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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


The old saying goes: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

The person making this original statement probably meant it to be somewhat witty and a tongue in cheek barb thrown at either a politician of their day or someone in the wood handling business.

With so much political correctness running amuck, I'm surprised that some wild-eyed, but purported to be well meaning, person hasn't set upon this statement and created a decree correcting it to their liking.

So what could anyone possibly find wrong with this somewhat ancient statement? Following the normal rationale of those that think the government can and should fix everything I offer the following.

1- The "How much . . " tells me that an effort is being made to establish wood chucking standards before determining whether or not it's even possible for this rodent to chuck (toss) the object in question.

2- How much "wood . ." this critter may not even want to chuck wood at all, preferring small pebbles instead, so why can't he/she have the freedom to chuck whatever object they desire?. . this is America after all!

3- How much wood "could . ." seems to be striving to reach the uppermost physical limits of this furry creature's chucking abilities. What if it's having a bad day or gets a blister on it's little paw - - would it receive marmot demerits for not achieving it's maximum capabilities?

4- . . "a woodchuck chuck . ." a chuck or toss to one species might appear to be a clumsy drop to another - - is this comparison fair?

5- . . . "if a woodchuck . ." this "if" is a racial slur to the whole marmot species in general and the woodchuck in particular. It implies that this whole race of animals is inept and incapable of anything more than simple burrow digging.

6- . ."could chuck wood." - - this "could" should be changed to "would" - giving some choice as to whether or not each animal would desire to be made a spectacle of just to entertain someone by their abilities.

It is fortunate indeed that the gender of the animal isn't mentioned as this would possibly bring forth a whole new set of questions.

As you see this old statement places a lot of mental and emotional pressure on the woodchuck - no wonder it spends a lot of time underground - - probably has split ends on it's little fur. ec

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


When folks in this part of the country get blind running mad - as opposed to drunk - the descriptive term that applies to their angry antics is called a "hissy fit". At least it used to be - and maybe that spelling should be "hissie" - or perhaps one is masculine and the other feminine.

This term can be descriptive of a past event or it could apply to an impending total loss of self-control in the immediate future, but it's seldom spoken of in the present. The reason for this is that while a hissy fit is occurring, one is usually too busy running for cover while dodging thrown objects to even speak of it.

In the old days one would just have a hissy - but now if a proper one is had at all, it has to have the more descriptive "fit" added to even start to explain or understand the true meaning of the occasion.

People can get hot and bothered, ticked off, mad to the max or have a conniption, but these just don't have the depth of passion, nor the real southern flair that is involved in the true hissy.

I wonder if people in other parts of the country have these or do they have something else - like a "cow" or something? In what area of this wonderful land do they have dying duck fits?

Does anyone else remember way back when someone really lost their cool and it was described as having a calf with a rubber tail?

As some of these colorful expressions retreat from society's memory, it will leave a duller, blander language for our children and their offspring. This language will be of fewer words and syllables, and seems to be headed toward more gutter terms and half-spoken partial words.

Could it be that the one syllable grunt and club smash over the head are on the way back? ec

Monday, August 29, 2005


Here I sit, contemplating the goodness of God and the things of life in general, doing something not habitually a part of my life. This "something" is the munching of a delectable piece of confection otherwise known as a Mars chocolate almond bar.

Many very interesting things can be learned from the information on the wrapper of this candy bar. The serving size is listed as one bar, so if this has to be divided with one or more others, you only get a half or less of a serving - or basically you have not been fully served.

The ingredients were printed to be: milk chocolate, almonds, corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, skim milk, butter, milk-fat, lactose, salt, egg whites, artificial flavor. Fortunately these contents are contained in the bar in descending amounts in the order of the listing, as I would very much dislike to get a large glob of milk-fat or salt in the center of my candy.

I view some of these ingredient items as somewhat odd and/or confusing. First is the soybean oil - why just partial hydrogenation? All things should be done in a complete manner - either finish the job or don't mess with it at all.

Then there is the skim milk - the next two items after this are listed as butter and milk-fat - it seems to me that these two were what was taken out to make it skim, so why divide and then recombine? Sounds like a trick to me, maybe they were hoping we would stop reading after the skim part.

Finally there is the artificial flavor - that just makes me wonder what this bar would taste like without it - maybe like rutabagas or something?

I possibly shouldn't have read the ingredients at all, but I was curious and wanted to see what I was making a part of my body for the next several years.

In spite of that, I did enjoy the bar, am enjoying life in general and am constantly amazed by the daily, awesome, blessings of our loving Heavenly Father. ec

Sunday, August 28, 2005


The small one roamed the cavernous abode in darkness when all was quiet and free from the rumbling movements of the "giant beings" and when their prying eyes were closed in sleep.

On this fateful night he caught the delicious scent of something that had to be wonderfully good to eat. After searching the usual places and finding nothing, he realized the delightful aroma was coming from the area he had been warned not to go.

Approaching cautiously, he espied the source of the tantalizing smell. Though he was young, he had tasted this delicacy before and remembered it to be absolutely luscious. But as great as the morsel looked, something wasn't quite right - - why was it laying on top of that funny looking contraption?

Could this be one of those horrible things they spoke of at Rodentia Theological Institute? He had attended for a while but got bored and dropped out. The old ones there talked endlessly of things called traps and about how awful they were. He had always believed these were just horror stories told for shock value and to keep the young from having any fun.

Hunger finally overcame his sense of caution and ever so slowly and delicately he reached for the large tidbit. Then came the horrible and bone crushing "snap"!

At the noise, I woke from my cat-nap with a start and knew in an instant what had happened. As I raced toward the danger zone, my mind was screaming "Let it be someone else - don't let it be the small one"! But in an instant I saw that it was him, all my fears were true and I was too late.

I wanted to yell at him "I told you not to come to this corner!", but that was all useless now. We communicated a lifetime of things in the few moments of life he had left. He even wanted me to try to give this cheese, that was costing him his life, to the widow in the next wall.

I relate this sad tale because I am the household historian and the family cat - - and as odd as it sounds, that mouse was my friend. How well I remember his last words before passing - he asked me if humans ever got caught in traps of death as well. I assured him that they did - they were just different kinds of traps - and in their own way they were just as gullible as he. ec

Saturday, August 27, 2005


When writing in the late hours, one must be cautious of the name of that particular space in time. This is because if you were writing about tomorrow, it would suddenly become today at the stroke of midnight. If referring to yesterday it would all at once become nothing, because there's no word for the day before yesterday - at least none I know.

Here's a thought - the day before yesterday could become yesterday plus one and plus two and so on. It couldn't be minus one or minus two because in math like signs are added and yesterday minus two would have to be tomorrow, since the normal yesterday is sinking into the past - or it could be the other way around.

We need to name these past days because if you write about yesterday on tomorrow then it would make perfect sense because it would then have a name.

One advantage of going to bed after midnight is that if you slept all that day until that tomorrow became today, you would have at least enjoyed a little of yesterday's today before going to bed.

Not living in today has dangers because if we're constantly looking back at the past or gazing into the future, we might collide with the present in ways unpleasant to ourselves and others - bending the fenders of our peace of mind and putting a hole in the radiator of joy - automotively speaking.

Since yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not promised to us, let's live today with all the joy God intended for us to have in it. The Word speaks of joy that's both inexpressible and glorious, since a little joy goes a long way, if we had a whole truckload, we could share with everybody we happened upon.

If we totally live for God today, we might even make it until tomorrow and then forever with Him. ec

Friday, August 26, 2005

trip 2

On tape the trip continues - no radio on - just driving and thinking. I've heard people say "I guess I just wasn't thinking", but I can't help thinking about whether a person can just stop thinking - I don't think they can - unless they have assumed room temperature.

Sun is finally breaking through the clouds and I was also thinking about the ignorance of some drivers and the high rates of speed at which they travel. The steps of ignorance would seem to be: ignorant, more ignorant and most ignorant - but I'm beginning to believe there may be a few higher than that. The driver that just passed me may have blown the top out of the scale - but who knows, the trip is not over yet, there may be one higher still.

It is good to see the sunshine, he thought, as he placed his sunglasses on his prominent nasal protrusion - this being the most likely place for them since they would be of no value resting on his chin.

Directly in front of me is a breathtakingly blue stretch of sky, between the clouds, I guess it would be considered sky blue, and clouds on either side could be called cloud white.

While driving along, my mind seems to bounce from one thing to another and for some reason it stopped on the expression "batten the hatches" and I wondered whether anything besides hatches could be battened, maybe I could look on the internet. Then maybe I need to turn the radio on.

But I do find thought hopping very entertaining and amusing to me because I never know what I will think of next.

The mountain ridge I just passed was growing a long line of pine trees, it was also growing several cell phone towers - makes me wonder what kind of seeds are needed to grow those. Possibly the seed of communication - hopefully not seeds of discontent, because that would sprout something much uglier than the towers.

Where are all these people going? One would have to assume they were going from somewhere to somewhere - this doesn't take into account the few that were just wandering aimlessly. Is it possible for someone to go away from the "to" and toward the "from"? Maybe if you forgot something at the "from" and turned around before arriving at the "to", because if you ever got to the "to" it would be a new trip altogether with a different "to" and "from" - does that make sense? OK, OK, I'm turning the radio on.

The "to" address was arrived at without farther incident and on Sat it was changed to the “from” as we left and arrived safely back to the "to" that started out as the “from”. Thanks "to" the Lord. ec

Thursday, August 25, 2005

trip 1

For those of you that may not know, I carry a small voice recorder to note my thoughts and later write them down, sometimes much later. The following describes a trip taken on another day and during another season.

At this moment (on tape) I am hurtling down the roadway toward Tennessee. I don't really know how fast hurtling is supposed to be, but in this particular instance it is 67 mph - that would be hurtling compared to horse and buggy days, because a horse's top speed is 40 to 45 without the buggy. A cheetah can run about 65 - without a buggy also - but even they don't go that fast unless chasing a quick snack or maybe that should be a hot meal. The cheetah must have come in through the door that my digression left open.

My attention is then dragged back to the trip. Is there anything more peaceful than rain on a tin roof? A person can almost get two nights sleep in one when under the spell of that sound. But the sound of rain hitting your windshield and roof of your car while driving through Atlanta - as you are striving desperately not to collide with something and/or someone - is not peaceful at all.

The purpose of this trip is to conclude the activities of last weekend when Carolyn and I, along with her Mom and Dad, went up to Cookeville Tennessee to visit Michele, Robbie and the delightful grandchild Caroline. Horace, Lucille and I came back on Monday and left Carolyn there for the week, this is the following Friday and I'm returning to bring back my favorite wife.

The tedium of the trip up till Atlanta had only been broken by a short visit to McDonald's for a pit stop and to purchase an apple pie and hot tea. After the excitement of Atlanta in the rain, which will test even a healthy heart, the rain stopped and the boredom set back in.

Just North of I-285 on I-75, the median is populated by row after row of decorative trees and shrubs that I am sure are very beautiful in spring and summer, but now they are just brown and bare. But even that is preferable to a bare concrete wall separating the two directions of traffic.

The southbound traffic has backed up for at least a half mile and lengthening fast because of an accident - I'm sorry for them, but thankful it's not in my direction, and grateful too. Would it be redundant to be grateful and thankful? I guess it would be dependent on how much you were of each one. But I'm not sure you can be very, very thankful and only slightly grateful or vise versa, it would seem that they would go hand in hand. I can almost see them skipping down the garden pathway, hand in hand. To be continued. ec

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Satan has been described in scripture as masquerading as an angel of light. This deceptive action is probably also true for his demon cohorts. Those who have been privileged (?) to view their actual form have described them in terms not nearly so complimentary.

Words are used that speak of black leathery skin and reptilian appearance with glowing, yellow, cat-like eyes. Possessing wings that look like curtains of darkness with taloned hands and feet, and horrible animal-like faces with large fangs. Probably even our imagination would fail us to describe these beings without actually viewing them ourselves.

I pondered this and wondered why this was the case, since they were created as eternal beings--why are their forms so grotesque?

The only thing that seems to make sense to me is that it's because they are not allowed to remain in the presence of God and consequently cannot be beneficially effected by the healing and renewing power that being in His presence brings.

From scripture and being convinced about these things and seeing them at work in my life and the lives of other Christians, as well as other references--humans that draw close to God find healing, forgiveness, freedom, peace and joy with these increasing in relation to the closeness and the length of time spent in His presence. Conversely, the farther away we are from Him, the more ugly and unacceptable our life and even our appearance becomes--being away from the restorative life and joy giving power found in being near Him.

Without God we sink into the pit of coarse physical and linguistic vulgarities. This happening when we by choice deprive ourselves of God's closeness and presence. We bog down into moral turpitude--which is kinda like turpentine--except the latter thins paint and the former thins morals.

The only reason I see that those away from God don't get quite as hideous appearing as demons is that they haven't had thousands of years to "evolve" into that appearance. ec

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The squirrel traversed the small limb almost out to the end. Reaching down, he (assumed gender) nipped the end off with very sharp teeth and started carrying the branch back toward the tree's trunk. Just before reaching this initial goal, the forked branch tip in his mouth caught on small twigs on either side of his pathway.

He backed up and tried several times to manhandle - or in this case, squirrel-handle - the stick through, even trying several angles of passage. Now I don't know if this particular denomination of squirrel was inclined toward obscene or vulgar chatter, but from appearance it seemed almost to be at that point of frustration.

Finally after nipping off part of one fork it pushed on through and carried it's burden to the very top of the tree. Then several things became evident - 1 - the rodent seemed to be building a nest - 2 - it had only just begun, as only a few foundation sticks had been laid and - 3 - the animal didn't have much building experience because it was building on the very tips of limbs, as opposed to a stronger branch fork.

The winter breeding season of the gray squirrel is usually from Dec to Feb, and this particular sighting was in late Feb. This seemed to be a bit tardy for nest building, but not knowing the squirrel mind, one of any number of scenarios could have been taking place.

He may have been sharing the nest of a friend, acted a bit too nutty and got booted (or pawed) out to fend for himself. He could have been having difficulty at the home nest (like too many squirrel-ettes) and decided to build another for peace and quiet. It might even have been a speculation nest he was building to trade for a few extra acorns.

Then maybe it wasn't a nest at all, but a viewing platform or a turnaround point for the squirrel winter Olympics. The main event for this occasion would be the speed tree climb - held on deciduous trees in winter so no leaves would block the view.

This race originally started at the top of the tree, running to the ground and back to the top. But as this event became more popular with spectators and participants, the start - finish line was moved to the ground, because the small limbs at top kept bending and breaking, casting squirrel-dom viewers in a cascade of downward trajectories. Thus proving that gravity still works, even for squirrels.

Much of this latter information, as you have probably deduced, comes from my very active imagination.

The reason behind whatever the squirrel was doing is not very clear to me, but I do know that he was not acting with very much choice. Its actions were dictated by inbuilt genetics that required no deductive reasoning.

Humans seem to be the only animal (some of these being a bit wilder than others) that can choose to go through life without a purpose or reason, other than living off the labor and/or fortune of others - by begging, borrowing or stealing. The better choice is to work and supply your and your family's needs. The best choice is to not only do that but to yield your life and energy to accomplish the purpose and reason for which God placed you in this world.

Without God, our lives will get a little squirrelly and we could wind up a real nut case. ec

Monday, August 22, 2005


How many Klondike Bars does it take to commit moral transgression - two, three, more? Could it be just one? This is possible, dependent on your true feelings about this delicious, delectable ice cream bar.

Where does Klondike lust begin? When you drool on the paper as you clip a coupon for this item? Could it be when you daydream about your freezer - especially the particular shelf where this delightful square of frozen dessert resides? Surely it's not when you are innocently pushing your grocery cart down the frozen food aisle and just accidentally catch a glimpse of this tempting container of fascination.

It's way too late when you have pushed aside the inner warnings and without conscience purchased this item of delectableness. Oh sure - you can say that this vixen of taste-dom has come into the household for visiting company only, but deep inside you know the truth!

Then the will slowly starts to erode and you go to the freezer under the pretext of looking for frozen butter beans with which to fashion a sandwich, but you can't hide the truth from yourself forever.

Then, because you don't want to be alone in your wanton consumption, you woo your unsuspecting spouse with - "Don't you want a Klondike Bar?" - knowing this is a weakness of hers as well. There I am, supposing to be the spiritual leader of the family, leading the one I love down the path of temptation.

Where will it end - when will it end - will it end - do I want it to end? Will I have to wrap the freezer in a sound deadening material so as not to hear the small alluring voice calling my name? Possibly I should replace this vamp in chocolate coating with something less guilt inducing - like rutabaga casserole or turnip green pudding - then again, maybe not.

Endeavoring now to answer my lead in question - which we all ultimately have to do - I feel if only one of these bars, two at most, is eaten in a fairly quick manner and an effort is made to not really enjoy them that much, it's probably OK.

The problem arises when an individual eats a Klondike Bar alone, taking small bites and slowly savoring the experience of the creamy, sweet, frozen milk product wrapped in a thin layer of milk chocolate. The two flavors then meet on the tongue in a crescendo of delight, sending tiny shivers through each itsy bitsy taste bud.

Yes - God forgives wrongdoing, even of the Klondike kind, but we are still stuck with the evidence of said action hanging over our belts. ec

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Had lunch today in a local sub shop and as per usual, I opted for the daily special. This menu item comes with chips and a drink. Not normally a chip eater, as I don't care for the greasy feeling left in my mouth, I have been known to munch on the baked kind, since they were included in the deal.

Reading material being scarce, I perused the chip bag and ran across some thought provoking stuff. Right off I found out that they were not potato chips, but potato crisps, and the labeling seemed to tell why.

The ingredients listed several things that are normally in liquid form, so I have to assume that all these things were mixed with the potatoes - dehydrated ones at that - and made into a dough, spread thin and baked. The resulting baked product, since it was not sliced directly off the potato, could not be called a chip (off the old potato) so they picked the rather ambiguous "crisps".

Now I can appreciate the truth in labeling and all that, but the bag had other words that were somewhat puzzling to me.

The statement on the bag was: Potato Crisps - The Naturally Baked snacks that complement your active lifestyle! They added the exclamation point evidently to show how excited they were that you bought their product.

Now I do have a fairly active lifestyle, but how did they know that I would be eating this particular bag of "crisps"? But then this statement is written on all the bags and surely they know that everyone eating these crispy tidbits is not that active. In fact, the eating of these baked things is probably the most active thing some will do all day.

The other part of that statement somewhat troubling is the part that says "Naturally Baked". First, why were these two words capitalized?

The general rules for capitalization are: Someone's name, a place (country, county, town, etc.) or a title (book, poem, etc.). I don't recall a country or even a town by that name, it wasn't long enough to be a book or rhyme like a poem and that left only the name thing. Maybe this is the name of the person in charge of the baking, their nickname would have to be "Nat", naturally.

If these words simply applied to how the foods are processed, they leave the implication that other companies' baked crispy things are done in an unnatural, abnormal or even freakish manner.

Peradventure the "Naturally Baked" was referring to the type energy used in the making process. The three, common, naturally occurring, sources of heat that came to my mind were fire, lightning or sunlight.

Fire would have to be eliminated because there were no burn marks on the potato things, lightning is ruled out because there were no memorial pictures on the bag of the ones that lost their lives in this very unstable process - and you know they would have victims. This leaves only sunlight, but this would not produce enough to feed very many people, especially on a cloudy day.

As you can see, this bag of potato thingies brought up way more questions than it answered. Finally I put the bag in the waste container, walked out of the eatery and put it all behind me - which is what we should do with our forgiven past anyway. ec

Saturday, August 20, 2005


On another day, during another season, I arose this particular morning feeling old and like I had just woke up - desperately hoping that this was not the high point of my day. It usually takes me about an hour, a bowl of cereal and a cup of hot tea before I get to be my jovial, bouncing off the walls, self.

The hot tea is not just any type, but my favorite brand at this particular time - English Breakfast Tea by Twinings (of London). This is "A blend of Ceylon, Kenyan and Indian teas, producing a full-bodied brew", or so says the box - I just drink it because I like the taste.

Other varieties and brands are on hand for later in the day (Bigelow's green tea, Twinings Irish Breakfast tea, Bigelow's Raspberry Royale, some plain old Bi-Lo tea and some herb teas), they make me feel almost British - - OK - maybe southern England – y’all.

The bowl of cereal is not just any bowl or just any cereal, but an especially constructed, custom blended, culinary delight to arouse the sleeping taste buds of any cereal aficionado.

The bowl of preference is the one quart one by Corelle that would normally hold enough butterbeans or fried okra to feed an entire family. Second choice would be the 1.5 litre bowl by Tupperware. As you can see, this is very serious business to me.

The construction begins with a whole banana placed in the bottom of the bowl (peeled, of course), then thoroughly mashed with a small salad fork. On this base is poured a layer of Rice Krispies, next is a layer of a crunchy type (Product 19, SmartStart, etc.), then finished off with a layer of Cherrios.

The Rice Krispies are on the bottom as a liquid depth indicator, when the proper depth of liquid is poured in, the Rice Krispies push up the other cereal around the edges of the bowl, letting me know when to stop pouring - hence not being liquidly wasteful.

The crunchy layer is for texture and the Cherrios are on top because if they don't get wet, they are less damaging to the gums.

Since I have allergy problems with milk, the liquid involved is some type of juice. The present one is Libby's Juicy Juice, in the "kiwi strawberry" flavor. The wonder of soymilk was discovered later.

Somewhere during this breaking the fast and waking up period, a smile starts to play around the corners of my mouth and a chuckle builds inside that I can't get rid of all day, even with much expression of it.

No wake up time is complete without God and He's woven completely through the fabric of my day's beginning, as He is through the whole day. The joy of the Lord is the foundation my hilarity is built on and it sustains me all day. ec

Friday, August 19, 2005


The year was 1980 and it had been a tough several months, living across the street with in-laws and working on our new house every possible moment. We had now been in the house a couple of months and things were just starting to get back to normal when suddenly one evening a peace-shattering event occurred.

The wife and children were in another part of the house and I was relaxed on the couch, viewing the tube. This was when I sensed a slight movement in the edge of my peripheral vision. Fixing my gaze on that particular spot, I had only a moment to wait to catch sight of what was moving. It was a mouse!

Being the man and protector of the house, I grabbed a shoe and ran toward the last sighting place of the rodent. It sprinted away and went into my small study – probably to do some cheesy research – and I gathered offensive and defensive weapons for our eminent combat.

These consisted of a light, a towel, a yardstick and the innocent looking, but deadly, shoe. The light to find the critter, the yardstick to get it into the open, the towel to close off the crack under the door, and the shoe was the deadliest weapon I had at hand on such short notice.

No time was allotted for any warrior ceremonies, any cleansing rituals or even physical preparation, the danger was now and it had to be faced! Closing the door behind me, I stuffed the towel under the door to prevent the beast from escaping. I knew that the die was cast, fates were sealed, it was me and the mouse, and only one of us would come out alive!

Locating this member of Rodentia behind the filing cabinet, the yardstick and I convinced it to make a run for it. There was the scampering of the creature, the thudding of the shoe on the floor, every blow landing just inches behind, and the quarry, finding no other place of safety, again found refuge behind the cabinet.

Once again the yardstick and I flushed the small mammal from hiding. Once again the quick scurry and the thudding of the shoe missing its mark told any outside the room that the small one was still alive and there was a war going on. It was at this point the tiny quadruped made its last mistake.

It made a run for the crack under the door that I had carefully closed with a towel, still with the thudding of shoe close behind. It was only a fraction of a second delay in its bid to escape, but enough for my slow reactions to catch up. Now if there is a mouse heaven, I did my part to help this one get there.

The burial ceremony was a somber affair and I felt slightly saddened because of this departed one’s valiant struggle – it was just something that had to be and it fell my lot to make it happen. Do I still think of the mouse? That I do is made obvious by this email.

It took a couple more months to finally rid the residence of the small furries that took up abode here during the construction period, but we finally had a mouse-free house.

We may sometimes feel like the mouse, desperately running away from the thudding of satan’s shoe, but instead we should be the one chasing the devil - and not with a shoe, but with the Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God! ec

Thursday, August 18, 2005


How well I remember my very first car. We lived in a rural area in the Northeastern corner of Mississippi and I chugged that car all up and down all the dirt roads near our house.

The year was 1947 and cars were very hard to come by, but this one was a Christmas present from my first grade teacher. The engine wasn’t much, in fact it didn’t have an engine at all – there wasn’t room for one in that small housing.

This was a small rubber car with wheels that actually rolled! It was the first Christmas present I remember receiving. The dirt roads I drove it on were created by my hand near our house, in fact, partially under the edge thereof, over near the back steps.

The first real live adult auto that suffered under my ownership came much later and that around the Augusta area. The year was circa 1958, the car was a 1948 Mercury coupe, semi inherited from my older sister.

The price was 200 dollars and a bargain for that. The color was black with a slight tint of earth tone, since it didn’t get washed very much. The motor was an old flathead V8 that must have been the toughest one ever made, because it endured much punishment at my hands.

Don’t think I ever changed the oil, just added some when it got low. Also don’t remember ever checking the gas mileage, just didn’t seem to be much of an issue when the price was around 30 cents a gallon.

There may have been a few close calls, but I never had an accident in the approx year and a half of my ownership. This would classify as at least a minor miracle considering the speed of my maneuverings around town. One particular member of the local constabulary took exception to my method of driving – too fast – and wrote up such exception after chasing me down.

This written notification cost me much consternation, not to mention the hard earned cash. Around our house, if you did something stupid, you were the one to pay the price, not the parents. In fact, I don’t know if I ever told Dad about that one, I figured I had suffered enough without him aiding and abetting the judge.

This wonder of automobile-dom was of the two-door variety and that was fine with me because I didn’t care if just one other person went with me, even though there was a rear seat. What I most desired was that this one other person be of the female persuasion. This seems odd to me now, since I was scared half to death of that particular gender back then.

When I think about this langsyne, I also think about the moral ineptitude and spiritual wanderings that were present as well. The only good thing I gained from those years was the realization that I didn’t know very much and it caused me to later turn to God for real knowledge. ec

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


On another day, in another place and during another season, I was sitting at a dinette table in Bethel Park, Pa. watching the movement of the tree limbs in the breeze outside the glass sliding door. Many of the leaves had already fallen, but with each stiff gust of wind a shower of the remaining leaves were shaken loose and cascaded, spinning and tumbling, to the ground, or pavement, or deck floor, or the top of the vehicles.

We had arrived on 10-31-02 just in time to have a meal and take kids trick or treating. Joe and I, and two other Moms :o), herded five little girls around the entire neighborhood block, gathering large amounts of calorie containing snippets of pre-fatness.

After this expedition, Carolyn and I took Megan to a local church's harvest party to meet some of her friends. This was after eleven hours of driving, so we were very much physically wiped out at the end of the activities.

On Sunday afternoon, Megan and I were out playing in the yard and just had to walk up the street to get a better view of a tree gloriously arrayed in it's finest red leaves, probably an adolescent tree, because it was really showing off.

Fallen leaves were everywhere but we also found a bunch of maple seeds. These seeds have a small wing and when falling they spin like a tiny helicopter. Not seeing any of these still falling and desirous to show her this spinning action, we gathered up hands full of these and tossed them in the air to see their kinetic gyrations.

Of course our made up game of kick ball on the lawn would have been a great chance for a student of kinesiology to gather much subject material. Possibly more action came from the granddaughter than from the grandpa.

Our next escapade was a contest to find the yellowiest of yellow leaves and the reddest of red. The search took us to the bottom of the steep slope behind their house and of course she won the quest - where would be the delight in me winning?

This left us at the bottom of the hill with her not desirous of climbing back up and me very willing to carry her up on my back. I knew my weight lifting and walking at the track would come in handy one day. So piggy back up the hill we came, each of us holding something very precious to us, hers was a handful of brightly colored leaves and I think you've already guessed what mine was.

On another day, this grand one and I were at another contest with double barreled rubber band guns, created by uno who for the enjoyment of children - small and large, young and old. With our weapons we were desperately repelling invading enemy soldiers (paper cups) to keep them from entering our castle (large plastic storage container) . . . . I guess you had to be there.

Naturally she enjoyed this activity and I enjoyed her enjoyment thereof. Even now, I smile in enjoyment at my own enjoyment of her enjoyment. I'm not sure but I think she enjoyed my enjoyment of her enjoyment as well. Basically there was enjoyment going on.

Another study of kinetic energy would be the other "grand one" living in this same location - six month old E. J. While he is not self-mobile as yet, much energy is expended in arm flailing and leg kicking. This energy expenditure continues even during the effort of striving to feed him cereal. This results in the gooey stuff spread about on nearly every nearby surface and object, some spread on his skin surfaces to be taken in through osmosis and some actually entering his mouth.

The comedy of these actions was noticed, appreciated and enjoyed by this grandpa. Also appreciated by me is the God given capacity to derive joy even through the goo of these and other actions maybe not quite so pleasant. ec

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


While driving in rush hour Atlanta traffic, never mind that I should never have been there to begin with, I noticed a curious phenomenon. It seems to relate to an old law (or curious true saying) that nature abhors a vacuum, because there is a similar truism in this aforementioned traffic situation.

But first let me explain that I come from the background, training and experience of driving methods taught, reinforced and re-preached constantly during my almost 38 years with BellSouth. Not to mention the fact that if we drove weird, people would call in and report us. This is because it's hard to hide the big bell emblem on the door of every truck.

Just one of these many driving techniques taught us and insisted on was that of the "space cushion". This is the act of leaving enough vacant space in front of you while driving, that should an emergency occur, you would have enough room to stop before striking the vehicle immediately ahead. Thus avoiding the injuring, killing or maiming of two to eight people, large or small, and your company being drainingly sued.

This area of training works quite well, and has for years, in areas that have normal traffic created by at least semi-normal people. But to call the grinding, daredevil and death defying traffic found within twenty miles of Georgia's capital, and those who create it, anything close to normal is quite a stretch of language definition.

Back to the traffic phenomenon, when leaving a "space cushion" on a rush hour interstate, it is a vacuum that is filled almost instantly by a vehicle. This seems to be true whether the person controlling (debatable) the vehicle wants to actually go into that space or not, and even if it's not the least congested lane.

So what could be the compelling force that pulls the autos or trucks into the space vacuum? Those folks can't possibly be that rude, arrogant or careless - can they?!!

In my quest for an answer, I also ruled out the phases of the moon - though a full moon might have some effect - and the tides, because the same thing seems to happen at the same time every day.

The only other solution I could come up with was electric and electronic in nature. The positively charged mass of autos, trucks and motorcycles moving rapidly - more or less - across the wide expanse of negatively charged asphalt creates a powerful electro-magnetic field that suddenly pulls any passing vehicle into any space that's even close to being big enough to accept it.

On second thought the asphalt must be the positive element because I only sensed negativity inside my auto when this action happened in front of me. Surviving the several times this incident occurred, I forgave them almost immediately, which is just as well, since it only hurts me to hold grudges.

I'm so glad that God forgives us completely through Jesus when we ask and holds no residual bad feelings. After He does this, most of us need to work on forgiving ourselves.

An overused word that should be reserved only for the works of God, especially that of salvation through forgiveness, is: AWESOME!!!! ec

P.S. - In that same Atlanta traffic I also took note of a sign, professionally done and stuck to the rear of a Chevy Blazer. It stated, in letters that were upside down, "If you can read this, flip me over". This may be due to an excessive magnetic field on a given day and evidently has happened before - else why the sign? Surely silly people don't live in Atlanta as well?!?

Monday, August 15, 2005


While meandering through Webster’s dictionary on my computer the other day, I mentally tripped over an odd word – interrobang. This is a punctuation mark designed for use at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question. In appearance it is a question mark overwritten with an exclamation point.

Then tucked neatly away deep in the outer limits of my computer, I found four slightly different versions of this mark - none of which will print in a normal format. The last of these was my favorite, it just looked more honest to me.

Now this find doesn’t rank nearly as high as Louis Pasteur and his discovery of milk, or Madam Curie setting up the Atomic Energy Commission, but it was big to me.

Jumping aboard the web, I find 2,630 references to this unusual mark. It was invented in 1962 through the actions of Martin Speckter, head of a New York advertising agency. It hasn’t come into common usage, but I was somewhat nonplussed as to why this word, the mark and I had never crossed paths before.

Then I noticed a usage problem with the word nonplus. It doesn’t appear that a person can be somewhat or slightly nonplussed, it’s an all or nothing word. I’m not sure then how perplexed I was, but should usage problems be reveled in, or become a writing style?!

This brings me back to the interrobang and whether or not I will bring it into my personal common usage. The answer is in the negative for two reasons.

First, it’s just too much rigmarole to find and print the mark – what with having to go to format and font and wing dings 2 and then all the way back to finish writing.

Secondly, it’s too specific and binding – leaving no room for creativity and/or multidimensional or directional scampers.

For example, if you were extremely excited about the question, conventional punctuation gives you the freedom to show this variation – something like this - ?!!!!!!

But then if you were very perplexed and only slightly excited, it could be - ?????!

You can even show extreme questioning, large excitement and ambivalence as to why - ????!!!!??

The main question mark from God is: Will you? After answering that in the affirmative, it’s all exclamations!!!!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2005


On another day, during another season, it was another extraordinary morning in which to wake and I did so semi-gladly. This day was made special by choice and this was a normal occurrence because I don't believe in having ordinary days, or nights either. The weather was cloudy and drizzling but I refuse to let appearances define the type day I will have.

Having had my customary breakfast, hot tea and a devotion, I sallied forth for a day of errands, adventures and opportunities.

The first stop was our local Waffle House to meet an ex-coworker and we had a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, a cup of coffee and some hot tea. The young guy had the first two items and the old one had the hot tea, since he had already eaten breakfast.

After our parting of ways, it was on to the post office, since we get the majority of our mail from a numbered metal box, it seems to be placed there by someone on the other side of the wall. Then next door to the CVS for some items made necessary because of human frailties.

From thence I ventured onward to Bi-Lo, an essential visit because of our inability to break the habit of eating. But I do so enjoy that activity, possibly too much so, this attested to by a few unwanted bulges.

Next stop was Hardee's to obtain a gravy biscuit for my favorite spouse. After exiting the aforementioned business establishment with said food item, my quick walk back to the truck and routine morning was interrupted by a stunning bit of natural beauty.

In the middle of the drive through portion of the parking lot lay two blooms, blown there from nearby landscape plants. They were small, very pink and absolutely beautiful. One had already been crushed by the tire of a passing vehicle and the other lay on the damp gray asphalt, looking like a miniature umbrella with it's most colorful part facing me as I approached.

Already a few steps past, my mind demanded that I go back to verify if what I thought I had seen was actually what was there. Briefly I stood and stared in wonderment at this delicate bit of God's natural splendor. Whatever thoughts being considered at that moment were shoved aside to make room to ponder this experience and to determine what my Lord was showing me through it.

One thing I perceived in this was that the beauty of life is temporary and so easily crushed by time and circumstances.

Another was that the winds of time will take from us the excellence of words and experiences we should have valued more highly and better preserved.

A lesson also could be that we can find beauty most anywhere if we choose to recognize it, even in a grimy parking lot.

Then too, my mind was led to visually seek out the parent plant and source of this loveliness. I did so and my eyes feasted on a multitude of blossoms that I would have otherwise missed in my haste.

More personal still, I feel that God had that flower placed there to amaze me, show how much He loved me and to nudge me into an arena of praise, in the which He would be able to bless and strengthen me. To sum it all up I just say . . . WOW!!!

Friday, August 12, 2005

flawed plan

Most of my growing up years were spent in and around 534 Hickman Road in Augusta Georgia. This was also before the evils of television stifled the creativeness of play that all young minds have, to one degree or another, and the greatest danger any of us faced was disobeying our parents.

This is probably hard for some to believe, but the kids in our neighborhood would actually go outside and just play together - for hours - if we had no appointed chores.

At some point during this time we became the recipients of the unspeakably wonderful gift of an old soap box derby racer. Almost all of the upper body skin was gone, leaving only the flat frame and wheels with a rope to guide. This contraption was affectionately called "mule train" by all the neighborhood kids.

The road on which we resided was unpaved - just dirt - for the first several years and was a medium sized hill, declining from South to North. Our house was about middle of the block and at the point the incline of the road was starting to level out.

Our favorite usage of the aforementioned vehicle was to tow it to the highest point of our road, load it with as many kids as it would hold, and ride it to the bottom. Though this seems rather tame today, we seldom tired of our adventurous set of wheels.

It was during one of these recurring activities that a flawed plan came into my mind. On this day, seeing that I was seated on the very back of our exalted vehicle, the plan was to keep my hands on "mule train" while jumping off with my feet and start them running before they touched the dirt. Then I would push very fast, jump back on and be a hero for giving our crew a much faster, more exciting ride.

The flaw in this became very apparent as soon as my feet touched the road. They were not moving fast enough, went out from under me, leaving no visible means of support or propulsion. The result was my skidding to a stop, face first in the middle of our dirt thoroughfare, leaving me with abrasions and contusions on various physical and emotional parts of me, with the mental part making a note in bold letters to never try that plan again.

The worst flawed plan would be to leave Jesus out of our planning.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

gnus, gnats and gnomes

Which is smarter -- a gnat or a gnu? (A gnu being a large African antelope) The vote would seem to come down heavily on the gnu side because the gnat seems to know only enough to fly into eyes, ears, noses and mouths, but then they don't get eaten by lions, except mostly by accident and that notably with the negligent gnat in the gnu's nostril while it was being gnawed.

Since there are so many gnats -- could it be that we only see, hear, smell and taste the thrill seekers or the suicidal? Are the elite, learned gnats watching all this from the sidelines and shaking their heads at their fellow-gnats foolhardiness?

Then gnus -- they supposedly possess some intelligence, but they hardly notice when faced with the news of a new gnu -- but when the most important thing in your life is to know how to eat grass and run fast -- it would tend to leave some slackness between the ears. But if a lion catches a gnu napping, it's naught to the lion whether it's an old gnu or a new gnu -- it just becomes nourishment.

Then there's gnomes - unless I've mixed my fairy tales like I do metaphors, I seem to remember that they always have a knife, are old and bent looking, wear short pants, travel a lot, are strongly opinionated and have trouble discussing anything other than their own beliefs -- you are either on their side or are the enemy -- and this naturally negates neutrality.

The gnome then that's hardest to negotiate with is the knavish, knuckle-headed, nomadic, gnarly gnome with known gnostic notions, in knickers with a new knife. He's likely to knock a knot on your noggin with a nodule of gneiss. Sounds like some people I know, though nobody I would want to name, bless their hearts.


For the last few days the wife and I have put many miles behind us, this being more preferable than years. Miles are usually kinder than years in their effect on our frail human forms, that is if a safe return home is managed - and in this case it was.

We departed on Friday past to the Northeastern corner of the state of Mississippi, in the county of Itawamba. The purpose of the visit was ultimately to attend a family reunion on Saturday, with the fringe benefit of staying and visiting with my sister, since her home is in that area.

Another sister and spouse also spent the night and we all had a great, but short, visit. The next day, we gathered at a nearby community center with kin from several states around and had a real hoot of a good time. We reacquainted ourselves with cousins galore and even met a few new ones. We ate good food, laughed, talked, laughed, made photos, laughed – did I mention that we laughed a lot?

We departed that location in the early afternoon with a Tennessee destination in mind, since that is where our oldest daughter and family reside. After about five hours behind the wheel, we arrived in Cookeville to see what was happening with these ones precious to us. Her family consists of her husband, eight year old daughter and five month old son.

Our visit, as always, ended much too soon and we started for home Wednesday AM. Without particular incident, we made it safe home, tired but glad for the time shared with family. We will be back to our normal selves in a day or so – whatever that is.

Friday, August 05, 2005


An old saying comes to mind about not being able to see the forest for the trees -- or that could be sub-titled - What are all these trees doing out here in the woods?

When I think about trees, my mind considers the whole of all it's parts. The roots draw moisture and nutrients from the soil. The trunk supports the tree and sends sap up to the branches. The branches spread out and supply the attached leaves with the material that they convert to tree energy in the presence of sunlight.

The leaves also convert carbon dioxide to oxygen so that us humans, grateful or not, would have something to breathe besides nothing. God does all things well.

Much has been written - and even sung - about leaves, some mention has been given to branches and trunk and even a little about roots -- but what about bark? I took it upon myself to write a short piece entitled "Ode to bark". "The dark bark of the tree in the park that the dog bit on a lark was very acidic in nature and bit him back".

Now to my own credit, I must admit that this little group of words flows every bit as good as a well built sewer system. Included within is a bit of the dark side of nature in the malicious dog mischief and the resulting poetic justice of the revenge of the tree. But if the dog got a lawyer, the result could be very draining to the tree -- down to the very last drop of it's sap -- so much for poetic justice.

Another old saying relates that some people's (and dog's) bark can be worse than their bite, but does that apply to trees as well? If a person collided with a tree while running full tilt and looking back, it could be said that the bark WAS the tree's bite, or that a person's bite (dentally speaking) could be altered by the bark. All this to help take a bite out of time.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I'm somewhat appalled by the fact that more people are not appalled, or at least not so by the things that I feel should inspire appallation (or appallment). I'm appalled by the apparent disability of the young to entertain themselves without the aid of electronic devices.

I'm dismayed by the evidential lack of "joie de vivre" in many folks harried and hurried lives. I'm taken aback by the small amounts of oohs and ahs when viewing spring flowers or a sunset.

I even feel some consternation directed toward myself, because the only time I skip stones across the surface of the pond behind my house is when the "grand" ones are present - - it's been several years since I've flown a kite - - and I can't remember the last time I frolicked in a field of clover.

Maybe that's the problem - - we have forgotten how to frolic - - or at least in the innocent way. Puppies and colts just naturally know how to frolic - - so do children - they run, jump and play for no apparent reason other than they enjoy it and can do it.

Then with educational toys, TV and video games, the frolicking ceases and in fantasy worlds the fun is only had by the characters on-screen and enjoyed by us vicariously. We need to bring back the frolic - - quite possibly would take a series of lessons though.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Here I am, several years past the age of 60 and have absolutely no idea how a person of that age is supposed to act. Let me add here that I have yet to get a handle of the years following 50 - - or even 40 - - this could be called unresolved aging and doesn't sound quite as style cramping as the regular kind.

This leaves me in a quandary (which is somewhat like a quarry, except the rock and hard place you are between is of the mental variety) and maybe on the horns of a dilemma (which also can be very serious, dependent upon what is attached to the other end of the horns) as to how I can possibly answer this nearly unanswerable question as to how I should act.

Maybe it all depends on how my body reacts to the law of diminishing returns. The way I explain that law is by comparing it to bouncing a ball - - first you throw a ball downward toward a hard surface, when it strikes said surface, it bounces back upward relatively high - - if you don't touch the ball again, the next bounce will not be so high, and each bounce will continue to lessen in height until it stops. (If this is not the right law, please be kind and not correct your elder - since I am that to most everyone, or so it seems.)

Several lessons can be had from that illustration. 1- Some days the bounce is higher than others. 2- The physical condition of the ball (or person) governs how high and how long the bounce will continue. 3- There must be some reason or force to start the bounce each morning. 4- When the bouncing stops, it's all over unless a much higher force starts the bouncing process again.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


The word "falderal" is defined as mere nonsense, yet I take exception to that because this seems to pass it off as totally unimportant. How can the word be dismissed and shoved aside as foolish talk or ideas when it describes one end of the scale of everything that does make sense?

In my mind I personify Falderal and view him as straining to hold up one end of the platform on which all things rational and reasonable stand. This is a heavy load, but there seems to be nobody else to help hold that end.

Ludicrous is near this end of the scale, as is Insanity, but the former is only interested in getting a laugh and the latter can't be depended on because of differing quantitative measurements. Due to this fact, one never knows where he stands or when he will fall.

Then the question must be asked - who is holding up the far end of the mental normality scale? To find an answer one must look patiently and carefully, because much fog permeates the atmosphere surrounding this defining balance beam.

Peering intently through the haze, I can just make out the forms of Lucidity and Reasonableness, and just beyond them is Sound Judgment and Good Sense. All of them looked disheveled and somewhat bruised, as though they had fallen or been pushed off the scale. They seemed to be for definition only because most don't believe in their existence anymore, hence the clouding of perceptibility, and with that goes their ability to really define sanity.

The mist shifts and lifts a bit and I glimpse Sagacity and Perspicacity and they appear to be helping, but on closer inspection they are more concerned with measuring their own perception and discernment than in holding up their end.

But the brume thinned again momentarily and I espied a presence situated at the very terminus of the aforementioned heavy measuring device. Approaching this living actuality, I perceive a very powerful and unique entity even though somewhat disguised by the flowing robes of humility.

In spite of the fact that ours was only a passing acquaintance, I recognized Wisdom at once. Its strength was evidenced by the easy manner in which this end of the heavy load was held. Determining to become better acquainted, I posed a question as to how this stalwartness was achieved.

The answer had a familiar ring, for it told of starting out with a great sense of awe and respect concerning the presence, creation and the workings of an all-powerful God. Emphasized also was proper food, first the milk and then the strong meat of the Word.

Related in addition was the necessity of exercise. This program included the deep knee bends of prayer and the hand-eye coordination training of seeing what needed to be done and doing it with one's might. Lastly described was the exercise of constant walking in God's will and not our own. Greatly stressed was the imperative of the regular, daily, completion of these actions.

On leaving this encounter, I knew I had much to do.

Monday, August 01, 2005

say what?

Should anything be said when there's nothing left to say? Usually someone will come up with something that, suffice it to say, shouldn't have been said. That in turn provokes a response that also need not be said.

These unnecessary responses are caused by a lack of agreement on whether or not the speaking should cease. If the condition of silence is asked for unilaterally - as opposed to bilaterally or multilaterally, depending on the number of speakers involved - then it would depend on the amount of respect (or fear) the asked has for the asker as to whether or not verbal expression desisted.

Once the present speaking stops, the past words must be attended to, but something, once said, cannot be unsaid, even though this has been tried, but the more said trying to unsay something, the more things are said that need not be said, shouldn't be said and also can't be unsaid.

Being unable to turn back time, the best we can do is to say something to make up for or apologize for what should not have been said to start with. Even in this we must be careful to say the things that should be said in lieu of what shouldn't be said. But at a time like that it's hard to know what to say.

Sometimes if nothing is said, the lack of words speaks volumes, and can be misinterpreted. Just the raising of an eyebrow or other subtle body language can communicate much. What if Ole Abe had given the Gettysburg address in body language only - they would have thought he had flipped out.

Speaking of politicians - what if they were required to list the ingredients contained in each speech? For all too many of them the contents would read something like this: This speech contains: 20% Hogwash - 20% Malarkey - 20% Hot air - 20% Bunkum - 20% Baloney - 20% Tripe - 20% Claptrap - 20% Unmitigated gall - Artificial color and flavor, just barely enough - Truth, one grain. I realize this comes out to more than 100%, but this is in concentrated form, just dilute it with more hogwash.