Saturday, December 31

Latest Art Project

There are times when the unintentional ends surprise the mundane means. Angel's latest art project turned into an unusually patterned abstract with bold color and hidden pictures. Note the cat's eye and a few faces.

Sorry, but I can't give you any trade secret details about how she did it.

Happy New Year from our neck of the woods to yours. May God have mercy on us all.

December Drenching

A second straight year of flooding is confirming our fears of Global Warming with these southern hemispheric storms being pushed into the west coast. This is the wettest December since 1955. Local t.v. stations are airing full time coverage of the Global Warming flooding. A bank of Global Warming thunderstorms is fast approaching the central valley north of us.

Our t.v. has just gone blank with a severe Global Warming thunderstorm warning. They should hit us in 1/2 hour, Global Warming Time. 60 mile per hour Global Warming winds.

Guess I better sell my old pickup and get a new Passat that emits no harmful Global Warming emissions. Global Warming will stop worrying me and I will be able to focus on the other crises in my life. Did I mention Global Warming?

Saturday, December 24

Great Wal of China

China's new Wal(Mart) has made the old Wall obsolete. The old wall has fallen as New China partners with New America. It won't be long before China's product quality exceeds 'Made in the U.S.A.' brands, and our manufacturing sector disappears. At least until there's a revolution and the Red Menace is replaced with free-for-all capitalism. Then wages will rise and we can start competing again.

So our biggest concern is a political one. Democracy in China. The two-party system in China. Real freedom of religion in China.

"With God all things are possible," Jesus said.

Friday, December 23

Taped Out

Wrapping gifts is not my favorite avocation and it's done in haste and sloppiness. Sorry, but it's the testosterone in me. My creativity ends before it begins with each present. But I do like using years-old bows that have multiple layers of tape on the back of them. Practical, thrifty and nostalgic --- now what wonderful gift was this on in 1975?

Tape is the essential article. Tape is great stuff. They pay me big bucks at work to use it, so I'm an expert after 38 years. Need something taped? I'm your man.

Wednesday, December 21

The Missing Annual Update

This year's annual Christmas letter never made it to press. This will be a delight to some and regret to others. We get about a half-dozen of these yearly updates. At one time some friends who live in Sacramento would send about a detailed, 5-7 page, handwritten both sides (but copied) account of everything. Most send a single page that's not even filled. Our friend Mike M. absolutely opposes giving or receiving anything during this season and told us so in a long letter a few days ago. He says, "Whenever I receive a form letter from somone on Christmas [seldom, I am happy to report!] it paralyses me. They do not ask about me. I assume they are not interested in my life. Then, if I write throughout the year, they do not respond."

Mike believes since celebrating the birth of Christ is neither mandated nor seen in the Bible, we shouldn't do it. Furthermore, he cites the history of the celebration beginning with the Roman Catholic Church and eventually being accepted in Protestantism, although rejected initially. I can understand both views, but now isn't the time for me to argue the points.

Mike also feels uncomfortable answering any kind of correspondence from women. "But often it is the wife, not the husband, that sends these December holiday letters, and I feel awkward writing to any man's wife for extended chatting."

This just goes to show there are all kinds of people in the world. So I am trusting that most of those folks who usually get our perennial letter [always written by me] will take it in stride and afford a measure of forgiveness. This blog comes close to highlighting a few things that are a bit more interesting than a detailed account of dental visits, number of pills we take or how many times I mowed the lawn this summer anyway.

Suffice it to say that God in His grace and mercy helped us through another year, granted us visits with family and friends, and met all our needs. Now you know.

Monday, December 19

Paso's Martian Connection

Far more important than life on Mars is the little known rock that bears the name of "Paso Robles." Yes, the Mars Rover scratched the surface of this sulfur laden piece of lithic mass and immediately surmised an appropriate name.

Let's see . . . a rock on Mars named Paso Robles. And the possible reasons are . . . 1. The Mars Rover was test driven on similar terrain - downtown Paso. 2. The Mars Rover was looking for a parking spot and couldn't find one. 3. The Mars Rover was stuck. 4. The Mars Rover smelled sulfur. And yes, folks, that last one must be the real reason for the appellation.

Thankfully, the good citizens and leaders of this growing community have enough git-up, gumption and go to solve the parking and sulfur problems. In the mean time, someone needs to write NASA and get this rock renamed.

Saturday, December 17

Getting To The Church On Time

Saturday morning's overtime mandate dragged me out of bed at 6. It would be cold again in that old pickup. It doesn't really warm up until I'm a 1/2 mile from work, so I usually don't turn it on. What! Waste gas warming it up before I go? Forget it!

I'm there first to unlock, turn off the alarm, turn on the heaters, then start up all the equipment in pre-press. Pressman Miguel will be only one coming in with me. I'm "filling in" while Corey takes a two week vacation (one of them in Bermuda). It has been a week of 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. I've perfected the dance and wasted miles of film trying to make negatives for the press plates. There is NO substitute for hands-on training. This week's feelings of frustration, defeat and failure have been mitigated by an encouraging supervisor and a few victories. Hey, you can only do so much with so little.

Alarm set, doors locked, I head for home, have a hotdog lunch and shower for a 2 p.m. wedding at Morris Chapel at UOP. Barb is sick, so I'm going alone. It's raining. It's cold. It's miserable, but I have my trusty umbrella and a warm jacket.

I pull into the parking lot and find myself the only one there. Maybe they called it off. Or maybe it's at another church. No cell phone, so it's back to the house where Barb meets me at the door and asks what's wrong. "No one's home," I said. She finds the invitation and we both stare at it. "Sunday at 2 p.m." it says, not Saturday.

I jump back into the car and head for Target to do my Christmas shopping. The parking lot is full.

Sunday, December 4

Mood Makers

Another winter forces us indoors against our summer-loving wills. December delights in delivering divine drama, while its trivial trappings take a taxing toll on our tranquility. It's the annual dilemma coming back to haunt and heal us. We decorate to celebrate. We beautify to beatify and bless.

"Then [the people] said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.' Therefore they said to Him, 'What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat."'

"Then Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' Then they said to Him, 'Lord, give us this bread always.'

"And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst . . . and this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.'" -from John 6

This season's distractions will surely blind most eyes to the reason for celebration. May yours be opened to see the glory and wonder of grace that's found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 1

Remembering Glory Road Times

How very strange to hear they've made a movie so close to home.
Glory Road is the story of the 1966 NCAA Champions from Texas Western College in El Paso (now U.T.E.P.). No big deal, except I was there trying to earn a degree at the time. I joined a bunch of friends and partied while watching the final game on T.V. Pretty exciting stuff for a small town no-nothing like me.

I was also Dance Committee Chairman that next year, so we decorated with a basketball champion theme for one of the dances. I still remember drawing these huge players on 15' lengths of butcher paper to hang on the walls of the auditorium. Unfortunately, our shindigs were for the nerdier element, so I don't think any players actually showed up for the event, thankfully. Those renditions of 'Big Daddy D.' David Lattin and Nevil Shed were pretty scary.

Wednesday, November 30


Unbridled expression in all forms create the aura of excitement around Angel during this 5th year of life. Whether she is telling you about how her two front baby teeth popped out or her hotdog size bowel movements, you never worry about being bored. She is a lesson in transparency, energy and 'becoming.'

Now is the time to teach her about all that is good and right and true. Now is the time to show and tell your love to her. Now is the time to pray that she can skip the teen years.

Saturday, November 26

The Patience of Job

BestBuy opened at 6 a.m. and I purposely didn't get there until 8:00. The ad prices were irresistable. I could tell this by the happy hoard already inside. The main aisles that circle the store were clogged with carts full of t.v.'s, electronics, video games and computers. One of the hired help was holding a red balloon way in the back of the store. That was the end of the line for the 10 front registers. A blue balloon wandered near the entrance to mark the back of the line for the 5 side registers. Pretty ingenious. Probably an hour wait in both lines. It was going to be a fun time for Wordydave.

My dilemma started when the item I wanted wasn't to be found on the shelves --- by me or three associates. Bill, a manager, took on the project while I followed him around the place. He looked here, there, everywhere, bringing back the wrong item. I'm still waiting about 40 minutes later up front --- having a great time talking to the girl who guarded an exit-only area that led to the front checkout. "Sorry, but you'll have to go to the end of the line" was her mantra for the day. Note: I didn't see any road rage cases, hear any cursing or feel a mood of frustration. Everyone was getting along and smiling! I couldn't believe it!

Finally Bill showed up, saying he'd found 17 items in the computer, but didn't know where the heck they were, so he took my name and said he'd call me. So I got the call later in the afternoon and decided to skip the crowds and go this morning. Another 8 a.m. visit, and again another hide-and-seek game (Bill wasn't there). After looking in four different places, my new software was in my hands and I was third in line at the checkout.

What we won't do to save a buck! ($100 actually).

Monday, November 21

River Walk

Our nature tends to blindness. Too many of us stroll through life oblivious to the simple beauty that escapes our view. It's right there under our noses and we perhaps glimpse something, but it's not worth a second look.

It's time to get on your knees --- to stop and really LOOK at the world around you --- to wonder in awe of the complexity and beauty and perfect balance beneath your feet and above your head. Creation screams at us and says, "I'm beautiful!" while we reach for the remote and more bean dip.

Who would think there's anything worthy of note in the Salinas River? You've all seen its summer sand, cottonwood, sycamore, and beer cans from a bridge or two. But have you really found its treasures? Paso's plan for a river trail probably sounds really stupid to most Roblans. My hat is off to those who want to make it a reality and preserve and appreciate a little bit of wilderness before the floating casinos and WalMarts cover it up.

Check out out a few photos at

Thursday, November 10

Macho Muchachos

I knew I was in cowboy country when our party of ten went to Big Bubba's for lunch after relocating all of the old cars, trucks and buggies back into their display positions at the Pioneer Museum after The Paso Gathering event. Heave-hoing, grunts and follow-the-leadering called for a nice rewarding lunch. We lined up a few tables and feasted on hamburgers, bbq sandwiches and tostadas as a giant buffalo head moved its little ears electronically on the wall. I knew things didn't seem right when a bunch of us ordered sodas and I was the only one who used a straw. Yes, this was the Paso Robles I'd left 33 years ago for greener pastures in the Central Valley. I don't think they'll want me back with my big city, pussy-footing ways after that.

Wednesday, November 9

Rain Refrain

We're enjoying our trip to Paso Robles, especially the new faces and places. A photo jaunt to the middle of the Salinas River on Wellsona Road rewarded us with some great pictures and discoveries. Lots of sand still down there for four-wheeling. A little water left from the last rainy season, a variety of fauna footprints and lots of dumped trash gave us plenty to talk about. With a storm coming in, the cloud formations were first class for us photographers.

It's raining today as Barb and I get ready to go to San Luis for a memorial service for a friend's mom. Just read about it in the Tribune yesterday. The seasons of life are mercies.

Thursday, November 3

Selling Out

A pastor down the road a bit secretly sold his church without his congregation's knowledge for $500,000 recently. $450,000 went into a bogus bank account which was used to purchase a BMW for his girlfriend (plus other expenses for unnamed items - there's $350,000 left). This was the First Congregational Church in Ripon, CA, a small town on Hwy 99 known for its extremely strong and faithful Mennonite and Christian Reformed churches and schools.

May God have mercy on us all. The judgment has started.

Friday, October 28

Life of Seasons

My birthday will say 'gotcha' again in a few days. The decades keep unfolding like clockwork, each row of quilted squares revealing another 12 month snapshot. Not much left to discover at this point, but the colors are much brighter and filled with promises.

"O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, and Your power to everyone who is to come." Psalm 71:17,18.

Tuesday, October 25

World Series President

"Woodrow Wilson was a serious fan, and during his freshman year at Davidson College he played baseball. Wilson was the first President to ever attend a World Series, and he never once used his Presidential Pass — choosing instead to pay for every game he attended!" This program of the 1917 World Series game shows Wilson throwing out the ball, but the photo was taken the year before in Washington, D.C. when the Washington Senators beat the Yankees 12 to 4 in the first season game.

Just a little trivia you don't really need to know --- excess weight on the drag strip of life. Sorry.

Tuesday, October 18

The Circle Game

Joni Mitchell's earliest fare includes her best poetry and melodies. Her
Blue album combines youth's sad yearnings and loves with truly original music. Ladies of the Canyon featured the CSNY cultic Woodstock and the universal Circle Game.

The Circle Game paints life's seasons with a simple brush and captures little Angel with the words, "Yesterday a child came out to wonder.
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar.
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder,
And tearful at the falling of a star."
That's Angel and most little kids at five years young.

Thank you, Lord, for this gift of grandparenting.

Friday, October 14

Vicarious Viewing

With the world's daily woes increasing at home and abroad, our sypathetic nerves are stretched to the snapping point as we try to relate (compassionately, mind you) to every tragedy offered in the media. The current overload of major disasters pushes our stress buttons as never before, and we're thinking and saying, "those poor people" more and more.

We pray, send money, devour the news and try to get a true perspective of cause and effect and how it all relates to us. But eventually, living with this vicarious trauma starts to kill us, too, so we retreat to a safer place. Compassion seems to have a half-life. Probably better to be in the war, survive the floods, or be buried by an earthquake to learn what lasting and true compassion really mean.

Sunday, October 9

Brave's Old World

Poor Atlanta goes up in flames yet again as they battle their perennial battle fatigue. Losing to the Houston Astros in the longest inninged (sic) post season game ever, these once-hot bat boys just didn't have the spark to send them to the World Series ---- again.

Houstonians reveled in the glory as Chris Burke popped an 18th inning home run into left field. Veteran Roger Clemens closed the last three innings with four strike outs and a perfect bunt. The old man in him disappeared as he hefted Burke onto his shoulder during the field celebration. Then it was off to the locker room for champagne and lots of Icy Hot.

Congratulations, Astros. You'll probably be back here playing the Braves again next year.

Tuesday, October 4

Hey, Rich!

Rich C., I've lost your e-mail address. Please send me a note pronto, please. Thanks. Dave

Little Pig Dreams

Little 5 year old Angel doesn't scrimp on expression and matter-of-factly relates her last scary dream about being in a barn with 4 pigs. One of them was little and had a rectangular-shaped hole in its back so you could see its backbones. The little porker proceeded to chase her around the nightmare before the real world rescued her.

We probed for reasons and learned the source: she had been thinking scary thoughts that day. Out of the mouth of babes zings another golden tidbit of truth, and we have to ask ourselves, "what scary thoughts have passed through our own cranial crevices today?" The Scriptures tell us that dreams come from the day's events. Little snippets of life mixed with a depraved imagination and a large measure of fear combine for the fixin's of a perfectly horrible dream. An illogical, preposterous, out-of-character, fearful, crazy and often sinful collection of vivid video on steroids. Recurring themes, faces and memories reveal a secret part of us that we don't share with anyone else. Our consciousness usually erases the trauma during the day, but not always.

How intriguing that science dictates that a night's craziness is necessary for a normal life. Lord, deliver me from a normal life!

Friday, September 23

"Lovely Rita, Meter Maid"

There aren't too many songs about Rita, but there will probably be more after this weekend as Texas and Louisiana pick up the pieces. It's time for the return of the ballad, like "The Ballad of New Orleans II," and "The Ballad of Poor Port Arthur."

Disasters are dominating the news, taking precedence over everything else. Two hurricanes punctuated by a JetBlue landing yesterday and a burning bus today. Colosseum stuff for some. Painful tears of compassion for others. Either way, most of us are addicted to tragedy --- as long as it's someone else's.

Wednesday, September 21

Out of the Blue

Of the thousands of lightning strikes here in the valley last night, one of them struck a poor woman going for a walk in Modesto. She's still alive and needs God's mercy as a lightning strike to the head has a way of changing your life forever.

Lightning storms were rare in Paso Robles in the 50's and 60's, I think. Mom would have us kids huddle in the hall until the worst was past. She grew up in Kansas. Thankfully, she didn't have us crawl under the house!

This is turning out to be the weather news year of the 21st century so far. Hold on to your emergency kit and keep that SUV filled with gas!

Saturday, September 17

This Overtime Thing

"In 1967, testimony before a Senate subcommittee claimed that by 1985 people would be working 22 hours a week or 27 weeks a year or retire at age 38. The extra time each week could then be given to church involvement, reading a good book, strengthening the marital relationship, parenting the kids or volunteering for civic organizations. But instead the exact opposite happened. Boredom was predicted, but exhaustion is the reality." Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

This week's whirlwind of overtime, managing a temp worker and driving Barb here and there (Liz had our car while hers was broken down) all add up to that much loved word, 'stress.' Downsizing to skeleton crew status has affected a lot of businesses, including ours. When someone goes on vacation and we're swamped, the hair pulling begins as the more inexperienced goons take up the slack. So I was #1 goon this week, doing my regular job plus another added in for good measure. Sound familiar? They call it 'being flexible.' It's not in your job description, but 'cross training' has been secretly inserted into your contract whether you like it or not.

Am I complaining? Not when so many are out of work and live like peasants around the world compared to me. And God usually plans these times of exhaustion so I can pay for that unexpected and inevitable catastrophe. He gives me the strength (barely, but enough) to do it. It's little wonder everyone died so young 100 years ago. Their 12 hour days plus Saturday killed them early. We're all living on added time in the 21st century, even with the work stress. Quit complaining.

Monday, September 12

Barnes and Bobo

I dropped Barb off for her class at college before going across the street to our clannish culture center, Barnes and Noble. It's Bobo out of water whenever I enter these halls of hardcore highbrows. It's like going into a bar. People here and there, sipping a few words from a book and glancing around the place to see who's looking at them. "Please don't catch me looking at an art book or making a futile attempt to find a book on Church history or scrounging through the computer and sale books," says Bobo as he lowers his baseball cap. Must be his self-righteous self smelling up the place again.

The parking lot's fresh air and setting sun calmed old Bobo's uneasiness. "Let's not pretend we want to go there for awhile," he offered. "Fine by me, but, man, you're weird," I added as we jumped into the truck and hand signalled all the way home.

Saturday, September 10

Andre the Giant

Jimmy Connors must be loving it as Andre Agassi waltzes his way to the U.S. Open Tennis finals at 35 years old. And that's REALLY old in tennis star years. Here's a picture of the puzzled winner, scratching his head and wondering how he did it.

So how's your tennis game? Are you hanging in there even though you're over the hill and in the bursitis woods? My wicked serve and forehand fossilized some years ago, but it was fun while it lasted. My great regret is not playing more and better, to peak at 35 or 40. The only thing to peak at when you're close to 60 is . . . a . . . let's see . . . oh, I forget!

Monday, September 5

The Blame Game: In the Crosshairs

As if you didn't have enough to wade through in Katrina's wake, I'll offer a few comments on current blame game. First, like 9/11/2001, this is another perfect opportunity to throw flaming criticisms willy-nilly in the name of political fervor. Poor President George gets the hottest nucular (sic) blast here as commander-in-chief of hurricanes and all other global warming disasters. With his feet to the fire, he is Enemy Numero Uno on the Bush-haters' list of culprits.

We can next blame the Army Corps of Engineers, the governors of Louisianna, Mississippi and Alabama, then the mayor of New Orleans, then the people who were unwilling to leave their homes, then the looters and killers, then the local dog catchers. And let's not forget to blame an American population that has rejected its Godly heritage. And speaking of God, shouldn't we add Him to the list? Isn't he the ultimate reason for these disasters in the first place?

"Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed." Ezekiel 39:29

"I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness. I make peace and create calamity. I am the LORD who does all these things." Isaiah 45:6b,7

"When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses." Jeremiah 10:13

"And when [Jesus] got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, 'Save us, Lord; we are perishing.' And he said to them, 'Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?' Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, 'What sort of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?'" Matthew 8:23-27

Leave sin and God out of the equation and your answers are just "blowin' in the wind."

Thursday, September 1

Deja Varoom!

Okay, let's get this straight. You were making about $3.00 an hour in 1963, maybe a little more. I was making $1.00 an hour when I pumped gas in 1966. We payed about 35 to 40 cents per gallon for gas, maybe a bit less or more. Our cars got maybe 15 (my Mustang) to 22 miles per gallon on the highway.

Now most breadwinners are making from $15.00 to $20.00 an hour and paying $3.00 for a gallon of gas. For families with two incomes, that's $25.00 to $30.00 an hour or more.

The math is pretty clear. Gas is still pretty reasonable and we've been getting a free ride for a long time. The big problem now is owning two or more vehicles. One of them (that SUV tank) still gets about 22 miles per gallon and our houses are filled with ten times more 'toys' than our parents had. Oh, a lot of us drive over 10 miles one way to work.

The moral: We spoiled brats and fat cats need to start a starvation diet. Simplify your life and the necessities of life will take care of themselves.

Monday, August 29

That Brave Old World

Not too far down the road Americans will wonder what it was like to fill up the car at a gas station. The kids in the back seat will see abandoned pumps and ask, "Daddy, what in the world is that!?" Then Dad will launch into an extended story about the cost of gas in the 'last gas days' before the Oil Wars, and how his grandfather died in South America somewhere.

"Yeah, didn't they make a movie about that?" little Jetson will say. And his littler sister will reply with, "What's a movie?"

Thursday, August 25

. . . And God Created Cats

"The cat with eyne of burning coal. . ." says Shakespeare in the third act of
Pericles. No burning coals for Jack. His are a more the bard's "green and yellow melancholy" (to match his tepid temper and white goatee). But Angel dotes on him --- has to hug and love him far beyond his worth. Jack is the dog she never had --- he is pawed, played with, poked and provoked without one mild meow. At most, he'll slink away in disgust.

I told Angel yesterday, "Jack's an old man now. His play days are over. You need a puppy." To be continued . . .

Tuesday, August 23

Every Good Gift

Milene sent me this photo of her and Darrell in the Winner's Circle at a car show in Louisville, Kentucky. This is after they drove to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to see a fly-in. The award was for being brave enough to travel the farthest for the event --- all the way from little 'ol Paso Robles. Their only problem was a pesky fuel pump. Congratulations to you both!

And three safe weeks of travel is indeed a wonderful gift, Milene. Thanks for reminding me of those simple blessings that fall out to us from above.

Saturday, August 20

Dancing With the Big Boys

What do you think? A no-nothing, nondescript website like mine ranks with other first pagers after mousing a Google search. Must be something wrong with their algorithms and other secret formulas. The annual Google Dance attempts to help webmasters find the best ways to get their fare higher in the rankings.

Google says the key is creating a "user-friendly" site - simplicity must be that one critical component for success. Thank you, Google, for awarding such high honors.

Unfortunately, you have to key in more than just Paso Robles for our page to get first in line. Add 'USA' or 'history' and that's where you'll find us. I remember not too long ago that a Paso Robles search yielded about 2500 page references. Today it's about 793,000. Yes, Paso is 'dad-blamed cultured. Yesiree!'

Tuesday, August 16

Behind the Lens

It was off to an early start. Oak Park days on the north circle when I was about nine or ten. We were suddenly dadless, dirt poor and didn't have a car for awhile. Mom had to walk to work and bum a ride home, she said. So who paid for the film and processing?

Here I've captured my first 'action' shot of Marty kicking off while Mom holds the ol' football. This must have been around 1956 or so. She waitressed at Wilson's Restaurant and also picked up parcels at the airport for the Conrad's Greyhound Bus business. We kids were treated to huge cartons of baby chicks to keep warm on the space heater overnight or live minks in cages. Very odd indeed.

Seems everyone took pictures in those days in my family, especially Grandma Skinner in San Luis Obispo. The kid and grandkid thing. Some of us started looking through viewfinders early, got hooked and entered that creative space called point and shoot. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Sunday, August 14

That Other Life

As the years stretch behind us, we forget the pain of adolescence amd wonder about those we've left behind.

Nancy snagged me when I transferred from CCSF to UTEP in 1965. She was in her junior year. The bubbly type. The straight A type. The social type. Why she wanted me to traipse behind her is beyond my pea-brained understanding. We weren't more than good friends and confidants who liked to touch each other. There were no head-over-heels butterfly feelings between us. But we did like to do bird counts together at the local lakes.

The attraction wore off after a few years (she graduated). Then I came back to California. I saw her again after some months in El Paso. She had married a guy in the Air Force and had a baby. End of story.

You've doubtless had a similar disappearance in your life. Someone you'd like to 'get caught up' with. Someone whose smile you miss. Such are broken old relationships. Just be thankful for the memories, forgive the faults, and enjoy the present. All things are meant to be.

Monday, August 1

Breakfast . . . And Beyond

A Monday off during a very slow work week. We'll drop in on the "non-legendary" Tom Cruise [Lauren Bacall's estimation] and War of the Worlds after choring around the house.

It begins with breakfast only dreamed of when I was a kid. Starbuck's coffee, 7-Grain toast and imported German strawberry preserves. Wow! Thank you, Lord, for tastebuds that still work! I eat alone while Barb finishes her sawing in the bedroom. After a bit of world news and entrance of the sleepy half, it's time to tackle that short to-do list.

Yeah, let's shorten those two old 2 x 8 pieces of framed lath to 2 x 6 and mount them behind some new climbing vines I put in awhile ago. Have you ever tried this? A tedious and precarious endeavor to say the least. Strips fall off as you hand saw. Remove the old nails and straight piece from the 2 footer and go to it with those new nails that are 1/2" too long. Lay it on the lawn so you can pound those 6-pennies all the way through! That's it. Now turn it over and bend over all the points. Hey, no one is going to see the backside! It didn't take too long and were easy to mount, so job numero uno is finished.

Poor Dave hates to throw anything away, so what does he do with the leftover pieces?
They find their way to the backyard to enhance some fence-art faces, what else?!

Then it was time to clean off the work bench, cut down computer stuff cartons and finish painting a handmade Indian motif wood roadrunner for Eliz and Gary's newly spruced-up duplex. Another knick knack, but at least it's signed by the artist. No pictures cause it's already gift wrapped.

Now it's your turn. Oh, Happy Birthday, baby brother Kenny.

Monday, July 25

Window Dressing

There are no more beautiful people than those at a wedding. After the extreme efforts to dress, primp, apply makeup and get your hair done, the show begins. And that's just the guys!

God's crown of created pulchritude belongs to the fairer sex, of course. We can only imagine Adam's reaction to a perfect Eve. There is a hint of it in those 'love at first sight' experiences. It is wonderfully shown in Solomon's Song in the Bible.

John Piper's new book, The Pleasures of God, lists those things and beings God delights in, such as His creation, His Son and His people. In the New Testament, Jesus is called the Bridegroom and believers are called His Bride. He delights in her. He lays down His life for her. He loves her unconditionally. Sinfully unattractive in herself, she is redeemed and made beautiful by her new true love, the Lord Jesus Christ. Even the apostle Paul calls it a great mystery.

God created beauty. He enjoys it. And because we are created in His image, we can delight in it, too. It's His gift to us.

Friday, July 22

Krazy Korn and Krunchy Kreatures

It was the proverbial Thursday luau before the proverbial wedding. Just the right amount of folks to witness the knife-in-the-back stabbing of a prostrate porker. Quite the showmanship as the blade-braving groom began carving. Someone yelled for the ear to munch on. One pop and it was off. Mounds of white meat, slightly seasoned soon waited to be devoured by all the natives.

We dressed the part, except for the straw hats. People were thrown in the pool, including bride and groom. The weather was cool. Lots of conversations and meeting new faces. Home by 9:00. Tomorrow - the rehearsal dinner. Saturday - the wedding.

Of the few formal times we get to rejoice in life, weddings still exude hope and wonder. Ordained of God in the beginning, one man and one woman promise to love, cherish and ENJOY each other the rest of their earthly lives. "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her." That's a lay-down-your-life love. A no-matter-what love. An I'm-crazy-about-you love that we'll never fully understand in this life, but can have the pleasure of a small taste of it.

Surprise your spouse today with those three God-blessed words, "I love you!"

Tuesday, July 12

Sierra Shooting Stars

Not all shooting stars are seen at night in these California mountain valleys, as these 3/4" delicate flowers reveal. A quick trip up Hwy 88 (that's the next road to the south of the Sacramento to Lake Tahoe Hwy 50) offers all the beauty of the High Sierra with very little traffic to battle during the week.

The midday sun warmed us as we stopped here and there to capture the best of the area's gifts on film and memory card. Why would God create such diversity and beauty? We only see a part of it since countless species are gone forever, yet what remains declares the glory of the one who spoke all things into existence. Such complexity, ecology and beauty aren't the machinations of blind chance or prophetic amoebae. Sorry.

I used to think so. I was wrong.

Thursday, July 7

Happy Birthday

It was indeed a happy birthday for the colonies turned United States of America. And with much hammering and Providential direction, a handful of men forged a solid future for a strong and courageous people.

They are all turning in their graves right about now.

Monday, July 4

Blimping Along

These centuries old airships still strike us terra-firmites with that awe we felt when we were kids. Their unexpected engine drone forces us out of the house to scan the skies for a passing blimp. We would see the Goodyear ship flying over Paso on rare occasions and wonder what it would be like to ride in that little cabin under its silver belly.

I spied one winging south late this morning as I aimed Old Davy down the road toward the dump again with another load of backyard clippings and such. It would steer right over me, so I stopped by the side of the road just in time to get a few shots.

It was like I was back in the 60's with a psychelic (I've almost forgotten how to spell that!) rendition of the Goodyear. Bright and lazy colors topping a lemon yellow cabin! Wow! Click here for a close-up.

Up, Up, and Away in My Beautiful Balloon started playing in the background as I jockeyed for the best camera angle. A much better shot will be in tomorrow's paper most likely. But it was another "glad I've got my camera" moment. Which brings me to say to all of you folks who would take some great pictures if you just had your camera: These are the times of your life! Don't let them slip away.

Thursday, June 23

"God Gave Them Over . . ."

The last half of the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Roman Christians almost 2000 years ago is a classic diatribe against those who practice dei-cide. Deicide is a word you won't find in a pocket dictionary. It has fallen out of use in the past century or so. It is the practice of killing God in your heart.

Paul's view of the ancient world of idol worship, homosexuality and other sins uses a peculiar phrase associated with all this depravity. He says, "God gave them up to uncleanness . . . to vile passions . . . and a debased mind." Why? "Because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge." They were "haters of God." God-killers. (verses 18-31)

They knew God hated what they were doing and did it anyway. Their excuse? "We love sin and we really love sinning and we really love others who sin like we do." (verse 32)

And what's changed in the past two millenia? Absolutely nothing. In chapter 3 he says, "For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory [perfect sinlessness, holiness and righteousness] of God." (verse 23) That includes those of us who think we're better and better off than the murderers, sexual perverts and haters of God we see around us. God says we're all in the same boat spiritually: "Dead in trespasses and sins." (Ephesians 2:1) Soon to be judged by God in Christ Jesus. "As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)

It's time to listen to Him "who has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell," says Jesus. There is only hope of forgiveness in Him. See the book of Acts 2:22-40.

Tuesday, June 21

"A [Wo]Man is a Worker . . . "

Joseph Conrad's quote ends with these words: "If he is not that he is nothing." Some of us have passed the million dollar mark in life, live like kings and queens compared to our poorer neighbors around the world, and can truthfully say we enjoy our labors. Pity those who like Jerome K. Jeromes say, "I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours."

Some feel a certain pleasure at the end of the day when exhaustion rules life and limb. Many a prayer of thanks ascends as we recline in our Lazy-Boy and sigh in relief. The workday has ended. The mind and body can start their mending. With eyes closed we drift on a calm and stressless sea.

Barb has been helping at KP Corp again this week for a few days. Piddly stuff like shrinkwrapping, labeling, rubberbanding, boxing. She loves it. Her back doesn't love it, but she does. I'll wake in the middle of the night tonight and smell her generously spread muscle relaxant. What a woman!

Friday, June 10

Airport Retort Report

Our flight home from Nashville last week rated a Zero on the Most Wonderful Air Transportation Experience list. Picture getting up at 3 a.m. to catch a 6 o'clock plane (you have to be there two hours early, right? A 1/2 hour would have sufficed at this hour!). We waited at the end of the United terminal for a little puddle jumper to take us to Denver.

Everything was great until we hear an announcement that a passenger in 1st class was having a medical emergency. "Is there a doctor on board?" A woman a few rows from us got up to help. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Yes, we have a medical emergency and will be diverting to St. Louis." It took about 30 minutes to find the airport, where we landed and waited for the paramedics to assess the situation, remove the passenger and head for the hospital. Then we waited while the "paperwork" progressed in the cockpit. Thankfully, they let us use the restroom.

On to Denver and a way late arrival. Our flight left an hour before we got there. So we got to wait with the thousands of others who were on standby because of the east coast storms the day before (14 cancelled flights). Some had stayed all night. I talked to Customer Service and was able to get a secure flight to San Francisco, then to Sacramento. All well and good except for the three hour layover at S.F.

To make this long story shorter: Let's see, we got up at 3 a.m. (that's 1 a.m. California time), and finally got home at 10 p.m. California time. The original 7 hour flight turned into a 20 hour Don't Ever Want To Do That Again fiasco.

I can't really complain. Maybe this woman's life was saved by the unexpected landing. Maybe our original plane would have crashed in a Colorado thunderstorm. We certainly wouldn't have seen all those neat jets coming and going on the San Francisco runways. And I would have missed seeing the sunset as we flew out over the city on the way home.

Thursday, June 2

Tennessee Tales

We've been enjoying a week's vacation on the Cumberland Plateau a few hours east of Nashville. One beautiful American paradise as long as you come at the right time. May is the best month. Cool and little humidity.

This is the all-brothers-and-sisters reunion at Mom's. She just celebrated her 80th year and is really enjoying the mayhemic party we always throw when we get together. The food has been terrific, too. Mom's a great cook. Tonight's California Caserole is still in the oven.

We've taken day trips here and there. Nothing exotic in this neck of the woods, but it's fun visiting little towns that seem pretty much removed from civilization--- backwoodsy bergs that haven't changed appearance in 50 or more years. Wish I could show a few pictures, but can't yet.

Friendly people, cheap gas and good food. We'll be back.

Wednesday, May 25

In the Gnus

The poor little rabbits are hopping mad at the latest news about their kind carrot-growing benefactors on Bully Bear Hill. At least the rabbits that wear bow ties and shine their rabbit's feet are.

"Shameful" is what they're saying.

"Outrageous," says Mr. Big Tooth. His wife twitches her nose in approval. "How can they be so jackass dumb?" he adds, thinking he hears thunder in the distance. His wife's ears lay back. "Well, if not jackass, then pretty close to it. Snakish. That's what I say. They'll get no more carrot seed from me."

Lightning flashes in the distance as Mr. and Mrs. Big Tooth hurriedly hop home to Holeville, hoping against hope.

Wednesday, May 18

Lemony Lemons

Like, let's get excited about things huge and extraordinary!

She huffs and puffs her way into the bedroom, all the while praising the virtues of an elephantine lemon she found in the backyard. One lemon. One lemon leaf. One excited 4 year old.

It was camera time again to capture the moment.

When was the last time you really got really excited about anything? I think that's what I miss so very much about those spongey years --- all the firsts.

Now we face the lasts. But faith makes them much more exciting.

Tuesday, May 17

When Corey Went Berzerkeley

Corey at Work in 1994

Armed with the intellectual weapons of small city life and culture, my friend, Corey, attended a recent English Department graduation ceremony for his niece --- in Berkeley. Surrounded by a Greek amphitheater and hillside amenities, it was time to soak in some big city campus culture with other families and friends (and graduates) who had come to hear those rare jewels of wisdom so often heard in major commencement speeches.

Expecting to hear encouraging thoughts and down-to-earth, kick-in-the-pants elocution, poor Corey had to endure (without laughing, mind you) the most miserable keynote speakers' prattle imagined. The main agenda topic was Bash America, with subtopics that included "It's all about ME!" and "I'm published, but I'm an idiot and I don't know what I'm talking about!"

Hoping the worst was behind, it was finally the Valedictorian's turn. He stumbled, bumbled and crumbled through his valedictory. So much for saving grace.

The moral of the story: Get your degree on the Internet, then listen to an old Bill Cosby record for the kick-in-the-pants acumen.

Saturday, May 14

Broad Road to Jerusalem

Another curiosity satisfied. The Kingdom of Heaven wends its way into theaters across the country with yet another historical drama. Laden with accuracy, the main themes were penance to earn God's forgiveness of sin, the depravity of man and hero worship. At least I can agree to the middle one.

Please don't see this film if you abhor bloody violence. Please don't see this film if you want to feel good at the end. Please don't see this film if you're seeking some great spiritual truth. Just read a good history book on the subject, preferably one written in the 1800's, like John Lord's Beacon Lights of History.

The popcorn was good.

Sunday, May 8

Pulitzer Prize Photo Exhibit

Saturday's visit to the local museum included hall browsing to see 100 of the world's greatest photographs by Pulitzer Prize winning photographers. Wonderfully displayed and lighted, each photo came with a background blurb that told the story behind the picture. Truthfully, some of the shots would be meaningless otherwise. Most impressive pictures don't need a story, but their impact can be greater if we view them with a wider perspective.

This exhibit is busy. Lots of viewers. People have sent letters to the editor praising the quality and importance of the event. People have shared about the emotional significance of the event. One spoke of tears.

Sorry, no tears from this guy. My stoic machismo prevents such embarrassing moments. I'd rather take pictures of the folks staring, reading and trying to restrain their tears. But after sneaking two shots and almost being confronted by a security guard, I saw a "NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED" sticker on the wall. This was off limits to bloggers like me who like a good story. So those red X's are there so I won't go to jail.

More good stories happened at 2:30 in another room in the museum (the reason I had gone in the first place). Three local photogaphers for the newspaper were going to speak about their work and answer questions. It was great seeing a slideshow of various photos and enjoying a session of Q & A afterward. There were about 50 people there. I asked the most questions and learned a few things.

Next week three of the Pulitzer Prize Photo photographers will be here from the S.F. Chronicle. Their pictures are on display. One of them is a local.

All of this to say: There is something wonderful, jaw-dropping and instructive about good photography. A great shot will bring a flood of emotions as we relate to the pathos, humor or beauty we see and feel. These are snapshots of our souls in a real sense. And our reactions are God-given appreciations that grow with time, I think. Our vision matures. We listen more closely. We feel more intently.

Now, go buy a good photography coffee table book.