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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Sunday, April 30, 2006

the child

Some time ago, before I retired from Bellsouth, I was working at a telephone pedestal alongside the roadway and noticed the approach of a young woman. She appeared to be in her late teens and was trailed at a short distance by a small girl I guessed to be almost three.

The purpose of this short trip from her rental trailer was to ask questions concerning how to get a phone hooked up to her residence.

While answering her questions I heard the anxious cries of a younger child that I was unable to see at first because of screening bushes. A small lad not much over a year old toddled into view, having only one shoe and one dirty bare foot, a scene that might have been comical in other circumstances, but I had just learned from her that she was living with her boyfriend.

She didn't appear to be negligent and walked to pick up the little boy that had slipped down several times on the uneven ground. My mind wanted to believe other scenarios, but all evidence pointed to the fact that this was an unmarried mom with two small children in a relationship without real commitment.

She did not yet have the "hard life" lines in her face, I don't know if it was just too soon for that or if she simply didn't know there was a better life than this. She walked away with one child on her hip and the other in tow and my mind glimpsed the limitations and heartache of her future.

Even though she was not my child, as I drove away, this father's heart broke and I cried for this child with children. ec

Friday, April 28, 2006


It was on another day, in another place and earlier during the season – and I listened. This was a wonderful day of false spring with the temperature going up into the 70's – very odd for February. My area of listening was populated almost totally by trees and was situated between two older housing developments.

The air seemed to be nearly filled with the sounds of wild birds that were very encouraged by the warm weather. My ears could detect the sound of at least four or five different species. They ranged from the tiniest of peeps to the song of larger birds and even the raucous, far off caw of a crow. About a block away the crowing of a two-rooster competition could be heard, each loudly proclaiming that they were the head fowl.

Down in the valley the somewhat forlorn and lonely sound of a train whistle was cast onto the airwaves. The growl of a distant chainsaw presented itself along with the sharp whir of a brush chipper and I knew that some natural growth was coming down to earth.

The barking of a dog, challenging any that would care to listen, spoke that this was his yard and any trespasser would have to answer to him.

A woodpecker was sound-marking his territory by making a loud rat-a-tat on what seemed to be a sheet of tin – it’s just something they do.

Then I listened more intently. A still small voice spoke to my spirit and witnessed to me that all these sounds were made for my enjoyment and told me that I was much loved by my heavenly Father. I'm resolved to quiet the noise in my life enough that I can better hear Him and thereby follow more closely. ec

Thursday, April 27, 2006

faulty guidance

On another long ago day, when the Hickman Road of my youth was still paved with dirt, many guidance systems were tried and found to be faulty. One of the physical ones still stands out in my mind even after all these years. It concerned the complexities of remaining upright on a bicycle while still moving and steering in the general direction you desired to go.

My bike riding came somewhat late in life - age 11, I think - not necessarily due to a lack of coordination or dumbness on my part, but the absence of a proper sized vehicle on which to learn. I finally inherited a two-wheeler from my sister, a boy's bike, but about two sizes too big. Determination finally won out and I somewhat mastered the skills necessary for locomotion.

The basics behind me, I went on to the finer points of riding. Two of these I remember were the hook-slide stop (pretty easy on dirt) and the running start. The latter was accomplished by running beside the bike while holding the handlebars, then taking a flying leap with the goal in mind of landing with your sitter-downer on the seat and not on the crossbar, as this last experience tended to be rather painful.

Then there was the art of riding with no hands, this was intended to show the neighborhood kids that you were absolutely fearless. But this act of bravery got to be rather old hat when all of them learned to do the same.

While descending the hill on the road of my home turf one day – on my pedal powered straddle buggy – another system of bike guidance burst into my consciousness. It came to my mind so fast that I had no time to weigh out possibilities that it might have severe repercussions, it just seemed so brilliant and I knew it would make me the name on every lip in the neighborhood.

The plan was to remove my feet from the pedals - where they should be - and place them on the handlebars - where they should not be - thereby guiding my swiftly moving conveyance and being held in great awe and esteem by all the kids closely watching this activity.

Looking back, this daring plot may have worked if my hands were still on the handles when my feet left the pedals. Instead, I tried it from the "no hands" position and one foot touched before the other - causing the plan and my upright, forward moving condition to come to an almost immediate halt. This resulted in me winding up on the surface of the road in a somewhat prone, knotted up position, intertwined with various bike parts, bruised and with a bad case of dirt rash. I vowed never to try that method of guidance again.

If our way of life guidance is anything other than God's way, it will all fall apart just as surely as my failed plan, will hurt much worse, and will last a LOT longer. ec

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

faute de mieux

For lack of something better I have substituted many things, and most were ersatz indeed. The earliest of these makeshift actions usually pertained to something in the food family. Along about my early teens, when my normal appetite quickly evolved into something akin to that of a wild beast, anything edible was fair game.

There were six of us kids, but even with my two older siblings married and gone, that still left several young critters vying for the same available sustenance. The odd thing is that I don’t remember that we had any, or at least not much, junk food – maybe potato chips. There usually was some peanut butter and bread available, and if nothing else, pb&j was acceptable. On several of these forages for food, the absence of jelly was noted with horror, but being the resourceful person I was, my sandwich was studded with many raisons on those occasions – the peanut butter held them in place nicely. Even though, it was still a substitute.

The light inside the frig seemed to be of great fascination to us kids, for by it’s glow we would search the cool containers of leftover items to find something suitable to devour. This in spite of the fact that we had just performed a thorough investigation moments before – it’s a wonder we didn’t all have frostbitten faces. Finally we would eat the least obnoxious item just to sustain us until Mom got home. We seldom had leftovers stay long enough to grow fuzzy stuff on them. I don’t think I ever remember any leftover banana pudding back then. (Oops, I think I just flung a craving on myself.)

Now I’m not saying that I actually tried this, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind it seems there is something about making a sandwich with day-old butterbeans (limas) – the really large ones. In fact, that does not sound that bad to me right now – with the proper condiments. How vegetarian of me to even think of that.

It seems that I’ve always liked foods that others might consider somewhat odd. The foods in themselves were not that odd, but the combinations thereof. It used to really gross out both of my daughters when I would have a large dollop of peanut butter as well as cheese mixed and melted in with my chicken noodle soup. I guess the advantage of liking odd stuff is that nobody else eats it all up – maybe that was a defense mechanism from my youth.

I guess if I were living in Southern England, my delight in hot tea would not seem unusual at all. But here I am in the sweet iced tea drinking center of the whole world and I don’t even like sugar mixed in with mine – or ice – and I drink it all seasons, any time of the day. I wonder when the proper English tea times are anyway? And what are scones – really?

Substitute foods were sometimes bad enough, but I remember many years ago when I substituted doing wrong things for doing the right ones. It seemed that I had to find out for myself why these things were called wrong and why had I been taught not to do them. These “whys” are the reasons I carry some scars today, even though the wrongs have been forgiven. The scars are reminders not to go those ways again. This forgiveness is still available today - for anyone - my Friend says so, and He doesn’t lie. ec

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

KS - promotion

In other letters, I questioned the intellect of a certain young man that had been in Europe over a year and had yet to take a photograph – he didn’t even have a camera. That situation was remedied in the first part of February 1962 and I purchased a very nice one – a 35mm, German made Voigtlander, which I still have.

This cost me $47.50 in the PX – which amounted to almost half of a month’s pay and that was the reason the acquisition hadn’t happened before that time. Starting with black and white prints and evolving into color slides, hundreds of images were taken during my remaining time over there.

From my file is a set of orders announcing that I had received a promotion from PFC (E3) to SP4 (E4) – it was dated 24 February 1962. This promotion had been delayed as a result of an incident with a British captain – that just happened to be the officer in charge of the communications center in which I worked. Even though he was in the British Army, he could make comments in areas of promotion to my superiors.

On the occasion of the incident I had become greatly inflamed emotionally by what I considered stupidity on the part of one of our operators – this incensed condition was one to which I was easily incited. This had prompted me to storm back through the doors of the maintenance shop, loudly uttering off-color and obscene words and phrases.

This type of action was not normally a problem and almost an expected thing, but on this day the British captain was back in the shop and was highly offended by the action – hence the delay in promotion. Only after a lengthy discussion with my sergeant in charge a month or so after the incident was I able to convince him to go through another channel to have my promotion approved.

Let me say that I do not celebrate the deeds and/or misdeeds of this person I was long ago, in fact it’s somewhat painful to even recall. This individual was making some very selfish and stupid choices. From high atop my present point of view I do see an influence on him of earlier incorrect spiritual training. This consisting of putting massive emphasis on what he should not do and little weight placed on the positive – the richness of the gifts that he could have had in Christ. That being said, I don’t really know if it would have made a difference.

There I was, a kid raised in church, yet I was constantly smashing the thumb of my soul with the heavy hammer of disobedience and was unable to figure out where the pain was coming from – or how to get it to stop.

TBC – ec

Monday, April 24, 2006

KS - Christmas 1961

9- The letter of 9 January 1962 also told that the Christmas of 1961 was shared with a young friend and her extended family, it seems that there were ten of us. First, we all went to a movie in downtown Paris – I can’t remember if it was in French with English subtitles or vise-versa. We then went back to one of their houses for a huge meal.

It turned out to be an affair of several courses, but being a very naïve young man, I didn’t have a clue about this and really chowed down. Then, to my surprise, they cleaned off the table and brought out another course. As the additional courses of fine food came along I was running very short on stomach space, nearly to the point of explosiveness. Even in view of this, I did manage to finish the meal without offending the family.

The French always drink wine with their meals – about like Southerners drink sweet iced tea – and they were just short of insulted because I didn’t drink any more wine than I did – I would have preferred the tea. It wasn’t that I held a particular moral stand against wine; I just didn’t like the taste. By this time, most of the things that I had been taught to be morally wrong had been trespassed against anyway.

After we had stuffed ourselves to the gills and were all about two and a half sheets to the wind, everybody piled into one of their cars and joyously (it was Christmas) transported me back to my barracks. The letter states that the young lady involved was much too serious and about a week later we parted ways. Much later I was able to see the hand of God in the split, even though I regretted the hurtful way it came about – back then I was only concerned about staying “free” until I came back to the states.

Several of the letters in the collection had notes that they were written at work, mostly on the midnight shift. This was a good time to write because our shift maintenance department – one other guy and myself – was not very busy at night. We mostly did routine work or just sat around and waited for something to break down or one of the operators to complain – which they did on a fairly regular basis.

On occasion we would take turns sleeping unless we had a lot of routine stuff to get done before the next shift. We had an air mattress for this purpose and we would place it on top of one of the desks in the back office. Usually the method of waking the sleeper was to simply pull the air plug – that desk got very hard in a hurry.

TBC - ec

Sunday, April 23, 2006

tag by bjw

This is for a tag by b.j.w. Back in February I received a very similar tag with the following exceptions:

Four TV shows I love to watch.>My TV watching is more by channels – 1-The history channel-2-Discovery channel-3-Animal channel-4-Sporting events, by season.

Four memorable restaurants.>Hershey Hotel, Hershey, PA. – Maxwell’s, Gatlinburg, TN – Blue Willow, Social Circle, GA – Pittypat’s Porch, Atlanta, GA.

Four places I have been on vacation.>St. Martin – Kissimmee, FL – Los Angeles – Pittsburgh.

The rest of the tag is the same and it follows:

Four jobs I have had. >Soldier, US Army – Fertilizer plant worker – Facilities Technician, BellSouth Telephone Company – and the ongoing job of husband, father, grandfather and practicing Christian.

Four movies I could watch over and over again. >Little Lord Fauntleroy – Outlaw Josey Wales – Star Wars (all) – Shawshank Redemption.

Four places I have lived. >Itawamba County, Mississippi – Paris, France – Lexington, Kentucky – Clearwater, S.C.

Four web sites I visit daily. >My only regular visits are to blogs and many more than four of these.

Four of my favorite foods. >Chinese – Tex-Mex – Banana Pudding – Anything my wife cooks.

Four places I’d rather be right now. >On an Alaskan cruise ship – Australia and/or New Zealand – Clearwater, S.C. – With Christ. ec


Some garden work just can’t be done with gloves. One job in particular is the planting of tomatoes. This for several reasons: 1-I fill the hole I dig for them with water. 2-The sensitive touch of the bare fingers is needed to remove from their original container. 3-The fingernails are needed to pinch off the lower leaves in order to plant this garden fruit deeper and have more root system.

After finishing all this, the hands are caked with dirt and mud. The container of water from which I dipped the liquid for each hole had enough left in it with which to wash the dirt from the hands. The hands come out only “relatively” clean because the water had gotten muddy from the plant watering. This reminds of the old country song “Must’ve wash my hands in a muddy stream.” This type washing might be OK for the moment but sooner or later I want to get my hands clean by using clean water – and soap.

But what about when the inside or spiritual of us is dirty? God made a way so that we can be cleansed when we have dirtied our soul. This cleansing plan was started in motion when Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice for all our sin. The Word says – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But what kind of plan do we have for a daily walk in a dirty world? “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

In another place it says: “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.” How’s that for a retirement plan? ec

Friday, April 21, 2006

the smile

To say that a smile was playing at the corners of my mouth would be a gross understatement or a total miscalculation of verbiage. This was not a playful expression, it was a serious smile and that explanation might be considered an oxymoron. The word oxymoron sounds like it should be descriptive of a large, very dumb, bovine but in this case it is definitive of a somewhat dumb looking, yet very serious smile.

As you might possibly know, to smile is to assume a facial expression usually indicating pleasure, favor, or amusement, characterized by an upturning of the corners of the mouth. Serious is a word not to be taken lightly, because it is of, showing, or characterized by deep thought. Serious can also mean earnest or sincere – and certainly not trifling. The word can also pertain to things weighty, important, or significant.

To put the two words together, I come up with a smile big enough to spread all over myself. Then there is the question of whether or not the smile – with which I had armed myself – was disarming enough? But how can one smile with their arms? Then the greater or main question would be: From whence cometh the smile and what has caused this soul emollient to happen.

To answer my own question, as I often do, it was caused, as it often is, by my gruntmonkeys (grandchildren). The two older, GM1 and GM2, have been doing very well in school and have been recognized for it – that is smile worthy. GM3, not quite 4 as yet, regaled his Pop-pop (me) the other day with a very animated vocal – in addition to hand motions – explanation as to why he ran to his Dad from a girl – smart boy.

GM4 – the 2 ½ year old – has a charm all his own and possesses a smile that would melt a stone heart. GM5, that turned 1 in February, has started vocalizing his requests – nay, demands – in terms and volumes that cannot be ignored. It is so odd that when he calls Granna, (my Spice) it comes from deep within and in loud volume but when he calls Pop-pop, it is in hushed and whispered tones.

GM6 is 15 days younger than GM5 and is also a real case study. One can always tell when he is either tired or sick because he suddenly starts to do all the things he has been told not to do – in rapid succession. None of the boys usually enjoy being held for any length of time – a boy thing, I guess. This morning while I was sitting them, - the three local ones - they suddenly all wanted to be held at once – that brought back the big smile.

At my age a smile is about the only thing – outside of surgery – that improves my looks. So when I’m smiling, I’m either improving my looks or showing on the outside the joy of the Lord that is inside – or more than likely, both. ec

Thursday, April 20, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


The time to plant the garden had once more arrived but before this could happen, the ground had to be tilled. Tilling – defined – is to labor, as by plowing or harrowing, upon the land for the raising of crops. Plowing takes the meaning deeper and this is using an agricultural implement for cutting, lifting, turning over, and partly pulverizing the soil. Harrowing is using an implement for leveling and breaking up clods in plowed land.

A tiller is a person who tills – me – it is also a thing that tills, which is my gas-driven, front tined tiller. The proper tilth is what the tiller is trying to reach with his tiller. Tilth is the physical condition of cultivated soil in relation to plant growth. The state of tilth in the soil I was striving to reach was that of loose and even a bit fluffy if possible. Loose is much easier to reach than fluffy.

Tired means to be exhausted, fatigued or wearied – and this is what I was when I finished tilling not only my garden but the daughter’s as well. A tiff is a slight or petty quarrel and a tiff is what the tiller had with his tiller. The tiff happened when the tiller wouldn’t cooperate with the tiller, the latter being me. This resulted in constant yanking and wrestling with the very obstinate tiller, not totally unlike wrestling with a medium sized bovine. To add to the misunderstanding was the fact that it happened on a day when the temp was about 90F.

A tier is one of a series of rows or ranks rising one behind or above another. In cultivation it is also called a terrace and my garden is made up of four of these tiers or terraces. Even though these are small, this made the tilling even more difficult because of going from tier to tier.

A tiler is a person that installs tile. Tile is defined as a thin slab of baked clay, sometimes painted or glazed, used for various purposes, as in forming a covering for a floor. Tile is also any of various similar slabs or pieces, as of linoleum, stone or metal. Tile was what I would have been willing to lay down on in my exhausted from tilling state, fortunately we had carpet, so I crashed on that to recover from my toilsome labor.

The tilling happened last Friday and Saturday – the planting started on Monday. The tomato plants were installed then and on Tuesday the squash seed were planted. It’s not that these two jobs took that long but that I only had a limited time to work on them those two days. Each of the steps of having a garden has their own joy and sorrow – and back aches.

Got up a little earlier than usual this morning (before noon) and finished planting the last two tiers. This effort was made because rain had been predicted. The planted was completed and I had only been inside about five minutes when a shower came. God is good – and His timing is great! ec

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

KS - Spanish girls

The next out of order event from my military keepsakes was from a letter dated 6 June 1961. This was when president JFK came to NATO Headquarters (SHAPE) to check the place out and meet with some dignitaries. I happened not to be working that day and got to see him – about 30 feet away. He gave a somewhat short speech – mainly because it was raining and most politicians don’t like to be thought of as “all wet”.

A letter from 13 November 1961 told that I met a girl from Spain who was working for a family near our camp. How I came to meet her was when a group of Spanish girls came to a social event at our small imitation USO club. One of the girls spoke enough English to chat a little – as well as some French. When I tried to impress her with my French, she wound up hilariously amused. What I had tried to tell her was that I had been having some trouble with my stomach – it came out that I was having trouble with my female body parts.

When she was able to stop laughing long enough, she corrected my French to another word that was not so feminine specific. She was kind enough to introduce me to one of her friends that was interested in going out with me. The problem was that her friend spoke no French – in which I got along fairly well, most of the time – or English, at which I was somewhat fluent. She spoke only Spanish and I had no knowledge of that tongue.

As most of you know, communication is very important in any kind of relationship, especially one of a romantic nature. Two very frustrating, linguistically challenged dates later we decided it was not meant to be. In fact, I’m not quite sure why she went out with me the second time. Basically I spoke only ME and she spoke only HER – and never the twain shall meet.

Back to the language issues – even though my knowledge of French was limited, I could understand much more than I could speak correctly. The British guys that I worked with on a daily basis would be quick to tell me that I didn’t speak English very well either. They said what I spoke was American, another language altogether. We always got along well but teased a lot, all in good fun.

A letter of 9 January 1962 told of a homesick young man that wrote of being sorry he hadn’t been able to come home for Christmas. It seems that I wasn’t allowed out of the country until the legal parts of the previously mentioned auto accident was settled. Besides this, it would have been a logistical nightmare trying to put transportation together to get home and also would have been tough emotionally to have to go back to France afterwards. It noted as well that I had only 7 months more in the Army – 195 days left.

TBC – ec

Monday, April 17, 2006

KS - the letters

8- After having read some old letters, I realized I had left a couple of events out of the time continuum of my military memories. That was because these letters had slipped my mind – they were in another location of the house. Let me explain how they came into my possession – or I should say came back into my possession.

After Mom’s funeral – she passed on Mother’s Day in 1997 – the six of us siblings met at the old home place in Mississippi to clean out the house and to share anything that held valuable memories for us. We three brothers started out in Dad’s old shop and the three sisters started inside the house. We divided up the tools according to even a hint at wanting a particular one and afterwards went in to help the ladies.

We were all going through some old photos when I happened upon a prize that almost floored me. Tucked away in a drawer was a stack of letters sent to my parents by me when I was away from home. Of 50 plus pieces of mail, all but a few were sent to them when I was in the Army, and most from France. This treasure of personal history was brought home and stored away without going through them in any great detail.

After starting these writings, I happened to think of the letters, I located and sorted them by dates and began reading about what I was like over forty years ago. Memories came flooding back, some pleasant, but many not, because they told about a very impetuous, quick tempered and selfish young man to whom I took an instant dislike.

In addition to all this, I perceived him as also not being very wise. Seeing by way of the letter enhanced memories, I remembered once again the many mistakes that were made – and sometimes the same ones, over and over – and I wondered how I lived long enough to come home again. God’s Grace is amazing!

The first event of any significance left out of sequence is my tonsillectomy. According to a letter dated 29 April 1961, this experience happened about mid-April. After many bouts of swollen, infected tonsils, the military doctors deemed they should be removed. The day finally arrived and I checked into the American Hospital in Paris.

The Army way at that time was not to put one to sleep to remove these offending body parts, but to deaden and remove them while the patient was seated in a chair. I think I was given some sort of “I don’t care” pill, but I do remember gagging a lot, and spitting blood while the doctor was chopping away on these organs. This while I held the stainless steel tray he placed them in after their removal.

It was a somewhat tough experience to say the least and the letter said I was in the hospital 11 days, losing from 179 lbs to 169 lbs – but this was gained back in short order, after the throat healed. Soon I was getting around very well physically but spiritually I was still going nowhere.

TBC - ec

Sunday, April 16, 2006

He is risen!

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had played politics and finally gotten rid of Jesus, the person that they saw as a threat to their positions of power in the church and the nation. They didn’t realize that they were accomplishing the plan of God to take salvation and forgiveness out of the hands of men and to make it a direct choice for each person. The person they saw as their troubler now lay dead in a tomb with a large stone over the entrance.

After two of the most confusing and somber nights the disciples had ever spent, the women that had been following Jesus went to the tomb very early on the first day of the week with prepared spices and perfumes to anoint the body. Only while on the way did they remember the stone over the tomb entrance and wondered how they would get it moved. It seems from their actions that they didn’t even know about the tomb being sealed and the guards being placed.

They walked on with good intentions and upon arriving found that the stone had been rolled away and the guards were long gone. They went inside and were very perplexed to find it empty. Suddenly two beings of light appeared that they took to be angels and they astounded them with these words: “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.

My mind can only imagine what they were thinking and saying to each other as they rushed back to tell the others. Could this really be true? Did Jesus really mean those words? Words like: “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” They found out a little later from Jesus Himself that it was true – He had risen from the dead – He was alive!

Then, in the last Book of Scripture He said: “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” We have a living Savior and because of His sacrifice, He offers us the choice as to whether or not we will live with Him forever – what will we choose? ec

Friday, April 14, 2006


The word somber carries several meanings, which include the feelings of being downcast and glum, plus it would indicate something extremely serious or grave. The word grave takes the meaning even further by threatening a seriously bad outcome or something involving serious or even critical issues. This is illustrated in the following sentence – They were having grave thoughts of an uncertain future.

The death of Jesus was a very somber time for the disciples for all the reasons of the definitions given above. Even though Jesus had tried to tell them that He was going to die and even how He was going to die, somehow their minds just couldn’t grasp it. Let me mention here that I would not have understood either and would have been shaking in my sandals had I been there.

In my mind, I can see the disciples secretly grouped together behind closed doors. It had to be a time of confusion and fear because if the religious leaders had killed Jesus it would follow that His disciples were next. In their somberness they must have been trying to understand how this could possibly have happened. This was Jesus, the one that had healed the sick, cured the horrible leprosy, opened blind eyes, brought hearing back to the deaf and even brought the dead back to life! And now He was dead!

Every outside noise must have caused them to fear even more, thinking that it may be the soldiers coming for them. Everything that they had hoped for and believed in was gone. What could they do now? Would it even be safe to leave town for fear they would be recognized going out the gates of the city? This was the worst Friday night that any of them had ever known.

Even though this was a horrible time, and though they had no way of knowing – Sunday was on the way!!! ec

Thursday, April 13, 2006

say what?

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

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

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

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

Sometimes if nothing is said, the lack of words speaks volumes, and can be misinterpreted. Just the raising of an eyebrow or other subtle body language can communicate much. One can only imagine a sermon given by eye and body language, that would be quite a workout for the clergy, I'm sure. What if Ole Abe had given the Gettysburg address in body language only - they would have thought he had flipped out.

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

gnus, gnats and gnomes

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

Since there are so many gnats -- could it be that we only see, hear, smell and taste the thrill seekers or the suicidal? Are the elite, learned gnats watching all this from the sidelines and shaking their heads at their fellow-gnats foolhardiness? That is if gnats indeed have a neck to enable their heads to be shook.

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

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

The gnome then that's hardest to negotiate with is the knavish, knuckle-headed, nomadic, gnarly gnome with known gnostic notions, in knickers with a new knife. He's likely to knock a knot on your noggin with a nodule of gneiss. Sounds like something some religious zealot might do – notice I didn’t say Christian, although some wear that name rather loosely. Although that would probably not be anyone I would know, bless their hearts. :) ec

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

KS - weekend in Germany

Late August or early September 1961 – We were free from our classes on the weekends and on one of those I traveled to Germany by train with one of the other students that was stationed there. We were to spend the weekend, check out the area and drive back to the school in his 2-seater MG. This visit was certainly a cultural eye opener, not only concerning the country and its people, but also the American soldiers stationed there.

Their idea of a good weekend was to go out and quaff as much as they could of what seemed to be that country’s national product - beer. Their goal was simple – to get blind running drunk. We wound up transporting 6 guys - in and on a two-seat automobile - to all their favorite nightspots.

Joining in with their revelry left me feeling very stupid – not to mention drunk and sick. Even in this condition my soul was chilled when they stopped and made light of a “J. C. O. C.” (Crucifixion) statue that was implanted beside the roadway. Previously consumed sustenance was expelled orally from my digestive tract on at least two occasions that evening while we made their rounds. At one stop I stayed in the car, mainly because I couldn’t stand up very well and had had enough of Germany’s national product.

After our group returned to their living quarters, I stumbled to the showers and endeavored to wash the stupidity off of myself, not to mention other substances. As I finished up the shower, I overheard one of them telling the rest of the group that I didn’t show him very much – in other words, I couldn’t hold my alcohol. Even though I heard the others speak up for me, I now know that someone much higher than these humans wanted me to hear him say that. This attested to by the fact that I can still remember those words.

I just wasn’t making a very good and proper sinner, but neither was I trying to live the right way. My striving for acceptance from either of these camps turned into more of a wandering, stumbling meander toward the semi-moral mediocrity of those trying to stay in the middle of the road – and you might say that metaphorically speaking I was getting run over on a regular basis.

Semi-hung over, we traveled back to France and our classes the next day and I determined not to try that ‘draining’ experience again – for at least a month or so. Some days later we finished our classes and I finally got back to my “home” away from home – Camp Voluceau.

TBC - ec

Monday, April 10, 2006

KS - Fontainebleau

7- Also in my file was a set of orders, dated 11 August 1961, for me to go to Fontainebleau, France on TDY (temporary duty) for 28 days of training on a piece of equipment that I worked with. The odd thing about our communications equipment in SHAPE was that most of it was of an international variety that I didn’t study in stateside training. In fact, I only saw two pieces of equipment that was covered in our classes. Fortunately the principles were the same and I was still able to do my job.

Included was a map of Fontainebleau, but I can’t even presently point out the compound in which the school was located. The reason for this was we went to school all day and at night it was like - - dark. The students mostly just hung around the compound and goofed off after hours. In one such session I was an observer at a beer-drinking contest between two of them. The goal was to be the first to consume a total can of beer. The winner’s time was about 2 seconds flat – maybe less – I think he had done this before.

The scripture comes to mind now that refers to “heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks”, but I didn’t think of it then and was somewhat amazed by this feat. The reason for this was that I didn’t think what I saw was physically possible.

Another oddity of that location was the French girl at the laundry. She learned to speak English from her soldier boyfriend – who just happened to be from the South. This was the first female Southern drawl I had heard in about a year and it had the effect of making me very homesick.

More was learned at the school in Fontainebleau than just the ins and outs of electronic equipment. It was a very serious, up close and personal lesson about how that everybody smiling at me wasn’t my friend and those that didn’t were not necessarily my enemy.

It was a hard lesson that caused me to further isolate and insulate myself from close personal relationships, I had trusted very few before but now that number had dwindled to almost nobody – especially those of the feminine persuasion. This action not only didn’t work very well, but also left some unnecessary emotional baggage that I dragged along for several years. It was OK if they wanted to be involved with me but I determined not to get emotionally close to anyone.

TBC – ec

Sunday, April 09, 2006

April 9th

April 9th was my Mom’s birthday; she passed on Mother’s Day in 1997. I thought her day of departure was a bit ironic, to say the least. To say the most, there was a bitter sting about her dying on that day until my pastor reminded me that she had just received the best Mother’s Day present she could have ever gotten – to be with Jesus.

A eulogy was desired and I was willing, but to do so I had to totally shut down any emotions involved to be able to get through it. The funeral took place in Red Bay, Alabama and though it was tough at first, the eulogy went forth without a hitch; I just wanted to do my Mother proud. Then her burial took place back across the state line in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Mississippi. Her final resting place was beside my Dad who had died in Dec. 1995.

After everything was over we went back home and resumed our normal life. It had crossed my mind that I had never shed a tear over Mom’s death but this was soon forgotten with our busy schedule at the time. About a month later while sitting alone and with no reminder of her, the emotional dam suddenly burst. I must have cried about 30 minutes straight and finally came to understand what I had always heard – that grief must be dealt with sooner or later.

I know by faith that I will see her again when my life on this earth is over but I do think especially of her on this her birthday each year. Then for her and for myself, I am reminded of the verses in Job (19:25-27) “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” ec

Friday, April 07, 2006


It was on another day, in another place and the birds had known for some time now that spring had really sprung and they reacted accordingly, filling the air with many different songs. The variations of their notes seem almost endless, allowing each species to identify their own.

There are even some copycat birds that imitate the calls of others, namely the mockingbird, some time ago I heard one of these try to sound like a hawk and it sounded like a fair representation of that call, but I don't think it struck any fear into any little fowl hearts.

Each melodious language helps them mark their territory, win a mate and keep in contact with them for the whole season. At times they sing for extended periods simply for the joy of being able to do it and praising their Creator in so doing.

I've read about and observed many of the mating rituals and dances of these feathered aviators and have been amazed and amused by them. One of these sightings was just outside a local Huddle House, near the base of a newspaper vending machine.

The two participants were tiny sparrows, the female was a drab brownish color, as were they both, but one had additional dark markings on wings and head that identified it as the male. They seemed oblivious to anything else around them, and though it only took a few seconds, the male's bobbing dance with flared wings seemed to be a fairly good effort.

The female seemed to be totally unimpressed and promptly flew away, in appearance unaware of all the energy and style shown by her small suitor. But the now solo male appeared to be less effected by the rejection than I was and flew away to dance again at another time and in another place. ec

Thursday, April 06, 2006


The heaviest flow of traffic that nearby Augusta, Georgia has happens during this week in April every year. Those that live in this area or have visited during this peak traffic period know why – for the others, this is the week of the Master’s Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club. For years now the schools in the area have taken this week as their spring break and many of the local residents just leave town.

Most, if not all, the restaurants in the area put on extra help and it is rumored that the prices on the menu go up as well. The locals either eat earlier in the day or just wait to eat out after the tournament is over. Plus, if we go to Augusta at all, there are certain routes that we do not travel.

My daughter (OD) used to work at the National, helping in the workings of the planning and bringing together the tournament. She quit when her husband’s job caused a family move but they come back to the area every year for this event. The reason for that is that SIL works the tournament as a scorekeeper, one of many. This job is not a paid position but all that work get to play the course a little later in the year – a very big deal if you are familiar with this course and golf at all.

OD, SIL, and their two gruntmonkeys, GM2 and GM5 are in temporary residence with us and as always, it is a hoot to have them here. There are opportunities for baby-sitting, like right now, when others happen to be out and about. My Spice, MIL and OD are out shopping, SIL is at the course, GM2 is at her other grandparents’ – so GM5 and I are hanging out here at the house, keeping the home fires burning, so to speak.

This is somewhat confining but I do get to write some when the young man is down for a nap – such as now. In the past I have spoken to folks that come down for this event and they have always been impressed with the beauty of the flowers and such – but this is our normal time of year when most of the natural beauty of the area is at its peak.

All around the house here the trees and/or bushes are in progressive stages of putting forth leaves, even the figs that got nipped back by the late frost. The veggie garden has finally been debrambled and weeded enough to till up the ground for planting, but that is scheduled for next week after OD and clan depart for their home turf.

The shoppers are due to wind up their efforts shortly so I had best get this posted. I end by saying that God is good, all the time. ec


Wednesday, April 05, 2006


The word epiphany has several meanings, the one that closer describes this writing is this: a sudden, intuitive perception of, or insight into, reality or the essential meaning of something, often initiated by some simple, commonplace occurrence. Or it is a literary work or section of a work presenting such a moment of revelation and insight.

Mark Twain once said: “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” When I see the mental picture of the action that must have inspired this statement, I feel that this could possibly be called an epiphany. Or at least it would be epiphanous in direction and the pain involved would certainly inspire a person not to do it again.

Please be aware that this writing is not to make light of more serious spiritual experiences because this type of thing will be herein described as well. But after pondering this meaning of the word, it occurred to me that these things are an almost daily happening with me – and sometimes several times in a day. Of course the things deemed and/or defined as epiphanic might vary from person to person.

Sunday morning when I went outside to check the weather before going to church, one of these experiences occurred. Standing just outside the garage door, I looked skyward to check the clouds and instead my eyes stopped on a mockingbird perched atop the security light pole out by the end of the driveway. As I listened, this small being of flight was singing several of the songs in his repertoire and doing an excellent job of it.

At closer listening, the whole area was alive with bird songs, but this feathered one was all I could see at that moment. As I watched, this bird would flap its wings and jump upward about three feet and then land again at the same location. I took this one to be a male trying to impress a nearby unseen female with his song and antics and/or dance – this or just expressing the joy of spring and being alive.

My inward amazement grew as I also glanced around the small portion of the neighborhood I could see and the spring colors, even the green of the new leaves, was almost breathtaking. The many colors in other yards were great but the stark white of our dogwood in full bloom was a soul stirring sight as well.

All these things together caused a rush of emotions and even a glimmer of spiritual insight about the awesomeness of God’s creation and how he made the natural parts of this planet to continue to renew itself year after year. This small revelation and perception put a huge WOW right in the middle of my day and week.

I have had epiphanies that were smaller in scope, like those caused by multi-flavored, multi-elemented and multi-layered desserts. Then others were much larger, like marriage, the birth of our children and my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But this experience was just the thing I needed for that day and according to my understanding of the meaning of the word, it can truly be called an epiphany. ec

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

KS - transportation

Early 1961 - Before achieving personal transportation, I would come to Paris on the SHAPE bus and then get around town on the Metro – the Paris version of a subway. Another map I have is one outlining the routes of this subway. I learned to get around fairly well on this underground maze - when they were not on strike. One such work stoppage necessitated a very early morning hike of several miles back to the bus stop.

It seems that the last bus left the Paris location at about 11pm and if you missed it, there was a small bar that stayed open all night nearby. All that was required to take up their space was an occasional beverage or food purchase – otherwise they got pretty grumpy. One could nurse a ham sandwich for a long time with that hard crusty bread and hot mustard – it would also clear out the sinus very well. It was usually a tired bunch that met the early bus next morning. All that was necessary to ride the SHAPE bus was an ID that showed you worked and/or lived there.

In my military file is a highway map of the country of France printed in 1961 and the country was there for me to explore, but my choice was to lurk around the base and the environs of Paris striving to attain selfish goals. This lurking usually involved the pursuit and/or the involvement in the wonders of feminine companionship.

A large postcard of “La Cote d’Azur” is contained in my memories file, sent to me by a young friend in the summer of 1961 while on vacation with her family on the Mediterranean in southern France. She was one of only two decent girls I closely associated with while there – I assure you both were met quite by accident, as they were of much higher character than the type I was normally seeking.

Next in the time line is a bill of sale and vehicle registration dated 11 August 1961 for a 1954 Ford. This for the consideration of the huge sum of 100 dollars, paid to a fellow soldier that worked in the motor pool. This ‘tank’ was semi-dependable after we finally got the motor running right. It was evidently made of sterner stuff than the small Renault with which I had a chance meeting. This ‘meeting’ left the rear of the Renault crushed with no discernable damage to the Ford.

We were required to have insurance and they took care of my recklessness – racing another car down the Avenue des Champs Elysees – handicapped by the slow reactions of one who had consumed several “adult beverages”. It was a wake-up call for me, but I hit the “snooze” button.

TBC – ec

Monday, April 03, 2006

KS - working shifts

6- In the first part of November 1960 my security clearance finally came through and I was assigned to a rotating shift in the communications center because they had to have 24/7 coverage. My job was maintaining and/or repairing all equipment therein contained. Our workshop was located in the very back of the center. The workers were multi-national and this was a totally foreign concept to me (pun intended), but we worked well together even though we did have an occasional miscommunication in the communications center.

The next document in the file is my Army driver’s license, dated 22 November 1960. According to this I was qualified to drive a 5-passenger sedan, a truck up to 2 ½ tons and later was added a 5-ton tractor-trailer qualification. This last was necessary to facilitate our equipment being moved into an underground bunker in case of an air attack.

This truck training took place on an abandoned WWII airfield some few miles South of our work location. Training lasted about a week and was probably the most fun of any training I had while in the army. First we were taught how to service the vehicle, then how to drive them forward. These vehicles had to be double clutched to change gears – a first for me.

Then we learned how to back them with a trailer attached – this was when the fun began. Can you imagine 5 tractor-trailers racing backwards down an airfield? Well, this was part of the training and seemed to be pretty effective – even though we were jack-knifing all over the place. The shortness of the communication trailers made the backing even more difficult. Who says training can’t be fun?

Another piece of kept paperwork was a pamphlet containing a French language lesson. Attending formal classes was not possible since I worked rotating shifts the whole time I was there, but I did study on my own and learned enough to get by – if they spoke slowly. The language of physical “love” was another concentrated learning effort of mine, laying aside the communications of real love - that of the spiritual.

I still have a small map of the monuments of Paris, many of which were personally visited and photographed. The rest of the sites were mostly ignored, due to the aforementioned interests in much baser pursuits. One of the sites that I saw every time I went to Paris was the Arc de Triomphe de etoile. This famous arch was located in a large traffic circle into which twelve streets emptied traffic of all types and speeds – with no traffic lights.

This was the Etoile, French for star, and that is what it looks like from a map overview. It always seemed confusing to me, but it worked for them. The reason for seeing this monument a lot was that we had a regular bus route that ran from SHAPE, and that point was the end of the route – and of course the beginning when we went back to the base.

TBC – ec

Sunday, April 02, 2006

a source

Like most of us, I started out in this life as a baby, but I don't remember much about it. I do remember being a child and possibly have retained too many of those ways and actions. One of the childlike ways I do not regret still having is a sense of awe and wonder at God's creation and His plans and purposes I see being accomplished in our world.

Back during my early teen years I delivered newspapers on a neighborhood route. Across this route ran a small creek that occupied many of my summertime and/or Sat hours. Along it's banks I did much exploring, construction projects and even tree bark boat races. I remember trying to discover the source of the water that filled this creek, but I only got as far as the grounds of a country club and golf course and my exploring ended there cause they took a dim view of trespassers.

As I grew older I searched for the source of other things like joy and peace, but I searched in all the wrong places and the sources were not to be found, just poor imitations. Later I was to finally realize that the only source for anything I needed was in Jesus. The only problem, then and now, was and is making the daily decision to allow Him to meet my needs and not mess things up with my own hands and will. ec

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Only a few folks that I have known share the same date of birth with me – April 1st. One is a sister in the Lord that once attended our church, another is the daughter of a former co-worker and the third is another former co-worker.

Consider then the plight of my fore-person back when I was still working, seeing that she had only three men in her cable maintenance section and two of them were April fools.

It has been told to me that on the day I was born - at home, of course, as most births were back then - my oldest sister, with genuine concern, asked our mother if I was going to be a little fool. She was probably six or seven then - I personally didn't realize that prophetesses started out that young.

History is somewhat of a hobby to me (when I have the time) and I looked back to the world scene in my birth year of 1941. The world was either in the midst of war or on the verge, as it has been ever since, though I don't recall doing anything to cause all that.

Before and since, the goal of world peace has at least been the spoken goal of politicians, though, most of the time, they don't seem to do a lot to cause it to happen. Nor will it ever happen by their methods, because real peace only comes from the inside out, and not by the reverse.

On this my 65th birthday, let me state for the record that my inner peace continues to be supplied by my loving heavenly Father through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. ec