Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I know, I know, I know......

I know, I know, I has been a long time since I've posted here and I am not certain that anyone even reads this anymore. Life has been busy and challenging since our return from Florida at the beginning of April. There has been much to celebrate. All of the children and grandchildren were here for Easter Sunday and we had a grand time. Everyone attended church with Mary and I at Prince of Peace where I had served for 21 years. It was wonderful to be back there with the whole family and see old friends. We returned to the house for a wet and muddy Easter Egg Hunt. The children were very excited as they searched under, over, and behind trees and rocks. We then feasted on roast turkey and baked ham and all the fix'ns. Sarah arranged to take a photo of all the grandchildren and presented it to Mary in a beautiful frame for Mother's Day.
I enrolled in two courses this spring through the Academy for Life Long Learning in Saratoga. The first addressed the history of the Civil War and classes were held at the State Military Museum. It was very interesting and led to my discovery that my Great Grandfather, William Southwell, served in the 91st Regiment for the last year of the war. I was also surprised and grateful to learn that 21 of his letters written during the war to Mary Law, my Great Grandmother, were stored at the New York State Library. I was able to make arrangements to read the letters and am in the process of obtaining copies of the transcripts. The letters give a very personal glimpse into the life of a young, 18 year old, Union soldier.
The second class was a series of Interpretive Hikes with a naturalist at Moreau lake State Park. I managed to attend 5 of the hikes and experienced the Southern Adirondacks welcoming the season of spring.
In May I had two preaching assignments and also officiated at two weddings. We are now preparing to attend our annual Synod Assembly (church convention) this coming weekend. At that event I will be installed as Dean of the Hudson/Mohawk Conference of the UpState New York Synod of the ELCA. This is a position I was elected to while we were in Florida. I am now working hard to understand the various responsibilities of the position.
Our three raised garden beds have been dug up, composted added, and seeds and plants planted. Following a very rainy four weeks we are now experiencing summer type heat and humidity. It has really gotten things growing.
Memorial Day morning we hosted our annual "camp breakfast" in the backyard. It was a fun gathering of family and friends and a reminder of how "rich" my life is at present. Oh, we barely have enough money to keep the wolf from the door but we have an abundance of love and family and friends and interesting challenges. We are blessed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughts of Spring!

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain

The above quotes from Mark Twain are a reminder that the season of Spring is a time of yearning and uncertainty. Nature’s awakening in this season stirs in us a yearning for change, newness, and rebirth. And Spring does not disappoint. Soon the tulips will be in bloom in Albany’s Washington Park, blossoms will adorn the fruit trees, leaves will cover the now bare limbs, and peas will be picked in the vegetable garden. Soon…but when? Like children on a journey we ask each Spring morning; “Are we there yet?” We are impatient after a long and cold winter and desire a rebirth NOW!
And that brings us to the uncertainty and fickleness of Spring reflected in Twain’s second quote. This season of hope does not come to us in a smooth and steady revelatory process with each day becoming progressively warmer and full of more and more promise. No, it is an on again/off again season with ups and downs, joys and disappointments.
Spring is a wonderful metaphor of what it means to be on a faith journey. The Holy Spirit stirs in us a yearning and desire to walk closer with God. To experience the Holy Presence in all that we do. We wish that we would make a steady progression in this most significant task. The truth is that it is on again/off again and filled with days of hope and days of disappointment. This is not because God is fickle or uncertain. The promises revealed to us through Jesus are certain and assured. It is our fears, anxieties, and impatience that create the uncertainty in our hearts.

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world!
~Robert Browning

Hope springs eternal when “God’s in His heaven-All’s right with the world”!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Florida Journal #6

A manatee right off our dock in the canal.

This the trail I walk most every morning in the park.

Mary and I celebrated our 44th Wedding Anniversary on Friday with a trip to Tarpon Springs. It was a windy and cool day. We were especially blessed to meet with Danny, who was the best man at our wedding, and his wife and share a Greek meal together. That is not Danny in the diver's suit, he is in the photo below.

No, this is not Danny either.

This is Danny and I. We had not seen each other for 44 years until this trip and it has been a joy to get reacquainted and share memories of our time in the Air Force.

Mary and I and Dan and his wife, Joann.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Florida Journal #5: Manatees

We saw these manatees at Jenkins Park Creek which is a lovely park about 3 miles from the house. I walk there most mornings. A few days later we saw a pair of manatee right off of our dock in the canal.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Florida Journal #4

Mary and John playing miniature golf

Paddling the canal from our house out to the Weeki Wachee River. It takes about 20-30 minutes.

Upon reaching the river the water is clear. If you look closely you can see the fish swimming by.

This view is heading upstream on the river.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Florida Journal #3

Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. This is 3 miles from where we are staying.

Another backyard visitor.

Dewey and I went fishing on the Weeki Wachee River. We got there in the flat bottomed boat that we have at the rental house.

John and the Swamp Monster at the Weeki Wachee Swampfest.

Florida Journal #2

Mary and Zoe at the park. Rich and I are up in the lookout tower.

A visitor in our backyard.

A couple of sun bathers in our backyard.

Rainbow Springs State Park

John fishing off of our deck.

Florida Journal #1

We had a fine visit at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on the way down.

The first of many sunny days in the Sunshine State.

A view of the park that I walk in each morning.

Mary and John at a local fair.

John and a new friend.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Familiar Route

We began our annual journey to sunny, we hope, Florida on Saturday morning. It is hard to believe that this is our fifth year. The last three years we have traveled the I95 route down the east coast that is so congested with travelers. This year we decided to use the I88 to I81 to I77 to I95 route. It has brought back many memories for us. The last time we attempted to go this way was 2007 when we got caught up in the Valentine's Weekend Blizzard and spent many unplanned days on the road. Prior to that eventful trip we had driven this route often to visit my parents in North Carolina and our children attending college in the Carolinas. We estimate about 40 trips in all down I81. Of course, we noticed quite a few changes along the highway especially new commercial development.
Except for a few snow flurries the first morning, the roads have been dry. It is a relief to have less traffic and no tolls. I have also enjoyed the scenery especially the Shenandoah Valley. The first morning we ate breakfast at the Penn/Cann truck stop which was a traditional stop for us. The food was not as good as we remembered so will not stop there again. Saturday evening we stayed in Winchester, VA and ate at a Ruby Tuesdays. We had a gift certificate from Christmas (thank you, Suzi and family). Mary and I had the Valentine's special for two which included an appetizer, two entrées, and a decadent desert. It was all delicious and fun. On Sunday we drove to Charlotte, NC and were greeted by 60 degrees. Today we will visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame before continuing our journey south.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Zero Day

The bright red ball of sun that I am watching come up this morning has a hard day of work ahead of it as our digital thermometer reads 0.0. Even though the sun at this time of year lacks heat, it is the light that I crave. And so this February morning I give thanks for a cold and bright day.

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. ~Maori Proverb

The sun is nature's Prozac. ~Astrid Alauda

Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that's been our unifying cry, "More light." Sunlight. Torchlight. Candlelight. Neon, incandescent lights that banish the darkness from our caves to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night games at Soldier's Field. Little tiny flashlights for those books we read under the covers when we're supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and footcandles. Light is metaphor. Light is knowledge, light is life, light is light. ~Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John1:5

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A Valentine's Day Greeting

This is a little Valentine's Poem that I came across.


Kudzu is green,
my dog's name is Blue
And I'm so lucky
to have a sweet thang like you.

Yore hair is like cornsilk
a-flappin in the breeze.
Softer than Blue's
And without all them fleas.

You move like the bass,
which excite me in May.
You ain't got no scales
but I luv you anyways.

Yore as graceful as okry
jist a-dancin' in the pan.
Yore as fragrent as SunDrop
right out of the can.

On special occasions,
when you shave yore armpits,
Well, I'm in hawg heaven!
I'm plumb outta my wits.

And speakin' of wits,
you got plenty fer shore.
'Cuz you married me
back in '74.

Still them fellers at work
they all wanna know,
What I did to deserve
such a purty, young doe.

Like a good roll of duct tape
yore there fer yore man.
To patch up life's troubles
and stick 'em in the can.

Yore as strong as a four-wheeler
racin' through the mud.
Yet fragile as that sanger
named Naomi Judd.

Yore as cute as a junebug
a-buzzin' overhead.
You ain't mean like no fat ant
upon which I oft' tread.

Cut from the best pattern
like a flannel shirt of plaid,
You sparked up my life
like my rattletrap shad.

When you hold me real tight
like a padded gunrack,
My life is complete;
ain't nuttin' I lack.

Yore complexion is perfection,
Like the best vinyl sidin'.
Despite all the years,
yore age, it keeps hidin'.

And when you get old
like a '57 Chevy,
Won't put you on blocks
and let grass grow up heavy.

Me 'n' you is like a Moon Pie
with a cold RC drank.
We go together
like a skunk goes with stank.

Some men, they buy choclit
for Valentine's Day.
They git it at Wal-mart,
its romantic that way.

Some men git roses
on that special day.
From the cooler at Winn-Dixie
"That's impressive", I say.

Some men buy fine diamonds
from a flea market booth.
"Diamonds are furever ,"
they explain, suave and couth.

But for this man, honey,
these will not do.
Fur you are too special
you sweet thang you.

I got you a gift
without taste or odor.
Better than diamonds,
its a new trollin' motor.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Color of Lightning

Author Paulette Jiles has crafted a very engaging novel about West Texas history in the years following the civil war. The book,The Color of Lightning, was inspired by the real life adventures of a slave, Britt Johnson, who became a freed black man. On October 13, 1864, Britt and the other men were in town when a large band of Kiowa and Comanche warriors attacked the homestead where his family lived. One of his children were killed and his wife and two children were taken captive. Broken hearted, Britt dedicates himself to finding his family and gaining their freedom. Afterwards he buys a wagon and a team of horses and starts a very successful freight business. The author's prose is very descriptive of the country and its people. She writes with a sensitivity and appreciation of the life style of these natives of this wild land. At the same time she does not shy away from graphically depicting the violence and brutality of the times.
Another character, Samuel Hammond, is a Quaker Indian Agent who is assigned the responsibility to treat the native tribes kindly but convince them to stop raiding and taking captives. His idealism is shaken by the realities of life on the prairie and the clash between cultures and life styles.
Jiles novel gives the reader an insight into the tensions, conflicts, politics, and racism of the years immediately following the civil war. This was a fine read and a gift from my son, John. It is not for the weak of heart but the reader will not soon forget Britt Johnson and the integrity with which he lived.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


February. I used to dread February. The cold, the snow, and the fact that it is followed by March. March was always a disappointment weather wise. I am always ready for spring by the time March rolls around and it always disappoints. Usually more snow. The wet, heavy kind. And gray skies.
I now anticipate February with excitement. This will be our 6th yearly winter trip to Florida. In past years we have gone for four or five weeks. This year it will be six. The best part? In Florida, spring does come in March. Birds, flowers, warm and sunny days.
I keep very busy in this season of life and continue to have many opportunities to do the work and ministry that I love. I am so busy that people will say; "You're not really retired.". Then comes February and the anticipation of weeks of exploring a new area in Florida, watching the birds, enjoying the beach, visiting the State Parks, spending time with friends, reading, and relaxing with Mary and John. Oh yeah, I am retired.
January was exciting and challenging. I spent a good part of the month preparing to preach and lead workshops at a conference for "First Call" (new) pastors. The four day conference was last week. This year I was accompanied by son, John, who shared his gift of music as part of the presentations. What a joy. We also contended with a few snow storms in January and are in the midst of another now.
So tomorrow we will dig out. What do you expect? It is February.

"Why, what's the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?"

- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing