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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas 08

Christmas of 2008 came to pass in the following manner. In the days leading up to Christmas, as mentioned in the last missive, there was plenty to do inasmuch as I am still involved in the outback building program as well as striving to learn my lines for the play on New Year’s Eve. In spite of all this, Christmas does come and will pass whether one takes notice of it or not.

Of course I did take much notice because this day just happens to celebrate the birthday of my “best Friend” and “elder Brother”. This is the same Friend that sticks closer than a brother. Also one would not have to be super observant to see the excitement building in the eyes and actions of the local grunt monkeys. Sure enough, Christmas Eve arrived, which usually comes just before Christmas Day.

We are known for family gatherings around here and Christmas Eve was the occasion for another one. This one mostly involved the same crew that was here for our Thanksgiving festivities – minus the Texas crew and a few more. The number came out to be 18 at our supper and joyous gathering – seven of which were of the younger variety, 4 were our grunt monkeys and 3 belonged to NWT – (niece with twins).

We started our family celebration by reading the Christmas story – the one in Luke’s gospel – and then we held hands in a circle and had prayer together as a family. Then we descended upon our feast, consuming it with great to medium gusto. As per usual it was a joyous gathering with much laughter and happy clamor, one could almost hear the needles click as the family was knit even closer together.

The event finally started to wind down and several were standing outside saying goodbye when an odd thing happened. Suddenly a pony walked across the lawn of the house across the street, across the pavement to our yard then back across and on down toward the highway. NWTH, being in law enforcement, saw the danger and with another nephew headed out to try to keep it out of the highway.

The local law was called but the animal’s owner was not forthcoming. They were able to herd the animal into a neighbor’s unused tennis court that still had a good fence around it. The thought crossed my mind that this could possibly be one of “Santa’s” gifts gone astray. As it turned out, it belonged to folks about a quarter of a mile away and had just gotten out of its fence. They retrieved it the next day.

We didn’t get to bed until the wee hours but were able to sleep in on Christmas day since we had no little ones in residence. We later went to YD’s to see the grunt monkeys, all their gifts and have a meal with them. Christmas is a wondrous season and I gathered many smiles to add to my mental collection. The best gift of all times has always been that of God’s Son as our savior – God is good, all the time. ec

Monday, December 22, 2008


The first definition of the word engross is to occupy completely, as the mind or attention – or to absorb. And the word absorb means to involve the full attention of or to engross. It also means to occupy or fill, as in time or attention. All the subtle nuances of these meanings are true in the area of my time and attention of late. So what are the things that are so engrossing, absorbing and occupying?

The number of these engrossing things would be exactly two. One would be the construction of our ‘outback storage’ building and the other would be the effort of desperately trying to memorize the lines of my part in the play to be presented at our church on New Year’s Eve. You may or may not have come to that conclusion already since these two things have been mentioned a few times in past missives.

So how are these things going? ‘Outback’ is progressing well, though not as well as I had hoped since we are planning a trip to Texas on Jan. 2nd. The basic building is complete, as mentioned before, but now the vinyl siding has been placed on all soffits and the facia has been wrapped. Then the metal drip edge was placed around the edge of the roof and the shingles have been installed – along with a ridge vent.

Along the way I have had the help of SSIL, BIL but mostly my older bro. The outer walls are now partially ‘wrapped’ in a moisture barrier – I ran out of this – and Saturday afternoon we made a start on placing vinyl siding on one of the vertical walls. This latter, while not extremely difficult, is nonetheless time consuming. Another roll of the moisture barrier was purchased on Sunday – that stuff is expensive.

My goal is to have the siding mostly completed by the time we leave for Texas – it remains to be seen whether this will be realized. The second engrossing item – the play – is getting more and more urgent as the time of performance approaches. The reason for concern is that I still draw a blank occasionally during rehearsals. I take no comfort in the fact that this also happens to others.

These engrossers have almost totally cut out any ‘spare’ time I might have had, whatever ‘spare’ time means. You also may or may not have noticed that I haven’t written anything in a while – now you know the reason. Our family time also must be worked into the picture. I am still taking time for the “Word” and still declare that God is good, all the time! ec

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Monday morning arrived right after the most important day of the week – Sunday. My bro came to help me with the outback storage building. We started about 9am and by the end of the day we had the stud walls in place and the opening for the door roughed in. Tuesday was a called rest day since the Spice and I both had appointments with our heart doc – these were check-ups and were OK.

We then went out to get a bite to eat, something we had not done together for a couple of weeks. We then went to see the new baby of a young friend of ours and though it was not my grandchild, it was a very cute baby. On the way back home we made a stop at YD’s to consult on a leakage problem at their house. This was a bit out of my expertise but was glad to offer my advice.

Soon enough Wednesday came and bro and I started on the outback again. We were able to get the OSB on all the walls except for around the door area. OSB stands for oriented strand board – I didn’t know that until I looked it up on the web. Similar to plywood, this product is becoming a mainstay in newer homes and other buildings. We also built and put in place the header over the doorway.

Keep in mind that neither my bro nor I are as young as we used to be and for my part, evening exhaustion was the norm after one of these hard days. Thursday came into being and this was the day to put up the pre-fab rafters and nail the OSB on top of that. All the construction was helped along by one of my prized possessions, a pneumatic framing nail gun – it did speed things along.

This construction project and trying to learn my lines in the play that I am in on New Year’s Eve have left very little time for anything else – TV is almost totally gone as well as email and blogging, which I rather enjoy as well. Oh well, it’s only a few more weeks before both projects will be completed and I’ll get back to normal, whatever that is. God is still in control, no matter what anyone says. ec

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Still on Thanksgiving, I made my way home from my bro’s place to help prepare for our gathering on Blueberry Hill. This was to take place at or about 5pm with our immediate family and the Spice’s extended family. I arrived in plenty of time to help with some cooking, house prep and the construction project of another banana pudding for this happy gathering.

A cousin and spouse from Florida, along with their two young ladies had arrived just before I did. I started a video for the girls in the basement – a favorite hangout for the young ones and invited the couple into the kitchen to watch my construction project. We chatted much as I, aided and abetted by the kitchen equipment and utensils, worked the wonders of my pudding recipe.

I neglected to mention that 17 folks were in attendance at the bro’s noontime Thanksgiving feast. We were expecting more, so the prep for that was started. Our dining table comfortably seats 8 and 4 can eat at the bar – we also set up two tables in the den that would seat 8 each. All the kin came in a few at a time and the final count was 29 – 11 of these were of the younger variety.

When all the dishes were set out, we called the young ones up from the basement for the meal. The little ones said grace and we began the consumption – for some reason I wasn’t nearly as hungry as I was at noon but I got a plate anyway. The meal was a lively, joyous, somewhat noisy and very filling event. The young ones soon finished and headed back downstairs to play – it did get quieter.

After the main eating was done and we were down to some coffee and an extra dessert or so, we began the event that we started several years ago. Instead drawing names to buy for extended family, we pool our funds to buy for a disadvantaged family or young ones. Then the ladies gather all the sales papers to shop for these folks and make lists for said shopping the next day.

The folks we buy for come to us through one of our churches and the gifts are given anonymously and this has been much of a blessing to us in the giving thereof. The ladies set out next morn to get all listed gifts – they have a blast doing so. OD did not get to go since they were to fly back home that day. The Spice and I sadly delivered the Texas clan to the airport for their return flight.

After the goodbyes, I took the Spice to meet YD to help her finish her shopping quest. They were to meet back up with the other group for lunch and then go to other places in town. I came back to Blueberry Hill to complete a cement related project on ‘outback’ storage. This task was to fill the cavities in the concrete blocks with cement. I started at noon and finally finished about 7pm.

The job was completed under lights and in the drizzling rain. Then it had to be covered with plastic to keep the rain from damaging it until it was hardened. I was very tired but happy to be through with the job before the rain hit. I continue to walk in the goodness of the Lord, grateful for His blessings. ec