Books, alligators & Ovid

An Excerpt from John Cowart’s Journal:


John W. Cowart

Tuesday, March  23, 1993:

Finished the prayer book (Why Don’t I Get…) proofs for InterVarsity -- sort of. That is, I did what I could to make the thing coherent, then gave up. The text is so pedantic, maudlin, sticky, pious in the worse sense of the word, pompous... makes me sick at my stomach to work with it any more. I certainly wish I'd never tried to write anything so personal. Who the hell needs to know anything about my wonderful spiritual life and insights?

Mr. Barlow came by to collect our April rent; we've been late so often recently that when a trip came up for him and he needed money, He asked if I could be sure to have the rent on time and since we had it in hand, we went ahead and paid early for once…

Today I discovered Ovid!

Saturday while waiting for the girls to get out of the movie, Gin & I had visited the Salvation Army Thrift Store and there I bought a quarter paperback copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses which I started reading today.


The sweep and grandeur of the poem carried me away! I drove poor Ginny crazy chasing her over the house to read exciting passages aloud: the Creation account! The Flood! Riding Apollo's Sun Chariot! Slaying the Dragon!

Every time I think Ovid has reached the absolute peak of grandeur in one passage, he surpasses it in the next... and here I was expecting to dutifully read a dry old classic! I had no idea. No idea at all.

Why hadn't someone somewhere as I was supposedly getting an "education" even mentioned Ovid's poetry? And my poor kids, who are supposedly attending the best, most advanced school in Jacksonville have never even heard of Ovid; they get to read stuff like dead salesman and the day no pigs die, rye catcher, cat on a hot tin roof -- stuff that no one will remember by the time the next fad lit appears on the scene…

Wednesday, March  24, 1993:

Up at 4 a.m. and tore apart my Amstrad computer to replace the belt inside the A drive. Did it! I repaired a computer! It works again. My, how I've missed it.

I repaired a computer.

Wow. I repaired a computer!

Mailed prayer book proofs. Gin & I ate lunch at Woody's loving eachother and joying in being together.

Returned home and played in bed. … we fell asleep with our heads resting on the steel rail at the foot of our bed and woke up with krinks in our necks and teased eachother about the stiffness of old age.

She decided to skip school tonight and we took the girls out to supper at Captain D's. The poor girls. What do they learn in school? Even though both are Florida natives, they knew virtually nothing about alligators.

 I explained that gators are hatched from eggs. The mother gator lays her eggs in a nest in the branches of a tall tree and leaves them to be warmed by the sun. Mother birds see the abandoned eggs in the nest and assume the small white eggs are their own. They incubate the eggs till the baby gators hatch. The small gators stay in the nest and the mother bird goes out hunting worms, insects, rabbits, etc. to feed her adopted young. The little gators hunker down in the nest and pop their mouths open chirping whenever they see a bird approaching. Passing maternal birds see the nest full of little chirping babies and swoop down to deliver bugs... whereupon the gator snaps!

              Then hunkers down in the nest to wait for another bird.

Condors are extinct in Florida.

 Thursday, March  25, 1993:

While Gin & the girls were in class, I worked straightening out files and contemplating my next book. I'm still torn between Gatorman, Mental Moving, and the Blood Verse. I spent some time researching Blood Verse and I'm inclined toward trying to write it quickly. I decided to postpone the Bateman Book but I'm not sure. (I never finished any of these book starts)

Friday, March  26, 1993:

Both girls home from school sick.

Gin & I drove to Kathy's for breakfast and I talked her ear off babbling about the wonders of Ovid's Metamorphosis. I have not read anything in recent memory which so excited me. I admire the teller and the tale. His style enchants me. Every word, every line is necessary to the poem and each one leads inexorably to the next line. The poem is a whole almost without parts. I would have hated to go through life without having read it. …

This morning I found parts of a little red wagon on a trash pile. I retrieved the pieces and spent a while hammering bent parts back into shape and reassembling them. We now have a working wagon.

Heavy rain and lightening hindered turning on the computer so I spent much of the day cleaning and reorganizing the office.

During devotions tonight, we continued reading The Hiding Place and came to a section where Corrie Ten Boom speaks of sex education. Gin & I told the girls about the joys of sex and mentioned masturbation as a gift which God has given to allow an individual relief from sexual tensions; then we prayed for their future husbands. Bless O Lord the homes in which Thy people dwell.

They watched tv; I read more Ovid. 

Saturday, March  27, 1993:

Gin & I treated Donald to lunch at Ryan's Family Steak House.

Although I certainly did not feel like it, I skimmed the Scripture and prepared a sort of lesson for the guys at the mission tonight. I used lipstick to make a "magic" cross on my palm and a white handkerchief to make a rabbit appear from my hat -- All this, and a genealogy of King Herod, I tenuously related to Mark's sixth chapter. Mrs. Rudder, who slipped in the back and watched while I was unaware of her presence, said she'd never seen the men so attentive.

Gin & the girls baked pies -- wonderful lemon marangue (how the hell do you spell that word???) and pumpkin! We stayed up late watching I, Claudius video episodes.

Sunday, March  28, 1993:

I awoke early -- prostate trouble reoccurring? -- and went to church alone, letting the family sleep in late. A female priest visiting from St. Mark's preached the second sermon of her young life; she spoke on Bonhoeffer's  Cost Of Discipleship. Very good.

This afternoon, I called M & J asking to borrow money again; we had not heard anything from them since I first called four weeks ago. We're down to $50 and still a month till Ginny's graduation -- on April 30th.

 Please God.

 M said, “Maybe. We'll see”.

Gin plans to go to Educational Credit Union tomorrow to interview a vice president for a class assignment and to leave a resume with him.

Pat spent the night at Bethany's.

I drove Jennifer to work then returned home to collapse. Tired sick. Is this a flare up of the prostate trouble? Lord, I don't need this. I really don’t.


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