Picture That!

Thanks a million for a jillion birthday well-wishes via snail mail, email, Facebook, and pinned to my door. Way too many to acknowledge individually. But I value every one, for I measure my wealth in friends.

Birthday 92 was so much fun, I’m working on 93. A storyboard librarian sweetheart Norma put together highlighted the open house party. Dozens of photos told my story, from rompers and man’s hat at age three to a  cozy restaurant scene in Tucson last March. What a wild ride I enjoyed between rompers and restaurant!

Mystery: Whatever happened to that heap of wavy brown hair I once had?

Son Joel splashed the open house photos about on Facebook and several friends picked them up, drawing lots of likes. My friends list grew, adding to my riches.

Norma put so much work into the storyboard, I proposed we keep it for my memorial service. Maybe I’ll get time to add a post script.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Lovely, Dark, and Deep

Caley Wildlife Refuge includes some thick woods. I walked there today. I met only one other woods walker. He was resting on a log, my vintage, about half way back from where I was headed. He remarked on what a glorious day the Lord had given us for such a walk.I still had twenty minutes to go down the old farm road, through two meadows, to the second of two ponds. Here’s some of what I saw.

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Two tiny butterflies no more than an inch wide each.

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A small green frog motionless in the clippings of a just mowed meadow.

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Bees on deep purple blossoms.

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The Crownbeard plants with their drooping yellow flowers grow six to eight feet tall this time of the summer and line the old farm road leading to the bridge and the meadows beyond.

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I call this place my psychiatrist’s office. I am not at all facetious.

Young Grandpa Keith

There Are Roughly Zones

Grandpa Lloyd’s last post brought to mind lines from one of the 40-odd poems I’ve memorized over the years, most of them by Robert Frost.

What comes over a man, is it soul or mind
That to no limits and bounds he can stay confined?
You would say his ambition was to extend the reach
Clear to the Arctic of every living kind.
Why is his nature forever so hard to teach
That though there is no fixed line between wrong and right,
There are roughly zones whose laws must be obeyed.

At issue in the poem is a peach tree brought to New Hampshire despite the fact that it was very far north for it to have much chance to bear fruit. The farmer laments that the “northwest wind rose to such a height just when the temperature went down so many below.” Should the tree not survive he would know that this was the night it died.

Grandpa Lloyd may have weathered one battle but I can’t imagine he has licked his addiction to “one click” another book from Amazon. Whether the conflict is between wrong and right as in Frost’s poem, or between common sense and nonsense when adding to his must read list, his nature will out. When I visit him next I will find his stack of must read material still growing. I will “blame it on this limitless trait in the hearts of men.”

Young Grandpa Keith

Eeny, Meeny, Miny—No Moe!

Tuesday’s mail brought another Great Courses catalog, setting me drooling. Hundreds of studies by top professors, college-level stuff for ordinary people: science, philosophy, history, literature, and more. My buy-now addiction almost got me.

Then the must-read stack cried out, joined by my calendar. My  plate already holds more than I can eat if I make it to 100. Inward/Outward came to the rescue with  a quote from Parker Palmer:

“One of our problems as Americans—at least, among my race and gender—is that we resist the very idea of limits, regarding limits of all sorts as temporary and regrettable impositions on our lives. Our national myth is about the endless defiance of limits: opening the western frontier, breaking the speed of sound, dropping people on the moon, discovering ‘cyberspace’ at the very moment when we have filled old-fashioned space with so much junk that we can barely move. We refuse to take no for an answer. Part of me treasures the hopefulness of this American legacy. But when I consistently refuse to take no for an answer, I miss the vital clues to my identity that arise when a way closes—and I am more likely both to exceed my limits and to do harm to others in the process.”

Well spoken, Dr. Palmer. I’m grateful the years have not dimmed my curiosity, or petrified my brain. Hunger for knowledge is good, but they say if I quit eating while still hungry I’ll never get fat. Fat is bad news for geezers.

Time to sharpen the no factor. Sorry, Great Courses.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Old Rocking Chair got Me?

What do you know? Front page! See www.duluthbudgeteer.comClick on my photo when it pops up, or search the Budgeteer home page for Blogging at 91. Thanks to reporter/photographer Teri Cadeau for a good job.

Great to have Young Grandpa Keith back with photos and stories to brighten my sometimes gloomy posts. Google “My Sandy Ridge” by Keith YouTube for a  musical introduction to Keith’s favorite Ohio photo haunt, where he sometimes chats with  Cedric, a saucy cedar waxwing,

I’d be pleased to visit with you Northlanders at my 92nd birthday open house Saturday afternoon (August 29), 2:00 to 4:00.  Cake and punch in the library. Just down the hall, Hole News Headquarters will be open for inspection.  Woodland Garden Apartments, 127 East Calvary Road, first street east of the Woodland shopping center. Best to park on Chisholm Street or Calvary Road.

Knowing the uncertainties of geezerhood, here’s my birthday prayer: Please, Lord, don’t let me outlive my brain. And this back-up, just in case: Lord, let me know if it happens

I don’t feel quite ready for the rocking chair. I lean on this Charles F. Kettering gem gleaned from Dr. Mardy’s Quotes of the Week (www.drmardy.com): “Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.”

Seeing life through at 92,

Old Grandpa Lloyd

A few more pictures from God’s first book.

There were more than butterflies at Sandy Ridge. I managed several usable pictures. Here are some of them.

Striking Profile

Any bird enthusiasts care to offer an ID of this one?

Great Blue

Great Blue Heron

Busy Bee

This particular kind of bee was after the same blossoms as the Monarchs

Dragon Fly

Dragonfly

Monarch

I couldn’t resist one more view of a Monarch.

Great Egret

Great Egret

Trumpeter Swan

One of a pair of Trumpeter Swans that never swam close enough to each other for a group shot.

Young Grandpa Keith

Two Monarchs

Finally I’ve returned to Ohio and Sandy Ridge. I spent a leisurely two hours yesterday walking and looking. Birdlife was minimal. So late in the morning most were standing around doing nothing. Nesting season is long past and I saw only about a dozen total ducks, mostly Blue-Winged Teal. The usual dozen and a half Great Egrets stood around, only one of them actively fishing. I saw not a single Canada Goose. There are usually several families dabbling about.

I saw dozens of Monarch Butterflies making the rounds of Milkweed blossoms. There was a pretty good breeze and it was difficult to get usable pictures. The Milkweed plants were tossing in the wind. Even when the butterflies lit on them they were still moving.

What struck me is how many of the butterflies were so tattered. Only a few had wings that didn’t look as though something had been chewing on the edges of them. Except for the risk of being eaten by some bird I always presumed butterflies lived a carefree life flitting from one pretty flower to another. Not so, apparently.

I took a few hundred shots and managed a few keepers. Here are two, one perfectly symmetrical, one tattered.Wonderfully Formed A Bit Tattered

They say the natural wonders of the world are God’s other book. But, the natural world is really God’s first book. Butterflies were flitting about from flower to flower eons before anything  was written down.

Young Grandpa Keith

God’s Picture Book

Cousin Marian Marks and husband Dave of Pineville, Oregon live fulltime in a 5th wheel trailer. A while back they visited our North Country and invited me and daughter Sally and Dale to a picnic featuring abalone. We were grateful for the breeze that held mosquitos at bay. The meal was great. Dave deep-fried the abalone to perfection.

I knew nothing about abalone, a gourmet delight. It is a  single-shell mollusk found around the world. Dave pried our supper off its rock in Oregon’s coastal waters. Marion gave me its shell.

Though rough and rather ugly the outside, the colors and intricate design I found on shell’s inside blew my mind, a page from God’s picture book I will cherish.

The following evening special friend Norma invited me to watch The Crane Song on PBS with her (I have no TV). Half a million sand hill cranes whirling and swirling in Nebraska’s Platte River country added another page to my picture book collection, this time with sound.

Years before I learned to read, I was studying God’s picture book, coming to know his majesty. Now, with 92 coming on, I’m still collecting pages.

As years passed, God’s technicians (scientists) deepened my wonder at his glory. Sure, some scientists strayed speculated beyond their province, and so did some theologians. I learned early on not to let those who stray blur the beauty and harmony I find between God’s universe and his books.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

If you stop by my birthday open house in the Woodland Garden Library from 2:00 to 4:00 August 29, I’ll show you my abalone shell. Please park on Calvary Road or Chisholm Street.

Anthropomorphically Speaking

Anthropomorphically?  I’m showing off, of course. Crass judgment holds a writer who uses a big word when a small word would do is showing off. On the other hand, I can’t come up with a short word for anthropomorphism, or its adverb form. And showing off gains attention, which is what I hope to do.

Theology can’t work without anthropomorphisms, because the mind can’t wrap itself around eternal verities apart from Earth-related terms. Deity, Trinity, eternity, infinity, evil, atonement and more lie beyond human ken without giving them Earth-bound characteristics. The incarnation was the ultimate anthropomorphism. Creator God became man so humans could learn what humans can know about God. You can’t form an emotional bond with a concept, but if you can ponder the cross without tears, you need to see your analyst.

We must cut each other slack when discussing religion. I believe my beliefs intensely, but so do others. Intensity of feeling has nothing to do with truth. My creed has shrunk to three parts: mystery, utter reliance on the sovereign grace of Creator God, and incarnation. Fill in the blanks as you will. We’re all the products of our teachers; a  cause for humility.

A Methodist bishop in my youth converted his pulpit to an elevator, warning us to keep our elbows in as we descended into Hell. You could small the brimstone and hear the wails of the damned.  Getting saved was the only alternative. But some of us learned that fear-induced salvation lost its zing when the moon rose, stirring other emotions.

Blame this harangue on conversation during our morning mail-waiting caucus. I suspect friend Bob who raised the question wished he hadn’t.

Old Grandpa

The Real McCoy

What is authentic Christianity? Approved doctrine or a particular view of scripture? The right heritage? Not at all. One word sums up authentic Christianity:  Christlikeness.

In the opening part of his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul dealt with the authenticity question: It has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren…that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided?”  Paul set his readers right. Check it out.

Acts 2:42 tells us how the first Christian converts, mostly tourists attending the Feast of Pentecost, understood their new faith. They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Jesus’ resurrection formed the core of apostolic teaching. The first church didn’t parse scripture. The four gospels would not appear for at least 25 years. Those new believers simply cared for one another, holding all things in common, sharing according to need.

It’s not our mode of worship or how we organize our churches and clergy that counts; certainly not certain doctrines we champion. An email Quotemeister Bob Kelly recently sent me settled the authenticity issue. Bob wrote: Many years ago, Corrie ten Boom visited a Sunday school class I was in. I’ve never forgotten two things she said: “Don’t make your doctrine your Jesus; make Jesus your doctrine.”

A big Amen, Bob. That’s the real McCoy.

Old Grandpa Lloyd