Friday, July 31, 2015

First Meeting

            We all have tales about our first meeting with loved ones, friends, bosses, or someone who has impacted our lives.  I first met my wife to be at a wedding. It was my first of many firsts. The wedding was for my cousin, Alan Bottomly with his wife Gloria. Their ceremony was the first that I ever attended as an adult and I was in it. I was the best man. It was the first time that I was responsible for the wedding band and that was a cause for concern. There was a heating grate in the floor and I was worried that I’d drop it and watch it disappear into the bowels of the church or that because I stick it on a finger so that I wouldn’t lose it, the ring would get stuck. It was the first time that I was responsible for giving the speech at the reception.

            That blissful occasion was the first time that I laid eyes on my wife-to-be, Cynthia Morrison. She was short, sweet, and her pixie hair cut framed her face. Cindy was one of the attendants; greeting people and having them sign the guest book.

            I normally enjoy teasing and making people smile. As the evening progressed, she was one of the people that I teased. One time she was sitting at the table eating and I kicked her shoe away. I made jokes and most of the time we were laughing together, having a good time. Some of the people at the wedding thought that we were already dating. That came later.

            Her best friend and her friend’s husband arranged for a “blind” date for the two of us as a double date. It was the beginning of our relationship and our years of wedded bliss.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I posted photographs on Face Book yesterday. The photos were of my nieces that often chummed around together, often having a girl’s night out. When they were together, the waitress or other people would ask if they were sisters and that was impossible.
My daughters, Amanda Yoder and Anna Beck were cousins with Jennifer Potosky and Emily Marker form my wife Cindy’s side of the family and Becky Ritenour is a cousin from my side of the family. They are not blood relatives at all, but the similarities in stature and physical appearance cause people to be confused.
These young ladies are bound by friendships that have grown over the years. Sometimes I think this bond is closer than many actual blood connections.

A similar coincidence happened with my mom Sybil Miner Beck and a good friend of hers, Velma Nicholson. They looked so very similar that people would ask if they were sisters. Velma’s real sister looked less like Velma than did my mom. Another incidental happening occurred when Velma and my mom would buy a new dress. They didn’t shop together, but would arrive at church with the same dress. After the first time of “You’re wearing the same dress,” it became humorous, if not pleasant surprises for both of them.

It is said that each person has real life doppelganger somewhere. It just produces a wonderful experience when the “twin” lives so close to you.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Is It Just Me

            Last evening, I noticed the extremely beautiful sunset and I thought about the sky and all of the remarkable colors and hues that have graced the heavens over the past few years. I am not sure if I am taking more notice to the uniqueness of it or whether God is putting on a wonderful display to remind us that He is in control.
            Earlier in the year, I saw clouds that mimicked feather plumes as though an albino bird had fluttered across the blue skies, dropping a few full and down-like pieces of its plumage. I cannot recollect ever seeing clouds like that when I was a child or as I grew into adulthood.
            Recently, sunrises have been extraordinary. Out of the blackness of the night, the sun peers over the horizon brilliant in its flaming glory, torching the sky to life in vibrant colors from red to orange to yellow and every shade in between. The sunlight projects its talent onto any lingering clouds like showing a movie in a theater. Subtle shifts in shape and hue cause the sky to come alive like a panoramic kaleidoscope, constantly moving, directed by the hands of the breezes and time.
            During the daylight hours, the sky might change from the hue of skim milk blue to gray to brilliant cobalt in the matter of hours. Then I must point out the splashes of the clouds themselves. Some seem full and fluffed, while others seem thready, as if smeared on by an artist’s palette knife, scraped and thin.
            So I am back to the sunset that I saw last evening. The sun itself had disappeared behind a low hill, but it couldn’t hide. Its warmth was reflected on low lavender-gray clouds. The orange-red light danced on the full veil of water droplets. The contrast was striking, but the most remarkable thing was that the sun tossed out a bow of flaming light that arched high over its resting place. I’ve seen rainbows, but until last evening, I had never seen an arc of light like that.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Loud and Not Fast

            Last evening I made a run to get gasoline to mow my yard and yes, I did get it finished. My knees feel as though I had just run a marathon wearing lead shoes. As I made my drive home, I saw ahead of me another car. When I saw it, the vehicle was about 12 car lengths ahead of me. I got to about 10 car lengths and thought there was something wrong with my engine. I could hear a low rumble, so I turned off my radio and listened again.
            My car seemed to be pulling okay, but the noise grew louder. By now I was within 5 car lengths. I popped the transmission into neutral to see if that made any difference, it was only louder. The vehicle in front was about 3 car lengths and not moving very fast. It was then I realized that the dark colored sedan was the culprit and not my car at all. It was loud enough that the people inside had to have hearing damage.

            There were two cars that worried me more. One was at my brother-in-law David’s house. We were in his car waiting to pull out onto 711 and a car whisked by, sparks shooting up behind it like a rooster tail. David asked if we should follow him. It was then a cloud of gasoline vapors hit us. I told him “No way, he has to know something’s dragging and with it being his gas tank and the sparks, I don’t want anywhere near him.”

            The other was a car at the hospital I was discharging a patient in a wheelchair. Its windshield crisscrossed with a spider web of cracks. As I got to the exit, a car pulled up. It was for her. When I opened the passenger door, it dropped about 1/2 inch. The seat for the passenger was an upturned apple crate with a burlap sack tossed on it. After helping her inside, I carefully lifter and shut the door. As the car was driving off, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. One of the brake lights fell from the rear fender onto the bumper. It rested there, still glowing red.
            When I relayed the story to my fellow nurses, they asked if I made sure she was wearing her seat belt. I said, “I tied the binder twine as tightly s possible.”
            In the driver’s defense, he spoke with the guards, saying he knew that he shouldn’t have that car on the road, but his wife was so sick.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Aching Ears
            I decided to watch the television series of Tut last evening. The program was interesting, even if it wasn’t completely historically correct. My major concern was it the directing and editing. I almost went crazy and almost stopped watching it, because of the wild swinging of the volume. One moment, when the characters were talking sotto voce and interacting, I had to turn the television almost to the highest volume. The next scene, the chariots blazed across the screen or trumpets began to blare and I would have to drop the volume into almost non-existence.
            It was worse than dealing with a schizophrenic with hormonal disorders. Up and down, constantly, I was unable to thoroughly enjoy the film because of my phrenetic maneuvering of the remote control volume. I don’t know what the director’s name of film, but whoever he is, he should be horsewhipped, drawn and quartered, then his head stuck on the tip of a petard outside of the walls of Thebes. Why would the miserable purveyors of the film cause so much grief to the viewers? It wasn’t shown in a surround-sound theater where you expect to have your eardrums assaulted.
            I don’t know what I would have done many years ago, when remotes were non-existent and having a child to make the changes necessary on the television’s knobs. My children would have been worn out, if Tut had been shown back then.
            My suggestion to the television makers is, “Why can’t you install a chip that allows the customer to set the maximum volume or a mean volume?” It would eliminate the unnecessary ear shattering increased volume associated with commercials. With all of the electronic items, surely the knowledge to produce such a product is out there. I would pay extra to have this “extra” installed in the television set, wouldn’t you?

Monday, July 20, 2015

More and More

When I woke this morning and was being teased by the early morning breeze coming through my bedroom window, I decided, only a few more minutes. I pulled the sheet and light blanket more securely around myself to fend off the cool damp air. I burrowed into the comfort of my bed to extend my sleep time after fluffing my pillows.

But it was not to be. I was about to drop back into the arms of Morpheus when the usual morning serenade of the animals that have slowly over many years been imported into my neighborhood. I was used o the peeper frogs’ high pitched calls at night, but they have been joined by at least one bullfrog. His “Gronk, gronk,” greeted me today. Shortly afterwards, he was joined by the “cock-a-doodle-doo” of a neighbor’s rooster.  So far, the horses that claim the field haven’t started to neigh. They are content to graze on the lush grass.
The dogs from several kennels raised their voices in routine chorus, waiting to be fed.
The major differences today were that the hens ran through the grass clucking and chasing insects and the bleating of a Pygmy goat joined the symphony. The goat wasn’t happy with one or two “Na-a-ah, Na-a-ah,” it continued for neatly fifteen minutes of continual bleating.

I am waiting for one of my neighbors to bring in a more exotic type of animal. Although, I draw the line if I hear an elephant trumpeting or the roar of a lion, I’m moving. Anyone want to buy a house?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mixed Messages

Today, as I sat to write, I see posts on Facebook about the shooting of Marines by another Muslim. It gave me chills to think that early yesterday morning, before the killings occurred, I posted the postcard that displayed the Marine Hymn. It was a card from WW II. It was bought by my uncle Raymond Dale Miner, who was a Marine. There was no inscription on the rear, so I have to assume that it belonged to him and that he gave it to my grandparents.
God bless all who are in our military, striving to put themselves between enemies and the citizens of the United States. Lord, keep them safe. Put a hedge of protection around them, whether on foreign soil or in America and in her cities. Let the leaders make it easier for them to stop our enemies and support the veterans who once put themselves on the line.

The other thing that I was thinking about was about the menagerie that marched through our linen closet over the many years. Some were claimed by my children; Amanda, Andrew, and Anna. Towels caused the most contention. Colors caused the first confrontations, with purple being the most desired. Once my wife Cindy and I discovered that three children and only one type of towel, caused much consternation, we bought three of the same color or design. At least it gave them all a chance if it turned out to be something that sparked their interest.
Towels designed with Teddy bears and red ribbon collars, now threadbare still claim a resting spot on the shelves. Blue, yellow and red cats graced the plush towels. One cat clad cloth is hanging on the clothesline outside now. It waves in the breeze with all of its furriness shed. I know that there were Barney the Purple Dinosaur wash cloths and I know that there were others linens, plain, colored and patterned. Some were abstract and others were prints. Almost all have been worn to the point that they have been relegated to the rag bag of memories.
A few remain to still hang out as the wash is done and to wave in the thoughts and memories of my family’s memory.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015


            Last evening, just after a rain storm passed and as the sun was setting, I saw a beautiful double rainbow. The clouds behind it were gray, but it was the colors of the rainbow that made the difference. It was drizzling with intermittent showers almost all day long. The somber plainness of a day like this can feel a bit depressing. The promise of the rainbow that God created gives mankind hope. Hope for a better life and hope for eternal life. Noah didn’t know this, but his faith in building an ark saved him. His family had faith as well. They helped him build this massive ship, collect the provisions, and stood by him as the community around them surely teased them, thinking the whole family a bit crazy.
            After all, it had never rained before. The area where he built the ark was nowhere near an ocean or a sea. With a boat so immense, how could the family move it and why would they want something so large? But God gave Noah the dimensions of the ship, what wood to use, and to coat it so that it wouldn’t leak. He gave Noah the plans for only one door in the ark and one window.
            The one door pointed ahead when God would offer the one way for salvation and the redemption of the world, the one sinless being that would take away the sins of the faithful who believe, that one way to escape the punishment of a sinful life. God said that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be beaten, scourged, spat upon and die hanging on a cross to offer that “ark” of safety for those who have the faith to believe and accept this “ark” of protection.
            When the storms prevailed in Noah’s time, God closed the ark, filled with animals and Noah’s family. Those outside of the ark were drowned, lost by their refusal to hear the evangelism of Noah. They refused to hear that God’s heavy hand was near. Just as in the times of Noah, man has hardened their hearts. Genesis 6:5-8 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6:6  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
6:7  And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
6:8  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
         God promised that He would never destroy the earth with a flood, He set the rainbow to remind us that sin will be punished, unless you have accepted that “ark” of safety and that is repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Savior.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Another Family Reunion

            Yesterday was another family reunion. It was started to honor the Curtis Rugg family. Curtis was my great-grandfather. His farm was located in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. I can remember the large white clapboard two-story house that always had a tingling, smoky aroma inside. It wasn’t harsh, but had the smell like a smoked ham. There were always chickens and turkeys in the back yard and the orchard filled with heavy bearing fruit trees.
            This thin wiry man was my grandmother Rebecca Rugg Miner’s father. My last memory of him was of him sitting with my great-uncle Wesley on the swing of the small front porch of his home. Wesley was as rotund as Curtis was wiry. Now, the reunion always honors the eldest Rugg alive.

            I like going to the meeting of the clan. I can reestablish family ties with cousins that I haven’t seen since the year before. It sometimes expands with new, babies and new faces as some marry or some have children. The great thing about the reunion is seeing some who live far away coming for a once in a many year visit. Many are older or their health limits the times that they can rejoin this celebration of family.
            Many, like me, are growing old and the ball games, races, and other activities are relegated to the younger children. We sit and watch them run, filled with the slowly waning energies that we once had. Water balloons seemed to be the enticement for mischief this year.

            Great food is always the centerpiece of the gathering. Different recipes fill the tables and smorgasbord style we peruse and partake of the goodies, sampling whatever catches our eyes and wishing that we had sideboards on our plates. There is always one table spread with the desserts; pies, cookies, fudge, but missing this year was the watermelon.
            Watermelon and lemonade are things that take me back to the old Rugg farm and the reunions that were held there in a pasture, under the fruit trees on sawhorse tables. At the one end of the table were always cold slices of watermelon. The huge crock of lemonade dominated the farthest end, filled with the sweet concoction. It held the pale yellow nectar and huge chunks of ice. It was so refreshing to taste these treats on a hot sunny day, beneath the shade of the trees.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fill in the Blank

Sometimes when I sit to write, I see a blank page and my mind is the same, blank and void of ideas. It isn’t the best thing to happen to a writer. I find myself in this position this morning. I am doing what I was told to do when this problem arises, sit and write whatever comes to mind. Often the lock can be opened by some key word or phrase.
Recently, my thoughts have been turning to the inordinate amount of rain, persistent, frequent, and severe stormy rain. We are being blessed with this weather while southern California and parts of the western states are suffering from a long dry spell and wild fires.
God created the world and every creature that is in it. He made the sun and moon and stars. He uses weather to impose His will and to set into motion His plans.
He uses the winds, Proverbs 30:4, holding the winds in His fists. He uses the rain, Noah and the flood. He promises earthquakes in diverse places, Matthew 24:7. He calls for droughts on the land, Haggai 1:11.

I have been thinking more and more on the control that God has on the entire world, but He gave mankind the ability to choose. From the first, in the Garden of Eden, God made it clear that mankind has the freedom of choice, to follow His commands or to follow their own choices. Mankind has proved over and over again that his choices have led them further and further into sin and deprivation. Despots have used their choices to enslave and to kill millions. Wars, religious or just a wish to rule the world, were caused by one man’s choice and the choices of those who followed him.

My rambling has come to a close. The page now has writing on it. I can’t think of more to write without imposing on your choice to read my thoughts.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Water, Water Everywhere

It has rained for twenty of the thirty days of the month of June, pouring down to make June 2015 the rainiest on record. The total for the Pittsburgh area was 5.1 inches. So far, July hasn’t been much better. It has been a struggle to plant anything, mow the lawn, and to do any outside chores. I have a pile of firewood waiting to be stacked.
I guess that the Global Warming supporters will have to change their mantra to Climate Change. It only goes to show that God is in charge and that man’s miniscule attempts to control or change the environment is limited to using the energy and the things that God has created. Solar, petroleum, atomic, or geothermal, all are made available by a being that has control over it all. The Earth, moon, and stars were hung by Him and even the human beings that try to elevate themselves are His creations.
Mother Nature is a euphemism that mankind uses so they do not have to recognize God and that he is the one in control. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, floods, and lightning strikes show a small inkling of His power. Even sunlight, breezes, and rain and other mild mannered occurrences of nature show the wonder of His blessings. There is nothing that is out of His control. He spoke and all that we humans can feel or know came into existence.
God has allowed humans to choose their own path. He offers the perfect way to become an adopted child and to live in a heavenly home. He sent His sinless Son to die on the cross, shedding His innocent blood to pay the price of our sin debt.
One of my choices was to buy the house that I live in now. It was a time that my wife, Cindy and I, had three children and it was closer to my work at Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania and nearer to her job at Mt. Zion Christian Academy on Kreinbrook Hill Road. It served us well as our kids grew. One by one the children have left the house and Cindy died. Owning a four bedroom house has become a burden. It is too large for just my daughter, Anna and me. After October, it will be only me living inside of this mausoleum.
I am thankful that she is getting married to a wonderful young man, but at that time, it will be much too large for me unless I take in boarders. Anyone want to rent a room?


Monday, July 6, 2015



Twin Lakes

                While I was at the Twin Lakes celebration yesterday, I ate a Stromboli. As I talked to the servers, I mentioned that I was a writer and wrote some poetry. She asked that I write a poem about them. I can't remember the names, but here is my limerick.

We sell several flavors of Stromboli.
It's our pleasure to satisfy you wholly.
Fully filling the pastry,
They're hot and tasty
Come eat something great. Don’t be melancholy. 

                I was so tired when I finished my marathon to sell my books and pass out business cards at the Twin Lakes Festival on Independence Day. I didn’t sell a single thing, but I passed out flyers and business cards trying to interest readers into purchasing my detective mysteries. The first is Tommy Two Shoes: From Mountains to More and Tommy Two Shoes Entangled. BotCome eat something great. Don't be melancholy.
If anyone goes today, please tell them I kept my promiseCome eat something great. Don't be melancholy.
If anyone goes today, please tell them I kept my promise
Come eat something great. Don't be melancholy.
If anyone goes today, please tell them I kept my promiseCome eat something great. Don't be melancholy.
If anyone goes today, please tell them I kept my promiseCome eat something great. Don't be melancholy.
If anyone goes today, please tell them I kept my promiseCome eat something great. Don't be melancholy.
If anyone goes today, please tell them I kept my promise
Come eat something great. Don't be melancholy.
If anyone goes today, please tell them I kept my promise
h books are a collection of short stories that have the retired homicide detective from the Pittsburgh police force. His friends and relatives find themselves facing serious problems and Tommy being the naturally curious cop and good hearted person follows the clues and solves each case. He is aided by the spirit of his deceased Uncle Aidan LeClerc
                I wasn’t able to sell a single book, but my acting as a barker, drew people passing by to stop and see the books that our group of local authors had to offer. Everyone else sold books, so I teased that I wanted a cut on their take. I was kidding. The profit margin on books to a relatively unknown author is minimal, so how could I even ask.
                Most of the day, I was on my feet hawking. My feet and legs were so tired. The weather was great. My fellow authors were wonderful, and the people I met and chatted with were fantastic. I had one Chinese woman that was teaching her language to me. I was able to pronounce them after her, but she tried several and cannot keep then straight.
                One of the booths around us held a troupe of actors that was promoting a local play about Johnny Appleseed. Other authors around us dealt with Bigfoot and UFO’s. There was a blacksmith shop set up a few booths away. Another author one booth away sold books on the haunted locations on Route 30 and 22 in Pennsylvania. The ringing of the red hot iron being shaped by hammer and anvil added to the general atmosphere. Several tents down, a group of people represented the Renaissance Festival and were in costumes of the period.
                Away from our area, there were vendors selling almost anything imaginable, from food stuffs to metal workings, paintings, and jewelry. It was like a pay-as-you-go carnival.
                The only down side, and I mean that literally, was that one of our lady authors at our table had a knee replacement and had trouble getting out of her chair. Once she was up, she lost her balance and fell back into the chair. Falling backward, she knocked the other elderly woman who was standing there onto the ground. That woman had hip surgery, but it was fortunate that the ground was soft and that she fell onto her buttocks and not onto a hip. Both survived the incident and as far as I know there were no lingering after affects.
                I am looking forward to another year at the Twin Lakes Festival.

Friday, July 3, 2015

I am feeling lazy today and have an early appointment, so I  will share a short story that I wrote as an assignment for one of my writing groups.

A Grizzly Discovery

She didn’t think it would happen, but it was finally morning. The sun was rising. Its warming orange fingers spread across the horizon. She was alive and thankful. The long cold night had been terrifying.
She became separated from her hiking partners and began to follow a faint trail. She knew that the wilderness area was home to multiple carnivores; bears, cougars, wolves, and even wolverines. She planned for a short hike and carried no survival gear except a water bottle. She followed the faint trail. Each sound caused her to jump. Searching, she found a broken branch with a sharp end that she could use as a staff and a spear if necessary. It was protection of sort and made her feel safer.
Along the path were blueberry bushes. She ate the few lingering berries that remained. They did little other than to whet her appetite. She drank deeply from a crystal clear freshet, then refilled her water bottle, before moving on.
Afraid that she would be forced spend the night she probed every overhang, cave, brush pile, and overturned tree looking for a haven from the animals and the cold. When the sun dropped over the horizon, the temperatures would drop as well. She needed to find a dry, secure place to spend the night.
As tendrils of shadows reached over the land, she found a deep, dry crevice between two leaning rocks. This would be it. It would be her den of safety. She gathered and hauled leaves into the cave. It would insulate her from the cold ground and cover her to trap the heat. Intertwining branches, she narrowed the opening to keep larger animals outside. Pushing her pointed staff through the opening as a deterrent, it would impale any creature that tried to enter.
Barely settled, darkness fell like a heavy black blanket. It came with furtive unidentifiable noises from the outside. Although she tried to stay awake, she nodded off occasionally.
As the first rays of the rising sun pried the reluctant fingers of darkness from the distant horizon, she rejoiced. She outlasted the night and was safe to face the new day.
            From the depths of the den at her back came the sounds of snuffing and the shambling footpads of a grizzly bear.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What I thought was prose was only a poem that doesn't rhyme. Here is the parallel of The Chair.
The Sink Window

The old woman leans against the sink.

She stands at the window

looking and thinking,

hoping someone to see.

Her eyes stare down long lonely lane

each day a struggle,

knees crying in pain,

she walks with faltering steps.

The old woman opens the curtains, leaning on the sink.

Only the sun comes in.

She waits, withered and bent,

no one is seen in the lane.

Each day, hope drags her from bed.

As each day drags on,

her puckered lips

sag into toothless frown.

Youth has flown. Gnarled hands rest on sink’s edge.

Her clock’s wound down.

Curtains are closed, windows are dark,

and the sink remains dry.