Thoughts and assorted philosophical musing about: Family, Friends, Fun, Hobbies, & other everyday things.
My continuing efforts to serve as a First Sergeant (Top) in the Army of God.
My latest interest is in Letterboxing.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter



Those of you who consider yourselves members of the Christian faith, and who at least occasionally attend church, have probably been to at least one Easter Service. Even those of other faiths are likely to have heard some form of what is referred to as the Paschal greeting. This is an Easter custom practiced by many Catholic and Protestant Christians. Following this tradition, instead of "hello" or its equivalent, on Easter morning one is to greet another person with some derivative of "Christ is Risen!" or "He is Risen", with a response such as "Truly, He is Risen" or "Indeed He is Risen". In some cultures, e.g., in Russia, it is also customary to exchange a triple kiss (signifying the trinity) on alternating cheeks after the greeting. We have a large Polish population near my home as well as family members who have married into Polish traditions. For their benefit I will include that according to the internet in that tongue this greeting is "Khristus Zmartvikstau! Zaiste Zmartvikstau!"


This year the American Family Association had Easter buttons available for purchase. These have the inscription: Easter Means: HE LIVES

This is important to me as I witness continuing secularization of Easter in the same manner as most Christian Holidays. A Google search would cause one to believe that Easter was about flowers, spring, pretty dresses, new suits, hats, baby chicks and bunnies, butterflies, brightly colored eggs, etc., and etc. I have enjoyed many if not all of these symbols over the years. An Easter egg hunt with my Grandchildren is a lot of fun. I am a foody and enjoy any holiday feast. This is a good occasion for a family gathering. Yet the idea that it is a celebration of Christ rising from the grave, thereby fulfilling His promised role of saving the world, is clearly lost on most of our population.

I recall when we all talked about "Easter Break" from school. This term has now been replaced in public schools by the politically correct "Spring Break", we wouldn't dare to say "Easter" in today's on so sterile learning environment. I don't understand why schools are allowed to teach about witchcraft but not Christianity!

Particularly annoying to me is the somewhat vague concept of a rabbit hopping around a yard laying colored eggs in order for children to have a treasure hunt. First there are the complications associated with giving one of these over-breeding mammals access to my home to preform it's magic on those frequent occasions when the weather prohibits an outside "Egg Hunt". Then there is the notion of a rabbit laying eggs, I wonder what sort of dark twisted mind originated that concept! I could go on and on.

An interesting perspective on these buttons came from my Pastor during discussions over lunch last week. Primarily he liked the emphasis on "He Lives" rather than on "Easter" because the resurrection of Christ is the true meaning and importance of the occasion being celebrated. His thoughts as I understand them were also swayed by two other factors.

The date of our traditional Easter is probably more closely aligned with the actual event celebrated than is that of most annual Christian celebrations. However, the date calculation has often been in disputed and has been altered several times. It is still reckoned differently by some branches and segments of the faith. It is not the date that we should be celebrating, but the miracle of Christ rising from the dead.

The manner in which Easter has been celebrated is clearly an amalgamation of Judaic, Neopagan, Wicca, and pagan customs many of which predate Christ. Most of these symbols and customs (see the partial list in para 3) were incorporated in early rituals to make Christianity, as a the new religion, more familiar and acceptable to the people being reached.

May the joy and blessings of this occasion be a light to enjoy as you and yours gather and celebrate. I pray that you have accepted or will accept this marvelous gift that God has prepared for all.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wrapping it up - A lament

It has been a crazy week. On Sunday Donna made the last minute decision that she would go to visit with our son Loren in Delaware for the week. I took her to the airport at noon Monday and have been living the carefree life of an over-the-hill bachelor ever since. For the most part it has been a pretty good week except that Jason (#2 son) and I have been sharing the duties involved in keeping the dog from destroying our house with puddles and poo. I am not keen on having a dog in the house to begin with but that is another story. The big problem at present is that I do not relish going up and down stairs to let her in and out.

I have tried to get out-and-about and have succeeded to some degree. But then flex (i.e., spring) was rudely interrupted as the pendulum of the seasons gave winter one last swan-song. Wednesday was cold and rainy, Thursday was worse as Winter wrapped-up it's year by giving us more s░░w last night and this morning.

About 2 inches of that cool white H²O derivative were discovered to be on the ground upon waking today. The journeys of the day consisted of bending our Pastor's ear over lunch followed by an hour of complaining to my shrink. It is nice to share and vent but, Oh how I want winter to be over!!!

I did receive reports that three letterboxers located several of my boxes last weekend. I guess The boxers are stirring from there long winters nap. Next week I will have to put Hanami (my cherry blossom box) out and remove Berea Bart (the groundhog box) as well as Patty Bear (St. Patrick's day) until next year.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Flexing at Lemmy's with Payton

I no longer have either the strength or energy to attempt a decent Spring. Therefor I have now resorted to referring to the celebration of the Vernal Equinox as flex rather than spring. I have been flexing a little over the last few days.

First on Thursday I actually accomplished something that I had not done since September. I went out and started looking for some nearby letterboxes. The woods and trails are still pretty wet so I wasn't able to reach the several that I tried. Friday I had better luck with a drive-by box. I had a meeting scheduled at the Church where "Archers Homeschooling" is located. I left the house early and managed to locate and stamp into that box prior to my appointment. For icing on the cake a hitchhiker had been languishing there in hiding for several months.

Our daughter is currently living north of Detroit with her spouse and children. Her husband's family, who live much closer to them than we do, frequently take one or both of our mutual grandchildren for a day or two. In midweek we received a call stating that they would be keeping Payton this weekend and asking if we would like to meet them for lunch in Sandusky on Saturday to share time with them and Payton. We planned to connect outside of town around 12:30.

Today (Saturday) Donna asked me if there were any letterboxes that we could look for in that area. I checked and became intrigued by a listing for "Lunchtime with LEMmy". In addition to other information the clue states:

At the tables there is a brochure explaining the story behind LEMmy. It seems like every big lake has a sea monster. Lake Erie is no exception. The story tells of LEMmy's (Lake Erie Monster) capture. Somehow the owners of the restaurant came in possession of her. She is kept in the basement.
Kids are asked if they want to feed her. They are given slices of raw potato to throw down the basement stairs. It's dark down there, so you really don't see her. And the basement door is shut quickly so she won't escape.
After a few minutes there is a loud thumping coming through the restaurant floor! It's LEMmy enjoying her potatoes. She's wagging her tail!

That nailed it, upon hearing the story the in-laws agreed, that's where we would have lunch. I can not imagine a better place to eat with a young man who is nearly seven. Well it turned out to be a great choice even though the letterbox was not available today. We all ordered our meals then Payton was given a LEMmy place mat to color while we waited. The meal arrived and the server told Payton that only after he had eaten all of his Pancake breakfast (with the pancake in the shape of a sea serpent) would he be permitted to feed LEMmy. For the first time in my recollection Payton finished his meal ahead of all the rest of us. When the Potato slices were tossed down the dark stairs a guttural roar was heard throughout the building which sent Payton scurrying back into Grandma's lap. This was followed by loud pounding from the cellar as LEMmy's tail wagged in appreciation of Payton's offering.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent driving along Ceder Point and drooling at the fine homes. It was a very pleasant day even if I can't Spring, I did enjoy flexing with family.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Everbody is Irish Today

An Irish Blog would be incomplete without a Limerick so here is my own personal one dedicated to Donna, my love, my life, and my bride of 44 years.

There is a certain letterboxer from Berea,
Who fell in love with a girl in Eritria.
He asked, Will You be Mine?
She replied, Suits Me Fine!
Hence four joyful decades with Donna Maria.

Yes here it is St. Patrick's day, the day when it seems that everyone is at least a teensy weensy bit Irish.

St. Patrick was born in Britain during the fourth century to very wealthy parents as Maewyn Succat. He was kidnapped by Irish raiders at the age of sixteen, sold into slavery,and forced to work as a shepherd in Ireland's County Mayo. One night he had a dream of escaping the following day and returning home. The next day he did just that, traveling 200 miles back home to Britain. Back home he had a second dream, this time it was of an Angel instructing him to become a priest, return to Ireland as a missionary, and spread Christianity. During the next fifteen years he entered training, became a priest, and choose Patrick as his Christian Saint name.

In 432 AD he went back to Ireland as a priest attempting to convert the Irish people to Christianity from their pagan polytheistic religion which worshiped the sun and the moon. He created and taught at many schools along Ireland's west coast. One of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity. After nearly thirty years of teaching and spreading God's word he died on March 17th 461 AD. Shortly after his death the country of Ireland elected to remember his death with a day of his own and thus St. Patrick's Day was born.

Originally Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated as a simple feast day, but then it evolved into a holy day of obligation where people would attend mass in the morning then celebrate for the rest of the day. During the Middle Ages, shops would close for the whole day as the celebration became longer and more enthusiastic. It was also during this time that St. Patrick's Day became a one-day reprieve from the forty days of fasting and abstinence required by the season of Lent, which eventually resulted in a tradition of heavy drinking of ale and other beer products. Patrick's Day later became a public holiday in 1903. Later after drinking became too out of hand, the law required that pubs be closed on 17 March, a provision which was repealed in the 1970s.In the mid-1990s that the Irish government recognizing it's potential value began a campaign using Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. They set up a group called St. Patrick's Festival with these objectives:
  • To offer a national festival promoting excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.
  • To provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent, (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.
  • To project an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal, as we approach the new millennium.
The first Saint Patrick's Festival was held on 17 March 1996. By 2009 over 675,000 people attended the parade. Overall last year's five day festival saw close to one million visitors that took part in the festivities that included concerts, outdoor theater performances, and fireworks.

Today, Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike. Many people, regardless of ethnic background, wear green-colored clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched, usually affectionately. Of course many follow the honored Irish example by drinking plenty of beer.

Some examples of modern American celebrations include:
  • Seattle and other cities paint the traffic stripe of their parade routes green.
  • Chicago dyes its river green with forty pounds of dye, the color lasts for several hours.
  • Indianapolis also dyes its main canal green.
  • Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green.
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology alumni paint 12 city blocks Kelly green with mops before the annual parade.
  • New York's Chadakoin River in Jamestown, a source for Chautauqua Lake, is dyed green yearly.
Locally Cleveland's St. Patrick's day celebration is one of the city's largest and best attended annual events. The colorful parade which has occurred each year since 1867 is the largest in Ohio and one of the largest in the nation. Everyone of prominence in the community participates whether they are Irish, Scottish, Polish, Chinese or what have you. You are likely to find Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and who knows what. People of every Origin, Religion, and Race will be Irish for a day. No one with political aspirations would dare to miss appearing in the parade.

Then there is the partying after the Parade green bear and all. Although not authentic to Ireland, no American St. Patrick's Day celebration would be complete without corned beef and Cleveland serves some of the best. Try Slyman's Restaurant on E 31st St and St. Clair. They start at 6am with corned beef and eggs and move right into Reubens and stacked high corned beef sandwiches for lunch. It is quite a day here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chilly Chili Event

It was a chilly church chili cook off for me. I entered a toned down version of my favorite chili recipe in the annual church cook off. This event is a fund raiser for our missions program with all of the proceeds this year going to Haitian relief efforts. Several of those present told me that they loved and voted for my concoction, however they were in the minority. No prizes for me this year.

I normally make a very hot and spicy chili. You may remember the biblical story of Esau returning from a hunt and immediately wanting a bowl of the perpetual stew which was simmering in the kitchen. This was initially refused but he was served after stating that he would trade his birthright as the eldest son for a bowl of it. He soon regretted this impetuous act as his inheritance then passed to his brother Jacob. Chili peppers were unknown in the mid east at that time. However, due in large part to the prservative qualities which they possess, today they are a staple item through out the world in stews and similar dishes.

In a somewhat strange, twisted, and distorted manner I have made an attempted at an oblique reference or allusion to this tale when I refer to my potent chili as Esau's revenge. The brew that I served up Sunday used only about half of the spice incorporated in the revenge version and was not particularly hot but it was on the spicy side. Obviously it was still too potent for many in attendance. Those Nazarene folks are just not ready for me yet.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

69 Baby

This has been one of my better weeks. Recently my Cardiologist decided to alter my meds. One of the changes was to reduce the frequency of taking one of my water pills to once a day. Now I don't take either of the two remaining diuretics in the evening which eliminates the uncontrollable urge to visit the john at two in the morning. Then I recently paid a visit to my sleep doctor - I wonder why this group hasn't coined some fancy Latin phrase to Identify themselves? At our previous meeting he gave me a prescription for Gabapentin which is used for neuropathic pain, restless leg syndrome, and to deepen sleep, all of which apply to me. It is also used during treatment for drug withdraw, migraine headaches, MS, and various mental health conditions. Although this stuff sounds like it can do just about anything I saw no noticeable effects while on the minimum dosage he had first prescribed. On this last visit he doubled the dosage. Wow, what a difference these two changes have made! This old man is now sleeping through the night like a 69 year old baby.

This morning I went searching through my stuff to find Patty Bear, my seasonal St. Patrick's Day letter box which I will put out this morning. While digging for it I found 3 full sheets of Grade A white PZ cut. I have not cut a new stamp for months now, so at that rate these should last for years. For you non letter boxers (Noxers) out there this no longer available stuff was considered by many (including me) to be the best stamp carving material on the planet. So having already discovered my own pot of gold today I have changed the "Skin" on this blog to the St. Patrick's day theme.

We have had three warm days in a row which has melted all of the snow. Yesterday I started my Chili for the cook off at Church on Sunday and today we have a Birthday Party to attend (Political Fund Raiser). That pretty well sums up our week.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A tale of two weeks

Last week was rather uneventful for me. The snow is beginning to melt so I can't complain about that. I saw my cardiologist and came away with a fairly good report from him. The same with my sleep doctor, and my analyst didn't get on my case about anything in particular.

Then there was the good news that my grandson had lost another tooth, it was a front one and he didn't swallow it this time which makes it much easier for the tooth fairy to recover it. I asked my daughter Ellisa if he whistles when he talks but she hasn't yet given an answer.

While speaking of teeth I was shocked and saddened when I received the bad news that our dentist, Dr. Frank D'Amico, passed away suddenly after a very brief illness. I had seen him in early February and saw no indication of anything wrong. I know that many of you would not mourn for your dentist but this fellow was like family. When he left the dental practice where we first used him we could not follow because of insurance issues. Many years later he picked me out of the crowd in an airport. He walked up and started a conversation as you would with a long lost college room mate. He inquired about each of my family recalling details that I had almost forgotten.

After chatting awhile he asked who we were now seeing for our dental work. When I responded that we did not have a regular dentist he slipped me his card. So about 5 years ago we began using him again as our family dentist. Each time we would visit he had to be updated on the family. In addition he performed in a very professional and carrying manner. He was available at the drop of a hat for emergencies even to the extent of deferring or canceling his own plans. He also gave us the same discounted military rate we had received at the practice where we had first used him which minimized our out of pocket expense. He was a Michigan State Alumni and fan who was stuck in Ohio. He seemed to enjoy the banter at the end of our visits when I would tease him with some Ohio State remark. If holistic dentistry practice were an Olympic event he would be standing at the top of the podium with his gold medal. Wow!! We will really miss him !!

So this week I am looking ahead to next Sunday's Chili Cook off at church. Donna has entered me as a competitor so I have to settle on which of my recipes to use. I like it hot and spicy. I toned it down some for last years cook off. It was still a bit too strong for the taste of some, yet I landed in second place. I will try to kick the spices down a little bit more for this year, but not too much - who wants weakly flavored chili !!

Then next week we have St. Patrick's day. I am thinking of baking some cookies appropriate to this Irish festival and taking them to church Sunday. We shall see. It is time to put Patty Bear, (another of my seasonal letterboxes) out to be found be those who are being encouraged by the warmer weather.

I am also beginning to consider what I might do to the blog for Easter this year. I have a couple of ideas to try out.