Black and Blue

Rural living precludes urban living’s convenient access to the theater, but Mother Nature featured a free-admission BBB feature . . . Butterflies, Birds and Bears . . . today up here on the mountain – down in the ‘holler’ – over the ‘crick’ 😊

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2

Red-spotted Admiral
Great Blue Heron

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Then and Now

On of my favorite Microsoft tools is the On This Day feature. It pops-up pictures saved over the past two decades on my One Drive that were taken on this day. It significantly assists this ole ragamuffin in remembering fond memories from days-of yore. I’ve affectionately dubbed it my AnDeHeDe . . . Anti-Dementia-Help-Device😊

Today AnDeHeDe displayed On This Day pictures from 2009. On that day Alaska’s winter was reluctantly relinquishing its grip on the landscape. Yet, this 65-year-old youngster heard John Muir’s song, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.”

Parking my ragtop Mitshubishi Tracker along the banks of the Matanuska River in Palmer, AK (233 ft. above sea level), I strapped on a pair of snowshoes. Blissfully drenched in balmy 40-degree afternoon sunshine, I happily began trekking upward towards Matanuska Peak’s 6,093 ft. snow blanketed summit . . . O, to be young and foolish again! (I’ve got the foolish part down pat, it’s the young aspect that’s disappeared) 😊

Some six hours later, miserably drenched in sweat, I had trudged to about 4,500 ft. . . . my happy demeanor considerably diminished. Gathering storm clouds had begun to block out the sunshine, and balmy 40-degree temps had now retreated to below freezing . . . time for a reality check . . . two options remained:

  1. Immediately reverse course back down the mountain to avoid having to search for my Tracker in the dark.
  2. Continue upward for friends and relatives to read in the local Frontiersman come summer at what elevation Search and Rescue finally discovered my frozen, now decaying, body at the base of the lone spruce tree in this last picture my camera ever recorded😊

Macho surrendered to Whimpy and, at a considerably ‘enhanced pace’, I retraced my trail back down the mountain.

Arriving back just after nightfall, the temperature now registered in the 20s. As it came into view, my little Tracker resembled the Presidential Limo . . . it’s heater never felt sooooooo good!

Looking at these ‘memorial day’ pics from 15 years ago, two things are obvious:

  1. A snow-machine deems consideration in lieu of snowshoes as a means to transport foolish old duffers up snow-covered mountains.
  2. Aging is brutal! . . . who is that 65-year-old youngster on snowshoes???😊

This April 23rd there’s now snow on the ground here in TN; the temps are in the 60s; and it’s partly cloudy with patches of sunshine. After church today I stepped outside in my flip-flops and took this picture of a colorful pansy, now stashed on my One Drive in in a cyber-space cloud somewhere.

Perhaps my clinically diagnosed ADHD (Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder) is responsible but, reminiscing my ‘memorial day’ of 15 years ago, I envisioned this vibrant pansy shedding tears of laughter, subtly inferring that in my ‘advanced state of maturity’ I’ve now become a ‘pansy’😊

Chances are I’ll no longer be residing on this planet in 15 years with the local Fire Department on stand-by as 95 birthday cake candles illuminate the neighborhood. However, the mountains will still be here, and hopefully many of you younguns’ as well. I’ll be watching from my eternal mountains resort above, wishing you Amy Carmichael’s wisdom to enjoying every day God grants you to the fullest for Him and others . . .

Love to Live, Live to Love

Keep Looking Up  . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Nature’s Monet Art

The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.”

Claude Monet

Today nature treated me to this inspirational scene . . . a blooming azalea and Japanese maple reflected a Claude Monet impressionist painting on the still waters.

Oscar-Claude Monet (1840 – 1926) was a French painter and founder of impressionist painting who painted nature as he perceived it. It has been said no painter in history ever used color more precisely than Claude Monet.

After an art exhibition in 1874, an insulting critic labeled Monet’s painting style “Impression” since it was more concerned with form and light than realism, and the term stuck.

At 65 Monet noticed his 20/20 eyesight was getting fuzzy . . . he was developing cataracts. By 1912 his vision had dropped to 20/50. Ignoring the problem, his eyesight continued to deteriorate. Over the next six years his vision declined from 20/50 to 20/100. By 1922 he was legally blind, his vision now at 20/200.

As Monet slowly and painfully began going blind, his painting began deteriorating along his sight. The fine, intricate brushstrokes of his realism paintings used before, now became coarse and thick. There was no more light touch and airiness. Worse, his cherished sense of color started to fade. Colors no longer popped like they once did. He struggled seeing “cool” blues and greens, attempting to compensate by using other colors – fiery reds and brilliant yellows.

Cataract surgery was not yet the routine operation it is today, and it carried considerable risk. After observing another artist go blind from a botched cataract operation, and much deliberation, Monet finally opted for the surgery.

Surprisingly, the operation seemingly changed how Monet’s vision now functioned, instituting a new intensity to his paintings. Already a master of color, it’s thought the cataract surgery may have altered Monet’s vision to be able see color in the realm of the ultraviolet, beyond the normal human spectrum.

Normally, ultraviolet light is invisible to humans. However, many animals can see UV light, especially insects. Butterflies use ultraviolet spots on their wings to distinguish males from females. Some flower species which appear plain to us, actually have a variety of ultraviolet stripes and patterns to attract bees for pollination. There exists a whole world of color in nature that’s completely invisible to us, but evidently, no longer to Monet.

It’s been said, “God never made a mistake.” His awesome mercy and grace gave “…beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning…” (Isaiah 61:3), taking a depressed artist’s cataracts to produce an entirely new genre of art for all to experience, an indisputable testimony that . . . “God never made a mistake.”    . . . and He never will!

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Beauty and the Beast

Spring in the Smokies is in glorious bloom! Today’s woodland wander was a stroll along Beauty Boulevard.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil or spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as one of these.”


. . . until going off-trail onto Creepy Cove where Snappy was sunbathing in his pool

(Couldn’t find any Scripture referencing snapping turtles 😊)

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

We not Me

This reflective English Proverb was posted by a fellow blogger the other day:

 A wise old owl sat on an oak.

The more he saw, the less he spoke.

The less he spoke, the more he heard.

Why can’t we be like that wise old bird?

. . . and to this I would respectfully add the footnote . . .

Who much of what he heard was distressingly absurd . . .

  • How our society’s cyber-communication has depersonalized relationships
  • How our society’s fast-paced pulse of life has fragmented families
  • How our society’s chaotic-dysfunction government has enraged division
  • How our society’s narcissistic-confrontational Me attitude has derailed altruistic We collaboration

So, what’s your point Fred?  . . . you’re sounding like just another old, grouchy, complaining curmudgeon, lamenting the ‘Good Old Days’.

I’m aware I’m old. That it now takes several boxes candles and a torch to ignite my birthday cake confirms that😊. However, I refuse to acquiesce joining the ranks of grouchy, complaining curmudgeons. I remain an optimistic subscriber to Yogi Berra’s classic one-liner philosophy,

It’s not over till it’s over

My point is . . .  positive change begins one-person-at-a-time. I’ve seen and heard lots of distressing Me absurdity, but also much encouraging We camaraderie.  It’s time to become more involved advocating a “wise old bird” We-not-Me outlook before molting my final feathers.

In his book The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, Brennan Manning shares the following encouraging story that inspires me to keep-on-keeping on, believing . . .

It’s not over till it’s over” . . . together We can begin to heal society’s distressing absurdity.


During a two-hour layover in the Atlanta airport, I decided I had better get a shoeshine to look more presentable to the Episcopalians to whom I would be speaking.

An elderly man shined my shoes for the going rate of one dollar and 50 cents, I handed him two dollars and said,

Now you get up in the chair and I’ll shine your shoes.”

He said, “Huh? What?”

I won’t charge you.”

He stared at me suspiciously,

What for then?”

Because you’re my brother.”

He really looked disconcerted then. Finally, he said,

Well, when I ain’t busy the boss leaves me some shoes to shine. But thank you anyway.”

When I saw tears in his eyes I reached out and hugged him, and he said softly,

No white man ever talked to me like that before.”

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Luke 6:31

You and I may not change our society, but if our behavior matches our belief and touches but one soul, that person’s world has been changed forever.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Jeremy’s Egg

Tomorrow is Easter. As done on previous Easter eves, here once again is one my favorite true stories. May it encourage you as together we rejoice remembering . . .

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”—Clarence W. Hall

Over the years I’ve listened to many excellent presentations by respected bible scholars on Christ’s empty tomb. However, none has ever touched my heart as much as Jeremy, a 12-year-old chronically ill, physically and mentally handicap’s child.

This modestly simple, yet profoundly insightful ‘Empty Egg’ grasp of Easter’s eternal significance humbles me. His unfettered, trusting faith challenges mine to ever increase . . . Thank you Jeremy.

From our home to yours, may each of you experience a blessed Easter tomorrow surrounded by loved ones as together we celebrate the empty tomb of Author of Love  . . .

He Is Risen!

Jeremy’s Egg

Ida Mae Kemple

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life.  Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and sent him to St. Theresa’s Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn.  His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him.  He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises.

At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain.  Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.  One day, she called his parents and asked them to come to St. Theresa’s for a consultation.

As the Forresters sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them,

Jeremy really belongs in a special school.  It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems.  Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue while her husband spoke. 

Miss Miller,” he said, “there’s no school of that kind nearby.  It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school.  We know he really likes it here.

Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window.  Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul.  She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters.  After all, their only child had a terminal illness.  But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class.  She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy would be a distraction.  Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write.  Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. 

Oh God,” she said aloud, “here I am complaining, when my problems are nothing compared with that poor family!  Please help me be more patient with Jeremy.

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares.  Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him.

I love you Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’s face turned red. 

She stammered, “Wh – why, that’s very nice, Jeremy.  Now please take your seat.

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.  Doris told them the story of Jesus, and to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. 

Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life.  Do you understand?

Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically –  all except Jeremy.  He just listened intently; his eyes never left her face.  He did not even make his usual noises.

Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’s death and resurrection?  Did he understand the assignment?  Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris’s kitchen sink stopped up.  She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it.  After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day.  She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk.  After they had completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.

In the first egg, Doris found a flower. 

 “Oh, yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said.  “When plants peek through the ground, we know that Spring is here.” 

A small girl in the first row waved her arm.  “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real.  Doris held it up. 

 “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly.  Yes, that is new life, too.” 

Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine!

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it.  She explained that moss, too, showed life. 

Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom.  “My daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg.  She gasped.  The egg was empty!  Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand the instructions.  If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents.  Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up.  “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?

Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy –  your egg is empty!”  He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’s tomb was empty too!

Time stopped.  When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?

Oh, yes!” Jeremy exclaimed.  “Jesus was killed and put in there.  Then his Father raised him up!

The recess bell rang.  While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried.  The cold inside her melted completely away. Three months later Jeremy died.  Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Midnight Deck Party

I was just about to call it a day and turn in last night when Ellen said,

Quiet . . . I hear something outside on the deck.”

My wife’s hearing exceeds that of the Secret Service’s most technologically sophisticated listening devices. Without my hearing aids I’m borderline deaf, and often don’t wear them. This in enhances my chances of being granted an audio-waiver on those occasions I feel the need to claim one by stating, “Sorry Dear, I didn’t hear you.” . . . this technique no longer works work as well as it once did😊 . . . but I digress.

“It’s probably just the wind”, I assured her. “Turn on the lights and check.”

Ellen walked over and threw the light switch . . . “Bears!”

Filming a video through a window from inside the house of an event happening outside at night when the lights are on in both places results in distracting reflections, and sub-par cinematography. However, I though some of you might find this video clip of Mama and her three yearling juvenile delinquents on our deck last night chowing down on our bird feeders.

Ellen and I watched our own live Nature channel from the other side of the glass in our living room. Some might also enjoy our brief dialog exchange regarding the deck party . . . turn up the volume😊 Always an adventure living in the forest.

Here’s the video link to last night’s entertainment –

PS – The bird feeders have been removed . . . sorry my feathered friends.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!


Easter – Pay It Forward

Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”

Kate McGahan.

Easter is this ole ragamuffin’s most beloved holiday. Recently I was both humbled and convicted reading a historical account where Easter’s resurrection message was acknowledged and fearlessly declared in the face of adversity and certain punishment.

Inspired by Marxist doctrine, Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution (1917-1923) incited the workers of the world (proletariat) to unite and free themselves from capitalist oppression to create a world run by and for the working class. Vladimir Lenin led a Marxist coup which abolished capitalism and established socialism in Russia. Joseph Stalin followed leading the Communist Party until his death in1953.

Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the masses.” Stalin stated, “The communist Party must have an anti-religious policy.” They opposed God and all forms of religion.

Anatoly Lunacharsky was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and the Bolshevik Commissar for the Ministry of Education. Shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution he was lecturing to some 7,000 people in Moscow’s largest assembly hall. The Commissar spoke profoundly of the irrefutable logic of science, and the senseless myths of Christianity . . . “the opiate of the masses.

Finishing his intellectual, arrogant discourse, the Commissar condescendingly asked if there were any in the audience who had anything to add. A twenty-six-year-old, newly ordained Russian Orthodox priest stepped forward, awkwardly apologizing for his ignorance.

The Commissar addressed him scornfully,

I’ll give you two minutes, no more.”

I won’t take very long.”, the young priest assured him.

Stepping up to the podium, he turned to the audience and declared in a loud voice,

Christ is Risen!

As one, 7,000 people roared in response,

He is risen indeed!

Such bold, courageous faith is often seen among the poor, oppressed, and enslaved in our world, but seldom witnessed among the affluent, comfortable, and free?  Why?  

By the grace of God alone. . .

  • I’m a well-off middle-class American, not a lowest stratum caste, destitute dalit in India
  • I’m in comfortable, safe surroundings, not huddled in a dark Ukrainian bomb shelter
  • I’m free to worship, not confined in a tortuous North Korean prison camp for my faith

The unmerited favor and mercy God has granted me astounds me! I could never begin to offer one iota of recompense for all I’ve been blessed with . . . and I’m not required to . . . my debt was paid-in-full on a blood stained cross 2,000 years ago. The limitless Love of our Abba Father desires only one thing . . . to ‘Pay it Forward’ by “loving Him with all our heart, soul and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves” (paraphrased Matthew 22:37-39)

Imagine what our dysfunctional, divided nation and the chaotic world we live in would look like if each of us began to do so. Impossible? Perhaps, but every long journey begins with the first bold, courageous step. This Easter may our gratitude prompt each of us to do so.

Happy Easter!

Christ is Risen!


Today’s 89-degree record temperature woke Snappy from his long winter slumber. I found him wandering across the road . . . without looking both ways . . . and gave him a lift home.

Snapper soup with a dash of sherry is premium cuisine. We’d already ‘shelled out’ for a turkey to serve at Easter dinner, and Snappy is now enjoying his new digs in our pond . . . what’s on your Easter menu? 😊😊😊

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!