The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!







Saturday, December 31, 2011

Peeling Meat off a Turkey Carcass--or--Resolving to Properly Flesh Out 2012

I just spent an hour or so digging into our Christmas Turkey.  No, I don't mean eating it finally.  I mean finally tearing every bit of edibility off of its bones.  It seems we didn't eat very much on the big day so there was still a lot of meat there.  I started with a big knife, cutting big chunks off the one undisturbed breast and one lame leg and thigh.  I cut most of these parts into shorter bite sized lengths and then tore the meat apart for whatever future applications come up, including the leftover casserole I made for dinner.  Then as I dug into the remaining work that only a matching pair of hands can...handle, I realized that I was looking back at 2011, as if in a quest to gather every good morsel that could be found in its sometimes slimy carcass.

Did you ever do that to a chicken's skeleton or a turkey's larger remains?  There are few chores that remind me more of the lamentable human condition we all endure.  Who are we really?  As Earth's vaunted accomplishment, supposedly standing on the evolutionary ladder's top rung, why do we essentially subsist as hunters and gatherers; scrounging, as it were, through the collected remains of others?  "Meat!"  We see it in chunks or hidden pieces and grab at it to live.  Vegetarians and Vegans live in the same world of dependency but have volunteered to limit further the answers available to their own primal need for food.

Whether the "breadwinner" literally chases down a wild bird in Africa's bush, or trades his white collar labor for green paper which later translates into dressed and cooked poultry on his plate, matters little.  Whether the bird lived his life fulfilled and at peace, or in dread of his doom matters even less.  In the end, it gets butchered, stuffed and served.  To live, we must eat.  To eat regularly, every day, for the many decades of our lives, good stewardship demands that we find each morsel hidden in the bones of an animal, and coax every acre of ground to give us its maximum fruit.  It insists that we peel a potato most judiciously, and use every part of a slaughtered pig for some good purpose.

I hear tell that there are some folks who never see raw food.  They are served a meal prepared by a thousand hands, and are left unaware and ignorant that their fare, coming to the table always "plated" just so is not a natural element simply captured like a breath, merely by inhaling.  Nonetheless, food is indeed literally wrought from the dermis of the earth through streams of blood, rivers of sweat, and floods of tears.  There is no "natural" food.  There is only food that is produced despite the weight of a curse.  The hard truth of our condition is that every turkey must die, and even this little steer will eventually have to be torn asunder for its nutritional worth to man.  Our sad condition in this world wrecked by sin requires animals to live and die for our sake.


How's That for a Happy New Year's Thought?  Not Much of one.  Sorry.

We start a new year in the morning.  And once again we will face a line of unknown days, each one anxious for us each to glean good use from its frame.  But instead of picking through the bones and removing what we need to survive, we are called to approach each day ready to give.  To fill its empty hours and minutes, first with the responsible work life requires to fill our bellies yes, but then with acts and attitudes of service, all reflecting God's loving image.

What better New Years resolution can there be than to commit to filling, rather than neglecting, God's requirements?  No, His requirements are not as specific as we might sometimes like.  He leaves the application of the following three ideas up to us.  Here on December 31st, who can truly imagine what he might end up doing, or not doing, in the next year if he resolves to take this charge from Micah 6:8 seriously?







He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the LORD require of you?


To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.



                                   Do have a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

PUNCHLINE; "Wow, that's a lot of pills!"

So I go in to pay for my gas this afternoon and there are four clerks behind the counter: Young woman, middle-age woman, 30 something man and old(er) woman.  They are all talking to each other about pills.

Yw. says "I take some pills every day."

30sm. says "You know how many pills I take?"  and then flourishes a big zero with his thumb and forefinger.

Maw. says she takes some vitamins and a few pills.

Ow. who is taking my payment says "You don't want to know how many pills I take!  $27.38"

That's when I suddenly join the discussion.  "Wow, that's a lot of pills!" I say, and then after all four lend their attention, "Twenty seven thirty eight??!"


Ow. rejoins dryly with, "Watch out, we have a sharp customer in here."

PUNCHLINE; "A lot of people have made that same mistake.


[New to MILLERWRITES; The PUNCHLINE series]


We are about to take Josh to the airport, planning to leave the house at 4AM, and my Lilly can not decide what to wear.  I told her I would decide for her, and she reluctantly agreed.

"Ok, what?"

"I'll go look in the closet."

"Oh, I thought you had something in your mind."

And I said........"A lot of people have made that same mistake."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: "It's About Time!"









A 15 Minute Free Write

I just heard a news broadcast about a guy in Wisconsin who died yesterday, after trying to drive his snowmobile over open water in a partially frozen river.  Death comes so suddenly.  He was probably having a blast with his friends one minute and the next minute he was going "uh-oh, the frickin' ice broke, or the machine did not go as far across the water as I thought it would, and now here I am under water".  The report said that he was pulled out but was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.  Didn't sound like he ever regained consciousness.

What a waste.  Yeah, a lot of the things we do are deadly dangerous.  In fact, enough of the things we really need to do are deadly dangerous, that we don't really need to find extra dangerous things to do, do we?  Or do people (of a certain age range) feel...what?   Invulnerable to death?  So bored with safety?  Like something is missing?

Yes, I still hope to go skydiving someday, and I thought that day would be coming as my kids left the home, but now I have GRANDKIDS, and perhaps they will gain from my long term influence even more (assuming my own kids did gain some), so I should be even more careful now than I have been, to live as long as possible.

What do I do anymore that's dangerous anyway?  Over the years as a carpenter, I have been in many dangerous  circumstances (far more than most astronauts, since their every move is measured and rehearsed and studied, and mine have been more haphazard and rushed and simply done to get it done) but I am now, more often than not, the "ground guy".  I'll stay down and do all the cutting and the running, thank you very much, while the young punks climb over the roof and haul the sheeting and the bundles and hang out on the edges of disaster.  Been there, done that.

How much time do you have left?
So this poor guy, I didn't catch his age, has lost his snowmobile.  Perhaps his wife will get to make the remaining payments in his memory.

15 minutes are up.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas! Or Not?

"Merry Christmas!"

You're offended?

But I'm wishing you a Merry Christmas?

Would you rather have a Rotten Christmas?

Christmas is here, and I wish that you would enjoy it.

You're not a Christian?

So, you're not going to live through the day with the rest of us?

If you're going to skip over the 25th, let me know and I'll wish you a Merry Day-After Christmas, or something.

If you would rather be less than merry on Christmas, then I will wish you get a flat tire in a blizzard.  Oh, but then you would apparently be pleased with the calamity and you'd end up merry anyway. And I don't want you to have a flat tire in a blizzard.  That would be awful!  Is it OK if I wish you a non flat-tire-in-a-blizzard Christmas? Cause that's essentially what I mean when I say Merry Christmas.  No flat tires, no accidents, no lost wallets or cell phones falling into toilets.  I hope your shovel doesn't break and your ham doesn't burn and your kids play nice.  I wish that you don't lose it with your spouse, or get drunk, or scream at that obnoxious uncle of yours.  I hope you don't go to bed with loneliness or wake up with a jerk.  May you have everything you need and be warm and well-fed.

Maybe you wish me a Happy Holiday.  Well, thank you!  I know our wishing stuff for each other doesn't really carry much power, but I certainly appreciate your kind intent.  Perhaps you will elaborate a bit.  If you think about it, what do you actually wish for me?

As a regular person who is also now a Christian, I simply want to share what I have found with you.  Like a debtor who has discovered an ever sprouting money tree and now has his bills all paid off, I wish to share my good news with you, and I hope you will come and take a good look at that tree for yourself.

Ultimately, I wish that your sins would be admitted, your guilt removed, your chosen-by-default destiny without God cancelled, and a joy that you've never known or imagined would be gained as you decide to be offended by your own rejection of God's gift and then, accept the redeeming work done by that little incarnation of God's perfect love that we recognize sleeping in the hay.  Wow!  That is one long sentence!  Can't I just say "Merry Christmas!?"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"It's Not All That"

I love my OLC's.  Who wouldn't?  Yes, I have to give them a special rate,and yes, they forget that I'm a carpenter and turn me more often into a handyman, but that's ok.  I have hung/moved/removed/color coordinated and opined about more pictures and living room decorations for one of my OLC's than I have ever done at home.  It's just part of my expertise now, so I should probably put it on my business card.  "Well you've been in a lot of homes," they argue, "where do people usually hang their three foot wide sunburst clocks with the three inch wide clock face in the middle"?

The best part of working for an OLC is not the food.  Of course the food is great, and the snacks and the pop and the overall kindly care that is offered, if not pushed on me, is great.  One lady puts out a 'lunch' that would feed an army of tradesmen when there are only two of us working in her house.  A meal at her home usually consists of at least three main dishes; maybe breaded pork chops, fried chicken and a hot dish casserole, along with a variety of fresh salads (she even showed me that BEETS, prepared magically enough, can taste great!), potatoes, breads and, of course, home made pie and ice cream for dessert!  Others have made me a frozen pizza that I'm sure was only in the house for the special occasion my presence could generate, and then sent me home with a pan of hot chocolate brownies besides!

The best part of working for an OLC is not the kind consideration and hospitality. Her uncorrupted virtue of selflessness, combined with her well honed skills in the kitchen make it a double pleasure to work in her home.  When I give one my bill, I am tempted to deduct for the generous treatment, the encouragement I always receive, and the 'lunch'. I also want to leave a big tip but it's hard to calculate 15% of  the intangible value I was given.

The best part of working for an OLC is not the money I earn.  Sometimes they don't want me to show up till 9 or 10, which kind of wrecks the whole day's potential.  They are sometimes paying me out of their small retirement or pension fund so I do give the OLC rate anyway.  Plus there are a few who are expecting me to write my bill according to the times when they came of age;  even $10.00 an hour may seem outrageous.  More often, however, an OLC is like the one who sees my bill and says "Oh, that's not enough!"  And then she adds something above and beyond.

The best part of working for an OLC occurred to me yesterday.  I cleaned out her gutters and besides paying me, she took me to her beautiful white Christmas tree and pointed out two presents for me to pick up.  How sweet!  I'm just her handyman, after all, but in the culture she has carried with her to these modern times, I am also another person of worth.  I am a neighbor, and a friend, and in this case, a brother in Christ.  This view into a world gone by fascinates me and multiplies the other priceless benefits I gain from working with my OLC's.  As I looked into the gift bag I held ("You need to hold it from the bottom!" she warned.), she could see that I was anticipating something extra special (perhaps because her warning prompted me to ask if it was gold bars) and she tried to let me down carefully, saying "It's not all that!"

The phrase is still heard and used today, but when she said it yesterday, I believe I suddenly heard it used in its original, and purer connotation.  Instead of the disparaging "She's not all that", meant to hurt another and elevate oneself, it was used here as an expression of real humility.

The best part of working for an OLC.... "What's that?  You don't know what an OLC is?  You should have asked earlier."  Anyway, the best part of working with a CLIENT who is a LADY who is OLD ( an OLC) is getting a direct view into the societally mature, but slowly waning world of general thoughtfulness she once found commonplace.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christmas Throwback; For My Four Big Brothers

I had a heck of a time remembering when I wrote this blog post, and what it was about, but I knew I had referenced the relevant childhood memorabilia sometime this year.  So I searched until I found the paragraph that mentioned my big brothers and their wonderful train; the train which entropy attacked so fearfully.

The 'Transformer' controlled the whole world!

 Surely they have more favorable recollections than I, so today when I walked into this sun room I built last summer to do some more finish work, and saw this Christmas surprise, I thought I should take some pictures to share with Tom, Paul, George and Pat.







I know these pictures are not very good, but I was supposed to be working!




Check this out!

My WRITERCIZE Guest Post Goes Live Today


Either that, or it will be dead in the water.  We shall see.  

Perhaps because today is my birthday, Alana G gave in and let me, the only non-woman to fill the slot in her list of guest hosts, take a crack at producing a challenge for her followers at the famous WRITERCIZE blog.  Don't worry men:  I certainly did make sure I talked about trucks and mud and stuff.  And don't fret women:  There's a great love story thrown in just for you guys, I mean gals.  (Do I know how to get in trouble quick or what?)

So anytime after 9 AM Pacific on December 16th 2011, right after you fill out and send me a birthday card ("Awww, you shouldn't have mailed cash like that," I'll say.  "A money order would have been fine!"), go over to WRITERCIZE and see if my challenge makes any sense to you.


Thanks Alana!  I truly appreciate the encouragement I received, just from your allowing me the chance.






This video of a Lake Michigan shoreline might make more sense after reading my exercise.  Maybe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stay Tuned...

Something special is happening tomorrow!  Stay tuned for the announcement here at 11 AM Central time.  And bring your high boots.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Me and Paul Harvey: We go WAY back!

How many people have sent something in to Paul Harvey's radio show, and then heard it read on the air?  I don't know either, but I am one of them!  It was in 1985 (I think).  And I just happened to pull over and listen to his noon broadcast that day in Ketchikan Alaska when he said "I wouldn't believe this if I had not seen it with my own eyes, but here is a tag found in a new roll of carpet, sent in by a carpenter in Alaska:  "Installer:  Please install fabric side up."

It's funny what kinds of immaterial things can become highlights of a life, and if this does not rate that high, it is at least a memorable event.

But do you Remember this classic?  Paul Harvey at his best, speaking about THE highlight of life itself.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Flashback Friday! I'm linking to my own linker.

Flashing back to April 1, 2011.  No fooling!  This is the intro to the A-Z challenge a bunch of us did this year.  "Why Does God Love _______?" was my theme.  I've been surprised to see that some of these posts have been looked at periodically ever since.  It was fun to do, and I may do another month's worth some time.  Enjoy!

http://millerwrites.blogspot.com/2011/04/aprils-to-z-challenge-introduction.html

Thursday, December 8, 2011

7 Things

I just received the TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF award.  It says something about a great blog or something, which is really nice to hear, of course.  And I am supposed to tell 7 things about myself before I pass it along to a bunch of other bloggers.

Well just last month I wrote this list of tidbits about my life for all to see, but of course there are many more so here goes:

1.  I like to sing.  I remember that while vacuuming for Mom as a kid, I was always trying to match the pitch of the machine with my voice as I worked.  One time in fourth grade I was eager to give it all I had in choir, but shy; so as we were all singing "Ave Maria" I covered my ears and belted it out.  You can guess what happened then.  Everyone else stopped singing and there I was, shy boy in the front row, doing my first full- throttle solo!  Now I sing the lead in our church's worship team band, and love it!

2.  I have a CDL.  Some years ago I thought I might change careers and so I learned to drive semis.  One company owner let me practice driving his rigs in and out of tight parking spots in his yard of stored trailers.  That was a blast!  In the end, I went back to my tool belt, but I spent some time driving smaller, non-semi, trucks around the Midwest and very much enjoyed that as well.

3.  I was a tour guide.  In Alaska I was a bus driver/tour guide for two summers.  I gave tours to folks visiting Ketchikan on cruise ships.  One of the best parts was telling visitors from Texas that I heard Alaska was going to be divided in half.....which would turn Texas into the THIRD largest state!

4.  My wife was Mrs. Miller a week before we wed.  We both had new jobs as teacher aides at a Christian school but did not get married until a week after school started.  Kiki worked with kindergartners and the higher ups thought it would be less confusing for the 5 years olds if their teacher's name did not suddenly change, just as they were getting used to calling her Miss Thomsen.  I still call her my Lilly (Song of Solomon 2:2).

5.  I am a creationist.  And not just by confidence in the Word of God.  While I studied and earned my BS in Geology, I was constantly waiting for my Profs to reveal the proofs for evolutionary theory.  I was embarrassed for them when I discovered that all they had was a long list of assumptions, speculations, and circumstantial indications, but no proof.  Since then I have kept up on the compiled evidence for a special creation and a world wide flood that literally destroyed what was an even more (unimaginably) beautiful  world.  I have found that all of the scientific theories of origins are full of scientific holes.

6.  Three young adults I know, are my greatest credit!  Victoria, Noah and Joshua (I used to sing about my "three little 'uhs'") are my pride and joy.  I have never stopped marveling at their unique gifts, personalities and character.  Yes, they are all characters!  Maybe it's because they were all born in Alaska.

7.  I have three beautiful Grandchildren.  One (the natural born Lily) came with my daughter's husband.  What a bonus!  One was born this year; Daniel.  And another Granddaughter, yet unnamed, will be born in March, and yes I do already know that she is beautiful!  I can't wait for the years to unfold and the family to grow ever more blessed.


I would like to pass this award along to all those on my blogroll who don't have one yet, and who would like one.   It would be great to learn more about all of you!  How's that for a cop out?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Seventh on my Bucket List: The VESSEL


What is a BUCKET LIST?

Well, it means one thing to everyone in the world, and if you have been reading these posts since I started addressing the theme last weekend, you know it means something else to me. 
I think it means... 
a list of buckets. 

With the help of thesaurus.com, I came up with a literal bucket list and now I have gone off the deep end waxing philosophical about each type of container, somehow relating it to our human condition. This is the list of containers I have empathized with this week: the brazier, the can, the cask, the hod, the pail, and most recently, the Vat. I suggest you go back and read those in order, to get the most out of this series.  Today's bucket reference comes directly from the Bible, and is my very favorite 'bucket'; 

The VESSEL.


A vessel is a bucket.  You probably predicted I would say that, but it is true nonetheless.  I have always had a thing for vessels.  Tupperware containers, empty check boxes, large yogurt containers all cleaned up and ready to be put back to work; even larger prescription capsules can be used to stow and stash stuff in an organized way.  Big bags and bulky boxes are then of course indispensable....for storing all of those other containers away so they don't overtake the basement!

Am I really such a neatnik?  Or am I trying to act out some control issues in my life?  Perhaps I am desperately trying to organize my outward life to somehow appease my inner turmoil.  Yipes!  Maybe  I should stop giving out ideas and get on with this subject!  


In the case of THE VESSEL, the container itself is far less important than what it carries.  We people are the walking vessels, but walking ever carefully because we are made, more literally than figuratively,  of clay.  Dirt.  Dust.  Earth.  Trying to live independently, we are dry and empty inside; ending up fragile and foolish, temperamental and tempestuous, callous and corrupt.  Without simply receiving the precious good that fills cracks, creates stability, and brings new life, we will fall apart.   What is this good that mends all breaks?  It is the light of God Himself.

 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  2 Cor 4:7 
If you watch this video, don't necessarily watch, but do listen.    The words are also included below.

EARTHEN VESSELS by John Foley
Based on 2 Corinthian 4: 6-7
1 Corinthian 1: 27-29

We hold a treasure, not made of gold,
In earthen vessels, wealth untold,
One treasure only: the Lord, the Christ,
In earthen vessels.

1...Light has shone in our darkness:
God has shown in our heart,
With the light of the glory
of Jesus, the Lord.

2... He has chosen the lowly,
who are small in this world;
In his weakness is glory,
in Jesus the Lord.

Sixth on my Bucket List: The VAT

 What is a BUCKET LIST?

Well, it means one thing to everyone in the world, and maybe something else to me. I think it means a list of buckets. So with the help of thesaurus.com, I came up with a literal bucket list and now I am trying to wax philosophical about each type of container, somehow relating it to our human condition. This is the list of containers I have empathized with this week:  the brazier, the canthe cask, the hod and the pail   Today's reading about The VAT might make more sense if you click on,  and read those, first.  The last discussion will be about my favorite 'bucket'; The VESSEL.

Ah, the vat!  A vat is a bucket.  It's more like a vat, but let's just say it's a bucket shall we?  I'm thinking that a vat could even be a hole in the ground, as in 'a vat of quicksand'.  But let us say that a vat is any giant unwieldy  form of a container that you might dump a great big load of wild ingredients into, and then slowly stir (not mix!) with a large spoon (no, not a spoon; that would turn the vat into a cauldron and that's not on my list) stick (yeah, a stick!  You always stir what's in a vat with a stick for some reason).  Clear?

Didn't think so.  But what goes into the vat of life?  I'm thinking icky.  Let's say you are standing between a cask and a vat.  Life starts handing you stuff (no, not lemons) and your job is to sort each item into the proper container.  Ready, set, GO!

*Your Mom and Dad gave you a lot of love, and you save that precious commodity in the cask.  A no brainer!
*You take your sister's toys and now she hates you!  This is more complicated. Put the guilt in the vat where it will fester, the repentance in your cask so you don't forget it, dump the hate in the vat so it can be swallowed up for a while, and the forgiveness you should treasure in the cask forever. 
* Someone shows you porn and you get hooked!  Certainly the porn has to go in the vat, but it's not that simple.  Do it now, or the vat will overflow when you can finally toss off (and into the vat) the growing tally of addiction, lust, deceit, waste, lies, vain imaginings and the loss of years.  Is there anything for the cask?  If the rest does go in the vat, then there is overcoming, victory, purity and a newfound understanding that a person is so much more than a body.  These are treasures that one might have gained without adding so much to the vat, but, too late now.
*Your spouse challenges your character every day.  Your love for your spouse, and from your spouse, will only grow as it is cherished in a good cask.  Your selfishness needs to be dumped in the vat along with the laziness, the unfair fighting, the failed investments and the burned meals.  The gift of growing patience, along with humility and sacrifice, will grow and prosper in your cask.

You get the idea.  Some of the stuff of life is vile and base, and should only be rid of, while some is rich in value and must be honored and carefully kept.  By the way; the stick of circumstances is always running through the vat and stirring up trouble.  It always brings the most relevant of the worst sin and temptation right to the top at just the wrong time!

picture from nebraskaharvestore.com


But what can be done about that heaping vat full of sin and guilt and shameful memories? The answer is two-fold, with the first step found here:

If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness.    1 John 1:9


The stuff in the vat which is of our own making (probably 90%); our sin, our responses to our own sin, our defending our sin, our justifying our sin, our blaming others for our sin etc., can all be 'purified' when we simply confess it. We are not informing God about what is in our vat when we confess, but we are simply looking in as He points, and agreeing with Him (always a good idea!). Just as a 'confession of faith' is not some kind of guilty admission, but is a statement of agreement. So when we agree with God about what's in the vat, or what should be in the vat, He is 'faithful and just' and then, He drains the vat!  At least of each wrong we recognize and acknowledge as sin.

The second step, now that we are forgiven, is to forgive all those offenses we have been dealt and which might be clinging to the walls of the vat like so much cooked on gristle.

       Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you  
             has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
                                                                           Colossians 3:13

And with these simple steps of confession and forgiveness, we are fit for living in God's presence forever!  But to rephrase 1 John 1:9 above; if we do not confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will not forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  Why should He?  To cling to our sin is not just negating the cask and all of its good wares, but declaring we prefer to live in the vat itself.















[For more on why pornography, and other crap, should be thrown in the vat sooner rather than later, check out this article I wrote last year.]

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fifth on my Bucket List: The PAIL

What is a BUCKET LIST?
Well, it means one thing to everyone in the world, and maybe something else to me. I think it means a list of buckets. So with the help of thesaurus.com, I came up with a literal bucket list and now I am trying to wax philosophical about each type of container, somehow relating it to our human condition. This is the list of containers I will be trying to empathize with this week: brazier, can, cask, hod, pail, vat, and vessel. So far I have delved into the brazier, the canthe cask, and the hod.   Today's reading about THE PAIL might make more sense if you click on those and read them first.
sunshinegrains.com

A pail is a bucket.  (What could be more obvious?)  A pail is used just the same as a bucket, except that it pales in comparison.  (Here is where you might groan dramatically, if you haven't already.)

The every day demands of life require that we do some mundane, basic activities just to survive, but we commit ourselves way beyond the essentials.  We try to spruce up our simple need for sustenance with special recipes, or 'gourmet' meals, or by eating 'out'; and we spend undo effort decorating our bodies in the latest fashions (well, maybe you do), when all we really need is protection from the elements and from undo attention.  Shelter must simply keep the rain off our heads and contain enough heat to maintain a certain temperature, but we dwell on square footage and cabinet space, wall texture and lawn care.  

In the end, we humans are all alike.  We should be able to carry everything we need in a pail, but if our riches let it overflow we would rather rent a storage locker than share with those whose pail is leaking.  

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.                                Proverbs 28:27

  



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fourth on my Bucket List: The HOD


BUCKET LIST means different things to different people. Well, it means one thing to everyone in the world, and maybe something else to me. I think it means a list of buckets. So with the help of thesaurus.com, I came up with a literal bucket list and now I am trying to wax philosophical about each type of container, somehow relating it to our human condition. This is the list of containers I will be trying to empathize with this week: brazier, can, cask, hod, pail, vat, or vessel. So far I have delved into the brazier, the can and the cask.   Today's reading about THE HOD might make more sense if you click on those and read them first.

Have you ever heard of a hod?  If you have, how of a hod had you heard?  Ok, that's enough of that.  A hod is a bucket.  If a bucket is anything that contains something.  In this case a hod is  like an open box with the top, one side and one end removed.  A long pole attached to the underside where two sides meet allows the box to be carried over the shoulder.  Masons, or mason's helpers in particular, use a hod to carry either bricks or mortar from the base of a new brick wall project over, up, and across to wherever the masons are currently laying bricks.

If a hod is a tool that facilitates a mason's work, what is the 'hod' you depend on to do your job?  Today was a crazy mixed up day for me, and with this more general connotation applied,
you might say that I used several different hods.  This morning I was sanding the newly dried joint compound upstairs with a sanding pole.  Later I was brushing and rolling paint at a job, where I relied on my finesse and practiced technique.  (That sounds impressive eh?)  And then I ended up the afternoon hauling firewood!  My hod in the woods consisted of my arms, my back (ugh!) and my dwindling stamina.  Finally this evening my hods of duty and devotion came out of the tool box when I had to go shopping, make dinner, and run to the pharmacy!

So if there is a base tool for any activity, we'll call it a hod.  But I propose that there are really only a couple of basic elements we use in our work, and I ask;  is your hod your brain, or your brawn?  Perhaps most careers require an element of both.  I know at my age, that my brawn is tuckered out and ready for the old brain to take a good long turn.  

One thing I know for sure.  If every important task is associated with its relevant 'hod', our very life, our living body with attached soul and spirit, can be seen as the ultimate hod--a mere tool meant to facilitate a real goal.  Our duty then is to determine to what great end, we will direct our great lives.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”                                           Mark 10:45



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: Eye Contact






Third on my Bucket List: The CASK

Not being able to decide which meaning of BUCKET LIST was intended as this week's blogging theme, I have decided to combine the two possible meanings of the phrase.  I have produced a list of buckets (aided by the synonym experts at thesaurus.com), and now I will try to imagine what each 'bucket' would do with the rest of its life.  Here is the list of containers I will be trying to empathize with this week: brazier, cancask, hod, pail, vat, or vessel.  So far I have talked about the brazier and the can.  You might like this article better if you click on those and read them first.


A cask is a bucket.  At least in the general sense that it is used to contain stuff.  In my mind a cask is like a small barrel, which is kind of like two buckets joined together at the wider end, and with the liquid contents accessible by spout. In the movies we've seen casks of fresh water stored in the hulls of old wooden ships and they were always getting contaminated by seawater during the big storm.  And when land was finally reached, the sailors broke open the casks of rum or beer, which, somehow, were never contaminated by anything!  (If I was the ship's carpenter, or the cooper, I would have been doing a lot of yelling; "Why don't you mugs ever use the spout?  Now I have to fix another cask that you just had to "break into"!  Do you think I have nothing better to do than to go around fixing  casks all day?" And then they'd all say they were sorry and I'd get over it until the next time.)


What comes to mind when you think of a cask?  How about that famous Edgar Allan Poe story about the wine cellar?  The Cask of Amantillado!  I had to look it up, but the key word, cask, made that an easy search.  It was a cask of wine that the 'hero' of the story used as bait to get his revenge on the inaptly named, Fortunato.


Fortunato would have killed for even a broken cask full of water when he found himself chained to a wall, in the back of a wine cellar niche, and in the dark behind a newly laid wall of stone.  


A cask, it seems, is always responsible for providing some essential goods to the table of man.  A barrel is always full of either pickles or crackers and we can all live well enough without those on the menu, but in some countries in the past, wine was the only safe thing to drink.  Fresh water on a ship at sea, of course, is vital for all.


So if a regular old bucket can be used to haul stones to the wall project, slop to the pigs, potatoes from the garden, and soapy water to the floors upstairs, what important product is your cask held in reserve to protect?


God has given us many lists in the Bible.  There are blessings and curses, plagues, commandments, sins, beatitudes, gifts of the Spirit, fruits of the Spirit, faithful saints, tribulations, and ultimate blessings, to name just a few.  But there is a short list of the top three things that God probably keeps in casks, for they will abide forever.


My list of important life factors might be boiled down from the specifics to the more general and include things like health, family well-being, civil freedoms, prosperity, bucket-list plans etc., but God seems to have boiled these down even further to the very very basic and most vital of all: 




And now these three remain: faithhope and love. But the greatest of these is love.                                                                  1 Corinthians 13:13


May we treasure these in our very best cask; the heart of hearts.