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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


The pond bordering Blueberry Hill is as full as it has been in about two years and yet is still a foot or so from overflow. The dam was built with a 6 to 8 inch pipe through the dam as the overflow and if it gets higher than that, it is made to enable the water to run around the far side without damaging the structure itself. Of course all this is according to government regulations. Even at this it has only ran through the pipe a very few times.

The semi-local geese usually make daily flights in and land either on this pond or the one adjoining that belongs to the neighbors. They spend the day and either most or all of them make the flight back to their home pond just south of here in the evenings. It was a small mystery to me as to why they seemed to spend more time on the neighbor’s waters that those behind the house. In fact, they spent most of their time in one back corner of that pond. BIL solved the puzzle for me when he told me that the neighbor keeps a large container of corn back there and feeds them on a regular basis – they know a good thing when they eat it.

There are so many things that I need to do in tending to our little corner of the world here on Blueberry hill. Still in progress (slowly) is the muscadine pruning and to make this worse, I had rooted some of these vines for kinfolk and they didn’t need all of them. Now those extras have to be hacked out of the soil with great effort and discarded as well – not an easy task since they grow strong roots very quickly. These tasks are all to be parts of my rehab and strengthening program.

The hazel nut trees also need their many sprouts cut back at the ground and the blueberries as well. One of the small blueberry plants on the bedroom end of the house died last year and I will use one of the stronger sprouts from the older bushes to replace that one. There are enough blueberry sprouts from my original patch to start another whole patch but most of these just have to be cut back in order to not interfere with the fruiting of the parent plant in the summer.

Speaking of sprouts, our gruntmonkeys (grandchildren) are growing and doing well and one of them had a very exciting adventure just the other day. I may have vaguely referred to the local GMs moving to another house just before Christmas and they are mostly settled in and seem to be enjoying this new location. GM3 found a friend just a door over with which to play – GM3 is 4 ½ and the friend is 6 and they seem to enjoy their many adventures together.

Their latest adventure had to do with the older boy riding a tricycle down their steep driveway with GM3 riding and holding on to the back. When they hit the bump at the street, they crashed and fortunately GM3 came out of it with just a skinned knee. Unfortunately his friend broke both bones in his right arm (he is right-handed) at the elbow. One parent from each family had just glanced their way and saw them in safe activities. The neighbors spent the night at the ER getting pins put in the arm to put the bones back right.

Life can sometimes crash in a hurry and almost always we are not ready for the changes that come. It is always good to have a friend that is ready to help at any moment and at all hours. Many of us have those kinds of friends but there is One that is even closer than these, One that will be with us through all worse case scenarios, even our own passing from this life. Of course this is Jesus, the best friend we could ever have and He will be that friend just for the asking. ec

Monday, January 29, 2007


If a person is to be a grower and tender of muscadines, there is at least one important thing that should be done every dormant season. But first let me remind you about this vine, just in case you haven’t heard of them or are not from our area. A muscadine is a grape of the southern U.S., having several colors of thick-skinned musky fruit and being the origin of many grape varieties. As it turns out, there are many varieties of muscadines – I have four different types here on our place.

At one time I had 12 of these vines growing, but it seems that I enjoy blueberries more than muscadines, so 5 were removed and replaced with these more desirable and compact plants. The remaining 7 vines are on the down slope at the garage end of our house. Two varieties of these (5 of the vines) are considered non-perfect flower – they require a pollinator in order to fruit, and the other two are perfect flower – they pollinate others vines and also grow muscadines themselves.

OK, back to the one thing that needs to be done every year for the muscadine to fruit properly – they must be pruned (cut back). It seems that I have approached this subject before, but if they are not pruned, all the sap and energy of the plant goes into growth of vine and not fruit (grapes). The fact that I had been almost totally inactive for about six months because of the back problem didn’t alter the facts of the needed pruning. On Thursday past, my doctor gave me release to do light yard work and this was the first task that needed to be tackled.

With a bit of trepidation, I sallied forth with pruning shears in hand to do this needful job. Now I had been walking some outside so the legs were not too bad, but the lack of upper body activity had taken much of the strength and endurance of hands and arms – and even cut into the range of motion. My mind had the ‘want to’, but everything else in the body was in disagreement. With slow, deliberate movements, I managed to last about an hour and it was all I could do to drag myself back up the hill to the house – much to the consternation of the Spice.

This brought back to mind a memorable saying from an old Clint Eastwood movie – “A man has got to know his limitations”. Next day, I went back out with these limitations firmly in mind – didn’t stay quite as long and felt much better afterward. A couple more short sessions in addition have now been completed and it gets better each time. Seems that it takes a bit of time to regain one’s strength after a layoff like that – I’ll not be so quick to believe the mind the next time it tells me what I can and can not do. Fortunately I still have a bit of time to finish the pruning (end of Feb.) because I have only completed two and part of another of the vines – basically 5 more to finish.

This is just a reminder to me that the years will bring aging and weakness in us all – some more than others – but the weaknesses do not have to rule the soul and spirit. Even though the body might grow weak, we can still be mighty warriors in the spiritual realms for God – of course this is our choice. ec

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


The plot of ground on which our house is built and on which we pay taxes every year has always been noted on the plat to be just short of an acre – .98 to be exact. Within the last month or so we have been able to obtain a piece of property that adjoined ours on the back. This fact has gone almost unnoticed by me because of the health issues in which I’ve been involved.

This piece of property came out to a little over an acre, so now our vast (?) estate comes out to 2.05 acres. All of this is the continuation of the slope behind our house down to the pond and takes in the entire southwest side of the pond. We now have a waterfront lot – if the pond is not too low (large smile). Plans for different types of plantings on the slope are starting to formulate but are definitely just in the beginning stages and are dependent on several things, not the least of which would be the health issues.

It seems odd and yet it doesn’t, how a piece of land can get into one’s head and emotional roots can grow deep in the soil, no matter how rich or poor the dirt happens to be. This now larger Blueberry Hill has a lot of sand in residence, but it will grow veggies, berries and such and all these things makes me very happy. Just to see things grow, especially things planted by one’s own hands, is an amazing thing and touches places deep within.

It might be a bit genetic in that my Dad was what one would call and experimental planter. Dad retired in Augusta, Georgia and moved back to the old home place in Mississippi in the 1970s. He always planted a big veggie garden and started planting fruit trees. These trees would be obtained from friends in the area or ordered from the seed and plant catalog. Some of these would be things he was familiar with and others would be something he just ‘wanted to try’.

When we would go down to see the folks, one of the expected things and a highlight of the trip for me was when Dad would take me around and tell me about the different trees. He could tell me where they came from, when he planted them and whether or not they produced to suit him that year. Then if he didn’t like how they were doing, he would dig them up and plant something else. Even as he got more feeble, the plant sagas seemed to please him in the telling and certainly pleased me in the hearing. If you were here, I could tell you all about the trees and plants that I have joyously planted on Blueberry Hill.

Deeper and stronger than physical plantings are the Words of life that are daily planted by those genuine believers who know and live for the King of all Kings. Jesus Christ is the giver of life and will accept all who will come to Him and ask. ec

PS – Just to bring you up to date with health issues, the back is still healing as expected, I now have had a CPAP machine for two nights and am still trying to get used to it. I used it two hours the first night and 4 the second and I seem to be sleeping better. Much mystery still remains with the joint and muscle pain but medication is now helping in that area with some test results still to be evaluated.

Monday, January 22, 2007


My first waking moment made me aware of a cacophonous, raucous and very discordant ruckus out behind the house. A moment of listening told me that this was the serenade of two groups of large birds, neither of which are known to be very melodious. These critters were geese and crows and though they seemed to be doing their very best, the most tactful way to describe their sound would be a “joyful noise”. Lacking the energy and curiosity on this particular morning, I had to assume this was just normal for them and tried to go back to sleep, in spite of the ‘music’.

Music is a thing that has always been a large part of my life, mostly because my Dad was the choir director at our church for about 25 years. If I had a forte, it would have been in the singing area, even though I did take piano lessons for a couple of years at two different times in my life. My first teacher finally concluded that I was wasting my time and money since I would not practice like I should – too young and with too many distractions. The second one had to quit teaching due to an upcoming blessed event – but I had just about concluded by then that it wasn’t for me.

Joining the choir after my marriage to the Spice, I sang with them several years in the tenor section. While we were not a great choir, we certainly worshipped God and made a “joyful noise” to Him. Later I sang with a Southern Gospel quartet for a short while, even sang on TV once with them, but they just needed a warm body to fill in. Then I enjoyed striving to harmonize in several trios, a duet and even sang some solos. They were really dragging the bottom when I was asked to fill in for a while as the choir director at church – I really enjoyed it but such was not my calling for long term.

While all this left me with an ear and an appreciation for harmony in song, I have still been known to change keys in the middle of a song, especially in an a cappella tune. Also I have come to the realization that not all those that sing for a living really harmonize – whether in secular or gospel music. There are enough quality groups that still make it worth listening for the harmony though. My music preferences today fall along gospel lines and that mostly in the contemporary field.

In my younger years, I enjoyed many types of music and carried a love for the “blues” on through my ‘wandering years’ and even back then I listened for the harmony in their music. These songs were used to fill a large hole in my soul and though they were a momentary comfort, they didn’t solve the real problem. Leaving Jesus Christ out of my life was what caused the large emptiness and when I invited Him back in, suddenly any use that I had for the “blues” was gone. When a person has joy, it is hard to sing the “blues”.

Today, I sing only for my own enjoyment or to scare the crows away. But there is One who appreciates my ‘joyful noise’ and I believe He smiles when I sing much like I smile when my ‘grand’ ones sing. ec

Friday, January 19, 2007


The word brow carries several meanings – the eyebrow, the brow or top of a hill, the forehead and even a person's countenance or mien. This latter word means the air, bearing, or demeanor of a person, as showing character or feeling or other such things. It seems I learn many things when I wander around in the book of meanings.

The usage that started this missive in motion is the one meaning the forehead. In this case it would seem that the word brow would belong to a gentler, more chivalrous, age that has long passed us by. An example sentence would be – I asked my loved one to hold a cool cloth upon my fevered brow whilst I regurgitated in yon porcelain basin, she did so and it seemed so caring, so compassionate and so much like just the other night – but I feel better now.

The brow doesn’t seem to show quite the range of emotions as the rest of the face and in fact joins in very little with a big smile. It does wrinkle up when faced with the inquisitive, such as the ‘how’. One can enjoy the ‘how’ unless it is taken to the extreme, such as, how did that tiger get in here? The brow is also enlivened by the ‘wow’! Let me state right here that I enjoy being wowed by the creations and critters God made. The geese are back in the area today and are in and around the banks of the pond. Even saw one in the yard next door – all are doing their best to fertilize the soil of the entire area – wow!

A more sinister thing that makes the brow expressive is the scowl. This is defined: to draw down or contract the brows in a sullen, displeased, or angry manner. Not only does this not look good to others, it doesn’t really feel good to the scowler. That being said, we have all come in contact with those that seem to enjoy the expression and the emotions therewith involved. It did occur to me that another thing a person could have on their brow was a scow – a much weightier matter indeed that could prove to be somewhat or even slightly fatal – if that’s possible.

A scowl on the brow is sometimes followed closely by a row. The third definition and usage of the word, it means a noisy dispute or quarrel or commotion. When I have heard the word used, it sounds like the word ow with an ‘r’ attached. A word that is fun to pronounce but not to be involved in is a ‘brouhaha’, which means about the same as a row, but is a happier way to say it – one had to be there.

Sometimes expressed in the brow is the ‘ow’ – of course the entire body usually joins in with the ‘ow’ expression and comes to the aid of the body part involved most closely in the ‘ow’ experience. It is odd in a way that one can bash a fingernail and it makes the whole body hurt and even do weird things to try to relieve the pain. The body seems to be a team with all members working for the betterment of all other members. Sounds like the kind of team that all we humans should be on – especially Christians – and all working for the betterment of others around them.

My wish for you is that your ‘ow’s be few and that the ‘wows’ you perceive from God’s creation be many. ec

PS - The sleep study did show that I have sleep apnea and I'm awaiting doctors reports to be completed in order to obtain a CPAP machine to help in this respect. Tests continue on the other problems with nothing definitive as yet.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


In some ago missive and maybe in several, I have mentioned that I was a jogger for about 20 years. This was an outlet for me, I enjoyed it and it kept me in pretty decent shape. The constant pounding finally got too much for my lower back and I quit jogging to start speed walking. This also has kept me in fair shape and allowed me to eat most anything I wanted without gaining weight. The back problem that caused me to start walking might possibly be the same one that I had to have repaired back on December 29th – not much way of knowing that now though.

As you may or may not know, the difference between running (or jogging) and walking is that in running one moves their feet in such a manner that for an instant in each step both feet are off the ground. In walking, there is always one foot on the ground. The walking I have been doing for my rehab would have to barely be considered walking, especially at first when both feet were mostly touching – one touching and one dragging. This has improved and the day of this writing I did more than a mile outside in about 28 minutes – not fast according to my old times but the best since the operation.

My “track” outside is the driveway that goes from the street, across the dam of the pond and ends and MIL’s house – 2 tenths of a mile and it is easy to get any distance one wants out of that. Geese still fly in and spend the day on this pond or the one above it on most days. We have counted as high as 30 at one time. A couple of days ago we were walking and counted 20 swimming on the pond but as we got closer to them, one was a duck. I’m not totally sure but this may be the same duck that I wrote about wondering what had happened to him. The geese always fly back to another pond to the south of here at night and evidently it flies with them, so I guess the duck now thinks it is a goose.

Doctor appointments have always been something the Spice had – until recently that is. I think I have had more appointments in the last three months than probably in the last ten years. Just this morning I went for some blood tests – still trying to solve the mystery about my achy muscles and not being able to sleep. Then this afternoon it was on to the dentist – praise the Lord for no cavities – he did go ahead and fix one little chipped tooth.

The biggie for today is a sleep study to see if I have sleep apnea. This is pretty much an all night affair, going in at about 7pm and finishing up about 6am in the morning. Not looking forward to it but hopefully it will help solve some of the problems. Nonetheless, God is still good – all the time. ec

Sunday, January 14, 2007

compliance 2

The Spice and other friends were awaiting me in my appointed room after the surgery and we spoke much after I was settled into my more permanent bed. Later that evening it was proven to me that I had neither dignity nor modesty left when I went through the “joy” of the VERY necessary procedure of the in-out catheter, I just lay there in compliance and was grateful for the relief. Things along that line were better after that, but still a miserable night and I got very little sleep.

A clock was on the wall opposite from my bed and in my direct line of sight – it seemed to move very slowly all that afternoon and evening. Just having to lie there and not being able to sleep made the dark hours last forever. The longed for morning finally came and I ate my first solid food – I was in great gratitude to the night nurse that made this possible – since I had only liquids until then. The hospital stay was the overnight observation type and next morning when the doctor came in, he said I was doing OK and he was allowing me to go home – I was gladly in compliance with that order.

There was the normal delay for the doc to write up the orders for departure, the nurse to detach the IV line, give me final instructions and arrange for the wheelchair to take me to the front door. My trip to the front door began and the Spice departed to get the van and meet me at the entrance. It could have been a dank, dark day and still would have looked beautiful to me – I was on my way home.

The two main instructions of the doc were to not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk and walk. I have been in compliance with both of these since day one back home. That first day home found me walking three times, though some might have called my gait somewhat of a shuffle and very slow at that. My steps have improved and some of the walks have been outside – the longest thus far has been almost a mile. The inside strolls have been around the house from one end to the other.

The old year slowly leaked away and we welcomed the new one in a very sedate and non-exciting manner – as that was about all the gusto I could muster. On New Year’s Day there was a celebration though – this was the day I could remove my bandage and take a shower again – yippee!! Had some lingering stomach problems that hung on for over a week – thankfully they are gone now.

I knew the stomach was getting back to normal when I started desiring lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken – this was a real bummer since it was too late in the evening for one of these to be obtained. We had doc appointments next day and stopped by for one of these delightful food items after the visits. We got home, fixed some side dishes and ‘chowed’ down on our feast. Since I had eaten very little over the preceding 10 days, I filled up quickly, but the meal was all I had dreamed it would be and even had a little more of it for my evening sustenance.

There remains a problem with sore muscles and joints and an inability to sleep over an hour at a time, but these are being addressed with tests. Even these do not diminish my gratitude for the repair and continuing healing of the back problem or my thanksgiving to God for what has been done already. The doc or nurse are not present to make sure I follow the proper rules, but the Spice is and to her I yield in – compliance. ec

Thursday, January 11, 2007


It was December 29th, 2006, on the cusp of a new year and it was the worst of times for me physically, but today promised to be the beginning of the end of a bad condition. It was Friday morning and as most mornings do, this one started out dark. The instructions previously given had said to shower with the special soap (they had supplied) on Thursday night and then again before reporting to the hospital – compliance. Further instructions called for me to eat or drink nothing after midnight Thursday night, this was tough but – compliance.

On Thursday, the doctor’s office had called and told me to be at the hospital at 7:30am, and though this was the third variance of time given to me and it was confusing – compliance. After checking in at this time on Friday morning, I was soon shown to a small room and told to take off everything wherewithal I was clothed – including dignity and modesty, these last two were implied – and put on the famous backless gown and get on the bed with wheels – compliance.

By this time the spice was there to watch over any dignity or modesty I had left, but she was too late, it was all gone due to – compliance. A very jovial male nurse came by to insert an IV line – I think he was happy because it was me and not him on the table – he asked for my hand – compliance. This didn’t look good, since he was going to shoot a pain killer before he put the line in – small bee sting said he, and it was but there must not have been enough stinger killer juice because when the larger sting came after that, I felt it all, even the barbs on the stinger. I didn’t yell because – 1-didn’t want to scare the Spice and –2-I was in – compliance.

Just a short while later, the same very jovial nurse then moved my wheeled vehicle up a floor or two into a cubicle in the OR holding area. This gentleman was good at what he did, at least in the driving department and even though the clearance of the passageways was at times very small, we neither clipped a doorway nor banged a wall. I just lay there and marveled as we traveled, without gritting my teeth or getting white knuckles or anything – why? – I was in – compliance.

If you have never seen the 1986 Disney movie “Flight of the Navigator”, you wouldn’t quite understand why I’m flinging around the word – compliance. Plus the word seemed to fit very well in this situation. Nonetheless, they soon came for me and I broke company with my loved ones and wandered off into the misty regions of drug-induced oblivion, in unconscious compliance.

When I once again became aware of semi-consciousness, I was in the semi-hovering presence of a nurse and since I had no choice but compliance as to my location, I conversed with the healthcare professional. I spoke to her in glowing terms and of many things about my grandkids. Since she also had no choice of her location, she joined in and spoke of her own offspring. Also during this time I was carefully feeling of my left leg and hip – all the cramping, burning and tingling was gone – I had a large thanksgiving session right there on the gurney. A short while later I was on my way to my room away from home – hopefully just for the night. TBC – ec

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

note 2

Another short note to let y’all know that the operation was a success – noticed that the burning, cramping and numbness was gone in the recovery room. Stayed the night Friday night – long night – kind of miserable – several factors – came home Sat. and that made me feel much better. Not a very good weekend – pain involved – started turning around a bit on Monday and Tuesday – today has been a little up and down but still pretty good.

I’m limited to only sitting 20 minutes at a time and as you know, that is a problem when trying to compose anything intelligible. Nonetheless, I have been pecking away at something concerning the whole experience to send a little later. Just want to tell y’all how much I appreciate your expressions of concern and your wishes, but especially your prayers. In spite of being somewhat miserable; I can still see the hand of God in the success of the operation and now in the beginnings of my recovery.

Thanks again, hope to be back on a regular basis very soon. ec