Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Saw A Hawk

As Gin & I drove out for supper, a gay pride parade forced us off our usual route and we ended at the Publix grocery store near Five Points.

Across the parking lot Ginny spotted an enormous hawk eating its supper on the pediment of a building. We sat outside watching it for almost an hour.

By comparing the size of the hawk with the width of the casement window below, we determined that it was between 18 and 24 inches in length. Because of the angle we watched from, the bird stood in sharp relief against the sky. It had caught some other bird, a pigeon or dove, and was eating the prey alive even as the prey quivered and fluttered to escape. The hawk held the victim down with its talons and ripped bits of flesh off while loose feathers drifted down from the ledge.

Because we saw the hawk in silhouette against the sunset, we could not make out its markings, but from the profile, we ruled out northern harrier and identify it as either a Cooper’s hawk or a sharp-shinned hawk. Because of the enormous size we’re inclined to think it was a Cooper’s.

Although dozens and dozens of people around us went in and out of the stores, not a single other person stopped to watch the drama being played out just three stories above their heads.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:48 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Tits & Tobacco: an odd occurence

All day long I unscrewed pool fixtures and carried out my usual Friday duties.

Gin & I both celebrated birthdays in the same week earlier this month and her mother sent us a nice birthday check (Thanks, Alva). So, for our usual Friday night date, we splurged by cashing the welcomed check and going downtown to Donna Maria’s, an open air Mexican restaurant on the waterfront.


While there I saw a bird (actually it landed on the table next to us). I’d never seen one like it before. But Ginny calmly announced that it was a boatswain grackle The scope of the woman’s knowledge amazes me.

Anyhow, this Mexican place sits right next to a Hooters Restaurant which also has an open air section. The two places blend together, so while we dined, I watched a fascinating jiggle show as sweet young things bent over vigorously polishing tables .

An aside: We went to a different Hooters once years ago when Ginny’s new boss treated the office staff and spouses to dinner there. About 18 or 20 people attended. Four or five waitresses brought out huge mounded platters of chicken wings and everyone prepared to dig in. But the new boss tapped her glass for attention, stood up, and said, “Mr. Cowart, I understand you are religious. Would you say grace for us”.
At this, the four or five waitresses paused in their serving, lined up posing and jutting, and stood in an impressive, but respectful, line. Other noisy customers packed the place but the stance of the girls caused a hush to fall.
Normally I believe in praying in secret, i.e. in private, not public, prayer. But what do you do when asked to pray in public in a Hooters?
Stunned, I stood up at the table and prayed aloud saying something or another in thanks for food, jobs and beauty. Then the feasting began.
I’ve heard it said that a Christian needs to be ready to preach, pray or die at a moment’s notice -- but this really caught me off guard.
I have no idea what I said but afterwards several people commented about how appropriate the prayer was.

Anyhow back to tonight, I enjoyed my fried peppers stuffed with something and coated with the Mexican version of Velveeta And I enjoyed the scenery of boats, birds, and boobs galore.

Afterwards, Gin & I strolled holding hands along the Riverwalk. A guy came up with a cell phone pressed to his ear. He stopped us and launched into a long story about wife and kids in a broke down car, dead battery, expensive hotel room -- and could I give him $57 to make ends meet. Ha! Fat chance.

(The asking price of panhandlers has gone up. My Daddy told me that back during the Great Depression a running joke was:
Q: “Say, Buddy, you got a nickel for a cup of coffee”?
A: “No. But I’ll get along somehow”.)

I gave the man a bit of change and he pressed for more till I said that was all I’m willing to give. I suspect the cell phone was only a prop for his scam; panhandling is illegal on the Riverwalk and there is a strong police presence.

So much for that.

Now here’s where things get weird:

As Ginny & I drove home we stopped at a Walgreen’s drug store because they were having a sale, a dollar off, on my brand of pipe tobacco. I bought my tobacco and Gin picked up a couple of things she needed.

Now remember this is the sum total of my thinking all evening – tits, tobacco.

As we walked to the car, I saw a homeless man. No shirt. A ragged bundle of clothes. Thin as a rail. Not a hair on his head. Looked like an AIDS victim with a really bad T-Cell count. He foraged in a trashcan, found a plastic soda bottle with a little liquid left in the bottom, and he drank it ( heat index of 105 today).

Now without thinking I gave this man a tiny courtesy, nothing big, just the sort of normal kindness you’d extend to anybody you know.

He started crying.

He stepped close and threw his arms around me and lay his head on my shoulder and cried his heart out. I have a great aversion to being touched; it’s so strong in me that I cut my own hair rather than let a barber touch me. And here this stranger is embracing me and crying. I deliberately shelved my aversion, steeled myself to being touched, and put my arms around him. I cradled him in my arms. I patted his back and rocked him back and forth like a child.

All I said to him was, “It’s ok. It’s going to be alright. Don’t be afraid. It’s all going to be ok”.

I said this over and over.

I think we stood like that in the Walgreen’s parking lot for a good ten or 15 minutes. Ginny quietly got in our car and waited.

Now, here’s what’s odd.

This man sobbing in my arms said, “Forgive me. I’m just a sinner. Please forgive me. Forgive me”.

I had not said one word about religion. I quoted no Scripture. I gave no testimony. I didn’t read Four Things God Wants You To Know. I did not lead him in The Sinner’s Prayer. None of that standard Christian witnessing stuff – Tits & tobacco had been the only things on my mind. – And here I felt God was using me??? Why? Maybe He’s scraping the bottom of the barrel for witnesses here in Jacksonville.

Yet, nevertheless, this poor bastard was crying for forgiveness with tears streaming down his face and snot dripping from his nose.

Finally, he pulled himself together. Wiped his face with his forearm, picked up his bundle and walked down the street sniffling and saying, “Lord, forgive me. Lord forgive me.”.

I really don’t know what to make of this.

Don’t you have to be pious and prayerful and “on fire for the Lord” to be used by God?

Or, maybe I was not “used by God”
Maybe I just ran into an emotional AIDS patient.
Maybe the man is a kook who does this with everybody?
Or, was this some kind of scam? Cynical Christian that I am, after embracing, cradling, and rocking this guy, I immediately checked to see my wallet was still in place – it was.

I really don’t know what to make of this odd incident.

Was I on Candid Camera or something?


Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:34 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Friday, July 29, 2005

5/16 Of A Prayer Answered


Ginny took a day off work and we began changing the liner in our above ground pool. You wouldn’t think you’d work up a sweat in a pool but I certainly did.

I rigged and spliced various hoses to drain the remaining water; Ginny worked the outlet end of the hoses to water the flower beds so the water would not go to waste.

As the water drained, I tried to unscrew the fittings and top rails. Each of the dozens of fittings is attached with eight screws, yes, eight (8) screws! in each and every post. And two clamps, a metal baffle and a plastic clip.

All the screws have rusted in solid. Instead of unscrewing, the rusted heads tend to twist off leaving the shank of the screw embedded in the posts.

Getting just that first screw out took me over 30 minutes struggle!

I do not have the muscles for this project. But it must be done because after that limb fell, I counted 36 holes in the pool liner.

I walked next door to see if my neighbor had a 5/16th sprocket wrench that would fit. He drove up in his truck while I was rummaging in his tool box. I told him what I was trying to do and he reached in his shirt pocket and handed me a 5/16th nut driver. He’d picked it up at his job this morning and just happened to have it still in his pocket.

The tool was perfect for my job! By sundown I ‘d manage to unscrew about half the fittings. It’s still a monster job, but without that nutdriver, I’d be screwed.

As I worked, I reflected that while I’d been bitching and cursing and moaning about those rusted screws, I don’t recall consciously praying for help. Yet, Something prompted my neighbor to stick the very thing I needed in his shirt pocket, and Something prompted him to drive home for lunch today.

I can’t claim this is a big, dramatic answer to prayer, because I hadn’t prayed -- yet somehow, I’m reminded of the Scripture where God says, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear”.

On one hand, I felt thankful for this small mercy as a sign of God’s care in providing me with the right tool to do the job.

But, of course, being the kind of Christian I am, I immediately wondered If God cares for me, then why’d He allowed that branch to fall and punch 36 holes in my pool liner in the first place?

Well, like my grandfather used to say, “Some folks would complain if you was to hang ‘em with a brand new rope”.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:43 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Blessed Are The Peacemakers For They Shall Be Called....

The man from down the street stomped up my next door neighbor’s drive hefting a wooden club as though he intended to brain somebody.

My computer faces the front window and I glanced up from working on my Glog manuscript just in time to see the irate gentleman. Just that glance showed that he was seething mad about something and he was loaded for bear.

None of my business, is it?

Besides, my next-door neighbor, a nurse, is not even home. I saw her leave for the hospital hours ago.

Nevertheless, I slipped on my shoes and walked outside to intervene in what looked like big trouble.

Mr. D--- stood at her back gate swinging his club over the fence while Felony, the nurse’s pit bull, danced and barked just out of reach.

“Gonna kill that damn dog,” Mr. D--- growled at me. “Bakrin’ all the damn time. Keepin’ me awake with that damn yapping”.

Now, having worked night shift myself I can sympathize with a man whose sleep has been disturbed at 10 a.m. But I also know that Felony is a good dog who hardly ever barks. Mr. D--- was not prepared to listen to any defense of the barking dog.

But I realized why Felony was barking: roofers were on top of a house across the street and the dog realized that these men did not normally belong in the neighborhood – especially on top of a house. So she sounded the alarm.

Mr. D--- calmed down when he saw that the roofers banging created as much noise as the dog’s barking. He was still not happy but he returned to his own home still hefting his club and muttering about calling animal control.

Feeling pious, I remembered a passage of Scripture, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called …".

But as he stalked away, I’m sure I heard Mr D--- call me a “Damn, inteferin’ son of a bitch”!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:02 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Nothing Much To Say

Sat at my desk editing my Glog manuscript all day; I may have solved that header/footer formatting problem. Maybe. I went out to see the space shuttle Discovery launch, but it was too cloudy to see it from our backyard this time. My oldest daughter took me out to lunch at Arden’s Café. Ginny finished reading the latest Harry Potter book. Piles of stuff to do but neither time nor strength nor energy to do it. Nothing else to say about today,

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 3:42 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Writer's Frustration

Went out to breakfast at Dave’s with Barbara; afterwards we came back to my house to sit in the garden and talk. I listened.

Her granddaughter’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday. Ginny & I have other commitments so we don’t plan to attend.

Ginny went for that job interview this morning but they called immediately after saying they are giving the job to someone else.

All day long I battled the headers and footers in my Glog manuscript. Word (a pox on all their houses) insists on changing right input to wrong! And when I corrected it, the program changed it back again to the wrong thing!


A friend, a fine writer I admire, e-mailed me this weekend, about her frustration over the vision she sees and what actually get on the printed page. She said:

“I have finally figured out in my mind I want to write I just don't know how. I can't seem to gather my thoughts about how … I see what it is suppose to say in my head not what it is actually down on paper. Does this make sense? I have a hard time explaining it even. My mind sees what it wants and skips ahead”.

Do I understand what she’s going through?

You Bet!!!

Long ago I clipped this Shoe cartoon by Jeff MacNelly out of the newspaper. I framed it and it has hung by my desk for years.

Here it is for her (and for me, and for other frustrated writers):

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:23 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lazy Sunday

Ginny & I need to decide what to do about our pool.

Peripheral winds from Hurricane Dennis dropped a branch into the aboveground pool puncturing the liner. We patched this along with a dozen or so smaller holes in the ten-year-old pool but it still leaks seriously. But we can’t find where it is leaking.

We could take the pool out altogether; or install a new liner; or buy a new pool; or keep trying to locate and patch the present leak Each option has advantages and disadvantages, and different expenses and expenditures of energy.

We are not sure what to do.

Not only does the pool give us pleasure and add to the value of our property, but it also adds a safety factor -- in that it served as a reservoir of clean water when the power and city water were cut off during the hurricanes last year.

I hope this is the most painful decision we ever have to make!

But, even in small decisions we ask the Lord Christ to help us chose aright.

We enjoyed a rousing breakfast at Dave’s with Jennifer, Pat, Donald, Eve & Patricia. The kids offered all sorts of helpful input about various situations other family members face.

The wisdom of my own children astounds me.

Afterwards Eve & Patricia came over to our house. Earlier, ripe fruit bent our fig tree and the girls planned to pick some. But while we were at breakfast, so were the bluejays and thrashers and woodpeckers. The birds stripped the fruit till nothing was left for the girls to pick.

Patricia began a new blog. So far all she has in it are a couple of test entries but here is her address. Please drop by and add a comment. Her site is The Rabbit Hole at http://www.holerabbit.blogspot.com/

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:41 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Guy Stuff/ Girl Stuff

Donald amazed me today.

He came over about 8 a.m. to do computer stuff for me. He designed some book covers I need and did all sorts of esoteric stuff with my computer, working on it all day. Considering that he gets about $50+ an hour for outside consulting, this represents an enormous investment of time, cash and energy on his part.

It was such a pleasure to watch him work. On one project he blended a photo of a swimming muskrat into a different photo of a swamp for the cover of my novel, Glog. I couldn’t imagine attempting such a complex task; I marveled at his skill and efficiency.

Not only did he craft photos and covers and help me structure the manuscript, but he also made astute suggestions both for the writing and the business aspects of my projects. It behooves me to pay attention when he speaks.

He came up with a subtitle: Glog, A Dinosaur Novel… Of sorts. That’s the title of my next book. It’s about a sentient dinosaur who prays for divine guidance.

I would never be able to get any of my recent book written without Donald’s help and encouragement. Although I rather suspect that I drive him nuts because he will teach me how to do something but my mind can’t retain the information and Donald has to teach me the same things over and over again.

I exasperate him.

While Donald and I worked posting Letters From Stacy, (which we think has no realistic market not being of interest to anyone but me) Ginny cleaned the bathroom and hung the new curtains. Her work makes the room look so much larger and brighter.

After Donald left, we met the four girls (Patricia’s back from college for the weekend) for supper at a Chinese buffet.

There, Ginny reigned as the center of attention. All the girls questioned her about babies. They asked how much they weighed at birth? How long was her labor? … All sorts of baby questions.

I had nothing at all to contribute to that conversation.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 3:07 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Saturday, July 23, 2005

On Being A One-Ply Christian

Again today I re-discovered that my religion is as thin and flimsy as one-ply toilet paper.

I’m fine as long as I’m safely on a roll, but let the slightest bit of friction come, let something rub me the wrong way, and -- well, there’s a nasty break through.

As often happens, today’s break through came because of my own expectations; I’d envisioned spending the weekend in a certain way accomplishing certain things important to me. Instead, I find other people have other plans. As usual, this rubs me the wrong way. I grow frustrated. My Christianity rips.

And there you have it!

This afternoon I vented a lot of this frustration in the presence of my daughter Eve – who had nothing whatsoever to do with the situation. Eve is a gentle fawn of a girl who just happened to be in the room when Dad began his rant.

Did I complain about the situation at hand?

No. I raged about everything that bugged me from an unexpected $400 bill, to the government’s handling of the war in Iraq, to the carpetbagger jaguar football team moving from Jacksonville (leaving losers), to the letter “i” sticking on my keyboard.

Poor Eve got to see the real me – the bitter, sour, grump who lurks brooding beneath my thin layer of Christian faith.

Incidentally, one reason Eve was over at my house – after treating me to a nice lunch out – was to set up her own blog. She made her first posting today. Please visit her new site to leave a comment welcoming her to blogging. Her site is called Of Cabbages And Kings and it’s found at http://www.eveyq.blogspot.com/

Anyhow, does the breaking through of my frustrations, my ranting and raving and exposing the ugliness that underlies my thin, flimsy faith, prove that that faith is not real?

When a Christian falls, does that mean his faith is only a misty vapor?

On one hand, it would be easy to say that a person who acts like me, is not a real Christian. Real Christians don’t say the sort of things I said.

But I am a real Christian. I’m a born-again, fire-baptized, spirit-filled, card-carrying Christian and I’ve got a tee-shirt and bumper sticker to prove it! (My tee-shirt says: JESUS LOVES YOU – BUT I’M HIS FAVORITE)!

On another hand, does such behavior as mine mean I’m just a hypocrite, pretending to be a Christian but just using Jesus to enhance my own reputation?

That could be.

I do believe better than I act. But I’m working on that one.

On still another hand (yes, three hands), does the behavior of any frustrated Christian under stress, when the faith hits the fan, mean that Christianity is false. That there’s really nothing to it?

Not necessarily.

The truth of Jesus in no way depends on being propped up by His followers.

He is Himself whatever we are.

Besides if, being a Christian, I can be such a mean, bitter, sour, nasty old grouch underneath my one-ply faith – just imagine what I’d be like without that thin redeeming film of God’s grace!

Sad, isn’t it?

And here I thought so highly of my own shining, sterling example as a model Christian. I though so much better of myself than that. I expected more of me … Maybe that’s the whole trouble right there.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 7:14 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Friday, July 22, 2005

An Unexpectedly Happy Day

Ginny & I enjoyed an unexpected pleasant day; she’d clustered several doctors’ appointments for this morning and we held grim prospects of a day sitting around a waiting room, but it didn’t work out that way at all.

I was up at my usual 4 a.m. filling out online government forms to register books with the Library of Congress and puzzling over their conversion software for converting ten digit ISBNs to the new 13 digit ones. Of course after you do all that, there are still only ten blanks on the forms where you can insert the numbers ???? Mysterious. Maybe I got it right. I’m sure they’ll let me know if I didn’t.

Workmen have been replacing wooden ties along the railroad tracks near our home. They piled the old ties in a field for later pick up. We thought these might be a good textured background for a new author’s photo for the back of Glog, a novel I plan to publish next month about a dinosaur who prays for divine guidance. So early, before the first doctor visit, we posed:

To ou
r surprise, Gin’s first test proved to be a walk-in-walk out affair. So we enjoyed a leisure breakfast at Denny’s. Over morning coffee we compared our experience with prayer to going to a charity hospital’s emergency room. You go in hurting only to find 38 people there ahead of you. You put in your request with full confidence that

the Doctor will help you – but, until He gets around to you, all you can do is endure. You may be miserable in that waiting room, but you know that help will eventually come… It’s just that they haven’t pulled your number yet.

Not a cheerful view of prayer, but that describes our personal experience best.

Since we had extra time, we drove to a store to shop for stuff we’ve been meaning to buy but just haven’t gotten around to: bird seed, a dishpan, shower curtain, etc. Nothing urgently needed but things we were glad to mark off our list.

Off to a new doctor’s office for Ginny’s next two tests. I told the tech doing the bone density test that it was not needed because Ginny is the densest woman I’ve ever met, but he gave her the test anyhow.

Then we drove to a hardware store to replace a broken drawer handle. Of course the salesman said, “They don’t make ‘em in that size anymore”. He wanted to special order a new one for $38; but since, years ago, we’d only paid $40 for that chest anyhow, we decided to pass on that bargain.

We enjoyed lunch at Harpoon Louie’s. We ate outside on the deck overlooking Fishweir Creek. No other customers were there so we sat for two hours sipping tea, munching fried onion rings, smoking, watching birds and tide, and talking: Here’s a photo we took of Fishweir Creek:Back home we discovered four pleasant surprises:
  1. Ginny's mother sent us a nice birthday check.
  2. My computer blog, which had disappeared for some reason this mo0rning, is back online.
  3. Ginny applied for a job as a budget analyst months ago and today personnel called arranging an interview with her. I have no idea what a budget analyst does, but Ginny understands and she’s excited at the prospect.
  4. The Library of Congress sent me the control numbers for both Glog and Letters From Stacy. So all systems are go for those two books.

Gin & I spent the afternoon dabbling in the garden, napping, reading and talking about books.

Our Bible reading after supper came from John’s Gospel, about the second miracle Jesus performed and we puzzled over the structure of the passage. Gin said the word “believed” is used with two different meanings and I’m confused over the time element mentioned. The more we read of Scripture, the less we understand.

We transferred, with much pain and anguish, wailing and gnashing of teeth, the photos we took this morning. Then tried to decided which one made me look less like a dork to use on the Glog book jacket…. Maybe a pix of the other dinosaur would be better.

Spent the evening reading novels and so to bed.

We thought we were going to spend this day hanging around waiting rooms, instead, we enjoyed a delightful time together. You can never tell what a day may bring forth.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:08 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Walkin' and Prayin'

This morning, for the first time in ages, I took a prayer walk. As she leaves for work, Ginny drops me a mile or so down the road and I walk home praying for the homes I pass in the neighborhood, situations I know about, people who come to mind.

Problem is, this morning I walked more than prayed.

I noticed a dead cat in the road, a kid’s lost shoe, a new pothole, graffiti on a passing boxcar. Why is it easier for me to pay attention to such things than to God?

Well, when you can't see glory, pray about grime.

I try to link the things I see so they remind me to worship and talk with the Father about the concerns of my fellow man.

· That dead cat looked as though someone had deliberately cut its throat; Lord, please temper the cruelty loose in this world.

· That kid’s lost shoe; Lord, remember when our kids buried their shoes so they wouldn’t’ have to go to church and how we made them go barefoot? Well, help that kid’s parents not to feel as desperate and frantic as we did; help them know that You will provide whatever’s needed.

· The pothole; Lord, our city is a mess. The budget is shot to hell. Carpetbaggers and republicans control the government. Services are being cut back. Look upon Jacksonville with mercy and give us better leaders than we deserve.

· Graffiti on a boxcar: Lord, there are gangs of young men hanging out on the corner every night. Nothing to do. No place to go. No future. No hope. What, if anything, am I supposed to do about it? Please send them someone they will listen to.

Do I feel any different after my walk?


But I’m glad I walked – except, now my feet hurt.

For Men Only (And Women Who Might Care)

On a slightly different note, there is a website every man ought to check out. Caution, this site takes a while to load; it does feature a young lady in less than formal wear; but it is really worth your while. It's called "Rachel Gets Fruity" at http://www.rachelgetsfruity.com/flash.html


Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 9:39 AM

Your comments are welcome: 5 comments

Monday, July 18, 2005

Crash & Burn

Sunday, I crashed and burned.

The rubber band effect kicked in from the strain I’ve been under preparing the Stacy ms. Once the tension released, I snapped into a limp, tangled heap and slept about 12 hours. I ought to know better than to get in such a state but it happens every time I finish a project.

Barbara's granddaughter died at 4 a.m.; she was 21.

Nothing more constructive I can say.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 8:16 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Generic Party

Saturday Ginny & I, along with over 600 other people, visited the Grand Opening of the Maxville Library. The Head Librarian herself lead the two of us on an extended tour of this magnificent new 8,500 square-foot facility with 14,000 items in the collection Yes, we saw thousands of brand new shiny books, video tapes, DVD discs; video conferencing equipment, donuts, lemonade, herds of children – everything bright, fresh and new.

As we talked with The Head Librarian, Branch Manager, about the success of this grand opening, she suggested that for lunch we try Kinsley’s Bar-B-Que just down the road. We found the place and enjoyed some of the best bbq I’ve ever tasted. A stuffed boar’s head decorates the dinning room, and it was two stuffed customers who left the building.

As soon as we arrived home Donald showed up to begin hosting the generic party. He brought a huge computer monitor for me and hocked it up. Now, I can see what I’m doing online. Then he prepared a lavish feast for family and friends. We gorged on shrimp kabobs, bean soup for the vegetarians among us, beef stroganoff, Krispy Kream donuts, three cakes, snack things, ice cream, marshmallows, and more.

Eve's libarian friend, Janeen (sp?) sent me an ancient, lovely editon of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. I did not own a copy and I'm happy to get this 19th Century one.

We lit a bonfire fire in the fire dish by the fountain and we all feasted and talked in firelight and moonlight.

Unfortunately the engaged couple found other things to do so they didn’t show up (again) so Donald was disappointed about his friend’s failure to show (again). Guy should just have said, “No I don’t want to come” instead of stringing Donald along for hours as he’s done on previous occasions. But anyhow Jennifer & Pat invited several of their friends who and I enjoyed the conversation.

I feel I talked way too much. I’m sorry about that. Neal (Neil?) has a knack of asking questions that kept me gabbing – he has the skill art of an excellent conversationalist – while he said virtually nothing about himself. Poor Bill Ginny, Duval and Eve couldn’t get a word in edgewise because of my yakking continuously. I felt guilty after everyone left for home.

When Donald set this thing up, we’d agreed “no presents” (Ginny & I hardly ever exchange gifts). But Donald had seen two tasteful, cultured, works of fine art which he felt would blend with our décor. He gave Ginny a statue of a cat which even ardent cat-lovers found grotesque. She refused to let me photograph it.

But here’s a blurred photo (Below, taken by someone’s cell phone and e-mailed wirelessly to mycomputer) of the crab playing a guitar which he gave me; I'm the first on our block to own one!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 11:25 AM

Your comments are welcome: 0 comments

No, this is not the crab; it's the Head Librarian, Branch Manager. Next photo is the work of art.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 10:55 AM

Your comments are welcome: 0 comments

Birthday Crab plays a guitar... or maybe it's eating a Girl Scout cookie

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 10:51 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I Gotta Leak

I gotta leak.

The family plans a generic celebration this evening to observe several birthdays, a job promotion, and a friend’s upcoming wedding.

The kids decided to hold this shindig at our house with an everybody-bring-something cookout and pool party.

Problem is I gotta leak. Perhaps it was caused by a falling branch during last week’s storms, or maybe there’s a loose hose, or it could be a failed gasket – whatever, our pool looses water faster than the garden hose can fill it

First, I dawned facemask and descended to the bottom with the patching kit. Since I am so buoyant (read fat) I can’t stay on bottom long, so when I dive, Ginny places her foot in the small of my back and steps on me to hold me down underwater.

We’ve done this sort of thing before. Last winter when the water was too cold for her, she stayed outside the pool and held me on bottom with a long broom. Hey, it worked.

But today even after patching every hole we discovered, the pool still leaks.

So I checked hoses. All ok.

We bought some sealer and tackled the gaskets. We both ended up covered with black sticky glop.

And the water still gurgles down -- somewhere, and we can’t find the leak. We just see the level going slowly, persistently down drained away into the sand.

How symbolic.

Yeap, we’re celebrating last week’s birthdays -- one of ‘em’s mine. Another year down the drain. Where did it go? What did I accomplish? Did it count for a damn thing?

Life seeps away drip by drip by drip.

Good thing I’m such a giddy optimist, or this thought track could really get depressing….

The drip by drip phrase reminds me that I once wrote a piece about how I stole the leg from somebody’s dining room table. Here’s a link to Jesse James And Me, you’ll find that happier reading.

While you enjoy reading that, I’m headed to a pool-less pool party.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 3:58 AM

Your comments are welcome: 0 comments

Friday, July 15, 2005

I Don't Need Your Help! I'm Not A Wimp!

I once sank to my armpits in quicksand.

I really could have died under the sucking sand.

My brother and I were fishing in Matanzas Inlet when I tried to cross a tidal run and got stuck and sank in the sand which locked me in a vice-like vacuum. David was only a short distance away fishing with his back to me .

I could have called to him for help.

But I didn’t.

I determined in heart and mind that I’d rather die than ask anybody, even my own brother, for help!

The tide flooded in loosening the sand’s grip on me and I swam free – although I did loose my shoes -- and darn near my pants -- in the struggle.

So stupidly independent.

So easily embarrassed.

So prideful.

Rather drown my own fat ass than to ask for help – that’s me.

Yesterday, I had to ask for help.

After a long, painful internal debate, I called Ginny at work and asked her to come home because I couldn’t handle things. Hated to do that. Hated to disturb her at work. Hated to admit that I could not do it on my own. Hated to admit weakness.

Hated to ask the one person who loves me most in the entire world to help me.

I’m like that with God too.

Of course, Ginny dropped everything and came immediately to my aid.

What else would you expect?

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:18 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Thursday, July 14, 2005

But, Will It Float?

A book manuscript resembles a fully rigged clipper ship.

Once all the lines, ropes and stays are in place, if you adjust the tension on one, you must change the tension on all the others too.

Last night I finally finished my sixth or eighth edit of the Stacy Letters. Thanks Be To God! Now comes the scary work of adjusting details without screwing up the whole thing and sinking the ship.

King Solomon said, “Of the making of many books there in no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh”.

He hit the nail on the head!

Still remaining for me to do:

Writing an introduction; getting an ISBN; registering copyright and applying for a Library of congress catalogue number; e-mailing text to Wes (Thank God he volunteered) for proofreading; removing invisible graphic frames; converting to a pdf for the printer; adjusting the kerning; generating an index; praying for potential readers; rechecking pagination; wording a dedication; pricing; and writing a marketing blurb…

Nothing to it.

Except that I’m scared to touch the thing again for fear of knocking down the whole tower of cards.

Oh well, the Lord Jesus got me this far. Maybe He’ll see me the rest of the way through.

If not, the clipper ship is His to sink; the tower of cards is His to knock down.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that His purpose in all this effort and energy I’ve expended was not for the benefit of potential readers and historians but simply to keep me off the streets.

His ways are not necessarily my ways – but (sometimes) I suspect He knows what He’s doing.

Ginny is making a presentation at City Hall this morning. A lot hinges on the outcome. If you're inclined to pray...

Happy 32nd Birthday to Donald!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 10:00 AM

Your comments are welcome: 0 comments

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Audio Experiment: Two Fat Guys Talking

Once a week or so my friend Wes Bassett & I get together for breakfast and conversation. We often talk about theology.

My son Donald encouraged us to record some of our talks. He wants to turn these into a fascinating, professional quality podcast to be named "Two Fat Guys Talk Theology".

We've tried audio files several times in the past, but screwed up because we don't know enough about computers (or theology) to make the thing work.

Recently Donald installed a new microphone thingy on my computer so now we can do audio files -- maybe.

Of course, today's topics ranged from cooking on wood stoves and brewing moonshine whiskey to training teams of oxen. What inspired these topics was that last week Wes drove from Jacksonville, Florida, up to the Foxfire Museum in northern Georgia.

No theology at all today. But that's the way it goes when friends get together to laugh and talk with no agenda or rehearsal.

So here goes a try (Takes about 80 seconds to download) at a 17-minute audio file on old time country stuff:

!!! Sorry. Screwed up again -- only half the conversation plays before the tape? or whatever it's called on a computer? goes into a loop repeating from the start... I'll ask Donald to get it right as soon as possible.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 12:12 PM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Stage Fright

Checking the site stats for my website, www.cowart.info this morning I see that over 3,000 readers have visited the site already this month.

Panic attack!

Scares the hell out of me!

What do they expect from me?

They are all looking right at me.

What should I do?

What in the world do I have to say to an audience that large?

Are they disappointed when they read the trivial meanderings of my recorded days?

It seems to me when I read other people’s blogs that the world is filled with excellent writers, people who live exciting lives, who experience funny things, who have significant things to say.

And most of my postings simply tell about sitting at my desk writing, or about working in my garden, or about seeing a bird at the feeders – simple, everyday stuff of no importance to anyone but me.

A temptation comes:

I feel I need to manufacture important things to say.

As a Christian I get to thinking that I’m responsible to tell the reading world about how to be saved, about how to live in crisis, about how to handle problems, about the Glory of Christ, dramatic answers to prayer, miraculous healings, etc. etc. – in other words, to lie about my life and interests.


I tend to forget that I’m a cog in God’s wheels.

Surely the Almighty and Everlasting God can honor Himself thru a simple guy sitting at his desk trying to do his duty or mowing his grass or loving his wife or enjoying a bird.

But deep inside, I want my life to be a Hollywood Spectacular with seas parting and martial music and crowds cheering – and ME in the staring role with a disheveled Marilyn Monroe, two thirds out of her bodice, clinging to my muscular thigh as I protect her from heathen barbarian hordes with my shining sword… Dream on John!

Yes, sometimes God does come as a mighty rushing wind; but most often He comes as silently, as imperceptibly as dew forming on a morning spider web. The important thing for us to know is that He comes daily.

So, what did I really do yesterday?

I sat at my desk editing the Stacy Letters. Thanks be to God.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:24 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

To Anyone Else It Would Be A Boring Day

Hooked up two fans in the outside office to dry out the carpet.

Sat at my desk editing Stacy Letters from 4 a.m. till 10 p.m. -- exciting for me, boring to anyone else.

Oh well, Jesus is Lord of even the most boring day.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:32 AM

Your comments are welcome: 0 comments

Monday, July 11, 2005

Rainy Days With Ginny, Dennis & Sherlock

Ginny & I hunkered down for the weekend like squirrels snuggled in a hollow tree. Our only venture into the outside world was a trip to the library where we checked out an armload of books & videos.

We watched weather reports on Hurricane Dennis, but if we had not owned a tv, we would never have known there was a hurricane at all. At our home, it was just a gray, rainy, blustery day – perfect for reading Sherlock Holmes mysteries, which I did all weekend.

The only hurricane related problems we noticed were a few downed branches (one did hit the roof and another punctured the pool liner). Blowing rain did flow under the door of my outside office and a few books and papers got wet (worried about mildew and mold now). But, essentially, no major problems at all.

It felt a little weird during our devotions Sunday night to pray being thankful that the storm hit somebody else instead of us. Pretty selfish, huh. But that’s the way my prayers are.(O, and God bless those poor bastards in the Panhandle – better them than us).

Among the library videos we started to watch but cut off after a brief time were several recent Hollywood films classified as “Romantic Comedy”. They were neither romantic nor comic. In fact I have seen outright porno films with more wholesome moral values. At least in the porno films lust or fun motivate the couples; in these “romantic comedies” greed, sleaze, deceit, cheating, a desire to undercut and corrupt, , and a theme of “noble adultery” motivate the couples. We found these Hollywood films too offensive to finish watching. Yet, other people apparently find them enjoyable – to each his own taste, I suppose.

We did really enjoy watching Spiderman 2 and The Wind And The Lion. Great fun both.

Sunday morning the kids all got together for a breakfast out at the Golden Coral buffett; they called inviting us but we were too comfortable in our own little nest and passed on the invitation. They report that they had a riotous good time. But on this rainy day, Sherlock Holmes held more appeal for me.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:15 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Up The Creek Without A String Trimmer

I feel guilty.

Friday morning someone called asking if I had a manual edger, one of those half-moon blades on a shovel handle, they could borrow.

Yes, but I haven’t used it in ages because the handle is split; I use an electric string trimmer to edge our yard. I said I'd come edge their yard for free with it if they’d drive over to pick me up.

No. They did not want me to do the job. But, could they borrow my electric trimmer instead?

This placed me in a dilemma because on one hand I try to follow the Scripture, “Give to him that asks of thee; and of him that would borrow, turn thou not away”. On the other hand, I use the electric edger two or three times a week. It takes about six hours to mow and edge our yards and I’d really be up the creek with out this edger.

Besides, the person who wanted to borrow my tool is notoriously unreliable.

So I baulked.

I’d edge their yard myself but I'm not about to let my tool go off in the hands of this person.

They got huffy and said they’d use the manual edger themselves, then talked about working in this 98 degree heat, etc. Then told me to just prop the edger against the gate so they could pick it up without “bothering you any more”.

I dug through the shed to find the old half-moon edger. The handle is iffy but I sharpened the blade and propped it against the gate… it’s still there this morning; they never did come by to pick it up.

So I feel like a stingy creep.

But I figure I can live with my guilt easier than I can live without my tool.

For our Friday Night Date, Ginny & I went to Jimmy’s Fried Chicken, got a corner booth by a picture window to watch a firey sunset, and gorged while talking about various contract problems at her office. Back home, we watched a library check-out video made in 1980 by some African film company; The Gods Must Be Crazy has to be one of the greatest movies ever filmed. That scene with the Land Rover in the tree is one of the funniest ever. And the girl who plays the school teacher is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.

(And yes I did notice that she had flowers on her panties).

Ginny & I got so tied up in the movie we forgot to watch the weather report about Hurricane Dennis which at six o’clock was a Category Four with sustained winds of 150 mph.

O well, if it comes up this side of the state, we’ll probably notice.


One other thought about lending out my tools:

In such situations the Scripture says I’m to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove.

So... Next time somebody wants to borrow one of my tools -- if I’m in serpent mode, I’ll sink my fangs into his ankle; if I’m in dove mode, I’ll fly over and crap on his head.

See there, I am too a Bible-believing Christian! But nobody fiddles with my tools!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:30 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Friday, July 08, 2005

Christmas in July's Hurricane Season

I spent Thursday preparing our house and yard for Hurricane Dennis.

I’ve found that hurricane debris is easier to clean up if the yard is mowed before the ground gets too soggy, so I spent the day cutting grass and pruning branches while thinking about God & Christmas.

I often follow the blog of a young lady in England who apparently works among teenagers. Recently a 15-year-old boy asked her “Where in the Bible does it say that Jesus is God”? Her blog asked for readers’ thoughts on the subject.

That question got me to thinking about the deity of Christ. So naturally, as I sweat pushing the mower in 98 degree heat I got to thinking about Christmas.

You’ve heard the reading dozens of times:

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us”.

Jesus = God with us.

I had to dig a trench to channel anticipated rains away from a garden shed where I have some books stored. I shoveled still thinking about the deity of Christ and Christmas:

“Behold, there came wise men from the east… and, lo, the star, which they had seen in the east went before them…And when they were come into the house, they … fell down and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh”.

Would wise men worship something less that God?

The garbage men pick up yard trash about 6 a.m. on Fridays so I lugged the pruned branches and clippings to the curb – humming Christmas carols in the July heat.

As I hummed a beautiful rendition of Handle’s Messiah while carrying a garbage can, the thought occurred to me that the Prophet Isaiah knew that Jesus is God come in the flesh:

“Unto us a son is given…And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”. (Isaiah 9:6).

The Mighty God!

Is it time to take down the birdfeeders yet before they blow away? Not yet. There’s not a cloud in the sky here yet, although the radio noon news says that Dennis strengthened to a Category Three Hurricane.

I took a break still thinking about that Jesus/God thing and here’s some things I came up with to send my e-friend in England:

Jesus claimed to be God: John 8:23-24 -- “I am from above… I am not of this world… If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins”. Perhaps you could ask your teen friend what he thinks this passage means.

John 10:30 -- “I and my father are one”. Why did Jesus say that?

His enemies knew Jesus said he is God. John 10:33 – “The Jews answered him saying, ‘For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God”.

His friends heard Him claim to be God: When Philip asked to see God, Jesus said (John 14:8-9) “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”.

St. Paul knew that Jesus is God: In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul said “Christ Jesus… being in the form of God…equal with God… made in the likeness of men…the death of the cross… At the name of Jesus every knee should bow… Jesus Christ is Lord”.

Angels worship Jesus as God: Hebrews 1:1-8 says, “God… His son… by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of His person… the firstborn… all the angels of God worship him… Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever”.

Hope these thoughts help her.

Saturday, Ginny & I stretched a new trap as an awning for the garden shed to help keep water out and I talked with my neighbor about plywood and such – typical hurricane season stuff.
Some of these storms are dangerous; all of them are a nuisance. O well, one further religious thought:

The Bible (almost) says: The wise man builds his house upon the rock; the foolish man lives in Florida!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:05 AM

Your comments are welcome: 5 comments

Odd New Feature: audio

This evening Eve and Donald came over unexpectedly bringing in Chinese food for our supper. Donald installed a digital microphone and software (Mp3 My Mp3 2.0) on my computer.

Ginny sat and read ignoring the uproar as the rest of us attempted to make the thing work.

Donald set this device so that it will record everything said in our living room for up to 600 minutes at a time! As you record, little wavy lines bounce up and down on the computer screen – or they don’t. We made a couple of test runs with the thing while laughing like idiots not knowing when it was on and when it was off.

Donald eventually hopes to establish a computer pod-casting network and I am his guinea pig.

In light of approaching Hurricane Dennis, Donald advised me to transfer the Stacy Letter files I'm working on to an out-of-state server so that if we losse electric power like last year or if my system is damaged, we can download the files again.

On the 4th, tv news said few Americans know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner so we set out to prove them wrong…. But they were right.... Besides, Donald had some kind of Indian music playing in the background and we joked about recording a broadcast from Calcutta.

Anyhow, if you want to hear sound excerpts from a typical evening at the Cowarts, check out the audio experiment files. I don’t plan to use this exotic software often-- you'll see why if you listen!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:53 AM

Your comments are welcome: 0 comments

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Audio Experiment

Hear Dad in (not)Live Internet Audio.

This is the first time he's ever tried this. Please bear with us, and him.

And now singing the full National Anthem.


Third Try: Dad reading a short Bible story (neighbor's pit bull in the background).

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 8:13 PM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Random Thoughts on Dependability

Today I’m up to page 123 in editing the Stacy Letters. The work goes faster now because this is the fifth or sixth time I’ve been over the ms.

Lunch with Wes. Among other things, we talked about long distance driving, health care issues, the U.S. Constitution (Wes says he reads it at least once a year; I think I read it once back in highschool), yard sales, and dependability.

Here are a few of my random thoughts on dependability:

If you say you will do something – Do It!

You are not required to say anything but once you do, then you have created the very will of God for your self.

If you do not want to do something, then just say, “I do not want to”. No other reason is required for anything. “I want to” or "I do not want to” are sufficient reasons without any further elaboration. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

You make the world a smother place for people around you if you simply do what you yourself say you will do.

Now, this morning I told Ginny I’d move that chair out of the hall… so I guess I’d better get up and move that chair.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:57 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Holiday's Over, Back to work

Ginny & I enjoyed a long 4th of July weekend dabbling in our garden. For the past two weeks rain each day measured over an inch and a half in our rain gauge. The flowers thrived. Click here for photos of our garden this weekend.

We have especially enjoyed watching hummingbirds among the impatiens.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:04 AM

Your comments are welcome: 0 comments