Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why Do People

Where I live, there is a fairly long, straight stretch of highway. It isn’t a road like Route 119, but a less travelled back road and yet there are those folks who are in a hurry. They think the straightaway is an open invitation to pass other drivers who are maintaining the speed limit. These same people roar past my home with breakneck speeds radios blaring, not knowing what is ahead. Often there is farm machinery coming in the opposite direction, sometimes taking more than half the roadway. Sometimes there are busses picking up or delivering children and animals, wild and domesticated that will cross from side to side. God forbid that a child is chasing a ball or riding a bike.

The other thing that is irritating to me is that some people seem to think country roads like mine are their own, personal trash receptacles, tossing out food containers, paper, cans, and bottles. Those items are not so bad. They are easy to pick up, but the ones who smoke should keep their butts in their vehicles as well as the final remains of their cigarettes. Still toe cigarette leftovers aren’t too bad, but the unregenerate, uncouth idiots that unceremoniously and ignorantly toss out their kids soiled, fecal filled diapers should leave their name and address so I can visit them and crap in their yard. These people have no sense of propriety and should not be allowed to raise children.

Well, I am done with my rant. My yard is clear this morning and I am going back outside to stack my wood. Does anyone want to help? I have extra gloves and will feed you lunch.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Recently there has been extreme heat and drought, storms, tornados, flooding, and wild fires that are ravaging the United States. It seems more tornados are being reported than eve and there are more areas of severe flooding into places where flooding hasn’t been reported before. The extreme heat is causing other territories to become tinder dry for wild fires.
Is it Mother Nature or Global Warming, or can it be the hand of God who is passing judgment on a nation that He once blessed? We say God bless America, but has the time of blessing ended and a time of trials just begun. A nation that once held God in awe, now casually uses the word awesome to describe something as trivial as a pair of sneakers, lipstick, or a new ice cream flavor. The word awesome has lost all of its meaning of fear and reverence.
America as a nation has slowly in small increments turned its back on God. America as a nation was conceived on many of the principles and freedoms found in the Bible, now that nation wants to remove His name from everything. We are becoming an ungrateful people who want to remove even the one day set aside to be thankful for His blessings from the calendar, Thanksgiving Day. The ghosts, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween are swallowing up that day and it is threatening Christmas. More money is being spent to celebrate the dark side of the world. Christmas season, celebrating the birth of the Christ child is being smothered by Santa. Easter, the time we celebrate His death is hiding beneath the fur of the Easter rabbit.
Our days that we celebrate our veterans, alive and dead are being grilled and served to us on buns. Independence Day is falling under the spray of picnics and fireworks. Fights for “rights” are dissolving our freedoms and removing our actual established Constitutional rights of freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, and freedom of religion.
Is this once bastion of freedom and beacon of hope on decline? Has God stopped blessing America and has He started to judge us for our sins?

Friday, June 24, 2016

One Face Among Thousands

Last evening I began a search for one photograph somewhere buried in the thousands of photographs in my home. The reason that there are so many is there were several shutterbugs in the family. My older daughter Amanda worked for a photography company that took children’s school photos, but before that she loved to take pictures of school mates, special events, or scenery. This was intensified when Pastor Norman Johnston would share the United States on their way to church camp. He would plan the trips to share the beauty of the west as they tented most of the way.
My other daughter, Anna liked to take photos, but to a slightly lesser degree. She still contributed many pictures to the massive pile of photos waiting to be explored. My son Andrew liked to travel, but didn’t take as many photos, even though he flew to South Korea to visit with Pastor Norm who had been a missionary there.
When my mother-in-law Retha Morrison died, all of her photos ended up at my home. She was even more well-travelled than my kids; first with her husband Bud before he passed away then with friends, roving the United States and Canada. When she began to take photos, she inspired ISIS cutting off everyone’s heads, but learned to have better aim and she took thousands herself.
Upon my father E. Carl Beck’s death, many of those photos came our way. My sister Kathy has stored most of them at her house. My mother Sybil’s photos of family and his photos of World War II are there. I still haven’t found the one that I am looking for, but have some time yet before I need it. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


I was pleasantly surprised that my son flew here to visit me for Father’s Day from Amarillo, Texas. He came in on Thursday evening and stayed until Monday afternoon. We didn’t do anything exciting, but just a few father/ son things. I am mechanically dyslexic and he isn’t, so he helped me with a few projects that had lingered undone or half-finished, a father learning from his son.
Thursday evening, I picked up Chinese take-out and we relaxed, watching television, eating, and talking. Friday was the work day with him helping to do the lingering chores and he wanted to smoke some meat for the family and went shopping. I went shopping too. I needed milk, eggs, and bread. His surprise visit caught me with an almost empty larder. In the evening, we went to the Father/ Son meal and activities at our church.
Saturday, my daughters, their husbands, and my granddaughter came to spend time with my out-of-state son, Andrew. He smoked the meat on the grill and we went through some of the flotsam and jetsam that had accumulated in my house over the past thirty years. I haven’t quite made hoarder status, but I was well on my way.
Sunday, after church, we made a meal of smoked kielbasa, pork loin, and ribs with coleslaw, potato and macaroni salad, fresh rolls and pie and ice cream for dessert. Sunday evening we went to church again.
Monday, we talked and did very little. It was enough to have him in the house and not just the cat, Willow. I made breakfast and lunch, psyching myself up for the time of his departure. The visit suddenly became bittersweet. Sweet, because he was here, but bitter, because it wasn’t long enough and the time that we spent would only be a memory.

Monday, June 20, 2016


As I drove home from babysitting my granddaughter Hannah I began to have an odor almost like the 5-10-5 fertilizer gardeners use to increase their crop yield and began to think of other smells and aromas that I’ve encountered as I’ve driven along. I discovered what was making the smell later when I got behind slow moving vehicles. The state highway department was spraying for weed control along the roadway. The smell wasn’t all that unpleasant.
Other smells that have recently wafted through my open windows were the sweet smells of blossoming lilacs, mock orange, and fields of clover. Freshly mowed fields of hay and newly mown lawns give off a pleasant smell, but not all of my friends with hay fever will agree. Apple and cherry blossoms share their fragrance with me.
In the fall and winter, I’ve smelled the smoke from wood fires, cherry, oak, and apple wood. The smoke of coal fired furnaces take me back to my childhood days when the coal eating behemoth lurked in the corner of the basement with heat radiating out through its octopus of duct arms.
The smells of manure freshly spread to fertilize fallow fields were a part of my growing up in the country and is still a part of the farming community. It isn’t the most pleasant smell, but for some reason it changes when I enter a barn and the aromas of the molasses, the chop feed, hay, and the animals below mix into not an unpleasant mélange.
There are some lakes and ponds that give off a smell of a musty and sometimes fishy aroma while other pond water has a fresh washed fragrance as crystal water pours in from a stream. Along many roads, pines and hemlocks add a pleasant, pungent fragrance to the air.
Heat increases on the summer days and I can smell the tar seeping up through the cracks and gravel coating on the roads. Diesel fumes belch out of some vehicles in black clouds and I drop back. It is enough that I have phantom smells of exhaust fumes or hot plastic from the bleeds in my brain. Smells are an integral part of living.

Friday, June 17, 2016

When What to My Wandering Eyes Should Appear

Last evening at my writers meeting at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library, I was talking with two of the librarians, waiting for more members to arrive and for the start of the meeting. The area darkened as the clouds lowered and thickened with the approach of a line of thunderstorms. Shortly after that, my cell phone warned of possible flash flooding for the area and the rain came down in torrents. The parking lot became a river and the few people that braved the storm came in drenched with wet heads and soaking feet. Even those who had umbrellas sere rain spattered.
My son who lives in Amarillo, Texas called. He asked his usual question, “What are you doing?” I answered him telling him I was at the library and waiting for the meeting to start. We talked a bit more and said good-bye. Not too long after our conversation, the library door opened. I looked up, thinking it was another writer coming for the meeting, but at first I thought it was just another patron for the library. When I did a second take, it was my son. He flew in from Amarillo to spend the weekend with me for Father’s Day. I hopped up from the stool and gave him a few bear hugs. We talked for awhile, then he went to surprise his sisters with his unannounced visit. I went in for the meeting. As soon as the initial meeting was over, I headed toward home, only stopping for takeout food at a local Chinese restaurant. We ate, talked, and watched the Mets beat the Pirates.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


So much can be said in such a small word. The word carries so little facts, but its impact is left to one’s own experiences. Some are minor inconveniences, like waiting at the checkout counter for the cashier to ring up your purchases. Others can be quite lengthy, as with those who are waiting for a loved one to return from war. The anticipation can make the waiting enjoyable or something that is dreaded.
Waiting for something pleasurable was for me Events such as Christmas morning to arrive, the birth of my children and grandchildren, and the publication of my first book. That those events were to be happy moments didn’t make them come any faster, but I was nervous, in a good sense.
There also periods of waiting that are filled with dread, know the outcome and wishing that it not come true. They were things that were inevitable and I wished would never come, but came anyway. Most of these were times of sitting with the dying. I sat at my grandfather’s side in the hospital, holding his hand. I sat with my kids and my mother-in-law waiting for the death of my wife. I watched as my mother deteriorated from the mind stealing disease of Alzheimer’s disease and seeing her health follow the decline of her brain. My father passed away with me at his side, his labored breathing was a relief when his time on earth ended.
Much can be read into the word waiting. Many times it reflects the most recent occurrence that has happened to me: joy, hope, dread, fear, minor annoyance, or major interruption in my life. I can’t see into the future. I must wait to see what will be my next episode of waiting.

Monday, June 13, 2016

What’s the Rush

Lately, it seems that the days are rushing by and quickly accumulate into months and then years. So much to do and when I don’t finish one project, they tend to accumulate, imposing into the next project or day. Like yesterday, I was invited to lunch with some friends after church and Sunday school. I accepted and had a nice time talking and eating. I had to cut the visit short because I had already promised a friend to drive her to a writers meeting in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and I might have been able to renege if I didn’t have a story that was being critiqued at the meeting.
When it was over, I hustled home to start my evening meal, because there was the Sunday evening service at our church. I especially wanted to attend, because a young intern from Ambassador Bible College was to preach the sermon. He is visiting our church to gain experience and to be the youth group leader for the summer.
When Christian Garcia first arrived, the church stocked the prophet’s chamber with supplies as a welcome for him. The prophet’s chamber is a building on the church property where visiting missionaries or evangelists can stay, whether they are sharing their ministry or just passing through and needing lodging.
For one so young, Christian shared a very challenging message on the responsibilities of each Christian to be missionaries in their own community. I came away feeling guilty that I don’t have as much time as I would like to do the things that I ought.
I came home with the intent of working on the book that I was writing, but the Pittsburgh Penguins were playing and I wandered to the television to check the score and became engrossed in the game. I am happy that the Stanley cup is returning to Pittsburgh, but now I am hurrying to write my blog and to finish reviewing the article that was critiqued yesterday and make the necessary changes today.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Tricks at Halloween

When I was in my very early teens, Halloween was a diversion for a little devilment, a time to be a little rowdy. It isn’t like now when kids run amuck. It was for a bit of excitement. It was more than dressing in outfits like hobos, sheets as ghosts, or wrapped like mummies, it was playing pranks like soaping windows and throwing shelled corn at passing cars.
My friends and I would move under the cover of darkness in Indian Head, Pennsylvania to many of the homes with stubs of soap to smear the windows of unsuspecting home owners. There weren’t full bars of soap, but carefully hoarded slivers when the bar was nearly used up. It would never do to waste a new bar of soap.
Two homes in particular that I remember. The first encounter occurred just as it was getting dark. I was walking with my friends and we spied a stone house with a hedge of shrubs near a large front window. We could see the flickering of a television inside. It was black and white T. V. at that time. No one had color. We dared the youngest of our group to soap the window, with the old, “You don’t have a hair…” His stealthy approach behind the bushes was perfect. Not a leaf stirred on the bushes. Slowly a hand arose out of the leaves and began to trace figure eights on the glass.
The most unusual aspect was that the homeowner came to the window and was apparently hypnotized by the audacity. She stood there, her head following the soaps tracings until the hand disappeared back into anonymity.
The second was a home where we were tossing shelled field corn onto her porch. It was rumored that the woman slept with a gun under her pillow. When the porch light snapped on at the sounds of corn hitting her door, we ran. It was fully dark then and in my blind dash to escape, I hit a turkey wire fence that was about thigh high in height and did a complete somersault, landing on my butt. The next day, I could see that the wire fence was dented and fence posts on both sides were leaning toward the spot that tripped me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Falling All Over the State

Last summer, I traveled the state of Pennsylvania to photograph waterfalls in Pennsylvania. With her wolf-sized dog in the back of her SUV, we began our journey. She spent hours before, researching the waterfalls that she wanted to see and photograph. We drove along the southern part of the state, visiting Old Bedford village, Gettysburg, and Lancaster. Each day, there was some falls that she wanted to see. Several were off the beaten track and had to be hunted like we were on safari.
Bushkill Falls was just that. The falls and the hike to see them all were killers. I was worn out by the time we made the circuit. She and her dog bandit were the only ones happy; her because she’d shot so many pictures and Bandit because he had time to really stretch his legs. Day after day, we drove from one waterfall to another. After visiting Valley Forge, we turned north, then made a left and traveled across the northern part of Pennsylvania. Each day we would search for waterfalls, often in obscure locations, only found after much time of driving.
It reminded me of another trip that we took to visit an old friend in North Carolina. Before and after the visit, we toured the western end of North Carolina and the southern part of Virginia searching for and photographing more, you guessed it, waterfalls. This trip was less strenuous and the falls were easier to find and to hike to see.
I told her that the next trip she wanted to make had to cause less stress and wear on my body, if she wanted me to accompany her. I think she is researching waterfalls in southwest Pennsylvania for her next excursion.
I travel with her because she has medical problems and we’ve been friends since we were babies. You know the ad about “Friends don’t allow friends to drive…” the reason is different, but the underlying reason is the same, friends care for each other.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Fielder’s Choice

I started to write a blog to record stories from our family before my thought processes become opaque and many of the memories are lost to my children. The story I’m sharing today is a tale my dad told to us about. It occurred when he was riding in his dad’s car as a youth. They were driving along a road through a rural area of farms and woods. As the car was passing a hay field on a farm, the farmer and his wife were bringing in hay. The farmer was in the field tossing the hay into a hay wagon and the wife was on top of the hay mound that was being formed on the wagon bed.
Now, this was a time when women didn’t usually work in the fields. It was a time when only immigrant women went into the fields with their husbands. If the farmer had sons, they worked with him. If he was rich enough and could afford to hire workers, he did, rather than to have his wife or daughters work in the fields. It wasn’t taboo, but it wasn’t something that the farmer did lightly, either.
The farmer’s wife was tramping down the hay with her bare feet. Her husband was tossing it a forkful at a time onto the wagon. Each pitchfork of hay had to be compressed to increase the amount of hay stacked on the wagon before it had to be driven out of the field and into the barn to unload the hay into mows. The fewer times that the farmer had to interrupt the loading minimized the amount of time that the farmer spent in the field.
The older hay wagons had two uprights at each end of the wagon bed to control and stabilize the load of hay. The double poles rose almost eight feet above the bed of the wagon. When the load reached about ten feet high, it was time to take the hay in and unload it, protected from the weather in the mows of the barn.
That was some background, now let me finish the story. The farmer was tossing the hay and the wife was on top of the load of hay, when she heard the car engine, she attempted to jump down from the load of hay and the skirt of her dress caught on the tips of the upright. She hung on the uprights dangling in midair when the skirt of her dress slid up under her armpits, trapping her there. The bottom two thirds of the woman was open to the air and because it was so hot out, the woman wasn’t wearing undergarments.
It would have taken the old farmer too long to untangle and free his wife from the trapped position that she found herself, so in a split second decision, the farmer removed his hat and covered his wife’s private parts until my grandfather’s car drove past. My dad was sure that as soon as they drove out of sight, the old man rescued his embarrassed wife.
The wife would have been embarrassed on several levels. The first was that she had been caught in the field working, the second was she hadn’t heard our approach earlier, the third was that she was clumsy and had caught her skirt on the poles of the wagon, and the last was obvious. It was quickly exposed to anyone reading this story. I do have to commend the farmer and give him credit for his fast decision to protect his wife’s privacy.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Curses Again

Last evening at our bimonthly writers meeting at the Mt. Pleasant Library, we were introduced to the new head Librarian. His name is Charlie Quinn. He appeared very polite, affable, and knowledgeable. The leader of our group, Fred Adams teaches some aspect of writing at the beginning of each session. The topic for last evening’s meeting was the differences between curses, obscene words, words or phrases that might be substituted, and profanity He spoke about their uses, and why a writer may choose to use or not to use them. He shared some of the authors who chose to use them and those who carefully avoided them.
Some authors use the flagrantly offensive words for shock value and scatter them in their work to seemingly offend the reader. Some writers use language to portray and shape the characters of their books, perhaps in juxtaposition; good versus evil persons. Occasionally, an off color word used properly can enhance a character and an ill placed curse can destroy the character and ruin the reader’s enjoyment of what has been written.
Fred shared some examples of extended phrases that were curses as Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation or Shakespeare in King Lear making a lengthy rant fill all of passion of an anger filled expression frustration or anger.
I write about criminals in my Tommy Two Shoes series, and do use an occasional off color word, because they are words that criminals are expected to use. But I do not use the F-bomb and only use words that have been used in the Bible. In my next series of stories, I have managed so far to limit the criminal element and their speaking parts, thus eliminating the need for any profane language.
I just found out about and submitted a few stories to another blog that is done much like a magazine. It is being handled by Al Sandusky. He shares stories and happenings around the Connellsville area. He tells me that he likes my scribbling and will be using some of them in his next posting.