Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Leap Year Birthday

My Aunt Edrie Morrell was born on February 29, 1916. She died in 1997, and thus had not yet reached her 21st birthday. But she was 81 years old. We always celebrated her birthday by number, and thus in our memory she will live on, always young.

Edrie married Eddie when she was young. We kids always thought it neat to refer to them as "Uncle Eddie and Aunt Edrie." Edrie's second husband was, as he referred to himself, "a Portagee," I think from Rhode Island, though they made their home on the Oregon coast. Late in her life, Edrie married a preacher. In their final years, she and the preacher had an RV in which they travelled all over the country. The last time I saw them they were visiting Indiana in their RV.

Aunt Edrie, when I was eight years old, gave me a copy of the book Pinocchio. Not a comic book, mind you, but a real book, the original story of Pinocchio. When she was about the same age I was when I received it, I passed the book along to granddaughter, Elizabeth. I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did.

Edrie Morrell Rasbach Maderos Jarvis 1916 - 1997 RIP

(Took a while to find an image that Disney hadn't screwed up.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Before There Were Kings...

...in Israel, the people submitted grievances and differences to judges, people whom God appointed to keep some order in the society and adjudicate between disputants. These people were highly respected and in times of necessity often led the people in rebellion against oppressors when they repented of their wicked ways and returned to God. (God is like that. He will grant a way out of difficulty when repentence is offered.)

There were thirteen judges in Israel over a period of many years. We are told somewhat about each one, some stories more detailed than others. The better known judges presented in more detail were Gilead, Deborah, Jephthah, and Samson who was the last of the judges.

Jair, we are told, had thirty sons, but his production of progeny was eclipsed by Abdon, who had forty sons and thirty grandsons! Ibzan had thirty sons and thirty daughters. Ehud was left-handed. Deborah, Mrs. Lapidoth, was the only woman who had charge of the people. She was no less bellicose than were her male counterparts. She and Barak delivered Israel from oppression by the Canaanites.

Deborah and Barak sang before the Lord following their victory. This passage in the Book of Judges is often referred to as the "Song of Deborah." It concludes with the lines

“Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord!
But let those who love Him be like the sun
When it comes out in full strength.”

So the land had rest for forty years.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Again With the Shopping

Sometime last summer I posted a thing about entering the store with BBBH while she shopped. I did it again yesterday. The temperature was in the mid-eighties and by mid-afternoon we were needing a change in scenery. We decided a scooter ride into town would liven up the day, and she decided that stopping in at a boutique, or two, or three, would be even better.
The first shop could not be characterized as upscale, but it certainly has an appeal to the denizens of the neighborhood in which it is located. As Beautiful shopped, I wandered around inside the store making silent observations about the state of the culture. Then I saw this.
I have photographed shoes in stores before. No, I do not have a foot-fetish, nor even a shoe-fetish. But sometimes I am amazed. Now understand that I grew up in an era in which it was standard behavior for the ladies to ruin their feet by the wearing of "heels" meaning high heels. Many a mangled metatarsal and heaven alone knows how many hammer toes were the result of the practice. But there seemed, mostly in the sixties and seventies, to descend upon the pulchritudinous portion of the population a modicum of good sense, and sensible shoes, a.k.a. flats seemed to become quite acceptable.
But that era seems to be over. The granddaughters of these sensible people seem to have reverted to the nonsense that once was, but with a vengeance.
Dolly Parton was once asked why she wore five-inch heels. She responded, "Because I can't find six-inch heels." Well, take heart Dolly. It seems that you might be able to find those here in Texas.
Just before we left this shop, a lady walked in wearing a pair of these things which she clearly must have purchased here. Now I was amazed, for she did not wobble, teeter, or fall on her face. Quite to the contrary, she strode in, fully confident in her ability to walk that tightrope. Amazing!
I really was planning to do a little story about our shopping tour, but it has turned into a shoe story, and time's up.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hot Cheetos

I put three one-gallon jugs in the bike basket and rode the two short blocks to the corner convenience store to fetch water. No broken crown. As I alit from the bicycle, I spotted a gentleman readying to pull away from the pump. He saw me fumbling for my camera. He stopped and asked if I wanted a picture. Indeed, I said. He posed, I snapped. Then he said, as he opened the door and got out, "Here, let me get you with the car." What a guy!

So I posed beside the vehicle and he took the camera. Since my equipment is a bit tricky, a function of its age, not of design, he had a bit of difficulty. In fact, the final product rather left half of me standing by the car. That's okay; it is the thought that counts.

We had a nice conversation, mostly about cars, of course, and he told me he had several old vehicles, including a '58 Impala. He told me where he lived and gave me his phone number, telling me to drop by and take a drive. Thanks, Darrin. Nice guy and proud of his vehicles.










Hot Cheetos is powered by Ford 302. Restoration by Darrin, paint by a friend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Surf on Over

Friend Bob Warr was tagged in a meme in which he decided to participate . Due to the inordinate amount of assistance he required in getting his responses organized and ready for publication, I find that I haven't time remaining in which to create a post for STSTT.

You may find his production at http://bobwarr.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Coloring Book

(Engaging in a bit of Texas living. I present a rehash of an earlier post.)

A few days ago we looked at a vignette from the first grade experience. Today is the tale of the coloring book. Not just any coloring book, but The Coloring Book. It was a huge, fat, glorious set of pages just begging to be crayoned. He had received the book on his sixth birthday, and he had still many, many wonderful pages to be artistically completed. (Yeah, I know. Stifled his creativity before it had a chance to grow. And other baloney.)

Anyway, it was a beautiful late summer day and school had been in session perhaps two weeks when The Boy decided to take the wonderful treasure to school. Now, those arriving at school before Teacher came out to gather the children around the flagpole to say the Pledge of Allegiance had to remain on the sidewalk or on the grassy area outside the schoolground itself.

The school was a "primary school" and housed first and second grade only. There was no public kindergarten in those times and in that place. Good heavens, how ever did the kids get an education?


So anyway, the second graders were "kings of the hill," so to speak and the firsters trembled in their very presence. At least some of them did, and the Boy was such an one. You know what happened. The "big kids" started to tease the child with his treasure. "Oh, look, the Baby brought his coworring book," and so on. So the child, crushed and intimidated, threw the book into the grass and PROCEEDED TO SIT ON IT! Dorks do have a way about them, and this elicited even more teasing in the vein of "BWAK, Bwak, buk, buk, buk-- look, the Chicken is trying to hatch his book."


Did I mention that school was not high on the list of the boy's pleasures?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday in Orange Grove

Park Church service is at 8:40 on Sunday morning, and while this is a bit early for our taste, we both managed to be there in plenty of time with happy smiles on our faces!

The choir was in fine voice, the minister gave us an uplifting message from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, chapter five. Our friend Arnie played a medley of great songs on the concertina, including Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. It was a service worth getting up for.

On the way out of the hall, we were stopped by friend Linda who wanted to take our picture. Later in the day, she stopped by to deliver a copy of it to us. I decided it would make a great profile picture, especially since the previous one was now three months old; we have aged since then!
Thanks, Linda.

Arnie and Arlene asked us to go with them to Denny's for a slam, or whatever happened to be our brunch choice. This was a great thing on several levels, the first being that we had the pleasure of visiting with these friends for a nice long time. The second notable item was the food itself, for it was abundant, tasty, and served just right. The coffee was good, too. And finally, the restaurant gave a fifty percent discount to residents of Orange Grove and the two of us ate for under ten dollars. Hallelujah!

The afternoon was spent reading and dozing. Ah, Sundays!

Then there is ice cream at the activities center in a few minutes, and BBBH has baked a beautiful cake which is just asking for a good slicing.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Verse of the Day

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blessing and Price

Three or four weeks ago I posted a little verse I had written entitled "137 Drops of Rain." It was a written expression of the prayer South Texas had been offering for some time. I now report that that prayer has been answered, at least for Hidalgo and Cameron Counties, the area in which we currently reside. We have had probably in excess of two inches of rainfall in the past week; and it is raining now as I write these lines. We are grateful for the rain. Thank you, Lord.


Nothing, though, is without drawbacks. Someone once said, God did not make any useless creatures, but the mosquito comes close. And the mosquitoes are out in full force! They, realizing that they probably have a very short span of time in which to procreate, are fiercely seeking whom they may devour. (Satanic reference intentional.) I am one of those blessed people for whose blood they lust.

Now I am still grateful for the rainfall, but two things. First, stop it already! and second, die, mosquitoes!

Curiously, we have spent four winters in this park, and this is the first time we have been plagued with the critters.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ethics 101

In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard writes, “A leading social commentator now teaches that despair and rage are an essential element in the struggle for justice. He and others who teach this are sowing the wind, and will reap the whirlwind, the tornado. Indeed, we are reaping it now in a nation increasingly sick with rage and resentment of citizen toward citizen. And often the rage and resentment is upheld and justified in the name of God.

“But there is nothing that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it.”

Willard goes on to point out that the evil twin to anger is contempt, for “it breaks the social bond more severely than anger... In the course of normal life one is rarely in a situation where contempt is not at least hovering in the wings.

“Recently cultural observers have noted the overwhelming rise in the use of filthy language, especially among young people. Curiously, few have been able to find any grounds for condemning it other than personal taste. How strange! Can it be that they actually find contempt acceptable, or are unable to recognize it? Filthy language and name calling are always an expression of contempt. The current swarm of filthy language floats upon the sea of contempt in which our society is now adrift.”*

Dallas Willard is a professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Philosophy.

*The Divine Conspiracy, pp.150-152

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Old Guy y Viejo

Had I a bit better facility at languages, I should learn some rudimentary Spanish. The population here in Hidalgo County, where we are currently ensconced, is more than 88% Hispanic.
A little while ago, we were in a Wal-Mart and while Beloved Beautiful made a last pass through some of the aisles, I sat on a bench near the entryway. Presently an old gentleman, meaning a man near my own age, came and sat on the other end of the bench. I remarked that old guys had to sit sometimes. His broad smile told me he was friendly, but it also said he didn’t understand a word I said. Presently he asked me habla Espanol? I said, No, not really. Whereupon we engaged in a conversation with much hand-waving and gesticulation. It was not fruitless, either, because before we parted company, we knew that our spouses were still shopping, that he had children, five sons and a daughter, that I had two of each. He learned that I lived in some foreign place called “Indiana,” and I learned that he was originally from Mexico, but had lived in Edinburg for forty years. When I left the store, I gave him a hearty, buenos dias! and he returned the benediction.

It was a doubly pleasurable experience, for I spent some pleasant moments with a stranger, and left the encouter feeling that most people are good people. And too, it brought back to mind an experience I had some twenty-three years ago when the father of a daughter-in-law visited us at our place on the lake. He was from Germany, and he had about the same amount of English as I had German, which was very little. We stood on the lakeshore enjoying the sights and the sounds of a summer morning, the sunshine warming our shoulders. The gentle waves lapping at the hull of the boat tied at the pier; the occasional "plop" of a fish reentering the water following its leap for an insect, or of a frog returning to the water from his lilypad puncuated our verbal gymnastics, lending a sense of well-being to the interchange.

Opa, we all called him Opa, even though he and I were at most a short generation apart in age, visited for quite a long time, employing the same techniques that I used today with the old gentleman in the Wal-Mart. Much pointing, hand-waving; smiling and exclaiming "Ah, so!" But again, a bond was formed which I treasure to this day, though Karl has long since departed this earthly realm.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Must See TV

Technology is truly amazing. And yet I am even more amazed at the people it serves. A case in point, and the cause for the writing of this brief article, is the development of the transmission of transitory pictures which we have come to identify simply as “TV.”

About ninety years ago as radio was being developed as a commercial enterprise, people began to ideate the possibility of transmitting not only sound, but video as well. Early experiments, without going into specific history, produced some small degree of success as early as the late 1930s. But it was not until the 1950s that commercial television began to spread widely across the country. If my memory serves me correctly the small city in which I lived presented its first commercial broadcast to the residents in 1951.

This new medium was to have very little bearing on my life for many more years, although I attended college in a much larger city, and there was a television set in the student lounge on which one might, if he chose to do so, watch a baseball game or something that someone else chose to watch. I mostly avoided all that.

The early “TV sets” had very small oscilloscope-sized screens, some of the larger ones perhaps offering thirty square inches of viewing field. It was not long, though, until larger screens were widely available, and by 1967 when I got my first set, the screen sported a 19-inch diagonal measurement screen. This might have approached 200 square inches of viewing area. By 1973, I actually had a 19" color TV!

Fast forward to recent years. I now have a 46-inch HDTV, and it is quite small compared to those some of my acquaintances have. Some of them provide, I am sure, up to fifteen square FEET of viewing space! (My modest home is not nearly big enough for one of these. Neither are most of the homes in which I have seen them.)

Anyway, what now is the new standard of “TV viewing”? Of course you know the answer to that. It is the somewhat under four square inch screen on your cell phone! We’ve gone full circle. And have you tried to watch an NBA game on one of these? How big is the basketball? Never mind the NHL.

As I said, people are much more amazing than is technology.

What am I really saying here in far too many words? If one hasn't time to sit down and watch TV, he has no need to be watching TV at all. imho.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine

The Rec Hall is the center of activities for this community, and it is well-used indeed. I prefer to refer to this place as the "Social Hall" or "Activity Center," for "Rec" evokes images in my mind that I prefer to avoid. "Rec" is homonymous with "wreck" which in turn leads to thinking of people of a certain age...

Well, you see where my mind goes with this, so bear with me, and allow me to refer to the place as the activity center. And incidentally, here is another thing that sort of bothers me, the banner displayed here. And why would this bother me? First, I am not a recycled anything. It has taken me a lot of years to get to this place in my life. Which brings us to second, my teen years, if I had to choose a stage of life to re-live, would without doubt be the last stage I would choose. Oh, well, it is all in a spirit of good fun, so I try not to be offended. And true enough, some of the people do seem to be, if not in a second childhood, certainly in regression which might place them at about the teen stage of life. The power of suggestion?


This display appeared just in time for Valentine's Day, and herewith I wish you a happy Valentine's Day and joy and peace with those you love!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oscar Mayer Entertains

The heart within the boy within me leaped with excitement when we drove into the super market parking lot Saturday morning.
These old eyes beheld a wonderful sight and transmitted the message to the boy. There directly in front of the store was the Wienermobile! On two different occasions in the past, I have passed, or been passed by, the Wienermobile as we traversed one of America’s interstate highways. But this is the first time I ever had an opportunity to view the vehicle up close and personal, so to speak.

Present were three wholesome and attractive young ladies, smiling, greeting the crowd and handing out mementos, trinkets by which the happy people might remember their visit. The side-door of the vehicle was open so that we could stick our heads inside and look around. There was a strap across the door suggesting that to tread within was not permitted.

This particular Mobile is in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Wienermobile, and of course, it is not the same vehicle with which Oscar Mayer started this advertising ploy. In fact, the Wienermobile has gone through numerous permutations, and there was a display bulletin board on which pictures of a dozen of these traveling billboards were displayed.

I came away with this pretty little sticker and a Wienermobile whistle! Yet I regretted that I had forgot to fasten my camera on my belt this morning.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Clothes Dryer and the Love of God

Friday is laundry day for us, perhaps in large measure due to the tendency of the ladies who are our neighbors to cling to the tradition of the Monday wash-day. Avoid the crowd, I say, and avoid the wait.

This past Friday, as is often the case, my two dryers full of laundry, not quite getting everything dry in the allotted fifteen minutes, I threw the towels and a few pair of Wranglers into one dryer as I took the remaining items to the folding table. Five minutes later, I extracted the last items from the machine just as a gentleman approached an adjoining dryer with a load of wash. I said, "There's still time on this one if you'd like to use it." He paused long enough to look at me as though I had two heads and grunted, literally. "Unghh," which I don't rightly know how to spell.. Then he threw his load into another machine.

As I folded my remaining items, from the corner of my eye I caught him looking up from his magazine to peer at me as if the freak-show was still going on. And I thought, "What a culture we live in: one in which people have no idea how to accept a simple gift. It is as though to do so would obligate them to some favor in return. What is an appropriate quid pro quo for ten minutes of dryer time? 'Thanks' would certainly be sufficient."

I am not in any way comparing the offering of this simple courtesy to the gift of eternal life that Christ offers us, yet there is a parallel, for too many people reject God's gift. Perhaps they are suspicious that they might have to "repay" the favor by giving up something in their life which they are unwilling to relinquish.

The gift of salvation through Jesus's blood is freely offered, and to accept it is to accept life, not just for the future, but in the here and now!

Luke 14:12-14. An interesting story Jesus related.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Calling Who?

Here is an anachronism on the premises. Every time I walk past it, I glance to see if it will be Clark Kent of Dr. Who who emerges therefrom. Given the Eighties American style, my guess is the former, if either.

How long has it been since you've seen a phone booth? I can remember when a call could be initiated for five cents, American. But of course, things escalated from there.

While standing in front of WalMart waiting for BBBH to complete her business within, I saw a man using a pay phone. It is almost imperative that one feel sorry for a poor, impoverished, and desperate person who has to resort to a public facility to make a call, while hordes of people are walking past him with cell phones plastered to their heads.

Well, we have cell phones; and we actually use them on occasion. A few months ago, the bill for that month reflected an actual cost of $38.02 per minute for usage. And we can remember when we were outraged at the unconscionable charge of sixty-five cents to call a friend in the adjoining county. Three minute limit, too, to avoid overages. Oh, Progress. You are a wicked lady.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dancing. Not.

Thursday nights are “dance nights” here in the park. I don’t dance, although BBBH does on occasion. She inveigled, I succumbed. We went to the dance. I, of course, sat and watched the goings-on. She, too, sat. We ate popcorn and listened to the music which was presented by a duet, two fellows who sang and played keyboard, accordion, and drums. They were actually quite good.

The hall had been transformed into a dance venue, and the lights were dim. In that light, there were no varicose veins, wrinkles or lines in faces visible. The light was good enough to reveal some white heads, but they could have been blond, perhaps. Imagine the party to consist of so many young people out for an evening of fun and dancing. But eventually the cruel lights were turned up. The entertainers were probably two of the youngest people there,and neither of them will see sixty again.

I was asked to dance by the lady who danced with everyone. I said, Daddy don’t dance, and Mama don’t rock ‘n’ roll. Beautiful was not invited to dance, and I did not realize how deeply she was cut by that until we were on the way home. She said, In all my life, that is the first time I’ve ever attended a dance, side-lined for the entire evening for want of an invitation. Insensitive as I am, I laughed. But I soon realized that she was seriously shaken by the experience, and it was not funny. Well, she had the misfortune of having been accompanied by a man who does not dance, a man who is six-three, a deuce and a quarter, and ugly enough to ward off, well, guys who might otherwise have invited her to dance. I’m really a kitten, but they don’t know that.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wichita

We left Liberal and traveled to...
Better the tale move in a more direct line to Wichita, never mind the ramblings, twists and turns taken to get there.

David and I found a place to live, which was basically a bedroom in a home, but with kitchen privileges. Then to find a job. Rent, we discover, is not free, in spite of the years of free rent the parents had given. We both immediately found employment at Boeing Airplane Company. On closer examination it becomes clear the reason employment was so readily available. At the time Boeing had contracts with the government to produce B-47s and B-52s. These contracts were on a “cost plus” basis, which is to say, that for every dollar it cost Boeing to train, employ, and pay us, they made an additional dime for themselves.

My first week with my new employer was spent at a training facility in downtown Wichita. I was learning to be a tool and die maker! At the end of the week, I was placed in the factory, second shift, as a “jig builder.” My basic tasks were to stay out of trouble, and stay out of the way.

Now the B-47 was being produced in Wichita, but not the B-52. It was to be built in Georgia. I was “working” on the B-52, for we were building a tool to hold the outboard starboard engine in place during assembly. If memory serves me right, and I think it might, I tapped one hole in that jig during my tenure there. And in my haste, awkwardness, nd ineptitude, I broke the tap and it took a machinist the rest of the shift to repair the damage.

For reasons that might be becoming entirely too clear, when fall approached, I chose to quit Boeing and enroll in college.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

City Boy on the Farm

I had a newly minted diploma asserting that I had completed the requirements for graduation from my high school. I was not yet eighteen years of age, but I was now a man. (This is the sort of thing seventeen-year-old boys are prone to believe.) Thus it was that I packed a tin suitcase with a few items of clothing and hit the road. A one-day stint in Colby, Kansas erecting grain silos, heat in excess of one hundred degrees, was sufficient to convince me that there had to be a better way to earn a livelihood.

So we headed south and wound up in Liberal, Kansas, near the border of the Oklahoma panhandle. I secured employment as a truck driver for the wheat harvest on a small farm comprised of a section of land. Eighty acres were in peas, eighty acres lay fallow, and the balance of the land was in wheat. The farm was twenty-two miles from the elevator in Liberal. Mrs. Rohrer left her home in town for the duration of the harvest and stayed in the farmhouse to prepare meals for the hands. And a worthy cook she was, too. Wonderful eating and too tired at the end of the day to get into any mischief.

One day’s work made a real impression upon my young, impressionable mind. Shortly after lunch my truck was full and I was ready to head into town. Mr. Rohrer climbed off the combine and came over to me. He gave me the key to his house in town and told me to pick up a certain item there after I dumped the wheat at the elevator. Of course there was a line of trucks waiting to unload and I had to wait my turn. Then I headed to the house, found the desired item, locked up and drove the twenty-two miles back to the field.

What greeted me as I drove into the field was a combine-hopper full of wheat lying in a pile on the ground. I situated the truck for the combine to dump in the truck, and when Mr. R unloaded, he advised me that after the day’s cutting was done, I could bring the truck back to the field and scoop the wheat in by hand. And I did.

One day it was raining and thus there was no harvesting going on. So we hands were given instructions on cleaning up the barn-lot, cutting weeds and generally spiffing up around the place.

When harvest was over, we were set to disc the land, two of us running a tractor twenty-four hours. The only instructions I was given were 1) keep that front wheel in the rut from the previous pass, and 2) don’t hit that drip pipe on the gas-line at the south end of the home field. Of course I got yelled at for failure to obey rule 1) and naturally I hit the drip pipe with the outboard wheel on the disc.

So I packed my suitcase and headed for Wichita. And when Mr. R paid me, I was advised that, yes, truck-driving pays $10 a day, but working in the barn lot and driving tractor pays only $7.50. And that’s what I got.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Dozen Years in Paradise




Twelve years ago today I met BBBH at the altar where we said our marriage vows. We were united in matrimony, and nothing has been the same since.

I am sure I repeat myself, but I’m not going to search the archives to verify that. A man (that would be me) looks at a woman and thinks, “That’s exactly what I want!” A woman (BBBH in this case) looks at a man and thinks, “He has potential.” Then she changes, and he doesn’t.

That’s a joke, of course. The truth is that both parties change, and neither party becomes perfect. But love is more patience than it is dewy-eyed wonder, and at our age, we should have known that whether we did or not.

Stopping, I hope before I dig in so deep I can’t get out, I can only say, We still love each other after twelve years of both patience and awe. I love you, JoAnn!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bright Beginning, Sad Ending

One of the saddest and most heart-rending stories in the Bible is told in the First Book of Samuel. Saul, son of Kish, we are told, was “a choice young man, and handsome, and there was not among the children of Israel a more handsome person than he; ...he was taller than any of the people.” Samuel told Saul, “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you and you shall prophesy with [the prophets] and shall be turned into another man... And it was so that... God gave him another heart.” Thus was he anointed the first king of Israel. (10:6,9,24)

What, you might ask, is sad about that? Nothing, certainly. And the Book continues with the story of Saul’s reign, the good the bad and the ugly. But then in chapter 31 we read, “Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.” (31:4,5)

A man chosen and blessed of God, elevated to the highest position in the land, given a new heart; and yet for his failure to follow God in all things, he died a suicide. What lesson can we take from this? If nothing else, be careful in all things to honor God and follow His leadings.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Little Sister Writes

Here is a recent story for you. This is the background. A couple of Sunday's ago I talked to a 90 year old lady at church. She told me that she was an artist in Greenwich Village NYC for many years. She made fused glass art and sold it at over 100 stores in the city. When I told her I was in the arts as well, a bond was struck, and she told me I could call her Jan (name Janet) because that is the name she went by when she was a working artist. She said that she did not think Janet to be an artsy name. We proceeded downstairs to the fellowship hall, with her using what she called "TDC" (translation-that damn cane). When we arrived at the basement, she asked if I wanted to hear a joke....And now for the heart of the story...

She glanced around the fellowship hall with a mischievous twinkle in her eye and asked me if I thought it would be ok for her to tell the joke in there. Curiosity and a bit of good natured devilishness got the best of me, and I told her that we weren't in the sanctuary anymore, and that it would be ok. And so she told me this joke.

Walter, a man who had just turned 89 met his friend, Floyd, at a restaurant in a fancy New York hotel. After dinner, Floyd told Walter that he'd brought him a birthday present but had left it in his room on the 4th floor.
"You will have to go up to room 402 to get it," Floyd told him, "Here is my key."
When Walter arrived at the elevator, he discovered it was out of order, and so he proceeded to walk up. With each flight of stairs he became more and more winded, and by the time he reached the 4th floor, he was out of breath. He unlocked the door and was greeted by a voluptuous blond.
"I am your birthday present," she said, "and I am supposed to give you super sex."
He pondered her proposal while he struggled to get his breath. Finally he was able to speak.
"Thank you, he said, I think I will have the soup." --E. I. Carter

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rabbit Hunting, 1945

Several of the old fellows sitting on the patio got onto the subject of hunting. Somehow rabbits hopped into the discussion. Most of the talk had to do with edibility of rabbit in general, and certain ones in particular. I drifted off into my own world, which is to say I found myself transported back more than sixty-five years, and in a locale 1000 miles away.

When I was a sixth-grader, my best buddy, also a sixth-grader found himself removed from town some forty-five miles and living on the high plains with his mother. Wes’s mom had taken a school in a Czech community farther away in culture and lifestyle than it was in distance from their home. Understand that this was a one-room school. However, the building itself had a second room which was outfitted as living quarters for the teacher, who in addition to teaching responsibilities for thirty-five students spread over eight grades, was also the janitor upon whom devolved the responsibility of keeping the premises heated with the wood-burning equipment. She decided she needed her son to live with her during this school year.

And so it was that I was invited to visit them during a break in the school activities which was occasioned by a community cultural festival. I could not believe sitting at table with people who were so bountifully blessed that they could serve more than one meat at a meal. Three, in fact: poultry, beef and lamb.
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But back to the rabbit. The day before I was to head back to the city and home, Wes and I went rabbit hunting. Now understand that “rabbit” in this locale pretty much means “jackrabbit.” With the exception of one shot, the day was quite void of opportunity to shoot game. I was carrying a single shot .22 rifle. As we scuffed along through the yucca flat, a rabbit jumped up and headed straight away from me, except of course for the bobbing from side to side as it ran. I pulled down on it and fired when it was probably twenty yards ahead. The rabbit dropped instantly. Examination of the carcass revealed no blood, no wounds; but a careful study revealed that the bullet had struck the animal in the back of the neck, breaking it cleanly as it ricocheted off without puncturing the skin! What a shot! What a lucky, improbable, and never-to-be-repeated shot.

Yet there is more to the story, for Wes and I took our trophy home, cleaned it, cooked it, and ate it, because the parents hadn’t the heart to tell us eating jackrabbit just wasn’t done.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

For the Birds

Saturday evening is “hamburgers.” This simply means that about 200 of the park residents gather in the social hall at 5:30 to eat hamburgers cooked on the outside grill, along with shredded lettuce, which, if you take a bottle of salad dressing, you can pile on your plate and call it “salad.” After burgers, at extra cost, one may get ice cream! Also, most Saturdays have “entertainment” after, so it is an exciting night out for oldsters such as ourselves. (That’s all background; so here’s the story.)

Seated next to us at our table were three “bachelor” types, that is, fellows whose wives had succumbed to death and who have not yet been tagged by a widow-lady. The gentleman sitting next to me was a very pleasant but unassuming individual whom I finally engaged in conversation. He is from Missouri, and lives at the end of our block. He told me of his early years when he worked in Connecticut, but, he said, he wanted to pursue “further” graduate work, so he returned to Missouri where he took his PhD at University of Missouri. I told him my sister had taken her PhD at Missouri and the conversation turned to areas of expertise. I asked what his field was and he replied, “poultry nutrition.” So now I fancy that I know a fellow who knows more about chicken feed than I do, notwithstanding that I raised a family on a paycheck that amounted to about that.

I have long believed that academia narrows fields of expertise to a fine point, and here is an excellent illustration of that fact. Someday, some university is going to narrow a study down to a vanishing-point, and the recipients of the degree offered will know everything about nothing!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Small Town America

(Small towns and villages across America fascinate me. I have lived in a few of them, and I have visited many others. They all possess some characteristics in common, not the least of which seems to be a fierce sense of belonging, of possession, if you will. This snippet is one in the “Loonville” series which I posted on String Too Short to Tie two years ago. It relates the beginning of my awareness of the special nature of small and closed communities, way back in my much younger day.)
The Carnegie Library was built tall, literally, I believe, to tower over the smallness of the town. One ascended to the heights via a most impressive exterior stairway; but the rewards to be garnered therein were certainly worth the climb. This was the highpoint of life in Loonville.

Since one had to make his or her own entertainment in this village, the library was a godsend to those who could read. No, don't talk to me about videotapes, music CDs and other such johnny-come-drive-the-books-off-the-shelves that have afflicted modern "libraries." Yes, and computer rooms and electronic card catalogs and how many other ways have we lost something once precious?*

In addition to the books and magazines, this little haven of intellectual challenge had a collection of newspapers. No, not microfiche or microfilm or digitized data. It had local newspapers going back to 1868. This little place-too-small-to-make-a-dot-on-the-map actually had a newspaper in the nineteenth century. No more, of course, even at the time this tale reflects.

It was in this town and partly with the help of this collection that I developed a sense of the meaning of "roots." I had been raised in a minister's home, and we had moved eight times by the time I left home and had lived in five different towns. Imagine the sense of wonder that crept slowly into my awareness when I would talk with an individual in the local drugstore or at the post office, then read that person's name in a newspaper from 1879 a few days later. Not just the family name, either, but the whole name just as it is carried by my acquaintance today. I would read, for instance "Jim Griggs transported eight head of hog to the railhead Saturday." And now in the middle of the next century, Jim Griggs is proprietor of the biggest hog operation in the southern half of the county. "Marcus Wright traveled to Muncie this past week for the funeral of his brother, Frederick Wright, late of that community." Marcus Wright is the fifth grade teacher in the local elementary school today.

I could cite many other examples, but this will serve to help you understand how I came to an appreciation of people's "rootedness", how those who are attached to the land develop a sense of belonging and right of possession. It is small wonder that newcomers to rural communities and small towns are viewed with suspicion and have such difficulty establishing themselves, having to prove themselves on a daily basis.
© 2010 David W. Lacy

*It occurred to me as I was preparing this for re-posting that one could infer that I am indeed a troglodyte, one who, if he reads at all, would be perusing stone or clay tablets. Things change. But old people don’t “move with the times” as readily, perhaps, as do the younger ones among us.