Today In Former Years

This section of my website traces a day, or related set of days, from my diary over a span of years. Each change to a different year is marked by a yellow highlight. -- jwc

Excerpts From John Cowart’s Journals:

July 24, 1990 to 2003


John W. Cowart

July 24, 1990

Rodney Clapp

General Books Editor


5206 Main Street

Box 1400

Downers Grove, Illinois


Dear Mr. Clapp,

Three brief things I'd like to discuss with you:

First, regarding People Whose Faith Got Them Into Trouble -- Yesterday a copy of your '90/91 catalog arrived. What a fine job your cover artist did on my book! I'm delighted. Please convey my thanks to the artist. I just hope the words inside live up to the promise of the cover.

Do I get a look at the page proofs before the book is printed? Your July 2nd letter indicated that you'd made more changes in the epilogue, but the xerox sheets included with the letter appear to be copies of my original without changes???

Second, regarding Urbana -- Enclosed is my son's application to attend. When we talked about this before, you said that scholarship help might be available for him. Donald is in the Upward Bound, a federal program for bright students from impoverished families,  at Jacksonville University. While in this college program he has won awards for being the most outstanding student in Physics, Advanced Mathematics and Computer Science. He also lead JU's Brain Brawl team to state and regional championships. He is 17 and  will graduate from high school next year. Because of the college credit he already has earned, he should enter college as a sophomore. In addition to his academic work, Donald regularly helps out in a local soup kitchen and does other volunteer work for the homeless as physical manifestations of his devotion to Christ.

Donald wants to attend Urbana but we are financially strapped and can not afford to send him. He does work part-time but most of his income goes to help me support our family.

Any chance of getting him to Urbana?

Third, regarding The Lazarus Projects -- How about snuggling down with a great book this weekend, then letting me know how much you loved it and how anxious you are to publish it? 

Wouldn't it be great for your Spring Catalog to list another John Cowart tome?



Friday, July 24, 1992:

Failed again…

Worked without sleep on Glog for many hours; wrote the section where he prevents the rape in the dump.

Got a copy of a letter from D*** G****  to my agent about the acting book. Unprofessional. I thought these people were adults. Glad I'm out of it.

Gin, Pat and I peeled and cooked shrimp for supper. We gorged ourselves on fried and boiled shrimp, onion rings and ketchup mixed with hot sauce. Gin estimates that the meal we ate would have cost over $50 in any seafood restaurant -- and we still have a bowl of cold shrimp left over for tomorrow.

Tonight, a dozen or so of our… neighbors gathered outside on the street and in our yard and amused themselves by throwing firecrackers at our windows. I slipped out the side door and behind a batch of them and spoke right at one's shoulder. Thought he would shit his pants. He and his buddies were preparing to place a skyrocket inside our front screen door. They ran from the yard and continued to throw firecrackers at our house from the street.

Picked up Donald from college -- UB delayed his paycheck till next Tuesday -- maybe.

Eve's team won first place in the Upward Bound Brain Bowl competition.

Wednesday, July, 21, 1993:

Up at 2 a.m. and off to shrimp.

On the dock, I meet the a master shrimper who had made this great catch Monday night; he had the biggest ice chest full of shrimp I’ve ever seen! I wondered why I can’t ever catch that many.

Here's the secret of how he did it:

He explained to me that he started shrimping on Friday, placing all he caught in his ice chest. When he went home from that trip, he added ice to the cooler. He took the same cooler out shrimping again on Saturday night. Again he added his catch and more ice. Then on Sunday night, he did the same thing so that by Monday morning when the boater met him, he had a full cooler of shrimp accumulated over several nights casting.

Why did he just keep adding ice?

I asked because I was curious.

"Well, my old lady has been working and she has not had time to head and clean 'em, so I'm letting 'em build up till she does".

This answer solved the mystery of the Master Shrimper for me.

Now I understand why his ice chest is fuller than mine.

Honest. I did not even crack a smile.

Tonight's catch was about the same as usual for me.

Two odd things happened at dawn:

A guy came down with his son. His name is Roger, his son, about 9-10 years old, is called Lucky.

Oh, but I resented their coming on "my" dock. The shrimp were just beginning to run at the change of the tide. Here I'd worked all night to catch a smattering so we’d have food to eat tonight. These two came out and began to catch a handful of shrimp with a little size to them.

As the little boy cast their little four-foot net, Roger explained that he'd been in a construction accident and had not been able to work for four months. They were having to catch shrimp or fish in order to eat, otherwise they had no food in the house.

A likely story!

Who in America is that damn poor?


I'd already headed my night's catch and was preparing to pack my little red wagon and head home. Lord, I don't want to hear any body else's sob story. Shit!

I unpacked my 7-foot net and began to help Roger and Lucky catch shrimp so they’d have something for their dinner. We raked the flipping little suckers in. Because of his injury, Roger could not cast the net and was relying on Lucky (who could not spread their net worth a darn). But between us, in a few hours, we had filled their little cooler and added an inch or so more of shrimp to mine.

God's call for anything -- such as feeding the poor -- always comes at the most inconvenient time.

As I helped Roger and Lucky get their supper, my beautiful wife Ginny appeared at the end of the dock.

"There is need," she said.

That's our code phrase meaning that God is afoot in some crisis and that the one hearing it is to cooperate immediately without question.

She had something she wanted me to sign and I dried my hands and signed it without even reading it. Then I noticed that Jennifer was sitting at the edge of the parking lot with her face red with tears.

I walked up with Gin to the car and she handed Jennifer the papers. I patted Jennifer on the shoulder and told her we were with her no matter what, and that we'd help any way possible.

From the look of Jennifer's face, my first fear was that Mike had been injured in a fire or killed. Then I wondered if Jennifer had dropped a baby at the hospital and killed it. Then I wondered if Jennifer and Mike had had a fight and separated ...

Jennifer drove away without telling me what was wrong.

Afterwards, Ginny explained: it was only a money problem!

Thank God!

Jennifer had bounced a check at the grocery store and the manager had threatened to have her arrested if she did not bring $120 in cash to the store immediately. Gin gave her a check for $120 to cash at her credit union then Jennifer will deposit that amount in our account tomorrow when she gets paid. Thus juggling in the air the two checks because we have less than $10 in our bank now, but because the Credit Union and our bank are different, the maneuver should work without anyone loosing anything.

From the service of Mammon and all her kin, Good Lord deliver us.

I helped Roger and Lucky finish their shrimping as other people moved in trying to crowd us off the dock. Ginny walked to the convenience store and bought us coffee and buns and we picnicked watching the sunrise.

Home to clean, head, boil and peel shrimp.

Short nap.

Called Barbara  She's just undergone an operation for skin cancer without having told me. She says it's basil cell... I have a couple of odd places myself so I questioned her about how she knew the places were cancer. With her it's a matter that she goes to the doctor so often for so many things that one or the other of her doctors have caught the cancers. Not having any doctor I can see, I'll just have to wait until...?

Marci Griffin mailed me a copy of her book Guana House along with a note. I get the impression that not too many people have been kind to this lady or recognized her merit; my concern for her career, even though she's 67, really touched her.

Patricia's campaign to go to Fusion Cafe with Mindy (and possibly Daniel) appears to be a go. I have checked with the young people of my acquaintance and no one has anything bad to say about the place. I do feel leery about giving my permission, but I also have to trust Patricia's judgment and taste.

Tonight we prayed for her to get the cash and the ride -- incidentally, Mindy's mother says "NO WAY" is Mindy going to that teen night club. God's will be done in this as in all things concerning our family.

Eve called shortly before she left for Miami. She's so happy! She now has $60 in her pocket for her trip -- the most cash she's ever had in hand I think -- all paid to her because of her brains and grades! Great going Eve. Patricia listened as Eve and I talked on the phone and Pat, I think, envies Eve's progress and Pat is ready to take off to college herself immediately. Which is funny, because Gin and I talked about how ready for college she is just last night. Lord, help her endure these drudge years of lower school and get her into college quick.

Then Donald called. Some professor "forgot" to pay the researchers their thousand dollar checks on Monday. How can you forget 15 thousand dollars? Lord, suffer not the hire of the laborers to be kept back by fraud!

So, Donald did not have money enough to go to the beach with some buddies -- who were drinking?, who went to sleep, who ran off the road and flipped the car, who totaled the car, but who were not themselves injured.

Thank You Lord that Donald was broke.

These are the same guys he was supposed to drive to Maryland with, but with the car totaled, that trip may be off.

I am tired and going to bed -- having just smoked my last pipe of tobacco, Good Lord, deliver me and provide me with more pipe tobacco please.

Thursday, July, 22, 1993:

An eventful day filled with more... prospects.

I'm getting tired of prospects. I wish something good would actually happen to us.

Well, something did. Mike came over about noon and drove me to Gateway to buy tobacco. Thank God! It's so hard to do anything else when you are occupied with the task of not smoking. Mike said he would deposit money in the bank to cover the check we wrote for them yesterday and that he would bring by some cash for us later on today.

As I worked on the Cook's Book in the afternoon, Gin received a call from a lady in Corrine Brown's office. We were surprised at the quick response to our letter. Gin talked with her at length and the lady said she would send out letters of recommendation from the Congresswoman's office to some government agencies where Ginny has put in job applications. Maybe that will help Gin get some response from these people who have been sitting on her applications and Federal Registry listing since last year.

This afternoon I also received a call from C*** C***, editor of a magazine for seniors… She is reviewing the prayer book for her magazine and asked me to write an original article related to some chapters in my book. I talked her up to two or three articles from me. She says her magazine pays $200 per article on acceptance... but she also says the publication is sponsored by T**** N****, the same great folks who jacked me around in January and February. So I will believe the good news about three articles paying up to $600 total after the check clears the bank.

Exciting prospects... but we only had pancakes to eat for supper, Mike never did show up with cash, and we still have less than a dollar in cash on hand. Somehow, prospects don't excite me much anymore.

Much needless flurry in the news about the Carpetbaggers known as Touchdown Jacksonville leaving town without all the money they could carry away because our mayor, Ed Austin, would not sign a contract giving them over 12 million dollars of city money to renovate their place of private business. That means they withdrew from negotiations with the city and will not bring an NFL football team -- which they do not own yet -- to Jacksonville. And the tv stations wail and gnash their teeth about our city's "loosing" the team and "fumbling the ball". (note: the tv stations are also owned by yankee out-of-towners.)

Friday, July, 23, 1993:

Up to work early.

Ginny prayed on my lap again this morning. O how I love her!

I spent the morning adapting modern recipes to Restoration times.

Patricia, under duress, went to visit B**** about noon; Pat wanted to wait at home till after five just in case Daniel called!

B****’s family invited Pat to stay overnight but the lure of the telephone brought her home. Mindy called inviting Pat to go see the Coneheads movie tomorrow saying she would pay for her ticket and I gave my permission But I really got angry to find Pat still talking on the phone after midnight.

Barbara called inviting Gin and me to lunch at China Inn. We had a great time laughing and joking.

I called Nancy Iglesias, IVP's marketing manager. Her recent letter saying Spring Arbor had bought a thousand copies of the prayer book sparked an idea. Last year (April 13) a group called International Bible Society had bought 450 copies of the People Whose Faith... book. I suggested to Ms Iglesias that someone from IVP call the Society to see if they'd like to buy some copies of the prayer book too.

She said that no one at IVP had even thought of that


Being free for the afternoon (too much thunder and lightening to plug in computer) Gin and I filled the wading pool, read this and that, then enjoyed a  nap.

I awoke with my chest hurting. It often does that. Not severe pain but a dull, persistent ache. This hurt so bad and lasted so long that I did mention it to Ginny. Lord, please help her land that job soon so that when I do kick off, she will not be left destitute.

Saturday, July, 24, 1993:

Awoke with the pain still in my chest.

Lazed around the office waiting for M&J, who promised again yesterday to being us a few dollars, to show up. Then resumed work on The Cook's Book.

I worked for about 12 hours entering recipes from this source and that. Ancient recipes, I transcribe more or less intact; ones from modern sources, I "antique". I also called the Main Library reference section to order Robert May's The Accomplisht Cook, published in London in 1665, one of the earliest cookbooks still extant.

For the forth night running, we enjoyed a shrimp dinner but my mouth and gums are so sore from the lack of teeth that I'm having trouble gumming shrimp.

We received a letter from our bank saying that the check to cover Jennifer's bounced and they are charging us a $27 fine. When Mike called about 7 p.m., he said they have no money yet and now will not see us until Monday. He balks about covering that $27 fine, but God will work it all out somehow or another.

Hazel sent me a card about dinosaurs and when I called to thank her we enjoyed a long conversation about AIDS, books, children and how tough things were for her family during the depression.

All evening long, Gin, Pat and I enjoyed watching videos: Die Hard & Beauty And The Beast. Poor Ginny has been out of cigarettes all evening.

My chest still aches but she assures me that even with the bank fine, my life insurance has already been paid up for July, so that's a great comfort.

Sunday, July  24, 1994:

Patricia continues to act very nice. She even came into church and took communion  beside us for the first time in months.

Wednesday, July 22, 1998:

Up and in the office by 5 a.m. Made journal entry for yesterday and worked revamping three magazine articles which I'd like to get in the mail tomorrow: a history piece on the 1886 Jacksonville earthquake for Folio; The Transfiguration of What’s Zis Name, a biblical science fiction story about demons and the transfiguration for Fantasy & SciFi; and The Hand of the Almighty Smites a Seagull, an inspirational humor piece about the time we rescued a sea gull for Decision.

My printer refuses to carry such a load. I need a whole new system. That is one of our major goals.

Because this printer is so slow and dim, I spent about five hours trying to get a printout clear enough to copy on the church's Xerox. No go. Frustrating.

Went to pick up Ginny at 4:30 just as a major thunder storm moved in. When I got home I dashed out to the office to unplug the computer before lightening fried it and found Sheba huddled under my desk. The poor sick dog was stinking to high heaven. And, terrified by the thunder, she refused to come out. When I tried to push her out, she snapped at me. I lost control and hit her with the flat edge of a yardstick. She snapped and growled and bit at me. So I whacked her hard. I got her leash, looped it around her neck then dragged her outside and hit her again.

Here all day I have been working on a Christian article based on my kindness and compassion toward one of God's poor dumb creatures, a seagull, and immediately upon my faithful dog bugging me, I treated her like I’m a mad-man. I actually had to restrain myself from hitting her with an iron fireplace poker.

I have noticed this phenomena before. Right as I finish an inspirational piece, a situation arises which tries me in the area I have been writing about. If I write about giving up a materialistic world view, then I see a thing I covet obsessively. If I expound on family life, mine crumbles the next day. If I hold forth on how to have a happy marriage, I'm almost sure to fight with Ginny and consider divorce within days.

This may be a natural reaction. It may be demons gleefully undermining good ideas. It may be that I'm a hypocrite at heart. Or it may be God allowing me to fall in a specific area of which I am most proud... because I do get proud when I think through and write about how to solve any human problem and I think I have exhausted the subject and have it well under control in my own life.

Or it may be that I am attracted to write about the areas of life in which I have the most trouble personally.

Whatever. I owe my dog a deep and humble apology.

Confession and repentance is in order.

Crashed and napped and zombied in front of the tv all evening.  

Thursday, July 23, 1998:

Slept late; didn't wake up till 6 a.m. Actually I first woke at 3:15 but decided that was too early to start work so I went back to bed.

My early rising is a gift of my prostrate trouble. Until recently I just got up in the wee small hours of the morning then sat around in a stupor for a couple of hours. Now, I spend my stupor time here in the office.

After walking Ginny to work, I bought our Lotto ticket for the week then strolled home praying.

W*** called in a panic; the doctors found a kidney for L*** and she's being prepped for surgery. B*** is driving up to Savannah immediately and asked our prayers. L*** is such an obnoxious snot (she was before she ever got sick and illness has not improved her character) and M****, is such a drunken slut that I have trouble praying for them. However, I do pray because, who am I to judge. L***, 14, may be to her generation what Billy Graham is to mine. God is no respecter of persons.

Spent the day working on those three articles and scanning others suitable for marketing. I'm being drawn more and more toward science fiction & fantasy. Most of my religious stuff has not been written out of dedication but out of financial necessity; it’s an area I know and have a proven sales record in. but my heart is not really in it.

UPS delivered a box of my book on prayer from IVP this afternoon; the book is now out of print. The publisher wanted me to buy a thousand copies, but I only had money enough to buy 50. Damn shame when you can't afford to buy your own book.

W*** called again this evening: the donor kidney was too damaged to transplant. L*** is back to square one waiting…

Friday, July 24, 1998:

Worked on bio sheet and revising possible magazine articles till 1 p.m.

Met Ginny's bus and we rode to Lane Avenue Radio Shack where we bought a new printer ribbon which may possibly fit. My word processor is so old that they have even stopped making parts for it.

We enjoyed supper at Long John's, browsed in Big Lots, then took a bus home and walked the last bit in the rain….

Saturday, July 24, 1999:

Ginny's employer postponed a retreat scheduled for this weekend until mid August. We had anticipated her being out of town so we enjoyed a day in the yard -- sort of. The six-year-old from next door asked if we would let her swim in our pool. Then her dad asked if we would watch her while he went to the store. So we ended up baby sitting for most of the afternoon.

Later I went with my friend Rex, who is a licensed building contractor and our neighbor on the other side, out to his property in the country where he had a huge pile of bricks and boards left over from various construction projects. Rex's mother owned this property and he was raised in a trailer out there in the woods. As he showed me around he fondly reminisced about his happy boyhood: fishing, learning to drive, building a tree house in the woods, being disciplined by Mama -- whom he greatly respects and regards with genuine affection, bringing her home from the nursing home every other weekend, feeding and bathing her in her senility.

Among the bricks stored out there were a huge pile of yellow brick salvaged from the old Jacksonville Railroad Depot, now the Prime Osborne Convention Center. When the city converted the building, officials threw the site open to the public so that anyone who wished could gather imprinted bricks from the old terminal and Rex's step-dad had gleaned a pile. Rex and I loaded his pickup truck with brick and boards till the tires ballooned out dangerously. Ginny and I plan to use them to line The Path in our garden.

Monday, July 24, 2000:

Went to the Imaging Center for X-rays of my back and hip (which has been driving me crazy with pain) and a CAT scan of my brain to see if there is a physical cause for my horrible nights of waking every few minutes. To me the experience was grueling because these strangers keep touching me. I LOATH being touched. It makes my skin crawl with revulsion; however, I diplomatically told the nurses that I am merely ticklish.

Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Horrible, horrible night last night. I thrashed around so much that I woke Ginny.

Friday, July 28, 2000

Another horrible night last night. Dr. J******* has given me some sleeping pills; they work fine most of the time. But when they don't, I try to run in my sleep, I wake up numerous times in a panic, I fight invisible enemies and I feel like hell.

After Gin got off work, we attended a cookout for employees at Glenn’s home… A wonderful party!…. The fish, my first fried food in ages, tasted delicious! but, after I have been without salt for weeks, I found the normal salting almost too much to eat.

Wednesday, July 18, 2001:

Barbara White took me to lunch at Blue Diner where she told me this story:

A woman cleaning her cannery’s cage spilled some bird seed. She decided to vacuum it up and as she did her attention was distracted and she sucked the little bird into the vacuum cleaner.

Quickly she switched off the motor, unzipped the bag and retrieved the poor bird which resembled a gray fluff-ball of dust, hair and dirt.

Seeing that the canary was still alive the woman rushed it over to the kitchen sink which had one of those spray hose nozzles you rinse dishes with. Holding the canary in one hand, she turned on the water with the other and began to spray. But in her excitement, she'd turned on the hot water. Immediately she twisted the handle the other way and plunged the bird under cold water.

The soggy, bedraggled bird shivered and quivered in her hand, so she rushed to the bedroom and turned on her hair dryer. Hot air blasted the little bird and it eventually dried out.

Asked about her canary, the woman said, "Well, he's alive and  looks to be OK, but he doesn't sing much any more. He just sits and stares into space".

He doesn't sing much any more.

Neither do I.

Wednesday,  July 24,  2002

Walking home from Five Points Publix, I found a pink plastic flamingo in the trash. I placed it in my backpack and toted it home placing it among the flowers of Ginny’s flamingo plant by the double tree. It looks at perfectly at home there.

Since we’ve been out of laundry soap, clothes have pilled up. Gin bought soap last night so I did clothes all day, squeezing in other chores between loads.

I also battled the computer, uninstalling the screensaver programs I’ve been working on because I got them so screwed up that they were unusable. However, I did learn how to work with two or three documents (or versions of the same text) in split screens. …

This week I’ve been reading Deuteronomy each morning and I’ve been taken by the gentleness of God’s requirements:

“What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes… for thy good”.


I’ve never noticed this passage before. It reminds me of Micah 6:6-8 (one of my favorite Scriptures). His yoke is easy, his burden light.

Why do I make it so hard?

Poor Gin broke a tooth after supper. She will call a dentist tomorrow.

This evening as Gin & I were undressing, W*** C**** called wanting to drive over from Arlington and talk. She brought us some spices and bagels. She is so worried about her husband’s depression; his doctor says his heart is so bad that he can’t even hold a hose to water the lawn; he’s consumed with a feeling of uselessness. His spirit is too broken to try any light hobby. He sits and watches tv all day in a stupor. We offered several suggestions and planned to help them more…

Friday,  July 26,  2002

Want to hear God laugh? Make plans.

Well, I’d made elaborate plans for my working today and tomorrow…. But first, some good news: During my daily morning routine of bussing to Five Points, shopping at Publix, eating a bagel on the park bench and walking home, some other bums occupied my usual park bench so I moved over to the Publix employee’s table by the store dumpster. They had some solid cast iron ashtrays on the table. I was tempted to steal one, but as I ate my bread, the store assistant manager came out and I asked him about where they got these ashtrays which are perfect for a pipe smoker because they have an iron bar across the middle for knocking out a hot pipe.

He said I would have to buy a Publix store to get one because they are not actually ashtrays but drain covers from the meat locker. I asked how much he would charge for one and he told me to take one when I left, compliments of the store. Even though my ashtray weights about 15 pounds, I loaded it into my backpack and carried it home. It’s perfect for the sitting area outside my office.

Anyhow, about 10:30, just as I got undressed from my walking clothes and redressed for a day at the computer, Pat called asking if she, her cousin and Rebecca could come over to swim in our pool. Now I have not cleaned the pool all week, so I took off my computer outfit and dressed in swim trunks to hurriedly clean the pool and place a ladder in it. I dashed here and there cleaning up for company and ended up in a lather of sweat…. No girls???

I called Pat’s house wondering what had happened; she said they would be right over. The cousin answered and said that Pat had to run to the store for a minute but they would be right over when she got back. I planed a lunch for this company. It was now about 12:30

I figured that since the yard was a mess, I’d mow grass today and do my computer work tomorrow. So I fiddled with the mower and raced around the yard without edging or anything just to get it presentable… Still No Girls???

Pat had first called about 10:30. It was now 2:30. I called again to see when they would arrive. Pat then said that they’d changed their minds about swimming after all, maybe they’d come tomorrow!!!

I was livid.

I was rude.

I was pissed.

I called the complaint department and found that Ginny was frustrated with her day also… we both decided to hell with it. She left work early (3:50 bus) I hurriedly undressed from yard-work clothes, redressed in date-Ginny clothes and ran for my 3:30 bus.

We met in Riverside Park and exchanged news and frustrations of the day till we’d both ventilated. Then we walked to Kosta’s for antipasto salad and heavenly pizza. And quite, sensible, unhurried conversation – mostly about us against the world. No wonder we have a siege mentality -- we live in a state of siege.

One telling thing: As we talked I mentioned that Pat and Jennifer are thinking about moving an above-ground pool from Rodney’s house (he’s Pat’s grown son) house to their’s -- but the pool men want a thousand dollars to do the job. I had to sit on my tongue to keep from volunteering to do the job for them for free. I often do such things “because I have a helpful spirit,” I said.

Ginny said, “You do not have a helpful spirit. I’d call it a driven spirit”. She elaborated saying that I should not help people unless they specifically ask me to. That I’m compelled to help when I hear about a need or problem because of some inner obsession on my part. It just happens that my actions do good (in my sight) to people, but it has nothing to do with being truly helpful.

Her comment stunned me as I realized how accurate it was. I realized that my “good” works have no virtue in them but that I want to perceived as a nice guy, a good Scout. “Do a good turn daily” is not one of the Ten Commandments; it’s part of my Boy Scout heritage. I do good to earn merit badges -- and neither God’s will nor people’s needs have anything to do with it.

I’m not a good person, just a neurotic doing neurotic things. Such good things as I do do are not virtues; they are just my thing, which at least is not harmful to the poor victim of my compulsions. 

Our return bus left us off in the midst of a terrific lightening storm. The bolts appeared to pass between us and the thunder staggered us. Three black teens were walking along the street at the same time and they broke into a screaming run; we screamed too but couldn’t run as fast.

Bolt after bolt flashed between us.

Ground-level thunder shook the tree limbs causing some to fall as we hurried past. Gin put down her umbrella fearing that the metal handle might get struck. I have never before seen such a storm. So much electricity saturated the air that the hairs on my arm stood up. We held hands and stuck close together so that if  a bolt hit, it would get us both at once and not leave one alive alone… a memorable walk home…

Which brings me to the next topic: a car.

Jennifer and Pat have said for months that they planned to give us a car when they got their affairs settled with their house. Pat had mentioned it earlier today in her first call. When we got home, she and Jennifer called from their car phone, Pat apologized for the run around she gave me today. Then they began talking at once about their plans to give us a car:

 Apparently, Donald wants to buy himself a new car and Jennifer wants to give us his old car; or she wants to buy some used car for less than a thousand dollars, or she will give us some money to use on a down-payment for a more expensive car if we want to go deeper into debt. Or…

I told her to get her own house and pool and such in order, that we are functioning without a car…. The thing is, we have had such unpleasant experiences with being given cars in the past that I’m leery of another such gift. Several times a gift car has broken down utterly within a week of our getting it stranding us miles from home and deep in debt for tags and insurance and such when we did not get a week’s use out of the car. That sort of thing has happened to us at least four times. So we are gun-shy of gift cars. We can’t stand much more hassle in life and we can’t afford more debt. We live on the edge now and car expenses would push us over…

Gin and I planned to enjoy sex tonight but with all the calls and turmoil and tiredness we chose to look at old cartoon books and eat cake instead. Good choice.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

After a morning walk, I spent the day at the computer. First I re-typed 11 pages of an article on nursing from Jacksonville Magazine. Then I finished writing letters and JEA Communi-tree applications for MED Watch.

I also talked with (two friends from Bible class who are in a petty squabble) They are at odds over … (everyday life tensions). I insisted that they speak to each other and not to me. Both men remain disgruntled and refuse to speak to each other. Hurt egos make the world go round..

This evening Eve came over and downloaded pictures from her digital camera for me to use in the tree grant application… When she finished that, she did a special project for me:

Back in the early 1970s, I did a lot of street preaching using crude stick-figure paintings to tell Bible stories; I also designed and built some evangelistic parade floats for Teens For Christ, a half-way house for addicts at the beach. From year to year Ginny and I snapped pictures of these endeavors. We filed them here and there, and lost them for years. The other day while cleaning my office, I re-discovered a dozen or so of these old photographs. Eve used her digital camera to take pictures of those old photos and she downloaded them into this computer. Here are a few:


       Me street preaching (see my long red beard).                 Ginny with an Ark float (kids worked animal hand-puppets thru the portholes)


        After a parade, we spoke to the crowds from the parked float            Rembrandt needn’t worry about my art bumping him

Lord, how incredibly young we were then! Did any of this effort count anything for Thee? Or was it all just vanity and youthful enthusiasm? At any rate, it sure was fun. Thanks for the experience.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

During a lightening storm yesterday a bolt struck and fried a giraffe down in Disney World. Question: if lightening always hits the tallest thing, how have any giraffe survived?

As soon as I returned from my walk this morning, (one of the squabbling friends from the Bible class) called... I asked if he had discussed this with (the other one) and he hasn’t. I urged him to get with (so and so) and straighten out the tension between them … and I invited both men to come over to my house as neutral ground to review the situation face to face.

Well, he drove over here, and (the other one) called here, so they did talk – sort of.

I don’t know if this helped but I tried. I absolutely refuse to take sides. This is between them and I don’t even have a dog in this fight.

They are in a pissing contest and I refuse to stand between them.

Being a peacemaker is a bitch.

Before it’s all over, I imagine both will be mad at me.

Grow up guys!.

Wes called inviting me to breakfast at Dave’s. I enjoy talking with him so much.

I worked all afternoon writing a promo history of MED Watch for inclusion on the web site when Donald comes up tomorrow. Boy, I’m excited about that.


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The Rabid FUNdamentalist