Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

"What's REALLY Going On"

Ok, I wasn’t going to say anything, but now must. Some might think that I’m a conspiracy theorist, but I’m not. Nor am I looney. At least, I don’t think I am--a conspiracy theorist, that is. Just bear with me and make your own decision.

The other day, I was minding my own business out in my yard like I always do, like anyone does--and everyone should do--mind their own business. Anyway, I was out in the yard (I said that already, didn’t I?) watching my grass turn brown as it always does when Summer gives way to Fall. I was thinking about how my neighbor across the street sowed Winter grass seed into his yard and how it always stays green. And I was thinking about how quickly all the leaves in my little tree seemed to fall off so quickly, all at once.

So I hear this crunching sound, of someone walking up behind me. “The little girl from next door must be coming over to say ‘hello’” I thought to myself. I tried to come up with some fun way to greet her when suddenly the crunching noise stopped and a tiny, sound came to my ears, like someone was talking through ceramic.

“Ahem. A-hem!” came the voice. I turned, but no one was there.

“Hey!” a voice called through pottery. Then I felt it. A sharp pain in my toe.

“Ow!” I exclaimed. As I brought my foot up reflexively, I saw him. Right down there. At my feet. Having driven his little tiny mining pick through my shoe, he glared at me. “Got your attention now, have I?”

“Uhhh, yes . . . “ I cautiously answered, staring at the garden gnome.

My Visitor

“Good. ‘Cause I gotta tell you about what’s REALLY going on around here,” he piped matter-of-factly.

Ok. My attention was arrested. Manacled. Shackled. Fettered and bound to this pot-bellied, er, pot that stood before me. “Does that pointy hat ever come off?” I wondered to myself. “What do they look like . . ?”

“Hey!” he shouted. I jumped.

“You listening?” Pointing his mining pick at me. I nodded, feeling threatened.

“Good. ‘Cause it’s time someone knew.” He stepped toward me, looking to his right, then to his left--as if watching for spies.

“C’mere,” he gestured, whispering. “Get lower. Lower.” I hunkered down, turning my head to hear his tiny voice. “I’m gonna tell you . . . “

“What?” I whispered, wide eyed. Listening. I could feel something like breath on my ear, a tiny wind, only it was cold. Instantly my ear felt shot through like a bee sting.

“Tag! You’re 'IT'!”

From my spot on the ground where I fell backwards, all I could see where little black boots running under his fat bouncing ceramic bottom as he disappeared into the bushes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Pics taken over the Summer of 2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

What Do You Say When You Get A Gift You Really Don't Like?

10. "Well, well, well, now, there's a gift!"

9. "No, with all the hostile takeovers this year, I missed the big Ronco/K-Tel/Ginsu merger. Would you just look at that! What will they think of next?!"

8. "Hey, as long as I don't have to feed it, or clean up after it, or put batteries in it, I'm happy!"

7. "No, really, I didn't know that there was a Chia Pet tie! Oh, wow! It's a clip-on too!"

6. "You know, I always wanted one of these! Jog my memory -- what's it called again?"

5. "You know what? -- I'm going to find a special place to put this!"

4. "Boy, you don't see craftsmanship like that every day!"

3. "And it's such an interesting color too!"

2. "You say that was the last one? Am I ever glad that you snapped that baby up!"

And the number one thing to say about the Christmas gifts you didn't like is . . .

"You shouldn't have! I mean it -- you really shouldn't have!"

(repost from 2007)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Song for Christmas

by Charles Wesley

Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King,
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinner reconcil’d.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies,
With the angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

Christ by highest Heaven ador’d,
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail, the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as Man with man to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel!
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Christmas" by William C. Bryant (1875)

As shadows cast by cloud and sun
Flit o’er the summer grass,
So, in Thy sight, Almighty One,
Earth’s generations pass.

And as the years, an endless host,
Come swiftly pressing on,
The brightest names that earth can boast
Just glisten and are gone.

Yet doth the star of Bethlehem shed
A luster pure and sweet;
And still it leads, as once it led,
To the Messiah’s feet.

O Father, may that holy star
Grow every year more bright,
And send its glorious beams afar
To fill the world with light.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Birthday!

This brings up a question: where did the practice of putting candles on birthday cakes come from, anyway? Well, here's an intriguing answer. 

Happy Birthday, Dear!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

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 made him turn 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, missing the bench. His son once described the tiny people who lived inside his body, moving all the parts . . .

His son.

Ache consumed his body. Pain grew under the ribs and crept across his chest. He choked. Winter waited impatiently outside his jacket as if jealous of the affliction that squatted into his bones. Open-mouthed breath clouded the frigid air. The only sign of life.


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 and bit his buttocks.


People moved passed him, over him, around him. A careless jostle rained hot coffee from under an ill-fitting coffee-cup lid. The drops eventually crystallized, frozen onto his unshaven cheek and upper lip. The aroma paused bewildered in his nose, unable to awaken the senses. Someone whistled for a taxi. A girl laughed from under a python of woolen scarves, startled by the shriek.

He just “was.”


[Note: this short story is my creation, with mild revision of the original May 2012 post that was prompted by a writing exercise developed by T.S. Eliot and John Gardner most commonly known as "The Killer Exercise." The assignment is to describe what is happening around a man who just lost his son to a violent and sudden death; however, the writer may not describe what has happened to the man--merely describe how he perceives the world around him. Hope I passed.]

Monday, December 19, 2016

"What I Love About Scrooge" by Steven Landsburg

"Christmas is about generosity and charity and giving, right? And so it is that tightwad Ebenezer Scrooge is the villain in Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Is that really fair, though? In 2004, Steven Landsburg explained why misers are actually very generous. In the spirit of the season, the article is reprinted below.

Here's what I like about Ebenezer Scrooge: His meager lodgings were dark because darkness is cheap, and barely heated because coal is not free. His dinner was gruel, which he prepared himself. Scrooge paid no man to wait on him.

Scrooge has been called ungenerous. I say that's a bum rap. What could be more generous than keeping your lamps unlit and your plate unfilled, leaving more fuel for others to burn and more food for others to eat? Who is a more benevolent neighbor than the man who employs no servants, freeing them to wait on someone else?"

Curious to know your thoughts. Please post them, below. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Child of Glory

Join us for the story of Christmas at Crossings Community Church on Saturday, December 17 or Sunday December 18 at 6:00 p.m.

Live music includes arrangements from Nickel Creek, Audrey Assad, Sandra McCracken, Bethel Music, The Modern Post and others.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I've always enjoyed science and when I was growing up, thought that maybe some day I would be a scientist. My parents bought me microscopes and telescopes and chemistry sets, so I was always studying something. I think what tipped them off was my inventive mind. See, when I was small, I invented. Here are a few I remember:


My parents made me go to bed when it got dark and in the winter time, that time came pretty darned early. Of course, I had to keep the light off and the door closed, and I recall the only night light came from the hallway--if it was on. Nights got pretty scary for a small boy who was not quite ready for bed.

So while protected from evil by the invincible covers and blankets on my bed, I determined something had to be done, so I devised "The Monster Kicker." I envisioned a long stick with a boot on the end that, when mounted on a hinge by the door, would "kick" any monster that opened the door in hopes of eating my face.

Finding a long stick and an old boot, I somehow managed to secure the boot to the end of the stick. But now, I needed help mounting the hinge and pulleys and springs necessary to make the boot "kick" when the door opened. My dad heard my plan and surveyed the work site behind my door. I recall him being impressed. But I also recall the booted stick and knotted ball of twine remaining behind the door, waiting to be mounted. for a very, very long time. It never got mounted, but having the pieces present gave me great comfort.


No, I did not invent the refrigerator box; rather, they became my inventions. Sort of. Not far from where I lived was an appliance store. I dragged these huge, nearly indestructible boxes home and made them what I needed them to be.

Once, I "built" a "computer". I poked and pulled wires in and out and all around and cut strategic holes in places. Crawling inside with my entire set of encyclopedias, charged kids a quarter to answer any question they had. Any question. They would write their questions on a piece of paper, drop it in a slot with a quarter and I would look things up while making "computer noises" in attempt to answer their questions.

I also built a library (loaning out my personal books) and a "general store." Can't remember what I sold, but I don't think I made much money.


Ok, this one came when I was in college. Perhaps it was not so much an invention as it was curiosity. We spent too much time in the coffee shop down in the Student Center at Eastern New Mexico University and I think boredom got the best of me. I wanted to build a long straw, so I put a cup on one end of the coffee shop and started putting straws together. I don't think we got it to the 40 foot mark because I did not have the draw power to move liquid from the cup. Of course, not sealing the joints might have had something to do with it . . . but it was long.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


My mother-in-law doesn’t like me much, but that did not stop her from walking over to the house. When I opened the door, the first thing I noticed was that the rubber chicken she was carrying under her arm was missing a foot. Curious, I asked, “How’s that cut on your arm? Healing alright?”

“It’s fine,” she said not looking at the bandage.

Silence swelled between us like a shriveled sponge grows when soaking up water.

“Anything I can do for ya?” I asked, holding the door firmly with my left hand, ready to slam it shut in an instant.

“Just wanted to get to know you better,” she squinted. “Tryin’ to see what my daughter saw in you.”

I looked over her shoulder trying to ignore the remaining chicken foot moving in the breeze. “Maybe the other one fell off on the sidewalk . . .” my eyes wondered to themselves, wandering up the street. Trying to help her along. As if feet simply fall off rubber chickens. My suspicion of her grew in the rich fertile soil of the pervasive quietude bulging in the middle. “What does she want, really?” I inquired of myself.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“Well, you ain’t no detective!” she derided, laughing me off.

“And you ain’t no criminal!” I fired back. “Wait . . .” I thought to myself. “How’d you hurt your arm again?” I asked.

“You were there,” she said. “And she was there. We all were there.”

“Oh, that’s right,” I remembered out loud, lying.

She squinted at me again, breathing squinted breaths.

“Got any twine? String? Rope?” she asked.

I flinched with the door. Like I was going to give her any! “No,” I squeaked, ready to bolt, hoping her list did not include duct tape, garbage bags or shovels.

She held out the chicken at arms length. “I was practicing trussing up the bird for cooking. Ran out of twine. Gonna make a nice dinner for my daughter and her husband.” She turned to go.

“Ok,” I stammered. “No problem there. But I don't have any duct-tape, er, twine . . . ” She turned to go and I watched as she wander back up the walk.

“Yes, he’ll do just fine,” I heard her say as she crossed the street.

(Note: this is a writing exercise. Purely spontaneous. Nothing implied or intended. No chickens were harmed in the making of this blog.)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Favorite Recipe

Sitting here thinking about my favorite recipe and the first thing that pops into my mind are these chocolate cookies my wife makes. They are like little brownie bites covered in powered sugar. Not sure what they're called, but they are Crack. You can't eat just four. And milk is required.

So what is my favorite recipe? Hmmm. Seems we have our favorite dishes that find their way to the table, such as "Italian Steak" or Poached Eggs (yes, that's a recipe!). But my favorite? Is that like "comfort food?" Like chocolate? Or Ice Cream?

I think my favorite is the kind I "own." When you no longer have to look at the card or in the book. You just get ingredients, add a heaping helping of "creativity" and see what happens. Like my Cabbage recipe. May not sound like much but I sure hear a lot of "yum" around the table. Left-overs are rare.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Terrifying Memory

I must have been between 6 and 10 when it happened. I can't recall exactly. But I'll never forget the moment the boy disappeared right before my eyes. And the blood.

We were upstairs, in the hay loft. Moving hay from one side to the other. We were small enough that we could not move the bales by ourselves, so I pushed from one side and he pulled from the other. I don't know why we were moving bales, but that's what we were doing. And it was hot already. Summer was coming. 

The barn was on a campground outside of Marble Falls, Texas and if memory serves, we were there doing service work, preparing for the campers that were to arrive later in the summer. I was too young to attend camp (I did go later), but it seems we made a few trips to help get ready. 

Anyway, this other kid (I don't remember his name) and I were up in the barn moving hay bales. I pushed, he pulled. Then suddenly, he was gone. Vanished. I heard someone slam a stable door downstairs--I thought we were the only ones around . . . 

Panting from the work, I looked up to see where he had gone. Did he get tired and sit down? Where did he go? 

Walking around the bale, I saw it. The hole in the floor.

My friend lay sprawled on the dirt, below. A growing pool of blood spread underneath his blonde hair, seeping from the gaping wound from where his head hit the stable door, below. His foot knocked a slat loose and he fell through. 

I don't remember how I got downstairs, but I remember running and finding an someone--anyone. 
And I remember the yelling . . . 
And I remember everyone running to the barn . . . 
And I remember someone turning my body away so I could not see . . . 

A few years later, I was old enough to attend camp and I went often. Once, I returned a Counselor in Training (too old to be a camper, but too young to be a Counselor). On one of those trips--and I don't recall how the subject came up--but I remember a boy showing me the scar on the back of his head. 

Friday, December 09, 2016

Congratulations to our Grads!


A few tasks I hope to accomplish this month:

1. MUSIC. Elizabeth (my cello) and I will be playing in two performances of "Child of Glory" on December 17 and 18 at Crossings Community Church. Guitar has become my primary instrument over the past few years, but it's been incredible to return to my first love, the cello. We've had some loud awesome rehearsals and so much fun working on this. Fantastic group of musicians. Hope you can make it!

2. WRITE. I've got some exciting ideas that will hopefully find their way online for your reading pleasure. It's been a while since I've done some serious writing, so the the proverbial pen is dusted off and ready to go!

3. READ. A small pile of books have found their way to my night-stand, so during the holidays I hope to knock a few of them out (some are re-reads). Titles include: 
4. THREE F's. By this I intend to:
  • Keep up my Fitness, 
  • Spend time with the Family (Fifth grand-baby is on the way) and 
  • Dream for the Future. Might do a little housework too. 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Best Part Of The Day

Some folks are morning folks. Others are "owls," the night-time folks. I'd like to think I'm a morning person because the evening comes on real fast for me nowadays. If I make it past 10:30 p.m., something's wrong. Know what I mean?

Don't get me wrong--I don't exactly bounce out of bed first thing, but the morning seems to be the best part of the day for me. As long as I have one or more of the following (I really don't care "when" during the day), I'll be fine:
  • Coffee
  • Eggs
  • Bacon and/or Sausage
  • Tortillas and/or Biscuits
  • Cheese (optional)
So for me, the best part of the day is when breakfast is served. Does that make me a morning person? Not necessarily. Just give me breakfast and everything'll be alright. 

I blame the Burrito Lady. If you don't know who the Burrito Lady is (we dubbed her "Mother Chorizo") then you ain't lived. Every day these local vendors would stop by the store selling fresh, hot, home-made burritos. Mother Chorizo was probably the best. She came to the back door of the place I worked, her grandson carrying an Igloo cooler filled with home-made breakfast burritos: scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon with potato and some jalapeno and the right sprinkling of cheese mixed in, all wrapped up in a fresh flour tortilla. Piping hot. For a buck, there was no better way to start the day. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

"What has it got in it's pocketses?"

Asked Gollum to Bilbo, playing the guessing game that ultimately changed the fate of the world. "What has it got in it's pocketses?"

What one carries in his or her pockets may tell much about a person--or not. I learned this while working security--and believe me when I say that people carry the strangest things. Like fist-fulls of change. A gazillion coins. Or wads of cash. For Pete's sake, use a bank!

But I don't have change in my pockets. But I do keep a quarter in the overhead bin of my car for the grocery store cart.

LEFT POCKET (front):
  • Keys
  • Cleaning cloth for my glasses or phone. 
  • Life-saver mint or three.
  • Knife. I always carry a knife. 
  • Chap Stick. 
  • Handkerchief or Bandanna
  • Wallet
I ain't skeered to say where my wallet is or what's in there--'cause there ain't nothing in there but my:
  • Driver's licence
  • Insurance card
  • Library card (which I never use because I usually order my library books online and pick them up). 
  • Red Robin card
  • REI card (used it once, I think). 
  • A Doctor's card
  • An Ingles Card (in case I ever buy groceries in a city that has an Ingles)
  • An encouraging card from my wife
  • Some receipts so old they've faded
  • There might be a stamp in there somewhere. Might have to actually mail something one day--you never know
  • Oh, and a picture of my Pride and Joy

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Favorite Poem: "The Man In The Moon Stayed Up Too Late" by J.R.R. Tolkien

My favorite poem is "The Man In The Moon Stayed Up Too Late" by J.R.R. Tolkien, found in his legendary work, "The Fellowship Of The Ring (Chapter 9). Frodo sings "a ridiculous song" during a festive moment while staying at the Inn in Bree. I have no clue why in the extended version of the movie version of "The Hobbit" it is Bofur who sings the song in Rivendell. I'm glad the scene became an out-take. But I digress . . .

If we follow Tolkien's fantasy, in present time we are able to recite a simplified, forgotten version. "Here it is in full," said Tolkien. "Only a few words of it are now, as a rule, remembered."

There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
One night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he runs his bow,
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
Now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog
that is mighty fond of jokes;
When there's good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
And laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a hornéd cow
as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.

And O! the rows of silver dishes
and the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there's a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced,
and the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,
and then rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.

Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:
'The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master's been and drowned his wits,
and the Sun'll be rising soon!'

So the cat on his fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
'It's after three!' he said.

They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pong the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.

The round Moon rolled behind the hill
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!

Monday, December 05, 2016

The First Person

We've not heard much about explorers in our day because it seems as if everything worth exploring has already been, well, explored. Have you ever wondered what it must be like, to be an explorer? I'm not talking about the months or years on board ships or crossing vast open plains or crossing mountains. I mean, have you ever wondered what it must have been like to be the first person to see, for the very first time, something that nobody else has ever seen? Been somewhere never visited by another human being?

A few weeks back while watching the latest Tarzan movie with my family, I remembered my frequent visits to my grandparents in East Texas. I spent months of hours playing on the small acreages of my grandparent's house. My aunts could probably attest that there was never a danger of me getting lost somewhere in the Big Thicket (though I heard many-a warning from my grandmother) because of that Tarzan yell. I ran around the yard and woods in my pith helmet and with my friends, Buzz and Terry, conquered the jungles of Africa, playing "Tarzan."  Memaw always knew where I was because of our Tarzan yells. We played "adventure." We played "explorer."

Of course if Johnny Weissmuller happened to be on TV that Saturday afternoon, Memaw would call us and we came running inside to watch Tarzan defend Africa. And Shirley Temple. I'd come in for Shirley Temple.

I grew up, like most of us, during the Space Race. When we lifted off this Tiny Blue Dot and
rocketed ourselves toward the stars. I hold high respect for what remains of NASA and our astronauts because they are the last of the explorers. There's not much left to discover without leaving the planet--or is there?

There is much to explore and if we've lost the sense of exploration, lost the sense of wonder, it's our fault. We think everything worth finding has been discovered. I disagree. We need to change our thinking, because there is much to be in awe all around us.

Nobody has seen the sunrise or the sunset you saw this evening. And if you didn't see it--ask yourself why you didn't.

Nobody has seen the sky from where you live--nobody lives there but you.

I challenge you--be the first person. Get excited about the world in which you live, the people around you because nobody has the same experiences as you. You are an explorer. Look to the horizon--something great is "over there." Go find it.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Need To Create

I keep a small book in my desk drawer, a tiny little thing. It's a green composition book measuring 4.5 inches x 3.25 inches. Four lines on the cover stand blank, waiting for a title, a name, a label.

Inside this tiny book are 80 sheets blank sheets, 160 pages of blue lines, front and back, all neatly glued together into stiff black spine that, over time, will crumble and release page after page into the wild.

I should write in the book, but I'm not going to. I'm not going to write in the book for a few reasons, the first being that nobody's going to read what I write. I'll be the only one to read it; but then again, I never really go back and read anything I write. If I do want to put something out there for someone to read I'll post it here, on my blog. Otherwise, what I write will get lost. In a book. In the drawer in my desk.

So why do I keep the book, then?

I suppose I could use the book to jot little things in: to do-lists, ideas, questions, notes of conversations . . . no.

The book is an important reminder of my need to create, to write.

My bookcase and dressers contain piles of notebooks I've filled in the past, but where do those ideas go? They hibernate in darkness, rubbing off on one another, carrying silent dialogues among themselves making the same tired arguments to one another until the ink fades, or pages falls out, or I die and someone finds them and reads--then like fireflies, the words drift up on their release and disappear into the ether.

But this little book--each time I see it I am reminded that I can write. I should write.
And I will write.
And I do.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Stretching my left arm out, the first thing I touch is . . .

My coffee pot.

No, its my stress ball.

Wait, no, it's my coffee pot.

And my stress ball.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Page 18, Line 4 Of The Book Nearest Me

" . . . dangerous enemies of the Third Reich. They had a great joy the last days because the . . . "

(from Schindler's Legacy: True Stories Of The List Survivors)

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