Celebrating John S.

When I was 10, my brother, John S. was born.

Despite my best efforts to raise him, his parents kept getting in my way. (Yes, I know, they were my parents, too.)

My older sister was excited to have a real live doll to play with. She could dress him up in her doll clothes, paint his face with her mother’s rouge, and position him just right. (have you ever tried to make a baby stay in the place you want him?)

She soon grew tired of that and returned to her more amenable dolls. This allowed me more time to play with him, take him for walks in his stroller, let him pull my hair, and generally treat him like the puppy I always wanted.

As John grew older, his sisters tried to inculcate proper boundaries in his life. For example, I informed his mother that he shouldn’t be watching the Flintstones every day at lunch. I look back on those days, wiser now. I was not acting entirely in John’s best interests. If I’m honest, I have to admit I was jealous, plain and simple. Why should my brother get to watch TV while eating mac and cheese, while I ate a bagged lunch in a boring school cafeteria? My kids would probably tell you that TV hadn’t been invented when I was that age. Kids can be cruel.

It became clear that John’s parents were not idiots. They rescued him from his two older sisters by moving him away to Newfoundland. There, John learned how to fix skidoos and other manly arts that neither of his sisters possessed. Good move, Parents.

Thus, John grew up to be an engaging, responsible man of many skills, talents and abilities. He has married well, raised decent, law abiding children, and is now a grandfather of six. I say this with pride and humility at the same time; he has surpassed me. I believe his other sister would say the same.

The anniversary of his birth has come around once more; I wish you, John S., a day of celebration, love, and joy.

Be well, be happy, be blessed, my sainted brother. You are a credit to your sisters, and I daresay, the best of us all.

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I overheard two young twentysomethings talking recently. They were itemizing the important things in their lives. I realized, as I listened in dismay, how old mature I’ve become.

The list? Piercings, tattoos, drinking, and crying over lost loves. (The Oxford comma is optional in this case.)

If these are the priorities of young adults today, no wonder this is called the lost generation.

Oh, wait, that’s what MY generation was called. (The sixties, if you must know.) We had hippies, the sexual revolution, Vietnam, and cults. (Oh yes, piercings, tattoo, and drinking too, but maybe less widespread.) It was a tumultuous generation, to say the least.

I wonder, though, whether today’s generation has surpassed even the sixties. Has it gone where no………..has gone before? (fill in that blank, if you dare.) It seems it’s gone from trying not only to erase man’s footprint from the planet, but gender itself. As generations go, I have to say, this one has taken it to a whole new level of crazy.

Some folks will tell you with dogmatic certainty that science supports climate change,  but will become apoplectic unbelievers when biology, anatomy, and physiology support gender assignment. Science is indisputably firm on this matter. There are two–and only two genders: male and female. How crazy is it when parents can now list their progeny as non-binary on a birth certificate? Whaaat?  It sounds like they birthed a computer chip.  And doesn’t that give a whole new meaning to the expression, “chip off the old block”?

Transgender issues aside, (or what all previous generations more precisely termed, “body dysmorphia”), the particular confusion this generation faces has never been encountered before. Could this attempt to blur the long established natural boundaries  of genders be any more destructive?

When you twentysomethings become parents, will you make your child declare (decide) its own gender before it’s allowed to decide its bedtime? How confused will your offspring be when you are arrested for referring to him/her by his/her biologically assigned gender, instead of the one it picked? Does this bode well for its future? Yours?

What are your children learning at school if the teacher can be dismissed for nothing more than using the wrong pronoun in addressing the child who has self declared as, other?

How many new kinds of sexual problems will inundate psychiatrists offices in twenty years?

I echo my mother who wisely said, “What on earth is this world coming to?”

It strikes me that this generation’s particular anomaly–gender elimination–is something illogical, unscientific and blatantly atheistic. It has begun to permeate mainstream thought and action, yet no one can predict what negative consequences may harm this and even future generations. My hope is that by the time my twentysomethings are thirty, a blast of old fashioned values and common sense will have shattered the notion that a genderless society is the new utopia.

If not, I shudder to think.

If we don’t straighten up and fly right, as my father used to say, then we’ll really have something to cry about, and it won’t just be an ill-advised tattoo or a lost boyfriend–it’ll be a lost generation.


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Clara’s Spring (Excerpt)

It was nothing Clara could put her finger on, but once she began to suspect it, every event, every word, every sight pointed to the inevitable truth; the end was near.

Morning mist had yielded to sunshine that promised an early spring break up on the Homestead. Icy rivulets trickled through shrinking snowdrifts; even the birds sang a cheerful song today. Warm breezes softened the blue-white fields of snow that had slept all winter—fields that had produced so little the year before, but had demanded so much. The strong young men had plowed and seeded while women and children had weeded, watered, and prayed for a bumper crop. Stubbornly, the earth refused to do its part. Clara saw elders shaking their head at the paltry harvest, all but destroyed by July drought and unrelenting August rain. She heard whispers that the money had run out, the Homestead would be forced to turn to the World for supplies once again. Whispers flew through the camp, like bitter dregs of defeat; the mighty had fallen.

If the Homestead failed, what would become of Clara?




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Celebrating Christmas

When I was in my twenties, I joined a Bible study group that eventually evolved into a cult-like group. I withdrew from society—emotionally, socially, and spiritually. During those years with this group, which did not condone celebrating any birthdays, including Christ’s, Christmas Day passed unheralded and unsung.

For seven years, December 25 was just another day on the calendar for me.

In the decades since I have learned something that has changed my outlook on Christmas. The birth of Jesus Christ was anything but ‘just another day’ for the world. Apart from birthing Christianity, Christ’s teachings have been responsible for innumerable positive contributions to civilization.

Where you see Christianity flourishing, you see the poor cared for, the sick visited, prison conditions improved. Hospitals, universities, scientific discoveries were inspired by followers of Christ. Places in the world where life is worth nothing, where women live in abject subservience, and where basic human freedoms are absent, you will find Christianity has been stifled or obliterated. Here, the people live as if in the Old Testament, where the Law is a harsh schoolmaster, demanding and exacting punishment for every infraction—a dark and hopeless place.

Christ’s arrival provided a way out of that dark and hopeless place. To His disciples, He was the Light of the world, bringing grace, forgiveness, and love instead of wrath and penalty. Not everyone saw Him that way. The religious elites saw Him as a threat to their control over the religious affairs of men. Their hatred put him on the cross after only three years of public ministry.

But those few years had yielded much fruit. His followers went all over the known world healing the sick, preaching the Gospel, and spreading love. Light had taken hold; it would not be extinguished.

And never will be.

That first Christmas so long ago when the angels rejoiced, the shepherds watched, and Mary brought forth her special Son, was the day that God Himself imparted to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.

In the history of mankind, such a momentous event has never been. It literally changed the world.

This December 25, I will celebrate Christmas with all my heart. My wish is that we may all know the blessings of heaven not only on this one day, but all year through.

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The arrival–a scene writing exercise.

The light plane circled the small coastal town before making a perfect landing with a soft swoosh on the water. Kathy West heaved a heartfelt sigh of relief. She hated flying. The crucial take-off and landing always rattled her, even on a jumbo jet like the one she had just taken from Toronto to Vancouver.

In this four seater Cessna from Vancouver, there had been no respite for the last hour. She had white-knuckled it all the way, her hands gripping the arms of her seat so tightly they had cramped up. Barely breathing had left her light headed. Nevertheless, she felt that her efforts had not been in vain; they had remained in the air. As soon as the plane came to rest on the smooth water of the inlet, she took a well-earned breath; letting it out in a long sigh.

“Safe and sound, Miss West,” said her pilot, Red Michaels, who had informed her a minute before takeoff that everyone called him, Crash. He had hustled her on to the aircraft before she had time to turn and hightail it back to the terminal.

So here she was in Halfway Junction—three thousand miles away from her home, her old life—and David. She and David Barton were practically engaged; they had everything but the formality sewn up. As Kathy gazed out the window of the bobbing aircraft at the town she had chosen to be her home for the next year, her heart fluttered with apprehension. Had she made a mistake? In all her twenty five years she had never done anything this impulsive.

David had laughed when she told him about going out west. “Halfway Junction? Are you kidding me? I can’t imagine you anywhere but in a big city with shopping malls and coffee shops on every corner.” Her peeved expression might have caused him to temper his remarks. “I mean, it’s not as if you couldn’t do it, Kate. You could do anything you put your mind to. But why the boonies? Your life here is just about perfect as it is.” Then he gave her that dazzling smile of super whitened teeth that he bestowed on his best clients. “Plus, I’m here.”

Maybe all that wasn’t enough anymore—not for her, at any rate.

Crash opened the cockpit door and disappeared. Kathy uncurled her hands from the handles and unbuckled the seat belt but she remained where she was, breathing deeply. She felt the thud when the pontoons hit the dock. From the small window she watched two men on the wharf catch the ropes the pilot threw at them, and secure the plane safely to the wooden walkway.

“Okay, Miss West, come on out,” Michaels called from outside the open cockpit.

Gingerly, Kathy stepped to the doorway. Crash balanced on one pontoon. He held the wing bar with one hand and extended his free hand to her. “Just take my hand and jump down to the pontoon,” he said encouragingly.

She regarded him in disbelief. “Did you say jump?” She looked down. The distance between her feet and the float was daunting enough. Then she caught a glimpse of the cold blue water lapping between the two pontoons and courage failed her. Given a choice, she would rather give up her crazy adventure and go home, but that would require a return trip in this vehicle piloted by a man known far and wide as Crash. There were no good options here.

The pilot decided for her. Without hesitating, he grabbed her arm in a firm grasp and tugged her down to the float. She had to steady herself, thankful Mr. Crash kept tight hold on her. One of the men on the dock grabbed her free hand and plucked her neatly off the pontoon to the safety of the solid planks of the wharf.

if she were inclined to such extravagant gestures she would have bent down to kiss the wooden sidewalk. As it was, she had a great deal too much reserve and decorum in her DNA for that kind of emotional display. Instead, she wrapped her arms about the nearest man’s neck with a grip requiring two strong hands to loosen. Embarrassed, Kathy stepped back from the stranger, kept her head down, murmured her thanks, and abjectly apologized in one breath.

“Atta girl,” Crash said with obvious pride. “I knew you could do it. I’ve sent my share of baby flyers out of my little nest.” He gave his plane a loving pat.

Both men chuckled. “He’s right, ma’am. Crash ain’t never lost a passenger yet.”

Which begged the question of how the man acquired his nickname. Kathy chose not to go there.

Crash disappeared into the plane for a minute and emerged with Kathy’s small overnight bag and medium-sized suitcase. To her shock and astonishment, he tossed them willy-nilly on the dock. “There you go, Miss West. Have a nice day, now, you here?”

Before Kathy could react to her bags being flung about so carelessly, the second man quickly gathered both of them and set them in front of her. “Here,  Miss West. I hope nothing was breakable.”

“Thank you, Mr….?”

“Josh Coulter, at your service, Miss West. Your knight in shining armour over there is Sam Greenwood,” he said, indicating the man beside her. “Most folks call him Sammy,” he added.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, ma’am,” Sammy said

“Thank you, Sammy.” His accent and speech reminded her of the Beverly Hillbillies. In fact, with his rusty beard, straggly blond mane, and wiry build clothed in jeans and rumpled denim shirt, he even looked the part. “I’m not usually so forward with a stranger, but I was so glad to feel solid ground under my feet, and, well, I hope I didn’t offend you with my death grip.”

A wide grin revealing a few missing teeth reassured her. “No siree, ma’am. I was not offended. In fact, that is, I would be happy to…aw shucks, Ma’am. It were my pleasure, entirely,” the flustered Sammy Greenwood said, as his cheeks above the beard turned bright pink.

Josh Coulter laughed. “What he means to say, Miss West, it that he will endure your gratitude anytime, even if it does temporarily cut off his windpipe.”

Kathy turned her attention to Josh Coulter then; really looking at him for the first time. Her breath caught. He was the handsomest man she had ever seen; the classic tall, dark, matinee idol standing in front of her “at her service”. Some lucky girl waited at home for this stunning man. Kathy pushed the thought away. That was none of her concern.

Hearing the plane engine revving up behind her, Kathy turned. She was surprised that the pilot was ready to taxi out into the bay again. Sammy was about to throw the lines back on the pontoons. Suddenly she felt like the last way back to her old life was about to fly away.

She swayed slightly, and Josh reached out his arms to steady her. “Careful, Miss West,” he said softly. “Are you okay?”

No one should look that good, she thought. From his thick black windblown hair to his denim jacket and casual jeans, he was every inch a perfect male specimen.

Pulling herself together, Kathy stiffened her spine. “Yes, thank you—again,” she said.

“Is someone meeting you?” Josh asked. “Do you need a lift somewhere?”

She checked her wristwatch. Four o’clock in the afternoon. The sun was amazingly high for such a late afternoon hour, she noted. “I probably should go to the hospital,” she began.

Sammy interrupted. “I can take you there in my truck, ma’am. Are you hurt, or sick?”

Kathy smiled gently. “No, no, Sammy. It’s just that I’m supposed to see the director of nursing. I’ve got a job there. And please, call me Kathy.”

“Remind me to have that surgery I’ve been postponing,” muttered Josh under his breath, but she heard it.

It reassured her that she might not look as travel worn as she felt, which lifted her spirits. She refrained from looking at Josh again too closely. It was enough that his sheer masculinity seemed to reach out and touch her across the space between them. “Can”—she cleared her throat and tried again. “Can you direct me to the hospital?”

Sammy pointed eagerly in the direction of the townsite. “So happens I’m headed that way myself. I can take you there, ma’am. My truck’s parked over there.” He pointed to a rust colored pick up that looked like it belonged in a scrap yard, but Kathy couldn’t mistake the glow of pride on Sam’s face. She smiled. Even with the casual travel pants and shirt she wore, she was way over dressed for such a mode of transportation.

With undisguised regret on his face, Josh said, “I would go with you two but Crash is taking me to another job site.” He saluted to the hillbilly. “Sammy, drive that old crate as if you were carrying eggs, do you hear? Eggs.” Josh winked at Kathy before turning towards the light plane she had left only moments ago. “I’ll be back in a few hours.”

The words had no sooner left his lips than a huge explosion ripped the air. As the four of them stood in silent shock, a cloud of black smoke billowed up in the distance. It rose higher and higher until it shrouded the tall pine trees that surrounded Halfway Junction.

to be continued…any thoughts?

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A Lazy Eye? Why me?

I have a lazy eye. It’s no big deal to me after all these years. But when one of my patients asked me about ten years ago if I’d found this ‘handicap’ a detriment in my career, I knew I’d und…

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Sonny Goes Solo

Usually I speak of Sonny and Thor in the same breath, as if they are one entity: sonnyandthor. Today, I relate the story of Sonny’s solo adventure. The other morning, he discovered the front gate o…

Source: Sonny Goes Solo

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