Sunday, December 10, 2017


I have the following words written on a 3x5 card on my desk for some time. I would give credit to their author (maybe Spurgeon) if I knew who it was. Nonetheless, they square with the message of Scripture and are worthy of our attention and meditation...

"The Bible uses the word easy once. Jesus was the one who used it. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened... and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Easy is a soul word, not a circumstance word. Aim at having easy circumstances, and life will be hard all around. Aim at having an easy soul, and your capacity for tackling hard assignments will actually grow. The soul was not made for an easy life. The soul was made for an easy yoke." 

Friday, December 8, 2017

His Words-Our Words..

If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. ~ John 15:20

In spite of the fact Jesus never misspoke there is a long record of Jesus' words being twisted and misquoted by his detractors in Scripture. There is also a long record of Christ's words bringing redemption and transformation.

We, as Christ-followers, are not as pristine as Jesus in our speech; we sometimes misspeak. But not always, and we should not be surprised that when we speak the truth of Jesus' words hearers may twist or misquote them. But neither should we be surprised when those same words open the door for redemption and transformation. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Christmas at The Shire...

The Shire is surrounded by acres of pasture. On Saturday its tall grass was mowed. Now, golden stubs are drenched in sunlight. As long as the mercury stays above freezing, the fescue grass will once again grow green. When that happens, tasty sprouts will emerge the deer love to nibble on.

A hot, dry summer has passed and the early fall's heat was oppressive. Most everyone here in the southeast rejoices over and welcomes the cool morning temperatures in the 30's. Daytime highs of less than 70 have prevailed. Sweaters for some. Jackets for others. Relief for all.

In a couple of weeks I will "Griswald" The Shire--traditional scenes will reflect off the pond, lights will wrap the railings of the porches and shrubs. The back lawn will be lit with penguins on slides, Santa's mailbox, a parachuting moose, galloping reindeer and sleigh, and more! Wyatt is old enough to be my helper. I can't wait!

This Christmas we will have more family--and extended family--at The Shire than ever before. Sandy and I look forward to large gatherings around the fire pit, food prepared by committee, the laughter of children and adults, colorful packages and bows, and the wonder and awe the birth of the Christ provides!

Monday, September 11, 2017


Early this morning I moved our vehicles, and the vehicles of our refugees, into the wide open spaces of the pasture. About an hour after I did so, a thick limb from the pine standing by the edge of the driveway took up their parking space!

Like so many other people, our yard is covered with leaves and limbs detached from trees and branches. We got off easy. For about 8 hours we were without electricity--that's the extent of our suffering.

We were prepared for Irma's tirade... we had enough candles set out to deplete the ozone layer. Our large stash of flashlights, batteries, food, and bags of ice were never needed.

On the upside, this forced isolation within our home made for a day of rest... 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What Is The Church?

Josh and Sammy were at The Shire this weekend--along with their friend, Haley. Justin and Wyatt joined us. We had our first fire in the circle of stones that sits at the edge of the pond. Wyatt and "Moose" carried on as little boys should running around on the green grass, throwing pine cones into the lake, and enjoying the attention of the adults.

Today, we all gathered at Hamilton Baptist Church. Though many regular attenders were traveling we were blessed with first-time guests. I'm always grateful for the warm and genuine reception our family and guests receive from HBC members.

It seemed appropriate to speak from Matthew 7:24-29 (take a moment to read it), so that's where we centered our attention for the message: Shaken, But Not Shattered. Our worship team prepared us for the message with music firmly rooted in Scripture--love those folks.

In the days ahead the message theme will be: What is the Church? Every generation needs to take time to return to what Christ intended.

How would you define "The Church?"

Monday, July 10, 2017

What's Next, Papa?

The resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us--an unbelievable inheritance! ~ Romans 8: 15-17

Nearly six years ago, the night before Sandy and I left for the country of China, Justin and Erika revealed they were pregnant with our first grandchild. Eight months later when Wyatt was born we were still living in China. Ugh! Since returning to the U.S. we have spent every moment with him we could, but those moments were separated by months and fifteen-hundred miles.

Three weeks ago Wyatt and our second grandchild--newborn Travis, moved less than two miles from us! Now, living in the wide-open spaces and the sparse populace of country life everything is completely different from anything Wyatt experienced living among the compressed population and tall buildings of metro-Boston. So contrasted is his new environment the only commonality between the two locals is the English language. Wyatt and I spend time together every day, and each day is an adventure.

While driving to Auburn, Alabama early this morning I listened to the Scripture passage at the top of this post. The phrase, What's next, Papa? grabbed my attention. It reminded me of the relationship Wyatt and I share. It's a special one; my first with a grandchild. He calls me Papa. Loves me. Trusts me. Feels no timidity in approaching me. Draws vibrant life from me. Always expects that in my company he is on the cusp of an adventure.

I'm not sure how many miles or minutes passed, but I found myself saying out loud: What's next, Papa? It was a spontaneous and heartfelt prayer, spoken to my Heavenly Father. Simultaneously, it was my confession by verbalizing a deep longing, What's next, Papa. I want to live in the presence of my Heavenly Papa with the same trust and confidence and vibrancy of life...

In that instant God' heard my unfiltered plea. His Spirit touched my spirit and confirmed who I really am, whose I really am, and what I really am. I am His. Dearly loved. He is my Papa. He delights in me.  


Friday, July 7, 2017

Family Time...

Sammy and Josh, Justin and Erika and Wyatt and Travis are at our house. Josh prepared a great dinner! Wyatt has anxiously awaited the arrival of Friday night. All week he has been waiting for uncle Josh (aka Bapo) to get here with the pyrotechnics. As soon it got dark we lit up the sky over the pond with a fireworks display of bottle rockets, Roman candles, and other whirling and twirling ! Wyatt is getting full exposure to free America here in the southeast.

As the sun was setting, I was fishing and Wyatt picked up one of our kids rod and reel; it had about a half inch of dried worm on the hook. I showed him how to cast with it, and on his own he slung a bobber and his mummified worm into the pond. It barely had time to sink when a massive brim <insert smile> grabbed it! I helped him set the hook and he reeled it in! On my FB page you can see a video of the monster he landed. Our little guy was thrilled!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

God keeps his promises...

"Grandma, I'm here!" Those were Wyatt's words when he came bouncing in the front door this afternoon. Life has changed for the little guy; he's living in the country. Up to this point his entire life was lived in the Boston area; most recently in Chelsea. Parks and playgrounds were many blocks away. Now, he walks out his door into wide-open green space, fig trees, magnolia trees, and lush pecan trees. When he comes to The Shire he rides his electric truck and bicycle. We have a kiddie pool and slip-and-slide that is rarely dry. He loves to get on the four-wheelers with his dad and Papa and cruise through the woods and ford shallow creeks.

Wyatt loves to learn. Grandma got him a book with 3D trucks and cars he pops out and builds. Every time we are together we spend an hour or more in his big workbook, Brainiac: learning phonics; telling time; navigating through children's mazes, and practicing writing and reading. Entirely motivated by an inner desire, Wyatt needs no prompting or cajoling. He loves Sundays. Today he emerged from children's church excitedly saying, "Papa, I made some new friends!"

The Old Testament speaks to God returning the years the locust have eaten. Having our little guy two-miles away, for this Papa, is a fulfillment of God's promise...

Friday, June 9, 2017

Passed By Naval Censor

On the anniversary of D-Day I received a serendipitous text and blessing. My cousin, the son of my father's sister, Helena, contacted me. Jerry had letters from my dad his mom had kept safe for decades. Jerry sent them to me and they arrived today.

Dad enlisted in the U. S. Navy as a sub-mariner at 17 years old (he had to have his parents sign a waiver). I've been perusing them, imagining the voice of my father as a teenager. Post marks on the first of the letters date back to 1942 and were sent from Portsmouth, N. H. where dad began training. Seventeen years old... how does one of such naivety and innocence prepare to wage war in a world that is at war?

Letters began back-and-forth around Christmas time.H e was a homesick teenager far from his hometown of dirt roads, pastures, and potato fields. Tremendous melancholy washed over him when he heard the song "White Christmas." Several times he referenced the Christmas season as "White Christmas." He used the word "awful" a lot. In one of his letters, the man's genuine gratitude and humility (which he never lost) comes through as he thanks Helena, who is older than him, for sending him a pen and pencil set. "He was awful thankful." Up to that point he had been borrowing a pencil from a friend...

As the war raged on, dad and Helena continued to write. By 1944 he was fully engaged in warfare. From a steel tube beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean and China Seas dad's sub played a big part in finishing a fight the Japanese started. They would receive a Presidential Citation for Bravery.

In the lower left corner of each correspondence between dad and Helena during 43-44 was a hand-stamped circle that read, Passed By Naval Censors. Every correspondence was screened. Loose lips sink ships.

Seven decades have passed... Dad has passed... But today he spoke again...


Monday, May 15, 2017

Judge Righteously

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. ~ Proverbs 31:8-9

Today, out of the blue, I found myself at a Detention Center. There a man, who has been in the U.S. for more than two decades, is incarcerated. Scooped up by ICE. I had never met him before.

Yesterday, I preached on the text in this post. It's human origin is a bit of a mystery. It was penned by a king named Lemuel. It is the only reference to such a person. It is the only time such a king is mentioned. There is no king Lemuel to be found in the line of kings in Scripture. The Divine author of those words is God himself. I'm confident He has not changed His mind on the subject.

Two words in the passage smack me--judge righteously. This man of whom I speak has a family he has faithfully supported, a history of integrity, and none of criminality. At the very least, he is as "American" as any ever born on our soil. But he is behind bars--not the kind with neon lights and shelves full of distilled spirits.

Me, at the present, I'm stuffing down absolute rage. I'm old enough and wise enough to know there can sometimes be a great gulf fixed between "law" and "righteous judgement." His incarceration is devoid of righteous judgment.

I open my mouth and scream on his behalf, but my voice at the present is barely a whisper. I open my mouth and cry for justice, but my words don't have the ear of the Powers to Be.

So what can I do? I cry out to the One who hears me on behalf of the destitute. I call upon the One who can defend the needy. That is not a cop-out. It's the response we, as God-followers, are commanded (not suggested) to do.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Little Travis

The day before Sandy and I left for China, in 2011, Erika and Justin told us they were pregnant with our first grandchild, the Amazing Wyatt (aka Wolf Cub). His arrival was nine months away. When the little guy entered the big world we were still in Asia, so it was bittersweet. But we have learned to trust God's Providence. Now, in a little more than a month, Justin, Erika, and Wyatt are moving to Cataula, GA.; two miles from The Shire! But that is not all. Erika just gave birth to baby Travis. Wyatt is now a big brother!

Sandy flies to Boston tomorrow; she is beside herself! We are so grateful she will be able to see newborn Travis fresh out of the hatchery! Our newest Shorey boy is as cute and cuddly as can be; steady streams of pictures have been arriving via cyberspace. In a few weeks I fly to Boston and help Justin pack a U-haul for the move to their new home in the southeast! It seems too good to be true.

Already my mind is swirling with the prospect of being "Papa" to those two little guys! Acres and acres of woods and pastures await them. Just as I was with Wyatt, when he caught his first fish out of our pond, I hope to see Travis glow with excitement when the fish line goes taut and a bass thrashes on the surface! Rites of passages must take place: it is time for Wyatt to pass down his electric F150 pick-up truck to little brother. But new adventures await the Wolf Cub!

In the meantime, I'm finding it difficult to focus on anything else...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Little Is Much...

I do not know who originally coined the words, Little is much when God is in it. But this morning exactly 100 people gathered at Hamilton Baptist Church to focus on and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For us, it was like one of Jesus' miracles during his incarnation--the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish.

How So?

Two years ago about twenty of us gathered in the sanctuary on Easter morning. I think there were five little ones in children's church and nursery. Since then a handful of those people stayed by the stuff, prayed, and believed God could resurrect His church in Hamilton, Georgia.

Today, it was all hands on deck. Rural churches do not have the luxury of bulging budgets and multiple paid church staff. At HBC, even their pastor is tri-vocational. But everybody was prayed up, their sleeves were rolled-up, and they pitched in. Folks we had never before met gathered for brunch preceding the Worship hour at 11 a.m. Shortly after the bell in the steeple rang out children's church was at high capacity. Volunteers cared for them and ministered to them. Our worship team sang songs exalting Jesus Christ. At times, I was overwhelmed with emotion--the words blurred, and I was left speechless. As the Word of God was read and delivered listeners were tracking with the message. It was a special gathering.

We concluded with the Aaronic Blessing found in the Old Testament and prayed over God's people for millennia:

The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His face on you and give you peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26

Indeed He has...

The LORD blessed us
The LORD made His face shine on us
The LORD was gracious to us
The LORD looked on us and gave us peace

Little is much when God is in it, and today God made much of little...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We Will Gather

Swirls and turbulence disrupt the calm surface of the pond giving evidence the recently hatched brim are being chased down by hungry bass. Larger humps, preceded by smaller humps give away the presence of turtles who make three acres of water their home. Birds continue to sing and flit from branch to branch, and bank to bank.

A group of us spent much of the day preparing food, setting up tables and chairs, and grooming the landscape around the nearly two-hundred hear old building which provides a sanctuary for worship. Tomorrow will be the highest attendance we've experienced in the two years I've been leading the congregation of Hamilton Baptist Church. No one will write books about us, but we believe our presence in a small southern town of barely more than a thousand matters. We will break bread at 9:30-10:30.  At 11 a.m. the tiny hands of one of our children will grab the thick rope that reaches up into the bell tower. Pulling with all their might, a deep gong will ring out as the bell sways and the clapper strikes the sides. The entire town know we are gathered.

Most importantly, God will know we are gathered. Inside, we will settle into one-hundred year old pews. Poetic lyrics, written by contemporary Christ--followers as well as hymns written in the 1800's, true to the record of Jesus' resurrection will be sung. There will be prayers beseeching God's help--we always need His help. Scripture will be read aloud and declared to be God's Word, not man's. To some it will resonate. To some it will encourage. To some it will raise questions. To some it will mark a new beginning. But to whomever God sends His Word it will not return empty.

This Pastor will do his best to stay out of the way of the Spirit's work.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Pot Bellies

Have you ever driven down a street and had a squirrel run into the road in front of you? What do they do? Answer. They zig and zag forwards and then backwards in reckless confusion. Miraculously, most of the time, they avoid our tires.


Put bird feeders in your yard and you will see the exact opposite; they have an unconquerable and undeterred will and plan to get to it!

At The Shire we feed deer, hummingbirds, cardinals, and flocks of migrating birds headed north and south. Deer corn is scattered across the pasture, thistle hangs in socks, and black oil sunflower seed rests in feeders. Our intention is not to feed squirrels; there are enough acorns and pine cones for them to forage to fill my pick-up truck bed.

But, no...

Those furry little acrobats have a genius for pilfering second to none! Today, after my friends left with a mess of bass and brim from the pond, I sat and watched a band of the grey robbers shimmy slippery steel poles, leap from flimsy branches onto the feeders, latch on with one paw and with a fury of swipes, bat seed onto the ground.

That's when I first noticed--in spite of the incredible amount of calories they must burn--ours have so much food they have pot bellies! No lie. As they sat on their haunches stuffing sunflower's future prodigy into their cheeks, their profile is shaped like a light bulb.

I just sat back and laughed...  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dirt Therapy

It's only Tuesday and I have gotten a lot of the outside work on The Shire completed. For me, it's dirt therapy. Porches and decks pressure washed, weed-whacked about a half-mile of fence lines and lawn edges, mowed acres, raked up enough branches to build a debris hut, made dinner the last two nights, and worked on messages for the next 8 weeks.

Now I'm sitting by the pond. A deer meandered along the dam to the south and calmly slipped down into the hardwood bottom. Birds keep the evening cheerful with their chirps and peeps. Frogs chime in. Beneath the willow tree bass bust the surface and chase down brim. My understanding is that brim hatch every full moon. Look up at the night sky and you will see it's dinner time for predator fish. Contrails of jets leave their signature white lines slicing through the dimming blue sky then disappear into banks of grey and silver clouds. The sun has dropped behind the horizon; my computer screen grows brighter.

Resurrection Sunday is just days away, and I'm looking forward to gathering with friends to worship. In the meantime I'm working on a new series of messages: Chain Breaker. It's a great privilege to follow-up the Passion Week series with the hope that Christ's rising from the grave conquered the last enemy--Death.

Speaking of friends; a couple are coming by Friday morning to help reduce the bass and brim in our over-populated pond. Hard working guys who love the outdoors and never at a loss for words. Wish them luck.  

Monday, March 27, 2017

As It Should Be...

I am never more vexed with myself than when I have done my very best to extol his dear name. What is it but holding a candle to the sun... I cannot speak as I would of Him. The blaze of His Sun blinds me. ~ C. H. Spurgeon

God's timing is perfect and impeccable. I needed to hear what Spurgeon had to say in the deepest part of my soul... the very moment I received it. Not as a rebuke, but as an encouragement.

Nearly every week I speak on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings to God's people. Personally, I don't believe I have ever felt a greater urgency to lift up the Christ of the Word than the present. For that reason, as we move through this Easter season, we are focused on events particular to the passion week of Christ.

Presenting God's Word on a weekly basis is equivalent to writing a term paper every week. The process of writing yourself empty and praying yourself full and preparing yourself, let alone the message, is what God requires, and I believe God's people should anticipate. This past Sunday, Spurgeon's confession was mine. Like him, in the sense that I've done my best to extol Christ's name, there was a humbling awareness I had but lit a candle to explain the brilliance of the sun.

And that is as it should be...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Beautiful Extravagance

Thursday, at daybreak, I spread two bags of apple flavored deer corn in the west pasture and two large scoops of black oil sunflower seed under the bird feeders. About that time a friend sent me a text asking if any turkeys were making their presence known. Not a gobble or a cluck to be heard. Since then, I've talked, texted, and met with a slew of different people throughout the day. Now, my evening is free. No need to be anywhere except The Shire where I can write a little and read a lot.

I continue to work through the events of Christ's passion week. On Sunday we will focus on Mary's anointing of Jesus; an act of extravagant worship. Chronologically it happened eight days before his resurrection. It's a scene of high emotion and instruction. Jesus said Mary's profuse outpouring of love for him--going forward--would be recalled whenever the gospel was preached.

One thing, among many, comes to mind. Rarely do we tend toward extravagance in our worship. You know, the kind like Mary's. Over-the-top in generous adoration and sacrifice. Breaking her alabaster jar, its contents equivalent of a years income, was extreme. In the wings and looking on was Judas, predisposed toward treachery and guile. From another account of this story in the gospels he hypocritically complained and deemed the entire episode a waste of resources. Should have been sold and the money given to the poor. He piously spouted. Quite the ruse for one who would sell his soul and sellout his Savior for 30 pieces of silver. In his response, Jesus didn't blink. Why do you trouble this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial... ~ Matthew 26

But in all honesty, I'm more concerned with my own miserliness when it comes to worship. Sure, I can look back over the years and recall points when I've given a lot, but I would be hard pressed to lay claim to extravagance. Giving of myself--my all--has always been measured and guarded.


It's a great time to take pause, remember, and proclaim: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty you might become rich. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:9

Talk about extravagant...

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Ride

For the first time since my cycling accident 18 months ago, I got back on my bike. It was a short ride; about 13 miles (those familiar with cycling know that's little more than a warm  up ride). At the present there is not much time available to do more.

Not that I need any more reasons to ride--I love every click of the gears and revolution of the wheels, but my doctor told me that if I keep weight off and don't engage in a lot of high-impact activities, my hip replacement should be good for 20 years. Cycling is low impact and high enjoyment...

Along my brief route, for conditioning, I stopped at the bottom of a couple of hills, kept my bike in a high gear, and cranked down on my pedals to get an extra workout. I felt surprisingly strong. Living out in the country, we have the blessing of paved roads with hardly any traffic. I shared the entire trip with only two vehicles. Also, our backroads are kind of a haven for cyclists, so motorists are incredibly gracious in giving us room and aware of our presence. Beside, most everyone out in these parts knows each other.

Over the weeks and months ahead, I'll stretch out my rides. Due to the amount of time commitment it takes, I don't see a Century Ride in my near future. But I look forward to those  40-60 mile treks in the days ahead!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Starting Monday!

It's been 18 months since my cycling accident that resulted in a new hip, four surgeries on my arms, and repairs to my jaw and teeth. Though physically I am but a shadow of my former self compared to those days when I regularly cycled two-hundred miles per week, next Monday I will once again straddle my bike and work my way back into shape.

My road bike, an Orbea, is 11 years old and was a gift from Sandy for my 50th birthday. Since then I've put thousands of miles on it. Now it's tuned and ready to go, the weather is perfect for cycling, the back roads are calling my name, and my expectations are realistic. I will begin by measuring time in the saddle; neither speed nor actual miles matter. I'm looking forward to increasing my cardio, strengthening my legs, hearing the shush of the wind in my helmet, and feeling the wind upon my face.

When I reach some of my conditioning goals, I will find a group of riders to push me. But for now, I'm just going to enjoy the sheer pleasure of re-engaging in something that for years I have immensely enjoyed!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Breaking Free

This afternoon I took a walk down the woods road that gently slopes down into a hardwood bottom and takes a hard right to the west shadowing Standing Boy Creek. During most of the early fall Standing Boy was bone-dry due to extended summer heat and drought. At the present, Standing Boy has a fresh flow of rainfall flowing through its twisting veins. Tiny, slender islands of sands separate it into many little branches, and pressed into those fingers of dry land are tracks of deer, coyote, and raccoon.

It's a windy day here, and during my walk the usual twittering of birds was replaced with the groans and creaks of trees bending at its gusts. Brown, dry leaves spun making a whirring and tinkling sound. Yet, they stubbornly refused to detach from their branches.

Here and there the monotony of the colorless landscape was broken by lively splotches of green provided by pines and cedar. At the edge of Standing Boy are fan palms; they, too, never submit to the searing heat or chilling frost. All year long they bear the signs of life in their long, slender, emerald shoots. However, the one I've included appeared it was trying to break free of its roots and soar off to warmer climates.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

This morning I met my sister, Barb, for breakfast at The Governor's restaurant in Old Town, Maine. We had great conversation revolving around faith, family, and legacy. Not a single word about politics. Our family is hardly in lockstep regarding the latter, but we are not the least reluctant to discuss our divergent views. Today, though, we just wanted to be brother and sister and family.

After breakfast I drove as far as I could down Oak Point Road, parked, and walked through snow to the river's edge where our cabin has stood since 1998. Along the way, I viewed evergreen trees upon which snow clung like cotton-balls. White lines traced the limbs of naked oaks and maples. It's a cloudy day--an almost smoky atmosphere--and when I unlocked the cabin door and stepped across the threshold I was in a space that, like the Celtics of old, we call "A Thin Place." In the center of the rustic dwelling is the Jotul wood stove. Opening its rectangular door I wadded up newspaper, placed kindling upon it, and struck a match. Soon a fire was pulling oxygen through the vents and stoking a warm, bright glow heating the cold air surrounding me. At the cabin there is a quiet you can't find everywhere.

Our cabin has "Shorey" written all over it: my rough and tumble-ness; Sandy's quaint touches, and our kids and friends initials carved into the posts reaching up to the steep pitched roof. Unity in diversity is possible. Pulling my red-canvas chair up close to absorb the heat of the crackling wood fire, I clicked on my smart-phone and watched the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America. As the pageantry unfolded, I felt like I was in an alternate universe. My breath turned to steam, uninsulated walls surrounded me, a big sailfish hanging on the western gable-end of the cabin, and outside, winding north and south like a white ribbon, the frozen, lifeless Penobscot River.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will gather with my siblings to celebrate Mom's 88th birthday. Later in the day I will get together with our good friend, Carol. Last, but not least, I'll have dinner with Glen, Elizabeth, and Gabby Gail. Love my family and friends!

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I arrived in Maine yesterday. By the standards of the Pine Tree State the weather was fairly mild (20's). This morning I awoke to a fresh blanket of snow that fell during the night and continued to flutter down during the dim light of a new day. Grey clouds, so typical for this time of year, hovered low. I counted 25 turkeys filling their bellies and gullets at the feeders my brother-in-law keeps well supplied. Bluejays and morning doves darted and swooped in amongst the gobblers grabbing whatever morsels they could.

Along with my sisters, Brenda and Barbara, we went to see mom this morning where she resides at The Meadows. Just 24 hours earlier she took a trip by ambulance to the ER, but today was back among her friends. Mom is always the same; delighted to see her children, undaunted by setbacks, and grateful for every little thing life serves up. In the family area where we sat and talked jigsaw puzzles, patiently assembled piece by piece by mom and her friends, are framed and hang on the walls. On a card table is another puzzle, a Norman Rockwell print jigged and sawed and 75% complete. Mom said it's a really difficult one to solve, but I'm betting it will soon be framed and on the Walls of Fame!

My vocation has given me the opportunity to be in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted-care facilities my entire adult life--The Meadows is staffed with some of the most dedicated caregivers in the business. On Saturday we will have a party to celebrate mom's 88th birthday!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The thin red line of the mercury rose to 73 degrees today, but the bright warming rays responsible have dissipated, and the sun has sunk below the horizon. Yesterday, the moon expanded to its fulness, but a day later it remains the dominant light in the evening sky.

When I can, I drop the tailgate on my pick-up truck, sit quietly, and let my soul synchronize with the darkness around me, and the stars above me. To my right, our drive way--which is more than 1/5 a mile long--bends toward the northeast and then makes an arcing turn towards the north. Where the end of the driveway meets Holland Road, there is a street light that glows a yellowish-orange and illuminates a swath of the pasture. From where I sit, on the tailgate of my truck, I see the silhouettes of deer as they cross the treeless expanse.

Josh is here, and as I write, we are sitting around the circular glow of the fire pit with a couple of his friends; a photographer and an instructor from Columbus State University. Smoke rises, but not very high, and like fog it hugs the terrain and blurs the landscape. It's a wonderful world!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Makes Me Happy

By southeast standards, it has been cold at The Shire! As the sun broke over the horizon the last two mornings we have seen lows of 22 and 17 degrees.

Creatures of all sorts broke their feeding patterns and took uncommon risks trying to ingest enough calories to offset the deficit brought on by sub-freezing weather. This afternoon 22 hooded merganser ducks invaded our pond. I'm guessing the fingerling-sized fish were easy pickings. Through binoculars, I watched them dive beneath the chilly waters and emerge gulping down their catch.

Yesterday morning 80-100 wild birds suddenly converged on seeds and suet at our feeders. Tiny pine warblers accounted for about 80. An assortment of other birds, out-shined by bright red male cardinals and their mauve girlfriends, pecked away at the free food.

I ran out of corn, so on Saturday I scattered sunflower seeds where I usually feed the deer. Today at dusk, a doe cautiously fed on the pile of black seeds.

Makes me happy :)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

First Night...

We awakened to pouring rains, and throughout the day there has been no sign of the sun. No complaints. Here, in the Southeast, rainfall was barely measurable July through November. December, has blessed us with slow moving weather systems, and low grey clouds periodically releasing their stores of water. Our pond is refilling; no need for our fish to learn to walk. Fescue grass, which will stay green as long as there is ample water, sunshine, and temps above freezing, adds a hue of green to the otherwise boring and beige colors of the fall landscape. Most evenings a half-dozen deer browse on the new growth.

As I write, water cascades from the eves of the house, relaxing sound of raindrops patter on the roof, Sandy is napping on the couch, and the New England Patriots just put a hurting on the Miami Dolphins.

First night--peaceful night.