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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Friday, March 31, 2006


It was a day like no other, as they all are, because they are all different. Even if I had tried to do something just like I had done the day before it wouldn’t work. This is because when something is done, it’s done – I could strive to do something similar though.

This day of reference was a day that I did something similar to things that I have done on other days, inasmuch as I went outside. This was not an excursion to just look around and be amazed at God’s creation, although that is what I do during each trip outdoors, this time I had a goal in mind. This goal was to continue the efforts at un-brambling the garden and surrounding areas – or maybe that should be de-brambling.

This was a day, or more closely defined, an afternoon, of vengeance on the border of our property that seems to always get overgrown with brambles, scrub trees and vines. My weapon of choice for the day was a long-handled shovel with a straight, narrow blade – Frank by name. Frank still has a bad handle but is willing to work as long as it holds out. His back up is Dmitri, the landscaping axe, but as it turned out he was not needed, but just the threat of him being nearby was enough to send chills through these trespassing plants.

My defensive equipment was work gloves with gauntlet cuffs to minimize the thorn-inflicted injuries. My large garden cart was brought along to carry off the dead and dying plant carcasses – and then the fray was joined. This event could have been a fracas by definition, except the noises involved were too minimal.

These noises would be my occasional slight vocal wince on the meeting of thorn to skin and the slight ripping noise of roots as they unwillingly lost their grip on the earth. In my imagination there would also be the pitiful plant pleas and cries as their roots gasp for dirt – I guess you had to be there.

On a slight (or sleight) excursus – or digression (it’s hard sometimes to tell the difference – he said with a huge inward silly grin) – I have just finished consuming some vanilla yogurt in concert with ‘Double Stuf’ Oreos. My dilemma of thought is from wondering whether the healthiness of the yogurt is enough to offset the ‘alleged’ unhealthiness of the Oreos – the number of Oreos consumed will not be discussed.

Back to the subject at hand - the merciless plant slaughter. The vengeance was not all one-sided as evidenced by the puncture wounds and slight loss of red bodily fluid from locations just above the gauntlets of the work gloves. Also, much to my chagrin, I was swatted, in a thorny manner, across the face by one of the larger and more vicious brambles. It seems that this plant took very personally its dislodgement from the soil.

Also ripped up were some vines, tree weeds (large woody growths) and a few early weeds. All the aforementioned plants were then carted off and piled in the place of other combustible material. And when they reach the proper condition of desiccation, they will be encouraged (by a match) to reduce themselves to an ash.

As an aside, he is shaking his head in wonderment at the amusing and wonderful words that have recently come into his knowledge and usage. Having taken his vengeance for the day, he returns to the inside of his residence to rest up for future battles that are bound to come because the brambles and weeds never give up.

The evil one, being a cultivator of thorns and weeds in the spiritual sense, also never gives up. But the Master Gardener, with our consent, is able to keep these soul wounding things out of our life – and for that I am grateful. ec

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

gu words

While electronically stomping through my Webster’s collection of words, I happened upon several in the same section – gu – that caught my interest. At first glance there didn’t seem to be a way that these words could relate to each other but after further reflection and second thoughts maybe they do.

The word gulosity means greediness. The word I see as related – cousin by marriage – is guile, which is defined as insidious cunning in attaining a goal; crafty or artful deception; or duplicity. While these words are possibly not from the same root word, gulosity will more than likely be wrapped up in guile in order to attain its desires.

Guff, which is empty or foolish talk and/or nonsense – as well as insolent talk, can happen before, during or after the gulosity and/or guile. In fact, guff is sometimes the way these two words get their own way.

I feel the word gumption is sometimes misdefined as having a direct correlation with these first three words. This because it means initiative and resourcefulness along with courage and spunk and is further defined as having common sense and shrewdness. But rather than being an ally of gulosity, guile and guff, gumption is what someone needs to deal with the actions and results of these greedy, deceptive and insolent words.

A guerdon is a reward, recompense, or requital. The reward part of this definition can be good or bad, mostly dependent on the morals or lack thereof used to get this guerdon. It does seem sometimes that greedy, sneaky people get way more good rewards than they deserve but what goes around comes around. Recompense adds to this – to make payment for work done or even injury sustained. The requital part of the meaning is an action in return for service but also can be retaliation for a wrong or an injury. A guerdon can be the come-uppance of gulosity, guile and guff.

To guffaw is to laugh loudly and boisterously, which is sometimes done when the good guys or guyettes finally come out ahead and get their guerdon. The opposite of this type of laughter is the titter, which means to giggle, laugh softly or snicker. Somewhere between these two is the chortle, which is to chuckle gleefully.

Gumbo is a soup of chicken or seafood, greens, and seasonings, usually thickened with okra. The definition also applies to okra itself. If this delectable dish is properly made and seasoned, it will possibly cause at least a chortle and maybe even a guffaw. I have personally grown okra in my veggie garden for over 30 years and while I don’t remember a lot of laughter, big smiles did result when I was picking this veggie – but I don’t recall ever calling it gumbo.

A gull is any of various long-winged aquatic birds of the family Laridae, of worldwide distribution, typically white with gray or black upper wings and back. And let me add here that gulls will eat almost anything, even gumbo, if it is offered.

While driving into the Bi-Lo parking lot, I noticed two misplaced sea gulls on the pavement. As I drove by they hardly took notice except to take a few quick steps to make sure they were out of the path of my truck. As I watched, one of them took flight and started slowly to circle the other. It could have been saying by this action that it was sorry it misled the other and missed the ocean. The other seemed to be rather obstinate and pouting about the whole fiasco of their flight.

The really amazing thing to me is the way God made these and other birds to find their way over the thousands of miles they fly. Plus all these words got tied together and the tying was enjoyed. ec

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


SHAPE, my next duty station, was in such a hurry to get me over and working that they had me flown there instead of the usual slow troop ship. Our plane left McGuire Air Force Base on Friday, September 2nd 1960, about 1 pm. We flew to a base in Newfoundland, arriving about 5 or 6 o’clock and refueled. We flew over the Atlantic all night, landing in Paris about 8:30 am on Saturday the 3rd. There is about six hours time difference, as best as I remember. These dates and times are not from my memory but are mentioned in paperwork and letters that I still have in my keepsake files.

Someone in a staff car came and picked us up (one other and myself) and transported us to our new bases. On the drive from the airport to the base it was so odd to see all those foreign cars. It was Labor Day weekend and I was given a temporary place to sleep until the folks in charge came back to work on Tuesday. Arriving on foreign soil, I was fully expecting to go to work within the next day or two, but such was not the case. In a classic Army SNAFU, my security clearance was incomplete and I had to wait for it to come through channels.

As you may or may not be aware, “waiting” in the Army involves more than just that. One other guy and myself were put on “detail” for almost two months. The term “detail” was miscellaneous in nature and involved any activity that the Company Commander or the sergeant in charge could think of, up to and including the white washing of the barracks in which we resided – this chore lasted several days. One day we got tired of whitening the barracks and after one thing led to another, we both wound up white from head to toe – fortunately it did wash off. This exercise in whiteness did break the monotony for a while.

Other chores included “policing the area” – this was the picking up of trash, even minute bits, off the grounds – and KP – kitchen police, a slave of the mess sergeant for the day. This latter task was one of my least favorite jobs in the Army, not because the work was so hard – even though it was – but that it lasted so long – the word interminable does come to mind.

The barracks in which we resided were part of an international camp located a mile or so away from my eventual workplace. Besides Americans, there were British, French and a small number of Germans residing in our cozy little fenced in area away from home. Other than our necessary living quarters and mess hall, we had a motor pool, a movie theatre, NCO club (they wouldn’t let me in there, probably a good thing), and a NAFFI – the English version of a USO. This latter was a place that us lower ranked peons could frequent. It had a PX, snack bar, entertainment facilities, games (pool and shuffleboard tables, etc.) and a small gym.

There must have been a chapel somewhere, either on our base or the main base, but I wasn’t concerned enough about that at the time to even determine whether or not this was true. It seemed that my interests were in the other experiences of life.

TBC - ec

Monday, March 27, 2006

KS - tech training

5- The events of this writing took place in the spring and summer of 1960. My name had no personal mode of transportation attached to it, but one of the guys in our group had an old car and we went to the drive-in movie a couple of times. Once in particular I remember we had 5 guys in the car and 2 in the trunk. We parked away from the projection building and when no one was looking, the trunk guys got out and inside with us. The auto was crowded to say the least.

We had all brought something to munch on and mine was a whole sub sandwich and large bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale. I came away from that experience neither hungry nor thirsty. It’s funny how some things stick in one’s mind – but I don’t remember the name of the movie we saw.

On a couple of other weekends, I went home with another friend from our base that lived in Rhode Island. His sister wrote me the rest of the time I was in the army – strictly as a friend. This was the only place I have ever been exposed to “duck pin” bowling – it was played like the regular game except the pins were shorter and fatter – the ball was also smaller, a little larger than a softball. On one of the trips another friend from Alabama went with us, this guy had a much thicker southern drawl than even yours truly and they really got a bang out of that. These folks were very hospitable and treated us much like family members. The trips were a hoot and really helped us get out of the daily rut of schooling.

Our training class was fairly small, it seems I remember about 20 or so, and we got along reasonably well considering the length of time we spent together – 35 weeks – this being shortened from 38 weeks by dropping an outdated piece of equipment. Any incidents in the class were minor in nature and were quickly defused by the teacher or sergeants that were also students. With the exception of a few sergeants mixed in, the class was mostly privates.

One incident I do remember happened in one of the basic electronics courses. We were working on vertical practice component boards, wiring together certain circuitry for the requirements of the class. The class was a little short of these boards, so some had to double up. One of our class members was very smart, but was a little short in the area of common sense. One day his partner, a sergeant, was working on one side of the board and this young man, fiddling with the electrical plug on the other side, tightened up the wires thereof and absentmindedly plugged it into the electricity. There were sparks, a cloud of smoke and a very wide-eyed sergeant suddenly appeared above the board. Some sharp words resulted but there were no permanent injuries.

There was never any doubt who would come out at the top of the class academically since there was a sergeant among us that aced almost every test. Another student and myself vied to come in second and it was nip and tuck all the way but I lost that position to him on the last test by a point or two.

The next file-contained paperwork was dated 3 August 1960 and told of my successful completion of training, granted me 14 days leave – spent in Augusta Ga. – and ordered me to report, prior to 1200 hours 26 August 1960, to Fort Dix, N. J. for shipment to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (otherwise known as SHAPE) located a few miles outside of Paris, France. This promised to be a case of country comes to town and I wasn’t sure if French could even be spoken with a southern accent.

TBC - ec

Sunday, March 26, 2006


To dwell is defined as meaning to live or stay as a permanent resident, or to reside. The word also means to exist or continue in a given condition or state. In my estimation the first of these definitions is not nearly as important to us individually as the second. It is certainly important to have a decent place to reside, but the mental, emotional and even spiritual conditions in which we dwell are of utmost importance.

So many dwell in the confines of inferiority with the words inadequate, incompetent, unqualified, incapable, inept and unfit constantly ringing in their ears, keeping them a prisoner in their own jail. Discouragement and disappointment tend to put even more locks on their place of confinement.

Others live in and with anger as the controlling influence of their life and with rage, wrath and fury bursting forth at any time. Aiding and abetting these emotions are the hatred and acrimony caused by past hurts. The driving force in the lives of many folks is the desire to get even with whoever caused their problems. Their time is filled with many plots of how to take revenge on their foes. They fail to see that their biggest enemy is the one looking back at them in the mirror.

One of the most horrible places to dwell is in hopelessness, a condition in which the sufferer can see no hope and no way out. This person lives in the darkness of simply putting one foot in front of the other until their life ends, sometimes by their own hand. The sad part is that this person is overlooking the best and only real answer to any problem they may have – this answer is found only in the spiritual.

The spiritual part of us is just as real as the physical, mental and emotional parts and if it is denied and starved, many symptoms will result, such as the ones already mentioned. We all have messed up and done things wrong but God offers a chance for a do-over, to be forgiven completely for the wrongs of our past and start anew. It seems that all the world looks for someone to care about them, when Jesus has been there all the time, reaching out in an invitation for us to come to Him.

The Bible verse many of us learned as a child is still true. John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ec

Saturday, March 25, 2006

rr - looped

From age 12 until I graduated high school, I was involved in home newspaper delivery of the morning paper, The Augusta Chronicle. My waking hour was 4 am, 7 days a week and 365 days a year unless I was extremely ill, even near death or was at camp, then Dad would fill in. The near death thing only happened once in those 6 years - my appendix ruptured.

A lot of the things I have learned about people and high finance were first observed in the day-to-day operations of that route.The Newspapers were dropped for us at a group of stores on the corner of Milledge and Broad. Our particular spot was in front of a local 5 and 10-cent store that had a permanent awning enabling us to keep the papers dry while preparing them for delivery.

This preparation varied with the size of the newspaper and involved a certain amount of rudimentary origami - a word we had never heard back then - we just called it "blocking" or "folding" the papers. This was accomplished by folding the paper over and tucking it back into itself to enable it to be tossed into a yard without coming apart, although an occasional one would. The larger papers were simply folded and held that way by a rubber band.

The newspapers always came in bundles with old scrap papers on top and bottom, held together with loops of wire. This wire was attached by machine with the ends tightly wrapped, but with a little practice these could be undone by hand or if the papers were fairly small, they could be bent enough to remove the loop intact.

We always tried to hold down the complaints of the storeowners and keep our prep area on the sidewalk clean. The main things to be disposed of was the scrap paper and the wire. We did this in what we considered a proper manner, by tightly rolling the excess paper, wrapping the wire around this and tossing it on the roof of the five and dime, since we had not a waste bin. Other carriers used this same staging area for the afternoon paper and they were much more careless in their disposal methods, sometimes just tossing loops of wire out into the parking lot.

Sunday morning was always our largest paper and it was quite a task to get the entire bulk of them from the prep area to the first delivery point. This was made even more difficult by a three block long hill between those two locations.

One fateful Sunday morning I had loaded my oversized bicycle basket to capacity, a bag with about the same number of papers was placed on top of that, and another bag full was hung around my neck, and I slowly started to push my bike across the parking lot in the pre-dawn darkness.

Just before reaching the street, my leading foot stepped into an unseen loop of carelessly discarded wire with the trailing foot stepping forward into the same mechanical enclosure. The next step caused this loop to flip up, ensnaring both feet at the ankles, stopping their progress immediately. The continued forward momentum of the bike, without support and balance, caused the whole ensemble to come crashing down, scattering the carefully packed papers over a wide area.

You might say that I was not a happy person for at least a half-hour or so but toughed it out and went on with my deliveries. The Word speaks of gaining patience through tribulation and I believe I gained a small amount that day. ec

Friday, March 24, 2006

yard tour - 2

The yard tour continues. Around behind the house our ageing swing-set is starting to gather a little rust and atmospheric grime. This is partly because it is not used as much as its companion piece of equipment – a trampoline. This is well used by our gruntmonkeys (grandchildren) and their companions of all ages.

On the edge of the slope behind the trampoline there is smallish pear tree – about 8 feet – that has already bloomed and put on leaves. Although I don’t remember it being of dwarf rootstock, it hasn’t grown very tall compared to others I have seen. This tree was originally planted on the bedroom end of the house with another variety of pear. Its companion passed from the scene of growth-dom, so I moved this one to the back when I planted the hazelnuts on that side. It has produced pears every year, in fact so many last year that some of the limbs were touching the ground. I must remember to pluck all but a few from each limb this year – this way the pears are bigger and it’s not as much strain on the limbs.

At the corner of the house stands my largest and oldest fig tree. It is at least 12 ft. tall and even bigger than that in its limb spread. It is in the early processes of leaving – or would that be leafing – anyway, it’s starting to put on leaves. This tree has an annoying habit. After putting on leaves and growing a while, it puts on green figs and they grow to full size and just hang there and look back at me when I check them for ripeness. This goes on for several weeks and suddenly they all decide to ripen at the same time – almost like a ripeness whistle is blown. The figs are eaten fresh, dried or can be made into preserves – it is another fruit that doesn’t ship well.

Then down the slope is where my muscadine vines are ensconced. For any not familiar with muscadines, they are defined as being a grape of the southern U.S., having dull purple, thick-skinned musky fruit and being the origin of many grape varieties. That is straight out of the dictionary but there are several colors and sizes of this fruit. I have 7 of these vines up on poles and wires. Three of these are of the variety ‘Jumbo’ and are large and such deep purple that they are almost black when ripe.

Two more of the vines produce grapes that are a little smaller, bronze in color and are very sweet. Two more varieties are above these on the slope, one produces a small dark purple fruit and the other color is sort of reddish. These grapes can be used for fresh eating, making jelly and some folks even make wine out of the juice.

The next row up the slope is one of hazelnuts – five that were given to me by my uncle from Mississippi. They have grown to a height of about 10 ft. and have been producing nuts for about 3 yrs. The nuts are small, but very tasty. Their habit of sprouting from the roots requires yearly pruning or the tree will just go to limbs with less nuts.

Just above the hazelnuts is the blueberry patch that makes my taste buds and me very happy. The patch is in three rows, the bottom row has 8 bushes, the next up has 7 and the top row has 6. All these are doing very well except one on the center row that seems about ready to depart its life of berry producing. These 21 bushes added to the other 29 comes up to 50 plants and hence the name of my blog – blueberrypatch. In fact, I could call this little hill I live on blueberry hill.

Between the backside of my driveway and the blueberries is the veggie garden area. It is made up of four terraced beds about 35 feet long, each wide enough for two rows. There are two small beds adjoining these in which I plant flowers – zinnias and marigolds – or the odd veggie or two. My main four veggies every year are tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and okra.

Just outside the garage end kitchen window are two thornless blackberries that are doing very well and one rugosa rose. The rose is for producing rose hips but I have been very disappointed with its production and this year is most likely its last chance. Hopefully the rose will not read this missive, I do not want to unduly worry the plant, but it is going to have put up or shut up – basically it’s roots will bite the air.

These plants I work with are a blessing to me and show the amazing way God created our world and its resident plants and trees. I’ve learned many things about these natural growths, and one of them is how much I don’t know. Just watching them grow and produce as God designed them keeps me mostly in constant awe. ec

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

yard tour - 1

The purpose of this missive is to give a written tour of my yard and the plants therein contained. Starting on the garage end of the house, I can see the ten blueberry bushes that I planted down the right side of our driveway. These have been planted about three years and though they are still small, last year I picked a little more than two gallons of berries from them. These are covered with blooms to produce this year’s berries.

Down the left side of the driveway are planted four pawpaw trees. These are said to grow to a height of 12 to 20 feet, although these are still about 3 feet or less. They produce an edible fruit said to taste somewhere between an apple and a banana. These were also planted in the dormant season of 2002. They are slow to put on leaves and such is the case this year with just a slight bit of leaf beginnings starting to sprout.

In the front yard, about 25 feet out from the entrance and separated by about 40 feet, two Cornilian cherry trees are planted. These are related to the Dogwood and produce an edible berry. A little further toward the street and wider in separation are planted two Juneberry trees. All these were also planted in the year of my retirement – 2002 – as a yard project to produce an edible landscape.

On the bedroom end of the house, out front, is planted a small seedling pecan tree that began its life on one of the beds in the garden area. It was tilled under at least once before I moved it out in the yard and then it was promptly mowed down by accident. It seems to be determined to live, so I put a marker beside it and it seems to be surviving the turmoil of its young life. Being a seedling, it will probably not produce very big nuts but I just had to give it a chance because of its ‘troubled’ past.

Further back toward the side of the house are planted three hazelnut trees – it is sort of a toss-up as to whether they are trees or large bushes. They do sprout out from the roots a lot and this is the first year that I have pruned off these excess growths. They are still very small and it will take a couple more years to get any height to them or nuts from them.

Right at the side of the bedroom end of the house are four fig trees, transplanted from the other end of the house last year. Three of these are looking very well while the fourth is struggling somewhat. Maybe it doesn’t thrive on neglect like the others do, for that is what they get too much of in my yard, especially of late.

Next to these and further back, 19 blueberry bushes are in residence, these were transplanted sprouts from my large bushes on the other end of the house. Planted in the dormant season of early ’05, all of them lived and did well except one. The dead one was replaced with another sprout just a couple of weeks back. Most of these will have a few berries this year but will increase dramatically in production in the next couple of seasons.

I do so enjoy God’s creation and to be able to take part in being the caretaker of these plants. TBC - ec

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

KS - New York

The first document I have pertaining to this military space in time is a set of orders dated 31 March 1960 telling that thirty-one guys were being promoted from PVT (E-2) to PFC (E-3) and I happened to be one of those. The up side of this was obviously the pay raise and the down side was that I had to get a stripe sewn on all my uniforms. Fortunately there was a nearby clothes-cleaning establishment that performed this service for the soldiers and I was glad to pay them to do it.

It was also during this time that I made my first trip to New York City. A friend and I went there for the weekend and visited several sites that I had only read about until then. One of the sites I now cite is the Empire State Building and it was a sight – at least for this country/small town boy. Somewhere among my photos, there’s one of me in uniform standing at the rail on the very top of this tallest building in the city – at least it was tallest at that time.

On this trip we also went to my very first pro baseball game – at Yankee stadium – and naturally the Yankees were playing but I don’t remember their opponent. If memory serves, the only other sporting event up to that time I had paid to attend was a local stock car race back in Georgia. Fortunately my friend was a bit more experienced in these type things and I followed him around in wide-eyed amazement.

This same friend and I spent another weekend at his home in a small town in upstate New York – very beautiful country indeed. We bummed around his home turf and had a reasonably good couple of days, but the real “fun” started on the trip back to the base. We were returning in his old Buick – circa 1951 – and part way through some very serious mountains, his brakes gave out. One of the metallic lines had a hole in it and was unfixable in the short time we had remaining to get back.

Not wanting to get into trouble by being late returning to our unit, we finished the trip with only the emergency brakes in operation. He drove and I sat in the passenger seat with a death grip on the dash, somehow not thinking to pray. The scariest moment was when we were side-by-side with another car in a deep “s” curve on a two-lane mountain road. My gum was chewed so hard that my jaw muscles were sore several days thereafter. It was only by God’s mercy that we made it back in one piece but I didn’t recognize that at the time.

TBC – ec

Monday, March 20, 2006

KS - New Jersey

4- Late October 1959 - While waiting for my flight out of California, I stopped by a local clothing store and purchased some civvies to wear back to Georgia. I bought a new pair of Levi’s jeans and a shirt of a now unremembered color or type and proudly wore them the whole cross-country trip home. This was the days before pre-shrunk and pre-faded jeans and my first bath back at my Mom and Dad’s led to the discovery that the lower half of my body had turned a very distinct blue color from the dye. I was blue for home before, but now this emotional condition became a physical reality and stayed with me several days.

After my leave time at home was over, I traveled to my next duty station by unremembered conveyance – I think by bus. I arrived at the Signal Corps training facility in Fort Monmouth, N. J. the latter part of October and billeted in a platoon bay in Company K. My lengthy training at this location involved the basics of electricity and electronics, the workings of and how to maintain several units of communications equipment and their associated crypto gear (encoding and decoding machines).

Several “firsts” happened to me during this period of time. I witnessed my first deep snowfall, ate my first sub sandwich and the next summer, endured my first – and worst of my life – really bad sunburn. This latter probably contributing to the many extra-curricular skin growths I’ve had to have removed from this near-ancient hide of mine. The initial burn was bad enough, but then it starting full body itching and it about drove everyone around me nuts from hearing my moans and groans – couldn’t scratch because the blisters would break. Even had one buddy that got some vinegar from the mess hall for me and I doused down it that in the shower to try to get some relief – needless to say I didn’t want to have another sunburn again – ever.

The snowfall of that winter was waist deep in the drifts and stayed with us several days - any snow I had experienced up to that time was not much over an inch deep and was mostly melted by the next day. The “sub” sandwich was a wondrous discovery for me, with the shop located just outside the gates of the base and down about a half-block. This great invention was unknown to me until that time, but I gave them much business during my stay.

There was no great emphasis on the military part of our existence, except for a few required formations, marching to and from class and an occasional, annoying inspection of our living area. We mostly just went to class and studied, with our evenings and weekends free. There were a small number of KP days, but fortunately they were held to a minimum. In case you are not familiar with the term KP, it means kitchen police – this just means that you are on duty in the mess hall and do whatever you are told. It lasted from very early in the morning until late at night when everything was finally cleaned up from the meals of the day.

TBC - ec

Saturday, March 18, 2006

various - 2

There is an oak in my daughter’s neighborhood that must be the most cantankerous one around - about a fourth of its leaves didn’t fall, they just turned brown and ugly and stubbornly hung on to the branches. It looked like the tree was budding some new leaves, so I guess they will have to fight to push the old leaves off before they can form. And we thought only people were aggravating.

At the first hint of spring the row of shrubs along my neighbors property line all bloom with small yellow flowers. I don’t know the name of the shrub - I just call it the shrub that has little yellow flowers on it at the first hint of spring. Most of my blueberries are sprouting leaves and forming flowers – it's a little uncertain as to whether all the small ones I planted on the bedroom end of the house last year will live – so far it’s looking good.

About three years ago, I planted a row of blueberries down one side of the driveway – from sprouts of my older bushes. These are still fairly small, but last year I harvested two gallons of berries from those ten plants. Don’t think the ones I planted last year will have very many but that remains to be seen.

The dogwood trees are another herald of spring and their buds are swelling in preparation for their soon coming flowers. Of course, they are not allowed to bloom around here until during the Master’s Tournament – a small, semi-local golf match we have in Augusta every year. The Azaleas are not supposed come into flower until this time as well, but they are very independent and bloom whenever they want.

Speaking of spring and renewal reminds me of an amazing message given to us by our children’s pastor, filling in for our pastor. He was not loud, didn’t run the aisles or swing from the chandeliers – I think he saves that sort of thing for Children’s church – but in a very calm, unassuming manner, stood and slapped me across the brain with the Truth – way more than once. It became necessary to climb a little higher in the tree of scriptural awareness because a few limbs were cut out from under me. It’s the same sort of thing our other pastors do – do you reckon somebody is trying to tell me something? ec

Friday, March 17, 2006

various - 1

It had been a while since I had been out and about in the morning school traffic, so the days of this writing have really been an eye opener and a refresher course on survival of the fittest. This came about because I have been Megan’s transportation to and from school for this length of time. Several revelations, first, I didn’t realize there were so many mini-vans and SUVs out there, next, I didn’t know they drove so fast and then, it didn’t dawn on me that most of them were very uptight and cranky.

Most of the morning and afternoon trip is in the limits of the city of N. Augusta, S. C. and the local constabulary takes a very dim view of exceeding the posted speed limit. The reason I happen to know this is not because of personal experience, but thirty plus years of observation – since this was the area I worked in during that period of time before my retirement.

With this accumulated knowledge I am very careful to respect these limits, but everyone is not that way. About two blocks from the school, I looked back in my rearview mirror and there was a line of these aforementioned vehicles trailing me in close formation. We all passed one of N. Augusta’s finest by the side of the road with one of these non-careful ones - and the caught one was going to contribute to the finances of the city. I wonder if anyone behind me appreciated being saved from a ticket?

All along the route to school are various signs of spring. The flowering pear trees have bloomed, and while some are still in full bloom, others have the green of new leaves showing through – a few have dropped all flowers already. The squirrels must all be aware of the season as well, because they are seen all along the road – some of them are actually still alive – a minor miracle, considering their method of crossing roads. The process of their demise seems to be some sort of “meals ‘from’ wheels” program for the crows and/or buzzards.

Why does a squirrel cross the road? It can’t totally be to get to the other side, because a high percentage of them don’t make it. Plus when they are hit it’s usually when they are near the center of the road darting back and forth. It’s possible that it’s some sort of initiation into adult squirrel-dom – or maybe just a weird suicide cult – a kind of fuzzy-tailed kamikaze. Reminds me of some of the weird sports humans get involved in.

TBC - ec

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


A problem is defined as any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty. Synonymous with the word problem is: question, query, poser, puzzle, riddle, conundrum, difficulty, disagreement, and disputed point. The odd thing about a problem is that it differs from person to person and what some consider a problem may even be thought to be a blessing by others.

A case in point would be a young child with a poopie diaper. To most parents or caregivers this would be a problem to be solved, to give ease and comfort to the baby as well as to the older one’s sense of smell. But if this same infant person had not had one of these types of “problems” in several days, this poopie diaper would be considered a blessing, for the relief of the young one as well as the older person concerned about the health of this miniature being.

Then there is the thought that the magnitude of a given problem varies from person to person because we not only perceive things differently but our attitude towards them is different. For instance the more senior among us may not consider the problems of the young very much of a conundrum. On pondering this, I remembered an old song from my past, presented to the world by the Everly Brothers – in the late 50s, if memory serves. The title of this musical piece was simply “Problems”.

The song: “Problems, problems, problems all day long > Will my problems work out right or wrong > My baby don’t like anything I do > My teacher seems to feel the same way too”. While some among us might be able to associate with these first two phrases, the latter two seem to be only for the young. That is unless phrase three refers to an infant that the parent is trying to pacify and #4 refers to an older person that has gone back to school.

The song continues: “Worries, worries pile upon my head > Woe is me, I should have stayed in bed. > Can’t get the car my marks ain’t been so good > My love life just ain’t swinging like it should”. Again, most of us even more responsible adults can relate to the first two phrases but are the last two only for the young? #3 could apply to older folks if they have been marked up with too many tickets and their car has been towed. And #4 might apply to an older Tarzan unable to find a suitable Jane for his jungle vine swinging adventures.

More of the song: “Problems, problems, problems > They’re all on account of my loving you like I do > Problems, problems, problems > They won’t be solved until I’m sure of you > You can solve my problems with a love that’s true”. This would seem to refer to a problem of the young and old, the need for real love. But just love from another person will not solve all of anyone’s problems.

The song ends with: “Problems, problems, problems all day long > Problems, problems, problems all day long . . . . “ (the song fades). Our problems continue, some large and some not so much so but how do I solve them?

More times than we realize, our problem is not our real problem; our problem is a failure to see that there is a solution to our problem. The reason for this is that any solution, other than the one we want, is discounted as unworkable or not a real solution. And with this discounting, the problem becomes insurmountable and not only did the problem remain unsolved, the hopelessness of the insurmountability quotient grows from molehill to mountain size and will continue to block the view of, or hinder any future solutions of any other problem.

It has been my experience over the years that God, through His Word or His Spirit, has always had the answer to every problem I have faced. You realize that I’m speaking of problems more severe than trying to decide which outfit or shoes to wear the next day. His solution sometimes changes the bad situation, sometimes it changes me to endure it and sometimes He enlightens my mind to be able to solve my own problem – just to see if I will still give Him praise for the solution. In whatever way, God always has the solution if we will choose to accept it. ec

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

KS - graduation

The time was early fall of 1959 and the place was Fort Ord, California. The terrain on which we trained in Army basic was mostly covered with sand and “ice plants” – a succulent growth with thick, pulpy leaves. This grew in abundance because of the sandy ground, in addition to a general lack of rain. It is my belief that the Army only has training posts on land that is absolutely good for nothing else except to make the trainees miserable. The temperature was very comfortable during the daylight hours but got very chilly as soon as the sun went down. On one of our little “camp-outs” I remember putting on every item of clothing I had with me and still shivered all night.

Snippets of memory from our army instructions speak to me of the gas mask training and going through the famous “gas chamber”. Also of the final obstacle course, which happened at night with live ammunition being shot over our heads. Sand got into everything and by the time I finished crawling the course, my knees were raw meat from the sandpaper effect of the sand in my pant legs.

Another memory file resident is a booklet listing all the names of those graduating from basic training in Co. A, 7th Battle Group, 3rd Brigade. Our final ceremony of basic training was attended by many family members of other recruits, but any of my kin were at least 1000 miles away and most of them were 3000 miles East of there.

There were over 200 trainees with about 28 Cadre, but my name and a few others were somehow left out of the crudely mimeographed material that told who graduated. The oversight didn’t bother me very much, I was just glad to have all that behind me and to move on the next phase of aggravation. By then most of us considered the Army just a multi-million dollar harassment program.

The next items I still have are airline ticket stubs dated October 4, 1959 – the first airplane flight of my life – and they showed my route as going from Monterey to LAX, on to Atlanta and then Augusta and home for a short leave. The flight across the country was on a four-engine prop-job; jets were not in the main picture then. Then from Atlanta to Augusta we flew on a DC-3, the same kind of plane they had used during WWII – it was a little rough but we got there.

Why was I not feeling as close to God as I had, and why did it not seem to matter as much as it should have?

TBC - ec

Monday, March 13, 2006

KS - marching

3- It was late summer of 1959 and this segment continues my military file folder of memories. Contained is my immunization certificate that I carried with me through all three years of service. This was a record of all shots I received to ward off a multiplicity of germs and viruses. They should have had one to keep me from moral transgressions, because the results of these were starting to take their toll – a fact of which I was only slightly aware. I must not have gone totally heathen until later though, because in the file is an ‘order of service’ pamphlet from one of the post chapels dated 30 August 1959 – that would have been about halfway through basic training.

No experience that I had thus far endured in my life had prepared me for basic training. Being very naïve I had assumed that it would just be some exercises and marching – surely that wouldn’t be too tough. We did a bit of marching in high school ROTC, I was in the drum and bugle corps part of that group. We were “affectionately” called the drunk and bungle boys, and to a degree that name described this group’s expertise.

Our high school ROTC unit did “march” in at least one Christmas parade in downtown Augusta. The drum part of the unit didn’t sound horribly awful, but the required bugling came out sounding like a mass gathering of wounded crows – with an attitude! My position was as a bugler and a fill-in on the bass drum. My drum work wasn’t too horrible but my bugling was an embarrassment – even to my very low standards. Low standards also applied to my expertise at marching.

But then came army basic training and we learned to march to much more demanding standards, with many more consequences if you did not. Besides the nose to nose yelling, screaming and insistence that you were a lower form of life than any worm in existence, they had forms of punishment work that would take up most of a recruit’s waking hours and a lot of the ones that they should be sleeping.

The aforementioned lower gradient words that the sergeants used were already in the vocabularies of many of the recruits – unless they were just fast learners and picked them up from the ones in charge. It seemed that one of the requirements for being a sergeant was to be able to cuss a “blue streak” and enjoy doing it. If the officers needed some serious cussing done, they would call on certain ones that were proficient and they would excuse themselves before the real foulness started. Some language degradations started happening on my part as well, but I don’t remember the words getting really discolored until a year or so later in my military career.

TBC - ec

Sunday, March 12, 2006


A keepsake is defined as anything kept, or given to be kept, as a token of friendship or affection, also a remembrance. You may have noticed that I have posted a few of my writings preceded by a KS in the title – short for keepsakes. This series of writings chronicles a portion of my life from 1959 until 1964 – it mostly includes my army enlistment and the time following until about a year after I got married.

This whole series was inspired by some few keepsakes I noticed around the house, that lead to some documents saved from the army, letters that my Mom had saved and letters written back and forth from my sweet one and I. It started out as only a few pages and wound up much more. It is about many dumb choices I made as well as a few good ones. I feel even the dumb choices can be of value to someone, especially my young ones as they strive to live their own lives and even my “grand ones” as they come along.

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy the KS series – I will post them a couple of days a week until they run out.

Striving to encourage my kids and grands (and anyone else that will listen) is what I’m about. That reminds me of a scripture found in the Old Testament. In Joshua 24:15 it says: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve”….“but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

He offered his nation a choice as to whom they would worship and serve. God offers us a choice today as to who we will serve – the choices are either God or to live without God. Which choice will be made? ec

Saturday, March 11, 2006

rr - nutty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much of this latter information, as you have probably deduced, comes from my very active imagination. The reason behind whatever the squirrel was doing is not very clear to me, but I do know that he was not acting with very much choice. Its actions were dictated by inbuilt genetics that required no deductive reasoning.

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

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

Thursday, March 09, 2006

final tribute

Sunday and Monday, March 5th and 6th, were a whirlwind of activity and of notifying friends and relatives of Papa’s (FIL) funeral arrangements. The funeral plans had already been made and fees already paid in advance for the preparations and internment – Papa had planned several years ahead. Even the obit had been written, with just a few corrections and additions necessary – some of my daughters’ young ones had to be added.

On Sunday, neighbors, friends and relatives started showing up with love, care and sympathy – and bringing food, desserts, soft drinks, plates, cups and napkins – and even ice. This continued on Monday and then on Tuesday my BIL’s church showed up with lunch enough for an army. It was much needed and appreciated because the family had started gathering in for the funeral home visitation on Tuesday evening.

About 11:30 on Tuesday am, the family went over for a private viewing of Papa’s body – the first time Mema had seen him since his passing. This was a very emotionally painful, yet well established custom in this part of the country. Though traumatic, this already close family seemed to be pulled even closer together in our shared sorrow. We then went back home for a bit of rest and to greet the newly arriving relatives.

The immediate family arrived at the funeral home about 5:30pm, the visitation/viewing was to begin at 6pm but some folks were already there. The receiving line was soon out of the room and on occasion, out the door of the establishment. The visitation was to be from 6 til 8, but went until almost 9pm. We knew that Papa had touched many lives over the years but were somewhat taken aback by this outpouring of respect for him and of love and concern for Mema and the family.

Wednesday morning, the day of the funeral, dawned and grew into a beautiful, clear, spring-like day. The family gathered at the funeral home shortly after 1pm for the motorcade to the nearby church. Arriving at the church, the casket was rolled down front and all the family was seated.

We had four speakers for this last tribute and the first was the doctor that was once Papa and Mema’s family physician, still their friend, but is now doing a lot of missionary work in other countries, including Russia and India. This is the same doctor that we credit for being perceptive enough to catch the heart condition in my spice – resulting in the heart surgery that saved her life back in March of 2001. He gave a glowing tribute and a challenge to have the same care and concern that Papa had for those around him.

Next was the pastor of BIL’s church with a message of Faith, Hope and Love and how these things evidenced themselves in Papa’s life and would be good in ours as well. Then Papa’s pastor spoke about what a concerned person he was, about others and the church. Beautiful songs were song between each speaker, with live music for the first two and the last was to be sung with a sound track. The machine failed and the song was done a cappella – so well that some didn’t know that it wasn’t meant to be done that way.

The last speaker was my pastor – Papa’s as well for a long time – and he spoke about Papa and Mema being the first ones to greet them when they came to our church in Augusta in 1975. He told about them becoming close friends over the years, with his two sons also becoming close to Papa, him being almost like a grandpa to them. He told of Papa’s care for others and his giving to someone in need through the church so as to remain anonymous. Some of these things we were aware of and some even the family didn’t know about.

From the church we went in procession to the cemetery. The ministers had a few last words and prayer and the tribute to Papa’s life, for that day, was over. Papa’s church furnished supper for the family and then we went back to our homes.

The spice and I went back to the cemetery today to just get out and to check out the burial site and flowers. The flowers, though a bit wind-blown, were still beautiful but God had supplied some as well. The flowering pear trees in the area were almost in full bloom, promising even more beauty to come in the later spring. This reminded me of the promises of God that we also would see Papa again one day with a new body and no longer hindered by the frailties of the old feeble one left in that grave. God is good, all the time! ec

Sunday, March 05, 2006

final freedom

Our family and a few friends had been staying with my father-in-law around the clock since last Sunday when he was admitted back into the University Hospital in Augusta, Georgia. Saturday, March 4th, I had asked a good friend of mine to stay with him while we had a birthday supper and party for our youngest grunt monkey – he was one year old.

We knew that FIL was getting worse and the end was near, but just a few minutes after the last family member left the hospital, at about 5pm, Horace Barker lost his final physical battle but won this last spiritual one for his final freedom and went to be with his Lord. It was almost like he was waiting until the family left to breathe his last, so they wouldn’t have to see it.

Our near future will be trying and sad but tinged with a relief that he will no longer have to struggle to breathe or be confined in his very weak and sick body. One of the Psalms says it like this – “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” We have appreciated your prayers and ask the continuance of these for strength and comfort for the family. ec

Saturday, March 04, 2006

rr - small people

This particular day found me just sitting at lunch in Wendy's, munching on a Classic Single - no cheese, pickle or onion - accompanying each bite with a yummy spoonful of a large Frosty. Given no choice about what type piped in music to listen to, the golden oldies cascaded over my ears and memories.

While trying to concentrate on great and eternal truths, I got the feeling I was being watched, I glanced up into the big blue eyes of a three year old young man at the next table that seemed to be much more interested in what I was doing than in the food his parents were urging him to eat.

I find children to be totally fascinating miniature humans. The afore mentioned youngster and his slightly older brother, to the mock horror of their parents, each received Pepi-la-pew ball point pens in their kid's meal - the Mom mentioned something about seeing the "writing on the wall", literally speaking.

As they left, she was trying to convince the younger one not to be a goober head - I wasn't sure I wanted to see that happen either.

I also enjoyed watching the brief encounter two young girls had with the ketchup dispenser when their mother's attention was directed elsewhere. They were barely counter top tall, but the taller of the two decided to be the pump handle pusher, while the other held the small container.

After climbing up and several tries, a small glob of the red stuff exited the nozzle, landing partly in the container, partly on fingers but mostly on the counter - this was almost immediately cleaned up by an elderly woman I took to be their grandmother, who finally noticed their efforts.

It doesn't take much to entertain me and small people antics are particularly enjoyable to me - especially those of my "grand" ones.During all these activities there was a squirrel that wandered - with seeming purpose - across the drive-thru driveway toward the pick-up window - possibly one of those nutty phone-in orders. ec

Friday, March 03, 2006

random thoughts

Cold tea is good, hot tea is better but tepid tea is just not my cup of tea. The teas I have on hand at the moment are – Tetley British Blend, two from Celestial Seasonings - Honey Lemon Ginseng Green Tea and Raspberry Gardens Green Tea, two from Twinings – Four Red Fruits and English Breakfast, plain ole Lipton and plain ole Red Rose. Usually I have one or two cups in the morning and a few more scattered through the day. Can’t drink coffee because I have developed an allergy to it – still like the smell though.

Always make good use of mimes because a mime is a terrible thing to waste. Also, when a mime is arrested, does he still have the right to remain silent? Also, how would a person really know what a mime was saying?

Then there was the teenage boy who wouldn’t admit that he had a foot odor problem until the odor-eater inserts in his tennis shoes regurgitated.

One of the definitions of ethics is the branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness or wrongness of actions and the goodness and badness of motives and ends. This definition makes me curious as to what is used to determine what is good or bad, or right or wrong. Are these rules made up as a company or organization goes along? Surely they wouldn’t dare to use anything remotely resembling the Ten Commandments – how old fashion would that be?

The main definition of ethical says that it is pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality. Wait, does that mean that a company or organization expect their staff to be moral? Who is to be the judge of the staff as to whether they are moral or not? The bigger question would be – what if a company’s ethicist isn’t ethical?

Why is there not a name for the day before yesterday or the day after tomorrow? If I called my daughter in Tennessee at one minute after midnight, what was tomorrow would be today for me and still be tomorrow for her since there is a one-hour time difference. Do her dogs sense that a person is calling them from another day? Of course if I called my daughter that late, she might be too upset to really discuss it at length – the dogs too.

Random thoughts rattle around in all of our heads, some more than others and these were some of mine at the moment. Shortly I am to go the hospital to do another all-niter sitting with FIL, he is not doing well and they are in the process of putting him in hospice. If you pray, I ask you to pray for strength for the family. ec

Thursday, March 02, 2006

tagged by anvilcloud

This is from a tag by anvilcloud.

1-Black and white or color; how do you prefer your movies? Although some photos in black and white have a classic appeal, I prefer movies in color – these offer much more depth and sensory treats than the occasional mystique of the black and white film.

2-What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death? It is a toss-up between an individual speaking at length about their many health problems or someone telling me how the workings of the government can solve all my problems.

3-MP3s, CDs, Tapes or records – what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music? CDs are the highest my personal technology has risen at present.

4-You are handed one first-class plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going – ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run? That would be a definite no – my relationships with my family and friends are worth more than any amount.

5-Seriously, what do you consider the world’s most pressing issue? Humankind’s general unwillingness to engage in an up close and personal relationship with their Creator is our world’s most pressing issue. Because this relationship can work out any issues we as individuals, or we the world, may have.

6-How would you rectify the worlds most pressing issue? The solution starts when individuals establish and maintain a personal relationship with God. Then individuals witness in word and deed as to how this relationship has changed and improved their life. When a person is the kind of Christian God means for us to be, it will spread like a fire all over the world.

7-You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be? Not run away from God for three years.

8-You are given the chance to go back and change one event in history, what would that be? Nullify the law that has caused millions of unborn innocents to be killed by way of abortion.

9-A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole Opry: Which do you choose? It would be the Grand Ole Opry, even though this is not my most preferred genre of music at the moment.

10-What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you’d like to solve? I confess a lack of interest, since no perpetrator goes undiscovered or unpunished by the final Judge.

11-One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be and what would you serve for the meal? Ravi Zacharias – possibly the greatest thinker in the Christian world at present. My wife would cook roast beef, squash casserole, steamed broccoli, fried okra and I would prepare my specialty, homemade banana pudding.

12-You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky – What’s the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact? In reality this discovery can only come at the moment of death – but even if I suspected it to be true, the rewards of a consistently lived moral life would be worth the living of it. ec

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


As I stared out the window of the 7th floor hospital room, I noticed a sea gull riding the air currents high above the buildings of the complex. This is somewhat unusual inasmuch as we are not near the coast but occasionally a few will get blown off course to our area. The sun reflecting off the white of its wings contrasted with the blue of an absolutely clear sky. Its flight spoke to me of the freedom found in soaring high above the labors, problems and sorrows of the earthbound beings.

High above the gull, a small plane crossed my field of vision at a much faster rate of speed. The plane went out of my sight in a southerly direction, symbolizing to me that these few folks were striving to escape the dullness of the daily routines – or going about the workings of commerce. Like the gull, these also enjoyed for a short time the freedom of flight that the earthbound ones do not.

Up higher still, in the colder, rarefied air of the upper atmosphere, a white contrail evidenced the passage of a large jet at a much higher rate of speed. It was a tiny speck and I was unable to identify whether it was an airliner filled with folks enjoying the freedom of movement around the country or a military jet at the business of protecting that freedom – as well as the other freedoms we are privileged to have.

As I watched these three flights, for a brief second all of them lined up in my sight, one directly over and beyond the other at different altitudes. Pondering this, I saw a certain symbolism in the occurrence. My hospital room vantage point suggested our human limitations, yet still looking up to view the freedom of other things like the gull. The small plane spoke to me of the freedoms of a few folks and the high-flying jet indicated even wider views and concepts of freedom.

Then the three flights passed from my view, leaving just the clear blue sky and this suggested to my mind that there was an even higher freedom. This is a freedom that goes beyond the limited ones that we have in the human experience – a spiritual freedom. This freedom comes to us as a gift from God through Jesus Christ – but we must ask for it.

This hospital room of my viewings is the present residence of my wife’s Dad and he is literally fighting for his every breath. He was transported back here on Sunday and he is desirous of freedom to breathe or to be free of this body suffering from multiple health problems, the worst at the present being a very weak heart and double pneumonia. He has voiced his preparedness and desire to leave and go be with his Maker, who will explain to him all the reasons for things that he doesn’t understand now. ec

PS – Wed. pm - FIL is still with us as of this writing and his condition has stabilized a bit but it’s still a struggle for him to breathe – your prayers would be appreciated.