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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Smoking Man

The sign clearly said (and I quote), “No smoking,” yet here was this guy standing right beside me in the restaurant smoking a cigarette! I was fuming.

“Excuse me, but the sign says, “No Smoking.” Do you mind?” I asked, turning and pointing to the sign over my shoulder.

He turned to me taking a long drag on his butt, blew a billow of smoke. “Sure do mind,” he growled.

I glanced around the restaurant hoping that one of the employees would notice and come to my rescue by enforcing policy. I turned again to the sign,”The sign says . . .”

“I don’t give flying backward flip through a rolling donut what the sign says,” He cut me off taking an even bigger drag from his cigarette, the pungent vapor made more acidic by his odorous breath. His teeth wore sweaters.

“Sweetheart, just leave him alone. He’s waiting to pick up his order and will be leaving soon,” my wife whispered in my ear, tugging on my sleeve.

“Why should anyone have to tolerate this? This . . . this . . . this is ridiculous!” I too loudly whispered back.

“Something wrong?” the offender rumbled, now standing much closer to me than comfort allowed.

I remembered my 9th grade High School drafting teacher, Mr. Willoughby, telling us on the first day of class about every person’s 3-foot bubble of personal space and to avoid the violation of it. Mr. Willoughby always made think of Archie Andrew’s High School Principle in the comics, only my teacher was not as bald. He looked like a fattened version of Larry Fine, the second Stooge gone solo. And suspenders. He always wore suspenders. The boys kept an eye on each other all semester, keeping close eye on our personal space. Mr. Willoughby was nowhere to be found tonight to enforce the bubble rule or the smoking rule.

Without even looking I felt how close he was standing and his offensive breath. His jeans smelled like they had not been washed—ever. I turned and before I could say anything, he poked me in the chest. “You gotta problem with me smoking in public? Well, get over it.” He paused, gathering an idea. “Hey, Why don’t you and me . . .”

The waitress approached carrying a tray bearing a large white bag turned on its side, the mouth folded closed. He paid for his meal, lifted the bag and turned for the door.

“I’ll be outside. Take your time.” He said, pushing the door open.

“Welcome! How many?” the hostess smiled at me and my wife.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Wonderful Summertime Smoothie

and it's loaded with vitamins! Take:

1 Apple
1 Mango (peeled, pitted) or Peach
2 cups Spinach
1 Tray Ice

Blend until liquified, serve over ice.

Feel a bit more adventurous and substitute strawberries or other kinds of berries. If blackberries are still growing in your area, add in a cup of those, too! Best if you freeze them first.

Should you not be a fan of "pulp," push these through your juicer, or spoon the pulp through a strainer.

Looks very green, but tastes wonderful!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Keep a Secret

The plane lifted off the runway and into the air, the rushing blast sucking the life out of every other noise. Except for the baby three rows ahead who because of inability to gnaw a stick of Wrigley’s, fought against her mother’s advances to take the bottle. The plane’s climb tilted into a bank and the blessed little one decided to take the nipple. The cabin pressurized emotionally, seat backs adjusted and settled against the cushions. Neck pillows appeared from stowage and braced heavy heads against inevitable strain.

I found the sweet spot in the head rest and closed my eyes, sighing, resisting the urge to peek at my watch one more time. “I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.” Hot breath slid across my cheek as the words materialized in my ear over the muted wind-gust. My shoulder brushed my ear against the intrusion. I dug into my pocket for a handkerchief to wipe my cheek against stray spittle, turning with wild surprise to clearly view my seat-mate.
“Excuse me?” I said producing my tucker, wiping my face.

“Yes, it’s true. Every word of it.” He said, raising a hushing finger against his lips while pulling the window shade down against eavesdroppers or intruders.

I reached for the call button.

“Secrets are fascinating because they eventually come out,” he muttered. My hand froze, the fingertip kissing the orange icon bearing the generic image of the chatting brunette strapped into the jump seat against the cockpit door; the guardian of our souls for our forty-five minute flight. She glanced up from her conversation with the man on her left and shamed me with her eyes for daring to push the button so early into the flight. My hand dropped.

I surveyed my seat-mate, memorizing his features. He was a small man, older but not terribly advanced in years. Thin red hair ringed a shining bald spot, and the beginnings of a red beard sprouted from patchy skin. He had not shaved in a couple of days, or was close-groomed. Nothing was out of place to suggest sloppiness. He wore a tan jacket over a white shirt, tan slacks and grandfather’s brown leather shoes. His wardrobe suggested a kind of uniform, but I could not be certain. A gold college ring flashed on his right hand.

“Should I be scared?” My own whisper caught me by surprise.

He gazed at his hands, folded palms upward as they rested in his lap. His fingers laced together formed the framework for his thumbs to caress each other. A Mona Lisa smile materialized.

My clammy hands gripped the arm-rest, the metal curvature warming under my skin. I stared at the back of the seat in front of me thinking how fortunate I am to be sitting beside a terrorist or a garden-variety lunatic or some religious person or an airport drunk or someone with a confession. I sniffed. No smell of alcohol. The man in the seat before me twisted his air jet open, causing the stray hairs on the top of his dead to dance.

“It’s been said that secrets have the effect of sin or guilt on a person,” he said.

I watched him stare at his hands. “I’m not a priest,” I replied, staying out of trouble.

“Possibly,” he sighed. “Quite possibly; but it’s true. Oh, I should not tell.” He stared out the closed window.

My head thumped back against the headrest and I closed my eyes. This is going to be an eternal flight. I encouraged myself. “When I open my eyes, it will be over because I fell into a deep sleep; we never talked; none of this ever happened.”
He broke the silence. “It’s not that easy.”

I sat up. “What’s not easy?”

“You know.”

“What do you mean, ‘You know’?” I asked, incredulous.
“You know what I mean,” he said with a gentle smile.

“Are you reading my mind? You are making me very uncomfortable,” I said. My thumb rocketed up to the orange button, jamming it deep into the socket with a crack. The cabin bonged a reply. The flight attendant crossed her legs, held her knee in her hand as deepened her conversation with the man on the front row. She laughed a quiet laugh at him when she was sure I’d noticed.

“Really? Are you serious?” I asked up the aisle in a hushed tone.

“No, I’m not a mind reader. Mindreading is fiction,” he said.
“What did you mean when you said that about me closing my eyes? How did you know what I was thinking?” I demanded.

“Perfectly obvious,” he said, turning to me. “Look,” he continued, “I’m sorry to spring this on you. I sincerely apologize for making you uncomfortable; but, it’s plain to see what you were thinking a moment ago. I’m sorry. But I absolutely must tell someone.” He said the last in a whisper.

“Why me?” I whispered back. “Are we in danger?”

He waved a hand. “We’re in no danger; that is, unless someone else on board has an agenda.” He waved again. “No, no. I have no part of that kind of stuff.”

“Then why talk to me about secrets?” I emphasized my singularity with a hand on my chest.

“We are strangers. You don’t know me. I don’t know you. I know my secret will stays right here at . . .” Interrupted, he blushed his eyes beyond me.

A white sleeved arm reached across my vision, resetting the orange button. “How can I help you gentlemen,” she asked with inconvenience.

“Oh, I uh . . . I thought I was going to be sick. Can I get some Ginger Ale? Can I get a bag? I can’t find one.” I fumbled.

She smirked. “We will be serving drinks shortly. Can’t it wait?” Without taking her eyes from mine she reached into the seat pocket in front of me and with flair of prestidigitation produced a white Pepperidge Farm-type bag in which travelers toss their cookies.

“Sure,” I said, taking the bag with a weak smile, “I can wait. Thanks.” She harrumphed and drifted back to her the jump seat, securing herself in once again. The plane drowned out the sound of her apology for the interrupted conversation.

The pilot bonged in and whispered, “Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am captain . . . . In few moments the . . . -ant will be . . . the cabin with . . . for purchase. The pilot . . . seatbelt sign. Please remain . . . with your . . .-send in case of . . . -bulence. We will be arriving at our destination in . . . and will be cruising an altitude of . . . . feet. Thank you for flying . . . “

“Sounds like the pilot has a few secrets himself,” I said feeling lighter in the moment. His eyes lightened and the smile blossomed on his face.

“Ok,” I conceded, “I’m curious. Tell me.” I folded my hands over my barf bag and waited for story time.

He held up a finger, emphasizing a point. “Ralph Waldo Emerson said that curiosity lies in wait of every secret.”

“You like to read?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” he replied, gasping, “How did you know? Did you read my mind?” We laughed at the joke. “I love to read. Perhaps I read a bit too much.”

“What do you like to read?” I asked, thinking of my ever-growing reading list. My intention has been to read a book a week but like the culinary connoisseur, I like to savor my food.

“Well, you see.” He said, blushing. “I’ve been traveling since my wife died ten years ago and I’ve been many, many places.”

“Internationally?”

“Occasionally, but I like to stay ‘close to home.’ The States. I can’t find what I am searching for in many countries of the world.”

“Something exotic, eh?” I wondered out loud.

“One might say so,” he contemplated his hands again. “I stay in hotels often.”

“Well, people do when traveling . . .” I replied, stating the obvious.

“Every hotel has them. Every motel.”

“What? Towels? Soap? You collect towels and soap?”

“No, no,” he was serious. He leaned over close to my face, whispering, “The nightstand. It’s in the nightstand.”

Oh great. He is religious! I sighed, wishing for an airport drunk. “Yeah, what about ‘em?” I replied with irritation. Turning my head with the memory of how this whole conversation began, my rolling eyes fell upon the flight attendance standing right next to me, crunching the brake on her cart in the aisle. She produced two mini-cans of Ginger Ale and with thousands of miles of practice popped the tops, one in each hand. She poured two plastic cups already filled with ice and handed over one for me and one for my companion, one napkin each clinging from between skilled fingers. I started to say I did not ask for Ginger Ale, but the look in her eye reminded me of my plight so I was grateful. I waved my doggy bag to demonstrate my diligence “just in case.” Releasing the break, she drifted on covering 10 miles backward with each step.

“I read them.” He continued, whispering. “The Bibles. Well, not the Bibles themselves but what people write in them.” He was speaking now, staring at his hands again. “In the margins. I read the margins of Gideon Bibles.” He blushed.

“The margins?” Somehow, I was interested. “What do you mean?”

“Well, people traveling know where to find one and they read them, the Bibles. Most often, people write in them. Their thoughts, their hurts, their desires, their prayers. You learn about people through their graffiti.”

“Isn’t reading people’s notes like invading someone’s privacy? Knowing someone’s secret confessions?”

“I suppose it is, but if they intended on keeping things bottled up, why write them?”
He had a point. Long after we landed, I wondered what people read in the Bible to make them give up their secrets . . .

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Tooth Fairy

The tooth fairy visits my house. The madness must stop.
This all started when I lost my first tooth. I was at first crazy with the blood and the drama of having the thing pulled then I could not lose them fast enough. When I was in grade school I went through a streak of losing teeth and grew quite concerned. English class was always disrupted by my sucking sounds on those awful brown paper towels--the Big Chief writing paper kind, with the visible wood chunks still in them—to keep from bleeding all over the desk. Good thing those were molars because there almost nothing left for a while and I got scared; but oh, how my piggy bank grew!

Then I stopped losing teeth. I was going to have to find another source of income but could think of no other kind of fairy that would pay for offerings such as hair trimmings from the barber shop or nail clippings or boogers. “What good is a Boogy man if he won’t pay for boogers?” I wondered. The money stopped and I was left to find contentment once again with birthday cards you have to read out loud in front of everyone and Christmas bonuses that somehow find their way into the toe of the stocking. And chores.

One night, not long after I was able to sleep without scratching due to stray hairs wandering around my bed (do you know how difficult it is to get hair trimmings out of your sheets?) I woke up one morning to the sound of a quarter falling to the floor. I know it was a quarter than fell because it was still spinning when I looked over the edge of my bed. My awakening hand brushed it from under the pillow and pushed the coin out, landing on the hardwood floor. Ok, so I had a stray. I would not have worried so much about it until the very next week, I found another quarter under my pillow. And the next week.

I started to worry. I inventoried my incoming teeth and they were all present. The boogers were still stuck right were I’d wiped them. I doubted it was the nail clippings or the hair trimmings. I worried so much I got sick and my mother took me to the doctor who looked me over, poked and prodded, took my temperature and the works. You should have seen the look on his face when I asked if he saw were any new suspicious marks looking like surgery scars. My mom started to laugh then froze with a look on her face as if she’d just remembered she left the iron on or the car door open.

Quarters continued to show up week after week and I didn’t say a thing. Dad kept smoking his pipe behind his newspaper after supper and dropped no hints that he was up to something. One Saturday I heard the radio from the garage indicating Dad was working on the car. One often hears a mechanic talking to the car or to parts or to tools or to all of the above because of all of the above, but this Saturday the sound of the radio was the only sound for nearly an hour and nothing else. Dad came through the door, his coveralls as clean as when he just put them on carrying his tool box.

“Jamie, c’mere,” he motioned me over to the table.

I came to the table.

He opened his gray tool box. “Where are my tools?”

I looked inside. It was empty. Not only was it empty, it was clean. The brand-spanking-new kind of clean, complete with the brand-spanking-new kind of smell and a shimmer of factory oil to prevent rust. I looked at the outside of the box: same scratches and dings, same dirt. Same STP racing sticker. Inside, nothing.

“At first,” he said, scratching his head, “I thought I was being forgetful, laying a tool down some place and forgetting. I’ve not been able to pliers or hammer. Then socket wrenches disappeared. I thought I’d loaned them to Mr. Sanchez across the street, but then the box wrenches . . . and now this. Would you have an explanation?”

I was sent to my room to think about what I’d done, knowing I did nothing. Dad passed sentence knowing there was no other explanation, but felt he had to do something. I was sad my father was disappointed but what came to my mind and could not say made sense . . . sort of. Going to my desk, I found a piece of paper. Drawing something may help me feel better. I found my cigar box of crayons.

I loved my cigar box and could not wait for the start of the school year when we took our supplies in them to tuck under our desks. That scuff right there across the gold border on the corner happened when I dropped the box on the bus after Suzy bumped my leg as I passed by. I ran my finger across the black scar thinking of her pig tails and smile. She gave me one of her hair ribbons and I keep it inside the box along with other keepsakes, like my pen and pencil set my father used when he was in high school a hundred years ago. I opened the box . . .

Friday, May 25, 2012

What We Missed While Driving

sweet smells breezed in from the woods . . .


sunshine and the joy of shade . . .


spiders laying out welcome mats . . .


 wild flowers, sweet berries . . .


 a new perspective . . . 


sassafrass and prickly pears . . .


 the sound of silence . . .


 how sweet cold water really tastes . . .




Thursday, May 24, 2012

Run-on Temptation

Shaking hands held the envelope open before his eyes as his insides gushed with wrenching warmth making him want to vomit and crawl under the desk with shame or embarrassment; yet he sat motionless, staring, hating himself for the senseless raging fight inside his head and in his soul not wanting to do wrong but do right as his Sunday School teacher always encouraged him to do when nobody was looking because this is the moment of true integrity (who you are is who you are when no one is looking) -- to be true to his conscience or convince himself to rectify the situation with a solemn promise to pay everything back in full restitution as he had promised to do so many times in the past when faced with this very same situation as it happened every year, year after year with envelopes exactly like this on days like today; but, why should he fail if all he had to do was close the drawer, stand up, walk out of the office, turn left, go down the hall and kill temptation right then and there by handing the envelope and all its contents over, forgetting everything inside that struck the chord of enticement ringing inside every person rich or poor in every walk of life in every culture across all time in every corner of the world since the moment the first man and first woman in history chose to disobey their creator in the garden that day?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Most Dangerous Word

I once met a man on the street who in the course of our conversation made a point to say that words have no meaning and are without power. I told him I did not understand. He explained, completely missing his point.

Martin Luther knew the power of words. His famous “Mighty Fortress” contains one little word that we to this day still strive to grasp exactly that which fells the prince of darkness grim. Regardless, whatever the word is, it abides above all earthly pow’rs (no thanks to them). Yes, one word sends us reeling.
Consider “on” and “off” or “hot” and “cold.” Indeed, words are powerful, meaningful.

Have you ever pondered the most dangerous word? Martin Luther’s word is the word of victory, the word that leads to life. Our word is the opposite. It is the most perilous.
Some words can kill a conversation, or suck the breath right out of someone’s chest. Present discussions center on “Bullying” and “President.” What about “Death” or “Poverty” or “Revenge?”

Deceitfulness?

Why is “Immorality” or “Fornication” or “Adultery” put in separate a category from “Homosexuality?”

How is “Hate” not “Murder?”

What about “Tomorrow?” You know, that thing which creeps in its petty pace from day to day . . .

This is the most dangerous word and we understand how powerful it is. Let me illustrate:

If someone is choking, we don’t act, “Tomorrow.” Instead we move, “NOW!”

When the gas light comes on, we don’t keep driving and say, “Tomorrow.” Hardly! Most start looking to fill up “Yesterday.”

Yes, “Tomorrow” is most dangerous. When God speaks and says “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts . . .” why wait?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two Landmarks

Landmarks. Marks in the land that help us navigate or show us where we’ve been. Hard to imagine being a child traveling by wagon on a weekly or monthly foray into town asking, “are we there yet?” when all one has to do is survey the scenery for that old oak tree or that rock formation. Davey Crockett was a familiar face on the way to Zuni from Gallup. His profile (Coon skin cap and all) could be clearly seen in a rock outcropping along a bluff just off the roadside. His nose pointed the way, a clear indicator you were on the right road. If you pass Shiprock and see Sleeping Ute Mountain, you are heading north from New Mexico into Colorado.

We have landmarks in our lives, too. We personify one the moment of our birth. Our parents mark this significant time of their lives by remembering our birthday. The paths of our own lives become clearly identifiable by landmarks, significant and personal moments that stand out in our memories when we look back. Did you know groups of people who refuse to use Facebook are called “Resisters?” While many simply don’t want to connect, others would rather not because of what lies in the past.

Two landmarks stand out in my mind and the first actually lies at the very end. It’s called a tombstone. We all will have one. Well maybe not a stone per se, but definitely a grave. There are some magnificent tombstones out there and some fairly plain ones, too. A very significant landmark whatever it’s form. I remember hiking in the Rocky Mountains and walking into an Aspen grove somewhere on some mountainside came upon a fence surrounding a solitary grave of a small child. The family had moved on long before my grandfather was born.

I would like a very small stone, if one at all. I want no epitaph on that stone because nobody will see it. What is important is my mark on the world. Each person has no choice but to leave one, so it does not matter what is cut into stone about a person. What each person cuts into the world says more about them.

Think of it: where is Mozart buried?  Nobody knows. What do you know of Mozart? Only by what he left behind.

This leads me to the second landmark: trophies.

I don’t understand them. A trophy is a decoration that marks success. In my mind, the achievement is cheapened by the decoration. What I mean is to ask “what is the goal?” I will always remember the year I played football and we won every single game—except the last one. I can’t tell you for the life of me where the tarnished piece of plated plastic and marble is today that carries the engraving of the occasion. I remember catching my first fish. I can’t tell where the stuffed thing is. The memory is greater than what sits on the mantle—that (incidentally) I do not have. I believe I have some medals . . . in a box . . . somewhere.

Would I like a trophy for anything? No. I have a huge collection of trophies all wrapped up in the landmarks of my memories. But that is only half of my collection. I have living landmarks that I would not exchange for anything: my family. My wife and kids are my trophies. Know why? Because we experience life together. And we win. Even when we lose in an incident, we are victorious in the end.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bus Stop

The bus-stop sign, no further. The man petrified in the middle of the sidewalk. People pushed by until some command from the bridge of his mind turned his head. Unseeing eyes found the bench against the coffee shop wall. Another command shuffled his feet, rotated his body, bent his legs at the knees then floated him down onto the icy concrete. His son once imagined tiny people living inside his body, moving all the parts . . .

His son.

Ache consumed his body under the ribs, across his chest and arrested any swallowing. Winter waited impatiently outside his jacket, jealous of the affliction that squatted into his bones. Open-mouthed breath vaporized into the frigid air, the only sign of life.

Unliving.

The bus slid to the curb, spilling black exhaust across the sidewalk. Passengers disembarked covering their noses. The man gazed through the cloud, through the open doors, through the building on the opposite side and clear across the world. He did not see the bus wait then pull away, sardonically belching in his face. Melting ice crept under his seat, bit his buttocks and then gave up.

Unmoving.

A careless jostle rained hot coffee from under an ill-fitting coffee-cup lid. Cream-laden drops splashed then froze to his unshaved cheek and upper lip. The aroma paused bewildered under a nostril, unable to awaken the senses. Someone whistled for a taxi. A girl laughed from under a pile of woolen scarves, startled by the shriek. He just“was.”

Alone.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

10 Foods that Rock My World

10. Italian Steak;

9. Authentic Mexican Food (ala "Real Mexico" or "La Barracca");
8. Navajo Tacos (Yá'át'ééh!)

7. Authentic Chinese food (not the kind that’s been sitting out in the buffet);

6. Sushi;

5. Super Supreme Deep-dish Pizza (I think I just drolled a little);

4. The Green Chili Cheeseburger at Earl’s Restaurant in Gallup, New Mexico;
3. My wife’s homemade chicken soup;

2. My wife’s Thanksgiving and/or Christmas feast;

1. The Gyro Platter at Zorba's in Irmo, SC.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Things To Do Over Summer Break

Until one reaches the age of 6 or 8, one is not aware there is such a thing as Summer Break. Somewhere between 8 to 10 years, Summer Break becomes the second greatest event of the calendar. The Summer Breaks of late teen years look back into the Summer Break of pre-teen years with a sense of longing (nearly mourning) and Adulthood Summer Breaks give us movies like “The Sandlot.”

Not sure when it developed, but since I was a boy I always thought of the “year” as a wheel, like a clock, though very different. The “twelve o’clock” position is on the bottom, starting with “January” and as one progresses around the wheel clock-wise, each month falls into its own section with a corresponding color (January is white, February is icy-blue, March is a light green, April is yellow, etc.). To this day when I think of October, I see brown in the last quarter of the wheel. May through August (for me) are the colors of mowed grass, swimming pools, burned hot dogs, shady woods and the light of the moon reflecting off the water.

Longfellow said it best:

“Then followed that beautiful season,
Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new-created in all the freshness of childhood.”


One very late summer night comes rushing back to me because this was the bella notte I hugged a girl and our ears “matched.” They still do, by the way. We check from time to time.

So, what to do over Summer Break?

I think this Summer I shall be grateful.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Back in the Garden Again

I am so much enjoying gardening again this year. We did not start one last year and we really missed out in so many ways. Certainly we started late, but at least we have the joy of the spiritual exercise of gardening.

Yes, gardening is a spiritual exercise for me. When I first started, it was solely for the pleasure of waiting impatiently for weeks and months for something to eat--if the bugs did not get it first. My first garden I had little tools. I had a hand-tiller, a hoe, a shovel and a garden hose. A hand tiller is a short-handled device, much like a rock-pick, only instead of a spike on one end, there are three long thick tines. The other end is equipped with a long, thick blade. The device is used for breaking up the ground. Once I got started on my patch that year, I had a much deeper appreciation for all those who blazed the gardening trail before us.  Then one year I read Pearl S. Buck‘s “The Good Earth” and felt I could sincerely understand each time she wrote of hoeing the row. That was a great read.

As my garden began, I instantly understood so many spiritual principles that I heard since Sunday School: Vines, branches, water, fruit, four soils, seeds, birds, thorns, weeds, wheat, tares, etc.  I understood without having them explained. I began to understand the plow of the law, breaking up the hard ground of the earth, preparing the soil to receive the seed. I walked alongside the sower as I pushed and covered my seed in the dirt, being overly cautious about what and where I was planting. I turned the tap of the Spirit under the light of the Son, watering my seed and prayed my fruit to produce faster.

The plants are pushing their way up through the soil as I nurse out overlooked rocks. As morning breaks, I am generally there to greet the dawn, inspecting every plant for signs of needing water. I keep my eyes focused close to the dirt, looking for the first signs of weeds that will suck the life-giving nutrients away from my plants. My hoe scrapes away the invaders (or I will have to pull them later). I watch for invading bugs, sprayer handy. My rake is nearby, used to thin and cultivate.

Gardening distracts me from the things of the world. Gardening keeps me bent over, bowed down in reliance on my Creator.

Yes, gardening is spiritual exercise to me.

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