to the music?

The first man in my life, my dad, was a man who sang. It is he who taught me, by example, how magnificent it is to hear a man sing. If I were evaluating a potential husband, he would be, among other things, a guy who holds babies, a guy who appreciates poetry, a guy who reads, and a guy who sings.

Thank you, Dad.

JWH, October 3, 1922 – February 14, 1987

I need your help. I’m collecting a list of (clean) movies that have a group of guys singing. I thought of The Hunt for Red October, O Brother, Where Art Thou and How Green Was My Valley. The singing in the trailer for The Hobbit gave me goosebumps. Can you recommend others?  Do you have memories of guys singing?



Guys Reading Books


There are legends about my father’s office.  Books on every wall, stacks of books covering the floors with only a narrow walkway between the door and the chair.  Forget overstuffed chairs, this was an overstuffed office. The most magnificent thing was Dad’s ability to navigate the chaos!  He could find a book within two minutes.  He’d stare at the ceiling for ten seconds, get up, scan a shelf, and pick out the requested title in nothing flat.

Very occasionally I would happen to be awake before my father left to teach his 7:00 a.m. class. He never exited the house empty-handed. Shoot, he never left the house with just one or two books. I believe that four was the minimum number he carried back and forth. Though he wasn’t what anyone would call athletic he was acrobatic when it came to balancing tottering stacks of books. 

One more Papa John story: at the time of his death, my father had moved into a larger office with more bookshelves than he’d ever before enjoyed.  No books on the floor. We estimated his personal library of books to be around six thousand volumes. Oh boy! that’s a knee-slapper! He double-stacked books; the number was over ten thousand volumes. 

He managed to pass a love of books and of reading down to all seven of his children. Every level of every child’s house has books. He converted many students into bibliophiles. He read books, he recommended books, he gave books.      

No wonder, then, that I find it attractive (and pathologically normal) to see a man reading a book.  Guys have all sorts of interests: cars, guns, gardens, sports, finance, etc.  But let a man initiate book talk and he becomes instantly more handsome. 

My dad died with thousands of books unread.  My dad lived, though, having read thousands of books. His love of the printed word is a heritage and a legacy which I cherish. 

JWH, October 3, 1922 – February 14, 1987

Other February 14 Entries:
Guys Holding Babies
Guys Reciting Poems

Guys Reciting Poems

Last Valentines Day I wrote about Guys Holding Babies.  My idea was to honor the memory of my father who died on this day in 1987 and honor my husband and sons because they are guys I love. 

Does it surprise you to know that poetry used to be clearly in the center of masculine interests?  Think of the epic poems and their authors: Homer, Virgil, Milton, some anonymous guys, and G.K. Chesterton.  We’ve been reading through the The Top 500 Poems in our morning routine; only 27 of the 500 poems in this collection were written by a woman.  Don’t forget the Biblical poets who happened to be men: Moses, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Jonah.  And never forget the Song of Simeon, those potent words of an old man, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.”    

My father loved poetry.  My father loved words.  He had a phenomenal mind; he could both recognize the bits of poetry and poetical references that blow past most of us and recite entire poems. Occasionally he would corner one of us kids with an imperious “Listen to this” and read a poem which took his fancy.  I wish now that I had paid more: more time, more attention, more interest, more respect.  Who were his favorite poets?  I’m not sure, but I’d guess William Cowper, John Oxenham, Joe Bailey and Luci Shaw.  Often a stoic in demeanor, the reading of a poem or article could break down my father’s reserve.  I can still hear his voice choked while reading from Joe Bailey’s A View from a Hearst.

The poetry of my husband’s childhood was the poetry of motion: dodging tackles, arcing basketballs, change up pitches.  However, he grew up with a rich liturgy and had weekly infusions of the Nicene Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and Luther’s hymns.  He brings raw honesty to poetry.  He will readily say, “I don’t get it.”  But he will also show the impact of poems he does get.  Curt was inspired by George Grant’s recitation of Alfred’s War Song and can still recite it years after he committed it to memory.

When the enemy comes in a’roaring like a flood,
Coveting the kingdom and hungering for blood,
The Lord will raise a standard up and lead His people on,
The Lord of Hosts will go before defeating every foe; defeating every foe.

For the Lord is our defense, Jesu defend us,
For the Lord is our defense, Jesu defend.

While not exactly poetry, Curt also has a keen ability to take quotes from literature and insert them into our daily life.  He does the best “Hey, Boo!” with impeccable intonation ( you need to know To Kill a Mockingbird to appreciate it) although never on command; when I least expect it, he’ll offer, “for you, a thousand times over”.  Lately, he mutters Brilliant. which is a quote from a mediocre movie; the quote makes us laugh because we were stupid enough to watch the whole thing.  

Collin, for better or for worse, has inherited my father’s genetic makeup.  He has an ear for words.  His ability to capture the cadences of the stuff he reads is remarkable. As a young boy he would quote Hiawatha while playing on the rug.  We still laugh at his youthful description of ants on the back deck who, “heedless of their life, plunged off the precipice.” Two well-loved characters, Jeeves, the gentleman’s gentleman, and Jan Karon’s Father Tim, both have a store of poetry in their minds; their quotes flow quite naturally into their conversations. Collin’s current favorite quote (from P. G. Wodehouse) surfaces whenever I mention the great Scottish poet Robert Burns.

“Jeeves, expunge the poet Burns from your mind.”
“I have already done so, sir.”

Real guys know the power of poetry. 

Real guys love words. 

Really great guys keep learning. 

I’m thankful for the real guys in my life.

Guys Holding Babies


“He’s just like his dad,” she said. “He loves to hold babies.”


She was describing my grandson, but a memory of my own dad flashed into my mind. He would stand at the back of the chapel, a baby cradled in his arm as he shook hands with folks leaving.  Even though he had carried around seven babies of his own, if there was a baby in the room, he delighted in holding it. 

I’m thankful to have grown up in a culture, in a community, in a family that valued, cherished and loved on babies.  I’m thankful now to be part of a community of friends who teach both their sons and daughters to hold their little siblings, to comfort them when they are distressed, to give of themselves to these little ones.  In fact, around our parts it is such a common blessing that it almost goes without notice.  

But I look. And I see. 

I see the Matthews and the Lukes and the Adams and the Dannys and the Steves and the Gabriels and the Michaels and the Nathans and the Jesses and the Micahs – all those older brothers who comfortably and naturally tote the little tots who are their sisters and brothers.

Because, you see, I was once the little baby who was held and cherished and protected.  I had my own Dave and Johnny and Jimmy and Danny who found joy in carrying me from the car to the house, who picked me up when I was too tired to trudge forward, whose arms went prickly dead while cradling my sleeping form through a church service. 

We often think of the nurturing of children as a strictly female occupation.  But there is a particular security in being noticed and graciously treated by a father, a grandpa, an uncle, a big brother. 

If I were evaluating a potential husband I would watch closely when he was around children.  Certainly there are different levels of ease depending on how much experience and time he has been around little ones.  But there is a general disposition which will come out.  And a friendly exchange, a playful banter between a three year old and that potential husband would melt my heart faster than a dozen roses or a box of chocolates any day of the year.

My beloved holding our second son after he cut the cord, etc.

It is such a joy to watch my son as a daddy; he’s one of the best!

My dad holding his firstborn.   JWH, October 3, 1922 – February 14, 1987