Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bad Bear! Go Home!


During our evening’s reconnaissance, we most always left the camp set up and unattended, and rarely during our absence was anything disturbed.  There were however, two notable exceptions.  One minor incident occurred when we returned to camp to find a regiment of marauding raccoons pilfering and practicing maneuvers in my picnic basket.  Another considerably more unnerving episode took place back in Bryce Canyon, when we returned from a hike to find a black bear sprawled contentedly in the back seat of my jitney!  Having discarded everything inedible from the back seat, the young scoundrel was reclining placidly in the middle of my black, leather, tuck & roll upholstery, with his prehensile tongue investigating the bottom of a half empty jar of tomato preserves. Fortunately for all concerned, the little whippersnapper had already dined adequately so as to satisfy his voracious appetite, so Lidge’s sound scolding was sufficient to send him packing. It may have been Lidge’s scolding, or it may have been me, frantically waving a stick at him from atop the hood of Lidge’s roadster! Obie's Quest

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mighty Invigorating!


The weather can get mighty invigorating during the long Ozark winters!  It’s good to bulk up a little!  The little bug-bears and I get pot bellies and let our whiskers grow!


Friday, January 28, 2011

From Reservoir Hill


Elie walked out to Reservoir Hill, with me first thing this morning.  Half way there we walked up on a squirrel.  Seconds later he was out of sight and you could only here him wiz!  Elie lit out like she was near starvation and that squirrel was smoked and drippin’ ‘possum gravy!  About the time she reached cruisin’ speed; she lost her feet in a big ol’ pile of leaves, did two mighty inspirin’ barrel-rolls, a couple of first-class loop-the-loops, and hit the ground, runnin’ in the wrong direction! After a second she saw her mistake, slid to a stop and collapsed in humiliation!  ‘Course, by then, that squirrel was up a hickory tree, grinning like a pig in a pie safe!  Pa 

A Party Animal!

All combed out, and nowhere to go! 
Anyone up for a tailgate party? 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Professionally Groomed to perfection!

Robin chastises me for not spending more time brushing out the Scotties, but they look fine to me!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Once I was a Cowboy!

Hey!  I may not amount to much now, but once, I was a cowboy!  Yes Sir, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and me.   And Sis of course!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

High School

When grammar school is over, you relax; you've reached your goal,
But summer passes quickly and you’re in the same old role,
Of a student of geography, of history, and of math,
And once more you humor enemies and friends and teacher’s wrath.
Now enemies are expendable; they’re often pretty dense,
But what do you do when your mixed up friends have their laughs at your expense?
From club initiations, you smell of rotten eggs!
Your homecoming float was massacred, and your class princess has bony legs!
In driver’s education, you run a traffic light.
Your instructor takes his pencil out and things are getting tight!
You slow it down a little; you know you’re on your own.
Then you find you’re doing 25 in a 65 mile zone.
You try to gain attention, but you’re not paid any heed.
All you gain is responsibility, and you think you have all you need!
You desperately seek companionship; you ask a girl to a dance.
But during the preceding football game you spill Coke down your pants!
You ask her if she’d like to dance; you’re not sure she’ll accept.
When she does her face turns hemorrhoid blue, ‘cause on her foot you’ve stepped!
You have important things to say, but the dance draws to its ends,
And you stare at your feet with your teeth clenched, for fear your breath offends.
Money’s scarce without a job. You’re not sure what to do!
And everybody overflows with great advice for you.
There are times you wish would never end and times you’d like to curse!
And Dad’s favorite admonition is: enjoy it; it just gets worse!

10-10-68
'70 RULES!
STC

Monday, January 24, 2011

Liberty's Bells

Dad served on the Battleship New Jersey, during World War II.
Dad passed away in November.

The bands march by; the trumpet sounds;
The crowds applaud as the drum resounds,
But few see all the dreams arrayed,
As the boys troop by in a big parade.

There on the curb, few people see,
A faded remnant of gallantry,
As tired and old in tattered rag,
He salutes once more his Nation’s flag.

Ragged gentleman, spent and worn,
Shrouded in garments, frayed and torn,
But proudly pinned to his crooked frame,
Is a tarnished tag that bears his name.

Faded ribbon, medal bright,
Earned on a distant shore one night,
When soldiers to the last man brave,
Gave all, that freedom’s banner wave.

 History’s entombed on a faded page,
As youth and service succumb to age,
And all that survives are memories,
Of long forgotten gallantries.

But deep in one heart the pride lives on,
That coursed his veins that glorious dawn,
When men stood firm in crimson sun,
As dawn revealed new freedoms won.

Breast brimming with passion men won’t feel,
Who’ve never heard liberty’s bells to peal;
Who’ve never grasped a thankful hand,
Or bathed in the warmth of a grateful land.

But one recalls that glorious day,
Watching with glistening eyes of grey,
As bent and veiled in tattered rag,
He salutes once more that grand old flag.

November, 1976
STC

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Valiant Effort


This post would have been more appropriate during the holidays, but here for your amusement, from around 1957, is my very first attempt at writing poetry. 
"Christmas Morning"
We get up early
And run to the tree,
And open up presents
For Sissy and me!
STC

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kinda Wintry!


Several years ago we brought that little spruce tree home in a pot, lavished it with decorations, and it celebrated Christmas with us in the house.  Following the Holidays, I planted it out on Reservoir Hill.  I generally enjoy its company while sipping my morning coffee.  Not today!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Childlike Faith


Here's a photo of me at my shop. You could call it a writer’s studio, but that would be a stretch!  I wrote much of my novel here beside my wood range. My shop is quiet and cozy, and time spent here never fails to bring back priceless memories of special moments shared with my great grandma Daniels, beside her wood range, ages ago when summer was perennial and childlike faith assured tomorrow's joys.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Camping

Shannon, summer '53 
CAMPING
We did lots of camping when I was a kid.
We camped in an old canvas tent.
I remember the sound as it flapped in the wind.
I remember its feel and its scent.

I remember the sound of warm rain on its roof,
And the comfort it offered each night.
I recall how I felt looking out at the stars
By the campfires flickering light;

The feel of my pillow at the end of the day,
When my shoulders were pink from the sun,
My grandmothers’ kiss as she tucked us in bed,
After our prayers were done.

First thing in the morning the fire was lit.
Great Grandma brought graniteware dishes.
We had golden brown hotcakes for breakfast of course,
And for super fried tatters and fishes.

Each day we’d go swimming and play in the sand.
My granddad would take us out hiking.
Sis and I watched as he whittled a cane.
And Stick horses were just to our liking.

We’d sit by the fire in the late afternoon.
I’d sit in my grandmothers’ lap.
Dad would go fishing, Mother would read,
And Granddad enjoyed a good nap.

Later on in the evening, when dinner was done,
There was coffee from a graniteware pot,
Delicious marshmallows we roasted on sticks,
And dried figs that my great grandma brought.

I remember the feel of hot sand on bare feet,
And melon seeds stuck to my chin,
The stories of camping trips long, long ago,
And the way that my granddad would grin.

Now we take our kids camping whenever we can.
That’s how all our best weekends are spent.
We retell all the stories that made Granddad grin,
When we camped in that old canvas tent.
                            STC

Friday, January 14, 2011

Contentment


September 1981
Robin
You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, and much, much more.
You’re my desire today, my hope for tomorrow,
And my best memories of yesterday.
You’re the youth that I remember,
And the maturity I’ve sought.
You’re the gentle thought that slips into my consciousness
And fills my entire being with new life.
You’re the freshness in the crisp morning air,
The inspiration behind each pleasant thought,
And the contentment that I feel when I sleep.
You’re the reason that I pray and dream and care.
And Lord willing, you’re the answer to a prayer.
Love,
Shannon
Happy Birthday
Robin!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Historical Novel


I painstakingly pecked out "Obie's Quest" during the early years of the current Millennium.  My historical novel  is comprised of over 110,000 words.  When one lacks proficiency as a typist, that's a lot of words! I am not an English major. I'm just a poverty-stricken, old hillbilly with a story.  I concentrated my efforts on telling that story, fully expecting that, at some point in time, the many facets of my innocuous little missive would be cut and polished by a professional editor who was equal to the task.  Suffice it to say, that didn't happen. Excuse the rough edges and I think you'll enjoy Obie's Quest.  STC


PROLOGUE

October 1844 would mark the end of a youthful journey and the beginning of a lifelong quest. We’d been at sea for three long months.  It was an hour or two before dawn and not a soul was stirring.  Have you ever had that feeling that you’re being watched? Right at that moment, I had that feeling in a powerful way.  I turned my head cautiously and glanced down the starboard side of the ship.  All at once something aft caught my attention.  I turned suddenly and had to squint and shield my eyes.  There, low on the eastern horizon, just below the sail, was the biggest, most extravagant moon I’d ever seen.  It was the same moon that had lit the skies over the Rhine valley during my youth, but it had always seemed distant and detached.  Now, thousands of miles from the only home I’d ever known, it was suddenly a comfort to see something so familiar.  It was the first time that a cold, lonely night had forced me to seek comfort and companionship in that ol’ moon.  It wouldn’t be the last.  My name is Obadiah Jeremiah Hezekiah Camp.  I know that’s a mighty big mouthful, but my folks were bound and determined to name me after all four of my great granddads.  You can call me Obie.  I was nine years old when my family and I left our ancestral home in Germany to sail for America. I didn’t realize it then, but the innocent, carefree days of my youth were rapidly drawing to a close.  Ahead lay inconceivable obstacles, incredible exploits, high adventure on the western frontier, and eventually contentment and an inner peace that many never find.

As I lay there on that hard wooden deck, staring into that starry stillness, the only sound was the groaning and squeaking of that old ships rigging, and the flapping of her canvas sails in response to an intermittent breeze.  I pulled the tarp up around my shoulders as a sudden gust of wind garnished the deck with a blanket of fog that stung my chapped face and glistened on the coil of rope that served as my pillow.  My brother Christoph lay on the deck at my side.  Christoph was thirteen.  He had serious doubts about this pilgrimage to America.  His apprenticeship to the Count’s brewmeister had been lucrative, and he’d been very hesitant to accompany his family on this risky and unnerving excursion.  He missed his home and friends, and had joined us reluctantly at the insistence of our father and the heartfelt pleadings of our mother.  
   
There would be no more sleep for me this night.  As the velvet black skies lightened to lavender in the east, a thin layer of scarlet became barely visible in the west.  It was land.  It was America.  Soon the melancholy stillness was replaced with hustle, bustle, and the excitement of preparation. The crewmen were busily pursuing their assigned tasks, and the passengers were crowding the decks in a frenzy of anticipation.  Yesterday, freedom, opportunity, and America had been only a well-worn, but very illusive dream.  This morning that impossible dream was palpable.  It lay on the horizon ahead of us, visible to the naked eye.  It was no longer just an incredible dream.  America was real.


DEDICATION



TO MY BELOVED ANCESTORS,

AND THE FAITH AND FORTITUDE THAT DROVE THEM TO PURSUE THEIR DREAMS, THIS INNOCUOUS LITTLE PARABLE IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.

THE AUTHOR 


Please enjoy the following excerpts of

"Obie's Quest"


Swattin' Smoulderin' Cinders!


Occasionally, constilations of toxic, black smoke and carnivorous sparks would inundate the cab, the fragrance of scorched overalls and singed whiskers would permeate the atmosphere, and the place would erupt in flailing arms, as folks sang and danced and swatted smouldering cinders!  The survey teams worked diligently to avoid grades in excess of 4%, but were rarely ever successful, and failing brakes were an ever-present concern.  Steam locomotives make real good time when their brakes fail on a hill. That’s about the only time! Most are fitted with cowcatchers, but I don’t recall one ever catching a cow. If ya had the good fortune to be invited into the cab, ya got acquainted with the engineer and the fireman. You could tell which was which; cause the fireman had only smudges of soot, where his eyebrows used to be! My favorites were Zeek & Zak.  One spoke brogue, the other, broken German, and ya rarely caught their drift, unless they were cussing!  Zeek was fastidious!  He kept a wire brush hanging from his belt and a big bucket of stove-black near the firewall.  He kept that whole engine polished up like like Grandmas’ parlor stove!  The petcocks and grease fittings were all made of brass or copper, and he shined ‘em all up till they gleamed like Teddys’ teeth! He was adamant about keeping the fire-door spit-shined velvet black, and every time he got ‘er done, Zak let fly with a chaw of tobaccy.  The projectile expectorate would splash and splatter, a wisp of steam would rise from the stained and affronted surface, the cab would light up with profanity, and Zak would swab his chin and bust up laughing! He antagonized poor Zeek at every turn.  It fell to Zeek to stoke the fire, and that entailed trips to the tender to bring back firewood.  The tender was directly behind and downwind of the engine of course, and that made ol’ Zeek a mighty tempting target!  Zak had sworn a blood oath, to holler, “hot solder” before he spat, and he done his best, but he generally hollered after!  Zeek invariably came back thoroughly disgusted and sleeve-grooming his ears! 

"Obie's Quest"     

Grinnin' Widely, Cruisin' Town!


Lidge and the dealer were clearly in cahoots, and once on the lot, they joined forces and began working me over something fierce!  The commodity with which Lidge and his enthusiastic accomplice were bound and determined to saddle me, sat spit-shined and serviced in the middle of the showroom floor.  Up until now, I’d shunned the automobile age and clung tenaciously to my mules, but today’s sales pitch comes at an opportune time.  The majority of my mules are long of tooth, and begging to be put out to pasture!  Truth be told, I have to fight back drool every time my buddy fires up his sporty Ford.
   As luck would have it, the featured carriage today is a brand new 1913 Ford Touring car.  Unbeknownst to this salesman and my buddy, is the fact that I’d already fallen in love with this very model when it was featured in a newspaper article the previous month.  Henry Ford himself had recently presented this particular model to his good friend, Naturalist and poet, John Burroughs.  Mr. Burroughs and I being of a similar vintage, and sharing a common interest in the environment, I’d already entertained visions of reclining proudly behind the wheel of this very machine.
    The salesman encouraged me to climb aboard and take the long, lean jitney for a spin, and Mr. Kinney was all prepared to add his own encouragement, but it wasn’t necessary.  I didn’t need to be asked twice!  Quickly climbing into the driver seat, I donned my goggles as Lidge climbed up alongside.    Being unfamiliar with the mechanics of the three peddled craft, I gingerly took the wheel and turned to Mr. Kinney for assistance.  “Ok,” Lidge instructed, “The spark is the lever on the left of the steering column.  Retard the spark by pushing it clear up, and give her a little gas by pulling the lever on the right, down about four notches.  The floor pedal on the left is the two speed clutch, the one on the right is the brake, and the one in the middle is reverse.”  With that the salesman gave the crank a couple of good swift spins, and the little machine sputtered briefly and then purred like a kitten.  That’s all it took and I was head over heels in love!  It took a little doing to get the hang of that two speed clutch, and my first few attempts at finding reverse resulted in a couple o’ nose imprints on the windshield, but soon we were cruising through town, grinning widely, and waving at the admiring crowd as though we were royalty! "Obie's Quest"

Nevermore!


On another lamentable occasion, I was rudely and abruptly awakened, at first light, to find a warm, odiferous substance, filling my ear and running unpleasantly down the nape of my neck. Scanning the area overhead, I was horrified to discover an imposing, black specter, convulsing with laughter, high on a spruce branch directly over my cot! I used to admire ravens, but nevermore! “Once upon a midnight dreary”, but I digress.  “Obie’s Quest”

Reservoir Hill

To my way of thinking, the last thirty years of the nineteenth century were the golden years in Hangtown.  I was established in the community, my family was healthy and happy, and the foothills were alive with budding orchards.  God must have gloried in Reservoir Hill, when all the fruit trees busted out in bloom! Peach, apple, cherry and pear blossoms inundated the foothills with fragrance and finery, till it must have made their Maker mighty proud.  From Heaven, it must have looked like a bridal bouquet.  The purple vetch would climb the fencerows, lush vines of sweet pea transformed the roadsides into luxurious displays of pastel pink; opulent spires of china blue lupine carpeted the hillsides, and the lazy drone of honeybees filled the air. Oh to be bearfoot, youthful and free, and intoxicated with summer.  Dear God, thank you for life’s seasons.  "Obie's Quest"

Velvet Black



The sun was just a sliver of crimson as we reached the top of the hill.  We were about a quarter mile from the gaggle of ramshackle frame homes, which meander along the ravine and make up the Irish community.  To the west, an impenetrable stand of firs was silhouetted against the lavender dusk, and the sounds of fellowship, fiddles, and Lidge’s concertina, were barely audible from the happy gathering below.  In the distance a whippoorwill called, crickets sang, and the air carried the faint scent of hickory smoke, as the little community lit their stoves against the cool night air. Christoph and Laura paused to admire the sunset, and Mariah and I found a seat on a log at a distance sufficient to afford a degree of privacy.  We admired the pastels as the sun slipped peacefully away, soaked up the serenity, and reflected on the events of the day.  Darkness crept in silently around us and not a word was spoken.  Eventually the silence was broken as Mariah shivered, moved ever so slightly closer, and pulled her sweater snugly around her neck. This was my opportunity.   I slid over close beside her, wrapped my arms around her and waited for her response.  After a moment Mariah reached out hesitantly and awkwardly placed her arm around my waist. My heart raced furiously, and as I listened to her quickened breath, I fought to calm the quickness of my own. 
   Eventually, noting my hopeful gaze, she glanced up apprehensively, licked her lips expectantly, closed her eyes and eagerly puckered up!  This prospect, enticing and long anticipated though it was, had the immediate effect of sucking all the breath from my lungs and simultaneously paralyzing my tongue!  Fighting for wind and desperately struggling to moisten my own mouth, I took my queue and pressed my lips to hers. We held that kiss for the longest time; both unwilling to let that moment end, and as our lips parted, we held on passionately in a long, lingering hug.  For as long as I live I’ll remember that embrace.  Then the twilight faded to velvet black, and our palms caressed as I walked Mariah home. "Obie's Quest" 

Flinching With Every Twitch!

One cool, blustery day in early March, we were busying ourselves with our usual mule grooming chores.  Lidge was checkin’ out an ol’ mule’s teeth, and I was around back fixin’ to curry out her tail. Dad had just outfitted the ol’ gal with a shiny new set of iron shoes. All at once her ears come down, her hind end kind o’ bunched up, and a hind foot come snatchin’ out and rung my shinbone like a bell! I collapsed to the ground frantically rubbing my throbbing ankle and desperately fighting my inclination to besmirch that mule’s pedigree, and Lidge grinned at me like I was just off the boat!  “I figured you knowed better than that.” He says, with his lips curled back and his teeth all catchin’ sunlight. “When an ol’ mule’s hind end puckers up that a way, you best drop and roll.”  “I thought that’s what ya done in case of fire.” I said, dusting my drawers and struggling to find my feet.  “When an ol’ mule behaves that a way” Lidge says, offering me a hand up, “you can reckon she’s fixin’ to fire!”  I cautiously resumed my enterprise, keepin’ an eye peeled for any further sign of in-subornation, and flinching with every twitch, and.... "Obie's Quest" 

Faithful Friends

                            Nero & Me in '53
Life is good, and freedom grand, but surely God's greatest gift is faithful friends!  "Obie's Quest"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Heartfelt Apology


A Heartfelt Apology
Poor Little Obie!
 I’ve taken the hopes & dreams, and doubts & fears, and triumphs & failures that we all have in common with those hearty souls who’ve preceded us, and created an affable, unpretentious character that young and old alike are likely to relate to on some level.  And then I’ve inflicted him with much of my own childhood, debilitating vulnerability, incomprehensible faith, some of our country’s most colorful and gut wrenching history, and a plethora of the ubiquitous maladies that plague us all! And I’ve cast him, nearly naked, into the world. God, consider my motives and forgive me.
 The Author

A Godless Pit!


We were still a hundred yards from the Kinney place at the top of the hill, when we rounded a bend and the trail forked.  “This way.” panted Lidge as he took the right fork.  Seconds later the three of us stood humped over and gasping for breath at the door of a ramshackle ol’ outhouse.  At the sound of hurried footsteps close behind, we crowded into the tiny refuge and Lidge bolted the door.  It was pitch black inside, the atmosphere was close and stifling, and the odor was exceedingly unpleasant!  I desperately wanted to hold my breath but we were all breathing too heavily for that.  I stepped up onto the business seat to help ease the crowding, and Lidge braced himself and leaned against the door.
    As I stood up on the bench my head hit a rafter, the heat was oppressive, I was all but smothered in a veil of cobwebs, and an indignant wasp began buzzing threateningly around my ears.  I started to speak to Mariah, but she laid her finger against my lips and said “shhhh!”  Her finger was only against my lips for an instant, but somehow her touch left me warm all over.  As I stood straddling that outhouse seat and crouching to avoid that pesky wasp, my face was just inches from the top of Mariah’s head.  I could feel the warmth from her body and smell her long lustrous hair.   I pretended to loose my balance as an excuse to lay my hand on her shoulder.  She glanced up at me very briefly and then ever so gently she laid her hand on mine.  I held my breath, my pulse quickened, and Ted and the band of ruffians arrived outside the door. There were muffled voices and stifled chuckling, and then in unison they counted “one, two, three,” and leaned heavily into the side of that board and batten john.  Our fragile refuge listed dangerously to starboard, that ornery wasp planted his rapier-like stinger deep into the lobe of my ear, and both my feet, new boots and all, slipped into that big black hole!
   Seconds later Lidge threw open the outhouse door, Ted and the ruffians let out with war whoops as they disappeared down the path, and the blinding light of day rushed in on a sad and sorry spectacle.  That dreadful abyss had engulfed me right up to the armpits, my ribcage was stuck tight as a cork in its’ terrible jaws, and a powerful aroma brought evidence, I was stuck knee-deep in that holes’ contents.  Abandon hope all ye who enter here! The bowels of the beast made a hideous sucking sound as Lidge and Mariah laboriously extricated me from my predicament.  My clenched toes clung desperately to my left boot, and that Godless pit claimed the other! "Obie's Quest"    

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spooky ol' Ghosts!

“Once upon a time there was a spooky ol’ ghost dressed all in black.”  That’s as far as she got!  The littlest Kinney had a question.  “If ghosts are just spirit.” She asked musingly, “Why do they need clothes at all?”  “Good question.” Admitted Laura contemplatively.  This line of thought peeked the children’s curiosity, resulting in several additional questions.  “If ghosts wear clothes,” asked another, “do they have to warsh ‘em?   Do ghosts get ring around the collar?” This resulted in an outburst of exuberant laughter, exacerbated by youthful enthusiasm.  Lidge perked up and his face shone with recognition of his opportunity to participate.  “I wonder,” he said, grinning with anticipation,  “If ghosts get lint in their belly-buttons.”   “Ghosts don’t have bellybuttons silly!” chimed the twins in unison, and the entire hollow rang with squeals of laughter.
    In the middle of this jocularity, the briars rustled and in stepped two more youngsters.  Mick and Sid O’Meara had overheard the ruckus from across the hollow and come to investigate the cause of all the merriment.  Mick seemed to sense the jovial mood of the assembly almost immediately.  He sprawled on the ground, rested his chin on his hands, and offered a yarn of his own. “You should have seen what happened at our house!  There’s a big ol’ alligator turtle in our pond. The McCauley’s cow was standin’ belly deep, coolin’ off the other day, when that ol’ snapper swum up and bit the end right out o’ one o’ her spickets!” The kids all groaned and grabbed their chests.  The response was spontaneous and only served to encourage the storyteller.  “‘Fore we could get a tourniquet on her,” he continued, “that ol’ cow leaked out three buckets o’ buttermilk!”
    “Oh, go on!” said Laura.  “That’s nothin’!” announced Lidge. “We had a big ol’ wolf trap set at our pond, tryin’ to catch a darned ol’ coon.  One o’ them big snappers got caught by the neck.  ‘Fore we could drag him out and give ‘im what fore, that rascal chewed his head off and got clean away!  A couple o’ days later he come draggin’ up the hill, fit as a fiddle and carryin’ his head in his mouth!” "Obie's Quest"

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Perfect Bliss!

With the rest of the pack following closely and grinning with anticipation, the little red-haired girl stepped up boldly, looked me over briefly, and then stared intently into my face.  I stared at my feet for a moment, bracing for rejection and humiliation, and then I swallowed hard and returned her gaze.  “ Dance? ” she asked enthusiastically, and then offered a soft, thin, freckled hand.  My head was swimming, my heart pounded, and I was dangerously light-headed from holding my breath!  I grabbed her hand, we took our place in a newly formed square, bowed to our partner, and the fiddle began to play.  That little red-headed temptress whizzed tirelessly and elegantly around the room, frock flying and pigtails trailing, and I galloped happily at her side like a gangly pup, thoroughly enraptured, in a state of perfect bliss. We alabamed right and alabamed left and dosiedoed around that barn for the better part of an hour, and all at once I became aware that my poor feet were throbbing madly in those new boots, and several of my toes were clearly in tremendous distress! 
Just then the little red-haired girl turned hard a starboard, and we promenaded through the back door of that ol’ barn and out into the dark emptiness of the dimly moonlit corral beyond.  A thousand breathtaking possibilities flooded my mind and weakened both my knees. And then, as I wrapped my arms around that warm, moist, gingham-clad form, and her sweet, cider-scented breath filled my nostrils, a milking stool came down on my head and the darkness took me in and swallowed me up! 
"Obie's Quest"

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Face of God

Some nights we’d lay there in the stillness, with the North Pacific rolling beneath the deck, and the only sound you’d hear would be the rhythmic beating of your own heart. You could almost hear the pulsing of your own blood, as it flowed within the channels of your veins.  It was as though you sensed the waning of your own life, as the minutes and the seconds of existence ran their course and ticked away.  
    On these cloudless nights the stars were bright as campfires in the snow, and thick as sparks when you stir a fire at night.  Sometimes the moon had a golden ring, and if the moon were full, the sea glowed with a green translucence as its teaming fathoms rolled beneath our bow. On more than one occasion as we drifted in a calm, we’d float along in the midst of resting whales.  You could hear their steady breathing, and once in awhile they’d blow, or a whale would roll and a giant leviathan arm, would reach up into the moonlight just as though it were in prayer, as if to touch the very face of God.  "Obie's Quest"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Binkley Day!

Today we celebrate Binkley Day, because four years ago today, Joel and Cassie were joined in Holy wedlock.  Joel and Cassie have answered a call to serve God in Northern Ireland.  Dear God, Bless the Binkleys, and bring 'em home real soon!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Am I Happy?


Am I happy?  Why, I’m happy as a bug on the bow of a boat!  Have ya ever watched a grasshopper at the bow of a boat, when the ol’ steamer is churning along at a good clip, the hull is pounding the cobalt blue water into a fine spray, and the shore is sailing by? And that old grasshopper is clinging to the railing for dear life, his little antennae are trailing in the wind, his molars are all catching sunlight, his eyes are glazed over and glistening in grateful satisfaction, and the tobacco juice is streaming out the corners of his mouth and collecting in his whiskers and his ears?  Now that’s happy!

T.G. Smoke


I remember the smell of that ornery colt,
The thrill of a sunset race,
The feel of his mane as I held on tight,
With the wind upon my face.
I remember how he’d nicker,
When I came into view.
I remember how we loved to ride,
And how I loved him too.
That was back in ’83;
Ol’ Smokey’s race is run,
But I often think of TG Smoke,
By the evening’s crimson sun,
When I feel the wind upon my face,
And another day is done.

            STC

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You won't believe this either!


Once I was a young man!  I had hopes and dreams and a future, just like you.  Remember that when you see old people.  That's why I've visited the nursing home, almost every week for the last ten years.  Get up some morning and imagine your whole life is behind you.  Most of the people you love have passed on. You have no dreams, no future, no joy, absolutely nothing to look forward to, and your fondest hope is that you die quietly in your sleep, before you cost your family any more money. Imagine all those things, and then ignore those forgotten souls, if you can.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Believe it or not!

Believe it or not, this is not a recent photo.  This is Robin & me, back in the autumn of '82.  Robin has always found me uproariously entertaining!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Noblett Lake

This Sunday's after church adventure was a trip to Noblett Lake.  As usual, Robin was called into active duty as the regimental photographer, so the Casebeer boys could pose. We also visited the old CCC camp.