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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Just a short note to remind y’all that I will probably be off-line for a while – due to my surgery tomorrow morning. The time I was to check in changed again today to 7:30am, and they are not sure when my surgery will start, since that will depend on the length of the one just before me. Would appreciate your prayers concerning this matter.

Will report back ASAP to let y’all know the particulars and outcome. ec

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

the bar

The small candy bar rests between my computer monitor and I, enclosed in a happy silver wrapper with its name in red trimmed in blue. MIL had given the Spice four of these small tidbits of sweetness and half of her gift had been passed along to me. One of mine had been consumed posthaste but the other had been placed in its present position to be slowly savored at some future time.

Not that there was much to savor, since the size is called the ‘fun size’ and from my estimation can’t be but about 15 grams. For sure the fun wouldn’t last very long but even they are larger than the ‘miniatures’, which would seem to be a bit less than 6 grams each. Anyway the bar stayed there several days without a word, I guess it had its pride, but after that it seemed that it started to beg to be sent to candy bar heaven, like its cousin bar that I had previously consumed.

Now I am not a big candy eater, this obvious from the size of this bar, plus I have to be in a candy-consuming mood and that hadn’t happened in several days. From all the whining and sniveling the bar seemed to be making, I decided to look into why it was wanting so bad to go to its ‘great reward’. Through its maker’s web site, I checked out the ingredients of the bar.

First ingredient was (naturally) milk chocolate (mostly sugar and three different forms of chocolate), then for the nougat (I assume) came: sugar, corn syrup and several other things including egg whites. The milk chocolate contained artificial and natural flavors plus the nougat also had artificial flavor – that just made me wonder what it tasted like before the flavors were added. So far they were just flavored, chocolate sugar bars.

This bar starts out as egg whites, which are whipped until they are light and frothy – much like the meringue on the banana puddings I make – then sugar syrup is added to stabilize the foam and create ‘frappe’ – although my dictionary doesn’t agree with what they have done with the word. Then flavor ingredients are added to the ‘frappe’ and it is formed into large slabs, which is then cut into proper size for the particular bar they are making on that run.

Then the nougat pieces are ready to be ‘enrobed’ (their word) with chocolate coating, and then the bar is cooled and prepared for wrapping. This bar’s claim to fame is that it is light and fluffy – 45% less fat than other chocolate bars. The reason is that this bar has at least 45% more air whipped into the nougat – they get to use less ingredients and you pay for the air.

Somewhere along in there, I realized what the fear of the small bar must be – it wasn’t because of its ingredients, the fear was to be forgotten until the next season, or maybe several seasons. Its sweet parents must have warned it about being tucked away somewhere out of sight, and passed out for Halloween a couple of years later. Oh the shame of being a stale candy bar in a fresh generation.

Even though we sometimes think God has forgotten us, He also wants us to grow and that sometimes takes us through some trying situations in order to strengthen us into the person He wants us to be. This shows even more that He is good, all the time. ec

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


We have had two good rains in the last 4 or 5 days. The pond islands had reappeared but after the first moisture fall they had once again disappeared. Now with this last precip, it would appear that they will not come back for quite a while. While this last rain didn’t strangle any frogs or even move much trash, it did wash out a few gullies – and the best part was that it continued over a longer period of time. Had it been warmer, the frogs would have been singing praises and tadpoles would follow.

YD had set aside some wrapped gifts for her young ones to open on Christmas Eve – they were PJ’s so they would have nice attire for photos on Christmas morning. When GM3 (4 ½) got his wrapped box he was all gung-ho and smiles, after he opened it he exclaimed – “Oh rats, it’s not toys”!!

They stopped by Christmas Eve on the way home from church and we gave them the presents we had purchased for them. Among other things, the Spice had bought GM3 and GM4 each items of plastic armor, with shield, helmet and sword – representing the armor of the Lord and the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. They both put them on and promptly started whacking away at each other. That sounds like how some ‘so-called’ Christians that I have met over the years get along with their brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Christmas Morn, since we had no little ones in house, we slept in until we finally roused and went to YD’s place to see the grunt monkey’s Christmas presents. Since they are still getting settled in their new place, we also wanted to see how the house was shaping up. They still have many boxes unopened, but their domicile was starting to look much more like a home.

The two older boys came to the door and one could tell at first glance what they had got for Christmas. GM4 had on a pirate hat, a red bandana around his mouth and nose, a play tool belt with plastic tools and a holster and cap gun tucked into that. GM3 had mostly the same stuff, plus he had set up a complete farmyard in the den, with farm animals, fences, bushes and a tree.

We broke the fast with them – after we got the boys settled enough to think about eating. After eating, I just found a place to sit, since that is one of the few comfortable positions I can get in – since I didn’t want to lie down. Once GM6 got up from his nap, the brought me the whole farmyard and animals one piece at a time. After the Spice tired of the visiting and talking, we finally headed back home, since her family crowd would be coming to our place for a PM gathering and meal.

All soon gathered in with their dishes and the affair started about 6 pm – 18 individuals, 6 of which were under 5 and two of these were twins. It was a hoot (in the slang and to me the best definition of the word) with the noise level fairly high. It got late much too soon and the little ones started getting cranky – the party broke up and all departed to their places of abode.

Normally being an independent old coot, having to depend on others to help me due to my limited mobility the last several weeks has been different and a bit difficult at times. Hopefully I am learning the lesson I needed to learn and once my surgery and recovery are over, maybe I can get back on the giving and helping end once again. Nonetheless, God is still good – all the time. ec

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas 2006

A prophet of long ago said it like this – “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

But it all began in the beginning and it tells it like this – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

When time was fully come, this birth announcement was given to a group of shepherds by an angel – “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Spice joins me in wishing you and yours the most joyous and peaceful Christmas ever. May the Lord of peace be with you not only in this season but also all this next year. ec

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Squirrel Habitat Healthcare – The morning that inspired this writing found me on the top floor of a professional office building, in which many health care providers work. This eighth floor is totally occupied by a group of doctors specializing in back ailments and the treatment or surgery thereupon. Being a new patient to them and at their suggestion, I arrived a bit early to fill out forms concerning health information and my lifetime of ailments – especially those that required being in the hospital.

This task completed, I was directed to a waiting room to await my call to be escorted to the treatment room. Seated opposite the windows and not feeling like reading outdated magazines, I was just looking out at the skyline of the area. I could see the tops of many buildings, including the ones of the University Hospital and the Medical College of Georgia. In this view was a short section of the outside vertical wall from the waiting room windows to the corner of the building.

As I was somewhat vacantly staring at this view, a squirrel suddenly scampered up that outside wall, headed for the roof. To say that I was surprised would be putting it mildly – this was the eighth floor!! When I walked over to the window for a closer view, the squirrel had already disappeared but I did notice that the surface of this outer wall was some sort of cement with a rough surface, not unlike the bark of a tree – a very large tree I might add. I pushed this amazing sight back in my mind when they called for me and I went back to be seen by the doctor.

He examined me, read the reports from the other docs, checked out my MRI images and then showed me the very spot that was pressing on the nerve and causing the symptoms I was having. He then told me that I had three options – 1- do nothing and try to live with the pain (with medications and such) – 2- Take injections in that spot (to me this was temporary at best) – 3- Operate and cut away whatever was causing the impingement. I chose #3 – I had already decided this would be my option if it was offered – one gets tired of the constant painful symptoms.

Then I was given over to the person that schedules the surgery with the hospital. As we were chatting, I mentioned about the squirrel climbing the side of the building and that the personnel at the front desk were amazed at the thought. It was then that I got the “rest of the story”. She stated that she has seen as many as four at a time go up the wall just outside her window. Then she said – “those were my squirrels”. This statement gave me pause until she explained further.

It seems that the area in which her and her husband live is absolutely infested with the fuzzy-tailed little critters. They were constantly chewing stuff up and digging in her yard so the two of them decided to get a live trap, catch them and transport them to other areas. It seems that they must be taken at least 10 miles from their home turf so they don’t find their way back. This has become a form of entertainment for them because of the odd things the rodents do when they are released.

At last count, they have caught and transported 148 of these tree climbers, with some few released in the trees near the hospital. Evidently they didn’t care for those trees and opted for the “big tree” – the office building. She also told me that there were a couple of red-tailed hawks nesting nearby on the buildings. What that told me was that the squirrels either got smart or became hawk food.

My back surgery is scheduled for Friday, December 29th – checking in at 8am with the surgery at 11:15 at the University Hospital. My stay – barring complications – is supposed to be just an overnight one. God is still good – all the time! ec

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

aging 2

A very ancient book tells us that the age of man is considered to be three score and ten. Of course this varies with many considerations, such as lifestyles, quality of healthcare and genetics. Hopefully I have a few more productive years, if all things go well – and if an elephant or some other large mammal doesn’t sit on me. (small wry grin)

Another age-related thing is wrinkles. A wrinkle defined is a small furrow or crease in the skin, especially of the face, as from aging or frowning. This confused me just a bit because while I am sure that many of mine came from aging, I don’t recall frowning enough to get those aforementioned types of wrinkles. Plus I’m not sure what the lines that come from smiling are called if they are not wrinkles. And how does one tell the difference between the wrinkles (or lines) that come from aging, frowning or smiling – especially if one has more than one type on the face?

This could lead to wrinkle confusion and our faces do not need more bewilderment. Just a while back I recall being mildly amused about something and happened by a mirror – I could not see the amusement in my face, just wrinkles. Either the amusement wrinkles missed their assignment or they were just outdone by the abundance of regular, non-expressive wrinkles. My huge smiles are still pretty easy to read, but maybe I should practice emoting the lesser, more subtle expressions. Plus I could possibly brush up on having a more definitive twinkle in the eye – this might help overcome some of the wrinkle problems, I certainly wouldn’t want any of my wrinkles misunderstood.

One thing that is not too bad about aging is the senior discount. The only problem is that I used to have to ask for the reduction, but now they just automatically give the price break – I must look the part more than I once did. I don’t think that I look ancient yet since one of the definitions of that is old in wisdom and experience – well, maybe in the experience part. Another meaning is old-fashioned or antique and I might be approaching either of these conditions in a rapid fashion.

Well, maybe not an antique because that would be defined as a piece of furniture, decorative object, or work of art produced in a former period, or, according to U.S. customs laws, 100 years before date of purchase. Now while I was produced in a former period and could be described as a “real piece of work”, none of the other parts really apply. Now the old-fashioned part is a different story, since that means having the conservative behavior, ways, ideas, or tastes of earlier times.

In fact, I am so much that way that I might even be considered an anachronism, which means about the same thing – a thing or person that belongs to another time, especially an earlier one. For my part, I don’t mind the aging too much, I just don’t want to get older – especially if that involves not caring about other people and not getting along with anyone. The power of God can keep us young in spirit and soul – and take us to live with the Lord forever - if we choose that by accepting Jesus as Savior. ec

Monday, December 18, 2006


During a bit of cogitation, the thought of aging stomped across one of the main avenues of my thought processes. In fact, the steps were so heavy that it probably left dents in the pavement, considering peradventure that these mental passages are actually paved and not just muddy pig paths. Then I wandered off, wondering about the substance with which these rumination roadways could possibly be paved. Perhaps it could be done with ground up elements of the hard-headedness already on site.

Striving for absolute accuracy in my aging study I looked up the simple, yet so very complex word – age. As suspected I found that it meant the length of time during which a being or thing has existed. Then mentioned further along in the definitions were some of the periods in a human life, the age of consent, over or under the age of military service, middle age and then the one that many dread – old age. Also mentioned was advanced age and I’m not sure which one between this and old age is the oldest and/or leaves one feeling the most antiquated.

Ignoring many of the other definitions with their descriptive phrases and sentences, I arrived at the phrase – aging gracefully. Speaking of myself, how could one possibly age gracefully when they haven’t shown any particular gracefulness in any other facet of their life? It did make me feel better just to think that I had facets in my life, considering that one of the definitions of this word would be the small polished plane surface of a cut gem. But it brought me back to earth when I noticed that a similar surface cut on a fragment of rock is called the same thing.

Getting back to the graceful thing – I almost have to believe that someone invented dance just to make me feel ungraceful. My only effort at dance even in my younger years, other than the slow shuffling of feet in a darkened room, was the ‘twist’. This happened in the early 60’s and I thought I had this one down until it got back to me that I was just deluding myself. What really stung was that it was not one of my friends that told me I was an ungraceful klutz – it had to come from a stranger. But I guess that was better than just suspecting and not really knowing for sure.

Another element of aging is to mature. This part should be fairly easy since even wine, cheese or wood can do that – they can mature, ripen, mellow, season and develop. Expanding on these five maturations - to me part of maturing is the gaining of wisdom. But I have read that sometimes wisdom comes with age, other times age comes alone. The ripening part of aging really has to be watched carefully because just beyond ripe comes rotten. Then some folks mellow out and get sweeter with age and others just get grumpy.

When I think of seasoning, it comes to me in two parts and the first comes in the phrase, a seasoned veteran. This is a person that has been there and done that and no longer panics over the least little thing. The second part is along the idea of seasonings like salt and pepper. And as seasonings do to food, the properly seasoned person seems to make better any situation in which they find themselves. Then with age, will we develop into a grumpy someone with bad habits or will we develop into a beautiful picture that folks would be glad to have ‘hanging’ around?

This is going beyond my self-imposed allowed length so I will have to continue the aging process tomorrow. Keep in mind that God can and will help us with any part of our lives – even aging. ec

Sunday, December 17, 2006


The word cheer has several definitions, the two chosen are: 1-something that gives comfort or joy, and 2-a state of feeling or spirits. Then to be cheerful is to be full of cheer or to be in good spirits and it can have an element of being wholehearted or ungrudging in that respect. This begs the question as to whether the condition of cheerfulness depends totally on the surrounding conditions, a combination of conditions and choice or choice alone?

We know that when good things happen it can bring about cheerfulness, but what about just choosing to be cheerful? Consider a quote from an ancient book: “All the days of the poor are hard, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” Pondering the word ‘poor’, it would seem that the ‘continual feast’ is speaking of more than just food. The attitude would seem at the root of this ‘continual feast’ and that would be a choice. A person will generally find what they are looking for – in this case, cheer or cheerlessness, if the search is intensive and extensive enough.

What is the effect of a cheerful heart? Another quote from an ancient wise man: “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.” I’ve heard it said that we should act in the direction we wish to move. Is that faking it? To me it is simply making a choice to no longer live in the dungeon of the downcast spirit.

Consider this final quote, attributed to Jesus Christ: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” A clear message has been given to us all and it comes in several parts. 1-Peace is found only in Jesus. 2-We shall have tribulation in this world. 3-Jesus has overcome the world. 4-We have a choice as to whether we accept this peace. 5-When scripture states to be of good cheer, it wouldn’t say that if it weren’t possible to obtain.

Jesus told His disciples at other times in dire circumstances to be of good cheer. It is possible for us today to be of good cheer, not just in the Christmas season but also all year long – it is our choice. ec

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Another little meander through the dictionary brings us to the word: doofus or dufus which is slang for a foolish or inept person. Going further, a dodo is a large, extinct, flightless bird of the pigeon family, formerly inhabiting Mauritius. It is also slang for a dull-witted, slow-reacting person. Then in rapid succession, a dummkopf is slang for a stupid person or a blockhead. A dum-dum is also a silly, stupid person. A dolt or a dunderhead carries the same meaning of a dunce, a blockhead or numbskull. And a dupe is a person who is easily deceived or fooled.

Now before you start to wonder whether or not I have someone in mind for all these definitions, I will state up front that I do not. This was just the part of the dictionary I happened to be in and these caught my eye. Although I will admit to coming in close proximity to some of the ones defined, mostly on highways around the area.

The word doohickey is an informal word defined as a gadget or a thingamajig. Going a little deeper, a gadget is usually a small mechanical or electronic contrivance or device or any ingenious article. And further still, a thingamajig is a thing for which the speaker does not know or has forgotten the name, also called a thingamabob.

Another word I ran into is the noun dolor, meaning sorrow or grief. Dolorous, the adjective, means full of or causing pain or sorrow, also grievous or mournful. Many things can cause sorrow or grief, even doggerel, especially to the minds and ears of those appreciating great and artfully done verse. Doggerel is either writing that is comic or burlesque, and usually loose or irregular in measure, or something that has no aesthetic value or is poorly written. I think I have done some of that.

Although dulosis sounds a bit like some sort of disease, it is the enslavement of an ant colony or its members by ants of a different species – a hostile takeover of a different sort. Then I was enlightened to learn that dunnage is baggage or personal effects, I might have known this if I traveled more. The word also means loose material laid beneath or wedged among objects carried by ship or rail to prevent injury from chafing or moisture or to provide ventilation. So many words, so little time.

Dulcet is an adjective meaning pleasant to the ear or melodious. It also is defined as pleasant or agreeable to the eye or the feelings, or soothing. Closely related is dulcify: to make more agreeable, mollify or appease, also to sweeten. Maybe all these soothing and pleasant things could come about by using a dulcimer, one of two musical instruments. First, and the original, is a trapezoidal zither with metal strings that are struck with light hammers. The other is a modern folk instrument with three or four strings plucked or strummed with the fingers. All this sweetness is probably done for one’s dulcinea, a ladylove or sweetheart.

What our world seems to need is more dulcification, especially the parts meaning to make folks more agreeable or to sweeten them. This is not an easy thing to accomplish, even on oneself – unless we have the help of the Lord. He is able to not only sweeten us up but also make us more agreeable and both of these are good things. ec

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


It was early morning, at least for me, and I did something that I am prone to do, except in this case I was standing, I looked out the kitchen window to see if any wildlife was present in the garden area. The only movement that caught my eye was a small brown form that was bobbing back and forth, yet staying in one spot on the ground. It didn’t really look like a color that would indicate a bird I was familiar with, and even though it was the color of a field rodent, it didn’t move like one of those.

After several minutes of speculation, the realization dawned on me that I was standing with the baited breath of wondrous expectation while staring intently at a curled-up dead leaf blowing in the wind. I was disappointed but also very amused by my actions – it is not unusual for me to laugh at myself on a regular basis. Even after the cleaning out the garden debris, the birds are still in evidence if I rise at the proper time. Of course, my rising is usually at the proper time because this happens shortly after my waking time and I would not want to rise before I awoke.

A few mornings later I was again at the window, admiring the form and actions of a small flock of 7 or 8 doves and several other smaller birds around the periphery of the garden. Doves are fairly regular visitors to my garden area, evidently for the grit and tiny stones from the bare ground – these are necessary for the bird’s gizzard to use in the grinding up of the seeds and harder material they consume. As I watched, several large shadows passed by – caused by a skein of geese flying into the neighbor’s pond. This body of water adjoins and feeds water into the one behind our house. There is plenty of avian wildlife in the area just for the observing.

Speaking of wildlife (smile), due to the process of selling their present house and buying another, YD and her whole family are staying with us for a couple of weeks. The legal closing of the sale for the house they are selling and the one they are buying are to be on the same day. It is quite the adventure for us old folks to have the little ones present and accounted for at all hours. YD and SSIL are in one of the basement bedrooms with GM3 and 4 in the other. GM6 and GM1 are in the two spare upstairs bedrooms.

When I stumbled on a word the other day, it dawned on me that this word describes the play efforts and interactions of the three young sons of YD. The word is scrabble; keep in mind that this is not the word game, but the word. It is a verb and one of its meanings is to scratch or dig frantically with the hands – this reminded me of these little guys searching for a toy in their large toy chest. The other meaning that is descriptive of them is: a disorderly struggle for possession of something – this is the three of them when they all want to play with the same toy.

It is an amazing thing to me to watch their personalities forming and starting to emerge. Maybe it is just because I am their grandpa, but these are some fine youngsters (smile). Of course they are “all boy” and can cause a smile one moment and exasperation the next, but growing fine upstanding, God-fearing men takes time. You can count on me keeping you posted. ec

Monday, December 11, 2006


On a recent morning I bounded out into the garage, in a limping sort of way, to take the van on a short errand for and with my MIL and faced a harsh disappointment. The rear driver’s side tire was very flat – and even though it only looked flat on one side, I felt very confident that it was a systemic condition. The errand then had to be done in my small to medium P/U truck and I came back home to face the music – disguised as a flat tire in this case. Even in my ‘delicate condition’, I was the only one available to take the tire off for repairs.

Even though I had changed many tires in my life, it occurred to me that this was my first time to change a tire on the van. The spare is located in a well between the first and second row of seats, but what I needed was the jack and its handles and these items were not with the spare. It seems that every vehicle has its own secret hiding place for these tools and after several minutes of searching, I found this hidden compartment on the rear driver’s side.

My back/leg condition permits sitting or lying down but allows very little standing or walking. I’ve been sitting so much lately that I feel like I’m getting saddle sores or something. Standing while bent over is tolerated somewhat, as is crawling – this is a good thing when it comes to playing with the grunt monkeys. Fortunately the tire removal was possible because I was kneeling and bent over – it wasn’t comfortable but some things have to be done anyway.

During the tire removal operation I heard a cacophony of alarm and/or warning sounds given forth by a group of crows. I walked outside the garage to locate and rationalize the reason for this raucous and rambunctious racket. As I did so, the whole group flew overhead in quite a confused mass mess. The group consisted of five crows harassing, diving and cawing at one single hawk. Even though crows are fairly large, they were only about half as big as the hawk, but they were acting as a unit and seemed to be encouraging each other in their efforts at driving the hawk from the area.

This hawk appeared to be the same one that I had sighted several times before around the area and the one I have written about. I followed their pestering actions and noise until they flew out of sight and it seemed the hawk was putting some distance between itself and the noise at last sighting. This bird of prey didn’t seem to be very concerned about the ruckus and only dipped a wing slightly when they dove too close. While the crows seemed to show a healthy respect for the hawk, they didn’t seem to show a lot of fear – after all who really wants to ‘eat crow’.

The flat was taken to the tire place, repaired and later replaced on the van to enable it to be driven and used for joyful purposes, or even just regular ones. The spirit within us sometimes gets pretty flat, on a given day or during a trying time, and it is possible for our joy to leak out. We need the leak repaired by our loving God, then the joy of the Lord, which can be our strength, can be replaced by Him (if we choose) and we can continue on with a more fulfilled life’s journey. ec

Sunday, December 10, 2006

blame game

One of the meanings of the word blame is to place the responsibility for a fault, error, accident or action on someone or something. The problem with humans is that even though a situation might be their own fault, they blame it on someone else – this starts at a very young age and for some it continues for a lifetime. Many variations of the ‘blame game’ are played, but they are basically all the same – someone or something else is at fault for all of the wrong things that have happened to the person doing the blaming.

The problem with any variation of the ‘blame game’ is that it is circular in its effects and never comes to a conclusion. The answer and the only way to end this problem is that a person must take responsibility for their own needs, wants, pain and their actions. To even blame someone who abused or hurt them in childhood is not going to help a person heal, nor will it help them meet their present needs. Stop blaming anyone or anything else – look to yourself – and then a little further.

This game even goes into the area of the spiritual and others are blamed for one’s own lack of morality and self-control. When one’s life is ruined, they can point the finger of blame to the ones that tempted them and led them astray – even God Himself is blamed for making them the way they are. A verse of scripture states the real truth like this – “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.”

So what’s the answer? A person should first make things right with the One that loves them enough to allow His only Son to be the sacrificial offering for all the wrong things they have ever done. Then and only then can a person see clearly enough to make things right with humans they have wronged or wrongfully accused – and then they must take responsibility for their own actions, and with God’s help the blame game can finally end. ec

Friday, December 08, 2006

fishing rod

It seems that the year was 1956, it was in the summer, school was out and the fishing was pretty good at Lake Olmstead in Augusta, Georgia. Several of us guys would go up to this body of water on a regular basis to fish for anything that would bite a hook of any size – even used a #14 for a while – that is tiny. My younger brother and I each had a paper-route and this furnished enough cash to keep us in bait when we were not able to dig any up somewhere else.

Our paper routes were a boon not only to us, but what we earned helped out by paying for most of our clothes. The two of us bought the first TV we had at home – there were all of two channels in Augusta at the time. The paper route taught the first great lessons about high finance, because before we made any money, we had to collect enough funds from the subscribers to pay our weekly newspaper bill. Basically we paid the newspaper so much for each paper and all above that was for our expenses and profit.

The paper route was not an easy thing, since we had to rise at 4am every morning, but it was the way I supplied some of my needs and wants from age 12 until high school graduation. This particular summer, one of these wants in the area of fishing arose and demanded to be met. Until this time our fishing had been done with cane poles that we cut and prepared ourselves from a cane patch on one of our routes. This was OK for bream and sunfish around the edges of the water, but a longing was deep within to have something I could cast out into the deep water and catch REAL fish.

At that time a service station was situated on the edge of the lake and this establishment also sold bait and fishing supplies. It was there that I first saw the brand new rod with its shiny reel staring back at me from the display on the wall. Wow, with this equipment I could be a real fisherman like the older guys that actually fished in the "deeper water". The problem was the price and I knew that I would have to save a long time for this wondrous device and there were so many other things that I also wanted and/or needed much worse.

To somewhat placate the desire for the rod and reel, I even rigged up a medium cane pole with some wire loops and a fair amount of monofilament line that I kept wound up at the bottom of the pole. This worked fairly well and I even caught a few fish out in “deeper water”, but it just wasn’t the same – I had to hold the excess line in the other hand as I threw the bait out and it got tangled very easily.

Finally I could stand it no longer and after scrimping and saving, I went to the service station/fishing equipment place, paid for the rod and reel and watched them take it from the wall display and place it in my grimy little hands. The funny thing about the rod is that I don’t remember fishing with it, even though I know I did, or any of the fish I caught on it – it was simply a symbol of a rite of passage in my mind that I had finally joined the league of real fishermen.

The spot of land where the station once stood is now in the middle of an expressway and what was our favorite fishing spot is almost filled in with silt but the memories remain. God was good then and still is today. ec

Thursday, December 07, 2006


For some reason the work skulk is not one that I have heard in common usage around the circles in which I walk – or run. I associate this word with the British guys with whom I worked in my long ago Army days in Paris, France – and BBC programs such as “Keeping up appearances”. This word carries the meaning to lie or keep in hiding, as for some evil reason or to move stealthily or slink.

To the British, skulk carries the additional meaning of malinger – this would be to pretend illness, especially in order to shirk duty or work. Oddly enough, a pack or group of foxes is also called a skulk – and a skulk of foxes is not something one would want in their hen house.

Similar in meaning to skulk are the words lurk, sneak and prowl – and all suggest avoiding observation, often because of a sinister purpose. To lurk is to lie in wait for someone or to move stealthily. Sneak emphasizes the attempt to avoid being seen or discovered; it suggests a sinister intent or the desire to avoid punishment. Prowl usually implies seeking prey or loot; it suggests quiet and watchful roaming. It was then I noticed that while similar to the others, skulk leaned toward the suggestion of cowardice or fear.

A word that sounds like skulk is skunk and while most all know about this animal and the results if one gets too close to it, a thoroughly contemptible person is also called a skunk. And while we know that a skunk (person) is a skulker, the question came to me, does the skunk skulk? From all appearances it does not, and seems to have no fear – it just roams from place to place as it well pleases and if anything or anybody messes with it, it raises a big stink. Sounds a bit like some people I have heard about.

Now we know that to stink means to emit a strong offensive smell, but also a stink can define being offensive to propriety, such as an unpleasant fuss or scandal. We well know that the skunk (animal) can accomplish this first meaning with great aplomb and thoroughness, but we also know that the skunk (person) can bring the second meaning to fruition with the same amount of skillfulness.

Then the writer wandered off and found that a stull was a timber prop in a mine, one wedged between two walls of a stope. This caused a further search to find that a stope was basically a mineshaft. Stumbling on I found that one of the meanings of the word skim was to read, study, consider or treat in a superficial or cursory manner. This begged the question in my mind as to whether or not something can be done in a cursory manner without using bad words or thoughts.

To end today’s word wanderings I stop at the word stultify – to make, or cause to appear, foolish or ridiculous. This may be what my meandering writings do to my posts, but I do so much have fun with our language and fun is a good thing. Fun is close to joy and joy is what I receive from God because He is good and desires to give us good things and joy is a good thing. ec

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

quick trip

Out and about for an early appointment, I find the clouds in very unusual patterns with bands of them partially hiding the recently risen sun but with multi-colored light rays showing through. The appointment was for a checkup on a medical procedure done last month and it was of the type I really like – it was brief – in the waiting room and the treatment room – and all was OK.

The treatment room window looked toward the east from the fourth floor and again I had a chance to admire the cloud patterns. The lower clouds that mostly blocked the sun were grey, but as I raised my view, these formations turned to what appeared like large tuffs of cotton, grey on bottom and white on top and bright from the reflected sun – very pleasing to the eyes.

Very shortly I was out the office door and back on the road homeward. There is still one place on the main road home that has a train crossing and it happened that the barricade went down just as I approached that point. As I watched this rather long train pass in front of me, I couldn’t help but think how much trains have stayed the same and changed all at the same time. The change mostly is in the massive amounts of containerized freight they now haul instead of just the boxcars of the past. This train was mostly that type – some of the containers were a single level but more were stacked two high and with a very few totally empty cars.

These are the same containers that are used on ocean going vessels, then loaded on trains and later placed on trucks for final delivery. Even the engines that pull the cars are different and much more powerful. This is much of a change from my childhood in Cleveland, Tennessee when we had the coal-fired steam engines either pulling or shifting cars around just a couple of blocks over from our house – the old-fashioned ‘choo-choo’ trains.

The old saying goes that we should stop to smell the roses, but in the case of this stop, I had stopped to smell the exhaust fumes. The train finally passed, the gates lifted and we were all on our way. I couldn’t help notice that many more cars were coming into town than were going in my direction – this has to be because of my being retired. It still feels a bit strange on occasion because unless I have an appointment, I have no particular time schedule unless it is self-imposed. This is a good thing.

Came back by the post office to check the mail and even though it was a cloudy day, it felt good to be out, especially since my back problem has eased just a bit. The whole event of the morning was very unusual in that my appointment was at 8am, this was completed, on the 15 minute drive back I got stopped by a train, stopped and checked the mail and still drove into my driveway at 8:35 – wow!

Can a cloudy day be a good one? I say a resounding yes – and one in which to give thanks to the Lord – let us rejoice and be glad in it – I’ve heard that somewhere before. ec

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

cabin fever

Cabin fever is a phrase describing a condition that produces restlessness and irritability caused from being in a confined space. It possibly originated in the United States at the time when settlers would be snowed in to their log cabins and had to wait for the spring thaw in order to travel to town. Also the phrase may be associated with ocean-crossing sailing ships in which passengers had to endure weeks and months of slow travel while living in cramped cabins below deck.

Stir crazy is a phrase that dates to about 1925 according to one source and 1908 according to another. Used among inmates in prison, it referred to a prisoner who became mentally unbalanced because of prolonged incarceration. It is based on the slang word ‘stir’ (1851) meaning prison. It is now used to refer to anyone that becomes restless from being stuck in one place too long, with a similar meaning to cabin fever.

Being semi-confined for several weeks now, due to my back/leg problem, I’m not sure exactly which of the aforementioned conditions would be found nipping at the edges of my consciousness at various times of the day. When nipped enough, I usually respond by going out a few minutes, even if for nothing but riding down to the post office to check the mail or walking outside to make sure we are still having weather.

During one of my relatively gimp-free days last week, the confinement thing again nipped at me and I went just outside to the garden area and pulled up the dead okra stalks remaining there. Also involved in the outing was the snipping of the rest of the zinnia flower heads for next years seed – many of these have already been gathered but these were the last before I pulled up the dead flower plant skeletons. Going back inside, I admired the cleared garden area from the kitchen window.

The next morning, much to my chagrin, I realized that I had pulled up the main things that drew small birds to that area – they landed on and pecked around these stalks. The phrase came to mind that I had “shot myself in the foot”, in a manner of speaking – since I do enjoy watching the antics of these avian critters. The next best place for viewing is the back kitchen/dining area window, which includes a view of the pond. At the very moment I chose to look out this portal, a very exciting action was taking place in a tree by the water’s edge.

Much thrashing was going on in and around what looked to be a large squirrel nest about a third of the way up the tree. The movement that I could see was being done by what I finally identified as our ‘friendly’, local neighborhood hawk that has been mentioned in other missives. All during the flopping and flapping about, it seemed to have its talons attached to something in or on the edge of the nest.

Hurriedly getting my telescope and keeping my eyes on the action as well, I had just set it up and got focused on the area when I realized that there was no more movement and the hawk was gone. I surmised from what I did see that we had one less pesky squirrel and the hawk was somewhere nearby enjoying a fresh meal. This natural method of squirrel control is much more acceptable to me than having to do it myself – since I have trouble killing anything anymore.

The creatures of God’s creation and their instincts for survival continue to be amazing things to me – even though some of the survival methods seem pretty harsh – especially for the squirrel in this case. ec

Monday, December 04, 2006

mystery knock

My day began with morning, as it usually does, and somewhat earlier than it usually does for several reasons. First was the ‘mystery knock’ that has happened several times before, happened again about 6am. Even though we have a doorbell, it sounded so much like someone at the door that I went to check. No one was there and I went back to bed to try to get back to sleep. The next thing that kept me from snoozing was wondering what was causing the knock, waiting for it to happen again and just lying there formulating theories as to the source.

My first theory had always been woodpeckers but later inspection found no evidence of this fowl presence. Then there was the loose rain gutter/downspout bumping in the wind speculation. And though I found a loose downspout later and tightened it temporarily, it was on the back of the house and the knocking seems to be coming from the front. Finally I shelved the suppositions before I went into the more fanciful, yet sinister, areas of gremlins and such. The investigation will continue.

The final thing that finally brought me reluctantly and gimping out of bed at 6:30am was the annoying itsy-bitsy cramp and tingle in the left leg that seems to be my minor bane of late. That is if the word bane has a minor part to its definition. The day started in the usual way with unblinding the blinds at the kitchen window and gazing out at the outside world. Then came the vitamin regimen and breakfast accompanied by scripture.

The Spice arose later and soon departed for several errands, leaving me to my own devices. It was then that an amazing and unusual thing happened; I decided to file paperwork that had been piling up on my desk in the tiny study. The piles consisted of financial statements, healthcare papers, Medicare stuff, insurance forms and notices and even some written correspondence. This was paperwork that needed to be kept, yet some for records sake only, so it was moved from my small drawer to the larger cabinet downstairs to make room for the current stuff. Folders all had to be named and tabbed and moved to a more convenient place.

This was all completed by the time the Spice came back and in my excitement, I told her about it without giving her a chance to sit down. Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed that she leaned heavily on the cabinet – anyway, she managed not to swoon dead away – she is a very strong woman. The reason this was such a staggering issue is that this small room is the one that I am allowed to rule over and paperwork procrastination is part its ‘charm’. She doesn’t clean, organize or rearrange this room, for fear I would never be able to find anything again, if it gets too bad she just shuts the door.

We later spiffied ourselves up and for the second night in a row, we went to the church for a Christmas banquet. The trip to the church was much better than the other since this time it was not raining, even though it was dark. This event was one of much larger attendance and one of appreciation for those doing some job in the church. Even though the food was good, I enjoyed the conversing and fellowship as much if not more than the sustenance. We were serenaded with Christmas music played by a brass ensemble that was very good at what they did.

A group of the young folks regaled us with songs they composed about various leaders and programs of the church and sang them using familiar Christmas tunes as the music. The program concluded and we just stood around ‘fellowshipping’ and basking in the warmth of the kinship of our brothers and sisters in the Lord for quite a while. God is good. ec

Sunday, December 03, 2006


This is in an effort to offer a Sunday post with a little more direct scriptural reference – keep in mind that it comes simply from a layman that has been saved by the grace of God. A little known verse in the Old Testament of the Bible that has caught my attention several times goes like this: “O Lord, I have heard of your renown, I stand in awe, O Lord, of your work. In our own time revive it; in our own time make it known; in wrath may you remember mercy.”

This is the beginning of a prayer of a so-called ‘minor’ prophet and he is recognizing the awesome and even terrifying deeds of God done in the past. He is desirous of these things being revived in his day, yet calling for mercy because he remembers the disasters God brought about because of the sin of the people. This took place hundreds of years before Jesus came into a spiritually dark world and died for the sins of mankind so we could have the hope of salvation and rose from the dead for us to have the possibility of eternal life.

The deeds and love of God through Jesus was and is an awesome thing for us today. May we as practicing Christians stand before God with earnest and honest hearts and pray for a revival of God’s grace and mercy to come to our town, county, state, country and our world. Many are puzzled as to why we can’t have peace on earth and it’s because its inhabitants do not know the God of peace.

Cynics would say that many have been maimed and killed for the so-called ‘cause of God’, yet that is not the way God works since Jesus came – these are instead the power struggles of those using the name of God for perverted purposes. These selfish and destructive acts do not change the fact that God is a God of love and still offers forgiveness and redemption from every wrong thing we have ever done – and that for the asking. Give God a chance to change your life for the better, forever – it’s your choice. ec

Friday, December 01, 2006

12 days

It was a dark and stormy night – what a catchy phrase – and the Spice and I were on our way to the church and our first ‘gala event’ of the season, the senior’s Christmas banquet. The night was truly dark (as most nights are) and it was gusting rain, to one intensity or another. We were on I-20 and one exit short of getting off when suddenly our lane slowed to a stop/crawl. We slowly advanced up the interstate and into lateness for our event.

When we finally got to the point of the blue lights, it appeared that at least two and maybe three vehicles were involved in this very wet accident and it would seem that the hurting folks had already departed to a healthcare facility. We were about 15 minutes late for our supper event, but they were still in the ‘meet and greet’ stages so it was not so bad. We were shortly called to order, were greeted officially, grace was offered and we began to go through the food line of this catered happening.

The food was definitely decent and was followed by either a double or triple chocolate slice of cake – I could have used some vanilla ice cream on it. A good friend of ours played the piano during the meal and afterwards asked the group to join her in singing some Christmas carols. The final part of the evening was a participation singing of the 12 days of Christmas. Twelve “volunteers” were called to the front, each of us was assigned a day and the song started with passing the mike and chiming in when our part came. I was number 12 and only had to sing my short part once – the Spice had the ‘five golden rings’ with much more participation.

There seemed to be a bit of confusion about the words of day 9 through 12 and when I looked up the song on the web, I understood why. One version had 9 drummers drumming, ten pipers piping, 11 ladies dancing and 12 lords a-leaping – while the other had 9 ladies dancing, 10 lords a-leaping, 11 drummers drumming and 12 pipers piping.

Several parodies of this song have been given over the years by many different ‘artists’ – many of which are not worthy of printing but one told of what ‘Garfield’ the cat got for Christmas – 12 mice a-dancing, 11 hair-balls hacking, 10 cups of coffee, 9 spiders wacking, 8 plates of pasta, 7 bunny slippers, 6 dogs a-kicking, 5 million presents, 4 jelly rolls, 3 fruit cakes, 2 teddy bears and a partridge in a pear tree.

More in tune with real life, sadly to say, is the version given in the 11th episode of the first season of the TV show ‘Scrubs’ and it tells the reasons that doctors try to avoid being on call on Christmas Eve. They figure they would get: 12 beaten children, 11 drive-by shootings, 10 frozen homeless, 9 amputations, 8 burn victims, 7 strangled shoppers, 6 random knifings, 5 suicides, 4 beaten wives, 3 OD’s, 2 shattered skulls, and a drunk who drove into a tree. Wow, welcome to big city Christmas!!

Even in the small town, expectations about the event and material things can mask or hide altogether the real reason for the season – the celebration of a savior coming into the world – Jesus. The reason for the lack of joy during this season or any other is the lack of a relationship with Christ, who is the giver of joy. ec