Monday, December 28, 2015

Eighth Grade Muddle

Twelve-year old Margot was the youngest girl in the eighth grade.  How she got to be in eighth grade before her thirteenth birthday is a story that cannot be told here because this recorder does not know the story.  It shall have to suffice to say that she was in eighth grade and would not be thirteen until Christmas Day.

There is something to discuss.  A child born on Christmas Day.  Is she blessed, or is it a tragedy?  Again, we do not know all the ramifications of such coincidence of events but we do know in this case that Margot is not thrilled about it.  She feels cheated, put upon in a sense.  It is as though she is the only girl she knows who does not have her own day.  Worse, Christmas and birthday rolled into one equals once-a-year presents while everyone else gets her own special day, gifts twice a year.  At least the parents didn't name her Carol, or Noelle or the like.  "Margot," her  mother told her, "my little Christmas daisy."

Breaking into the social stream in this junior high school had been a trial for Margot.  She was bright, too bright, she was thinking.  Margot was not only an excellent student, she was at the top of her class in all things academic.  This she correctly suspected did not endear her to her classmates.  Too, Margot was not only smart, she was pretty.  She knew this, but she was not conceited about it.  In fact, she suspected, again correctly, that this also did not endear her to her classmates.  The girls were jealous, envious, and in some cases downright mean.  The boys were intimidated by both her good looks and her intelligence.

Ah, dear.  The vicissitudes of adolescence.  Some of the less-subtle wits, half-wits, thought Margot, tagged her "Maggot."  The one girl in the class who had befriended her, Violet, yes that Violet, the Shrinking One, suggested to Margot that she simply drop the "t."  "After all," she said, "that wouldn't change the pronunciation of your name."  Margot thought that might be a little too plain, but it did get her to thinking and presently she started turning in her papers under the name "Margaux."

The girls in the class were soon aware of the self-applied name change and somehow Margot went from "Maggot" to "Ox."

Poor me! thought Margot.  Nothing I ever do is right.

Which one could not tell by the rows of "A"s on her report card.

Author's note:  I have had this one sitting in my drafts folder for several weeks.  Somehow entertains me, yet I find it strangely unsatisfying.  Well, I have run out of anything else, so here goes.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Before and After

Christmas Eve

 I know someone in this picture.
Christmas Night
All is calm; all is bright.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Cat and the Christ Child

The cat crept into the cave. Stripey, she was, in the daylight.  But now, well past sunset and the settling of darkness, she was as black as any other cat.  The tabby's left ear twitched, cocked over her left shoulder as she heard the rustling in the straw strewn over the floor.  A great ox lying nearby snorted softly as he dropped his head to the ground.  His horn made a small spark and a clack! as it made contact with the rock.  He exhaled.  His nares vibrated briefly then all was still.

The cat remained motionless.  Long moments dragged slowly by.  In the distance an owl called to its mate.  Then the rustling began again as the mice resumed feeding on the loose grain in the straw.  The cat's right fore paw inched forward, settled softly, then the left paw raised, advanced, soundlessly touched the rock, then pounce!  Her prize in her claw, then between her jaws, she nestled close to the belly of the ox and dropped the mouse.  Stunned and addled but still with a will to live the creature staggered and attempted to run.  But the cat casually reached out, dragged it back.  Again she released it, this time allowing the creature to "get away."  But the cat sprang, recaptured the mouse and lay down again.  She played her cruel game with the small captive for several minutes, but finally tired of it and overcome with hunger she crunched its skull between  her teeth, then dined on her catch.

So Stripey, sated, slept.

A ruckus arose within the stable.  A pair of human creatures shuffled into the space, one carrying a blazing fagot in one hand as with the other he supported the woman who staggered in and collapsed on the floor.  A donkey followed them.  Then entered a large nondescript dog close on the heels of the ass.  He went to the female human creature and started licking her cheek while the man wedged the torch into a notch in the wall that served as a sconce. The presence of the canine got the attention of the sleeping cat, which started and sprang to her feet.  She scaled the flank of the ox where she settled, thus attaining a full view of the goings-on.  The ox slept on.

Soon there was frantic activity, the man bustling around the woman, the woman writhing and screaming in obvious pain. All the creatures in the stable stirred restlessly, the sheep bleated, and even the ox raised its head and voiced his concern.  Following a protracted episode of heavy breathing and intermittent screams, everything fell silent for a few moments.  Then suddenly the mewling sounds of the crying of a new man-child pierced the quiet.

The man patiently worked at cleanup chores, handed the infant to its mother.  Everyone except the man, the woman, and the cat finally went back to sleep.  Then the woman laid the tiny human creature in a cradle of straw the man had constructed.  The tabby, her tail erect and switching from side to side drawing esses and zees in the air, left her perch on the ox and sauntered casually toward the small human.  As the cat approached the child, the dog lifted its head, raised itself up on its two forelegs.  The cat said not a word but gave the canine the evil-eye.  The dog lay back down.  The cat circled the child and we might imagine that she was thinking, "Big deal.  Just another human." Then she went back and snuggled into the warmth of her bovine friend again.

 Which all took place before the gaggle of rough and ragged men began to fill up the space, babbling about a Heavenly Presence that came to them in the fields praising God and telling them that this child  in the stable was The Christ!

Merry Christmas!
and let there be peace, at least between you and me. 

©David W. Lacy 2015


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Story

CHRISTMAS STORY
  
 En el principio ya existía el *Verbo,  
 Él estaba con Dios en el principio.
    y el Verbo estaba con Dios,
    y el Verbo era Dios.    

 In het allereerste begin was Christus er a 
 Hij was bij God en was Zèlf God. 
 
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
 and the Word was God. 
 The same was in the beginning with God.
  Por medio de él todas las cosas fueron creadas;  sin él, nada de lo creado llegó a existir.
  Alles ontstond door Zijn Woord. Zonder Hem is niets ontstaan; al het bestaande heeft Hij    gemaakt. 

 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 

 En él estaba la vida,
    y la vida era la luz de la humanidad. 
 
Zonder Hem is niets ontstaan; al het bestaande heeft Hij gemaakt. 

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  

Esta luz resplandece en las tinieblas,
   y las tinieblas no han podido extinguirla. (NBD)
 
 Het licht schijnt in de duisternis
en de duisternis heeft het niet in zijn macht kunnen krijgen. (HTB) 

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended
it not. (KJV)  The Gospel According to John 1:1-5
 Christmas Holiday Winter Wreath - Vintage Christmas Wreath

No matter the language in which it is told, it is the Greatest Story ever told.  It is my favorite telling of the Christmas story.  Jesus Christ is the only name by which we must be saved. 
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”–Acts 4:12
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure— 
The saints’ and angels’ song.  --Frederick Lehman, 1917
A Blessed Christmas to you, for may the Love of God dwell ever in your heart.
Love,
vanilla and BBBH

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Work Brickle: A Christmas Story, Digest Version

Today's story is a compacted version of a Christmas story from two years ago ala the Reader's Digest.  Original version can be accessed by clicking here.
 
Did I ever tell you about your Uncle Mil's Christmas?  Ever’one said Milford was work brickle. Waal,  he warn't work brickle, he were more "boss brickle." . See, still a teenager, he had this job over to the yards in Lamar keepin’ the steam up in the switch engine durin’ the night.  One night his boss tell him, “Hey, Mil.  Hate to lose you, but the company is sendin’ you to Dodge.  You start over there next Monday.  No tellin’ how far you go with the company, Kid."

"Nuts to that," says Mil.  "I quit right now.  I ain't a leavin' Lamar."

"Now, wait, now.  You got that firebox to keep up tonight.”

"Fire it yourself."

So then Mil find work at the mill.  Doin' pretty well, too, until his boss come around and give him a new assignment, and you might guess how that turn out.  Boss brickle, like I say.

Out a job agin, Mil see people a thowin’ off perfeckly good stuff at the town dump, he decide he can make a livin’ pickin’ the place an’ resellin’ stuff.  An’ he done hit.  He sorts stuff, repairs stuff, peddles it aroun’ town, makin’ good money.  Waal, he gets official approval an exclusive rights to the dump and he is in bidness, for sure.

Now kids around town make fun of Mil.  You know how it goes, "Dirty Mil, dirty Mil, live on top a garbage hill." But Mil is shrewd, and he know which folk thow stuff out, and which ones never show up at his workplace.

Then a really cold and blustery Christmas Eve come along and ever'body stayin' cozy in they houses.  But lo! On Christmas mornin' folk at twenty-five, thirty houses find the most wonderful collection a toys on they front steps.  Santa done come, and no one saw hit happen.  Waal, there was some talk around town.  But when the same thing happen again the next Christmas Eve, people really start to wonder who is blessin' them thisa way.  It is fine for the kids to believe it is Santa, but we know better.

So on the next 24th a December, three, four a the guys make it up amongst theyselves to find out once and for all who the Secret Santa is.  By postin' theyselves around town, keepin' a low profile,  Frank Chambers finely 'bout 'leven o'clock spot Santa at work down on South 4th Street.  Hit were Milford.  Now whilst Mil was makin' his own livin' sortin' and sellin' rags and metal and all sort a junk, he was collectin' toys and takin' 'em home where he spend his evenin's repairin' and paintin' and makin' those toys just like new!  And on Christmas Eve he was brightenin' the lives of a whole passel a kids who he know warn't likely to get much fer Christmas.

37% reduction in the number of words without serious damage to the story (I hope).
© David W. Lacy 2015

More Christmas stories yet this week!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Get Out of the Way

You may think I have "lost it" what with all the reruns recently. or perhaps you think I never "had it" in the first place.  I offer this one not because I could think of nothing new to write but because I think this expresses very well exactly what I would wish to say today.  From 2010, then.

On the other hand, some of us are not still young, Marcus. In point of fact, we despair of ever achieving super power status. It is sufficient to be able to rise, shower and dress; to then place one foot after the other, to find the coffee pot and a mug. Fly? I think not. In the dreams and fantasies of our youth, we moved the earth, we conquered worlds. We are fortunate indeed to have lived a life in which we did not provide serious impediment to the progress of society. "Lead, follow, or get out of the way". Some of us exercised sufficient "powers" to stay out of the way.

We, too, merit recognition.

Cartoon: Foxtrot by Bill Amend

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas! Gone (Rerun)

What to do? indeed. Eldon is in the soup now. Only a week until Christmas! Eve, the night the Jolly Old Guy in the Red Suit makes his annual rounds. Not that that makes much difference now.

Well, it was Friday afternoon.  It had been a long, long week and a certain fourth grade classroom is insufferably stuffy in the afternoons. Anyway. Mrs. Hart surely must be as tired as I am.  I’ve never seen any evidence of this, thought Eldon, but she cannot be, must not be, Wonder Woman. Recess came at 1:45, an hour and twenty minutes before dismissal. Back into the classroom at two means what? an hour and five minutes before release for the week. I can’t make it, Eldon mused as he strolled aimlessly toward the far left side of the playground. It’s extremity bordered the creek, and anything within ten yards of the creek was off-limits. Yet sometimes, good fortune comes ones way.

The softball game was in progress, and a kid got a lucky hit, placing the ball thirty feet beyond Eldon. It landed just inside the forbidden territory. The fielder made a dash for the ball and Eldon saw his chance. Crouching, making himself small as possible., Eldon shot to his left and was behind an old mulberry tree in a trice. He peeked out. Teacher was still standing by the sidewalk looking the other way. Very soon she blew her whistle and her charges ran to the door.

All but one charge charged into the building, and the remaining one charged into the brush, jumped across the creek and was on his way to... He was on his way where? He certainly could not arrive home this early, and wandering through the village would be entirely too conspicuous. So, while his classmates enjoyed hearing another chapter of Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing Eldon wandered across a recently-combined cornfield, kicking at an occasional stob, picking up an occasional clod and heaving it toward an imaginary enemy.

His triumph was short-lived, because this solitude, while being in the great out-of-doors and free of the stuffy, smelly classroom miasma, was not nearly so much fun as the boy had imagined it would be. The hour dragged on and on, the lad’s fingers were miserably cold. Finally Eldon saw a bus pass on the nearby road. He could head home now.

“Hi, Mom,” Eldon enthused. That was weird. It was like pulling nails, and I mean fingernails, to get a word from Eldon when he arrived home. But Mom didn’t need to guess, because his truancy had been reported to her long before he arrived home. Funny how that works.

Color Christmas! black, Eldon thought. Oh, man, color Christmas! gone.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sixty Years Ago

This date, 1955 I was wed to the woman who was to become the mother of my children.
We had twenty-four years together.

The gawky groom with his beautiful bride, Frieda. Sister Vee, Mother, Sister Ilene, Father

Mother and children, Portland, Oregon 1968
Delbert, Frieda, Kenny, Ivy, Ann Marie

Frieda Leamon Lacy 1928-1980

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Viennese Afternoon


 

Stephansplatz in the heart of Wien is a happening place.  Nearby on Graben is the imposing column pictured here, The Vienna Pestsaule, memorializes the victims of the Plague of 1679 and celebrates the survivors, among them Emperor Leopold I who upon his return to the city after the disaster had passed ordered the construction of this thing.  Numerous plague columns across Europe were modeled after this one.

One observation I made as I traveled across Western Europe was that Europeans had a penchant for committing statuary.  The artist in this case did that with a vengeance, stacking stuff, well you see it.

Strolling the platz is fine entertainment for tourists who I am sure are an impediment to the daily chores of the busy Viennese who have to dodge the tourists in the pursuit of their endeavors.  Of course we contributed our share of roadblocking, stopping and staring at all the wonders.

Street performers were fairly common and one could be entertained for a long time were he to stop and appreciate each artist or actor.  And one afternoon stop we did for there under an awning pitched in the middle of the street stood a very nice looking young woman in an artistic pose.  There she stood, stock still, naked as Eve before the fig leaf apron.

She was being painted by an artist.  No, he was not painting a picture of her on a canvas: he was painting her.  Literally.  I closed my mouth, picked up my eyeballs and inserted them back into their sockets.

The stream of Wieners continued to flow quickly past, but trust me, there was a crowd of tourists gathered here.  We had with us two boys, ages fifteen and sixteen. Suffice it to say, they were transfixed, rendered immobile.  And speechless.  The adults were eventually able to prod the boys into moving along.

Word of the day:  impediment

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Silver Bridge, Deep Waters

 http://www3.gendisasters.com/files/newphotos/Silver%20Bridge.jpg

December 15, 1967 the entire 1460-foot suspended portion of the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River at Point Pleasant, West Virginia collapsed.  46 lives were lost.  Two of the bodies have never been recovered. 

The bridge was suspended via eye-bar links.  I have attempted to understand this and in spite of the available information my mind seems unable to grasp the concept. Multi-strand cables I understand.
"The bridge failure was due to a defect in a single link, eye-bar 330, on the north of the Ohio subsidiary chain, the first link below the top of the Ohio tower. A small crack was formed through fretting wear at the bearing, and grew through internal corrosion, a problem known as stress corrosion cracking. The crack was only about 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) deep when it went critical, and it broke in a brittle fashion. Growth of the crack was probably exacerbated by residual stress in the eye-bar created during manufacture.The bridge was a victim of insufficient redundancy."  --Wikipedia
"Insufficient redundancy" I understand.  It is to say that there were not enough back-up or fail-safe bars built into the design.   In his 2012 book To Forgive Design, engineering historian Henry Petroski writes
 "If there is anything positive about the Silver Bridge failure it is that its legacy should be to remind engineers to proceed always with the utmost caution, ever mindful of the possible existence of unknown unknowns and the potential consequences of even the smallest design decisions."
Application may have a much wider scope than the discipline of engineering design.  "Unknown unknowns" lurk around the edges of every decision we make.

Words for life:  "Utmost caution" and "potential consequences"

2.5 fatal millimeters





Monday, December 14, 2015

Lettuce

Yes, I am writing about lettuce.  The vegetable kind, for though I have heard on occasion someone or other refer to money as "lettuce."  I never really ever had enough of that to write about.  But I am blessed in that I have always been able to obtain sufficient resources to provide food and shelter for those dependent upon me.

Lettuce.  Daddy used to plant "leaf lettuce" which then became the earliest provender from the garden.  In her turn, Mama made a dish she called "wilted lettuce."  She marinated the lettuce in a broth of vinegar and sugar and bacon grease, hot bacon grease, thus wilted lettuce.  I never cared for the stuff, but one seldom complained.  Food was food and "beggars cannot be choosers" and so on and so forth.  "Rather than whine about what you don't have, appreciate what you do have."  I could write a book.

As I became an adult and could within limits choose my own comestibles, I grew fond of iceberg lettuce.  I like the crisp, cool leaves, the crunch when masticated.  Spare me wilted, droopy lettuce.  While we are at it, spare me spiky, prickly lettuce.  My motto:  If it isn't iceberg, it isn't lettuce.
You may spare me the nutrition lessons and all that.  I want the leaf on my cheeseburger or the bed for my banana and Hellmann's® salad to provide the "crunch" which would otherwise be missing.

All this to register a complaint.  Complaint?  "Whatsoever your lot, therewith be content."  Okay for my lot, but not for my lettuce.  Recently the purchases of the luscious-looking heads have yielded floppy, droopy leaves lacking crispy crunch.  Reminds me of Mom's servings those many decades ago.  And useless on my hamburger.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

What if Friday the Thirteenth Falls on Sunday?

I know it's an old joke, a stupid joke, but it still tickles me.  Humor me.  Now for the Sunday morning devotional.

 http://content.angieslist.com/2012/8/23/08b73b79-86e8-43c4-9594-165ca9c6a22e.gif

Couple or three days ago (for Lauren1 wherever you are) I cleaned out the gutters for the third time this fall, the third time because it took forever (meaning several weeks) for the austrees in the yard to shed their foliage.  This time is the last time for the year, for which I am thankful.


I did not have to think very hard to come up with the spiritual application for this endeavor.  Rather it *bam!* jumped out and grabbed me.  Keeping the debris out of the troughs and downspouts is an onerous task, one that offers itself over and over again.  This caused me to reflect on the day in my life when the effort to keep the trash and debris out of my mind was an unending task, one which seemed ever to need repeating in spite of my best efforts.2

Now we know that the Lord forgives us for He told us that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.3  Nevertheless it seemed in my case at least to be an impossible task to keep the thought-life pure and "holy" so to speak.  And it is an impossible task, an on-going thankless and frustrating task.  But.

There is a solution.  If we allow it and ask God for it, He will build a protective guard over the channels of our minds.  We will live our lives in consideration of His ways, in emulation of Our Lord who gave Himself for us that we might be whole in Him!4

Cherish and guard your prayer life.  It is your channel of communication with God.

1Lauren was a young lady from Michigan, a teacher on my staff.  She abhorred the expression "a couple or three" which of course motivated me to work it into the conversation occasionally.
2 But Mom, I said, I see things and cannot help thinking certain thoughts.  Mother replied, You cannot keep the birds from flying over you head, but you don't have to let them build a nest in your hair.  Thanks, Mom.
3"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" I John 1:9
4"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things"  Philippians 4:8 
--Scriptures quoted from the King James Version

Friday, December 11, 2015

Heart of My Heart


I tend to be less forthcoming about my health issues but BBBH has plastered my "condition" all over her facebook page, so I might as well open up.

An earlier exception to my reticence was published here four years ago when I had the corneal tissue transplant because that is an interesting and relatively rare surgery, and besides the readers might have gotten a good laugh at the pictures of the swollen and bandaged me. 

I have according to my cardiologist a very strong heart but a seriously occluded aortic valve as well as some arterial narrowing in the heart.  Surgery is the only remediation.

I got a call today from the office of the cardiovascular surgeon.  They will see me on December 22.  The good news in this is that I will likely not be admitted for surgery before Christmas.  The bad news is that I will likely not be admitted for surgery before Christmas.

Further good news is that JoAnn's facebook friends and relatives have flooded her notes with good wishes and more importantly promises of prayers for our well-being.  This is appreciated immensely, more than I can tell.

Having started this here, I shall feel compelled to keep you updated.

Photo by BBBH,Galaxy S4, unbeknownst to the subject until it appeared on fb.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Conversations With Random People-- Fifteen

Or, more accurately, random conversations with people, for in this instance I am acquainted with the gentleman.

The set-up

Jim owns and operates the local movie theater.  He has worked there his entire life, for his father owned it before him.  I met the gentleman years ago.  He is a fixture in our community, a community booster and one of the good guys.  I first met him more than forty years ago.  Jim is 85


The incident

I met Jim this particular morning in the lobby of the local post office as I do occasionally.  We are both sorting our mail at the tall table, putting the discards into the tall round file at the end of the table.

"Nice catalog," Jim said.  "I get one from them about once a month, but I have no idea how I got on their list.  I always leave them here on the counter."

"I do that, too.  I sometimes get duplicate magazines."

We walked out the front door and down the steps together.  "Any good moom pitchers on the
schedule?" I asked.

"You bet.  I've never seen a bad one."

 The take-away

Imagine that.  A man who has been in that theater virtually every day of his life for eight decades who has never seen a bad movie.  Now that is loving your work.

Got me to thinking about the motion picture industry.  (But not too much.)  I doubt any writer sets out to write a "bad movie;" it is unlikely that any movie-maker aspires to make a bad movie, and I doubt that a producer would "kick in the bucks" to deliberately shoot a bad movie.  Yet I have seen many movies that certainly could not be described as "good."
Guess Jim is one of the lucky ones. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

An Evening in Vienna

Image result for st stephen's cathedral vienna Map of st stephen's cathedral vienna


We had all strolled down Dorotheegasse together.  The boys were urging one more adventure.  It was nine in the evening, though, and we had been on our feet all day.   Ellie and I held out for cashing in and heading for the pension.  And thus it was that we split up, they to their adventure, we back to our hotel, or so we supposed.  We had been in Wien three days and except for an excursion to Schloss Schönbrunn we had scarce been farther than a kilometer from the hotel.

We had "done" the Kunsthistoriche, had had Sacher torte at The Sacher Hotel.  We had explored the Stephansdom and its immediate environs. This evening we had witnessed a performance of The Wiener Sängerknaben     We knew our way around.  And we were young, Ellie and I, in our fifties.

So we walked.  And walked.  And as foot traffic and vehicular traffic became increasingly lighter there began to arise in our consciousness the awareness that somewhere we had made a wrong turn.  Then soon we were gripped by the cold reality that we had no idea where we were nor any notion as to how to get where we wanted to be.  And we walked.  Ellie, who seldom complained about anything, remarked that her feet were beginning to hurt.  "Killing me," I think she said.

And we walked, turning from one street into another, alleys really at this point.  Wound in and out of lanes, increasingly more narrow and now completely deserted.  Dark, dismal, and eerie.  Then we found ourselves staring at the Donaukanal.

That at least suggested that we needed to be going the other direction.

So we walked.

And eventually we turned into a street from which we could see the spire of St. Stephansdom.

And thus we found our way home, arriving there long after our cohorts had called it a day and had returned to the digs.

Good times.

See also Spanish Riding School

Word of the day: walk: it's what you do. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Singular "They"

Bill Walsh, Keeper of the Style Book at the Washington Post explains why he has dropped the hyphen in "Walmart" and in "email," and why "mic" is now a word, pronounced with a long "i" contrary to all good sense.  His article is quite interesting and if you are a language maven, a must-read.  See it here.

I am quite comfortable with dropping the hyphen in Walmart and in email.  If fact, l had done so in my writing some time back.  I dislike reaching up for the hyphen anyway, and I always have to pause to look.

Eventually, though, Mr. Walsh* gets to the issue of the singular "they."  He has finally chosen to adopt this ragged and smelly urchin, though it seems somewhat against his own better judgment.  I draw the line here.  I shall continue to use the generic "he" in my speech and in my writing.  I'm eighty-one.  Laugh if you will, whippersnapper, but someone has to maintain a degree of respect for those English teachers who have gone on before.  Let it be me.

If anyone is annoyed with the archaic usage, I hope he will grit his teeth and move on, which is what I shall do in future when I encounter the singular "they."  If on the other hand there is one who is offended, or worse outraged by my choice, to him I say, "Get a life."

*Here Mr. Walsh, following his own style book, would have written "Walsh," dropping the honorific.  Excuse the respect, Sir.

Monday, December 7, 2015

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day



It is a little noted fluke of history that during World War II Canada was the first Western nation to declare war on Japan.

The Imperial Japanese Naval Air Service bombed the U. S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, "a date that shall live in infamy," in the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  On December 8, the United States declared war on Japan.

But Canada had made that declaration on December 7 within hours of the Japanese attack.  Parliament was not in session and it was not scheduled to sit for action again until January 21, 1942, so the declaration was made without Parliamentary debate.   Prime Minister Mackenzie King reasoned that this action was a continuation of the war against the Axis which Parliament had declared in 1939 and thus calling an assembly of Parliament was not necessary.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, or simply Pearl Harbor Day, is observed annually in the United States in remembrance of the 2403 American patriots who died on Oahu that December day seventy-four years ago.  It is not a Federal holiday, but a day of remembrance.  The flag is to be flown at half-staff until sundown on December 7.

Image result for us flag
Old Glory

Long may she wave.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Life's Confusing Highway


Yesterday's post about the roundabouts and circular routes in Hamilton County got me to thinking that here we have a metaphor for life.

We often determine a destination and plot a course, thinking to do the right thing, arrive at the right place.  But along the route we encounter a "traffic circle" which throws us into a quandary, for there may be three, four, five, or move alternative exits we may take.  And if we lack signposts we may in our uncertainty make a bad choice that sends us into the wrong direction, down the wrong pathway.

Also, while we may correctly navigate our way out of one roundabout, there is very soon another, more choices to be made, more opportunities to veer off into a bad trail.  And by "bad trail" I do not necessarily envision a rough and bumpy road, for though we might encounter such, a bad trail might also be a brightly lit and attractive boulevard which leads us ultimately into disaster.

Then there are times in which one might enter a circle and find himself whirling around and around, passing exit after exit, yet in his confusion continuing to circle a point in his life, making no headway. For example, an unproductive or harmful habit comes to mind.

There is one major way in which life's roundabouts differ from those on the roads of Hamilton County.  On those county roads one may always spin 180 degrees and head back up the road that brought him into the circle in the first place.  That does not happen in life, for though one may spin around indefinitely or exit at one of many ramps, he may not return for any "do overs."  We must always move on.  There is no changing any of the past.

The blessing we possess is this.  God gave us a road map.  If we study it carefully and prayerfully we will be guided safely through life's convoluted roadways.  But even so it is critical that we remember to follow the directions, not to outpace God nor to go off in our hurry, in our pride, thinking we can do it ourselves.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. --Matthew 7:13,14 (KJV)
Or as Eugene Peterson paraphrased these verses in The Message:

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention."