Headwaters Wordsmithing

Writing for the actor, singer, and reader.

Birthed in the Northwoods of Wisconsin,  Headwaters Wordsmithing creates screenplays, lyrics, and books with an emphasis on faith in God...and a minor emphasis on coffee.  Make yourself at home.

Star Wars Theology: 1st Leia 4:47-53

The passing of Carrie Fisher has made me a bit nostalgic.  And New Year's Eve lends itself to views in the rear-view mirror.  So it was a given that I would revisit "a galaxy far, far away".

I remember the first time our happy band of idiots saw "Star Wars: A New Hope", the first one that was the fourth one but we didn't know that because, well, there was only one.

It was an experience.  The theatre seats rocked (and they weren't even broken!), the screen was actually curved (supposed to be that way), and the theatre sound system had a bass speaker the size of a Buick. 

We boldly went where none of us had gone before (yeah, I know...wrong show).  We walked out, got in line, and boldly went again.  Loved it.

And we were all, of course, infatuated with Princess Leia.  Cute, feisty, and wearing two cinnamon rolls on her head.  (I always thought Cinnabon missed a great marketing opportunity there...)

And now, Princess Leia is gone.  For auld lang syne, I'm watching it again and...

Huh.  Never thought of that.

At 57 minutes, our heroine is a captive on the Death Star, her bravado in full estrogen bloom, unaware she is seconds away from a skybox view of her planet's demise. 

The Commander verbally fences with her, smiling that cadaverous crocodile grin.    Suddenly she parries with something that hits me right in my life.

"The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

Whoa.   Now why does that bug me?

I take a pull of the lukewarm Elixir of Knowledge.  Even at room temperature, the potent dark liquid begins jolting synapses.

Why would...oh...well...

Closed fists, tightly closed fists, are as full as they're ever gonna be.  The only way to increase a fist's capacity is to change it into an open, cupped hand.

I make a fist with one hand and a cup with the other.  Huh.  OK. 

My mind flashes a GIF showing a four-year old with a death-grip on a small, stale piece of Bazooka bubble gum.  An adult pours a two-pound bag of M&Ms over it.  Then a two-pound bag of Peanut M&Ms.  Colors bouncing off a tight, little fist turning white from the effort, holding on to that single piece of bubble gum so it doesn't get away.

If the little tyke would've just cupped his hand  he coulda had his gum AND enough chocolate to give him a sugar buzz well into next week. 

So why would a kid be that pigheaded and stu.........oh......

I look closer with my mind's eye.  The pigheaded kid with the cramping fist...is me.

Yeah, I won't get much with a closed fist - but I won't lose much either.  I hafta keep my stuff in a closed fist or...

The Elixir pushes up a thought I don't particularly like.

- or someone else could take it.   HE could take it. 

And I don't like the question my mind just asked - Do I trust Him enough to hold all my important, treasured things in an open hand - to make everything available to Him?

Sure, I want Him to add to my stuff...but would I want Him, or let Him, take stuff away?

Hey, I'm all for Jabez but I'm not too keen on Job.

Do I trust Him to give me what I need?  To give me the best, whatever that is?

Yeah.  Me and Tarkin.  We both need to loosen our grip.

And I had better obey quicker than The Commander did...just in case there's a neighborhood kid that can bullseye a womp rat in a T-16.

Feeding Birds for Prophet...

It's cold.  The week before Christmas and 5 of the last 7 days never made it up to zero.  The below zero wind chills have enough digits to legally drink in any state in the Union. 

It's cold.

I'm leaning up against the counter, sipping the Elixir of Knowledge, watching chickadees zip back and forth from tree to feeder to tree.  Little balls of fluff that maintain an internal temp of 120 degrees while living in external temps of 11 below.  I guess I'd be zipping, too.

The Elixir short-circuits a neural synapse that sparks into another.

Huh.

"Bird feeding" jumps to "people feeding birds".  Another sip.  More sparking.

"Birds feeding people".  Well, really just one people - Elijah.

(The Prophet....not the guy who played Frodo)

Elijah was to tell the king he had done more evil than all the kings before him.  And if that didn't get Elijah in trouble, his next statement did.

"No rain until I say so."  This simple phrase started a drought that lasted over three years.

He was then instructed to do a wise thing.  Hide.  Right now.  By the brook.

And not to worry. 

The ravens will feed him.

The Elixir sloshes up images of crows and ravens I've seen.  Almost all the images involved roadkill.

Flattened-splattered-baking-in-the-sun roadkill. 

But the story says the ravens showed up like clockwork.  Every morning, every evening.  And they brought meat...and bread.

Another question pops up.  Where are ravens getting bread?  Huh.

Let's be honest.  I know you're thinking the same thing I am.

The man is getting roadkill and moldy bread off a garbage dump.  Right?

But if God is sending ravens to feed a hiding prophet, would He give him...garbage?

I don't think so.

The Elixir runs rampant, sparks fly, synapses pop like firecrackers on Chinese New Year.  A scenario develops.  A scenario with absolutely NO theological verification at all.

Reuben is grilling out, early in the morning, the smell of roasting meat wafting into the house.  The son, Raymond, wakes up to stagger sleepily toward his father with a Pavlovian mouth-watering, lip-smacking expectation.  He reaches for a piece of meat on the corner of the grill. 

Smack.  A wooden spoon knocks his hand away.  He is now completely awake.

"Owww.  Can't I have some?"

"No, it's for the ravens."  

Quiet.  Then a question.

"The ravens?"

"Yeah"

"Uh, why?"

"'Cause God told me to."

"Why?"

"I dunno."

"Mommmmmm!"

"Shhhh.  Let her sleep.  Hand me that loaf of bread, will ya?"

"But Mom made this last night!"

"Yeah.  It's delicious.  Hand it over."

"But you're giving the good stuff to birds."

"Yeah."

"Because God told you to?!"

"Yeah.  And when He tells you to do something, you give your best.  Right?"

"Well, sure, but - wait a minute - where'd you get this meat?"

"Eddie."

"Eddie?!  You killed the fatted calf to give 'im to birds?!  He was for my bar mitzvah!"

"Pipe down, son, you're gonna scare the birds.  God will provide.  Pass me the sage, will ya?"

Well, OK, it might be a little far-fetched but I think the premise is sound.

Obedience to God isn't "supply and demand".  It's "demand and supply".

He demands our obedience and, if we obey, He supplies our needs from places we could not even imagineEven in our wildest dreams.

So if He tells me to do something, I should do it and trust Him. 

For all I know, lunch has already been airmailed.

Me And A Toilet Plunger @ 4:30 In The Morning...

I'm up...kinda.

On full autopilot, I make the coffee, preheat the lunchbox thermoses (all 3 of 'em) and begin to make breakfast.

Oh.

Oh my.

My face takes on that concerned blank look a 9-month old has when things are comin' down the pike and headin' for the diaper.

(They say Life is like a race track - ya end up where ya started.  Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.  Pampers to Depends.)

Oh my.

My body suddenly tells me that I'm on the launching pad, the cherry picker has been disengaged, and countdown has begun.

Hello.

I scurry to the Reading Room, flip up the convertible top to the Throne and....

The water level is almost up to the rim.

Noooooooooooo.

I grab the accordion plunger and gently press down.

Voooop-ah.

Nothing.

Voooop-ah.           Voooop-ah.          Voooop-ah.

The water level goes down to a normal level.  Great. OK.

I flip the handle.  The water comes back up to the rim.

Huh?!

Voooop-ah.  Vooopp-ah. Voooop-ah.  Voooop-ah.

Water's down.  Flip the handle.  Water to the rim again.

My mind hears a succinct, professional voice.  It has a slight Texas drawl.

"We have T-5 minutes.  T-5 minutes."

I erupt (bad choice of words) into panic mode.  Up until now I was trying to be polite and keep the bathroom dry, a thought which is relegated to the bottom of the list.

"T-5" takes top priority.

The accordion plunger contracts/expands as fast as Myron's accordion on "The Lawrence Welk Show".

Voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah.

I pause, gasping for air.  Hey, even Myron took a break while the orchestra played.

The drawl chimes in.

"T-3 minutes."

Flush.  Back up to the rim.

Oh maaaaaaaannnnn!

I hit the pre-ignition stage.

Voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah.

A public-utilities tsunami surges around the base of the Throne.

Voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-uh-oh.

The blank concerned look of the 9-month-old reappears as a realization dawns.

Heavy exertion in a stooped position is NOT the way to postpone blast off.

The accordion plunger merrily bobs in the bowl as I fly out the front door, jump in the car, and drive to the 24-hour grocery store in town - the only place open at 4:45 in the morning.

And, yes, I did commit the sin of speeding.

I walk into the kitchen about 17 minutes later,  less stressed, more relaxed.

I pour a cup of the Elixir of Knowledge and reflect on my NASA experience.  The first sip has me thinking about defective plumbing and our family's dietary habits.

The second sip runs smack into 1 John 1:9 as it bounces off that little dangly thing in the back of my mouth before the long drop south.

If we confess, He'll forgive, and cleanse us.   Unclog us.

As far as the East is from the West...which is much farther than from the Little-House-On-The-Corner to the Septic Plant over by the Park.

(Never could figure out the placement on that one.  Not many people use the swing-sets and picnic tables when the wind's from the West)

What?   Huh. 

Yeah, there's that.

There is no clog He can't unclog.  No matter how bad.  

And He flushes it away and sees it no more.

As far as the East is from the West.

And that's a very nice thing to realize.......especially at 4:30 in the morning.

 

 

 

Zero....a whole lot more than "nothing".

I lived a prehistoric childhood.  I grew up before DVDs, mobile devices, and PS4s.  All we had were encyclopedias, coloring books, and black'n'white TV. 

Then the most stupendous visitation of visualization known to Saturday morning cartoons appeared - color television.

And as TV shows went from no color to the whole Crayon box, kid's TV changed as well.  And one of those changes was a cartoon that taught me to multiply.

Up to twelvesies.

No lie.

"Mutiplication Rock", baby!

Good bye, flash cards.  Hello, funky tunes and cool cartoons.

My math skills got a boost but my grammar floundered near the shore, fighting the riptide which was dragging me into remedial English.

Then "Grammar Rock" came out.

Ohhhhh, yeah.

Pretty soon yours truly was walkin' down the Beach of Vocabulary.  OK, I was still getting sand kicked in my face by participles and adverbs.  But, hey, at least I was on the beach.

So today I read about John the Baptist.  Weird dude.  Would've fit right into the whole '60s thing in San Francisco.  Ate honey and bugs, wore camel hair smocks.  All he needed were some flowers in his hair.

This eccentric guy said something pretty profound:

"I must decrease that He may increase."

Whoa.

A pull of the Elixir of Knowledge and BAM - the Elixir has "Multiplication Rock" playing over "The 3rd Chapter of John".

I hear "My Hero, Zero", a song about this little guy named Zero who makes numbers bigger by being...nothing.

Huh.

Soooooo, what's the point of being nothing?  Every day I'm told by commercials, songs, ads, and posts to "buy this" to "be that".  Get more.  BE MORE.

Increase my $$$, increase my standing,

Increase my increase.

But, here's a weirdo that says I outta "decrease"... and He, the One, called this maniac the greatest ever born.

All because he was trying to be a complete "zero".

Another pull of the Elixir.  Huh.  Makes sense, I s'pose.

Imagine the One that is One with the Father.  He would be, of course, the "1".  So if I give Him this part of my life,  "zero" out my ownership, that moves the "1" over a bit. 

And if I keep "zeroing out" more and more of my life, I keep moving Him, the "1", over a little bit more each time.

Which increases His number.  Which lifts Him up.  Just like it shows in the middle of"My Hero, Zero".

Decreasing myself causes the increasing of what really matters - Him, the "1".

Now THAT'S a different type of math. 

It's the Math of Eternity.

And it's tough to do.  It can be more confusing that calculus.

But there's a Tutor on call 24/7 to show us how to do it.  A gentle Teacher who helps each of us at our own pace.

So I guess the cartoon is right.  Zero really does make a hero.

But don't take my word for it.

Just ask the weirdo.

Or better yet, ask the "1".

 

In-Dependence Day

Red-white-&-blue sale banners.  Fireworks popping off until 3AM.  Lotsa grillin' and a little too much eatin'.  Yep.  Another 4th of July.

The day we declared our independence from Britain.  It was our "Colonexit".

(Probably shouldn't have tried to use "colonies" with "exit"...sorry...)

Americans.  We're used to being an independent bunch.  In our minds, anyway.

John Wayne is our hero... hard-nosed, do what's right, don't take any stuff from the bad guys, kiss the horse, kiss the girl, ride off into the sunset, tall and proud.

But....is that the way it's really s'posed to be?

Is that what life is s'posed to be?  Being tougher than the next guy...being better...being #1.  Hey, I like winning as much as the next guy.  And I don't tolerate bullies well.  They ignite my Irish, just like John's.

But...and I know I'm close to 'Merica heresy here...is that the right way to gain independence?

He said HE was the vine and we were...branches. And He pointed it out so well even a 8th grade biology student could see the obvious.

Without the vine, branches are just.........sticks.

Dead wood.

Marshmellow sticks.

Bonfire fuel.

We will only live, bloom, and bear fruit if we are in dependence on the vine.

In dependence on Him.

That's where it happens.  Where good things can bloom even in the crappiest of weather or the worst times of life.

And we're free to let go of all the worthless toys, trash, and trinkets.  To be free from our past, our guilt, our failures and mistakes.

Free to be what He wants me to be.  Free to be like He.

(I know, but I wanted it to rhyme.)

In-dependence that brings me independence.

So today,  maybe rethink the term "independence"... and what real freedom means - it's a Person...and it's not The Duke.   It's The King.

Look Him up.  He's in the Book.  Under the "J"s.

He'd love to share today with you for the rest of your life.

And eternity as well.

Have a Happy 4th, eh?

Here's one for your Reading Room...check it out....

I meet these two gentlemen four years ago.   It was at the Gideon Film Festival hosted by the Ridgecrest Conference Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

A nice place.  And a place where everything is uphill.  Really.  Never been so exhausted walking to a meal in my life. But it was a great time with great folks who are committed to HIs call to make faith-based films and media.  And these two guys are doin' just that.

Torry Martin and Doug Peterson have written a book called "Of Moose and Men: Lost and Found in Alaska".

And it's a hoot.

I think it's something all five of you loyal followers of the Garage would like.

Torry Martin is a comedian, actor, screenwriter, and author who got lost in L.A. only to find God in a small cabin in Alaska.  Doug Peterson is an award-winning author who helps Torry tell the story... and quite the story it 'tis.  Every chapter holds a quirky and amazing true story as well as a spiritual truth that can be taken to heart.

And the chapters are just the right length.  I can finish one before my feet go asleep.  Or someone else needs the Reading Room.

"Of Moose and Men" currently holds the front pole position in the Book Basket under the towels - a place of honor in our household.  Previous honorees are C.S. Lewis, Patrick F. McManus, Bill Watterson of "Calvin & Hobbes", Randy Alcorn, Ted Dekker, Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, and Gary Larson of "Far Side".

Like I said,  good readin'.

Check it out.  I think you'll enjoy it.  I did.

 

 

And It's Still Saturday Morning with Larry-Boy

(Announcer's radio voiceover:      "When we last left our thawing heroes, the windshield was starting to defrost.  But wait!  What's that?!  A warning light glows on the dash.  It's the fuel gauge!  How much gas is left? Will it be enough for an 80 mile round trip?  A 60??  Or just enough to make the 4-lane???  And will Uncle Denny get to work on-time???? Stay tuned for our next exciting episode of "Saturday Morning with Larry-Boy!")

Thaaaaaat's right.  No idea of how much gas is left.  I keep Larry-Boy at half-a-tank during the winter so I can stay warm and comfortable until the tow truck arrives.

Most of the time, anyway.

But not today.  Great.

Larry-Boy sneaks out onto the some-what deserted 4-Lane and begins the 1/2 mile trk to the gas station.  I'm dancing on the windshield washer thingy, squirting fluid as the wipers flap rapidly, squealing like piglets.  This makes an interesting semi-transparent film that allows brief, fleeting glimpses of the outside world.

I set the cruise control on "glacier" and crawl down the highway.  I inch past the Auto Parts store.  The newly-installed hi-tech LED sign flashes the temp.  2.  Oh goody.  Dropped 9 degrees in 10 minutes.  Thank you, Canada, for the mid-April gift.

Arriving undented at the gas station, I miss hitting the pumps, and stop with Larry-Boy's left flank near a pump handle.  I leave the motor on, hoping the windshield will defrost before lunch.

Now back in his day, Larry-Boy was a stud.  He has all these bells and whistles that don't tweet and ding like they used to.  One of these options was the locking gas cap door with interior release.

I push the release button and get out.  I stand in front of the gas cap door.  It hasn't popped out. I try to get a finger in there to pry it open.  Nope.

I walk to the driver's door, pull it open, punch the release again.  Walk back. Nope.

Walk to the driver's door,  pull it open, punch the release again.  Repeatedly.  Punctuated with muttered threats and observations.

This time I grabbed a ball-point pen lying on the floorboard.  I walk back.

Nope.

And now I have half of a ball-point pen.  Glad the ink is froze.

I stand facing the slowly glowing horizon.  I have things at home.  Things that dent metal. 

I climb back inside and run Larry-boy home, the windshield greatly improved.

I park Larry-Boy on the curb and go inside.   Yeah.  That'll work.  I grab the mother of all screwdrivers and the biggest hammer we own.  I head outside, armed with bludgeoning tools and an attitude.

Prying the door open enough to get a shot at the latch, I apply a full swing to hammer-screwdriver-latch and....."Open Sesameeee".  The gas door pops open.  I sneer at the gas cap door and the offending latch, feeling a rush of male dominance.  I close it.

It locks again.

Nuts.

I repeat the above steps but this time I look inside.  There's this plastic thinga-ma-jig that grabs the latch.  This is the object that feels my fury as I channel my inner Thor.

"You shall latch NO MORE, foul thinga-ma-jig!"

Stanley's hammer, not Thor's, smashes the offending gizmo into three non-functional pieces.

But now the gas cap door is open at a 90 degree angle.  Like a fish's fin when ya pull 'em outta the water.  Huh.  A couple of slams do nothing but hurt my hand.  Now I see it. A spring is holding it open.  The hammer is still in my hand.  And again, I hear Asgard calling.

"You shall spring NO MORE, foul..."

Now the gas cap door closes flush...but not square.  It droops a bit toward the hubcap.

Yeah. Well.

Good enough.

I fly Larry-Boy back to the gas station.  Bailing out, I quickly insert the pump nozzle in a now accessible filler hole and lock the trigger open.  I lean against the cold fender, watching the dollars soar as the gallons crawl.

And I'm feeling sorry for myself.

Whatta lousy morning!  All this stuff going wrong and where is He?!  Why did He let all this junk happen, eh?  What was He think-

I feel led to look to my right, past Larry-boy, the parking lot, the miniature golf course, and the Dollar General store.

Oh...........wow.........

The partly-cloudy dawn is in full-bloom, an explosion of pink, orange, purple, and gold.  The sky is glowing with glory.  And I swear I hear Him say -

"I made this for you.  Just wanted you to see it.  Enjoy."

I walk back from paying the clerk and stop for one last look before climbing in.  The sky has gone white and yellow, the new day already heading for that first coffee break.

If I hadn't been locked out from my gas cap, I would've been driving to work looking at nothing by grey, dark clouds.  A grumpy older guy heading southwest and never knowing all the beauty and grandeur behind him to the northeast.

I would've missed a blessing that changed my morning.

Yeah.

All things do work together for good when we trust Him.

Especially if we drive old, dark green cars.


 

Saturday Morning with Larry-Boy

Bummer.  Hafta work today.  Saturday. 

Saturdays as a kid had me up at the crack of dawn, playing outside until the Shows & Cartoons came on.

Fifty years later I'm trudging to the car in an April snow storm...and there's not a "pic-a-nick-bas-ket" in sight, Boo-Boo.   Sometimes this adult stuff just...

I stand next to Larry-Boy, the 20-year old Park Avenue which ferries me to work,  rolling down Highway 17 to the next town south.

(I named him Larry-Boy after the alter-ego of Larry the Cucumber of Veggie Tales fame (Larry-Boy is a "super hero with suction-cup ears"...really...look it up).  The Park Avenue and Larry the Cucumber share a deep green color and even deeper illusions of grandeur. )

I start Larry-Boy to iet warm him up and trudge back into the house for another cup of the Elixir of Knowledge.  Twelve minutes later I go out and slide behind the wheel.

My breath fogs up the windshield. The dash tells me it's 11.

(Anybody else hear a looped GIF of John Candy's famous meteorological one-word/one-liner?......"1"-"1"......"1"-"1"....."1"-....).

Wha...?

Then I notice the outdated interior is quiet.  I hear the muffled, purring growl of Larry-Boy's motor...but not the nasal roar of the defroster.  Wait.

I didn't turn on -

Ahhhhh, maaaaaaannn.

Disgusted with this oversight, the air gets a brief blue tinge as I sit in an 11-degree car and stare at the iced-over windshield, waiting for it to clear enough so I can see what I might hit on the way to work.

Nuts.

I unzip my Green Bay Packer man-bag, rummage past the tupperware-encased lunch, and grab the shortie thermos.

I continue my impatient vigil while slowly sipping the steaming Elixir of Knowledge...and now my glasses fog up.

Great.  Just -

The Elixir thaws a thought that drips inconveniently into my mind's eye, making me blink.

Huh.

I s'pose it's like that, but...well, yeah...it's JUST like that...

Anyone passing by would think Larry-Boy is warming up. The engine's growling, the tailpipe's smoking. Everything looks ready to roll.

T-minus ten and counting.

But on the inside, Larry-Boy is not ready.  All the glass is frosted over. The merest hint of breath fogs the windows.

Another pull of the Elixir brings old readings to mind, paraphrased for the occasion.

"Having a source of heat but denying its on-switch."

"To defrost is better than idling."

"Man looks at the outside but He looks at the interior temperature."

"Sit still and know that I will defrost."

"I am the Heat, the Heater, and the Defroster.  No one can defrost enough to drive safely without Me."

If I backed outta the driveway right now, Larry-Boy would be flying blind.  No way to see the road.  Nothing to do but white-knuckle the wheel and wait for the crash.

Yeah.

And so what do I do?  I rant and rave against the Manufacturer who gave me a car that ices over in cold weather. That crashes into things. A car that is cold, uncomfortable, and scary.

Stupid Manufacturer.

But....

There's an Owner's Manual in the glove box, full of everything I need to know.  It was put there by the Manufacturer.  So I could drive safely and abundantly.

Another sip of the Elixir puts things into perspective. I'm the one who lets the Heat in.

Or not.

Stupid driver.

I lean forward a bit.  There's a clear spot on the windshield about the size of a coffee cup.

I lean back and take another sip.

Yeah.  Thing's are starting to clear up......thanks to the Manufacturer. 

First Squeeze

It's early.  Haven't even had the Elixir of Knowledge yet.

I stagger into the Reading Room almost cognizant of my surroundings.

A shower'n'shave and finally my mental fog lifts and disappears up the vent with the remaining clouds of steam.

I reach into the medicine cabinet where lies a shiny, perfectly-packed tube of Pepsodent.

I like Pepsodent.  It tastes like Beeman gum and it had a great commercial diddy, a jingle that we all pulled a "grade-school-Weird-Al-Yankovich" on.

Except back then is was called pulling a "grade-school-Alan-Sherman".

"You wonder where your teeth all went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!"

I gently take the Pepsodent out of the cabinet, almost reverently unscrewing the cap before applying the First Squeeze to my toothbrush.

I should put this on Facebook.  Right next to my nephew's "4-lb-wet-burrito-for-lunch" post.

I polish the ivories, savoring that old-time flavor while foaming at the mouth like that dog Atticus Finch put out of its misery.

Something brushes up against my mind.

Huh.

First squeeze.

Yeah....

That was the only problem He had with the first Church in the batting order of Revelation 2.  They were doin' good stuff.  Important stuff.  But they left their first squeeze, that first love.   When He was the reason they felt complete and new.

Not because of the stuff they were doing... 'cause they knew Him.  Loved Him.

I glance in the medicine cabinet.

The Wife and TechnoBoy's toothpaste is lying there.  (They're not big fans of Pepsodent.)  The Colgate tube is dented, flat, squished, and almost empty.  That first squeeze of white goo is all but a forgotten memory.

So how does one get back to that First Squeeze?  Especially when so much has happened.

When things have been severely flattened...

When the dents run so deep...

When the tube is almost empty...

I pause, toothbrush jutting out of my mouth like Churchill's cigar, staring at my reflection in the mirror.

Yeah.  How do I do that? How....

A single word srolls across my mind like a theater marquee.

Vademecum.

Wha... Wait a minute.  Hey............that'd work!

There was this weird, pink toothpaste Mom & Dad had us all using back in the day.  Vademecum.  Some European/Swedish stuff.  It came with this key with a slit in it, like the one used to open those really old Folgers coffee cans. 

You mighta seen those Folger cans............well, maybe not.....

You'd crank 'em around the top, wrapping a thin line of tin around the little key, opening the can just like Mrs. Olson did in those commercials....

("Mounton grown coffee....eet's the reechest kind!)

Vademecum had a key that fit over the end of the toothpaste tube.  You rolled it up, squeezing all the pink goo forward until the tube was full, non-dented, and looking like the first squeeze.

Only shorter.  Much shorter.

And that's how I can get my first squeeze back!

I let His Key, as I read it, attach to my life. I let it work through my life, moving things towards Him, squeezing the old, useless stuff outta the way.

Oh, yeah.  The process, I'm sure, will be uncomfortable.

Sometimes even painful.

But it's what I need to get me back to that First Squeeze.  Back to a time when I was forgiven, filled, and undented.

When I was made new, fresh and full of joy.

As I put the toothpaste away, I see a little box of dental floss hiding behind the shaving cream.

I almost slam the door closed.

Uh-uh.

That's for some other day.

Thoughts on Five Pounds of Stuff in a One Pound Bag While Listening to Christmas Radio...

The Q holds pole-position on the radio in Larry Boy, the '96 Park Avenue.  The tape player doesn't work, so it's only the radio.  And up here, FM is about all you can get...unless you're two blocks away from the local AM station.

So Button #1 on the FM dial is The Q, contemporary Christian radio.

They've been playing Christmas music ever since Thanksgiving.  They play the Christmas classics as well as new renditions of the classics.  They have yet to play one of my favorites, "Blue Christmas" by Seymour Swine.

(aka actor/musician Dennis Brownlee... and the guy's a Christian.  Like I tell TechnoBoy, our son: "You can be straight but ya doesn't hafta be square.").

(I dare you to listen to it and not laugh...I TRIPLE-dog dare ya!...)

But the one song I continue to find awe-inspiring is "Mary, Did You Know?"

I get goosebumps every time I hear it.  Sinatra, Deano, Nat, Andy, Perry, and Karen sing great Christmas songs.  But with "Mary", anyone could sing it and I'd still get goosebumps.

An incredible song with some of the most thought-provoking lyrics I've ever heard.

Amazing song.

I take a sip of the Elixir and relax into the quiet of a sleeping house and the pre-dawn dark of a Christmas morning.  Past the Christmas tree, on the other side of the window,  the snow softly glows under the streetlight as the colored dots of the neighbors' Christmas lights outline homes and trees.  Like a minimalist Monet you plug in.

Yeah.

That song is genius. 

"...your little boy has walked where angels trod.."

Amazing.

"...when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God..."

Man, talk about 5 pounds of groceries in a 1 pound bag.

God becoming man.  A baby.

Put the ocean in a teacup.

Jam the sun into a flashlight

Huh.

Michael Card called it "Infinity stepping into time".  He knows how to write a song, too.

A distant memory from Mr. Carter's sophmore biology class pops up.

Yeah.  It'd be like that...in a way.

Sure.

Imagine that I love single-cell organisms soooo much that I'd become one of 'em,  just so they'd know that I love 'em.

I'd limit myself,  going from the bazillion cells that make me who I am, down to a single-cell creature.

I'd do this just so I could let all those tiny, clueless Monads..the parameciums, amoebas, even the bacteria....that I love them and I've made a way for them to be so much more than what they are.

And that's what He did for me.

That's what He did for you.

Wow.

Talk about love, eh?

I look over at the piano top where The Wife has her Nativity scene set up.  The final words of the "Mary" song echo silently around the room.

"...the sleeping Child you're holding, is the Great...I....AM."

Merry Christmas...

...and may we continue to be amazed at the Reason for the Season...

 

 

 

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...I'm Thankful. OK?!

It's Thanksgiving.  I'm thankful. Let's eat.  Football game'll be on soon.

I'm sitting here overstuffed as the furniture, wondering why - if I'm thankful - I am in such a dour mood.  I'm not mad.  Not angry.  Just not all that euphoric.  Not that happy and...uh...thankful.

I say I'm thankful.  And I suppose, at a certain level, I am.  I have the necessities of life - food, water, shelter, and the Elixir of Knowledge, (that's coffee for any 1st-time visitors to the Garage).

But I guess I'm frustrated a bit because that's all stuff I OUGHT to get.  It's what is OWED me.  I am ENTITLED to it.  You know, 'Merica.  Life lived for me, liberty without consequences, and the pursuit of calories.

I'm looking out the window on this Thanksgiving afternoon.  Flash-mob, quarter-sized flakes fall past the window.  A chunk of Pastor's sermon drifts by with the bits of white.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied."

Satisfied.  Maybe that's the key to thankfulness.  Have such a lack of something that I'm euphoric to get it. 

They say that when you're thirsty, as in medicinal need of water, that simple water can taste like the Divine Ambrosia of the Angels...or something really, really good.

When you're really, really cold from a single-digit, snowy day in the woods, a 60 degree house can feel like a Tahitian summer beach.

Huh.

A quick pull of the Elixir of Knowledge connects the dots. 

Huh.

The awareness of my level of need determines the level of my thankfulness.  I think the Book put it another way.

"He who is forgiven much, loves much.".

Yeah.

When I realize that I had nothing until He gave me everything...I think that's when thankfulness begins.   Honest-to-goodness joyful thankfulness.  When I realize that I had nothing and He's given it all to me because He wanted to....wow...

And it doesn't hurt to have a 20lb turkey....and some punkin pie...and the Elixir of Knowledge.

But that's just gravy on the stuffing.  A nice addition to the bedrock truth of Grace.

Okay........now, I'm thankful....

 

Makin' Bacon

Being unemployed has its perks.  You can stay up late and get up late. You don't waste a lot of time shopping.  And you're easier on the environment due to not using a whole lotta those plastic bags.

Another perk is finding out what's at the bottom of your freezer.  Just like South America and Magellan, smetimes you gotta go all the way down to see what's there.

That's where I found the Martha Stewart bacon.

Somehow it had worked its way down under the frozen garden tomatoes of 2011.  I put the Stewart squealers on the counter for the night to thaw 'til morning and crawled into bed.

It is now morning.  The Elixir of Knowledge is gurgling and gargling, filling the kitchen with the scent of potential wisdom and cognizance, giving me the confidence to cook up a mess'a bacon.

I get the skillet, put a fire under it, and grab the bacon package. I cut off one end with scissors from the junk drawer, grab the pork belly and pull.  The stuff won't come out.  I yank and tug. I'm losing to the suction of industrial vacuum packing.  Ever try to get a grip on the end of raw bacon?  Huh.  Teflon's gotta be made with pig fat.

A slurp of The Elixir pops up the fragment of a verse.

"Rightly dividing the..."

Yeah, okay.  It probably wasn't written in the context of pork products but the heresy is functional.  I grab a knife outta the wood block by the microwave and, in true Hebrew 11 fashion, saw the package in two.   Yep, that takes the fight right outta of industrial packaging.

I peel off 1/2-sized strips, trying to lay them in some kind of order across the bottom of the now very hot pan.  The burning, spattering grease soon trumps my desire for the "Betty Crocker aesthetic look".  I chuck the remaining wade into pan like worms in a bait box and throw on the lid. Punching in 3 minutes on the stove timer, I retreat to the kitchen table and the cup of The Elixir.

I won't burden you with a play-by-play of the next 20 minutes.  Here's the highlight reel with color commentary instigated by The Elixir of Knowledge and actual circumstances...

*Trying to flip bacon with a fork is like trying to teach a Chihuahua to roll over.  You move it around, it won't roll over, and it bites you in the hand.  Oh...and as far as the bacon goes, once you drop the fork INTO the pan, DO NOT try to pick it up.

*Cold water and butter are a hand's best friend.

*When flipping the bacon into the paper-towel-lined bowl, it is best to get the bowl close to the pan.  Carrying bacon on a fork the length of the stove top is like carrying a non-house-broken puppy to the front door.  The mess is now elongated and, of course, more challenging.

*Sliding the paper-towel-lined bowl across the stove top next to the pan allows for a quick flip of the bacon and a minimal dispersion of grease.  However the ends of the paper toweling hang over the edge of the bowl.  And are just long enough to slide under the pan.  And what's under the pan on a gas stove?  Thaaaaat's right.

*Bacon easily becomes Pig Flambeau.  Both myself and the smoke alarm down the hall articulate our surprise.  Loudly.

*If the charred paper-toweled bowl of bacon is put on the counter next to pan, out of the burner's reach, a quick airlift can transport bacon to bowl, keeping the mess to a minimum.

*It should be noted that in the Little-House-On-The-Corner,  the stove does not fit up flush to the cabinet.  It is lacking that Aztec-pyramid-block precision.   There is a gap...a gap born of the same strange properties as the Bermuda Triangle.

*And once the in transit bacon falls from the fork and hits the gap it becomes like that squadron of torpedo planes in the Triangle - never to be seen again.

*Taking a long pull of The Elixir of Knowledge, I ponder the situation.  The Elixir floats up a course of action.  Yeah, I suppose Flight 19 would appreciate a hot breakfast.  So I drop in some rye toast and scrambled eggs.  Support our veterans.

I retrospect, making bacon is a bit different from what I had imagined it to be.

Tomorrow, I think I'll have Frosted Mini Wheats.

And I'm gonna eat 'em right outta the box, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Believe the Label

I don't know what the deal is with me and food recently.  OK. Alright, I do like it but a bit too much, according to my cardiologist.  But it seems like food is the prevailing topic for blog-spiel.  I sit down with a cup of The Elixir of Knowledge, stare at the wall, hands on the keys, and "whamo" - it's about something I ate.

As I sit hear this morning waiting for morning to arrive, I remember yesterday's events.  I finally carved out a little writing cave and the excavation exhumed six boxes of long-ago-read books to take somewhere.  Anywhere.

I suggested the local recycler - drive up, dump in dumpster, drive away, back home in 10 minutes - but The Wife is of Dutch heritage.  Waste not, want not.  Scrub the streets.  Live below the waterline.   Can't throw a good book away.

So yesterday morning finds me and Phlegm the Taurus working our way down out of the woods to the Sorta-Big City to cart boxes of books to the Goodwill Store...where they will still probably end up in the landfill.  But, and this is key, not with our knowledge.

We can guiltlessly envision some child or adult getting one of those books, reading it, and become inspired to be a famous person or a prominent pillar of the American Society.  The reality is that a landfill worm will eat these books and turn them into nitrogen-laced worm poop.  But we're gonna run with the brilliant child/adult scenario.

Delusions are great, aren't they?

On the way back, we stop at the Qwik Mart.  I leave Phlegm outside talking to the other cars and meander into the bustling convenience store.  Every time I get to the Sorta-Big City I hafta stop here.  39 cent/lb bananas and $1.29/doz eggs.  And a pretty good dark roast Elixir for a convenience store.

I got the eggs and a gorilla's fist of bananas.  I filled and capped a small dark roast and headed for the counter.  I rolled past a little red sign that caught my eye.

"Today -$1.00 each"

Underneath the sign is the hotbox that holds two different types of tornados.  "A whirlwind of flavor" is emblazoned across the paper sleeve.  Huh.  MexTex food is like Italian pasta.  Take a tortilla and leave it flat. Add the stuff.  Bam - tostados.  Fold the tortilla in half.  Fill the inside.  Bam - taco.  Cap a tostado with another tortilla.  Bimmity-bammity-boom...quesadilla.

And if you load the tortilla along one edge, roll it into a tube, then run it through a deep-fryer?

Hello, tornados..."A whirlwind of flavor".

I paused in front of the hotbox...just like I pause in front of the carnival games at the County Fair.

"3 tries for a Buck...e-ve-ry-bo-dy's-a-win-ner!"

I grabbed a tornado.  One end of the wrapper had a small-print listing of 16 different types of tornados.  16.  There was a small mark by "Cheesy Pepper Jack".  I picked up a different one.  Wha....

"Chicken and Waffles".

No lie.  Smack a stack of Bibles.  "Chicken and Waffles".  My mind ran through the possibilities.  Shredded chicken with waffle fries?  Chicken with dented breading?

Huh.

Curiosity running at a carny game level, I dropped the "Chicken and Waffles" into the cart.   Followed by the "Cheesy Pepper Jack".  Yeah.  I do the same thing with the carny games.  Play 'em twice before I figure out the game hawker is smarter, and now richer, than I am.

Phlegm and I start the trip home.  At the first stoplight, I popped the "Chicken and Waffles" out of the wrapper and bit off a good chunk.

Oh.

When they printed the label they actually meant "waffle"...and syrup...chopped up with dead bird...wrapped in a tortilla coffin.

I kept eating, figuring I should consume it while still in the Sorta-Big City with its excellent hospital facilities.  I chewed on with the same dogged determination as my 2nd and 3rd shots at the carny game.

Finally finished, I slammed half of the dark roast Elixir to cleanse my palate for its next onslaught..."Cheesy Pepper Jack".  I unwrap it while praying the  "Valley of Death" part of the 23rd Psalm.

I should've prayed about the "Cool Waters".

Once again there was truth in labeling.  It definitely had cheese.  And the cheese definitely had pepper.

The wrapper said "Cheesy Pepper Jack".  A more appropriate translation would be something like:

"YO!  Cheesy, and PEPPER, Jack !!!"

The dark roast Elixir didn't make it to the Sorta-Big City limits.  I made it home and went straight for the baking soda and water.

So here I sit at the keyboard waiting for the Elixir of Knowledge to brew and the baking soda to extinguish the heartburn within.  And it hits me.

Why am I upset with Qwik Mart?  Did they not tell me what was in the abominations?  They were blatantly accurate in their information.  I just couldn't believe it was true.

The wafting smell of the Elixir sets the grey cells aquiver.

What?  Huh.  Yeah, yeah.  I s'pose it is just like that.

I read The Book and it says something that I find puzzling...even offensive.

"Oh, it can't mean that!  He would never say that, demand that, or hold to...that!"

And yet, that is exactly what He means.   The Book, if it is anything, is "truth in advertising".  And I think we all, at one time or another, might think the same thing...

"Well, yeah, but the way the world is today, that just can't be true...can it?"

Hey, I didn't think anyone would ever put waffles in with chicken.  Go figure, eh?

 


 

Cut Lettuce BEFORE Chewing...

My idea of a salad is more toward the ecumenical persuasion.   Load it up, baby.   Throw it all in there!  The more diverse the vegetative congregation, the more intriguing the forkful.  (Author's Note: I do not, however, hold this view when it comes to actual church congregations...that just puts too many cats in one bag...and all that clawing and howling makes it hard to hear the message...)

I am also, along with Ralph Nader, an advocate for a standardized edible sizing of each ingredient to ensure the health and enjoyment of the dining experience.  Please let me elaborate...

Parents or aunts or uncles or fellow diners have seen what happens when you give toddlers syrup-soaked pancakes roughly the size of their heads.   With a happy grin, the little nibbler waits until everyone is talking.  Then it makes a two-handed grab for the hubcapped-sized foodstuff, enthusiastically jamming the entire sticky, dripping disc into its mouth.  A mouth only big enough for one teaspoon-sized morsel.  The rest becomes a body suit courtesy of Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth.

Yeah...it's a mess.

I used to have the same infantile dilemma back in the day when I went out to eat with The Wife and our two kids,  The DAGU (Daughter All Grown Up), and TechnoBoy.  The Wife would be furiously cutting up food into heimlich-proof portions for the kids.

And she would forget about me.

There is one more piece of context needed to understand why things would happen like they did when we went out to eat.

Life in a small town has one rule - wherever we go, we meet people we know.  And it's small-town etiquette to at least say "Hi" even if it makes you wanna spit.  Be polite.  Be a fake, if necessary.  A polite fake is the social superior to one who is a horse's patoot, It is an unwritten predilection within almost all of our small population...except for the patoots, of course...and all four of them are jerks.

This is the reason for the following reaction.  As folks walk past or are seated nearby, I nod and say "Hi", a subtextual message that I am not one of the four patoots.  The problem?  I do this while eating my salad.  And what happens next has, unfortunately, always gone something like this...

I harpoon the salad.  Just as the fork starts to rise, I hear a salutation.

"Hi. How are you?"

I turn, taking my eyes off the fork, not knowing that I am now lifting a half-acre of produce, all balanced precariously on a piece of lettuce the size of a dinner plate.

"Fine, fine.  How goes it by you?"

The fork is now up and moving towards my face as gravity gently beckons to the ingredients. A radish slice succumbs, falling to the table, taking a crouton with it.

"Good. Good."

Eyes still on the conversation, my mouth starts to open slightly as I begin to turn my head.  I hear The Wife's sharp intake of breath.  My eyes slide to the side in time to see it all happen.

The ensuing adrenaline rush makes it all in slooooow mooootiooooonnnnn..

The fork is well-centered for an easy docking procedure but the lettuce is a good two inches on either side of the docking bay.  I panic.  What to do?  Momentum and a poor decision drives the mini-planetarium into my face.  The outstretched lettuce violently compresses in, its leaves acting like organic catapults, shooting finely grated carrots and purple onion strands into the air and...oh...is that a black olive?  Nuts.  I like those.

I lock eyes with The Wife.  I see them getting bigger through the airborne haze of chopped and minced vegetation.  Off to the side I see the widening eyes and grins of the two children, thoroughly enjoying Dad's catastrophe.

Passing the point of no return, I push the wad of salad further into my mouth, clamping down in hopes of stopping the dispersion completely...which would usually work unless something bounces off that little thing that hangs down in the back of the throat and disappears down a pipe.

And, yeah...it's the wrong pipe.

The involuntary cough rockets the lettuce and its posse back out into the atmosphere,  executing an elegant half-somersault, reminiscent of the caped man shot from a circus cannon. And like the caped daredevil,  the salad glob lands perfectly in the "safety net" aka the "bread and roll basket"  in the middle of the table.  A roar of delighted squeals and applause rise from our crowd of two children.  The Wife is speechless.  I continue to cough up grated carrots.

So that, dear reader, is why I cut the lettuce into small, bite-size pieces when filling the Tupperware bowl.  And it's why I order soup instead of salad when dining at places where we might know someone.

It's a rule The Wife has.

 

 


 

Do You Believe . com

Okay, yeah.  This is a commercial break...but it's a good one.

If you have the time, swing by www.doyoubelieve.com.  It's a new movie out with some very talented people in it.  And let's put this upfront - it's a Christian movie.

This one is a "get off the bench and get in the game" movie.  A modern cinematic version of "In His Steps"...the WWJD concept.  (And the "J" stands for "Jesus", not "Jack".)

Check it out...and check this one out - www.momsnightoutmovie.com.  We've all had these types of days...but maybe not packed into just one evening.  It's a hoot.

Okay.  Enough with the commercials...but you'll probably see more of them here at the Garage.  Faith-based, (i.e. Christian), family films are becoming a passion of mine.  So there'll probably be more commercials...just sayin'...

Have a great weekend, dear Reader.  And thanks for stoppin' by the Garage.  I appreciate it.

 

 

 

A "Those" Sunday Morning

You ever have one of "those" Sunday mornings.  Yeah.  One of "those".

Wake up late from a lousy night of sleep.  Motoring on autopilot, thudding through the house.

We had off-and-on thunderstorms last night.  That would explain The Wife's groggy disposition this morning.  She can actually hear the first fifteen raindrops hit the grass outside the window.  Not the initial downpour, mind you...the first fifteen drops before the rest of the rain shows up.  When that happens she moves through the house with the speed of chain lightening, closing storm windows, and locking them securely.

I have no reason as to why I feel groggy this morning.  I slept through the whole thing.

The pre-dawn rings the alarm on my internal clock.  I stagger out to the kitchen.

Huh. The Little House On The Corner feels stuffy.  And muggy.  No breeze.

My mind blearily makes a connection:  breeze - moving air - fans.

I stick a desk fan in the kitchen window.  I grab another one and put it in the designated "living room" window of the Dining/Living/Family/Computer Room.  I wedge the box fan into the window in the Little Bedroom (it's 8x8...the dimensions of a shoe closet for Imelda Marcos... and that's just her red, open-toed shoes...)

Through allergy-drenched and sleep-blurred eyes, I trudge to the kitchen.  The Elixir of Knowledge is now gurgling and I hear The Wife close the door to the Reading Room.  I guess I'll wait.  Probably a good thing.  In my present condition I might field dress my face with the razor.  Best to wait for The Elixir.

Finally the brewing's done.  I sip heartily, sitting at the dining room table, and watching a fairly spectacular sunrise.  I hear the Reading Room door open then the Big Bedroom door shut.

In my head, I hear the counter guy at a New York delicatessen holler "Next!".   Huh.  I've never been to a New York delicatessen.  Now that's a bit...

I stumble into the Reading Room.  I change into the traditional attire of the original Greek Olympics and manage to clear the steeplechase barrier commonly referred to as the bathtub lip.   After the ecumenical baptism of Total Sprinkling (got the head, got all parts south, and everything's wet), I stand in front of the mirror, removing shaving cream while hopefully saving face.   The door opens and The Wife looks in.

She's got that thing on her head.  It's the female way of wrapping a towel around wet hair.  It looks like something topping an Arabian Smurf.  I tried to do that once.  I almost garroted my scalp.

The Wife has a disgusted smirk on her face.

"I just spent 20 minutes ironing my shirt and pants. Really had to lean into it.  Finally realized I didn't plug in the iron."

She turns and wanders back down the hallway.

"I'm exhausted."

I laugh good-naturedly, just short of a snorting guffaw which would be ridiculing and impolite.  I continue the shave.  Suddenly I sense that I'm not alone.  Turning towards the door I'm face-to-face with The Wife.

This time she's smiling widely.  And with great joy.

"You set up the fans and didn't put up the storm windows."

She glides down the hallway, laughing good-naturedly, just stopping short of a snorting guffaw which would by ridiculing and impolite.

Yep.  One of "those" Sunday mornings.

I want to draw some deep, spiritual analogy from this ,  I really do.

But we're running late.

You're on your own.

God bless.

Good luck.

Good bye.

A Really Early Morning A.V. Hymn

I can't help it.  It's just something I do.  Weird Al does it.  You might do it, too.

Make up your own words to a song.  I think I read a Mad Magazine sometime in 4th Grade.  It was my first A.V. (altered version) song.  Yeah.  I didn't get out much.

Mad Magazine took "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and brought it into the Cold War era with:

"Twinkle, twinkle little star/How I wonder who's you are/Adding to my other cares/Are you one of ours or one of theirs?"

Ever since then, I've been almost subconsciously changing songs.  The "Hallelujah Chorus" and "Desperado" are two of the standard go-to tunes.  Those and the "Gilligan's Island" theme.

(Wanna try something freaky?  Use the words from "Amazing Grace" and use the "Gilligan" song...weird, huh?)

I sat up in bed this morning, took a bearing on the horizon, and stood up.  And I heard it.

It was the chorus of "I'd Rather Have Jesus".

Huh.

I hadn't thought about or sung that song for a reeeeeally long time.  Decade(s) perhaps. But there it was, booming through my head like George Beverly Shea on steroids.

"Than-to-be-a-kiiiiing, of-a-vast-do-maaaain"

I navigated the hallway and sailed unsteadily into the Dining/Living/Family/Computer Room.

"Or-be-held-in-sin's-feng-swaaay."

I froze.  Wha.....

Feng shui?!   Where did that come from?  I took a step back and viewed the Dining/Living/Family/Computer Room.

Nope.  Definitely no feng shui here.  So where.....

I continued on into the kitchen.  My mind gnawed on this alternative ending while my hands went to autopilot and made The Elixir of Knowledge.

Feng shui.

The Elixir is now gurgling as I and the laptop google at the table.

Huh.

"A philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment."

Okay.

I stare out the kitchen window at the apple tree.  Harmonizing with the surrounding environment.  And I'm getting nowhere.

Huh.

The gurgling ends with a thunderous silence that halts my pseudo intellectual excursion.  I get a cup from the cabinet and fill it.

Okay.

Now fully charged with the ingestion of 1/2 cup of The Elixir of Knowledge, things start to make sense... not much sense...but some.

Harmonizing with the surrounding environment.  Harmoniz...

Oh, wait.  That's why there's no harmony...I mean, harmony with the idea of feng shui.

According to The Book, I'm not supposed to harmonize with the environment.  I'm to change it.

I'm to be light and salt...which are not really harmonizing agents.

Light eradicates dark.  Salt stops putrification.

Light hurts eyes accustomed to dark.  Salt stings like a sonuvagun on an open cut.

"Or-be-held-in-sin's-feng-swaaay".

Yep.  Definitely not called to "harmonize with my environment".

The Elixir of Knowledge floats up a thought.

Yeah.  I concur.  We're called to sing a different Song.  It's a Song that doesn't harmonize well with the world's tunes.

And if The Song is changed to harmonize with the world's there's a danger of losing The Song altogether.

And losing The Song means losing The Singer as well.

I can try to sing a song, belting it out in a shower-stall monotone.  But it won't sound like the original.  Not even close.

As worship leader's are prone to say:  "Having the form of some lyrics but denying its tune."

Yeah.

No one sings "Fly Me To The Moon" better than "The Chairman of the Board"'

And no one sings The Song better than The Singer.

"Or-be-held-in-sin's-feng-swaaay"

Yeah.  I hear ya.

 

 

 

"Meatloaf by any other name, uh, smells..."

"Use what's in the freezer.  We need to defrost it before Fall.", The Wife shouts over her shoulder on the way out.

She's heading to work.  I'm looking for work, so I'm the homemaker.  I get a load of laundry started, wash the dishes, take a nap, throw the clothes in the dryer, check Facebook,  pull up this blog to write something and stare out the window.  I get up and make some more Elixir of Knowledge so I can stare out the window again.  The buzzer gurgles behind me.  I take the clothes out of the dryer and head for the sofa, i.e. "The Sorting Table".   Me and an armful of Pakistani polyester move through the kitchen.  I glance over at the clock.

Huh.  Lunchtime.

The laundry is dumped on the sofa.  I return to the kitchen, open the refrigerator door, and start to rummage.  An echoing voice reminds me from the back of my mind.  Closing that door and opening the one above it, I stare into the freezer.  I pry loose two flattened baggies, one of hamburger, the other Italian sausage.  Okay.

I can work with this.  Sure.

I flashback to memories of the family kitchen.  I scroll through those memories until I find images made from hamburger.

Oh.  Nah, need green beans and potatoes.

No, outta mac'n'cheese.

Ahhh.

No, not that.   Never again.

Ohhhhhhh...

Yeah.

Meatloaf!

I google a recipe that has that eye-catching and mandatory word in the title:  "Simple".

That'll do, Pig.  That'll do.

The baggies are nuking in the microwave.  I take a deep breath and go all ninja-knives-of-death on a innocent stalk of celery and half an onion that walked by.  There's the ding.

Nope, not yet.  Another round for the baggies.

I grab the 1/2 box of Ritz crackers on the munchies shelf.  Pulling out the bag, I take an old claw hammer out of the back room and turn crackers to dust.

Another ding.  Yeah.  OK.

I glance at the laptop screen. Spices and a couple of eggs.

I grab the big bowl and, like a microcosm of a landfill, dump everything in.  I try mixing it with a fork.  Not working.

Well, nuts.  Time to get tactically tactile.

I grab and begin to squeeze.  The feeling of raw egg and warm meat pops a flashback and it's not a kitchen table.  It's a changing table.  Back when the kids were in diapers.  Whoa.

Easy, stomach...easy, big fella.

I need to think of something else.  Okay, okay...um...I need a name for this concoction.

Ground beef.  Italian pork sausage.  Eggs.

Cow. Pig. Chicken.  Uh, OK...

Beef is kosher.  Pork isn't.  Blendin' the two together makes...whoa!

Of course...and it's Biblical...

"Unequally Yolked Meatloaf".  A blend of Jew and Gentile flavors. That'll work.

I manage to get the glob of meatloaf airborne.  I turn and dive for the pan sitting on the stove.  Most of the meatloaf makes it.   (It's times like this that I wish we had a dog...or the kids were still toddlers...they'd eat anything, they're really low to the ground, and you don't need to plug 'em in like a vacuum cleaner).

I try to shape it into a mound.  No matter how I push and pull it still looks like roadkill.  Huh.

I pop open the refrigerator.  Let's see...uh...there...

I pull out four pieces of raw pork bacon, (not turkey bacon), and lay it over the pink lumpy mass.  Well.  Shroud of Turin it ain't, but the camouflaging helps.  I step back to view my creation, sipping on The Elixir.  Yeah...I concur...

Now it looks like the Abomination of Deveganization.

I throw it into the oven and go long on the timer.  There's a cooking time in the recipe but I go with manly intuition, choosing a prime number that hopefully bakes it to a golden brown yet stops short of a burnt sacrifice.

I am now back at the table in the Dining part of the Dining/Living/Family/Computer Room, pondering a thought.  I can't get that whole mixing thing outta my head.

Yeah.

It is kinda like that, I s'pose.

The Master Chef loves the beef but He loves the pork as well.  He provided the One Thing that would hold 'em together - The Bread Of Life that was crushed, broken, and beaten.

The Master Chef made a recipe that gives off a great aroma while it's being cooked to completion.  And that requires heat to get things bubblin' and poppin'.  It's the only way that the Recipe will give off an aroma that would draw folks to the Master Chef and The Bread of Life.

I take another sip of The Elixir.  Yeah.  Definitely true.

That is a recipe we'll never find in Hell's Kitchen.

 


 

39 Degrees of Truth

First off, my apologies.  I didn't realize it's been almost a month since I've wandered out here to the Garage.  Time flies when...well, time flies.

This morning I needed to be up at dawn.  That's 4 in the Northwoods.  TechnoBoy needs to be at work by 5:45 however there's The Elixir of Knowledge to brew and a routine to maintain.

I exit the Reading Room, freshly showered and shaved, leaving in my wake a cacophony of fragrances.  Shampoo: mango-mandarin.  Conditioner: rosemary-mint.  Body wash: vanilla-cinnamon.  Deodorant: fresh forest.  Toothpaste:  pepsin.

Enough scent to put a bloodhound in a coma.

Breakfast is made and banked in the belly-buttoned vault.  The Elixir of Knowledge slowly drives the fog from my brain and I realize I'm somewhat...chilled.  I punch the weather button on my tagalong smart friend.  There's the problem.

39.

The middle of July and it's a lucky 7 above freezing.  And every window is open to keep the house cool.  Yep.  Doin' a heckuva job with that.

I wander over to the thermostat which we shut off for the months of June, July, and August.  The primary reason for the disconnect is to save money.  The secondary reason is we want a summer...even if we have to lie to ourselves to get it.  The thermometer on the thermostat assuages my fears.  Still have over 30 degrees before the pipes freeze.   Sweet.

TechnoBoy stumbles down the hall and disappears into the Reading Room.  43 minutes later we're rollin' out the front door with glacial-like swiftness, a speed due to sleep-deprivation for the youngster and joint disintegration for the AARP member.

I drop off TechnoBoy at work, (...okay, okay...next time I'll stop completely...hey, I told him to start runnin' when he jumped out, but ya know kids...they never listen...), and head over to the public boat landing to "chill", now more that just a figurative statement.

I park Phlegm the Taurus by the flag pole sporting Old Glory and a yellow Lion's Club flag.  The City crew has been by recently.  The little park is clean, green, and trim.

I lower the windows and turn off the key.  Settling in with a 3/4 cup of The Elixir, I take in this incredible morning in God's Country.  Steam is coming off the lake, slowly moving towards the sunrise.  It covers the water with fallen, thin clouds, their tendrils waving longingly at the sky.

Huh.

A snippet is jarred loose by the lukewarm Elixir.

"And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

Immediately, a loon calls out from the mist, its haunting yodel almost causing goosebumps.

Yeah...I needed that this morning.  And now I hear a high screech of trilling moving through the mist.  Suddenly the bald eagle rises into clear air.  It flaps to the top of a towering white pine nearby just as yellow sunshine spills over the small wall of clouds on the horizon.

I smile smugly to myself.  I nailed it this morning.   Definitely timed this right.

A long pull finishes off the Elixir.  And then I hear it, deep inside...that still, small Voice that keeps things in wonderful perspective.

"NoNot you.  had the timing right.  I was waiting for you."

Yeah.

Ain't that the Truth...


 

...But Ya Doesn't Hafta Be Square

I had an invite from Jay whom I cyber-meet at Faith Writers (www.faithwriters.com) to come over and try Collective Faith (www.collectivefaith.com).  It's kind of a Christian Facebook.

After I got settled in, (and thank you, kind folks, who helped me figure out how everything worked...yeah...I'm one of those techless people...), I put a post up for the Garage and that's how I met some nice people, one of them being Lester.

Lester has a great website called Just The Good News (www.jtgn.wordpress.com).  I mean, let's face it, anyone who can bring together the concept of "Grace and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies" and back it up with legitimate Scripture knows how to bake humor with Truth.  While I was there, I spied a youtube thingy (view, video...okay, put in the hip techie word) of a gentleman named Michael Jr..

Probably everyone on the continent has already heard of him.  Not me.  I've always been a bit behind on all the "what's happenin'" stuff.  I bought my first Nehru jacket in '87...and since my balance is a bit off and the knees wanna do strange things, last month I picked up a pair of parachute pants.  Got 'em at a garage sale.  They're in good shape.  I just hope they'll deploy in time.

Michael Jr. is one of God's jesters.  Someone who can get us to receive the Truth we need while we're laughing...a male version of Mary Poppins with his "sugar" being a unique outlook on life.  His act is clean...and, most importantly, he loves the Lord.

We had a saying back in my freshman year of college..."You can be straight, but ya doesn't hafta be square".  If He has called you to be square then be square.  If He's called you to be round then be round.  And if He's called you to be an inclined plane wrapped helically around an axis then, by all means, be screwy.

A merry heart does good like a medicine.

I hope you get a big dose of laughter today.

I just had mine.

 


 

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