What are the odds…

18 July, 2013    What are the odds…

Forgive this experimental post (please!).

I’m learning new WordPress features. Learning how to insert a triptych. After a fashion. The first is of my cat lounging on my bed. His name is Dash. He likes high places (e.g. the bed) because the dogs don’t go there. By the way, with my triptychs, you can click on the individual pictures and they become much larger:


Back to where I began this post:

If you know me you’ve heard me use that expression (What are the odds…) before; I’m sure I overuse it. Also a friend tells me I sometimes tell a story “the Talumudic way,” e.g. make a short story long. What can I say.

Anyway, when we were young and living in Maryland we were visited regularly by our Aunt Kathleen from New York. From Manhattan really, and although she was born in the late 1800’s in northern Kansas she always seemed like a pure Manhattanite to me. She still does. She died in 1990 but I knew her relatively well growing up. As a graduation present from eighth grade – this would have been 1974 or 1975 – I got to go to New York and stay with her for a week. She was a reporter at the United Nations and lived across the street from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in Manhattan. We walked over to the UN one day and she showed me around. The little headphones that UN representatives could listen in on and have speeches translated into their native tongue. She wrote a book that was at our house throughout my childhood and I never read it! So – getting to the “what are the odds” part – I looked it up and found it used on Amazon! It was published in 1954. But that is not odd – you can find anything on Amazon. I’ll insert first a picture of the cover:

New Life in Old Lands -  Kathleen McLaughlin, 1954

New Life in Old Lands –
Kathleen McLaughlin, 1954

Then the back of the book:

My lovely Aunt Kathleen

My lovely Aunt Kathleen

But now (finally) to the “what are the odds” part. The book arrives in my mailbox in July of 2013 and I find this inscription:

"From the writer to the reader -  good wishes.  Kathleen McLaughlin  New York, Jan. 3 - 1955

“From the writer
to the reader –
good wishes.
Kathleen McLaughlin
New York, Jan. 3 – 1955″

So when she wrote that, my Dad was nineteen years old. It was six years before I’d even be born. She was in her middle fifties. After she wrote that my Mom and Dad would get married, my brothers and sisters and I would be born, I’d spend several Christmas vacations with her at our home, etc., etc., – and fifty-eight years later it comes to my house. So, so cool. Anyway. What can I say.

One more triptych, this one a few cloud shots I’ve taken recently. I’m reading a lot about weather and these are just lovely:

Wait – one more thing to add – a video by a band called The Orb: “Little Fluffy Clouds”

I have lots to learn about triptychs. One more plain picture (kind of a cool one) then a quick story then I’m off! Got this nice shot at PP on Tuesday morning:

Beautiful and an engineering marvel

Beautiful and an engineering marvel

= = = = = = = = = = = =

I’ve mentioned my counseling teacher Moe. And that he often spoke and taught in parables. He told us one early on that guides me still.

A man was walking along a rice paddy and he saw a horse standing in the water eating the plants. He knew it shouldn’t be there and he shooed it up on the path. No halter or bridle or harness or brand or identifying feature. The man encouraged the horse to walk and it did. They’d come to a fork in the path and the horse would choose one direction and the man would follow. Occasionally it would wander back into the rice paddy. The man coaxed it back to the path and it walked again. This went on for some time – the horse choosing paths, stopping to eat, being coaxed to move forward again. Shortly they rounded a corner and there was an open gate. The horse walked through the gate and started down the path. A man ran out of the house and cried “how can I ever thank you – you brought my lost horse home! How did you ever find us?” The man who found the horse said “He knew where he had to go – I just helped him stay on the path.”

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Moe was a good guy. I was fortunate to have him on my path.

Have a great day,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Dogs, Endurance, Flowers, Fun, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!). Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to What are the odds…

  1. Marion Brown says:

    The power of an Aunt to make a difference is an inspiration as I am an Aunt to another generation of children: one 8, one 4 and one newly born.

    • Hi Marion! I’m sure you are an excellent Aunt. I was reading an article in the NYT earlier that quoted Henry Adams saying ““A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”” I suspect the same is true for Aunts (and I hope for Uncles; I have FIVE nieces!). Thanks for the note and have a great day,


  2. Mike Hamlin says:

    From the reader to the writer … thank you, Jay.

    • Why thank you Michael – it’s great to hear from you! I too appreciate Aunt Kathleen’s succinct dedication! Have a great day,


      PS The book is fascinating. I’m not through it yet, but she talks about visiting El Salvador, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and several more – in the 1950’s. It’s amazing to read what was happening there sixty years ago and compare it to what has changed (and not changed).

  3. Cappy says:


    • Thanks Cappy! I enjoyed this one. I LOVE the book by Aunt Kathleen, and I liked putting together my little triptychs of Dash and the beautiful clouds. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Blacksburg soon! Have a great day,



      PS That was also a particularly handsome spider web!

  4. Clare T says:

    WOW – are you kidding me! what are the odds!!!!! Life can be so full of surprises and miracles of all shapes & sizes – this one you shared is top notch:-)

    BTW – I saw that spider web down @ pony pasture – if that is where you took the picture…..if not, a close relative of His Xeroxed it! 🙂 LOL

    PSS – my daughter who lives in the mountains of MD, performed long distance Reiki on my almost 17 yr old pup yesterday – and the results were fantastic – she still limps, but her smiles and youthfulness seemed to have improved – she was swimming in the river like she was 2 yrs old 🙂

    • Hi Clare! That was truly an amazing coincidence. Dad would have LOVED it! I’m going to TRY to put a link to her NYT obit in here; she died 23 years ago. And wrote that book and signed it nearly 60 years ago. Fascinating. And what a treat.

      And yes, I took that spider web picture at PP, and I’ll bet you did see it – it was right next to the trail, early on. VERY striking.

      And I’m glad the long distance Reiki was helpful for Zo – she’s an old girl! As you’re aware, time at the river is good for all of us. Evie and Mackey and Turner and I had a pleasant hike down there this morning!

      Have a great day and I’m sure I’ll see you at PP soon,


  5. Clare T says:

    what an amazing career she had – as a woman and back in that day! very impressive even in today’s world, but back then…..a rare gem!

    thank you again for sharing……..very very cool…….

    SPEAKING OF COOL!!!!!! mann, love this weather! 🙂


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