You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2011.

The journey into Sacramento was swift.  Traffic tied us up for only and extra five minutes due to a car that caught on fire.  The police and fire fighters were already on the scene.

Black smoke-filled the air.  Acrid smells of burning rubber gave both Yvonne and me a frown on our faces.  There were no lanes blocked by the incident but every one of the five lanes on the freeway slowed down to do some good old-fashioned rubbernecking.

After we passed the emergency scene, the traffic picked up to normal speeds.  I checked my GPS and we had lost a mere five minutes with the slow down.  Our ETA was still scheduled before the sun set.

The drive into Sacramento reminded me so much of my childhood days.  My family would not infrequently drive to San Francisco and the drive home left many memories in my mind.  I told stories of some of those trips to Yvonne on this journey.

We arrived at my sister’s home.  Inside her home we visited, watched some news, told some funny stories and then we conferred about what to do for dinner.

At first we talked about BBQ.  That always makes me solvated.  Good meaty BBQ beef ribs is always a favorite for me.  But, we checked on-line and all of the choice places were closed on Sunday night.

My brother-in-law then suggested that we try Indian food.  “Are game for that?” he inquired with a wry smile.  “Sure.  Let’s go,” I exclaimed with enthusiasm.

We sat down and all opened our menus.  Nothing looked familiar.  I did my best to make out the options.

So, it was a learning process.  I asked a lot of questions.  But, I was hopeful and expectant of the Lamb options.  I love lamb!

My brother-in-law recommended the Lamb Tekka Masala.  “You’ll like that if you like lamb.  Oh, do you like curry?” he asked somewhat tentatively.

“You bet!” I fired back.  I was looking forward to a treat.  When the food came I was not disappointed.

The fragrance was amazing.  Each flavor exploded on my palate.  It was an adventure with each new fork full of uniquely blended foods.

A glass full of crystal clear water cleansed my palate for the next excursion into Indian influenced food.  The flat bread gave me my childhood delights of sopping up the delicious sauces.  Of course we topped off our meal with Mango Kulfi.  Love this cuisine!

photo credit: google image

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The clock reminds me that it is time to get ready for bed. I feel sleepy. My bronchitis has worn me out all day long. But, I’m reticent to go to bed. The dread of coughing and keeping myself awake is a discouraging anticipation.

It has been weeks since I remembering sleeping through the night. Usually, I lie down and immediately start coughing. The reflexes are not modest but violent.

I down the prescription cough syrup but it doesn’t seem to help. Instead, there is a metallic taste in my mouth and of course no relief from the bucking bronco stuck inside of my lungs. Long days and nights with this malady and I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep!

Washing up at least put me in the mood of sleeping. Maybe if I acted like I was going to get some slumber I could just drift off into dreamland. The elusive rest could be complicated by my trying too hard. NOT!

Purposely, I waited for Yvonne to drift off to restful repose. I didn’t want to disturb her sleep any more than I had done already. Once I was sure that she was out for the count, I slipped into bed as gently as possible. That was the last bit of ease for the night.

I felt a cough trying to erupt from inside of my chest. It was no good fighting it back. The cough bubbled up.

At least this time the bed did not shake. My ears perked up. Yvonne was still sleeping soundly.

Oh, the pain. I cleared my throat and checked my clock. It had been a mere fifteen minutes since I tried to go to bed. Groan.

My earlier prayers were up for a repeat. “God, if you would be so kind (cough!) please give me a good night’s sleep (cough). There’s a lot to do at work (cough, cough). I can’t afford to skip a day. I can’t afford to be sick (cough, cough, cough). Please, make me well. In Jesus name, Amen.” I waited, then, “cough, cough.”

God had a plan. After tossing and turning, coughing and gagging, I woke up and it was morning. But, it was late. I slept way past my normal wake up time.

I grabbed my computer. After booting it up, I sent a quick email to my office and claimed a sick day. Then, I swayed back down our hall and fell back into bed.

photo credit: google image

It’s sticky and gooey.  When light shines on it the golden color is inviting.  The fragrance is unique, scintillating.

Every kid knows that it is a topping of choice on morning toast.  Once the slab of butter softens and the straight edges round off from the heat, it’s time to add this condiment.  Honey in the plastic honey bear dispenser fits in your hand just right and squeezes easily.

Drawing a figure on the face of breakfast toast makes the honey taste even better.  A geometric shape is just as good.  Accent the painting and use the floating butter for finishing touches.

Handling honey is an art form.  Getting it out of the bottle is easy.  Swirls, loops and puddles add happiness to a simply favorite meal.

It’s when the serving is done that some skill is needed.  Can you squeeze the honey bear and keep it from spilling on the dispenser?  If the bear hug is released properly the last drip of honey is sucked back into the dispenser.  Flip the bear upright quickly and you’re golden!

That’s all kid stuff, right?  Mom or big sister is screaming at my sloppy use, “You’re making a mess!”  How many times have I heard that?

Now, I’m an adult.  I have mastered culinary social skills.  Now, when I use honey, I don’t make a mess, right?  Ha!

Yvonne and I were enjoying a quiet meal out together.  She ordered hot water for her beverage.  It was served to her with slices of lemon and several one-serving containers of honey.

My slices of bread were already buttered.  Memory moments from my past spawned a childhood desire.  I took one of those honey containers and opened it up.

It’s the kind of plastic, rectangle-shaped shallow serving that sometimes have jelly in them.  You peel off the top and pour out the contents. When I pulled off the top it seemed like it needed an extra tug. 

It was a stubborn top.  My butter fingers didn’t hold on too well. The container bounced, the honey spilled on my fingers but my cat-like reflexes kicked into action. 

I managed to pour the majority of the serving on to my bread.  But a good portion coated my fingers and dripped on everything: plate, fork, knife and table.  Yum!  I licked the savory condiment from each of my appendages and no one yelled at me!  Just a big kid, doing kid stuff with honey…sweet, tasty and fun.

photo credit: google image

After months of waiting and properly making the necessary phone calls I received a settlement check from our insurance company. It is never what the replacement costs would be but at least it is something. One of my priorities is to replace my camera.

I have really missed having my camera. We have actually not taken some trips because I couldn’t do any photography. That is a very weird feeling.

My new camera needs some things to make it functional. The new breed of digital camera calls for a battery that needs to be charged before the camera is operational. That is similar to my last photography equipment too.

First, just like the instructions directed me I loaded my new battery into the charger. Then, I plugged the charger in to get the electrical flow going. The charging light was blinking just like it should and I smiled.

Now, it’s time to get a memory card. This is where I’m a bit of an unlearned neophyte. What kind of card do I need? Is the size a factor? It’s gotta be simple, I encouraged myself beyond reality.

Diligently, I read my owner’s manual. Who’s the goof who wrote that document? He sure assumes that I know a lot. It was hard to figure out what he was talking about when it came to the only piece of vital accessories that did not come with the camera.

Since I didn’t understand what I was reading I asked someone who seems like they know about this kind of stuff.  He quickly responded, “Sure, no problem, you need a *^#@)+!% ” In my mind I asked, “Are you speaking English or have you been taken over by aliens?”

Naturally, from my upbringing, my actual response is simply, “Uh, thanks? Got it.  Thanks for your . . . er . . . um, expert advice.”  Then, I wonder off, glance over at Yvonne, “Did you understand any of that?”  “I thought you knew what he was talking about.”  We both laugh.

Back at the drawing board, I read articles, scan internet and occasionally ask another friend to explain what kind of memory disk I need.  Finally, I just bring my owner’s manual to the store, find someone with a name badge.  Then I point to a picture of what I have and ask, “What memory disk do I need?”  With a smile and understanding and no word spoken, he hand me a package.  It’s even on sale!

photo credit: google image

We have been in San Francisco now for 297 days. It’s beginning to feel like home. But, there’s still plenty to explore.

In fact we discovered a shopping mall that we have never been to since our arrival. Miles-wise it’s not that far from home. Today was a long day and there was reason to look for an escape.

Yvonne and I wandered around our new discovery passing one store after the next. We enjoy window shopping. She is looking for what hits her curiosity at the moment while I’m looking for an outdoor sporting goods store.

On the one hand, my search is usually frustrated. Rarely is there an outdoors sporting goods store attached to a shopping mall. There may not be anything of the sort within driving distance from me.

On the other hand, occasionally we often find several stores that grabbed her interest. She turns in and begins looking for some treasure to embrace. I think that her eyes dilate, pulse quickens and her step is energized into an energetic bounce.

I accompanied her. Then, I did what ever red-blooded American male would do. My sights were set on finding a chair.

In this modern-day other men who were relaxing with me were all doing the same thing. They had their cell phones or PDA’s out and were preoccupied with some kind of data entry or cyberspace interaction. Even with our big thumbs we were able to fill our time while our ladies were prowling the aisles of products.

During my several stops in the sporadic seating areas around this mall I also observed a common phenomenon. While several other men were occupied with their electronic gadgets, many were sound asleep or on the precipice of slumber. Those guys were hilarious to watch.

They were like Bobblehead dolls looking for sponsors. It is shocking that some did not suffer from massive strain from whiplash. This comical gesturing made the children giggle.

None of us men judge our fellow-men. It is not their fault. Even if they start sawing logs we overlook their maleness.

Men in this state are victims of that mysterious alien mineral. It saps the strength of most men. Most know it as Kryptonite.

It is the essential ingredient in the construction of malls. They put it in the flooring, steel reenforcement and sheet rock. We men just don’t stand a chance.

photo credit: google image

During Yvonne’s

Christians are not perfect.  No Christian really believes that they are.  The only ones who try to advance this allegation are the critics of the faith.

Anyone who reads the Scriptures easily sees the human flaws in all of us.  The only difference is that Christians are forgiven.  With their new state of redemption comes the hope of doing things that have eternal value. 

In the church in ancient Corinth, the believers we still immature in their faith.  Paul confronts them with the sin of immorality.  One of the men was “shacking up” with his father’s wife and no one was addressing the problem.

The apostle urges the believers to act decisively with this overtly sinful man.  He should be put out of their fellowship and handed over to Satan.  That is, he is no longer under the protection of the collective church or its spiritual leaders.

Influence is something that affects us all.  When responsibility is shirked, then there are consequences.  One is a desensitization to other sin.  Once we overlook dirt, then we just get more and more dirty.

Paul teaches that overt sin that is arrogantly touted will infect others.  Like a disease unredeemed sin will contaminate the whole church.  As yeast spreads throughout the dough, sin has the same kind of effect.

Jesus Christ is the answer to sin.  He has been sacrificed as payment for our sin no matter how ugly it has been.  Christ died as a payment for our sins, a sacrifice for all who put their faith in Him.

The apostle identifies specific sins that crept their way into the church and may be unchallenged.  Malice is one of those sins.  It is the term used for evil intent, the attitude that we have toward others.  When that attitude turns into some overt as words to deeds then it becomes the sin of wickedness.

Instead, Christians should deliberately pursue sincerity and truth.  Sincerity is genuineness.  This is the vernacular when we live REAL lives of faith, consistent with our character and conduct so that there is a match with our claims.

Christians can be remarkably practical with this passage of Scripture.  When someone calls himself a Christian but is “sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler” don’t even eat with them.  Even if the option of enjoying the best prime rib dinner is the lure, make the choice to refuse.  God is the judge, so let Him have an exclusive on them.

1 corinthians 5.1-13

My road bike is gone.  A thief broke into my locked garage and stole it.  I miss that ride.

It was fast.  That’s the feeling that I got every time I hopped on to my machine.  This bicycle was built on an aluminum frame with Shimano components. 

There’s something special about picking up that bike to load it on to my bike rack.  It was as light as a feather.  Of course it had the perfect paint configuration, metallic silver blue.  Yeah, it was sweet.

Now, I’m out shopping for a replacement ride.  Things have changed since I last was in the market for a smooth peddle pusher.  There’s only sweat and pain to make that metal transport move, but it is exhilarating.

So far I have been to just two shops.  Jeff was one of my sales guy.  We talked for a while about different options. 

My interests are specific.  I am looking for a road bike.  In my future is a modest length ride.  It will be the first leg to a longer goal.

Carbon frames are way out of my league.  Prices for these bikes defy the salary of average guys like me.  But, there are options. 

Steel frame bikes have come a long ways.  They are lighter and stronger than years gone by.  Plus, while they are heavier than aluminum bikes, they have a natural spring or flexibility inherent in their structure. 

When a bicycle frame has some “give” they will ride smoother.  Aluminum bikes are famous for being lightweight but they are so rigid that they are known for their harsh vibration and pounding on even short rides.  They are very fast but every bump, unevenness on the pavement or crack in the road beats you up. 

Newer bikes that have aluminum frames have been outfitted with carbon forks.  This combination brings the cost of these road bikes reachable for mere mortals.  They are lightweight, fast and offer some flexibility to smooth out the ride on the road.

It’s time for me to find a good bike shop first.  There are several around town.  San Francisco is a bicycle active town. 

Maybe if I shop, exercise patience, do my comparative shopping, a replacement bike might take some of the sting out of our latest robbery.  Nothing will erase it.  But, maybe new rides on a new mount will help some.  Here’s to new miles left behind.

photo credit: google image

This year’s 2011 Grammy’s Show was everything that it’s producers wanted.  It was thoroughly entertaining.  How could it be anything else with its myriad of creative artists, wide variety of musical genres and the infinite spectrum of drama in the lives of the nominees?

My favorites were the Country Western stars.  There is something clean about the people in this world of Americana, real life and total honesty.  Several of these gifted musicians even openly express their faith in the God who gave them the talent.

Miranda Lambert won an Emmy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.  I think that I got that title right.  Her song “The House that Built Me” is a ballad, a story of her growing up years.  It is vivid, thoughtful and engaging.

Keith Urban won the counterpart Emmy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.  His song “Til Summer Comes Around” is the sad story of unrequited love.  Passion, love, excitement end with the conclusion of summer.  Country unmasks the feelings of the heart so well.

Lady Antebellum was the hands down winner for the Country Crowd.  This amazingly talented trio won Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best Country Song Best Country Album.  Did I get them all?  I may have lost track when I got up to refresh my sparkling water during the show.

But, I’m eclectic with my tastes.  When it was announced that Eminem was going to perform, I wondered if it would be too weird for me.  Yet, the performance captured my attention.  Admittedly, I understood very few of the words he sang…uh…er…rapped, it was energetic and rythmic.  The one who composed the number with the variety of musical styles in that single performance should be pleased that a wide variety of tastes were paying attention.

Justin Bieber hit the stage with energy, variety and cool moves.  I can see why the younger generation likes him.  They have a star to follow.

With all of  the glitz and glamour all of the celebrities blended in together.  Maybe that is why the marketing people behind Lady Gaga make her do what she does.  That performer is weird.  But apparently she can sing, at least the award of a Grammy suggests that she can.

Music styles is like a mosaic of human personalities.  As different as we who are created in the image of God are, so music covers the extremes and everything in between.  That’s entertainment!

photo credit: google image

Flowers and chocolate never looked so good together.  Who wouldn’t like to pop a few truffles, take in the fragrance of sweet roses and drink in the joy of thoughts of the one you love?  Sharing this day of love, devotion and passion with your lover for life is a special treat.

Long ago one of my teachers talked spontaneously to our class filled with youngsters.  For some reason he was talking about love.  “Love,” he thoughtfully reflected, “is not walking hand in hand with an infatuation.  We all like that but it is not love, at least not yet.  When I think about love, real love, I see an elderly couple walking hand in hand.  After years of life they remain devoted to each other.  They gaze into each others eyes with a passion that is beyond what we can only observe from the outside in.  That is love, real love.”

I was just a kid but I remember his musings.  It wasn’t even a part of the lesson for whatever class we were in.  What stimulated that reflection escapes my memory but, it is indelibly imprinted on my mind.

Now, my bride and I have been wedded together for nearly 34 years.  We have been through highs and lows, thick and thin, for better or worse and we are still devoted to each other.  Our walks still are hand in hand.  We are nearing that kind of real love that my teacher described some many decades ago.

We celebrated 2011 Valentine’s Day with a together-gift.  Last year burglars hurt us.  Dregs of the earth broke into our home, violated our security and stole Yvonne’s favorite pieces of jewelry.   Those weren’t excessive acquisitions but sentimental pieces that I invested time, resources and planning to make irreplaceable memories.

It was time to consolidate our romance.  We couldn’t replace everything that was stolen.  But, we could stretch and replace one. 

We headed to a trustworthy jeweler.  I never thought that we would be back to do business, but our past experience had been superior.  In our interchange, we made a choice that surpassed our expectations. 

Walking together Yvonne and I were grateful for God’s grace and provision.  The sparkle of our singular selection made us both smile.  It is the focus of our celebration this Valentine’s Day. 

Nothing will replace what was taken from us.  Thieves made us sad.  But, love, true love overcomes again.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

photo credit: google image

When God created man in His image He spread variety around.  Some of His creation can take a heavy upright piano and smoothly transport it from one site to another and there won’t be a scratch on it.   A beautiful instrument deserves this kind of professional attention.

My Texas classmates moved their piano on the cheap.  A half a dozen friends load an upright piano on a pickup truck.  That simple ground level move and load was a circus in itself. 

Nothing weighs more than the dead weight of an old-fashioned piano.  The pounds stack up and seem to fight on behalf of gravity.  Even the young and the strong groan loudly when lifting this popular maker of music.

Yes, they dropped it a couple of times.  They got tired quickly.  Oh, yeah, they took out a corner in the living room, crushed the door jamb and gashed one of the piano legs on the pick-up truck gate.

When these amateur movers finally loaded the piano on the pick-up truck bed, there was a common sigh of relief.  They rested, again.  Wiping the sweat from their brow, someone commented, “The rest is easy because it’s all down moving from here on.”  His words would prove prophetic. 

 Then, not knowing any better and still operating on the principle of “cheap” they used jute twine to tie it down.  No one had any other straps or rope.  Their decision to “make do” with the light weight twine was to destin this journey to disaster.

This top-heavy load with a center of gravity beyond what a compact pickup truck could handle. centrifugal force gave them all a nightmarish memory at a 90 degree turn.  Taking the angle at a speed in excess of what is reasonable, physics took over.   

The twine snapped like a wet noodle.  Rollers on the piano responded to gravity and rolled like they were designed to do.  It was the first and last time that piano ever took flight. 

With a bang and musical clinking sounding like the final gasps of animal dying an ugly death, this piano exploded into kindling wood on the asphalt road in a Dallas suburb.  The only silence was draped over the countenances of four shocked friends who save their buddy the cost of having professionals move his piano.  But, at least there was no need to down load that weighty parcel any longer.

photo credit: google image

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