A day on the three gorges of China

February 26th, 2017 by John Morris

When I stay still long enough, memories drift back to days when remarkable things happened.  Just today, I remembered one such day.

In 2002, son, Adam and I cruised China’s famed Three Gorges on the Yangtze River.  We opted for an extra adventure and went exploring an offshoot river.  The boat master tried to keep our attention on such things as monkey colonies, cliff paintings and ancient caves.  We’d rather look at the other activities popping up.  We watched a squad of barely dressed, slender men pull our modest vessel through waters too shallow to allow passage.  Later, rowdy youngsters stormed our boat with baskets on long sticks for handouts.

It was at the planned stop where I learned a lesson on humanity.

Following a modest lunch at a small island restaurant, we had time to explore the island.  It was ringed by stoney shores.  We watched smaller boats work their way along the river.  They were mini-businesses, and their crews danced and pranced as they did their chores.  Before long, Adam and I were playing with the small boys waiting by the stones for boat rides homes.  At one point, a smaller boy about two years old gathered his courage and approached me.  He extended his hand and placed a small stone in mine.  I didn’t know what to do.  I assumed he wanted a handout.  I thanked the lad and handed it back.  He lowered his shoulders and walked away.  I went to Adam for answers.  He said the small stone was all he had to give me, and he did so want me to have it.  My bad!

On this day, I met people in our world with basically nothing.  They didn’t know if tomorrow there will be food or shelter.  They feared a coming day will find their families moving again hoping to find a better life.

I have days when these events crowd out other thoughts.  I wonder what became of the river waifs, and the lowly boatmen who feed their families by tugging on coarse ropes and digging their feet into the river beds.

Since then the Three Gorges of China were flooded, and the people who lived along them relocated.

I hope better lives were waiting for them.

A man who stood tall.

February 6th, 2017 by John Morris

My brother, “Tony” Morris was a man of simple strengths.  The most meaningful one was his ability to stand up after life would knock him down.

He became a husband straight out of high school and then a father in short order. He faced his situation and found a way to make his way in the world.

After the birth of a second child, his two children were wrenched from him by his wife while he was at work and she placed them in hiding for several years.   He took this tragedy hard but regain his stature.

After he recovered his children, he worked to make a new life for them.  He was able to find true love with his second wife, Linda.  She was the type of wife he deserved.  A great lady for a noble man.

Then this industrial accident happened.  Tony was walking the ground area looking for a lost tool when the laborers started throwing mortar pans like frisbees from the higher levels.  An errant one struck Tony in the head causing him to be out for minutes.  He regained consciousness, and after a time, he started working.  He completed the day’s work despite great suffering.  It was this assault that caused the Parkinson’s Disease that eventually took his life.

Time passed, Tony & Linda made a full life with children and grandchildren. But the Parkinson’s was always there making it more difficult for him with each year.

During his final years, it took great courage to get on with life as gravely affected as he was.   He did so every day.

Through all of his afflictions, I kept seeing a man who knew how to stand up no matter what life dealt him.  He could be knocked down, but he’d chose to stand up and face down his problems.

In my mind, Brother Tony will always be seen as a man standing tall with shoulders set and the look of determination in his eyes.

He and his great strengths will be missed.



The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.