I May Convert Yet

Egg Minder and Smart Phone

Egg Minder and Smartphone

Count me among the steadily shrinking segment of the world’s population who finds smartphones in all their manifestations objects to ridicule. I have a cell phone that receives and makes calls, stores my frequently called numbers (all 6 of them), and does nothing else that I know of. I buy several hundred minutes at a time, enough for a year or so, and pay no monthly bill. I’m happy in self imposed antiquity.

I hear about “Apps” I could buy from some App store but so far haven’t found any I have any use for. But in today’s email I discovered an app so revolutionary it just might make a convert of me. For $35 ($15 below MSRP) I can get a device with a built in app to store eggs in my refrigerator. It connects wirelessly to any smartphone and, no matter where I am in the world, will warm me when and which ones are past their use by date.

If I had one of those and a smartphone I would never have to wonder about my eggs. I would never again suffer the anguish of throwing away perfectly good eggs because I am uncertain of their freshness. It’s enough to turn me out of doors and hie me to my nearest Smartphone emporium and finally drag myself into the modern world.

Young Grandpa Keith

I Have Been One Acquainted with the Ducks

On a rainy day a year ago the entire flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks paid their first visit to the back yard of the condo. Miraculously it rained dried corn from a second floor window. They ate ferociously then returned to their pond. Not quite 3 months ago on another rainy day they returned and once again there was a cornfall.

Most of the Flock

Most of the Flock

This sunny morning, on my final day of this Florida visit, they returned, but not to call me back or say goodbye. Rather they were wondering if it rains corn even when the sun shines. It does. Their question answered, after cleaning up the cornfall, they flew back. Thirteen squirrels rushed in to eat the leftovers. Behind them came doves searching for particles missed by the squirrels. Little goes to waste.

A few days ago when I looked out the window I saw evidence of a hawk having found a meal. It surprised a dove feeding unawares. Feathers are all that remained. I worried for the 13 squirrels making such easy prey of themselves. Perhaps out of respect for the tenderness of this day of farewells the hawk hunted elsewhere.

I’ll be back, of course, I have two homes. The sadness of leaving one is matched by the anticipation of returning to the other. The time for either is neither wrong nor right, it just isWhistlers 5.

I have been one acquainted with the ducks.

Young Grandpa Keith

Squirrel Proof? Don’t bet on it.

The squirrel on the window ledge has no fear. I tap on the window and it goes on devouring the seed scattered there for the cardinal that flew by twice but didn’t land. Of the half dozen or so squirrels that clean up the corn after the sand hill cranes and their two babies leave only one has found its way up the side of the building to the second floor ledge I thought none of them could reach.

Backyard bird lovers have been making war on marauding squirrels forever. The finest minds have given their all designing squirrel proof feeders and poles to hang them on. Some work but many prove to be bird proof as well. If you want to save money on the rising price of bird feed buy expensive “squirrel proof” feeders.  Squirrels can’t and birds won’t come to them. One fill will last for weeks.

This solitary squirrel who found its way to the second floor window ledge has earned his meal. And, since feeding backyard creatures isn’t for them but for me, I will make friends with him and enjoy this unprecedented close-up relationship with someone undoubtedly smarter than I.

Young Grandpa Keith

PC Busybodies

Hole News friend Bob Kelly, world-class Quotemeister, posted the piece that follows in his April KellyGram. Read and smile. If you write, or just enjoy the feel of words, you need the ­KellyGram. Learn about Bob’s life and ministry at http://www.wordcrafters.info/kellygram.html.

Will this politically correct madness never end? Once again, the cry of the loonies is being heard in the land, demanding that the Washington D.C. football team abolish the nickname by which it’s been known for 80+ years. For decades, that name, Redskins, was never a matter of concern to anyone.

Then, as they love to do, the PC busybodies got busy, deciding the cherished nickname was offensive to certain parties, and had to go. They stir the pot for awhile, get little or no attention, but keep coming back for more, often adding a couple of Congressional do-nothings to their trumped-up cause, as they have recently.

Well, when it comes to nicknames, I have my own beef. As I’ve reported previously, I’m of Irish descent (way, way back), and it distresses me deeply that the University of Notre Dame teams are known, and have been for decades, as “The Fighting Irish.” One glance at a photo of any Notre Dame team, or reading a list of the players’ names, makes it clear that not all can claim Irish ancestry.

Should we not provide relief to those players of other races and nationalities who are unjustly, not to mention inaccurately, labeled as “Irish”? Also, I find the adjective “Fighting” warlike, demeaning and inaccurate when used to describe the Irish. I’m unaware of any other institutions that use such pejorative terms to describe their teams, no “Fighting Italians” or “Belligerent Bulgarians,” for example. It’s well-known that we Irish are, in fact, a romantic, peace-loving lot, given more to writing poetry than to waging war.

Therefore, I submit that the name “The Fighting Irish” has to go. I find it inaccurate and personally offensive, as well as politically incorrect and unacceptable, and demand that Notre Dame officials take immediate steps to abolish it. Otherwise, I may have to take a shillelagh and knock some sense into them.

Besides, “The Friendly Irish” has a much nicer ring to it, don’t you think?

Thanks, Bob. My sentiments exactly.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Easter Every Day

Remember as a kid wishing every day was Christmas? All those gifts! Well, that can’t be. Jesus’ birth was a single event we commemorate once a year. But not so with Easter. The resurrection is ongoing; Jesus is alive forevermore, seated at the right hand of the Father. Without that truth, Easter is a hollow myth and Christianity only another religion.

Easter is the fifth dimension of the great commission. Jesus said, “Surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Always means forever, but also moment by moment. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” was how Paul put it.

I yammer away at this: The gospel is a way of life, not a religion. You are as much a child of God at your lowest moment as you are sitting in church. We need our churches, but they are fueling stations, not the essence of Christianity.

Tomorrow I will practice my religion, beginning with the sacrament of vittles—scrambled eggs, ham, a sweet roll, and hot coffee. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll find a church where they do things right. Morning worship will be packed. Pastor Dave will remind us of the wonder of the empty tomb. He’s my kind of preacher. Then we will disperse to eat more ham. Nothing wrong with that; there are more feasts than fasts in the Bible. Then the faithful will follow Creator God’s example. He rested on the Sabbath. Sundays were made for a nap.

Monday morning the gospel takes over. Every day is as holy as Easter Sunday. Practice Jesus’ abiding presence. Spread a little salt. Shine your light. Smile a lot.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Crane Kids

When I was young I never saw Sand Hill Cranes except in pictures. Now they seem to be everywhere. Some people find them noisy and annoying. Their cries can be heard a mile away. Years ago a nurse taking care of an ailing woman in the ground floor of the Florida condo below this one fed a pair of cranes for the amusement of her patient. After the woman died and the nurse moved on, the cranes continued to come expecting their twice daily cup of dried corn and other seed. My friend Carole took over and continues feeding them to this day.

When I arrived here in February only one of the pair came at a time, a sure sign of nesting. After two months of solo feeding the pair showed up this morning with two little ones. The chicks appear to be about a week old. They went through the motions of feeding but are too young for such roughage. They appeared to be along only for the walk. When they are older the parents will select appropriate bits and place it in their tiny beaks for them.Sand Hill Craines

The cranes I see up north are a rusty brown color because of the mud they rub into their feathers as part of the preening process. Northern mud contains iron accounting for the rusty color. Florida mud is mainly a dull gray, more like the natural color of the cranes’ feathers.Cranes

Young Grandpa Keith


The Gift of Intimacy

The Gift of Intimacy

Yesterday I sat for two hours with the Sage of Juniata Street nursing a Mountain Dew at Dunn Bros. Coffee. Clyde and I haven’t philosophized since my Tucson trip in January. We worked over world affairs, books, trivia, and personal matters, warmed by the ambiance of a well-filled coffee house.

Laptops flared. An older couple at the table next to ours played cribbage. No distracting music, just the quiet murmur of souls enjoying each other’s company.  Clyde and I entered our small, intimate world, knit together by friendship, trust, common interests, and mutual respect. Clyde is moving toward 80; I passed that mark a while back.

Like love, our sex-mad society has all but ruined the concept of intimacy. But intimacy is far more than body parts. Intimacy is the soul-to-soul embrace that relishes the company of another person, man or woman. Intimacy happily absorbs differences, listens, learns, and gives.

Clyde’s faith journey differed in some respects from mine but we arrived at same destination.  He maintains a unique mentoring ministry among young people he meets at Dunn Bros and elsewhere. I have a roving ministry, befriending strangers who cross my path and pounding my bully pulpit, the written word.

I ponder often the mysteries of love and intimacy, the closeness of spirit with another that seems just to happen. As years accumulate, you covet the gift of intimacy that binds your spirit with another, a closeness defying definition. That gift was the heart of my recent midnight renewal in ICU. I walked through Psalm 23 and my cup overflowed.

Have I become a sentimental old fool? Sentimental? Yes. Old? Indeed. If that makes me a fool, I’ll take it.  How long since you cried over six verses of scripture?

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Verbosity vs. Orthodoxy

As the Hole News moves through its fifth year, readers may wonder at my theological meandering. Some already  count me heretic and leave me to me fate. Others struggle to restore me to the truth. Still others remain friends and allow me to meander.

Theological squabbling is as old as scripture. Paul had a set-to with the Jerusalem council. On another occasion, he withstood Peter to his face. The epistles warn about false teaching.  Church Fathers wrestled to build the New Testament canon, a debate not yet fully resolved.

Every denomination is the long shadow of a leader with a theological axe to grind. Inevitably, denominations live in tension with opposing views. Then there are groups that declare, No creed but Christ, no authority but the Bible. Of course they mean their interpretation of Christ and the Bible, which becomes their creed.

My credo begins with mystery, a big bin that holds truths I accept intuitively but can’t fully grasp. I believe in the sovereign grace of Creator God, the Incarnation (Jesus, true God and true man), the cross and empty tomb. I believe in God’s kingdom on earth, which includes the church and more. I believe in creation ex nihilo and the consummation.I believe God lit the big bang and in his time will fulfill his purpose for the developing universe he has guided since “In the beginning God created.” The core of my credo is the daily walk with God Jesus.

Do I understand these beliefs? Certainly not. But I am content to live with mystery under the shadow of Creator God’s sovereign grace. I view divine truth in a smoky mirror and ponder. Beware the person who has everything figured out. Verbosity does not equal orthodoxy.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Home Sweet Home

Home sweet home, the place where friends and loved ones dwell. There’s no place on earth I’d rather live than Woodland Garden Apartments.

I’m home after a 12-day medical journey which included my first ICU stay. There, divine healing set in, administered by a bevy of angels: doctors, bedside caregivers, and wielders of brooms, mops, and clipboards. All healing is divine; some just takes a little longer.

The most interesting healing part was the wrap-up photo op: I swallowed a capsule that filmed my digestive tract from stem to stern, finding nothing amiss.

Shortly after I arrived in ICU, Chaplain Gary Meller came to pray with me. In early evening my very best friend and her daughter Betsy stopped by. We chatted for an hour. Then the angels tubed and wired me and left me to my thoughts. Alone in a strange room under strange circumstances, I walked through Psalm 23, pausing at vantage points to reflect.

Verse seven stopped me. My cup overflowed with joy, peace, and tears—one of those cherished moments when God’s Spirit comes close, a moment partly triggered by an event earlier in the evening.

A young nurse tending me caught snatches of the conversation with my best friend and her daughter. Pausing her work the nurse said, “Did you write a book?” I confessed to writing several. “I know you! I am Ben Hatfield’s wife!”

Someday I’ll tell you how Ben’s dad, Don, became my cherished friend during North Shore pastoring years. The story begins when a Swede butcher in Duluth’s Central Hillside invited Ben’s older brother Dan to Sunday school. It moves to a prayer time around a barrel stove on a bitter December camp workday, followed by Don’s baptism. I tucked Romans 8:28 under my ICU pillow and sought sleep.

The next three hospital days brought opportunity to speak words of hope, comfort, and maybe wisdom to a man needing counsel about serving God; to a frazzled woman caring for her elderly husband; and to Judy, a kindly night nurse my father aided many years earlier. Quite a tale. Welcome to the Hole News, Judy.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


How Do You Donate a View?

How Do You Donate a View?

The Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains take their name from the haze that most all of the time hangs over them. Clear panoramic views don’t come along all that often, and if you are a tourist and see them only once every couple of years it is a pleasant surprise to find them without the blue haze or low hanging clouds to obscure them.

Two years ago when I visited I came upon an especially nice vantage point offering an unobscured panoramic view of the mountains. I stopped and took some pictures and noticed a plaque below the road naming the location “Rhodes Big View.” The view, it claimed, was donated by the children of Robert and Antonia Rhodes a few years ago. It made me ask, how do you donate a view?


I submitted that question along with the photo I emailed to a bunch of friends and family and the consensus was that what they donated was the plaque. I accepted that answer but thought it rather self-serving of the Rhodes’ children to make such a big deal of their gift of a plaque.

Finally I looked into the matter and discovered that the parents had purchased the land at that spot along the road intending to make it into a home site. The land seemed to me to fall away nearly vertically from the road at that point, but you’d be amazed the lengths people have gone to carve out lots for their dream home in the mountains. Apparently the dream died with the parents and the children donated the land to the local land trust.

Here are two pictures taken from near the plaque, one in August of 2012, the other just last week.


Smoky Mountains

Young Grandpa Keith