Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Author's Choice, Part Two

The second half.  This is post number 1990 on String Too Short to Tie.

July: July 5  Wherein narcissism takes the day.

August:  Dog Tales and Pickle Jars Another tale from Uncle Jep.

September:  Good Times Another Time A growing up nostalgia piece.

October:  The Old Guy and the Old Dame  A mood piece in picture and verse.

November: Kooshdaakaa  Legends, remembrance, and honor of a departed friend.

December:  Sneak, Snack, Snuck  Grammar: another tilt at windmills.

And to make it a baker's dozen, Homestead Centennial, another family history tale.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Author's Choice

For the Year in Review, I have chosen to recall one post from each month of 2014.  To say these are my "favorites" would be to orphan all my other articles, would it not?  They are all my babies.

January:  Conversations With Random People: Eleven  Not all conversations are funny.

February:  Mama and Six-on-six Basketball  About Mother before I knew her.

March:  Misapplication of Technology  A rant.

April:  Ida Great Time  An Uncle Jep Tale.

May:  Jonah:  Unapologetically reposted  From the Old Testament.

June:  Message to Timothy and Me  From the New Testament.
Tomorrow I will post the selections for the second half of the year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Another Glorious Old House

This marvelous edifice is, as the real estate agent would say, centrally located.  The house is one and one half blocks from the post office and the movie theater, two blocks from the courthouse, and two and one half blocks to the bank.  It is a tad over one block to the grocery store.  Ideal.

Some quarter century ago, this house was owned by an individual who was undertaking to restore it to its original glory.  It was the second such house in the neighborhood that she had undertaken to renovate.  My phone rang one evening.  "Mr. L," the voice said, this is Donna.  As you know, I own a property downtown that I am restoring."  True enough.  I knew this.  "David," she said, I would really like for you to have that house, and I would sell it to you at a very reasonable and fair price."  And what, I wondered, might that be?

"Truthfully," she told me, "I have invested"... and here she inserted a very large dollar amount... "into that house and I am not done yet.  But I know that you could finish it off and you would enjoy it so much."

And I knew that there was no way I could undertake the project.  I couldn't even pay her what she had into it.  I told her so.  She could not understand "no" and persisted in trying to persuade me to change my response.  Which I did not do.

At a later date, she sold the house to my physician who basically closed off the upper floors and moved her offices into the main floor of the house.  Here she practiced medicine for several years, and thus I had the pleasure of visiting the house on occasion.

Last summer the doctor moved her offices to a medical center near the hospital and put the old house on the market.  I never so much as enquired of the asking price.

I believe it recently sold.  I hope someone gets the pleasure and enjoyment from it that Donna thought I might get, all those years ago.

Although "Donna" passed several years ago, I have given her an alias for this story.
A particularly peculiar feature of this tale is that I scarcely knew the woman.  I knew
who she was, of course, everyone did.  I may have met her once at some function, I
don't really recall.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Unopened Gift #T

A certain young man who grew up in America's heartland served in the military, an officer who faithfully executed his duties on behalf of the nation. More than a decade passed, and this officer had been posted to far-flung lands.  For reasons unknown to us, and we have no need to know them, the relationship with his father had cooled over time, and the emotional distance between them was perhaps as great as the geographical distance.

The father died.  The officer was granted compassionate leave and traveled a quarter of the way around the world to attend the obsequies, and to tend to the affairs of the decedent.

Skip ahead a few days.  The services are over, the grave has been closed.  The young man and his siblings enter the father's house, the task at hand to sort, clean, and prepare the property for sale.  And what should our officer find in his father's bedroom?  On a dresser top, a brown box, perhaps a bit over a cubic foot in volume, sat unopened, exactly in the condition it was in when the postal service delivered it; exactly in the condition it was in nearly a year prior to this day when the officer had carefully wrapped and packaged the Christmas gift he had thoughtfully selected for his father, the postage stamps properly affixed and cancelled.

Have you accepted the Greatest Gift ever given?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Christmas Story

 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.
 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  

John 1:1-4 (KJV)

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  
John 3:16-17

May His fullest Blessing be yours this Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Unpainted Lady

Half-mile west sits this elderly lady.  Unlike the old dame that I pictured last fall in accompaniment to a little verse, this building, while naked and without makeup,* is still occupied.   She is still loved, still someone's home.  But she is high-maintenance.  Perhaps heating and lighting consume the budget.  Makeup and frills are just not in the cards.

*My Daddy used to tell me, when I was barely out of knee-pants, "A little putty and a little paint makes a girl look like what she ain't."  Probably applies to old houses, too.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Bee Truthful #T

or, Conclusion to The Day the Globe Dropped
If you missed the first instalment, *click* on over and read it now.  We'll wait.

Margot’s heart stopped.  It leaped into her throat.  The Ornament floated  toward the floor.  Margot aged, the pretty falling for days, it seemed.  She thought, “The green and black rag rug Grammy made will cushion The Ornament, and it won’t--"


It was a muffled explosion, but the shards scattered across the rug, and even onto the hardwood floor.  Margot almost shrieked, but no, she controlled the impulse.  She started to run from the room.  “I’ll tell Grammy the cat did it,” she thought.  But then she realized the cat was hers.  The cat was home.  Grams did not have a cat.

Margot ever so carefully picked up the larger pieces of the globe and wrapped them in an old brown poke, stuffed them into the bottom of the waste bin.  She swept the rest of the wreckage down the register.  “That’s not right,” she muttered to herself, and yet she was satisfied that all was cleaned up.  Except for her conscience, that is, which was getting louder and louder as it reiterated over and over, “Naughty girl!”

“Grammy!”  she called up the stairs. “Grammy.”

“What is it, Girl?  I’ll be down shortly.”

“I have to go to the necessary.”

“Alright, Sweetie.  Put your coat on, now.”

Margot shrugged into her blue woolen jacket and started toward the kitchen door.  She stopped and went back to the trash bin where she recovered the bag that contained the broken pretty.  She  took this with her and threw it down the hole.  “Naughty girl,” said her conscience.

After Grammy and Margot finished their supper, Margot’s having been mostly pushed desultorily from one side of her plate to the other, they quickly washed up and dried the dishes.  They went into the parlor, where they sat side by side on the settee.  Grams picked up the book.

“What ails you, Child?” she asked as she opened the book. She glanced sideways and saw a tear leak from Margot’s eye and trickle down her cheek.  Grandma began to read
 “I didn’t do anything,” said Freddy as bold as brass, and with these words a little bee sprang out of his mouth, while poor Freddy had grown so reckless that he hardly noticed BEE-TRUTHFUL flying away.*

Margot’s sob turned to a wail as she buried her head under Grammy’s left arm.  “There, there,” Grams consoled.  “Why didn’t you tell me you broke The Ornament?”

Grandma allowed Margot to wail and blubber for a bit as she stroked the little girl’s curls.  Finally the child was able to sob out, “But now you will hate me.  I. am such a bad girl.”

 “No, of course I don’t hate you.  I could never hate you; I love you so much.  And you are not a bad girl.  You are a curious little girl who did something wrong, and you knew it was wrong.  But it can be forgiven.  Naturally I feel badly that The Ornament is gone, but I feel badly because you disobeyed me, you did something you knew you shouldn’t, then you tried to cover it up.”

The child looked up into her Grandmother’s eyes.  “I am sorry,” she said.  "I will save all my pennies until I can buy you a new ornament.”

“I forgive you.  You do not need to buy an ornament.  The Ornament is gone.  But what I most want is to see my Little Girl growing up to be a truthful, kind, and honest person.  Will you do that?”

Margot nuzzled as close as she could to Grams.  They sat quietly for a while, and when Mommy and Daddy with Uncle and Auntie came in much later, this is what they saw.  Elderly lady and young girl holding each other, both fast asleep.

We like to think that all is well that ends well.

*Freddy’s Dream, or, A Bee in His Bonnet, Andrew Stewart, 1884.  p.78

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Postal Service and History Lesson

You are going to the post office in our village today.  Just before you get to the steps, you may notice the startled Uncle Sam who has somehow landed on his derriere at the base of the flagpole.

Then as you look up slightly and to Uncle's left, your right, you will see the cornerstone of the building.

 Now there is some history there.  I recall the name Henry Morgenthau, Jr. from my junior high school days when one learned the posts in the President's cabinet using the St. Wapniacl mnemonic.

We learned not only the posts, but of course the names of the people who were occupying those positions at the time.  Hence, I recall Morgenthau.  This was the man who said, after serving eight years in FDR's administration
 "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work....We have never begun to tax the people in this country the way they should be.... I don't pay what I should. People of my class don't. People who have it should pay.... After eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started...and an enormous debt to boot!"
Nevertheless, Morgenthau remained in his post until President Truman appointed Fred Vinson to replace him in 1945.

The name Louis A. Simon is less familiar, but he was a noted American architect who designed many U.S. Post office buildings, most of them in Colonial Revival style, which this one is.  But he has many other buildings to his credit, including the noted Music Box Theater in Chicago and the Federal Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Mr. Melick is unknown to me.  The fate of the engineer, I guess.  But our sturdy, functional, and attractive building is darn near as old as I.

Tipton, IN : The old Post Office is downtown, a half block east of the Courthouse. The building, built during the Great Depression, has large historical artwork in the lobby, painted by WPA artists.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Day the Globe Dropped #T

Six-year old Margot sat primly  on the old horsehair sofa, her black patent Mary Janes gleaming, her legs encased in white cotton hose straight out in front.  On her lap, a rather worn copy of the “Bee” book.  It was quiet, much too quiet to her way of thinking, but Grammy told her to sit quietly.  Margot languidly turned a page, and as she did, her gaze, unbidden, drifted to the Christmas tree in the opposite corner of the room.  Her eyes focused on The Ornament.  As many times as she has seen it, The Ornament always took her breath away.  She gasped, her chin dropped just a bit, and were you to see her, you would know she was awe-stricken.

Grammy had told Margot just how very special this ornament was to her.  It was not simply the amazing red color—“cranberry”—Grammy said, but it was the story behind the bauble that made it special.  Grammy had told Margot,
“Your Grandfather and I, of course he wasn’t your grandfather yet, your Grandpa and I had been married only six months when our first Christmas together rolled around.  I had scrimped and saved my pennies from the egg money best I could, and was able finally to buy him a wonderful Case pocket knife.  He carried that knife in his left-hand trouser pocket every day for the rest of his life.  I wish you could have known your Grandpa.  Anyway, Christmas morning came, and he handed me the most precious little box, so carefully wrapped in blue paper by his own rough, working hands, a little green and yellow ribbon tied into a bow, the best he could manage.  And guess what was inside the box!  Of course.  It was The Ornament.  Except for my wedding ring, it was the very first gift he had ever given me, and he had chosen it himself.  I cried.  I did.  It was so beautiful, sparkling there as it dangled from my fingers, and of course I rushed immediately to our little tree and placed it there in the most prominent place.  It has never missed a Christmas in forty-two years, filling its place on the tree.  Oh, I wish you had known your grandpa.  He left me much too soon, and I so hate being alone."
"But Grammy," Margot interjected, "you have me.  And Mommy and Daddy, and Uncle Marvin and Aunt Teen."

"Yes, Dear, I have you; and I love you all very much.  But someday you may understand just how much I miss your Grandfather."

Now Grandmother is upstairs finishing her work in the bedrooms, because tonight Mommy and Daddy will arrive and they will be bringing Uncle Marv and Aunt Teen, Margot thought.  Oh, I do love Aunt Teen, and Uncle is so much fun with his magic tricks and funny stories.  But The Ornament is calling to Margot.  It is only six steps over there, and Grammy is upstairs.

Margot lays her book on the arm of the settee and carefully slides from her seat, the little blue frock swirling around her knees as she turns toward the tree.  And takes those six steps.  Fixated on The Ornament, she studies its surface carefully, noting what she already knows.  The lower portion of the globe tapers almost to a point, and on this side is molded into the body the most gorgeous star!

Margot’s fingers reach toward the glass, touch it lightly, grasp it carefully, turn it gently; and as it turns, the child sees her face in the globe, distorted into an elfin globe itself, looking back at her.  Oh!  Margot lifts The Ornament from the branch on which it is hanging, freeing its thread from the needles, and lowers it to her eye-level.  As she turns the globe slowly one way then the other, the reflection of her face grows longer, then shorter, rounder, thinner, as the tip is turned toward her chin.  Margot’s heart is pounding so hard that she thinks the Little Drummer Boy has gotten into her head!

And The Ornament slips from her grasp. . .

(To be continued.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Runup to Christmas

Christmas stories are heart-warming, they are touching, and even if tear-inducing, they tend to exude happiness. Christmas is a season of joy, the celebration of God's gift to His children.

But not all Christmas stories are happy, and so it has been even from the day of Christ's birth.  Who has not reflected on the fate of the innkeeper who, through no fault of his own, had to turn the couple away?  We hear the angel chorus whose anthem rings down through the ages, "Gloria in excelcis Deo," the chorus heard by the shepherds on the hills surrounding Bethlehem, What joy!

And yet come from somewhere afar, rich men seeking the newborn king and bearing expensive gifts.  Seeking, of course, in a logical and prudent manner, they are the ones who break the news to Herod that a king has been born in Israel.  And though they complete their mission, find the king, and worship him, they have set in motion a series of events which cost the lives of countless babes, a most unhappy twist to the course of events introducing our Redeemer.  And though God spared Jesus from Herod's slaughter of the innocents, Christ ultimately died, too, a sacrifice as a one-time, all-time means of salvation for mankind.

Through  Christ's death and resurrection we may stand before God, for Jesus bore our iniquity and sits today in intercession for us at God's right hand.

Now that is a happy Christmas story!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Eat Mor Kalekin

According to our Saturday newspaper, a man in Vermont received a letter from Chik-fil-A demanding that he “cease and desist” from using the slogan “Eat more kale.”  Motivated to protect his rights, the man patented the phrase and defied the company.  Enter the lawyers. The ruling has come down, and mirabile dictu, the man prevailed.  He may make all the T-shirts and bumper stickers with the slogan he wishes.  Oh, well.  As the C-f-A spokeslady said, “Cows eat kale, too.”  Which seems to me to be a non sequitur, but what do I know?

Why strange?  Because it is virtually unheard of for an individual to go up against a big corporation and win his case.  I, many decades after the fact, hold a resentment toward a certain purveyor of fast food, think happy meal, and Ronald.  A block north of my father’s residence in a small town not far from here, there was a restaurant called “Mac’s.”  Yes, they specialized in hamburgers and fries and such.  Comes the Oak Brook megachain to town, building one of its eyesores about three blocks to the west of Mac’s, and jumping with all its feet and force on Mac’s, hauling them into court, claiming that Mac’s was operating in violation of the corporation’s ownership of the world, so to speak.  The ugly monstrosity won, and Mac’s has been out of business ever since.

Which is not where I was headed when I started the kale story, but my mind is easily distracted in my old age.

Chik-fil-A does not open on Sunday, a choice they made and of which I approve.  They say, in effect, it allows a day in which their employees may worship or spend time with family.  Christian values, don’t you see?  But on the other hand, suing someone who will not bend to their will is perfectly fine.  It’s the American way, don’t you know?  It probably is just me, but the juxtaposition of these positions seems incongruous.  Yes, that’s it.  It is just me.

Today's verse:   And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! for you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.  --Luke 11:46 (RSV)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Good fences

good neighbors make; and bad fences need to go.

Six-foot wooden fence, 300 feet long behind our property and two lots to the south, three more to the north.  Fence was installed by the owner of the property on the other side of the fence.  His claim was that it was situated two feet inside his property line.  Over time, my trees grew to enclose parts of the fence, which is neither here nor there.

About a month ago, I noted a survey team working along the neighbor’s very long property line.  A few days later my next-door neighbor asked me if I had noted the placement of the stakes and flags indicating the boundary between our property and the property on the other side of the fence.  I had not, so I went to take a look.  The entire fence is inside our property, not on that of the erector of said fence.  My neighbor and I agreed that since it is our fence, and old, and ugly, and disintegrating it should go.

BBBH was drinking her first cuppa yesterday morning. She glanced out the window looking to the west.  "The fence is gone!"  I went to check it out.  It is gone, posts and all.  There were a few pickets sticking in my trees here and there, which I broke off.  Opened up quite a vista.  Well, if the full view of the IU Health Hospital maintenance facility, and a pretty good view of Pioneer’s research facility is a vista.

The fence in background, now gone.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Indiana Home

Flag of Indiana

One hundred ninety-eight years ago today Indiana became the nineteenth State of the Union.
Indiana by area is the smallest continental state west of the Appalachians.

Indiana is noted for corn, soybeans, basketball, autos, and motorsports.
And other things.

I am not a native Hoosier, but I am a Hoosier by choice.  I have now resided in Indiana continuously for fifty-five years.  It is home.

You can't choose where you were born, but you can choose where you live!
Happy birthday, Indiana!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sneak, Snack, Snuck

Yes, the dictionaries of today
and the style manuals say
that the past tense of
"sneak" is "snuck."

And who cares?  No one but the pedantic old fossils among us (self included) who attempted to teach the youngsters of the previous generation to eschew this vulgarism.

Sneak, we averred, is a regular verb, and, therefore, conjugated

  • We sneak under the tent.
  • We sneaked in to see the elephants.
  • We had sneaked in last year, but this time we got caught.

Now, we are compelled to listen to the news reader on CBS say

  • The raiders snuck in under cover of darkness.
and so on.  

Snack?  Yes, please; I don't mind if I do.

I insist to this day that "dove" is a bird of the Columbidae tribe and has nothing to do with swimming.

And in the interest of total honesty, no matter the grating on my ear, both "snuck" and "dove" are acceptable forms, creating new irregular verbs from regular ones, especially in North America.  "Dove" in fact is more likely to be used than is "dived." Less likely to be encountered in other English-speaking areas of the world.  Perhaps I am not so hide-bound, after all.  But I still contend that if in doubt, go with the traditional.  And in my case, there is no doubt: I stick by the older forms.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hometown Tour

A few days ago I shared a story which included my father's visit to his old boyhood home.  Thus in a nostalgic frame of mind, I took a tour around one of my childhood neighborhoods via the magic of Google Earth.

I landed in the middle of the ten hundred block of Walnut Street, smack-dab in front of Wes's house.  This huge structure has been wonderfully maintained and looks better than ever.  Wes's dad, Ed, bought the house in the forties and stick by stick turned it into a home for his family and an apartment house harboring many others.  He eventually expanded the apartment complex into the one-time barn.  I do not remember exactly how many rental units he had.  Possibly five.  Maybe six. In later years, Ed was sometimes teased about his "White Elephant."  Laugh, he said.  I have ridden that elephant around the world twice.

At any rate. I started my tour at the alley beside the entrance to their residence where we used to start our games of "chase" with our marbles. Such a game could progress through many blocks of city streets and alleys.   I strolled past the house and surveyed the vacant lot to the north.  It is now a beautiful, well-maintained garden, vegetables and flowers nicely arranged to please the eye as well as the palate.  In the day, Wes and I built an underground fortress on this lot, a dugout with considerable room inside. Lumber cobbed from Ed’s projects formed a roof which was sodded over, thus blending in with the surroundings.  It is the same lot we ignited one sunny afternoon, and the local fire department got a free training exercise.  I forget what we got.

I walked on north to the corner of San Rafael where I could see that the building which was the corner grocery store still stands.  No longer is there a jingling bell attached to the screened front door. It has been converted into a nice little residence for someone.  Moving back to the south and past Mesa Road and Cache le Poudre I noted the new Bristol School.  I attended Bristol, but this place used to be a large tract of fallow land.  When I arrived at Dale Street, I noted that the neighborhood grocery building on that corner is gone, as is the Bristol School I attended.  I strolled up Dale Street, pausing for a moment in front of 514 where we lived for a year.  Looks to be well-maintained.  The next house to the west is a huge house which we called the Lee Cottage.  I remember when Dad had this structure moved to its present site from a location about a block farther west.  1947, I think,  All the school grounds and camp meeting structures at the west end of Dale Street on the south side are gone. There is a newish apartment complex there.

Back to Walnut Street, south a block to Monument.  I went up Monument to 520 where we lived for a year, then on to 532, our final residence in this neighborhood.  Moved from there when I was fourteen.  Everything west of 536 is new and different, hill is gone, school is gone, residences built all along everywhere, doesn't even resemble my old stomping grounds.

Back to Cooper Street, then on to the south.  One block, street jogs, and if it didn't, traffic would run right into a house my dad built.  Making the jog and going on down Cooper, there are two houses in this block that dad built as well.  At the corner of St. Vrain, turn left, go one block and there sits a church where Dad had been pastor.  The original building still stands, but there is a huge addition.

Back on Walnut, continue south one block, I pass the home of my high school trig teacher.  He would be long gone now, rest his soul.   Left at the corner, one block to Spruce, south to Bijou, noting that everything is changed.  Houses I knew, gone.  Convenience stores, stuff and so on.  Left on Bijou.  I see the viaduct ahead.  To my right I see a Denny's and a high-rise hotel taking up the area where the last house the folks lived in before moving to Indiana was located.  The viaduct, a new structure, of course, but in the same place as the old one, now crosses not only Monument Creek and the railroad, but also I-25, which not only did not exist in the day, but the Eisenhower administration had not even ideated the interstate system yet.

I went across the viaduct, around the bend and saw that the Pioneer Museum is gone, but the old library building still stands across the street from St. Mary's, the spire of which still points heavenward. When I was eleven years old, I pleaded with the librarian to permit me access to the "adult" section, the real library.  In that benighted day, kids under thirteen were banished to the "children's section."  I was allowed access, and one of the first books I chose and read was Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo.  At the corner where the Marksheffel building stood is a new library building.  And now we are "downtown" and everything has changed.  Almost.

Have you traveled via this vehicle?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Jacob's Favored Son

Three years ago, we related the story of Jacob over a period of several weeks, concluding with this post wherein it is suggested that we might move on to the story of Joseph.  A bit tardy, but let's explore that now.

Jacob finally got a son on Rachel after siring ten others by other women.  Inevitably, because Rachel was Jacob’s favorite wife, this boy, hight Joseph,  became his favored son.  As the child grew and his older brothers observed the favoritism bestowed upon him by their father, jealousy grew in their hearts.  Finally they were so enraged that they sold Joseph as a slave to a bunch of Ishmaelites headed to Egypt.  Of course, they covered their actions with lies.

Jealousy leads to rage, and rage leads to perfidy.

In Egypt, the young man became a household servant to one Potiphar.  His service was so outstanding that soon enough the master made Joseph manager of the estate and gave him charge over all things.  Potiphar’s wife soon enough looked upon Joseph with lust, jealousy of his handsome physique driving her to put the make on the young man.  He rebuffed her advances, observing that as his wife she was the sole thing reserved by Potiphar unto himself.  To defile each other in the slaking of  carnal lust would be a great sin against the master, and against God. Nevertheless, the woman persisted and Joseph resisted to the point, that enraged, she falsely accused him of attempted rape and he was thrown into the pokey.

Jealousy leads to rage, and rage leads to perfidy.

Yet Joseph in due time was elevated by the warden to head assistant, effectively making Joseph trustee and resident in charge, while the warden possibly spent his time fishing in the Nile.  Now two of the prisoners were former servants of the King, one the chief butler, the other the chief baker.  Each, having displeased the King, wound up in the calaboose.

Each of these men had a dream, and each was puzzled thereby. In those days dreams had significant meaning, could they but be understood or interpreted.  Joseph assured these fellows that he could interpret dreams correctly, so they shared, and he did.  The King, he said, would lift up the butler’s head and replace him in his former position.  The baker, on the contrary, would have his head lifted up and removed from his shoulders.  And thus it was.

Time passes, considerable time, and Joseph still lies in gaol.  Eventually, though, Pharaoh has a dream, and his wizards, and aides, and sycophants are unable to interpret it.  The King’s puzzlement becomes the talk of the palace, and the chief butler, hearing this, tells the King, “I had almost forgotten it, but there was a fellow, Joseph by name, imprisoned with me who interprets dreams.”  So the King fetched Joseph up from jail and laid the matter before him.  Joseph spelled it all out in vivid detail, and soon enough he was given a new name, Zaphnathpaaneah, befitting his new position, for he was  appointed Prime Minister of the realm, second only to Pharaoh in the kingdom.  Joseph was thirty years of age.

The King’s dream featured a bunch of cows, seven very fat cows, and seven exceedingly skinny ones.  The lean ones ate the fat ones.  The interpretation:  the country will have seven years of bountiful crop production, followed by seven years of drought and famine.  So, believing his own prediction, the new  Prime Minister  concentrated the nation’s efforts on storing up provisions during the productive years against the lean years in which the crops would fail.  And it happened just so,

Based on a reading of Genesis, chapters 37, 39-41

Key passage:  The Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper. Genesis 39:23b  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dream on

Thoughts after reading KC Bob’s recent post 

The Lark married the Owl
who needed the nights to howl.
The daylight was favored by the Lark
Who fell asleep when it turned dark.

Now, how do you suppose this worked out?
Difficult for both, without a doubt.
But love conquers all, so it is said
And luckily they shared their bed.     

Between three and five a.m.

Sometime yesterday String Too Short to Tie hit 300,000 page views.  That's about what it should get in a week.  Took over six years.


Too, if the spammers were factored out, there would be a much smaller number remaining.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How the World Works, 21st Century

A few weeks ago, I searched the interwebs for a halogen light bulb, even going so far as to click on a vendor and check out the prices and availability.

Fast forward to the present.  When I open various pages on my browser, pop-up and sidebar ads for architects' lamps abound.  Now, one realizes that we are monitored, and that advertisers impinge themselves upon us at every click, but does it not seem reasonable to believe that were I going to purchase any such item I would have done so, well, weeks ago?

There may be a built-in expiration date, though.  About a year ago, I searched for a mother board for a flat screen TV set which was malfunctioning.  The ads for TV sets finally petered out some months later.  We'll see what happens with the lamps.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Homestead Centennial

My father's parents homesteaded in Southeastern Colorado in 1914. About 30 years ago, Dad and his brother, Ben, made a pilgrimage to the old home place.  Dad returned home with a few relics which he picked up around the place, then he built this little shadowbox and wrote the account which is pinned to the left of the picture of the two old men.

Homestead site of Mr. and Mrs. R.R. Lacy in Bent County, Colorado about 35 miles South East of Las Animas.  Homesteaded in 1914.
Memorabilia:  Above left is Grapevine Springs, a mile S.E. of the house.  Picture to right is a tarantula.  Stone from the house foundation.  Cactus from near old home.  Marble found at home site 60 years after abandonment of the homestead.  Lacys had 7 children in 1914.  Below: Sons of R.R. Lacys in the foreground of Grapevine springs, Delbert and Raymond Benson (Bennie).  At right they stand on the homestead foundation remains.  Foreground shows a piece of Mother's old kitchen range.  .22 shell is a reminder of Mother's marksmanship with a .22 rifle.

(The marble is a clay marble.  The rattle from the snake, top shelf, left foreground, has seven full and a bud.  Dad said that had they known rattlesnake was edible, they would have eaten like kings.  The tarantula is hidden behind the prickly pear. The thing behind the open door of the shadowbox is not part of his display.  I would apologize for the photography, but my camera quit working on Thanksgiving Day, and my editing program failed Friday.  So there you go.  Fallback: old camera, no edits.)

The house Mr. and Mrs. R.R. Lacy built with their own hands from
outcropping native stone.

Grandpa Raymond, seated, left.  Wilma, Grandma Tempa, Carl, Merle, Delbert and Ellis. Wayne in buggy.

On the back of the original picture written in Grandma's hand:

Well, here is our old rock shack.  Millard isn't there.  Wayne was home on a visit.  He is in the buggy. This is the type of house they all live in here except they are mostly lumber. Built straight up and down.  Raymond and I look like two old duck feet but we all helped build it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

There Ought to Be a Law

prohibiting the use of the phrase

1.  "edge cleaning " when advertising vacuum cleaners.

2.  "non-stick" when applied to cookware.

3.  "self-cleaning" when referring to kitchen ovens.

4. "stain resistant" on carpet labels.

5.  "gluten free" unless the meaning is "no charge for the gluten."  If there is no gluten, then it needs to be so labeled.

6.  "lite" anything.  Say what is meant, and if nothing is meant, say nothing.  If the intent is to deceive or mislead, shame on the advertiser.

In a similar vein, please observe that much advertising which may not be patently false, is deliberately misleading.  So, even the Romans had a cautionary phrase two millennia ago:  caveat emptor.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
--Psalm 32:11

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US of A.  Now, everyday should be a day of thanksgiving, for scripture tells us,

" In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Yet it is meet and right that we have set aside a specific Day of Thanksgiving, for it is a reminder to us that we should live with an attitude of thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving.  May all your days be richly blessed!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ten Commandments

for the 21st century.

I am Football, which brought you out of servitude to family, community, and good sense.
Thou shalt have no other entertainments before me.
Thou shalt not respect stadia to other sports, nor honor them, nor patronize their venues, for I am a jealous sport.
Thou shalt not take the name of Football in vain, nor show contempt nor disrespect, for the scoffer and scorner shall not be held blameless..
Remember Sunday  to keep it sporty.  Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: and rest up from Monday and Thursday nights, which thou shalt also spend with me.
But  Sunday is Football’s day.  Thou and all thy kinfolk, thy pets, and the visitors amongst thee, shall do nothing that honoreth not nor respecteth not football.
Honor those who honor me, and only those who honor me.
Thou shalt not kill, yet those who scoff at me, eject thou from thy presence.
Thou shalt not be unfaithful to me, nor allow any other entertainment to cross thy threshold.
Thou shalt not steal time from me, except thou mayst refill thy plate and thy stein during commercial breaks.
Thou shalt not bear false witness, nay, even though the call may be in error.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s sixty-five inch screen, nor his wife who cheers his team with him, nor his pets, which verily wear his team’s colors.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Love of God

When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God. 
--Leviticus 19:33-34 (The Message)

God's chosen people were given many directives relating to their mode of living. To fail in the observance of these rules was to sin, and atonement was required.

It was made clear to the People that those who were aliens and chose to dwell among them were to be treated with respect, and with the same consideration one would give to his own, to abide with them in love, in fact.

But this is Old Testament law, by which we are not bound.  Really?  Jesus said, Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Matthew 5:17 KJV) And then He reiterated the law of love, stating that the two greatest commandments were to love God, and to love your neighbor.  Then he upped the ante when He said, But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44 KJV)

Thus I am asking myself this morning, Mister, are you living the love that Christ showed to you, and demands from you?

Probably to shut off the news channels and open the Bible would be of great benefit to most of us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Disaster for Small Town Shoppers

 Photo: All ALCO Stores Going Out Of Business: Liquidation Sales Start Today!  

In a stunning surprise move, Alco announced today that they are closing their stores.  In our community, the announcement came by way of placard men standing on street corners.  I think it safe to say that virtually no one expected this.

Big deal, you who live in urban areas might be thinking, you who have such a plethora of shopping venues that it is hard for you to pick the one you will start with.  Not that way here.  "You have moved me to a place that doesn't even have a Walmart," BBBH wails betimes.  However she has adapted to small-town living and she typically visits Alco several times per month.  I mean, even I visit Alco, should I need a ream of copy paper or a can of coffee.

And now what is left?  Drugstores and a Dollar General; and by the way, Dollar General and its ilk have been credited largely with the financial woes of Alco.  Things change; and as I have been fond of pointing out for the past half-century, not all change is progress.

What about a half-century ago in this town?  Shopping opportunities virtually unlimited, and most merchants clustered around the courthouse square.  J.C. Penney, Danner's Five and Dime, Gambles, three jewelry stores, two shoe stores, a haberdashery, two women's boutiques, a great office supply store, a furniture store, hardware and drug stores, and a bunch a more, as we are fond of saying, all within steps of each other.  All gone.  Wait.  Not quite.  We still have a jewelry store and two hardware stores downtown, and just around the corner is, you guessed it, a Dollar General.

Yes, you might ask of me, but would you go back to that time in exchange for the conveniences of today?  In a heartbeat!  And I would be better off in ways too numerous to list.  Well, for the most obvious thing, I'd be thirty years old again, wouldn't I?

Alco was founded by Alva Duckwall in Abilene, Kansas in 1901.  Today they are closing all 198 of their stores  spread across 23 states.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Paucity of Posts

It is not that I have not been writing.  It is simply that the words have been stringing themselves into lines of drivel.

Pen in hand, I reread the opening paragraphs of the story I imagined I was writing.  Now, in order to receive the go-ahead to post, a piece has only to pass a very simple test: the author must find it interesting.  The pages I am examining fail to meet that criterion.

First, it becomes clear as I peruse that which I have written that it is rooted in cynicism.  That is a personality quirk I am trying to eradicate, and failing that, at the least to polish it a bit so that it is less abrasive.  Second, no "second" is required.  No post.

Footnote:  In the event that you imagined I did my writing at the keyboard, you would be partially right.  Sometimes the words flow right out my fingertips and jump onto the keyboard.  However, there are times when I have to concentrate all my brainpower and squeeze the words through the point of a pen.  Recently, neither technique has been effective.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Good and Perfect Gifts #T

We are in the season of gifting.  It is that time of year when we are searching for gifts to bestow on our loved ones, and soon the giving and receiving of gifts will take place.  The following is a rerun.  I think it worth looking at again.

Achsah's Heritage

In the fifteenth chapter of the book of Joshua we are told that because Othniel went up against Debir and conquered it, Caleb gave to him Achsah, his daughter, to wife. Tradition demands a gift to the bride. Caleb gave her land.

Achsah rode out to her father on her donkey, alighted, and confronted him. “ You've given me desert land, unproductive if it have not water. Give me water.” And so Caleb gave her springs of water, both in the upper region of the land and in the lower.


We have a saying in our day, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Achsah was much smarter than that. The completion of a gift is in the acceptance of it. The girl knew enough to know that the “gift” from her father was worthless in the incomplete state. So rather than a simple “thank you” followed by abandonment of the worthless property, Achsah chose to confront the giver of the gift with an analysis of its value. This yielded the desired result, for now the additional gift of water made the land valuable and the woman secured it as a valuable inheritance for her progeny.

How often do we offer a tepid “thanks” for a present, shrug and go on our way never utilizing the offering? Why do we do this? Well, because we “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” And we are “polite” to a fault.

Are there lessons in Achsah’s actions in this story?  I think a deep spiritual lesson in the actions of this good woman in claiming her heritage is this. God offers us the gift of salvation, a good and perfect gift through the blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We must appropriate the gift by accepting it. Then it behooves us to ask for the in-filling of the Holy Spirit so that we can be productive citizens in the Kingdom of God. Without water, Achsah’s land is not productive; with water it is valuable and useful land. Filled with the Spirit we may be useful in the building of the Kingdom!  On our own, we are nothing.

(Verse 18 says Achsah “lighted off her ass.” (KJV) We might more likely prosper if we, too, get off our asses. Just sayin'.)

Image: UMC Global Ministries

Thursday, November 13, 2014


A recent post here included a sketchy presentation of one Kokopelli, trickster of Native American legend.  Vee commented that it is interesting that legends among native peoples often bear similarities one to another, though tribal differences and locations are evident.  This is a subject area in which I am not well-versed, but it got me to thinking about my own limited experiences.

When I was a sophomore in college, my roommate was Bill Demmert,* a Tlingit from Craig, Alaska.  After considerable time had passed, and after the basketball season was over (Bill was on the basketball team) we found ourselves comfortable enough with one another to be able to share some of our thoughts.  After the lessons were completed in the evening, and before we extinguished the lights for the night, we would simply sit and perhaps munch on the seaweed which Bill carefully doled out from his stash.  It was in this setting that he would relate his family history and the legends of his people.   Fascinating.

One tale that I recall specifically was that of the kooshdaakaa.  The kooshdaakaa were the shape-shifting land otter people of Southeast Alaska.  I was informed that the Tlingit people were very reluctant to talk about these creatures, but I was privileged to hear a bit about them.  It seems that one of the goals of the kooshdaakaa was to steal the souls of other people, and failing that, they might on occasion kill a victim outright.  To the Tlingit, loss of the soul  was a big deal, indeed, for this deprived the victim of his chance at reincarnation, and hence his hope of eternal life.  This behooves one to be exceedingly cautious as he goes about his daily living.  Do not have an encounter with kooshdaakaa!

In keeping with Vee’s line of thought, I recalled that over the years I have read various stories involving shape-shifters in other locales and among other peoples.  At one stage of my life I “got hooked” on Tony Hillerman’s stories set in the American Southwest primarily involving the Navajo people, as well as the Hopi and the Yaqui to some extent.  One of his books was entitled Skinwalkers.  Skinwalkers, or yee naaldlooshii to the Navajo, were witches with the power to assume animal forms, and even, in some cases, the forms of other people.  Hillerman’s last book prior to his death was The Shape Shifters, and again we find the theme of creatures that assume various forms.

Shape-shifters have made an appearance in many novels, and movies and television shows over the past decades.  It is highly likely that if you participate at all in popular culture you have encountered these creatures, and hence you may fill in the rest of the story from your own memory.

*Demmert. had a very distinguished career. You may read a bit about it here.
William G. Demmert, Jr.  1934 - 2010  RIP

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reddin up the Office

Five years ago I posted this little tale.  I have resurrected it because I have just spent the better part of two mornings in the office attempting to restore a semblance of order to the chaos I have allowed it to fall into.

BBBH designed and we redecorated my office recently. (She is an HGTV enthusiast.) Since I was born and raised in Colorado she chose a "Western" theme. During our travels in the West BBBH found the Anasazi very interesting, and the ubiquitous appearance of Kokopelli throughout the Southwest inspired her to choose his image as a recurring motif.

Kokopelli is the little dickens depicted here. He is the music-loving flute player who also happens to be a trickster as well as the god of fertility. So it is said. He appears in the legends of the Anasazi and modern tribes such as the Hopi.  Historically it has been determined that his image appeared among The People well over 1000 years ago.

Many of the images more clearly suggest the "fertility" aspect of his behavior. Some legends say he carried unborn babies in the sack on his back.  The depiction of Kokopelli often shows a distinct hump. He was said to "distribute" these little tykes to young women so that they might bear them into the world. For this reason the girls were often frightened of this being, very reasonably fearing pregnancy.

There is much information about this personage available so if this little vignette has piqued your interest start by entering his name in your browser, and have fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

Veterans Day 2014.  Commemorate the day by learning a bit about the honors the British are paying to their fallen troops of the Great War.

I give you this link to a Washington Post account.  Join in the spirit of this commemoration. Additional images here.

The Great War 1914 - 1918, officially ended November 11, 1918 at ll:00 A.M.

Addendum:  Grace has transcribed John McRae's "In Flanders Fields" in the comment section.   Please read it.