Rabid Fun

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

America's Two Greatest Writers

This newspaper clipping is fake but fun.

I used Newspaper generator at http://tools.fodey.com/generators/newspaper/snippet.asp to create it.

I did it because Stephen King is my favorite writer and I just finished re-reading his book Desperation, yesterday. I think it ranks among his finest.

If I tried to list my favorite Stephen King books, I’d include about 30 of his 40+ novels. And, as a writer, I find his non-fiction On Writing and Danse Macabre inspiring.

Reading his books, I admire his skill in removing me from my world and getting me totally involved in his. I marvel at his command of English and at his thought processes as he takes ordinary people and places them in extraordinary situations.

Since I read Carrie when it first came out, I’ve bought two shelves full of Stephen King books. Obviously, Mr. King has never bought one of my books but if he reads this fake clipping, I hope he gets a kick out of 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 @ 5:16 AM

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Lighthouse, A Flower & Desire

Wednesday I continued scanning Jacksonville history materials into my computer. I’ve finished the Baldwin section covering the western extreme of the city, and began scanning materials on the community of Mayport, the extreme eastern part.

At one time, the city of Jacksonville held the record as being the largest city in the U.S. as far as land area was concerned; I’m not sure if we still hold that record.

Here’s an early picture of the Mayport Lighthouse:

Last night Ginny’s Nightblooming Cereus plant (sometimes called Queen Of The Night) blossomed. We’ve had this plant since the mid 1970s and it blooms erratically. Some years we get just a single flower; once we had 22 bloom in the same night.

A bud will start opening after dark; and the flower wilts permanently at daybreak so you have just a few hours of darkness to see the beauty. The flower opens fast enough to see it move as it blossoms releasing a haunting aroma which permeates the whole neighborhood.

Last night Ginny and I saw a tiny, pure-white spider busy inside the bloom; that’s something we’ve never seen before. If we had not seen movement, we’d have never spotted the spider inside this natural cathedral. The Lord builds His own church. Here is a photo of one of the blossoms:

This flower got me to thinking about desire.

Desire, wanting something, indicates that that something exists.

When we thirst, we desire water. And water does exist to satisfy that thirst.

When we feel hunger, we desire food. And grits do exist to satisfy that desire for food. (Dry beans satisfy yankees).

We feel horny. And sex exists to satisfy that desire.

Sometimes we desire Something we can not define or identify. We yearn for the eternal. We long for the touch of Something or Someone beyond nature, above anything in our experience.

Every once in a while something strikes a cord. We hear a strand of music; we see a misty landscape; we catch the haunting scent of an unseen flower — and this desire wells up in our hearts.

We want that beauty. It calls to the depths of our hearts.

To desire something means that somewhere in the universe that something exists.

Just as thirst means there is water and hunger means there is food, then our desire for God means …

We never want something that does not somehow, somewhere exist.

We want what is, not what ain’t.

What a horrible tragedy to desire something vital and not get it. That does happen. People die thirsty. Some starve. Some live without sex. Some perish without God. What a horrible, horrible tragedy!

An ancient Psalm comes to mind:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

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 @ 9:12 AM

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Listen To Your Heart

A couple of hours after I posted this journal yesterday, I shaved, showered, combed my hair, dressed and walked down to Bubba’s.

I felt more than a bit of trepidation because of what my neighbors told me yesterday about how the family was taking things and acting hostile.

Bubba and Dolly have scads of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, a huge extended family. Some of the grandchildren are the size of linebackers.

I feared that I might be walking into some belligerent confrontation.

I’d been told from several sources that the family had chased off some visitors and had threatened to come to blows with others. I’d been told that one lady had thrown a casserole in the face of the neighbor who brought it.

As I walked down the block, I feared that I just might get my ass kicked,

When I arrived the family welcomed me graciously with every possible courtesy. They could not have been any nicer to me. The rumors and gossip about belligerence proved to be a load of carp as far as I’m concerned.

I’m glad I listened to my heart about going instead of to what my neighbor had said.

As I walked down I had rehearsed possible Scripture verses that might be appropriate. Not being a preacher, little came to my mind.

In fact, nothing did.

I just knelt beside Bubba’s chair and we hugged and we both cried.

I sat outside with him smoking my pipe and while we talked someone his daughter identified as a “Bible Woman” called on the cell phone. Apparently she wanted Bubba to read a ton of Scripture references but he cut her off saying her, “My doctor tolt me not to read any Bible verses ‘cause he dudn’t want my blood pressure to get all excited up”.

I’m glad I’d forgotten any quotes I’d intended to work into the conversation.

I’m glad I listened to my own heart instead of to my neighbors or to my fear, or to my intellect.

The Spirit of our holy God is not limited in the ways He speaks to us — or through us.

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 @ 5:09 AM

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Pain In The Neck

Monday, I scanned a book on the history of Baldwin into my computer.

Today, my neck and shoulders hurt.

Apparently the constant odd movement of turning pages and punching buttons and clicking the mouse exercised muscles I don’t normally use, so I’m sore.

Ah. The burden of preserving history for future generations. Who knew that studying and writing history could be so physically taxing?

Oh, in case you didn’t know, Baldwin, Florida, is a tiny rural community to the west which has been incorporated into the city limits of Jacksonville. It developed from a stage coach stop on the King’s Road and was a staging area during the Civil War.

As I scanned history, a neighbor stopped by to tell me of some tensions about Dolly’s death. Apparently some of the family do not want any outsiders to be involved. They have vigorously rejected overtures by various neighbors.

It seems to be a racial thing.

I intend to walk down to the house anyhow to pay my respects and honor a lady I liked.

Back on February 7th, 2006, (see archives) I posted a blog entry about an adventure Bubba, Dolly and I shared.

I can’t remember the reference, but somewhere in my journals tells about Ginny and me attending a birthday party for Dolly a few years ago. Not realizing that she never learned to read, I gave Dolly a signed copy of my book on prayer. She was so pleased. She said it was the only book she’d ever owned.

I tend to think of my writing as my witness to Christ.

That’s a fallacy.

My writing is my work not my witness.

On reflection, I think that our testimony to Christ lies in three or four areas:

First, of course, is to walk with Him ourselves. It’s hard to lead someone else closer to God than you are yourself. I need to receive from Him before I can pass anything on to others.

Second is the overall tone of my life. My actions speak louder than my words. To glorify Christ, to win others to Him, I need to live my faith from the backbone out — guts, feathers and all. Example counts.

Third — and here’s where the faith hits the fan — is to actually speak about Christ. Observers may think I’m a nice guy or a religious nut or an absolute ass depending on what they see in my life; but unless I actually speak up and verbally share what Christ means to me, then I’m just a slinking Christian. This part is the hardest for me to do. I don’t want to come across as a buffoon boasting about being on an inside track with the Almighty.

In a nutshell I need to spell out the truth as best I’m able. I believe that we, individually and collectively, has screwed up the life God gave us and damaged ourselves terribly in the process. The consequences of what we have done and are doing demanded no lesser Person than God Himself to step in to deliver us. Christ came in the flesh. We killed Him for His trouble. But as Lord of Life, Christ could not be kept in a hole in the ground. He came out of the tomb under His own steam. He is preparing a new start for us. He promised to return and in the meantime He expects for us to behave.

I need to speak up and share these things in actual conversation with the people whoes paths cross mine.

Finally, and this stands way low on the list, I need to reflect His presence in my work. Paul advised Christian slaves in the Roman Empire to be the very best slave their masters owned. The way I work may not always be skillful, but it should always be honest.

For instance, I’m often tempted to embellish history, to make events more dramatic that they really were, to make our Brave Southern Boys victors over the low, no-account, sorry, thieving yankeys. It galls me to admit they were right on major issues and we were wrong.

If I am to witness to Christ, I feel I need to be honest, vulnerable, transparent, and, yes, even vocal.

All this goes against my grain.

I’d rather read about outstanding Christians than even intend to be one.

Be all that as it may, I think my duty today involves walking down to see Bubba and offer what comfort I can, and if the family wants me to leave, I’ll walk away without bothering them and I’ll slip by to see Bubba one day after the funeral.

I’m not looking forward to any of this.

Scanning documents is not the only thing that gives me a pain in the neck.

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 @ 10:06 AM

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Leery and Weary

Church wearies us.

Church attendance never played a huge role in my religion. I feel following Christ in day to day living is more important than meeting with others one day a week but I’ve gone through the motions of church activities for years because it seemed the thing to do.

But recently changes in our group’s theology and practice have changed the basic tenants of the historic faith and Ginny and I feel both leery and weary of attending. Not that there’s not a church of some kind on every corner in Jacksonville, we could worship with another group if we chose, but we are just weary and, at the moment, choose to exercise our faith at home, in the neighborhood, at work, and with the people whose paths cross our's.

We may be wrong about this but that’s where we are at the moment.

All that leads up to the fact that Sunday instead of going to church anywhere, we chose to spent the morning walking at the zoo.

Here is a photo of me (on the left) and a giraffe skull:

I attended high school in an old building. For 50 years past generations of students and teachers placed natural history samples in huge mahogany, glass-fronted cases in the biology lab. No one had kept track of what these samples were or where they had come from.

My biology project was to examine the large accumulation of animals skulls in these floor-to-ceiling cabinets, to identify and label each skull. I learned dentation formulas so that (back then) I could tell a possum’s skull from a raccoon’s or a dog’s. I even tracked down one monkey’s skull to a specific species.

Some of the happiest days of my youth were spent among the skulls in that lab.

Which says a lot about my youth.

So, yesterday I was thrilled to get to examine a giraffe’s skull; I’ve never seen one before.

Doesn’t take much to thrill me.

The zoo’s landscaping and gardens pleased us enormously. We enjoyed the plants as much as the animals. Here’s a photo I snapped of Ginny among the flowers:

Saturday night my friend Dolly died.

In all the years I’ve known her, I never once spoke to her about Christ.

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 @ 10:19 AM

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Sunday, June 25, 2006


I own four shovels; two duckbilled shovels and two flat-nosed shovels. My duckbilled shovels are for digging holes; my flat-nosed shovels I use for moving loose materials such as sand. I don’t even own a snow-shovel but I do own a spade. Many people confuse spades and shovels but they are quite different. A spade is a cutting tool used when you are transplanting sod or cutting roots. A shovel on the other hand is used to dig. I also own an entrenching tool; that is a small shovel with a hinged blade which can be used as a hoe; it’s handy for work in small spaces. I sharpen my shovels on a bench grinder so the blades are knife sharp and I oil the blades to reduce friction and preserve the metal. Then there are my trowels, which can be classed as small hand shovels and used to …”

Love is such fun.

Even though we’ve been married over 37 years, Ginny still surprises me now and then.

For instance, Saturday morning as we sipped coffee outside in the garden she said something I don’t recall ever hearing her say before. She said, “I’d like to buy some new clothes. I don’t need anything but I’d just like to buy something new”.

Cloth plays a tiny small part in our life.

As long as a cloth thing is clean, comfortable, presentable and I haven’t burned too many holes in it with sparks from my pipe ashes, I pay little attention to cloth things.

Ginny pays more attention to such things, but not much more.

However, Ginny wanted some new cloth, so we went shopping for some.

She bought four dresses, a jacket, a bunch of new blouses, and a lizard-skin handbag.

Poor lizards.

Took a bunch of them to make this bag.

Anyhow, after the cloth stores Ginny took me to lunch at this seafood place where the folks from her office go now and then to celebrate birthdays, retirements, promotions, and such.

As we ate, I was telling her all about some book I’ve been reading when I noticed that she was not listening to me. She was looking over my shoulder paying intense attention to something that was not me.

I perked up to hear what was so fascinating behind me.

There was this tv above the bar. It was tuned to the Discover Channel. It aired a program about the history of shovels.

That’s what Ginny was watching.

That’s what she was paying attention to — A. History. Of. Shovels.

On television.


I listened for a moment and I said, “I own four shovels; two duckbilled and two flat-nosed. My duckbilled shovels are for digging holes; my flat-nosed shovels I use for moving loose materials such as sand. I don’t even own a snow-shovel but I do own a spade. Many people confuse spades and shovels but they are quite different. A spade is a cutting tool used when you are transplanting sod or cutting roots. A shovel on the other hand is used to dig. I also own an entrenching tool; that is a small shovel with a hinged blade which can be used as a hoe; it’s handy for work in small spaces. I sharpen my shovels on a bench grinder to the blades are knife sharp and I oil the blades to reduce friction and preserve the metal. Then there are my trowels, which can be classed as small hand shovels and used to …”

That got her attention.

“John? What in the world are you talking about?” she said.

“I’m showing you that I can be as fascinating a conversationalist as that guy on tv,” I said. “This is the speech I’ll use if I ever want to pick up a woman in a bar where the tv is playing…”

We got to laughing and snorting so hard that the waitress ran over to our table to see what was the matter. She thought we were choking on an oyster or something.

That made us laugh even harder.

Too hard to explain what was so funny.

The young woman backed away wondering about this old married couple holding hands and apparently having an attack of some kind.

Love is such fun.

When we got home, Ginny modeled her new clothes for me.

On hangers in the store, they’re just cloth; on her, they’re beautiful.

Love is such fun.

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 @ 5:52 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Saturday, June 24, 2006

No Blog Today

I'm not blogging today
Because I've got too much to say.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:21 AM

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Ten Pounds Of Meat

Last night my neighbor brought us ten pounds of meat.

I’d done him a minor favor expecting no payment but he brought over this meat as a reward; his wife works for a restaurant food supply company where employees get a good deal on premium quality cuts.

This influx of meat presents us with a problem:

Where do we put it?

Ginny and I prepare a menu and shopping list two weeks in advance, and we’d just been to the grocery store so our refrigerator is stuffed with food already.

There is just no room for an additional ten pounds of meat.

Ginny shuffled things around and pulled out some things she usually keeps in the freezer but which can stand to be unfrozen. But there was still not enough room for all this meat.

Food storage has always been a problem for humanity.

Back when Florida Indians hunted mastodons, or when Eskimos harpooned a whale, everyone for miles and miles around would assemble to feast on the meat before it spoiled.

I once wrote an inspirational book, Strangers On The Earth, about men and women whose faith got them into trouble. I tried to use the letters and journals of the Christians involved as source material. One chapter is titled “The Admiral Of Mosquitoes”, it’s about Christopher Columbus.

His diary shows that when he reached the Indies he discovered the cannibals there solved their lack of refrigeration problem with ingenuity.

The cannibals ate prisoners they captured in battle with other tribes.

It’s tough to eat an entire human being in one sitting; and in the tropical heat the flesh of a dead human does not last long. So the cannibals kept the person they were eating alive.

For supper, they’d just slice off a steak or two at a time. For larger gatherings, say for Sunday dinner, they cut off a leg to roast.

They’d cauterize the wound so that the eatee remained alive, and they feasted on some meat while saving the rest fresh.

Of course there was no sense in trying to chase down the food every time you wanted a fresh slice, so they smash his or her legs and arms with a club to keep him from escaping.

And to nourish the victim, they’d feed him leftovers.

Using these culinary practices — which are not necessarily approved by Martha Stewart — a family of four could eat fresh meat for a month or two from a single captive.

Just goes to show that there’s no problem which can’t be solved if you really put your mind to it.

Ginny insists that I give some of the meat away.

The woman has no sense of history.

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 @ 7:47 AM

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

I shoulda been a hermit

After breakfast and conversation with my friend Wes Wednesday morning I continued scanning in that bag of old Jacksonville photographs. There are about 50 of them in the bag and I’m puzzled about how to organize them for posting on my website.

I have a thumbnail making program that I haven’t used for a while but with so many photos, I think I’ll have to split the collection to make it manageable.

I suspect that for me this project is a way to avoid writing. Had the photos ended up in a dumpster, no one would have missed them but I feel that since they fell into my hands I should try to preserve them in case some future historian may find them useful.

I keep a lot of stuff like that for my imaginary future friend.

Spiritually I’m about as low as I’ve ever been.

I need a refresh button.

Actually, I suppose what I need is resurrection because I feel as dead and dry and lifeless as that bag of old pictures.

Other Christians express such confidence, but I have none. I don’t mean confidence about Christ, I’m convinced He is God come in the flesh; but I mean confidence in life and church and social issues and stuff like that. I’m not at all sure when it comes to matters like that. I think I’d have made a great hermit, sitting in a cave untouched by humanity.

It’s when I stick my head out of the cave that I get confused.

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 @ 6:21 AM

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

In The Bag

Tuesday night my son Donald taught me the intricacies of computer scanning —again. As I’ve mentioned last week, I’d forgotten how to do it.

One of the first things we scanned was a plastic bag.

This bag is important to me because of what it contains.

Every year the Jacksonville Library culls its collections of out of date material and offers these at a book sale. Ginny and I have attended these sales for years and years. The sales offer over a hundred thousand books and items either donated to the library or culled from the shelves.

As a local history buff, I keep an eye out for things related to Jacksonville history and a couple of years ago during one of the sales I acquired this plastic bag filled with old sepia photographs of Jacksonville homes and buildings.

I’ve intended to scan these and post them on my website (www.cowart.info) but life intervened so I never got around to doing it.

After Donald’s patient teaching last night, I suspect that I can have these available on line soon. I’ll keep you posted.

Speaking of my website, last night I added a classy, tasteful, refined graphic featuring a happy squirrel to that site to refer readers to my blog site. Donald thinks it’s ghastly but what does he know about good taste?

I think squirrels are nice.

We also talked a lot about church stuff. Why God puts up with churches is one of those divine mysteries the Bible speaks about.

I think Martin Luther had it wrong. If he’d nailed 95 bishops to that door, things might have improved.

This morning is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. I tried to convince Ginny that we should go out in the back yard and dance naked in the grass to greet the dawn but she refused. She’s a prude. I guess we’ll have to leave it to the bishops to do that sort of thing.

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 @ 6:41 AM

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Don’t know why I thought of this:

Once I worked with a guy who lived with a girl who had a baby boy. They got into an argument about child support even though they were living together.

The matter ended up in court where my coworker told the judge, “I don’t believe that baby is mine. He don’t look nothing like me”.

The judge said, “Son, you take that baby back home and you feed him every day. The more you feed him, the more he’ll get to look like you”.

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 @ 9:13 AM

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Animal Funerals

Sunday, our grown children threw a Pool & Pizza Party for me at Jennifer’s house.

As we splashed and floated around on water toys, I talked about vision problems and dog care with Pat; prescriptions and landscaping with Jennifer; computers and horseshoe crabs with Donald; books and hotel accommodations with Eve; and WDOs (wood destroying organisms) and real estate with Helen.

No word from either Fred or John today.

This was the first time I’ve seen Patricia, our youngest, since she began her new job in a medical lab where she tests bio-hazardous materials. She told me that when she runs the tests, especially those for life-threatening conditions such as AIDS, she often prays for the person whose samples she is testing.

This really pleased me.

She wears a white lab coat at work and we all teased her about staring in the next Dr. Frankenstein movie.

As soon as Ginny and I returned from the Father’s Day get-together, as soon as we pulled in the driveway, our neighbor Dennis ran over to get me. He was all excited because of a snake in his front yard.

Dennis is not a Florida native and did not recognize this sort of snake.

He feared it might be poisonous.

It wasn’t.

It was a common red rat snake, an animal found all over north Florida. It eats mice, lizards, etc. It’s harmless, although as a protective mechanism it will coil, hiss and strike imitating its meaner cousins..

This clever snake did not want to be caught so it wove in and out of the chain link fence to avoid capture but once I got my hands on it on one side of the fence, Dennis unwound it from the other side.

Before I released it in a flower bed at our house, Ginny snapped this photo of me and the unhappy snake.

This event seems an appropriate ending to my Father’s Day celebration because as the family paddled in Jennifer’s landscaped pool and the kids reminisced about their raising, the conversation turned to pets we had over the years.

Dogs included Sheba, Skunk, Cleo, Polycarp, Daisy, Chicklet, Becky, et al.

Cats included Jessica, Diamond, Sin (as in the phrase “Ugly as…”), Martin, Tiger, Snowball, et al. — Guess which cat I named.

Other creatures included hamsters; mice; goldfish; a rabbit named Chloe; a flying squirrel named Secret; and, most recently, Matilda the Duck. – a parade of animals have passed through our lives and many of them died after years of tender loving care.

The kids reminisced about how I buried these animals, including some stray dog that got hit by a car as Donald and Eve walked home from elementary school. They saw it happen and ran to get me to bury it. I carried a shovel down and buried that dog in Panama Park beside the road.

Were archaeologists to excavate our house in distant future years, they’d say, “To protect themselves from evil spirits, these primitive people sacrificed small animals and buried them in a circle all around their home”.

Of course not all the animals got buried. The kids remembered the spectacular Viking Funeral we once gave a goldfish. I made a paper boat with sails. We placed the dead goldfish on a cotton bed in a matchbox, took the funeral ship down to the river, set it afloat. I lit the sails with a match and we set the burning ship adrift on the water.

Best sendoff since Beowulf!

Yes, we have gone through a lot of animals over the years.

At the close of our trip down memory lane, various kids said how much I meant to them as they were growing up and Patricia summed it all up by saying:

“Thank you, Daddy, for killing all our pets”.

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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Friday, June 16, 2006

Wind, Trees & Alberto The Pruner

Trees surround our home.

Tropical Storm Alberto trimmed these trees for me.

Although the winds abated by the time the storm crossed Florida and passed over Jacksonville, yet their strength broke off weak and dead branches high in our trees.

This is a good thing.

A full canopy of leaves acts as a giant sail during a hurricane and the force of the wind can knock the whole tree over crushing homes, cars and people in the fall. Over the past few weeks in Jacksonville a child playing in her yard, a lady in her yard raking, and another lady who was sitting in her lawnchair reading a book, have all been killed or seriously injured by falling trees.

Thursday I picked up four trashcans full of sticks and leaf clusters and gathered a pile of larger branches for trash pickup.

As I worked I thought of an irreligious, back-handed put-down/compliment I once used on a guy studying for the ministry.

Being judgmental, I regarded him as an overbearing, pious, buffoon, wind-bag as he bragged about his insider relationship with God and the power of the Holy Spirit working through his ministry.

I told him, “Jim, you are a real Tree Of The Lord”.

As he preened at the compliment, I referred him to Psalm 104:16.

He was not familiar with the verse so I told him to look it up in the King James Bible (none of the other translations word it the same way).


You aren’t familiar with that verse either?

Click here and scroll down the left side to Psalm 104 to see about what verse 16 says about a Tree Of The Lord..

Ok, I’m a mean, petty, wicked, evil person to use Scripture like that.

He He He He …

Anyhow, back to my windfall sticks and branches: a tree in full leaf catches wind like a giant sail, but as Tropical Storm Alberto passed through, it broke the leafy cover of our trees and punched holes in that sail so that when stronger winds come through, there should be less chance of a tree falling on the head of your friend John.

So I’m thankful for Alberto The Pruner.

My dictionary defines the verb prune as to cut back superfluous parts to promote growth and fruitfulness.

When I am acting like a real Tree Of The Lord as described in that Psalm, the wind of the Spirit cuts back some of my superfluous parts.

That hurts.

But it benefits me.

Jesus once said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit”.

Seems to me that our only choice in the matter it to be pruned of the superfluous by the gentler power of the wind now, or to be uprooted when the strong wind comes.

I just wish Alberto had raked up the scraps it pruned instead of leaving it to me to clean up the mess.

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 @ 8:50 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Brick Wall

The past few weeks I’ve been butting my head against a brick wall.

Nothing unusual about that.

Except this session has gone on longer than such things normally do.

My frustrations range from dealing with minor, aggravating medical problems to troubles with my own short-term memory.

After continuing to fight the automated phone systems of insurance company and doctor’s office, I’ve determined that the best way to lower my high blood pressure is to stop taking medicine and never call either office again ever! I suspect that that’s just want the insurance company wants.

Malaise also permeates my work at the moment.

I have numerous projects to work on but none of them seems worthwhile.

Even when work-related projects have been broken down into manageable chunks, I balk at undertaking them.

The memory thing particularly bothers me. For instance, many times I have scanned historical pieces into my computer. I’ve done whole books based on this stuff. But yesterday when I attempted to scan a background history pamphlet into my files, I forgot how to do it!

That’s crazy. I’ve done it time and time again, but now the memory escapes me.

Prayer represents another brick in my wall.

It feels as though my prayers sink like bricks. I believe, but I feel as though it doesn’t matter whether I pray or not.

I understand that for most people, times of difficulty drive them to prayer. I’ve heard that many people forget God in times of prosperity.

For me, it works just the opposite. Times of joy springboard me into prayer, times of trouble sink me into sulking and wanting to avoid God.

Our public library offers many self-help books promising to help me reconnect with my authentic self, discover my potential, put me in touch with my feelings and cure my fallen arches. I checked out one book that seems reasonable and began the written exercises… about five of them. Then I absolutely balked. I found every excuse possible for avoiding that book – which is now over due.

The only thing I’ve gained from the book is a library fine.

Last night during our devotions after supper, Ginny read Psalm 70. It rang a bell for me:

“Make haste, O God, to deliver me. Make haste to help me, O Lord…. I am poor and needy. Make haste unto me, O God. Thou art my help and my deliverer. O Lord, make no tarrying”.

That Scripture reading reminded me of another Psalm, one of King David’s military references (18:29), which says, “For by Thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall”.

I suspect that I am my own brick wall.

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 @ 8:39 AM

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

God, Goldfish & Gulls

Two of the goldfish we bought over the weekend died.

In the past our goldfish have lived an average of three years each, and we once had three fantails that lived in our aquarium for six or eight years.

Our fish thrive on neglect.

Recently Ginny and I have been thinking about our giving plan and the goldfish remind me of an incident when Eve was a child (maybe six or seven years old). She had acquired a treasure trove of money and wanted to give ten percent of it to God.

At the time we attended this old church near the waterfront. The churchyard (where they buried members) featured a huge fountain and a reflecting pool.

Eve decided that she would spend her tithe buying some goldfish for this pool.

I drove her to an aquarium supply store where she explained to the man what she wanted. Her tithe amounted to $3 and he sold her 30 goldfish at ten cents each; he threw in a can of fish food for free.

This was on a Saturday afternoon.

I drove her to the church where we followed the aquarium guy’s instructions about setting the plastic bags in the pool to equalize the temperature, etc. And Eve gave the can of fish food to the gardner who promised to feed the fish on his daily rounds.

Finally Eve released the fish into the pool.

Flashes of gold in the dark water added charm to the peaceful churchyard.

My little girl felt very satisfied with her gift.

Sunday morning we went to church early to visit the gold fish.


We couldn’t see a single one in the fountain pool.

The sexton approached and beckoned me off to the side.

He said that almost as soon as we had left the courtyard on releasing the gold fish, that a flock of sea gulls descended. Flashing goldfish against the dark bottom of the pool proved irresistible targets for the hungry gulls.

They ate every single one of the goldfish in a matter of minutes.

Then flew away.

Eve wanted to know what happened to the goldfish.

I explained that in ancient times when people offered bulls and rams to God that they burned the animals on a huge flaming altar; the rising smoke of the sacrifice was taken as a sign that their gift had been accepted. That it had risen into the heavens.

I told her about the seagulls eating the goldfish.

Nothing we offer to God is wasted.

He regards not the greatness of the gift but the love of the giver.

Jesus once commended a widow who offered two mites, who put her two cents worth into the offering box in the temple at Jerusalem. Her contribution went to the very people who days later would lift Jesus up on the cross. Yet He commended her for the love with which she gave, not necessarily the purpose the money went to support.

I don’t believe we can give God anything.

We are always on the receiving end of any transaction with Him.

Yet our gifts represent some measure of love or thanksgiving or appreciation or value toward Him. Like the paper cards kids make in school to give Dad on Father’s Day, our gifts have virtually no intrinsic value, yet, God appreciates the sentiment.

Like the smoke of a burning lamb, or a goldfish rising to the sky in a gull’s beak, when offered with love, our gifts are accepted in the Beloved.


Not too long ago, Ginny was making out a check for our own tithe.

The church we now attend had just announced a change in policy which seems to us to be in poor taste and stupid, if not actually anti-Christian.

Instead of making out the check to the church, Ginny made it out as a contribution to the local zoo.

Feels right to us.

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 @ 9:45 AM

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Barometer In My Joints

Except for rain last night and this morning, even though Jacksonville was projected to be in the direct path of Tropical Storm Alberto, we would not know the storm existed if we did not watch tv news.

Broadcasters wet themselves in excitement over the storm, but from my own windows I see no sign of it.

The rain falls in a steady drizzle soaking into the ground in a way that our grass and garden appreciates because we have seen virtually no rain in the past 40 days. But TS Alberto now breaks the drought.

On the down side, the weather aggravates my arthritis something fierce. I normally live with a constant low-grade pain that hardly ever relents (a great excuse for my grouchiness). I’ve never before seen any correlation between pain and weather so this upsurge surprises me. But it gives me something new to gripe about.

I’d like to blame my spiritual malaise on chronic pain. But in reality I find little connection between body and spirit; most times, I can be a grouch when I’m not hurting at all. Other times, I feel close to the Lord even when I’m in pain.

I’m making too much of this.

I’m never in that much pain.

My doctor’s advice is to stop whining, live with it, and when it gets bad to take an Aleve . He says I have only a mild case of degenerative arthritis.

All I can say is, “God bless the poor souls who have it bad”.

Our middle daughter came over to do her laundry Sunday night. Her blog (at http://www.eveyq.blogspot.com/ )reflects more of a spiritual depth than anything I have to say 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 @ 9:07 AM

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Monday, June 12, 2006

"Let There Be Spaces In Your Togetherness"

Over the years Ginny and I have discovered that times of distancing always follow times of intense intimacy.

Over this past long weekend spent together in intimacy, we bonded even more, then Sunday we spent our time in withdrawing, regaining our distance, and reestablishing our individuality.

This pattern in our 38-year-long love affair resembles the ebb and flow of an incoming tide. Each individual wave reaches a little higher on the beach before it recedes. Yet the overall level of the sea continues to get deeper and deeper.

That’s the way I see it.

Ginny words it a little differently.

At breakfast yesterday her starry eyes sparkled with loving adoration as she gazed at me holding held my hand across the table and she said, , “I’m sick of you. I don’t want to be cured. But I’ve had all of you I can stand for right now”.

I understand that perfectly.

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 @ 5:26 AM

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Another Beautiful Day

Saturday morning Ginny and I transplanted a few trees and bushes in the garden.

At lunchtime we didn’t even clean up or dress but drove up to Dave’s Diner in our gardening clothes; the waiters teased us about looking like bums. Very perceptive of them.

Ginny carried a murder mystery and I carried a book of Florida fossils; we spent a couple of hours sipping tea, munching fries and reading our books hardly speaking. True intimacy.

Back home we went swimming and talked about bees.

The stupid bugs drown themselves trying to drink from our pool even though I put shallow bowels with sponges on the deck for them. We constantly rescue floundering bees but we miss a lot of them. The hive must be nearby but I haven’t found it yet.

After a nap we browsed through a book on Florida shrubs trying to identify some of the flowers we grow in our yard but don’t know the names of.

Thus we spend a day of intense intimacy and communication hardly doing or saying anything.

This amounted to another of our best days ever.

Sometimes marriage gets better and better.

Oh, also, the owner of a local bookstore called asking me about stocking some of my books because he’s had several people ask for them. That’s a first. Usually I’m the one pushing my book sales, so I’m really flattered at this role reversal. Hope something good comes of it. We’ll see.

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 @ 5:35 AM

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Lovely Day

Ginny took Friday off work just so we could spend time together. We shopped a little. We added more goldfish to our aquarium. We gardened a bit. We napped.. We watched the King Kong remake dvd. We dined at an Italian restaurant. We strolled around Five Points watching the rising moon. A perfectly lovely day.

I’ve noticed that the better a day is, the less I’m able to write about 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 @ 6:04 AM

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Medical Ping Pong

Early Thursday morning I carried my Bible out in the garden by the fountain and read the section of John’s Gospel (Chapter 11) where Jesus raised Lazarus from death.

In a nutshell: Someone told Jesus that His friend Lazarus was sick in another town. But Jesus stayed where He was for two days before going to see Lazarus. Once He got there, He found Lazarus was dead and brought him back to life.

The Gospel writer says that Jesus delayed those two days because “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby”.

I think the apostle was wrong.

I think I know the REAL reason Jesus waited till after Lazarus was dead to show up — Jesus did not want to get involved with medical professionals!

Undertakers are so much easier to deal with.

Now, I have the utmost respect for physicians and nurses; I have written several historical articles in tribute to them. But today, the medical professionals and my health insurance company played ping pong using me as the ball. Perhaps these are all decent, god-fearing people caught in an evil system themselves, but I’m a bit frustrated.

The reason I think Jesus did not want to get involved with the medical community was that after my Bible reading, I spent hours and hours on the phone playing medical ping pong with my physician’s office and my insurance company.

This involved a four-page email print out from the insurance company filled with such phrases as “titrated doses”.(Is that something to do with breasts?) And it involved six or eight phone calls. And each phone call had to go through an automated phone tree menu:

“If your call involves a life threatening emergency, first make out a check to our company, be sure to use the correct postage, mail it, then call 911,” the machine tells me every time I call.

Then it says, “For prescription refills press 1… For appointment changes, press 2… For office hours, press 38…. For sports scores… For local weather…”

Then, once I pressed #286, the phone machine would transfer me to another automated menu: “For Doctor A’s secretary, press 1… For Dr. A’s lab, press 2… For Dr. B’s nurse, press… To place bets in the third race, press 47… or stay on the line and someone will help you shortly”.

Once I actually got a live person, she said, “Please hold, or call again later because I have someone more important than you on the other line.”

Then I hear music.

When the lady came back I asked if she’d give me an actual real phone number for the doctor’s nurse and she said, “It’s against our policy to give out our office phone number”.

What kind of business refuses to give customers its phone number?

It’s a good thing sick people don’t ever try to call my doctor’s office.

No, I’m not sick.

Last month my doctor gave me a prescription for some medicine to treat some something he says I have but I never feel (I think he made it all up off the top of his head just so I would not think I’d wasted my time in an office visit).

I sent his prescription to the pharmacy to be filled.

My pharmacy refused to fill the prescription because my insurance company refuses to pay for this medicine (number 1) because they say that this other medicine (number 2) is better for me than the one my doctor says is good for me.

So, I contacted my health insurance company.

Their representative assured me that when I die, the company will be sure to burn Ginny alive on my funeral pyre with my dead body because that’s the colorful native custom where he lives.

I called my doctor’s phone machine again and punched in the launch codes.

My doctor says medicine number 2 will cause me to strangle, gag and die in a pool of blood and pus if I take it; the insurance company says, “No it won’t. Besides his premium is paid up.”

After I made six phone calls about this (the charge in my cordless phone died and started beeping) my doctor knuckled under and wrote a prescription for medicine number 2 and his nurse called that in to the pharmacy.

About three hours later, the pharmacy called me. They can’t fill this prescription either. It seems that the insurance company has denied payment on medicine number 2, the very one they insisted that my doctor prescribe.

I can call again tomorrow to straighten this out… or I can follow the example of Jesus.

He decided it was easier to raise the dead guy than to deal with the medical community.

All joking aside, the raising of Lazarus is the hinge for the entire Gospel of John because at that point enemies decided that Jesus must be crucified. “ It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people… From that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death”.

They intended to make sure Lazarus was dead a second time also.

Heavy stuff.

On a lighter note, here, just for fun is one of my favorite jokes:

Dead Healthcare Professionals

Three healthcare professionals, an ophthalmologist, a cardiologist, and the chief executive officer of a health maintenance organization, a died in an accident and appeared at the Pearly Gates.

The Admitting Angel greeted them saying, “Welcome, gentlemen. Welcome! I’m glad to see you here. But before I can admit you, each must give an account of his life and reasons you should get into Heaven. Who wants to start?”

The first man spoke up. “I was an ophthalmologist. I helped people better see the glories of God’s creation.”

“That’s wonderful,” exclaimed the Angel. “That’s really something. You go right on inside”.

The second man said, “In life I was a cardiologist. I repaired weak hearts, extended people’s lives, I even did a few heart transplants greatly improving my patients’ quality of life”.

“That’s wonderful. How impressive,” said the Angel. “You go right on inside. Now, what about you?

“I was the CEO of an HMO. In my executive capacity I helped provide low-cost health care for thousands of clients who might not have otherwise had access to hospital care. At the same time I provided optimum profits for our shareholders”.

“That’s wonderful,” exclaimed the Angel. ”You go right on inside… But…”

“BUT! What do you mean But’” demanded the CEO.

“Well, you are admitted to Heaven, but you’re only allowed to stay for three days”.

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, June 08, 2006

Out Of The Blue

I’m back working on my Jacksonville fire history book.


An automobile fell out of the sky and hit Army Private O.C. O'Conner as he stood guard on the roof of Jacksonville’s Educator Biscuit Co warehouse.

This happened shortly after midnight on December 12, 1941, just five days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

The Educator Biscuit Warehouse stood at the north end of the Jacksonville-St Johns River Bridge. From that strategic vantage point an Army sentry could see down Broad Street into downtown Jacksonville; he could also see activities around the Monticello Pharmaceutical company.

The sentry post atop the building overlooked the car barn for the Jacksonville Streetcar Line, hub of the Jacksonville transportation system. A sentry could watch for saboteurs intent on evil amid the bridge pilings. He could also observe boat traffic in the river.

What he could not see was traffic on the bridge itself.

In 1921 the Jacksonville-St Johns River Bridge (later renamed the Acosta Bridge) opened to traffic. It ran parallel to an earlier train bridge but for 20 years, it was the only automobile bridge over the river. Within three days after it opened, the toll-taker had logged 5,000 cars crossing the river, an amazing amount of traffic for those days. Jacksonville gained a second bridge, the Main Street Bridge, in 1941.

The north foot of the Jacksonville-St Johns River Bridge ended in a T-bone on the Riverside Viaduct, 13 feet above the roof of the Educator Biscuit Warehouse.

The Army considered the warehouse a strategic vantage point.

An automobile approaching from the south could turn right on Broad Street into downtown Jacksonville. Or it could turn left toward a residential section.

A wire and concrete barrier prevented cars from going straight unless…

On that fateful, cold December night, a car sped across the bridge.

It did not turn left.

It did not turn right.

It crashed through the barrier, flew through the air, and landed directly on roof of the Educator Biscuit Warehouse, directly on top of Private O’Conner.

At the crash, Jacksonville police and military assumed another sneak Jap attack.

Troops called out.

Sirens and searchlights.

Newspaper reporters swarmed.

A great commotion ensued until authorities discovered that the car on top of the warehouse had not been dropped by enemy aircraft. It was a drunk driver, an insurance salesman from Marietta, Ga., who did not make the turn and flew his car off the bridge onto the roof.

Police charged him with driving while intoxicated, driving recklessly and carelessly, damaging city and private property and resisting arrest. He was jailed and fined $250.

Although the car falling from the sky landed on all four tires directly on top of Private O’Conner, he only suffered a broken ankle. He was considered Jacksonville’s first homefront casualty .of World War II.

The following night, the Army doubled the guard.

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

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bits & Pieces

No single thing dominates my journal entry for Tuesday; it was a day of bits and pieces of significance to no one but me.

In my garden project I potted flowers until I ran out of potting soil. So the project is finished until after payday when I can buy more. I’ve been ordering the project not only to clear accumulated debris and to maximize the flower displays, but also with future ease of maintenance in mind.

Two purple finches came to the feeder today, first I’ve seen in weeks. And I stumbled across a 4-foot gray and black snake sunning himself by the steps; I hadn’t seen this one before.

As I worked I thought a lot about our plan of Christian giving. That’s something for Ginny and me to talk about again soon.

I also thought about the next stage in getting my fire history book written. I’ve delayed that book too much; I’d intended to finish it two months ago, but life intervened. My discipline as a writer lacks… well, discipline.

Speaking of discipline: Until today I have not looked at a photo of a naked woman on the internet since last October or November!

This means a triumph for my deepening spiritual maturity and purity of heart — or it means that I’m getting too darn old to get turned on by much of anything.

But for about 20 minutes this afternoon I checked out a site I remember to see if there had been any changes. I discovered that the lady still has no clothes.

Danni claims to be the most downloaded woman on the web. I can see the reasons for that — both of them.

When Ginny got home she clued me in to a neat site called Hurricane City at http://www.hurricanecity.com/ . This site contains everything you’d possibly want to know about hurricanes past and future.

A couple of times every year we face decisions about approaching hurricanes: will it hit here? Or south of us? Or north of us? Is this one close enough that I should take all the pictures off the walls? Sink lawn chairs in the pool? Run for the hills?

The tv weathermen update us with various probabilities and graphic maps showing percentages of possibility.

Well, the folks at Hurricane City used one of these cones of uncertainty of a tee shirt which is a hoot! I howled when Ginny showed me this thing:

We drove to the library to return this weeks book and a lady there greeted us with, “Say, aren’t you Eve’s parents”? She proceeded to say all sorts of good things about our daughter; we knew she is great but it’s nice to hear that from others too.

In local news: I heard the sirens but I didn’t know what had happened till I watched the evening tv news — a minivan filled with kids ran a stop sign and was T-boned by an SUV killing a driver and mangling ten kids who are in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Another 7-year-old child who witnessed the crash from the side of the road also had to be hospitalized for shock and trauma; and two firefighters required hospitalization when they were injured as they rescued the kids.

In national news, there is the usual furor over a constitutional amendment about gay marriage. As I look at the couples around me and as I browse blogs on the internet, I think we Christians ought to focus on strengthening our own shaky marriages than worrying about somebody else’s marriage.

A lot of Christian people endure miserable relationships and lead sad, miserable lives at home. This saddens me. In our first 38 years, Ginny and I periodically set aside a day for no other purpose than to work on our marriage and make sure things are well between the two of us. That doesn’t solve all our problems, but it certainly helps.

Some wise Englishman, ( Lord Chesterfield? Churchill?) said, “The chief end of all human endeavor is to be happy at home”!

We Christians tend to ignore the log in our own eye and worry about the splinter in the other guy’s eye.

In international news: Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano threatens to erupt adding to that nation’s misery. About 6,000 people died in the earthquake last week with 36,000 wounded; and the volcano has caused an additional 11,000 to evacuate. This on top of a measles epidemic and bird flu and riots causes enormous disruption and pain. But I wrote about my interest in Indonesia’s sufferings back on May 29th & 30th.

Indonesia has the world’s most volcanoes with 128 of them being active.

Anyhow, that’s all I have for today’s journal entry which tracks my mature (check spelling, not manure) development as I grow toward sainthood —or degenerate into a dirty old man getting worse.

I can see my own daily progress:

For instance, I used to be indecisive; now I'm not so sure 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 @ 6:22 AM

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fire! Ready! Aim!

Over the weekend I took on a garden project that I could not finish. Either it was too big, or I’m too lazy to get it done in one session.

I began to dig out a number of bushes and flowers and hedges to re-order the entire back fence line. By the time I ran out of energy, I still had major plants out of the ground, so I filled a tub with water and let them soak till Monday when I resumed work on the plants instead or resuming work on writing my fire history book.

Drought conditions baked the soil into hardpan covered by a layer of talcum powder-line dust. Water just pools on top of this dust instead of soaking in.

Last night at the grocery store, Ginny and I bumped into a lady who once supervised one of our daughters at work in a former job.

“You must be Eve’s parents,” she said, “You look just like her”.

That’s a nice compliment.

We have no identity of our own; for years we have only existed as “so and so’s mom & dad”.

This lady talked quite a bit about the policies of agency she now works for. Instead of moving forward, the agency careens. Policy reacts to conditions and complaints. Political maneuvers dictate budget. Apathy grips workers. Employees just hold on till retirement. No body looks forward to going to work in the morning. Students are neither learning nor behaving. Chaos reigns.

After the lady unloaded to us, she parted saying, “The board’s motto should be Fire! Ready! Aim!”

Like the reverse orders of a firing squad.

I think she meant first they act, then they try to justify that act, then they decide what the act is for.

Her quip apply describes my garden and my life.

I do something.

Then I arrange things to justify what I’ve done.

Then I try to fit what I’ve already done into a reasonable plan.

Think of all the work and scratches and bug bites and sweat and dirt and energy I would have saved if I had envisioned that back fence line, then planted the bushes in order, then relaxed to see them grow —Before just sticking plants in the ground and now having to uproot all.

I mean, how hard is it to start off with tall plants in back, little plants in front?

In my life there is so much haphazard stuff that has grown up here and there, now and then — like the guy in the Bible who had both wheat and tares growing in the same field. It took the angels of God at the end of the age to sort that mess out.

In day to day stuff, I loose track of God’s purpose in letting me be a Christian in the first place.

The Bible says, “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is…”

We shall be like Him.

We shall be Christ-like.

The goal for us is to be conformed to the image of His Son. Like paperclips rubbed against a magnet, we are to take on the qualities and character of Jesus while still being true to our paperclip-selves.

That is what Christianity is all about.

I lose sight of that. I fire, then ready an explanation, then try to squeeze it into the over all plan.

When things get that out-of-hand, like that haphazard collection of plants along my back fence, it takes a major uprooting to get things straight.

Uprooting is painful.

I want to avoid it.

But is uprooting any less painful than to allow the tangle to grow unchecked?

To living life more and more disordered?

To letting precious relationships be choked by weeds?

To existing starved for sun light, overshadowed by wild stuff that grows out of control?

All things will be uprooted eventually.

No getting around that.

To become Christ-like, that’s the goal.

Ready! Aim! Fire!


a political rant:

As I dug in the hardpan soil and chopped entangling roots yesterday, I thought of how hard it must be to dig a hole in the middle of a road in Iraq to plant a bomb.

Makes noise.

Creates dust clouds.

Takes a lot of effort.

Generates a lot of activity.

If in the dark of night I were to dig a hole to plant a bomb in the middle of my street, some neighbor would be sure to notice.

Recently some U.S. Marines have been accused of killing “innocent civilians” when a road-side bomb murdered on of those soldiers.

Investigations have been launched by both U.S. and Iraqi governments. The soldiers may stand trial — Yet, no one launched any investigation to see who planted the bomb.

Makes me wonder!

Looks to me that somebody somewhere had to have seen that hole dug and that bomb planted. Any “innocent civilian” could have reported it to keep the Marines from being blown up.

Any friend would do that.

An enemy would let you step on the bomb to get your legs and balls blown off, leaving you to bleed out in the dirt beside the road.


Do you suppose that if every time a road side bomb goes off, the soldiers shot everyone in all the closest houses, that maybe some “innocent civilian” might be motivated to start reporting the digging in the middle of the road?

If our troops are not there to kill enemies, then why are they there?

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:50 AM

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Ghost Writer

Over the weekend a gentleman from down state called asking me about ghost writing a book for him.

He has read one of my history articles on line and thought I might be interested in writing his project. His research turned up information about a triple homicide here in Jacksonville in the year 1900 and he sees material for a book in that information.

I said, no. thanks.

Several times over the years people have approached me about ghost writing for them. I did it a couple of times but the project never was satisfactory.

I think everyone has to tell his own story.

Once years ago, a publisher called me because his company signed a contract with a famous singer (whom I had never heard of before, but then, I’m not a music person).

The singer had a book idea and sold the idea to the publisher without writing a word. Fame gives you that kind of option. The singer could sing but he could not write. Hence, the publisher wanted to recruit a ghost writer.

Problem was … the singer was a religious man. He felt God had inspired his idea, thus, he wanted stringent control over every word (even though he could not write himself!)

So the publisher offered to recruit three ghost writers. Each would submit a sample chapter and the singer would chose the writer he wanted to work with.

So, the singer came up with this test for prospective ghost writers:

He dreamed a dream.

He wanted each ghost writer to write a sample chapter and outline about his dream — but he would not tell us what it was that he had dreamed!

He felt the Holy Spirit would reveal his dream to the chosen writer.

The sample chapter and outline had to written between Christmas and New Years.

Would you believe that I actually tried to guess this guys dream and write a chapter based on it — Yes, big bucks were involved.

Well, the Holy Spirit must have told me the wrong dream.

My sample did not make the grade.

Someone else was chosen to write the singer’s book.

I don’t have what it takes to be a ghost writer.

Another time, a publisher called asking me to ghost write a book for a movie producer. The man had a solid idea and we exchanged phone calls and information.

For a while it looked as though the project was a GO.

But then Ginny and I went to a video store and rented six or eight of the guy’s movies. They made me feel leery of associating with him on the project.

I prefer a good honest skin flick to the sort of movie that undercuts morality in the guise of a main-stream, family, romance or adventure film – you know, the sort of thing that appears in so many tv sitcoms. Corrupting ideas and attitudes subtlety without being honestly pornographic.

Even though that ghost writing project would have paid big bucks and we needed the money, nevertheless, I decided that I wanted to do nothing to promote that producer’s kind of movie.

Like I said, everybody has to tell his own story.

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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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Where, O Where Shall I Spend My Money?

Bono’s BBQ
Woody’s BBQ
Blackjack’s BBQ
Kansas City BBQ
Cross Creek BBQ
Sonny’s BBQ on Lane
Sonny’s BBQ on Blanding

Each of these BBQ restaurants features different special qualities and atmosphere.

All lie within a three-mile circle of the one we chose to go to for lunch Saturday — Georgi’s BBQ.

Ginny and I have eaten at Georgi’s every month or so for about ten years (It used to be named Riche’s BBQ when we first started going there).

Therefore we anticipated a pleasant experience and good food.

When we arrived at Georgi’s, two-thirds of the restaurant’s tables were empty. I requested the table we favor, but the waitress snapped at me.

She said, “You have to sit where I put you”.

I am a soft spoken person and I thought she may not heard my request so I repeated it.

She snatched up two menus and marched down another aisle saying, “You have to follow me”.

Oh, do I?

I took Ginny’s hand and turned around so that as the snotty waitress marched in one direction, we walked out the door in the other.

Standing in Georgi’s parking lot we could see down the street to Wendy’s, Fishlip’s Grill, Taco Bell, New China, China Beach, Jimmy’s Fried Chicken, East Buffet, a Caribbean restaurant, Dairy Queen, Krystal, and two donut shops.

There are other restaurants in that strip too; I just can’t remember all the other names.

But we had a taste for BBQ.

We drove over to Sonny’s BBQ on Lane where we enjoyed a delicious lunch — succulent barbeque, baked sweet potato, cold cole slaw, garlic bread, huge frosty glasses of tea … Delicious!

The waitress was courteous, efficient, cheerful, and attentive. We left her a generous tip as is our custom. We have worked in low-paying jobs in the past and we care about people who do such work now, so we are big tippers according to our lights.

If one place doesn’t appreciate your money, perhaps someplace else will.

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 @ 5:34 AM

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Usual Friday Night Date A Bust

I spend too much time getting ready to do other things.

Friday I began getting the yard ready to enjoy over the weekend and getting the house ready so Ginny and I can have quality time without chores hanging over us.

For ages we’ve made a practice of enjoying a regular Friday Night Date to make a transition between workweek and weekend so we can get reacquainted.

Going out for dinner, walks in the moonlight, leisure conversations — Friday night things to clear the air for romance and time just to ourselves to enjoy eachother.

But, by the time she got home from work last night, I’d worked so hard in blazing sun and pressed so hard to get everything done ahead of time, that I felt wasted, depleted, physically sick.

Too sick and tired to go out.

We ate a bowl of chili in front of the tv. Put in a vcr movie, Ghostbusters, and I fell immediately to sleep. Work up at 3 a.m. to find Ginny watching our vcr copy of The Stand— the whole thing!.

I feel guilty for letting her down.

There is such a thing as getting too prepared for a thing.

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 @ 7:05 AM

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Friday, June 02, 2006

A Dirty Old Man At Prayer

Thursday as Ginny left for work, she erected our hurricane warning flags to mark the first day of the official 2006 hurricane season. We fly these flags to remind the neighborhood to finish preparations.

As is my habit, I woke at a reasonable 4 a.m. — not 12:20 as I did yesterday!

I read Google News and fiddled with blogs and such to start my day. I’m reluctant to say this, but I also prayed a little.

The reason I’m reluctant to mention prayer is that Jesus said our prayers should be a secret thing between us and God. They are not for public consumption. But I’ll let you in on the secret to this extent:

I pray that the hurricanes will hit somebody else instead of me.

See why Jesus said to keep our mouths shut about such things?

In my November 7th blog archives for last year, I kick this odd idea of Christ’s around a bit.

Two things got me to thinking about prayer today:

First, this afternoon T.T. called asking me about Drive By Prayers.

In a church I used to attend, a bunch of us would load up in a van on Friday nights and drive slowly through the neighborhood pausing to pray about various things we saw. For instance when domestic violence spilled into the street, we’d pray for that couple; when a prostitute lingered on the corner, we’d pray for her; when we saw a drug deal going down, we’d pray. We’d pray for homeless guys on the street, for cops, for drunks, whatever..

Please don’t get the idea that pious thoughts were all we expended. That church group also sponsored anger management classes, AA group, a soup kitchen, drug counseling, tutoring, family services, AIDS support, etc. to help in a hands-on manner in the things we prayed about.

Here’s a funny aside:

At that church the prayer group put out wooden boxes where folks could place written anonymous prayer requests. On Fridays we’d meet, open the boxes and pray for the specific things people submitted.

One evening I drew a slip from a lady named Mary who wanted to have another baby. I prayed long and loud for Mary to get pregnant.

When it came the next guy’s turn to pray, he started, “Lord, if it was my wife Mary who put that slip in the box, please disregard everything Cowart just prayed for!”

Anyhow, the second thing to make me think of prayer yesterday was that my eldest daughter took me to lunch.

Remember how last week I sent out all that stuff to the mission?

Well, over the weekend another six or eight bags of stuff gravitated to our foyer for the mission and I called Jennifer to deliver it for me since I didn’t have the car.

We enjoyed a nice lunch at one of the places Ginny and I often go. Back six or eight weeks ago a young lady there, one of the waitresses, had asked for our prayers about a life-threatening surgery she faced.

Well, as Jennifer settled the bill and I started out the door, a voice shouted, “John! John!”

I turned and this beautiful, well-endowed young woman threw herself into my arms hugging me and pressing against me and crying on my shoulder and thanking me for my prayers.

We stood there entwined in the doorway, half in and half out with all the folks in the restaurant watching.

Now, please understand that the young woman acted in sheer, innocent, youthful exuberance, relief and spontaneous joy.

But also rember that I am a certified, card-carrying dirty old man.

So, as she praised God for her successful surgery and clung to my chest continually hugging me, I, being a devout, pious, spiritual Christian gentleman, entertained one thought:

“Wow, is she really stacked”!

Now my daughter, who had never seen this woman before in her life, stood watching from maybe ten feet away. She of course knew nothing of the background of the situation. She looked embarrassed and puzzled about why this voluptuous young woman would be hugging her father right out there in public

She was so embarrassed in fact that she couldn’t say a word. She coped by ignoring the scene and didn’t mention it as we got in here car and drove away.

She wanted to ask me what that was all about so bad she could taste it.

I remained silent.

I saw no need to offer an explanation.

The subject of prayer should stay a secret.

It’s good to keep your kids off balance. Keep ‘em guessing.

Besides, I have my reputation to maintain.

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 @ 2:07 AM

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

When the Big haNd is On the foor..

2day Hurrrecane Season officially begins.

Here in Floreida we are readdy with a new state map and mottto:

Wendesday mourning I woke up groggy and looked at the clock — 4 a.m. already, time to get to wrok.

I staggered out to the living room, turned on the cumputer, checked out Googled news, posted a blog entry, checked e-maul and started my exercises in a self-help book, Dr. Fill’s Cures For Kinks.

I glansed up at the clock again… It said 2:15 a.m.

How could that be???

Oh, I get it.

When the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 4, then it is 4 a.m. but when I first woke up, it was the big hand on the 4 and the little hand on the 12 so that means I got up and started work at 12:20 a.m. instead of at 4 a.m. o’clock.

Thet explaines a lot.

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 @ 5:26 AM

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