The Box

19 Jul

Several months ago, my sister’s older son announced his plans to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, and go to seminary. We are all delighted, and I know Lynn would have been, too. I began to go through the boxes I still have, but a fair number of my dad’s books had been shipped off to Operation Pass Along, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Still, I managed to fill a good sized carton, but the one thing I couldn’t find was a packet of my dad’s sermons.

The Senior Warden had told me that after Daddy died, the Diocese sent out supply priests, trying to keep Holy Cross going, but one man in particular was not vey reliable. My dad had kept all of his sermons, carefully filed by scripture reference, and when they didn’t have a priest, Mr. SW would go into the files, pull the appropriate sermon, and do Morning Prayer.

I call the Diocese, but the papers were not in the archives. In absolute desperation, I called the Senior Warden, and he had them!  Insert Gloria here! He promised to send them to me, which he did, bless him.

Now, I realized that even a year’s worth of sermons was going to be a fair sized envelope, but somehow I was not prepared for this box.  It is 12 X 10 X 11, and weighs 22 pounds! Some envelope! There are sermons in there from his time at St. Mark’s, in Roxboro.  He started there in 1984, and the first pages I picked up are from 1985.  I didn’t even try to go through the entire box, but some day, some fine day, we are going to have to get them all scanned and put into some sort of order.

Wish me luck!




Itty-Bitty Black Bugs

7 Jul

Every summer, for about a month, we have an invasion of tiny bugs in the bathroom. Back when we were having so much trouble with ants, we called in an exterminator, and he said nobody had ever figured out where they came from or what to do about them, but since they were not harmful and had such short lifespans it wasn’t something they obsessed over.

Fair enough.

Two of them could probably fit on the head of a pin. It amazes me that something so small could possess a heart, a brain and some sort of navigation system. We find them on the wall, clustered around the nightlight we keep burning 24/7; they used to shelter under the clock radio before that item went to the Great Recycling Bin in the Sky. Now, they crawl around the counter, seemingly aimless, but when they meet, each one swings to the left to avoid a collision, and if I put something in their way – a pencil perhaps – they turn and go back. Do they have eyes? Antennae? Do they feel vibrations? How do they do this? What mysterious errands do they run, scurrying along? There’s nothing there to eat; even the ants have given up on that.

Very mysterious. And I really must  find something to do with my time, other than gawping in amazement at a bunch of BUGS!


Last Night; Part Two

29 Jun

About 10:00 last night, The Squire came inside and asked me to come with him.

We live on the edge of a state park, and are surrounded by huge, tall trees. Every tree within sight was loaded with fireflies, as far up as we could see! The entire yard shimmered with thousands of blinking lights. It was absolutely enchanting! It was all the more ethereal because there is no way we could have captured it with a camera.


Last Night; Part One

29 Jun

Last night, a representative from the county sheriff’s office came to our church to discuss how you should respond when confronted with an active shooter.  Essentially, “Run, Hide, and Fight Back”.

The one thing he emphasized was that the traditional Lock-Down procedure does not work.  Hiding under your desk can be fatal. When the Virginia Tech gunman went to target practice, instead of placing his paper targets out in the field and aiming at them, he laid them in a circle at his feet.  Virginia Tech used the traditional procedure, and the gunman simply went around the classroom, shooting under desks as he walked along.  The deputy asked how many of us were old enough to remember the air raid drills from the 50s. Hiding under the desk looked good, but it wasn’t much help. I can remember my dad, who served in WWII, grunting. “If it comes through the roof, it’ll come through the desk.”

So – when you come into a place, look for the exits. Restaurant, library, doctor’s office, it doesn’t matter.  When trouble starts, RUN. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Leave your personal possessions behind.  Climb or jump out of a window; you can easily survive a drop from the second floor. Move it!  Get out of Dodge. Exit the building with your hands raised – and empty. The police are also on edge, and anything in your hands can be mistaken for a weapon.

The second option is to hide. While you’re looking for exits check for likely hiding places. Cement blocks and bricks can withstand bullets. He told us the average bullet can penetrate thirteen sheets of plasterboard! (Living in a cinderblock house suddenly seems to be a Good Thing.)  Head for the bathroom, if nothing else, although they do not usually have windows. He reminded us that we were supposed to have left our belongings behind. “The last thing you want when you are hiding from a Bad Guy is to have your cell phone ring with your sister calling to see if you are OK. ‘Well, I was, Sis, but not now.’ ”

And if all else fails, fight back. Obviously this works best in a crowd, but crowds of victims are what a Bad Guy is looking for.  If he comes into a church, throw books at him. Pencils, erasers, staplers, car keys – whatever you can grab. And you can try to rush him. As a rule, shooters are carrying a handgun; they can only aim in one direction at a time. A crowd of people can take him down, can throw his arm into the air, all sorts of things. The deputy reminded us that the Waffle House shooter was taken down by an unarmed man.

He did not recommend carrying a gun yourself. All of these shootings have been well-planned. The Columbine gunman had books upon books with notes, floor plans, and schedules. The Virginia Tech shooter had also carefully planned his attack. They have probably already killed several people, and he won’t hesitate to shoot you. In spite of what you may think you will do, most civilians are too “kind” to kill somebody else.

So there you have it. Check and see if your local police department office this sort of seminar. It’s free. There are companies that do this, but they charge an arm and a leg, and the local officers can do the job just as well.

My Grandfather’s Lunchbox

27 Jun

My grandfather’s appetite was the stuff of legends.

His dad worked on the railroad, and when he’d been away for a while, he’d often take both of his sons to a restaurant for a fancy meal. One particular time, Julius asked them if they were full. Floyd said yes, but LeRoy admitted he was still hungry. “Waiter, bring the boy another meal.” After the second meal, he took my grandfather to a second eatery because he was embarrassed to order a third time in the same place!

When he was in France during the Great War, my grandfather told me he had to run and be first in line at the mess tent, eat quickly, and then get in the back of the line, just so he could get enough to eat. After the war ended, the United States did not bring all of the soldiers home – many of them had to pay their own way. My grandfather was on one of the few troop ships to make the crossing. The family joke was that France couldn’t afford to rebuild the country and feed LeRoy Porstmann, too. When he did get back, my grandmother’s grocer thought she’d opened a boarding house.

A quarter peck of potatoes and eighteen eggs for breakfast, and thirteen sandwiches for lunch – two each of six kinds of meat, and one jelly sandwich for dessert.  Mind you, he was a fireman on the railroad at that time, back when you shoveled coal into the boiler.

When I worked for Blue Cross we could tell that some subscribers were railroad retires from their membership numbers, and I would sometimes ask what line they had been with. One elderly man did tell me he was with B&O, and I asked him, not expecting a positive response, if he had know LeRoy Porstmann.

A brief silence on the other end of the line, and then “Child, do you eat like your grandfather?”

You can get an idea of the kitchen table, here:


Under the Eagle

26 Jun

I am about halfway through a book by the above name, written by Samuel Holiday. Mr. Holiday was one of the last Navajo Code talkers, and just died on June 11 of this year, at the age of 94. It is a really interesting book, talking not only about the war itself, but about his experiences growing up.  The first time he ever met a white man, and his time at an Indian boarding school are something we could never imagine. I went to a boarding school, and it was quite different. But then, nobody was fussing with me about my language. He was also captured twice by American military, thinking he was Japanese. He described the experience as “degrading”, but led him to be much more sympathetic to the Japanese. It is a fascinating book, but please don’t judge it by its cover!

The cover of the book must have been designed by the same people who do the cover art of science fiction.  The Squire enjoys sci-fi, but often remarks that the cover doesn’t have any connection with the story. The cover of Under the Eagle shows a man wearing a breechcloth and war paint, carrying a quiver of arrows – but no bow – and holding an eagle feather in his hand. The soldier beside him is wearing full GI battle gear.

Now, tell me – why would anybody march into battle in 1944 wearing a breechcloth?





That’s Me, All Over

24 Jun