Author Archives: Dave Fournet

PIGs & HOGs: DnA 38th Wedding Anniversary 

We were both 29 when we stood in the cool sunshine at the Fremont Older Preserve, near Cupertino California, and spoke our wedding vows.  

Thirty-eight sun-circlings have passed since that April 27 in 1985, and we have managed to stay together. We’re enjoying our partnership as much as ever (most of the time😜). Along the way, we lived in separate houses for about four years while we fine-tuned our dance together. Naturally enough, there’s ongoing choreographing. That turned out to be a useful strategy, reflected in three acronyms we use to describe our “relationshipping:” 

PIGs: Partners In Growth.

HOGs: Happy Optimistic Geezers (Originally Happy Old Geezers. We think there’s a more apt phrase, and welcome any suggestions. 

DnA ((Simply Dave n Andrea)

We moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, home of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, in 1993, hence the porcine acronyms. 


The idea came to me to copy things from my collection of “Quotes,  Ideas, and Other Words” to this blog. Over the years I’ve added various strings of words when they resonate with me. Some of them are from others, and some are my own. Yesterday, I heard one of these quotes, and it suggested that I might as well share it and its kin on this blog:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children . . . to leave the world a bit better . . . to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I figure that if anything I post helps anyone “breathe a little easier,” it might be worth the time. I’m reluctant to add anything to the information deluge, though I reckon reading any of this is a choice. As an example of how our wonder web can be a boon and a bane, I’ll share the following from my note, with the whole essay/poem, and a possible clarification of authorship. I appreciate whomever took the time to think and write any of it.


Bessie Anderson Stanley (born Caroline Elizabeth Anderson, March 25, 1879 – October 2, 1952) was an American writer, the author of the poem Success (What is success? or What Constitutes Success?), which is often incorrectly attributed[1] to Ralph Waldo Emerson[2][3] or Robert Louis Stevenson.[4]

She was born in Newton, Iowa, and married Arthur Jehu Stanley in 1900, living thereafter in Lincoln, Kansas. Her poem was written in 1904 for a contest held in Brown Book Magazine,[5] by George Livingston Richards Co. of Boston, Massachusetts[2] Mrs. Stanley submitted the words in the form of an essay, rather than as a poem. The competition was to answer the question “What is success?” in 100 words or less. Mrs. Stanley won the first prize of $250.[6]

Written in verse form, it reads:

He achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.

— Success

The poem was in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations in the 1930s or 1940s but was mysteriously removed in the 1960s.[5] It was again included in the seventeenth edition. However, it does appear in a 1911 book, More Heart Throbs, volume 2, on pages 1–2.[7]

The version I’ve seen most:

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of the intelligent people

and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty;

to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better

whether by a healthy child, a garden patch,

or a redeemed social condition;

to know that one life has breathed easier

because you lived here.

This is to have succeeded.

And for good measure, from a different source that my browsers now say is a security risk, so I’m not including the link:

“Here’s a 1905 article from the Lincoln Sentinel about that version of the quote: Bessie Stanley’s Famous Poem:

‘Bessie Stanley’s poem, though, is a bit different from the standard quotation attributed to Emerson — and so there is still some tiny possibility that the quotation is Emerson’s or someone else’s and that Stanley’s was a variation.  At this time, though, the most dependable attribution would be to Bessie Stanley, with the changes attributable to the normal folk process of adaptation and editing.’”

Downstream Dave?

We had about an inch and a half of rain last night here in northwest Arkansas. After breakfast I walked down to the south end of our property to visit our natural neighbor, Scull Creek and its enchanting waterfall. I sometimes talk to streams, trees, critters and other fellow earthlings. I don’t know if they hear or understand me in any way, but I enjoy it, and they speak to me in their own ways.  

I’ve had an idea for years that it might be an illuminating adventure to travel down the creek all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, and then back up the Vermilion River/Bayou to my birthplace of Lafayette Louisiana. I muse about how rivers, rain, streams, oceans, and all forms of water  connect  the world. Somehow that lets me feel more at home.  I’m thinking about  actually testing the water, so to speak, and find out a bit more about how feasible it would be to conduct such a journey.  I’m thinking I could do some test runs on different stretches of the water between here and the Arkansas River, and then perhaps on the Arkansas River to get a feel for it.  

I’ll keep you posted if this flows anywhere. If you have ideas, suggestions, questions, etc. about this, please let me know. 

Old Dog’s Ditty

Old Dog’s Ditty (Bare bones version)
Old dog’s on the deck: Dave with Daimin on the furry one’s last day above ground, September 15, 2008.

I wrote this song back in Hawaii for our friends’ old dog Vember (born in November), who was on his last legs back in the late 1980’s. A couple decades later, I started thinking of myself and all of us aging humans as somewhat like old dogs. This came to me after looking in the mirror and actually noticing all the wrinkles, spots, sags and such. Then it came to me that with most of our beloved pets, we still love them even if they start slowing down, having accidents, and otherwise losing their youthful exuberance. So I started calling myself “Old Dog Dave” when I need a little consolation for the various aches, pains, and other downhill sliding. It usually makes me smile.

Here’s a link to the chords and lyrics, in case you want to sing and/or play along. It follows the “3 chords and the truth” formula for a folk song. I tried to paste those here, but it goofed up the location of the chords.

This showed up today in the New Yorker daily newsletter I get for free. I like the cartoons.

Planting Maples at the 4H

In the afternoon shade on a delightful autumn day, we three Fournets conspired to finally plant a couple of volunteer maple trees we’d been watering in pots for a while. Andrea had transplanted them into pots to save them from the deer and the weed whacker, or somesuch. She knows that origin story better than I. In any case, we’ve had good luck with trees that got started on their own, , and then moving them to pots for a while, and eventually to their very own place in the sun. We planted a Montezuma cypress we’d gotten from cousin Stephen Fournet during Adele’s last visit. Good fun, and satisfying to watch them grow as the earth turns, and as we slowly get shorter over the years. We call our place the 4H: Heartland Hospitality Haven and Home. Hope to show you around some day.

Sometimes I drift and sometimes I paddle

I visited the Buffalo River in Arkansas when I was 7, with 3 other families with lots of kids in June of 1963. I thought I’d ascended to heaven. Andrea Place Fournet​, Adele Fournet​, and I moved to Fayetteville in 1993 after picking it out the entire country as our new home town. I feel very fortunate.


June 13, 2014, floating and paddling the Buffalo River with Adele Fournet.

Take every ripple and roil,

Every pond and portage,

As they and you come together.

On my back…deck

Working at my computer last Saturday, I noticed that my brow was furrowed, my shoulders up to my ears with tension, and my breathing shallow. I was one tense old dog. I usually stand up and move around every 30 minutes or so, but I’d skipped my break. Happy to have woken up to the distress,  I headed out the back door to refresh and restore.

Here’s what I wrote after ten minutes or so of sky-gazing:

“46F 11:30 or so,  lying on my back on the back deck, calves on a chair, soaking up the sun like an insect released from the grip of winter. Blue skies with altocumulus clouds heading east with haste. Hawks and crows to the south and north discussing territories and predation. Peeping cheeping birds also discussing whatnot and who’s who. I see two crows flying northwest. Where are they going and why? I wonder. Breathing deeply, I let the tension ease, the stress release. I see a vulture or a hawk circling over the VA. Do I see a ”v” shape in the wings or are they more flat? The latter wing profile I believe would be a hawk.” 

I’m grateful that I’m taking breaks from clerical-logistical projects more consistently these days, though sometimes forgetting and getting “wrapped around my own axle.” I appreciate that it doesn’t take much to relax and recharge: pick up the guitar and sing a song, go outside and just look into the distance, saunter on the street a bit, maybe pet a dog or talk to a neighbor.

Following Fears

I woke up last Friday wondering about an expression my friend Glenn shared with me, “follow your fears.” It dawned on me that when I think about drawing, I feel uneasy. I actually enjoy doodling, but there’s something in me that gets butterflies when I sit down to sketch. A bit later, during our morning ritual with my wife Andrea, I  sketched this cartoon instead of using words to express what I was appreciating. We each write appreciated things down on one side of a 3×5 card cut in half, keep them in a bin, and read the ones from this year and last year (from a separate bin) aloud after we meditate. It’s one of our healthier habits.

Critters Wondering Cartoon

I drew it in my journal while she was appreciating on her side of the card. After we read aloud our cards, she added a few strokes to make the possum look less like a big rat. I added the pill bug later (a “bug” that is actually a terrestrial crustacean!) .

That’s the actual lamp in our “Buddha Room” where we practice awareness and appreciation. That cartoon, and this post, which could be polished up in numerous ways, are a bit out of my comfort zone. I do relate with these animal allies and their musings. I’m glad I drew what came to me. May we all experiment with befriending our fears, maybe starting with their cousins anxiety, ambiguity, and ambivalence.

Wailuku Public Library

Aloha y’all,

Some 30 years ago, in Kamuela, Hawaii, I used our small public library to help find our next home town. We’ve been in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 1993, and find great delight in coming back to the islands, and to other small libraries. Unlike then, wifi and computers are part of the wonderful world of exploratory tools. I’m enjoying my satellite Exploratorio here at the Wailuku, Hawaii Public Library (on Maui), where I savor the fragrance of molasses grass wafting through the window, along with the sounds of roosters crowing, doves cooing, and the steep slopes of Iao Valley inviting adventure.

“If we do not find pleasant things we shall at least find new things.” 

Cacambo, who was as good a counsellor as the old woman, said to Candide:

“We are able to hold out no longer; we have walked enough. I see an empty canoe near the river-side; let us fill it with cocoanuts, throw ourselves into it, and go with the current; a river always leads to some inhabited spot. If we do not find pleasant things we shall at least find new things.”

canoe lake man outdoors

Photo by Flickr on

“With all my heart,” said Candide, “let us recommend ourselves to Providence.”

— The Project Gutenberg EBook of Candide, by Voltaire

Cacambo’s attitude and recommendation help me with my sometimes tiring daily deciding,  as I find them both optimistic and practical, “if we do not find pleasant things we shall at least find new things.”

It calls to mind something I heard ascribed to Sir Richard Branson, “Screw it; let’s do it!”

Do you have similar expressions or attitudes that help you choose what to do next?