I Almost Clicked On It!

Mimsy needed to go out one more time for the night, but it was too early for our last stroll of the day. To kill some time, I went down to the kitchen to finish cleaning a skillet that was soaking. I told Alexa she could resume the playlist that had accompanied the evenings meal prep. Somewhere between drying the skillet and cleaning the chef’s knife that shouldn’t go in the dishwasher, I checked my phone. By checking my phone, I don’t mean examining the disconnected rotary dial instrument hanging on the kitchen wall, the one with the long curly cord. I mean the smartphone that was in my pocket, the one that goes pretty much everywhere I go, the one I have a hard time ignoring.

I had an alert informing me that a new post had been created in the 15 minutes since I last checked my phone  … “25 uses for Wood Ash.”

I almost clicked on it.

It’s not like it was an announcement for Vampire Sex Kittens … there is certainly nothing wrong with wood ash, but I don’t have any wood ash. I also don’t have the time, capacity or interest, to know what to do with wood ash … yet I had to fight the urge not to click on the link. (Admit it, you secretly want to know the 25 uses for wood ash).

I am what is referred to as “of a certain age.” For those in their 30’s, I’m frightfully old, for those in their 80’s, I’m wistfully young. There are scarce rewards to being of a certain age, but there are a few. One of those benefits is perspective. I remember driving cross-country as newlyweds with Mrs. Poppy. We drove for days armed only with a wad of traveler’s checks for currency, a bag of paperbacks for entertainment, a roll of quarters for toll roads and AAA TripTiks for navigation. We blissfully didn’t miss GPS systems, satellite radio, or smartphones, because none of those were yet invented. Somehow we survived.

Being of a certain age, I’m also learning my limitations. I own a 32′ extension ladder that fully extended will barely reach the gutters of our 1890 house. No thank you. Not gonna happen. At one time, yes, but not anymore. A man needs to know his limitations.

I can’t prove this scientifically, but I believe one of my limitations is how much information my brain can hold, whether it’s important information like passwords, which seem to dissipate into the nether about 15 minutes after creating them, or truly useless information like the latest CNN headlines.

I have a fear that if I upload the 25 uses for wood ash into my brain, that it will displace an equal amount of information out the back of my brain, never to be retrieved. A man needs to know his limitations.

I’m hardly a Luddite, in fact I love my technology, yet I can’t help but wonder if the net sum doesn’t fall into the negative territory. The internet is an endless series of rabbit holes, constructed for us to jump into, only the emerge from the other end 15 minutes later having learned nothing of true value, or worse being exposed to half-truths, innuendo and malice.

If I added up all the time spent on jumping into those rabbit holes could I have written “The Great American Novel?”

Probably not.

But maybe, “The Average to Slightly Below Average American Novel.”

A man needs to know his limitations.


A Giant Leap of Faith!

Somewhere between 4 and 64 (my current age) I realized “Superhero” would never be on my résumé. I had to accept that I will never leap over tall buildings with a single bound, I will never have Spidey-sense, shape-shifting or invisibility abilities. Crowds in the street will never gaze skyward as I defend them from invading aliens. Not having any superpowers was great disappointment to me.

My first clue to my non-superhero status came about age 5 or 6. I constructed a cape from an old bed sheet and tied it around my neck. Arms thrust in front of me, I ran as fast as I could across the backyard, but gained no altitude. Undeterred, I reasoned that perhaps jumping from a height would yield better results. Our backyard was tiered with a set of concrete steps leading down to a patio of concrete blocks. I jumped from the top step, it was a leap of faith. Once again I gained no altitude but proved the law of gravity was still in effect and that the density of concrete was greater than my palms and knees.

I have a fair amount of kitchen gadgets. Some of them gifts, some I have purchased. Many of the gadgets are rarely used. If interested, I have a food processor, untouched, still in the original package. I’m sure it’s a fine processor, it got great reviews on Amazon, but I’ve gotten pretty good with a chef’s knife and it’s a lot easier to clean than a food processor.

There is one gadget however that I would have a hard time living without,  my Amazon Echo. It doesn’t slice or dice, but it does compile a running grocery list as I get low on ingredients but most importantly it provides a musical score while I cook. Over the years I’ve created many “stations,” some based on artists ranging from Dave Brubeck to Jimi Hendrix. Some of the stations are seasonal, such as Christmas music, some based on broad categories, like piano jazz. When we brought my mother home to live with us during her final days, I created a station of southern gospel music for her to enjoy.

Often the events of the day will suggest an artist and I will select Nora Jones, Johnny Cash or Alison Krausse accordingly. Many times though I will just tell Alexa to shuffle my stations. This is when things get interesting. To hear anything by Lightnin’ Hopkins meld into Eric Clapton’s acoustic version of “Layla” is a thing of beauty.  The transition from Nora Jones to Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” restores my faith in humanity.  But the jump from the Allman Brothers to Paul Simon to the Gaithers can be jarring. And  it’s darn unsettling to hear Bing start crooning “White Christmas” in the middle of July.

I could cull down the list, but prefer to keep it as it is. To me, it’s a metaphor for life, because you never know what’s coming next.

Somewhere between 4 and 64, I’ve learned that life rolls out in front of me in ways  I could never imagine. It doesn’t ask my permission or seek my advice. Sometimes its pleasant, sometimes unexpectedly bad. Life can jump from “soft jazz” to “heavy-metal” in a nanosecond. Not having any true superpowers to get me through these transitions, my only option is “to just not suck,” and that’s on a good day.

Life comes with no guarantees … well there is that “Law of Gravity” thing, I’ve learned to count on that. But beyond always falling down and never up, pretty much everything else is a step into the unknown. There are no money-back options or free trial periods in life.

We learn at an early age that life is not fair, whatever “fair” is. As we get older and acquire some wisdom along the way, we learn that grace and mercy are desired over fair. Fair implies justice … no thank you!

Mimsy has this funny thing she does when we take her to the vet. As the veterinarian checks her heart beat, pokes and prods during the examination, Mimsy will look straight ahead, never making eye contact with the vet. It’s as if she doesn’t acknowledge what is happening to her it will just go away. I’m tempted to take that approach to life. If I slowly sip my morning coffee, if I sidle out the front door, never making eye contact, perhaps life will leave me alone for the day. Sadly this never works.

You might as well brew your coffee strong. chug it down in big gulps, take a running start on the day and jump as high as your can, because life is one giant leap of faith!

Happy landings … Poppy


Where Does the Love of God End?

It has been a week of shock and revulsion. It has been a week of “how did we get to this place as a civilized country.” It has been a week of weeping for the most innocent and helpless among us. It has been a week for Psalms 139.

Even the most hardened of atheists would not deny the beauty of the poetry found in this Psalm. For those of faith, its beauty extends beyond the poetic.

It begins with the acknowledgement of God’s unconditional love through every part of our lives from our mother’s womb, For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made… to If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there,  If I rise on the wings of the morning, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.”

The Psalm ends with the writer’s struggle in dealing with evildoers, If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!” (sentiments I can relate too)

It is a Psalm written thousands of years ago, it is a Psalm written for today.

It is also a Psalm of intimacy, a Psalm of a one-on-one relationship between us and God, a Psalm of “You” and “I”, . (You know when I sit and when I rise).

Even more intimate than, “I love you,” are the words, “I understand.”

The King James translation says it like this, “thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.”

Sanctity of life extends beyond the unborn, newly born, impaired or aged to all of us. It is God saying, “I understand” through every trial and difficulty life throws at us. As Christians the same love and compassion we wish to bestow on the unborn must also encompass their mothers and all people. To the best of our abilities, we must mirror Christ’s love to everyone.

To answer the question at the beginning of this post, the love of God has no limits.

 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the morning,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Peace, Poppy