Thursday, December 22, 2016

Doing Denny's

Hello World

December 22, 2016

Drove down to Denny's located in the I-75 Plaza Mall Center at Walton, Kentucky.  It's something we do a couple times each month.

I only write about this now because it was an unusual event, in that it was Christmas time, traffic was light and I was in an especially good mood and hungry to boot.  

I really don't care much what some others think about Denny's as an eating establishment.  In my opinion, it is better than Big Boys or Bob Evans or for that matter, a lot of more local places we frequently visit. We wouldn't go anywhere else if it were only a little closer to home base.

It not normally very crowded and the service is very good.  You know what they say about finding good food; Follow the trucks to where the truck drivers eat.  A lot of them eat at Denny's and I do mean EAT!  

Everybody loved their meal and the dessert was OMG good.  It was a bowl of apple-crisp Ala-mode.  Three of us shared it and there was still a bite or two left in the dish.  No one wanted to risk having a belly blow-out that far from home.  

It was dark outside when we left and the journey back home was quite pleasant.  The traffic flowed smoothly and we made most of the lights at major intersections.  I was calm and cool all the way there and back again.  I know the women folk were proud of my behavior. I do have road-rage you know.

If this keeps up, I may see a return of the Christmas Spirit and wouldn't that be just wonderful?  It has been a long time gone.

Have a wonderful Christmas all you'all.

 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Times are certainly changing.

I'm getting too old for all this modern technology.  Everywhere I surf, I see stuff I want or need or am in awe about.

There is so much new stuff to learn and experience, I feel overwhelmed much of the time.

We have a new smart-TV that is stupid by the time we get it mounted and turned on.

My sweet wife is so attached to her I-pad and I-phone, she takes them with her everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.

I would write a lot more in this post but some birds and squirrels are at my computer room window, tapping on the glass and pointing at the wildlife feeding station I started in the front yard, indicating that the feeders are getting low.

Monday, December 12, 2016

WELCOME PAGE

It's good to see you.  How have you been?  Good I hope.

 Grab a seat.  How about a drink ... of coffee, tea, milk or water. No alcohol served here.  Name your poison. 

I hope you have questions cause I've got answers.

Look around.  Check it out.  See anything you like?  READ IT?

Then comment if you feel the need, or even if you don't feel it. 

I love feedback.  Please don't be a ... LURKER.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Those who do not remember their history are destined to repeat it





          Recently, my daughter and I were having one of our frequent Father-Daughter fat chewing sessions.  Don't you parents love to talk to intelligent, young, upwardly mobile offspring?  We touched on a variety of subject matter and somehow got into the subject of prejudices.  Both of us threw in some relevant facts we had become aware of recently and stated our own personal summaries of how we saw the subject affecting our nation and whether we thought a solution would ever be found to resolve it.

          I summed up my own thinking this way. If it were possible to take the sum total of the individuals who live in this country, put them into a gigantic blender and puree their genetic make-up, pour out the resulting combination into molds and create a new kind of human being, both male and female, many or even most of the same problems we see today would still exist. Such is the nature of the human creature.

PREJUDICE: A judgment or opinion formed without due examination of facts.  An unreasonable judgment held despite facts to the contrary.
Fear of and hatred of other races, religions, etc. Detriment arising from a hasty and unfair judgment. A biased preconception, bigotry, intolerance. 

RACISM:  An excessive and irrational belief in the superiority of one's own racial group.

          I am thoroughly convinced that if two individuals were isolated on a deserted island, one or both of them would quickly find something to look down their superior noses at the other about.

          It is a proven scientific fact that no human being enters this world with built in prejudices, so we can correctly conclude that prejudices are acquired or learned as an individual matures.

          Since prejudices are so obviously present within each one of us, can we assume that it is a natural aspect of being human? I've often wondered why it is that human beings have this seemingly natural need to see themselves as superior to someone else? What does it add to one's life that wouldn't exist if it were not for this belief? Is it connected to the basic instinct for self-preservation or an accepted law of nature that says the fittest will survive? Is it a force that is impossible for us to resist and alter?

          As best we can determine with our scientific research, no other creature possesses the concept of good and evil. No other creature has the ability to conceptualize their own existence to such an extreme as to believe they have an immortal soul, that some portion of themselves will exist forever. No other creature has the ability to expand their understanding and reasoning ability to the point of believing in a supernatural, spirit realm, invisible to the natural eye. A realm that exists perhaps, on another dimensional plane and we human beings have within us, something so special it enables us to reach out from within and contact that realm, communicate with its inhabitants and gain even more knowledge. Isn't all that simply amazing?

          If we as a species are so intelligent, so special, so gifted, so blessed, so civilized, so loving, caring and compassionate, so godly, so wise, so knowledgeable, and so rational in our thinking, wouldn't you think we would have reached perfection long before now?

          We, as a species can look back at our recorded history and through a process of comparison conclude that we have made some giant strides toward that goal of perfection. Still, we must also conclude that we are not there yet. Our tendency to be prejudiced toward one another has not declined. If anything, we have found other, more glaring differences between individuals that only contributes to our prejudices.

          If God, for some reason not yet revealed to our understanding, was to deem it necessary to come to earth once more in the body of a man, live among us, performed endless miracles before our very eyes and continuously proclaim His heavenly truth within range of our hearing, do you believe the eventual outcome would be different than the first time He did it? How many times must the supreme price for our salvation be rendered? It is evident that once was not enough. What have we done with that first redemptive act of sacrifice? Have our hearts really been changed?

          If there is anything the United States of America needs, it's godly, highly moral, intelligent leadership. In my own humble opinion, we as a nation appear hopeless when it comes to the political choices we make. Does this scripture mean anything at all to us today? Eph:6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. It appears to me that it does not. Recently we witnessed for ourselves a demonstration of the truth of that scripture in the highest office our nation can bestow upon any single person. How did our nation react to it? They looked away, ignored its implications, and used their individual state of seeming prosperity as an excuse for condoning said wickedness.

          Now, we are facing an election year. We have another opportunity to help our nation become the greatest example of what a democratic republic can be in this world. One nation, under God. It seems that our eyes do not see evil and our ears cannot hear truth.

          In the beginning, the candidates were many, but some have fallen by the side of the campaign trial, out of the running. Those that remain, are they the best we can hope for? Will we as a nation, as a people ever learn to take control over our prejudices, to look beyond the color of a man or woman's skin, gender, political affiliations, party platform rhetoric and judge each person by the contents of their heart and by the spirit that holds rule over them?

          Why is it that some candidates seem invisible to the voting public? Why do their words seem to fall to the ground with little affect? If we examine them closely enough we will plainly see that they practice what they preach or that they are only projected images of what they know we want to see and hear, but in reality are nothing like that image.

          I believe that God has sent us the person He would want to see in the office of our nation's president. There is no glowing halo suspended above that person's head. When they speak, there is authority in their words. Their words have authority because they are truth. But truth does not always tickle the ear, yet it is truth all the same. If we cannot believe them for the sake of their words, then believe them because of the works they do. Be a fruit inspector and then decide upon that which is produced. No tree can bear both sweet and bitter fruit. It is either one or the other.

Hosea:4:6: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:

         





Friday, February 26, 2016

stupid things people think related to drug use

NOT IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD

 

The above title, is a slogan some certain local neighborhoods have instituted in an attempt to deter the sale of drugs on their streets and  in their neighborhood.  They have convinced themselves and others that if they were successful in removing the dealers from their streets,  they could stop the flow of drugs which some of their neighbors were consuming.

I personally do not understand the logic used to arrive at that conclusion. Can't they understand that their choice will affect only one portion of the problem.  The dealers are there in their neighborhoods and on their street corners conducting business because there are customers for them to sell their drugs to.

The drug dealers are not the only guilty parties in these transactions.

The same geniuses have also concluded that if they establish a clean needle exchange system it will reduce the risk of certain blood borne  diseases from being transmitted between users who share needles.

I've also heard that some certain intelligent individuals think it is a good idea to establish a building or some other brick and mortar location into a designated safe area for users to utilize the illegal drugs they just purchased from one of those dirty, no account, drug dealers.

Can't they see that they are becoming enablers?

Yes, drug dealers are criminals.  Do not forget,  that the individuals who purchase illegal drugs from the dealers on their local street corners are also breaking the LAW, thus making them criminals also.

There once was a time when local police vice squads tried to solve the prostitution problem by focusing on arresting the prostitute's who were selling their wares from street corners and other dark and secluded places.   It didn't take long for law enforcement officials to realize that their efforts were having little or no affect on the problem.

So it was decided to try something else that might work. They began to use "STING operations."  Using that method, they not only apprehended prostitutes, but also the Johns which the prostitutes were servicing.  The local pimps did not appreciate having to bail out their workers continuously.  It cut deeply into their profit margins.  The police also collected the names of the John's who were utilizing said prostitutes threatening to post a list of names in the local newspaper.

This new STING procedure resulted in the desired effects and before long the pimps took their stables elsewhere.

The war on drugs in the United States, as it is being implemented, has not worked.  Today we have more of our citizens behind bars than any other nation in the world.  That is one area of recognition we should not be proud of as a world power. We have spent all of that time, effort, and wealth trying to eliminate the problem of drug use and haven't gotten a dime's worth of value for our efforts.

The more advanced drug dealers do not sell their wares from street corners.  They stay in their homes and use the drug buyers grapevine to spread the word as to where they are located and what they are selling.  The customers come to them.

We have such an advanced drug dealer on our block. You may have one on your block also.  Are you paying attention? Is there one certain house on your block that gets frequent traffic, where the vehicle pulls up, stops, someone gets out, goes to the house and walks inside?  Are they there for a moment and then returns to their car and leaves?  Would you dare call the police and asked them to look into the situation you have observed?  

One of my alert neighbors did just that.  I wish it had been me.

I did notice, a strange, white van, with a large, tinted window in the side that seems to be parked on our street frequently.  It wasn't too long after that our local police or the DEA raided the house. Some individuals from that house were taken away in handcuffs.  After that the activity we had observed, ceased.  We heard through the neighborhood grapevine that someone did some time in prison.

you could almost hear the whole neighborhood, take a deep breath and then sighed loudly.  We thought it was over.  We were mistaken.  It is apparent to this guy, that some member of that family did not learn a lesson.  I have begun to notice the same pattern of activity taking place at that same house again.  Evidently, someone else had noticed also, for not long after I noticed the activity there was another raid conducted on the same house.  This time they did not take anyone away in handcuffs.  Perhaps the person selling drugs  there again has learned something.  Either they are not storing their stash inside the home.  now, or they have found a secure hiding place for it close by. What ever the reason, there is one young male residing in that house who must not have a job because he seldom leaves and for the life of me, I cannot logically figure out what his means of support is. He emerges in the early morning, during warm weather, wearing a dirty bathrobe, paces the sidewalk in front of the house while he smokes cigarettes and then goes back inside.

I am now a firm believer in the common saying today, "if you see something, say something."  It couldn't hurt!  The police can't be everywhere.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Desires of my heart



I dedicate this one to my Sister, Julie who gave me the inspiration for it by writing in her email today...”May you receive the desires of your heart.” I wonder if she knows how impossible a task that seems to me right now?
 

The desires of my heart have nothing to do with "things." What can you buy for someone who has their every need met, that is unless you want to buy me a new Toyota Truck this year. So far...I don't really need one but it sure would come in handy when there is some household hauling to do. Actually, I have a next door neighbor with a nice truck who doesn't mind helping me out if I really NEED a truck for some reason.

Give me a warm spring day with refreshing breezes. Let me see smiling faces on the people walking by with their children. Let me hear laughter and childish giggles. Just once....fix it so when I turn on the TV News all I hear is good news. Now that would be a priceless gift.

Tell me you are happier than you ever dreamed you could be and make me believe it without doubting. Tell me how great it is to wake up each morning after a peaceful night's sleep and how much you are looking forward to the day ahead.

Tell me something that makes my eyes glisten with tears of joy. Share something with me that makes my heart swell to the bursting point with happiness for you. Tell me how good God is and how blessed your life is. Don't give me a music CD...sing me a song instead and let the words be ones that have great meaning for you...so much meaning that I can feel what you feel when you sing them.


Say or do something that brings me inspiration so powerful that all I can do is dwell on the thoughts that result and when I am through thinking them, I will sigh with the satisfaction of the experience.

Tell me that this day, not one person will go to bed hungry, or that not one person will die today or that for one twenty-four hour period of time all pain will be banished from this planet and have it be true. I know...that’s asking for the impossible.
You know what really amazes me? It’s the realization that I possess the ability to even dare to think such thoughts.

To all Pastors Everywhere



Take one ordinary person, forgive their sins by grace

Add the Holy Spirit, place a smile upon their face

You now have a Christian, a born-again child of the King
For some of them that’s plenty, others are destined for a special thing

Add one very high calling, spiritual instruction from the throne
Give them a well used Bible, send them out on their own

Led by God’s Holy Spirit, they follow a well lit trail
Assailed by Satan’s arrows, his goal is to make them fail

Countless hours spent in prayer, they cry a river of tears
And share the burdens of many, through the passing years

Their hearts full of compassion, spiritual wisdom from their lips
And if they are so anointed, healing from their finger tips

They feed God’s flock with the bread of life from his Holy Word
Molding the sheep with teachings in the preaching they have heard

They seldom think of their own needs, their lives they gave to Him
They set their gaze on eternity though their mortal vision may dim

They can see the future crystal clear, that meeting in the air
And because they do God’s bidding, they hope to meet us there

These chosen Saints, trusted by God, He gave a title to
His Word calls them “Pastor,” they see a Godly view

Because they see us through His eyes and love in a Godly way
It’s you we try to honor on our Pastor Appreciation Day

Written by Clarence A. Bowles on March 30 1985
Edited on Feb 02, 2009

My Family Responsibilities



Recently, while looking around my Internet neighborhood, I noticed something called “The Question of the day.”  That day the question was “What are your family responsibilities?”  It struck me as an interesting question so later I devoted some pondering time to it.

At first the thought entered my mind that no one would read a list that I might compose that included all my personal duties within my family, legitimate or imagined.

Another thought I had, which was also a question was, “How does one become responsible for something; anything within their family group?”

I didn’t believe that anyone would enjoy reading the list of 100 things about me that I composed a year or two ago either but I came to find out just how wrong I was about that also.

I want to take a stab at making a list of my family responsibilities in spite of that risk that posting it here has the potential for boring lots of folk, or not.  For that statement to be true I would need to have a lot of regular readers and I don’t believe that I do, really.

The first thing on my list should be:
·      Being wrong about more things than anyone else in the family.

I believe that may well be because I am so eager to show off my accumulated life skills.

Among my siblings I have always been known as “Professor Know-it-all” and for good reason.

It’s because I’ve always believed that I DID…Know-it-all that is. When it turns out that I don’t know it all then I am deemed to be wrong, thus the motive for item number one on my list.

All joking aside, I do seem to have a much longer list of responsibilities than any other family member.

In an effort to have anyone who may be reading my lengthy list to be fully informed and aware, I feel I should provide another list and that is a list of who it is that makes up MY little family group.

Me, myself and I (Husband, brother-in-law and human to our pets)
Maureen (wife, sister and top human to our pets)
Gail (sister to Maureen, sister-in-law to myself and number two human to our pets)
Jenny (Top Dog, spoiled rotten Bitch that she is) Can I say that here?  Sure I can
Lucy (Cat) enough said.

On with the list:
1.    EVERYTHING…especially when anything goes wrong with anything.

OK! I took the easy way out.  That’s the way it seems to me but we all know that I am wrong so often that this is probably one of those times.

Actually it would probably be easier to make a list of the things I know for certain I am not responsible for in our family group.

Just as I thought!  I can’t come up with one thing.

Bathing in the glow of our golden years



I was not aware of the exact time, nor can I be absolutely sure as to the day of the week; I can however assure you that the event which would follow in the next few minutes has been indelibly etched upon my faltering mental systems.  I may not recall where I filed it but when I do rediscover it, it will stand out from most of the files associated with and included among the small number of such memorable events because the depth of the impression will appear so much deeper than any of the others.

We carried our own cups of freshly poured, piping hot coffee outside and sat down where we normally would around the glass-topped patio table.  The retractable awning had been deployed all night long, preventing any possible dew from settling on the afore mentioned table or the chair cushions.

The sun had not yet peeped over the tree line in the distance or the horizon thousands of miles beyond that. It was pre-dawn but there was plenty of ambient light surrounding us.

Maureen lit up a cigarette, drew from it deeply, inhaled and exhaled the smoke into the slight breeze, which thankfully flowed in a direction away from myself. I don't try to get her to stop the harmful habit. She didn't treat me that way back when I was still smoking.  I'm the same way about that as I have been with my own personal beliefs.  I've been a Christian for 24 years now.  She knows and accepts that fact.  That's enough for me.  I can only hope that she has been paying attention to how I've lived my life since then and that one day, she too will desire to ask Christ into her life as He wills it. I've convinced myself that He will deal with her directly in His own good time...not mine. 

The coffee tasted wonderful.  That first cup is so special.  It has a purpose and it does it well.  Slowly, we are becoming fully awake and aware of our surroundings.  Few words are exchanged between us. We can hear one another taking deep breaths and enjoying the pure elation of simply being alive at such a time as this.

It was a beautiful spring day, all around us was the grandeur of God's creation.  The sights, the sounds, the fragrances; surely it doesn't get any better than this was the thought that lingered in my own mind.

Then, suddenly, the faint glowing orange rim of the rising sun appeared in the eastern sky.  Both of us had noticed and remained silent because we didn't want to miss one tiny bit of the experience.  Her voice was first to break the silence.
"During most of my working life; whenever I tried to imagine what it would be like to be retired; this is exactly how I imagined it would be."

I can't begin to explain how I felt at that moment.  I can only say that I was somewhere beyond "Happy."

I pursued happiness just like our constitution assured me that I had the right to do.  I pursued it until it caught up with me one day when I least expected it. 

Maureen's words impacted me with the force of a sledgehammer striking a soft, lead plate. It left a circular crater with a raised rim.  Truth rushed in and filled the sudden void the blow had caused and I sat back, relaxed and realized that at that moment in time, my world was a giant step closer to completeness.

That's all I've ever asked from life.  To know that in some small way, I had contributed to the reaching of a life-long goal of someone I've loved more than myself for all these years.

As the sun continued to climb in the eastern sky, I turned to gaze upon my sweet bride and realized that she was now being bathed in the shining light of our golden years too. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A rambling rant that goes nowhere.

CAUTION - "N WORD" INCLUDED

I HATE RAP!  I don't understand why it is classified as "Music."

Because of the constitution and Freedom of Speech, I have the right to say it.  Thank You Forefathers and all the others that made what Amendments that precious document includes for being so thoughtful and selfless.
I continue: If the "N" Word is so offensive to so many, how come one of the early Rap Groups named themselves "NWA?"

I looked it up.  That stands for Niggas Wit Attitude.  I suppose, so long as you alter the spelling of the word and you are of the right race, it's alright for you to use it so openly and at the same time, so covertly; attempting to disguise and conceal the meaning from anyone not in the know.

They certainly didn't use that same technique when they composed a Rap titled "Fuck the police."  I know that just by my typing that first, vulgar, four letter word in the title of that Rap will offend most of the people that might read it. You would have known what I meant if I had typed F_ _ K, so why bother? I wanted to be authentic with my facts and I believe I have been. Then, they make a movie about the group and some certain peoples rave about how great it is. It may have been well produced and performed but it's no Master piece

Look; if you are of the BLACK race, unless you only recently migrated to this country from Africa and became a naturalized citizen through the designated process, you are no more an African American than I am just because your skin color is black.

I honestly regret that so many of the black race have suffered so much at the hands of bigoted, racist non-black people.  I wrote that last sentence as I did because it's not only Caucasian people that are racist and bigoted. The black race has its' own kind of racism against any and all other people who don't treat them as they feel they should be treated.

I hate that I have my own prejudices.  Yes! Prejudices; Plural, more than one.  I've pondered on the matter at length.  How did I acquire the ones I have?  It may be attributed to "Nurture."  I picked it up by a process akin to osmosis.  I was exposed to it frequently and it simply soaked in, through my young skin, or eyes, or ears.  I've learned so many of my likes and dislikes that way.  I don't care for most bugs, snakes, spiders, bees, skunks, wolves, bears, cougars, large animals of any type, and so on. If you noticed, there is a theme implied in that list.  It's related to fear or anything that might do me harm or cause me pain and suffering.  I believe most of us feel that same way. It isn't based on anything as specific as color. 

Dark clouds or dark skies could mean storms are on the way.  Who likes storms?   The color red is associated with a warning of some kind. Color affects us in various ways though out our lives.  Seems that we human beings can see danger everywhere.  We are alert for signs and signals all the time. Most of the time, our reflexes are automatic.  We don't need to think about it before we act.  It just comes naturally.  Fight or flight; you know how that goes. 

So, what causes most women of all colors to grow tense and leery of any number of young, black men in situations like being alone on an elevator, or waiting for a bus at a bus stop or walking home on a residential street after dark? Do they react the same to a small group of young white men?  Is all that fear related to personal experience or news items on our televisions? Who can say for sure but it is learned via some kind of input into one's life.

I do not know what fate awaits our country down the road but some say all great civilizations are brought down from within.  I can understand that kind of thinking.  Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it, some say.  I've been in this world for seventy-five years now.  I've seen more events over the years that were horrible than I care to recall.  I would hate to think we could go through that again.  Yet, I look around and see that we haven't learned enough yet.  We are not where we should be after centuries of experiences.  I wish I had more positive expectations.  I hate being one of the glass half empty types; but I am.

I doubt that gathering together and singing "we will overcome" is going to do it.  If you have any good ideas, let it be known to those in charge.  I can't seem to have any affect on them.  Lord knows, I have tried.
GOD BLESS THE USA. He may be our only hope.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Melting Pot - NOT!

Melting pot – My great buttocks!

Are you tired of constantly hearing about our United States of America being one, giant, melting pot?  If we pause in our pursuit of The American Dream and pure happiness just long enough to focus on what is really going on around us, we might see the reality of our circumstance.

What we actually have is a nation of “enclaves.”  If you don’t understand what that is, here’s what I found in my dictionary about it: a distinct territorial, cultural, or social unit, enclosed within, or as if within, a foreign territory; see also.

Immigrants often sacrifice all they have to reach our shores, in search of constitutional promises.  What is it they believe we have to offer them that they cannot get where they are living? Freedom, Liberty, Happiness, etc. They just want to be successful for themselves and their families; to have food, clothing, a roof over their heads, medical care, safety and the rest of the basics of life.  It can be had if one is willing to work hard to get it.

Our government hopes that they have all that while they are trying to assimilate into our culture and obey our laws.  There is the rub my fellow Americans.  They don't really want to assimilate.  They would rather keep speaking their native tongue and not learn English if possible.  They desire to be around others like themselves; others that speak their language, eat the kind of foods they are accustomed to, worship the same god or gods and live by their old laws, not ours.

If our government is willing to GIVE them stuff, they want it and more if possible.  They don't even want to be called "Americans" unless there is a prefix before that word; something that better identifies them. Mexican immigrants want to drop the American part and just be known as Latinos.  They all want to live apart from others in their own space and not permit outsiders in.  They are turning our nation into a lot of little countries inside of one larger nation. 

I am an American and proud to tell the world about it.  Should I travel abroad, the people whose country I might visit will call me an American.  They don't care about my ethnic background.  I'm not a Caucasian American.  I'm just an American to them. Why are so many not satisfied with that fact.  "I may live in the USA but I'm an Asian-American or an African-American or an Irish-American, etc." they will claim.

It's a complicated topic and I am sure there is so much more I need to learn.  I proudly served in the US Army for three years.  Yes! I volunteered and was glad that option was available to me.  I was nineteen when I joined and hoped that what I've always heard about the experience, e.g. It will make a man out of you, was true. That was one of the better decisions I've made in life. It was there that I got the best advice I've gotten so far, and that advice influenced and changed my destiny, I believe.

Who would have thought that such a pearl of wisdom resided in the heart and mind of a Guesthouse Manager at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  He saw how upset I was about my young wife paying me an unexpected visit bringing with her, our six month old daughter.  I HAD to find them a place to shelter until I could put them on a transport to return them home.  This may smack somewhat Biblical, but there was no room at this inn and I had run out of options and my anger was raging about it, loudly. This kind and experienced man pulled me aside and explained to me that the world DID NOT owe me anything.  He went on to inform me that I would get out of life something equal to the effort I was willing to put into living this life.  The solution to my immediate problem was out there, waiting for me to discover it but it would not search me out and offer it up

.
He was and continues to be exactly correct.  I found another soldier in a similar situation and we pooled our resources and obtained a single room in a local motel where we could all spend the night.  The next day I put her and our baby on a greyhound bus back home
.
Sorry to say, our young marriage did not survive the coming tests life presented us while I served out the next two plus years in the military.

Today, I watch and listen to as much of the information I can concerning our nation and its immigrant problems. I believe most of the people coming to our shores looking for relief from their constant struggles in life are much as I was back when I got such sage advice and utilized it to get to where I am now.  However, a great many of them both today and in the past have made some wrong decisions.  They were not fortunate enough to have access to the help I received.  It was not anything as tangible as food and shelter, but more like a philosophy to live life by.  How can I get the advice to them and hope it helps them as much as it did myself.

I'm doing it right now.  I do however, realize that I may need a much taller soapbox to reach the vast multitudes of lost souls roaming through our great nation in need of assistance.  Do you want to help me? Then spread the word I have revealed.  It couldn't hurt!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Clarence's Thanks List

8/19/1999

CLARENCE'S THANKS LIST


First, I would like to give thanks that Becky still has the desire, the motivation, and the strength to attempt this gathering every year.  There must be times when it is hard to continue trying.  I heard via the family grapevine that she had reached the frustration, saturation point at least once and blurted out an expletive which expressed that frustration.  Believe me Sis, I do understand.  For whatever contribution my own failure to participate in other gatherings has added to her frustration, I hope that she can find it in her heart to forgive.

Our family has changed and I know that it will continue to mutate and adapt out of necessary reaction to life's increasing pressures.  It is all but impossible to sustain the past in our changing times.  However, Becky, allow me to reassure you, your efforts are not unappreciated.  Because of you, I know that every one of us has stored away some cherished memories from each of those gatherings.
          
I would speak a few words of encouragement to the younger members of our family.  Don't become discouraged if future efforts to call this family together fail.  We older members have deeper roots, which span the passing years and sustain us.  The time will come when you will begin your own family traditions.  They may reflect what you have seen demonstrated here, but no doubt they will be different.  It's alright to want your own traditions.  They are always worth whatever effort you exert toward their success.  Life is and has always been a matter of making choices.  You will make some wrong ones and in some way pay for the mistakes.  We have all been guilty of missing a family gathering for whatever reason, and it has been our loss.  I speak from experience.  I have known regret for some of my decisions, but I am a much wiser person because of my mistakes.
          
I am thankful for my sister, Frances.  Because of her many examples, I am a different person.  She is the oldest and the wisest.  She has learned the lessons of life well.  If you ask her for advise, She may or may not give it, but believe me, she knows the answers to many of life's perplexing problems.  She would wax humble if you implied that fact to her face.  So instead of asking, just watch her live life and as much as possible, pattern your own after hers.  I will not try to convince anyone that she has reached perfection in her Christian life, but where she is, I hope to be some day.  So today, I would give her this bouquet.  "Thank You" for your example.
          
There are many "Standout" individuals in our family, each one with something special they could share with us if they only would.  For some reason they remain silent and what they have learned from life will die with them.  I plead with you to share.  Perhaps you are restrained with low self esteem.  You ask, "Who would want to hear what I have to say about life".  I would!!, and I'm sure there are others.  Don't hold back because you believe you are not eloquent enough in your speech.  Write the words down if you can't say them.  Take the time to know yourself, honestly, and then share with others.  It will help you and it will help those you share with.
           
If I have learned anything from life, it is this.  It is the words you don't say which you will regret the most.  I'm not talking about venting your anger and spouting, spiteful hurting words toward those who may have wronged you.  Those kind of words are always with us.  They seem more easily expressed and those who said them will explain that they feel better for having said them, but believe me, it will only be a temporary relief.
          
The words I speak of will not cause harm.  They express thankfulness to others, they express love and compassion.  They lift up and strengthen and they last for eternity, never forgotten.
           
The list of things for which I am thankful is endless.  If I have not mentioned your name, please don't feel slighted.  Our time and your patience restrain me from going on and on and on.  If I live long enough, I'm sure I will get around to each one of you eventually.  There will be other occasions, other get togethers, other opportunities, and who knows, next time, you may have something you want to say and I will be "All ears" as I have been all my life.
           
Thank you for listening.


Clarence Bowles

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

THAT LIFE CHANGING, GRATITUDE, ATTITUDE





I hope Dr. Paul Wong doesn’t object to my quoting him here. His words were the motivating force, the inspiration that moved me to even attempt a commentary on the subject.

[Quote] Gratitude means much more than having a grateful attitude, cultivating a spirit of appreciation, or focusing on one’s blessings. In its fullest sense, gratitude springs from a heart touched by God and overflows from a soul basking in God’s goodness. [End Quote]

I can, if I focus hard enough, recall a time when I knew nothing of gratitude. I suppose it was immaturity that restricted such thoughts. Young minds simply live in the moment, events happen because they are supposed to happen or they wouldn’t happen at all. Perhaps that was my earliest understanding of fate or destiny.

Later in life I began to think along the lines that we make our own destiny and there was no such thing as fate. Anything that came my way in life was due to the fact that I allowed it to happen. Had I been on my toes, alert and observant, I could have seen it coming.

My own Father had instilled in me a thought directly from scripture; you will make your living by the sweat of your brow. At the time, I didn’t know it had its roots in scriptures. That thinking was reinforced a little later down the road of life when a kind stranger offered me this sage advice. The world does not owe you anything just because you exist in it. It really doesn’t care if you live or die. Life will go on whether you are here or not. You will get out of life a result that is equal to the effort you put into it.

So, is it any wonder that I came to rely upon myself for everything I had in this world?

The day came when I looked around myself and went through a process of summing up what I had accomplished in life. The results below the bottom line caused a great pride to rise up within me. I finally had arrived. I was a success. The good life was here, at my very fingertips. I had it all, everything I had ever dreamed of in the way of personal desires.

I was forty-three years old. I had broken the forty year barrier, an age that at one time in my life, I didn’t believe I would ever see. It was okay by me; I didn’t relish the thought of growing old anyway. I had gotten to where I wanted to be, so now what? Can I just relax and take it easy, rest on my laurels so to speak?

Everywhere I looked I saw good things. Who did I have to thank for all of it?  ME!  So this is what life is supposed to be, but wait; shouldn’t I be satisfied and content with my lot? If any of it was true, why did I still have this sense that something was missing? If I could discover what it was, surely I could find a way to have it for myself and finally be completely fulfilled and content.

Suddenly I saw myself as self-centered and selfish and all that I had accomplished in life hadn’t amounted to a hill of beans in the greater scheme of things. In my haste to get to where I wanted to be, I had touched the lives of countless others. I used them and took from them anything I needed and not once did I ever say thanks. I gave them no credit for their contributions to my life and there was something sad about that fact.

In the wake of my passing, I had left others less than they were before they had come to know me. Always taking, never giving anything back; that seemed so wrong to me and the next thing I knew, I was full of guilt. If everyone in the world were exactly like me, I doubted that the world could have continued to exist for as long as it has. The resource I had been drawing from had to have limits, I didn’t see it as infinite. Go to that well once to often and one day the bucket would come up empty and what then?

If one has no desire to face reality then you had better keep your head down and don’t stop moving and yet, even that method fails at times. With your head down and moving along at breakneck speed, the odds are that sooner or later you’re going to run into something solid and unmovable. It will be a terrible collision and one’s life is likely to end up a total wreck.

Taking stock of one’s own life will exact a price. You will notice things that can’t be attributed to one’s own efforts. Take something as simple as having good health. Can you take credit for it? Can you chalk it up to having good genes? You have to admit that your diet stinks. Honesty will only serve to drive home truth and it’s a real EGO buster. You’ve been abusing your body for a long time now. Why hasn’t it broken down?  That fancy car you drive would have given up the ghost a long time ago had you treated it the same way you have your body. You are intelligent enough to understand that so you head off the potential problems by buying a new car every three years or so. Where does one go to buy a new body?

When one considers all the elements that constitute a single human life experience they will come to realize that many of them are outside the limits of one’s own control or influence. Think about the friends you have; that is, if you have any. What about love? Is there anyone in your life who genuinely loves you?  Can you chalk that up to the fact that you are so loveable? If you are not in control of these elements of your life; who is?  Surely someone is responsible; but whom? When you look around at other people, some of them have problems that you wouldn’t wish upon your worse enemy. The amazing thing is that many of them seem to be so happy with the hand that life has dealt them. Then you observe others who seem to have everything and still, all they do is complain. 

I don’t understand why it should be so, but some of us need to hit bottom before we can look up and ask for help. It took me a while to get there, it’s not like I was in freefall. Depression is a slow descent into hell on earth. It’s funny how nothing in my physical world had changed. It was a mental, emotional rollercoaster I had gotten on. The climb to the top was slow; the drop into darkness was even slower if you can imagine such an amusement park ride. You see; gravity has no affect on one’s attitude.

When one is surrounded by impenetrable darkness they have no choice but to feel around to get some sense of where they are. One can’t use their hands to accomplish it, but we are more than flesh and blood, bones and sinew; we are spirit and soul too.

That was the situation I found myself in one day and I was desperate. I summoned the will to reach out into the darkness and was surprised to find that God was reaching out to touch me at the same time. Once He had touched me, I had a new problem to deal with. There was this blinding light that no one can gaze into with natural eyes. They would melt in the strength of such radiance. But, what one can do in such a revealing light is see every little flaw and defect in themselves. It couldn’t be any clearer if one affixed labels to every one, giving them identifications and sorting them out into classifications.  Some would fall under the heading of “Seven Deadly” others were “Willful” but they all were SINS.

Believe it or not, sins have weight but not because of gravity. There is GUILT associated with them and guilt has weight in the supernatural, spirit realm. When one’s sins are recognized they become a burden; a crushing weight that no human spirit can bear up under. Forgiveness is the only thing that can lift such a burden and set the spirit free. I called out to God to forgive me and He heard my voice. God spoke and that burden was lifted, removed and done away with. In His realm, it may have been little more than a whisper, but to myself it was a noise that reverberated throughout the universe.

When I became aware of ME again, I knew that something had changed. I wasn’t the same person anymore. It would take time for me to understand all that was different about this new me. A heart that was like stone was replaced by one that was full of compassion and love. Eyes that saw so little were suddenly able to see all that was good in life and not one of them was something material. It was the scope of my new vision that was most revealing. It would compare to someone being shot into space, turning around and looking back at the earth. To be able to see one’s whole life within the framework of one image and yet, be able to focus in on one pebble on a mountainside or one grain of sand on a beach. From that viewpoint, it is easy to see precisely how “Blessed” one is and to be grateful for each blessing.

How did Dr. Wong say it? “gratitude springs from a heart touched by God and overflows from a soul basking in God’s goodness.”

That’s it Paul!  That’s exactly what each day is like for me today.

 



TASTE ME!



Why is it that inspiration never looks like inspiration when it comes along? It could have passed by unnoticed and I would have missed out on this blessed experience. A long time ago, the spirit-man who was imprisoned deep inside my being was set free and empowered by God to help me live my life the way He had intended it to be lived from the very foundations of creation. Thank the Lord! he was paying attention.

Garry Mitchell said “I don’t know about you...but when I find something GOOD, something I really like, I want MORE of it as often as I can have it.”  One could read a lot into such a statement, but I knew Garry was speaking about the Word of God and God Himself.

My mind does strange things with inspiration. It studies it closely, turning it over and over, trying to get all the goodness out of it that’s possible. So why did my mind take me back to my childhood and an event so random? 

There I was, standing in Hobbabush Alley with a couple of friends by a tall wooden fence upon which Honeysuckle grew in great profusion.  It was a hot, summer day, barely a whisper of a breeze to cool one’s sweaty brow. The fragrance of the Honeysuckle was so thick, one could almost feel it upon their skin.

My friends and I were gathering nectar, sipping it by the drop as it emerged from the small end of each blossom. Perhaps you are not aware of the pastime or the process. I’ve surveyed several people recently and not one was familiar with what I described to them. I suppose the practice has fallen out of favor or has been lost in the past. But...when I was a child, some 50 years ago, it was very common.

Your basic Honeysuckle blossom is sort of funnel shaped. It’s not trumpet shaped because it has no “rim” to speak of, say like a Morning Glory. I’m not sure about the name of the parts inside the blossom. There are pistils and stamen as with most flowers. But it seems to me that this blossom was designed the way it is for just the purpose we kids put it to. The center-most object in the flower was a small, green ball secured to a fibrous stem that ran the full length of the blossom and was attached to the little cap that remained on the blossom after it had been removed from the vine. If one did it correctly, pinching off the little cap without detaching it from the center stem, one could pull it through the blossom, forcing whatever nectar was present in the bottom of the funnel out through the end. Once you were sure that some nectar was present, you then laid the blossom on your tongue and continued to pull. If one applied a slow, steady pressure to their pulling effort, most of the time, the center stem with the little green ball would make it all the way through and every bit of nectar inside the blossom came out onto their tongue.

If you’ve never tasted Honeysuckle nectar, allow me to assure you, it is sweet and the taste is exactly like the fragrance. Now you must admit...Honeysuckle smells delicious and thus, it tastes delicious also.

How does this image relate to anything Godly or divine? For every child, there has to be a first time for tasting the nectar of a Honeysuckle blossom. Your friends can tell you how good it is and you may believe them, but until you taste it for yourself, you really have no idea just how good it actually is.

In the Book of Psalms there are two scriptures.

Ps:34:8: O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Ps:119:103: How sweet are thy words unto my taste!  yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

So Garry’s words stirred within my spirit and brought to my remembrance how I was before I tasted the Lord for myself. For all my life, up until my life was changed and my mind was renewed, whenever I discovered something GOOD, I kept it for myself. The last thing I considered doing with it was sharing it with someone. If I found a good place to hunt or fish or if I discovered some secret relevant to either one, like a different kind of bait or an angling technique or a new artificial lure; that was MINE and I wasn’t sharing it with anyone. I know now how purely selfish that kind of attitude was and it is a source of great shame for me today.

Then there are times when I recall how I used to share BAD things with others and did it gladly. Something like a new stink-bait for catching Catfish was always eagerly shared. Not because it worked great but because it smelled so horrible. I would hand a fishing buddy a container of it and invite him to take a big whiff and check it out. When he did smell it and turned away quickly, repulsed by the stench of it, for some strange reason that was fun for me.

One thing is for sure, neither I nor my close friends would dare present a beautiful flower to one another and ask that its beauty and fragrance be enjoyed by them. Today I can’t help but wonder...just how much of a friend was I really being to them? I also remember my first taste of beer and whiskey. I confused myself many times. Beer didn’t taste good to me at all and whiskey had nothing in the way of an enjoyable taste to it. It burned all the way down to my stomach and at times, almost strangled me as I tried to drink it.  The same could be said for tobacco. I can't tell you how many times I’ve asked myself...”Why did I do that?”
It certainly wasn’t a sensible thing to do. Some of the things we exposed one another to made about as much sense as taking a big stick and rapping them on the shinbone with it. It’s like saying, “Man! Doesn’t that hurt? But just think how good it’s going to feel when it finally stops hurting!” I mean having a terrible hangover after a “Friend” plied you with many drinks the night before could in no way be seen as a good thing. They tell you we had fun but who can remember?  I do know that waking up in a jail cell is no fun.

Well, I can say this much; I’m sure glad that I came to my senses one day.  I’m also glad to say that I didn’t wait too long to do it. Is half a lifetime TOO long?

There’s an old saying that goes “We are too soon old and too late smart.” I’d say for the most part, that’s very accurate. I was twenty-one when I figured out that alcohol was a BAD THING. I wish I had been that wise, that soon about some of the other things in life.

I’ve done a few very wise things along the way. I gave up alcohol at twenty-one. I married my wife when I was thirty-one. When I was forty-three I finally decided to “taste” God and realized how GOOD He was. Since then, there has been so much GOOD in my life I just had to share it with others. I stopped pandering the BAD THINGS and the desire to share everything that was good about life just took over. Whenever I find anything good, the first thing I think about is who can I share it with. If it’s food, I go out of my way to see that others get a taste or I will at least share the recipe with them.

God is much like a Honeysuckle Vine. If you want to know the deep things about Him; if you want to find the blossoms with the most nectar, you will need to reach past the blossoms on the surface, part the tangle of vines and look for the hidden flowers. The one’s that are easy to reach, the Butterflies and Hummingbirds have already reaped the bounty of their nectar. A diligent search pays great rewards. 

Spitting, sputtering & complaining



Come along with me now. We will go out for breakfast in our minds.

It’s a crisp, fall morning, nine thirty or ten o’clock. The hunger demon has been kept at bay with several cups of fresh, hot coffee. I could almost smell the smoky scent of bacon frying and my mouth began to water profusely, causing me to need to swallow constantly to prevent the drool from seeping out of the corners of my mouth.

I threw the proposal out there, loud enough for the girls to hear me no matter where they were around the house. I received two affirmative votes for having breakfast out. Here’s the way it works around here; if you make the proposal, you are expected to PAY. That’s just the way things have come to be understood between the three of us. There was a constant noise brought about by three people all getting dressed at the same time.

I was the first one out to the garage. I opened the door, put on my hooded sweater/jacket and got in behind the wheel of my old Toyota. The girls came through the door and I fired up the engine. Both doors slammed shut and I backed out. I checked to make sure the garage door was closing okay, shifted into drive and we were off.

There was very little conversation except that someone made note of the quickly changing color of the leaves on the trees and commented how some expert had predicted that we wouldn’t see much color this year because of the drought we had just existed out of in this area.

Three miles later, we pulled into the parking lot of The Stringtown Restaurant and found a spot right next to the door. Maureen stopped to get a Saturday newspaper as she always does. Once inside we noticed the signs that they had been very busy this morning. Most of the tables were either occupied or still had not been bused. Way back in the rear of the large main room I spotted a table with three chairs that was clean. I led the way and the girls followed closely behind.

We sat for about ten minutes and noticed that several groups of three and four people had come in behind us. Finding no clean tables to sit at, they sat down at the dirty one of their choice and the bus boys quickly came to clear them off. Another ten minutes passes and still no one had come to our table. That was really unusual, no matter how busy they were.  All of the waitresses were extremely busy, scurrying here and there, disappearing into the kitchen for a time and then reappeared carrying large trays filled with covered plates of food.

Then something happened that caught all of our attentions. The waitresses had a new system it seemed. They would wait on the people who were closest to the kitchen door first. “What’s up with that?” There they were, taking the orders of the three other groups that had come in after us. In fact, one waitress had to stand aside until the bus boys finished clearing the table before they could step up and take orders or at least find out what they would have to drink with their breakfast.

We shot glances back and forth at one another. Each of us understood the expressions on the others faces. We were confused and growing more impatient with each passing minute. Now we were up to approximately thirty minutes without being noticed. My stomach was growling in protest and then I started feeling nauseous.

The newspaper had stopped rustling, I looked around at the others. Maureen had one page between thumb and index finger, frozen in motion. I’ve seen that look before; it’s not pleasant. For an instant my imagination played tricks on me. I thought I saw smoke coming out of her ears and a column of steam drifting off the top of her head, headed for the ceiling. If looks could kill, there would have been carnage scattered about the whole room. The groups that had come in after us got their food and were eating before we ever got that first cup of bitter coffee.  Yes! That’s right! The coffee they serve is not the highlight of the meal. Let the carping begin!

A lot of things had changed of late at Stringtown. They had been doing some extensive remodeling and you never knew from one week to the next where the tables and booths would be the next time. They had raised their prices, found a new way to make toast that ruined it and the same was true of the coffee. They had hired lots of new help. Wouldn’t you think that the service would have improved instead of getting worse because of that fact?

How have they displeased us?  Let me count the ways. I’d say the list is up to ten or more items by now. What in the world is going on? Mary’s place has gone downhill too and they also have been doing some remodeling and additions there. There are a couple of new faces to be seen, relatives I believe.  Thank God! The coffee at Mary’s Place is still wonderfully fresh and tasty. They grind the beans for every fresh pot just before the brewing cycle begins. That is the edge Mary’s Place has over Stringtown.

Here’s the worse part of the whole mess. Saturday was my sixty-second birthday. Ain’t that a kick in the head? Would it have made any difference had I shared that bit of news with them?  I doubt it. Honestly, the thought that it was my birthday never entered my mind until such time as we were back at home and Maureen said “Happy Birthday. You thought I had forgotten; didn’t you?”  Why shouldn’t she forget; I had?

While sitting there at our table, spewing little bits of food here and there due to all the muttering we were doing while we ate, each of us confessed that the thought of just getting up and walking out without eating had crossed our minds at one point before that first cup of bitter coffee had been delivered. I spent the rest of the time trying to come up with some method they could implement that would keep this same thing from happening to others. I had some good ideas I thought.

I think the result of this experience will be that our trips to Stringtown will be fewer and farther in between. We’ve already begun to cut back on our trips to Mary’s Place.  I suppose it is time for us to start looking for another place to have breakfast.  Sure! We will probably find one too and it will be fifteen miles away.

Somehow we managed to salvage a very good Birthday experience for me after that bad beginning. My Baby Girl came over with her gift and a two page, single spaced treasure of words for her Old Dad. She knows I would rather have something she wrote than any fancy card she could purchase at a store. She had me choked up a couple of times there. The food got better too as the day progressed. Gail worked her magic in the kitchen and whipped up a large steak, baked potato and salad for my Birthday dinner. 

I went to bed that night feeling older, as one should after being reminded about how old they are for most of the day.