I Saw the Father’s Hand Saturday, Jul 30 2011 

Several years ago about this time of the summer, all alone and in my  pickup, I drove plumb across Louisiana and all of Texas into Eastern New Mexico to meet my family at the Glorieta Retreat Center near Santa Fe. That was an enchanting experience that I commemmorated with the following, one of the favorite things I’ve written that brings me a lot of satisfaction, even today as I read and recall that trip, the slices of Americana, and those magnificent scenes.

 I Saw the Father’s Hand
July 2003
(After driving plum across Texas and Eastern New Mexico)

I saw the Father’s hand today
In lands he created.
And just like he said when he formed the Universe,
“It is good.”
I saw His finger prints on
Rugged mesas and rocky buttes—
Strange and fearsome monuments rising from the badlands’ floor,
And coursed by sandy draws and barren creeks
Etched into canyon beds over eons of ages past,
Yet those ages only fleeting seconds in the
Incomprehensible
Unfathomable
Mysterious
Scope of God’s eternity;

And out on the plains, I saw His assurance of abundant provision–
Cotton fields and corn fields lush with the promise of harvest,
sprawling before the horizon;
Here and there among the passing miles,
a windmill spinning life-giving water,
a farmhouse rising like an island in the prairie sea,
a lonely tree striving to disrupt featureless fields of grain . . .
And, yes, Lord –
Your cattle grazing on a thousand hills!

From Stink Creek to Muleshoe, Texas,
From rolling green plains to rugged red mountains,
From fertile valleys to barren hillsides,
From Billy the Kid’s resting place to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains,
From Fort Worth to Santa Fe,
And miles of creation betwixt and between,
I saw the Father’s hand.

And all along the way,
The rocks cried out,
The mountains and hills rose toward heaven,
And the plains spread away toward the ends of the Earth,
Proclaiming the glory of God.

And it is GOOD!

Electric Sweetness: A Toothache in Words Tuesday, Jul 26 2011 

I drafted this exercise in sensory writing in the early 90’s, exact date or context impossible to determine. 

Electric sweetness, like an angry bolt of crazed lightening , penetrates the crevice in an ancient cavity.  A nerve shreiks; a scorching current charged with searing pain negotiates its charged neural course; my knees weaken as the formerly-tantallizing peppermint becomes the debilitating tormentor of my bones.

A bill of health: not necessarily clean, but not all that dirty, either Sunday, Jul 24 2011 

The heart is fine!

I should update readers on the results  since the last post when my primary care physician referred me for more specialized testing and then sent me to a specialist.  Good news: No blockage!  The immediate “concern” is thereby allayed.  In fact, the nuclear stress test result looked dazzling, “picture perfect,” according to the cardiac interventionist I saw in Lafayette Thursday.

But  as I near the end of the fifth decade of life, other issues have evidently arisen that will require vigilance and treatment.  The blood pressure is not exactly hypertensive, but it’s been creeping up the last few years, and the test Thursday revealed hardening of the arteries.

Gulp!

That was “hard” news to hear.  Fortunately, the doctor wasn’t alarmed and ended our session with a determination to aggressively deal with that problem.  He seemed optimistic that we can enact a strategy that will succeed in softening ’em up in the next year, at the end of which time I’ll go back to him for a check-up.

So we end with softening of the heart, hardening of the arteries?  I suppose that’s better than hardening of the heart.  Anyway, here’s to health, the marvels of modern medicine,  and the wisdom of the annual wellness visit.

The “What If’s” of Flunking the Stress Test: What’s next? Tuesday, Jul 19 2011 

Last Friday, I was about to leave the doctor’s office at the conclusion of the annual wellness exam.  Results were all stellar:

EKG: No problem!

Triglycerides: Within range.

Weight: Ideal

Blood Pressure: 114/78 (Fine)

Cholesterol: Perfect

Ratio of HDL to LDL: Perfect

Doc was in the process of telling me what an excellent job I’d done and admonishing me to continue doing same and return in July 2012.  Absent-mindedly, I asked, “What about a stress test?”

“Hmmmm,” he replied, wondering, “You’ve never done a stress test?”

“Nope,” I replied.

He went through the five heart disease risk factors: no, no, no ,no, yes.  (The only “Yes” for heart disease in immediate family, poor Daddy.)

To make a long story short, he decided “Why not, let’s do a stress test” to appease that one risk factor.  So I went across the street for the test . . . and flunked!

That episode led to a nuclear stress test completed today, the results of which I’m waiting for tomorrow, but the long and short of it all is that family doc suspects the possibility of a blockage.

A blockage?  Me?  The poster child of middle-aged health, exercise, and diet consciousness?

I’m afraid so!

As for what’s next, I know not.  We’ll just have to wait for today’s results and go from there.  Meanwhile, I choose to accept the news as good news, not worrisome news.  What if I had not asked about a stress test?  What if Friday’s stress test gave misleading results?  What if I collapsed and died mowing the grass two weeks from now because no one knew I had a life-threatening condition?  What if, what if, what if?

Thank God “What if?” is a question He can answer.  I believe I’ll still be around two weeks from now . . . and considerably longer.  And so I’m thankful.

Wild Root and Well Water: A “Repost” Saturday, Jul 16 2011 

Originally posted in 2007

After all those years, Wild Root is still around.  I wonder who uses it?A lingering sensory image from childhood growing up in the country during the late 50′s/early 60′s is the  fragrance of Wild Root hair dressing mingled with well-water, especially at Sunday night church.  Those dairy farmers would milk the cows before services, then bathe in the hard mineral well-water that left those rusty orange rings around the toilet and other plumbing fixtures, and finally slick their hair down with sweet-fragrant Wild Root hair dressing as they donned clean clothes before heading  over to the church house for Training Union and church.

I don’t know what resurrected that curiosity in me about Wild Root, but I was surprised that a key word search turned up links to buy the stuff online (that’s where the picture comes from).  I don’t think I’ll be ordering any Wild Root any time soon, but I was frankly surprised that the stuff is still around.  Here’s what the ad states at the order-online website:

Keeps hair in place, so it looks handsome and natural. Directions: Shake well before using. Active Ingredients: Deionized Water; Mineral Oil; Microcrystalline Waxed; Lanolin; Polyglyceryl-4-Oleate; Beeswax; Sodium Borate; Polysorbate 60; Fragrance; Formaldehyde; PEG-8; Propylene Glycol Cocoate.

That’s pretty interesting.  What really sticks out among the ingredients?

Fermaldedehyde.

Yep, those old dairy farmers pickled their hair.   But it sure did smell good.

Santa Clause: “You better ‘Just say no’!” Thursday, Jul 7 2011 

I composed this silly piece on November 20, 1992 on the back of an English Department Chair bulletin from Lafayette High School, where I was employed.  No doubt the Christmas season coincided with the schools “Just Say No” to drugs emphasis.  Why I wrote this piece is a mystery: Idon’t recall the exercise or occasion.  But I found it in that early 90’s folder I ran across late last spring, and the piece is in my hand, so obviously am guilty of its composition.  Here’s wishing Santa an off-season of sobriety and freedom from addictive substances!

He's a cagey old cuss. Look at those glassy eyes!

Santa Clause, Santa Clause,

What do you smoke in that pipe?

Is it coke? Or grass? Or crack?

It’s just not right that you should fly so high

After your sleigh descends from the sky!

 My little brother wants to know—

He wants to tell you “Just say no!”

You’re a role model, you see,

To little kids like him and me.

So you’d better watch out, you’d better not doubt

That I’ll call the narcs to bust you out!

Happy Birthday, Daddy Saturday, Jul 2 2011 

July 3 is Daddy’s birthday.  He loved the parties we’d throw in his honor, as much as we loved honoring him.

A birthday memory from happier times a few years ago. Daddy always enjoyed the big party!

Tomorrow is the first July 3rd in my life that he is not here.

I miss him, but I wouldn’t begrudge him a second of the glory that he  knows.  The photo here, about 4 years old, recalls happy times.

But I’m sure he’s happier now than he was even at the time of this photo.  God bless his memory.  May my children see in me the Daddy he was to me.