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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Thursday, November 30, 2006

pen stuff

An old quote came to mind the other day and I looked it up on the web – that amazing source of miscellaneous information. The words were first written in 1839 by Edward George Bulwer Lytton and the whole quote went like this: “Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword.” This latter part was the portion that came to mind and I pondered on it. Of course we know what the quote means but taking into consideration that the sword was commonly carried in the year of its writing and the pen was likely a quill made from a goose feather, one probably also needed a sword as a back up for the feather.

A pen is defined as any of various instruments for writing or drawing with ink or a similar substance. Then I looked up the ballpoint pen on the web and got the whole evolution of writing instruments. From the quill and other pens that had to be constantly dipped in the ink to write, to the fountain pen with its own reservoir of ink and then the ballpoint that stumbled on the scene in 1938. It was an interesting story – to me anyway – and now BIC dominates the market, pretty much worldwide.

Two or more years ago, while in Sam’s wholesalers, I had need of some ballpoints for the house and study so I bought a package of cheapie Paper-mate pens – naturally blue in color – the pen and the ink. There were at least six boxes of 12 pens each in the purchase. So far I have only worn out about a half-dozen of them and the rest are scattered in strategic places around the house and my study. My study desk still contains 3 full boxes of pens – in this case, I would have to say that the pen is mightier than our use and abuse of them.

While in the pen section of the dictionary I noticed the word pencel - a small pennon (a flag or pennant), as at the head of a lance. Then there was pensee (with a little thingie over the first e of the double) – French for a reflection or thought. My discoveries in the kingdom of language are so exciting – I guess you had to be there though. Also found was pensile – something hanging, as a bird's nest. Then I got pensive – dreamily or wistfully thoughtful – about pen words in general.

Other found stuff – a penstock is a conduit for conveying water to a power plant. Penuche is a fudge made of brown sugar, butter, milk, and usually nuts – a sweet word. A penult is the next to the last syllable in a word. Then there is the word penology and one might think this would be the study of pens and I guess it is in a way – but not the writing instrument type of pen.

Striving not to leave any of my penchant for words pending, lest perhaps I’m assigned a penalty for the verbosity and have to do penance for persnicketiness, I do here and now wind this post up – or down – whichever is the most final. Didn’t God do good giving us languages to have fun with? ec

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


The Healthcare Issues Continue. After several months of back and leg pain, trying to exercise my way through it and with care from a chiropractor reaching an impasse, an appointment was made with a neuro-doc. At the insistence – nay, demand – of the Spice, due to my grunting and groaning, I also went to my primary care doc to try to speed up the process – since the neuro appointment was a couple of weeks out. He prescribed an anti-inflammatory tablet pac and scheduled a MRI on my lower back to determine exactly what was going on.

Monday of Thanksgiving week was the day of the MRI and being out and about before 8am caused the realization to dawn on me that many people still work for a living. The traffic seemed to indicate that most all the folks were late for work due to their non-observance of the posted limit, plus they get a bit cranky when some retired person with only an MRI appointment gets in front of them that is in much less of a hurry than they.

The MRI center opened a few minutes after my arrival and I was the first appointment of the day. My information was given, insurance cards copied and after a short wait, I was taken back to change into clothes without metal of any kind. Then I was assisted into the proper position on the table, the table was moved under the machinery and the binging and banging started. Close places have never bothered me and it was a good thing because I was up close and personal with this machine.

The whole process was painless and I was walking out the door about an hour after I went in and had my MRI images in hand. The mind that God created within us has always been amazing to me – with the ability to create astounding things – some to kill and hurt but some machines like these to aid in the healthcare of humankind. God does all things well.

Since I already had the MRI images, we called and were able to move the neuro appointment up to the next day. Next morning I entered another healthcare office in which I had never been. This simply means that once again your life’s medical history must be written out on another form, insurance cards must be copied and you wait for your name to be called.

My name was called and I went to another place of waiting. After a while the doctor came in and introduced himself, he asked and I told of my ailment and somewhat of its history. He told me that he didn’t see any huge red flags on the images of my back during a quick reading. Then he said that he wanted to avoid surgery if possible – and while I could appreciate the thoughts, I also felt I needed some form of solution for the pain that was nagging my consciousness most moments.

He wanted to try another form of a stronger steroid to hopefully shrink the inflammation and hence either lessen or eliminate the pain, and I was all for either one of those solutions. We talked more and in response to my questions, he advised me the exercises I could do and the actions I should not take. The anti-inflammatory he prescribed was to be taken 3 a day for 5 days, take nothing for a week and then do 5 more days on the drug. All the while noting any changes taking place in the pain and cramping of the back and leg.

The first 5 days of the medication has now been completed and I’m into the week of taking nothing. While there has been a slight relief in the symptoms while at rest, walking brings them back in a hurry and it is a bit discouraging – but the future has not arrived as yet and we will see how it works out then. Prayer concerning this matter would be much appreciated. God is still good, all the time. ec

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


The word aftermath tells of something that follows and usually results from an event. This is a word that comes to mind when thinking about the Saturday after Thanksgiving. OD and her clan knew they were not going to be able to come back home for Christmas so they brought presents to exchange with the other grunt monkeys. That was a wild time of unwrapping, squealing, laughing, tripping over each other and playing with toys as one would expect from Christmas – even an early one.

The aftermath of the openings were many wrappings and boxes, as well as just the normal increase of trash that accompanies having more folks in the household. This was further complicated by the fact that I had missed taking this excess last week and it was necessary to make it depart from the premises – and Saturday past was the chosen departure day. The resulting congregation of bags and boxes almost filled the bed of my truck. These items were dropped off at the landfill in their proper receptacles and that event seemed to put most of the finality on a wonderful holiday.

Our kinfolks from Florida were still with us until Sunday morning and their leaving brought back the reminder of another aftermath of our time together. This is the one of the emotions, the joy of the family gathering and the elation of just being together with these that are so close to the heart – but also the tinge of sadness at their departure. Of course this was not an unexpected thing and just had to be taken into consideration as part of the event. These memories, the good and the sad, were stored away – to be taken out and enjoyed in the days to come.

As I am wont to do, I looked further into the meaning of the word aftermath and found one that was a little more upbeat. It carried the idea of renewal, like a new growth of grass or other crop following a mowing. Nature itself will regrow after a breaking or the tearing away of the old, sometimes the old will regrow and sometimes something new will grow in its place. This sounds much like what happens in our interpersonal relationships with family and even with others.

The old saying is so true stating that nature abhors a vacuum – because something will definitely grow back after a tearing away, even if nothing but weeds. This is also like our emotions when the unpleasant things happen in our life – but the great thing about being human is that we have a choice, we can grow stronger or we can grow emotional weeds.

Now before you start thinking that I have gone off the deep end just because some of my loved ones have gone back home, let me state that I have chosen to grow stronger rather than grow weeds. (smile) May you also be stronger in all of your aftermaths, whether they are from a speed bump or a big crash, because God is able and willing to help in all things – but we must ask Him. ec

Monday, November 27, 2006

thankful - 3

The family started gathering in, we set up more tables in the den, the food was lined up on the cabinets in the kitchen and we then congregated, thanksgiving was offered for the food and we started taking the food and making it a part of ourselves, some of it for a lifetime. Our number topped out at 26 and of that total 10 were youngsters, 7 of which were under 5 years old – including the two-month-old twin girls of the niece. You might say it was a joyful, raucous, semi-controlled chaos – especially among the young ones – that I would not have had any other way – I was very thankful.

The food was again great but the warmth of family was something to just bask in and enjoy. And as hard as it was to laugh or smile and still eat, it still happened just that way. When the consuming slowed down and some of the dishes were cleared away, the shopping members of the family gathered the sales papers and set about continuing a tradition. This endeavor is to gather funds from each family and instead of buying Christmas gifts for each other; we would buy for at least one needy family – anonymously, of course. We had information on a family through church sources and the group just sat around the table planning for shopping the next day (the day after Thanksgiving).

The list was divided up with some going in one direction and others in another. Some items were planned and some would just be ad-lib as the shopping progressed. Our event wound down and the family members not staying with us went to their homes. Our shopping group, consisting of the Spice, OD, YD, GM1 and GM2 arose before the sun to get in on some early specials. One of the non-shoppers, me, just tried to go back to sleep after they left – they knew that they had my blessing on the adventure and with my gimpy leg, would have just slowed them down.

The massive shopping was done on Friday morning, probably the busiest shopping day of the year – these lady folks in my life seem to thrive on this sort of thing – even more so because of the reason behind the project. The shoppers returned about 10:30 and were all excited about their purchases, even some items that were not for the chosen family – go figure.

Friday was also the day of OD and crowd going home – tempering the day with a touch of sadness but so thankful that they were able to come for the week. It came to be early afternoon, our van was loaded up with their luggage – we were taking them back to the Atlanta airport to fly back to Houston – and we were on our way. The trip was fairly uneventful other than a somewhat noisy GM5 – he is not a good traveler – and we dropped them and luggage off at the Atlanta airport check-in about 5:30pm. The driving time from our house is just short of two and a half hours.

We pretty much felt like a chunk of us was torn out by their departure, but we just have to continue on with life. We stopped for a short while in Kohl’s in Conyers for the Spice to check on an item. I’m fortunate that my back and leg don’t seem to be much bothered by driving and riding – but walking is a different story, so I stayed in the van except for a short visit to the necessary room.

We mostly got our sadness talked out on the way home and for the whole event of Thanksgiving, with all the surrounding blessings thereof, I am grateful and ever so thankful to God. ec

Saturday, November 25, 2006

thankful - 2

After exiting the interstate, the rest of the route to my brother’s did contain a fair amount of leftover color, mostly flowering pear trees and some unknown species planted at the entrance to subdivisions. One of these areas contained four unknowns with most of their leaves still decorating the limbs and they were a brilliant orange-red, very pleasing to the eyes. Then there were two hickories that were still almost in full leaf, with the colors ranging from golden to brown – and just before dropping.

The aforementioned flowering pear trees were not actually flowering, this is my way of differing them from the fruiting types. They produce only a small berry – it actually tastes a bit like a pear, but somewhat bitter and very tart. Their leaves in the fall do produce beautiful colors and for that I am thankful. It looked a bit odd but on the corner of one of the side roads a large bush contained a proliferation of orange-red berries that hung in three massive clumps and were in such profusion that it was a magnet to the eyes. Again I was thankful for the beauty.

Arriving at the older bro’s place in a thankfully safe manner, I carried my dishes down to the building that he constructed for just such events as this. About half of the crowd was there and the rest gathered in and the tables were filled with the prepared dishes and the stage was set for a feast. We were called to order, grace for the food was spoken and the consuming began. The food was great but going even beyond was the family members present whose company we could enjoy.

The seasoning of the meal was the accompanying joy, laughter, teasing, the telling of stories and just generally catching up on what we had missed since we last met. All told there 19 attendees and oddly enough, all were adults – the ones with children were unable to be there for one reason or another. Most were the three adult children of older bro and their offspring, with a few other odds and ends thrown in. My generation of siblings number three guys and three gals, the gals were in cities elsewhere but us three bros were present and accounted for.

It was a good gathering, good day, good food and good laughter – what more could you ask except for it to last longer – but the time finally came for me to reluctantly depart for home and our evening gathering to be held there. The Spice needed another item for the meal that she was a little short on and it just happened that I had to pass by a Bi-Lo on the way, so I stopped in for it and wouldn’t you know that it was a buy-one-get-one item – or BOGO and I got a bonus package.

The meal was originally scheduled for about 5pm but had to be shifted back an hour for a family couple to be able to get to the festivities. This was somewhat of a blessing for me since I was still a little stuffed from the noon meal – a little more digesting time. The rest of the trip home was mostly uneventful until I noticed a large hawk circling above the interstate. It was a beautiful, healthy looking bird of prey and I thought maybe it had its eyes on its Thanksgiving meal at that very moment – and I was thankful for having been able to have viewed this creature of God’s creation.

I did bring back some leftover banana pudding so you might be able to guess what at least a portion of my breakfast will be in the morning. Arriving back home safely at about a quarter till four, we set about putting the finishing touches on another joyous Thanksgiving reunion that will happen shortly. God is good and has given much to be thankful for – and I am. TBC ec

Friday, November 24, 2006

thankful - 1

Thanksgiving morning began as most all my mornings do, by waking to realize the day had already begun without me. The only problem of the morning so far was the fact that I had scheduled my waking hour to be 8am and my eyes popped wide open shortly after 6am. Then due to my mind going over the events of the coming day and an annoying leg cramp, I lay there and just thought for a while. Then about 30 minutes before time for me to get up I went back to sleep – but I still knew it would be a great day.

Last evening (Wednesday) our kin from Florida came in for a few days and while our beds are not quite maxed out, we have a fairly large group. Always good to see them but we don’t get together very often since they live in the Fort Lauderdale area, just north of Miami, Florida – 600 plus miles away. OD and her clan are in the upstairs bedrooms and the others are in the basement ‘suite’ – two bedrooms and a bath that were originally made for the use of YD and GM1 some years back and have come in very handy over the years when we have company for a big family event.

Arising and limping into this day of great expectations, I began my prep for the two large events of the holiday. The first would be a noon meal of fun and feast out at my brother’s place with most of his close family. My prep portion for this occasion was to cook a squash casserole and a banana pudding. The makings for the casserole had been prepared previously and frozen so this was not a big task. The banana pudding is my main cooking specialty and was the big task of the morning before departing for the event.

After a bit of breakfast, I started cranking up the pudding about 9:30, they usually take about an hour from start to finish. Keep in mind that this is a carefully constructed work of culinary art and not some instant pudding thing that is thrown together. It is built from ‘scratch’ ingredients the old fashion way and all the calories are left in the mix. The routine for the past several years has been that I would go out to my brother’s solo for their noon meal and then come back for our family get together that is held at our house somewhere in the neighborhood of 5pm.

The Spice is able to get along without me that long because she is busy in prep for our gala event in the evening. Our meal, as is my brother’s, is the cooperative efforts of several cooks in the family and not just a big hassle for one person. With my dishes finished, I cleaned up a bit, loaded up and headed to the brother’s. This trip is a bit over 20 miles, takes about 30 minutes, about half of it is by way of interstate and I couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be so many vehicles on the road.

It would appear that they are striving to get somewhere for the holiday but I’m just surprised that they haven’t arrived as yet, this being Thanksgiving Day. It struck me a bit odd that the highway seemed to have many more autos going eastward than it did westward – I have no idea why. Due to recent rain and heavy winds, a large part of the fall color has been blown to the ground to compost and enrich the soil for the trees and plants to grow next year. This is God’s plan for the continuance of His creation. For this I am thankful. TBC ec

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Texas kin

On Friday past, my daughter from Texas came to visit until the day after Thanksgiving. The whole crew came with her – FSIL, GM2 and GM5 – and it has been the good kind of madhouse since. They flew into Atlanta and NIL (nephew-in-law) went and picked them up for me since my back was in a snit. Saturday came and the whole crew went for the delayed birthday party for GM4. His third b-day was actually on the 13th, but the party was delayed until the other grunt monkeys could get here.

The party was held at the Pink Dipper ice cream parlor – in their party room, naturally. Present were YD and SSIL, OD and FSIL, Grunt monkeys 1-6, the Spice and I, MIL, NWT (niece with twins) and NIL and lastly, TS (their son). My SIL, NWT’s Mom, stayed with the twins since they can’t walk yet – in fact they can’t even crawl yet, plus they are very small – I began life as a baby myself.

Things went according to plans and an exciting time was had by the young ones – and some of the adults. We did have plenty of eyes to make sure they didn’t do damage to the facilities or each other. After the party, I took MIL home, YD took her crew home and the rest went to see the young twins. They have been so small that they were both in one crib but now they are starting to get in one another’s face – literally – and another crib will be forthcoming.

On Sunday, OD, YD and all their crews were present for the noon meal that actually took place a little later than that. It was a hoot! Little cookie crumblers were everywhere, squealing, playing, making noises, laughing, running, being loud and above all being cute. OK, it did jangle a nerve or two but we survived and still enjoyed it. Many opportunities have occurred for times of togetherness and many have taken place with our beloved out-of-staters.

On Monday, OD and the Spice went shopping for a good portion of the day and just had a good time together. FSIL was the main sitter for GM2 and GM5 and I was his back up after I got back from my appointment – we just held down the fort until the return of our better halves. That evening we all went out for supper at California Dreaming – it was a good day.

Tuesday began as cloudy and promising rain and true to its word, it delivered the wet stuff later in the day. We might could have picked a better day to go on our annual Christmas movie outing, but it was what it was. OD and FSIL had some errands to run so we drove separately and brought the three oldest Grunt Monkeys with us and met them at the movie. We saw ‘Santa Clause 3’ – let me state here that I did not pick the movie; I just went because I wanted to be with them.

My heart is made glad by the fact that God instituted and blessed the family to continue our world. I know that my children were always a blessing to us, but the ‘grand’ ones seem to bless even more – maybe we are just now old enough to appreciate them as we should. ec

Monday, November 20, 2006

fowl stuff

The window over the kitchen sink is the usual portal from which I take my first morning view of the outside world. What greeted my eyes on the morning that inspired this writing was a flock of blackbirds in and around my garden area. It was a rather large flock and many had red markings on their wings. These I assumed to be the male of the species and upon looking the bird up on the web, I found this to be true and came up with the rather obvious name for them – ‘red winged blackbirds’.

The large flock seemed to be rather fidgety in that a group would start to fly from one spot to another and then much of the flock would follow – but all of them generally stayed fairly close together. At one point, a small group of maybe a dozen or so was still in the garden and the whole flock, in an erratic manner finally came back to them. Possibly this was the elite leadership group that had some idea of what the flock was going to do next. They covered most parts of the yard at one time or another and looked to be eating grass seed.

Then I noticed a grey squirrel among the dark-feathered visitors and it was working very industriously around the edges of the garden. I’m not sure exactly what it was doing besides storing nuts for the winter, but it paid little heed to the multitudinous fowl presences or their frantic actions all around it and went diligently about its self appointed tasks. The flock finally departed, evidently for seedier lawns – although mine is pretty seedy (definition 3) looking.

Out another window I noticed a large white heron doing some quick high stepping across the bottom of the dam – evidently going from one hunting place to another. From the web, the identification on that one seems to be a ‘great egret’. Several other water birds have been viewed at various times, even the quick and fast diving kingfisher.

The islands that were growing to about 10 feet across have now shrunk back to just barely being visible due to a very heavy rain we had a few days ago. Later in the day, I glanced out the back window toward the pond and noticed that a gaggle of geese had gathered on or around these two small islands for some goosey purpose or another. I was aware that a flock of geese on the ground was called a gaggle, but it was not in the forefront of my mind that this same group would be called a skein when flying – fowl information there.

To top off this fowl day, the hawk came back to the trampoline again. While that doesn’t have quite the ring as ‘when the swallows come back to Capistrano’, it was a fairly big event for GM2 as she got to witness the event. It perched on the bar that supports the safety net as usual, looked around a bit and was off again. This same hawk has probably done the same thing many times and just went unnoticed. We all miss many wonderful sights of God’s creation that happen when we are just not looking. Sometimes we just need to lay aside the encumbrances and view the blessings God will show us – if we really desire to see. ec

Friday, November 17, 2006


Until today I did not know that the adverb et cetera had a noun form – it is spelled the same, but the space is left out between the et and the cetera – not sure which verbalistic rock I have been hiding under to miss that fact. Nor did I know that the expression “and et cetera” was redundant, since the ‘and’ is built into the definition of et cetera. Who says that an old dog – or old codger – can’t learn new words?

The expression “old codger” is also somewhat redundant because a codger is an eccentric man, especially one who is old. The word codger would have to be considered a bit sexist inasmuch as it only describes an eccentric old man. Not sure what an eccentric older woman is called and do not wish to get in trouble by even approaching the subject any closer than I have already.

The first definition of eccentric is something or someone deviating from the accepted or customary character or practice, or that is unconventional, peculiar, or odd. Now while I fully grasp the meaning of the word as it applies to people, I also know that we are all unique and different from and peculiar to, each other. Therefore I offer that we are all eccentric, it’s just the most radically eccentric ones that get so labeled and noticed as such.

As applied to humans, a label is a short word or phrase descriptive of a person. American Indians of long ago received their adult name – or label, in a sense – from some large event in their life. I’ve read the stories surrounding the naming of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, but I couldn’t help wondering about Running Bear. My main question about that was whether this particular Indian was chasing the bear or if the bear was chasing him. It seems to me that playing tag with a bear might negate the necessity to come up with a name for the Indian that got tagged by the bear.

One thing does lead to another and talking about bears made me think about my adventures with animals today. In spite of my delicate condition – still having trouble with back and leg – I can still run the vacuum if I space out the efforts with rest periods. The carpeted parts of the house offer many hiding places for dust bunnies, but the laminate flooring of our kitchen and dining area offers no such places of sanctuary.

At the very beginning of the vacuum efforts of the dining area, one of the largest dust bunnies that I have ever seen came from under the edge of the table – this was the mother of all dust bunnies. If this bunny had been used for food, it would have fed a dust family for several days. When I was through, all the bunnies had been rounded up and placed in captivity.

Captivity is not a good thing to us humans when speaking in a physical sense, but when spiritual captivity is added, it is even worse - basically double bondage. But if a person is spiritually free, this freedom can be maintained even in physical imprisonment. The only REAL freedom is the freedom of the soul and spirit that is offered by and though the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and can be received by “whosoever will” come to Him and ask. ec

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

the steps

We do not have a front porch and I’m not sure at all what to call the thing that we do have. It is small enough (3ft X 4ft) to be called a stoop except it is recessed into the front wall of the house with only enough room to shelter a person as they open the front door. It could be called an alcove but the main definition of that seems to suggest that those are usually inside the house.

Whatever it is called, I went there on a recent evening just after sundown with a cup of hot tea to sit on “the steps” and soak in the sights available in the immediate surroundings. My view was of my front yard and driveway, the plants contained therein, the street, the two houses across the street and partial views of other houses nearby.

Down one side of the drive is a row of ten small blueberry bushes that are doing fairly well in spite of their sandy-soiled location. The leaves of the plants are coloring in preparation for the winter dormant season. On the other side of the drive are four paw-paw trees, also somewhat in a row. Their leaves are rather large and droopy and are among the first to drop here on Blueberry Hill. These were mere switches when planted back in 2002 and they usually take 7 or 8 years to bear fruit. Hopefully I will get to eat some paw-paws before I “kick the bucket”, as the old country expression goes.

The two June berry trees have almost finished dropping their leaves but the cornelian cherries had yet to start. These had colored nicely to an almost regal looking reddish brown but were still clinging tightly to the small tree’s branches. Continuing the yard scan from right to left, the next plant was a small seedling pecan tree that had been transplanted from the garden. Exactly how the seed got there is unsure but it started sprouting and got tilled under two or three times. Finally I decided to dig it up and transplant it to the yard.

The taproot of the small tree was in excess of two feet down but was dug up mostly intact and placed in the yard at the same depth. It had not been planted long when someone doing us a favor mowed it down accidentally. I watered the stub well and placed a plastic pipe next to the plant to keep that from happening again. It has come back and grown to about 18inches – I do appreciate tenacity in plants and this one seems to be very stubborn.

As I continued sipping my rapidly cooling hot tea, I looked across the street to the skyline at the rear of the homes of BIL and his neighbor. The horizon was made up of many very large pine trees and it looked as though the world ended just on the other side of them. The sky was still light and I saw a bat at three different times – not sure if it was just one or three different ones, but I am grateful that they are flying about, eating the bugs.

It was starting to get a bit cool and the streetlights were starting to come on when I decided to go back inside. Even though the remaining tea in my cup was just barely tepid, the viewing of these many creations of God warmed my heart. ec

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


It was another day, another doc visit and all along the route of my passage the leaves are still changing – some to a more beautiful color and some are just falling to the ground. On an errand yesterday, I saw one of the most eye-arresting hickory trees that I had seen in a long time. It was very large with a good shape and the color was almost totally uniform – a golden yellow that will decorate the halls of my memories for some time to come.

My favorite tree of fall – just up the road from us – has now dropped most of its leaves with only a fringe of leaves around the bottom. These remainders are still my favorite color of red and a feast for the eyes. Along the route to the interstate and along I-20, I could see many pear trees changing to varying shades of red with some still about half green. One of these was in a cemetery and it might be considered a bit ironic or slightly poignant but it brought to mind that we could have beauty even in the neighborhood of the dead.

The only thing wrong with the colors of fall is that they change so quickly – and besides that they don’t last long enough. The construction area on the interstate that I mentioned in another missive, in which most all vehicles were ignoring the posted limit, was different this morning. This because the blue lights were out in full force correcting certain wrongful perceptions about the speed limit. One speeder was already on the side and two more were pulled as I passed on the other side. In all there were six members of the local constabulary working that side of the road. Speaking of color – that would be another shade of red altogether.

This section of highway has been under construction for quite a while, with many changes still to come. It is being widened, exits are being added and one whole interchange is being redone/rerouted. This latter process is taking so much space that several businesses have been and are being closed and the land used for the final interchange.

Along the interstate on the route home I noticed several other areas of construction. One was for a large shopping area that has been underway for quite a while – the progress of which my Spice is following with great interest. Several others all seem to be condos, some on the Carolina side of the Savannah River and some on the Georgia. It just puzzles me as to where folks get that much money to invest in one of those things.

Much closer to home, the clearing of some land is progressing to finish up the perimeter route around Augusta. This is the last section not completed of I-520 that starts over in Georgia and will end connected back to I-20 on the South Carolina side. A couple of residences and a large iron-beamed metal building are in the process of being de-constructed. The main construction is due to start in the spring. I’m still not sure exactly where it will join I-20, but it is for sure that changes are on the way.

The only thing that doesn’t seem to change is the fact that change is constant. If one moved away from this area for several years, they probably wouldn’t recognize it when they came back because of all the changes. I’m so glad that there is something in my life that doesn’t change – God’s love for us and His willingness to forgive our wrongdoing if we will ask – for this I am thankful. ec

Monday, November 13, 2006


Another day, another word – and the one for today is perception. The meaning, given here for me as much as for anyone else, is the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or the mind – or cognition – or awareness. And as we are well aware, perception is reality to the one doing the perceiving – whether or not the reality perceived is the same one to all perceivers involved.

While I might perceive that the carton of Breyer’s Natural Vanilla ice cream (made with real vanilla bean specks) is half-full, another might think that it is half-crazy to eat something with specks in it. Especially if they were going to try to eat it without a banana or chocolate syrup involved in the mix.

For something to be perceived, it must, to one degree or another, be perceptible or it must be recognizable and/or discernible. This is illustrated by the fact that ignorance and/or stupidity are not normally seen but the actions and results thereof are readily discernible. A case in point is a section of interstate nearby that is under construction. The speed limit is 45 and an observer of this limit will almost be run down and/or over – unless a flashing blue light is present nearby.

Perception varies from person to person and is altered by many things in their life and experiences. Perception is colored by our age, our expectations in life, where and how we were raised, even by the time of day or the season of the year and things as simple as whether or not we have a dog and what its name happens to be. Perception would certainly be changed by the number of children one has because with enough children one can hardly perceive much of anything else except them – unless it is something close to the magnitude of an atomic blast.

Then there is the concept of a precept and the question as to whether just any precept can become a percept. With the clouding issue of how complicated a particular precept happens to be and/or how perceptive the preceptor must be to be able to explain the precept in such a way that it would bring a bystander into perceivability.

This might also be complicated by the actual source of the precept. If the source was just within a family or perhaps a local ordinance, it is one thing – but if the source is something eternal and from the scripture, this is something else entirely. If the precept is adhered to, all the benefits promised therein belong to the obedient one, but if not, the noncompliant one will, at the very least, will be without the promised blessings.

Here is one of many precepts: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” ec

Sunday, November 12, 2006


The word foggy carries several meanings, the first couple being the obvious ones of the misty type. The one I chose for the purposes of this missive would be – blurred or obscured – or vague. A sentence as an example in my case would be – I haven’t the foggiest notion as to where the latter part of last week went. And while this sentence is not totally true because I know roughly what happened, it would definitely fall under the blurred or obscured part of the definition.

The fogginess was caused by a medical procedure that required pain meds and writing under the influence of those would have produced ideas and concepts that would have made even less sense than usual – if that be possible. The recovery from said procedure is well underway and the need for the meds has lifted – whereupon I once again venture forth to trip the light verbalistic.

Couldn’t help but notice that the second definition of a verbalist is a person who is more concerned with words than with ideas or facts – hmmm. Won’t comment on that as it might tend to indicate verbal looseness and indiscretions on my part in the past and/or present.

Traversing back to the first definition of the word foggy, I remember a few times that fog played a part in my life. This would be the misty physical fog and not that of the mental. One particular incidence of reference was in the winter of 1962-63. My place of work and residence was in Lexington, Kentucky but my heart was in Augusta, Georgia. The reason? This was the residence of the one of whom I was enamored and/or smitten. This beloved one was to be the future Spice.

Since the position of the heart and of the physical body was not the same, this necessitated a visit every several weeks. Keep in mind that we had no email or interstates – snail mail and an occasional expensive phone call was our life and love lines. The distance was in excess of 500 miles and took 10 or 11 hours – as the 1962 Volkswagen Bug flew – I didn’t even have a radio in the car.

Most of the trips back home were just long, boring and tiring – the one of reference was all that, as well as foggy for about the last half of the journey. Entering South Carolina found the midnight fog even more dense and this very sparsely populated area was as dark as three shades of sackcloth and the traveling was about like hurtling through blank nothingness with only the center yellow line to guide me. I remember riding the yellow line a good bit to make sure I stayed on the road.

The only point of this story, besides being slightly informational, is that nothing bad happened and I arrived safely. Looking back at this, the thought comes to mind that the Lord looks out for the mentally deficient and the ignorant – whether I was one or both of these that night, I was grateful for His protection. ec

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The dictionary has once again drawn me into its tangled web of verboseness. The first attraction was the word muse, which of course means to think or meditate in silence. But somewhat surprising, it also carries another meaning that takes it into the verbal – to say or think meditatively. So now, instead of just saying I was mumbling to myself, I can say, with at least one eyebrow raised, that I was simply musing. I feel smarter already.

A nearby word was museology. But instead of meaning the study of musing or meditation, it is the systematic study of the organization, management, and function of a museum. I was a slight bit disappointed. Then came the word musette, but again I was thrown a curve, because instead of meaning a French female’s meditation, it was a small leather or canvas bag with a shoulder strap, or a French bagpipe of the 17th and early 18th centuries.

While I was aware exactly what a museum was, I somehow wanted the word to mean more. Could it not mean a place where thoughts of long ago could go and be on display? Or even where meditations could be sent to be interred, even if it was in dusty drawers alongside the long dead carcasses of small animals and birds.

Another word that contains this root word is amuse. And as you are aware, it means to hold the attention of someone pleasantly, or to cause mirth, laughter, or the like. This action of the word seems to suggest that this effort is a simple thing and that is not true at all. As the muse part of the word might indicate, to amuse someone takes a lot of thought or even meditation.

Many of the so-called comedians of our day evidently need to take a little more thought about the words they use to try to amuse their audiences. It seems that they think the only way they can be comical is to use off-color, toilet or even perverse humor in order to limp through their gig.

Fortunately the TV has a channel selector switch and I can turn to something else before I feel I need to go take a shower to wash off the filth of their language. The word amusive is defined as something amusing or entertaining but could it not also mean to abuse someone with supposed entertainment. My spell check doesn’t like amusive – its suggestion for an alternate word is in fact the word abusive. Excuse me a moment while I get down off my soapbox.

Another word, which is probably a cousin to the root word, is bemuse. The word means to bewilder or confuse – an action that I have probably done to myself and maybe to others a few times. The second meaning to that word is to cause to become lost in thought. To become lost in thought might be easy for some, since it’s possibly unfamiliar territory. I have even bemused myself a few times but so far have been able to find my way back – at least I think so.

Psm. 143:5 states. “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.” The works of God are good things on which to meditate or muse. ec

Monday, November 06, 2006


I think the whooshing sound I heard was Wednesday as it rushed by without leaving a lot of evidence that it was ever here. It became Thursday whether I wished it so or not. It started with another appointment back to the back cracker, since I am continuing to have lower-back/left leg pain. We seem to be in a last ditch effort to dodge the knife and I am in favor of that as well.

The drive out and back was mostly on the interstate and a lot of the leaves along the way are showing some beautiful colors. A few had almost dropped their leaves and the colors were better in some places than others, but overall it was a very scenic drive. A couple of my favorites for color are the flowering pear trees and the dogwoods. Hickory leaves turn a great yellow color, but there are not many of those in evidence.

Some of the oaks in the area are so aggravating that their leaves just turn brown and fall off, but other trees seem to make up for this by being extra colorful. A case in point is just about a half-mile up the road from us. Not really sure what kind of tree this is but I look for it every year and am never disappointed. The color is between red and orange and is so bright that one almost expects to see an extension cord going out as the source of its brightness.

Another favorite of mine is a small tree behind our house, just down the hill toward the pond. Its leaves are a bright orange and a delight to the senses. This tree came up from a seed either blown in by the wind or borne by a bird and is now about 7 feet tall. Looking at the tree close-up would seem to indicate that it was kin to the wild pear family, but I’m not sure at all. For several years now I have noticed the tree when mowing and not cut it down, so now I’m being rewarded by the color. It is as if God thought I needed that color in my life.

Friday came and went so quickly that I only got a partial glance at it. But one thing of note happened therein that is worth mentioning, the Spice and I actually went to a restaurant and ate a meal together – wow! The reason that this is a novelty is that if one or the other of us is not busy, we both are. We went to a local Tex-Mex place and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Then later we even got to share and ‘enjoy’ the heartburn together.

Togetherness is a good thing with another person, but more so with a loving God that desires a relationship with anyone that will. ec

Saturday, November 04, 2006


The next day came without any formal announcement – at least I didn’t hear one – and the day continued all day. The first thing in my day after an intake of sustenance was a chiropractor appointment. The appointment was kept and I was appropriately ‘cracked up’ by the time I left.

Arriving back on the home front, I was the only one not busy, so it fell my lot to watch over two young ones eating their lunch before going down for their nap. GM6 was already down and the only thing standing between these two and the big ‘N’ was finishing their meal – and they seemed to be in no big hurry to get to the nap part of the day. In the midst of the insistence and/or cajoling concerning their eating, GM3 asked a very pointed, yet astute, question.

He said to me – “Pop-pop, why don’t you have any hair?” I just told him that it was because it all came out – and I pointed out to him that I still had some on the side. Totally distracted from his eating endeavors, GM4 said, “You have some on the other side too.” Whereupon GM3 followed with, “And you have some in the back.” It was a great comfort that they noticed that – they seemed to be trying to help me feel better about my lack of combable stuff on top.

After putting them down for a snooze and a little down time for me, it came time for a dentist appointment. This visit was made necessary by a loose filling as well as the tooth being cracked. While this is not my favorite place to be, I felt fortunate that he was able to repair the tooth, because the next step would be a crown or something similar – and much more expensive.

The repairs were done quicker than I had planned, so even after running a couple of errands, I still got to my next appointment early and sat in the parking lot recording my adventures of the day. On the way back home, I stopped by and picked some take-out for our supper. The Spice was still out, having volunteered to pick up GM1 after her cheerleading excursion down at the North Augusta gym.

Arriving home, I turned the outside lights on and readied the large bowl of candy for the little goblins and such that would be coming by shortly. The closest room to the front door is my small study/computer room, so I occupied that area until the arrival of the masked ones. The time passed and we got absolutely none – for the first time ever there were zero small ones coming to the door.

It could be that since we are the last house on our side of the street and a bit separated from the others, that it was just too much trouble to walk down here for a few pieces of candy. They probably wanted maximum candy for distance walked and our house didn’t measure up to the math. Now the grunt monkeys will be forced to help me eat all the candy – poor little guys.

That reminds me of a principle in the physical and spiritual. A gift is not really a gift unless it is received. That whole bowl of candy was ready and waiting for any little one that came to the door and asked for it – but they didn’t. All of the wonderful gifts of God are ready and available to us – but many times we don’t even ask for them. We miss His blessings because we won’t receive them. ec

Thursday, November 02, 2006


On a recent morning I was curious as to the appearance of the day and made my way to the window and un-blinded the blinds. The revealed view showed me several things. First I noticed that the sun was holding the horizon in full sway and it was promising to be a clear day. Second, there was a gaggle of geese ‘grazing’ on the backside of the pond dam behind my house – 21 of them.

The third thing was that there was a large heron standing on one of the two recently emerged islands on the near side of the pond. These birds normally wade in the shallows, spearing and eating small fish as they go. Don’t know why it was just standing there, I didn’t ask it, not able to speak heron, I think maybe it was allowing its breakfast to digest.

The day turned into one filled with appointments, errands and with a little shopping thrown in for good measure. It started for me with a pre-op appointment in Augusta for about an hour and a half. Then I came back by the house to pick up the Spice and head in the other direction to do some errands in Aiken, SC.

We went by our cable company and provided the ID to get a small discount on the bill for being old – every little bit helps. Then we stopped by our cell phone company to update my phone. The two errands completed, we stopped by Home Depot to check on some shelving. With enough time left to grab some fast food at Arby’s before our appointment, we did so.

We kept the appointment, a short one, and then back to the house we went. There was some down time for a while and I tried to catch my breath before the next event. This was the night for our men’s fellowship, so I left the Spice to fend for herself – she had some work – she does medical transcription at home and she needed some quiet time to catch up.

Arriving a little early at the church, I just sat around and chatted with the other guys until time to eat. The centerpiece of our meal for the night was chili, which, by the way, was very good. When we finished up, we all gathered into one of the rooms for a devotional. For this evening it was an inspirational video, which was very good and very inspirational.

After we helped clean up a bit, a good friend and I went up to the Huddle House to chat for a while. We drank hot tea and amused each other with our many tales and even a few odd word definitions. We were indeed amused and laughed quite a bit, this being a good medicine, according to Scripture. We were dosed pretty good with laughter before the discussions were through.

This is the type friend with which either of us can discuss most anything with the other. We can and have discussed many serious subjects, but we do tend toward the silly a lot of the time. I’m grateful for a Godly friend like this. ec

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Then the day arrived that for the purposes of this missive will be called Friday. The reason for this would be because it came right after Thursday. The reason to be exact on this was that I had been busy all week and I wanted to be sure I called it the right day and/or that I knew what I was talking about. The problem with that is that just knowing what day I was talking about still didn’t mean I knew what I was talking about. Hopefully that cleared up the reason why I called the day Friday. It is a wonder that I even remember it, considering it was almost a week ago.

Previously written stuff spoke of what we were busy doing this past week and this was further intensified by YD and her young ones being with us most of the week due to her husband being out of town for training. What then was different about this Friday? It was the evening of our church’s Fall Festival – held every year on the Friday before Halloween for the enjoyment of the young ones associated with the church.

This brings us to one of my several quirks. For years now I have come up with games for parties and/or children’s church. The children and even sometimes the older ones seemed to enjoy these and I enjoyed them enjoying them. For these games I have quite a collection of odds and ends items with which to play said games. A few of the game pieces were bought but most were things that would have been thrown away and some that I made with my own two hands.

Probably the largest in population of the game articles is my collection of empty 2-liter Juicy Juice and Gatorade bottles – many different games can be played with these. But I slightly digress, so back to Friday’s large function. It has been our custom to have several large inflatables placed outside for the kids to jump on, slide down, etc. This custom was complicated by rain, so the inflatables had to be brought into the gym and the inside games were then moved into a large room next to this.

After several hours of sitting on babies – that are almost not babies anymore – I left for the church about 4pm with all my equipment for five of the inside games. With volunteers, tables were gathered and the games set up in a fairly quick manner on one end of the room. Other folks had other games set up in the rest of the area and even one just outside in the space left by the inflatables.

With our brief organizational meeting over and volunteers to run the games, we were ready for the fun to begin and shortly it did just that. It was so busy that I didn’t get to check out all the other games, but my games were, 1-roll the tennis balls into the metal rings, 2-bounce the ping pong balls into a group of empty margarine tubs, 3-toss the bottles into the plastic laundry baskets, 4-see how many plastic bottles one could knock down using two tennis balls 5-the shooting gallery, with double-barreled rubber-band guns – which I fashioned several years ago.

There was a massive and constant flow of young ones coming through to play the games. There is just something within me that loves to see these young ones having fun. I was a rover, helping with the games on my end of the room. The game that brought me the most enjoyment was the tossing of bottles into the basket. We had two tables of this and when I could, I would help with one of them. I really got a charge out of watching their eyes light up when they got the bottle to go into the basket.

Working on the basket end of the table, I made sure the bottles did go in by moving the basket to catch the bottle – this was mostly done for the tiny ones or the ones that couldn’t throw very well. I almost got my year’s quota of smiles and bright eyes in one night – but I’m sure I will run low on these sooner or later.

When it came our 8pm closing time, I was one tired, but happy, old man. Doing the Lord’s work sometimes comes in strange packages, like helping kids have fun. ec