A Poem Lovely As a Tree

I love trees. I’m not a tree hugger though I do hold hands now and then. Trees can be a useful crop, a renewable resource, and things of beauty. Vital lessons.

My favorite trees are too big to hug; they’re for leaning on. Take the old white pine that stood by the beloved Scout cabin where Kathy Gustafson now lives. Oh the life-shaping lessons that tree taught me! It’s gone now, lost to the autumn gale. It just missed Kathy’s home when it fell.

Then the witness tree, a very tall pine overlooking Loon Lake at the wooded site we built for camper overnights at Lake Ellen Camp. A man who hunted the area told me wherever they wandered, they could count on the witness tree to lead them home.

Jeanne Kuhns’ recent Facebook post reminded me of the king of trees, the sequoias of California. The President, largest of all, is the second-oldest living thing on earth. At 3,200 years, the President was a sprig of green when Gideon was battling the Midianites.

A National Geographic study revealed staggering vitals. The President, smitten by lightening again and again, grows at an accelerated pace year by year, mainly in girth. Girth aside, I’m glad to learn that old age need not diminish growth, and vitality.

At 93 it’s fair to say I’m on the edge of old, yet new ideas still captivate me; I read books of many kinds and love conversation on serious topics.  The Hole News plods on; a considerable mystery.

Dave Rogotske’s maple sugar bush teaches me the best lesson of all: Life’s richest beauty waits for autumn.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Last weekend’s visit to North Oaks was an unqualified wow.  Grandmotherly pride aside, The Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS) concert was a barnburner. Founded in 1972, GTCYS has served multiplied thousands of children and youths.

Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall was well filled (seats 1400) with parents, grandparents, and music lovers of all ages, including geezers like me, who accompanied Grandma Norma. Her granddaughter Nicole (not quite nine), daughter of David and Kristi Kangas, played violin in section one.  David is Norma’s son.

The concert was class all the way. Girl musicians wore long black skirts, and white blouses. Boys wore black long pants, white shirts, and black bowties.  The directors dressed in formal symphony fashion. Grandma Norma bought post-concert flowers for Nicole.

The concert included five sections: beginners to full symphony. The beginners’ verve and skill impressed me, as did their music selection. The progression of skill and music in succeeding sections performed impressed me even more. The evident commitment of leadership at every level impressed me most. I’m one proud foster grandparent.

Founded in 1972, GTCYS serves 900 young musicians ages 8 through 18. Touted by many as the world’s finest youth orchestra, Minnesota can be justly proud of GTCYS’ contribution to Midwest culture.

The weekend trip was an on-again-off-again affair for Norma and me. The Thursday-Friday mega storm appeared to have wiped out travel. David phoned Saturday afternoon with word he would attempt the 150-mile drive to pick us up, but icy roads forced him to turn back. That looked like it, but early Sunday morning David phoned again, telling us to be ready by ten—he was on his way. On Monday, David repeated the round trip to take us home. That’s loving service beyond the call of duty.

Our time in David and Kristi’s home was delightful, except for goldendoodle Daisy. Grandpa Lloyd’s red walker spooked her. She would have nothing to do with us. We enjoyed time with Ann and Larry, Kristi’s parents from Western Ohio.

Next adventure: the Kangas clan year-end party in North Oaks, weather cooperating.  The girl in 313 has a great family that treats me kindly.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Let it Snow!

Winter hit our home sweet home at mid-morning Thursday bringing rain, sleet, snow, and wind—a winter thunder storm. Wind gusts reaching 50 mph. Mike called in a sanding rig for the parking lot. In the lobby, the mail-waiters grumbled. Seems some folks can’t be happy ‘til their sad.

Three residents came in bundled and brrr-ing. Finally the mailman. Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night…  He brought me an unexpected boost to our Woodland Garden goat-chickens-ducks Christmas project. Resident contributions are coming.  A destitute family somewhere will get a new start. We will never know who or where, but God knows. We’re part of what he is doing.

At 1:00 the after-lunch coffee and calories bunch gathered with the usual banter. When winter gloom began to fall, Cliff led our end of the table in Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.

A wave of gratitude washed over me. I have a home and family! Sandy, our hard-working, patient Den Mother, manages the 60-room mansion. We have a friendly maintenance crew and 64 wealthy residents (8 men). Wealthy? No person is poor who has a friend. We may be short on cash, but we’re not poor.

The snowfall eased by early evening, but not the wind. It howled and whistled in my study widow, blowing away our weekend plan. Norma’s granddaughter Nicole (age nine) plays beginning violin with the Twin Cities Youth Symphony. Her section had its first recital Sunday, and we will miss it. Dangerous roads.

This is my first stay-home winter in six years. I will miss time with son Joel and Sue and Tucson friends. And Sundays at Holy Way Presbyterian. If I get lonesome for Arizona, I’ll fondle—carefully—two tiny cacti snatched from the Desert Museum near Tucson.

Ron Edmund, who with his brother Mike owns Woodland Garden and other properties, suffered a severe stroke in Florida. Pray for Ron, his wife Nancy and their family as Ron works through a long and difficult rehab.

Old Grandpa Lloyd











Fall’s Last Hurrah

My house in the woods is easily seen from the road now that the trees have surrendered all modesty and are nearly naked. The next picture will be with snow if we get any before I flee to Florida.dsc_5995-web

But in town this morning one tree in front of the house put on a late fall spectacular display of red. Most of the leaves will be on the ground tomorrow morning. If there is any wind or rain all of them will. dsc_5990-webjpg

Young Grandpa Keith

A Goat, Two Chickens, and Five Ducks

Hole News today: A goat, Two Chickens, and Five Ducks

t’s been a great week thus far. Monday gave me a goat, two chickens, and five ducks—no partridge in a pear tree. They showed up as I scanned World Vision’s gift catalog. I remembered Norma’s 70th birthday story: She asked her four kids for a $500 cow to mark the occasion. They ponied up the money and a poor, poor woman in a far country gained a life-sustaining gift; and learned someone in America cares.

With that in mind, Norma and I decided to host a Woodland Garden Christmas for the poorest of the poor through World Vision.We’re inviting fellow residents to participate.

I was aglow when I returned to my apartment and found a Facebook response to my Handhold Hole News post from Tim Green, an Alaska gold miner. Tim was a lively teen when I came to North Shore Church in 1977. He wrote:: “(Your life) diddly?? Not to me. Fishing, canoe trips, lunches at the sawmill, Mink Lake, fun sermons for a kid, a wood pile, Chub Lake picnics, Super Sheetrock Saturday, netting suckers, and a few trips to Alaska start my list. We have a big future”.

Tim’s thoughts set me up for Tuesday’s breakfast at McDonald’s with a handful from North Shore days. Stories flowed and I returned home awash in wonder at my blessed estate.

Then Facebook gave me a another lift. Frieda Byars, an Alaskan elder I have met only on her Kanataq Telegraph page, also responding to the Handhold post wrote: “That is beautiful and about how I feel. I love to be alive on earth and though I believe thoroughly in God, Jesus, etc., I do not want to pass on. And when I do, I can only pray I am in his Grace…

“Someone will one day probably take all of your beautiful insightful writings and make them into that book you did not get to write. You can read it from Heaven. I try not to feel lonely, but sometimes it happens. When you are young and lonely, you can always bounce back, but when you are old and alone, you are mostly alone. I am blessed to have my grandson live with me, though I feel I do not do a 9 year old justice, not being able to play with him as I should. He wants me to play laser tag. Told him I could not run. His reply: You can walk Nana. But we do pray together and read the Bible. That is something I can do for him.” I sent Frieda words of hope and comfort.

So good to have friends near and far, young and old, and to touch lives as we go.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


My return to Life Care Center as a volunteer has been too long deferred. Eleven months had passed when I went there Friday as clergy support for the Veteran’s Day ceremony. Things went off without a hitch. I played my part adequately. I accepted thanks and a cup of coffee for my fee.

One man interrupted my walk to the exit to thank me for talking loudly enough. Betty, who sang enthusiastically if not in tune during the patriotic sing along, finally remembered me and asked me how my father is and has he made any more harmonica recordings and how come I didn’t have my camera. And then I saw Orville.

Orville has lived at Life Care almost since the day it opened 15 years ago. He has been my happy heckler, my weight gain/loss monitor, and front row attendee at every event I’ve been a part of at Life Care. Orville spends his days in what amounts to a Lazy Boy on wheels. He’s never without his oxygen supply. His legs and left arm are paralyzed. And, he has the world’s most engaging handshake.

The latest picture I took of Orville was a year ago Father’s Day with his daughter.orville

Those nearby during our brief encounter smiled compassionately at my tears as only reluctantly I let go of his hand. There were more tears as I walked the 4 or 5 blocks to my house in town. I reflected that home may well be where your heart is. But more particularly it is where your friends are. That’s the same thing, isn’t it?

Young Grandpa Keith

Wash Your Mouth!

Dingbustit! (ding-bust-it) was strongest word I ever heard my father utter. Our profane-free home approved, though Dad could pack more venom into one dingbustit than a drunken sailor could in a paragraph. (Why do we pick on sailors?)

I recall a tract called Minced Oaths that decried darn, dang, gosh; even shucks, shoot, and, of course, SOB. Let your aye be aye and your nay be nay. Somehow, an occasional under-the -breath hell or damn were OK even though we knew the Lord hears secret thoughts. It was the deacons we feared . They would have scolded Jesus for calling Scribes and Pharisees sons of snakes, which he did. Apparently snakes rank above lady dogs.

Cussing can be a mindless habit. Back in my Greyhound days, I was heading out for Sunday preaching with little daughter Sally as a companion. Three rows back, two men began loud conversation. Their curses and vulgarities offended women within earshot, and Sally did not need their foul words. I walked back and quietly asked the men to clean up their language. They looked surprised.  Were we swearing? They didn’t say another word the rest of the trip.

Today’s media, electronic and print, often looks like young boys writing dirty words on the sidewalk; or a man in a tux wearing ratty sneakers. Boy talk? Check out Proverbs 23:7.

Profanity got space in the Ten Commandments, but profanity (taking the Lord’s name in vain) reaches beyond talk. Christians who would never cuss seem to think it’s alright to be mean and insensitive toward those who disagree with them. That’s profanity of the first order. These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, said Jesus, quoting Isaiah.

I’m all for clean language, but I prefer the company of a person who slips in an occasional damn over a mean Christian with an immaculate tongue.

Wash your mouth? Sure. But clean up your act too.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Up the Geezer Ladder

The girl in 313 ran off early today with a busload of ladies for a trip to IKEA in Minneapolis, leaving me on my own for supper. I can’t imagine torture worse than all-day shopping. Thirty minutes is my limit, on a really good day.

Meanwhile, I climbed another step up the geezer ladder: I hung a Vial of Life Personal Emergency button around my neck. Tom Wetter from Essentia Medical Equipment and Supplies hooked me up. The unit squawked, lights flashed, and a nice lady in Ohio promised to send help if I got in trouble. Now I must remember to wear the button.

I found Tom and I had mutual acquaintances. I signed him up for the Hole News and suggested we get together again.

Later in the morning, I was reading the newspaper in the library when Debi OBerne, a recent addition to our Woodland Garden family, stopped by. Debi loves Woodland Garden. I told her how I got here. The story stirs wonder each time I relate it. We talked long about our faith and the blind connections that change our lives.

With fuss and fury filling each day’s news, it’s important to remember who is in charge. I gave Debi four of my books and signed her up for the Hole News. I suspect we’ll talk again.

Afternoon Facebook brought profitable exchanges and more new friends. Several folks posted yesterday’s Hole News, drawing positive responses. How blessed just to sit back and watch who crosses our path. Each day reinforces my life premise: it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13.

You can’t trump that.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Making America Great: Work to Do

The nightmare of 2016 is over. Trump will become president. The Good Book says the powers that be are ordained of God–powers, not people. Nero was fiddling when Paul wrote those words. We respect the office even when we don’t like the occupant.

What’s really scary: Trump’s election was no fluke. Americans chose him. Fed up with Washington, anger is piled high and Trump tapped into it.

Our nation had a rocky beginning, but the Fathers worked things out and not always amicably. They cherished freedom, except for African slaves they held to be less than human. Then the Fathers came up with manifest destiny, claiming divine right to rob the first Americans of their rights, land, even their lives.

Greed became endemic. Socialism and communism sounded great—share and share alike–except for those at the top, who blatantly skimmed off the cream. The same greed continues.  While the middle class stagnates, CEOs draw multi-million dollar bonuses. Everyone wants their piece of the pie; can you blame them? Kick out the Washington bums. Trump will make America great again? We’ll see.

But considering our many national ills, how come we have an immigration problem? How many U.S. citizens do you know who long to flee to Mexico or Russia? The nature of humanity will always produce inequalities, but our land remains among the freest on earth.

I don’t plan to run anywhere. I’ll continue to do what I can to serve fellow citizens in my small corner and brace myself for the 2020 election, which will crank up on Inauguration Day.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Divine Ecosystem

This too shall pass. That’s not in the Bible, but the idea is there many times.  Look up “present affliction” in Second Corinthians 7:14. Trouble is, the next affliction (2020 election) will begin November 9. First item of business: demonize the opposition and keep at it four years.

No one is running the country; everyone is running for office. That’s as much as I’ll say, but you can be sure I’ll vote.

My November 5 “Sock in the Washer” Hole News drew a bunch of Facebook likes and kind words. I didn’t mean to hint I was at death’s door. In fact, gimpy hip aside, my days have never been richer. I’m joy-full and pain-free, providing I don’t get too frisky.

Welcome, Millicent Bailie, friend of Jim and Margaret Smith from Belfast, Ireland. Millicent worked with children in Brazil via Acre International. I look forward to learning more about her mission.  Several heads of ministries that touch the world are Hole News subscribers. I count it an honor to be a small part of God’s Kingdom, the divine ecosystem.

Every Christian is part of that ecosystem. Note that we get cosmos from the “the world” in John 3:16 .God’s redemption plan includes all Creation—a new heaven and earth will come.

God’s kingdom is among us and we’re part of it. Our roles change as years pass but Ephesians 2:10 assures us we will be equipped. In 70 years I moved from rescue mission staff to pastor to denominational functionary to writer, publisher, interim pastor and now geezer blogger.

God does that for each of his children so be done with sweating life. Sit back and watch the folks who pass by. Some will look to you for help; others will show up to help you. The divine ecosystem.

Old Grandpa Lloyd