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


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.


There we went: 2012 National Parks Tour

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been publishing stories on universal positive, beginning with Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan and PBS: Thanks for the documentary, each of which provides some background on the recent National Parks trip we’ve just completed. I’ve shared many photos on Facebook during and since wrapping up the trip, and I’m also embedding a Flickr slideshow above. I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer so far and that you are also creating some excellent memories.


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 16, 1992: Orlando party for Illinois wedding

On May 23, 1992, Beth and I were married in Greenville, Illinois. Since we were residents of Orlando, Florida, at the time, on May 16, we had a pre-wedding party for our Central Florida friends. Here’s some of the photographic evidence from a very fun get-together that we will never forget. Thanks for the great memories friends!


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.


Sep. 28, 2011: Grandma’s laugh

Growing up, I had two wonderful grandmothers: Beatrice Travis-Ridings or “Granny Bea,” who passed away just a few months before Amelia was born in 2001… and Eileen Darnell-Houser or “Grandma Bam,” who left us in 2009. Back in 2010, I wrote about Granny Bea, and this post on Grandma Bam is long overdue.

My life has been keeping me very busy lately. Outside of my daily activities focused on taking excellent care of my family and clients, free time has been extremely scarce. This week, my father celebrated his 70th birthday — and with my stepmom, their 36th wedding anniversary — while my big bro arrived at birthday number 48. As I thought about things I could do in their honor, I remembered the video interview I did with Grandma Bam back in 2004, and decided to share some of its contents with them and our other friends and familymembers on Facebook. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 13: Fame and Fortune

A good number of great people have expressed at least some appreciation for my writing over the years. Since long ago, many believers have expressed confidence in these abilities, and I feel that their belief is essential to who I am. When I think about what’s to come for me as a writer and artist, I’m inspired by the idea of honoring each of those individuals, and all others interested in my words. Gratefully, I’ll carry on.

In the summer of 1995, I joined the production crew of the primetime NBC television series “seaQuest” at Universal Studios Florida, and began an adventure I’ll never forget, helping produce 13 episodes with a Who’s Who of spectacular production and entertainment industry talents. We were in Orlando, making headlines in all the top national trades well before the first episode of “SeaQuest 2032” hit the airwaves featuring Michael Ironside, Roy Scheider, Michael York and scores of other hot and rising Hollywood stars.

seaQuest 2033

Autographed by Jonathan Brandis.

I earned my job from the prolific television producer and director Steve Beers, by committing to handling script distribution and revisions for all the producers and writers, just as I’d done for him and the other producers on “Fortune Hunter” the previous year. That show for Fox had made a big splash and also involved serious heavy hitters, but seaQuest was a phenomenon… a massive franchise for NBC, Amblin Television, Universal Television and all the other industry all-stars involved. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 11: Rewrites

Thank you very much for your interest in this thread, and my ongoing adventures as a poet. This project revisits the experiences of the past 20 years for posterity, your entertainment and hopefully some enlightenment as well. This is part 11, and number 15 is the last entry I have outlined. In finishing the series up over the next several weeks, I have a few more stories I hope you’ll enjoy.

The following lines are from An Essay on Man published by Alexander Pope in 1734.

All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride in erring reason’s spite,
One truth is clear, whatever is, is right. Read more


Arc of the Poet, Part 10: Good Poetry

I may never become famous as a result of a poem I’ve written. I reluctantly accepted that probability some time ago, but only after mounting great, concentrated efforts designed to place my poetry within well respected literary publications… most of which failed.

I’ve always been a sincere fan of my mother Lila Darnell’s direct, powerful and stylized creative writing. Through my high school and college educations, exchanges with many other colorful and smart friends and family members, and lifelong exposure to magazines, radio and cable TV broadcasts, I developed a pretty strong sense for good poetry, and where that odd form of writing fits into the world. In my early 20s, I was introduced to the works of Charles Bukowski, who appeared to me as a 360-degree representation of the life of a successful poet… and who wrote books I loved instantly, due to them being so human, approachable, funny, well written and good. Read more

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