Rabid Fun

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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Our 39-Year-Long Honeymoon Continues

Our 39-Year-Long Honeymoon Continues

Who would have thought a love affair could last so long and continue so intense?

This Fall we well celebrate our 40th Anniversary.

Ginny and I have no idea why our relationship flourishes as it does. We don’t feel as though we do anything special or different from other couples, but something clicks for us. We think we are recipients of God’s grace.

Most of the day Saturday we sat in our garden watching the grass grow and the birds fuss at feeders while we talked, continuing a conversation we started in 1968. We compared the relative merits of white grapes and red grapes. We compared the relative merits of various presidential candidates. We talked about the ambitions we had as highschool students and how life dealt us a different hand from the one we expected. We talked about books and movies and tv shows and vacation plans and home repairs and sex problems and picnics and crime statistics and how computers have changed our life.

Then we floated on air mattresses in the pool holding hands and talking about animals and our children and insurance policies and changes in our garden and how June Cleaver, Beaver’s mother on 1950s tv, dressed in heels and pearls to vacuum her house.

While Ginny, across the yard from me, attended to Fancy, her caged bird named for Fancy Feast Cat Food, I watched her work and offered prayers of thanksgiving. That such a beautiful woman could love me is the mystery, glory and secret joy of my life. Ginny is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

We drove to Crabby Ben’s for a late seafood lunch. We carried our books inside and sat munching fried shrimp while reading and ignoring eachother in companionable silence. Gin read a murder mystery set in Martha’s Vineyard; I read a book on Florida paleontology.

I laughed on reading an explanation of how one fossil pit on our west coast contains the bones of land dwellers such as a giant, 20-foot-tall sloth and smaller tree-dwelling sloth, as well as the bones of bison, oxen, armadillo, and saber-toothed cats mixed with the bones of marine creatures such as whales, sharks, catfish and turtles. Land and sea creatures all mixed in one fossil layer.

The book speculates that one day the land animals, including tree-dwellers, decided to swim west in the Gulf of Mexico and they all were attacked by sharks or drowned.

That’s so much more reasonable that attributing such fossil beds to Noah’s Flood, isn’t it.

I form a mental picture of a sloth climbing down from a tree and going swimming with a burrowing armadillo.

Oh well, to each his own.

As Sunday’s highpoint Mark and Eve invited us to dinner and to see the new condo they moved into two weeks ago. It’s a charming new home for them as they begin their fifth month of marriage.

This week Mark received word of a promotion increasing his responsibilities, authority and pay check.

Three Cheers For Mark!

My computer was down for six weeks, so when I checked my accounts I was surprised to find that my books from my on-line book catalog have continued to sell – without my supervision.
I don’t know how they could do that without my checking on them daily.

As an extra surprise, last week I received an unexpected royalty check from a company for an edition of one of my books published in the Philippine Islands a couple of years ago.

Honestly, I’d forgotten that book even existed till I got this check for it.

Could it be that my work carries on without me?

Just before my computer burned out, I investigated marketing plans to sell my books. For my local history things I thought of placing ads on local restaurant placemats. I’m not sure if that’s the way to go or not.

When I made some calls, I found that placemat marketing can prove expensive.

No Problem.

Money is no object – my wife works.

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 @ 8:10 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Have These Needs

Yesterday as I shuffled backup files from old discs onto the new computer, I chanted a litany of needs.

I need this missing folder. I need that file. I need that photo. Where is that graphic file, I need it. I need to remember where this goes. I need another disc. I need a PDF copy. I need a hard copy. I need…

I kept saying and thinking things like that all day long.

My whining about my needs triggered a memory of a missionary story that I heard years ago:

A missionary to some impoverished third world country was invited to conduct a revival in a remote village. After days of travel through rough terrain, he arrived in the backcountry and was greeted by the local Christian pastor.

The pastor escorted him to a hut to stay with a church family.

Their poverty astounded him. Yet they generously gave him their only egg for supper and the father chased a goat out so there would be room on the floor to spread a sleeping mat. The large family gave him the best they had to offer in the way of hospitality.

Late in the evening, his host led the family in prayer and as they bedded down around a log fire on the floor, he drew the missionary aside and made a gracious offer:

“If there’s anything you need, anything at all, just let us know and we can show you how to get along without 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 @ 3:42 AM

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thoughts On Lost Files

Of all the people mentioned in the Bible, the Prophet Jeremiah would best understand how I feel about loosing my computer’s hard drive and all the files on it.

About six weeks ago my computer’s power source overheated melting little plastic yellow things inside and corrupting the hard drive.

This hard drive contained 20+ years of research, notes and partially finished book manuscripts. The notes for one historical novel alone ran close to 900 pages.

Yes, I made backup discs for some things, but I have not kept them up-to-date. I’m constantly going back and forth between files and writing projects to refine them, so who knows what I backed up or when.

My son Donald, a computer whiz, cannibalized parts from several different old computers to build the one I’m writing on this morning. He put a lot of anguished labor into getting me online again; but he has not been able to resurrect my old dead hard drive. Looks like the stuff that was on there is lost forever.

Loosing all this material leaves me in a quandary.

When Donald first told me that he may not be able to restore my files, the news stunned me.

My thoughts ranged from bleak despair – All my work, all my life, has been worthless or God would not have let it all be destroyed – to a feeling of freedom’s elation – I can retire! No more sitting for hours at the computer till my tailbone aches! I’m free!

I questioned whether loosing everything was from the hand of God, Who might not want me mudding up His reputation with my writings; or from the devil who fears truth; or whether my trouble might just be a normal vicissitude of life that everyone endures.

I though of flood victims along the Mississippi River who are loosing their homes this week and of forest fire victims in California who see their homes and everything in them burn in a matter of seconds this same week. And I compare their great losses to my pain at just loosing a few computer files.

Then I thought of the homosexual guy I talked with over breakfast Monday in Dave’s Dinner; he’d just come from the funeral of his partner of 22 years. What is my loss compared to that poor bastard’s?

Damn, but I’m self-centered!

I also remember William Carey’s example. He’s known as the Father Of Modern Missions. He served in India for 40 years beginning in 1793. A master linguist, Carey translated the Bible into 34 languages; and he worked by lamplight while his wife, driven insane during a cholera epidemic, raged violently in restraints in the next room.

And he worked without a computer.

If I read the record correctly, (I included a chapter about him in my book Strangers On The Earth). about 1830, the house caught fire and Carey rescued his wife and let ten of his Bible translation manuscripts burn to ashes.

He started to reproduce those manuscripts by hand all over again from scratch.

When his manuscripts burned, Carey said, “I wish to be still and know that the Lord He is God, and to bow to His will in everything. He will no doubt bring good out of this evil and make it promote His interests – but at present the Providence is exceedingly dark”.

So California fire victims and Mississippi flood victims and the homosexual guy and the missionary all lost things important to them. I should feel ashamed of my self but I feel my loosing my work to the computer crash more keenly than I feel their losses.

That’s cause I’m me.

What should I do now?

Then I remembered the Prophet Jeremiah.

The word of the Lord came to him saying, “Take thee a roll of a book and write thererin all the words I have spoken unto thee…”

Jeremiah dictated to a scribe named Baruch who wrote a scroll 35 chapters long and sent the scroll to King Jehoiakim. (The Bible story of what happened is found in Jeremiah, chapter 36).

“Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him”. As the long scroll was unrolled, the king took out a penknife and sliced off sections of the parchment as he read them and fed them into the fire.

I think this is the only place the Bible mentions a penknife. In ancient times writers sharpened quill writing pens with a small knife, hence the name. The penknife was also used to erase mistakes by scraping the lampblack ink off the surface of a velum skin.

Just thought you’d want to know.

Anyhow, the king fed every inch of Jeremiah’s manuscript scroll into the flames “until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth”.

And Jeremiah did not have a backup disc.

Yet, “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll… saying, ‘Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned….

“Then took Jeremiah another roll… and wrote therein all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and there were added besides unto them many like words”.

Yesterday, I spent hours trying to recover files from years of backup discs.

A daunting task.

Jeremiah’s story aside, I still wonder if it’s worth the effort.

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

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Am Up And ...

I can’t say I’m up and running.

Up and wobbling along may be a more accurate description.

About six weeks ago my computer’s power source overheated and melted little yellow plastic gizmos (capacitors?) inside the mother board. The heat corrupted hard drive files.

Bad news.

My son Donald, a computer network manager, worked long and hard to resurrect my hard drive.

Alas to no avail.

So last night he installed this new computer for me. He’s done a terrific job of establishing me in the computer world from scratch again. None of my work would be possible without him.

This new system is like having a brand new notebook without a single word in the pages.

The endless possibilities of the blank pages stretch before me and I’m puzzling over how to start all over again.

While the computer has been down, I’ve kept busy. Here is a photo of my To Do List from last Thursday (The Ls in the margin indicate stuff I needed to climb a ladder to do).

Well, I can’t post the photo. I can’t make my FTP Server take a photo. I tired to do it both through Blogger and as a Contribute web link and I can’t make either one work.

Ah yes, those endless possibilities of a blank page.

I need to go back to Computer Kindergarten and learn how to write cursive again.

Do you know how to make an M?

And last Saturday, Ginny and I, along with other members of our Neighborhood Watch Group, tended the strip of crepe myrtle trees we planted at the entrance to our community:

I’d post a photo of the beautiful trees too – once I learn to make an M.

I suppose my having no access to a computer for the past few weeks may be a good thing because I’ve been in such a slump that anything I might have written would hardly be uplifting for readers.

Yes, a few days before the computer overheated (lucky it didn’t set our home on fire), I entered one of the deepest darkest mires of depression I can ever remember. I wallowed in feelings of bitterness, resentment, worthlessness and apathy.

A sad state for a Christian --or anybody.

When I’d think, “Christ died for you”, my response would be, “So what”.

The only prayer I could pray was, “Lord, I’m such a mess. Help”.

That’s not a happy state from which to write uplifting stuff for other people to read. Reading a phone book would be more inspiring than anything I could have produced recently.

So it may be a good thing that I did not have access to a computer to write anything because I’d be tempted to either ooze bitterness or to fake a happy faith and I really want my writing about Christ to reflect what is, not what ought to be, the way things are with me, not the way things should be.

Nothing in particular triggered my depression’s start; and I can’t pinpoint how or why I’ve begun to come out of it last week.

Just something I have to endure, I suppose.

However, during the past week four odd things happened which spark hope inside me:

1. The Old Woman’s Socks

Patricia, my youngest daughter, phoned. She works as a medical lab technician in another city.

We have not talked about matters of faith for ages and I suspect that our belief systems are quite different. She’s a vegetarian and I think she subscribes to the fringes of New Age philosophies and lifestyle. Whereas I’m just a common Christian.

At her lab, she seldom has direct contact with patients, but late one night she happened through the waiting room and found a despondent old woman who ought not to have been in the building.

Patricia struck up a conversation and listened to the old woman’s woes. The old woman said her biggest trouble was that she could not get her socks off.

My daughter knelt in front of the heavy old lady and started to peel off the dirty socks.

Immediately Patricia realized that the socks had bonded to the woman’s skin and that the lady’s feet were so corroded that maggots worked alive in the dead flesh.

To peel off the socks would have stripped raw meat from the woman’s feet.

It appeared to be gangrene.

Patricia called her supervisor at home and they made arrangements for the old woman to be admitted to a hospital where Patricia continues to check on her progress.

I’m so proud of Patricia.

Several people in the lab had commented on this smelly, stinking old lady, but Patricia was the only one to knell before her and check her feet.

So, my daughter and I are not on the same page in the theology books. I hope I would act with the compassion that she shows.

She humbles me and I’m proud of her.

2. I Got Caught And The Girl Hugged Me

Last Monday my eldest daughter Jennifer drove me grocery shopping.

Leaving me to shop, Jennifer went next door to a shoe store (Poor child really needs another pair of shoes to add to the twenty-eleven pairs she already has!)

Anyhow, as I placed my groceries on the conveyer belt at the checkout, a girl ahead of me in line ran into problems with the cashier. The girl, obviously one of the nouveau poor, was trying to buy baby food with WIC coupons (a sort of food stamp for new mothers).

The tired cashier grew impatient at the girl’s fumbling (actually the cashier acted like a snotty bitch) and she called over the manager to berate the young mother.

I saw what was going on and I remembered back to the days when we were poor and Ginny had to use WIC coupons to buy baby food for our children.

The cashier and store manager were being unnecessarily harsh with this young mother who did not know the ropes of government charity.

I continued unloading my cart on the conveyer but when I thought no one could see me, I surreptitiously did the girl a small kindness and went back to unloading my groceries.

Jesus said there are certain things we should do secretly and that’s what I tried. I did not want to embarrass the girl; I wanted what I did to pass unnoticed.

Really, I did try to hide what I’d done but the girl’s mother, who was standing to the side, saw me and after they had left the line, she must have told the girl.
The young woman ran back, threw her arms around me, hugging me, crying and thanking me profusely.

Of course, right then is when my Jennifer showed up again just in time to see this young woman kissing her doddering old father in the grocery checkout line.

Jennifer didn’t have a clue as to what was going on.

But, alas the bagboy in the next line did.

He too had observed me and came over to say how he was impressed by such a small act of kindness. Tears flooded his eyes.

Really, it was nothing, but the bag boy said it was the kindest thing he’d ever seen anybody do.

I thought he was going to hug me too.

I’d never make it as a bank robber; I can’t do anything without getting caught!

3. By The Garbage Truck At Dawn

Hot Florida sun warped the old planks in my friend’s pool deck.

She decided to replace the wooden deck with one of poured concrete.

The concrete men ripped the old deck apart and dumped the lumber at the curb for the garbagemen to haul away. But city regulations require that nothing in the trash can be over five feet long or weigh more than 40 pounds.

The old planks sat there at the curb uncollected.

This peeved my friend.

She called city offices about the delay in trash pickup.

Then one morning last week, a city crew arrived at 6 a.m. and began loading the old planks into the back of the garbage truck.

My friend, still a trifle irate about the collection, went out to supervise and make sure they did it right. She notice that while the crew worked, the driver withdrew off to the side and stood with his head down as though mulling something over, debating something with himself.

After some internal struggle, he timidly approached and said, “Lady, I need to ask you to forgive me. I’ve been resenting you because you called the office to complain. Please forgive me”.

Shocked, my friend realized that she also harbored resentment toward the garbagemen over the delay in collection.

She humbled herself and asked the garbageman to forgive her.

The two stood there beside the garbage truck at dawn forgiving and being forgiven.

Such is the Christian life.

4. I Forget What Number Four Is…

Oh yes, I remember now.

Several times recently I’ve struck a match and lifted the flame to my pipe for a smoke only to hear the pipe gurgle because I forgot to fill the bowl with tobacco.

While my computer has been down I spent several days trying unsuccessfully to solve a plumbing problem.

One day I thought I had the bathroom sink drain working. I turned on the hot water to test it. I gathered up my tools and took them outside to put away in the shed. I stopped to prune a dead limb off a tree. I ambled over to talk across the fence with a neighbor. I checked the pool filter and carried a book over to…

Did I turn off the hot water spigot?

I couldn’t remember.

Back inside the house the hall carpet gave me my answer -- it squished beneath my feet.

The water overflowing onto the floor was cold. The hot water heater tank holds about 55 gallons. I’d run it all , and then some, onto the floor.

What a mess.

Another night I went into the kitchen to cook dinner.

I opened the meat tray to find it empty???

I distinctly remember taking the meat out of the freezer.

What had I done with it?

I remembered reading cooking instructions on the label. I intended to put it in the meat tray to thaw. But I’d put it right back in the freezer instead of in the thawing tray.

The meat remained a solid white, icy clump.

We ate sandwiches and soup that night.

At my age the specter of Alzheimer worries me.

Ginny and I’ve been married close to 40 years; she’d notice any strange gaps in my behavior.

I asked her, “Honey, do you think I’m loosing my mind”?

She pondered my question for a moment then said, “With you, Love, that’s kinda hard to tell”.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 11:56 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Still Broke!!

Hi again from Ginny.
Thursday, Donald replaced the power pak in John's computer. He said, "that should have fixed it." Turned it on; nothing. We are waiting for him to cannibalize a different computer for other parts that will fix the rest. Comuters are wonderful things as long as they work right!!
So today, John and I cleaned up the area near us that our Neighborhood Watch had planted Crepe Mrytle trees. The trees are blooming in a profusion of white and red flowers.
John has discovered a sure fire way to fix plumbing problems -- buy a new house.
In the midst of all this, God is still in His Heaven and we are all right.

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 @ 2:53 PM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments