LOCAL VIEW –Moody Monday–

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Sometimes the weekend is too short. I’m not ready for the sheer inanity of my fellow man when Monday rolls around.

I’ve been in an on-line discussion with someone about sea-ice. It has been frustrating because he or she will not talk about the things my eyes can see and that I can point to, but instead resorts to invisible things sensed by satellites, such as “mass-balance.” Finally I gave up trying to show what eyes can see, and basically stated, “Be that way, if you want.” I thought that would be the end of it, but this morning I got this lovely note:

“Caleb, you should be aware by know that the Heartland institute support whatever fake science industry pays them to support. This includes lobbying and generating doubt against regulations on CO2 emissions, ozone-destroying chemicals, second-hand-smoke, endangered species etc. They are part of the paid anti-science forces in the US. You are truly living in a conservative bubble if you are not aware of this. And Fred Singer’s past? For-hire fake scientist…shameful stuff.
I know this won’t be published, I just hope you read this and reflect a bit what kind of forces you are dealing with and endorse.”

Great. I haven’t even had my first coffee.

Anyway, I am reflecting on what kind of forces I am dealing with (if not endorsing.) It made me pout a bit. After all, I am only pointing out what my eyes can see, and discover I am a bad-guy, part of “anti-science forces”. Me!  And I’m such a nice old fossil.

Then, when driving the little children to kindergarten, I discover this lovely object has been parked at the entrance of the high school.

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I think the point of this is to stress the gravity of reckless driving to the high school seniors, who tend to go wild at the time of graduation. However, as is often the case with alarmists focusing on worst-case-scenarios, it immediately backfired. Someone was gawking at the appalling wreck, and promptly went off the road, not fifty yards away.

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Sometimes human efforts look particularly lame and ineffectual, and I want to stop the world and get off. Funny how often this happens on Mondays.

Take my cheeks in Your palms and raise my eyes
To Your hills, for my vision’s gone heavy.
(Too much talk of itches with hearts so dry
They make thirst.)
                          Faith that has never been steady
Knows most about the worst, yet it yammers
On insistent, (Professor of Dullsville),
As my tired heart slowly hammers
A cage for itself.
                                   Even the seagulls will
Rise from their dumps and let beauty soar
But I need Your help; It would be so easy
For You.
                  You open Springtime’s golden store
Of lemon green, make trees lacy and breezy,
And dab dark pines in honey. One glance kills
All woe, so raise my eyes to Your hills.

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LOCAL VIEW –Perfected Creation–

I thought I’d include this poem to demonstrate how my mind wanders.

1.) A sea-ice post led to a discussion of drifting continents.

2.) God moving continents about is like a husband moving about the furniture.

3.) We, as the “bridesmaids” God created, likely nagged Him into doing it.

4.) Time for a poem.

For just a moment, every spring,
I see how perfect Eden must have been.
For just a dawn, before bugs come out to sting,
I glimpse how life will be, when freed of sin.
Spring’s an echo of God saying, “It is good.”

We should have accepted the compliment.
Instead it seems we told God that He should
Move the furniture, shift each continent,
End drought but end rain.

                                        What had God created?
A nagging wife? Did our Maker then groan
“This isn’t good!” No, for He clearly stated
The not-good he’d made was, “To be alone.”

The opposite of “alone” is “in love”
And, because God is love, isolation
Is the enemy. Creation dreams of
A great family’s celebration
And, though family may bicker and fight
And be His headache, we’re still His delight.

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(Photo Credit:  Marlowe Gautreau)

LOCAL VIEW –Chameleon Blues–

Yesterday I shared one of the last songs I wrote as a bachelor. This is another, and might have actually been my last. I like it, because it holds the springtime recklessness that is bound to wind you up in all sorts of trouble, such as marriage, but at that time I was convinced I’d never marry, as I was far too old. (37).

Three good stories are involved with the creation of this song. As I’m in the mood to dwell on the past, I hope you’ll forgive me for sharing them.

Back then I was deeply involved in attempting to help my Dad out of a black depression, and not having much luck, for he had lots of valid reasons and was much smarter than I in all ways but hope. He drank heavily and could blast the dickens out of any hope I had, before it was half-way out of my mouth. I refused to give up, but found him a bit of a downer, so I sought relief in a church choir, where I could sing of hope at the top of my lungs without getting blasted for it.

Consequently I found myself associating with two extremely different sorts of people. Someone noticed my pick-up truck pass in one direction with a good-old-boy friend of my father, who was a notorious drunkard and rake, and not long afterwards my pick-up truck passed in the other direction holding a wonderful, elderly lady-of-the-church. That person told me, “You’re nothing but a chameleon.”

I blew a gasket, but quietly and on paper, by writing the following song. I was sick and tired of being misunderstood for having hope.

One person I was misunderstood-by was my elder sister, who was convinced I was a fool to have hope in my father, and deeply concerned that I couldn’t handle his alcoholic abuse. To reassure her that there was a better side to my life I sent her a daily letter for five days, describing my interactions with church ladies and church gentlemen (who were the customers of my landscaping business) and including this song. My sister was so sure my letters would hold nothing but the deranged neurosis of a little brother getting driven mad by an alcoholic Dad that she sent them all back unopened in a manila envelope, with a sisterly note advising me that I was nuts. I blew a second gasket, telephoned her, and told her I would not talk to her for six months, and then we could decide if I had been nuts or not. (I talked to her before the six months passed, to invite her to my wedding.)

It turned out to be a good thing I got that mail back, for I think it was my only copy of the song, and by chance I had an opportunity to perform it before several hundred people a week later. Being a bachelor,  I could just take off when I was fed up, and wound up visiting friends at a gathering of followers of Meher Baba in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. They had a “talent show”, and I felt strangely compelled to sign up and sing my song, and had the unique experience (in my life) of being a “hit.” By the end several hundred people were clapping and singing the final line of each verse.

As I hitchhiked back to New Hampshire (an insane experience which convinced me to never hitchhike again) I was thinking to myself that maybe I was going to be a successful artist after all,  but much to my surprise I went on a blind date and discovered my destiny was to be a successful father, which in my opinion is a far greater thing.

In any case, after that long introduction, here is the song:


Sometimes I cut my long hair short.
Then some girls call me, “Handsome”,
But soon that hair grows long and then
I look like Charlie Manson.
This superficial stuff don’t fool
The upstairs, big Number-One,
But some folk ’round here call me,
“The Chameleon.”

They also call me “Two Faced”,
But the truth is, I’ve got more,
For I’m friendly with the rich folk
And I’m friendly with the poor.
I’ve heard that God’s in everyone
So I try to love every one.
So I don’t deserve the nickname of
“The Chameleon”.

I love the holy rollers
And the bitter atheist
For every hand has got a palm
Even when it makes a fist.
I try to love my enemies
Even when they scare me with a gun,
So I don’t deserve this nickname of
“The Chameleon”.

Variety’s my spice of life;
It don’t make me a liar:
Weekdays I love my rock and roll;
Sundays I love the choir!
No two snowflakes are alike;
All snowflakes melt beneath the Mighty Sun,
So I don’t deserve this nickname of
“The Chameleon.”

Some people are afraid to change.
They won’t try nothing new.
I don’t know why they are so shy.
There’s lots and lots of things to do
And we all like folk creative,
So we shouldn’t sneer or shun,
For growth involves more changes…
And life involves more changes…
And love involves more changes than
A Chameleon.

To conclude I confess I get hit by this springtime recklessness every year, but my wife has always done a good job of tempering my wildness, until this year. This year she is as bad as, if not worse than than, I am.

Therefore there may be an abrupt end to postings on this blog-site for a while. Not that I intend to stop posting, but at times one is so busy doing new things they have no time to describe it.


LOCAL VIEW –Black Fly Blues–

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Outside the blue sky’s gorgeous
But I’m not going out of doors today.
Outside the sun is golden
But inside is the place I’m going to stay.
I’ll be a couch potato
Until the biting black flies go away.

I’ve heard God’s love’s in everything,
Even in that pesky little fly.
I found the thought impossible,
So I grabbed one, and I looked him in the eye.
He whined, “Hey man! I love you!”
He’d made a point no woodsman can deny.

They love me head down to my toes;
They even love the inside of my nose.
They also love my armpits
(And not too many folk are fond of those.)
They’re part of Love’s creation
Sort of like the thorns upon a rose.

See that flycatcher winging?
He loves black fly. Black fly he’s glad to see.
Hear that songbird singing?
Black fly fuels his springtime rhapsody.
Feel that itch and stinging?
You are part of Love’s ecology.

Outside the blue sky’s gorgeous.
I can’t be cooped up inside any more.
Outside the sun is gorgeous.
I find I’m walking slowly to the door.
Spring is here and it is clear
Love’s inviting me to come explore.

I wrote that song back in May, 1990. It was one of the last songs I wrote as a bachelor, though I didn’t really have a clue what lay 45 days in my future. I had just chanced into a small town church choir, and found myself mingling with young married couples with small children, and they wanted me to sing at a church picnic in June. It was sort of a graduation party for the Sunday School. For me it was great fun, for I’d been through over a decade as a drifter and a loner, and now all of a sudden I had not only a guitarist and bass to back up my vocals, but the young housewives insisted on being accompanying dancers as I sang, and choreographed a thing where all held fly-swatters and waved them like batons as I sang. I doubt it would have been a hit on Broadway, but we weren’t aiming for that. We hit the bulls eye of what we aimed for, which was joy and a good laugh.

To make joy out of black flies is a major achievement. In fact it is something I think might be good to be remembered for. It would make an intriguing tombstone, “He made joy out of black flies.”

However here it is 27 years later, and I’m dealing with a whole new generation of children and black flies. One way I create a safe-house out of doors is to use the old-fashioned idea of a “smudge.” You basically build a hot fire, and then smother it with wet leaves and twigs.

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Black flies don’t like smoke. They don’t even like the exhaust of a lawn mower or leaf-blower, but back in the day I was prone to using un-powered hand tools, and therefore during the spring I was a chain-smoker. I’d say I only inhaled a puff or two of each cigarette, but they were much cheaper back then, and I’d go through 3 packs a day quite often.

Of course, the politics of smoke have gotten rougher. The EPA was doing its best to outlaw smoke altogether, (though they did get caught fudging some of their data, concerning the harm of “particulates.)”

When I was a small child I didn’t use the word “particulates”, but, believe it or not, one of the small girls at the Childcare furrowed her brow, as I built my smudge, and asked me if I was worried about the “particulates”.

What could I say? I just tugged my beard thoughtfully, and said man started using fire a long, long time ago. Neanderthals used fire. Even Homo Erectus used fire, perhaps as much as 1,500,000 years ago. If it was bad for us, it would have killed us by now. In fact, we probably evolved to handle smoke better than laboratory rats do.  So I told her she shouldn’t worry too much about “particulates.” There was probably more bad stuff in indoor air, than by a campfire.

The girl seemed immensely relieved, and ran off to happily play. But it did make me wonder what some environmentalists think they are teaching our children, when they cause the young such worry, and so many bad dreams. Actually the outside is a lovely place, even when the black flies are out.

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LOCAL VIEW –Tipping Point–

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When life gets too quiet we crave some noise.
Noisy life makes us seek quiet again.
We’re always alternating our joys.
We have visions and get busy and then
We feel over-worked, and seek some new toys,
Some new hamster wheel to take a spin in
But it becomes a rat race; with the boys
We go out, and begin with a big grin
But wind up hung-over; each pleasure destroys
Its foundation somehow; each winking allure
Winds us up jaded. Our poor brain employs
Years of research to find peace that is pure
And will last: Perfect balance; perfect poise…
…but then it’s too quiet, so we crave some noise.

My wife and I have decided we don’t feel fulfilled unless we are busy as bees. We cannot seem to sit and sip a drink without brainstorming and coming up with a whole new crop of ideas. Soon our schedule is filled to the brim, and we are happy, until…

There always seems to be one unplanned thing that pops in, and tips us from joy to complete despair. What saves us is our sense of humor. It has happened so many times that we have a private motto (regarding how full our schedule is.) “99% equals joy; 101% equals despair.”

Some people say, “Into each life a little rain must fall.” Yesterday I decided it could also be “Into each life a little weasel will call.”

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Should some weasel enter your life today, remember you are not alone, and keep your sense of humor.

LOCAL VIEW –Cryptic Cashing–

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On my money it states, “In God We Trust”,
But some people want to remove it.
They say that old steel has corroded to rust.
They say that the Lord hasn’t proved it.

So, once, old Satan told Jesus to jump
From Jerusalem’s highest, holiest spire
To prove He could land without bruise or bump.
Only then would old Satan admire.

But Jesus said trust which required such proof
Was a trust which was not truly trusting.
The prayers of our youth are a gaffe and a goof
While purest of gold knows no such rusting.

It’s losers who win Satan’s lottery.
Winners let money’s wise motto just be.

(Inspired by David’s Psalm 91, which Satan misquoted, when trying to trick Jesus into jumping.)

(Also inspired by considering what a complete ruin my life would be, if God had been indulgent, and had given me all the absurd things I prayed for when young and foolish.)