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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Monday, July 31, 2006

KS - shifts

June 1963 - Back in Augusta, we settled into our small apartment at 817 Johns Road, just off Walton Way, across the street from the side of Reed Memorial Church. Our front door opened to reveal a fair sized living room with two passage doors directly across, one into the kitchen and then on through to the bedroom, the other went into the bath and on through to the same bedroom. It was not tiny, but not far up the scale from that.

At the time Mrs. C worked shifts, days one week and evenings the next. My occupation was to look for work, I didn’t work shifts - I was basically shiftless. This went on for almost two months, in fact Mrs. C was beginning to wonder about what she had married into, when I finally got hired by Proctor and Gamble in their detergent plant in Augusta. Jobs were hard to get back then, especially good ones.

About a week later another of my many applications came through and they called me to work at Columbia Nitrogen. It was just as well they did because the odors and aromas of the P & G job were about to do me in – this because of all the perfumes they use in their soap products – some kind of allergy.

Not only that – I came home several times and took a shower without using any soap except what I had absorbed into my skin. It took me quite a while before I could comfortably walk down the detergent aisle of any supermarket because of the product scent. I worked with them two weeks and two days.

Columbia Nitrogen was just starting up when I joined their work force in late summer of 1963. Not long after being hired they sent us to Tennessee for several days of “on the job” training at a similar fertilizer plant there – for hands on training to learn how to start up and run our new plant in Augusta. This was the first time Mrs. C and I had been separated since the wedding and it was somewhat traumatic for us both.

After the OJT we still had a lot of training back in Augusta before we finally started up the operation of the plant. After the start-up I also started working shifts, except I had three of them and that usually clashed with the two of Mrs. C and we almost had to run a schedule to have time to be together.

We were still in our newlywed adjustment period, even at church. Since they didn’t have a class that related directly to the young married, we quit going to Sunday school – just attended the church part – much to the concern of both sets of parents. A short time later they began a young married class and again we were regular to all services. Basically if the doors were open, we were there.

TBC - ec

Saturday, July 29, 2006

BBH - miscellany

Today is the time period that came right after the hours that is now known as yesterday. It almost seems a bit cruel to depose that wondrous day and to cast it into the dustbin of memories at the stroke of midnight. But then what else could we do with those 24 hours, since it is impossible to stop the flow of time and hold it in the present. A further complication to this is the fact that I actually wrote it yesterday.

Since today is no longer tomorrow, I figured I might as well do something in this time period before it became yesterday and I could no longer reach it except by the elusive memory route. One decision was to go outside and do something productive in the care and nurturing of the blueberries and garden. It became somewhat of a Biblical activity since at first I was doing a bit of pruning on the bushes to improve their productivity next year – and pruning is in there.

In Genesis it speaks of the ground producing thorns and thistles and my yard is certainly lining up with scripture. Then it states that by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food – that happened to me as well, but not just my brow, all of me was pretty much sopping wet. It didn’t help that my decision to go outside came at a time that the temp was 96F and felt like 99F. It was fortunate indeed that my enthusiasm ran out before the “felt like” temp went to the 104F that was promised – I gave up and came inside and changed into dry clothes.

It would be much better to work outside before the temp got so uncomfortably hot, but that would require getting up much earlier. The problem with that wise adage is that it would be necessary to go to bed much earlier in order to have that wisdom really become wisdom. The further problem with that is that so many things seem to catch and hold the attention at late hours.

The blueberries are finished for the year and I will enjoy the fruits of my labor – literally – from the bounty of them stored in the freezer. Several things need to be done in the ‘patch’ between now and next year. More mulch is needed in the whole area, some more pruning needs to be done after the leaves drop and most of the sprouts coming out from the plants need to be cut off. Some will be saved to transplant for other spots in the yard and others for some friends of mine.

The squash production appears to be almost over, as are the cucumbers – especially if we don’t get some rain very soon. The tomatoes and okra will still be around for a while longer. A fair amount of rose hips have formed on the rugosa rose and they will be checked out when they get ripe. If they are found to be unacceptable, the plant will not be around next year.

The Spice found some gloves around the house for me to use while picking and cutting up figs – but only a few and then another source of these hand protectors will have to be found. I certainly don’t want to go through the raw fingertips again and there are many more figs that will be available for picking.

Whether I have raw fingertips, get stuck by briars or stung by a wasp, God is still good – all the time. So much for the news from Blueberry Hill. ec

Friday, July 28, 2006

figs and flowers

The next fig picking session was even more productive than the first, with more than 7 gallon containers harvested. But a slightly painful problem developed during the time I was cutting up the batch for the fruit dryer. It seems that the tips of both forefingers became very irritated and raw around the nail. I had noticed it a little on the first batch, but this time was much worse.

I was beginning to think that I had developed an allergy to this sweet fruit until I checked out the web for something that might give me a clue as to what was going on. After much research – several minutes – I found a simple sentence that explained the whole thing. It said: Use gloves and long sleeves when harvesting figs to prevent skin irritation from the fig latex. These measures may be a little inconvenient but if it saves me from the irritation, it will be worth it.

It is a bit of a mystery as to why the skin problems started now, after years of raising this fruit. Maybe I’m just not as tough as I used to be or this is just the largest harvest I have had. For whatever reason, I will use proper precautions in the future.

This time of picking also offered the same type of excitement as the last, this when I discovered another wasp nest on another part of the tree. The war was on again, except this time I donned gloves as well as using my trusty fly swatter. These were the same kind of wasps but evidently not as feisty as the others and didn’t have to be ‘tagged’ to get them out of the area; they just left as soon as I knocked the nest down – the wimps.

From figs now to flowers and to tell that a new flower has possibly come into my life – if I remember to acquire some of them next spring. This flowering plant is lantana. It came to my attention just this summer down at Myrtle Beach along the pathway from the condo to the beach. From what I understand so far, this plant is very drought resistant once it is established. This is translated in my mind as thriving on neglect, just the thing for my yard and flowerbeds. My neighbor has a fairly large bed of them down close to our driveway.

As I have mentioned before, my garden contains two rows of marigolds – one on either side of the tomatoes. These have grown up even taller than the tomatoes – mostly because the tomatoes are only supported up to about 3 ½ feet. These flowers are a bit acrid in smell but the bloom is a very attractive golden color.

The smaller zinnia bed is in its customary spot and they have been blooming very well. They are now a little dull in color because of the dry, hot weather. Next to them is a mix and match bed with a few zinnias, some butternut squash and three sunflowers. This is the first effort I have made at growing sunflowers but they seem to be doing very well with their very large flowers and the promise of seeds later on.

If by now you have gotten the idea that I enjoy seeing God’s creations grow and am glad to help them do so – you are absolutely right. ec

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

sneaky figs

They did it again, I tried to be on the alert but they snuck up on me anyway. The figs had almost all been green about three days ago. I did eat three ripe, juicy figs as a sideline to my last blueberry-picking mission, but the rest were comfortably green. There were a few more on Saturday morning but I didn’t think they were enough to pick. Then we had a busy day on Sunday and I didn’t even look at the tree.

When I looked at the fig tree Monday morning, the ripe ones had come on the branches like a whole herd of turtles. Mentally I added fig picking to my to do list and continued my other chores for the day. First was the gathering of the trash and the cardboard that had been piling up. After a visit to the landfill, I stopped by the post office and then it was on to Bi-Lo for a few grocery items.

Back home and in the process of browning some ground beef, I decided to pick a few figs while the heat was doing its thing with the meat. Using the same gallon containers in which I gathered blueberries, I quickly filled up two of these receptacles. The tree was taller than I thought it was, and I finally had to resort to the 6ft stepladder. Back and forth with the picking and stirring the meat, the tally finally came up to over 5 gallon containers of figs – I was duly impressed.

The picking of figs is fraught with danger, especially when working from a stepladder. Most of these hazards have to do with falling off this handy climbing device since one cannot escape the gravity of the situation – slight or no sleight double meaning there. But there was another danger that usually only comes into play later in the season.

This danger is the one of wasps and yellow jackets – they usually congregate at ripe figs that have been pecked by birds. The danger is getting stung when reaching for one of these occupied fruits when you don’t see the hole that the armed and dangerous insect is in. The danger for today was somewhat the same, except it was different.

It seems that the figs were not the only things that were sneaky since two sneaky wasps had built their nest on the underside of one of the fig leaves and of course this is very difficult to see. When I put the ladder near them, they flew out to drive the danger away – me. I took exception to these squatters interfering with my picking and went inside for a weapon – a fly swatter. I realized that these insects were not flies, but I was almost certain it would work on them.

The war started right after I came back out – it was me and the wasps, ‘mano a mano’, except I was the only mano. In all the excitement one of the wasps ‘tagged’ me – this one was soon stunned on the ground and was ‘tagged’ back – since I was ‘it’. The other was more elusive but after many swings and bruised, torn and fallen leaves, it too hit the ground and was ‘tagged’. ‘Tag’ is the only game I play with wasps – with the meaner yellow jackets it is a different story, since they don’t play.

It was a busy but fulfilling day for this old retired person – God is good, all the time. ec

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

KS - honeymoon

June 1963-We then walked back to our room, with hearts full of love but also with a certain amount of awkward shyness. Just a little later in the evening we brought Matthew 19:6 into reality in our young married lives, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.” And we determined, with God’s help, to affirm the rest of that verse in our lives as well: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

The next morning we continued our journey southward and if memory serves, stayed that night in the Miami area. At morning’s somewhat early light, we ventured farther south to Key West and as far as land could take us – to the very end of U.S. Highway #1. This highway was a major North-South route in that day of no interstates. It was somewhat comical to us both when we found that the highway extending from the northernmost part of Maine to this Florida location ended with a plank barricade and a row of metal trashcans – and those none too tidy.

We spent that night in Key West, in a beautiful motel overlooking a bay just off the ocean – in my mind I can still see the moonlight reflecting off the water. Of course almost anywhere in Key West has salt water on one side or the other of that location – since the land there is not that wide.

We had called Mrs. C’s kinfolk in Fort Lauderdale on the way down and they asked us to come back by to see them, which we did the next day. We enjoyed several days with them, going to the beach and just generally having a good time in the sun and surf with Mrs. C’s cousins. At that time Miami Beach was really the place to go and to tell others you had gone there.

I knew I was supposed to be in Lexington on Monday to terminate my job, but we were having so much fun that we left a day later than we should have. We started back Saturday and wound up driving all night Saturday night except for a short rest stop beside the road. We arrived in Lexington on Sunday about noon, absolutely worn out.

We went to my church up there on Sunday night and told my friends goodbye. Monday morning I went out to my job to terminate and wouldn’t you know that the extension on my job had come through. But it was still classed as a temporary position so I terminated there anyway because we had already set everything up in Augusta – I drove back to our hometown an unemployed newlywed.

TBC - ec

Monday, July 24, 2006

KS - getting away

June 2nd 1963-The reception was next with its congratulations and laughter, feeding each other cake, tossing the bouquet and garter and changing to traveling clothes. We were to make our getaway in Mrs. C’s car until we could lose everyone and get back to where my car was hidden. A few rambunctious young men had placed the spare tire in the front seat, put mayo on the steering wheel and hid an open can of sardines somewhere in the auto – this was not found until much later when in the full stages of ripeness. Plus they locked the only key we had inside the car.

Another key was obtained after what seemed like an hour, the car was straightened up enough to make it drivable and then we headed down the long steps of the church through a shower of rice and we were off. It was common practice back then for a string of cars to follow with blaring horns and this occasion was no different. Enough became enough pretty soon and we determined to lose them.

We then went up to my old paper route – the Country Club Hills – and as the name infers, it had many hills and some confusing roads but I knew them like the back of my hand. Entering the area, I pretty much put the pedal to the metal. The old car left a trail of oil smoke and I was easy to keep up with for a while, but when the contrails started crossing each other we got away from the raucous group.

Our car was hidden behind our wedding consultant’s house in an area enclosed by a privacy fence. Still not totally convinced we had gotten away clean, and not wanting to be trapped back there, we hurriedly tossed our clothes into the little VW and sped away. We stopped and called Mrs. C’s folks to let them know our general direction of travel and headed toward Florida – on an adventure with no particular destination in mind – this also would be considered odd in today’s world. We were completely out of town before our heartbeats returned to normal.

It was starting to get late in the day when we stopped for the evening. Our first place of residing together as a married couple was Motel Jesup, in the somewhat less than thriving metropolitan area of Jesup, Georgia. We were then shown to a very neat and comfortable room. We checked the room out and found that the bathroom light was inoperative – to the horror of Mrs. C. Instead of taking time to repair or replace whatever was wrong with the light, they just moved us to another room. This to the embarrassment of my lady since the motel personnel wore a very knowing smile.

The rooms of the establishment were situated in an L-shape behind a nice little restaurant out front near the road, quite possibly belonging to the same company as the motel. Neither of us had been very aware of our nutritional intake that day because of all the excitement and we decided to partake of a meal before retiring to our quarters.

We may have looked like any other young couple coming home from church except for Mrs. C’s corsage. However, when we walked into the eatery we both felt like we had large signs pinned on us somewhere that told the world we were newlyweds. When our meals arrived we bowed to give thanks for the food and a small shower of rice cascaded onto the table – it had caught in my lady’s hair from the pelting back at the church. The resulting laughter broke the self-imposed tension and we smilingly finished our meal.

TBC - ec

Friday, July 21, 2006

BBH - islands

Blueberry Hill – Islands – At the time of this writing our weather is hot and dry – and has been most of the summer. As a result of this scarcity of rain, the water level of the pond at the rear of our property, belonging to MIL, has been dropping. Of late this body of water has started sprouting islands as the waterline has retreated lower and lower.

Not much escapes my attention – especially the nonsensical – and my mind noted that the phrase ‘Islands in the pond’ was not nearly so catchy as ‘Islands in the stream’ and would not make as good of a song title either. The latter phrase just seems to flow better – especially since most streams flow and most ponds don’t.

These sandy spots of ground are appearing in the shallower areas and are some of the favorite spots for the geese and duck. Notice that the word duck was singular inasmuch as there is only one. There was once a brace of ducks on the pond, but they slowly started disappearing under mysterious circumstances, probably due to predators of several sorts.

One male duck was left and he was always on this pond or the neighbor’s. Then a couple of geese came in from some ponds a few miles away and he started trying to hang around with them. This worked fairly well until a whole gaggle flew in and took up residence. The geese then resisted having the smaller duck around but finally allowed him in the group – maybe as their small, short cousin.

It looks a bit odd when they fly from one pond to the other – the gaggle of geese and one lone duck. The geese also waddle around on land and ‘graze’ on many grasses and plants, and the duck just follows right along. As the water gets lower, all the waterfowl go the shallow areas and feed on whatever grows on the bottom. It looks a bit comical to me to see only goose rear-ends stuck up in the air all at the same time.

We have some thunderstorms predicted for the next several days and hopefully we can sink those pond islands again. Nonetheless I do enjoy the happenings of the world our God has created to support the creatures He also created – and we are some of the creatures as well, of course some of us are more creatural than others. ec

Thursday, July 20, 2006

BBH - remnants

Blueberry Hill – Remnants – The garden is getting that ‘late in the season’ look, with many older, yellow leaves and some very scraggly looking plants. But much to my surprise, they are still producing. Not as much as at their peak but nonetheless still putting out the veggies.

The squash have produced the most and we have had many pans of fresh sautéed squash and onions. The last batch I picked was about a third of what they produced at their peak. The okra seems to be getting a little tired also and its output is somewhat down. The tomatoes are still doing well, but the sizes are smaller since they ripen before getting as big as at first.

The flowers planted along with the veggies are doing well, the marigolds better than the zinnias. This is mainly because the zinnias have been blooming for a while and the marigolds have been growing and just recently started putting forth their flowers. Most of these marigolds are about three feet tall.

In the small bed at the upper end of the garden, the few butternut squash have put on some fairly large edible entities – not sure exactly how many yet. The three sunflowers in the same area are just now starting to form flower heads – I may try some more of these next year, they seem to thrive on neglect more than some of the other plants – large smile.

The blueberries are definitely past their peak, but more are still on the bushes. The ones I am picking now are mostly remnants left from previous pickings, plus they are a bit smaller than the first ones – still yummy though. Unless I miss my guess, next week will see the last of the berries for this season.

During my produce gathering today I did notice a fig getting ripe on the very top of the largest tree. It won’t be long before we will be covered up with figs; they all seem to get ripe at one time. The figs at the other side of the garden will be right along with that one, but it will take the trees at the other end of the house several years to really start to produce.

The muscadines will ripen about the end of August and the hazelnuts not too long after that. The rugosa rose that I planted to produce rose hips has been a disappointment in that it produces very few and they are inferior in size. My thoughts are that it is not getting proper pollination – possibly the bugs and bees around here don’t care for the flower?

I stay in an almost constant state of amazement at the many types of plants the Creator made and the ways they grow and produce their seed. And most of these seeds are incased in something we can eat – how’s that for planning for our future? God does all things well. ec

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Somehow, somebody did something, sometime recently and it had to be somewhere that was somewhat close. But since somehow means in a way not specific, apparent or known and somebody is simply a non-specific person, we don’t know how it was done or who did whatever he or she did.

Then since something means a certain undetermined or unspecified thing and sometime is at some indefinite or indeterminate point of time, we really don’t know what was actually done or when this action or non-action was accomplished.

To add to the conundrum, somewhere could be in or at some place unspecified or unknown and somewhat means only in some measure or degree. Then we have to conclude that we don’t know either the exact location or how close it was, because close is measured by many means and methods.

More specificity is definitely needed but since it is not forthcoming, we will endeavor to solve the unknowns in the equation to cause the event in question to become known.

First we know that something happened, because if nothing had happened, somebody would know that it did or else nobody would know that it didn’t. Also it had to happen somehow because every happening has a way of happening, if it is a real happening. Plus non-happenings have a way of not happening most any time.

The happening that we have determined to have happened, had to happen to somebody – this since no animal, vegetable or mineral was mentioned. The somebody involved in the happening evidently chooses to remain anonymous at this time since they haven’t stepped forward with their identity.

The time of the happening is also a mystery but since our existence is marked by time, we do know that it happened sometime and somebody possibly knows nearly the exact time. This is because most momentous events like this are carved in many memories.

The somewhat in this large question indicates that the happening was not to the measure or degree that it could possibly have happened without the somewhat present as a suppressing factor. The event then had to happen somewhere because everything does. Since something has to be included in everything, the natural conclusion is that it happened somewhere.

The answer follows – yet without going into any sordid details. In unknowing ways, multitudes of ‘somebodies’ are ignoring the love of Jesus Christ. This is happening everyday, in all parts of the world and even in the lives of some very close to you and that in very procrastinating ways. Accepting His love is our choice – but not choosing is also making a choice – against the love of God. ec

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

KS - our wedding

1963-Looking back I can see God’s hand even in this decision of quitting a job, but I was not very happy at all about it back then. In fact, to me it was like stepping out into a very dark nothingness. My last letter from Lexington was dated May 27th, which would have been Monday night. It said I would be coming home on Thursday, May 30th. That trip was with all my belongings stuffed in the VW for the journey, that was one heavily loaded ‘bug’.

After getting home, Miss C and I had to go into panic mode to find an apartment in two days, which we finally did on Saturday – we had to sign a lease for a year at $75 a month as best as I remember. That was a lot back then, but it probably would have been 80 or 85 in Lexington, this according to some checking around up there.

The day finally arrived after much ‘blood, sweat and tears’ – don’t remember any blood, but there was some extensive sweating going on, as well as some tears of preparation frustration that were involved on the part of Miss C. Both of our extended families were in town for the big event and massive teasing was going on. The night before, I had gone to hide our car since it was a small one and might just wind up on top of somebody’s house. Certain ones kept contending that they knew where it was and they were going to “fix it up”.

On Sunday afternoon at 3pm, June 2, 1963, all our hopes, dreams and plans collided with reality in a ceremony that seemed to never conclude. Looking back, I remember this beautiful young lady coming down the aisle toward me in a flowing cloud of white; what had I done to deserve this awesome blessing? Knowing the lack of any great goodness in me, I had to consider this a gift from the grace of God.

I was told later that I was white as a sheet but I managed to not pass out. My older brother was the best man and he would have caught me if I had – I think. Back before the ceremony began, my pastor had advised me that when it came time for ‘the kiss’, that I should not just do a little ‘peck’ but really make it meaningful.

When all the sweating, weak knees, bumbling words and trembling hands were over, it came time to kiss my bride. Remembering the advice of my pastor, I planted one on her that didn’t end until the audience started snickering and she started resisting.

We were then introduced as Mr. and Mrs. and I escorted my lovely one back down the aisle. I knew already that this was the greatest thing in the physical world that had happened in my life thus far. I was totally blown away that this beloved person would choose to spend the rest of her life with me.

TBC - ec

Monday, July 17, 2006

KS - complications

Late Spring 1963 – The next several weeks of old letters spoke of many sweet nothings, of how lonely I was and of how much I was ready for the waiting to be over. Also of staying very busy with church activities and hunting for a trailer for us to buy. Then of being discouraged in the hunt and deciding to just rent an apartment until Miss C would be there to help me look.

Another recurring theme was that of the temporary job situation and how hard it was to make any permanent plans. The letters also speak of a close walk with God, and that the job situation along with other things really kept me on my knees. This was made all the worse by the wedding date being down to less than a month.

At that time my oldest sister was living in Toledo and I went up to visit her for the weekend – according to a letter of May 5, 1963. This was the same sister whose husband was the Army recruiter that signed me up for the military three years before. Had a good visit there with their crowd - she had four young ones at the time with another due near our wedding date. My arrival back in Lexington was about 9pm on Sunday night. This was approximately a 6-hour drive as opposed to about 11 hours to Augusta.

A May 14th letter spoke of a trip to Augusta and getting back 12:30 Sunday night - actually Monday morning and that was to be the last trip back home until the wedding. My usual routine when going home was to leave right after work on Friday, drive all night and get to Augusta in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Then start back about 1 or 2pm Sunday afternoon – love can cause its involved ones to do some drastic and exhausting things – especially things that do not seem to make a lot of sense when looked back on later.

My temporary job status in Lexington couldn’t be resolved before I would leave to get married, according to a letter of May 25th, so I had to make a very uncomfortable decision. Miss C had an excellent job with the government at the Savannah River Plant and had worked one week of a two weeks notice. We decided for her to keep her job in Augusta and we would just start our married life back there where both of our families were close by. I would have to officially terminate my job in Lexington after we came back from our honeymoon.

TBC - ec

Sunday, July 16, 2006

love action

My older daughter was trying to get her young one (13 months at the time) to say ‘I love God’ and was aided in this teaching session by her daughter (8 yrs). They were able to get a response of sorts, his own version, of the first and third words but when they tried to get him to repeat ‘love’, he always wanted to just give them a big kiss. He just knew that this word was an action word and he did the action required to give the real meaning.

Besides warming a grandpa’s heart, this spoke to me about what we older people could learn from this. Sometimes we just say the word ‘love’ but don’t think that any action is required. Although love is identified as a noun, the results of real love should translate into action. If our actions do not back up and/or validate our love statement, truthfulness would demand that another word be used.

1 John 4:20 gives us a challenge: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” If we really love God, we will love the humans that He places in our path for that purpose and translate this love into the appropriate actions. ec

Friday, July 14, 2006

oak stump

The old oak stump is finally gone from the yard – the one that I had been mowing around for several years. This stump was the remains of the oak tree that I had watched grow from a seedling in the shadow of a huge pine – this pine had to be taken out because it was killed by lightning.

The oak had been there at least 20 years and had grown to about 40 feet tall and about 24 inches through the trunk at the base. The main problem with the oak was that it allowed almost no grass to grow under it. All that was showing beneath the tree was a large network of roots, a few hardy weeds and bare ground.

About five years ago, the oak had been tied off with rope – to keep it away from the power lines – then cut and pulled down. The next several days were spent with the chain saw, cutting the trunk and limbs into movable, firewood-sized pieces. All except the very smallest of branches were cut this way and hauled to the backyard firewood stack.

The hauling was done in my hand-pulled yard cart and it was sturdy enough to haul even the heaviest trunk sections. The small sizes were stacked in the ready-to-use stack and the larger in the need-to-be-split stack.

Everything was moving along nicely when the “smash” occurred. I had grabbed one of the biggest sections of trunk and with a mighty heave, swung it over and dropped it atop the to-be-split stack. Through a slight miscalculation the tip end of my right ring finger was between the section I dropped and the one I dropped it on.

The pain was instant and nauseating. Although I was wearing leather gloves, I wasn’t sure the tip of the finger would still be there when I took the hand protectors off. It was still there but the nail was knocked totally loose from the nail root.

Although this incident happened at least 5 years ago, I remember it like it was last month. A Prompt Care visit showed that the bone wasn’t broken “they didn’t think”, a fingertip protector was put on and I was sent home to hurt for a while. It took the better part of a year for the nail to grow out and look normal.

This story then brings us back to the stump. It took about a year to kill the stump and then it was allowed to rot in the ground. It was deemed rotten enough to finally chop from the ground recently and with my present garden cart and ‘Betsy’ (the pick), I went out to remove this eyesore from the yard. It took several hours to chop out the rotten chunks of wood to down below ground level and haul them off, but the task is finally completed.

The yard will be much smoother and with less aggravation at mowing time. Everyone’s yard – and life – needs to be smoother. Our spiritual life can be much smoother with Jesus in control of it but this is a decision each person must make. ec

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Younger daughter (YD), SIL and their gruntmonkeys had been gone for over a week to visit SIL’s parents in Big Rapids, Michigan. Evidently Big Rapids is smaller than its cousin city Grand Rapids – hence the name? They had a real hoot with various activities, with GM1, GM3 and GM4 riding on one of the vehicles in the July 4th parade. SIL’s Dad just happens to be the mayor of the town.

It seems that GM6 slept through the whole event, even with all the noise involved and woke up just as the parade ended. Of course they all got to watch the fireworks that night and were appropriately amazed thereby. One of the hobbies of SIL is ‘metal detecting’ – searching for coins or whatever with their instruments and GM1 got to join in with this adventure during the course of the week.

This beloved crowd returned home Monday evening, but the Spice and I were otherwise involved and didn’t get to see them. Tuesday I stopped by there after my dental appointment and got to see all the GMs. There were hugs and kisses all around and I even got to put GM6 down for his nap. He didn’t seem to care for this event and let everyone know by his outcries of disapproval, but it was all for show and he conked out shortly after.

As I am wont to do, I was discussing important issues with GM4 (2½ yrs. old). I’m not sure whether I was getting down to his mental level or he was coming up to mine – it was not a long trip either way. I touched the toes on his bare feet and told him that those were some very nice toes and asked where he got them. He simply said that he got them for his birthday. It took me quite a space of time to regain my composure after that and since laughter is good medicine, I got a full dose.

The 4 yr. old (GM4) was involved in a Disney movie, but I decided that I would ask him the same question. I commented on the quality of his toes as well and also asked him where he had got them. Without turning from the movie he said, “I don’t know, I’ve had them a long time”. Of course I lost it again and realized that these little guy’s parents – and grandparents – were going to have some interesting and entertaining years before these young sprouts got to be adults.

According to Scripture, children are a blessing from the Lord – to their parents, yes, but maybe more so to their grandparents and these young ones are certainly a blessing to Granna and Pop pop. ec

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

KS - the rings

A letter of March 14, 1963 mentioned that I had gotten a promotion to a higher rate of pay; this was good but still didn’t solve the temporary job status. We had to work a good many Saturdays on overtime and this was tiring, but helped improve my financial situation as I was still trying to scrape up enough cash for a ring. That seems a little strange in today’s world – not having a ring yet – but it didn’t to me then and Miss C wasn’t complaining.

Another letter – April 7, 1963 – brought back to mind that Miss C and my Mom came up to Lexington to see me for a few days. My Mom’s neighbor was traveling that way and they hitched a ride with them. We had a great time touring around the area horse farms – the whole territory was famous for them – that and University of Kentucky basketball.

Miss C and I looked around for a trailer to buy and just generally checked out the whole city for some place to live when we moved there. It was a wonderful visit but it just made me lonelier when they went back home. They made it home OK in spite of the fact that the neighbor that drove them was colorblind and his wife had to tell him when the traffic signal was red or green. There were a few close calls during the trip according to my Mom and Miss C. Incidentally, there were no interstate highways in their route to and from home – that highway system was still in its infancy.

The engagement and wedding rings had been put on order and a letter of April 10th said that they finally came in. With these endearing objects in hand I made a surprise trip home on the 12th to therewith grace the third finger, left hand of my intended. She was appropriately pleased for a couple of reasons, one was the obvious and the other was the fact that the ring was different from the usual. The difference was that the engagement ring diamond was an emerald cut, very unusual at that time. But then an unusual person picked it out – me.

The letter of April 15th mentioned that I got back to Lexington at 3:30am Monday morning, slept 2 hours and went to work. After work I still had to come home and do my laundry - and no, the laundry had no bearing at all on me wanting to get married.

TBC - ec

Monday, July 10, 2006

KS - proposal

I was in a strait betwixt two, on the horns of a dilemma, between a rock and a hard place and in a perplexing predicament. No two ways about it, I needed a wife, but was Miss C the one or should I look for another? I knew that I thought I was in love with her but did I really know what love was and was what I felt enough to hold us together for a lifetime?

I perceive now that the main reason for the indecision was a basic distrust of others, particularly those of the feminine gender. This distrust was mostly of my own making and from bad and/or stupid experiences and decisions while in the military – aided and abetted by a natural shyness on my part. You might say that back then I had been looking for love in all the wrong places – why does that sound so familiar?

But on Thursday night March the 7th 1963, all things changed – this from an old letter. That was the night I called up Miss C – long distance – and asked her to share the rest of her life with me. Not the most romantic of settings for a proposal, but I had had so much trouble making up my mind that I had to let her know before something happened to change the situation. She said yes, then I talked to her Dad and he gave consent; her mother cried – in happiness – I think.

Being neither out-going nor very self-confident at the time, my jitters started the instant I hung up the phone. The date of June 2nd had been agreed on and panic set in with Miss C also, but hers was due to the dilemma of so much to do before that day. The call was made from the Potters and it was after much heart-to-heart talk with Mrs. Potter that the call took place.

Our plans were to move to Lexington and set up housekeeping there, but there was one big problem with that. My job was still in temporary status and officially supposed to end just about the time I would be coming home to be married. They seemed to like me, as well as the way I worked, but being government work, all the allocations for permanent jobs came from higher up and filtered down through channels. They kept assuring me that the allocation would come down, but needless to say it was of a major concern to me.

From other letters, we were going out witnessing in Lexington every week with the Pioneers for Christ club on Saturdays and Sundays. Church was a large part of my life even back then and I went most every time the door was open. The church youth group would even go to other churches within an hours drive to revivals or youth meetings. It was probably a good thing I was staying busy with them because it seemed to keep me out of trouble – mostly.

TBC - ec

Sunday, July 09, 2006


My ‘cuz’ sent this to me and I thought you might like it too. ec

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head "Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today." So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. "H-M-M, " she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. "Well," she said, "Today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail." So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. "YEAH!" she exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today!"

Attitude is everything.

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply, Speak kindly....... Leave the rest to God

Saturday, July 08, 2006

mo berry good

Our summer has been hot and dry and I think this has accelerated the blueberry ripening process somewhat. The bushes are of different varieties and normally ripen in time stages, but they seem to be all ripening at one time and if not picked promptly, will fall to the ground. Even though I have been picking at least a couple of gallons a day for the last several days, I’m still losing some.

The losses are partly because of bugs sticking their snout where I don’t want them to, part eaten by birds and the rest to over-ripeness. Even with all that there are still more than I can pick, unless I stay out all day every day, but it is just too hot for that.

The picking processes have brought back to my mind a curious phenomenon that I noticed many years ago in the workings at different venue and action. It is an odd reflex occurrence of the human mind – at least in mine – that I first noticed after a good day of fishing many moons ago.

In the early spring it was crappie fishing time. This type fish is also spelled croppie and crappe and is considered to be among the best tasting freshwater fishes. Crappie are also called papermouths, calico bass, strawberry bass and Oswego bass. My uncle once said that he had been called a crappie fisherman but instead of referring to his expertise at the sport, it was the type fish he went for.

Many of these trips were made with my pastor at the time and they were enjoyable and productive inasmuch as we would always bring back fish for the freezer. He was the one that told me of the phenomenon of my reference. He stated that if you fish hard all day and catch many fish, you can close your eyes and still see the cork going down.

I didn’t think much of the statement until we were coming home one day after a very productive trip. He was driving and I leaned back and closed my eyes and there it was, in my mind I could still see the cork going down. I’m sure there is a name for this mental reflex reaction, but I thought it very odd when it happened to me – made me want to reel in another fish.

Several years ago I noticed a similar mental reaction after a lengthy berry picking session. When I came in and plopped down in the floor to rest a few minutes and closed my eyes, I could still see cluster after cluster of ripe blueberries just hanging there, ready to be plucked from the branches. It would almost make one reach out for the picking.

This reaction has happened many times since and even though the mind is sometimes an odd thing, I do rejoice, even in these weirdnesses, because according to scripture we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that makes me glad. ec

Thursday, July 06, 2006

berry good

It was a good day; in fact it was a berry good day. Many, if not most, of the blueberries have ripened and all they needed is someone to pick them. The picker, being distracted by other obligations, was a little slack in this part of his labor. But the evening before, he had broken loose from his lethargy and did a full frontal attack on the berry-picking project.

First let me give a little background on the origin of the residents of the patch. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 plus years ago I purchased two each of five different varieties of blueberry bushes from our friendly neighborhood plant nursery. These were planted in two rows on the slope below the veggie garden. Included in these were three plants from the old home place in Mississippi.

Then about a year or so later, my older brother brought some more sprouts from his bushes. The number of bushes topped out at 21. Over the years a few of these have expired for unknown reasons and have been replaced with sprouts from the others. These are still my main producers, but the ones planted down one side of the driveway and also on the bedroom end of the house are growing and starting to produce as well.

The labor on the morning of reference was to inspect and cull the previously picked berries and bag them for freezing and later consumption. The ones culled would be the over-ripe, the split, bird-pecked and the extreme runts. The berries come in all sizes due to the variety and/or the weather and/or the moisture/nutrition they receive. If one buys the berries in the supermarket, they are usually graded as to size, with the larger going to the fresh or frozen market and the smaller going to flavor some product such as cereal or cereal bars – some supposition on my part here.

Since I don’t have machinery to do the culling and sizing, it is done by hand. Basically they are all run through my hands, with the rejects tossed and good ones bagged, no matter the size, since they are all tasty. The bags of storage are quart-sized Zip-Loc freezer bags and that type container works very well for me. The tally now, as of the 5th, is 40 bags already in the freezer with more to come.

The blessings of the Lord sometimes come in small, round, juicy berry sizes. ec

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

KS - the Potters

January 1963 – Several letters mentioned going over to the Potters and spending time with them. Mrs. Potter was my confidant and I usually discussed my concerns and situations with her. She was about like an older sister and I valued her advice. She knew all about Miss C and my feelings for her.

I remember eating with them a good bit and spending time with their family. We would play cards – Army style pinochle – at almost every gathering. Potter and his daughter would usually partner against his wife and I – we had a lot of fun with its associated good-natured banter. They seemed to enjoy having me over and I know I enjoyed their hospitality and friendship.

Potter would putter in their basement, putting together electronic parts, usually for a radio or some other related gear. Still remember the curls of smoke from his soldering iron and cigarette blending together as he was enjoying his hobby down in his little corner of the world.

The letter of 1-25-63 told of record breaking cold and snow. It went down to 21 below zero, breaking a record set in 1884. It also stated that most everybody stayed home because their cars wouldn’t start, but my VW kept right on going. Potter calls it a tin can, but it hasn’t failed to start and his has failed several times.

Every letter I wrote to Miss C contained copious and multitudinous amounts of affection for her, yet I was unable to decide on a permanent continuation with her. This would somewhat account for my friendship with Miss G and later with Miss J, both in Lexington. This latter nearly caused a permanent cessation of the relationship between Miss C and myself. Indecision is a terrible and sometimes cruel thing.

I seemed to be growing spiritually, but I still had a lot to learn in many areas, especially those of the heart. A letter of 3-4-63 told that the witnessing group “Pioneers for Christ” came down to our church for the weekend. We learned to witness and went out door-to-door, witnessing about Christ and inviting folks to church. We formed a club for that in our church, of which I was selected VP.

TBC – ec

Monday, July 03, 2006

KS - Lexington Army Depot

Much to the consternation of several of those close to me, I departed the Augusta, Georgia area and arrived in Lexington, Kentucky either the 25th or 26th of November 1962. This date came from a collection of old letters written by me to Miss C, and according to them and my collection of hers to me, the romance between us was in full blossom. Miss Y was no longer in the forefront of the picture.

From a letter dated 11-27-1962, I went to the Army Depot that day to process in and got everything completed except for a check-up by the doctor. Evidently I finished up the next day – Wednesday – and started to work. A letter of 12-2-62 told of my going to the Church of God up there, and was welcomed to the church once in Sunday School class, again in the main auditorium, in the choir and they had me testify just before preaching. It seems they were glad to see me. :o)

Other letters mentioned that I really liked my job and that it was almost like not working because all the guys were so easy to get along with. On my second day in Lexington I had found a room to rent in the home of Mrs. Jones at 233 Rodes Avenue – I am told that the house has now been torn down and the property is part of a parking lot. She rented the upstairs rooms in the large two-story house – I believe I remember four of them.

I joined a car pool with two other guys; one was retired military and the other a sergeant still in the Army. The guys I worked with were part civilian and the rest Army. A letter of 12-7-62 told of visiting the retired army couple (the guy from my car pool), the Potters, and they gave me my first hot meal since I had been in Kentucky and I was invited for the next night as well. They must have felt sorry for me.

The letter of 12-11-62 said it had been snowing every day for five days and the temp for three days running was 7 degrees, 14, and 4 below zero. Other letters indicated I had been attending church, but the tone of them did not show any real spiritual depth. I was able to come home for a few days at Christmas, mostly to see Miss C.

A letter of January 8th mentions that we were in revival at church and that I received the infilling of the Holy Spirit on Monday the 7th of January 1963. I remember the revival as one of the most powerful I had attended in quite a while. That was a small step for God but a giant leap for my spiritual life.

TBC - ec