Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

Hang out with the old preacher by browsing my blogs.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I am not a scientist, but I know there is a spot in the brain somewhere that goes soft the day one becomes a grandparent. Okay, I am relying on anecdotal evidence, but so far my incomplete survey is displaying 100% results in favor of my thesis. Take the case of my "military" friend, Bill Warren, who would rather "remove the temptation" than see his granddaughter's cute little hand get a spank. This observation was relayed to me by his other daughter who commented, "That is not my father!"

I realized the day Stacy was born that my granddaughter could do no wrong. My theology tells me this proposition is impossible. My personal experience as a father only reinforces the biblical doctrine of human depravity. But grand parenting schizophrenia allows for me to preach total depravity on the one hand, and coo mantras of innocence to my little grandchildren on the other.

All of that was about 10 minutes ago. Now, all of a sudden I find myself a great grandfather. But no matter, it only gets worse. My son-in-law challenged me with, "My granddaughter is cuter than your granddaughter." After a full 30 seconds, Stacy got the point and complained, "Hey, wait a minute! That's me!"

Hey, they're coming too fast! Now I have a grandson too. Little David was born last Tuesday, and he is quite a handsome fellow, if I do say so myself. He even has a nice head full of dark hair. I have often thought of starting a side business making wigs for little newborns. It seems especially shameful for a little baby girl to be bald. If enough people agree with me we might pool our capital and invest in "Mops for Tots" or whatever.

Some kids come out looking as though they have just survived 5 rounds with Sugar Ray. They have red splotches all over their face, bulges and wrinkles where they shouldn't be, and they make it even worse by scrunching up the face and bellering. Now when someone points to his little darling, and he looks like a retiring boxer, I have learned to say, "Now there's a baby!" Truth has been told yet feelings have not been crushed. Anyway, my great grandson is more handsome than yours.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I mentioned that I was a latchkey kid, growing up. Some of my free time was not spent wisely. Let me tell you about my dad's slot machine. He came home with a nickel slot--you know, a "one-armed-bandit" they used to call them. Now you need to know that private ownership of a slot machine was perfectly legal, as long as it was minimal and used only for family entertainment.

He liked to take things apart and fix them. And when he dismantled the slot, he discovered that each wheel had a series of holes. Depending on just how the wheels lined up at the end of each turn, a metal rod poked through the holes to determine if there was any payoff, and if so, just how much money ought to be paid. Some of the holes had been plugged, so dad realized the machine was "tighter" than it's original condition. He removed all the plugs and adjusted the symbols on the wheels to reflect the new value. All the stuff I just said simply means that he made the machine so it would pay off more than it did before.

Visiting friends would always find an attraction to the machine. Several of them enjoyed a small handful of nickels payoff. Most of dad's friends would feel a social obligation to pump the money back into the machine, but even if they didn't we were not about to go broke because of it. Well, I knew where the key was kept, and when I came home from school I would open the back, grab a bunch of nickels, and play the machine. It was fun to put the nickel in and pull the handle. The wheels spun around and the machine clinked a couple of times and it was all very fascinating. As long as I pumped all the nickels back into the machine before either of my parents got home, no one was any the wiser.

Well one day I did it. I inserted the nickel, pulled the handle, and clink, clink, crash! I had hit the jackpot. Money came out of the payoff tube, and nickles came crashing out of the display case as well. Money was falling all over the floor, and I was busted! It wouldn't work for me to just open the back of the machine and stick the money in the collecting tray. The display case on the front of the machine would be conspicuously empty! I had to try to pump all that money back into the machine before mom or dad got home. Now remember dad had "loosened" the payoff odds for this machine. So as I feverishly fed this little bandit and pulled the handle, it kept paying off the smaller increments of three oranges, three cherries or plums. Here came 10 more nickels. Now there were 20 more. Aaahhh! Why can't I lose? Doesn't everyone know the house never looses? It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. I was dripping with sweat (perhaps it was mostly nervous sweat) when I finally finished my task. But I did it. Since there was no harm there was no foul. That made it a little easier to tell dad what I had done. But I didn't tell him for several days. He was pretty cool about it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


My wife is a long time Avon representative. She used to score very high in her district without making a major effort. When she was President's Club or better I used to get invited to join her at the annual dinner. But many things are slowing down in our lives, and Avon seems to be one of those things. But she still sells a respectable volume, and she went to the dinner last night. Imagine my surprise when she called on the cell, "I'm going to be a little late tonight. I won the grand prize, and we have to try to get it into the car." Me: silence. Barbara: "I can't hear you, there's just too much noise here. I'll see you a little later. Bye." When we were on our great Alaskan cruise a few years ago, she won the drawing for the hand made ring that was featured. And before that she won a drawing she knew nothing about when Avon decided to award a new computer to about three reps in the whole of Western USA, including Hawaii. Our friend, Evelyn Byer told me, "You know I believe in God's providence. But Barbara is just lucky." Susan (Lee) Tierney says that I ought to take her to Las Vegas and make a fortune. I don't think we will do that. But I will enjoy cooking burgers over this new Webber gas grill she brought home last night. I too believe in providence, but the Bible uses the concept of being "lucky" in a sly expression. Look up Ruth 2:3. It is really telling us that Ruth "lucked out" when she gleaned in the field of Boaz.

Monday, June 1, 2009

More Cats

Last weekend we visited friends in Paso Robles, and discovered their cat is named “Spike”. Now, that may be a cute name for a brawler with one chewed ear, but this was a sweet little girl feline. There seems to be no accounting for the names some people choose for their pets. Reading Corrie ten Boom’s story you will discover her cat was named “Mahershalalhashbaz”. This, of course, was taken from the Bible. It was the divinely prescribed name for one of Isaiah’s sons. It was prophetic of the rape of Judah by her enemies, and is roughly translated, “Hasten the spoil, rush on the prey.” How can one complain when God has chosen your name for you? I’ll just say I am happy not to be Isaiah’s son. Well we lacked the originality, but admired the cleverness of this name and so one of our cats was named Mahershalalhashbaz. His life, however, was considerably shorter than his name. Then there was Chedorlaomer, Jezebel (black, of course), Gabriel (see earlier blog) and Pernicious. Some of them became sail cats. You don’t know what a “sail cat” is? Often a cat will come to the end of its career under the wheels of a passing motorist. When it happens on a remote street and we do not know about it, then it becomes a sail cat. The carcass is flattened thoroughly by many drivers, and it dries out under the hot sun, and then one can peel it from the asphalt and sail it like a Frisbee. That is a sail cat.
When Blondie met her demise (under the wheels), she was tenderly carried, in my loving 9 year old hands, to a grave in our back yard. Gabriel just walked away. Jezebel was well on the way to becoming a sail cat, and I don’t even remember if she was given a decent burial.
When we stopped keeping cats for personal pleasure, we discovered we needed to have a cat as a pet for our dog, Talitha. She is worthy of a separate blog, so I will leave it at that. Suffice it to say that Talitha would mope around the house until we obtained another cat for her to play with.
I am a cat guy. I think they are terribly funny. They can also be very cuddly and companionable—if you get the right cat. I am amused at their air of superiority, and their attempt to display dignity. Bob Lee told me the story of his cat, “Mister” who enjoyed leaping onto the glass coffee table where he would settle on his magisterial perch. On the day the glass panel was broken and had not yet been replaced, Mister leaped for his usual perch only to fall through the table to the floor beneath. Bob said that the cat quickly regained his composure, licked himself a few strokes, and settled on the floor, saying with his body language, “That’s what I intended all along.”