Thursday, December 29, 2011

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's back to work I go . . .

The last couple of years have been good for me in many respects.  Since the closing of Crossroads Books & Gifts in August of '09, I've had the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to do some freelance writing for several faith-based publications.  It's been fun and rewarding  . . . well, maybe not all that financially rewarding but rewarding, none-the-less.  It's been a season of life for which I'm very thankful.  Starting in mid-December, I joined Cokesbury, a publishing and distribution division of the United Methodist Publishing House, as the field representative for the Mobile, AL area. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm sorry, senor.

Every time I see a Hispanic person now, I want to say, "I'm sorry about Alabama's new immigration law.  I don't hate you.  I don't think that you're responsible for all of the crime in our state.  I don't think you came here to steal my job. I'm sorry that our legislature passed and our governor signed into law a bill that gives you every reason to think these things."

I love that I'm a Southerner and a native of Alabama.  I love sweet iced tea and fresh Gulf shrimp.  I love long, warm summers and short, mild winters.  I love words like "y'all" and phrases like "fixin' to".  But right now I'm ashamed to be from Alabama because of this new immigration law.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rest in peace, little buddy

Rags     1999-2011
I'm gonna miss this dog. Julia and I cried like a babies on Thursday when we had to have him put down.  His illness had progressed to the point where we knew he was suffering and it was time to end it.

He was my Christmas present in 1999   . . . or at least "permission to get a dog" was my Christmas present.  In early 2000, I started looking in the local animal shelters for a dog.  Not just any dog, mind you.  I was looking for just the right dog.  I found him at the Baldwin County Animal Shelter just off of Hwy 32 in Summerdale.  I unlatched the gate on the run he was in, stepped inside and sat down on the floor.  This year-old, long-legged, rough-coat Parson Jack Russell Terrier got up from his bed at the end of the run, ambled over to me, climbed up in my lap and lay down. Done deal.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"You'll know when it's time"

"You'll know when it's time," our vet told told us.  One of our dogs, Rags, is dying and the last couple of months we've done everything we can do to keep him comfortable and monitor his condition to ensure that he's not in pain.  "How will we know when it's time to put him down?", we wondered.  She was right  . . . it was clear to me less than an hour ago that it was time.  I'll spare you the gory details but his systems seem to be failing all at once.  I had an idea this morning that it was looking grim but a little after noon, it was clear that the time is now.  I called the vet and she can see us in a couple of hours. 

I'll miss him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No regrets . . . part 2

In the previous post, I wrote a bit about living a life with no regrets vs living a life full of regrets.  Although I didn't have any misconception that I had thoroughly explored this issue, I had said what I thought and intended to move on.    Apparantly the discussion was not over in my house.  I was sitting in the den recently and Rags (pictured above) was lying on the sofa on his back, as he's prone to do these days.  He looked over at me and said,  "I have some regrets."

OK, maybe he didn't say it out loud but after more than 12 years together, Rags and I have learned to communicate on another level. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

No regrets . . . part 1

Most conversations that I have with with my 90 year old mother are just a repeat of the previous one.  Not much new happens in her life these days so she just talks about the same things every time.  Every once in a while, however, she throws me a curve ball and says something new.

That happened just recently when she said, "I have no regrets.  If I had my life to live over I wouldn't change anything.  OK, there's one thing  . . . I wouldn't have let your father have his way with what we called your older sister.  I chose the name Susan and he chose the name Gail but he wanted to call her Gail and I relented.  I shouldn't have done that." 

Wow! A life with no regrets (except one)?  Is that even possible?

Monday, August 15, 2011

The cost of war

Photo credit:  Aaron Thompson

I came across this picture tonight when I was reading a blog that focuses on telling feel-good stories of returning soldiers.  Sandwiched in between all the heart-warming videos of surprise reunions was this photo reminding us that there is a very real cost to war and that the homecoming of every soldier is not always happy one.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Art in unexpected places

I appreciate art most when I find it in unexpected places. I did just that  recently when I spotted it in the form of a quilt pattern painted on the side on this barn on winding mountain road near Fontana Lake in western North Carolina.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I surrender

I surrender.  The fleas that I wrote about in an earlier post here have gotten the best of me.  I returned to my mom's house today to find that they were alive and well in her living room despite all my efforts to eradicate them over the past couple of months and especially last week.  When I brought my mom back home last Thursday, I  placed a pan of soapy water under a goose-neck lamp on the floor of her living room (the site of the heaviest infestation)  to attract any remaining fleas and assess the effectiveness of my efforts and today there were 40-50 fleas in the pan.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Third World Symphony

Once in a blue moon, someone comes along who makes magic with words and melody.  You know what I'm talking about  . . . someone who tells a story in music that teaches you, inspires you and changes your life.  Someone who inspires you to be a better version of yourself.  I follow the blog of gifted singer/songwriter and Compassion International advocate Shaun Groves. Shaun is one of those "once in a blue moon" singer/songwriters.  His music is not born out of mere talent but out of who he is and how he lives his life.  Next month he releases his first album in several years and I wanted to offer you a sneak peak into the heart of that project.  Watch it below or you can watch it at here.

Shaun Groves - Third World Symphony from Shaun Groves on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

'Dat boy ain't right

My younger son, Peter, ran across this picture he snapped of his older brother, Zack, while we were on vacation at the beach at Ft. Morgan a few years ago.  It's not what it looks like.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Man vs. Flea

This week I start an all-out assault on the fleas that have invaded my mom's house.  This ugly battle started 6 or 7 weeks ago when her front yard became infested with fleas.  She doesn't have any pets but that didn't seem to matter.  The fleas decided to set up residence in her yard and that made it impossible for her to spend anytime sitting the the swing in her front yard, one of her favorite pastimes. I reacted immediately by calling in an exterminator to treat her whole yard but the fleas persisted.  Fleas 1, Ken 0.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Not just a wrinkled version of her former self

Each year there are 4 birthdays in our family as well as Father's Day in the course of 3 weeks, so our immediate family gathered together this past weekend to celebrate.  Both of our sons and daughters-in-law were here for the weekend and Julia's widowed dad and my widowed mother joined us for lunch on Saturday. Julia's dad turns 85 today, my mom turned 90 last week, Zack turns 31 next week and I forget how old I am now.  Forgetfulness is one of the things that comes with age and sometimes it comes in handy.

All-in-all, it was a nice visit but after the grandparents had been taken back to their homes, our younger son, Peter, made an interesting comment to me.  He said, "That's not the Mop that I remember."  (Mop is what my mother is called by her grandchildren.)  He was right.  The woman that came to lunch on Saturday is not just a wrinkled version her former self.  I'm glad Peter recognizes this and can can distinguish between the woman that my mother is today and the the woman that she was most of Peter's life.  In many ways, there are very different people.  Age has a way of changing people.  Sometimes it changes them for the better and other times, not.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I may have to sell a kidney

This is one of our dogs, Rags.  He's 12 years old now and has cost us a bundle in the last year.  Last summer he had to have surgery to remove a tumor off of his stomach.  Following that, he had something weird happen where one of his ears filled up with blood and after draining it a couple of times, we finally had to have it quilted together by laser in order to prevent it from reoccurring.  He now has one fat ear and one thin ear.  In the fall, he tore an ACL in one of his legs and had to have surgery to repair that.  (Note to self:  Ask how much a major surgery is going to cost before saying, "Do it.") Last week, his kidneys shut down.

Old age ain't what it's cracked up to be even when you're a dog.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Father's Day card that I'm hoping for . . .

In light of the N.Y. Congressman Anthony Weiner scandal, this is the Father's day card that I'm hoping my two sons send me this year  . . .