Worn and Weary

Ten days and counting: I’m getting too old for this. Festivities included back-to-back Clearwater Grille dinners, a Sunshine Café breakfast, an outdoor family reception, a photo shoot in the library, Bridgeman’s supper with long-time friends, a Facebook fracas with surprising follow up, plus a loaded weekend ahead with a family gathering at home and birthday party at Kevin and Tena’s.

Let my epitaph read: Done in by good fun, good food, and good intentions.

A highlight was the Sunday afternoon gathering at Norma’s daughter Betsy’s country home for visiting Dianne Hamilton from Oklahoma, Norma’s niece and houseguest. I enjoyed stimulating conversations.  Every person is a story.

The Edmond Company is upgrading Woodland Garden’s website. Den mother Sandy chose me to be the token male for a library photo shoot with librarian Norma.  We are 58 women and 8 men. Professional photographer Susan Maguire clicked away. Her day job is Senior Lecturer, Visual Arts Department, University of Wisconsin Superior. Her photos and artwork have been published and exhibited nationally and in Europe.

A comment about women in the church occasioned the Facebook fracas. I probably came on too strong, but we must interpret the Bible in its cultural setting. The subject came up during supper at Norma’s. I orated at length on the Genesis Adam and Eve story, how God made Adam from ordinary dust while he made woman from a living rib. Norma threw the time-out sign.  Rib? He made this Finn girl from back-bone.

Our meal at Bridgeman’s with George (Toivo) and Lois Nordling from Ironwood Michigan stirred memories. I was their interim pastor in the late 1980s. George was church treasurer, fresh out of alcohol rehab. I found he could write. It took four years to walk him through telling his story, Walking to the Light, Not an Easy Road. George has been sober over 25 years. He teaches the Men’s Bible class in his church. I enjoy Toivo’s Front Porch Musings at yooper517.blogspot.com.

Blessed days; blessed memories; and more to come.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Clock

Old folks were close to my heart all my pastoring days. I looked after them best I could and visited them in care facilities. Over the years I have spent time in scores of facilities for the elderly, of all varieties.

Suddenly I find myself at Woodland Garden among 65 fellow-residents—8 of them men—most of us old and short on cash. We each have our story; we’re all different. I call us Sociology 101.

I guess that’s why Effie Leland Wilder’s short novel, Out To Pasture), grabbed me. It was Wilder’s first book, published when she was 85. Her fictional diarist tells stories about life at The Home, fictional FairAcres. I suspect the book is masked autobiography.

The stories are heart-lifting, heart-rending; sometimes hilarious. Now and then I see myself and my Woodland Garden home.

I love my story, how I got here and what I found. I plan to stay at Woodland Garden until they cart me off to the crematorium, which will be awhile. I renewed my AARP membership for six years and must live at least that long to get my money’s worth.

I say repeatedly: It’s not length of years but sense of purpose that counts. I’ve heard many hurting old people cry: I don’t know why the Lord keeps me here; I’m nothing but a burden. We need to remind them and ourselves that sometimes the burden-bearers need to learn lessons missed along life’s busy way. I know about that.

How many times lingering aged people die just after visiting loved ones leave. It’s almost as though the Lord says Well, that’s it. You can come home now.

I don’t have to know the purpose; I just need to live, assured the Master Guide will set the direction and destination—and the clock.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Don’t Get Me Started

Life is good! The other day I found a short novel in the Woodland Garden library that made life even better.  Effie Leland Wilder wrote Out to Pasture at age 85, her first book. She told in diary form about life at FairAcres Home in Drayton, South Carolina. I found giggles on every page. For me, it’s a been-there-done-that story. I’ve spent lots of time visiting senior residences over the years. Now I call one home.

The Hole News gallops along, picking up speed. Facebook added 100 new subscribers, and who knows how many read online? I’m currently tying together posted Addendum segments for the the Story Tree (www.lloydsstorytree.com.) The segments have drawn more responses than anything I have ever posted in the eight years the Hole News has gone out.

Good to have Keith and his camera back regularly. His life is changing. He emailed this morning: (grandson) Christopher will soon turn 16, get his driver’s license, and take over the daily school driving. Suddenly I’ll have my mornings and late afternoons free. What to do, what to do?

I suspect he’ll think up something. We look forward to Keith’s visit for my 93rd birthday bash at son Kevin and Tena’s home.

Now and then a Facebook comment gets to me.  A friend, quoting from First Timothy, gave Paul’s counsel on a problem relevant to his day: Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

I responded: Silence? Submission? Get real! Who’d want a woman like that? As the Eden story says, it took Satan himself to nail Eve. A ‘mere’ woman got Adam. Then a reader jumped in: It’s about understanding the role both men and women have. We were created for different purposes. Man for God, and woman for man. With great restraint I replied: You best think that through, my friend.

Don’t get me started.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Oh Weary Me

I’m weary of mincing words to appear theologically correct. Claiming the Bible as we have it is inerrant, free from all flaws, is a stretch. Do you really believe two-million souls wandered the barren Sinai with their herds and flocks for 40 years? Sanitation alone defies imagining. Might an ancient editor or copyist have exaggerated a tad? They were known to do that.

Sounds almost heretical, but Scripture says all authority resides in the Living word. He is the author and finisher of our faith.

I believe the Bible as God gave it. The Bible, all 66 segments given over 1,600 years, means what it meant to its first hearers. Divine truths shine throughout the segments, but the Bible’s central message is the coming Messiah, Jesus.  Creator God dwelt among us to teach humanity all man’s limited mind can grasp of the wonders of the God of eternity. The incarnation is our faith’s ultimate mystery.

Is every line of Scripture historically and scientifically literal? Scripture writers used the literary devices common to all written language. Jesus taught through parables–teaching stories. Figurative language abounds in Scripture. The Bible teaches literal, inerrant truth.

The science/Bible/history debate wearies me most. To abandon science and history to support a literal interpretation of Scripture is to repeat the Copernicus/Galileo tragedy. Anyone out there believe the sun revolves around Planet Earth? You can’t do theology apart from history.

Creator God’s Person, purpose, and ways lie far beyond humanity’s capacity to know. As some wise person said, God created man in his own image, and man has been returning the compliment ever since.

After a long breakfast conversation one morning Bill, my agnostic friend, said:  I have it figured out. If there is a God, he will be God, with or without me.  You’re not far from the kingdom, I replied. Today Bill is a faithful participant in a Christian fellowship.

Mystery, Sovereign Grace, Incarnation: all I need.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Things Are Looking Up a Sandy Ridge

A week of on and off thunder showers have improved the fishing for water birds, but is still a long way from normal. There were dramatic skies and a gusty wind and the possibility of an any-moment thunderstorm loomed. I kept a wary eye and left when rain seemed imminent. A stiff gusty breeze made the bee and Monarch shots a challenge. Even when they lit on Milkweed Blossoms they were still darting about in the wind. The two young eagles flew overhead and were gone before I could make the usual adjustments for bird in flight shots, but I got one lucky result. The Lesser Yellow Legs skittering about in inch deep water demonstrates the low water level. He was more than fifty feet out from the edge. Normally he might be 10 feet away where the water laps up on muddy flats. DSC_4791 webDSC_4929 webDSC_4830 web

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There’s more rain in the forecast for the next several days. That’s a good thing.

Young Grandpa Keith

The Big Question

I’m sitting in a booth next to Norma at Sarah’s Table. We’re caught up in Dave Rogotske’s stories. He’s just back from his best-ever fishing season on Bristol Bay. His stories dug a deep lonesome in me. I’ve been to Bristol Bay, ridden the boats, and watched nets frothing with salmon. I still have dear friends up there.

Dave told us how his fishing season almost ended at mid-point. A small oil plug, made only in Italy and hard to find in the U.S., failed. His boat lay dead in the water. Dave radioed his fishing-partner brother for a tow to the tender (large boat that ferries fish to the processing center). That set off a chain of unlikely connections that put Dave and his crew back in business.

Figure the odds: A New Zealand fisherman Dave knew tied up to the tender just as Dave arrived. The fisherman dug around in his kit and found the plug! Dave was good to go. Bonus: the plug search spun off a visit to New Zealand Dave and his dad will make come January.

More stories flowed. I told about Rocky and Phil of Grizzly Skins Lodge; and Paul and Nattie Boskoffsky from Naknek. The mention of Naknek led Dave to ask if I knew a boat inspector from Naknek named Dan O’Hara.

Know him? Danny, then age five, was the first kid Don Stump met as he and his wife Lorene began their Alaska missionary career in 1945. I tell that story in Alaska: New Life for an Ancient People. Young Dan was one of the Stump’s early converts. He went on to become a leader in Southwest Alaska: commercial fisherman (I rode his boat), bush pilot, pastor, mayor of Naknek, and State fishing boat inspector. Along the way, Dan helped build Lake Becharof Bible Camp. He flew me and Elsie there for our first visit.

Connections go on and on. How did I come to meet the Stumps, Dan O’Hara, Dave Rogotske? I told you how I met Norma. The big question is: I’m soon 93; how come I’m still banging away?

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Two Grandsons, Two Sports, One Violin Camp

It’s been the week of the car. With all adults of working age occupied, transporting two grandsons to their respective obligations has befallen this retired old guy. I have no basis for complaint since I volunteered, but I alone have caused the slight hike in the price of gas by increasing demand and contributing to the decline in the oil surplus.

It mostly ends with today’s trip to the culminating concert of the younger grandson’s week of violin camp. After this it’s back to as normal as life ever gets, which isn’t normal at all, but tolerable. School starts next week, violin camp is over, and football and cross country practices are tacked on to the end of the school day. We go home later, but without any extra driving.

The oddity of the week was discovering that violin camp is more dangerous than football practice. The younger grandson took a week off cross country practice for violin camp. On the second day he was playing kickball during a break, an approved activity. Someone rocketed the ball straight at his head. He put up his hands and saved his face but badly sprained the pinkie finger on his violin hand. He was a three-fingered violinist the rest of the week, improvising new fingerings to accommodate his useless fourth finger.

The obvious moral: Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be violinists.

Young Grandpa Keith

Eating-Out and Connections

This was eating-out week: four meals loaded with remarkable connections. The week began with lunch at Clearwater Grill up the Shore. George and Anita Lindberg from Plymouth, Minnesota shared the table. Anita was part of the youth group at First Baptist, Iron River, Michigan when I came as pastor in 1948. She was 15; I was 25. So much to remember! Anita and four others from the youth group have kept in touch through the years. Anita and George found each other after their spouses died—a heart-warming love story. Turned out, I knew George’s brother.

Tuesday evening I returned to Clearwater Grill with Norma, son Kevin, and Tena. I married Kevin and Tena in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Some years later, I married Tena’s line-backer-size sons at Soldiers Grove near Viroqua. Tena’s growing addiction to her three grand-babies works out great. She transports me and Norma to Grandparents’ Day at Viroqua’s Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School where Norma’s grandson Ethan attends. Norma’s son Jim, Ethan’s dad, works at the nearby Organic Valley headquarters. Ethan’s mom Nan works at Pleasant Ridge. During dinner, Tena photographed me and Norma happy and laughing. She posted the photo on Facebook and likes, loves, and comments poured in. Connections.

Wednesday’s connections came at Big Daddy’s Burgers. Clyde Rogers, the Sage of Juniata Street, hauled me to the Emmanuel Baptist men’s lunch where we met two newcomers to the church. The retired brothers, former Duluthians, spend winters in Texas and summers in Duluth. As conversation flowed, connections bounced around. Early in his career, Clyde headed a division of Sweden House, a national buffet franchise company. Clyde told of a franchise he installed in Texas. The brothers knew the owners! They also had known the Sweden House founders.

We wrapped up the week Thursday morning at Sarah’s Table with syrup/salmon guy Dave Rogotzke, just back from Alaska. Norma and I shook our heads as multiple connections unfolded, concluding with a boat inspector named Danny O’Hara. I’ll tell that story in the next Hole News.

Old Grandpa Lloyd.


Too Little Water

Normally I repost pieces from the Hole News on Facebook because I have friends there who are not Hole News readers. This time I’m doing it the other way round. I posted these photos yesterday on Facebook and here today for the benefit of non-Facebook followers.

Solitary Sandpiper

A Solitary Sandpiper. That’s is real name, not a comment on its being by itself.

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Killdeer and Sandpipers like the muddy edges of the ground that was once under 4-6 inches of water. Hopefully it will be again soon.

Low Water

Herons were mostly standing around wondering where the water went. Not much of the marsh is, at the moment, deep enough for fishing.

Too Little Water

Dabbling ducks are walking around in inch deep water in places where it is usually deep enough for divers.

I visited Sandy Ridge Saturday after being away for a few weeks and found it, if not parched, at least very low on water. I learned from an employee that the marsh was drained for reasons related to an excavation project. It wasn’t clear to me if it was the parks own project or someone else’s. I noticed there were two new culverts installed to allow for greater regulation of the water in the marsh, so that probably mandated the drainage.

Sandy Ridge Panorama

I stitched three photos to make this panoramic shot. It is deceptive. Though it looks like lots of water, it represents only a small part of the total area and is less than half its normal depth.

I have to wait for fall rains and winter snow to refill the marsh.

Young Grandpa Keith

Ten Pages a Year

I’ve been feeling neglectful lately. Hole News posts have been few. Other things besides writing and taking photos have distracted me. Robert Frost the last few years of his life told those who attended his readings that everything he published was in the two modest sized books he had with him on the podium. It added up, he said, to about ten pages a year. I think I’m a bit ahead of that pace.

Standing at attention or flying overhead in slow motion Great Blue Herons are among the most strikingly beautiful of water birds. Up close they are efficient streamlined workers and remarkably accomplished fishermen. Their intimidating glare terrorizes the fish that is lucky enough to see the heron before the heron sees it.

Delivering nesting material.

Delivering nesting material.

Young Great Blue practicing his fearsome stare

Young Great Blue practicing his fearsome stare

Young Grandpa Keith