Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Keeping a Civil Tongue
Last evening at the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society we had a gentleman who spoke on the weaponry of the American Civil War. He was a last minute substitute for our original speaker Ken Williams who was to have spoken on the Mason Dixon Line. The substitute was Sam Vaughn who is a Confederate Colonel for the reenactments of the Civil War as part of the Campbell Artillery Brigade. Colonel Vaughn shared the reason he was the Colonel was because he was the only person with a cannon.
His hour long presentation of weaponry covered the rifles, carbines, shotguns, and pistols of the Civil War era. He didn’t bring his cannon, because he’d stored it away for the winter. The wide selection of authentic and replica weapons ranged from the basic muzzle loading rifles to the various pistols gave us insight to the guns of the Civil War soldier. With due diligence, Col. Vaughn traced the history of each piece and the improvement and innovation in the next weapon.
The flash pan flintlock was the first weapon he detailed. The nearly 10 pound weapon was passed to the audience. Col. Vaughn also shared the progression of the cartridges that were developed for each weapon. They ranged from the muzzle loading lead ball to a rubber jacketed cartridge. The descriptions lead to bullets wearing brass casings.
Through his presentation he described the difference between a rifle and a carbine, also pointing out the changes in loading each weapon, the cartridges, and percussion caps to detonate the powder. The approximate time for a Civil War soldier to load and fire his rifle was about 20 seconds. The shotguns of the era often used buck and ball muzzle loads. If the larger ball missed its target, most likely the smaller scattering buck shot would injure the enemy. Sam shared that Stonewall Jackson was injured by friendly fire. He was wearing a dark uniform and mistaken for a Yankee soldier. The ball was removed from his arm, but cloth debris from his jacket remained in the wound. It festered and his arm had to be amputated. Later Stonewall succumbed to pneumonia.
Col. Vaughn’s original and most expensive firearm was his Burnside carbine. The carbine was a gun shorter than a rifle and often men from the cavalry or the artillery would carry one. As it was passed through the audience the wear patterns of the weapon were easily noticed.
He also shared the progressive improvement of handguns from that time period, starting with the derringer to the pepperbox and through the invention of the revolver. Thank you Colonel Vaughn, it was a remarkable collection and an extremely informative event.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Goodhearted Men Still Exist
My daughter shared this story with me Saturday evening while she was working on craft projects in my basement. Although she and her husband James own a home, they live in their basement to allow his mother and two brothers to live in the main part of the house. This arrangement has been going on for nearly four years. With no room for her to create and finish her art projects, she came to my house to get ready for an upcoming craft vendor sale.
Now, I’ll share the story she told me about her husband James.
“I'm going to brag about how amazing my husband is! He went to Wal-Mart yesterday and saw a police cruiser parked near the front of the store. He did his shopping and when he came out he saw that the cruiser was still there. He went back inside to grab a drink and a Starbucks gift card. When he came out the cruiser wasn't there. He went to his truck, put the grocery bags in and started getting in himself. He then spotted the police cruiser coming down the parking lot. He jumps out of the truck and motions for the police officer to stop. The officer asked my husband if he could help him. My husband told the officer he wanted to thank him for his service and to give him something. He handed the officer the gift card. The officer was in tears and said that no one has done anything like that to him.
I don't know this officer's name, but I do know that this officer puts his life on the line to keep us safe! I'm so thankful to have a husband that wants to give back to those that have done so much for us!”
She shared a similar story Sunday evening. She and James were entering a store and saw an unmarked empty police cruiser at the front. They bought another gift card and waited. Then the trooper emerged, they handed the card to her. At first she refused, but after some persuading, she accepted.
Yes, there are still caring and giving people in the United States. People that are still wanting to make things better for others; especially those soldiers, firemen, emergency responders, and yes, even the police officers who go about their daily tasks to protect fellow Americans from the evils that exist in this world today. Thank you to those men and women. Take the time to recognize and honor them.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Open Mouth, Insert Foot
I was working the daylight shift in the emergency department at Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania and as I entered the emergency department, I couldn’t help but notice that the place was already hopping. Back then the night shift was staffed with one doctor, one nurse, and one nursing assistant and that morning their hands were full.
It had been a very busy night and as I arrived, another two patients were brought in by ambulance. I tossed my jacket and lunch into the break room, rolled up my sleeves, and joined the melee. Those patients were no sooner stabilized when an overdose was delivered to the E.R.
By then the rest of daylight crew had filtered in to work, but the tempo never slowed. If anything, it seemed to increase. Patients seemed to flood in. Some of them were routine visits mixed with actual emergencies, but they kept coming. As soon as a bed was emptied it was almost immediately filled with another person seeking help for an illness or injury.
As I rushed past the nurses’ station, I saw the Directress of Nursing standing there, leaning against the ledge. She peered over the top, looking disdainfully down at my shoes.
Back then all nurses male and female were required to wear all white shoes. I had white shoes, but I hadn’t taken the time to change into them. They were still in my locker of the nursing lounge. What I was wearing was a pair of bright electric blue running shoes with white lightning type stripes on the sides.
It looked as though she was going to comment on my shoes. I stopped long enough to say, “If you’re not here to help us; don’t say anything.” And I hustled off.
“Oh, crap!” I thought after I blurted it out. “Me and my big mouth, I’ll be in her office tomorrow.”
Later when I passed the desk again, she’d already left the area, but it was still very busy and I had no time to worry about what I’d said to her. The emergencies kept coming.
After lunch the emergency department finally settled and I was able to change shoes. I was still worried about what I’d said, but the dreaded phone call to visit the D.O.N. never came

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mummified Sky Raisins
Mystified? I didn’t know what a sky raisin was until my daughter Anna Prinkey stopped by my house with her dog Rocky. One hundred sixty pounds of muscle and teeth, Rocky is a German Shepherd Husky mix and highly protective of my daughter. God help the person that would dare try to harm her while he’s around. Even though he tolerates me, he still will snarl and snap if I make any untoward fast movements towards her.
Let me backtrack to say that this autumn, I have had a lighter than usual incursion of stink bugs, only three, about five of the fake lady bugs, two yellow jackets, and one wasp seeking their winter vacation home inside of my house. Where they come from I have no idea, but every fall they seem to make the annual pilgrimage.
The anomaly to the invading insects was the unprecedented number of house flies that have sought a sanctuary from the cold. Their presence has been just short of the biblical plague that God inflicted on Egypt. I soon got tired of chasing and swatting them, so I hung two of the sticky fly traps from the ceiling near the window where they seemed to congregate. So far, there must be sixty or so of the winged creatures stuck to those dangling amber curls. I’ve still been busy using the flyswatter to lessen their numbers and I have “downed pilots” in many places on the floor and furniture tops. They’re dead, dried, and have mummified waiting for me to sweep, vacuum, and dust them away into the trash. I find their dehydrated bodies are randomly scattered throughout my living room.
Back to Anna’s dog Rocky. He likes to catch and eat the flies that are still alive. As he ate one that had fallen to the floor and was crawling across the carpet, Anna said that Rocky likes to catch “sky raisins” and eat them. I thought, “What is a sky raisin?” Then she explained when Rocky catches a fly out of the air, she calls them “sky raisins.”
My cat Willow also likes to eat living flies that she’s able to catch as an occasional one falls to the floor. She will bat them with her paws and play with her food before she finally decides to consume them. She won’t touch the dried ones, mummified sky raisins are not on her menu.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Blessings from Being Busy
I recently posted that my lightly scheduled week quickly turned into a week with something happening on each day. A phone call on Monday to schedule my semi-annual dental exam and cleaning was the start. I never expected the receptionist to say, “Can you come in today?” I was free and agreed, going in for the opening in their schedule and for me opening of my mouth. The blessing of the routine checkup was that I had no cavities.
Tuesday was my appointment to have the manifold replaced on my car. I dropped it off at the mechanic’s garage after going to the polling place to vote. My daughter picked me up and we spent some time together. One place we stopped was at her polling place, so I was able to teasingly say that I went to two voting places. If the Liberals can do it, so can I.
My car wasn’t quite finished when I returned to the garage. As I sat in the waiting area, I met a lady. I asked if she liked to read. When she said yes, I gave her my business card. Then she said “Wait. Let me see if I have my card in the car.” When she returned, she gave me a postcard sized advertisement for her husband’s business. He is one of the crew of the television program the “Barnwood Builders,” Meeting that lady was another blessing for me.
Wednesday was my usual time at Chestnut Ridge Historical Society and then Wednesday evening prayer meeting at my church. Time with friends at the Society and in prayer, hearing God’s word is always a blessing.
The second phone call I made Monday was for an eye exam and for me to order new glasses. Thursday was my appointment. I knew the doctor was going to place drops in my eyes to dilate the pupils, so I did all of my grocery shopping before and even perused frames for my new spectacles before my vision became blurred. With eye exam done, I cruised the aisles of Walmart for the last few items that weren’t available in the other stores. The sky was overcast when I left the store. The medicine had nearly worn off and made it home safely.
Friday was the Veteran’s program at Mt. Carmel Christian School where the students and faculty presented an emotional tribute to veterans from all branches of the military. The students gave personal recognition and thank you to each veteran present. It was a real blessing to see that young people still remember those who have served to keep America free. Thank you all.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Week's Almost Over
When the week began, I had only three days with something scheduled. By the time it's over, I will have an event happening each day. Two phone calls I made Monday sealed my fate. The first call was to schedule my semi-annual dental cleaning. I’m retired, but had no inkling that the dentist would have an opening for Monday. In the past, I have had to wait at least a week. I did chores at home before going to my dental appointment, doing three loads of laundry and cleaning my kitchen.
Tuesday, I took my car to my mechanic’s garage. Last week I began to smell some exhaust fumes and hear a rattling sound. I stopped at his shop last Friday and he said that the manifold needed to be replaced. The appointment was made for Tuesday. I dropped my car off and got a ride home, then later in the day to pick my car back up once it was finished with my younger daughter Anna Prinkey. The second telephone call was for my eye exam. I wasn’t having problems with my vision, but the lenses were scratched from summer yard work. While mowing on my riding mower, some of my shrubs and trees brushed against the lenses, leaving telltale furrows on the surface. The examination was for Thursday afternoon.
Wednesday was my usual workday at the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society. Sorting, storing, and trying to maximize the space we have for photographs, maps, records, and artifacts. There seems to be a constant stream of sorting things into alphabetical order or storing into categories. Wednesday evening is always prayer meeting at our church which finished filling the day.
Thursday was an eye appointment, which was my second call Monday. I don’t mind the series of tests, but when the optometrist places dilating drops into my eyes, I don’t particularly enjoy that feeling. While I waited for my slit lamp exam, the tech measured me for the on new frames I decided on earlier. I always go early to choose frames before my vision is distorted by those drops. I purposely postponed grocery shopping until after the exam. Driving can be hazardous with dilated pupils.
I‘m attending a veteran’s ceremony this afternoon, the event is done by the Mt. Carmel School to honor and to thank the United States military men and women for service to the country. This display has in the past been a tremendously emotional presentation with the students singing and reciting patriotic salutes to each flag, each military branch, and recognition of each veteran who attends. Thank you for remembering.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

What Can Be Found in a Dash?
When we look back at our lives, what do we see? A sermon I recently heard gave the illustration about one of the etchings on a tombstone or a headstone found in a cemetery. Those engravings on the surface usually list the deceased’s name and possibly a small design and the age, but it always includes the date of the person’s birth and the date of the death. Those two dates are separated by a hyphen or a dash and all of that individual’s life is represented by that small chip in the rock. All the history of that person is condensed into that tiny glyph. Each breath that is taken from the cradle to the grave, from the first to the last is represented by that tiny etched line. Each deed that a person does, each act whether good or bad, each second of that individual’s life on earth, and each accomplishment is portrayed in that small scratch in the granite.
Once that person expires, nothing more can be added or changed to that earthly record. Nothing more can be added to that record our lives. All the things that we meant to do will never be accomplished and will never be realized. What we’ve put off until tomorrow will never happen. Making amends with someone with whom we’ve quarreled, taking a special vacation to a special place, or how about asking for salvation? Once that dash is chipped into place prior our death, accepting Christ as Savior will never happen. There will be no excuse that God will accept once that dash is carved separating the date of our birth and our death. Either our name will be entered into the Book of Life or not. Nothing will be able to alter that fact. The choice must be made before the stone carver completes his work.
Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, was sent to earth in the form of a man to reconcile sinful people to the Father be reunited with God. Jesus was the ultimate payment for our sin debt. He died that we might live eternally as the Father’s adopted heirs to the riches of heaven.
If we don’t choose Christ, for he is the one and only way to obtain redemption, we choose to remain in our sins and to reject the free gift of salvation. We will have chosen to accept the punishment that our stubborn and sinful life has earned. The payment has been made, but we must decide to accept it.  Christ is our personal Savior and to reject him is to suffer punishment in Hell. Decide before that dash into eternity is complete.