1976 Spinelli’s squad, featuring Scott and Roger Darnell, coached by Guzie Whaley and Gene Barber.

My latest entry on MyOldCoach.com is now live – in honor of Coach Gene Barber and our combined “glory days.” For this new website/book project, I am continuing to seek true stories and anecdotes about awesome coaches.

Have an idea? Please get in touch. Read more


Rare Air Episode 19 and March 2017 desktop calendar

An original desktop calendar for March appears at the bottom of this post.

For my brave parents and for Beth’s, moving to Florida was a dream that became reality back in the 1970s. While many among their generation of northerners in Wisconsin and Illinois shared their aspirations for the warmer climate – and for adventures that connected with the wild more directly than anything happening in those homelands – only the rare few made the leap of faith to re-cast themselves and their children as Floridians. Read more


Rare Air Episode 18 and January 2017 desktop calendar

An original desktop calendar for January appears at the bottom of this post.

For Beth and me, our conjoined “life before kids” began in about 1989… and before leaving Central Florida for Southern California on New Year’s Day, 1998, we toured the Sunshine State from top to bottom. Just before Amelia arrived in 2001, we returned to the Southeast. Since staking our claim in the Blue Ridge Mountains and welcoming Riley in 2003, we and our kids have continued to experience Florida as tourists. Read more


Sep. 24, 2012: Granny’s Little Creek

Granny’s Little Creek
by Roger Darnell

Once, we had no sense of the free-flowing excitement,
the raw and sometimes bone-chilling coolness of the water
as it flowed there, just behind Grandpa’s Smokehouse.
Often less than a trickle, that creek was a haven of life to us kids. Read more


Oct. 13, 2013: The Perfect Record

The Perfect Record
by Roger Darnell

The most elegant and seemingly effortless leader rests now,
in a state far beyond anything we followers ever imagined.
Without giving it a thought, it has always seemed certain
that this presence would endure, and rise to protect us

in any time when life had worn us down. Strength appears
in many forms, but I have seen the supreme rendition within
the warmest, readiest, deep-hearted contentedness that is so
profound, it has made stability, security, light and goodness.

Of course, at its best, this is what nature has required to
support life: The essential caring foundation of motherhood.
The loving leadership appears in every act of nurturing
between a life-giver and a life-receiver, and eventually,

the receivers can come to stand alone, where the cycle
can spin on and on, adding waves of leaders from those
powerful seeds of love and care. What a challenge we face,
knowing how far we’ve come and by what miracles,

when we look for that strength and it turns up missing,
or even when it is evidently absorbed in struggles we can
hardly comprehend, deflect, postpone, mitigate or vanquish.
In so many ways, to us, our leader has built a perfect record.

In our heart of hearts, our fear and sadness gravitate to
places so low, drowning seems inevitable: How to carry on?
With that vital record woven into our very blood vessels,
our hearts beat on, filling the fabric so expertly sewn.

(Copyright 2013 Roger Darnell, All Rights Reserved.)


Fifty words

My family members and many close friends are participating in a special project where words are essential. An early version appears here with more updates coming soon. This one is written by Lila Ridings-Darnell, Heather Turner, Bud Ridings, Tiffany Eakle, Cheri Wynn and yours truly and designed using http://wordle.net.

And here is the final version, featuring additional input from Bob Bingham, Connie Bingham, Riley Darnell, Bernice Lurkins, Jim Darnell, Peggy Darnell, Mike LaHood, Joel Ridings, Nell Thacker, Ann Kiefert, Kristianna Bursa Myus, Sherry Ridings, Laura Darnell, Speed Jenner, Victoria Lynn Soden, Molly Gaffner-Jones, Richie Ridings, Linda Ridings, Bart Ridings, Mike Stoecklin, Liesl McVey Gaffner, Jane Davidson Zappia, Denise VanTassel Smith, Dianna Darnell Rist, Marti Reeser, Sara Jacobs Contevita, Beth Darnell, Judy Davis, Sandy Holzhauer, Michelle Munich, Terri McClung, Jane Hilliard, Cristy Willman, Barb Davis Ridings, Rachel Ridings, Jerry Gaffner, Daniel Ridings, Janice McFarland, Kalonie Farley Caulk, Martha Smith, Melissa Schumacher, Teri (Cruthis) Boehm, John Darnell, Marshall Mollet, Carla Mollet, Susan Darnell, Amelia Darnell, Claire Bowling, Dorothy Ridings, Dan Clotfelter and Nancy Clotfelter.


2012 photo update

Here’s where to find our newest family photos. Over the weeks ahead I plan to add others from our trip to America’s legendary Theodor Roosevelt, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain National Parks.


May 23, 1992: Hoot Owl Holler, Episode 2

On the 20th anniversary of the best day of my life (the day I married Beth Kiefert, and she became the now-celebrated Beth Darnell), it’s a sincere pleasure to invite you to enjoy this second installment of “Hoot Owl Holler.” In this video presentation that uses more footage shot by my dear cousin Bart Ridings, you can hear some of the fun-loving wise-cracking from our loved ones who gathered together on May 23, 1992, in Greenville, Illinois, for our wedding. Also shown are too many others who are no longer with us: They are all missed greatly. On we proceed through life, still recalling the words we printed in our program, and the high sentiments which set the tone for what has so far been a spectacularly wonderful adventure together.

Joy, Shipmate, Joy!
by Walt Whitman

JOY! shipmate—joy!
(Pleas’d to my Soul at death I cry;)
Our life is closed—our life begins;
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last—she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore;
Joy! shipmate—joy!


May 4, 1992: Twenty-Five and Going

I wrote this poem just a little over twenty years ago… a day before my 26th birthday, and a few weeks before Beth and I were married in Greenville, Illinois. It’s quite amusing to me that I mentioned feeling like I was 46, as that’s the age I am now; for the record, it feels very different than I guessed it would at that time. The good news is, it’s even better than I expected.

Twenty-Five and Going

by Roger Darnell

I’ve put off the great Chinese thinkers
for another year, at least.
Taken up being a fiancee.

Read a lot of Bukowski. That was a good idea.
Feel like I’m forty-six, only

My poetry stacked up… sort of thin.
The 25-year-old poet was buried.

But so was the 24-year-old. So what?
The word years is losing significance.
On an abacus it would mean beads.
On my awakeness, it means

Memories, feelings, fears, understandings.

My mom gave me some of her work. A lot of it.
I think that means something. Praised me —
in a letter, not the poetry — as being a good man.

Now that’s something. I don’t care who you are —
that’s something. I’m getting married. Think it’ll be
something, also. Proud. I’d admit it.

And going! Going now, as the pen pauses…


April 6, 1992: Careful

Beth and Roger in Orlando, 1991.

Thinking back on my life 20 years ago, I have to say that today seems so much simpler. I wrote about that key personal era in “Arc of the Poet Part 6,” and although I think it makes for interesting reading, recalling those days is rather bracing for me. I had so much to prove to myself and the short list of others whose opinions really mattered to me, and although I was confident in my strengths and abilities, I was unsure about so much more. While I had come very far with the gifts provided by my family, as well as those I was earning for myself, the new chapters seemed to hold promises I was almost afraid to hope for. Within weeks of writing the poem below, I began my new role as the husband of Beth Darnell. That dream-come-true continues today, thanks in part to the instincts revealed below which made me realize that the opportunities I was facing were precious and must be handled with care.


by Roger Darnell

There could be a
limerick or something
back there,
something quick and terse —
elucidating, uproarious,

But I just want to say
everything’s going so fast;

you know, not in every way…
but in most,
it really is.

Can’t say much more
than that.
Although I can fit in

and about
thanks, and graciousness,
and pay attentions.
And carefuls.

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