Rabid Fun

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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My 999th

Today my Blogger Dashboard marks the 999th on-line diary entry I’ve made—Time To Celebrate.

This means I can write about anything in the world I want to!


Since my days recently have been filled with yard work and tying up loose ends from the fire history book, I chose, for my own amusement, to write about— King Herod.

The other day in writing about meeting our new niece and nephew for the first time, I jokingly mentioned that I advocate the King Herod School of child care—say what you will about King Herod, but he did have a way with children.

However, many readers will not catch my reference because there were actually six King Herods (maybe more) and it’s easy to confuse them.

So, just for my own fun, I’ll try to straighten them out.

First came King Herod Antipater. He backed Julius Caesar in the Roman civil wars and when Caesar came out on top, he awarded Herod Antipater the territory of Israel, then occupied by Roman troops.

One of Antipater’s sons became king after him by killing off siblings. That son was known as Herod The Great. He’s the one who rebuilt Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, and he engaged in many other extensive building projects.

Herod The Great had several sons who each wanted to become Herod The Greater. When he discovered their plots, he killed three or four of them at various times. Augustus Caesar observed that as a Jew who avoided eating pork, Herod had no scruples about slaughtering ambitious relatives; “It’s safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son,” Augustus said.

Herod The Great wanted to protect his throne and title.

When wise men came out of the east saying they had followed a star and were come to worship Him born King Of The Jews, Herod The Great engineered the slaughter of the innocents; every male child under two years old in Bethlehem was killed.

The ancient historian Flavius Josephus says that Herod’s brother, who also wanted to become king, “escaped death only by dying”.

Sons, kids, and brothers were not the only ones Herod The Great suspected of wanting his throne. He had married a woman named Miriamne (Herod married ten different women but she was his favorite). Her reputation for beauty exceeded that of Cleopatra (Mark Anthony and Cleopatra were friends or business associates in intrigue with Herod The Great).

Anyhow, several times Miriamne was accused of adultery and plotting to size Herod’s throne. Her own mother testified against her (because Mama had a plot of her own going).

In a fit of rage, Herod The Great, even though he loved her to distraction, killed Miriamne… But, he regretted her death. He missed her company… so, (according to the Talmud and Josephus) he coated her dead body with thick honey as a preservative and had servants sit the body at the table with him for meals. He talked to the honey-coated corpse while he ate. And, tradition has it, that for the next seven years, he took Miriamne’s body to bed at night and had sex with it.

What can I say?

She was his honey.

Anyhow, at age 69, Herod The Great died himself in Jericho about the year 4, just after he’d tried to kill the baby Jesus by killing all male children in Bethlehem.

With the old king dead, brothers and sons and generals and priests scrambled for power. In the midst of all the backbiting and treachery, the Emperor Caligula split power in Judea among several contenders.

Coming out on top was Herod Antipas, a son of Herod The Great.

No great improvement.

Herod Antipas earned New Testament fame by beheading John The Baptist at a birthday party.

Herod Antipas fancied a lady named Herodias who happened to be married to his brother Philip. John The Baptist said it was not right for him to have his brother’s wife. So Herod Antipas locked John in jail.

At a birthday party the daughter of Herodias danced pleasing the guests and Herod Antipas who promised her anything.

Hollywood likes to portray the daughter, who may have been named Salome, as an exotic, erotic lap-dancer who turned the king on, but Bible scholar Edward Vernon says that the dancing daughter may have been a five-year-old child prancing and skipping around at the party charming king and guests with her cute antics.

The girl asked her mother what to ask for and Philip’s irate wife, said, Ask for John The Baptist’s head on a platter.

Ever one to please the ladies, Herod Antipas beheaded John… but later, when Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in Him”.

Jesus referred to Herod Antipas as “That old fox”.

When the mob brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate to be crucified, Pilate tried to wiggle out of making a decision by sending Jesus, a Galilaean, to Herod Antipas who held jurisdiction over that territory.

“When Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad; for he was desireous to see Him of a long season, because he had heard many things of Him, and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned with Him in many words; but He answered him nothing… And Herod (Antipas) with his men of war set Him at nought, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him again to Pilate”.

Later, Herod Antipas traveled to Rome to ask Caligula for more power and a crown; this peeved the emperor who banished Herod Antipas to Lyons where he died in exile.

Herod Philip The First (who’d been disinherited by Herod The Great) and Herod Philip the Second (son of Herod The Great and Cleopatra) contended with Herod Agrippa The First (he’s the one who executed the Apostle James) and Herod Agrippa The Second, (who seems to have married his own sister, Bernice).

These four jockey for power and preeminence. Sometimes their reigns overlapped, coincided or conflicted. The Roman Emperor Claudius favored Herod Agrippa The First and promoted him above the others.

In the New Testament book The Acts Of The Apostles, two of the Herod Agrippas earn mention:

Herod Agrippa The First put the Apostle James to the sword and imprisoned the Apostle Peter until God sent an angel to free him. Herod Agrippa I put the jail guards to death because of Peter’s escape.

A trade/political dispute arose involving the cities of Tyre and Sidon. “Upon a set day Herod (Agrippa I) arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them”.

Some ancient sources say that royal apparel was a suit made of polished silver plates which reflected sun light so strongly that it blinded onlookers.

As King Herod Agrippa I delivered his oration at that meeting, people proclaimed, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man”.

“Immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory; and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew and multiplied”.

What a sad sight. The king arrayed in silver, brilliant in the sun. He orates. People cheer. He relishes the applause— until explosive diarrhea hits him right then and there. Worms gush out all over that shining silver suit.

Some poor servant had to clean up the dead king’s throne.

Like his father, Herod Agrippa I, King Herod Agrippa II seemed to savor elaborate pomp and showmanship. Herod Agrippa II flaunted his relationship with his sister, Bernice.

On a royal tour of Caesarea where the Apostle Paul was awaiting trial for agitating people proclaiming Christ…

“On the morrow, when Herod Agrippa (II) was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing… Paul was brought out…

“Then Agrippa said unto Paul, ‘Thou art permitted to speak for thyself”.

And the first thing Paul, standing there in chains, said was “I think myself happy, King Agrippa…”

Paul said, “I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers… Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead”?

Paul told the king and Bernice about his own conversion on the road to Damascus and why he believed that Jesus is Lord risen from the tomb.

Paul said the ancient Hebrew prophets foretold that, “Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people and to the Gentiles”.

Then King Herod Agrippa uttered one of the saddest lines in Scripture:

The king said, “Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian”.

Almost persuaded…


Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 1:41 PM

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Day Without Religion

I did nothing overtly religious Tuesday.

Because I needed to go to the Jacksonville Fire Museum to see Lt. Treadwell, the curator, to tie up some loose ends with my book on the history of firefighting in Jacksonville, I drove Ginny to work and kept the car.

Several odd things happened.

Borderline religious experiences that made me think that Jesus lurks just at the corner of my eye, yet out of sight. No big epiphany , just everyday things that make me realize we walk every day through the world of the Spirit. That there’s more to life than the seen. That we move on the edge of wonder. That Jesus Himself walks unseen right at your elbow.

First, I dropped Ginny at her office then drove to Dave’s Diner for breakfast. An old guy came in and sat in a booth across from me. Nicole, the waitress, reminded him to take his medicine. He ordered something and she reminded him that he had to drink milk with his pills. She acted so caring and motherly toward this old man; surely such care lies beyond the duties of a waitress. I felt so touched by her kindness.

Nothing overtly religious here. Just goodness acted out in a corner diner.

At the hardware store—yes, yesterday as the temperature reached 87 degrees, I finally did get the swimming pool pump working and the pool clean except I needed some hose clamps today when the temperature here dropped to a record low of 37 degrees!

I don’t see the hand of Jesus in that!

But anyhow, at the hardware store, the guy in plumbing directed me to the guy in electrical conduit. As I approached, the young hardware guy stood listening intently to an old man, (a farmer?).

I waited my turn.

The farmer was saying he could not be away that long. “I need to be there to feed my dogs. And milk the cows. And the take care of the horses. If I’m not there, they’ll die. The doctor just don’t understand that. He says I’ll have to be in there a week or ten days. I can’t stay in there that long. My animals need tending”.

I could see the wheels turning in the hardware clerk’s mind. He was considering it. He really was thinking of volunteering to care for those animals while the farmer was in for his operation.

“Got to get going. Cain’t be away from the place too long. I’ll come in for that other stuff tomorrow,” the farmer said hobbling away.

“Are you part of his family,” I asked the clerk.

“No. He doesn’t have any family. He’s just a customer; comes in here regular. He’s got cancer and this is his forth operation”.

That’s what the clerk said… but his eyes, his mind was on something else. Hungry dogs and horses and cows. He was thinking about it. He really was.

I have no idea if he actually will tend the customer’s animals.

But the mere fact that the young man would consider doing such a thing thrilled me.

I thought Jesus is in Aisle 42.

Aisle 42, electrical conduit, is holy ground.

Walk carefully.

At your next step you may bump into God.

I drove off with my hose clamps (too cold to wallow in the mud to put them on today) and the car radio said something about some company laying off workers.

I thought I ought to maybe pray for the unemployed… Who do I know that’s unemplo—Pete!

Why in the world would I think of Pete?

Plenty of folks I know better and who live closer to me are looking for work; there’s Randy and Rick and Greg and Linda and Nathan and Helen and Homer and Reece and Alex … and Pete who lives a world away.

But Pete is the person who sprang strongly to mind.

He’s a guy lives in England who used to comment on my blog now and then. A couple of months ago (see May & June in my blog archive) , my computer overheated and melted stuff in the hard drive. I lived without a computer for close to two months. It was eventually restored but, in the process, I lost all my favorites and bookmarks and site links—including Pete’s. No contact with him in the months since.

Pete got laid off (only over there in Britain they call it “being made redundant”) from his job back before we lost contact. Out of sight, out of mind. I have not thought of him in ages…

But, as I drove to the fire museum, my mind fixed on him so I prayed for Pete.

This evening when I got home, guess who had commented on my yesterday morning’s blog?

Nothing supernatural in my day, just tiny hints of things far beyond myself.

Like I said starting out, I did nothing overtly religious today, common ordinary mundane things, but I feel as though I’ve walked near Jesus all day.

I don’t see Him.

I never do.

But there’s a shadow beside my own.

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 @ 2:28 AM

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Meeting Our New Niece & Nephew

My blog has been down for two days because of a log jam; this morning, Donald went into the server and removed old log files and republished. He solved the problem. Thanks Donald!

Sunday for the first time Ginny and I met the two kids (Sabrina, age 7, and Rob, 5) which Ginny’s brother, Mark, and his wife, Becky, are adopting.

I see my roll as an uncle as being the guy who teaches kids the neat stuff their new parents would never teach them.

Alas, that was not to be.

I brought along a pipe shaped like a horse head so I could show the kids how to smoke—and that if the bowl of the pipe is the horse’s head, then what part of the horse is at the puffing end?

Becky, the new mother, was not amused.

I think she’s over-protective.

Why she even covered their ears when I tried to teach the kids the words to a grand old hymn of the church (well, it ought to be).

Since the kids were not allowed to hear me sing, perhaps someday they can read the lovely lyrics in this diary; I’d hate for these kids to grow up culturally deprived—.

Cigarettes and whisky,
And wild wild women,
They’ll drive you crazy,
They’ll drive you insane.

Cigarettes and whisky,
And wild wild women,
They’ll rot out your innards,
And coddle your brain.

Becky said it’s a good thing they live five states away; Ginny agreed.


I think I’d make a great uncle.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 1:14 PM

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Across The Finish Line

How you finish the race is more important than how you start it.

That theme recurred again and again at Mary’s memorial service yesterday.

Ginny & I, our daughter Eve, and our friends Wes, Randy & Lisa attended the memorial for our friend Barbara’s daughter Mary who died of cancer on the 17th. I estimate about 200 other people attended also demonstrating the high esteem Barbara is held in. She’s retired as religion editor of the local newspaper and people of virtually every religious persuasion attended her daughter’s funeral.

Mary had been married four times.

Barbara later told me, “It’s not every woman who has three of her ex-husbands care enough to attend her funeral”.

As Ginny and I stood in a long line to sign the guest book I teased Barbara that there was no need for me to sign unless there was going to be a drawing for a door prize.

She laughed looking better and more relaxed than she has in ages as she’s been worn out giving daily hands-on care to her dying daughter for months and months.

Psalm 84 opened the service:

“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young-- a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God”.

Speaking in the service, Barbara said of her daughter, “She was a strong willed child and became a strong-willed woman; that fitted her to fight against the disease… Early on, our relationship went through some difficult and dry places but became lush and wonderful”.

Brittany, Mary’s 17-year-old daughter, did not say anything but she stood beside Dan, Mary’s husband, as he read a tribute to his wife. He said, “My beloved wife and I only had a short time together. Let me tell you, you need to make the most of the time you have… We believed in God before her illness, but we went through a battle. Believe and trust in God for now and eternity”.

Mary’s cancer first manifested itself as a brain tumor, and, after surgery for that, metastasized to become an aggressive small cell lung cancer.

“It’s more important how you finish than how you start,” said Pastor Joe Newton who conducted the service.

“Mary did not live a perfect life, but she did have a perfect Savior,” he said.

I thought it a bit strange since it’s not even Halloween yet, but to deliver his talk the pastor stood near a decorated Christmas tree already set up in the sanctuary.

He chose John 14:1-6 as his text:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The pastor explained that Jesus came with a message and a function. “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”—available to us was His message.

His function was to die on the cross to make that happen.

The pastor spoke of hope for the future. “The desire of God’s heart is that we spend eternity with Him,” he said.

We need no outsider to tell us that sin has separated us from God; our own hearts tell us that. We do not live up to our own expectations, much less God’s.

But the love of God is shown towards us in that while we are still sinners, Christ died for us.

But the Lord of Life rose from the tomb and ascended back to where He had originally come from. He does not just give us directions about how to get to Heaven and say “That’s the way you should go”. He is the way, He personally comes to get us by the hand and lead us Home.

The Way. The Truth. The Life—Exclusive. “No man cometh unto the Father except by Me,” Jesus said.

In conducting the service the pastor did not try to preach Mary into a glowing saint. Those of us who knew her for years before and after her conversion know better than that. But he emphasized that it’s not how you begin the race, or even how you stand midway along, but how you finish that counts.

“Like Mary, you may not have lived a perfect life,” he said, “But like her, if you’ll accept Christ, you too have a perfect Savior”.

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 @ 3:43 AM

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Suddenly There Are More Of Us

At 11 o’clock last night, Ginny received an e-mail from Mark, one of her brothers, and his wife, Becky. The e-mail let us know in advance that they were flying from Maryland into Jacksonville—Last night.

We did not know they were coming and we are not sure how weekend plans will work out. Ginny and I plan to attend the funeral service for Barbara’s daughter Saturday morning, so we are not sure about how to greet out of town guests.

And here’s the kicker—Mark and Becky are coming here to pick up two children they are adopting. Here are two photos of the kids from the e-mail attachment:

First we’ve heard a word about this.

Mark and Becky have three children of their own already; now they are adopting two more. What a handful.

Mark and Becky certainly are more Christian than I am. I doubt if I’m capable of that level of commitment.

Personally, I subscribe to the King Herod school of child care—Having a family is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain. But I admire the gumption of a young couple who of their own volition chose to raise children. As the father of six, I’ve been a father for three fourths of my life. I don’t know how I managed to survive.

What do you do with small children? It’s been years since we had a little kid visit us although when our own were school-aged the house was aswarm with them and their many friends all the time.

I’m still in the midst of fixing the pool filtration system so I can’t let them swim. Maybe we can take them to the beach or to the zoo… Or maybe we can all go to Jennifer’s house, her pool is up and running… Or we can take them to Eve’s house and let them chase cats.

I’m off balance (not an unusual state for me).

So, Mark and Becky swoop into town abruptly for a visit and they suddenly increase our extended family by two… Don’t know what to make of that. Heck, I didn’t even know she was pregnant.

Welcome to the family, Kids... You don't know what you're letting yourselves in for!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:13 AM

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The End Of History

Seeing a finished copy of my book on the history of firefighting in Jacksonville pleases me inordinately.

I’m tickled.

It’s not too shabby.

But, having last week finally published my fire history book, this week I find myself in limbo.

Finishing that book renders me unemployed.

Oh, I’ll write another book. But I have no idea which book to write next.

One thing appears sure; it will not be another history of anything. For years now, I have emphasized historical articles and books. But now my eyesight dims too much to hunch over a microfilm reader for hours.

This saddens me.

Some of the greatest thrills of my life have come on discovering some obscure event I’ve uncovered with a magnifying glass in the coffee-colored pages of Niles Weekly Register. I’d get such a charge at linking one obscure fact to another seemingly unrelated one in a different document then weaving the two into an exciting narrative.

Alas, those days are over for me.

History has ended.

What the Lord has in store for me next, I have no idea. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore, so I’m confident that the next step will also be something satisfying—but I’ll miss being able to do historical research.

A file drawer full of book starts and ideas await me but I’m reluctant to start anything till after Ginny and I return from our Anniversary trip next month.

To work, I need huge blocks of uninterrupted time; that’s one reason I usually start work at 4 a.m. before the phone starts ringing or visitors knocking. My mind is slow and once I get off track, I have a hard time getting back on.

And, so often what looks like a good book idea at first, melts when you begin typing. I love this old Shoe cartoon, I keep a framed copy above my desk:

While I’m waiting for the Muse of inspiration (or the JEA bill collector) to strike and spur me into a new book project, I battle algae in our swimming pool. The pump motor burned out a month ago and by the time the repair man fixed it, algae entrenched itself in the water and I can’t get rid of it.

I’ve reattached the pump, installed new hoses, applied shock and algaecide, revamped the filter… Nothing works.

Green slime defeats me.

Then, yesterday a rubber gasket stretched allowing air into the system. No problem, I’ll just replace it with … with the extra rubber gasket I sold at the yard sale last Spring thinking I’d never need it.

Whenever I get rid of ANBYTHING, within a few weeks, I need that very thing.

Never fails!

That’s my history.

In other news: yesterday Ginny received a letter informing her that the money in her retirement account is gone.

In the current national financial crisis that same thing happens to a lot of people. Money there one day, gone the next.

Somebody took it.

In more enlightened days, if Jesse James—I wrote an article about Jesse James once

Anyhow, in more enlightened days, if Jesse James or some other criminal took the money out of your pocket, the marshal would hunt him down, shoot him dead, and put the money back where it belonged.

Why doesn’t that happen any more?

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 @ 8:31 AM

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Disaster Communications

Saturday morning as Ginny and I gathered stuff for our CERT emergency radio communications training class, she muttered something about wanting some political papers related to the upcoming elections.

Being an ever-alert husband, I began loudly singing:

I’ll seek no more the fine and gay
For each does but remind me
How swift the hours did pass away
With the girl I left behind me.

After a good many verses of that song, I broke into singing all the words I could remember to “Hard-Hearted Barbara Allen”.

“What in the world are you doing?” Ginny asked.

I told her I was singing a simple ballad for her.

That’s when she gave me That Look.

All long-married men know the look I mean.

The All-Men-Are-Idiots-And-I’ve-Married-Their-King look.

At the disaster radio class we practiced stuff about channels and sub-channels and tones and radio protocol as each team walked all over downtown Jacksonville.

We learned that some area CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) groups form equestrian units or 4-wheel-drive units so they can reach areas inaccessible except by horse or ATVs. This type of unit can get to an airliner which crashed in a swamp or to a wile fire.

The Jax fire department even has some bike-mounted firemen who can respond in emergencies at sports events because they can get through dense crowds where as a regular fire/rescue truck would have trouble maneuvering through a crowd.

During the radio drill, both Ginny and I got to push a button and talk with Team Leader who relayed our important information to Base Net at the Emergency Operations Center.

All we were doing was counting parked cars around City Hall in this drill, but we did learn the benefits and limitations of this radio system. We’d never even seen this kind of radio before. It was cool.

Communications is so important in disasters—such as marriage.

For instance, earlier that morning Ginny had not yearned to hear me sing a simple ballad—she’d said she was looking for her sample ballot.

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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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Precious In The Sight Of The Lord…

My friend Barbara White was sitting alone in a room with her daughter’s body when she phoned me.

Mary, who was in her 40s, died yesterday of wide-spread cancer which started as brain tumors then, after she had surgery for those, moved into her lungs.

Barbara, who has to get around on an aluminum walker, has given Mary hands-on care for the past 18 months or two years; it seems longer. Barbara drove Mary, who was too sick to drive herself, to chemotherapy, radiation treatments, doctors’ visits, etc. practically every day during that time.

“God made me strong for this very thing,” Barbara said.

Last year, I edited and published four books Barbara wrote, collections of her award-winning weekly newspaper columns which were titled, like her books, Along The Way. The series can be found at www.bluefishbooks.info . Many, many people have written saying how much Barbara’s records of her own daily struggles as a Christian have helped them in the problems of their own lives.

About 25 years ago, when Barbara worked as a newspaper editor, she read an article I wrote about family worship and asked if she could join Ginny and me and our four kids for dinner one night. Ever since then she’s been one of us, a regular member of our family.

Last week, when Barbara treated me to breakfast at Dave’s Dinner, we talked about Mary’s health and some other problems Barbara faces. She told me, “I don’t know what to do. Right now all I need to do is to stand there in the midst of these circumstances and be a person who knows God in that place”.

A few minutes after Mary died, Barbara called me to talk as she waited for the funeral home to pick up the body.

When the phone rang, I’d been in the back yard lying on my back in a mud puddle while filthy stagnant water streamed into my face as I tried to fix a hose leak underneath the pool filter. I’ve been working on this project two days and finally solved it (Please, God) by using a surgical glove, a section of bicycle tire inner tube, some string-trimmer cord, and a hose clamp. I think the leak has at least slowed down. I left that stuff to stew while I talked with my friend.

I had little comfort to offer.

Mostly I listened.

In her younger days Mary was somewhat of a hellion and brought all kinds of grief to her mother. Yet, I was happy to say that when the cancer appeared, it forced mother and daughter to spend lots of time together. And in that time spent together, Mary grew to value, appreciate and love Barbara in a way they’d not experienced before.

Whereas before, Mary appeared to regard her mother’s faith in Christ with scorn, over the past few months Mary did come to profess that very same faith as her own.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

“She died at peace with God and with me,” Barbara said as we talked yesterday.

“It’s been hard. Very hard. But it’s been all worthwhile,” she said.

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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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy News/Sad News

In the midst of my running around yesterday, I received the final test copy of Heroes All: A History Of Firefighting In Jacksonville, Florida. I scanned the text for errors. Then I completed the final steps for publication.

My book is now available at www.bluefishbooks.info

I’m elated.

To see the final published product after all those years of work pleases me.

As usual when I finish a book, I gave the first copy off the press to Ginny; on the title page. I inscribed it:

To Virginia, The Hottest Woman In Jacksonville!

She got such a laugh when she read that.

I’d taken that first copy to her office when I picked her up after work. To celebrate this major Cowart triumph, we drove out to dinner at Georgie’s BBQ, where, on Wednesdays, they offer a substantial price reduction—I call it our Decrepit Discount—for senior citizens….

Back on July 29th of 2007 (see my blog archives) I wrote about the loving care strangers lavished on Georgie’s manager when he had a heart attack while Ginny and I were in the restaurant. And, and on August 3rd ,I wrote about how a local radio station read a portion of my blog posting on the air.

After he recovered and came back to work, one of the waitresses showed him some of my diary postings including the one about his heart attack…I don’t know what he thought of it…I hope he read more than those two postings…

Well, last night as Ginny and I celebrated the happy news about my fire history book finally getting published, the cashier at Georgie’s told us that last week that manager took a gun out to Ponte Vedra Beach at sunset and killed himself…

Incidentally, last night our youngest daughter, the one who’d been in the traffic accident, called from downstate with interesting news; She will not be spending Christmas with us; her boyfriend is taking her up to North Carolina to meet his family over the holidays. That may prove interesting.

A newspaper story about the death of the restaurant manager can be found at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/101108/met_342692942.shtml

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 @ 3:23 AM

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'll Keep The Car Today

The repair shop called saying the pool pump can be picked up today…

So, I need get dressed to drive Ginny to work with a fruit salad for Boss’s Day, drive to the motor shop, the post office to pick up a package, to Wal-Mart for pool chemicals, to the mission to deliver clothes to poor people, and to the book store.

Somewhere in there I need to get by the bank to get cash to pay for all this stuff and a gas station so it won’t conk out while I’m running around.

And, depending on how things go, I may need to drive by the fire museum (not sure about that side trip yet).

Then I drive back home, change clothes, apply the chemicals, re-attach the pump motor, change out the filter, fill the bird feeders, climb a ladder to remove books from top shelves and pack them for a second trip to the book store, shower, shave and get dressed again to go pick up Ginny again. Then come home and cook our dinner—or maybe eat out.

I hate days when I have to have the car.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:51 AM

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hearts Of Oak (stained)

Monday my friend Wes treated me to breakfast at Ayre’s where we talked about stave churches, sin, and pine boxes.

I’d never heard of a stave church before my e-friend Felisol from Norway posted a photo of one in her blog, On The Far Side Of The Sea at http://felisol.blogspot.com/ . Here’s one of her beautiful photos:

A great article, with lots of photo links, in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stave_church ) tells about these unusual wooden church buildings.

These wooden buildings have lasted over 900 years! The builders saturated the wood posts and planks in tar. They endure.

I wonder if the builders modeled their construction on Viking ships?

Anyhow, as Wes and I talked about sin—mine in particular—he used the analogy of a pine box stained to look like oak. That’s how stave churches entered our conversation.

Let me explain.

In my recent triumph at uploading that fire history book to the printer, almost immediately, instead of thanking God about the completion of that project I began to browse the internet for photos of girls wearing bikinis (or less).

I’ve observed this same pattern in my behavior again and again over the years. I will attempt to live in Christ, enjoy some minor triumph, then fall into squalor quick as peaches through a goose.

And I’m not alone in this.

It was not the wicked, ungodly Philistine giant Goliath who screwed Bathsheba in the bathtub; no, that was David, the man after God’s own heart.

It was not the wicked betrayer Judas who denied Christ said, “I do not know the man”; no, that was Simon Peter, leader of the apostles.

Why is it that guys who want to walk in love with Christ, so often fall into squalid sin? And look at the glee of the world when some preacher leaves his wife and runs off with the choir leader. The media acts as though no electrician or post man had ever done anything of the sort.

Perhaps the world expects to see something different from us Christians.

As well they should.

But, that’s them; this is me.

I am a Christian. So, why do I fall so hard and so often.

At this point in our conversation, Wes brought up white pine boxes.

Among Wes’s many talents is carpentry; he builds stuff. And here in Florida the cheapest, most common wood for any project is soft white pine, a near worthless wood often used for shipping pallets.

Wes likened what Christ does to our souls to a man who builds a box of white pine. After he knocks the thing together, he stains the cheap wood with oak stain.

And, like the tar in those staves in Norway, the oak stain begins to soak into the wood. Deeper and deeper it permeates the pine fibers. The box looks like oak. The only way you’d know it is pine is to cut into it deeper than the stain.

Wes said that at conversion, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside a cheap, common human heart. This is a supernatural act of God. The shed blood of Jesus Christ, like a stain, begins to soak in, to color everything about us, till we start to look, on the surface, a bit like Him. By soaking up God, we start to become godly—no credit to us, you understand.

But sometimes, things cut.

Temptation comes.

The cheap common pine shows through.

Not to despair, the oak stain is still soaking in.

Neither David nor Peter (nor John Cowart—nor you) remains the same. Those planks in the stave churches of Norway took 900 years to harden to their present solidity… And God has all eternity to work with us.

The Scripture says, “A new heart will I put within you”.

We shall have hearts of true oak.

The downside of this hope, is that the preserving stain works better when applied under intense pressure—That, I think I can do without, Lord.

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 @ 6:39 AM

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Anticipation Of Our 40th

With the stock market crashing, banks failing, home repairs looming, jobs disappearing, prices increasing, income decreasing—Ginny and I decided to spend money to go on vacation to celebrate our 40th Anniversary next month.

We consider that a good investment.

We are investing in us.

Can we afford to rent an isolated cabin deep in the far-off woods?

Why not?

If we did not spend cash on us, what would we spend it on?

We’d intended to forego an Anniversary trip this year. We’d be just as happily married without going off anywhere. But this past week we reversed our reasonable decision and made our reservations.

Now we anticipate.

We do this by looking ahead…

And by looking back.

Yesterday we spent about five hours looking at slides of our previous Anniversary trips. My but we had fun! We talked about books we read on our last trips. And about scenery we saw, and animals we watched, and meals we ate, and waters we swam, and churches we visited, and people we talked to, and love we renewed, and jokes we laughed at.

All that was looking back.

But we also looked ahead talking bout roads we’ll travel, places we’ll stop, harvest fields we’ll view, prescriptions we’ll need, things to pack, mail to stop, animals to arrange care for…

It’s like getting ready for Heaven.

Anticipating by looking forward and back.

Back on November 20, 2005, I wrote in my diary about a previous trip and posted some photos; if anybody’s interested that’s in my blog archives at http://www.cowart.info/blog/2005_11_01_rabidfun_archive.html

But that was then; this is now.

Yesterday as I sat at my computer browsing, Ginny sat in her rocker directly behind me. I got interested in a site about cake recipes and began to tell her about them as I clicked here and there to enlarge photos of cakes.

I talked and talked about this site, until I asked her, “Don’t you think so”?

No answer.

I turned around to find her chair empty.

For ten or 15 minutes I’d been talking to myself in an empty room.

I walked back to find her sorting laundry in the bedroom and putting clothes on hangers. “Didn’t you know I was talking to you,” I asked.

“Yes, but I wanted to get this done,” she said.

“Just how do you expect this marriage to last, If you walk away and leave me talking to myself”?

“You are so much easier to love when you’re in another room,” she said.

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 @ 5:13 AM

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Creative Process

Years ago a critic told me, “John, you are not a writer; you are just a synthesizer”.

That hurt.

I bristled.

I defended myself thinking that it was a terrible thing to be called a synthesizer who only collects things someone else has created and combines them, as opposed to a real writer who imagines stories and creates characters out of whole cloth.

One just patches things together; the other creates.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that the critic was right. I do take bits and pieces of this and that and glue them together to tell a new story… Take the history of our fire department for instance. In 288 pages, I cite 174 source footnotes. I’ve gathered materials from microfilm, old newspapers, books, magazines, websites, museum exhibits, personal conversations, tv news broadcasts, phone interviews…

I weave all this stuff together into a panorama of adventure, thrills, information and inspiration.

My fire history book portrays the brave and the bizarre Like a Christmas-time plane crash in the ’50 when they knew the airliner carried 22 crew and passengers, but they recovered 23 bodies—That created a puzzle till they found out the plane had been carrying a corpse who died in Miami back north for burial.

Anyhow, for humans, to create is to combine existing things, we can’t even imagine anything original. Only God creates out of nothing. All of our creative processes are derivative.

We take what He has made, and imagine new combinations for it. Even our mythology does this. Attach a woman’s body to a fish’s tail and get a mermaid. Put a man’s torso on a horse’s body and get a centaur. A man’s head on a lion is a sphinx. Substitute snakes for hair, and you have Medusa.

The gods and creatures we imagine are mere composites of original things, they are not original in themselves. All the gods of the nations are idols. Cold stone chiseled or wooden logs sawn into combined shapes of existing things.

We can’t come up with anything original, that has never existed before. Even the brightest of us synthesize.

Even real writers do that.

Take Sherlock Holmes, a unique detective. Arthur Conan Doyle did not create him out of air. Doyle exaggerated the qualities of Joseph Bell, one of his professors at the University of Edinburgh. The fictional character is based on the unusual talents of a real man.

Ian Fleming knew some suave, debonair, handsome rake and combined this person’s qualities to make James Bond…. Maybe Fleming had me in mind. Have I told you that I resemble a very mature James Bond and that although I’m only 69 years old, around the Agency they already call me Double-O Seven-O…

My point is that there is but one true Creator. He needn’t combine existing things to make anything. With Him all things are new.

Of course, when He hit on a design that worked well, He didn’t scrap it, but used it with endless variations. For instance, any living thing you may think of is essentially a tube with a mouth at one end and excretory organs at the other. Repetition with variation, from mouse to giraffe, all are hollow tubes.

Hey, it works.

Why change it?

Also, both the mouse and the giraffe both have exactly seven bones in the neck; all mammals do. Yet, each creature is unique. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

God need not rely on any existing thing to create a new thing.

He is original in Himself…

Although I have heard a camel described as “a horse designed by a committee”.

My point in this ramble is that now that I have a few years on me, I feel honored to be a synthesizer. I think I’m good at it. In putting things together, we imitate Our Father, and sometimes He lets us tape our crayon drawings on the refrigerator.

He creates, we imitate.

Nothing wrong with that.

Children should imitate their Father—the goal of the Christian life is to become more and more like Him, to be godly, to reflect the brightness of His glory. The Scripture says, “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is”.

There is but one God and one go-between between God and man, Jesus Christ, Himself both God and man.

That’s heavy.

But, Wow! Back to me. Think of it: 174 sources cited in a 288-page book.

That’s plagiarism on a grand scale—only, to make it respectable, I call it thorough research.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:15 AM

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Let Each Esteem Others...

About 4 this morning I uploaded a finished copy of my fire department history book to the printing company; in a week or ten days they’ll send me a sample copy and, if there are no major glitches, that book will be published.

Thanks be to God!

The final push to get the thing done leaves me numb and exhausted.

And… ashamed.

I tweaked and tweaked the proof pages, yet I’m not satisfied. I’ve left out so much information. I’ve avoided controversial problems. I’ve short changed some people who deserve great credit.

This is the 19th or 20th book I’ve written or edited, and every book has left me feeling as though I could have done so much better… Although as far as I can tell my fire history is the most complete and thorough treatment of the topic I know.

After working on this thing, off and on, since 1985 and collecting about 2,000 pages of notes, I become keenly aware that I know little about my subject. There are more knowledgeable people who could have done a better job.

But, they didn’t.

I did it because this is what I do.

One thing bothered me greatly: in the final throes of correcting proofs, I had to call for help. The formatting of some photos and captions (the book is chock full of them) defeated me. Any way I tried, they came out wrong.

So I called on Helen, my daughter-in-law, who is a graphic artist to bail me out. She cheerfully came right over and restructured tables and cells and photo slop things in a matter of minutes. Problems I’ve struggled with for weeks, she solved.

In all sorts of areas, she cuts right through crap and comes up with solutions.

I don’t know what our family would do without her.

One problem—the book covers.

For ages, whenever I’ve thought of this book, I’ve imagined a red cover with a black and gray charcoal drawing of galloping horses racing with a fire pumper wagon billowing smoke. Ages ago Mose Bowden, curator of the Jacksonville Fire Museum, sketched such a picture for me. We used it on the cover of an earlier history I wrote for the museum before he died. The firemen’s credit union printed that same sketch/book cover on the chest of tee shirts and distributed them.

I gloried in that.

So, the horse picture carries many emotional attachments for me.

But Helen sees with the eye of a graphic artist. She’s designed many book covers and other pieces of commercial art. She sees the book cover I envisioned as static. She suggested we use a dynamic colorful photo of firefighters toiling at a massive oil tanker explosion and fire.

I balked.

“What do you mean cut my baby’s ears off,” I questioned. “He’s perfect. His ears are not too big. You can’t cut them off. He’s My Baby!”.

As we worked together discussing the book cover, I calmed down and prayed a spot prayer that the Lord would help me not to be recalcitrant and demand my own way but to be teachable and go in the way He would have me go.

Not that God cares a fig about red covers as opposed to black covers, but He cares deeply about conforming me to the image of Christ.

As I prayed silently and Ginny, Donald and Helen talked, a phrase of Scripture came to my mind, one I have not thought of in years.

Paul told the people living in Philippi, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others as better than themselves”.

That means deferring to the judgment of people smarter than I am (or dumber—yes, I’ve learned a lot from dumber people).

I certainly was not expecting a spiritual lesson that late at night in the midst of formatting a pdf file and covers for a history book. But, God reaches us where we stand and when we’re in a listening mode.

I re-looked at Mose’s horse sketch. I looked at the burning oil tank with firefighting equipment in array. I looked at Helen’s cover design and at the one I’d done myself… “Nothing out of vainglory”…

Helen, bless her, listened as I explained my emotional attachment to the drawing and to the old man who sketched it. She understood my conflict. She said the cover decision is entirely mine and we would go with my choice.

She also said she would stay up late and reformat the back cover of the book to include the antique fire pumper and galloping horses. And she would redesign and brightened the front cover all over again.

She would abide by my decision and help me accomplish whatever I chose.

Look for the flaming oil tank on the cover when the book comes out.

Helen’s a treasure.

I hold her in esteem.

She’s much smarter than I am… Someday maybe I’ll write about all the things I’ve learned from people I considered at the time to be dumber than me—like the illiterate who taught me how to change a car tire, or the gravedigger who taught me how to dig a proper hole…

Let each esteem others as better—because they are!

I just don’t always recognize 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 @ 9:41 AM

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Monday, October 06, 2008


A gray tarp stretches between my shed and two nearby trees. Our favorite outdoor chairs rest in the shade of that trap and Ginny and I often sit there watching various species of birds come to feeder and fountain.

That is one of our favorite places for morning coffee and conversation.

Fall leaves accumulate on the tarp creating pleasing patterns overhead. These photos are taken from the underside:

But, this week I focus on a different kind of leaves—the leaves and pages of my fire history book. Yes, the printed front and back of each leaf of a book make two pages. Hence the expression “turning over a new leaf”.

I think the printing press runs large sheets of paper through and inks all the odd numbered pages on one side, and all the even numbered pages on the opposite side. Then some machine folds and cuts the large sheets into leaves which are correlated into pages in order. Ideally, the odd numbered pages will always be on the right as you face the book.

This week, my job shifts from writer to editor and enditor—the last person to handle a book manuscript before it goes to the printer.

Here’s a photo of the proof copy of Heroes All with some of my essential tools for the job: coffee mug with my publishing logo (www.bluefishbooks.info ); tobacco pouch, pipe and matches; dictionary and style manual; and lots of sharp red pencils.

I’ll check facts and dates and pagination and captions and fonts—and I’ll worry that I missed something obvious which I won’t see till the final print edition comes out..

Heroes All tells the history of Jacksonville from the viewpoint of how many times the place burned down, or would have burned down if not for the actions of firefighters.

It begins in 1852 when volunteer firefighters got out their guns and shot an arsonist off the roof of a hotel; and the book traces the development of firefighting men, women and equipment through to the rescue of a puppy from the Humane Society Shelter fire earlier this year when hundreds of other dogs and cats burned locked in their cages.

But mostly my book focuses on acts of courage, bravery and honor in which Jacksonville firefighters risked their own lives to rescue others.

Oddly enough, one of the hardest things about writing this book has been locating records of the daily acts of heroism by local firefighters—because they don’t keep track themselves. They are not boastful. After horrendous explosions and fire with buildings falling over their heads, the firefighters usually say something like, “Just doing my job. All I do is put the wet stuff on the hot stuff”.

Well, my job this week is proofing the leaves of 298 pages so that I can tell their story as well as I possibly can.

After that, I’ll admire the autumn leaves in our backyard.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:33 AM

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Talking With Ginny On Saturday

What a happy day!

The Post Office delivered the galley proof pages for my fire department history book and at first glance, I see fewer mistakes than I usually find in proof pages.

Of course, I immediately spotted a few formatting errors and began kicking myself for being so stupid… Long ago a psych major told me that self-negation is the highest and most insidious form of pride.

He said that I put myself down before anyone else can because I’m so proud and full of self that I really think I’m higher than anyone else; and if I say loudly, “I am a lowly worm” then the hearer will jump in to correct me by saying, “Not so, John. You’re really an eagle!” That way I get double strokes—they said it, not me.

Of course, after 40 years of marriage, Ginny knows better than to play my silly mind game. When I put myself down, she does not contradict me, but says, “I wish you wouldn’t talk that way; it annoys me”.

Puts an end to my game playing.

So when she called me up short this afternoon, I retrenched to my own comfort level saying:

Self-flagellation Beats The Hell Out Of Being Flagellated By Somebody Else!

She said I ought to engrave that Cowartism on a polished walnut plaque and see how many of them I could sell on E-bay as office wall-hangers.

Talking with Ginny is one of the great joys of my life. I get such a kick out of this strange woman who was wise enough to love me and see me as better than I truly see myself … Not all my downputting is an act or a mind game; sometimes it reveals genuine pain; and Ginny discerns the difference.

Over the course of the day we talked about: sex; car maintenance; the vice-presidential debate; 12th Century stave churches in Norway; Jimmy Stewart as an actor; tv programs we each watched as kids; Jewish newspapers; English drawing room mysteries; living wills; the people moving in next door; our children; the use of radios to communicate in disasters; our tentative plans for 2009; our philosophy of life; recipes for pot roasts; wild birds; windshield washer fluids, the parables of Jesus; checks and balances in government, prescription medicines, Neolithic monuments, a book on ethics she’s reading, a philosophical society in Scotland, and I forget whatall else.

My but we have fun!

As we discussed the question “Who Is My Neighbor” over Bar-B-Que at Georgie’s , I told her this story my e-friend Carol sent me the other day:

A Sunday School teacher, wanting to emphasize social responsibility, told the kids about the Parable of the Good Samaritan, how robbers mugged this guy, robbed him, beat him, stripped off all his clothes, and left him for dead in the road, but the Good Samaritan came along, found him, rescued him, and nursed him back to health.

The teachers asked the kids, “What would you do if you were walking along the street and found a man laying unconscious in the gutter all beat up and bruised and naked and bleeding? What would you do?”

One little girl replied, “I think I’d throw up”.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:18 AM

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Not Much To Say

After delivering our busted pool pump to the electric motor shop, Ginny and I spent much of the rest of the day Friday at Dr. Woody’s office where he ran another test.

My prostate cancer still thrives. While in general, such cancers are slow-growing, mine proves to be a robust little bastard.

Hanging around a doctor’s office debilitates us. After a late lunch, we crashed then spent the evening watching a happy old video, Harvey staring Jimmy Stewart.

A phrase from one of the Psalms says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”.

What a curious turn of expression.

It’s not my joy in the Lord, because that varies from day to day, waxing or waning according to circumstances; but it is the Lord’s joy that gives us strength—the knowledge that our loving Lord is happy with the way He sees all creation turning out in the long-run.

On the last day of creation, I think it will be as it was on the first, “And God saw that it was good”.

Yes, in spite of all that sin has screwed up in the world, in spite of all mankind has done, in spite of all individuals have done, in spite of all that I have done, He who sees the end from the beginning, the first and the last, He takes pleasure in the work of His hands and is satisfied.

And if He is satisfied, who ain’t?

If He is happy with the eventual outcome, what have I to fear?

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

The Lord’s joy is my strength.

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 @ 6:57 AM

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Thursday, October 02, 2008


Yesterday I tripped over an alligator.

Busted my left leg.

Appointment with Dr. Woody tomorrow.

Here’s how it happened:

While waiting for the galley proof pages of my fire history book to arrive, I got sick of my computer and did yard work to get outside into Florida’s clean, fresh air. I edged and mowed and pruned and moved garden flagstones…

And I tripped over the gator, a cement lawn ornament weighing about 50 pounds.

Back when preparing the yard for Tropical Storm Fay, I’d moved the gator into a nook where it wouldn’t blow away. And I forgot that I’d moved it. So when I went striding through that corner of the garden, I barked my shin on the gator’s open mouth.

I also kicked it hard enough to cut open a place on the top of my foot.

Suppose I can get a storm damage grant from FEMA?

Oh, they don’t give grants for stupidity.

So I limped inside to cool off—only to find our air conditioner is busted--again! Hotter in the house than outside—about 87 degrees. That’s dangerous . for the computer so I shut it down to avoid its overheating.

Decided to go outside again to clean the pool and cool off myself—only to find the pool pump busted.

Limped back inside to sit in my favorite living room chair—it’s busted too. My elbow has worn the arm’s fabric away, and the hole wallowed through the cotton batting to bare wood, which chaffs my elbow. Ginny’s favorite living room chair is busted too; a spring in the seat. Our kids say we should get rid of the chairs and buy new ones, but our chairs sag where we sag.

Besides, they fit our home décor.

So much is busted around here. Parting the Red Sea was fine for Moses, but the miracle of the Exodus that impresses me most is that during their 40 years wandering in the wilderness, God did not let the soles of the people’s shoes wear out.

At my age I feel just about everything around me is wearing out, getting busted, or just flaking away.

That’s as it should be.

Is there any valid reason I should keep a cement alligator in my yard?

Things are not as important as people.

Anyhow, with the A/C busted and the pool pump busted and the living room chairs busted…

Ok, so I’ll prop my gator-bitten leg up and watch tv…Almost time for Oprah.

The recliner/love seat in the tv room is—busted. The footrest on Ginny’s side will not come down; the footrest on my side, will not come up. Yet both backs recline part way at different angles and the seats twist.

Now Ginny and I are both robust people.

So, once we sit down to watch tv, we have a horrible time getting up out of that recliner. A horrible time…

Yet we often laugh like fools at our own antics and contortions as we try to get out of that love seat. We frail and huff and twist and wallow and laugh… There are worse places for a loving couple to get stuck than a love seat.

We remind me of an old joke from my truck-driving days:

This guy is telling his buddy about a new girl at the strip-tease club.

“You should see her. Her measurements are 48-26-34!”

“Wow. That’s impressive. What does she do in her act”.

“She crawls out on stage on her hands and knees and tries to stand up”.

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

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


A young woman hit on me yesterday.

At first I thought I might be misinterpreting her actions, after all I’m pushing 70 and she could not have been a day over 30.

But then, of course, I am a well-preserved 70; she may have thought… Well, who knows what she may have thought? Maybe she felt so desperate for a man that even I looked overwhelmingly attractive to her.

After all, I do resemble James Bond, a very mature James Bond.

And I clean up nice.

I’d spent the morning at yard work and a young man from another country came by to talk with me about his prospects of becoming a successful writer in America. I encouraged him as best I could. But when he left, I shaved and showered and combed my hair and dressed up before Ginny came home from work. So I was not shabby when we went out to the library..

Ginny and I returned our books to the library and she went off into the stacks looking for a life of Teddy Roosevelt; while she was gone, I browsed along the video shelves.

As I read the blurb on the back of Annie, unaware of the world around me, a young woman’s hand brushed mine. She began speaking about the sort of videos she’d like to take back home to her apartment to watch.

I looked around.

Not many people frequent the library early Tuesday evening. There was not a single other person anywhere near the video section. Yet this young woman stood close to me. Very close.

A very nice looking young woman, smartly dressed, tasteful, wearing snug blue pants with a long-sleeved silk blouse with a floral print and a bow at the collar.. I thought she might be a receptionist just getting off work from some professional office; or maybe she’d come to the library from a job interview, or straight from some sort of important appointment.

I have an aversion to being touched so when her hand brushed mine, I took a step backward from the shelves; she moved a step closer still talking about films she likes.

I put Annie in my bag and went to see if any new Donald Westlake novels were on the shelves; the young woman walked over into the nonfiction section. Curious, I thought. But a few minutes later, she appeared in the Ws standing so close to me that our shoulders touched.

No other person was in that aisle.

What’s going on here, I wondered.

Again I moved away. Hey, these days even a dirty old man needs to be cautious.

I sat at an empty library table—there were a number of empty tables around the room—and the young lady came and sat directly across from me. She placed three books she’d brought over from nonfiction on the table and began to leaf through one.

Pretending to scan my own choices, I peeked at her from the corner of my eye.

What was she after?

Ginny came out of the stacks and sat beside me sorting her own book choices. We talked about where to drive for dinner and decided on Country Kitchen. Ginny carried our books to the checkout desk; the young woman left the table and wandered off into the stacks leaving her three books.

As Ginny and I left the library, I noticed the titles of the three books the young woman had left on the library table—

Every one of them bore a title like Coping With Your Cancer.

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posted by John Cowart @ 5:03 AM

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