Rabid Fun

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

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Birds & The Bees & The Dogs

I didn’t feel much like writing Thursday so I spent most of the day outside doing yard work.

I saw a species of bird which I’ve never noticed before. It was apparently building a nest in a hanging basket in our fig tree so I assume I’ll be seeing more of it in the future. I’ll dig out the bird books and identify it next time I see it. For now, I’d classify it as what ornithologists call an LGB.

That’s scientist jargon for a bird they can’t identify; it means Little General Bird.

In reading blogs yesterday I ran across the funniest cartoon at Moogie’s World:
This broke me up big time!

I suppose one reason this cartoon rang my bell is that recently Ginny has joined the ranks of millions and millions of other women who find me conspicuously resistible.

But, we won’t go there.

Except I’m perplexed as to how a Christian guy ought to handle this… Maybe I should try a new aftershave? Or maybe I should just shave, period.

Anyhow, speaking of dogs, today the library where our daughter is manager institutes a new program: Read To A Dog.

Yes, in this program kids who have trouble learning to read get to read a story book to a dog inside the library. The dogs in the program are service animals specially trained for this ministry.

The dog’s handler spreads a mat on the library floor where the kid and the dog sit for 15 minutes. The dog will not leave that mat. It will pay rapt attention to the kid reading to it. The dog never criticizes or complains; it acts delighted over the kid’s reading. So the kid’s self esteem and confidence grow quickly. The kid has an audience which approves and appreciates being read to --- And other kids drool with envy.

So far Jacksonville has only five of these dogs registered in the program but others are in training.

Our daughter’s branch is the first in the system to offer this program and Jacksonville’s mayor will be there today to launch the first session.

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 @ 6:07 AM

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Deer Doctor,

Still down and depressed, I couldn’t face writing so I sat and read all day Wednesday. When writers don’t write, we read.

Among the things I read was an article from the Florida Times-Union, my hometown newspaper. Here are the main points of the story:

* After a high speed chase across three counties, police in North Carolina arrested a man from Jacksonville who was driving a stolen ambulance.

* The driver was dressed as a doctor wearing scrubs, a stethoscope, a pager, and latex gloves.

* Strapped to a gurney in the back of the ambulance was a deer.

* An intravenous line was attached to the six-point buck.

* A defibrillator had been used on the animal.

* The deer was dead.

In other news, today is SunnyBunni’s birthday. Hope you have a great 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 @ 5:17 AM

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A 90-year-old Dying Man

My friend, Liz, a nurse in a major area hospital, often tends to dying patients. After her shift this morning, she called inviting me to breakfast. She’s run into a situation which upsets her.

The patient, a man in his mid 90s, was a preacher. He’s suffered a stroke with many medical complications. Heart problems. Kidney failure. Diabetes. And a host of other age related ailments. When he is lucid, he appears to be at peace and ready for death.

As the Bible puts it, he is full of days and ready to be gathered to his fathers.

But his daughter insists on every possible medical intervention to keep him going.

This daughter, a deeply religious person, wants the hospital to get the old man well enough to travel. Then she plans can carry him to a faith-healing meeting conducted by one of the television preachers she watches. There, she feels, the old man will be cured.

The lady sits by her dying father’s bedside continually with a huge black Bible open in her lap. The room’s television blares out religious programming. And the lady loudly proclaims to any and all passers-by that she expects God to perform a miracle and heal her father.

Several things about this situation upset Liz.

“John, she’s going to be devastated when the old man dies,” she said. “I think she’s going to just lose it and come apart”.

Liz thinks this lady feels so desperate for hope that she’s relying on religious fantasy instead of realistic faith.

Jesus never cured anybody of old age.

Liz, a dedicated Christian who wants to live as a testimony to Christ among his coworkers, is also concerned about the effect this woman’s stance has on the hospital staff.

When skeptics see this Christian lady’s frantic clinging, how can they take what we Christians say about our belief in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come?

Does our own behavior belie our own words?

This dear lady proclaims that she expects a miracle, for God to make a sick 90-year-old man healthy and young again.

Can God perform such a miracle?


Is that likely?

There’s a reason they’re called miracles.

Once I had a toothache. An abscessed tooth. I did not have money enough to see a dentist. I could not get into a charity clinic. I suffered and suffered and suffered.

I prayed for God to heal me, to ease my agony, to make my pain go away.

Nobody home in Heaven that week.

Finally I boiled a pair of pliers, rinsed my mouth out with alcohol and pulled my own tooth.

I do not recommend this.

Did my faith in a loving God fail?

Damn right it did!

Nothing like a good toothache to turn this particular Christian into a practicing atheist.

Why did God let me suffer in agony like that?

I have no idea.

I do know that He himself suffered anxiety:

“Father, if it is at all possible, let this cup pass from me…”

I do know that He himself felt abandoned in pain:

“My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me”?

I do know that He himself cared about the family of the dying.

“Woman, behold thy son…”

I do know that the life Christ offers us is based on physical reality:

“I thirst”.

No fantasy about it.

Under dirt buried in a tomb for three days Christ, like a visitor in a burn unit walking out with a validated parking ticket in hand, headed back Home.

He once said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you so that where I am, there you may be also”.

I grieve for Liz. This is the third big hit she’s taken this week.

I grieve for the lady clinging to her Dad because I think this is more about her than about him.

I wonder how much of my own faith is fantasy and how much is reality.

My experience teaches me to view the world as a pretty screwed up place, and it seems that Jesus holds that same view; He said he came to save the utterly lost in the worst possible situations (the incarnation did not take place in Disneyland).

But this world ain’t the whole show.

We live in a staging area.

Temporary quarters.

Transitional housing.

Dorm rooms for the semester.

Resurrection and Home lie ahead.

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 @ 6:52 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

One Downer Of A Posting:

Depression is such an Everest of a feeling that it overwhelms.

I’ve avoided writing in my journal or my blog the past couple of days. I’ve felt that nobody wants to hear me whine. I think readers have enough downers in their own lives that normally I want my writing to give them a lift. So I try to enter bright sunny postings reflecting the joys of a Christian life.

That’s dishonest.

Yes, I am a Christian.

Yes, I am a happy man.

But there is a flip side to my life also.

And recently I’ve been pissing against a spiritual wind.

But that’s shameful and I don’t want readers to know about that side of me. I have a reputation to maintain. I don’t want to give folks another reason to reject Christ; I don’t want to bring reproach on His name. I want readers to think I’m a nice guy.

So, I lie.

I pretend to be happier, cooler, more spiritually in touch than I really am.

Well, this past week my faith has hit the fan.

Over the years I have written scads of biographical profiles of successful businessmen for Chamber of Commerce type magazines. I’ve also written a number of biographical sketches of outstanding Christians. And one thing always bothers me in collecting materials for such articles: biographers tend to tell only the good stuff about their subjects.

That bugs me and leaves me hopeless.

I mean if I’m reading a life of some spiritual giant hoping to find some inspiration and meaning in my own life, but all I read about are his successes, then what is there that I can relate to as I stumble through life without a clue?

Don’t these Real Christians ever have an off day? Aren’t they ever tempted to say, “To Hell with it”. Don’t they ever just give up and lay in the dust for a while before climbing to their feet and trudging on?

Maybe I’m just a hypocrite.

Maybe I’m not “Filled With The Spirit”.

Maybe I’m not a true, dedicated believer.

But I’m here.

I put a certain premium on honesty. I’ve resolved to be honest in my journal entries and record what’s there, not just what ought to be there. And I try to do that in this blog. The subtitle of this blog is “a befuddled Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living”.

Sometimes that spiritual reality is ‘Being A Christian Sucks”.

Am I still a Christian? Yes. As Peter said, “To whom should we go, Lord? You alone have the words of eternal life”.

Am I a hypocrite? Yes. I do want to put my best foot forward. (Once I even wrote a newspaper article about hypocrisy ).

So, anyhow even though today’s posting is a downer, it’s what I have to say today.

That’s what you get here: one miserable bastard -- and Jesus.

I hope someday some guy who’s down will read the stuff I write and say to himself, “You know, if a stupid looser like John Cowart can try to walk with God, maybe there’s hope for me too”.

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 @ 4:57 AM

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Little Tin Box

One morning last week I made myself a couple of new matchboxes.

As a pipe smoker I prefer wooden strike-anywhere matches. Pipe smoking carries an entire ritual of behavior patterns that add to the satisfaction and for me decorating match boxes is part of that ritual.

In recent years I have used the tin boxes that package Altoids peppermints. Friends and family save the tin boxes for me and every month or so, I fix a set of them up for my matches.

Usually I fix a batch of five matchboxes at a time: for the car, for my pocket, for my desk, for beside my reading lamp, and for the tv room.

Here’s how I do it:

First clean the box with a damp napkin then glue a striking surface to the bottom. For strikers I use either a scrap of sandpaper or the rough strip from the sides of a cardboard match package.

I trace the curved shape of the Altoids lid on a sheet of clear stiff plastic and use that as a template for my design. I place that clear template over a picture that suggests my mood at the moment and trace around it. Then I cut the picture out with scissors and glue it to the cover of the tin box

I keep a file folder of magazine clippings (National Geographic is a great source) of photos which appeal to me for box covers. I choose matchbox cover pictures to fit my mood, or relate to some writing project I’m working on, or touch on some holiday or event important to me. Usually I glue a photo of a bikini girl who strikes my fancy inside the box.

This photo shows some of the matchboxes I’ve used while working on the Glog manuscript.

Of course everyone knows that pipe smoking can be dangerous as you can see from this entry in my journal.

I suppose there are better ways to spend my time than pasting pictures on little tin boxes, but it keeps me off the street.

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 @ 5:54 AM

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Friday, September 23, 2005

A Man Alone Deep In The Forest...

Thursday my friend Wes called and took me out for breakfast at Dave’s. Our conversational topics ranged from metallurgy in Bible times to questionable sources cited in the Wescott & Hort Greek text.

Wes know about such stuff.

I just listen.

I can’t tell Wescott & Hort from Ben & Jerry’s.

From such esoteric quasi religious subjects we soon got to talking about Hurricane Rita and our families; before long, we got to telling ribald jokes so terrible sailors would cover their ears.

I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. It was great fun, very refreshing.

After Wes left, and while I waited to hear from Donald —At his work he’s installing a linux cluster computer system which carries out 32 Billion operations every second! —

While I waited to hear from Donald about the Glog manuscript, I began structuring a new book.

Unfortunately, I’d written this one on a dedicated word processor. Transferring the text to a computer presents all sorts of technical problems. For instance, even when I Save-As a text-only document, the files come into Word with a paragraph mark at the end of each and every line on every page.

I tried this and that and the other to remedy this, but then the text appeared without a single paragraph mark, indentation or break in 136 pages!

Back to the drawing board.

Again I tried various remedies but in the end I just sat at my keyboard deleting 863 paragraph marks —one at a time.

Computers are wonderful, efficient, labor-saving, devices which free the user from boring clerical tasks and thus inspire creativity.

Other people’s computers, that is.

I felt more creative back in the days when I wrote all my manuscripts long hand with pencil on yellow legal pads.

A neighbor talked with me about a developing squabble among people in our area. I’m not involved but she wants me to play the role of peacemaker. I would need to take another two days a month from my own work to do some physical stuff for the benefit of the community. Writers don’t actually work, you know; they have all sorts of free time.

I’ll think about it.

Ginny came home from work feeling down in the dumps. I don’t know if it’s a matter of her blood sugar being low or if it’s something I’ve done — or haven’t done.

Ah, the mystery of woman.

How does that old saw go:

If a man standing alone deep in the forest says anything, but there’s no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?

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 @ 5:27 AM

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Stormy Day

I thought it was thunder.

Hurricane Rita, one of the most powerful storms on record, is over 500 miles away from Jacksonville but the tv weathermen say that the heavy rain falling outside my window is one of this storm’s feeder bands.

About noon Wednesday the lightening and thunder intensified so I shut down my computer and unplugged it.

One crash of thunder shook the neighborhood but it turned out not to be thunder. A Navy S-3 Viking fighter jet crashed and exploded in Westside Regional Park just a few miles from our home. Two crewmen died in the crash. The jet narrowly missed a residential area. The military is not saying what weapons may have been aboard the fighter.

While I continue to wait for the corrected copy of my Glog manuscript I’m scared to put away all the clutter in our living room (piles of books, maps, notes, printouts) for fear I’ll just have to dig them out again in fact checking.

I’m anxious to get Glog to the printer. I know that this will happen in God’s own good time but I want it done NOW! But I have to wait patiently on the Lord – Who is notorious for dragging His feet when we’re in a hurry.

I once heard a preacher say, “God may not get here when we want Him, but when He does arrive, He’s never late”.

One problem with being a Christian writer is that I have to live Christian too.
I can’t just write about it.

Another problem is that my own words often return to bite me on the ass.

For instance, today as I gnawed in impatience at having to wait, I kept recalling a chapter** from one of my earlier books (now published as I’m Confused About Prayer) in which I describe the virtues of waiting patiently.

I wish I hadn’t written that.

On another front: Rats have invaded Ginny’s office building, the new construction the agency just opened in August. Have recent rains driven them in? Did they get moved over from the old building in file drawers? Had they taken up residence during the long delays in construction?
Ginny, who for years has supplied the office with candy, bought a new, glass rat-proof candy dish to go on her desk.

The administration is all aflutter about the rats.

They combat the vermin by issuing memos.

Nothing rats hate more than a good memo.

(** Sorry, I could not make the link thing work this morning.)

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 @ 4:59 AM

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I can't think of a clever title this early.

Up at 3 a.m. and checked e-mail to see if Donald finished the corrections to my Glog manuscript.

He's still working on it.

So I’m going back to bed in a few minutes.

I remember the frustration I felt when dealing with outside publishers in the past. It would take as long as 18 months between the time I wrote an article and getting the check.

They say that waiting is good for your soul.

They lie.

While I waited yesterday I felt stagnant but hesitated to begin a new project before Glog is published. I filled my time studying the line-by-line editing book.

The book offers handy tips such as:

Sometimes tightening provides a way out of stylistic infelicities”.


“You should have no trouble distinguishing legitimate uses from the periphrastic expressions that clutter virtually all writing”.

What are they talking about????

And this is a book which promises to make my writing clearer!

Here’s a funny memory… back in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s, a college text book quoted a section from an article I wrote to illustrate proper English grammar. What makes that so funny is that I never made above a C in any English class!

Another useful thing I did yesterday was to read the blog of Elizabeth Welch, a nurse who stayed working at a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina.


The tv news doesn’t show the half of it.

This lady lived through Hell.

Her own experiences make for amazing reading and she provides photos and links to the blogs of other nurses who are in the same disaster.

When you get to her site, you have to scroll back to the days before the hurricane then follow her postings till this week. Her blog is well worth reading. The site is called “Nurse With A Little Bit Of Attitude” and the address is http://www.livejournal.com/users/auryn24/

So it’s 4:30 a.m. and I’m going to nap now.

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 @ 4:36 AM

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Learning Day

While waiting for the corrections on Glog to come back to me, I spent Monday learning.

I began reading a line-by-line copy editing text book on “using editing techniques to produce flawless sentences”. I learned that there good.

Then I studied the manual and fiddled with the new digital camera Donald gave me. I learned that good too…Well, not too good because I can take pictures with it but I can’t figure out how to download them to my computer; I think I’m missing the driver software.

Then, I took my first-ever an on-line computer class. It involved book production techniques and manuscript formatting. I really learned a lot from that. I expect to be able to produce better quality books in the future.

Yes, today my head is stuffed full of learning. My heart… well, that’s a different matter.

Some people never learn.

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 @ 5:45 AM

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Saying nothing

It's 5:30 Monday morning. I've been up working for a couple of hours but I have nothing to say.

So I won't pad my blog by saying it.

I hope you enjoy your 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 @ 5:39 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Things We Do For Love

Saturday, butterflies fluttered in our garden. Birds flocked to the feeders. Flowers bloomed. The pool sparkled. Weather balmy – so how did we spend the day?

Inside cloth stores!

First, we bought some new glasses for Ginny.

Then she wanted to buy some new dresses for the office.

We walked around the corner to this cloth store and read the sign in the window. It was actually etched into the glass. It said:

Custom Clothier & Personal Image Consultants.
By Appointment Only.

Ginny, Thank God, had NOT made an appointment, so we drove to this other cloth store that peddles women’s dresses. There, in only four and a half hours of shopping, Ginny bought two dresses.

Yes, two dresses in only 4 ½ hours!

I stood around the cloth-selling store trying not to look like a dork. There was one other male person in that store. I had the distinct impression that he was there selecting dresses for himself.

Once we finally got home, we watched a tv movie.

A real movie.

Friday night Ginny had picked the movie, one of those noble adultery films about this dorky writer who leaves his wife when he finds inspiration in the arms of his muse, a widow with kids, but she croaks saddling him with four brats to raise.

Ginny teared up over this lovely tale.

But tonight we got to see Armageddon with Bruce Willis. And these taxi cabs blow up and tumble through the air and land on top of other cars. And meteors smash into New York City. And the Pentagon scrambles jets. And Godzilla steps on this traffic cop and squishes his guts out. And these astronauts, who are really common everyday joes working on an oil rig, blow up a Russian space station, and two U.S. space shuttles, and six or eight more taxi cabs, and an asteroid -- And they save the world for the exotic dancer they’d met in a bar the night before they blasted off.

Ginny did not tear up over this lovely movie.

But she watched it with me anyhow.

Ah, the things we do for love!

Now, the movie Armageddon presents a slightly different worldview from mine but I enjoyed it anyhow. One thing I didn’t care for was the general’s references to a “biblical” end of the world.

Many years ago I wrote a regular series of religious humor columns for a newspaper. One of these was titled, “The Party At The End Of The World”.

This article so offended one religious group that they sent a delegation of clergy to protest to the newspaper’s owner. He immediately cancelled my column and assigned me back to writing obituaries for the next couple of years.

That wasn’t as much fun as writing a regular column; but it was not the end of the world.

Not a single taxi cab blew up.

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 @ 7:21 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Saturday, September 17, 2005

On Living In A Bus Station

I live in a bus station.

I can prove it.

The carpet in our entrance foyer used to be a tapestry hanging on the wall of a Greyhound Bus Station; it features the familiar red, white and blue swirl and bounding greyhound logo of that company. When they were closing a nearby substation they were actually going to throw the tapestry in the dumpster but I asked the manager and he gave it to me for our floor.

(I’d post a photo but I’d have to vacuum it first, so just picture it in your mind).

No more appropriate carpet could be found for our house because although we live on a cul de sac and I work at home alone like a hermit, yet the world winds its way to our doorstep. An amazing number of people pass through this house.

Friday morning I drove a neighbor to the hospital. He had a heart thing installed recently and can’t drive himself yet. I don’t know what the doctors did to him. It’s a thing implanted in his chest, not a pacemaker, but it goes by initials which are not the first letters of the words the thing is called. I keep wanting to say it’s an IUD, but I know that’s not what they put in his chest.

Anyhow, it has initials something like that.

As soon as I got home, Jennifer and Pat came over to deliver a mirror Ginny needs for work and to bum some money. Ginny needs the mirror because in the new building her desk faces away from the door and because she’s so deaf, she does not know when people come up behind her. She plans to put the mirror over her desk so she can tell when someone is there.

Jennifer and Pat were still parked in the drive when Wes came by. I went with him to deliver some clothes and household goods to the Lord’s Store Mission. I teased him that any one shirt he donated would serve to cover five normal-size poor guys!

Wes just returned from a few days driving the full length of the Blue Ridge Parkway from West Virginia on down stopping at little mountain towns to absorb the culture. I think he found it very refreshing.

He treated me to lunch at Kosta’s and we gossiped about a friend, who… Well, never mind.

Back home I caught up on phone calls and e-mails.

With so much human contact today, I got to remembering how the house swarmed with activities back when the kids were in college. Most weekendws and every holiday they’d sweep up all the foreign students stranded on campus and bring them home. Sometimes we’d have as many as 18 holiday guests sleeping on floors, sofas, chairs, everywhere.

And they’d all bring in their laundry!

We’ve had Koreans and Haitians and Jews and Arabs and yankees and Nigerians and Peruvians and … some out-right crazies straight off the streets that our kids drug in.

And I remember once Jennifer’s then boyfriend, a fireman, brought the whole shift from the fire station, six or eight guys, over because Ginny was cooking BBQ. They parked the fire truck in front of our house and left the engine running in case of an emergency call while they ate.

See why the Greyhound rug seems appropriate?

But, anyhow, back to yesterday:

Ginny got home from work exhausted. Both of us felt peevish and actually snapped at eachother, an unusual occurrence.

She got an intimidating e-mail from a supervisor recruiting “volunteers” for a political rally sort of thing this councilman is piggy-backing onto a legitimate agency function. And, especially, since Gin has applied for a promotion, she finds this letter disturbing and does not know how to best respond.

For our Friday Night Date, we went out to a restaurant we favor. After the waitress took our order, Ginny commented on the girl’s new hair style. I told Ginny that I had not noticed because I’d focused on two of her other attributes at eye level. Then the girl passed the table again and I said, “You’re right. She does have hair”. Ginny started giggling. She says I’m pathetic.

Must be tough being married to a dirty old man. But she’s managed for 37 years. Personally, I think that’s what attracted her to me in the first place.

After supper we strolled out in the parking lot to a pile of logs where we sat smoking , watching the full moon rise, and talking.

She tells me that Saturday we are going to a store that sells cloth things. Unfortunately it is not the Victoria’s Secret store. No. It is just a regular cloth store where she intends to buy new dresses for the office.

Goody! O Goody.

I get to go stand around a cloth store.!

I can hardly wait.

Is there a bus coming yet?

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 @ 6:10 AM

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Developing A Book Cover For Glog

I snapped some photos of a swamp to use as a book cover for Glog.

Glog is a sentient dinosaur who lives in the marshes of the Chesapeake Bay area where he eats muskrats and prays for diving guidance. He also illuminates the uncials in a 15th Century manuscript text which his father left him.

I felt a hauntingly beautiful picture of swampy marshland would be an appropriate book cover.

Donald used his computer skills to tack title and author’s info on the cover. He added a vanity photo of me to the back cover as I continued to fine tune the manuscript (which I’ve worked on off and on for over 20 years).

A few weeks ago he brought Ms Helen Glass, a graphic artist who works in his building, over to see me. She designs websites, skins, newsletters, company brochures and book covers.

She took one look at the thing I’d pieced together and volunteered to do it right.

At each step in the process she has kept me posted as to progress.

Here’s how it worked:

She chose a font that reflects Glog’s work and embellished it:

She asked my approval, then moved to the next step, a line drawing of her concept:

Then she refined and colored the drawing, giving it a parchment background:

She plans to fine tune this and have the finished book cover ready in a few days.

I could not be more pleased with her craftsmanship.

To see other examples of her work, please check out her two websites at:

www.heliosinteractive.com or


I plan to send off for printer’s proof copies of Glog this weekend and I hope to post the finished book cover Monday.

I’m as tickled as if I were 7 years old and it’s Christmas Eve.

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 @ 8:03 AM

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Books Are A Keyhole...

Thursday morning I called my friend Barbara and we went out for breakfast at Dave’s. She hardly needs her walker at all now although she still needs help at curbs and stairs.

Barbara had just been interviewed for some radio program but she couldn’t remember the name of the station or the time her interview will be broadcast. That was a great laugh because the topic of the program was “The Nursing Home As a Mission Field”!

We talked about books comparing conflict between good and evil in the writings of favorite authors Stephen King, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams. Barbara pointed out that some of my confusion lies in viewing things as allegory instead of symbol.

She says the authors do not give a point by point analysis of their world view revealing everything, but rather each book is a key hole we peek through to glimpse a bright room where wonderful things are happening.

I think most readers want things spelled out more concisely, hence the popularity of books such as 827 Easy Steps To A Tolerable Life.

Speaking of books, last week the library at Barbara’s nursing home culled their collection to make more space. Barbara brought me some books they were throwing in the trash including a beautiful edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy with the Gustave Dore engravings!

A real treasure!

I’m delighted.

Back home I anxiously checked for progress on the Glog manuscript.

No word.

So I decided to clean the swimming pools (ours and our neighbor’s).

Midway, I came back in the house for something and as I dripped past the phone, Donald called telling me to check my e-mail for more drafts of the book cover… It is shaping up terrific!

But that deserves a posting all by itself.

After supper Ginny & I snuggled on the sofa to watch the President’s speech from New Orleans. I felt it contained several disturbing elements.

For one thing he said the federal government would reimburse cash to churches for their work in relieving disaster victims. Why in the world should churches be paid for doing do what churches are supposed to do? Worship and work are what churches exist for. No government money should be involved. I hope the churches have the integrity to say, “No, thank you” to Caesar.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone in government or media has ever looked up the words disaster or catastrophe in a dictionary. It doesn’t look like it from the way they toss those words around when it comes to relief efforts.

I also wonder if any of them has ever read a history book.

This disaster follows the classic pattern of all disasters since Pompeii. In fact, I imagine that if you took Pliny The Younger’s account and substituted the word helicopter for the word trireme, and hurricane for volcano, and if you changed the place names, why it could be printed in today’s newspaper as an account of New Orleans and few people would notice any difference. The pattern is classic and we are just following it without knowing.

But enough of that…

Lord, help me to do what I can, where I am, with what I have.

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 @ 7:50 AM

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Last Of The Ramin

Wednesday I topped my house of cards with a chimney and sent the Glog manuscript to Donald so he can look out for computer problems within the text.

Last year a book posting bounced back to me because the printer’s computer said I had embedded a font.

Honest, I’ve never embedded a font in my whole life!

Donald straightened that problem out and now I ask him to check for problems before I send anything to the printer.

So much for Glog.

Back when we were poor, a primary food source for my family were ramin noodles. This food from India or China sells in a grocery store at seven packs for a dollar. That comes to less than 20 cents per meal.

No cheaper food can be found anywhere.

We ate lots of it.

Lots and lots of it.

Tons of the damn stuff.

Once when a check came in, Ginny bought some pork chops and fried them. Donald, who was about six at the time, did not know what to call them. He gobbled down his first one then asked, “Please, can I have another one of those hamburgers with a bone it”?

Yes, we ate cheap.

I ate so many Chinese noodles that I’m shaped like Buddha!

I ate so many ramin noodles that the thought of them would make me want to puke and I vowed that if I ever got to where I could afford real food, I’d never eat another ramin noodle as long as I lived.

Things changed. The kids grew up and went off to college. Ginny began working outside our home. We prospered. We could afford real food. American food.

I made a horrible discovery: I am addicted to ramin noodles!

They must sprinkle the noodles with opium.

Unless I eat lunch with one of my friends, I always cook a pack of ramin noodles for my lunch every day. I like the damn things now that I don’t have to eat them.

Now, we buy them by the case. And I cook them daily.

I love the taste and texture and ease of cooking. What else can you eat for lunch for less than 20 cents a day? And I love the helpful cooking instruction on the package which actually says:

To Lower Sodium Content, Add Less Salt!

I’m writing about this because yesterday I cooked the last pack in the cubboard We need to go to the grocery store and buy another case.

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 @ 6:10 AM

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Not Worth The Water...

Again Tuesday I managed to devote another 16-hour session to making corrections in the Glog manuscript. Now, I’m just waiting for the cover art before ordering printer proofs. I’ve worked on this book, off and on, for close to 20 years and now, all of a sudden, I’m anxious, jumping around with ants in my pants to see it finally in print.

So much for Glog …

One of my daughters lost her job.

Last night I got to remembering how painful it was when I’ve been fired from various jobs. I recall one supervisor saying, “Cowart, you’re not worth the water it would take to flush you down”.

I remember how scared I’ve been at losing a job. How would I pay the rent? How am I going to feed the kids? Why did this happen? I thought I was doing a good job and now, look what happened.

I remember the anguish at having to go home and tell Ginny that I’d been fired. I remember how ashamed I was to tell anybody and how I’d try to hide the fact that I was unemployed.

I remember the despair and the loneliness and the feeling of rejection and worthlessness and uselessness and hopelessness.

I remember the degredation of standing for hours in Food Stamp lines, of living in HUD housing, of taking sick kids to the packed emergency room of a chariety hospital.

I remember being so mad at God that this would happen to me. I raged instead of prayed. And even knowing that He Himself was “despised and rejected of men” didn’t comfort me one bit.

I remember five of the kids all coming home from school happy and bouncing and excited about their school photos, each in a packet costing about $40 and I remember not having money to buy anything but a single wallet-sized photo of each kid and they thought I would not buy their photos because I didn’t like them.


I remember thinking about suicide so Ginny and the kids would at least have my insurance money; I felt I'd be worth so much more dead than alive.

But I remember something else too.

I’d worked for the local mosquito control board for over ten years and one of my duties was to grow mosquitoes for test purposes. Then I got fired. So here I was, a white male, pushing 40 years old who knows how to grow mosquitoes for a living.

Obviously, I could write my own ticket in the job market.

Not exactly.

I could not find a job doing anything.

So I wrote a magazine article about unemployment.

It sold.

But not for much.

So I wrote an article about coping with poverty …

And for the next 25 years I have been a freelance writer with scads of newspaper and magazine sales to my credit and a couple of paperback books. Never made much money at it. I’m not what anyone would call a successful writer.

But my work has been translated into as many as eleven foreign languages. Some pieces were transcribed into Braille. Several were used as radio show scripts. And readers from all over the world have thanked me for making life a little easier for them.

This year I’m trying to get my own publishing company off the ground, a task for which I feel eminently unqualified!

It's a bit like riding a grocery cart down a ski jump; who know what will happen at the bottom, but the ride is exhilarating to say the least.

And life does go on.

There is hope.

So, Patti, if you read this, I know being fired is a bitch. It hurts. But, Love, it is not the end of the world…. It can be a beginning.

Much Love, Dad

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 @ 7:01 AM

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I is a writer so I writes

Resumed work on the Glog manuscript Monday. No phone calls. No visitors. One of the most solid days of work I’ve been able to put in for ages. Heavenly!

Over the weekend I printed a hard copy and I’ve been working from that instead of the computer screen. It really makes a difference. I thought the manuscript was in good shape; I did not realize how many needed corrections would show up in print.

For instance, being a lazy typist, I tend to use two hyphens instead of an em-dash, very unprofessional. I also found comas where periods should be and vice versa. For some reason I always type the word form when I mean from. I think in spurts so I needed to combine many spurts into whole paragraphs.

Lots of nits to pick but they add up.

This is all delicate work, like adding a chimney to a house of cards.

I have been working on Glog off and on for years and years. I do think it is the best thing I’ve ever written, yet it is so off beat — a dinosaur who prays for divine guidance — that I doubt that any one will buy the book. So I wonder why I’m so obsessed with getting every T crossed and every I dotted.

Who cares?

I do.

This is the one piece of writing that speaks my heart. Over the years,I’ve had to interrupt work on the Glog manuscript again and again in order to write piles of business articles for newspapers and magazines just in order to make a living. Selling those pieces kept my family alive but quenched my spirit. Whereas in Glog I express my worldview and joy in life; I relish and rejoice in it.

Besides that, I really do want to give readers their money’s worth when they buy one of my books, so I fuss inordinately over the quality of the finished product and I feel so damn inferior because of my lack of computer skills and writing skills, and grammar skills and general spiritual blah-ness… But I keep on going like that damn rabbit on tv.

I is a writer so I writes.

Last night Ginny & I attended a neighborhood watch meeting where a police officer lectured about Florida’s new Deadly Force law. Beginning in October it will be legal to shoot anyone who threatens you anywhere.

Now, you can only shoot them if they threaten you inside your own home; then, you can blow them away anywhere.

Return to Dodge City.

The cop said citizens are better off running than shooting. He emphasized the civil suit implications of shooting a bad guy because his family may then sue you for 80% of your income for the rest of your life.

But, I’m reminded of an old adage:

Better to be tried by twelve men than carried by six.

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

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Good Day, Great In Fact!

Ginny and I spent all Saturday sitting in our garden talking about books we’ve read and enjoyed.

PS: If anyone is interested in how I spent 9/11 for the past twenty years, here is a link to selections from my journal for that date. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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 @ 5:06 AM

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

When You Can't Work On One Thing...

The ground squishes wherever I step.

I’d promised to mow my neighbor’s lawn Friday but rain from Hurricane Ophelia, now 200 miles due east of Jacksonville, saturated the ground. I can’t push a mower through tall, wet grass. So I cleaned their pool instead.

When you can’t work on one thing, work on another.

Since my work on Glog frustrated me so, I tabled it till next week and worked on two other books instead. I’ve got the Christmas book material together. And I scanned into the computer one of my previously published books, a collective biography, which has been out of print. I want to re-issue it.

Each book requires a different set of computer skills which I don’t have. So I inch forward with this or that, a book, a chapter, a page, or a word at a time.

Ginny came home from work frustrated and upset over her day. She needed to cry on my shoulder for a while. She’s sick of doctors. She’s exhausted from work and just needed to unload.

She had one of those days. You know, a day when everybody in the world has taken Assertiveness Training Classes -- except you.

We went out for dinner at a familiar place and then strolled along the riverbank in the moonlight for a while. With the hurricane moving east at the moment and the tide ebbing, the St. Johns has never looked more beautiful. We watched a cruise ship dock and a train cross the railroad bridge.

I held her hand and listened.

I want to be a hero for Ginny and slay all her dragons; but, for tonight, just being there to lean on seemed to be enough.

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 @ 4:36 AM

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Donald Gave Me A Digital Camera

Donald came over Thursday afternoon bringing me a Nikon Coolpix 4300 Digital Camera — but don’t expect to see pictures on this blog anytime soon.

It has dials.

It has icons.

It has buttons.

It has advanced features — Lot’s of ‘em.

And Donald actually handed this delicate instrument to a man who has yet to learn how to operate a Scotch Tape Dispenser without getting gummy!

But not to worry; the camera comes with an instruction manual.

One of the projects Donald is working on is a software program that converts the English of the King James Bible into modern speech. Thus “thee” and “thous” become “youse guys” or whatever. Donald says he’s doing this because 17th Century English is so hard to read… yet he expects me to understand a camera manual which contains sentences like:

“Manual and auto focus-area selection can be used in combination with spot AFarea metering to meter exposure only in selected focus area”.

Give me Ezekiel any day.

One instruction in the book I do understand – but I wonder why it is needed???

“When operating the mode dial and the zoom button with your eye to the viewfinder, care should be taken not to put your finger in your eye accidentally”!

I’m not kidding.

It actually says that.

However, I plan to master this contraption and produce beautiful photos someday soon. Watch this spot.

Donald’s friend, the graphic artist, came over with him to bring this lavish camera to me. She tells me that she earns $50 an hour for her graphic designs. I am so out of touch with the times. The most I ever earned in my life was in a job that only paid $10 an hour (No, that’s not true. A law firm paid me $150 an hour to testify as an expert witness for six hours in court once. But my highest normal earnings were $10 per hour).

In other news, the mayor on tv said we can expect broken tree limbs on the wires to cause power outages as Hurricane Ophelia approaches Jacksonville. I’m trying to do as much computer work as I can before the electricity goes off. Looks like, after this happening year after year, the electric company would figure out how to bury the wires underground like they do in real cities.

But hurricanes are not the only disasters. I learned second-hand today that our youngest daughter lost her job and had to drop out of college recently. She has struggled so hard and, although this is a major set back for her, I believe she will land on her feet. Her sister is driving downstate to help her this afternoon.

With all the hurricane news compelling our attention, it’s easy to forget that normal, everyday calamities go on all around us. Marriages break up. Cars break down. Hearts attack. Cancer creeps. Lives crumble.

And no helicopter drops in for the rescue.

So, we can’t all rush off to New Orleans and pluck some poor soul off a roof, but we can look for folks trapped in everyday, normal pain. Today, lets look around us for someone who is hurting and do some little something to make life easier for them.

And, Donald, thank you for this nice camera. I appreciate your gift and I’ll try not to poke my eye out with it.

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 @ 6:13 AM

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Good Ideas - Bad Ideas

Sometimes brilliant ideas occur to dumb people; unfortunately, most of the time dumb ideas stay dumb no matter who they occur to.

Case in point:

Yesterday I had a brilliant idea to tweak my Glog manuscript. Since Glog (a sentient dinosaur who prays for divine guidance in tough circumstances) eats muskrats, lots of muskrats, I thought it would be neat to use a muskrat’s distinctive tracks as a divider on the heading of each page.

How cool.

A bit of advice for writers: Change NOTHING in a head or footer once you have it right. Bad idea. Bad, bad, bad idea.

Picture the rigging of a clipper ship. If you change the tension on one of those hundreds of lines, you must also change the tension on every other line also or the ship flops over on its side and gurgles to the bottom.

Gurgle. Gurgle. Gurgle.

There goes Glog.

So I hit the handy, dandy undo icon — too many times. Word recognized that I was trying to do and undo and began to helpfully change things I never thought of changing. And it did it without bothering me by telling me beforehand.

It changed spacing, punctuation, pagination and God only knows what else.

So I spent much of the day undoing the redone done and undone again and again.

I am undone myself.

Does Stephen King have this problem with his manuscripts?

I was trying to get Glog finished so I can upload the file to a server in another state because Tropical Storm Ophelia hovers just southeast of Jacksonville unable to decide how strong to get or where to hit land.

I can tell it where to go.

Some guy in Hamlet, a play by some other great writer, tells the maiden Ophelia, “Get thee to a nunnery”.

Good idea.

I heard an anguished lady on tv question, “Why does God allow hurricanes? What is He trying to do to us”?

Here’s a thought. There were hurricanes in Florida long before there were people here. On his first voyage in 1492 Columbus ran into a hurricane. They’ve existed from time out of mind. Now, if I build my house in the middle of a railroad track, can I reasonably expect God to derail the trains? The Bible calls him who build his house on the rock a wise man; those of us who build our houses on the sand are called Floridians.

Speaking of hurricanes, Ginny is signing up for training to work in Jacksonville’s Emergency Management Operations Center as a volunteer. We already have our personal hurricane plans in place to the extent we are able (First Rule of Hurricane Preparation: Eat All The Ice Cream!) so she wants to do this as something extra.

That reminds me. Years ago we both took the Red Cross training for relief workers. The interviewer asked Ginny if she had any experience in handling crisis situations or disasters?

She told the man, “I’m a mother. I’ve put five teenagers through high school”.

He checked her off as Experienced.

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 @ 10:17 AM

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

After Labor Day

The Labor Day holiday is over and now it’s time to get back in harness – sort of.

I’m in the home stretch formatting the Glog manuscript while waiting for Donald and his friend to finish the book cover design.

Since I’m that close to finishing Glog (which I think is the best thing I’ve ever written), today I began gathering materials for a small Christmas book. I’m inclined to call it Gravedigger’s Christmas after the first true story in the collection… or I may go with A Warning About Illicit Kissing On Christmas Eve, another true incident.

I’d planned to work on manuscripts all day but life intervened.

I went to breakfast with my friend Wes. Of course we talked about Katrina’s aftermath, which led us to the fall of man and the character of God. Wes told me about Tillman’s (I forgot what its called) view of the purpose of life. In case you haven’t guessed, Wes is a theologian and actually a member of a national association of smart guys who think and talk about theology (I forget what the organization is called too, but is sounds important).

Me, I don’t think about God much except to say “Thank You” once in a while.

Ginny had an eye exam so she took the afternoon off work. Afterwards we went to Wal-Mart to buy a digital camera but came away having only bought bird seed.

The camera counter lady knew less about cameras than we do, so we decided to pass on buying one…. Good thing too. Because this evening Donald called saying he’d give us his “old” camera because its been upgraded since he bought it as state of the art six months ago and he wants an excuse to buy himself an even better one.

Ginny and I had asked all our kids to neither call nor come by over the Labor Day weekend because we wanted to be alone to restore our own souls. So we’ve been on the phone all day catching up on their activities and plans:

Donald and his friend baby-sat three boys Saturday for some friends to give the parents some respite care. Sounds like they had a blast.

Jennifer and Pat called saying they finally sold their house and have signed a contract on a new one. That’s a relief. For a while there I thought the two of them and their five dogs would end up living out of a grocery cart beneath an overpass.

The latest on Eve is that she was featured in a newspaper article last week. I’m proud she’s doing so well. She also attended a friend’s wedding over the weekend.

Neither, Fred, John or Patricia have been heard from this month; I assume that’s good news.

This afternoon Ginny & I shopped for groceries to stock up for Tropical Storm Ophelia which is projected to strike Jacksonville dead on. With all the tv coverage of Katrina, we thought about our own hurricane preparations and both of us remembered a cartoon popular back during the Cold War of the Kennedy/Eisenhower era when everyone expected atomic war any day.

The scene is a store selling home Fall Out Shelters.

A portly middle-aged couple stand bewildered on the showroom floor amid displays of various types of shelters.

A swarthy salesman supplies the caption saying:

“Well, Folks, just how big of a bomb do you want to survive”?

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 @ 4:33 AM

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Monday, September 05, 2005

In A Peaceful Garden


American Snout.

Cloudless Sulphur.

Red-Spotted Purple.

Male Black Swallowtail.

Female Black Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail — Our garden has been aswarm with butterflies this weekend. To me bugs is bugs; but Ginny got this book on the butterflies of Florida to identify the ones in our garden. We spent hours yesterday lounging in the backyard spotting butterflies, looking them up in her book, and discussing them.

No better way to spend a Labor Day Weekend than to hang around with someone you love and talk about bugs.

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 @ 3:59 AM

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Two Men In A Ditch

I feel ashamed of what I did. But I can’t shake my feelings about an odd thing that happened to Ginny and me last winter.

In a way, it has nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina but, maybe in a way it does. For some reason I’ve been dwelling on it all day.

I woke up this morning thinking about it although it was too small an incident to even record in my journal (I checked the index) and I’d really forgotten about it.

But watching wayyy too much news coverage of people complaining about rescue efforts brought it back to mind during the night and I just can’t shake the thing.

Most Fridays Ginny & I go out for dinner here or there depending on our finances. Last October or November we ate at a Kentucky Fried Chicken place. Even though there are only two of us now, we ordered the big bucket planning to dine on cold chicken over the weekend.

While Ginny was packing up our leftovers, I walked outside to smoke my pipe.

“Help! Help! For God’s Sake Help Me!”

I heard a man yelling. I ran across the parking lot to see a man down by a culvert in a drainage ditch leading to a retention pond. I scooted down the embankment and waded to him through just a foot or two of water. I grabbed him by the shoulders and tugged him up on to the embankment.

“I’m sick. I’m sick,” he moaned.

“I’ll call an ambulance,” I said.

“Don’t want no fucking ambulance. I need food. I’m sick. I’m starving,” he said.

I climbed out of the ditch and went to Ginny. She took food out of our bag – chicken, fries, biscuit – and folded it into a napkin for the man in the ditch. I carried it back down to him, again assuring him that I could call an ambulance.

Again he refused vehemently.

He was wearing one of those plastic ID bracelets showing that he’d been in a hospital recently.

He began to wolf down the food.

“I need something to drink with this stuff,” he said.

Now, I’d put my own take out cup of soda on top of our car when I came out of the restaurant so I got that for him and carried it back down into the ditch.

He took a big gulp and spit it out at me.

“This is got sugar in it! What you trying to do, Kill me. I’m a diabetic. I need the diet soda. Go get me a diet cola,” he demanded.

I straightened up.

I said, “If you die in this ditch, how is my world going to be diminished”?


“If you die in this ditch, why should I care,” I said.

And I turned my back on him and walked away.

Next time we were at that Kentucky Fried, I glanced to see if there were a body clogging up the culvert.

There wasn’t.

So I suppose he got out of the ditch ok.

Or not.

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 PM

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Yum. Yum.

I spent Friday waiting on standby but my talents were not needed for the project I’d prepared for.

Another wasted day in a wasted life.

Ginny & I have fallen into a rut as far as our usual Friday Night Dates are concerned. We eat at the same few favorite restaurants, walk in the same few parks, or browse in the same ol’ stores.

We’ve been looking for variety.

So this morning when we opened the front door to go to work, we were happy to find a flyer on the mat announcing the opening of a new neighborhood restaurant just around the corner from us.

Wow! That’s great. Maybe it’s just what we’re looking for.

Standing with the car door open, we eagerly perused the sample menu.

The first thing to catch my eye was a breakfast offering of Cod Fish & Dumplings…

For breakfast???

Leading the lunch menu was Goat Curry.


Does that really say Macaroni and Cheese Stir Fry?

Beverages include Fruit Punch, Carrot Juice, Ting, Sorrel and Irish Moss. A Glass of water at the new place costs $1.25.

Their deserts include Black Fruit Cake and peas???

Yes, peas.

I announced that we’d give the place a try for our date this evening.

Ginny refused to consider it.

The woman has no sense of culinary adventure. … I’m so glad!

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 @ 2:56 AM

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Woe to them that call good evil

NOTE: Sorry. I didn’t post a blog entry Thursday; Busy gearing up for a small relief effort unrelated to Hurricane Katrina; although it consumed some energy, my roll is too minuscule to bother writing about. Now for Friday’s posting:


One time years ago during a disaster, I got caught in a gun battle between armed looters and National Guardsmen.

Both sides shot at me.

People have also spit on me, thrown garbage cans at me, thrown bricks and bottles. I have been gassed, and threatened with knives, an ax, and a Phillips head screwdriver (which incidentally makes a dandy weapon if you want to carry a weapon but don’t want to be caught carrying something that can be called a weapon).

Now and then over the past 40 years I have dabbled on the fringes of disaster relief as a volunteer whenever it struck my fancy.

No big deal. I’d like to say that Christian compassion motivated me, but on reflection, I now realize that I got in these situations because I was young and caught up in the excitement of the moment. Being a Christian had little to do with it; I’d be there for the adventure, for the fun, for the warm fuzzies of being a helper.

Too old and lazy for that kind of excitement now. I just watch it on tv.

And last night I saw an outrage.

On a tv program called Slimetime (why boast their Google ranking) one segment featured a pig fat attorney, laden with gold watch and rings, blasting relief efforts and saying that aid was slow or being withheld because many suffering in the aftermath of Katrina are black!


Good thinking.

The guy dangling on a rope from a helicopter to chop open a roof to rescue people trapped in a flooded attic knows the skin color of the people under that roof???

Ok. The pig fat lawyer is welcome to his opinion.

But, with all the facets of tragedy and misery and heroism going on hourly, why did the tv choose to air that man's nonsense over other things?

Were they short of film showing well-dressed guys in book-lined offices talking?


I wonder why tv news tries to make bad situations worse?

Could it be that since the Nixon era the main way for a journalist to garner prestige is to open some new Pissgate? To sit on the sidelines like the Black Dwarfs in Narnia’s Last Battle and plunk arrows at those Stallions rushing to aid in the crisis?

And this morning, other media persons jumped on the bandwagon criticizing aid agencies, President Bush (and no I did not vote for him!), the military, government agencies and whoever else in sight, for nor working hard enough or fast enough!

Woe! Woe! Woe to those who call good evil, or evil good.

But why does this upset me?

Why am I so judgmental?

That’s a problem within my own soul.

In the 1660s Brother Lawrence, a lay brother in the bare-foot Carmelite order – actually, he seems to have been a dishwasher in the kitchen – wrote one of the most popular and widespread religious books ever written, The Practice Of The Presence Of God. Brother Lawrence’s tiny book, only 64 pages, is one of the most helpful I’ve ever read; and I try to steep myself in its ideas.

One passage says, “That as for the miseries and sins he heard of daily in the world, he was so far from wondering at them that, on the contrary, he was surprised that there were not more, considering the malice sinners were capable of; that, for his part, he prayed for them; but knowing that God could remedy the mischiefs they did when He pleased, he gave himself no further trouble”.

Knowing that God can remedy…

Thus, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, I should think on these things.

But, Lord, I ask, what about rabble-rousing tv news coverage???

And a thought comes to mind, an almost quote from the poet Milton:

They also serve
who only stand and 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 @ 11:50 AM

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