Thursday, November 25, 2010


I live up a hill at the edge of the woods. I have no curtains on my bedroom window that faces the valley to the east. So I wake when the sun begins to lighten the horizon. Streaks of orange and crimson against the deep blue sky and brilliant white clouds.

Many mornings I do not welcome that awakening. But today is Thanksgiving, the beginning of a four day weekend, the day that guarantees a great meal, the eve of the most fun sporting event in the State of Alabama, yes probably the world. (For those readers who are not local, bless your heart. I am speaking of the Iron Bowl, the annual football classic between Alabama and Auburn.
Just to get a bit of flavor here are the links to the Montgomery and Tuscaloosa newspapers' sport page websites. They are a bit more subdued than usual, probably out of some journalistic integrity to not fan the flames of passion any further. It has gotten pretty warm around here the past few weeks. The way it should be.; or )

All great reasons to greet another day, but not really the main reasons I greet this day with thanksgiving.

Before I turned in last night I checked my email. A long-time friend was asking for prayer for a relative who has become terribly sick. So I did that before I went to sleep.

That request for prayer turned into a longer conversation, a conversation that started because I was reminding God what a good person my friend is, and how much she had meant to me all these years. That reminded me of another friend that showed up at the office this week on his annual unexpected visit and how he always makes me laugh. He was probably my first friend. I do not remember meeting him. And I reminded God of what a sweet soul my friend has always had.

Thinking of how my friend made me laugh made me think of my dinner in Nashville last week with Vann and Benjamin, my sons, and Kate, Benjamin's wife, for Vann's birthday. I had a great time with them, as usual. Vann and I lunched a couple of times this week while he has been home on break. We will all eat together again today at the Lowry's. They are three of the best people I know. And they make me laugh. Just because I am biased does not mean it is less true. So I reminded God of what a good job He had done so far with them and asked Him to keep up the good work, which He has begun.

Thinking of my sons and their childhoods reminded me of another friend who had just hours earlier sent me a voice message from a young buddy who, as best I could understand, was hoping that I was having fun. I thanked God for both of them and their families.

And thinking of families reminded me of the rest of mine. I went for a run earlier in the evening. After I finished I went up to Terri and Tommy's to see if they needed help getting ready for today. Our family is eating up there for Thanksgiving. About thirty or so. It's hard to know the exact number. Other than wrapping a few sets of silverware in cloth napkins, which I am not very good at, I didn't help much. I mostly just visited with Cindy, which I am good at. So I asked God to continue to bless that house where so many have taken refuge and received hospitality for so many years, and to especially bless its occupants because they have been such a blessing to others.

So that is how the conversation continued to go, as if God were turning the pages of a photograph album, reminding me of person after person that I am blessed to know. And for each one I gave thanks and asked a blessing. I went to sleep at some point.

And that is how I woke up.

And in the early morning light I began to walk down the driveway, where I met Emily, my sister, and Rusty, her dog. He pooped in front of my carport and we took a walk down the driveway and across the field and to my mother and father's house where we drank coffee.

I guess God isn't finished with the conversation. Doesn't He ever sleep?

Another thing to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

And now the news . . .really?

Pope Benedictus XVI recently tried to clear up some confusion created in a series of interviews he gave in Germany. Apparently his German is not so guten. No wait, he is German.

In an effort to clear things up, the Pope said that condoms might actually be a good idea under certain circumstances. Like if you are a male prostitute. I do not know for sure what His Holiness was trying to clear up, but judging by the media reaction today, he made need to take another shot.

In a related story, Warren Buffet said the very rich in the United States should be paying much higher taxes.

Meanwhile, airports in the United States are being threatened with a Thanksgiving slowdown. Travellers are being urged to refuse the security scan which reportedly allows TSA officials to see an image of each traveller with no clothes on. All who refused the scan would have to go through a pat-down, which takes much more time. Plus, there is an actual human placing his or her hands in and on those private places that the scanners reveal. That's so much better.

The slowdown is a protest to the body scans as an invasion of privacy. The protesters say that the loss of the right of privacy at the hands of the scanner (no, the scanner has no hands, that's the pat-down patrol) is a result of an over-reaction to the terrorist threat. (Apparently some of us now trust terrorists more than we trust our government. Not sure when things went that far.)

I agree with the protesters that Wednesday, if the protesters efforts are effective, the threat from terrorists will be terribly insignificant . . .

when compared to the angry hordes whose flights will be delayed by their lunacy. Being seen naked will be the least of the protesters' worries. Nothing unifes a mob quicker than a delayed or cancelled flight on a holiday travel day. Pity the terrorist or protester who delays that crowd any longer.

I regret that I have but one life to give for my modesty . . .

And finally, Republicans are indicating that they will block ratification of START, the treaty with the Russians regarding nuclear missiles. One that many of their group would favor if they were in the majority because they believe it is critical to national security. The old treaty has expired. There is currently no accountability at all. Senators Kyl from Arizona and Bond from Missouri would like to put the vote off a few months, after all the new Senators have had a chance to study it and maybe have a few hearing. It is important to national security, but not as important as denying President Obama one of his stated goals, to ratify START.

Meanwhile who knows what those crazy Ruskies are up to?

Sarah Palin, where are you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I computered tonight . . .

I went to Nashville last week to see Vann, Benjamin and Kate. It was Vann's birthday week (he turned 21). Vann chose the restaurant for dinner. We ate at La Paz.

Or you might say we La Pazzed for his birthday.

A portion of the dinner coversation was taken up with the linguistic practice of making nouns into verbs, or nouning verbs, to put it into practice.

We vacationed in the Hamptons. We summered at the lake. We motored across town.

We didn't do any of that, they were just examples. All with a slightly British accent for some reason.

It made for riveting dinner conversation for awhile. At least we thought so. You can make any noun into a verb if you try hard enough. I quesadillaed. I coffeed. We Priused back to Benjamin and Kate's where we Alabama footballed. Kate confirmed that it is a real thing. She found it on the internet. She googled it.

So it was kind of interesting when Barry preached on the same subject this morning. Okay, the actual subjects were far from the same, but Barry spoke of a noun that is really a verb.

Love is a verb. Or should be. We like for it to be a noun. A noun can just sit there till somebody else moves it. But a verb, now that's something different. A verb must get up and do something.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to say, "We love."

No, that's not quite right.

It would be nice if we all did it. Love, that is.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday morning cartoons . . .

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

I was reading The New Yorker this morning. Okay, I was really flipping through the pages looking at the cartoons. That's what I do first with a new issue. Sometimes that's all I do. I hope that doesn't diminish my intellectual style points. (Actually this morning I did read the movie reviews for "The Next Three Days" and "Morning Glory," but I don't think that counts toward the intellectual tally sheet since I was really just wanting to know which movie to waste ten bucks on.)

There were a couple of gems. One by Roz Chast was entitled "The Last Thanksgiving." Just the idea of a pushback to all the "First Thanksgiving" depictions was enough for me. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a great cartoon is worthy of none, especially Roz Chast cartoons. I don't have permission to print it, but you can see it on the page where you could buy it if you wanted to.

But I will try to explain the second cartoon anyway, because it expressed so simply a great notion worthy of contemplation and I don't have permission to reproduce it. The cartoonist is gifted, but his or her signature leaves a great deal to the imagination. I imagine his or her name is B. S. Miller, but I'm not sure.

A middle-aged couple is standing in a bare, empty room of a house. The woman, purse in hand as if she had just walked in, is standing next to the man, staring at the stripped walls and rooms. No furniture, no pictures, only a bare light bulb hanging down from the ceiling. The only thing in the room is a small, rectangular, shiny brick in the middle of the floor. The man tells the woman:

"I've simplified my life by converting all my possessions into one gold brick."

Some of you may be thinking at this point, "If only I had done that a year ago . . ."

If so, maybe words are necessary for this one. Bless your heart.

Most of us experience gold as jewelry. A few carats. An ounce or two.

In such small amounts we may have missed one of the main characteristics of gold.

It is heavy.

Like an anchor. Security in the swirling currents (or currencies) of our changing world.

But like an anchor it holds us in place. As the river of life flows past, urging us to come along, we are trapped by our own security. We never get to where we were meant to be because we can't turn loose of the gold.

And when the waters rise . . .


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Do me wrong, or do me right, right now . . .

I believe I have posted this before, but I'll say it again. I am wrong sometimes. And so are you. That doesn't mean we aren't fine people, we are just mistaken from time to time.

I have never taken a position that I did not believe to be true at the time. Unfortunately, in hindsight, I realize that confidence has occasionally been misplaced. We all are wrong sometimes, even though we were confident we were right. We just don't know it till later, if we are lucky enough to find out at all.

So in this moment, as so many are flinging opinions into the great marketplace of ideas, there is a great chance, probably closer to a certainty, that many of those cherished opinions are wrong.

That doesn't mean we should quit offering our opinions.

It just means that, like maturing parents, at some point we must accept the healthy reality that our offspring are not perfect.

But we don't boot the imperfect children out and banish them to the land of imperfect children. No, we continue to be parents. To nag, punish, encourage, teach and applaud, pick them up, dust them off and send them back into the fray of life to be tested.

Mistakes can be corrected.

But our neighbor's children? If they don't measure up, that's a different story. Haul them off to juvenile, hopefully never to be seen again. They are so screwed up it's hopeless. No need to think about giving them another chance. They'll never amount to anything.

Unless we are wrong about that.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Man Up America

This morning I listened to the talk-radio post mortems and read the papers regarding the election. They featured several interviews with disgruntled voters. A typical response went something like this:

"I just hope they get the message. We just want less government, smaller government, government out of our lives. We want lower taxes. And this deficit they are rolling up, we want something done about that. But most of all, the government needs to do something about jobs."

I got two words for these concerned citizens. Man up.

If you want government out of your life, then take care of yourself and those around you. Quit whining about the economy and jobs. You said it. The government is too big. The government intrudes on your life. You don't need big brother. Who ever said that the government owed you anything?

You did. I just heard it. Over and over and over. The government owes me a good economy and a job.

I think government has a logical role to play in maintenance of the economy, including employment levels. But you don't. So what's up with wanting the government to fix the economy? Either you want the government to help or you don't. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you can have it both ways.

I think Rand Paul is . . . well he would just not be my choice for Senator based on what I had read. He's probably a very nice man.

But to give him credit, that is what he said in a speech today. Rand Paul said it is not the government's job to create jobs. I personally disagree with that policy. But I appreciate his consistency. That is what we've come to. Rand Paul is our role-model.

Again, America, quit sipping your tea with a straight pinky and man up. We got a deficit? You want to get rid of it? Then let's pay it down. No tax cuts. On the contrary, lets pay more taxes until the deficit is gone. Then, and only then, cut the taxes.

And smaller government? Not a bad idea. It'll help reduce the budget deficit. Let's cut the budget across the board by ten percent percent based on last years' budget for as long as it takes to get rid of the deficit.

Sure, that might hurt retired Americans a little. And federal employees. And sick folks. And states like Alabama who depend on federal dollars to pay for frills like police and teachers. And those of you who depend on government defense contracts for employment will probably be out of a job for awhile till this deficit thing is straightened out, but that's a small price to pay for smaller government and to get the country back on sound financial footing, isn't it?

Smaller government and budgets and deficits are perfectly legitimate, even desirable government policies. Sometimes bigger government and budgets and deficits are as well.

But there is a price to pay no matter what policies we choose.

Man up America.

It's time to pay up.


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