Rabid Fun

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

Monday, October 31, 2005

A Halloween Bedtime Story

Yes, even when I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
because You, Lord, are with me.

For a special Halloween treat here’s a link to Bad Children/Good Children, a short story I wrote. You may enjoy reading this bedtime tale to your family tonight.

I hope you enjoy the evening.

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 @ 1:49 AM

Your comments are welcome: 8 comments

Sunday, October 30, 2005

We Get Ready For Halloween

After a leisurely two hour breakfast at Dave’s, Ginny & I put up our Halloween display. Usually we’d have had it up more in advance, but the rain and stuff from Hurricane Wilma discouraged us from setting up last week.

That little elf greets people at the foot of our drive and there are a few other ornaments but here’s a photo of how we set it up the main display, I’m especially proud of the bromeliad pods in the valley (they were my idea):

I’ve been thinking about the 23rd Psalm as we put together the display. Along with the Lord’s Prayer and Christmas readings, Psalm 23 is perhaps the one passage most familiar to people. “The Lord is my shepherd…” has been read at every funeral I’ve ever attended because the words offer such comfort “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…”

The Psalmist acknowledges that bad things do happen: “Yes, when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”. Bad things happen to us because this is life that we’re living -- life in a twisted, fallen world. Bad things happen in the natural course of life. We are indeed few of days and full of troubles.

In his first letter, Peter said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you… knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world”.

In other words, some bad things are just the common lot of mankind everywhere.

Death happens. Disease happens. Divorce happens. Defects happen. Disaster happens. To everybody, everywhere, at some time or another.

That means we’re alive.

We are moving through bad things.

Yet the Psalmist distinguishes between bad and evil. Evil, I think, being the deliberate chosen actions of wicked creatures either physical or spiritual. Being finite they can only do us limited, finite, damage because the Lord walks with us – if we chose to let Him.

Jesus once said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”.

So death is as bad as it can get -- but it is limited.

Whereas life in His presence is unlimited, a banquet table prepared, a rod, a staff, an overflowing cup, a place to dwell , goodness and mercy – forever.

Will the kids who come to our house for candy think about all this stuff.


Not a chance.

They come for the goodie bags. We’re trying not to disappoint them. Here’s a photo of the typical loot:

Ginny and I stuffed Ziploc bags full of goodies for the trick-or-treaters as we watched the Florida/Georgia game on tv.

Gators won.

Bulldogs lost.

God’s in His Heaven and all’s right with the world.

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 @ 6:47 AM

Your comments are welcome: 5 comments

Friday, October 28, 2005

Four Treats Just For Pleasure

Well, my whole posting this morning hinged on three photos -- but blogger refuses to upload any of them.

I've been trying since 4 a.m., but the system just keeps giving me error messages, and the "help" section doesn't tell me how to fix whatever is wrong.


I'll try again later today or tomorrow.

GOT IT NOW(at 1:20 p.m.), Thanks to Donald:

*1. Here is the funniest cartoon I’ve seen in ages. It comes from Fuzzy Squid’s website at http://fuzzysquid.com/main.html . Is another Gary Larson in the wings?

*2. Another great fun thing can be found through Heather’s Halloween blog at http://epnurse.blogspot.com/ . She lets you carve your own pumpkin. Here’s one I did:

Ok, Even with Donald's help I can’t transfer my pumpkin pix -- but I can tell you that when Michael Angelo sees my sculpture, the poor fellow will weep with envy… or something.

*3. Last week Donald set up this next fun thing. It’s a dream log where you can record your dreams and have other people comment. Or you can read their dreams and make your own comments. This is just for fun and it can be found at http://www.dreamlibrary.org/ I find it hard to navigate (remember, they wrote the Dummy books with me in mind) but normal peodple and more computer literate folks should have no trouble.

*4. The other day I met a lady who just bought a copy of my dinosaur novel, Glogonly she pronounced it LOG!

It seems that she had never heard of an illuminated manuscript so she did not recognize that the initial G was a letter of the alphabet.

This dismays me because many scenes in the novel revolve around Glog’s work illuminating a Bible manuscript as he ponders the purpose of his existence and the question of intelligent design in the universe and in his own adventures.

But this reader had no idea of what an illuminated manuscript even looks like.

Honest, it just never occurred to me that readers would not realize what I was talking about. But I suppose it’s like computer geeks expecting me to know what a Linux cluster does. Or an auto mechanic thinking I’d know where the voltage regulator is under my hood. Or a seamstress telling me to nit one, pearl two. We can’t expect other people to have the same background we bring to any given subject.

Back when I was young, I worked for about ten years at the Library Of Congress. There were over 3,500 employees there at the time. Occasionally I was assigned work in the rare book room and I actually got to handle some of the illuminated manuscripts.

In fact I once received a letter of commendation for finding and killing some bugs in one volume the library’s Guttenberg Bible (It was printed in three volumes). I don’t know enough Latin to read either illuminated manuscripts or a Guttenberg Bible; all I can tell you about them is that those suckers are unbelievably heavy!

But they are also beautiful.

I find them so exquisitely beautiful that they bring tears to my eyes.

So, just for the pure pleasure of seeing them, here are a three links where you can enjoy authentic illuminated manuscripts and incunabula for yourself:




I hope you enjoy this stuff as much as I do.

Have a great weekend.

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

Your comments are welcome: 7 comments

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Life On The Fringe

Tuesday, as I thought out loud about intelligent design and evolution I said, “Unless something significant happens in my life today to blog about, tomorrow I think I’ll write about how the churches are as bad as the schools in speculative teaching on nonessential matters”.

Well, significant things did happen yesterday as I had contact with nine live humans, including our children, as well as phone calls and e-mails.

However my life yesterday gave little evidence of intelligence and none of design.

I live like a Christian pin in the bowling alley of life.

And yesterday was typical. Not unusual. I’ve lived like this for years.

My biggest problem as a Christian is not believing doctrines, but living life.

These two elements seldom mesh.

When Ginny & I were first married, for several years we drove an over the road tractor trailer rig all over the United States. Each Sunday we attended a different church in a different city. One thing determined our choice of which church to attend – the size of the parking lot.

So we were exposed to many different styles of worship and emphasizes in teaching. It seemed to me that most churches have little to do with God and virtually nothing to do with me.

After settling here in Jacksonville, until recently we attended the same church for 27 years. But we were active in a number of interdenominational and ecumenical endeavors as well.

One thing strikes me from these experiences: we Christians dwell on peripheral issues and neglect our own basics.

For instance, in a liberal church I heard an impassioned sermon on how we ought to write our congressman about pending oil depletion allowance legislation

In a conservative church the pastor railed against women wearing slacks because he said the Bible forbids women dressing in men’s clothing.

Here’s an odd aside:

Once I chanced to be at church on a weeknight while an AIDS support group from outside the church was meeting. Their scheduled speaker canceled and the group leader asked me to present a devotional message. Having less than ten minutes warning, I repeated a Bible lesson I’d taught to an adult class the Sunday before. A gorgeous young woman – lets call her Betty --came up to me afterwards saying that my talk helped her and tell me about her failing T-cell count. I invited her to the regular adult class.

The following Sunday a number of strangers showed up in the class and afterwards a handsome young man introduced himself to me.

It was Betty!

I welcomed him/her and said, “I don’t know quite what to say; you’re the first transvestite I’ve ever had in one of my classes”.

“John,” he said, “You mean that I’m the first one that you know about”.

My teaching must not have helped because a few weeks later he killed himself.

Anyhow, neither oil depletion allowances nor slacks have much to do with Christianity. Yet we Christians continue to emphasize such peripheral matters – matters which demand no commitment on our part.

Some Christians talk as though a Seven Day Creation is the very bedrock of our faith. But knowing the details of creation requires no commitment on my part.

Some Christians just about wet their pews when talking about the end of the world. Believing this or that about a Pre-Millennial or Post Millennial Second Advent again requires no commitment from me.

What am I supposed to do about the beginning or the end of the world?

Exciting stuff to speculate about, but nothing I can do about either one.

Every once in a while a movie comes to Jacksonville and church people march with placards protesting, thus drawing tv cameras and newspaper reporters and giving the film free advertising.

Abortion protests. Rock concerts. Marches for Jesus. In God We Trust on money. Prayer at high school graduation. Chain letter e-mails that promises blessing if you forward within 15 minutes. Church bake sales. Buying carpet for the sanctuary – All of these quasi-religious activities have one thing in common:

They push the rock bottom central teaching of Christianity into the background to be neglected and ignored.

The devil loves for us to get involved in peripheral, non-essential causes. And we ourselves loved to get involved in great causes. It make us feel a part of things, with it, insiders. Besides, going on a protest in the name of faith is so much easier and more exciting than cooking supper for a grumpy husband, or helping the kids with homework, or listening to that mother-in-law criticize , or caring for Daddy’s Alzheimer’s.

So we gleefully march in marches, or write books, or do anything and everything to avoid the central basic factor in Christianity:

Jesus rose or rotted.

That’s the one fundamental.

If he died and rotted in the dirt then what he said or did has no more weight that the words and actions of Jessie James. Jesus is just another dead guy. The world’s full of ‘em . You can’t walk anywhere without kicking up their dust.

If he rotted then that stuff he taught -- nice as it is -- just doesn’t matter.

But, if Jesus Christ walked out of that tomb after we tortured him to death, if he walked out under his own steam, then he is declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead -- and what he taught really does matter.


Because we are also headed toward a tomb.

Our own.

If He is indeed the Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, the Prince of Life, the Bright and Morning Star, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Almighty God, then nothing else in my life counts other than my relationship with Him.

And that means commitment.

Life commitment.

If he’s dead, he’s dead; if he’s living, he’s Lord.

But the allure of lesser things attracts me. My books. My slippers. My pipe. My plans.

Surely Jesus would be satisfied if I spend my time on the fringe of faith, not outside all together but not wholly involved either. Surely there’s some way to show I’ a Christian without being fanatical about it.

Ah, here’s just the thing…

As I started writing this posting this morning, a friend dropped by to show me a catalogue of religious paraphernalia. The cover says these items promote “a celebration of faith”. I can order an expression of my Christian faith -- and it won’t cost me a penny more than $14.95.

Much better than a life commitment.

It epitomizes what pure religion and undefiled is all about.

If I have one of these everybody will know for sure that I’m a Christian.

It’s called “a long-armed religious gorilla”. It’s got a cross and everything. Here’s a picture:

I think the lime green one looks holier than the purple one, don’t you? Yes indeed, when it comes to religion, we need to stick to what’s important.

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 @ 3:39 PM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Reality

You’d think with all the day sleep I had Monday that I’d have been awake all night, but before the first quarter of the Falcon/Jets game was over I dozed off and slept straight through the night. Must have been tired.

I’ve been thinking recently about controversies in different school systems over teaching kids about evolution and intelligent design. The news on tv says a lot of people feel strongly about this.

I do too because the other day I bought a hamburger.

As I paid for my food I looked at the cash register. There were no numbers on the keys. Instead, little icons picturing a fish, a burger, a milk shake, a box of fries, etc. were printed on the keys. The manager said that the kids she had to hire did not know how to punch in complicated things like 69 cents, so the company bought these keyboards with pictures of the food items which figured up the prices.

How can kids get far enough along in school without knowing how to make change for a dollar?

Why would school systems want to teach speculative , nonessential subjects while neglecting basic education?

Why would teaching kids theory -- any theory -- of where they came from be of more importance than teaching them how to get where they want to go in life?

Once a kid learns how to read, then he can be taught peripheral subjects, but until he is able to read either Genesis or Darwin himself, then either theory of origin is a non essential and should be tabled.

The topics are inappropriate in the curriculum.

Education should focus on what is rather than on what might have been.

Let the kids dissect a cat to learn about the respiratory system, circulatory system digestive system, nervous system, lymphatic system, etc. There is no need to speculate on how all cats are descended from skunks (my personal belief).

Until the burger place can put real numbers back on the cash register keys, schools should stick to reality instead of speculation.

Anything less cheats the kids.

Unless something significant happens in my life today to blog about, tomorrow I think I’ll write about how the churches are as bad as the schools in speculative teaching on nonessential matters.

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 @ 5:47 AM

Your comments are welcome: 10 comments

Monday, October 24, 2005

When You Sleep Thru A Storm...

Being the conscientious person that she is, Ginny drove through wind and rain to work this morning; being the conscientious person that I am, I went back to bed and slept till 3 this afternoon.

It was a rainy day but if we did not own a tv, here in Jacksonville we would never have known there was a Hurricane Wilma.

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 @ 4:25 PM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Angel Hairs

Satellite photo of Wilma

He’s snickering at me.

That roly-poly little man wearing a white apron and a tall puffy cook’s hat stands in our kitchen snickering at me.

As tv news issues dire warnings about Hurricane Wilma approaching the Florida coast Ginny and I continue our meager preparations. Although the storm path is projected to only brush Jacksonville, past experience with these things leads us to suspect we’ll get some downed tree limbs and have to live without electricity for several days.

No, we don’t board up our windows with plywood; I just don’t have the strength to lift sheets of plywood so we take our chances there.

But this is a nervous time which calls for comfort food and one of Ginny’s favorite comfort foods is spaghetti. She asked me to make a big batch so we can eat on it throughout the stormy days ahead.

He’s snickering at me.

I think I’m a good cook, but my family claims I have but a single recipe: Take What You’ve Got And Mix It Together.

For my spaghetti, I crumble a couple of Vidalia Onion Burgers into a pot and fry in olive oil. I slice the ends off a couple of Italian sausage, peel off the skin and crumble the meat in with the burgers.

The peeled sausage skins look just like used… Well, never mind.

He’s snickering at me.

I chip up a couple of onions and celery stalks to add to the frying meat along with a couple of cans of mushroom caps and stems. I add a can of diced tomatoes with basil and some Ragu sauce. I sprinkle the lot with garlic salt, black pepper and chili powder.

Then comes the tricky part.

While my sauce simmers, I boil water and force the noodles to drown in it.

I bought my own spaghetti noodles at the grocery store. (Here’s an odd aside, for some strange reason, Publix does not stock grits on the pasta aisle; I don’t understand that.) Anyhow, as I surveyed the pasta shelves I spotted something called Angel Hair Spaghetti. I read the box.

We religious fanatics are suckers to buy any product with the words “Angel” or “Elvis” on the package. So I bought the angel hair spaghetti.

That little man is still snickering at me.

When I tried to break this angel hair stuff into manageable lengths, it snapped and crackled and popped and shot all over the stove, the counter, the floor and me. It splashed boiling water up onto my hands and arms.

I said some words not related to angels at all.

What the spaghetti box does not tell you is exactly where on an angel’s anatomy these hairs were plucked from.

I didn’t know angels had hair there.

This stuff burned the crap out of me! All the way to my elbows.

And Chief Boyardee just stands there snickering in that superior way of his.

And our kitchen looks as though a hurricane had already hit.

Not to be too melodramatic but on a more serious note, some great preacher of a former generation, I think it may have been John Donne, said that a Christian should always speak as a dying man to dying men.

Having a frivolous mind, I seldom speak seriously, but with a whirlwind bearing down, perhaps I should say what’s really most important to me:

Jesus Christ is worthy.

He came into his world to save us from whatever’s got us licked.

We tortured him to death for his trouble, but death could not hold the Prince of Life. He rose from the grave and ever lives in glory.

He has prepared a place for us if we chose to go there with Him.

He is worthy of every ounce of our strength and time and talent and mind and energy and resources – without exception.

For some reason within himself, He enjoys us. He wishes us well and wants to see us live in joy. He takes us from where we are at this moment.

There’s not a mean bone in his body.

He will judge us, but he never snickers at us no matter how bad we screw up.

There is hope. No matter what we’ve done, no matter what’s been done to us, there is hope in Jesus.

That’s the most important thing I have to say in case our electricity goes out and I can’t post again for a while.

Occasionally during our devotional time after supper, Ginny reads a prayer I like. It says, “Protect us, O Lord, from the dangers of this night -- and from the fear of them -- through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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 @ 6:47 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Of the making of many books, there is no end...

Friday’s mail brought me an astounding offer from a book promoter.

In the morning I’d mowed grass, cleaned the pool filter and helped my friend pick up his Rolls Royce from the garage. I drove his Cadillac which is always a nerve wracking experience for me because he keeps both cars in mint condition and I dread the possibility of getting a scratch on one.

But back home I opened the mail to find that a book promoter claimed to have read my work and wants to market it. Wow.

He promised to schedule me for a tv talk show. He promised to air taped interviews with me on two radio shows. He promised to contact every major retail book store telling them about my work. He promised to mail copies of my books to major daily newspapers for reviewers to see. He promised to….

All I’d have to do is pay him $7,500.00 for each book I want to market.

Since I have five books now in circulation I could market them all by paying him only $37,500.00.

What a bargain!

Long ago I learned of the existence of an entire industry which preys on would-be-writers. Some offer to polish your work. Some offer to critique your manuscripts. Some offer to edit; some to promote. Some call themselves agents who will represent your work for a fee.

They all want money from you.

A pox on all their houses.

If you chose to write as a professional, publishing companies pay you; if you write say a poem or a family memoir meant to be read only by your mother or your aunt, then maybe for your self-satisfaction, you might pay a printer.

But for a young writer, the waters are full of sharks whose only interest is to get your money before you sink.

Once years ago, this “person” who owned a publishing company asked me to evaluate the manuscript of a historical novel set in an age I’m familiar with. Of course, I took advantage by asking him in return to read the manuscript of my book The Lazarus Projects.

The gentleman came to me crying. Yes, tears ran down his face. He claimed to have been touched by my account of the crucifixion in th book. He said he wanted to publish Lazarus. He set up an interview with his editor-in-chief. The three of us sat down and talked about the book.

They talked with burning enthusiasm about press runs, size, color process, cover art, distribution packages, remainders, etc. They wanted me to go to a national book sellers' convention in Texas for a weekand man a booth promoting their company’s products. They even offered to give me a new blazer to wear while in the booth shilling their products.

Then I mentioned money.

Back pedal!

They wanted me to do this for “experience”.

No advance. No royalties. No money.

I’d been writing for over ten years at the time and getting paid, not much, but paid for my work. I had all the experience I wanted, thank you.

A week or so later, that editor-in-chief wrote me a nasty letter saying The Lazarus Projects was such garbage that his company would not consider publishing it, however, if I wanted money, they had a job opening for a truck driver delivering their paper products to book stores. Would I be interested?

If such shenanigans were a once in a lifetime experience, I’d be able to write it off as “experience” indeed. But in the course of years I’ve run into such wonderful opportunities for writers again and again.

Writers, beware. There is an entire industry based solely on ripping off writers.

On a lighter note:

Ginny and I discovered a new danger from second-hand smoke.

After breakfast at a favorite restaurant this morning, we sat outside on a bench beside the parking lot smoking. A young family came out of the restaurant to get in their minivan.

A kid, I suppose he was four or five, saw me lighting my pipe. Obviously he’d never seen a man with a pipe before. I fascinated him. He could not take his eyes off me as he walked – BOING! – right into the side of the minivan. He bounced back and fell flat on his tail spilling his carry-out coke all down his front.

Simultaneously, Ginny and I both said, “The Surgeon General warns…” and broke out laughing.

Oh, what about the promoter’s offer?

Unfortunately Ginny shredded it. I forget which famous writer it was, but he replied to a critic’s letter, as best I can remember, with this note:

“I am reading your letter in the smallest room in my house. Your missive is unsettling, but soon I will put it behind 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 @ 4:06 PM

Your comments are welcome: 0 comments

Friday, October 21, 2005

Inspired Living In A Bathrobe

I didn’t even get dressed for most of the day Thursday; I hung around in my bathrobe reading Stephen King’s short story collection Everything’s Eventual while waiting for the UPS man to show up with a package.

Yes, I had all sorts of duties to attend to but I just didn’t have the spirit or energy to do any of it.

After any victory I feel letdown. I expected to spring back with renewed energy within a week of getting Glog finally published, but instead I feel too sluggish to ever want to write another word.

You know the feeling?

It’s sort of like the way I feel on Christmas night; the presents have been opened, the feast celebrated, the guests have left, the football games have been won or lost, the worst of the debris picked up – then you crash.

That’s me and writing.

I know what my next project is but my exhilaration is drained and I’m reluctant to touch it.

Last week my eldest daughter offered to carpet our bedroom with some brand new carpet left over from her new home. The carpet in our bedroom has been there for over ten years and shows a bit of wear… but the thought of disrupting our life and moving furniture and extensive cleaning dismayed us. Ginny and I turned down Jennifer’s offer.

The old carpet’s not going anywhere, neither are we.

Thursday afternoon a neighbor called asking me to look at a workbench he is taking out because of extensive renovations to his house. I can have it if I want. It is a beautiful, sturdy, solid workbench… but the thought of all the labor I’d have to do to clear an area and transfer it to our house daunts me.

I feel too bone weary and depleted to even want to improve our own home.

I feel as though I’ve been whipping a dead horse to make him trot a few more miles.

Hey, I’ve reached a point where Stephen King stories cheer me up.

What I need to do is get off my lazy ass, get dressed, and get to work.

Over the years I’ve found the best help in my own Christian life is to learn about the lives of other Christians in their struggles.

About 15 years ago InterVarsity Press published one of my books which they titled People Whose Faith Got Them Into Trouble. Sales proved less than spectacular and the English language edition soon went out of print and the rights reverted to me -- although the book was picked up and translated by foreign publishers and I think it is still available in German, Afrikaans and Philippine editions.

Over the years I’ve added several chapters on people who inspire me. The new chapters just about double the size of the book So that is my next writing project, i.e. to restructure those biographical profiles and re-issue the book under my own title, Strangers On The Earth.

That’s what I’m working on (or should be) at the moment.

The title comes from a phrase in the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off … They were pilgrims and strangers on the earth”.

One of the women profiled in the book is Madam Jeanne Guyon, a lady who lived in the time of King Louis XIV, one of the most corrupt courts ever in Europe. The link is to my profile of her life.

I view this lady with awe. If anybody anywhere ever earned the right to lounge around in a bathrobe all day and mope, it would have been her.

But she didn’t.

Her life inspires me to wrestle on in faith, to claim victory in Jesus, to win the lost, to challenge the devil in his lair --- or at least to go ahead and get dressed for today.

Some days, even when you feel inspired, getting dressed is all you can manage.

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 @ 4:51 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Was That Hurricane Wilma That Passed, Or Is It Still Coming?

I don’t know where to start; the past couple of days have been harried.

Tuesday my friend Wes and I went to breakfast and, among other things, talked about existential philosophy. We laughed like fools because due to my facial deformity and lack of teeth, I can’t say the word “existentialist”. Of course this is not a word that comes up often in my vocabulary and I did not know that I’m unable to say it. So, I just substituted the word “heathen”. The conversation was a hoot for us but you’d have had to be there to see how funny it was.

Later, I went off with my friend Ken to transfer his Cadillac while his Rolls Royce is in the garage. He took me to lunch at Whiteway where he related a Christmas story he’s read recently; the story disappointed him because, even though it was written by a bishop, it contains no Christian element. Ken expected more from a bishop.

I only wrote a few lines in my next book Tuesday.

Wednesday, my friend Barbara took me to breakfast at Dave’s. She’s just returned from a trip to visit some Jewish/Christian friends up north. While she was there their house caught fire (unattended candles) and was saved from more extensive damage by the heroic actions of the family dog and Daniel, an 11-year-old son.

Barbara and I discussed weaknesses in my writing. I feel my work lacks power and contains only the most feeble witness for Christ; she reminded me that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness and that any good my writing does for readers must be through Christ’s power, not my own wittiness or ability.

Donald and a friend came over for lunch and I cooked them ramin noodles; Donald needed to see me about a bank transfer of funds to a needy person. While here, he upgraded my computer to a faster DSL.

His friend tells me that her teenaged daughter is reading a copy of Glog with evident enjoyment. That really pleases me.

As Donald left the driveway, Ginny pulled in. She’d come from the doctor’s office where she’d been fitted for those hearing aids; she should actually get them in a couple of weeks.

Elizabeth Taylor wears earrings that cost less than Ginny’s hearing aids!

Since overnight Hurricane Wilma streghtened from a tropical storm to a category five hurricane and is now the most powerful Atlantic storm on record, and since the projected landfall is in south Florida at the moment, Ginny & I began our usual hurricane drill. Although current projections put Jacksonville on the fringes, we go through the drill anyhow. The last couple of hurricane “fringes” have left us soggy, branch-covered and without electricity for weeks, so we prepare as though we’d be in the eyewall.

Not scared, just prudent.

We refilled her prescriptions for diabetes medicines; gassed up the car; surveyed our hurricane supplies; made sure we have mosquito repellent, etc.; backed up computer files and prepared to upload my current book projects to an out-of-state server; did all the laundry; and so forth.

We decided to lay in a few groceries to restock our normal supplies before the stores get too crowded. HA!

As we withdrew grocery money from the ATM, a man in a car wheeled into the bank parking lot and braked beside us. Immediately my hackles arose to Defcon Three Mode -- but there was no cause for alarm.

Although I did not recognize the man, it turned out that back in the late ’70 or early 80’s I’d written up some historical research for his brother and he recognized me as the writer who’d done the job. He asked me if I were still writing and when I told him about Glog and mentioned it was a book about a dinosaur, he became very animated and asked me how to order the book because his teen-age daughter is crazy about dinosaurs and he wants to buy a copy of Glog for her Christmas!

That really pleases me.

Hardly a cart to be found at the grocery store; apparently, we were not the only ones restocking hurricane supplies.

In the parking lot, I did help a lady start her broken-down car (actually I watched while someone who knew what he was doing started her car but I gave moral support) and I recovered a lost walking cane for an old crippled lady. And Ginny listened at length to the troubles of a guy confined to a wheelchair – but eventually we got our own shopping done and came home to follow the first rule of hurricane preparation:

First, Eat Up All The Ice Cream!


We feel we deserved 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 @ 9:18 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Holiday Chaos Ahead

Over this past weekend Ginny and I planned for the horrendous holiday season ahead of us. Between now and mid-January we face 4 family birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, an anniversary, a vacation trip. out-of-town guests, Luminary Night, New Years, Superbowl, a “What? Party” (to celebrate Ginny’s hearing aids when she get them), and Halloween.

We placed an order for toys and give-away stuff for the Halloween packets we prepare each year. We attempt to give the kids who come by our house the very best treat packet they will get anywhere. This year’s packets will include flying dinosaurs, color books and crayons, train whistles, rubber frog zappers, spider rings, and of course gobs of candy, and a bunch of other stuff to delight the hearts of trick-or-treaters.

Of course the reason we distribute all this stuff is to convey tracts honoring Christ into the homes of the kids who visit us.

Over the years we have given out hundreds and hundreds of such packets containing little comic book tracts put out by the Chick Publishing company. These little booklets often carry a strong gospel message illustrated with powerful drawings. But, you have to read them carefully yourself before buying one to give out because the artist sometimes attacks others in an uncharitable manner and they can be offensive.

My favorite Chick tract is one called "One Way". It is designed for people who can not read and it carries the message through pictures. We also gave out "Titanic" about a man who thought he had it made in life when he voyaged aboard the luxury liner, "Room 310" about a man dying of cancer being witnessed to by his also dying roommate, and "Holy Joe" about a soldier who testifies to Christ in battle. We also gave the children tracts about a church mouse and other figures suitable for young children.

Word has gotten around among the neighborhood kids and we have repeat batches of them come to our house year after year.

We really can’t afford to do this this year but what the hell, we do lots of things we can’t afford.

Of course, Hurricane Wilma may put a damper on our plans. But if it does, we’ll just pack the nonperishable stuff away for next year.

We are not much for handing out religious tracts but since we usually have anywhere from 60 to a hundred people walking up to our door, why not give them the best we can give? It’s just a feeble gesture toward evangelizing our own neighborhood.

This weekend we also planned the Halloween display we’ll set up – Gin wants me to put it together next weekend. We decided to use the same one we did last year illustrating the 23rd Psalm; Here’s a photo of last year’s display:

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 @ 7:25 AM

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Will Today Be The Day Of His Coming?

He has undoubtedly promised to come.

Sometme. Somewhere. When least expected.

My wife believes he may come today. All weekend long she has poured over the literature reading religiously about the magnificent things involved in the promise of his coming.

Horns will blow. Champaign corks will pop. Beautiful girls will bring armloads of flowers. Crowds will cheer. Released balloons will soar colorfully upward into the Heavens. He will usher us into a limousine and escort us to the mansion he has prepared for us.

Our poor sullen neighbors -- for whom he has not come -- will gather in envy at our door; but they’ll congratulate us anyhow.

Ginny believes this very day may be the day.

But then, she’s gotten all worked up over this anticipated event before only to be disappointed when he didn’t show.

But her hope springs eternal.

Who knows? David Sayers and the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol may indeed come today.

Hey, I spend all Sunday sacked out on the sofa watching tv football, how can I blog about that?

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 @ 8:43 AM

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Happy Day With Ginny

At dawn Saturday Ginny & I ventured out into the backyard in robes and slippers to fill the bird feeders and enjoy our coffee on the patio. I played around with the digital camera Donald had given us. Here’s a photo of Ginny with a ginger lilly:

After breakfast we went for a long drive in the country passing acres covered with goldenrod, morning glories and black-eyed susans. We visited Eve’e library and enjoyed a wonderful time browsing in this brand new collection. Apparently there was a local football game so hardly anyone else was in the library so we essentially had the place to ourselves.

Eve is asking the town Four H Club or the Future Farmers of America to landscape the area outside the huge picture windows the lounge. But she ask Ginny and me to think about being backup to do the job in case the local organizations can’t. So we strolled around outside (watching for snakes) planning which plants to put in. We want low-maintenance plants in a variety which would ensure something blooming outside that window all year long.

Funny thing is that this weekend up north Gin’s mom and Dad are spearheading the landscaping of their local library. They both hold Master Gardner certification.

Ginny found several books by a favorite author and enthusiastically told me about them in the library’s conversation pit. Eve snapped this photo of us talking surrounded by the books we checked out:

For lunch Eve drove us to an eatery which was packed with local hunters engrossed in conversation anticipating the opening day of deer season. And, eavesdropping I learned that today only the feed and grain store is having a special on hammers. I loved the Florida accents I heard all around me as these good people talked about things close to their hearts and phrases like, “We’ll be lifting you up in prayer about that” are natural parts of a conversation about dogs, not just church words.

As we drove back home Gin & I began planning in earnest about a vacation trip out in the piney woods for ourselves.

In a different vein: Donald has begun a new Slashdot technical journal about ??? (I read some recent postings but I have no idea what the journal is about) The computer literate will love it.

Recently he also added to the free e-mail devotionals he offers daily. This latest set comes from Octavius Winslow, a 19th Century Nonconformist minister. It is a little easier reading than Donald’s technical journal. Check it out at Daily Walking With God at http://rdex.net/devotions.php

And that's my posting for 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 @ 5:58 AM

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Goodbye Marilyn, I Miss You Already.

Sometimes things I’ve written in the past return to bite me in the ass.

Friday I as I worked on page lay out for my next book, I was searching for a reference in my own computer when I came across the start of a book manuscript that I’d started but given up on. I’d even forgotten that I’d once started that project. But one line caught my attention and whacked me.

I do not think of myself as a “Christian writer”. In fact I don’t feel as though I’m a particularly religious man at all. I’m just a guy, a writer whose work sometimes touches on faith – or, more often, my own lack of it.

But on some level I do feel an intense gratitude to God for all the many good things in my life. And I want to express that gratitude. I also want to express a certain degree of love and appreciation to the Lord Christ simply because of who He is. I feel He is worthy of respect and honor.

This creates a dilemma.

I am me.

And being me includes some not very nice things.

Among those things is an enjoyment of internet pornography.

Every so often I’ve been browsing sites and saving images of women in various states of undress. I accumulated a large file of photos. I justified my photo collection on the grounds that I was just enjoying the pleasure of looking at pretty women who were there posed anyhow whether I saw them or not. A harmless indulgence.

And I think it actually is. Everybody has fantasies of one sort or another. Just like imagining how I’d spent my Lotto winnings. No substance to it. Marilyn Monroe is not likely to appear naked on a bear skin rug in front of my fireplace on a snowy winter evening.

For one thing, we don’t have a fireplace.

That sort of thing is just the adolescent pipe dream of this particular old man. It will never really happen. Besides, if it did, Marilyn would intimidate the hell out of me!

Yet such pipe dreams carry with them an element of sleaze.

Do I really want to honor Christ in my life, or is that just talk.

That piece I wrote years ago contained these words:

Nothing in life counts but following Jesus.


We should render him all because he is worthy of all.

Who else can honestly command all our devotion, strength, attention, love and resources?

If we will spend all eternity honoring Jesus, why shouldn't we start right now?

When I blundered across this passage, which I had written myself, I immediately thought of my collection of girly photos.

These two elements of my make up don’t exactly mesh.

Is Jesus preeminent in my life, or is He just a prominent feature in my writing?

“Oh, the hell with it,” I thought. “I’ve got to stop writing mush like that. But, in for a penny, in for a pound”.

So I pulled up my computer folder files labeled xxx Beautiful Women, and xxx Beach Bunnies, and xxx Bikini Girls, etc. I reluctantly moved each folder to the recycle bin. Then I right clicked and emptied the bin permanently deleting those folders.

Did I feel a sense of spiritual triumph, joy, purity and victory?

Of course not.

This is life, not fiction.

If anything my strongest feeling was -- regret.

Come right down to it, I wonder if deleting those files is just a sign that I’m getting too damned old and there was nothing of any Christian significance. to the action at all.

But, sometimes I think it’s ok to do something just on the off chance that Christ will be honored

Does this mean that as a strong, handsome, pure-hearted Christian guy I will never ever again in my whole life look at a naked woman’s photo and fantasize about owning a bear skin rug?

Knowing my track record, I doubt that.

But, that’s what’s going on in my life on this one particular day.

P.S. If Bill Gates is reading this blog, please e-mail me instructions on how to recover permanently deleted files.

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 @ 6:14 AM

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Prayer And Fantasy

Labora est Ora

I did not feel like writing Thursday so I used the day to mow the yards, ours and our neighbor’s. This task usually takes me about six hours. That may indicate the size of the yards, or it may just show how slow I move.

I’ve heard a Latin motto, Labora est Ora, which means “Work is prayer”. I think that means that when we want some desired end, we both ask God for it and physically work for it ourselves. Since our physical actions are limited, ora is more powerful than labora. But both try to accomplish the same end.

I’ve never actually tried this but I suppose that I could pray for the grass to stay short. I doubt that would work. I think that God wants us to do certain things for ourselves.

I remember the old joke about the guy who heard that prayer can move mountains. He had this mountain in his backyard so he decided to spend the night in fervent prayer that it would be moved. He agonized in prayer. He claimed the promise. He strained all night to have faith and believe.

Next morning he looked out the window.

The mountain still stood there.

But there in his backyard a miracle had happened. Over night there had miraculously appeared a brand new wheelbarrow and a shovel.

Occasionally, I pray for people and about things as I mow the lawn.

But not today.

I did not pray as I worked.

Today, what I did was fantasize.

What will I do with that 16 million dollars when I win the Lottery?

That’s what I thought about all day long as I pushed the mower.

Hey, I know we can’t serve both God and Mammon –

But I try.

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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Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Rattlesnake At Eve’s Library

Wednesday Ginny & I spent a delightful evening with Eve, our middle daughter who is head librarian in a tiny rural community west of Jacksonville.

She filled us in on some of her latest adventures:

For instance, the other night a reader entering Eve’s library announced that a rattlesnake lay blocking the door.

Ever the reference librarian, Eve consulted her leadership training manual. Humm. No listing for rattlesnakes in the index.

One patron helpfully mentioned he had a pistol in his glove compartment but the snake lurked between the main entrance and the parking lot. Besides, although it is a rural library, Eve discourages guns in her reading room.

Fortunately a local fireman was browsing for books. He found a shovel and went out to do battle with the reptile. This was brave indeed because a Putman County fireman was killed by a rattlesnake just last Monday.

But by the time the fireman got outside, the snake was gone… Somewhere.

I’ve never heard of this before and I have no idea if it works, but the fireman told Eve to sprinkle moth balls around the library entrance because rattlesnakes are territorial and will leave the area at the scent of mothballs. He also told her that the library ought to stock a “snake killing shovel” for her staff to use.

Eve plans to request a snake shovel and 50 pounds of mothballs in her next supply requisition to county headquarters. I wonder what the accounting department will make of that.

Oh those wild and crazy librarians!

Since her library building is brand new construction, the builders dug a retention pond near the entrance. The other day as she was conducting a meeting to discuss library programs for teens, a little kid walked by the picture window with a fish dangling from a bamboo pole. He’d been fishing in the library retention pond and caught a few sunfish.

Immediately the teens (who ride to the library on ATVs) suggested that the library sponsor a community fishing contest right there in the pond.

Eve is scheduling the event.

Last week Eve took some vacation days and went camping in the wilds of west Florida. She also went cave exploring. Yes, Florida does have caves.

She is posting some photos she took on Eve’s Blog.

Strange to think of our little girl as combating snakes, camping in the deep woods by herself and exploring caves. Eve was always the quiet, timid, shy, demure one. She is the most gentle fawn of a girl, yet incredibly adventurous and brave. She’s the one who won the scholarship to London and traveled all over Europe by herself. She has also ventured into the (to me) terrifying realm of on-line dating.

She’s the one who participates in virtually every charity walk for MS, MD, Heart Association, Birth Defects, Cancer Society… anything that touches her tender heart.

Ginny & I are so pleased with her.

Eve does keep cats…

But then nobody’s perfect.


During our usual prayer time after supper, Ginny read this beautiful prayer which I’d never even noticed before:

Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art willing to give us more than we either ask or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, And giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask execpt through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

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 @ 3:54 AM

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go

According to the counter software Donald installed, 3,392 readers have visited my web site and 786 readers have visited my blog so far this month.

That scares me.

Will I disappoint these readers when they call again?.

I feel under pressure, compelled to say today something more witty and spiritual and mind boggling than I said yesterday.

But I got nothing!

This morning, Ginny says that’s ok; I can just be my self. I think she means witless, unspiritual and mind boggled. So here goes:

I woke up at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday to catch up ed-mail and such before I prepared myself to spread light and joy and gospel and helpfulness throughout the world as I drove J to the hospital for her operation at noon. So I shaved and dressed and put on shoes (I usually work all day barefoot so this was a sacrifice). I set the security system and the dogs so I could walk out the door immediately when she arrived. (I was supposed to drive her car).

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

At 1:30 p.m. she called saying the operation has been postponed.

I was not needed.

All dressed up and no place to go.

Now what?

I could start work on the next book; but I want to be fresh for that.

I could browse porno; but my back ached too much to sit at the computer for that.

I could go out and mow the lawn; but I didn’t want to start so late in the day.

Ginny says that sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to take a nap.

So that’s what I did.

That was my Tuesday.

Monday afternoon Ginny visited the doctor to have her hearing tested.

He said she hears well for a 90-year-old woman; trouble is that she won’t be 90 for decades and decades yet. He said she should have gotten a hearing aid 30 years ago!

Her hearing loss makes for many an interesting conversation around our house.

For instance, we’ll be at the table and I’ll say, “Please pass the salt”.

My Beloved will look up and reply, “I love you too”.

Now, its very nice that she’s is so accustomed over the years to hearing me say “I love you” that she assumes that is what I just said… But that doesn’t get me the salt.

She has adjusted so well to her hearing loss that most people do not realize she has a problem. At work she keeps her phone on the loudest setting and she hangs a mirror above her computer terminal so she can see when anyone comes in the office behind her.

Oh, Oh. I just remembered. Here’s something cool. When one of her former bosses met me at a party he said, “Virginia hardly ever says anything, but nobody can walk in that office for five minutes without knowing that she’s a Christian”.

That’s her presence.

I’m so blessed to be her husband. If anybody were ever to write my biography, it would be a love story.

Anyhow, her hearing is getting worse and we discussed this hearing aid thing at length. She needs two of them and each one will cost us more than our car would sell for! So we’ll cut into the money we’ve been squirreling away for a vacation trip and spend it on the hearing aids. (We still plan our trip; it’ll just have to be cheaper).

She goes in for a fitting next week.

We talked about praying for healing – and we do – but Ginny said, “Until God gets around to healing me, I want to go with the mechanical aid”.

I’m in love with a practical woman.

Yes, I already get plenty of loving around here – but next week I’ll get salt 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 @ 9:03 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sic transit gloria mundi ...

Several years ago I gave a speech which was given extensive coverage by the newspaper and the four local tv stations.

The following day an official of the church we then attended called.

“Did you see me on tv,” I asked.

“Yeah. I saw that. But what I’m calling about is -- the janitor goes on vacation next week I need somebody to mop floors and clean the toilets while he’s gone. So I thought of you…”

I had much the same experience yesterday. Friday I finally published Glog. All weekend I have basked in that accomplishment.

And Monday morning I saw that Darlene said all sorts of nice things and posted my photo in her blog comparing my masculine physique to that of tv star Ty Pennington (the whimp).

Heady stuff.

Then, my phone rang.

“I see you’re finished that book thing. So now you’re free to help me shuffle cars to the shop,” said the elderly gentleman on the line.

Then someone called needing me to drive them to the hospital.

Then two more callers. One with a simple computer question; one with a historical research problem.

Then an elderly neighborfrom a few blocks down the street came by our house wanting me to transport some children’s clothing to the mission.

Not having our car, I walked to his house with my wheelbarrow to pick up the bags of clothes. On my way, I saw the garbagemen had dumped the empty cans right in the middle of my next door neighbor’s driveway. I moved them so she could get in her drive when she gets off work. A Nuisance Task. “Some people are too sorry to be garbagemen,” I grumbled.

As I loaded the clothing bags into my wheelbarrow, the old man’s wife said, “The bushes out back are overgrown. Could you come chop them down for us”?

They have grandsons a whole lot bigger and younger than I am, so I asked if the grandsons could do that when they come for supper?

“Oh, I wouldn’t ask them,” she said. “There’s snakes all out in those bushes and they’re scared of snakes”.

I’m not scared of the snakes but I feel that if the grandsons eat there, they can work there. So I passed on that opportunity.

But I feel guilty about it.

I’m all hot to trot on my next writing project and here I am besieged with requests for menial service. Hey, I’m a published author; I’m too good for that dirty hands stuff ain’t I?


No. I’m not.

I can’t write Christian if I don’t live Christian.

Christ died so that I might be saved, not so that I might be important.

A servant is no better than his Master and if He washed dirty feet then I’m certainly not to think myself above doing the same.

But I do.

In my heart, I do.

Brother Lawrence said that God counts not the greatness of a task but the love with which it is done.

Well, I don’t rack up any Heavenly points in that area either, because although I agreed to do the things the various people needed, I resented being asked to do them.

Remember the Bible story about the guy who asked his two sons to harvest grapes?

One son said, “Sure thing, Dad. I’ll get right on that”… but he didn’t go.

The other son said, “Hell No! I won’t go”… but he trudged on out there and picked the stupid grapes and dumped them in the vat.

I identify with that second son.

You know, if God spoke to me directly, if He appeared to me in a burning bush, (my first reaction would be to grab a fire extinguisher) But if He did speak directly, I think I’d pay attention to what He wanted.

Trouble is, God doesn’t speak to me directly; He always seems to say what He wants through other people.

I mean, not many of us would turn down a direct request from God Almighty.

But, when it’s that pest down the street who conveys the request…

But is it really God who wants me to do goody-goody stuff for people? Is that part of being Christian? Or do I just want to be thought well of? Hey, I was a Boy Scout long before I became a Christian and I had the Scout oath and motto and all that engrained in me before I ever learned a Bible verse. “Do a good turn daily… A Scout is helpful… To help other people at all times… Trustworthy. Loyal. Friendly…”

When I say yes to folks who ask my help, am I being Christian or just a geriatric Boy Scout?

Then I wonder, are requests for mundane help opportunities to serve Christ or are they hindrances to the work of writing which I really should be doing?

Are such requests for help just obstacles which keep me from my writing goals? Don’t I have an important contribution to make to Christian literature? Why, I have this idea for a world-changing book; I think I’ll entitle it: The World’s Greatest Book On Humility by John W. Cowart.

Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?

Perhaps such nonsensical ideas are one reason God never lets me make the Times Best-Seller list. He knows such success would cool my heart, puff my head, and snare my soul.

Am I too high-falutin a writer, too self-important a person, to give help without resentment and bitterness? Can’t the little people who have not written a book do those things?

Do I really mean it when I tell Christ, “Yes, Lord. Whatever. Whenever. However”?

Do I intend to be a Christian guts, feathers and all?

Is Christ the Lord of my energy, my money, my time?

Or do I just use Him as a springboard to enhance my own reputation?

Of course then this verse comes to mind: The Lord Loveth A Cheerful Giver.


I’m supposed to be cheerful too?

O crap! Looks like I need to take off my shoes, climb in that vat, and stomp those damn grapes –

Cheerful? That I’m gonna have to work on.

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 @ 2:33 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Monday, October 10, 2005

Somebody Moved Columbus Day

Many thanks to those of you who have ordered copies of Glog. Your response really makes me feel good.

Now that I’ve published Glog, I feel numb, not knowing what to do next. I’d thought of a Christmas book but I really don’t have enough material to make the book I envisioned worth the money it would cost. I’m thinking of re-issuing a collective biography of people whose faith inspires me. It’s been out or print for years except in foreign language translations… I’m still mulling that over.

For next Wednesday, October 12th, I’d planned to post a blog about Christopher Columbus but yesterday Ginny informed me they’ve moved Columbus Day to today so they can link it to a weekend.

I didn’t know that.

I checked my calendar and sure enough, they’ve moved Columbus Day.

No one I know get that day off, so I can’t phantom why they’d move the day.

Is the 4th of July tomorrow?

Anyhow, Christopher Columbus blogged in the style of his day; i.e. he kept a daily journal of his activities, a log of his voyages. Back in the mid 1980s I wrote a profile of Columbus which quotes a bit from his blog. If you’re interested, please check out this link to The Admiral Of Mosquitoes .

At the grocery store yesterday, I picked up a plastic bag planning to put some peaches in it. At the counter a young man blocked my way as he examined peaches carefully. He hefted each one. He rubbed it up and down the skin of his bare arm. He lifted it to his face and sniffed it closely. He licked the peach. Then he put it back on the display counter. And picked up another one…

I looked around for a store employee but of course none was in sight.

I decided not to buy any peaches today.

Oddly enough, the young man didn’t buy any either; he just left the counter having examined six or eight....

Do I wash produce enough?

The national news Friday said that today churches would be celebrating Porn Sunday. I planed to go to church. I even shaved to get ready. But Ginny said they would not be showing movies in church. So I said phooey on it and we dabbled in our garden instead of going.

Sunday, Jamie Dawn’s husband (I don’t know his name) posted his first blog and it’s a dozy. He talks about developing a personal vision. Ginny & I talked about his advice for hours and as a result of our discussion we arrived at several decisions including quitting a civic group where we have been active. We really found this blog really helpful.

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 @ 6:28 AM

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

A Day In The Bookstore

Ginny & I spent a huge chunk of Saturday browsing in a used bookstore. The prices appalled me. These were used books for Heaven’s sale! I only bought two slender paperbacks for my Florida history collection and they set me back a bundle.

I can’t afford to buy my own books.

I think they must be printed using gasoline instead of ink.

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 @ 4:16 AM

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Friday Night At The Fights

Yesterday Ginny took the day off work so she could be with me while I put the final touches on the Glog manuscript and afterwards we went out on our usual Friday Night Date.

We chose to go to a favorite Italian place where I was a good boy and ordered an antipasto salad instead of something yummy. As we ate we became engrossed in conversation about a murder mystery she’s reading, Coffin Corner, an old Dell Shannon Lieutenant Mendoza mystery.

The area around the restaurant is a Friday night haunt of a couple of hundred young people all so intent on individualism that they all appear to be in uniform – chains, black clothes, body piercing, tattoos, spiked green-dyed hair-dos.

The guys dress weird too.

After supper we sat on a brick wall across the street smoking, watching the parade of young people, and talking still about Ginny’s mystery.

Between us and our car a fight broke out.

Much screaming, cursing, pounding and grunting as 20 or 30 of the uniformed individualists clustered around the combatants. One guy banged another’s head on the hood of a parked car as they kicked, panted, screamed curses, and threw punches, then rolled on the pavement biting and tussling.

To me it was obvious that neither guy knew diddle squat about fighting. No weapons were evident. I didn’t think either guy was capable of really damaging the other. Even though the opponents were in their 30s, it looked more like a school yard brawl than a street fight

I briefly contemplated walking over to the crowd and speaking peace and grace and the love of Jesus Christ and all that good stuff -- You know the drill: Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall butt in -- but I felt no prompting of the Spirit and I was more focused on listening to Ginny so I said “Screw ‘em. Let the bastards fight”.

Ginny had taken out her cell phone thinking to call the cops, but she hesitated then slipped it back into her purse. “I don’t think I’m going to call,” she said, “Let them sort this out themselves”.

Aren’t we quite the Christian activists?

We finished our smokes then crossed the street and passed by on the other side (Hey, that’s biblical) as the fight escalated, more people joined the ruckus, and the crowd of onlookers swelled.

I locked Ginny in our car before going around to my side.

And then we drove away and spent the rest of our evening at home in peace and companionship and love while Ginny finished reading her mystery.

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 @ 5:46 AM

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Glog is finished and so am I

Here is a picture of the Glog cover.

After correcting 54 mistakes (mostly misplaced commas) in the Glog proofs, I uploaded the text, covers and sample chapters this morning.

Glog is published.

I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

If anyone would like to see the results of my work, pleasee check out www.bluefishbooks.info .

The back cover of the book features a photo of me… I should have combed my hair that day.

Ginny has taken today off work and we plan to spend a quite weekend… At this moment I don’t want to see another book, or touch another keyboard -- ever.

But, God willing, I'll be back to blogging Monday. Hope you all have a great weekend.

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 @ 1:27 PM

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Glogging In The Rain

Wednesday, as rains from Tropical Storm Tammy sheeted over Jacksonville flooding streets and yards, a representative of the United States Postal Service pressed through the deluge to lay a package in the puddle at my front door.

With the kindness and consideration for which USPS is famous, the mailman did not bother to knock on the door; he obviously didn’t wish to disturb anyone inside the house during such a torrential rainstorm.

However, I saw the mailman sloshing around outside – I’ve watched for him hourly everyday this week – and rushed out to rescue my package before it floated away.

Printer proofs of my Glog manuscript have finally arrived!

I intend to give the text one final reading and, God willing if all goes well, (Ginny already spotted and corrected one misspelled word) Glog will be ready for publication tomorrow, Friday, October 7th, 2005.

Last night because of the pouring rains – or the boring speaker – only five people showed up for my Jacksonville history lecture. I gave them the best I know how to give.

It would take more than a drizzle and a small turnout to dampen my spirit.

I agree with Snoopy:

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 @ 5:14 AM

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Preparing For Jax History Lecture

I spent Tuesday reading and gathering materials for a lecture on Jacksonville history that I’m scheduled to give at the South Mandarin Library.

In my talks I used various rusty artifacts I’ve collected here and there to illustrate points, a hand-forged ax, a Civil War sword, flint arrowheads, etc. Trouble is that I keep this stuff all over the place – some outside in the garden, some in a bookcase, some in a closet -- and I have to round it up again each time I give lecture.

One section of the lecture which always seems to perk the audience up involves Dr. Robert Bateman, who founded a Jacksonville rescue mission, and who died in the sinking of the Titanic.
Folks always seem interested in that.

I’m still waiting for the Glog proofs to come from the printer.

After several days of rain many of the plants in our garden are flowering; when Ginny got home from work, I took these photos of her, one amid the angel trumpets and the other with some other plant that I don't know the name of...

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 @ 5:05 AM

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Turtle Thoughts

When I was in Junior High School, the teacher forced us to read an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here 50 years laterI still remember one phrase from that essay.

I think Emerson's point was that we think like we think because we are what we are.

He said, "All the thoughts of a turtle are turtle".

My big accomplishment, in fact, my only accomplishment, for Monday was to deliver Patricia’s turtles to their new home at Arden’s Restaurant.

When the other kids would come home from college, all they’d bring was their dirty laundry. In fact, Donald used to collect dirty clothes from all up and down his dorm hall to bring home for Ginny to wash – I suspect he charged his buddies a fee in this enterprise.

But Saturday Patricia showed up with her two enormous turtles. She’s raised these since they were tiny and not they are bigger than my desk dictionary. Because of her job troubles she has to drop our of school (for a time I hope) and because her apartment lease is up at the end of the month, she can’t keep the turtles any longer.

She made arrangements with the owner of Arden’s to take the varmints in, but since the restaurant was closed over the weekend, I’ve been chief turtle-keeper till today. Here is a photo of the turtles’ new home:

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 @ 4:29 AM

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Party Food

Chalk Sunday up as just another wasted day in a wasted life.

This morning I realized there was some pepper jack cheese in the refrigerator, a left-over snack from Saturday’s party. I also found some gingersnap cookies.

I wanted some but I hesitated a long time before eating any.

It’s been years since I tasted a gingersnap even though I like them.

The problem is that my mother always snacked on gingersnaps with cheese as she sat at the kitchen table and chewed me out for hours and hours telling me how disappointed she was in me. In fact I think the phrase I heard more than any other as I grew up and well into adulthood was, “John, I’m so disappointed in you”.

And here I was this morning confronted with a brown paper bag of gingersnap cookies and a block of cheese.

Ah, the memories.

Who the hell else in the whole wide world finds cheese and crackers traumatic?

A moral dilemma?

A challenge to his manhood?

Being a Christian proved of no help at all with this. The word gingersnap is not even mentioned in the Holy Scripture. It’s a bitch when a man (who at least sometimes tries to behave in accordance with Scripture) runs into a situation with no Bible verse to lean on.

I had to wing it.

“Mama’s been dead for 15 years and I want a gingersnap with cheese,” I thought. “Damn it. I’m going to eat me a gingersnap”.

And I did!

Hey, slaying dragons isn’t the only thing a man can do to demonstrate his courage.

At the party Saturday night I encountered another uncomfortable situation involving food – in this case a key lime pie.

You see, I have this slight quirk, a minor idiosyncrasy, an tiny eccentric mannerism. OK, call it a crazy obsession -- I find it almost impossible to eat in public

My teeth went bad years and years ago destroying underlying bone structure in my face. Hence I am a sloppy eater. I drool and slobber and spill things and dribble.

This makes me a trifle self conscious. I don't want to disgust people. So, unless with the closest friends, I avoid eating where anyone can see me. In a group I usually just sip on a cup of coffee and join the conversation as everyone else eats. My family is so accustomed to this behavior that they ignore it – or maybe it is all in my mind and nobody ever pays the slightest attention to what I’m eating or even if I am.

Well, during the party I got really really hungry.

Don’t these good, life-long friends and dearly beloved children EVER go home?

But they were all talking and laughing in the living room.

Nobody at all was in the kitchen.

The last slice of the key lime pie beckoned me. Pale green luscious filling topped with an eight-inch snowy cloud of meringue. More alluring than a Playboy centerfold.

Everyone appeared deep in conversation.

I picked up a fork and that last slice of pie. I turned my face to the wall so just in case anyone came into the kitchen they wouldn’t see me eating.

But someone did.

I didn’t hear her come in but the lady who baked that pie came up behind me.

Startled, I jumped and shuttered and turned away from her.

Guilt paralyzed me; I felt as embarrassed as if she’d caught me masturbating or strangling a bunny or writing on the wall with a permanent black marker.

I stammered something or another incoherent and fled the scene of my crime…

Now, an objective evaluation of this situation would simply conclude that I’m crazy. But ….

Here’s an aside: it is not politically correct to call them crazy, my e-friend Eric coined a proper term; such people are to be referred to as: “Mental Health Consumers”!

Anyhow, once again I’m confronted with a situation for which the Bible offers me no help whatsoever. Nothing in the Old Testament dietary laws covers eating without being seen. And while the Scripture does make certain allowances for kooks (Comfort the feebleminded) nothing addresses my particular mind set.

The facts I know and the things I feel do not necessarily mesh.

I suspect that in certain situations, God lets us cope on our own as best we can. That does not mean He doesn’t love us; it means He expects us to grow up.

So, as I seek the path to spiritual enlightenment, there a few more gingersnaps in the bottom of the bag…

Don’t you be watchin’ 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 @ 4:46 PM

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

How Turtles Have Sex

To tell a male turtle from a female, look at the shell of the stomach. The stomach plate of the female is flat; that of a male turtle, when he is laid on his back, curves inward like a cup.

God has designed turtles thus so that when they mate, they nest together like spoons with the outward curve of her back shell fitting into the concave curve of his belly shell, thus bringing their organs into contact. Seeing such things be so, who can doubt the majesty of God, Creator of all, who maketh even turtles fit together in His scheme of things?

The above quote comes from a historical fiction novel set in the 1660s.

What brought it to my mind was that when my daughter arrived from Gainesville Saturday for her birthday party, she brought a pair of huge turtles, her long-time pets, to leave at our house till I can make arrangements to deliver them to a new home.

The working title of my historical novel was “The Cook’s Book”.

The place I’m supposed to deliver the turtles to is a restaurant.

But this arrangement does not bode ill for Patricia’s pet turtles; the restaurant owner also raises turtles and offered to place them in her turtle corral.

Now, while the sexual practices of turtles may indicate an intelligent design in the universe, our party certainly does not.

Quite the contrary.

This party just happened with no one person planning or coordinating the event. Our kids, who initiated the party, just put out a general word, “Everybody bring something or another”.

Each person brought, or didn’t bring, whatever food struck their fancy. That usually meant cake or cookies or pies or ice cream.

Nobody though to bring soda at first, so we had to scrounge for drinks.

And for a time there it looked as though the main dishes for supper would be trail mix, deviled eggs, and celery sticks filled with cream cheese.

I’m not sure Martha Stewart would feel at home at our house.

Then late arrivals poured in with fried chicken and humus and veggies and salads and the table groaned with goodies of every sort and description. A lavish feast was spread with no evidence of intelligent design at all.

Ginny & I had planned to host this thing outside but afternoon rains squelched that idea and the crowd packed our tiny living room. Chairs were at a premium and smokers out of courtesy huddled under an awning out back.

Laughter shook the house.

Except of course when I told my joke about Rene Decarte which elicited a universal groan.

Lively conversation abounded about books, and movies, and sick cats, and somebody being dragged down the stairs by her hair by her sister, and archaeology, and music, and philosophy, and physics, and cars, and flight reservations, and Godzilla, and the library’s reading to dogs program, and computers, and the time Donald sold his bedroom to his sister, and avian flu, and, of course -- turtles.

So, his concave shell fits over her convex shell nesting together when they have sex. Humm…This arrangement may not be conclusive proof of God’s intelligent design, but the turtles find it satisfactory.

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 @ 5:12 AM

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Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Book Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

Friday word came from the printer that they are mailing my proof copy of Glog; yes, by this time next week, God willing, I will have reviewed it, made adjustments and released it for publication.

Glog will have transformed from a manuscript into a real live book.

I should feel excited, but all I feel is numb.

Friday I began packing away notes and reference materials related to writing Glog. There is a another cardboard box full of notes in the closet, but here is a photo of some stuff that went into writing Glog:

Obviously I enjoy researching a book more than the creative aspects of writing. And I pride myself on attention to detail; for instance, when Glog is under 60 feet of water, or 12 feet, in the Chesapeake Bay, I’ve consulted navigational charts to be sure the Bay is 60 feet deep, or 12 feet, so many miles off the town of Honga.

This obsession with detail arises from my own insecurities. I have this vision of giving a lecture and someone in the audience standing up declaring, ”But the water’s not that deep. I read your stupid book and ran aground in that very spot”!

And when Glog tells how to tell a male crab from a female, I researched until I could tell the difference myself.

One funny thing happened in writing Glog. Several years ago (I started writing Glog in the mid 1980s) I needed to know the name of a particular bone; I knew what it was, but not what it is called. After exhausting every research book I could think of on animal anatomy, I called the Jacksonville Zoo to ask a zoologist. The guy I talked with didn’t know the name of that bone off the top of his head, so he asked another zoologist. The project gripped the fancy of the Zoo staff and they apparently dropped everything and hunted here and there even calling other zoos. Remember, this was back in the days before the internet (yes, I’ve been writing that long) and for three days zoologists from all over the country phoned me almost hourly to explain everything I’d want to know about the baculum.

Anatomical research aside, on one level, Glog can be read as a simple action tale in which a dinosaur gets ensnared in mishaps and adventures and troubles not of his own making. It’s purpose is to entertain.

On another level, the story involves a good-hearted, thinking creature who wrestles with philosophical and practical problems such as why do the innocent suffer, what are we here for, how does God guide us, and what’s to eat for dinner. These questions perplex Glog and form the backdrop for his adventures.

These are the same questions that perplex me.

Anyhow, yesterday after I packed away the research materials in the photo, I went out to mow our grass. I find walking along behind a lawnmower a mindless relaxing activity in which I don’t give a thought to God or man.

And that’s what I needed for the moment.

Oh, you’d like to know what a medical dictionary says about the baculum?

Baculum – The word is derived from Latin, meaning walking stick. The Baculum or Os Penis is a slender bone stiffening the penis of certain animals. Its size and shape are often a characteristic of a species. It is particularly well-developed in carnivora.

Lord, but I love research!

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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