Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Age of Hubris and Madness

I fear that will be our generation's legacy.  An era that accomplished nothing, believed anything, and discarded everything.   It's not that some fantasy writer is insisting Tolkien was racist toward Orcs that is the madness.  It's that his level of lunacy is standard today. You can't watch the news for a day without hearing something as ludicrous. 

It's not that scientists are complaining about the moral objections to genetically tampering with embryos.  If they objected morally, there would be light at the end of the tunnel.  But it's that they merely insist we're not there yet.  We'll be there someday, and then it will all be awesome to tamper with human nature in the lab!  Bonus if you're aware of the fact that the same 'build a better human' mentality we're seeing is the same that underlay the Nazi philosophies of the day. That's for those people who get that the Nazis weren't just one dimensional cardboard cutout monsters who inexplicably popped up in the 1930s and make good foil for Indiana Jones.  Those who realize that will also realize that it's one thing to pretend you're a Nazi in Charleston, it's another thing to act like a Nazi in the laboratory.

But such is the age of Madness in which we live.  It's likely most younger people know nothing of it, since they've been encouraged to know nothing of it by the forces now pushing the madness into the cultural mainstream.  If there are questions about the wisdom of our modern actions, we rest on the rather unsubstantiated claim that we're simply that much better than anyone who ever came before us.  Was it bad when they did it?  Sure, that was then.  Ancient history.  Back when the world was filled with losers who were stupid and wrong and the cause of all suffering in the world.   But this time we'll do it right!  Was it wrong to say blacks can be judged simply because they're black?  Why of course!  But this time, we know it's absolutely right to judge white people because they're white!  How do we know it's right to say that now?  Because it's us!  And we got trophies when we lost and were able to take tests over and over again until we passed.  That's how awesome we are!

And so it continues. Where it will go?  I have no idea.  But I'm betting it won't go well.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

There is no reason this music should sound like a Plymouth Thanksgiving

And yet it does:

Such was the genius of Vince Guaraldi.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

From a 1636 Thanksgiving held at Plymouth Colony:
"In ye Meetinghouse, beginning some halfe an hour before nine & continued untill after twelve aclocke, ye day beeing very cold, beginning wt a short prayer, then a psalme sang, then more large in prayer, after that an other Psalme, & then the Word taught, after that prayer - & then a psalme…" and then was followed by dinner, "…the poorer sort beeing invited of the richer."
May the Lord protect his Faithful from the coming storm, help preserve the heritage of the Church and its workings in the world, and help us to maintain perseverance and humility in the face of so many temptations to forget all we have to be thankful for.

On a lighter note, I could watch this every year:

The thought that we would have a president who was unaware of the Butterball Hotline always brought a smile.

Happy Thanksgiving all.  Will be back at divers and sundry times, but will spend the next couple days with family, Church, friends and all that God has blessed us with, including a wonderful country the likes of which the world has never seen.  May we remember that, too, before it's too late.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

So much to do and say, but so little time.  Alas.  Suffice to say you can ignore anyone to the Left when they speak of Thanksgiving.  Leftist Christians, including Catholics, count there, too.  As I said, even among non-leftist Catholics, there has been a tendency to trash talk the Pilgrims.  Add to that the left's pathological hatred of anything in the Christian West, and it gets ugly.  And wrong.  Ironically, the Orthodox, who hold no brief of the United States in general (or all of Western culture), seem to give high fives and cheers to those Plymouth Puritans.

Here, good old Prager U. helps us remember what did and didn't happen, the parts left out, and what it was really all about.

I find it ironic, especially for Catholics, that so many will focus on the puritans and their puritanical ways (watch out we don't conflate puritanism with Victorianism some centuries later).  After all, in an age of rampant sex sins, sex crimes, sexting, child molestation, not to mention the depression, suicide, drug addiction and basic nihilism that his sweeping our nation, to take time out to begrudge the pilgrims their restrained ways is a bit like Hitler on his last day in the bunker screaming, "Dammit, I said wienerschnitzel!"

As I said, I don't intend to keep pounding the drums about the gathering clouds of racism, evil, tyranny, blasphemy, heresy and everything else besetting us, nor the idiocy and cowardice of those Christians who can't wait to embrace it in order to keep their positions of privilege at the latest Hollywood parties.  But the reaming that this wonderful holiday receives, a holiday that when remembered correctly could be worth so many lessons for an age in desperate need of horse sense, is still worth the shout out.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Why I've stopped with the issue blogging

A recap.  Yep.  Because the truth of her claims is irrelevant - Sexism!  It's madness and insanity to cover error and agendas.  No sense wasting time with it.  I post it merely as a reminder for those who were wondering.  You can't fight this sort of thing with anything but prayer and fasting.  Reason, reality and common sense have long lost their ability to curb the momentum. 

Rather, for upcoming events, I'll likely post on Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims, family fun and all the upcoming festivities through Advent and that Season of all Seasons.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Veterans Day

So this last weekend, the three boys all had days off, as did my wife.  One boy had to work on Saturday and Sunday, but on Monday he was off.  That gave us the rare chance to all get together and enjoy some old time family jaunts.  My Mom was with my sister, and we put the pooch in the kennel, and off we went.  

Given the constraints, and the weather, we did only a few things this weekend, but it was nice having the boys back together.  It's not easy, BTW.  Perhaps the most difficult thing I've done is figure out how to keep the focus on our youngest and build traditions with him when the older boys are seldom around.  He still wants to do the old things they always did, but it's just not practical anymore.  We can squeeze a few things in here and there.  But on the whole, without him feeling severed from the older three, it's been a challenge to make sure he has his share of new memories. 
So when the chance presents itself, the older boys have done their best to be there for him, and for that I thank them.  To seize the moment, and it being both an important Veterans Day as well as Catholic Martinmas, we decided to hit two separate but relevant spots.  The last we do in order to keep the bridge between our oldest who remains Catholic and the rest who went to the Orthodox.  I still keep one foot in the Catholic yard, praying and hoping. 

One stop was the National Shrine to Our Lady of Consolation that is only about an hour and a half or so away from where we live.  Sadly, it was bitterly cold and owing to some vandalism a few years back, the gates were closed to the great outdoor altar.  We could get there by foot, but hadn't planned on it since last time we were there you could simply drive straight in.  We made it back to the actual sanctuary for prayers and quiet time.  It's always a sight to behold.

Then we went to the local cemetery to do our annual cleaning off of the headstones and paying our respects.  Again, due to Global Warming, it was much colder than usual.  That made it tough, especially since a couple of us have been fending off colds.  But we made sure to get our time in.  Then while cooking my signature homemade chili, we played games and watched some war movies.  Patton is always a safe bet.  Then with homemade apple strudel and snacks, we all hunkered down for an evening viewing of AMC's The Lost Battalion.  

My boys made an interesting observation.  The made for television movie, clearly influenced by Saving Private Ryan, and released alongside HBO's Band of Brothers, seems to have been revised in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.  Watching closely, they noticed a couple scenes that seemed out of place, like those scenes added at the end of The Empire Strikes Back where Luke only talks of Vader as Father when he's by himself.  

The added scenes of The Lost Battalion seemed to be those that not only were cheering on America's grit and determination, but especially giving kudos to those 'New York gangsters' and their ability to overcome anything; the emphasis being on New York especially.  I said it wouldn't surprise me if they did that.  There was, in the wake of the attacks, an upsurge in patriotism and unity.  My boys said, to them, there is the Wake of 9/11 and Post-9/11.  The Wake of 9/11 is what they imagine when America came together, albeit briefly.  And I assure them it was very briefly.  Then there is Post-9/11, when the Left realized they couldn't let something like the attacks stop them in their desire to burn the American Experiment to the ground and rebuild it in a Leftist/Marxist/post-Christian image. 

So there you have it.  Tributes, devotions, fun and games and even history lessons reflected upon.  Not bad for boys who are so busy.  And as they said, we have it to God and the Veterans to give thanks for our ability to so freely plan such things to begin with.  I think they get it.  

How 'November in Ohio' can you get?

It went from frost on the pumpkins to straight out snow

A cold and blustery walk to the outdoor altar

A long view of the altar

They were laughing about how cold it was

Inside the Basilica - it takes your breath away

The game stays up, and when they can get together we make it a few more turns 
At the cemetery, reflecting on those who gave that last full measure of devotion

We didn't have much of a 'ghost run' this year, so decided to stop by the old haunt

An almost symbolic picture, as the oldest slowly turn away while the youngest looks on

RIP Stan Lee

I would be remiss not to jump in and send out thoughts and prayers to Mr. Lee and his family.  Just as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings dominated the cultural setting in which my three older boys grew up as children, so Marvel Comics has dominated their teen years, and the world of my youngest. 

I'm not a fan, personally.  I think modern comics sort of fit that modernist notion of 'whatever - if you've painted yourself into a corner, just paint away the corner' attitude that there are no rules, just winning in the end.  I'm usually not given to comics in general, FWIW.

Nonetheless, I can't deny the massive cultural impact that Mr. Lee and his creations, especially when marketed in a new 'Mega-Universe' film model, had on the American public.  Given what is out there, I figured there was much worse that my boys could like.  And since it provided them with the requisite connection to their own peer groups and generation, the service Marvel performed is appreciated.

After all, my boys have, through us, grown up on old movies, old books and literature, and even old TV Shows.  They're as likely to watch Andy Griffith or Casablanca as they are the latest Marvel movie.  The result? In his College Composition class, my 19 year old said that only two others in his class knew who Robert Frost was.  The rest either had never heard of him, or couldn't connect him with anything he wrote. I consider that the result of the household in which my boys were raised.

But Marvel became that link to their own generation.  It's nice that they enjoyed Gone With the Wind, or had read (or tried to read) War and Peace.  It's nice that they prefer old television to the bilge out there today.  But they can't be completely disconnected, and I understand that.  Whether it was Minecraft, or YouTube, or Marvel, I realized they needed to be able to talk the lingo of their peers.  And Marvel was, in the end, a more or less harmless bridge that could connect them, and do so rather nicely.

So thank you Mr. Lee.  You brought enjoyment to endless millions, and seemed able to laugh at yourself in the process. Not a bad character trait.  May God bless you and keep you, and give strength and that peace that passes all understanding. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Why Veterans Day


It puts me in mind of this:

When I reflect on today's up and coming generation, I can't help but think that never has a generation with such a high opinion of itself accomplished so little for which to think high of itself.  Perhaps reflecting on those who made possible our freedom to be what little we've become would inspire us to become more.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thank you Veterans

As I said, I'm not shutting the blog down for good.  I'm merely backing off.  Certainly from the polemics and the politics and barking against the obvious.  What I will do is post occasional thoughts when I get around to it.  Or tributes.  Or memorials.  Or pictures of the family.  Or things like that.  An only diary so to speak.  

For today, on this 100th anniversary of World War I - that some call the first stage of WWII - I send out a special thanks to veterans from that war (including my own two grandfathers).  But I also remember all veterans, living and deceased, whose sacrifice and service have made my precious liberty possible.   

Here are some links from Veterans Days of the past.  Here, here, here, here, here and here.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The time has come for me to say sayonara

Das ist das Ende.  Das Ende.  So said Alfred Jodl in the move Patton, when he realized all hope was lost.  For me, I don't think all hope is lost.  I do think, however, that I've done my part.  Last month saw this blog getting more visits than ever before.  Most importantly, it exceeded anything I had at Patheos.  For me, that was important.  Much of the visiting at Patheos was just the trolls like Andre, or Paul B, who came back over and over again for no moral purpose, initially generating page views, but toward the end driving them away.  To be able break my views at Patheos with bona fide visits, albeit owing to some link ups to other websites, was far more satisfying.

So that's nice.  But it's also enough.  I look back at some of the posts I wrote from years gone by and notice that I've been saying the same thing, with minor tweaks, the whole time. And though I was hardly alone in my observations, it wasn't as common then as it is among some today to admit the obvious: what we're seeing is the seeds of those old Communist infiltrators finally bearing fruit.  After generations of seizing the press, education, goverment, and even religion, we are beginning to reject things once understood as true, fact, common sense, logical, moral and basic 'squares aren't round' models of reality.  And we're doing it to embrace the unthinkable, the unholy, the ungodly, the all out brainless idiocy most would once have rejected outright only a few years ago.  Just like the Bolsheviks of old would want.

As such, more and more are saying what I saw: this is a deliberate attempt to attack the Church of Jesus Christ, and a purposeful desire to overthrow the American experiment and the Christian West and replace it with a weary impersonation of Marxism fused with the age old dream of a one world order.  As my sons said, it's as if they stopped teaching Orwell as a cautionary tale and began teaching it as a blueprint.

Now, more and more of those who might not like Trump, but get Trump - and Brexit, and any other backlash against this discount Communism - admit what is happening.  And, quite frankly, they're saying it better than me. Whether in the realm of politics, or how it is impacting the Christian Faith, they're unpacking the historic mess we now find ourselves in.  Take this.  Yep. It touches on something I've been working on for a while, ever since I became Orthodox.   The realization that our problems didn't start with Obama, Bush, Reagan, the Beatles, WWII, Wilson, Roosevelt, the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Founding Fathers, the Enlightenment, or even the Renaissance.  Somehow, the Church began conceding to a new, less traditional Christian model of reality while gallant knights rode forth from their turreted castles.  What we've watch develop over the centuries - slowly at first, but picking up lightning speed - has been a concession to a non-Christian model of reality.  It has been compromise, acquiesce, retreat or when those fail, all out surrender.

Because this new religion - this 'Leftist' revolution - is becoming so congealed and plain, it's senseless for someone like me to keep pointing out the obvious.  There is no liberal trinity.  There is no Hollywood and the press and the Democrats.  They are all just part of a new, revolutionary movement.  It is an evangelistic movement that seeks to convert all faiths to its doctrines.  It seeks to destroy the Christian West and America, the Christian Faith and its followers.  It has all but made those designs clear. What can I do but point out what is plain to see?  Others are doing that; others whose voices are heard by far more than me.  And because it is more obvious than ever, they are able to speak plainly and eloquently to a problem we had best wake up to before it's too late, if it isn't already.

Does that mean I'm done with the blog?  No.  Does it mean I'll never post another thought or picture? No.  I'll still post.  But the reason for having the blog, advised by a Catholic priest back in 2010 who at the time thought I would inevitably find a way into ministering within the Catholic tradition, is no more.  Whether as a topical blog or one used to hone my writings skills, the world for me in which I started this blog has long passed.  I believe my ministry days are behind me.  Right now, my ministry is to my children, preparing them for what is coming around the corner, taking care of my Mom, and being the best I can be, finding work from home if possible, and just keeping things together.

Fact is, blogging takes time.  Sorting through the headlines, checking  other websites, verifying the sources (ahem), going to different blogs to see what's happening - that's no small hunk out of the day.  Even if my editing only consists of 'spellcheck and publish', it can still accumulate the hours.  Again, because others are saying what I've noticed for years, and there's really no vocational end game for me sitting here and doing this, I just can't see the benefits outweighing the effort.  Plus, despite page views soaring to all time heights, the comments on the blog itself never really materialized.  While being trolled on Patheos became a fat waste of time, comments in general were always the best part of blogging - it's where you make sure you're not barking at trucks or might find out you're missing something.  It's often where you see things that help unpack your initial observations.  While a few regulars have always stopped by to comment, or send me emails, it's simply not balancing the hours that are increasingly needed elsewhere.  I'm sure they can continue reaching out to me via email or Facebook or other outlets, as I can them.

So going forward, I'll keep this to post fun things, bizarre things, things that catch my eye.  Or just hobbies or fun family stuff when I get around to it.  Sort of an online diary you might say, with posting by the month more than the day (or even week).  Sometimes I'll post my own reflections.  This month is the 100th anniversary of the end to that War to end all Wars that you've heard so little about, and that's worth a post right there.  It also will be time for the second most hated people in America - the pilgrims.  I might even link to the shock I had when I discovered so much hostility towards them from so many Catholics - many who were then stunned to discover the same hatred for the pilgrims was aimed at the quite Catholic Christopher Columbus just the same.  Then comes Christmas!  Who knows what I'll write about then - or I might be having too much fun in the real world to write at all!  And then the New Year, more school, bills and jobs, and contemplating more The Benedict Option of Rod Dreher and how absolutely true it is.

So that will be that.  I'll no longer take my cues from the latest propaganda headlines or other blogs reflecting on what is so obvious.  I might comment at their blogs, letting them do the heavy lifting (like old times before I started this blog).  I might link to them.  But when it comes to posting anything, it will just be me, the family, my thoughts, and my personal reflections on my own life and pilgrimage from now on - unless something catastrophic should happen in the world.  No more click bait.

The world is going where it will, and it's obvious we don't even know what is happening, but that the forces dedicated to propaganda and agenda advancement tell us.  Whenever I talk to people from other countries who are experiencing the world outside of our media, I'm reminded of how ill-informed we really are.  The world as painted by modern media and culture is likely as far from reality as we can imagine.  And our schools are no better.  My boys have adopted a 'keep your head down' approach in college, and I don't blame them.  In some ways, that's where I'm going.  It's time to go and find that path God would have for us; for me.  Whatever it is, I'm sure it doesn't include constantly pouring over the latest headlines that only remind me how little the end result will have to do with God in the first place.  No, my time will be spent focusing on God, even if so much of the world is stumbling over itself to get to the wide gate.

So I'll see everyone around.  I will post, on occasion.  When the spirit moves me, as they say.  Till then, TTFN, and God bless all.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Better not be stingy

Or your nightmares will come true!  So this year came and went.  Autumn has always been a fun time for us, though as the boys grown and move on, it takes on a different feel.  Plus it's a little tougher since our youngest still wants to do things with them.  That means we rely on one or two times in a month where the older two can come around and do things with the family.  Since they both work and are going to school full time, that's about how much time they can spare.  Our third son is not going to school yet, but is involved in the Police Explorers program to help training now in preparation for the police academy when he's old enough.  

In addition to the constraints on time, we had very uncooperative weather.  It began at the beginning of October when, for the fourth year in a row, the temperatures skyrocketed to the 90s on the Saturday I had tickets for a game, only to go back down a day or two later.  Then it stayed warmer than normal until near the middle of the month.  Then it plummeted to cooler temps and stayed there.  

This was followed by the last two weeks, out of which  all but a couple days were filled with rain and wet conditions.  That blocked our fabled 'Ghost Runs' that we've done for years.  It also made our usual forays into pumpkin picking and cider purchasing quick in and out affairs.  

On Halloween proper, our oldest two weren't really available.  In this case it was mostly class schedules.  Last year they were able to pull strings and due to schedule fortunes make it around.  This year they were only able to show up at divers times, or after the trick or treating had mostly run its course.  Despite the weather, we were packed this year.  So everyone did see some trick or treaters.  But it was a patchwork event at best.  They older ones stayed and capped off the season with the Halloween Haunts (which kicks things off).  Some cider and pumpkin seeds and of course enjoying the leftover candy rounded things out.  We explained to our youngest that this is how it will be.  He said he knows, but hopes to enjoy having them around while he can.

Up to the old apple orchard for fresh apples and cider, the location of my first ever field trip in kindergarten
Went by the old school.  Much of it has changed, but the old football field looks about the same.  Memories. 

Because of ongoing, sustained and relentless rain, didn't have much of a 'Ghost Run' this year.  Here, just stopped by to see
if the old shed behind the mausoleum had moved again.  It had. Go figure. 

The cemetery of many a ghost run.  This time it was too rainy and, in an odd twist, too crowded.  

We stopped to get pumpkins (too late for a good selection).   Our youngest learned that sometimes you grow up, and old things that were fun eventually cease to be enjoyable. 

My trees in full splendor.  I found these when I was a pastor.  I would come here to get away from things before business meetings - the closet things to marine style combat one can experience without being in the military. 

The boys, laughing far too much around a cemetery - even at Halloween time.

A broader view of 'the trees.'  No matter what the weather, they never cease to put on a display

Again, because of never ending rain, we only dove by and couldn't get out. 

We often get out and walk up the steps to the top of the hill.  There's always something about a hill rise and the horizon. 

Mom got into the carving act - or at least drawing the face.  It was beyond my skill, however. 

The face she drew.  We decided not to try, but to set it as is as the centerpiece for our Trick or Treating table

Our eighteen year old's pumpkin.  Something about it looked wrong. 

This was the inside.  That's probably the cleanest pumpkin I've ever seen.  That's him.

My youngest drew this, and carved it himself.  And did so with a surprise. 

This was our youngest's on the back side.  Somehow it worked.  And he is officially the youngest to carve his own pumpkin - the result of being the youngest surrounded by older brothers. 

My oldest's.  I did the carving, he drew the face.  He's always kept it geometrical. 

My second oldest drew it.  As designs go, I liked it.  Somehow, it looked a bit 'Charlie Brownie.'  

This was our pumpkin together.  It was simple, quick and sufficed.

The table, ready for the hordes of little ghouls and ghosts and goblins

A fall display, with additions from my eighteen year old. 

His playmate decided to go out with him for old time's sake.  No single pictures.  Everyone needed under the umbrella.

A stack of turnips this year, once again being quite the conversation piece

The turnpis were courtesy of our second oldest.  I like the effect. 

A wider look, with the best decorating that days of ongoing, relentless rain would allow.

For some reason, our street became the center-point for people coming from all around.  Perhaps it has to do with our reputation for handing out candy by the handful. 

In the later part of Trick or Treating time; crowds were dwindling, but rain continued unabated. 

Only about a half hour didn't have rain, mostly toward the end.  Our oldest made sure they were here
after class/work for the youngest. 

Inside again, because it started raining!  Out of every year our youngest could walk about, it has rained on Halloween but once - and that was last year when it was almost arctic cold!

Friday, November 2, 2018

An All Souls Day roll call

This is All Souls Day.  For the Catholic side of us, primarily my oldest, this is the time to remember those who have gone before.  A sort of Memorial Day for Christians.  In honor of that, I thought I would list family members of mine who have passed and gone before:

My Dad's father - I knew little of him.  Nicknamed 'Oak', he was an alcoholic and abusive, causing the early death of my grandmother.  He and my Dad were quite estranged, and when he died of cancer, my Dad did not attend the funeral.  I know he served in WWI, in the navy I think, and taught my Dad how to garden.  That is about it.

My Dad's mother - She died when my Dad was serving in the army.  None of us kids knew her.  She was unhealthy, and the abuse escalated her downward spiral.  When my Dad returned from maneuvers, he was met by his company sergeant.  The sergeant told him to report to the company commander.  The sergeant offered to take his rifle and gear, and that's when Dad said he knew something horrible had happened.  When he got to the company commander's office, my Mom was there already.  That's when he heard. I don't think he ever quite got over it.  I think they were quite close.

My Mom's father - I knew him vaguely.  He died when I was five.  They lived in Akron, a couple hours away.  We visited a few times a year.  So there was little there to build a lasting relationship at that young age.  I remember his leg was amputated owing to diabetes.  Back then, not much was known of that disease.  He eventually died from it.  Except for one time when he caused a panic by walking me around the neighborhood without telling anyone, I don't know that we did much together.  I don't remember that, I just know they said that walking around with youngsters was unusual for him.  Except for him working at Firestone and being a WWI vet (serving at Belleau Wood), and being a die-hard Ed Sullivan and Cleveland Browns fan, I know little of him.

My Mom's mother - the only grandparent I actually knew.  There's too much to tell here.  I used to look forward to her and my aunt Dorth coming down to visit.  Likewise, I enjoyed going up to her house. When we did, Mom's whole family would come over and the streets would be lined with cars.  It was one of those magical, albeit fleeting, times one remembers.  She was not a doting grandmother, at least to me.  I came along about eight or nine years after the rest of my cousins, and always felt nobody knew what to do with me.  I was usually relegated to my uncle Walt, who never left home and lived with my grandparents his whole life.  But they did have a lot of fun when they got together, and enough of it rubbed off that I dearly missed her when she finally passed.  It's worth noting that, apart from my own Mom and Dad, she was the only real connection to Christianity that I had.  A firm believer, she also believed in faith healing and, by golly, she went when I was young and was healed of a tumor that the doctors said would never be healed but by surgery.  That left a mark on this little agnostic's mind that has never quite gone away. 

My Aunt Betty - she was the Phyllis Diller of the family, the wild and crazy one (Phyllis Diller was, in fact, her handle during the big CB craze).  A redhead unlike the rest, she had a rough life, abused by her husband and dirt poor, she dealt with her troubles through humor and hijinks. There simply wasn't anything she wouldn't say or do for a laugh.  Her family moved to Florida when I was younger, but she would come up to visit, often coinciding when we would come to visit Grandma.  She brought much humor to a family that often struggled under economic and other troubles.

My Aunt Babe (Kathleen) - she was the sister who my Mom was least close to.  Truth be told, she had  distant air about her.  Her and her husband were about business, and they tended to it well.  They left their children a crap ton of money and property when they passed.  Despite her coldness, she was very giving.  When my Mom couldn't take care of my Grandma (who had dementia) because of my sister's second divorce, my aunt Babe stepped in and watched her until the end.

My Uncle Walt - he was my playmate.  Having only one lung, he was the only male of that generation who didn't serve in WWII.  He was, understandably, the one who spoke most about WWII.  He never left home, and I suppose never held a steady job.  Health seemed to be the issue.  But because he was a bit out of the loop with the others (no spouse, no family), he would play with me and take care of me since most of my cousins and my sister were so much older and didn't want me hanging around. When he passed away when I was in seventh grade, it was the first time I ever cried for someone who died. 

My Uncle Cot (Carlton) - a Goodrich man all the way, he never missed a home Cleveland Browns game, and often went with my Grandpa.  The man never wore jeans.  Even at impromptu family gatherings, he was dressed immaculately.  He was also generous to a fault, and often gave money to his sisters and others who were struggling, without strings attached.  He had a temper, and was stubborn as a mule.  He served in the South Pacific in WWII, and was part of the group that included Thomas Lamphier (the man once credited with shooting down Yamamato, but later found not to have a claim).  When my uncle Walt passed away, he stepped in and tried to fill the gap.  It wasn't his natural way, but his efforts were admirable, and appreciated.

My Uncle Gene - the bona fide war hero of the family.  In WWII, the government looked for anything to award and celebrate for the sake of propaganda and morale.  So my uncle, a radio-gunner on a B17, managed to shoot down - single handedly - a Ju88 that became entangled with their bomb group during one of their missions over Europe.  What a Ju88 was doing there was never determined, but he became the first (perhaps only) gunner to single handedly shoot down a German bomber, and that was enough for bond tours, bond drives, interviews and pep rallies around the country.  It fit him.  With his wavy bond hair, his dapper bomber's crew jacket and cap (always tilted), and his tall, imposing figure, he looked like the type of person Hollywood would pick to play the part.  I always felt my Dad was a bit jealous of him.  Meanwhile, Gene ate it up, but did mellow over the years.  Early on, it was all glorious war stories.  But in the later years, he would reflect on some of what he saw, including being in a V-2 air raid and wondering what it was like for those on the ground when his group was flying overhead.

My Uncle Dana - the flip side of Gene, he was my Dad's other older brother.  He served with Patton in Europe, and was part of the Battle of the Bulge.  He was a medic, since he didn't want to hurt anyone.  What he saw or what he experienced he never said, because he wouldn't speak of his experiences.  The ultimate bull-head, he was known as a gentle soul unless riled, and then heaven help you.  The family often told of a time during Christmas, in downtown Chicago, when a bus driver cut him off.  He swerved his car around, pulled in front of the bus, put the car in park, took out the keys, and sat there.  Traffic was backed up ten miles in minutes.  I didn't know him as well as Gene, but we did visit some.  He was closest to my Dad I think.  Once, when my wife's parents lived in Chicago for a year, we decided to go by and visit Dana, but they weren't home.  We left a message, and they said later they were saddened that they missed us.  Unfortunately, he died of cancer before we could return.  I've always regretted that.  Shortly before he died, he received a belated accommodation for his actions in the Ardennes Offensive.  He called my Dad and asked him what that was about.  Dad explained it was the Battle of the Bulge.  In typical Dana fashion, he said he didn't know what it was called. He just remembered it was bitter cold and they kept shooting at him.  That was probably the most he ever said.

My Uncle Fred - I never knew my uncle Fred that well.  He was younger than my Dad.  It was him joining the army during the Korean war that prompted my Dad to join.  Dad didn't want to be the one Griffey boy who didn't serve.  So they joined together.  They did basic at Fort Knox, albeit in different companies.  My Dad had the tough as nails commander who insisted on double time to everywhere, and midnight marches for fun (up two hills called, appropriately enough, Agony and Misery).  According to my uncles, Fred got to travel in trucks and had it relatively easy by comparison.  He moved out to Denver long before I came along.  That was after Dana moved to Chicago and more or less broke up "the Four Boys."  He got married then divorced, but in the meantime had a slew of kids.  We visited a few times.  I remember how casual they were about being near towering cliffs in the Rockies.  They came to our house a couple times as well. It was their kids, isolated from firearms per Fred's wife, who went bonkers when they saw my Dad's guns.  My parents usually left the guns out because we had been shown what to do with guns; that they weren't toys, and were to be respected.  But because Fred's kids had no knowledge of them, the guns had to be put away while they visited.

My Uncle Mike - if I knew little of uncle Fred, I knew less of uncle Mike.  He was fourteen years younger than my Dad, born well beyond the others. He had it tough, because he was the one who found their Mother dead.  He was then raised by the different older brothers, because of the inability of my Granddad to care for him.  He had a rough life, but enlisted in, and fought in, Vietnam.  Nonetheless, he had it rough, and I think I only met him once my whole life.  Years later, he did contact my Dad by phone and I talked to him, but that's all I remember.  He passed away from cancer some years ago.

My Brother-in-law Nelson - My sister married Nelson after her second failed marriage.  He was almost a dozen years older than her.  Since she is almost nine years older than me, that meant he was well out of my social peers.  But my sister never married a man who got along with me, and Nelson was no different.  A successful businessman, I never asked him for anything, though I did work for him for a bit in college (I did pretty well, making over 7,000.00 in one summer, in mid 1980s dollars).  Nonetheless, he was what he was.  He lost everything shortly before he died, because of a crooked business partner named Gene.  That left my sister needing help from us who could barely scrape two pennies together. Shortly after that Nelson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away the following January. 

My 'Grandma' Gillespie - she was my Aunt Babe's mother-in-law.  Apparently not a popular individual, she nonetheless would babysit me when the rest of the family was engaged in things, such as my Grandpa's funeral.  I remember she made bacon that was barely cooked. Yuck.  But I remember her doing well by me, even though she passed away fairly early on, by the time I was in about high school I believe.

My Uncle Tom - Tom, or 'Big Tom' (as opposed to their son 'Little Tom') was Babe's husband.  He was a businessman's businessman who put business and finances above all things.  He was also known to tip the scales a little in his commercial dealings.  But he did well by his kids, that's for sure.  Of all the 'in-law uncles', he is the one I remember the most.  He served in WWII, in a Stuart tank in N. Africa and Sicily/Italy.  It was he who told of the time that a German motorcyclist crashed into their tank column one night.  Rather than do anything, everyone had a good laugh and let him go. 

My Uncle Carlos - Carlos was our family villain.  He was my aunt Betty's husband.  He drank.  They were poor.  He beat Betty at times and beat the kids at others.  He seemed to have no problem being violent in those days.  Once, it was told, he got mad and threatened to throw Betty out the door.  So angry, he actually brought their furniture over and put it in Grandma and Grandpa's front yard (they lived only a few houses down the street).  According to legend, Grandma was fit to be tied, but Grandpa merely shrugged and said when he settled down, he'd need to take it back himself.  And so he did.  They had the largest family, most of whom were in trouble except their one daughter and one of their sons.  One son was killed in a hit and run when he was a teenager.  There was one set of twins.  Overall we knew little of them because Mom and Dad - I think - felt they were a bit on the wrong side of the tracks.  In hindsight, they probably were right.  But because of this, I think my Mom loved Betty all the more and admired her strength and perseverance.  Eventually, when I was in college, their youngest son came home - himself a fellow who was often in trouble - and found that Carlos had aimed a shotgun at his own stomach and pulled the trigger.  He was still alive, but barely.  He died before the paramedics arrived. Carlos always kept me aware of the fact that if my parents were of a gentle kind, it was not always the case with others, and to always remember what others might be going through.

My Wife's grandmother - my Wife's maternal grandmother, Ol'Mimmy was the closest to my wife.  She was married to a man after whom the Indiana Baptist state mission offering is named.  They were, in Southern Baptist life, veritable giants.  Her husband, CE Wiley, was a firebrand from the old school.  There were two paths in his life: the path to Heaven, and the path to Hell for everyone who wasn't Southern Baptist (that's Southern Baptist, other Baptists didn't count).  He had passed away some years before I met my Wife.  Mimmy was the first of my wife's family to warm up to me.  My wife and I would often visit her when we were dating.  Our first year of marriage, we met up with everyone in Atlanta for Thanksgiving.  When I saw her, I knew she wasn't healthy.  In just six months, she looked like something was wrong.  Then on our first Christmas morning, my wife and I woke up and plunged into the presents like children.  We woke up so early, we then went back and took that late morning nap so common on Christmas mornings.  Then the phone rang.  It was her family.  Mimmy had died that morning.  Their pastor was at the hospital before they arrived.  By the time they got there, she was gone.  That was our first Christmas memory as a married couple.  That week Kentucky was hit with a particularly brutal snowstorm (in preparation for the 1994 blizzard).  My Dad decided to drive down and take us to the funeral in Lexington so we wouldn't have to worry about driving.  So he drove from northern Ohio in snowstorm conditions to make sure we were taken care of when it came to being at the funeral (see Dad below).  It was tough on my wife, but it was my Dad who said for a Christian woman like her, when better to go than on the Lord's birthday. 

My Wife's grandfather - another staple in the Southern Baptist Convention, he oversaw many of the camps for the Indiana Baptist Convention (you can tell us becoming Catholic was a big hit back in the day).  He was my Wife's paternal grandfather.  He was one of those 'fascinating people' types.  Oddly, my Wife's family was never as close to her as they were to her Mom's side.  Sometimes I think that has to do with the personalities involved.  But we made sure to visit them when we could.  They were in Indianapolis and we lived in Louisville and Southern Indiana.  He had done a little of everything in his life, though didn't dwell too much on the past.  He preferred talking about church and faith and current events.  He was the conversationalist that kept me busy whenever we visited.  As it was, his health was already failing even when I first met my wife.  Over the years it continued to decline until  a couple years ago he finally passed away.  It was one of those funerals where you know you should be sad, but you can't help but be glad for someone who contributed so much to so many.

My Dad - last but certainly not least, my Dad.  A veteran and a railroad engineer.  There's too much about my Dad to list here.  Suffice it to say, he was a great Dad.  Perhaps a better Dad than a father, as he was never overly concerned about teaching me what to do in life.  He mainly led by example, and told me what to avoid.  His basic lesson was never screw up your whole life for a moment, and always stand on your principles.  He also demonstrated a big heart and a willingness to do anything for the kids, and for anyone who needed help for that matter.  He didn't have to tell me to work hard, he showed me.  Obviously, he had a tough childhood.  Abject poverty and an alcoholic, abusive father.  Oddly, not one of the five brothers was ever abusive.  By all accounts, the four who had children were good Dads and husbands who never raised a hand to their families.  When I was about three, Dad bought an old, rundown home outside of a small farming town that would be my childhood haunt.  It was literally like the house from Green Acres.  He worked at a railroad switching yard almost an hour away.  He would go to work, work a twelve hour shift, come back, and work on the house by himself.  For almost a year he did that while we lived in a small set of rooms behind a coworker of his.  At least once my Mom walked with me the several miles down the old, gravel road to where Dad was working on the house.  Shortly after my sister started fifth grade, we moved in.  It still needed work, but Dad did everything himself - except the wiring.  That he left to a professional.  I always felt that was Dad's way to truly make a life for his family that he never had.  While it would be easy to focus on where Dad didn't do great - he had no patience for teaching me how to do everything he could do, and he had an almost addiction to moving from place to place, making it impossible to have long-term friendships - I always knew he meant the best and did things for the best of reasons.  His desire was to give us what he never had, and to be the type of Dad he never knew.  For that reason, as much as anything, he remains someone I still look to and try to emulate as a fabulous Dad. 

All of these, and perhaps others who didn't come to mind, are in my prayers and thoughts this day.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A triumph in many ways

Despite overwhelming obstacles, we still managed to make it a fun Halloween/Spooky season for our youngest.  It isn't what it used to be, when his three older brothers were always around, taking him and doing things with him, often with me and/or their mom trotting behind.  Now it's mostly me and the mom doing things, with whatever brother(s) are available.  This month it's mostly been the three of us, sometimes with our eighteen year old who isn't going to school, and only now and again with the older two.  Their jobs and college keep them hopping, though they're both pulling A averages, so it's worth it.

Nonetheless, despite several unforeseen issues and the last week of ongoing, constant, relentless, never ending rain, we managed to pull together a fairly successful Halloween, with at least a little round about for the Fall season.  Pictures will be forthcoming.

Likewise, this last month was the busiest this blog has ever had.  Only one other time was it close to this busy here, and it even exceeded any of my months at Patheos.  In fact, only the first month after I came back from Patheos was this blog anywhere close.  I think several regulars from Patheos came over for the first month to see what this was about.  Most (not all, most) were just the old Patheos trolls it turns out.  Some trolls can be, for whatever else they are, brave souls, charging into places where they are the decided minorities.  Most of my trolls at Patheos were of the cowardly variety.  They preferred trolling in places where they knew they were the majority, and could count on others joining in and beating up on the rare non-conformer.  I guess fearful that they might be outnumbered here, they moved on, only visiting on rare occasion (per their own testimony on other sites).

So having beaten out the all time traffic record, and having passed anything I did at Patheos, that will also bring about some changes.  I'll get to those, too.  As of now, it's raining and raining and raining some more.  We're watching the basement like a hawk, as it was last November that, for the first time since we've lived here, the basement flooded.  The rains this time aren't as heavy as they were then, but it's been over a week of daily rain with only a couple days of breaks.  Once we're done with that vigil, I'll update the all important epicures, and explain where things are going to go in the future. 

Till then, TTFN and God bless.