Poker Night, Out

We had weekend guests, so predictably, the schedule included a competitive game of Texas Hold ’em. No money on the line, just bragging rights.


From time to time, I’ll join in the play, but because I’m easily bored, the game often wears me out (long before it’s been brought to a conclusion). On this occasion, my daughter-in-law (DIL) − no fan of poker play − sat down with me before the game commenced and we hatched our own plan for entertainment. We chose dinner and a movie. Continue reading “Poker Night, Out”

Just Believe?

Earlier in the year, I viewed an advertising tease for a new television series titled Believe. The fantasy, drama, science fiction aspects of the series sounded intriguing. Combining all those elements into a successful production, though, seemed (to me) as if it would be an impossible challenge, except on the list of executive producers was the highly-regarded J. J. Abrams. I thought the series might earn my attention.BelieveTV

Judging by the picture at left, we have a visually appealing, seemingly innocent young character. This young girl is thought to have supernatural powers, while the villain/boogie-man is a government agency interested in utilizing the main character’s powers for their nefarious ends. A prison escapee of slightly dubious credentials is chosen to protect the girl and keep her hidden from the villains.

As things turned out, I never caught a single episode of the series, so I’m ill-equipped to offer any assessment of it. From what I’ve read online, however, the series has been cancelled. I guess the reputation of Abrams wasn’t enough to ensure success with the audience.

The night I saw the preview, the show’s name stuck in my head. Rolling around up there inevitably started the words taking form and within a short time, voilà! A poem! Specifically, a sonnet. I present it below.

universe, technology, DNA, believe, belief, mantras, deity, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Believe

Gardening Perfection

My raised garden bed is directly next to our driveway. Every single time I drive down the lane (slightly less than 400 feet to the street), I pass by that garden bed. Every single time I return home and bring my car up the lane and into the garage, I pass by that garden bed once more. The picture below is from a couple years ago. The blacktop driveway is visible in the background at top.tomatoes peppers 1

Whenever I drive by that bed of late, I am greeted with denunciations and scolding. Now the garden obviously says nothing at all, but each time I pass by, the voices in my head get louder and more abusive. (Oops … did I just admit I’m hearing voices? Just ignore that little slip, okay?)

The picture at left reflects a neat and flourishing garden. As I said earlier, this is an old picture. Today is the first time this growing season that I’ve actually worked to groom the plot. What was once a nicely-trimmed garden space has become (to my shame) once again entangled with weeds.

On the bright side, I’ve harvested some strawberries this season, but due to my battle with slugs, I’ve mostly harvested frustration and discouragement from that section this year. The slugs rarely consume an entire berry, but take a large chunk from one side! Also, the older plants are starting to die off, and even though new shoots are sprouting, I’m asking myself whether or not I want to continue with it. No one could ever describe me as a fair-weather gardener. I suppose I’m more of a first-Monday of the month gardener. Continue reading “Gardening Perfection”

Bridge To Nowhere

It’s almost impossible for me to comprehend the insane grief a family experiences when one of their members suddenly dies. When that death comes through suicide or homicide, the agony is no doubt compounded many times over. (Thankfully, sudden deaths have been rare in my family.) Two stories from today’s news provide a glimpse into bewildering family tragedies that might have been prevented.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Most people who ordinarily pay attention to the news are aware of the decision today to move forward on a $76 million funding package to wrap the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge in a suicide prevention net. Hoping to stanch the bleeding (figuratively) − after some 1600 people have leapt to their deaths since the bridge opened more than 75 years ago − the people of San Francisco believe a wide net will dissuade further suicides. While the work won’t be completed until 2018, proponents of the barrier believe people will stop jumping.

As with almost any issue, there are opponents of the project who argue the barrier will detract from the beauty of this amazing structure. One commenter noted this is “spend[ing] money on forcing people to be alive.” Another observes “A safety net … won’t prevent someone from taking too many pills or stepping in front of a train.” Indeed, a barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge-way won’t eliminate all suicides.

I mentioned two stories from today’s news. The second involves a 22-month-old toddler who died after being left buckled into his car seat for seven or eight hours while his daddy worked. (The toddler’s death actually occurred last week.) The child’s father has been charged with murder but people who know this family have expressed their incredulity that the father has been blamed for the toddler’s death. (The facts, of course, have yet to be adjudicated, and the man should be presumed innocent.) Continue reading “Bridge To Nowhere”

Bubble Headed?

There’s a saying “Confession is good for the soul.” (Even though that’s not quite the entire phrase, stick with me on this, will you please?) Since I’m confident it will be good for my soul, I have a confession to make.

I … chew … gum. Yes, I do. (Yes, even at my age.) And, I … blow … bubbles.chewing-gum-etiquette-manners

For as long as I can remember, the conventional wisdom on gum-chewing is that this is a nasty and undesirable habit. Furthermore, chewing gum was often said to demonstrate a level of crudeness and vulgarity that isn’t welcome in polite society.

An article posted earlier this year on the ABC News website is titled Six Gross Effects of Chewing Gum. It’s the kind of article (written by a Prevention magazine writer) designed to discourage perceived filthy habits by noting all the possible harm that might be caused by chewing gum. Naturally, the article adopts a conversational tone, while at the same time, vigorously shaking a figurative index finger at the reader.

Because I’m a fairly compliant individual, you’d think I would have followed the “healthful” conventional wisdom, but I guess my rebellious nature continues untamed to this day. Not only do I enjoy chewing gum, most often I prefer bubble gum!

The purported consequences (remember, there are at least six gross effects mentioned by the above-referenced writer) seem less of a concern to me. I experience no IBS, no junk food binges, no TMJ, no rotted teeth (just got a clean bill of health from the dentist earlier today), nor chronic illnesses/mental disorders as a result of lifelong gum chewing. Yes, I have headaches, but they’re related to other issues. Continue reading “Bubble Headed?”

Let Me Count The Notes

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a sonnet that begins:  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. It is one of my favorites and one I re-read frequently. Instead of counting the ways, today I count notes.

There was once a television show called Name That Tune which my Beloved and I enjoyed watching. Because my Beloved can come up with some of the most surprisingly bizarre song lyrics and I’ve memorized a good bit of music, whenever we watched the show, it was always a challenge to see which of us could outshine the television competitors.

name_that_tuneAccording to the rules of the show (as I remember them), contestants were given a maximum of seven notes (played instrumentally) before being asked to Name That Tune. It requires amazing ability to identify a tune based on seven or fewer notes but these contestants did it time after time.

Another aspect of the show:  when both contestants decided they were up for the challenge, they would out-bid each other by offering to identify a piece of music with fewer notes than his/her opponent. Test yourself; see how many of your favorite and familiar songs you can identify in seven notes or less. It’s rarely easy.

With tonight’s sonnet I adapted the concept of Name That Tune, played with it a bit and created a love poem.

Love-Language, name that tune, love, symphony of love, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Love Language

What Is Truth?

Gathering for dinner one night last week, my Beloved and I were already seated when our four-year-old grandson H. arrived at the table in a rush, clearly hungry. Before lighting in his chair, he reached out to snatch a biscuit from the basket. My Beloved redirected the boy’s hand while asking, “Did you wash your hands?”

H. responded confidently, “Yes.” Then, without hesitation, he snagged a biscuit, turned his head away and in a stage whisper added, “Last week.” (Needless to say, the rest of us had a hearty laugh.)

Because H. had helped me prepare dinner, I knew he had washed during the previous hour … but had played outdoors just minutes before, so his overall cleanliness was doubtful.

As I reflected on his assertion, I had to admit he’d been technically accurate. He hadn’t actually lied when answering his grandfather’s question affirmatively. My Beloved had failed to specify before you came to the table just now.

Children learn early how to skirt the truth. They see deception modeled for them almost everywhere. With their sponge-like absorption of everything they see and hear, it shouldn’t surprise us when they lie with laughable boldness. Continue reading “What Is Truth?”

The Sometimes Savage God

Bad things happen to people. Notice I didn’t say bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to all people, good and bad. In the colloquial, it’s often expressed as: Spit Happens. And indeed, it does.SpitHappens1

In recent days, there’s been a flood of discussion about rape culture. Though I didn’t actually employ that specific term, my recent post For The Children touched on the concept. In the aftermath of the Leadership Journal fiasco (to which that post referred), I’ve read numerous other articles and posts addressing the issue.

Naomi Hanvey’s post discussed the subject at length within the context of the Christian community. She developed four excellent points:

  1. Rape culture exists
  2. The Evangelical Church does not understand rape
  3. The Evangelical Church does not really care about rape
  4. The Church does not know what to do about rape

I encourage you to read her post for an honest and insightful discussion of this sticky issue, especially as it relates to people who care about living out authentic Christian faith in a culture that makes authenticity a challenging task. Continue reading “The Sometimes Savage God”

That’s The Way It Is

It might surprise some folks that the inimitable Walter Cronkite once hosted a Saturday morning television series. Having transitioned from its beginning as a radio series during the late 1940s, the CBS television series ran from 1953 to 1957. Weekly broadcasts centered around historical events illustrated with dramatic re-enactments. The show was titled You Are There and was broadcast for just over five seasons.YouAreThere

The show usually began with a voiceover from Cronkite and once he had set the scene, eerie music played and another voice spoke (from within an echo-chamber) YOU ARE THERE. (A sample YouTube video provides the spine-tingling effect.)

Today, I’ve been thinking about an historic event based on the You Are There concept. I invite you to “view” it with me.

The setting is feast time and a group of people have come together to enjoy this time of annual celebration. The host sits at a prominent place with his friends surrounding him. Food has been served and everyone’s relaxing around the table, interacting, laughing, enjoying their food and drink. As hosts are wont to do, this one eventually speaks up and at the sound of his voice, the others perk an ear to listen. He tells them how much he’s looked forward to having this meal … celebrating this feast … with them. Continue reading “That’s The Way It Is”