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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

languages - 1

There are many languages in our world, I assume I knew this in high school, but I chose not to study any of them and went for a general, minimum diploma. Looking back, that was not very smart but at the time it seemed the reasonable thing to do. From youth all the way through high school, the only language I spoke was southern.

In the summer of my graduation, I joined the Army – the draft was in force and I wanted to choose the time to get this obligation over with rather than have Uncle Sam choose another time that might not be so convenient. In military basic training I was exposed to the Spanish language big time for a couple of reasons. One – my training took place in the southern part of California – Fort Ord – and two - at least a fourth of our company was of Hispanic descent.

Then it was on to electronics training in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and all they spoke there was northern. I could understand them fairly well though, if they spoke slowly enough. In retrospect it seems like I could understand the girls better than the guys – maybe I was just trying harder or maybe this is all in my imagination.

After almost a year of training, they sent this southern boy to NATO Headquarters, just outside Paris France for 22 months. Two things I noticed right away, one – everybody except fellow soldiers were able to speak French very well, special classes I guess, and two – almost all the cars were foreign ones.

My work schedule was rotating shift work, made necessary because we had to have 24/7 coverage in our communications center. Equipment maintenance was my job and at least one of us had to be there. This was not a bad thing except I couldn’t take language classes since I didn’t have a set schedule.

A few printed French lessons and a dictionary were acquired and on my own I picked up some of the rudimentary words and phrases, enough to make myself understood. By the time I came back to the USA, I was doing some rough translations between some of the army types and their French girlfriends. You can probably imagine what their desires and intentions were.

Years have passed now and I still have a feeling that I would like to be at least bi-lingual – but evidently the feeling is not strong enough to motivate me into going back to school for the learning of another. It also has occurred to me that my native tongue could use a bit of polishing – especially in its written forms and sentence construction, but also in word meanings and the subtle nuances thereof.

To be continued. ec

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

fat free

During a perusal of our freezer, I came upon a one-quart freezer bag of peaches that was dated from the year before. Whereupon they were brought into the house, “nuked” in the microwave for a bit to bring them into a less solid state, and a portion of them were consumed – risking hypothermia of the tongue.

These morsels of delight turned out to very edible, causing me to conclude that the year of their freezing was a good vintage year for peaches. Other conclusions were reached as well, making me realize that conclusions were not beyond my reach.

The next day, in the somber light of day, I concluded that somberness was not beyond my reach as well – though that would be quite a reach. Digressing from this very digressive digression, the thought came to my mind that with a little ingenuity, one could construct a more imaginative and healthy dessert/health food from these vintage peaches – now in thawed condition.

Obtaining a bowl from the cabinet, the size of which is best left to the imagination, I started the construction project. The foundation of the structure was a large slab (it was bigger than a slice) of angel food cake – this was cooked earlier by my favorite wife from a box of Duncan Hines Angel Food cake mix, labeled as being fat-free.

Doubts formed in my mind about the fat-free part of this cake because the first ingredient of the stuff was sugar, and while that may not be fat in itself, fatness has a large chance to be the evidential result. It turns out that the main ingredients are sugar, flour and egg whites. I should not have read the ingredients after consumption since the last ingredient listed was confusing/troubling. Exactly what is sodium lauryl sulfate and what does it do to a person?

Upon and round about thereof the slab of cake was placed a normal amount (for me) of bite sized peach pieces along with some of the juice (light syrup) in which they were frozen. This was topped and completely coated over by an 8 oz. container of Breyers 99% fat free smooth and creamy blended yogurt in the peaches and cream flavor.

Once again I made the grave error of not reading the ingredients until after consumption. The next to last ingredient of this yogurt was yellow 6 and if that was not yellow enough, the very last on the list was yellow 5. I was somewhat flummoxed (whatever that means) by this, lulled into believing all the ingredients to be natural – since that is the claim of this particular company’s ice cream production.

Was the large and possibly pernicious delight and enjoyment of my construction project worth it? That remains to be seen – to say the least – and I will end this soliloquy with a modified version of an old saying. If my intake (of calories) exceeds my output (of energy expended) then my excess will be my overhang (of the belt).

I wonder if a person’s soul can get too fat? ec

Monday, November 28, 2005

one single bloom

A day or so before the first hard frost of the year, I was gazing out my kitchen window – as some of us older folks are apt to do – and I espied a treat for my eyes. Right at the base of the security light pole and growing in the very corner of my small, yearly, zinnia bed was a single plant with a beautiful red bloom.

From my vantage point it was almost as if it was peering at me from behind the pole and saying, “look at me, look at me”, much like a child would tell its parents as they showed them their accomplishments. And look I did and blessed I was at this emotionally invigorating sight.

It did occur to me that I was a bit like this plant’s parent in a way. I saw to it that it was raised up to a point and pretty much ignored it after that until it did something really good. Then I was proud until it did something not so good – like die, which is what it did after the frost.

Then came the busy Thanksgiving season with the celebrations thereof. These were grand and glorious events of food, fellowship and laughter. We were warmed emotionally but a bit tired physically when it was all over.

Here it is the week after and things are cleaned up and getting back to normal. Then it was the garden’s turn to get spiffied up. The only thing growing now is some greens and a bunch of hardy, aggravating, weeds. My thought about planting in the fall for winter was that the weeds wouldn’t be as annoying. But I found out that weeds do not take the winter off, just different ones grow during that time.

While hoeing, as well as moving some dirt around, it occurred to me that I needed to pick the few zinnia flower heads that were left to save the seed for next year’s flowers. Then I remembered the little red flower that cheered my day a few weeks before and set about to find it.

When I found it, I discovered that it was much smaller than the others – indicating that it had possibly grown from this year’s seed. Not only that, but it had grown only one single bloom. This was an even greater delight to me because I took it as a personal gift from God – that He created that one flower just for me to see – even though I did show it to my favorite wife.

The other zinnias had many flowers each but this small plant had only one. If it were like us humans, it would have been depressed that it wasn’t as big as the others, or didn’t have as many flowers. The lesson I received from this was that if I could only do one thing well, I would want to offer this one single “bloom” to my Savior as a gift to Him - and anyone He would choose to bless with it. ec

Sunday, November 27, 2005

the kite

Long ago and not so far away, the winds of spring were blowing – it was kite season. The year was about 1954 and the place was a vacant field across from where Hickman Road dead-ends into Telfair Street in Augusta. This area was known to all the neighborhood kids as simply “the park”.

While I was in the army the city made a ball field, tennis court, placed playground equipment and even a block building in this large vacant area. Back before these improvements, we may have had some “no frills”swings, but the only other recreational opportunities available were the gullies we could jump – washed out by the rain.

Softball was sometimes played on a clean-it-off-and-make-your-own bases basis, but the biggie for this time of year was kite flying. Being about 13 or 14 and somewhat scrawny for my age, I watched in amazement as the “big kids” flew their kites almost out of sight.

There was a source of income available to me – albeit meager – from my paper route and I determined to procure one of these amazing wind-borne creations. Charting new territory, I bought a kite and a ball of string from a nearby five and dime (predecessor of K-mart and Wal-mart). This anchoring string was made from cotton since nylon wasn’t available – or maybe not even invented at that point – at least not in string form.

With a bit of knowledge gleaned from the experienced flyers, I put the kite together – even placing a string “belly-band” and a fairly long “tail” for stability in flight. The wind was fairly brisk and I had no trouble launching my craft of wood, paper and string.

Slowly I let the string out and gained a bit of experience in what to do and what not to do. Becoming braver I continued to let my prized flying machine go higher and higher. As I neared the end of my string, the wind suddenly increased in strength and it dawned on me in a flash that I should have placed a longer “tail” on the kite because my newly purchased beauty started uncontrollably spinning in the downward loop of “death”.

Stop to consider here that this was a time before the “throw-away” age – of things or people – and what you had was saved and repaired. As my kite disappeared below the horizon of the houses on the next block, I ran toward the place it was last glimpsed with the intent of retrieving it to fly once again.

Following my string, I finally located the kite in the back yard of a house one street over, lodged high in a mimosa tree. Up until that point I had always considered a mimosa tree as one of my friends, since we had a very friendly one in our front yard – but this one was a rogue tree and it was angrily clinging to my kite with its topmost branches.

A young man living in the house came out to offer what assistance he could as I strove in my panicked emotional state to climb high enough to reach my vessel of flight that was just beyond my fingertips. When I realized that the kite was shredded beyond repair, I felt like I had lost my best friend or my favorite puppy - I didn’t have a puppy back then, but I’m sure that’s how the loss of it would have felt.

When the young guy saw my teary-eyed, devastated condition, he brought out from their garage an old kite they had never used, still in its rolled up state and gave it to me. This consoled me enough to finally go back home and consider the awful thing that had happened to me that day.

When I finally unrolled the kite, I realized that I had something that the other kids didn’t have. The ruined kite had a picture of a “flying wing” on it – as did all the others – but the gift replacement was from another year and on it was pictured an old bi-plane of the Orville and Wilbur type and I joyed in its uniqueness.

This makes me wonder if many of us enjoy our own personal uniqueness - this because so many seem to want to be and act like someone else – famous or otherwise. In younger days, I felt different, out of place and not as good as others – but God taught me over the years to like and even enjoy who I am, and also to strive to be all He has made me to become – some days I do better at this last part than others. ec

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It was like this - 2

Our major family social event started to slowly wind down and folks were leaving a few at a time. One couple had to go to two more affairs – hopefully for them they wouldn’t have to eat at both. We were down to the hardcore dozen or so when I started packing it in. It was needful for me to be back home by about 4pm to help the wife with last minute prep, since our next event started at 5.

On the route home, I perused the trees beside the roadway; I’m always amazed by God’s creation. Their branches were in various stages of bareness, with some it was total and with others, leaves were still in color but rapidly on their way out. A row of flowering pear trees had just started to change colors, with many of the leaves still green. I guess that is how a ‘scattered’ frost affects the greenery.

As I drove along, my mind couldn’t help but walk down memory lane and I thought how much my Mom and Dad would have loved to have been to that family function, they always enjoyed that type of get-together. Dad passed in ’95 and Mom in ’97.

The old song goes ‘over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go’ – it suddenly occurred to me that my wife and I are the grandmother, and grandfather, that others are now going over the river and through the woods to see. It seems that time flies, whether you are having fun or not – of course I usually do.

There is an odd quirk in my nature such that if there are two ways to go to a destination and there is no great difference in the distances between them, I will go one way and return the other. Such is the case today since I went the interstate and am returning on the parkway and through downtown Augusta.

An errand was completed in route and I got home about 4pm. Our main parts of the meal were almost done and I helped with the finishing touches. The crew started arriving with additional dishes a few at a time until we topped out at 15 adults and 5 youngsters. Four of the youngsters were boys and under 3 ½ years old, my 12-year-old granddaughter was somewhat outnumbered. Four of the kids were our “grands” with the other being a great-nephew (or grand nephew?).

Prayer was offered and we began our feast – I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as some since I had already “been there, done that” at lunch. Again, much laughter was woven through the entire affair, but I couldn’t claim much genetic involvement since over half of the crowd was related to me by marriage. Nonetheless the fun and fellowship was great, causing at the very least, smiles all around.

This is the time that the crowd usually draws names so as to have only one family member to buy a gift for at Christmas. This year we have decided to do things differently. We collected money from each of our families and through connections with a local church, we asked for a needy family for which we could provide Christmas gifts – in lieu of buying for each other. We received a wish list and after the meal, the table was cleared and all the ladies gathered around with sales papers and did a little prep work for a major shopping trip the next day to gather the things on the list.

Our family gradually started departing to their places of abode but a few hung around for quite a while. It was about midnight when the wife and I rested our weary heads. What a day of feasting, the food was a part, but the best by far was the delicious partaking of the love of family, tasting the different personalities and the delightfully seasoned senses of humor. As I was drifting off, the smile in my soul was very huge.

As I sit alone today, putting the finishing touches on this missive, the ladies have put in a full day of gift gathering, starting early this morning. Then the whole feminine crowd went to a “chick flick” together. A few items remained after the movie and several of them are finalizing the shopping for this needy family. This Christmas promises to be very rewarding, for us and for the family involved.

Can’t help but believe that this is what the Word was talking about when it said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. ec

Friday, November 25, 2005

It was like this - 1

Thanksgiving began for me about 8am after I heeded the alarms insistent clamor. While waiting for the fog to lift, I wandered into the kitchen to break the fast. Cereal was poured and consumed, I also partook of scripture and notes concerning my thoughts while reading were made. Then it was on to the computer to check email and read a few blogs.

By then the fog had lifted and it was down to the business at hand. The squash casserole the wife and I had mixed up the night before was placed in the oven – and the oven was then turned on, not to leave any steps out. Banana pudding construction was then begun. As I may have mentioned in other missives, I make my pudding from scratch ingredients with hardly anything artificial in the mix. If I’m going to get fat from eating something, I want natural fat instead of the artificial kind.

About 9:40 I received one of those good news – bad news type phone calls from my son-in-law in Tennessee. Their trip home for Thanksgiving had already been delayed because my granddaughter had a stomach virus. Well the good news was that Caroline was feeling better and had eaten and kept down some sustenance and the bad news was that now my Michele was stricken by the same malady. If you have ever been stricken by a stomach virus, I do not need to tell you where she had been sitting or what she was holding in her lap.

The further bad news was that they would not be coming home at all. As sick as she had been, Caroline was devastated by not being able to make the trip, saying “This will be the first time I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving” – she’s eight. He and I both agreed that our hope was that the little one (8 months) didn’t come down with the same ailment.

Pudding construction continued with mixing the ingredients together and slowly coaxing this liquid, under the duress of heat, into the finished pudding product. Then it was a layer of wafers (Nabisco Nilla, of course) and a layer of pudding, a layer of bananas and another of pudding. The layering continued until near the top of the large oval dish. Then the egg-white meringue was whipped into a frenzy and spread on top. The squash casserole was done by this time. It was taken out and the pudding put in to brown the meringue.

The thought came to mind – I wonder if the word spatula is a French or Latin word that means ‘removing all the pudding from the mixing bowl?’

Let me mention here that I am not heavy into chef-dom, but I do prepare a few dishes. Mostly my role in the kitchen is helper/gofer, second in command to the lovely wife. This was a morning of sashaying around the kitchen, conversing with, as well as praising, my Heavenly Father and thoroughly enjoying myself.

At my insistence, my favorite wife was still snoozing, having had a hectic day yesterday and was to have one even more so today, since our family was to gather at our house at 5pm. The casserole and pudding were packed into the car, to hopefully not slid around too much, and I was on my way to my brother’s place about 25 miles away. It has been an annual tradition to eat the noon version of Thanksgiving with his clan and then the PM version back at our house with our clan.

Arriving at my brother’s, I transported my two dishes to the gathering house to join all the other dishes. This house on his place was mostly built by the brother, with some of the family helping with the roof trusses and such. It has one room, 30ft by 40 ft, and is where we have all our reunions, parties, etc. Our extended family slowly gathered in and the final count was 23 persons enjoying the event.

The grace was spoken and we all dug into the long table of various dishes. Then it was eating, talking, laughing, teasing, laughing, more eating, laughing, desserts and laughing. Did I mention that we laughed a lot? The food was great but the smiles, laughter and family reconnecting was even better. I can’t help but believe this is a small taste of what Heaven will be like.

To be cont’d. ec

Thursday, November 24, 2005


The panoramic view was from one of the 6th floor treatment rooms of my dermatologist – where I was waiting for her to remove stitches from a previous minor surgery. You might say that she is a real cut-up and just keeps me in stitches – for about 10 days this time.

Off to the right from my window view is the large complex of the Medical College of Georgia. Just saying it is large doesn’t do it justice or really explain – but it seems much bigger than large – maybe even extensive.

It’s a misty morning and billowy clouds of condensation are rising from the massive MCG air conditioning units. It was almost like there was a place on the far side of the buildings that was breathing in the clean, healthy air and these clouds were the exhaling of the bad, germ-filled stuff. One would like to think this could be the case – but sometimes the opposite is true and a person can catch some very specialized, aggressive and unhealthy germs that only grow in hospitals.

To the left of my view is the University Hospital – somewhat large but not as imposing as the aforementioned instructional institution. This was the top and some of the side view of University – the part not normally seen – with it’s piping, large air conditioners and flat tar and gravel roof.

To the near right is the top view of doctor’s offices with their associated parking areas. These areas are outlined by trees planted just for the purpose of outlining these areas. This scene has been viewed by me many times over the years and I remember these trees when they were young. I may have even known their parents; their last name is oak.

A tower construction crane dominates the far center of this view. This device is involved in the erection of an office building – presently up to about the fourth floor. One would assume that this building would be a part of the MCG complex since it adjoins that area. Being a crane operator must be a very up-lifting kind of job – but then I guess it would have its let downs as well.

Most everywhere are the signs of daily commerce as well as doctors and patients going to and fro – by car and on foot. My curiosity was somewhat piqued as to which were the “tos” and which the “fros” – hopefully they all knew which of these they were.

Directly below me is the paved passageway between two buildings with some parking spaces. The natural things – God’s creations – growing in an area are usually the first things I look for and in this case it was several trees growing in the median between the pavement and sidewalk.

All the trees were mostly still in full leaf, but two of them caught my attention because both had several limbs right on the top without any leaves. They looked a bit like long bony fingers, hopelessly reaching up and out for help – from someone – in some way. If they had the power of speech, their cry might be – “zounds, our leaves have left and we have nothing wherewithal to be clothed”.

It would appear that zounds has fallen from modern language usage in much the same way the leaves fell from those bare branches. Older exclamatory words such as eureka, avast and even the tiny lo are missing from a language that has become less colorful, more coarse, less intelligible and way beyond offensive.

My mind snapped back into reality and the treatment room by the entrance of my doctor. We conversed briefly and she swiftly and deftly snipped and plucked the stitches from the confines of my skin. In a very few minutes she was through and I departed from the room, leaving the view for someone else. ec

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


The other day a question pounced upon my mind like a Canadian lynx on a snowshoe rabbit in mid-December about 20 miles north of the Minnesota border. The question? Exactly where is that place called yonder?

To answer my own question – something that I do occasionally – I’ve decided that the precise yonder location cannot be determined without additional facts included in the conundrum. These could include the approximate distance, the time of day, the season of the year, the temperature and a well-known, easily identifiable object near that location.

For instance, if I told Grandpa that Ole Blue had a raccoon treed down yonder by the crick, he wouldn’t know where I was talking about. But if it was about 1:30pm on December 28th and the temperature was 47 degrees and I told him that Ole Blue had treed a raccoon over yonder about a hoot and a holler up the crick in that old sweet-gum tree with the big, funny looking knot about half-way up the bole, grandpa would be able to walk right to the very tree and look the critter in the eyes.

In fact, the very non-preciseness of the word may be its undoing – this since our modern, computer age demands things precise. Yonder seems to be in the process of passing into the abyss of modern language non-usage. But is there a tried and true word worthy enough to take its place? A word that has stood the test of time and can fill the huge void that yonder would leave?

The word “there” – or the more precise “over there” – would be a likely candidate even though it doesn’t flow nearly so well. I lament the fact that our language is not only “dumbing” down, but it is losing most of its colorfulness. I resent the chopped up usage of slang and half-words expressing things that shouldn’t be happening anyway - and that done in a very belligerent sort of way.

Many very expressive words have already slipped into the black hole of nearly forgotten-ness. What happened to the expression “hither and yon”? In the past this could be used to give forth a very poignant message, easily understood and yet very colorful in its issuance.

Hither and thither have been replaced by the supposed more precise, new and chopped off, here and there – but where is the romance in that? These older words are so seldom used today that if you asked your teenager where they had been and they said hither and thither, the possibility of fainting dead away would exist.

Long gone also are forthwith and forsooth, I could start using them once again except for the fact that I would have to explain to most people what they meant. Alas and alack, as well as woe is me are not used either, I think they went out with the tearing of ones clothes and the putting of ashes on ones head.

So many crude and obscene words have crept into the language that a lot of folks should be rated “R” – or worse – in their conversations. They say they have a right to say what they want – but what happened to my right not to hear that? It’s as though they don’t know any words of over four letters – and have no interest in learning such.

Even sadder still is that so many don’t know the real meaning of words such as salvation, redeemed, purity and love. Possibly true because they get their word definitions from TV, movies and other media. With regular words we can go back to the dictionary for the real meanings, but for the aforementioned words, the full meanings can only be found in the pages of the Bible – God’s Word.

These words are farther defined in the lives of the adherents of the Word and in the daily living of the true meanings thereof. Is the way I live my life totally defining the word “Christian” in its truest sense? ec

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


A word that is massively overused in sports and TV “reality” performances is “xtreme”. My computer’s spell check doesn’t like this word at all and I’m not so sure I do either. That spelling of the word was not to be found in any dictionary available to me.

The word extreme is defined in many ways, and means about the same as: severe, intense, excessive, immoderate, extraordinary, exaggerated, radical, outrageous, excessive degree and even to the nth degree. Of course I knew all those meanings and assumed the “xtreme” word meant the same and even more - but the question came to mind – why did they take the “e” out of the original word?

What could that “e” have stood for that by removing it made the word – and the actions it described - more wild and crazy? These “xtreme” sports and reality shows are not my normal TV fare but I have seen just a few minutes of many of them and think I have come up with an answer to my own question.

Of the many words that begin with an “e”, the two that symbolize what was left out of xtreme are elucidation and explanation. This because the actions involved go way beyond what could be clarified or explained – at least to my mind and reasoning.

I would not make a good contestant on the “reality” shows because I would want know if the roaches, or worms, or whatever weird creature I was eating was properly cooked and/or sanitized. After all, there are laws about the contents and preparation of the “food” we eat.

The shows are constantly finding new, more “xtreme”, stunts in which to involve folks that will do most anything for money, thrills and/or their 5 minutes in the spotlight. If they wanted real danger and thrills, they could try the stunts without those safety harnesses – hey, they could throw in a complete funeral service as one of the prizes.

Even some of the so-called sports, not considered “xtreme”, are deemed so by me. How else can I explain to myself about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and not opening the parachute until much later. Also the striving to fly with a machine that is not designed for that purpose – doing aerial acrobatics and flips on a bike or even a motorcycle. That really is jumping to contusions!

Now I enjoy reading history about many things, but it seems to me that the personal history of the participants of these and some of the other weird sports would be too short to be an interesting read. Consider though that this writing does come from one that has never – at least on purpose – dared God to kill him.

For those of you wondering about the definition of old fogy, it means an extremely old-fashioned or conservative person. Maybe I am one of these or maybe I just don’t enjoy the cuts, bruises, sprains and strains as much as I used to. Maybe the ladder fall of ’03 brought me down to earth in more ways than one.

If you are one that enjoys these very daring sports, I will not openly question your wisdom or sanity – although my aspiration is that your soul is right with God – this because other parts of your anatomy might possibly become spare parts for somebody else. That or the atoms of your flesh might become intermingled with those of concrete, asphalt or even with mother earth after the big splat – because gravity still works - every time.

The most extreme or “xtreme” and exciting life that can be lived is the one of the Christian. Not just in name only or in church pew occupying, but in a radically forgiven relationship with Jesus that offers a breath taking, heart racing, soul energizing, almost incomprehensible joy – in its purest form. Even the best of anything else comes in a very poor second. Jesus placed this awesome LIFE in the realm of our choice because of the sacrifice He made – but we are the ones that have to choose. ec

Monday, November 21, 2005


First grade started for me in 1947 at a very rural location, about 8 miles from a town of any size. We didn’t have kindergarten, pre-k, or pre-pre k, everybody started in first grade. This is a period of my life that I don’t remember very much about, with one exception. At Christmas time, my first grade teacher gave me the first present I remember getting – a small rubber car with wheels that actually rolled – this was before plastic was available.

There must have been other presents before that – but the car was the first one I remember, and it was actually store-bought! Other presents were homemade by Mom, Dad or other siblings, or so I seem to recall. It would seem that I should be able to remember the name of a teacher that caused such a profound memory to be implanted in my small brain – but such is not the case.

The three “Rs” were taught and I was fascinated with this whole new world of learning that had opened to me. The main fascination seemed to be reading, particularly a wonderful story about someone that got a new rocking horse to replace an old broken one. Then someone repaired and repainted the old one to look just like the new one – this really rocked my world. OK, it wasn’t “Treasure Island”, but still mesmerizing to me.

We moved from that area to the huge metropolitan area of Cleveland, Tennessee – about 30 miles north of Chattanooga – and I finished first grade there. It was either in this grade or the first part of second that my teacher dropped a bombshell into my young life. Of course I knew my alphabet and how to “write”, but what I “wrote” was printing and not cursive. My teacher commented that by this time I should have learned how to write cursive and did not think as highly of my rural teacher as I did.

In a short while I was with the program and could “write” the way she wanted me to. My cursive was fairly acceptable and could be read by most people – with a little study time. I don’t remember being overly impressed – or depressed – by my penmanship, and it did get me through high school. It was after I joined the army when the subject again came back to the forefront of my mind – the location was Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

After writing a letter – to my folks or otherwise – I reread it and was not pleased at all with the scrawling cursive letters or the readability thereof. This was at a time in my life when I wasn’t necessarily my favorite person – due to a long-standing battle with low self-esteem – and I was convinced that I needed to improve myself in any way I could. I remembered the short drafting course from back in Junior High (Middle School now) and set out to neatly print all my correspondence.

Even with this new, more readable concept, I was not pleased until it was as close to perfect as I could make it. This necessitated writing and rewriting several times and made letter writing a very arduous process. Even after purchasing a computer – circa 1997 – all my letters were still written by hand – even though I had starting writing email via keyboard.

Even today I’m not quite sure of the reason for that because I had learned to handle the keyboard – in Junior High, of course – and had Microsoft Word available to me. Maybe it was a basic distrust of new-fangled machinery and methods. Then came the fall of ’03 – I mean the literal fall off a ladder and the resulting torn rotator cuff of the right shoulder.

The injury, surgical repairs and rehab caused a major rethinking of the writing process. My disability forced me into using the software product that I had dodged for several years. Now, no matter how sloppily I type, it comes out looking good – or the letters do anyway – only the thought processes might seem warped. The down side would be that spell check is always nagging me about something.

If you can read this, thank the nagging things in my life. If the thoughts conveyed seem rather odd at times, blame me. If you see any joy between the lines, thank my loving Heavenly Father - He is my supplier. ec

Sunday, November 20, 2005


A flash of unbelief slapped my conscious mind like a dirty mop slurping away at the grime on the after hours floor of a busy greasy spoon restaurant. The cause of this mental incredulity was a short gaze into one of my favorite sources of language unit explanation – my dictionary. The word that inspired such puzzlement was vague. The definition was clear, even though it was stated as being unclear, but the word itself was vague.

I cannot deny that I slightly revel in units of discourse that have multiple meanings and subtle nuances hidden away in those. Even though I do not think that a person can slightly revel in anything, since reveling seems to be one of those words that would be all the way or nothing.

Vague is the opposite kind of word and not clear at all - but I view it as clear in its un-clarity and it appeared to me impossible or at least improbable that a superior version of this word could exist. But there it was in black and very light gray – vaguer. I’m not even sure I’ve seen it used in a sentence, other than in a defining book.

Is it really possible to get vaguer than vague? I guess a possible scenario would be to have a teenager giving a vague excuse as to why they were late for curfew – then a second person from that same age group came home giving even less clear reasons for the same offense – the second one could be considered vaguer.

The real kicker though was the fact that right there next to vaguer was its superior cousin – vaguest. If faced with the previous scenario and you had more than three offspring, a real blizzard of vagueness is possible – at the very least, a pretty substantial snow job could appear. Then because of all the snow, the vaguest one of all would be very hard to spot.

How could you quantitatively determine the vaguest of all – except in a study group of a known size? But that would only be a people study, how about their questions or replies? They would have to be in written form and then compared. A vague scale would be needed for a true measurement, but I don’t even vaguely remember hearing of one. Even if one was found, it would still be a vague evaluation and therefore indeterminate.

All this caused the question to stomp across my brain – why are people vague anyway? Two main answers came to me. One, folks are vague because they don’t know the answer and are trying to hide their ignorance – or maybe they don’t even know what the question means. I think I have been there – that sounds vaguely familiar.

The second answer would be that they are trying to hide – or evade – the truth. Not wanting to outright lie, they distract by answering any question with another question. The expression “beating around the bush” also comes to mind.

A friend of mine suggested a third answer. Be vague to create a mental dissonance, this creating curiosity, prodding the persons involved to search for the answer themselves and by this promote learning. I slightly understand this in a vague sort of way.

Another question sprang to my mental consciousness – could a person be vague about their vagueness? I’m not too clear on this one, but if one is too vague in their vagueness, nobody would know what they were being vague about.

I’m so glad that all my sins and wrongdoings were not vaguely just pushed into the background, but they were clearly and completely forgiven by God through the sacrifice Jesus made. ec

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bo and Sam - 3

As I sit here munching left-over banana pudding from our family gathering of last evening, savoring each wonderful bite, I will post one last adventure in the life and times of Bo and Sam. As the scene opens our two friends are walking home from the school bus stop.

Bo: I have finally figured out how to get over my fear of big words.
Sam: How's that?
Bo: Using big words against other big words.
Sam: I think I see the theory -- to beat giants you use other giants -- but exactly how is this "solution" supposed to work?
Bo: Did I hear a little doubt in that question?
Sam: Due to past experience there might have been just a trace of skepticism.
Bo: Would you try not to use those big words till I'm totally recovered?
Sam: Oh, sorry -- but something you're doing must be starting to work, cause you didn't shut your eyes and hardly trembled at all.
Bo: That's cause I've already put "the plan" into motion.
Sam: What does "the plan" consist of?
Bo: That was a borderline word!
Sam: They just keep slipping out --- what about the plan?
Bo: It's in three steps -- Step one: I have written down a bunch of big words -- check out my list.
Sam: Some of these are not so big.
Bo: Well -- you have to start somewhere.
Sam: Do you know what they mean?
Bo: That's step two --- finding out what they mean.
Sam: Finding out? Wouldn't it be simpler to just look them up in the dictionary?
Bo: No -- plus the meanings wouldn't stick with me, also they might mean something different to me.
Sam: How do you find out what they mean to you?
Bo: I do them like I would a bicycle or radio.
Sam: You mean -- tear them up beyond repair or recognition?
Bo: No -- I mean that I take them apart to see what makes them what they are -- and thus learn the true meaning hidden in the word.
Sam: I hesitate to ask -- but would you give me an example?
Bo: Look at that first word on my list.
Sam: Innate? Do you know what that means?
Bo: Sure -- just look at the word -- innate - it's the opposite of eating out.
Sam: Can you use that in a sentence?
Bo: Our family was tired of eating out so we innate.
Sam: If it really did mean that -- why does it have an extra "n" ?
Bo: Cause you always seem to eat more at home and you have more "n" you when you get through.
Sam: The dictionary says it's something possessed at birth.
Bo: Words on a page just can't tell you the real soul of a word.
Sam: OK, OK -- what about this next one - insinuate?
Bo: That's a word describing how my Mom feels when she over eats.
Sam: Confusion is nipping at the edge of my brain like a small irritating dog.
Bo: Watching her weight is like a religion to her, so when she eats too much, she stands in front of the mirror and yells at herself "In sin u ate".
Sam: That word is supposed to mean a hint.
Bo: It's way more than a hint to Mom!
Sam: I think I'm fighting a losing battle -- what about this next one -- discrepancy?
Bo: That comes from an old Brooklyn expression that means somebody you don't like is impatient.
Sam: That one definitely needs explaining.
Bo: Simple -- "Dis creep is antsy" -- they just shortened it so they could say it fast.
Sam: Let's change the subject -- I don't think I can stand any more of "dis" -- you did mention three steps -- what's the third?
Bo: Step three is another big word we talked about in school the other day -- absorption.
Sam: How could that possibly be part of "the plan"?
Bo: My teacher said that a lot of things can be absorbed through the skin.
Sam: Surely you don't think - - -
Bo: I've been sleeping on a dictionary for a week now.
Sam: That's almost the weirdest thing you've ever done!
Bo: Don't make fun -- I think it's working!
Sam: What possible evidence can you offer to back up that conclusion?
Bo: The most popular girl in school spoke to me today.
Sam: You can't be serious!
Bo: I'm as serious as a total body case of poison ivy!
Sam: What, how and why did she say what she did to you?
Bo: Let me answer the "why" first -- I asked her if I could call her sometime.
Sam: And?
Bo: What she said is not as important as how she said it.
Sam: Why do I feel like I'm being set up -- how did she say it ?
Bo: With the purest raw emotion I've ever seen.
Sam: I've never heard of cooked emotion.
Bo: I mean I could almost see her soul when she answered.
Sam: I think you're beating around the bush ---what did she say?
Bo: What she actually said was "Get lost creep!" -- but I don't think she meant it the way it sounded.
Sam: I don't think there's another way to take that statement.
Bo: I'll think of another way with enough time.
Sam: Like a lifetime maybe - - -
Bo: You just can't admit that "the plan" might actually be working.
Sam: The question just occurred to me -- what has "the plan" got to do with talking to girls?
Bo: "The plan" makes me feel more suave and debonair.
Sam: Do you even know what those words mean?
Bo: Sure -- Mom told me debonair is from the French meaning 'the good air' -- so I've been wearing after shave.
Sam: So that's why we've been getting good seats and plenty of room on the school bus!
Bo: Sure -- and if your nose hadn't been stopped up for a week you could have been enjoying it too.
Sam: Did she tell you what suave meant too?
Bo: Didn't have to ask that one -- I already knew that was something you put on your skin when you get a rash.
Sam: I’m going home and tell my Mom she was calling me.
Bo: Tell your Dad too.
Proverbs 17:22 ec

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bo and Sam - 2

As this newest adventure begins Sam finds Bo lying out in a field behind his house.

Sam: What’s going on Bo?
Bo: I'm working on a science project for school.
Sam: This is a science project?
Bo: Yeah -- excitin' ain't it? I can almost get a glimpse of my long dreamed of "C" on this project --- although anything will do better than my usual.
Sam: You mean the one that begins with "F"?
Bo: Don't say that letter -- it will jinx me!!
Sam: OK, OK -- but I still don't see what's so scientific about lying out in a field with a bunch of rancid stuff smeared all over yourself.
Bo: Don't say those big words -- you know they make me nervous!
Sam: Rancid is not a big word -- it just means rotten -- only worse.
Bo: This stuff sure is that.
Sam: Now for the big question -- what is this all about?Bo: Maybe I better go back to the beginning.
Sam: The beginning is the place I like everything to start.
Bo: The other day my Dad called me "buzzard bait", and it gave me an idea -- I could be buzzard bait, and catch a buzzard for my school project -- they would be so impressed.
Sam: But "buzzard bait" is just an expression - like the one - to catch a squirrel you climb a tree and act like a nut.
Bo: And that one doesn't work, cause I tried that!
Sam: Yeah, I remember, what were you, a pecan?
Bo: It might have been a little big, but I thought I did good -- I made the shell where I could just barely squeeze inside.
Sam: And everything was looking good till you closed the shell and didn't have anything to hold on with -- and fell out of the tree and cracked your little shell!
Bo: Yeah -- and my head too!
Sam: Back to the buzzard bait -- what exactly is that stuff all over you and why?
Bo: It is exactly last week's leftovers -- and it's part of the bait -- the way I figure it is that buzzards are drawn to things that are dead and stink.
Sam: And that's the stink?
Bo: Right.
Sam: Most of it looks about the same color -- what was it called in its former life?
Bo: It was Mom's famous rutabaga casserole.
Sam: I can hardly wait to miss that one.
Bo: Rutabaga casserole is teaching me to lie.
Sam: How so?
Bo: On casserole night I find myself saying stuff like -- I suddenly don't feel very well - or - I think I gotta go barf.
Sam: I get the picture -- hey -- can I help you play deceased?
Bo: I told you to watch the big words!
Sam: It means dead.
Bo: Oh -- nah -- I don't think you can look dead enough.
Sam: What if I took off my shoes?
Bo: You'd have the smell right -- but if you helped me it wouldn't be fair -- I want to get this "C" on my own -- quick -- get out of here -- I see them starting to circle overhead!
Sam: I might ought to stay hid under the trees nearby in case a big one tries to fly off with you.
Bo: Wait a minute! They can't do that -- can they?
Sam: I don't know -- they are pretty big!
Bo: Whoa -- forget this project -- where's the nearest water!
Sam: Are you thirsty?
Bo: No -- I need to wash off these leftovers before the buzzards get down here!
Sam: Why are you waving your arms like that?
Bo: I want to make sure they know I'm alive till I get cleaned off!
Sam: Maybe you should think of a project that's a little safer.
Bo: At least one that smells a little better.
Sam: By the way, why did your Dad call you "buzzard bait" to start with?
Bo: He didn't just call me that -- he promised that's what I'd be the next time I even touched his bike!
Sam: You mean the one your Mom scrunched when you left it in the driveway?
Bo: One and the same.
Sam: But how did he find out it was you?
Bo: Mom spilled her guts -- Dad threatened her and she broke!
Sam: I thought she loved you and wouldn't talk cause she didn't want him to make hamburger outta you!
Bo: She was doing real good -- but there's one thing Mom values more than me.
Sam: That must really be something!
Bo: To her it is -- it's a small piece of plastic.
Sam: Plastic is not valuable!
Bo: When it's Mom's charge card it is!
Sam: Suddenly light begins to dawn on the situation.
Bo: When Dad threatened to take her card -- Mom told everything she knew -- I think she even added some to it.
Sam: Wasn't she still afraid he would kill you?
Bo: Mom don't care if he kills strangers -- and that's suddenly what I became.
Sam: Your Dad wouldn't really do you bodily harm -- would he?
Bo: I don't think so -- but I probably won't get another allowance till I'm 32 years old!
Sam: Hey -- earning your own money could be a project for school!
Bo: Yeah -- but where am I going to find a monkey and a tin cup?
Sam: Did I ever tell you - - - -
Bo: I know, I know -- I have weird ideas.
The scene fades as they wander on down the street, pondering other sources of income.
Psalms 37:4 ec

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bo and Sam - 1

With this writing I introduce the adventures of Bo and Sam -- two friends from the same suburban neighborhood. These three stories started out in the form of letters written to a young friend of mine as he was enduring Marine boot camp. As the first story begins, they are in the woods behind Bo's house.

Bo: Can you tell me what kind of bug this is?
Sam: Not unless you open your mouth a little wider.
Bo: I can't -- it might get away!
Sam: Well take it out and hold it in your hand.
Bo: I'm not touching this nasty tasting thing again!
Sam: It would then appear that you have reached crunch time (pun intended) -- when you must either swallow it down or spit it out!
Bo: Patooie!!! ---that tasted awful!
Sam: I hate to ask -- but why did you have a bug in your mouth?
Bo: I'm in survival training -- learning to live off the land -- but I think I'll stick to things that can't move by themselves -- like grass and tree bark.
Sam: That brings me to another question -- why survival training?
Bo: In case of a disaster or national emergency or some other reason -- like if Mom is ever late with supper!
Sam: Suddenly I understand the urgency.
Bo: Nothing like a few flowers and some tree moss to tide a body over till suppertime.
Sam: Has anybody ever told you that you do some pretty weird stuff?
Bo: You might say it has been mentioned -- and I think I've figured out why I do things like this.
Sam: That would probably answer a lot of questions in my mind as well.
Bo: I think it's because I'm from a broken home.
Sam: I didn't know your parents were divorced.
Bo: They're not.
Sam: I think confusion is reigning supreme in one or both of our minds -- if we both have one!
Bo: I can't believe you don't know what a broken home is all about.
Sam: I know my definition -- but evidently it's different from yours.
Bo: I know mine is the right one cause my home is the one broken!
Sam: I've got to ask -- what does a broken home mean to you?
Bo: It's what happened when my Mom drove into the garage and hit the gas instead of the brake.
Sam: You always have neat stuff happen at your house!
Bo: Yeah -- our Ford Escort wound up on the couch -- hey -- you could say that my Mom was "Escort-ed" into the living room.
Sam: Anybody hurt?
Bo: Nah -- just pride, the living room and the Escort.
Sam: I bet your Dad really raised cane!
Bo: He couldn't say too much because it was his fault.
Sam: How could it have been his fault?
Bo: He made Mom nervous when he yelled at her.
Sam: Then he was in the car when it went through the wall?
Bo: No -- he had got out to check on the bike Mom had run over in the driveway.
Sam: I think I see why he yelled at her -- whose bike got run over?
Bo: Dad's new mountain bike.
Sam: Wow -- I wouldn't want to be the one that left the bike in the driveway.
Bo: I wouldn't want to be the one either -- but I am.
Sam: And you're still alive!
Bo: Temporarily --Mom told him that the dog did it.
Sam: He believed that?
Bo: Yeah -- she told him the dog's leash caught on the bike and he dragged it into the driveway.
Sam: That was quick thinking!
Bo: Mom never lies except to save her child's life -- cause she knew I'd be dead meat otherwise.
Sam: I guess you're not hanging around the house very much.
Bo: Right -- cause when Dad remembers that we don't even have a dog -- I'm still in deep trouble -- that's the main reason I'm in emergency survival training.
Sam: Wow -- I guess I better help -- do you eat grasshoppers?
Bo: I told you already -- nothing that moves by itself.
Sam: Well maybe we can find some more bark or leaves or something - - -
The scene fades as the two friends wander on into the woods, searching for something to sustain life.
John 10:10 ec

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


As a unit of discourse, ugly is just not a pretty word. As a matter of fact, it’s downright unattractive. Just look at it – it has only one vowel and that seems to be in the wrong place. When this word is spoken it seems to come from way deep within the speaker and just falls out in the presence and on the ears of the hearer like a large, dead Tiliqua rugosa (a real ugly skink with scales and a round bulb of a tail).

Maybe the word could be doctored up a bit to make it less unattractive. If we added a consonant and another vowel, the word hugily could be invented and it would give many more warm fuzzies than the original word for maximum unattractiveness.

The word unattractive is even prettier than ugly and would seem to be less injurious to the person identified as such. Besides, what qualifies a person to designate another member of the human race as ugly? Do colleges have a course in ugly identification? It seems to me that most of the ugly identifiers I have come in contact with are self-taught and would do well to look in the mirror for a comparison study.

If two relatively attractive people were compared, would one be considered uglier than the other or just less attractive? If ugly comparisons were made between three folks, one of them could be deemed the ugliest of them all and yet still be attractive when compared to another study group.

It seems then that the word ugliest could only be true when all persons on earth are compared. This could be carried out by every city or town nominating their uglier person, then gather them all in one place and contest it. Then the one that could scare the most children, make the most small mammals die of fright and the most coyotes howl mournfully could be declared the ugliest. All the rest of the uglies would then care for that person and see to it that they had a long life – because as long as the ugliest lived, none of the others would have that distinction.

The problem with that whole scenario is that real ugly is not found on the outside of a person. It seems that many of the “beautiful people” have the ugliest attitudes, words and actions – I suppose it’s because they never needed to develop the good character traits since they were accepted for their pretty outside.

Some will go to any lengths, even surgery, to beautify the exterior when all they needed was the inside cleaned up. This interior project is neglected because the person feels they can’t do anything about that. Of course they are right, in as much as the spiritual part can only be corrected and beautified through the work of the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ when He died for our sins.

I’m not dismayed by the elderly, wrinkled man that looks back at me in the mirror - I know that inside I’m very handsome - and not very old either - due to my acceptance of God’s Word. His forgiveness is available at any time, night or day and for anybody that chooses it. That’s awesome to me. ec

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


For some reason I had always considered the word tetchy to be the countrified version of the word touchy. While this is possibly true, I found this word staring at me from the pages of the dictionary. The definition was stated as being irritable or touchy - go figure. Then as though I had never heard of either of these two defining words, I went back for a look at them in the book of definitions.

What I read put more flesh on the bones of what I already knew about irritable – basically a fatter definition stepped forth. Not only does it mean easily irritated and annoyed, readily excited to impatience or anger, but also implies cross and snappish behavior, often of short duration (hopefully so).

Touchy then stepped off the pages as being apt to take offense on slight provocation and as requiring caution, tactfulness or expert handling. It also stresses over-sensitivity and readiness to take offense, even though none is intended. Suddenly several names came to mind that could be posted beside these definitions, but since one of them might accidentally be someone I see in the mirror quite often, I won’t go into all of that.

What I will go into is what I would consider to be some of the reasons folks become tetchy and how they could become other ways – like happy and joyful. Take into consideration the fact that this writing comes from someone that has been there, done that and has returned from the land of tetchy – with only an occasional, very short revisit.

Being hungry is a reason that causes many folks to be tetchy. OK, I understand that it would take a five pound pork roast, an entire batch of collard greens (seasoned with fat-back), half a pot of black-eyed peas, two-thirds of a pone of cornbread and a two-quart Tupperware bowl of “scratch” banana pudding to make some grouches more agreeable, but most normal folks are “kinder and gentler” after a good meal.

A tired person is usually a little deeper into tetchiness as well. I’ve seen this played out in all of my “grands” to one degree or another. One of them in particular is described by one of their parents as just getting “goofy” when they are in dire need of a nap. The solution for this kind of “goofiness”, even in parents and grandparents, is simple – take a nap. Just cut out the whining and go to sleep.

No matter what we think we might miss out on or how busy we think we are, we still need proper sleep. This sounds as basic as our need for vanilla ice cream (Breyer’s, with real vanilla specks), but some folks haven’t understood it yet. No matter how big and bad we are, we are still not the energizer bunny, and we will eventually crash into the wall of exhaustion.

Sickness can be another cause of major tetchiness. Supposedly, one of the most dangerous animals around is a water buffalo, especially when wounded. I have been blessed with a normally very healthy body, but on the rare occasion of illness, I’m a bit like the wounded water buffalo – just leave me alone and I’ll crawl into a hole somewhere until I get well – if I want something, I will groan for it. This is not a method of treatment I would recommend for everyone, since some can tolerate – and maybe require – a certain amount of babying.

There are other, deeper causes of tetchiness, but being unqualified in the medical field; I will not touch on those. But there is one more cause I would like to mention – being tetchy because of dissatisfaction. All too many are dissatisfied with how they look, where they live, the person they are with, the way their life is heading and what they have or don’t have. The solution to being dissatisfied and/or unhappy – unless a thousand man-eating butterflies are attacking you at the moment – is most often found in the realm of the spiritual.

If one is living in disobedience to God’s Word in even a single area of their life – is it possible to have satisfaction or happiness? Since both these things come from the inside out, and the inside is all messed up, how can you even have peace and quiet enough to recognize them if they were there? To me real satisfaction and happiness depend on our choice and they are built only on the foundation of choosing Jesus – all day, every day. ec

Monday, November 14, 2005


This is from back in the peach season. The long awaited peach day had finally arrived when we decided to make the trek to one of the peach processing and packing plants several miles north of us to bring back a quantity of these wonders of deliciousness. Carolyn and I picked up our granddaughter – Megan – and drove up to the Johnston, S. C. area.

When we arrived, the plant was in full operation turning out stacks of the boxed fruit. We decided – for economic reasons – to gather up some of the rejects. We were furnished with 5 gallon buckets and told the location of the sluice containing the flow of water that carried the scraped and/or bruised fruit from the plant.

We placed our buckets on the edge of the wall and started “bobbing for apples” – except they were peaches and we did the grabbing by hand and not mouth. In about 5 minutes we had gleaned the 4 buckets full and running over with the slightly scuffed fruit. As a family affair it rated just above being chased by a bad dog, but even the young one seemed to enjoy it. We paid a mere pittance for our gatherings, loaded up and headed home.

After dropping Megan off, we came home to deal with the abundance of our peachy blessings. We placed some in our old refrigerator downstairs, filled up the fruit dryer with some more and cut up some for fresh eating. We were weary from other activities of the day and decided to deal with the rest of the fuzzy fruit the next day.

My lovely lady has quite a fondness for this fruit, but eats them salted to taste – hers – something that is almost a sacrilege to me. My method of peach consumption is with them cut up in bite-sized chunks and in the presence of and accompanied by a high quality vanilla ice cream, such as Breyer’s – with real vanilla specks.

The problem with this method of gormandizing – yet in a slow, savoring manner – is that I seem to have trouble getting these companion foods to run out at the same time. If one is depleted before the other, it has to be replenished in order not to have half a dessert, then if the other runs out, that has to be added and so forth. If one is not careful, the completion of this dessert course could take quite a while and one could wind up several pounds on the bad side of the scales.

My next day’s activity – besides the babysitting – consisted mostly of peeling, cutting up, preparing syrup (light), and placing the fruit in freezer bags. The results came out to storing 16 of these quart-sized bad boys in the freezer.

In addition to this, another batch was put in the dehydrator and many bowls full were cut up for family members – young and old. My day of fruit preparation ended with about a third of the fruit still in refrigerators, but tomorrow is another day.

The blessings found in this fruit experience made me think about other blessings. Some blessings must be searched out, some have to be worked for and others are just simply given to us by a loving Heavenly Father. Recognizing our blessings – sometimes they are disguised – and being thankful for them – by whatever method they reach us – is the very least act of worship and appreciation we can show to our Lord. ec

Sunday, November 13, 2005


There are some that think being retired is nothing more than sitting around waiting for the prune juice to kick in and wondering when the rest of their life is going to start. I have been retired over three years now and the purpose of this missive is to set the record straight and to dispel any such negative propaganda, rumors, suppositions, hearsay, insinuations, innuendo and scuttlebutt.

To accomplish this, my first place of enlightenment was found in the book of definitions. What I found was mostly not surprising and did define what I have seen in the lives of some. One definition of retire was to withdraw or go away to a place of privacy and I don’t see anything detrimental to the retired one in just that – dependant on what one does or doesn’t do and eats or doesn’t eat and how long they stay in the secluded place.

Next definition of retire was to go to bed. Now I know this is descriptive of what we all do every night, but it could and has become a lifestyle to many – even otherwise healthy folks just go to bed – or couch and TV – and simply stop. The main problem with that is when a person stops going and doing, all sorts of things will catch up with them – all of which are unpleasant, to say the least.

If an automobile is not driven occasionally – whether it’s a young car or an old one – the battery will die and no longer crank the engine. The same principal is true for us humans – if we don’t cruise around enough to keep our “battery” charged, it will go dead and we might even have to be jump-started on the sidewalk of life. The general rule that applies here is use it, or lose it – with a healthy dose of maintenance thrown in as a necessity - this applies whether it’s your car or your body.

An additional meaning of retire is to fall back or retreat, as from battle or danger. The temptation is always there to barricade ourselves within our “safe fortress” and view the struggles and battles of life through the small portholes that retirement offers, never again venturing forth into the fray. This may prevent some of the sweat, tears and heartache, but it also has a limiting effect on the joy we can have in life at it’s fullest.

The normal definition of retire is to give up or withdraw from an office, occupation, or career, usually because of age. There is nothing wrong with this as long as the other definitions of this word - that I have somewhat skewed - do not come into play to spoil things.

To point out a solution for the dangers involved in retirement, I go to the root word “tire”. The definition mentions bad stuff like: exhausted strength, interest or patience, being bored or weary – all undesirable things. But there is definition 2 – a ring or band of rubber, either solid or hollow and inflated, or of metal, placed over the rim of a wheel to provide traction or resistance to wear. Of course you have already guessed that I’m going to bend this one for my intended purposes.

Sometimes we feel that the physical, mental or emotional “tires” of our lives are flat and that the tread is worn completely off – this is not the time to just sit there and rust, but time to “re-tire”. The great thing about tires is that you can acquire them with all types of treads for all kinds of driving conditions, but the best to keep our lives moving in the proper direction is the “all weather” and/or “all terrain” types. These keep us progressing forward, no matter what conditions exist all around us – even on the slippery slopes of the problems of life.

These retirement definitions – skewed or otherwise – do not apply to the genuine Christian because we should never retire. This because being a Christian is not a job but a way of life – and the only way to really live. The only exception to the retirement thing is when we feel like all our motivation and reason for moving on is totally flat, we can ask God to “re-tire” us. Ask Him for some of those “all weather, all terrain” tires so we can continue no matter what conditions the enemy might bring our way.

At times we all get worn and weary, but the Word says “in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” and in another place “but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint”. No matter how old we are, there is the temptation to retire spiritually, but if we allow God to “re-tire” us, we can keep moving toward the higher goal. ec

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Many folks are indecisive, but this inconclusive word seems to put too much pressure on the person making the decision, whereas the word quandary would signify that the pressures of a given situation are really the problem, making this word the more acceptable one. When you are in a quandary, you still can’t decide what to do, but you can blame it on something else.

Being in a quandary is a little like being in a quarry inasmuch as mentally or emotionally you are between a rock and a hard place. Another way of stating that you are in a perplexing predicament is that you find yourself on the horns of a dilemma. This expression could present grave danger, depending on what was on the other end of the horns. Particularly true if you are running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, since it could go from a mental or spoken problem to an actual, impaling, physical one. An old expression comes to mind related to that situation, “you mess with the bull, you get the horn”.

On another day, at another time, in another place and concerning another situation, I felt I was in a quandary. It was at a family reunion, which is usually a pleasant time for me, so was it really a quandary? There was perplexity, but not really enough uncertainty to fully qualify for the meaning of the word.

Maybe what I was in was a dilemma – but no, there were more than two things involved – the aforementioned two horns are an example of the dual part of the definition. It wasn’t unpleasant enough to really be a predicament and there was not enough danger to be a plight.

It could have been an impasse except there really was an escape, though I wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted. Some might have considered my situation as being in an imbroglio, but it wasn’t bitter or confusing enough for that. Besides, some might confuse an imbroglio with some kind of pasta or maybe an opera.

I also ruled out the word crisis because there was not enough tragedy or emotional upheaval involved. The idea of being in a strait or a pinch was discarded because there would be no narrowing or compression in evidence.

A quagmire? No, it wasn’t that messy nor did I particularly desire extrication. Possibly I was in a fix, but then that would suggest a repairable problem. Also it could have been an entanglement except the entrapment or complications of it were not binding enough to hold that word to the situation.

Was I in a pickle – it really wasn’t sour enough for that. It couldn’t have been a kettle of fish because the odor wasn’t right. I was definitely in a jam but since that could involve cut up, jellied fruit pieces, the mood of that word was not exactly right either.

Finally my whole indecisive quandary was solved by simply populating my plate with a little bit of most of the desserts clamoring for my attention. Sure, I would have face the consequences of this action sometime, but that would be then and this is now, and a man has got to do what a man has got to do.

It has not escaped my attention that our country is in a quandary, dilemma, difficulty, predicament, strait, impasse, crisis, pinch, fix, entanglement, plight, imbroglio, involvement, quagmire, kettle of fish, pickle, jam and in hot water. Which is definitely a much greater problem than trying to decide which dessert to take and make a part of your body at a family gathering.

In fact, we are headed – as a country – spiritually and literally – down the drain of satan in a very rapid manner and only God can rescue us. But we – all of us – have something we can and must do to save our country. It’s time for genuine Christians to start humbling themselves and praying - confessing and turning from any sins in which they might be involved. Even repenting to God for the wrongdoing of those that don’t know or don’t care that they are having a part in bringing our country down. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is still true today and will work powerfully for the nation of the people that will follow the instructions of the Word of God. ec

Friday, November 11, 2005

pickin and grinnin

Several things are necessary to facilitate and even make possible the picking of blueberries. The first real necessity is to have these type bushes either on your property or have them made available to you. I realize this sounds rather basic but being a raiser of blueberries for many years I have come to realize that without the bushes, berries are not going to happen.

The next very important thing to consider is the fact that the season must be right for berries to be picked. Winter is not a good time for blueberry harvesting, even though the weather might be a little more comfortable than the oven-like temperatures we have had in our location during the picking season. The reason winter is not good for picking is because there would not be any berries, or even any leaves. Incidentally, I really think that is why folks call those green things leaves, cause in the winter they leave.

If bushes are available, the season is right and berries are present, care must be taken to be sure the fruit is ripe. The life of the blueberry begins shortly after the flower blooms, bees pollinate them and after the blossom drops a small green berry appears – this is not the time to pick them. Next the berry starts to grow and turn a little rosy in color, darkening slowly to deeper and deeper magenta – still no picking yet.

The color continues to darken until it is dark blue - almost black - but caution must still be exercised to be sure this color goes all the way to the stem. If any red is left on the stem end, it will not pass the tartness taste test. When the dark blue is uniform, it’s time to perform the assessment. Find a clump of berries and select one for the analysis, usually the largest one of the group, pick it and place it in the test chamber – your mouth – and gormandize this small morsel. If it has the tartness of an immature persimmon pickle, it is not ripe and farther waiting is made necessary.

If the taste is right, some sort of vessel must be obtained in which to place the berries after picking. This because if you put them in your pocket, eventually one or more will burst, expelling its coloration into the fabric of the garment where the pocket is located. This would not put you in good standing with the mate that tries to keep the clothes relatively stain-free. One could carry these delights into the house by the handful, but this would tend to also transport small particles of dirt, grass or other outside items to the inside. This would also displease the one spouse that really does not like outside things on the inside.

My containment vessel of choice is a plastic milk carton – after the milk is all gone – with a portion of the top removed, but the handle left in place. This marvel of plasticity is attached to the front belt area to enable the picker to use both hands in the gathering process.

The actual picking can be an art form if properly done. Realize that I still pick as an amateur and the professional may find my methods unorthodox and a bit time consuming. My style might be better if I would go to picking classes, but during the height of the season I don’t have time and after the rush it doesn’t seem nearly so important.

The gathering style I use is known as the “tickle method” and I feel it is much more humane to the berries and the plants than the old fashion “grab and go”, after all, who would want to eat berries that were picked inhumanely? This compassionate technique is accomplished by carefully reaching out to the groups of berries and gently tickling their little bellies. For those of you unaware of the location of this part of the berries anatomy, it is the round part with the small navel-looking thing in the center. Now I do not say that I have actually heard laughter, but if they are ripe they lose their grip on the stem and fall off into your hand – possibly from the hilarity thereof.

This whole picking process is very labor intensive and usually not done for non-family members unless the outsider is being romantically pursued or softened up for a loan. According to my brother, butterbeans (limas) would fall into this same category.

The picking of blueberries is rife with emotion in that while picking, my stomach is grinning in anticipation and my mind and soul are in amazement at God’s tasty creation – God does all things well. ec

Thursday, November 10, 2005


The Sunday school class in which I teach is the high school one – 9th to 12th grades. On a Sunday a while back I was given a gift that I consider to be a great honor. One of the young ladies from the class made a pencil drawing for me and put it in a frame. It was a drawing depicting one of my favorite articles of lesson illustration, a carton of Breyers vanilla ice cream – with real vanilla specks. This happens to be one of my favorite desserts as well - you probably guessed that.

Obviously I have used this consumable illustration - in great luscious description - on several occasions and quite possibly left the class craving a large dish of the stuff. The picture was very good artistically down to the smallest detail, but what really impressed me about the gift was that the young lady took the time to hand draw this and even prepare it for hanging on my wall - and that’s where it will be. Then if I get discouraged, all I have to do is look up there and realize that someone was actually listening.

I needed that – God knew it and impressed someone to do it. And I’m so impressed – with God’s goodness. ec

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Many interesting things are learned in parking lots while waiting for others to return. In another season and on a day unlike any other before it or since – since no two are alike – I was more or less patiently waiting for the return of some kin I had dropped off at the uptown VA for a doctor visit. The vehicle and I were occupying one of the very few shaded parking spaces available and I was happily and/or reluctantly involved in the activity of thinking. This is something I regularly do since I don’t know an acceptable way to stop this mental process - outside of assuming ambient temperature.

Both windows of the conveyance were down and the chirping of several birds attracted my attention – they were just in front of me in the small trees and bushes of the median. Three mockingbirds were interacting, two looked to be parents of the third, an almost mature offspring.

The youngster had already crossed the threshold of flight, but was still begging for sustenance from the parents. It was a bit like it had just graduated from bird high school, but still wanted to be supported. Occasionally I would hear its adult voice but mostly it just gave its whiney little chirp for another insect. You don’t have to ask me how I knew the difference in the voice tone if you have ever raised children or kept grandchildren for any length of time.

The adults would eventually bring it a tidbit but seemed to take their time doing so – almost as if they were encouraging it find its own bugs. Once I saw the adult birds swooping at each other and squawking as if they were disagreeing on bird raising techniques and/or when to let the young one be on its own. Nevertheless this pair was almost through with their obligation and this fledgling would soon be self-sufficient enough to bring home its own bacon, even if it was bug-shaped.

I was struck with how much the extended wings of the adult birds reminded me of the shape of the wings of the British WWII fighter aircraft the “Spitfire”. This plane was one of the main reasons Britain was able to fight off the German aerial attacks that were meant to totally destroy the nation. This “feisty” aircraft was a new design and it matched the best the Germans had, if not excelling them just a bit.

The mockingbird is also very feisty and will take on all comers when defending its nest or young ones. Many times I have seen an irate mockingbird chase away a much larger crow – known for eating baby birds – diving and pecking at it in flight until they were out of sight. They will also dive and peck at dogs, cats and even humans, especially when their young ones are prematurely on the ground.

We as humans might take a lesson from this in being more proactive in protecting our young ones from the many predators and predatory companies desiring to make victims of them or in the very least, profit from their lack of experience. Whether Christian parents are big or not, they can peck away until their young one is released from the clutches of the evil one. At least it may seem like small pecks to us when we pray, but it’s not our strength that does the job, it’s God’s, our job is to continue in prayer. ec

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


One tool that every young (or old) husband must have to keep his home together and in relatively good shape is a hammer. This year my hammer - “Frank” by name - celebrates his fortieth year of association with our family – plus or minus a few months (or maybe years) due to a faulty memory. Necessity insisted that this tool be purchased during the repair and/or remodeling of our young family’s very first home - circa 1964.

At that time Lowes or Home Depot were not in existence, but we did have Sears Roebuck just a few blocks away - at Fifteenth and Walton Way – so that’s where I went. Let me also add that we didn’t have a mall of any kind back then, so everybody shopped downtown, and it was really a mad house, especially on Saturdays.

A great love for Sears did not exist in my heart at that time and this has changed very little since. The main reason for this was that when something purchased from there developed a faulty part, they were the only one with replacements and they valued these spare parts very highly. Hopefully it is not that way now.

However, they have always had great hand tools, those with no moving parts except what my body provided, so to the tool department I went. Making a special effort not to drool on all the other hand tools, I made my selection – after much deliberation. The hammer I chose was one of 12 ounces in weight for light and/or general-purpose usage. After all, one would not want to hang pictures on the wall with an eight-pound sledgehammer.

My prize instrument of pounding has a hardwood handle with a metal insert going into the bottom of the hammer head with resin poured into the top of the head to keep it tight. The handle fits perfectly in my hand and is almost like an extension of my arm. This well-balanced tool has sent many nails to their final resting place and even brought some back into the light of day. There is no complaint so piercing as that of a large rusty nail being extracted from an ancient pine two by four – a bit like the scream of a hawk, as it strikes fear into the heart of its prey.

There is a bit of nostalgia involved every time I see this special tool. The brand name of “Craftsman” was imprinted in the metal on the side of the hammerhead but it has almost been obliterated by the dings and dents from using the side of the head to drive nails in close places. This construction companion of mine has been alongside me through many projects over the years and is still in good shape.

Many, newer hammers of differing types have allured my mind, but I can’t justify their purchase as long as “Frank” is in working order. Please understand that I also own other hammers of different weights but only “Frank” stays in our special place of honor – the kitchen tool drawer.

An amazing instrument and spiritual construction tool is the Word of God - this also can be used to tear down any weapons formed against us. The Bible has no equal when it comes to keeping lives and families together and in good repair. An added bonus is the fact that The Word can be used as a weapon of defense and offense to defeat and even rout satan’s forces – just as the words of its pages says it will do.

When something works exactly the way it says it will, couldn’t that be considered truth? ec

Monday, November 07, 2005


The following is concerning me – in a cathartic/confessional sort of way – but if it applies to you as well, use it for your betterment and in the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.

Oh that I would be concerned with what God wants me to do – only that – without thought or comment on what others are or are not doing for their Savior – and how well they are doing the same. If my mind and time are occupied in doing God’s will as He reveals it to me, there will be no time left to judge – or even talk about – another man’s servant.

Plus this would considerably increase the amount of time I would have to do whatever the will of the Father might be for me. It seems to me that the more of my time and talent I use in the doing of a task, the more quality would come as a result.

The “thief” comes to lessen or confuse anything I would do in the name of Christ. He will distract me to waste time or get involved in anything – even something good – that might not be the exact thing I should be doing.

And if I feel like I’m stuck in a rut, in the mud of doubt/confusion/indecision/etc., so deep that I feel I’ll never get out, if I act in the direction of the freedom that I desire to have, I believe God will see this small act of faith and lift me out – because He has done so. Not only that but He will help me get the mud cleaned off and put me on a firm foundation so I can be a better servant and run a much better race as well - and He will help me stay out of the mud.

I can scarcely watch or listen to the news anymore without the cold, bony fingers of hopelessness reaching for my very soul. As I mentally process these items from around the world and in our own country, I do not come up with any possible answers in the physical. And it seems that the world has already discounted anything to do with the only true God of the universe.

What is really wrong with my world? Before the echo of this question dies in the wind, the answer comes to me – “You don’t pray enough or properly”. Am I saying that I’m responsible for the things wrong with my world? In a sense this would have to be true – especially in the small part of the world I come in contact with - if I haven’t prayed correctly. Because when I pray until I’ve really prayed, one of two things happens – and often both. One, God changes the situation, or two, God changes me – and either or both of these are a good thing, and can change my world for the better. ec

Saturday, November 05, 2005


On occasion I have been known to take a mental meander through a book of words – usually the Webster’s Talking Dictionary that is installed on my computer. During one such cruise and peruse, I tripped and/or stumbled over several very interesting words – most of which are seldom used in everyday conversation. Dragging them from their hiding place, I decided to allow them to experience the freedom and joy of jovial communication.

My saunter of contemplation was in the “L” section and the word that started all this was lemma. This is an auxiliary proposition accepted as true for use in the demonstration of another proposition. It would also be considered a form of syllogism (deductive reasoning) – another unit of discourse discovered some time in the past while tripping the light verbalistic.

Since “di” added to a word usually means two, one might think that dilemma would mean two of the aforementioned things already defined. But I have been in a few of these dilemmas and they are not nearly so calm, cool and collected as just one lemma alone. In fact, most of the dilemmas in which I have found myself have extracted somewhat of a cost from the mental and/or emotional parts of me - and even occasionally the physical.

When joyously finding these somewhat odd, but meaningful, combinations of letters, I strive to compose a sentence in which to use them. This even if I have to bend the definition ever so slightly to fit the series of words – at times a crowbar of circumlocution is necessary. During a face to face conversation my legerity (mental quickness) sometimes doesn’t allow me to draw a word picture the way I would have liked, leaving somewhat of a lacuna (a gap or missing part). Later I seem to think of the very witty remark I could have made, or something good I could have said, but the person to say it to has already departed.

When I write, however, there is plenty of time to think and rethink and rewrite and correct and re-correct – even delete. But with all this, I still think of things I could have written – after the fact (after the email, blog, etc. is sent).

Some of the words I come across still leave a lot of questions even after I look at the definition. For instance the definition for the word loxodrome is given simply as “rhumb line”. Then I am forced to look up rhumb line – the path of a ship that maintains a constant compass direction. The word rhumb is a point of the compass.

I found out that lovat meant a grayish blend of colors, especially of green, loup was to leap, louche was disreputable and lorn was forsaken or desolate. Lugubrious is something I don’t recall being since Jesus Christ rescued me from sin. Litotes, as a word, is not bad at all and refers me to hyperbole, a word we all use thousands of times a day.

A loquat is a small evergreen tree, cultivated as an ornamental – also it is the name of its yellow plum-like fruit. At first glance loquacious would seem a related word and might mean that you had eaten too many loquats. But the only fruit loquacious is associated with is the fruit of the lips and refers to someone that tends to talk a lot – maybe too much (or maybe writes too much about weird stuff).

Then there is the word liberticide: 1- Destruction of liberty. 2- A person who destroys liberty. I was somewhat taken aback that such a word even existed – my spell check doesn’t even like it. It must be fairly new, since it was not in my hard copy dictionary – several years old. My mind first went to several third world countries in which this action is taking place. But then it hit me that it’s happening in this country as well, only in a much more subtle manner. More anti-freedom laws are being put on the books and more judges are bending to the will of small but loud groups and are ruling against long held freedoms. Liberticide is taking place in our very own land of the free.

With this in mind, I am so glad that Jesus made it possible to have a freedom for the soul that no man or political group (or even demons) can take away. Even if our body is in bondage, we can have the freedom of Christ for the asking. I wonder why more people don’t ask? ec

Friday, November 04, 2005


It was a quiet Saturday morning bathed in brilliant South Carolina sunshine. My vehicle and I were ensconced in a parking lot on the Aiken campus of the University of South Carolina, waiting for my granddaughter to finish her swim practice at their natatorium – basically an indoor swimming pool. I was in the full throes of deep contemplation as to how to solve the problems of the entire known world – that or listening to the radio – don’t remember which.

The space in front of the aforementioned building with pool was an open area, populated only by grass and several large trees. A couple of these were oaks and as is their custom, they had cast forth acorns to farther enhance chances for the repopulation of their species. Since these small, mostly round carriers of deciduous genetic codes do not have a means of mobility, it is dependent on a second, or even third party to distribute them to un-oaked areas.

The party of the second part in this case was a very energetic young squirrel. My attention was captured and I followed his efforts with great interest for 20 minutes or so. This rodent would find an acorn, roll it around in his mouth almost like he was cleaning it off and dig a small hole in the first soft spot he could find. He would then place the acorn in the hole, pushing it down with his nose, push the dirt back in and tamp it down with his front paws.

My reference to the gender of this fuzzy-tailed critter was an assumption for writing convenience only and in no way was it meant to denigrate the female of the species. With that disclaimer in place, I continue my story.

The animal continued burying these potential oaks the whole time I watched - always in the same manner. It was as if there existed a certain amount of urgency involved in the task. The few humans that happened by deterred him only a very little from his important task. He would simply step away a few hops and when they passed he continued his project.

The only variation in his procedure was the occasional finding of a hard spot of dirt, in which case he would just move over a few feet and try again. He did all this without an overseer or a big boss squirrel standing by looking over his shoulder.

The young acorn hider was preparing for the future by saving the nuts for later consumption – plus the ones he would forget could become trees to provide food for the ones to come after him. The survival instincts placed in even the smallest of animals by God for the continuance of the species has always amazed me.

It appears to me that we humans could learn a few lessons from this very active, even possibly flea-bitten, little creature. First, we should be slim and active, even to the point of climbing trees if necessary. Next, we need to be cautious but not live in fear – fear paralyzes.

Then, we should plan ahead for the salvation and nourishment of those that come after us – especially in the spiritual sense. Also, that persistence and patience will eventually solve problems – and make things grow. Finally, it’s OK to act a little nutty now and then. ec

Thursday, November 03, 2005


It was on another day and during another season from the not too distant past, and it was a day like many other days in that it was mostly light – this as opposed to nights, which are predominately dark. My occupation – it could have been a preoccupation but that would have made it happen before it did - was in the area of child care (of two grandsons), making sure that the little one either didn’t get stepped on or whacked with a toy, and making sure that the older one didn’t do either of these two painful things to him.

The room of my only slightly restful activity was the den and my position was prone – beside the baby - on a quilt placed on the floor mostly for this young one. The reason this endeavor was semi-active was that the young one and I were being used as target practice by the older one – two years old. His projectile of choice was a plastic golf ball of the hollow, practice type. This was being propelled by a plastic covered foam baseball bat, and his aim was better than average.

At my suggestion he tried the plastic golf club, but it was not to his liking and he tossed it aside and went back to the deadly bat. He was calling the game baseball but due to the unusual combination of striking instrument and game ball another name was made necessary. I guess it could be called “basolf”, and probably should have a few rules of play – this so one would know if the game was being played properly.

The main goal of the game seemed to be making the plastic ball come in contact with the epidermis of the closest living person. That would have made me - or the small one - the goal and the number of hits on the goal in the shortest amount of time was the object. Now since I was preventing the ball from striking the younger “grunt”, that made me a goalie as well as the goal. Whether the game made sense or not was not important since it was enjoyed by all involved.

The older grunt came out a winner of the “basolf” game for two reasons. One was that he made several hits on the person of his elder, and the other reason was that he was the only player. The goal/goalie was also a winner in as much as he prevented the game missile from impacting on the smallest of the small persons with which he was entrusted.

All this while the little one was grabbing for face and shirt, and was making many language beginning noises accompanied by droplets of drool propelled my way by small lips making motorboat sounds. This made the grandpa the overall winner since the goal of his game was to be the object of attention for his two young grandsons and he departed the activity with a much warmer heart. ec

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


The Debrambleer had done extensive work in the garden and blueberry areas of his estate, clearing the garden and part of the blueberries of the prickly interlopers. But now he grew tired of the scenery and decided it was time to go to other areas of the property and make an impression on the brambles there.

Down on the bedroom end of the yard, the brambles had been trying to make a deal. They promised to produce a few blackberries in exchange for them being allowed to live. But I had dealt with these villains before and knew that they intended only to completely overgrow the whole area.

It was well late in the day when the Debrambleer confidently strode toward the leafy offenders with his deadly weapon in hand. On hands and knees he started forcibly ripping the encroachers from the soil. With a mighty stroke, his hardwood handled mattock/tiller flashed in an arc through the air, and its blade was plunged into the ground. Each return stroke would result in ripping the plant out by the roots. One could almost hear their little plant screams as their roots bit the air.

The warrior slowly worked his way around the good plants that were under attack by these creeping thieves of soil nutrients, uprooting all offensive plant growths in his path. The sun was now sinking low and light was slowly starting to fade when in the depths of these growths the keeper of good plants realized with a start that the plants had called in WMDs – Weeds of Massive Dermatitis.

The enemy plants had evidently hired these WMDs – poison ivy by name – to punish the keeper in case he made just such an attack. This maliciously intended WMD, though a surprise, was taken in stride and very carefully pried from the ground and cast forth into the outer dimness – since it wasn’t dark yet.

The day was ending and the night was coming – when no man can work – so the keeper-warrior gathered the dead and dying plant bodies and put them in the gardener’s version of the body bag – a five-gallon plastic bucket. Then they were taken to the refuse pile to be later burned and their ashes used to nourish the soil from which their evil carcasses sprang.

While returning to his sanctuary, the warrior noted that he had not gone entirely unscathed in this skirmish. Just above the gauntlets of his battle gloves were the wounds inflicted by the thorns of the brambles while in their death throes. He felt this was a small price to pay for the massive defeat he had wreaked upon them.

This small, mostly tongue-in-cheek battle only serves to remind the tender of the soil that he is in a much larger spiritual battle in an eternal arena. As a warrior of God, he has been supplied armor and an undefeatable weapon, the Word of God, but it is his choice to use them and allow them to be of benefit not only to him but also to the world around him.

May he always choose to use them in correct ways and at proper times, according to the direction and leadership of the Captain of the mighty Host. ec