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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Saturday, December 31, 2005


The original author of the following poem is unknown to me but I do know three things about it. One – the poem was recited by my oldest sister from memory. Two – this took place at a rural church’s youth function in Itawamba County, Mississippi. And three – the event happened about 60 years ago. ec


Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree,
Discussing things as they seem to be.
Said one to the others, now listen you two,
There’s a certain rumor that can’t be true.

That man descended from our noble race.
The very idea is a total disgrace!
No monkey ever deserted his wife,
Starved her babies or ruined her life.

And you’ve never known a mother monk
To leave her babies with others to bunk,
Or pass them around from one to another
Till they scarcely knew who was their mother.

And another thing you will never see,
A monk build a fence around a coconut tree.
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all other monks a taste.

Why, if I put a fence around this tree,
Starvation would force you to steal from me.
Here’s another thing a monk won’t do,
Go out at night and get on a stew

Or use a gun or club or knife,
To take some other monkey’s life.
Yes, man descended - that ornery cuss -
But brother, he didn’t descend from us!

Friday, December 30, 2005

leftovers - 2


Don’t remember having any leftover time – although that is about what it seems like when one is waiting in the doctor’s office – or is that wasted time? When I’m faced with that wait, I usually take something to do. The equipment involved is a pouch containing a clipboard, my small recorder (with ear-piece) and some crossword puzzles. If all this fails to use the available time, there are always people studies to do on the other seated waiters. It’s amazing what you can tell about a person by a quick glance to check out their facial wrinkles.

Most of us over 30 have somewhat “set” wrinkle patterns on our faces – all the way from those of habitual smilers to those of the old grumps – there seems to be more of the latter. Could these skin crinkles come from leftover emotions? The worst wrinkles could come from anger leftover after everyone has quit listening to the venting thereof. The smiley lines almost have to come from inner joy - that one cannot help but express.

Since it seems necessary that I have wrinkles, I prefer those caused by the leftover smiling. Just recently I found out that there is a name for the icons of the smiley, frowny, angry, etc. little round faces we see on our computers – they are emoticons – I may be the very last person that didn’t know that.

There is another leftover many folks have that is entirely unnecessary. This horrible leftover is guilt and it comes from past wrong things a person has done. My conclusion that guilt is unnecessary comes from the fact that God can completely forgive any wrong we have ever done. The only purpose I can think of for guilt is to cause us to come to God for the cleansing power of forgiveness to be applied – that’s all.

A problem arises when we cannot forgive ourselves – even after we have been forgiven by God’s grace. Could it be that we cling to this hurtful guilt because we don’t think we deserve forgiveness? If what we are feeling doesn’t line up with God’s Word, it’s time to change our feelings – not easy, but can be done with God’s help. One place to start would be John 8:36, this states we can be “free indeed” – and freedom is a good thing. ec

Thursday, December 29, 2005

leftovers - 1

Leftovers are defined as being left or remaining, as an unused portion or amount. Most folks think of this word in terms of food uneaten at the end of a meal, which is my normal usage of the word as well. Some of this leftover food is eaten the next day or so and some just stays there because it wasn’t that good to start with. Yet it stays because one hates to throw away food until it spoils and/or grows fuzzy stuff of odd colorations.

It seems to me – or maybe it’s my imagination – that the fuzzy stuff grown on leftovers nowadays just doesn’t have the interesting colors of those of long ago. Growing up in a large family, we tended not to have many leftovers to begin with, but on the rare occasion that something got hidden from view behind the half-empty watermelon rind pickle jars, the colors were much more vibrant and alive – literally.

The longer the stuff stayed there the more interesting the colors became. Of course there was the normal color fuzz, but what I really looked forward to were the electric blue-green shades that just happened occasionally – this was before we had a TV for entertainment. Today I only find the dull shades of brown and black – it must be the preservatives therein contained.

Leftovers also happen in other areas of life, like when I take something apart for repair and have leftover parts. Sometimes the thing repaired never works quite the same, if at all. Also leftover parts happen when something is purchased that requires some assembly. I’m never sure if there are actually extra parts or if it’s not put together right. It makes me think that maybe somewhere there is a packager of goods with a weird sense of humor that just tosses in some extra parts to torture us or cause us to doubt our ability to assemble.

Those of us that grow a veggie garden know that it’s possible – even probable – to have extra (or leftover) produce. Most of this can be frozen or canned for later use but zucchini can be somewhat of a problem. Looking on the internet for zucchini recipes, I found 567,000 sites that had them. On just the first site there were 114 recipes - they can be baked, fried, sautéed, stuffed and pickled. They can be made into relish, burgers, biscuits, fritters, omelets, pancakes, pies and pudding – although these last two do not sound very appealing. ec

To be continued.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

snow of '73

Since the lack of snow in this area precludes me writing in the present about that wintry, freezy, skid stuff, I have determined to write about the snow of 1973. Possible snow flurries were predicted for that fateful Friday long ago but no accumulation was to take place. My job at the time was maintaining and repairing telephone cables. Always working outside, I was usually one of the first ones to know and experience any changing weather.

In the early afternoon, the sky was getting that “it-is-gonna-snow-any-minute” look, and that, in fact, is what it started doing about mid-afternoon. It was getting worse as the time moved on toward my getting off time of 5pm. The ground was fairly warm so a lot of the white stuff was melting right away. As I finished my last job of the day, I noticed the flakes were very large and the wind was blowing it almost horizontally.

The snow was starting to accumulate on the ground as I drove home, with only a small amount on the road as yet. My auto back then was a straight-stick, 1971 Chevy Nova and the rear tires had already lost most of their tread. The roads were still mostly passable but there was a pretty fair amount of fishtailing done on the last long hill before getting to my place of rest and abode, breathing a sigh of relief, I finally eased into the garage.

Please remember that I do not live in Michigan, Wisconsin or even Virginia, but South Carolina and even somewhat in the south of that state. We seldom even get freezing rain, it usually stops about 10 to 20 miles North of us – I didn’t say it didn’t happen, just not very often, and then only about once a winter. The rest of the winter it is just a very wet cold, the kind that chills the bones.

The snow continued to fall all that night with such intensity and with the flakes so big that visibility was very limited. I remember staring out the window about 2am and hearing rolling thunder that was muffled by the heavy snow and seeing the dim flashes of lightning. What we had was a huge thunderstorm that turned to snow before touching down. Fortunately the electricity and heat stayed on through the whole experience, even though I did have a fireplace and plenty of firewood.

The snow continued all night and up into the day on Saturday and it was an all-time, record breaking and history making snowfall for our area. If memory serves, the official measure at the airport was 19 inches and in my front yard I measured 21 inches. Now before all you northerners start going on about what a wimpy snowfall that was, again let me remind you that this is South Carolina.

Our two daughters were on the old side of 2 and 4 and the first time I took them outside they were totally amazed. I was holding them both, but when I put them down in the snow, the little one was almost engulfed and wanted back in the arms immediately. We did get to play much and I pulled them on a makeshift sled, as we do not normally have those properly built contraptions in our neck of the woods.

Everything pretty much screeched to a grinding halt right at first except for a few of the large wheeled 4-wheel drives. We just don’t have that kind of weather and are not prepared at all for it. And when we do have a snow, it normally either melts the same day or the next and very little hazard is involved. SCDOT drug out what equipment they had and did the best they could but the highway patrol was telling all to stay off the roads except for emergencies.

It was Sunday afternoon before I tried to dig one of the cars out of the garage and driveway. It took about two hours to get it to the street. On Monday morning I left about 30 minutes early for the 6-mile trip to my place of reporting - in case of difficulty - but once I got out to the main roadway, they had one lane open in both directions and I breezed right on in to work.

In case you were wondering how I was going to work my Friend into this, just let me say that I am glad that we have Someone that loves us in any kind of weather, no matter the size of the storm – or the type – that we might be going through. ec

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas 2005 - 2


It was after 2am Christmas morning when we finally got home and collapsed in bed. Our church service started at 11am and we bounced (drug) in just as the music started. Great worship music as per usual with a moving sermon from John 1 stating that God made a choice of love to send His Son to us and now we have a choice as to whether or not we accept this gift. Another great part of any church service is the greeting and chatting with the many friends after service.

After departing church, we went by our abode to pick up some clean clothes for Papa and went to see him for a while. We came home from there and commenced to finish wrapping presents for the “grands” to be given that evening. We finished the wrapping and got the car loaded (trunk and back seat full) to make them the last stop of the evening.

The next to last leg of our Christmas journey was to make the 30-minute trip out my brother’s place to visit with his gathering of kin. Much laughing and talking and snacking later we departed for our last stop of the evening with the “grand” ones that live locally. I didn’t realize how much my favorite wife had bought until I had to unload it all at once. They had just cleaned up from “Santa’s” visit when it struck all over again.

Then it was a flurry of torn wrapping paper, squeals of recognition and surprise and running and jumping feet. When the dust finally settled, everyone was playing with everyone else’s toys, sometimes to their consternation, and the den was a wreck. We had saved two special gifts – one special pair of boots for the granddaughter, 12, and the tricycle/trailer was outside for the 3 ½ year old grandson.

The boots were opened and an extraordinary squeal of delight – that warmed the hearts of grandparents – let us know that we had made a hit. Then the grandson was taken outside to view his vehicle. He said “my goodness” and promptly jumped on and rode it down the small slope behind their patio. A few adjustments are going to have to be made for him to reach the pedals properly, but we knew that we made a hit with that one too because he really didn’t want to come back inside.

With all the toys available, most all of us were fascinated with one for the 9-month-old – including the grandpa. It was one that when turned on, several plastic balls would pop out of one hole, roll around and down a chute and then pop back up. OK, sometimes it doesn’t take much to entertain a grandpa. The young one – in grandpa’s lap – would grab for the balls when they popped up and on occasion of getting one, it would be examined orally and then dropped. The balls would sometimes pop out in the floor and all would scramble to retrieve them.

The little one even helped in the clean-up process by grabbing discarded wrappings to make sure no good tasting ones got thrown away. The paper and boxes were finally cleaned up and a semblance of order was restored to the den. The young ones were way past tired and were winding down to be sent to nighty-nite. Before leaving we were required to visit the room of the granddaughter to check out all the neat stuff she received.

She received a very comfortable folding chair with ottoman for the feet. She also had a very squishy pillow, and I tried out the chair/ottoman/pillow combo and promptly went into a semi-conscious state – I knew better than to get still. The spice-of-my-life finally aroused me enough to drive home. After a few necessary things – check email, etc. – we crashed shortly after 11pm, somewhat of a record on the early side of late. Wow, what a Christmas! ec

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas 2005 - 1

Wow, what a Christmas! The word frenetic seems to be what one would get if the words frantic and frenzied were blended together. The good side of this resultant word describes our two-day holiday season.

The hectic, distraught and distracted parts of the word’s definition began back on the 10th of December when “Papa” – my father-in-law – had a serious heart attack as well as a stroke. There seemed to be a large degree of doubt among the medical personnel whether he would live until the next morning. But live he did and was placed in CCU for several days.

After about three days he did well enough to be placed in a modified regular room. At this time family members or friends started staying with him 24/7. On Monday, the 19th of December, he was moved to a rehab/nursing facility in Aiken, S. C. – about 15 miles away. And as of yesterday seems to be making very good progress and possibly to be coming home in a few weeks.

All the visits to one medical facility or another very much complicated a season that was normally pretty hectic anyway. Our Christmas started its culmination on Saturday – Christmas Eve – with Papa’s family gathering at his home away from home to be with him a while and share a bit of cheerfulness. He still has difficulty swallowing, so we didn’t bring food, but we brought a karaoke machine, sang some carols and gave him some gifts. He appreciated the visit and efforts, but tired quickly and we got him back to his room and departed.

The whole clan met back at our house for an early Christmas meal together. It has become a tradition with this family group to have one of my wife’s specialties, chicken crescent dinner rolls as the center piece of the meal. This is made by rolling up cooked chicken pieces in the dough, over-pouring it with a mixture of cream of chicken soup, canned milk and grated cheese and baking it with additional cheese sprinkled on top.

This was augmented by a squash casserole, sweet potato soufflé and various other veggies and desserts. Among the desserts was some cookies baked by one of my nieces that came from a recipe that was said to be valued at 1200 dollars – no, I don’t know by whom. I had “rescued” a few of them to be consumed at a later date and it would appear that is today – I was so impressed with the memory of them that I am munching on one of the last ones now.

Everyone departed later and we made an effort to straighten up a bit and the ladies went across the street to the in-law’s house to watch a movie together. Yours truly stayed home to assemble a large toy that required “some assembly”. This was a large pneumatic-tired tricycle with attached trailer, somewhat unique in my memory. Got this assembled and stored out of view and it became time for the wife and I to baby-sit for the daughter and son-in-law to attend midnight mass, and as most of you know this starts at midnight.

To be continued. Ec

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 ec

Saturday, December 24, 2005

the crate

Our family first came to the Augusta, Georgia area in November of 1949. The area had the feel of a boomtown for many reasons but there were three main ones. First, a large dam was being built on the river North of town. Second, a government nuclear facility was being constructed to the East of town – across the state line in South Carolina.

And third, there was a large military base to the West of the city, rounding out the main large employers of the area. Many soldiers were also around and about due to the ongoing Korean Conflict. The folks not working directly for one of these three main employers were in some kind of support or service industry as a result of them. There were several other industries but none as large as these.

Sometime in the early 1950s, the first TV station was built in Augusta and this was a real bombshell among us young ones. We didn’t have a TV but a back fence neighbor family did and we kids would congregate there to watch a daily “horse opera” series.

I even remember a portion of one of the series – there was a good-guy cowboy and he was always chasing what he thought was a bad-guy Indian chief. Right at the end of each program one of the main characters would get into a mess that was impossible to get out of and the next day they would get out of it. The weird thing about it was that the brave Indian chief turned out to be good – and a woman. So the now good Indian chief-ette and the good-guy cowboy fell for each other, probably was sickening to me back then. But I digress, as per usual.

Anyway, we had to be careful not to get on the bad side of the family’s kids in order to continue viewing. My younger brother and I later bought our family’s first TV with earnings from our paper routes. I believe that Augusta actually had two stations by that time.

All this to give some background and to set the stage for one of the Christmas traditions our family had back then. My memories of our first Christmas in Augusta, and several after, are not totally intact in my mind, but I do remember “the crate”. For several Christmas’ during that time frame, Dad would buy some candy, fruit and nuts but mainly a crate of oranges. This crate was about 3 feet long, 1 ½ feet high and 1 ½ feet deep, and it held somewhere around a bushel of oranges – give or take a few dozen.

The crate was kept in a front closet and anytime we wanted an orange, they were available. These actually lasted several weeks but as the time passed, a few of them would be lost to spoilage. Part of our job as resident siblings was to keep checking for the rotten ones. It wasn’t hard to know that one was spoiled, but it was a bit difficult at times to remove the bad ones without taking all of the rest of them out.

The crate was made with thin wooden slats and held together by twisted wire and a few staples. After the oranges were gone, it became a multiuse container – remember that this was before plastic was in widespread usage. Dad would use it as a temporary chicken coop or possibly part of a fence. If he had no use for it, it became material for one of the many kid construction projects. It was a gift that kept on giving.

This brings me to another gift of this same type. This is the time of year that we celebrate the gift of God’s Son to us. He took on human form, loved us enough to die for us to make it possible for us to have a choice about our eternal destination. That is truly the gift that keeps on giving! ec

Friday, December 23, 2005


The season was winter, nearing Christmas and the year was the mid-1940's, my family lived in a small rural house in the northeastern corner of the state of Mississippi – county of Itawamba. We received a package in the mail from my uncle in the Army that caused great wonderment in my mind and is my first remembrance of Christmas being different from other days of the year.

This package may have contained other items, but I only recall three: A steel cased AM radio, army olive drab in color, an army blanket (which I still have) and a box of candy.This box was populated by several kinds of confections, but the only one I remember was candy corn - this was the first time I had seen, tasted or even heard of this wonderful, multi-colored tidbit. My relationship with candy corn has dimmed somewhat over the years, due to other candies passing through my life and the calorie concerns of the present, but I still remember the feeling.

The first gift I remember receiving personally was a rubber car with wheels that actually rolled, must have been the Christmas of 1947, and it came to me from my first grade teacher. That car and I traveled many feet of self-made dirt toads together.

The next Christmas we had moved to Cleveland Tennessee and I remember receiving a wind-up toy bulldozer. It didn't last long because I was so fascinated by it's movement that I took it apart to see what made it go, and couldn't get it back together. This much to the frustration of my older brother, since it was his hard earned money that made the purchase.

Memory fails to identify many Christmases and gifts after that and I just remember the excitement and happiness of the season. Somewhere over the years the concept of giving started overriding the receiving part and the most important part of receiving became the inner joy received when causing someone else happiness.These joys increased after having children of my own, and seems to be even greater with grandchildren.

Thanks be to God who supplied the greatest gift of all, forgiveness through the birth, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus and because of this we have the opportunity to be part of His family for eternity. ec

Thursday, December 22, 2005

hawk Christmas

One of the domestic tasks that usually falls my lot is to keep the refrigerator cleaned out of leftover and/or spoiled food. This is because I happen to possess the stronger of the two stomachs in the house. It’s not that we have a lot of these uneaten things, but sometimes things are forgotten or hidden behind something else and neither of us cares to eat things that have fuzzy stuff growing on them, even though I know how penicillin was discovered.

There was a ham bone encased in plastic with a fair amount of meat remaining thereupon that was left from Thanksgiving and we had every intention of doing something with it, like making a pot of soup or something. But we had some illness in the family and this just kept getting put off. This was from a smoked ham and may have had a longer shelf life than I could imagine but I was tired of looking at it.

There are three destinations for these way-past-leftover foods. First is the mulch/humus/organic matter pile for spoiled produce or fruit – most anything uncooked. Then there is the burn pile where cooked stuff with the fuzzy growths finds a final resting place. Finally there is the overgrown slope behind the house and this is where I toss cooked meat to be consumed by some stray or wild varmint. See, I do have a heart.

Anyway, down the slope is where the ham bone got tossed back at the first of the week. At the bottom of this slope there is a short semi-level stretch and then it becomes the bank of a pond belonging to my in-laws. This pond is about 3 acres in size and much wildlife has been observed around its waters. Cranes, kingfishers, ducks, geese and turtles have been seen in addition to the fish that are therein contained.

A day or so later I was gazing absent-mindedly out the window – as I am wont to do – and I saw a large bird down near the pond. Finding my telescope, I began to spy on the bird. I recognized it right away as a hawk and a large one at that. Even though it seemed full grown, some of its coloration caused me to think that it was still young – maybe not quite a year old.

Being largely amazed by having this magnificent creature of flight within a hundred and fifty feet or so of the house, I convinced the spice of my life to come take a look. She was not nearly so astounded as I and I sought others to be agape as well. We happened to be sitting for the daughter and had two of her young sons in house, so I held them up the magnifying piece. They were somewhat impressed, but they knew hardly anything about the honor of this sighting – they are 3 ½ and 2.

The hawk was eating something and it took a minute or so for it to move around enough for me to identify what the food was. It was the ham bone! My observations went on for about 10 minutes with the hawk calmly pulling the meat off the bone and gulping it down. It would stop and look around in a natural alertness but my imagination brought to my mind that he/she was probably thinking – wow, I thought Christmas was on Sunday, this must be an early present!

Babysitting chores pulled me away from the window and when I returned, the bird had departed. Occasionally I would still walk by the window and glance to see if it had come back. One of these rechecks caused me to espy another, even larger, bird. I knew right away that it was a buzzard (turkey vulture) but I focused the telescope on it to get more detail.

This species is not particularly attractive but has its place in the scheme of life – and death. The bird was enjoying whatever the hawk had left, and immensely, or so it seemed. Again my imagination heard what the bird was thinking – “oh man, this is great, I haven’t eaten this good since that cow up on . . .” oops, I shouldn’t have listened in on that – anyway, it was glad and thought it was Christmas as well.

God works in mysterious ways – through His creation – His wonders to perform, and to glorify His Son, Jesus. ec

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

last minute - 2

Continuing -

The next stop was Wal-Mart and I finally found a place of parking out next to the entrance road. My usual method of passing the time is to take a clipboard and just write down my thoughts – random and otherwise. This day was no different and soon I was wandering in thought and writing away. In the midst of all this, two very amusing things of the same type happened – at least it amused me – of course that doesn’t take a lot.

My thought-filled reverie was broken when I saw a woman walk from between cars with a package in one hand, car keys in the other and a very puzzled look on her face. She looked up one row of cars and down the next and I drew the conclusion that she had either forgotten where she had parked or someone had stolen her vehicle. After wandering several minutes, her pace finally quickened and I knew that her search had been fruitful.

Mildly amused, I went back to my writing and then realized just a couple of minutes later that another woman was walking in my general direction with that same puzzled look covering the most of her visage. She seemed a bit more flustered than the other person and for just a minute seemed convinced that someone had taken her mode of transportation.

She glanced my way and saw the wide smile that I was having much difficulty hiding, she shrugged and from her returned smile I could tell that she also found amusement in her situation. Finding her car one row over and up a bit, she drove off in the other direction, possibly so as not to see that smile again.

My smile remained as we drove to our next destination and even the frantic, last minute traffic couldn’t wipe it totally away. It seems to me that we have a choice as to how we react to our life situations – whether we allow them to make or break our day - or days. My choice is to enjoy any part of my day I can and trust God to help me soften the blow of the rest.

I did find myself wondering whether those two women were as confused about the real meaning of Christmas as they were about the location of their vehicles. My desire for you is that you would choose to enjoy the peace that Christ came to make available – not just for this season, but for the whole year. ec

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

last minute - 1

The fig tree outside our kitchen/dining room window is now bare of the rather large leaves – and fruit – of summer. It stands with its limbs lifted upward as though in a position of praise to its creator – also in faith, awaiting the buds and leaves of the coming spring.

As I gazed at this scene, several birds were populating these limbs. Six of these winged critters were cardinals; three were bright red, showing that they were the males of the species. The other three were mostly brown with only slight hints of red – the normal coloration of the female.

Three more of the creatures of flight in attendance were blue jays, all in their dress blues. There was no clue prominent enough for me to determine whether they were males or females. In the leaves under the tree was a small brown bird, difficult to see and even harder to identify, as it was so close in color to the brown leaves among which it was scratching. None of these small, shy individuals seemed to be the least bit concerned that it was almost Christmas and all the shopping wasn’t done.

Leaving this relaxing and somewhat idyllic scene, I ventured forth into the hustle and bustle of the world of commerce and last minute shopping. My favorite wife had a few things to finish up so I volunteered to drive her to make it easier on her nerves and legs.

We worked out a bit of a formula to help speed up these stops and make them less physically demanding. She is dropped off at the door of her place of shopping and then I retreat to the far corner of the parking lot and wait for her to call me by cell phone. Whereupon I then drive back and pick her up – this has been used in the past and worked well again today. The wife is helped, the chore is quickened and I have to do almost NO shopping.

To be continued.

Monday, December 19, 2005


At this writing something has come between my computer and me – or at least between my keyboard and monitor. The major problem is that I don't know what to call it. It could be called a health food but it has elements of a dessert as well. This one is very similar to the one previously mentioned in another missive and called a “proper dessert”, but even that is not an appropriate name.

It all started with an eight inch flat salad bowl, progressed to having enough blueberries added to be at least three deep across the bottom and then several scoops or dollops - whichever is more - of Edy's grand ice cream, in their vanilla, all-natural flavor are added on top. On this was placed about a half cupful of all-natural walnut pieces and then all-natural honey was either poured or drizzled - whichever is less fattening - all over the top of the whole schmear.

My efforts at describing this dish has made me hungry and I have consumed about half of the whole thing that is yet unnamed. Besides the main problem of not having a name for the dish, I wonder what effect eating this thing - before it gets a name - will have on me emotionally. As you may or may not know, emotional balance should be achieved and maintained in all activities, even eating – especially the eating of desserts or semi-desserts. Naturally it would be hard for you to know these balance things since I just recently made them up.

This delicate balance is sometimes difficult to maintain, even when all-natural items are consumed and made harder still when artificial ingredients enter the mix. It would be possible to be consuming artificially colored and flavored cardboard and totally think it was delightful until the emotions woke up and smelled the red #40. Then the unbalance would commence and off the deep end the emotions would go.

In the midst of the confusion and rubbed raw emotions, another unanticipated problem arose - I ran low on ice cream before the other ingredients ran out and had to add more - this could take the rest of the day. Wow, I hope I'm not allergic to this stuff or I might break out in hives - from the honey. Also there is the very emotional question of whether artificially induced fat weighs the same as the all-natural type.

My final decision was to just eat the “thang” without a name and go wash away all traces of evidence from the dish – for my emotions sake. I've got a feeling that it might show up on me somewhere - our transgressions will always find us out. ec

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Fish Christmas

Twas shortly before Christmas and I hadn't started yet,
to dream about - even think about - just what I should get,
for the fish in my aquarium, because of all they do
to distract and entertain me, as through my meal I chew.
I've never even named them, but I certainly will -
or even place a tag on them, if they would just be still.
There once was six of them, but one ceased to be alive,
it bellied up so I flushed it, and then there were five.
But I don't know, cause they can't speak, of things they desire,
a place to swim and food to eat is all that they require.
They have no shoulders for a sweater, or neck for a tie,
no feet for new sneakers, so should I even try
to coddle them and spoil them - for would they even know
my concern about their Christmas - that I had fretted so?
I just don't think I'll tell them about Santa Claus at all -
why set them up and dash their hopes when he doesn't come to call?
I'll pretend that nothing's up and just a normal day -
reasons for the decorations I will never say.
If others on my list believed that, wouldn't it be fun,
instead of just a little shopping, there would be exactly NONE!!


Saturday, December 17, 2005

rue and revel

From my mental annals of seldom-used words comes the words rue and revel. Rue means to feel sorrow over, repent of or to regret bitterly. Revel carries the meaning of taking great pleasure or delight in (an action, thing or person). Folks may do the actions of these definitions but just call them something else.

I've come to understand that everyone rues and revels throughout their lifetime to one degree or another. Ruing and reveling has many levels and intensities depending on the amount of joy or pain that comes to a person from any given experience and their attitude toward it.

Folks can sometimes rue and revel at the same time in the very same experience. For example - One can rue the day they bought a stationary bike for their bedroom because they don't use it anyway, and now this is the third time they nave stubbed their toe on it today - but they can revel in the fact that it's a great place to hang clothes.

It seems to be considered the depths to rue and the heights to revel - but such is not always true. If one rues the wrong they've done and it causes a change in their morality (for the better) - then it would be the heights of rue. But then if a person revels in wrongdoing - it would have to be the depths.

I've seen those that rued their revelry and even a few that reveled in their ruing, but can one rue their reveling in ruing - or revel in their ruing of revelry?

Self-righteousness could even raise its ugly head on some of that latter stuff. This brings up the necessity for standards and/or clarification in the area of these two words because one person's rue could be another's revelry. But I'll save that pain (or joy) for another day. ec

Friday, December 16, 2005


While pushing a shopping cart through the farthest parts of the cavernous confines of our local super Wal-mart and approaching the dairy section, I noticed that the store audio system was playing a song that sounded familiar. As the dimly heard music desperately strove to be heard above the noise of the busy store, I recognized it as a hit from back in the 60’s. The name of the song was “Will you love me tomorrow?” sung by the Shirelles and it was one of the top songs on the chart for the year 1961.

1961 was the only year of my life that was spent totally outside the friendly borders of the United States. This, along with several months of 1960 and 1962, passed with me in residence at a small international military installation called Camp Voluceau – about 11 miles west of Paris, France. At that time I was “owned” by the U. S. Army and I went and stayed where they told me to go and stay.

During that time in my life, this song was one (of many) that my mind and ears sought out to sort out many confusing emotions that were present back then. These unsorted emotions, even with this and other songs, only tended to make the homesickness and loneliness worse – whether I was actually alone or with others.

My mind conjures up much symbolism in the words of this song and some of it had to do with the lifestyle I was living at the time. The words were: “Tonight you’re mine completely – You give your love so sweetly – Tonight the light of love is in your eyes – But will you love me tomorrow?” It spoke of intimacy with no real commitment but also of concern about what happens tomorrow – a feeling still real in the lives of some today.

It goes on: “Is this a lasting treasure – Or just a moment’s pleasure? – Can I believe the magic of your sighs? – Will you still love me tomorrow?” Again this symbolizes the mindset of many today – having questions but not enough willpower to wait until they are answered, there is also confusion as to the definition of real love. “The magic of your sighs?” – oh, please, no wonder my emotions didn’t get sorted out until later in life.

Continuing: “Tonight with words unspoken – You say that I’m the only one – But will my heart be broken – When the night meets the morning sun?” “Words unspoken”? – It’s bad enough when someone lies about love but when nothing is said and the other has to assume the words, this is very un-smart. My guess would be a broken heart when the sun comes up – back then and today when similar assumptions are made.

The final words: “I’d like to know that your love – Is a love I can be sure of – So tell me now, and I won’t ask again – Will you still love me tomorrow? – Will you still love me tomorrow?” With all the seemingly unanswered questions and human nature’s desire for answers, one would assume that more questions would definitely be on the way.

Then it occurred to me that there might be some more subtle symbolism involved here. Was the Wal-mart computer actually singing this song to me and the other shoppers? Was the computer hoping we would still love what we had in our carts when we got to the cash register? Was it then wooing us to love the things we were buying and hoping that we would still love them enough tomorrow to come back and shop again?

My emotions did falter just a bit when the bill was totaled up but I will probably go back, definitely not tomorrow though, I have to have time to get over the bitterness of the realization that Wal-mart only loves me for my money.

The Holy Spirit is wooing us today with a genuine love that goes beyond anything we are able to define or understand. It is a love that will continue through all of our tomorrows on this earth and on through eternity after that. The cost of this love has already been paid by the sacrifice of Jesus long ago. Our part is to simply accept God’s forgiveness and follow His plan for us stated in the Word. Wow, what an awesome gift!! ec

Thursday, December 15, 2005


It suddenly came clear to me why I am an amateur etymologist – maybe even a rank amateur. The phrase “rank amateur” was the device that brought me to this abrupt conclusion. But the weird part about an abrupt conclusion is that sometimes it takes a while to arrive – it was quick, but in a slow sort of way.

Anyway, when I looked up a rank amateur, to compare them with the regular kind, I found that rank – when applied to amateur – meant an utter or absolute one. Then when the applicable definition of utter turned out to be ‘unconditional or unqualified’, dark clouds of contradiction began to form. When the definition of the word absolute also mentioned unqualified, small lightning strikes of confutation joined the dark clouds.

All that was stated to say this – considering the aforementioned expanded definitions, when someone is a rank amateur at anything, it means that they need no qualification as to their standing in the ranks. The problem? The term “rank” is a qualification in a situation that needs no qualification. So where did this non-confusing - confusing term come from? My guess is that it came from some elitist professional that didn’t care for amateurs at all and insinuated that they all stunk.

What was my abrupt conclusion that came somewhat slowly? The study of words (etymology) is sometimes confusing, so I’ve decided to not to turn pro, but instead, to hold more firmly to my amateur status, albeit mostly unqualified. My ramblings in that field could only be qualified if there was a ranking for those searching out the inane and fatuous parts of the language – and yes, those are actual words because I have tripped over them before. Then maybe I had no conclusion at all, but simply a continuation – as per usual.

With my amateur etymologist status totally cleared up, my mind wandered on to a more meaningful word – enjoy. This word has the definition: “to take pleasure in; experience with joy”. Deep in my AE (amateur etymologist) heart, I felt there had to be more to the word than that. This because I have enjoyed pulling weeds, a good hamburger and banana pudding – notice the ascending levels of enjoyment.

If one can enjoy something as lowly and mundane as “offing” a garden weed, surely there are greater enjoyments than that, and though it’s a stretch, some even better than banana pudding. To prove to myself that this word had to have a deeper meaning, I decided to take the word apart to see what made it tick.

The first part of the word, en-, is a prefix forming verbs that have the general sense "to cause (a person or thing) to be in'' the place, condition, or state named by the stem. Joy being the stem in this case, I came away with the idea that the whole word meant to cause oneself or another to have joy. Since it usually involves some sort of action in the enjoyment of something, and joy is a feeling, I draw a sense that the en- stirs up and adds to the joy part of the word.

In studying this information, I learned that the adding of an affix is called inflection and the study of inflections is called accidence, closely related to the word accident, which is how I ran into all this heavy stuff to start with. Inflection is contrasted with derivation and that means the process of adding affixes to or changing the shape of a base, thereby forming a word that may undergo further inflection or participate in different syntactic constructions. Wow, that sounds like word surgery and maybe painful – but I did enjoy the dance.

The original source of the word ‘joy’ has to be God, since every “good and perfect gift” comes down from Him. Then I realized that God ‘enjoys’ us in several ways. Perhaps you have noticed one of them where the Word states that there is joy in the presence of the angels when a sinner is saved – and in whose presence are the angels? Another would be that since we are God’s children, I have to believe He enjoys us in much the same way we enjoy our children and grandchildren – when they (and we) do the good stuff – or the hilarious.

Most important of all is that He does en- (causes us to be in) joy us. God makes all joy possible. Even though joy is a choice, problems arise when those without God don’t know their choices. As bad as it sounds, they may not know about the joy of the Lord because the Christians they know don’t have any - or haven’t told them that they even have a choice – not only about eternity, but also about joyous everyday living. ec

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


My boots make crunching sounds in the granite gravel as I walk to my truck and I wonder - did all this gravel come from one big rock or from several smaller ones, possibly rejects from large rock projects? Could this be the excess rock carved off Stone Mountain in Georgia to make the huge memorial? Or even from the famous "Venus de Milo" and this is part of her missing arms?

Maybe there is famous gravel in that driveway - then maybe not. Gravel driveways are good to have in remote locations because you can hear when someone's coming from the crunching sounds that are made. The sound comes from a violent grinding together when pressure is applied - leading me to believe that eventually they would be ground into granite dust - like in a hundred years or so - but what's time to a rock?

Which brings up another question - if there's nobody there to hear the gravel, does it really make a noise?

Could it be that each small stone of the gravel has microbial life contained thereon? If so, this small piece of rock would be their whole universe (or microverse). Do these tiny worlds have order and rule of law? Do their microscopic police carry teensy antibiotic pistols to bring the bad germs to justice? How would they communicate? With no voice to speak or hands for sign language, it must be some kind of touchy feely chemical perception.

Do they learn and are some smarter than others and make fun of those not so gifted? Are there institutes of higher learning for them, and do they have tiny games on Saturday afternoons and wave micro-flags? Are microscopic victory dances done after the player oozes into the end zone? Are the itsy bitsy goal posts torn down after winning?

There seems to be more questions than answers here but in the spiritual realm, I have a Friend that answers all the questions I have. There are still some things that I don’t understand and may never in this life, but He will explain these in the life to come.

Perception and imagination varies from person to person, and that's a good thing. ec

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


It was back during the last century - 1981 or round about thereof - that the “chainsaw incident” took place. The day was a Saturday, it was a warm clear day and if memory serves, it was in the spring. Next to my in-law’s place of business was a thick growth of trees and vines and the task for the day was to clear out some of this natural growth.

The chainsaw was not a strange tool to me as I had used one on varying occasions for about 15 years at that time. This saw was a rather large one equipped with a bow - as opposed a bar - and was particularly useful for cutting up trees after they were on the ground.

A fair amount of trees had been cut - these were about 6” to 10” through the middle – with a good number still to be felled. Two of these 8” ones growing side by side had been cut but because of the heavy growth of vines, would not fall all the way down. They were hanging in these vines at about a 45-degree angle with one on top of the other and the only solution I could come up with was to cut them up in short sections and pull them out a piece at a time.

A section was cut out of the top tree and removed. It was only while cutting through the second one that things really went wrong. Just as the chain of the saw went through this second tree trunk, the other one on top of it broke loose, sliding down into the side of the saw, driving its still moving saw links down into the top of my shoe and foot.

A small amount of wisdom and/or sagacity would have dictated that I wear leather boots or shoes for my cutting chores of the day. It seemed that I was a little short on both these good qualities that day because my feet were shod in cheap canvas knockabouts. Immediately, if not sooner, I knew I was cut, I just didn’t know how badly. In fact, I didn’t even want to know right then, as I called for bro-in-law to take me to the ER.

He drove and picked up Carolyn and on to the Emergency Room we went. Afraid to take off the shoe, I just wrapped up the foot, shoe and all, with a cloth to stop the bleeding. Only after getting to the treatment room did I become aware of how grubby I was and found myself wishing I had cut my foot when I was a little cleaner. Dirt and wood chips scattered about as the surgeon cut off what was left of the shoe and I could almost hear his thoughts about getting the dirtiest and sweatiest patient of the day.

After washing the wound a bit, he found that the blade had cut through the skin and the top of the tendon sheath but stopped short of lasting damage as it spared the tendons themselves. As the doc sewed up the damaged area, he did mention that I should keep my toenails trimmed better – my thoughts were that I would do exactly that, at least before I cut myself with a chainsaw again.

Even though I was told that all this would heal back and be normal again, I was left with a very sore foot in the interim. For the first time in my life I had to have crutches to keep the weight off this sutured foot. We rented some because I didn’t intend to need them permanently, and then I set out to learn how to use them. Level ground wasn’t much of a challenge but stairs were tricky and I stumbled coming down a set of them at church. I was able to check my fall only at the expense of much pain to the sore foot.

The crutches were a big help but I grew tired of them very quickly and was glad to give them back to their owners when the injury healed up properly. These crutches reminded me of what I have heard several people say over the years. Their contention was that going to church, reading the Bible and living for Jesus were all crutches that the weak use to survive.

The definition of the word crutch - besides the physical support - was anything that serves as a temporary support or prop. The sentence given as an illustration was: The use of liquor as a psychological crutch. There are more of these, including many other chemicals, material things and even people that are used as crutches. But the Bible, or church and living for Jesus are definitely not crutches, they are WINGS and if used properly will lift us high above the troubles that surround us – that’s my kind of transportation!! ec

Monday, December 12, 2005


Being a bit under the weather a while back caused several things to occur that were not good, two of which I would like to mention. The first was that I crept slowly around the house for the better part of four days, not feeling like doing any thing – even lying down. This is very unusual for me, being blessed with good health. I didn’t even feel like being on the computer – it was bad!

The second thing was that I did very little in the field of silly. The word “field” is mentioned because silly is a very big arena, encompassing multitudinous methods of expression, the main ones being the spoken, the written and the actions. Silly just happens to be one of my areas of study at HKU – Hard Knocks University.

The word silly is not defined very well in Webster’s – the definition I came closest to agreement with was: absurd; ridiculous; nonsensical. Yet in personal experience I have found the word to be much deeper and fuller than any of these, and depending on the purposes and/or the usages thereof, it can even become a way of life.

A man by the name of Mike Meyers once said: “Silly is you in a natural state and serious is something you have to do until you can get silly again.” Not only do I agree with this statement, I strive to measure up to the principles it sets forth. Furthermore, I feel that there is a certain amount of silly in everyone, maybe more than they realize themselves.

To take this enlightenment even further, I propose that one needs to express the silly within on a regular basis or it will build up in pressure and possibly cause harm to the person involved. Most of us have a safety relief valve in case the silly pressure gets too high, but a few do not and never realize it until their silly tank has exploded and they have covered everyone nearby with large globs of silliness.

This makes me wonder about clumsy people. Do they really stumble, trip, drop things, run into things with different parts of their anatomy by accident; or is it a subconscious silly pressure release – sometimes to the much amusement of those nearby. There has to be some credence to this hypothesis since they do not seem to be able to control these amusing actions – at least they are comical to those watching.

Being a silly person myself, I’m able to spot and appreciate others of this same persuasion, even those that are very subtle in their farcical words and actions. Basically, it takes one to know one. The real challenge to the silly person is to ply their trade to its fullest extent without those within earshot thinking that they had recently fallen out of a tree and landed on their head. Wait – maybe that could be a goal as well!

Silly appreciation is something to be cultivated over a period of time; one does not just come to this type awareness overnight. Appreciation in this case seems to come with participation and the more involved one becomes, the less time it takes to break loose from seriousness. Seriousness being a necessary evil, much like the valley between two mountain peaks. Even a small amount of silly is better than sitting around in a stupor of vapidity – now there’s a word for you.

At times it is hard to tell if someone is being silly accidentally or on purpose. Such was the case the other day with the two grandsons that are mobile. The older one – almost 3 at that time – came to sit in my lap. I told him that I was going to ask his tummy if it would like to be tickled, then proceeded to do that. After I asked his tummy the question, he sat there a moment and then said, “she is not answering you”.

The younger of the two, 18 months at the time, is always “exploring”; especially the things that he has been told “no, no” about in the past. The other day he went around to all the dining room chairs and briefly touched each one in turn and said “dis - no, no, - dis - no, no, - dis - no, no”. I guess he figured that was their name, since that was what we always called them to him. They both got an “A” in Silly 101.

Silly is our choice; much like forgiveness and peace has been made our choice because of Jesus. Make everything right with Jesus and then you can “lighten up” and be as silly as decorum allows. To decorum and beyond!!!! ec

Sunday, December 11, 2005

new life

The dead tree's dry broken branches pointed toward the sky like someone frozen in their outcry for help. Its destiny is only to continue to weaken until it is felled either by a wind or by the steady pull of gravity.

Yet life in other forms continues in and on this lifeless hulk, for it offers a resting place for passing birds, a food cache for the woodpecker and food for the termite when it falls to the ground.

The live trees around it have dropped their leaves in preparation for their winter's sleep. These leaves will begin to break down and form enriching mulch for the soil. When the leaves fall from their branch, they leave a bud that promises a continuance of life in the next season - because hidden within the bud are the tiny semi-formed leaves for next year's growth.

Hidden within the true Christian is the seed of life placed there by the grace and power of God through the obedience of Jesus Christ. At death this will burst forth into a new life that we now can only imagine. This is one reason my mind is so super-charged by God's creation, because it is an illustration of continuing life - which is exactly what we have by faith - fullness of life here and then forever with God. ec

Saturday, December 10, 2005


It was a bright afternoon and my favorite wife and I were waiting in the car line at North Augusta Middle School to pick up our granddaughter. We had arrived early because we were already in the neighborhood and decided to wait for her and save her Mom a trip. We were in casual conversation when I posed a question to her – I wonder if asparagus could be used as a verb?

She got that sly little smile on her face that told me that I come up with weird stuff but she was glad she married me anyway. Her answer was that of course it couldn’t. Loving a challenge, I proceeded to spin a scenario to illustrate my belief that it could. It went something like this.

It was a dark and stormy night and a large group of young folks had gathered in the old mansion on the hill outside of town for a Sunday school party. The house belonged to one of their grandparents and was not a spooky place at all – under normal conditions.

They had just gathered when the rain started coming down in torrents, the wind blowing it in near horizontal sheets. The lightning was so bright that it almost looked like a fireworks display and the accompanying thunder was nearly as loud as the bass of a rock band. Then at the very height of the full fury of the storm, the power went off. A couple of them scurried around trying to find candles while the rest were huddled together at one end of the great hall.

It was then that everyone heard the tremendous crash. At first they thought it was just a loud peal of thunder, but the light of the next lightning flash revealed that something else was in the center of this large room. Suddenly they panicked and all ran toward the door, not caring whether or not they got soaked. As they bolted out the large double doors they screamed, “we’ve been asparagus-ed”!

My wife’s smile remained and in all seriousness she said, “there’s no way that could happen”. Again I felt the thrill of the challenge and continued the rather unlikely scenario.

It seems that there was a large cargo plane carrying produce from California to a very influential buyer on the east coast and it got caught in this very same bad storm. They didn’t have time to get out of this dangerous maelstrom - that made Mother Nature seem like a maenad – and were trying to ride it out.

The plane suddenly hit a downdraft and dropped 500 feet and tilted sideways. The sudden jolt as it regained stability caused a whole pallet load of asparagus to break loose and slam against the large side door. This was too much for the door’s latches and it sprang open, dumping the large container of asparagus out into thin air.

Gravity being what it is, this large mass went downward at the speed of - - well, gravity (?). The first solid thing the asparagus hit was the roof of the mansion and this was the crash the young people heard. They were somewhat shaken, but when an extended flash of lightning revealed the words on the side of the large crate – “asparagus from California” – it was more than they could take and they all ran for their lives.

When I finished my wild story, the smile still remained on my wife’s face, but she didn’t have a lot to say. It was probably a good thing I’m not a mind reader. In the strictest sense I suppose nobody actually got asparagus-ed, since none of the product came in bodily contact with anyone, but that is the way it could happen.

Joy is a “for real” verb and I joy myself in the Lord on a regular basis. This is in addition to written and verbal joyous expressions – even about everyday, mundane, even silly, things. Of course this action form of the word is also a choice and we have the option of being an old grump, but this dark side of the force just doesn’t happen to be my choice – most of the time. ec

Friday, December 09, 2005


This adventure happened a short time back – seems like yesterday. My day began like most of the others in the past – by waking up. This traumatic occasion happened earlier than usual today inasmuch as I had a dental appointment for a cleaning and checkup. My usual cereal and hot tea was consumed with medium to large gusto – this accompanied by my daily Bible reading. The next morning ritual was the checking of the email and disappointedly I found naught but one of a commercial nature.

Then on to the bathroom to thoroughly brush and floss my teeth, I would not want them to have to clean dirty teeth. This reminds of one cleaning their house so it won’t be dirty for the cleaning person – when one can afford such luxuries - I will name no names.

My journey to the dentist office was by the back way, a shortcut I discovered during my long tenure with Bellsouth. It enabled me to miss most of the morning work traffic and is only known by a few thousand people – or so. Though this visit was a regularly scheduled one, I knew it was not going to be good. This was because a week or so before – in Tennessee – while eating terribly healthy whole grain cereal, my first bicuspid on the upper right had suddenly become a “uni-cuspid”, due to the whole front half shearing off.

With the cleaning and checkup complete and the broken tooth so noted, a later appointment was made to deal with this time consuming problem. Collecting my pro bono toothbrush and floss, with a flower thrown in to boot, I was on my way to complete several errands of the morning.

My first stop was the bank, then to the post office for the mail. Stopping back at the truck to leave the mail and pick up my cell phone, I noted that I had missed a call. Not knowing how to check who this mystery caller was – my career was not with cell phones - I called my loving wife and was informed that not only was it her but that the dentist had called to inform that they had a schedule change and could I come back at 10am. I told her to tell them yes and I shifted into a higher gear to get my other tasks completed.

Next I went to Bi-Lo to pick up our bale of carrots – 25lbs (that’s a long story) – then on to Hardee’s to get my favorite wife a gravy biscuit. But this was not to be just the regular menu item, this was to be an open-faced gravy biscuit to go – with the gravy already on the split open biscuit. Fixed this way so the succulent sausage flavored semi-liquid would seep slowly into every flaky crevice of this famous morning bread as I made my way home.

After hand delivering this culinary delight into the presence of my lovely spouse and freeing my truck from the mail and the weight of the carrot bale, I was on my way again with just enough time to get back to the office of my favorite tooth repairer. After waiting a bit I realized that they were “working me in” due to my dentist’s concern about the broken tooth. But no matter, I was retired with nothing particularly planned for this day anyway.

I was called back, seated and a short while later “numbed up”, since there was to be some deep grinding going on. This was done in steps between other patient’s procedures and gradually everything started to take shape. It had been predetermined that I was to need a crown, and they have on site crown making equipment that is amazing. You may already know this, but they first make a picture of the old tooth, then grind off all the bad stuff, in this case leaving a section of the back of the tooth. Then make another picture on their computer of the stub and build a crown on screen to place there. After forming it on screen just the way they want, this image is sent to the back by radio and the shaper machine makes the crown out of a ceramic block to fit my stub.

This process took a bit of time but had the advantage of an on site redo if it wasn’t right. When completed, it was adjusted to fit exactly, cemented in, polished and I was on my way – with another flower, of course.

Our world is in need of a spiritual dentist since there is so much truth decay in evidence. We in fact have one by the name of Jesus and He will take out our rottenness and fill the empty place with his love and forgiveness, all we have to do is ask. ec

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I ran back across this little item that was especially composed by yours truly and recited to my wife in the presence of our peers at our “Old Friends” Seniors Valentines banquet this year. Thought I would pass it along even though Valentine’s day has long past. And yes, it was supposed to be silly.

The following poem was inspired by a true story – ours – the names have been omitted to protect the innocent - plus they didn’t rhyme that well anyway – the poem is entitled “Kisses”.

The first time I laid eyes on her
I thought that I would faint,
said to myself, well I’m a boy
but I really think she ain’t.

I had seen some real neat things,
like baby chicks and a guppy,
but all I could think to myself was:
she’s purty as a speckled puppy.

My knees went weak in her presence
but I did manage to walk,
but how can I get to know this girl
if I couldn’t even talk.

We were both very young
and of many things unaware,
so young was I, as a matter of fact,
that I still had all my hair.

But it was at the skating rink
where we would often go,
that I really fell for her -
in heart and on the flo.

I was just a lad of sixteen
and she was two years less
but up till then in my young life
I had never had a kiss.

I had not yet a driver’s license,
my sister, she would take us.
But she said if you don’t kiss,
we’re gonna have a fracas.

As she drove us, that fateful night
to take my sweetie home
I walked her slowly to her door
and I knew my time had come.

Never having kissed before
would I be smooth and slick -
could I get my pucker right,
or would I just make her sick.

My sister flashed a signal light
and I knew that this was it,
I either had to kiss this girl
or my driver would have a fit.

I leaned down and she leaned up
and our lips met in between,
only for a brief moment though
cause I was scared out of my bean.

My sis approved and took me home
and I pondered what I’d done.
Now would I kiss other girls,
or was this the only one?

Years passed by, as did the lips
and kiss them, yes I did -
but did I find the right ones
that caused my heart to skid?

I did not and then came back
from the army’s foreign lands,
my search went on for lips to kiss
and a girl to hold my hands.

The one I’d kissed those years ago
had spoken and not in mirth,
that she would not marry me
if I was the last man on earth.

This was said to a friend of mine
while I was far away
but could she stay so very cold
since I was home to stay.

When I came round she warmed a bit
or at least she didn’t cuss
could this be a sign for me
was there a chance for us?

Birds did sing and bees did hum,
my future was looking bright,
I knew I had another chance
to get my pucker right.

There really was some magic in
that next important kiss,
I had changed and so had she,
enough for wedded bliss.

Tho the years have come and gone,
there still is lots of zip,
when I meet her face to face
and kiss her lip to lip. ec

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

collards day

The day was finally here – it was collards day! These greens had been planted at the end of the regular garden season. Their growth was followed with great interest and even the plant previously called ‘the runt’ is now doing much better and starting to spread its leaves.

They were the proper size for their leaves to be harvested but I was waiting on just one more frost to sweeten them up a bit. They are supposed to be somewhat bitter if they are picked before the frosts. Anyway, yesterday was the day – collards day.

If you have never grown or picked collards let me explain. Collards are in the cabbage family; except only one type of them actually forms a head. My variety is one of the loose-leaf types. These leaves spread out and the plant can be up to three feet across. Individual leaves are about a foot and a half to two feet long. For commercial purposes the whole plant is usually cut, but us home growers pick the individual leaves.

The walk out to the garden was made and the leaf plucking was started. The leaves were plucked with one hand and held with the other by the stem, somewhat akin to holding a dead squirrel by the tail except squirrels aren’t green and collards are not fuzzy, don’t climb trees and do not eat acorns. After picking all I could comfortably carry, I took these large, green leaves inside.

Then came the major operation of the washing of the leaves. The sink was cleaned out and the collards dumped into it and water was run thereupon. Salt was sprinkled over the leaves because I read that it would help get all the grains of dirt off the vegetation. The washing procedure was repeated and then the greens were cut up into a large pot. Chicken broth and some salt were added to the pot and the cooking began.

Since no collard eating experience is complete without cornbread, I cast about the pantry for ingredients to bake a pone of this delightful stuff. Finding myself lacking in major ingredients, I sallied forth to yon grocery to fetch the needed food prep stuff. Returning with said items, I sat about to construct the bread.

Extensive research had been done on the computer for a cornbread recipe (several minutes) before the ingredient trip – else I would not have known what to get. You will also notice that the wife wasn’t mentioned, she knew this was my project but she was available to call 911 if I did bodily harm to myself. The recipe was printed out and construction began. The stuff was mixed up and placed in an old pan that had been used for this purpose from long ago. The recipe called for a cast iron skillet but all we had was the old pan, so that’s what I used. Hey, I need a cast iron skillet – Christmas is coming – hmm – anybody know Santa’s cell phone number?

The mushy mix was then coaxed into a semi-solid state in the oven and when the collards were at the peak of flavor-dom, we sat and partook of this southern feast. The wife had some mashed potatoes with her greens but I just stuck with the basics. After about three helpings I discovered a couple of things. One, this was probably the best batch of collards that I had ever cooked – I had tried it at least once before. Two, the cornbread was definitely the best I had ever baked, this because it was my first pone (pone is in the dictionary) – I wonder if it was still a pone since my pan was square.

This was followed by a glass of crumbled cornbread and buttermilk – my Dad always used to eat that last, like a dessert. Then I had several errands to run and after completing them, I came home and had a proper dessert. It was a very healthy one with frozen blueberries covered with ice cream, walnuts and drizzled all over with honey – I even felt healthier when I finished.

Many emotions were felt during the day, elation about my cooking adventures, bummed out about needing a brake job on the car, glad that I’m growing greens for the winter, irritated by a paper cut from opening a pre-approved for a credit card envelope, made extremely happy by a wife that loves me - warts and all, and totally amazed that my God would love me enough that He would send His Son to die for my wrongdoings (and yours too). ec

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


This writing comes from September and right at the end of the gardening season. Believe it or not, I did not plant marigolds this year! The only two flowers I normally plant in and around my garden are zinnias and marigolds, mostly because they are easy to grow, I enjoy the colors and can save the seed they both produce for the next year. The zinnias were planted and the colors had been great all summer.

The zinnias are multi-colored and originated from a gift pack of seed from years ago. The marigolds I plant are a rich, golden color and I have planted them for so long that I don’t even remember where the original seed came from.

The marigolds were usually inter-planted with the tomato plants, supposedly because the pungent odor confuses the bad bugs. If it had any effect on the bugs, it was not dramatic enough to be readily proven in my mind and experience. Then at least one source I read mentioned that the flowers had no effect at all on bugs. Whether or not they did any good in respect to my veggies, they added much color to a sometimes drab looking garden.

So why did they not get planted? Because good intentions do not plant anything – I intended to plant them right after the tomatoes were put in but it didn’t get done. With so much to do in the garden, they just got forgotten. When they were remembered, it was too late for proper planting – or so I thought.

A tiny regret nipped at my consciousness a few times but otherwise I had managed to do without one of my favorite flowers. I tried to pass it off my saying to myself that they couldn’t be eaten anyway – at least they don’t seem to suit my taste. Surprisingly enough, there is one variety of marigolds that produces an edible flower – according to my research. I’ll have to think about that for a while and will even have to talk to someone that has eaten this delicacy – and lived through it!

Almost the entire garden is gone at this writing, with the exception of the zinnias and some of the okra. The bed that was planted with yellow crookneck squash was the first to go and in their stead a variety of weeds and grasses have sprouted and grown into an intertwined mess. These are usually allowed to grow until the end of the season as the urgency of their removal passed with the death of the squash plants.

A “real” gardener would have already removed these rampant growths but my haphazard, slaphappy methods do not get them uprooted. I have already started to rip out these unwanted plants on one of the beds but even that one is not completed.

It was along about that time, as I was cutting the yard, that I noticed one small, yellow flower in the midst of the weeds just outside the border of the garden. On closer inspection I realized that it was a marigold that had come up on its own from last year’s discarded seed. I mowed around it because it was having a tough enough time just trying to grow in all those weeds – plus I usually pull for the underdog anyway.

Mowing again about a week later, in preparation for going out of town, I noticed several plants growing in the first six to eight feet of the used-to-be squash row and identified them as marigolds that had yet to bloom. Arriving back home at night a few days later it was too dark to notice, but at the light of day I gazed out my kitchen window at no less than fifty blooms on fifteen to twenty plants.

Some seed had been accidentally scattered there during last year’s clean-up operations. The flowers had come up late and had to compete with the vicious weeds for their place in the sun. Hopefully I will have some time to clean out their competition so they can be free to really show off their God-given beauty.

This whole experience has the effect of telling me that the beauty of the Christ controlled life can shine forth as a witness even in our confused and 'weedy' surroundings. God is still in control of our world!!! ec

Monday, December 05, 2005

another thing

We were almost through our recent babysitting adventures and were having mixed emotions about it coming to an end – but I won’t go into all that. While on the way home from taking Megan to school one morning I noticed something that caused a large smile to creep across my face and to stay for a long time. I realized that I was going in the opposite direction of the rush hour traffic. They were going to work and I was returning home – after some few errands. Retirement has a way of making me smile - but then it just doesn’t take much to make me smile.

Alighting from the truck on this particular day, I made my way into the building that contains my one vice – groceries! Most all of the employees of this commercial establishment know me on sight. They have a weekly sales paper that comes in the mail and it is one of the great expectations of my week, to see what is on sale!! Possibly I need another hobby – like maybe bird watching, there are a bunch of old buzzards down at Hardee’s every morning – I mean that in the best sort of way. :o)

Having done my part to keep Bi-Lo prosperous I made my way back to our abode to stow and/or consume portions of my purchases. My outside work has been somewhat curtailed this week due to the babysitting and Carolyn also being under the weather. The working temp is just right and I’m hoping I can get much accomplished a couple of days from now.

Another thing, while gazing longingly out my kitchen window, I have viewed a variety of wildlife over the last week or so. Mostly birds but also a field rat and later in the week, a cat – probably stalking the you-know-what. The cat was walking very softly, unlike a couple of dogs several weeks back. I had just tilled up one bed of my garden to plant the greens and one morning I noticed two rows of dog stomp-prints exactly where the seeds were to be planted. This did not start my day off right, and several very un-Christian-like things crossed my mind to do to the dogs if they returned. Fortunately for them - and maybe me - they didn’t.

Since Saturday last, a week ago, I have been out of the house very little except for errands and church and I’m ready to go out into the yard and kill some weeds. You may not understand this but they have been taunting me from their places of encroachment. Most would not hear their little voices but my ears are well attuned to them. They say things like “What’s the matter, have you hurt yourself again”? – or – “Did you forget how to pull weeds”? I would hate to hear the things they say when I’m not listening. :o)

In spite of the fact that I have been in and out from under the weather for the last couple of weeks myself, I can only say that I have been blessed beyond measure. This because my feelings – or even my health – do not determine my blessings – my faith in our loving Heavenly Father does, and He’s always the same. I know that you can’t see the joy inside me right now but trust me, I can feel it and I am glad! ec

Sunday, December 04, 2005

the runt

There is a runt in the collard row of my garden. When these plants were purchased they were housed in a 9-cup tray, in which they had sprouted and grown until that time. On further inspection, I took note that there were actually 10 plants in the tray – two were growing in one of the cups. The second one in that cup was a bit smaller.

These extra plants had come to me on other occasions and they usually grow and do well. This was the case with this collard plant also; it caught up with the other ones and is now the same size. But the third plant in the row – one of the bigger plants when planted – is now a runt; something has stunted its growth.

Its place of residence is between two healthy plants with the growth factors – soil, moisture and fertilizer – all the same. It looks healthy but it only measures about 6 inches across whereas all the others are about 2 feet. I’m at somewhat of a loss to understand why it is growing so slowly.

Another growth stunting factor would be the presence of bugs chewing away on the leaves and/or stalk. But visual inspection did not reveal any of these evil little critters. So what caused this plant to be the runt of the litter – or whatever one calls a group of plants?

My mind went deeper into the matter and sought for some tiny, intrinsic yet elusive thing that would have caused some trauma to this plant when it was younger. Could it have been some causal remark I made while planting this green entity that hurt its feelings? It seems to me that I planted them all the same – maybe my attitude wasn’t quite right for just that one moment.

One time when I went out to check on it, I gave it a drink of water and not the others, just to show that I really cared. I hope this is not one of those plants that must be talked to in order to do well. I guess I could go out occasionally and read it a poem or something.

I’ve heard it said that smoking will stunt growth in humans but I haven’t seen this plant smoking. But then I’m not out there every minute, it could have happened at night. Maybe the little collard is worried or stressed out about something. Do they have plant shrinks?

This runt is sounding much too human – I believe a couple of nights of frost will straighten it out – I hear that a good frost will sweeten up collards very well. Some of us humans need some sweetening up on occasion – I wonder if staying out all night in a heavy frost would work on us.

Sometimes we Christians may feel like a runt when faced with satan and his cohorts, but the Word is still true that tells us: “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” ec

Saturday, December 03, 2005


This particular Sunday in the not too distant past started like most any other Sunday, with the sun coming up and my little world getting light. Was up early, putting the finishing touches on a Sunday school lesson to present to the high school class. This along with munching the contents of a bowl of mixed cereal - today's bowl began as usual with a banana smushed on the bottom, then a layer of Rice Krispies, a layer of Special K and a final one of Cheerios. All this was then made moist and more edible by pouring on enough Silk (soy milk) to cover the ingredients.

This was accompanied by a large cup of hot tea - Twinnings English Breakfast - and the whole schmear was more or less enjoyed immensely. Then after all the getting ready prep, we headed out the door to church. On the way, as has become my habit, I asked my favorite wife to pray for me to be able to fulfill my lesson presentation as God would have me to do. My dear one was dropped off at the door of the church and I parked and headed to class.

The kids gradually gathered and class began. When presenting a lesson, I try to make it as interesting as possible without standing on my head - unless that becomes necessary. One never knows, but I think I almost succeeded in getting and keeping their attention, because I noticed no snoozers this morning – and only one with heavy lids. From the feedback it seemed as though the Holy Spirit was helping get across the points. Only eternity will tell the meaning of our time together today.

Then on to meet my spouse for the morning worship service - with the songs of praise and worship softening our hearts to receive God's Word. Our pastor gave the message that the Holy Spirit had directed him to speak and it was received as from the Lord. After a fruitful invitation and prayer time down front we departed for home. With an errand to run on the way, we decided to stop for a bite at Taco Bell. Then on the way home, with our errand still in front of us, I realized the eating stop might have been somewhat of a mistake.

The heartburn must have started when I left the driveway of the place and continued all the way home. The condition was such that I deduced that I needed something to cool the fiery condition that existed within. The only conclusion I could come to and solution I came up with was to go home and make a banana pudding – deductive reasoning is a strange animal. Arriving home, our errand finished, I set out to do exactly that.

My tried and true recipe stays on the countertop, behind the plastic of the recipe holder, always available for just such an emergency as on this day. Barely squeaking by on some of the ingredients, the construction began. This is an old-fashioned recipe accomplished with new-fangled appliances - I cooked the pudding part in the microwave. Then there was the careful layering of all the ingredients, the egg whites were whipped, with other secret ingredients, into the fluffy meringue that was placed on top of the whole thing.

This delight is then placed in the oven to brown the meringue. This is the time of waiting that is akin to a child waiting for Christmas morning to finally arrive. With the proper brownness finally achieved, it is taken out to be shared with my favorite spouse. Three bowls later I had traded one uncomfortableness for another - this latter being the more so of the two. Maybe I'll have enough left for breakfast in the morning.

Wow, all I can say is that God must have invented banana pudding!! ec

Friday, December 02, 2005

the tree

Ah – for the Christmas trees of old, when you went to the forest and fought your way through the bears, wolves, cougars, nutty squirrels and vicious songbirds. Then you hunted the best tree you could find and directed your pet beaver to cut it down – OK, OK, that was taking it a little far – we had axes back then and the tree was felled with great effort. Are trees still felled or do they just cut them down?

The semi-lifeless body of this once vibrant member of the primal forest was then unceremoniously dragged from its home and tied to a conveyance like one would a large dead animal. ‘sniff’ Then it was cut, trimmed and hacked until it would fit into the stifling confines of a human abode. ‘sob’ Then the denizens of the structure would comment how good the very life-giving sap of the pine or cedar smelled as it slowly dripped from the central body of the poor tree. The odor permeated the house as this vital moisture found its way to the carpeted floor and dried in the synthetic fibers.

Of course the process did have its flaws, because the tree, no matter how well you chose, still had odd-shaped branches and holes to fill in where these limbs were too far apart. But remember, that was way back when life was imperfect and flaws were expected; you just had to turn the big gaps toward the wall. Most people were not perfect either in those by-gone days.

Today it’s different, you have go to the forest of Christmas storage boxes, packed tightly in a very small space and fight your way through all the other boxes you had meant to stack more neatly several months ago. Then drag out the box holding the tree - that is not even a real tree and never has been. Slashing the tape holding the box together, the ‘tree’ is assembled and set upright. The somewhat evenly spaced branches are fluffed out and you're ready to decorate. This just seems so artificial.

This has been the process for about the last dozen years or so, but this year we decided to change. No, I did not go back to the forest and fight the critters, nor did I take the Scrooge approach and do nothing, we bought a new ‘tree’. And not just a ‘tree’, one that already had lights installed – surely I could not have whined that much about putting the lights on the other fake one we’ve had so long.

The fake tree was even made in a country that knows nothing of the meaning of this special holiday. I should be ashamed, but I’m not – just trying to be happy, because if Wifey ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Now I’m happy, ‘cause that’s what Wifey wanted.

This ‘tree’ had to be put up in stages, first, the box sat in the foyer for at least a week to get used to the house, I did not want this new member of the household to be traumatized before it was acclimated to its new surroundings, even if it was only to be out in the open a few weeks a year. Then the box was opened and the parts were placed on the den floor for several days. Only then were the stand and the bottom section assembled.

After a couple of days, I felt like this part of the ‘tree’ had rested up enough to go through the rigors of ‘branch’ straightening. Then it was, see the tree, know the tree, feel the tree, be the tree – I get so caught up in the pretense of this metal spined object actually being a tree. Anyway, all the ‘branches’ were pulled out and positioned to look like a ‘real tree’ and then I placed the second section in place and plugged up all the light wires. The limbs of this section were formed and the top section was placed and formed.

This latter process took the better part of a whole day, especially since I had to take so many computer and/or hot tea breaks. The symbol is in its place and all the lights work. I’m now hoping that I didn’t get one of those ‘holiday trees’ instead of the real thing. It’s too late now though, because it has already been deemed a Christmas tree, whether the devil – or Sears – likes it or not.

I feel much better now that I have purged these vituperative words from my system and used this missive as a catharsis. Whether it is actually that or I was just being extremely silly, or a little of both, should be fairly obvious.

Regardless of any outward symbol, the inward joy of this season and the celebration of the birth of the One that brought hope into the world are real and so are all the memories of the past and those soon to be formed. ec

Thursday, December 01, 2005

languages - 2

I’ve learned much in this field of language, but it has only made me realize how much I didn’t know. I’ve also made some peculiar discoveries as well. These have to do with having several languages within a language. These are what I would call the different tongues of the emotions.

It has been my observation that altogether too many around us speak these languages – especially the hurtful ones. These are the ones of bitterness and hatred with dialects of revenge and cynicism mixed in. Some of humankind has been so oppressed and abused that they are only able to speak words of hopelessness and despair with the colloquialisms of worthlessness and uselessness thrown in.

These defective forms of speech are accompanied by the subtle or not so subtle use of body language, to the detriment of all involved. So much so that the speakers and listeners/watchers believe this is the only form of communication available to them and they make the many definitions of it their lifestyle.

Multitudinous are the darker modes of language but there are some lighter, more joyous forms that when spoken properly, can make life bearable and even fun. The only one of these I would like to expound upon is the language of love. This is probably the most misunderstood and mal-defined of all forms of communications.

Contrary to the defining moments of this love language shown in movies, on TV and in other forms of media, this love thing is not pit you fall into or a tree you fall out of – it’s a decision. Some have spoken a counterfeit love so long and so fluently that they may not even know there is a real one.

There was a time in my life when I was running from God, during this time I also spoke the fake love language but when I met that someone special, my whole method of communication was turned upside down.

The object of my affection was not a mere human, but Jesus, God’s Son. Not only did He define love for me, He was and is the definition of love. I knew that He loved me when I came back to Him, but He also had loved me the whole three years I was running the other way. Only after I experientially knew this love was I able to transfer the proper kind of love onto another human.

Hollywood describes how much one star loves another and they live together or even get married for a few months or years and they tell how brave they are when the separations come and then glorify each new partner they may have. That’s nothing to do with love, at least not the real thing, there is another word altogether for that.

Do I love my wife? Yes, for more than 42 years now, but I would not even know the real definition of love if it were not for the loving sacrifice Jesus made for me. ec