RIDICULOUS BEHAVIOR

Well, it appears that July 4th fireworks took on a new meaning in Lonsdale. Officers were attacked when they tried to stop individuals who thought firing the explosives at cars passing by would be more entertaining. According to reports, the fireworks weren’t the traditional firecrackers or sparklers or even cherry bombs. These were the


ones that are used to light up a celebratory sky.
Now, before anyone takes offense that I wrote disparagingly about Lonsdale, read on. My dad worked at Southern Extract from the time he got out of the army until he died some 30 years later. His parents
lived on Louisiana Avenue for years. My grandmother later moved to a house on Minnesota Avenue, and then she even lived in an apartment in College Homes. I spent hours walking the sidewalks in Lonsdale, a treat for a young’un from the country, and about once every month, Daddy loaded us boys into the car for a trip to Cooper and Baldwin’s Barbershop on Tennessee Avenue for a buzz cut. (He always told us he “didn’t like anyone with long hair and dirty shoes.”)
So, I do have fond memories of the community, although I know it has drastically changed over the past few years. Many factors have caused those downturns, but the government hasn’t been the only contributing agent. I don’t pretend to understand the problems of inner-city living and poverty; I’ve been blessed with a good life.
What has my blood boiling is the behaviors of those in the crowd on July 4th who attacked others. Then some of the morons, yes, I mean “morons,” attacked an officer who was attempting to apprehend one of the perpetrators. These folks cry for help in protecting their neighborhoods, but
then turn on the very ones who are trying to do so. What gives?
I’m also blown away at the lack of respect for law enforcement officers who place themselves in life-threatening situations to make communities safer places. Yes, officers do sometimes make mistakes, but overall, police officers do wonderful, heroic jobs that deserve our appreciation and admiration.

Our country suffers right now from a lack of respect. Too many of our countrymen don’t understand what the word means. It is an act of showing acceptance and thanks and admiration to others who have put something bigger than themselves first. Respect also deals with appreciating the sacrifices that individuals make in order to protect the weaker of us. 

MESMERIZED BY THE BEACH

Neither Out Far Nor In Deep 



















The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be-
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep? 

Can you tell that I’m on vacation? Yep, Amy and I are suffering miserably as we sit under an umbrella on the sands of Isle of Palms, our favorite vacation destination. Admittedly, my life isn’t enough to demand a vacation; I simply like some time with the sand and the ocean. Amy, on the other hand, NEEDS a break from life. It’s been too long since she’s had the chance to escape the demands of each day. At any rate, we’re “sunnying and funning” here.
The Frost poem above accurately describes most of the folks around here. We’re tourist from all over the place. I’ve met a man from New York; I’ve talked with another man from just down the road from where we live; and I met a family with a dog named Snoopy. Normally, we’d have passed each other
with a nod of heads at most. However, something happens to folks when we they put on bathing suits. Suddenly, we become a little politer, a little more conversational, and a little more patient.
The beach is where our biggest changes occur. I know that there I become a much more “laid back” individual. Even my movements are slower, although aching joints might contribute to that. I sit in a chair, grab a book and cold drink, and don’t’ move for hours. On occasion, folks stoll toward the water. Some play in the surf, while others move their chairs to the water’s edge to allow the waves to wash over their feet. A few make a quick trip to take quick dips to cool before hustling back to their chairs and umbrellas.
For the most part, vacationers migrate to the ocean to renew. It’s a place where a men and women can stare out into the distance without having others think something is seriously wrong with them. We who make the trip simply look out at the vastness of the ocean in awe. It proves to us just how insignificant we are in the grander scheme of things.
Staring out not too far nor too deep is our special way of finding a bit of peace in our lives. Some of us commune with our lord; others reach major decisions about their lives, whether they concern personal relationships, financial problems, or work-related concerns. “Away” from it all is the best place to put balance back into life before returning to it.

Robert Frost knew a great deal about people. Some might say this poem is about the shallowness of our lives and our inability to find insight. I’d rather think that Frost knew how important a closeness to nature is to each person in this world. That’s my take on it, so I’ll end this piece and return to that view that does so much for me. 

BIRTHDAY BOY BLUES

So, I recently celebrated my true entrance into senior citizen life. To me, 65 is the correct age for
entering the group, even though AARP mails out membership cards to folks when they reach 50. At any rate, I am a bonafide “senior.” Does this mean I am allowed to fuss and cuss just a little? I hope so because here goes.
I’m now what many in this world call an old man. My hair has been gray for years, but of late, its seems to be racing to the crown of my head much faster than in previous years. I’ve never been a muscle- bound man, but at least things were firm, or at least they used to me. My skinny legs are now matched by my skinny arms. My belly
seems to round out more each day despite the walking and exercise I get. Even my chest is trying to slide to my navel. A gym membership offered through my insurance might stop the atrophy and even provide a bit more tone and endurance. I’m trying to find a suitable time for exercise at the Y, but other things interrupt my visiting schedule.
For some reason, missing my mother surfaced this birthday. That’s a bit silly for a 65 year-old man, especially since mother has been gone for more than 20 years. Still, I’ve thought about her and wondered what she’d think about all that’s transpired. She always wanted the back section of woods cleaned out. These days, the area has a carpet of grass and only a few trees to provide shade. I’ve come up with questions that only she could answer. To be honest, I miss the Melt in Your Mouth cake
that she whipped up for birthdays.  Either plain or iced, the cake was a favorite of our family. A friend asked me the other day for the recipe, but I had to tell her I didn’t have it and now can’t figure out where it might be..
The weather didn’t cooperate this year. Instead of warm temperatures, a mixture of clouds and sun and rain kept us from hanging out at the pool. Oh, my grandson Madden dove into the water, and I got in as well. Upon exiting the pool, I put on a pair of sweat pants, the first time I’ve ever celebrated a birthday in long pants. The blood runs thinner these days.
The biggest birthday disappointment this year came at the hands of Mother Nature, or perhaps it was the result of global warming. The honeysuckle scent never arrived. A few meager blooms on the vines appeared, but that “birthday smell” just didn’t come. I thought that I might have been in the wrong month to celebrate another year, but a check of calendar told me I had the right date. To this day, the sweet honeysuckle smell brings back so many wonderful memories, but it hasn’t been around, and I feel a bit cheated.
This year, the usual birthday excitement didn’t make an appearance. Instead, a satisfying sense of contentment moved in. My children and my grandson again returned home for the weekend to celebrate. Just being with them and Amy is enough to make me happy. So, I suppose the other things that didn’t turn out right don’t really matter after all.

None of us knows how many birthday celebrations we’ll have.  We should enjoy each of them with a thankful heart. This year just didn’t have the same pizazz as previous ones. Still, I am thankful for theth year.
good life I’ve been given and for the many wonderful people who have been a part of my time here. I look forward to the next trip around the sun and pray that I will have the good health and good sense to appreciate it. I’ll do a better job omitting the whining and fussing that have crept into my mind on my 66

A MINISTER'S IMPACT

Although folks might find it difficult to believe, several favorite people throughout my life have been ministers. That’s especially surprising based on how I too often fall so short in living the kind of life that Christ and the bible promote. Still, I love these people who have been important to me along the way.
Bill Menees came into my life when I went away to college. He pastored a small Methodist church in Cookeville, Tn. Bill saw his mission as one that brought Christians into conflict with sets of beliefs that were traditional and too comfortable. He told us that Christ was not the answer; he was the question. Our duty was to discover what answers would come from that question. It’s something that requires years of study and thought and prayer. Because Bill Menees dared me to question and search, I have a profoundly deeper relationship with God.
Of course, “Brother Menees” is also special in that he is the man who encouraged me to talk to a gorgeous 18-year-old girl who later became my wife. Bill’s constant goading led me to ask Amy out for that first date. A year and a half later, we stood before him as he married us.
Bob Landry was a different kind of minister. He, too, had different views, but what separated him was the ability to weave a sermon into a thing of beauty. His command of words often left us in the congregation in awe of the pictures that he painted in those 25-minute musings.
Bob also soothed problems. The Disciples of Christ believe in baptism through immersion, unlike the Methodist who sprinkle. I told Bob that if my Methodist baptism wasn’t good enough for the denomination that I would find another church to attend. Bob smiled at me and answered, “I tell you what. I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.” He recognized that the method of baptism was less important that what it symbolized.
Doug Meister served as an associate minister with Bob. He and I became friends as we played on the
church softball team. That friendship blossomed into one that is still strong after more than 30 years, even though Doug has long since left the area to accept a position in a church in Louisville, KY. His gravelly voice presents philosophical and religious points on which his flock can think, debate, and ultimately accept as wonderful news. Doug is an easy-going man who is slow to anger. His compassion for others leads him to serve tirelessly in a variety of activities and ways. Even though we are separated by the miles, whenever we make contact, things fall into place as if we’d been together all along.
Catherine Nance ministered our church for five years. She was reassigned because, plain and simple, she had become a rising star
. Her Sunday morning addresses are transformative. Not one Sunday during her tenure did I ever leave a service with dry eyes. Catherine’s ability to cut through the extraneous and to reach the heartbeat of a moment left most of us in the congregation breathless. I cherish every minute of my time with her and consider her a good friend. On occasion, I find one of her sermons on line and listen to it to recall the power that she possesses. Yes, it was time for us to let her go because her destiny is toward greater things and teachings. I’m glad to have had her in my life for just a while.
At present, Larry Dial is our minister. He’s a larger-than-life character.
Larry’s approach to relationship with God is a bit less formal. Larry loves people, food, and color. From the pulpit, he delivers a message that is sprinkled with personal accounts and interesting facts and a point at which we all can aim to mature in faith and service. What makes Larry such a wonderful preacher and person is his ability to laugh and make others laughs. Sermons include several asides that feature humorous comments covering all aspects of life. He ends each service by delivering a charge to parishioners to go into the world and spread the love of God for each person and the world. What better way is there to leave a Sunday worship service than with a smile? Larry is a new friend with whom I plan to spend many years, and I look forward to the conversations and laughter that we will share.

Ministers should make impressions on those under their care. I am thankful for them all. From those individuals I have developed a deeper understanding of relationship not only with God but also with all individuals.