Monday, December 11, 2017

Lunching with Mustang Sally

It was time for the annual Christmas party of the Foothills Writing Group, formerly known as the Beanery Writers Group. Our octogenarian cheerleader, originator of the party, and usual hostess of the party Mustang Sally, has been dealing some ongoing health issues and is also caught up in the process of moving. Several times in the last year because of her health problems has moved closer to her family. Her original home and location for our previous get-togethers is presently rented and was unavailable.
To continue the annual Christmas affair, another writer, Claudette, graciously offered to hold the gathering in her home, but because we are all getting older, we have moved the meal time from an evening social to noon until four p.m. avoiding the drive home at night, especially now with those horrid blue-white headlights.
It was a covered dish affair, with a semi-assigned menu for each to bring. I brought a cheese, cracker, and venison log tray and mixed nuts for pre-meal snacking as the lamb, cauliflower, salad, and other delectable items were unwrapped and last minute preparations were made.
The open rooms and seating arrangements made it easy to circulate, talk, and eat. Many times we have a short reading to share, but not so this year. We were all engrossed in chatting and reminiscing, finding more common threads of our lives. Two other men were there, husbands of other writers. They were of the same generation as me and we shared war stories of the Vietnam era. Although I was able to care for some of the injured, my assignment as a naval corpsman was in the United States.
As the feasting and fellowship drew to a close, I played Santa passing out some candy treats. I guess I was elected because I was dressed in red from my Santa hat head to my feet. Sally distributed copies of her recently reprinted book sharing the adventures of her bicycling tour around the world and thus her nickname Mustang Sally, which is the title of her tales. It’s never too late to share your life and  never too early to wish one and all a Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Four Wheeling Down Memory Lane

Wednesday morning my brother Ken and I tried to fill our antlerless deer tags. Our search was fruitless. Even though we saw several, the area we were hunting in was overgrown and the deer were moving too fast to distinguish if they had antlers or not. We hunted in several areas with the same results.
It was such a relief for me to ride on four-wheelers instead of walking. I appreciated it more as we drove along abandoned logging roads. These vehicles made short work of climbing steep hills, rolling over the rugged and rocky paths, and making the need to wade across puddles and creeks unnecessary. No need for me to work up a sweat or tramp through the woods with wet feet.
One spot on our ride we spooked a red tailed hawk from its perch. It silently spread its wings and soared away. Driving farther we wandered through several acres full of short-needled and long-needled pine trees. Growing wild, they were naturally shaped and in all sizes. The sight was enough to make a Christmas tree vendor drool.
The trail followed ridgelines and through fields until we came to a spot that was familiar to me from my youth, Camp Wildwood. It was the land of strawberry picking and the play ground for my brother and I to ride our bikes. Once while we were riding, we saw our first naked lady. I’ve written about this true redhead before in my posts.
The primitive roadways are no longer as deeply grooved as when I was younger. Less traffic, they filled with leaves over the years. Those channels used to fill with rainwater and would shoot a rooster-tail of water from a speeding car. A friend was speeding in an old Chevy when we came upon a troop of Boy Scouts. I watched as they had to dive for cover to avoid the soaking spray. There is more to the story, but it’s been posted it before.
Our ride eventually took us to the Camp Wildwood’s old dam. The structure once spread its wings across Indian Creek to make a wonderful swimming hole. Much of the concrete has crumbled, but it still trapped much of the stream and kept our old swimming holes intact. The water was clear, but the color was dark green from the depth of the pool.
Our time was finished. We began our return trip, back through the logging trails. Huge towering piles of boulders and steep hillsides guided loggers who came before us who made these zigzag trails to haul out the timber. As we returned home, I was impressed with the steepness of the slopes carved by centuries of water and wind. We didn’t get a deer, but that that trip stirred and updated many of my childhood memories.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Loose Ends
When I’ve written the stories for my Mystery Series, Tommy Two Shoes, I was amazed at how important a small and seemingly unimportant item will become a significant and integral part of a later story. Once they’ve been edited and published, there is no way for me to insert a fact in a previous tale, so what was written has to be woven into the next book. I’m truly gob-smacked at how often it happened from one book to the next. I thought that these coincidences only happened in fairy tales (Or books that I wrote), but not so. Frequently, I have seen this happen in my day to day life.
I was able to meet a long time Facebook friend at his sister’s home. She is a near lifelong friend and former fellow employee. I was invited to her home for a brief visit and a chance to sample her famous sauerkraut/ chocolate cake…again. It was nice to finally talk to him face to face and understand more of what makes this man tick. He’s just a good ole boy from Texas with a commitment to see that there are new chapters of men who have pledged to protect abused children.
He was traveling with another member, driving from Texas to New England and back in an attempt to spread this worthwhile cause. I gave him a copy of the first book in the series and I gave his sister a copy of my latest book, Addie. She has all of the others. I thought it would be a good dinner gift instead of flowers. She gave him the copies that she read to take with him.
He looked across the table and seemed surprised that I’d written so many. Then he said, my wife said, she knew about you before we became friends. It was an odd feeling to think that I was recognized by someone so far away as an author. I didn’t have the courage to ask him how.
I really felt odd when he called, saying that another author wanted to charge him $3,000.00 to write his autobiography. Another would do it for free, but my friend knew the freebie author sometimes liked to embellish the truth to sell his books. My friend invited me to visit his ranch in Texas and to write his autobiography. I was astounded and afraid I would not be able to do it. To this point, I have only written fiction. I did suggest that he sit down and list the facts that he wanted included, then sit down with the volunteer author after something in writing to say, nothing could be published until it was cleared by you. That would keep the book straight and true with its control in your hands.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Texas Traveler

I have been friends and fellow workmate of Debby Keslar, a transplant from Texas. She was a baker in the United States Navy and another employee of Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Over the years, we’ve laughed and cried together until we’ve both retired. I’ve become good friends with her husband and her two daughters. One family member I hadn’t met was her brother James Curtis who still lives in Texas with his wife Jodi.
James and I became Facebook pals, corresponding back and forth, sharing posts, and generally teasing Debby. That changed last evening when he made a planned stopover at Debby’s. I got an invitation to stop over to eat some sauerkraut chocolate cake and chew the fat. James and his friend “Dragon” were on a return trip from New England where they are trying to set up new chapters for the guardians of children from abuse. He is very passionate and travels long distances on a shoestring budget to help ensure the safety and protection for these young people who are unable to defend themselves. James and his wife reside in Big Spring, Texas and his travel companion Dragon lives across the border in New Mexico.
Because we’d shared so much on Facebook, it was like meeting an old friend, kind of like slipping into a pair of well-worn slippers of moccasins after a long day on the feet. Stories flowed back and forth across the kitchen table. There were a few serious notes, but it was mostly laughter and sharing memories. I learned more about this dedicated man and his compadre. I’d never met Dragon before and it was great listening to this Vietnam Vet share some of his tales. James was a Marine sniper and being a military vet added another bond.
I left early. It was time for the family to reconnect before the troops packed up and left Debby’s the next morning. They had an assigned meeting in Oklahoma the next day. A long, arduous, trip ahead, be safe and God keep you both.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Life is a Carousel
Not all of the time, but there used to be a time when outside of every grocery store and department store there was a machine waiting quietly to seduce children to climb on their backs. The child would jump on, then whine and beg for a dime. Later, it was a quarter to get the machine to rock, to buck, and sometimes to play music or to roar. The manufacturers offered an entire menagerie of animals from horses to hippos, pigs, and pachyderms. Some machines were rockets, stagecoaches, or pony carts. Occasionally, the enticement was a carousel with two horses or some other type of animal that called to the child. I think this was the introduction for many children to ride the much larger version of the merry-go-rounds at the amusement park.
The amusement park’s carousel played loud, whimsical music that could be heard for several yards around the ride. The alluring sounds of calliope notes called youngsters and oldsters to step up onto the wide platform. Eventually, they would find an empty saddle on a lion, zebra, or painted horse. If the child was fortunate enough, he or she could claim a noble steed that pranced in an up-and-down motion driven by a brass crank-shaft above.
Many smaller children were held into the saddle by their parents standing at their side. Child and parent would laugh and enjoy the lighthearted music. The wide twirling motion of the platform and the smell of food from vendors around the ride added to the festive feeling. Sometimes, the less adventurous folk or the elderly were enticed to join, but because they couldn’t or didn’t want to climb on the back of an animal, they chose a seat to rest their feet in the gaily festooned bandwagons interspaced on the merry-go-round platform.
Waiting for the carousel to stop was almost as magical. The music tempo would change as the whirling creatures picked up speed or slowed before the waiting crowd’s eyes. Those people would be touched by a mystical breeze stirred to life by the herd of spinning creatures making the anticipation for their turn seem to last forever.
Then there was the chaos of people exiting the ride and those who were climbing on board clashing like opposing ocean tides. Eventually, the turmoil would cease and the attendant rings the bell with several loud clangs. The lumbering behemoth begins another circuit around the motor-driven gears hidden behind elaborately decorated and gilded panels and the calliope begins to chirp a merry tune. The ride through fantasyland begins.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Going to the Dogs
As we sat around the Thanksgiving table yesterday, the stories began to flow, reminiscences of our past. Hunting stories, fishing tales, and tales about Uncle Dale began to circulate. Small mobile enclaves moved through my sister Kathy’s house. A cluster would form, talk, listen, and then move to another cluster of people. The topics and stories were as varied as the food itself.
We had cranberry salad, but the green leafy one was rendered inedible by the shattering of its glass container. The roughage would have been welcome in our aging body, but it was scarcely missed in the mélange of the food brought to be shared. I was responsible for the ham, so I went a step further by making ham potpie. That one dish was my sister’s favorite. I baked three pies: pecan, pumpkin, and added apple to my usual contribution to the meal.
Photographs were pulled from Kathy’s archive. Someone asked if I had pictures of my grandfather Raymond Miner’s family. Doug made copied of some and I took cell phone copies of others. I shared some last evening on Facebook.
Eventually we talked about the dogs we had as kids. My brother Ken talked about two special dogs that he owned, Sam a docked Doberman Pincher and Bella, the Pomeranian that he owns now. Frisky was a black miniature poodle that Grandma Becky owned. It was a ball of energy and always underfoot. I mentioned the Great Dane my mom and dad owned when I was small. Our home was near busy Rt. 711 and if I’d stray too close, that beast would grab me by the seat of my pants and return me to the safety of the yard. No family dog story would be complete without mentioning my mom’s favorite, Bimbo. He was an intelligent, brown and white Rat Terrier mix. His playful antics could always make Mom laugh.
The direction of conversation changed into other memories of the past, and so it was until the annual Thanksgiving Beck feast was over, except for the dividing of the leftovers.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Toying With Nostalgia
When my grandchildren left my house after a visit, I found two stuffed animals with which they'd been playing. My mother Sybil Miner Beck often held those animals on her lap as the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease became more and more noticeable. As I returned them to their storage bins, I began to recall their importance. One was a fuzzy white dog about twelve inches long and ten inches high. The other was an even fuzzier white cat with almost the same dimensions.
My mom was raised on a farm Near Indian Head, Pennsylvania with seven brothers and sisters: Rachel, Cora, Violet, Dale, Ina, Ted, and Cosey. She used to share stories of her past life as she raised me, my brother Ken, and my sister Kathy. These stories became fewer as she aged. Sometimes we would start a story and look to her to corroborate the facts and she would only respond, “If you say so.” Her past memories became locked away in the dim recesses of an uncooperative mind. It was sad seeing this intelligent, witty woman disappear as Alzheimer’s claimed more of her faculties.
She loved to read, but Alzheimer’s stole that ability from her. Near the end of her life, she forgot how or why it was necessary for her to eat. Occasionally after much coaxing, she would reluctantly take a bite and swallow it.
With that history out of the way, I will return to the reason I started to write this tale. While she still lived with my dad Carl Beck, she was given the dog and the cat. Some women claim a doll to hold and care for as their mental capacity diminishes. My mom claimed the cat and dog instead. She would hold one or the other on her lap, stroke it, or just rest her hand on its back. I can’t remember where she got them, but they were constant companions.
When she and my father passed, I inherited them and kept them with the toys to entertain my grandchildren when they visited. This time as I tucked them away, the significance of what there two creatures meant to my mom struck me and they now have a new resting place on my bed.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving or Giving Thanks
It’s almost Thanksgiving and on what are we concentrating? Is it the turkey, ham, dressing, or the pies, cranberry sauce, and the varied side dishes to serve? Are we trying to decide whether or not to watch football games or making a schedule of which ones to view?
Are we really thankful for what we have? Will we give thanks to our Creator and Lord for what He has allowed us to have? If we have food, warm clothing, a warm place to live, and a family to love, we should be thankful and give thanks to our Maker.
If we aren’t thankful, we can slip into a feeling of entitlement. Like a spoiled child who feels that what he or she has is something that is deserved, something to which we are entitled. We can become discontent with what we have, become unsatisfied with our blessings. It can become an overwhelming desire for the things that our friends or neighbors have. Those feelings may turn to envy and fester into ill will toward even our closest friends or relatives. It doesn’t have to be a possession. It can be the friend’s position, job, or relationship.
We can have a feeling that we are justified in our belief that we should have what they have and be blinded to the things we already have. We may have good health or a loving family that the neighbor doesn’t have and wishes that he had. We can be so consumed and embittered with our lust for things we do not have, we are unable to enjoy what we do have.
Being thankful allows us to reflect on the good things in our lives. To actually see what we have and take into account of the good things in our lives. Not being thankful blinds us. Not giving thanks opens our hearts to sins of greed, envy, and lust. Being thankful opens our eyes to the needs of others. When we have the feelings of good fortune and being blessed, we are more willing to share to those less fortunate than we are and are happy when another person gets a new car, a new job, or becomes engaged.

Psalm 118:1 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

Uneventful Events
Many of life’s incidents we find that are unremarkable fill our days, our weeks, and eventually the years set aside by God to complete the pages of our history book. We don’t know the number of chapters before God places the final period and writes “the end.” Each page is filled with innumerable choices which change the direction of our existence. Even the smallest of choices can change the outcome of the day. Do I vacuum the house, do the laundry, or do I drive to the store to get the potatoes I forgot to buy yesterday?
If I vacuum, will that ready my house for as of yet unknown visitors? If I do the wash, will the washer overflow or the dryer stop working? If I decide to drive to Wal-mart’s, will the car break down or will I be involved in an accident? Each selection and each decision we make often has unseen and sometimes far-reaching consequences, not only for us, but to our family, to our friends, or to complete strangers.
When I am out and about, I try to be polite and friendly. Who knows, I may meet that person again when I could use their help and as an author and writer, I always have to advertise my books and my BlogSpot, so it behooves me to be on my best behavior.
Not only that, but as a far-from-perfect Christian, I need to share my life witness with others as a example of what a Christ wants us to be. I try to be more cordial and less grumpy than my human flesh wants me to be.
I also try to share when I get an answered prayer. This past week, I was praying about finding my lost house key. Somewhere it slipped off my key ring. After frantic searching, I came to the point that I knew exactly where it happened. It had to have fallen off in the church parking lot Sunday evening. I would search there on Wednesday evening. As I exited my car, I saw the individually wrapped Lifesaver candy on the gravel parking lot. I always carry a few to share with kids. The white minty halo drew me like a beacon. I strolled over to retrieve it and nestled there beside it was my key.
That unexpected event caused me to drive to Wal-mart and have several spare keys made. I am in the process of distributing the newly made ones to my kids. I also plan to keep a spare key inside my house “just in case.”
This sin't exactly where I was planning to direct this post, but one small choice led to another.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Postcard Repository
For my friends who follow me on Facebook, they already know that each day I share a different postcard. Being the oldest in my family, I have slowly become the end of the line for many items; glassware, furniture, postcards, and other documents. The postcards now fill a boot box. Rather than allow them to become food fare for silverfish, I photograph them and post them for others to see.
Many of the artist’s drawings or actual photographs of buildings are no longer there and many of the far off places, most people will never be able to see unless they catch a glimpse of them with my daily Facebook shares. Some of these cards are in nearly pristine condition despite their age while others are in poor conditions because of rough handling. A few cards are advertisements for hotels, motels, hardware stores, and even one for a privet hedge nursery. It is almost unbelievable the amount of untold history that is uncovered by looking at the image captured on the front, the date and the message written on the reverse side. Several of the cards were sent during the World Wars eras up to and including a card I just received several days ago from Iceland.
Cards from several foreign countries grace the collection. There are sepia colored portrait cards, a few had no writing to label who these men and women were. Some cards are scenes of war; some are a rendition of boot camp, cadet schools, and a few that poke fun of war.
The most of the collection share scenes from the United States. Some were historical showing the conception of America to the near past. There are Easter cards, Thanksgiving cards, Birthday cards, St. Paddy’s Day cards, and a plethora of Christmas cards. I try to dig them out to post at the appropriate times. These cards are a heritage that I treasure and try to share with you all.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Living in a World of Anger
The world around us seems to be more and more filled with chaos and anger; road rage, violent protesting, stabbings, spouse abuse, child abuse, terrorists attacks, and multiple shootings have gained prominence in the headlines of our newspapers. They’ve captured the lead spots of our televisions and radios. If we are not careful, we will respond in a like manner and perpetuate a hostile world.
Often the media is reporting, “Is there no safe place?” Saying our homes and churches are no longer havens. The sanctuary cities that have been created are to protect those who would try to do evil. These criminals are protected while the general population is put at risk.
Some misguided politicians hold a serpent to their breast under a misplaced sense of goodness and deal inappropriately with these non-citizens at the risk and expense of the actual citizens of the community.
If we are guided by feelings and feelings alone, the world will only become worse. If we have no guide other than our hearts, we are doomed. The Bible tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9. The human heart can be very loving, but in the next instant, it can be filled with envy, lust, rage, hatred, pride, or greed. How can we trust such a fickle entity to guide us? We can’t.
Morality cannot be legislated. Each time politicians enact a law to stop one evil, they allow the criminal minds to find a way to avoid or corrupt the well-meaning regulation. It seems the law-makers try to circumvent and outright deny the truth and principles set forth in the Bible, but their adulterations of God’s Word have failed miserably.
There will be no healing without kneeling and dealing with our sins. There has to be a change in our lives and reveal the way God meant men and women to live. I can hear the groans of my readers, old-fashioned, he’s no longer relevant, but God’s Word has guided mankind for generations. Each time mankind has leaned on their own understanding, it is then that that civilization has collapsed.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A post for veterans that have fallen and those families left at home.

Alone Now

She weeps

Tears fall

Folded flag

Held tightly

Remembering him.

Tall and strong

Young and alive

But no more.


She weeps

Broken hearted

Inconsolable, empty

Ribbons and medals

Clutched in hand

Remembering him.

Gentle lover



But no more.


She weeps

No comfort

Grief stricken

Unbearable pain

Remembering him.

Tender hero

Valiant knight

Blessed hope

To return no more.



Americans and Veterans
Just a few quick lines before I go outside to stack another load of firewood. Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day; a day we as Americans have set aside to honor those who sacrifice time away from their homes. Sometimes they sacrifice limbs, eyes, and mental stability or even the ultimate sacrifice of laying down their lives for their comrades in war and for Americans who are far away from the battlefield. These who are kept safe and secure to carry on their daily life inside the border of the United States owe so very much to these warriors.
I also want to remember the families, the people who are left behind, wondering, worrying, and praying that their soldier, sailor, or airman will come home safely and in one piece. The family is left with the task of repairing any damage caused by the trials of combat, whether physical or mental. They are left with the task of supporting each other in the time of grief should their loved one not return home.
Parents, wives, and yes, even the children are involved in the aftermath of repairing the threads of their lives, putting back together the fragile threads that have in some way been damaged. Often it is a formidable and Herculean challenge. The repairs are not always as beautiful as the original cloth, but we can only hope that the mended areas are stronger and deeper than before.

This is the tribute for our veterans and their families. God bless each and every one of you.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Here Comes the Judge
Jury duty, what can I say. I got the summons several weeks ago and wanting to do my civic duty, I went. My body has deteriorated over the past several years, nothing extraordinary or debilitating, but just enough that I have slowed somewhat. Back pain, right knee and shoulder pain, water pill for my hypertension, and the recent start of insulin for my diabetes have slowly inculcated themselves into my life. I thought with careful planning, I could still serve as a juror.
Monday morning, the perspective jurors were herded into a large courtroom to ascertain who reported and who were delinquent. It was a slow process of showing your jury summons and driver’s license. (But people don’t need I.D. to vote?) Each juror-to-be was issued a button having their juror number. We were required to wear the badge the entire day. The courtroom where we gathered was grand with marble floors, rusty red marble walls, and large ivory colored chandeliers hanging from the gilded and frescoed ceilings. The seats were dark oak benches matching the judge’s bench, witness box, and the carved rail that separated the audience from the court proceedings.
The sorting and selection began. My number was called and was shuffled into another courtroom. From the initial gathering of prospective jurors until we arrived in the newly assigned courtroom took nearly 2.5 hours. As we entered, each juror was assigned a specific seat. Mine was a hard wooden chair. All this sitting on hard surfaces began to cause my right leg and foot to go numb. I was glad that I brought my cane. I sometimes need it to stand. Another 2 hours of inactivity and sitting ensued. I was glad they allowed us to visit the restrooms several times. Standing alleviated some of the worst of the tingling. Noon came and we were sent to find a place to eat, cautioned to be back by 1:30 pm.
After the meal, the judge arrived and handled a few cases without selecting a jury. A short while later, the judge said the case for which we were summoned took a plea bargain and we were dismissed to the hallway until we were needed.
To keep the tingling to a minimum, I walked the hallway. I spoke with the administrator of the courtroom to see if I might leave early, after explaining my predicament. I was asked to stay until the end of the day. I managed to do that, continuing my restless pacing. When I turned in my badge, I was told I would be excused for the week. I was glad to be free of the inactivity and sitting. The wheels of justice turned a lot more slowly than I imagined.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Hurray for the Veterans
This was the third year I’ve attended the Veteran’s Day celebration at Mt. Carmel Christian School. Again it was a great success. The younger children of the elementary classes shared memorized patriotic recitations and songs. The older students, clad in uniforms from the different branches of the military, shared excerpts of letters from military men and women who sent back some of the trials and tribulations from the fighting in which they were embroiled. Letters to wives, children, and parents gave a small picture of what they had endured or were experiencing to keep all Americans and loved ones safe and secure.
The ceremony began with prayer and a parade of military flags: the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, and the Marines. Each banner was solemnly and proudly carried down the central aisle to a place of honor at the side of the dais by students wearing donated uniforms of veterans.
The entire process of the celebration was dignified. It centered around and was dedicated to the men and women who sacrificed their time, their lives, and their limbs to protect all Americans.
There were many times I found a lump in my throat, unable to complete some stanzas of the several patriotic songs. A roll call of each veteran present was made having each veteran stand to be recognized as their name, the number of years they served, and the branch of the service were announced. The respect of these young men and women gave is refreshing in a day when the flag, the National Anthem, and the American veterans are being taken so lightly and with so little regard for their sacrifice.
After the ceremony, a meal was served to all who attended. The food was delicious with pies and cupcakes as dessert. I would like to give a hearty well done to the staff and students to Mt. Carmel Christian School.
Every day I post a different postcard on my Facebook page. I extracted the military postcards in my collection and will share them throughout the coming week. Somehow, I thought of the veterans from WW II for Veteran’s Day, but soon I understood there were veterans of many wars; from the French and Indian Wars, to the Alamo, WW I, Korea, Vietnam, Civil War, and those wars in which we are still embroiled. May God bless our Veterans.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Weather or Not
The autumn weather has been unusually mild and has limited the bright hues from appearing on the trees. The golds, reds, oranges, crimsons and the intense yellows of the leaves have taken their time to slowly evolve into a dull brown or to just wither and fall off the trees. I don’t mind the warmer fall weather; I just don’t like the thoughts of the winter chill that is just ahead. The short reminder of the colder temperatures and the strong winds made me want to hibernate.
We should be thankful. So much of the country is going through drought-like conditions while southwest Pennsylvania has been blessed with ample rain. So much has happened in the past week. It has been another stress-filled week chock full of things to do. I had the carpeting and flooring installed on Monday. They have to come back to install the trim. They didn’t have what they needed.
Wednesday, I ate lunch with the Grande Dames of Frick. Once each month, the retired nurses from Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant Pennsylvania get together to eat, reminisce, and to update each other on our “boring” lives now that we’ve retired. I always say I didn’t know that retired meant feeling tired day after day because I’m still busy.
Thursday, I had an appointment to have my bathroom remodeled. It was a no show. I don’t understand what happened, but I certainly won’t hire them for the job. It was a referral through Home Advisor, so how reliable are their recommendations?
Thursday afternoon was the writers meeting at the Mt. Pleasant public library. I had a headache, but went anyway, escaping back home as soon as the meeting was over.
This afternoon, I plan to attend the annual Veteran’s Day celebration at the Mt. Carmel Christian Academy. Their respect and tribute to veterans is unbelievably moving. These young men and women make me proud to be an American and to know there is still a generation that respects veterans, our country, our flag, and God.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My New New Year’s Resolution
It’s not too soon for me to think about changes in my life style. Last year about this time my New Year’s resolution was, “If I am grumpy, I don’t leave home. No one wants to deal with a grumpy old man.” I’ve shared this resolution with many people at the checkout counters. Usually they chuckle and thank me. Some of them actually share some horror stories. It makes me happy that I am not on their black list. The good thing is, it is one resolution that I’ve been able to keep so far.
As the year is drawing to an end, I have been ruminating what to do. I want to make another positive change in my life. The past two months I have become extremely busy and can see that November will be another hectic month. My pocket calendar has become far too full and I think that is where my assault should be. After the first of the year, I want to be a recluse, a hermit, a person who loves the feeling of cabin fever; at least for a few weeks, maybe a month. I need to find some time to hide from appointments, meetings, and other events that want to lay a claim on my life.
There were ten days in October without something on my schedule that I planned to do. In those ten days I did the household chores, mow my yard and the neighbor’s yard, as well as do the laundry. I had to move my furniture getting ready for the installation of my flooring and carpet. Of course, I removed the carpet and padding to save a few dollars, shaving off more of my free time.
I guess what I am trying to say is I need to understand the word “no” and be willing to use it much more, even when I am talking with myself. That is the resolution I want to make. Whether or not I can keep it, only time will tell?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Too Sore, Too Old, Too Fast, Too Cold
A combination of thoughts has fueled this morning’s post. Friday, I had dental surgery to remove a dead tooth. Because of my lack of care of a child, I have less than a perfect smile, supplemented by a partial plate. The ache from the work caused me to miss a wedding to go to Wal-mart to pick up some medication for the pain.
On Saturday, I missed a book signing and reading because I didn’t feel like dealing with the public. My mouth was still sore and my son Andrew asked that I help him move his household belongings from the storage unit to their new home. We’d unpacked the 28 feet long Penske rental truck and stored the contents two weeks earlier.
We arrived with a 26 feet long U-Haul another pick-up truck, small trailer, and several other vehicles filled with 8 adults and three children. We managed to get everything loaded under cloudy skies and feeling the sprinkling of the promises of rain later.
The drive to their home just outside of Uniontown was uneventful and after jockeying positions, we began to empty the vehicles, sorting the boxes and bins as they were uncovered. Some went into the garage and shed, some went into the house, and some went into the basement. Because the carpets had just been cleaned, the unloading was in a fire brigade style passing things from outside person to inside people. Seven and a half hours later we were finished, wet from the last 2 hours of unloading in the rain.
Yesterday, with the arrival of cold, damp weather, the soreness caught up with me. Aching knees and leg muscles are feeling the wear and tear greeted me. This morning, little has changed. I am greeted by a cold damp wind and the ache of an overused body.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Frugal McDougal
As a child, I was taught to be cautious with my spending. Money always seemed to be adequate for my family’s needs, but splurging was almost always out of the question. It was a special treat for us every Sunday after church, my dad to make a run to Miller’s store in Normalville, Pennsylvania and buy a Sunday newspaper, a large silver-foil bag of Snyder’s potato chips, and one-pound wheel of “gummy” longhorn cheese. That was our weekly luxury.
As an adult, I’ve continued to watch my pennies, spending it on only things that were necessary. It was a treat for us to eat at a restaurant, even a simple meal at McDonald’s. I always said about being a nurse, I could keep food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothing on our backs. My kids call me cheap, but I would rather be called cheap than to be a spendthrift and need to borrow money from them.
Lately, I’ve loosened the purse strings a little. I just ordered flooring for my living room and dining room. The remarkable thing is, I’m actually paying someone to install it. The company that I am using has an estimate for removing and hauling away the old carpet. Somehow, that just rubbed against my frugal nature. I decided to remove the carpet and padding myself. It meant that I had to move the furniture left in the rooms to accomplish it. I have to talk to the company today to see if that item can be removed. I’m hoping that I can reduce the cost slightly, being the “cheap” buzzard that I am.
To take breaks from carpet removal and crawling on the floor to extract staples, I took down the curtains from both rooms, washed, dried, and folded them. I’ll hang them again after the installation of the flooring, although with the windows uncovered, I won’t be raiding the fridge in my birthday suit.I needed some fresh air. I got it when I took down the outside clothes line and mowed my lawn as well as the neighbor’s. It was chilly and I was glad to come back inside to finish my tasks. One of my friends said I’ll be too sore to move today, I am, but I feel glad to know that the work is behind me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I was thinking back to memories of the way my past relatives dressed and wondered how they would have fared in the world today where much of the person is judged by the clothing that they wear. My uncle Dale Miner would have rated right up there with the homeless street people of today. His clothing was always shabby, in need of repair, and most often grimy. His boots were always scuffed. It was rare that he was shaved. His brother Ted was rail thin and wore shirts and pants that were too large with a belt cinched tight to hold them to his body. My grandmother Rebecca always kept them washed.
She kept my grandfather Ray’s clothing clean. By the time I knew him; he’d retired from the coal mines and farmed only. When he and my grandmother were raising their 8 children, he worked in the mines at night and kept the farm during the day. He wore bib overalls most of the time and the pale blue work shirts. Often a straw hat topped his wispy white hair. His round aluminum lunch pail and his brass carbide head lamp were the reminders of his time underground.
Rebecca was the opposite of my granddad. She was tall and stout while he was short of stature and average build. Grandma Miner always wore a dress. Pants were a no-no then. I can never remember her wearing anything but a front-button down print dress with a tie belt cinched at the waist. She always wore thick, flesh-colored cotton stockings, rolled down to the knees and her black clunky-heeled, tie-on shoes. Little changed in Grandma’s attire. Occasionally she would don a necklace when we’d drive her for appointments with a doctor.
Blue jeans or shorts and high-top tennis shoes were reserved for the cousins. Usually striped tee shirts finished our daily wear for boys and girls, until the girls came of age at about 8 or 9, then they graduated to wearing dresses and Mary Jane shoes.
Money was scarce then. Hand-me-downs were most often the choices we had. There was the old joke, “Hand-me-downs came in 2 sizes, too big or too small” and that was often the case. Getting something new was a big thing then. It was to be treasured. I wasn’t raised during the depression, but the effects of it and World War II still lingered, coloring everything that we did.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Routine Turmoil
I know the title sounds confusing, but that is what my retired life has become. Unlike the housewives of old where she divided the chores to accomplish on certain days of the week, there seems to be little of that in my life since I’ve retired. When I worked as a nurse, having a routine wasn’t in my cards either. My schedule was created, often without regard to the stress it caused on the body. There were times I would work three shifts in a seven day period: afternoons, nights, a day off and then two, 12 hour shifts of daylight. If there was a call-off, I might work 16 hours and because of inclement weather, been called on to work longer periods.
I wrote all of that to say often my life is in constant flux from one week to another. This past Tuesday I attended the Chestnut Ridge Society to listen to Fred Saluga talk about Bigfoot. Thursday was the meeting of writers at the Mt. Pleasant Library. Friday was my catch-up on laundry and Saturday I spent helping my son Andrew and his wife Renee with other family members to clean and start minor repairs on their new home.
I’m not complaining about the cleaning and the repair work, because having them so much closer than Amarillo, Texas is a true blessing. It has been an answer to prayers. No more trying to figure out the weight of something when I have to mail a gift or books I find or write for them. I’ll still forget anniversaries and birthdays and have to send belated cards, but I’ll be able to see all my granddaughters grow and love them more often with hugs and kisses.
I guess Sundays are  one constant with church and Sunday evening services, but I have one writers meeting at the Art Center in Greensburg every second and fourth Sunday afternoon, and of course yesterday was one of the meetings. I guess my life will never grow stale.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bedtime Buddy
As a very young child, I can remember a stuffed corduroy doll that was 12 or 13 inches tall with stubby outstretched arms having a span of nearly 9 inches. Its chalky-white, hard plastic face smiled with an almost clownish smile. The doll’s chubby cheeks caused its wide open painted eyes to have the least bit of crinkle as if he was about to laugh, and why not. His body and cap were done is a Harlequin jester manner with green and brown corduroy material on alternating sides. His name was Andy. Could this be the reason I have a penchant for that name and called my son Andrew? Not really. I had no recollection of the name until my memory opened and I sat to write this piece.
Andy was my constant companion and not just my bedtime buddy. I carried him through the house throughout the day. From my continual abuse that a child like me gave a toy, the hard plastic eventually cracked and Andy lost his engaging smile. His distorted countenance didn’t lessen my love for him and he remained my faithful companion.
My mother, Sybil Beck, decided that if I wouldn’t give Andy up, she would modify him and make him more presentable. With his distorted face cracking wider, Andy looked like the grotesque and scary clowns of today. You know the ones that lure souls into the sewers. I am not sure what Mom felt, but Andy’s broken plastic face disappeared and she replaced it by creating a soft cloth one. My mom embroidered a new and different face on a piece of white muslin and used it to fill the hole left by the mangled original jester face that she removed.
It was a nice gesture, but I can’t remember exactly what the replacement visage looked like. I know it had a mouth, a nose, and eyes but the image blurs when I try to recall the new features. It saddens me that I can’t remember them. Out of love, my mom took the time to repair my beloved Andy and I have no recollection of it.
I suppose there are some who will ask, “Do I still have Andy?” or “What happened to Andy?” I don’t know. I have no recollection of its disappearance. I can only remember that some of the cotton filling eventually poked out through the seams of his overstuffed body and I suppose that I outgrew the need to carry him around. Obviously he was tossed. Looking back, I can still see him as a sweet memory of childhood and not the tattered and worn entity that he became. Perhaps that’s better for me.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

At the monthly meeting of the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society, the speaker was Frank Saluga, an investigator for Bigfoot sightings from West Virginia. He shared information from the annals of Bigfoot sightings and the suggested explanations for the phenomenon. He shared the history of sightings from Native Americans, early explorers, and those interested with more recent sightings.
Bigfoots are found in every state in the United States and every continent has their version of this hairy, elusive creature. Some cultures believe it to be an actual flesh and blood animal, some believe it is a spirit, others believe it an inter-dimensional traveler or even an alien that is transported by flying saucers. There are theories that Bigfoot is the descendants of Cain or Neanderthal people that are the link between ape and man.
Frank showed a map of the being’s sightings and the highest concentration was on the east coast of the United States, from Maine through Florida. He went on to explain that quite a few Bigfoot reports are from Westmoreland and Fayette County. He also shared that many of the Bigfoot sightings corresponded with UFO sightings, giving credence to those who hold to the theory that they are alien beings.
He had several photographs on crude structures that were supposedly Bigfoot homes or nests. He also shared pictures of teepees of large logs or log X’s that were too heavy for several men to lift.
He shared times when he and fellow explores had rocks thrown at them, noises, and had found tracks. He had two plaster castings of Bigfoot prints.
Driving home, I was being cautious, not that I was afraid of seeing a Bigfoot, but the deer are often active at that time of night and at this time of year. It was a good thing that I was, because a beautiful 8 point buck was standing in the field beside the road and I was blessed to see it without having to hit my brakes to keep from hitting it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Feeding Thousands
That is exactly what I helped to do, this past Friday and Saturday. It wasn’t like Jesus did on the shore of Galilee by blessing the two fish and five loaves where He performed the miracle of feeding five thousand plus women and children. It was nothing as dramatic as that. I worked at the Ohiopyle Volunteer Fire Department for their Buckwheat, pancake, and sausage festival.
I’ve been volunteering since 1966 when I started to date my wife Cynthia Morrison. Her dad Bud, her mother Retha, and Cindy worked there, so it was only natural for me to start. I began washing dishes and slowly moved up the ranks, frying the pancakes, buckwheat cakes, and hash brown potatoes until I was commandeered to fry sausage.
I imagine I have been marching the seasoned piggies across those grills for almost forty years. Each grill is 20 inches by 30 inches. There are 12 grills, 6 in a row almost touching each other. Fryers are often responsible to watch the sausage on two of the griddles. The finished product is place into roasters to stay warm until they are carried to the serving areas.
We began to fry continuously from 830 am until 530 pm, stopping only to eat and to grab some fresh air. But we weren’t finished. We had to scrape and clean the grills so they were ready for the next day. I was blessed to have my family come out and join me for the evening meal.
Saturday, our church helped the Seedline Ministry located in Ohio. They print Bibles and books of the Gospel in foreign languages that are then sent to missionaries in the countries where they serve. The copies we assembled, stapled, and cut to size were in the Korean language. By the time we finished, we had completed 8,386 copies of John and Romans to be shipped to a missionary in South Korea. Our copies will be joining others designed with a special cover just for the Korean winter Olympics. We were told that 7 people will read each copy and 1 of them will receive Christ as their Savior. Hopefully, some will find their way into North Korea to feed lost souls there as well.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

 Safe at Home
On Tuesday, we were expecting my son Andrew, his wife Renee, and their two children Celine and Moriah to be transferring their home from Amarillo, Texas to a location in southwest Pennsylvania. He with the help of Renee decided to accept an employment position closer to me and his two sisters.
We knew they planned to leave Sunday. I was sure that they would go to church services first to say goodbye to their friends and fellow church goers. They got a late start and didn’t cover as much ground as they expected. The 16 foot box truck lumbered along, bringing them closer, but we became anxious, wanting them back home and safe. They didn’t call to share their progress until they hit Indiana and probably wouldn’t have said anything without the constant prodding of his sisters.
It was the last leg of their journey to the new beginning of their life. We knew that they would be home sometime Tuesday, but we weren’t sure just when. By reckoning the miles that remained between us and them, we imagined that it would be later in the evening when they arrived. We gathered at my older daughter Amanda’s to wait. Amanda and Eric graciously allowed them to stay with them until they could finish the inspection and sign the contract on their home.
The evening grew darker and a text said they were in West Virginia. Tension grew. They were much closer now. Every sound drew someone to the window or door, thinking maybe they were nearer and planned to surprise us, but no and the time dragged. Eight, nine, ten, the hands on the clock never seemed to move so slowly.
Finally, I could not stand the confines of the room and walked out onto the back porch for the fresh air. We’d been talking in whispers to allow my granddaughter Hannah to sleep. My daughters joined me. We could talk and not fear waking Hannah.
Each traffic sound called to us, but it wasn’t the answer that we sought. Finally the roar of a large truck called to us. It was them. The caravan had finally arrived, my son in the box truck, towing the family car. Following close behind was Renee driving their Suburban with another trailer behind. Anna, saw what was on the second trailer and began to cry. It was the Chevy pick-up truck that belonged to my father-in-law, Bud Morrison. It had been taken to Texas on their first move and now, it now returned with the family, reunited.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Life in an Uproar
Last week was out of kilter because of the revival meetings. The confusion of an altered schedule continues into this week. Last week I visited a local flooring and carpeting company for an estimate to do my living room and dining room. At the store, I looked at samples and selected the colors and styles that I wanted. After giving an approximate size and things I would need, the owner’s partner and I went over approximate costs. I left her with my card and phone number.
The owner came out and measured both rooms. As he was measuring with an electronic laser, I was talking and said, “I did an approximation of the size of the rooms by counting the ceiling tile.” I gave him my measurements in feet. I expected a telephone call and after several days had passed and hadn’t heard anything, I was scrolling through my email accounts, where I found their proposal. I’d overlooked it before, thinking it was a bleed-through from my spam emails. After I reviewed it, I sent an email back saying it looked good.
The co-owner had forgotten to keep the styles and colors of the carpet and floor covering. I took the information that she’d given me back to the store on my way to a doctor’s appointment. It was early and the man who’d measured was still in the store. I gave them the information that I had, but when I mentioned that he could bring the carpeting in through the window instead of trying to wrangle it around several sharp turns, he looked as though I’d hit him between the eyes with a pole ax.
He had measured the rooms and estimated both rooms for the numbers of boxes of flooring needed. He hadn’t done the square yards of carpeting, but figured on both rooms having the boxes of tile. Now, we have been hit and miss on getting the measurements done. I guess prayers needed for last week’s revivals are continued into this week for my son and his family’s return from Texas and for the installation of my carpeting.


Monday, October 9, 2017

The Last Night
The last night of the revival services was Friday evening. I was able to finally convince two of my friends to attend one of the meetings to hear Brother Samuel Mills speak. One of which is a Facebook friend who brought her husband. The other is a fellow writer and friend. Her car is in the shop, so I picked her up and taxied her to the church. It was a two-for night. Not only did they get to hear a great message, but there was a dessert social afterwards.
Brother Mills was his normal animated self as he delivered his message, moving out from behind the pulpit and bouncing from place to place on the dais. My friend leaned over and asked, “I wonder what his blood pressure is?”
I said, “He’s a youth pastor and I’m sure that he keeps up with the kids.”
His message could have had three titles: Living in Perilous Times, God is Still Able, but he chose, What’s in a Name. In biblical times, a name was chosen that carries a meaning as to the characteristics or the meaning of the name for the child. Later, names were chosen for their memories, naming children after loved ones or friends.
Then he went on to describe the name of Jesus Christ, a name to be exalted above all others. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: Philippians 2:9. At that name every knee should bow. Philippians 2:10. Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Philippians 2: 11. That name still has the power to save. Romans 10:13.
Christ is our refuge and strength our protection Proverbs 18:10. The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth to it, and is safe. This was the main course of the message and he talked about a city’s defense was the walls that encircled it. Those walls were the protection of those within from the enemy, but the towers were the safest most fortified part of the citadel. Here the wealth of the city and the people who were more heavily guarded were kept during an attack. The tower was set high above the walls so the enemy would not be able to reach it.
Brother Mills shared a series of names that Jesus had, speaking so fast that I couldn’t take notes. My recollection of his Scripture is faulty and I couldn’t share all that he said, but please accept my flawed sharing of his message.

Friday, October 6, 2017

There is a Place
There is a literal place where we will spend eternity. One place is Heaven and the other is Hell. We can’t be in both places, but decisions that we make while still alive and on earth will cause us to reside in one place or the other. Last evening Brother Samuel Mills explained that the Bible tells us of Heaven and Hell, spending twice as much time warning us of the dire consequences of an eternity in the pits of Hell and the lake of fire. It is a place of torment, of pain, of a burning darkness. It a place void of any comfort, void of God, and void of light. It is a place where Satan himself shall writhe in pain, calling on God to deliver him from the intense suffering.
Satan will call on the Creator that he rebelled against to give him relief and he will find none. It will be too late for those that the Devil has seduced to follow him. There in the utter darkness of Hell, the lost souls will have remembrance. They will recall each evil deed or thought that they ever had, and each chance they had to accept Christ as Savior and Deliverer will taunt them in the darkness.
God doesn’t want that any should perish and go to this place of punishment. 2 Peter 3:19. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God looked down on this sinful world and still felt love. He sent His only begotten Son to take on a body of flesh, live here for 30 years, and be tempted like we are. He allowed Jesus to bear the pain of the crown of thorns, the scourging like no other person, to hang on a cross in agony to atone for our sins. Christ carried the sins of the entire world in His body and shed his blood that He might cleanse us and provide a way to avoid the punishment for our sins.
Hell is forever. There is no second chance. How many times will you reject God’s precious gift of eternal life? God says in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
There may be no tomorrow. There may be no other call to accept Christ. The time is now. Will you accept Him as your Savior to have life in Heaven or as your holy judge and be cast into the fires of Hell for eternity?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I usually only post every other day, but I can not wait to share last night's revival message. There are too many of my friends that may need this message.Too many may be facing temptation of one sort or another. There may be some that temptation has almost worn them down,soI will post today and not wait.
So Tempting
We all face temptations in life, sometimes daily and sometimes it arrives unexpectedly, but they do come. It can be described as enticements, troubles, or trials. That was what Brother Mills talked about at last evening’s revival service. Satan doesn’t walk up to you, throw you over his shoulder, and carry you to the sin, he entices, woos you, a little at a time. Just like the fisherman with a lure. It isn’t the real thing, but a copy of something tasty, something good, something pleasant, but hidden there is the hook: the thing that is the trap, the thing that bites, the thing that has consequences.
Temptation is the thing that is often a testing to see if we will keep our integrity. “Who will it hurt? Who will see?” Satan asks as he whispers in our ears. “No one is looking.” It could be the lust of the flesh, greed for something that isn’t ours, or to try the taste of drugs or alcohol. Sometimes it causes us to move one step closer to sin’s trap.
Temptation is sometimes constant. It becomes an always present trial, hovering like a lion, waiting for an opening, waiting for the smallest weakening in our resolve. It can become persistent, seemingly growing stronger the more we resist it. Sin’s allure often seems pleasant with nothing to fear, but Satan doesn’t play fair. He plays for keeps.
But we have a companion that is faithfully at our side. We will never have to fight the battle on our own. God will give us everything that we need. He will enable us to have the victory. 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God gives us an example of how to handle temptation when Potiphar’s wife attempted Joseph to sin. First he refused. She still persisted. Joseph recalled all that he had been taught about a holy, righteous God and ran from the temptation. He was falsely jailed for his resisting sin, but God restored Joseph and rewarded him by raising him up to a higher position.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Rejuvenating the Heart and Soul
Three nights of good Gospel preaching behind and three more nights ahead; what a blessing it has been to hear Brother Samuel Mills sharing his insights on the Bible and challenging our church members to come alive and really pray for revival and to pray for loved ones and friends specifically and specifically pray that our own hearts be cleansed and readied to carry the fire of true worship.
Monday evening he shared that the power of God is undiminished, and it hasn’t lessened from the time God created the universe until today. God is still in control. He can change hearts, change lives, and He is able to save the vilest of sinners, make them whole, and clean.
Last evening he took his text from Ezekiel 16:1-14, comparing this abandoned baby girl to the sinner. Just like the man who saw this cast off, uncared for child, God saw us and came to our side.  The infant was nearly dead and the man said to the child, live. He gathered the baby into his cloak, then claimed the abandoned infant as His own.
The man carried the infant to his home, washed it clean, then covered it with oil. Just as God does with those He saves. God, through the blood of Jesus Christ thoroughly cleanses us from our sins and claims us as one of His own children.
Brother Mills said is there anything that smells better than a fresh washed infant, slathered in baby oil. I would imagine that God has the same feeling when a sinner is saved and cleansed, fresh and new.
Once the infant was clean, the man clothed the child in the finest raiment, then bedecked in bracelets, chain, ear rings, and jewels. I imagine that is what we are clothed in righteousness.
The change in this infant was so great, that the world noticed and the change in the baby made the heathen take notice of the beauty which the man put upon her. When we are saved, the world around us should notice the change and see the goodness of God in us.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Challenge
The challenge started Saturday, when my cousin Robin Beck challenged me to post Scripture on my Facebook page for seven days. I knew that I would accept almost immediately, but because I am often an odd duck, I wanted to put a twist on it. As I sat trying to decide how to do it, thoughts of my usual daily sharing of my vast array of postcards popped into my head. I knew that several of them had Scripture as part of their appeal, so I started Sunday morning with my first card.
Sunday morning church service was the first message in a week long revival meetings. Evangelist Samuel Mills was the speaker and began to challenge our hearts with a stirring message about the sufficiency of God. He shared that the LORD is supreme, the Lord of lords and God of gods. There is none above Him.
The word LORD is the personal name of God. Jehovah and it was so holy that the scribes would wash before they would transcribe His name, only us the consonants, and would throw away the pen after writing the name of God. He is that holy. Today, society and even Christians use His name all too casually, cheapening this Creator of the universe.
Mr. Mills spoke at the Sunday school hour about the revival services at his home church. The services were to last 3 days and continued for 14 weeks. He shared how the church prepared for the revival and how the power of a mighty and wonderful God took over and more than 300 men, women, and children walked the aisle and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.
Sunday evening service he shared how Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham followed God’s directions and did all that was asked of him when he was called to worship. He shared the meaning of preparation and the fire that Abraham carried in his hand. Mr. Mills compared the carrying of fire to the church carrying the fire in our hearts to the church, ready to worship. He challenged the adults to be rejuvenated by that fire of revival and to be examples that the youth want to follow, to be lights in their own schools and in the community.
The challenge isn’t finished. Evangelist Mills is speaking all week. Seven pm, Mt. Zion church, 159 Kreinbrook Hill Road, Acme PA 15610. If you’re able to attend, please visit and listen to this man of God share God’s word.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sometimes It’s a Small Thing
Joanne McGough is a very good friend of mine. She is a fellow writer and although we differ politically, I agree with her on one idea that she has. Sometimes, something seems to be only a small thing, but when we look back at our lives, that moment means so much. That seemingly small something can change the direction of our lives.
Many times, Joanne writes vignettes; a snapshot of something that has occurred in her life. Something hardly noticed at that time she experienced it and yet it reappears at a later date with power and clarity. It will replay itself intensely in her mind. The recollection surfaces and she tries to share these moments with her readers.
She is a retired nurse and sometimes those remembrances are of the people that she has cared for as a hospice nurse. Sometimes the moment is of a bird singing while on vacation in Ireland or trying to find a place to stay for the night as a stranger in a small Irish town.
There are things in our own lives that pass as a part of our daily living, but then we age, and we recognize just how precious that moment was. We can recognize how we changed from that moment on. We will understand the significance of that brief, flickering moment and it becomes a bright, unwavering spot in the history of our character. Most of us don’t take the time to write about it like my friend does, but if we look those moments are there none-the-less.
As I was making breakfast this morning, contemplating how I should write this blog, I began to make my usual rye toast and heated the skillet to fry an egg. I was pleasantly surprised when two yolks appeared as the shell parted and the egg plopped into the skillet.
Will this be one of those “sometimes small moments” or will it just be on file with all of the day to day occurrences in my life? I cannot see anything earth-shattering about the incident being so close to it, but someday, who knows.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

One More Time
Even though Labor Day has passed and it is gauche to wear white now, I would venture to wear white one more time before tucking it away. This year I’ve worn my white outfit to PNC Park while attending a Pirates game as I have done in the past. I wore the white clothing to church to prove that I indeed wear white on occasion. I also wore white when I manned the booth for the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society, guarding a donated hand knotted quilt that was donated and being raffled. I also passed out copies of 1862 maps of Stahlstown and Donegal Township with the monthly newsletter for the Society.
I choose to wear white on occasion because with my white Vandyke beard and mustache. I’ve been told that I resemble the great entrepreneur, Col. Harlan Sanders and he wore always a white outfit. I use my lab coat that is a leftover from my nursing career, then cover the embroidered logo with a handmade Kentucky Fried Chicken name tag. I have a short-sleeved white shirt that I adorn with a black ribbon tie. I can still fit into my white trousers from my earlier days of nursing. To finish the ensemble, I picked up a white fedora hat at a party store.
Col. Sanders will once again ride the range today. I plan to attend the Pirates game with a couple of friends. One time I visited PNC Park in my garb, I made guest appearances on Root Sports television and had my visage posted on the Jumbo-tron inside of the park. Not bad for a hick from the sticks. The most wonderful part of the day: I was stopped many times for folks to take Selfies with me: men, women, but no kids. I guess they were afraid.
The only disappointment expressed by those who stopped me  for photos was that I was unable to pass out samples or coupons for KFC like the Chick-filet cow occasionally does. That was one of my disappointments too. I really wanted to get a photo shot Selfie with the black and white Chick-filet cow. I guess I need a sign that says, “Where’s the beef.”  Oh, that’s right. That was another company’s logo all together.

Monday, September 25, 2017

With all of the disrespect for America and the office of the President presently being displayed, it makes my heart sick. It saddens my soul that so many people hate Donald Trump so much that they are willing to destroy America in the process of expressing their dissatisfaction. We should be thankful that we live in America. I don’t want this to be a political post, but a patriotic one that supports the United States and ALL of her citizens.
Donald Trump was put into office according to the rules of the election process, as was Obama, and all the others before him. I know that there are those who are still licking their wounds at Hillary Clinton’s loss and are angry. They are grasping at straws, trying to wrangle a way for her to gain the Presidency. They fail to recognize that the Democratic National Committee unfairly wrested the possibility of a win from Bernie Sanders and allowing Hillary Clinton to run her flawed campaign. Hillary, in her bid for the Presidency insulted a large number of hard-working, tax-paying, Bible-clutching, gun-toting American middle class people by calling them Deplorables. It was to strengthen her support of her followers. The “Deplorables” responded by voting for the only other alternative, Donald Trump.
It is hard for me to understand how this lingering anger at her loss has caused so much resentment. There are people who are rioting under the guise of protest and wearing masks like the criminals that they are.
It is nearly impossible for me to understand how state governors and city mayors can tell the police force to “stand down” in confrontational situations like this. These officials were elected to protect and serve all of their constituents and not these criminals that are organized elsewhere, then bussed into their states and cities to riot and put their citizenry’s lives and property in peril.
I use the word riot and not the word protest, because that is what they have become. Martin Luther King Jr. protested, Rosa Parks protested, and neither of one of them assaulted another person. Neither one of them set a fire or looted a single business, but both stood up for what was right and demanded equality.
I am thankful that America gives us the freedom of speech so we can discuss our concerns and problems; without violence, without suppression of voices, without “safe places or sanctuaries.” If there is something that you don’t like, do something positive to change it without destroying America, her values, or her freedoms.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Thoughts of My Father
Nothing specific, but general thoughts of the man I know as my father. Some stories from him he took to the grave: stories from his parents, of his life working to make a family, and tales of his time in World War Two. He did share a few things near the end of his life about his enlistment in the Army, but very little. As kids, we knew he spent time in the Philippines, drove truck, and was hit by a piece of shrapnel from a bomb, but little else. Later, he shared that he had visited Hiroshima. He never described what he’d seen, but it had to be after the bombing, because he wouldn’t have had the means as a teenager before the war.
He had a small cache of black and white photographs, most of which were of the people, his mates, and the land. Somewhere in the intervening years, they have become lost and are no longer a part of the family’s heritage.
He was never one to show much affection, his gruff appearance would occasionally part into a smile. He only rarely said the word love, even to my mother, but worked in the coal mines, then a factory to provide food, clothing, and a home for our family. Money was always tight, but he would often surprise us with something special. Sundays were the best. After our return from church and Sunday school, he would drive to a nearby store to buy the Sunday newspaper, a large bag of Snyder’s potato chips, and a circle chunk of longhorn cheese. He always liked it and especially liked it when it was fresh and “gummy.”
Buying a newer car every few years and washing the vehicles every week stand out as memories of him. Fords seemed to be his passion, although he did buy a Chevy as a second car for my mom once.
His horny, calloused hands were like asbestos and I would see him pick up and move hot things without seemingly feeling the pain. I remember him swinging a double-bitted axe and hitting the same spot time after time as he split fire wood.
Digging clay from beneath our home place to create a full basement instead of a crawl space is another memory, load after load wheeled out in a rickety wheelbarrow.
Coming back on a Saturday morning with several squirrels he’d shot, skinning them in the basement, then mom would fry them and make squirrel gravy and pancakes for breakfast. Even though he would sop hotcakes in the sausage grease, he lived until he was ninety years old. I love you, Dad.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Caught in the Vortex of Time
With the recent storms that have battered the coasts of the United States and the fiery maelstroms of the west, my mind has been thinking of the multiple tragedies being played out all across this great country of ours. My heart breaks as these fellow Americans return to their homes to try and gather the pieces and return to some saneness and normalcy in their lives. Perhaps we all need to take the time to thank God for what we have. This isn’t what I planned to write about, but I think it needed to be shared.
I want to explain the time that has sped by over the past week or so. I’ve already shared Friday and Saturday evening celebrating my 50th high school reunion. Sunday morning was church. I skipped Sunday school because I inadvertently agreed to cover in the booth for the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society. I said my afternoon was free. After I agreed, I noticed that I had to be there before Sunday school adjourned. Coming home, I climbed into my Col. Harlan Sanders costume and headed out. I didn’t have to sell tickets for the patchwork quilt that I made. They were all sold out, but I passed out the monthly newsletter and copies of the map of Donegal Township and Stahlstown.
Monday, I worked on drawings for my co-editor’s books. She is doing a series of kid friendly color books and an accompanying reading book. Later, I picked up my granddaughter after school and did grocery shopping before heading home.
Mowing seems to take up a good bit of time. I try to help my elderly neighbor by mowing his lawn as well. All totaled I mow about 1.75 acres.
Tuesday, I took the drawings to my friend’s house for her to review. She needed 28 drawings for book about Diana the Diaphanous Dragonfly. Diaphanous is a large word for kids, but the accompanying book is for adults to read to the children. I still have a few more pictures to make for her.
Tuesday evening, I attended the monthly meeting of the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society. I met the woman who won the quilt. She was quite happy with the colors, saying she may use it in her living room. The speaker for the evening Alex Heidi presenting his Eagle Scout project and his mentor, sharing the Native American attire and dance.