Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Who Cried "Wolf"?

You see two wolves posing on an icy bank in the woods.  I see a bear on my dining room table.
This one is tough.


The Christmas puzzle is done.  Finally.  Or almost.  Admittedly we did not start it until the new year, but still it took us two weeks.
Almost?  Yes, something I hate-- there were two pieces missing.  Yes, brand-new puzzle; I took the shrink-wrap off the box.  So we lost two pieces?  I think not, I think it a flaw in the packing process.  But wait!  We do have that resident poltergeist.  Do you reckon--?

Monday, January 15, 2018

An Afternoon in Liternum

I assayed to write a story based on a fictional account of Scipio Africanus following his retirement to Libernum ca. 185 B.C.  My character, Gallus, was to be a young hanger-on who was with Scipio at Zama.  Whether his role is to be a protector of Scipio against his enemies, or perhaps one of ambition seeking to use the general as a stepping stone to political power I have been unable to determine, and hence a story does not flow.  All, that is, except for this final chapter in the life of Gallus Regulus.

Gallus Regulus  was accompanied by six of his closest allies, stalwarts all, but without Gallus they would collectively be much like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.  And their hero was poised to make his move.  The opposition were uncertain as to his identity, yet they knew he was in the vicinity.  They knew this because Cassia had wormed her way into the inner circle, nay she had enthralled Gallus himself.  Everyone saw them as a couple.

Cassia skipped into the marketplace with three of her friends, all chattering and laughing.  She spotted Gallus leaning against the lip of the fountain.  As the water splashed in the pool the spray sparkled in the sunlight.  Cassia skipped ahead, running the last few steps to Gallus, she threw her arms around his neck and placed her mouth firmly against his.  She swung by his shoulders and attempted to turn the young man to his right.  Alarm bells sounded in his head as he at that same moment heard the unsheathing of a sword to his left.

Gallus Regulus was both quick and strong.  He broke from Cassia's clasp and simultaneously turned her by the hair and clasped her  back tightly against his body.  In that same instant he pulled his knife from his belt and saw approaching him fifteen or more men, several with lances and two of them with swords drawn.  The blade was honed to a razor edge and in a trice it moved smoothly across Cassia's throat, the life blood gushing from her body as her lover released her and the lifeless form dropped to the ground.

Gallus placed the point of the dagger between his fourth and fifth ribs and with all his might he plunged it squarely into his heart.  His body crumpled and fell across Cassia's body.  The stunned contingent of his opponents were wroth, for their nemesis had just deprived them of their anticipated pleasure of the exquisite tortures they had planned for him.

 Whatever you may think of this snippet, a certain amount of care went into its preparation, even to the selection of the names of the protagonist and his inamorata.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Christmas Horse

This is the broadside email Carl wrote which inspired Heide to share her best-ever Christmas gift story.

Dear aunts, uncles, and all the ships at sea...First, Merry Christmas! Now, a poll was making the rounds on some internet sites: what was the best Christmas present you ever got? And, though I've gotten some doozies...a dog, a car, a wife...for me, there's no question that one Christmas present stood out, and has had a lasting influence on my life. And I've always wondered: how did it come about? I'm speaking of the year we got George Gay Fox, I think I was 7, and he came via mom and dad's bridge playing friends the Honeychurches, whose daughter, Libby, was attending college and could no longer care for her horse. 
But...is that the story, full stop? Of course we played cowboys and Indians all the time, watched The Lone Ranger, etc, every boy wanted a horse...but what a leap of faith, what a gamble don't you think it was, to think a little boy was able to take care of a...horse! And that our place was suited to keep one. So, if you wouldn't mind taking a trip back in your wayback machine about 60 years...any insight? Because it was a life changing gift...and I wouldn't change a thing!
Love to all,
Carl
The "lasting influence"?  Carl still has a horse 60 years after George came on the scene.  Horses have always been a major part of Carl's life.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

History and Communications

While systems of writing predated the first known coherent texts by decades, or a couple of centuries, it is generally accepted that recorded history had its inception about 4600 years ago.  For the next 4000 years all of mankind's written records were inscribed by hand with chisel, wedge, quill, or pen.  Long-distance communication was accomplished by courier, messages traveling on foot of man or beast.

Then in 1439 or 1440 the printing press made its debut and everything was changed.  Communications proliferated, the masses were eventually inundated with information. In a mere 440 years more there came the development of hot-metal typesetting, the rotary press, off-set printing, and there was no stopping the flow of both fact and opinion.  Another century saw the introduction of digital printing, and the mind reels.

But between the introduction of the rotary press and the digital press the world saw the development of the telegraph, the radio, the introduction of television to the masses.  Kaboom!  Minds blown.  Most literally, for some, this writer included, suspect that no one has been able to think straight ever since.

By the 1980s the personal computer was no longer a dream, but such machines were being introduced to the public, puny as they were in their "computing" power.  But soon enough, too soon, the capacity for whatever the machines are capable of doing expanded exponentially and "every" home saw the need to possess one of them.  Email developed and became the standard of communication, almost instant in its capacity to transmit documents from point A to point B.

So we all adapted to email.  The art of letter writing faded into the mists of history along with cuneiform tablets.  But now the development of technology has accelerated to such a pace that almost before some of us with a set of aging brain cells fail in adaptability to be able to keep up with change as rapidly as it occurs have not time to master one style of communication before another must-have, be-all-and-end-all (before it is replaced day-after-tomorrow with something else) has been dangled before us, adapted by many and shoved down the throats of the rest who wish to "remain connected."

Email?  Forget it.  No one opens his email anymore as his address lies unused in the ether.  I know this because I still attempt to use it, but many tell me, "Oh, I don't look at email anymore."  What do they do?  They "text message," or simply, "text" on their teeny-tiny hand-held devices, one of which would disappear in the palm of my hand, six or eight buttons of which I can cover with the tip of my index finger.

I am being obsoleted out of the world of communication.

I have more, but this has rambled on sufficiently and recorded history no longer has merit, for there is entirely too much of it to absorb, and too little of it which has any redeeming virtue.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Christmas Bicycle

 This Christmas story is by our friend, Heide Prout.  Heide was born and raised in Bremerhaven.  She came to America after the war at age 25.  She wrote this story in response to her husband's nephew, Carl, who wrote about his best-ever Christmas present, a horse. The story, just as she wrote it:

It was 1939.  I was 9 years old.  All I could think of was "I wish I had a bicycle".  My birthday had been in March - no bicycle.  Maybe they forgot.  So I kept reminding them:  I really, really want a bicycle.  All my friends (in reality it was one) have a bicycle.  Finally I was told to "wait for Christmas".  This was March.  I waited.  I was ok with that, because now I knew I would have a bicycle on Christmas.  The year went on and then - everything changed!  All everybody was talking about it:  Will there be a war?  I didn't quite understand why there would be a war and when it had been decided I had to ask my mother "Is there a war now?".  She sounded very worried when she said "yes, dear, there is a war now."  The year went on, air raids, trips to the shelter in the middle of the night, grown-ups being glued to the radio, fathers being drafted, and - of course - everything being rationed, not just food but also appliances, cars, and - of course - bicycles.  I asked my mother about her Christmas promise.  She told me that with the changed circumstances,  no promises could be kept and that I might just have to wait until the war was over.  I was heartbroken.  No bombing, none of the yummy foods that I liked to eat, running to shelters, every hardship paled in comparison to the fact that there would be no bicycle under the Christmas tree.  By the time Christmas came around I had resigned myself to the fact that it would be nothing but a big disappointment.  We always got our presents on Christmas Eve, at the same time we would see the decorated Tree with the candles and some small treats hanging from the branches for the first time.  We were all shown to our tables where we would find our presents.  Mine had some very nice things on it, books, pretty sweaters, a plate with sweets, and more.  I was happy and tried to forget what was missing.  My mother came over and asked if I liked my gifts. I thanked her and told her they were nice.  She then took me by the hand and said "come look what the others got".  We walked through the large room until we got to the big closed door that lead to the hall.  Right next to the door, leaning against the wall, was a BICYCLE!  I had to catch my breath.  I  couldn't speak.  My mother hugged me, my dad came over and said "If you make a promise, you have to keep it".  Later they told me that they had bought the bicycle right after they had been sure that a war was no longer avoidable, just before all such purchases were restricted to the war effort.  This was my best Christmas present ever.

Posted by permission of the author.  Thank you, Heide. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Discouraged?

Christian, are you feeling weary in well-doing?  Peterson's take on St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians. 

 It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. We’re the Messiah’s misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around. Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, “God bless you.” When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen. And it’s not getting any better.  --The Message  (I Cor. 4:9-13) 

Yet rejection, beatings, stoning, shipwreck, and incarceration did not deter Paul from the mission.  He persevered to the end, faithful to his calling.  Be like Paul

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Wiener



October 5, 2002 - January 6, 2018
He was a good dog.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Daily Prayer

It never gets old.  Our capacity for surprise is never filled.  No matter how many times we have experienced freezing cold, damaging winds, torrid heat and unbearable humidity we are always surprised when one of these events befalls us.

Image may contain: tree, snow, plant, sky, outdoor and natureTake today.  Lovely bright sunlight pouring through my east windows.  I stepped outside and almost immediately frost formed on my mustache.  Surprised?  Of course.  Why would one expect it to be thirty-five degrees below freezing on a January morning in Indiana?  I mean it happens on an almost-annual basis and yet we somehow are surprised.  Yet again.

The "news" media are full of it.  (Read that again.) The weather readers go on and on about it.  And on.  Amazing, isn't it? That we have weather, I mean; and that we have winter weather in the winter time.

You know what surprises me?  Another day in my life in any weather conditions.  My father used to say of a man beyond three score and ten, "He's living on borrowed time."  Yes, I am living, well past four score now, in that zone of life.  Actually, this is scriptural, for the Bible says a man's years shall be seventy, eighty perhaps by dint of strength.

So this is me, heat, cold, wind, rain, or snow:

"Heavenly Father, I thank you for each day of my life, and I thank you now for this new day which You have granted me.  I pray that I may honor You throughout this day and reflect Your grace and love to those I may encounter.  Let it be so, in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ."

Photo: S4 Android by JoAnn Lacy, my BBBH,