God Bless America, a Great, Great Land

Recent remarks by top leaders have angered big chunks of the world and further divided the body politic. While rival parties swap insults and shake fists, I offer a hearty fist pump to my corner of the USA, a great land.

A while back, vertigo took my wheels, forcing me to bum rides. Then surgeries took my balance, making dependent on Matilda, my four-wheeled walker.  Where Matilda can’t go, I can’t go.

A doctor appointment was on last Monday’s docket. With the wind-chill at minus 40, a STRIDE rig pulled into our parking lot and I waltzed Matilda up the ramp, accompanied by the girl from 313. Cost: six bucks for the two of us. Two hours later, STRIDE hauled us back home for three bucks. Given a week’s notice, STRIDE will take us anywhere in town,

Tuesday morning, I wheeled aboard an Arrowhead Transit bus bound for Sam’s Club with Woodland Garden fiends. The fare: one buck. Free for vets and over-90 riders. Arrowhead Transit shows up Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Their Dial-a Ride service lets us pick the destination. Both Arrowhead and STRIDE are government subsidized.

Government agencies pay half my apartment rent; provide two hours of housekeeping every other week; and cover in-apartment security. If I fall, I push a button and nice lady in Cleveland offers to help.

Social Security supplements my meager preacher’s pension.  Really low-income residents receive commodity foods. And there is more.

Sure, America has problems; but where are the refugee camps with hordes of citizens trying to escape? Our major problem: No one is running the country; the politicians are all running for office.

God bless America, a great, great land.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



A bug of some sort has invaded the Hole News resulting in multiple emails, some making no sense. Thanks for patience as webmaster Jackie and the web service pros work it out.

Facebook carries the Hole News along Story Tree stuff and occasional quickie notes.

After getting five identical Hole News emails, one reader wondered if I had flipped. No more than usual. All is well at Woodland Garden and beyond, where we venture. The Girl in 313 keeps me fed; the Sage of Juniata Street and move us about. Lunch with Emmanuel men at Big Daddy’s today.

Looking forward to fun days ahead.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

My Pet Ant

The Good Book offers a wealth of wisdom to those who seek. Proverbs tells us, Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. I took that literally last evening. A tiny black ant joined my midnight and I adopted it.

An ant makes a better pet than the fuzz ball dogs and imperious cats inhabiting Woodland Garden. Ants make no noise and never need a vet. You don’t have to walk them.  Ants are content with a spot of sweet or greasy/salty that escaped the kitchen sponge.

My new pet wandered about then settled in on a wee spill near the toaster. It was still there when I returned to bed, where I remembered an earlier pet I killed. Thinking to make it feel at home, I dug out the honey jar. Unfortunately, the golden drop landed on the visitor. It squirmed briefly then either drowned or ate itself to death.

So what wisdom did this sluggard gain from these harmless creatures? First, don’t smother a friend with good intentions. Second, what we gain from discovery is sweeter that what is handed to us; and the energy we spend in discovery increases the appetite.

I put that into practice.  At midday, I spurned the nutty fruit bread gift in my Fridge. At five, I waltzed Matilda my walker to 313, where a kind lady would serve supper right after Jeopardy and the evening news.

Sure pays to heed scripture.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Never Underestimate the Power of a Sandbox

The dark of the night often ushers in a half-sleep pondering that can drift all over the landscape. Last night, it carried me back to childhood and my backyard sandbox. It was about a foot high and four feet square, located near the old chicken coop. Dad filled it with sharp, clean sand from Park Point.

We had just moved to the Lakeside neighborhood. I was four and had found no friend my age. The sandbox became my haven. It was there I took up philosophy, wondering about everything.

I wondered about the bear in Mother’s song, the one that went over the mountain to see what he could see. My mountain was the 300-foot hill rimming our neighborhood on the north. I didn’t know it then, but the hill once formed the shore of Lake Superior. I longed to climb that hill and see what the bear saw.

I was nine or ten when neighbor John Stai took me on my first hike. We followed the trail up the hill and I saw what the bear saw—the other side of the mountain. The magic of wooded hills and streams burned into my DNA, shaping my career. To understand why I love the setting of my Woodland Garden home, visit www.lloydsstorytree.com.  While you’re there, check out the wilderness adventure stories.

Never underestimate the power of a sandbox.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


No Moaning at the Bar

I seldom lament my passing years. Life has been so good. Now most friends from youth are gone. No doubt some are out there, but high school sweetheart Marguerite is the only one I know about. We visit by phone occasionally. I alone remain from my decade on the denominational executive staff. Several times the flag has dipped to half-staff during my four years at Woodland Garden. One woman is my senior. She is 99.

My kids, grandkids, and swarm of great-grands, along with a bunch of friends treat me kindly, knowing I don’t fear dying. I tried it once but didn’t take. I’m not sure why I’m still around, but I’m grateful. One day the girl from 313 may plant a memorial orchid in the library, though I don’t expect to occasion that any time soon. There’ll be scant moaning at the bar when I put out to sea. What’s to moan about?

Yet this week I found myself moaning, wishing for more years. Two new books climbed atop the must-read pile in my study. So much to explore in the Creation! So much wisdom to gain from history! Leaving my books behind will hurt, but we’re not allowed to take homework to heaven.

First thing I’ll do when I get there is hunt out the library. There is one, you know. I have a great librarian to recommend when she finally joins me. Maybe she’ll put on the coffee and let me hang around after hours.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

After-Christmas Cleanup

Back in the good old days, cleaning up after Christmas was a big deal. You didn’t pack the tree in a box, you dragged it out behind the garage and swept needles for a week. Next year, you took to the woods for another tree, mindful that balsam holds its needles better than spruce.

Sunday school Christmas programs could use some cleanup too. Joseph, Mary, and the babe in a manger were very real, and that’s what counts, but the stable was probably a cave and the manger a shelf of stone. Lowing cattle? Not in the heart of town. The innkeeper is gentle fiction; the wise men—number unknown—didn’t show up for a year or more. As for the December date, early Christians borrowed the winter solstice from their pagan friends. We don’t know the actual month or day.

None of this really matters. What counts is the promise Prophet Isaiah gave us: For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.

Bucolic imaginings ae harmless and the wise men provide more characters for young actors.  Christmas is steeped in mystery, but what is most amazing, millions of Christians around the world will kneel at a manger to celebrate Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Carb Up for Christmas

Each week I carb up at Fresh Bread, Dan Bolin’s weekly newsletter. Dan is International Director of Christian Camping International Worldwide. For me, Dan always rings the bell. This week he quoted Oswald Chambers: “Jesus Christ became Incarnate for one purpose, to make a way back to God that man might stand before Him as He was created to do, the friend and lover of God Himself.” Then he told this story:

My friend took an odd vacation. He flew from the West Coast of the United States to mid-America, rented a truck, and drove home to California, traveling back roads. Along the way he stopped at farmhouses and negotiated good deals on broken equipment, unwanted furniture, and other discarded ‘junk.’

Once home, he spent evenings and weekends in his workshop cleaning, repairing, and restoring the discarded items. Then he sold them at a significant profit. He could see potential beauty and usefulness in what others viewed as worthless. His attention and care restored their function and attractiveness, and each piece gained immense value.

Psalm 23 is a favorite of many. The four words that start verse three are key: “He restores my soul.” God sees our potential beauty and usefulness even when others (and often ourselves) see only junk. He specializes in cleaning, repairing, and restoring our souls. That’s why we have so much to celebrate at Christmas.

The restoration of each of us hinges on Jesus coming to earth to clean us, fix us, and restore our souls, “And to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Thanks, Dan. I’ve been yammering on this for years.  We wave the Hell flag to scare people into heaven; Jesus waved the Life flag, freeing his followers from empty lives this side of the grave.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Merry Chrismas, Sweetheart

The girl from 313 and I celebrated early Christmas last evening.  Our gift exchange was short and sweet. We bought each other a few feet of a deep-water well somewhere in a dry and thirsty land. Last year, Norma and I gave each other a chicken, a rabbit, and a goat. World Vision is our Santa. His reindeer never weary or get lost.

Speaking of Santa, here’s a Christmas story:

My first interim was a 16-month hitch with Emmanuel Baptist in Virginia, Minnesota.  As Christmas approached, an idea hit me and I maneuvered myself into the Sunday school program.

We were living in Cotton, just down the road from Virginia. Our long-time town Santa had died leaving his uniform and beard with his son Larry Peterson, a good friend. I plotted with Larry, telling no one in the Emmanuel congregation.

The church was full. I sat on the platform in an old-fashioned rocker while the kids performed their songs and recitations. Suddenly, with a lusty Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa appeared. He marched down the center aisle, tossing candy. From my rocking chair I called out:  Santa, what on earth are you doing here? This is a church! Santa replied: Hey, it’s Christmas, the time for giving and good cheer. Get up here, I commanded, I’ll tell you about Christmas. Santa came to the platform and sat on my knee as I told him about Jesus, the first Christmas gift.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Have a Jolly, Jolly Christmas

Who came up with the idea that being holy demands dour piety?  Yesterday, Emmanuel Baptist threw its annual Christmas party. If loving is giving, we hit a ten: two solid hours of giving and receiving joy.

I wore a white shirt and tie—first time in memory. And I brought the prettiest date in the place, the girl from 313. The Sage from Juniata Street provided wheels and wisdom. We found the fellowship hall sparkling with Christmassy décor as the pile of white elephant exchange gifts grew. Tempting smells hinted at catered gluttony to come, a forgivable sin.

Joining us were friends from the Landing, a start-up church where our recent interim pastor Brent Nelson now serves. His devotional warmed our hearts. Carols, Christmas readings, conversation, laughter—all precious in the eyes of the Lord.

The Scriptures are rich with thoughts of joy. Jesus began his ministry by contributing fine wine to a party, and don’t tell me it was Welch’s. God will wrap up human history with the greatest party of all, the wedding supper of the Lamb. We’re all invited.

This Christmas, throw a party. Share the joy.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Life is Good!

To kith, kin, and Hole News friends:

Here’s where I find myself these days: Son Kevin and Tena have completed their move to Viroqua in Southwest Wisconsin, Tena’s home area. Sale of their Duluth home has been completed.  Kevin is recovering well from his recent triple bypass surgery.

Their move changes the dynamic for me. Kevin was my go-to guy, first responder in emergencies. Norma Leskela, the Girl from 313, willingly moved into that role. How I appreciate her! She has family contacts. Feel free to call her for whatever: 218-724-4896. Her address is the same as mine, except for room number.

I’m doing great, fully functional save for balance, a need met by my four wheeled walker. Housekeeping help comes every-other-week. I wear a call button for in-apartment emergencies.  Social Security and pension comfortably cover my needs. I humbly accept the vicissitudes 94 years bring.

I am fully content in my Woodland Garden home, well able to handle the independent living requirement. We have chosen Saint Anne’s Assisted Living for my next care level. Life is good.

Old Grandpa Lloyd