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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


It was just about sundown when I decided to take my rehab walk, a good time of the day when it is still light but the temp has abated enough to make it a little less sweaty. This walk was along the driveway of MIL and has solid greenery on one side and the other side is the pond. The five goslings spoken of in earlier missives were on the pond under the watchful eyes of their parents. They seem to be doing well and are about half the size of the adult geese, so they must be eating very well.

Next morning I decided that I would spiffy up the garden a bit and put some water on it. The water was turned on in one small corner before breakfast and during the prep for this meal, I looked out and noticed some wildlife enjoying the sprinkler very much. I had to smile at the two brown thrushes getting their morning shower. It reminded me of a couple of small children playing in the sprinkling water, they would stop and fluff out their feathers and such – looked like they were having fun.

After breakfast, I went out and found some wildlife evidence that was not smile inducing at all. The deer tracks were back along with more nibbled leaves. There were already skips in the cucumber row, so after I cleaned out the young weeds, I replanted these non-sprouting areas. In the next day or so I plan to put some fence wire over the cukes along with some concrete blocks to hold it down. Haven’t decided on a plan B yet if that doesn’t work.

Also did the semi-final thinning of the okra plants, the next thinning will leave one plant per ‘hill’ to produce the veggies – hopefully the strongest one? Also got out the small weeds and such and then turned the sprinkler on that area. It almost seems that we are not going to get any more natural rain, at least not in the foreseeable future, so I have to do this to insure the survival of the plants.

To make an understatement, the day was very warm, so shortly after 1pm I decided to come in the house before the monkey jumped on my back. Had a bite to eat and then just relaxed and watched another of the Star Wars movies. I have all six of these on DVD and over the babysitting weekend, GM1 and I had started a Star Wars movie marathon but only got through the first two prequels because of the constraints of time. I had watched #3 the next day, #4 the day after that and #5 today. This was not my favorite one so I fast-forwarded through a lot to make it a much shorter film.

After this I finished loading the trash in the truck along with some cardboard and some old carpet and went to the dump. Certain things have to be placed in certain bins and the cardboard and trash-dumping areas were quick, but I had to wait a bit to dump the carpet. Then on to the ATM – and yes, I did remember my ID number today. From there it was on to one of my favorite places to spend money – the Bi-Lo grocery store. After I paid, I felt somehow that I should be getting more for the dollars spent – oh well, this is better than wasting it on ‘riotous living’ – whatever that is.

Coming home, I did something that is rapidly becoming a habit – I took a nap in the recliner. God invented naps, plus He gave someone brains enough to invent the recliner, I just put the two together and came up with a very good thing. God is good, all the time. ec

Monday, May 28, 2007


What a busy weekend! Not busy going places and seeing and greeting different people, but staying with the same folks all weekend – small people. These small ones were the four local gruntmonkeys – we kept them over for their parents to go off for the weekend. SSIL is about to go out of town to work for most of the summer and they wanted to have some time away. They went down to the SC coast for a couple of nights in a B&B.

They left Saturday morning but we actually started with the young ones staying Friday night. First on the agenda was to pick up GM1 at an evening party nearby. It was held at a lake and about 100 kids were there, along with a dozen or so sets of parents. She seemed to have a great time and along with the eats, she said she played volleyball about 3 hours. They played this game with a beach ball, so it wasn’t exactly regulation – ball or rules – but it did look like fun.

Although we have two bedrooms in the basement, I wanted to keep the young ones on the same level on which we were sleeping. GM1 usually sleeps with the Spice when she is over, so the two of them occupied the TV bedroom. The little guy is a light sleeper so we put him in the other extra BR. This left the two older boys and I in the MBR – I put down two single mattresses on the floor for them and I slept alone on my bed – grateful not to be kicked by little ones all night.

Our general agreement was that I would see about these two older boys during the night and the Spice would see to the little one. This was OK with her except for one detail, although he does usually sleep through the night; he gets up at the crack of dawn and will see to it that someone is up with him. He was up just a tiny bit later than usual the next morn, but not much. I didn’t fare much better in that I didn’t sleep well because I was listening out for the GMs with me.

Of course it didn’t help that I was still trying to get over a cold and a lingering cough. I got up to help out with the little one but my two charges were up not long after. I had the whole crew for a good part of the day since the Spice went to help with our church’s homeless ministry. We survived the day and night. Early next morning, one of the young men in my room had an ‘accident’ and after getting him situated back in bed, I couldn’t go back to sleep.

The Spice, GM1, GM3 and GM4 all got ready and went to church while I stayed with GM6, who does not do well in church. I was able to attend our service electronically by watching it on our web cast. We were having a dish of baked spaghetti that had been previously prepared and frozen for just such an event. This was baked and ready for them when they got home, along with some garlic cheese bread. It was during this meal that GM4 supplied my laugh of the day.

He is 3 ½ and along with his 5-year-old brother, has a large interest in pirates, cowboys and such. He is constantly talking about bad people doing something or another and how much we needed to watch out for them. This was such an oft mentioned subject that the Spice tired of it. She told him, “Why don’t we talk about good people instead of bad people all the time?”

To start the subject, she asked him, “What do good people do?” He hesitated not a whit with his answer when he said – “They shoot bad people.” The old guy in the group totally lost it and had a terrible time regaining any semblance of composure for a while, much to the displeasure of the Spice. She seemed to imply that I was just making it worse. Maybe the little guy should watch less pirates and cowboys, even though they are of the Disney type.

The GMs, the Spice and I all survived the weekend and I felt much enriched by the experience, even though a little worn around the edges. God is good, all the time. ec

Friday, May 25, 2007


Because of babysitting, working, upper respiratory problems and just generally being busy, the garden had been shoved down on the list of priorities. One afternoon I had taken about 30 minutes to clean out around the tomatoes, put straw under and place the support baskets over them. These ‘baskets’ are barrel shaped and are fashioned out of concrete reinforcement wire – I’ve had them at least 10 years and even though they are rusty, they will last several more.

The rest of the garden was well on its way to getting out of hand with small weeds, grass and excess veggie plants. The reason for the excess plants is that I usually plant more seeds than needed to allow for the failure of some of them to germinate. This is particularly true with okra and since I save my own okra seed from year to year, I do not sow them sparingly.

Finally I allotted an afternoon for this when I was feeling a little better from my cold. Starting with the short beds wherein reside the green beans and zinnias, I cleaned out the volunteer weeds and grass that were trying to get a foothold – or roothold I guess I should say. With the tomato row already tended, I went on to the squash row and on hands and knees, with my small hand hoe, I ripped out the weeds, hoed up the grass and then gently pulled out the extra plants so as not to damage the remaining ones. The okra row was done the same way, but there were many more excess plants.

The final bed was the one containing cucumbers and it had so many weeds that I had to use the regular hoe as well as hand pulling to rid myself of the unwanteds. Two other things were troubling about this row, one was that the plants didn’t come up well in spots and the other was the presence of deer tracks and some nibbled plants in evidence.

My plan is to place fence wire over the top of the cucumber plants to deny access and hopefully stymie these nighttime nibblers. But I also need to replant a couple of sections of the row before the wire is placed. Last year the deer ate over half of the vines and we had very few cucumbers for salads. I do not like the helpless ripped-off feeling or the anger their actions caused me. My preference might be to sit up and see if I could hit them with a large rock – or worse – but I never know what nights they will come.

My most recent yard foray was to use my landscaping ax to hack out a bunch of seedling trees, mostly oaks, which were growing along the property line bordering the garden. I hauled off two garden carts of small trees by my quitting time. All of these outside actions are part of my self-imposed rehab program and I’m ever so slowly able to do more each time. I was out about two hours today and very much wilted when I came in but it wasn’t as bad as it has been.

It is somewhat puzzling about all the small oaks since there is not an oak within several hundred feet of that location. My best guess is that the local squirrels planted the acorns there for future generations – this in spite of the fact that they do this without thinking; it’s just the way God made them. God does all things well. ec

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Greensboro - 2

Next morning my body was whining: I didn’t get enough sleep – I have stuffy sinus – my muscles hurt – why do I have to work two days in a row, I’m supposed to be retired – but I got up anyway. My day was begun in the usual way and I was once again waiting for BIL when he arrived at 7:30. We were soon on the limited access roadway that would eventually pass through Atlanta and beyond.

We exited at Greensboro – exit 130 – and arrived at the store and were soon hard at work to complete what we didn’t get through with the day before. I had gotten two major wire runs put in the day before, tip-toeing up on the warehouse racks about 15 feet above a cement floor. These were stapled to the warehouse wall to keep them neat and out of the way. We completed one section left from the day before and then slowly started to install the three phones on the ends of them.

Besides being an old worn-out phone man, I’m an amateur electrician with a fair amount of practice and we had to use this skill as well to install a couple of electrical outlets to make one of the phones work. One of the outlet boxes was not the proper type but fortunately a recently opened Home Depot was just about a half mile up the road and I obtained the right one in short order. The outlets were installed without shocking results and they actually worked when I turned the power back on.

The phone cables were spliced together in the suspended ceilings on the second floor and we broke for lunch. Then began the slow tedious stuff of attaching the right wires to the right places to make the phones work. The DSL filter was installed for the computer systems, as was the com-switch – the controller for the employee’s time clock – and then everything was transferred from the temporary wires to the permanent – and everything worked – what a concept!

Then it was on to the time clock location and this device was installed, as well as the card rack for the employee’s ID cards. Our last job of the day was to check out this clock to see if it would send its information back to the main office and try as we would, this device would not work. Let me offer an excuse right here, my sinus problems had gotten progressively worse all day, along with coughing and sneezing and by this time of the day I was really feeling like unrefrigerated, week-old leftovers.

In this miserable haze, it suddenly dawned on me that we had not checked to see if we could get dial tone to the time clock. I checked this and lo and behold, it was dead – upon checking, I had connected the wrong wire in the wire closet. Correcting this, the clock immediately went to work in the proper way. After a few more minor delays, we finally left and came home – miserable all the way.

Arriving at the home front, I changed clothes and fell into the recliner and except for the necessary calls of nature; I was there all night. The next day and next night found me in the same location with this cold/sinus infection/nasally whatever it was and feeling like I had wrestled two bears, five bobcats, 19 meerkats, 4 fire-ant beds and come out on the losing end of all of them.

Now, a week later, I’m finally coming around and feel some better. Thank the Lord for an immune system that fights off these ornery germs. ec

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Greensboro - 1

The following events came from the annals of personal history as they are transferred from the ‘pages’ of my recorder to the pages of my computer and then beyond – sort of like ‘to infinity and beyond’ but different. They happened about a week ago but still feel real today.

Another morning came in which I didn’t want to get up early, yet I did so because I had made a commitment to BIL to help him with the communications system at his company’s new Greensboro, GA store. This is the same location we had been to several weeks back and was unable to complete because other work needed to be done by another communications company first.

Was up at 6am, started my day the usual way and was waiting with tool satchel in hand when BIL came in the neighborhood of 7:30. The trip was west on I-20, took a bit over an hour and we arrived without incident – other than the admiration of God’s handiwork in the greenery along the way. At least this time we knew what we needed and brought these things with us.

We started to work right away, knowing that the work would require a portion of the morrow and maybe even the next day. We had a short lunch and continued on into the afternoon. It was not until the Spice called with a reminder that I remembered the meeting I had that evening. We wrapped things up for the day and headed back home, knowing we had a full day the next day as well.

It was not my intention to rush BIL back because we still had enough time but he seemed to take it that way and we headed back in a hurry. He played traffic leapfrog with a fast group on the road and we were home in record time – albeit this oldster was a little tense from the speed. My usual contribution to the monthly eating meeting of old friends is to take a dessert and my intention was a banana pudding but alas, there was no time for that. I called the Spice on the way back and she graciously made a batch of Texas brownies for me to take along.

After cleaning up and changing clothes I still had a few spare minutes – I cut up the brownies, put them in Tupperware and shortly headed out the door. This was the night for our fish fry and the others were already there when I arrived. Our host for the evening had added a “Florida room” on to the back of his house and it was awesome. This guy can do almost anything with wood.

The menu was simple – fried fish (caught by a couple of the guys), hush puppies, baked beans, slaw and dessert. All pretty much standard stuff except for the beans – this guy puts peppers, onions and other ingredients that make these the best I have had anywhere – even took some of the leftovers home with me – got to get that recipe.

We sat around and talked and laughed for a while – they then cranked up the outside fish cooker – with a temp gauge, no less – and started frying up the fish. We started our informal scarfing down of the fish as soon as they were cool enough, along with the other meal ingredients. When we were somewhat beyond sated, we once again went back to the laughing and talking.

This is a good group of guys, even if a bit uncouth on occasion, and I always enjoy these monthly gatherings. I had arrived there about 7pm and when I glanced at my watch, it was almost 10 and I knew I had to work the next day. I finally said my goodbyes and headed for the house. Good friends are a wealth and I thank God for them. TBC ec

Monday, May 21, 2007

GM sitting - 2

Getting back to the sitting adventure. The boys all got a round of sippy cup drinks and played very happily. The two older boys seem to play well together and the younger just does his own thing. They were still in their ‘pirates’ pretense phase and the older ones went upstairs for a while and the smallest grunt stayed down with me.

This little one is still learning the language and does quite well in his own way. The way he asks questions is very entertaining to me – he simply states the object or person he wants, adds ‘at’ and a question mark on the end, as well as hand gestures. He usually asks several times to be sure that you really don’t know. He shortly walked to the coat closet, opened it and said ‘coat’ – without the question mark. I went to the closet, got the coat, put it on him and that made him happy for a few moments.

Next he wanted to go outside but that wasn’t a happening thing since he was still in pajamas. When I told him no, he said ‘why?’ – which is one of his favorite words. When I repeated this word behind him in an elongated manner, he repeated it that same way and every time I would say it, he would repeat it this way. He now says this long version of the word on cue, much to the amusement of his ‘Pop-pop’.

A video was started earlier at GM4’s request and it is the kind that will start again after it is over and I’m not sure how many times it has played through, but it sure is beginning to look and sound familiar. The boys would just be playing away and suddenly stop to watch one of their favorite parts and then go right back to their play. The older boys, back downstairs, put all the beanbags together and this was their ship with all their toys aboard, along with a couple of stuffed toy dogs. They were evidently concerned about these ‘animals’ and were giving them something to drink out of their sippy cups.

The two older boys have a couple of amusing things they do with language as well. GM4, when faced with something that needs a response, will just say “heh, heh’ – it amuses his Dad and Pop-pop very much. GM3 will respond on occasion with a silent laugh routine, body shaking and his hand over a silent mouth for effect. He possibly got this from his Sis, who probably did it to irritate her Mom. I’m sure you find it hard to believe that kids would do something just to irritate parents.

The little one started to get improbable, the stage just before impossible, before his parents got home, so I put him down for a nap. They got home, I passed along the happenings of the morning and departed for my home turf – or maybe that should be home ‘weeds’ since there are more of them than turf. Back home, I crashed in the recliner for a while, trying to catch up on the Zs I missed earlier. This piece of furniture has become a good friend, especially when I’m not feeling up to par.

It is so awesome to have input into these young lives that could some day have an effect for good on our world. I’m grateful for the chance to do so and grateful to God for bringing them into the family – these and the ones in Texas. ec

Sunday, May 20, 2007


It was Sunday worship time again and as the music started, about a thousand folks stood, clapped their hands and sang the words shown on the large screens that were hung from the ceiling for all to see. He stood with the rest, clapped his hands and repeated the words of the songs with the crowd. When they prayed together, he said words into the air that were meant to form a prayer to God.

Then there was a second song and another. Somewhere during this third praise melody he realized that his mind had long since wandered away and was on most anything but praise to His maker. The harsh realization hit him that this was not the first time this same thing had happened. This lapse had been corrected before with God. Why was it happening again?

Was it the fault of the music or the particular song or the singers? Certainly not, since most everyone else was singing with joyous faces, clapping and even raising their hands in worship of the Maker, whose praises they were giving forth. It had to be just him – and what kind of sorry individual would stand and say words to God that they didn’t really mean from the heart?

Then he realized that it wasn’t God condemning him but he was condemning himself – but there was more to it than that. Another source had ‘inspired’ this self-loathing and according to Scripture, satan is the “accuser of the brethren” and it dawned on him that he had fallen for one of the evil one’s distractions. Instead of wasting more time heaping coals of fire on his own head, he went to God for forgiveness – then forgave himself and started to really worship the One that gave His life for him.

This entire “battle” had only taken a moment. And in another moment’s time everything came back into focus and he started to really mean from the heart the words he was singing and felt a warmth in his spirit that only comes from God and to those who realize they are forgiven and loved. It was only fitting to forgive himself since the theme of the message a bit later was forgiveness. It was a beautiful Sunday, in more ways than one. ec

Friday, May 18, 2007

GM sitting - 1

In a split second my mind went from dreamland to – what is that alarming noise to – it can’t be morning yet because it’s still dark – then it dawned on me, even though the day had not, that this was to be a different type day. SSIL was to have some medical tests and YD had to be there with him to drive him home, so my appointment today was to sit with the local gruntmonkeys.

I’m not sure at all why they have these things at such early hours, though it is better for the one doing the fasting – and other unmentionable necessary purging actions. This way the ‘victim’ can eat earlier once they wake up from the dreamland juice. The day was given an abridged start and I shortly headed out the door – taking my pouch that held some things to keep me occupied. This semi-briefcase contained my Bible, small recorder and several crossword puzzles.

Arriving on the scene at 5:30 am, I found them as ready as one gets for that sort of thing and after a few instructions, they departed for the medical facility. Be aware that the events described herein are several days old because of my busy week, plus not feeling very well. Having about an hour before GM1 was to get up for school, I sat at the table and worked crosswords until that time.

Awaking her at 6:30, she wandered down for a bite to eat about 7 and was mostly dressed – I think she still had to primp a bit. Somewhere during this time I heard a door close and then a slight thump-bump, thump-bump coming down the stairs. It was GM6, the 2-year-old and normal early riser – he was all smiles as he thump-bumped backwards on his knees the rest of the way down. His first words were ‘Mommy at?’ and even though we answered, he asked this again several more times, guess he didn’t like the first answer.

Then he made a statement that I had to have translated by his big Sis – it was ‘marshmallows’ and had to do with the cereal he wanted for breakfast. Sat him down, got the cereal and soon he was happily munching this presweetened breakfast food (?). A short time later, GM3 came down the stairs holding a clothes hanger containing his clothes for the day. He proceeded into the den and changed from his PJs to these clothes – only then did he come in for a bite of something to eat.

His desire was for a strawberry Pop-tart and he ate this with great gusto. The carpool came for the schoolster and she headed out for a wonderful day of learning experiences – some relating to schoolwork and some relating to human interaction. After the gruntmonkeys finished eating, they went into the den for some play. About an hour later, GM4 suddenly and quietly appeared as if by magic and I got him something to eat as well.

We got through the breakfast without any major unhappiness or spillage, for which I was grateful. God is good. TBC ec

Thursday, May 17, 2007

TN condo - 5

We have had a very busy week and I’m just now getting around to sending this last episode of our TN trip. Time flies whether we are having fun or not!

Back on the road from the lunch stop, we decided to vary this latter part of the trip and take the interstate route instead of going through all the small towns on two lane roads. We were taking 1-26 to the Columbia area and then I-20 the rest of the way – this route being a little longer but possibly quicker. We exited later for a fuel stop and then pulled next door to the McDonald’s for a couple of Sundaes for OB and FSISIL, the Spice and I had eaten our dessert back at J & S.

Nearing Columbia, SC I-26 intersects with 1-20 and we got on that route and headed for the Augusta, GA area. Reaching that location in a safe manner, we dropped off OB and FSISIL with their bags and baggage at their home base. When we drove up, we were joyfully greeted by four canines – their two, their daughter’s and another of a neighbor – it seems they were sorely missed by the critters.

Departing there, the Spice wanted to go by the Christian Book Store while we were on that side of town and pick up her previously ordered copy of the latest book by Karen Kingsbury – I think she is addicted to that particular author. It just so happens that this bookstore is located next door to one of the Chic-Fil-As in Augusta, and whereas we both so enjoy milkshakes from there, I went over to retrieve one chocolate and one vanilla for our consuming enjoyment.

By the time I returned with the aforementioned delectables, the Spice had returned with her book and we once again headed for our SC home. As I have mentioned before, these milkshakes have the habit of not lasting until we get home, but I don’t think mine made it even halfway – defect in the product possibly. We made it home safely, yet sadly, with my now empty cup – maybe they should make a half-gallon size for us real enthusiasts.

Before unloading, I had to check out the garden to see how things were sprouting. Portions of all the rows were coming up, albeit rather unevenly – possibly because of the lack of a good rain. Nevertheless it was good to see these plants start to poke their leaves above ground, indicating that they were willing to do their part, if the rain would do its share. I had watered it some, but that is just not the same as the natural wet stuff.

While getting all our stuff unloaded, I realized once again how good it is to get home after time away – there is just something inside that relaxes when I walk in the door. I later lost my battle against the wooing of the recliner and found myself cradled in the arms of this piece of furniture and those of Morpheus. Recliners are a blessing from God and I’m grateful for them. ec

Monday, May 14, 2007

TN condo - 4

Then it was morning again and I went out on the deck to greet it. It was a clear day with abundant sunshine and much birdsong, much of which I couldn’t identify except for the very annoyed cry of a blue jay. In the distance, a woodpecker was sound-marking its territory with a loud rat-a-tat-tat on what sounded like an aluminum rain gutter. The skunk of last evening is still gone but I did catch a slight whiff of the remainder of its presence, I was grateful that it was only slight.

Breakfast was not totally organized and we just munched on whatever was available. Afterwards we cooled our jets and did some crossword puzzles and just generally relaxed. As it neared lunchtime it was decided that we would fix a picnic lunch and go to a park by one of the nearby lakes. Arriving there, we took our foodstuffs to a table near the water’s edge and enjoyed our open-air lunch. We then walked out on the dock nearby for an up close and personal look at the water quality.

Then OB and I did a bit of exploring around the shore, startling a few chipmunks along the way. On the way back to the condo, we stopped at a place of business called the ‘Custard Cabin’. This was an ice cream place and we chose our lunch dessert from among their products. It wasn’t the soft-serve type, nor was it the hard frozen kind but somewhere in between and very tasty.

We had seen signs for a beach and marina, so after our ice cream we went to find that place on the map. It was located just down the road on another of the larger lakes. It wasn’t huge but did have a fair amount of boats tied up there. I thought it a bit different that almost all of the boats were the pontoon type of craft. They did have a small man-made beach of sorts and there were even a few folks splashing around in the cordoned off swimming area. We finally got enough of the exploring and headed back to the condo.

We spent some time out on the deck just relaxing and discussing the issues and problems of the world and even solving most of them to our satisfaction. FSISIL had put on some homemade soup earlier and three of us went in to enjoy this, leaving the non-hungry Spice out on the deck reading. The soup was tasty and we polished it off in short order. We cleaned up the dishes and then attacked some crossword puzzles while we were watching American Idol.

Next morning I awoke and found myself face-to-face with Wednesday, our return home day. We each grabbed a bite to eat in our own fashion and started putting our belongings back together and loading them in the van. We did the necessary things at the condo with the linens and towels, dropped off the keys and we were on our way. Back down I-40 through Knoxville and again catching I-26 near Ashville.

We exited I-26 once more at exit 40 near Hendersonville to eat at the J & S Cafeteria – this eatery just happens to be across the highway from the airport there. We stood in line, picked up our edibles and enjoyed consuming them very much – also enjoyed the break from the highway. Noticed before and this time that there were more older folks eating there than the younger varieties – I guess we just like our veggies better. I’m certainly grateful to my Creator for veggies. TBC ec

Sunday, May 13, 2007

TN condo - 3

Continuing my view from the second floor TN condo deck, one could tell that these trees had been hit by the same late freeze as had struck down in SC and they were just starting to recover their leaves. A gentle breeze was ruffling the ‘feathers’ of the trees and it was a bit on the cool side with the mid-forties predicted on last evening’s weather. After a while OB came out and we discussed some of the whys, whichs and wherefores of these natural growths and several other miscellaneous things.

The coolness eventually started to seep through my light clothing and flip-flops and we went back inside. We threw breakfast prep in high gear with the Spice and FSISIL overseeing the later portion thereof and shortly we were munching happily away on grits, eggs and biscuits. After this I took OB and FSISIL back down to the admin building to hear an orientation or ‘presentation’ or possible sales pitch concerning the condos.

Then it was back to the condo to wait for the completion of whatever agony they were to go through and then went back to retrieve them at the appointed time. A wait then ensued and I watched the antics of some of the feathered critters around the outside of the building. One small drab-colored bird was perched on a limb nearby and a second bird that was more distinctly marked flew up and by its fluffing and bobbing, I knew that it was the male and was striving to impress this female.

Shortly another male flew up and was trying to do the same thing – the other definitely took offence and flew to challenge this newcomer. After a short ‘scuffle’, the second left in a hurry with the first in hot pursuit. Just after they left, the female took off in the same direction and one could assume that she wanted to see the outcome of the fight. Shortly FSISIL came out and we chatted while waiting another 30 minutes on OB – he finally came out looking somewhat irritated.

Back at the condo, we had sandwiches for our noon repast and OB took a nap while the others of us took a walk around the area. Checking out the flora, we found some trees and plants that were similar to our area and others that were not. The fauna was much the same with the exception of chipmunks – these were much in evidence there but I don’t recall seeing any back home.

We were out about an hour and when we returned, OB was up so we took a ride down into the Crossville area to pick up a few items at the grocery and just generally look around a little. Crossville is not a huge place but it has a large ceramic tile producing plant and we drove past that just for a look-see. We got the needed items at the grocery and headed back to the condo.

The Spice and I had brought a beef roast that she had ‘spiced up’ and frozen and we had put this on in the AM to cook slowly all day. We added some veggies and rolls to this and partook of a pretty decent supper. With appetites thoroughly sated, we just relaxed for a while. FSISIL was on the deck and called for us to come out to look at a member of the local fauna.

About a hundred feet away was a real live skunk, with somewhat different markings than I had seen, but a skunk nonetheless. We were fortunate to be on the second floor with the wind not blowing in our direction – also that this animal did not feel threatened enough to leave its ‘calling card’ for the whole area to smell for days. It looked to be eating a mushroom and after 10 to 15 minutes it finally ambled off into the surrounding woods.

Morning and evening, this was our first full day at the condo and I was grateful for the experience. God is good, all the time. TBC ec

Friday, May 11, 2007

TN condo - 2

Passing through the Knoxville, TN area, we found plenty of autos in evidence and at one place there were about 5 westbound lanes. I was driving this area on cruise control as usual and my speed was near the posted limit, or so I thought. Suddenly I noticed that all five lanes of traffic were matching my speed, were backed up behind me and the road ahead was totally clear. It was then I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a police car slowly passing on my left – hence the reason for the traffic backup.

Glancing down at the speedometer, I realized that my speed control was set higher than I thought but was evidently within the lawman’s tolerance, because he shortly pulled across all lanes of traffic to stop a vehicle that was breaking away from the pack. That driver probably wondered why this bad thing was happening to them and not someone else. God will comfort us in our trouble, our fault or not, if we will ask Him, but we have to pay our own fines.

We continued on, making one more pit stop – gas is an expensive reality. We exited I-40 in the area of Crossville, TN and made our way the approximate 6 miles to the resort area. I found out later that they have about 500 units, loosely situated around at least one golf course and seven lakes. OB checked in and they supplied us with a map for our assigned unit. Our home for the next few days was about 3 miles away, tucked neatly among the trees and on the second floor of a building among several, with each containing about a dozen condos.

We unloaded our belongings, sat and chatted a while and from the foodstuffs brought by FSISIL, we scarfed down some hotdogs and chips. I may or may not have mentioned that I have been able to start back drinking hot tea, mostly the decaf varieties and occasionally the regular caffeinated types, as long as it’s not in the evening. After this we watched a bit of TV and I made the mistake of reclining back on the two-seater couch – I conked right out, tired from driving the 7-hour trip.

Arousing later, I discovered that I was the only one in the room. The Spice came back in to tell me that my bro and his spouse had already headed to bed – we were a bunch of live wires that night. We also retired and I arose early next morning to find myself the only one awake. We didn’t take a lot of time to explore the evening before, so I went out on the balcony in back to check out our surroundings. This second-floor deck overlooked a lawn backed up by an au natural area of trees and that bordered the driving range of the nearby golf course.

The scenery was great, but what I really drank in were the sounds of the morning. I could hear a piece of lawn care equipment on the far side of the golf course and occasional muted talking. There was the almost lonely sounding caw of a distant crow and occasional honking of geese that inhabit the green expanses of the course; I could just glimpse these latter through the trees as they walked on the driving range. I wondered if the golf balls ever hit any of those daring, yet silly, geese.

There were several other birdsongs but the closest one was very determined and continuous. Birds sing because it is the mating season, sing to mark their territory and sometimes just sing because they can. This bird would fit in the latter category and seemed to be singing to praise its Creator. We would do good to also praise our Maker in whatever ways we are talented. TBC ec

Thursday, May 10, 2007

TN condo - 1

The day was Sunday and it began earlier than I really wanted it to, but that is usually the case. Today was a different sort of animal in that we were going off for a few days with OB (older brother) and FSISIL (first sister-in-law). We finally got our act together, along with bags and baggage and headed out the door to pick up the others. They had scheduled a few days in a condo located in Fairfield Glade, Tennessee and had invited us to go along.

Though we had loaded up everything we thought we could possibly need for the trip, just before getting to OB’s, I discovered that I had forgotten my meds – not a good way to start a trip. We picked them up, installed their bags/baggage and had drive back to our house for the meds, since they seem to be somewhat essential. Upon retrieving these, we once again headed out in a northerly direction.

Our route was up US Hwy 25 to almost Edgefield, SC, and then we changed to SC state road 121 and continued on through Trenton, SC, whose sign proclaimed the dates for their peach festival. This event will be sorely hampered this year by a lack of peaches due to the damage of the late freeze. Then on through Johnston, SC where the Spice had hoped to pick up a biscuit at Hardee’s but alas, they had closed down and had been that way for quite a while.

This last town is where we usually get our peaches every year but it would appear that we had best call ahead this year to see (1) if they have any and (2) if we can afford them. Then it was on through Saluda, SC, and the Spice was holding out hope that she could at least get a biscuit at that location but they too had closed. Let me say here that she had partaken of her usual instant breakfast by Carnation – she just wanted the biscuit because she wanted the biscuit.

We passed through Newberry, SC on the by-pass and shortly joined I-26, whose traffic was already in progress. We exited this ribbon of transport for a lunch break just north of Hendersonville, NC at the J & S Cafeteria. This eatery is one we have stopped at many times, sometimes on bus trips and other times as individuals. It was Sunday and though we appeared to have gotten there ahead of the regular church crowd, the non-churched or the early churchgoers were there in force.

We didn’t have to wait too long, the food was good and it was a break from the highway. Back on the road, we shortly changed to I-40 for our travels as we passed near Ashville, NC. This route passes through some very scenic mountains, which are even more so in the fall with the foliage colors in evidence. I was still awed by the scenery as much as I could be from the driver’s seat and grateful to have viewed these wonders of God’s creation. TBC ec

Friday, May 04, 2007


It was a slow day, I got up slow, moved around slow, completed my morning regimens in a slow manner and as best as I remember, I was even thinking slowly. The first thing I actually did that wasn’t slow and was of any consequence was to walk across the street to open BIL’s garage to allow a trucker to deliver a large package. Later in the afternoon, after I gathered enough energy, I went outside to look around and check out the condition of the natural growths and such around the place.

One part of this inspection tour included the somewhat aging dock at the pond. My main concern was whether or not this structure would fall in when I ventured out on it. It didn’t collapse and I was glad of that but it is definitely going to need some attention soon – either repair or removal. Then I went up to another area that I have plans for later in the summer. It is a small piece of land that juts out into the pond a bit and I started cleaning this up for a pond-side campfire and possible wiener roast with the gruntmonkeys – hopefully the Texas crowd can be here too.

As the day started getting a bit long in the tooth and the temp abated somewhat, I put the ladder up on the roof to check out the cause of the leak that happens during a hard rain. The roof patch material came in a cylinder that fit my caulking gun, so I loaded it up and scaled the ladder ready for action. My inspection found a small split in the boot that fit around one of the plumbing vents. This defect was thoroughly smeared and filled with the repair compound – the other vents were OK.

After getting back on the ground and stowing the ladder, I came in to rest my weary self a bit. Just as the sun was setting, the Spice and I went for our “daily” walk that we missed for the last two days – I’ll never get to be a marathoner like this. We then went for a couple of sandwiches from the Subway down the road, brought them home and ate as we watched American Idol. This is one of only two national network shows I watch – the other is Extreme Home Makeover, but I usually get too teary eyed on that one, plus it is on during Sunday PM church. My usual viewing is the History channel, animals, Discovery or on occasion, one of the sports channels.

I find most of the fictional network shows to be skewed away from the best interests of the family and moral values, in some cases, regurgitatingly so. It might sound strange, but I had much rather watch a lion catch and devour it’s prey than to watch the “blood and guts” fictional programs that present – as the truth – the opinions, political views and moral values of the writers and networks. My opinions are much stronger than I have mentioned here but I won’t go deeper and will simply exercise my right to not watch them.

Whether we are moving slow or fast on a given day, we are still much loved by God. ec

Thursday, May 03, 2007

mo snippets

This snippet of time and experience happened just after the recent ATM debacle. After leaving Lowe’s with my wondrous purchases, I went to another place of business that sold bales of pine straw to pick up some to go around my blueberry bushes. They just happened to be out of the straw so I came on home. Upon emptying my pockets, I couldn’t find my receipt for the cash at the credit union.

This wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that it had my account number on it. I knew I had stuffed this in my front pocket and that was where my truck keys were. Remembering that I had felt it there at my last stop, I saddled up and rode back to the pine straw place. I parked in about the same spot as before and started looking around. My search on the ground and shrubbery caught the attention of one of the workers of the place and he started over toward me.

Just before he got to my location, I espied my scrap of paper on the ground. I retrieved the receipt and he asked could he help me about the same time. I gave him the very short version of what happened – leaving out the bad memory part – and departed the premises a happy man, since our account information wouldn’t be out there for just anyone to pick up – and maybe use.

The next snippet in time involved the Spice and I going to sit with our local gruntmonkeys while their parents went to a school function with GM1. GMs 3 and 6 had finished supper but GM4 was still dawdling at the table with a half-eaten plate of food – after much ‘encouragement’, he finally, FINALLY got through and we joined his brothers in the den at play.

As per usual, I am their large play toy and wound up on the floor with them, with one or more piled on me most of the time – but that was the idea after all. As the sun was starting to get low, the two older boys decided they were tired of the inside and got their shoes on to go outside. They had to have an adult out with them and since I was the closest thing to that – that could be convinced to go out – I drug my tired, lazy carcass out into the yard.

Our first adventure was to search for caterpillars but the news must have reached the worms first because they were nowhere to be found. The search was modified to include crickets but they must have gotten the word as well – their yard had recently had dirt added and been leveled, so the insect hiding places were scarce and we found none. Then they came up with a plastic bat and ball and it was time to play ‘baseball’. This mostly involved GM3 because GM4 was more interested in riding in one of their plastic push vehicles – where would kids be without plastic?

Sometime during all this, their parents and older sibling returned home. SSIL came out and between tosses of the ball he and I discussed how to get a more permanent source of electricity out to their above ground pool. During that time GM6, already in his PJs and barefooted, escaped from the house and joined his brothers for play. He was shortly captured and all were herded inside for the night. After a little while, the Spice and I headed in the direction of home.

Since this route took us reasonably close to Chic-Fil-A, the natural thing to do was to stop by for a milkshake each. This done, we then continued our journey home. The problem with my shake was the same as in the past, as much as I tried to lightly sip, it still didn’t make the complete six-mile trip back to the house. God is good in many ways, inspiring someone to invent the vanilla milkshake is just one of them. ec

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I was a troubled man. Here I was, wanting to be liked and the ATM didn’t like me – in fact, it rejected me outright. For some reason it said that the personal ID number I had put in was incorrect. Since this was a drive-up ATM and others were behind me, I pulled over into the parking lot to weigh my options. What were the facts? I just knew that I had put in the same PIN as always so I couldn’t be getting old and senile . . . well, old but hopefully not the other. Then it dawned on me, our cards had expired and we had recently gotten new ones, so it had to be some mess up by the credit union.

My travels of the day took me near one of the main branches of the credit union, so I dropped in to check on this problem. After a bit of wait, I got to see a person and of all things, she actually suggested that since I had not used the card in over a month, I might have forgotten and put in the wrong number. We went outside and tried that ATM and it didn’t work either. Their policy is that they cannot give out the PIN, but will apply to have a reminder of it sent to me in the mail.

The certainty of the accuracy of my memory was starting to crack a bit as I agonized over this dilemma. Maybe it was my imagination but it seemed that she had a bit of a smirk on her face as she filled out this form for my PIN to be sent to me. It was almost like this had happened before with other people and I was just another in the sea of faces that forgot their PIN. Debased though I was, I got the cash I needed from a teller and slunk out of the place as inconspicuously as I could.

My next stop had to be better and I knew it would be because it was at Lowe’s and this is one of the few places in the world in which I actually enjoy shopping. In spite of the joy of shopping at this wondrous place, today would be just a hunting trip because I knew exactly what I wanted. My main goal was to purchase a cordless drill, this in spite of the fact that I already had one – the new one would serve a slightly different purpose, plus it had two batteries that would fit my old drill as well.

This drill was found on display, but the box for the new one was larger than I expected and the number was one digit off. The sales person checked it out and indicated that it was the right price and must have been a special purchase because a battery-powered fluorescent light was also included in the box. Elation was what I felt, it was like Christmas and the 4th of July wrapped up together. Barely containing the joyous tool-man within, I picked up some roof repair compound to repair a small leak around one of my roof vents and some few tomato plants to fill out my row in the garden and headed to the checkout.

It was after I was already in the truck with my purchases and about to drive off when I thought of the 10 dollar off card in my shirt pocket – forgotten because of the excitement and elation. I took my receipt back to the clerk and she set about refunding the old amount and refiguring the new amount minus the discount card, fortunately nobody else was in line at first. Then they started stacking up behind me and my active imagination started feeling the glares of the ones having to wait. This time I walked away only slightly slinking because at least I had gotten results in the present tense.

Back home later the rest of the ATM story came out. After the Spice and I looked around a while, she happened upon both our PIN numbers and it turned out that I’m actually human after all and my forgetter was working against me by being one digit off with my card number. Human or not, I know that God loves me and always will. ec