Saturday, April 25, 2015

Colossians 1:15-17

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.  (NLT)

 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (KJV)

Friday, April 24, 2015


Good butterfly killer?  No, no.  I respect nature too much.  I only want to quell the butterflies in my stomach.

I like to tell stories.  But I tell them by way of the written word.  I am not a thespian, and while I can chair a meeting and maintain a semblance of order, the thought of being "on" to entertain terrifies me.

BBBH and I are planning to attend a dinner meeting.  The chair lady of the program committee asked BBBH to read a couple of her poems, and that is all good.  But then she asked me to read a story from my blog.  Hence terror.

Selecting a story is difficult, too, for they are all my children.  Does a parent have a favorite child?  Well, Tommy Smothers had the answer to that.  I waffled between "A Mother's Day Tale," given the season of the year, and one of Uncle Jep's tales.  I settled on one of the latter since the Mother's Day tale is a bit long, and as I said, I am no actor.  Will do "Hallelujah Time on the Arkansas."

And.  And I was asked to do a reading at a meeting of a different group on Saturday.  Not one of my works, but another author.  Even scarier; and only a day in between to get ready.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Mathematics: “A subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true” (Bertrand Russell)  Not that I believe Russell ever knew what he was talking about.  But perhaps that is just me.

Brushed some sticky new cobwebs from my hair and forehead as I passed through the attic door.

It seems I had driven down Woodstock, turned up Westmoreland, wheeled into the Foster-Scholz parking lot. Now I am walking past those residence halls, passing the twin Doug firs on my right.  My copy of my thesis is clutched in my left hand and the butterflies are swarming in my stomach.  At the end of the next hour, my degree will be either confirmed or denied.

My footsteps on the stone echoed throughout the near-empty old edifice as I neared the room in which I was to defend my thesis, or, as I thought of it, to be interrogated.  At the doorway of room 106, stood my thesis advisor, Dr. Dennehy.  I had taken only one class under Tom Dennehy, but he had been a rock throughout the time of my preparation for this moment.  He shook my hand and  said, "Don't forget that I am in your corner, and I know you are ready.  They are ready for us, and I will make the introductions after which the Chair will be in charge."

Dr. D said, "This is our candidate.  Be as gentle as possible."  A bit of humor in an attempt to reduce the tension.  "Doctor Hunt, I believe you know Dr. Hunt, Dr. Chrestenson, whom you also know; and this is Dr. Roberts."

My head starts to spin and black spots swirl in front of my eyes.  Dr. Roberts?  The legendary Dr. Roberts about whom stories swirl across campus like a monsoon over Formosa?  Joe Roberts had been absent from campus during my time there.  A sabbatical, a guest lectureship at Gottingen, or whichever of the circumstances speculated upon happened to be the correct one, if any of them were.

"And this is Dr. Williams.  She will be chairing this session. He is all yours, Dr. Williams."


The next hour could have been days.  Or weeks.  For all sense of time folded into one eternal enclosure of my brain in a pressure cooker, steam up!  And I am supposed to be able to think clearly enough to make a cogent summary of where I started and where I went with this thing.  I am supposed to be able to intelligently answer the questions of these mathematicians.

And I did, or at least I guess I did, for after the most excruciating five minutes of banishment to the hallway, Dr.  Dennehy called me back into the room, Dr. Williams stood and extended her hand. "Congratulations, vanilla," smile beaming across her visage, "This committee finds your work meets the required standards, and your presentation here today is commendable."

The end.

Notes to the experience
1.  Thomas P. Dennehy taught the introductory course to the program.  This extremely pleasant man seemed truly to want everyone to succeed.  Unfortunately, the washout rate following his class was about fifty percent.  Not his fault. 
2.  Burrowes Hunt was known to all as "Buzz."  He wrote a textbook creatively entitled Calculus and Linear Algebra.
He had just received the galley proofs from the publisher.  He arranged to get enough copies for everyone in his class.  It was our textbook, and he got the free services of a dozen readers to help him make the final edit.  I still have my tattered paper-bound copy, and you may get one, too, if you wish.  Amazon has a dozen or so copies available.
3.  Hugh Chrestenson taught the non-Euclidean geometry course.  I did really well in that class.  Yes, that is a boast. And I have probably forgotten 97.6% of what I learned. And that is a fact.
4.  Joe Roberts was legendary on that campus and his career there ultimately spanned more than fifty years.  An oft-told story was that his doctoral dissertation required but half-page.  I suppose that might have been embellished to state that it was originally written on the back of an envelope, but then, A. Lincoln had proprietary rights to that one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Small Town, Old Structures

 Little town ten miles up the road, site of our luncheon meeting.  The town may be small, but the church in which we met is a very large building, very nice.
And directly across the street from the sanctuary entrance is this quaint building, the original purpose of which I am unaware.  It's current purpose is to provide background, or ambience, or to serve as community eyesore, depending on your point of view.  Even the basketball hoop is disused.  I dare say a ball has not dropped through that rim in a generation.

Around the corner and a half block north is this fabulous old structure.  BBBH riding shotgun exclaimed, "Oh, that is my kind of house."  I knew this.  She is enamored of gingerbread and wrap-around porches.  The first, I claim, is a pain because maintenance (scraping, painting) is much too intensive.  The second is inefficient, roofing so much of the outdoors.
Given its lines my mind's eye pictures the magnificence of this place in its prime.

Like the old house, I am not what I once was.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Eight Day Wonder

The  Flowering Cherry Tree 2015
Top left: April 11
Top right: April 13
Bottom: April 19

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:" --Ecclesiastes 3, set to music by Pete Seeger.

The pear tree begins her display!

Monday, April 20, 2015

What Was I Thinking?

From October until a couple weeks ago I was thinking, "C'mon, Spring!  Where's the Green?"

Well, the lawn has been mowed now.  Twice.  In one week.


And knowing it would have to be done Saturday in spite of the fact that it was done the previous Monday, I went to the barn  mid-morning and started the chore of prepping the tractor.  Drained the oil, involving several trips to the garage, to the tool shelves, to... Looking for the right tools, you see.  Finally got the oil drained-- now what to do with the plastic sack full of used oil?  Then I had to go to town to get oil because I'd only half-quart on the shelf.  Installed new oil, pumped up a low tire, straightened a tie-rod.  Oh, boy!  Here we go.

No. We do not.

Go anywhere, I mean; because when I tried to start the engine, rr-klunk.  Battery charged.  rr-klunk snick, snick.

I wound up mowing the fenced enclosure with the walk behind mower, and I am not going to describe what that walking means to my aching bones.  You really do not want to know.

Had lunch, rested, went to look at new $$$$ lawn mowers.  I know, I know.  It has been thirteen years since we bought one, but what the?

So we came home and I mowed the front yard, and I am not going to describe.  Oh, wait.  I am perseverating.

So the mowing is done.  Well, except for the one-third of the lawn that is behind the barn.  To heck with it.

Is there an emoji that would represent vanilla boxing himself severely about the ears?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What is Your Life's Sermon?

My friend Grace in Virginia, writer of Dragon's Alley, sent this to me..  Said it reminded her of me. It is a timely reminder for me.  She suggested that I might work it into a blog post, and indeed that is an excellent idea!

William Ellery Channing was an American pastor who lived in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. I knew very little about him though one cannot read at any length concerning transcendentalism without encountering his name.  So I did a bit of reading.

Mr. Channing was a theologian and philosopher who was affiliated with the Unitarian Church.  He was a noted preacher and was a leading Unitarian theologian.  There are numerous interesting articles about Channing available on the web.

One tidbit I read stated that Channing was criticized in his own time for failure to affiliate with an organized anti-slavery movement. But though a famous and widely respected pastor, except for his church, Channing was not a joiner.  Much as I have done, he took the position that to commit to an organization diminished one's autonomy.  Think about it.  That is true.

So to the quote.  William Ellery Channing is in good company when he preaches that the best and truest sermons are preached by actions rather than by words.  It is said that Francis of Assisi admonished, "Preach the Gospel at all times.  Use words if necessary."

The Master himself is quoted in the seventh chapter of Matthew as saying, "Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit"  (NIV)

My own parents admonished me in this way by teaching me that "Actions speak louder than words."

Thank you, Grace.

William Ellery Channing 1780 - 1842 RIP