Thursday, January 30, 2014


This Sunday is the Super Bowl, and As the big day approaches I have encountered a number of articles criticizing football as bloodsport. On the one hand the concerns about the cumulative effect of concussions and other injuries on player health are decidedly legitimate, but if they change the rules any more the game will cease to resemble the football which our forefathers enjoyed. It is just one more nail in the coffin of masculinity and our great republic.

I have a solution, however, to propose to NFL league commissioner, Roger Goodell. Let's get rid of the pads and the helmets. It may  sound counter-intuitive but if you take away the helmet nobody is gonna be leading with the head. As things stand now, the very equipment intended to make the game safer has made it more dangerous. The players are throwing their bodies around like missiles, and it is the pads and helmet which have dulled their natural instincts toward self-preservation. The helmet especially has evolved into a formidable weapon and is possibly the biggest problem.

If I were Goodell I would make the bold move of getting rid of the pads.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Yesterday, I took the kids fishing at Watertown Lake. Like all the lakes here in north Florida its waters are dark as molasses. They say it’s from all of the tannic acid in the oaks. I think it’s beautiful- like a tea that has been steeping for a thousand years. The lake has a long, L-shaped fishing pier that goes out beyond its weedy fringes into deeper water, and after the kids spilled out of the van, Bowden led the charge, clomping out over its rough wooden boards. He ran the length of the pier, with his younger siblings trailing out behind him like a sled dog team.

I watched as he baited his hook and expertly cast a line into the water. His younger siblings also watched, and then they came running back to me clamoring for their own rods, which I had been carrying for them. I had set up shop near the middle of the pier. Lucy moved a few yards off to my left and gave her new fishing rod, a Christmas gift, its inaugural cast.  I was busy untangling Jack and Miles’ fishing rods and baiting their hooks while they peered over the side of the dock looking for “alligator bubbles.” Going fishing with small children requires a lot of patience. Their lines are forever getting tangled, and they can't bait a hook or cast or wait patiently. Basically, they can't fish. Fishing with little kids is really more of an investment in the future. The hope is that they will grow up loving fishing with Dad and that when they are older it will become something for me to do with them. Perhaps one day fishing will provide us with regular opportunities to talk in an unforced and natural way. I am already strategically approaching their teenage years. I had finally gotten their lines untangled and was busily baiting their hooks when I heard our littlest, Miles (4 years old), say something about “bubbles.” I looked up just in time to see him slip head-first off the side of the pier into 10 feet of coffee-black water.

Jack instantly began shrieking at the top of his lungs, “He fell in! He fell in!” while jumping up and down in a tearful frenzy of fear and desperation. Lucy dropped her rod and yelled, “Daddy! Daddy!” A woman, who was also fishing just a few yards to my left and who had also seen Miles fall in, cried out “O, dear Lord, have mercy.” The black water suddenly looked sinister as it swallowed Miles up. As quick as you can say “take your I-phone out of your pocket,” I jumped into the lake after him. As I cleared the side of the dock I caught a glimpse of Miles struggling near the surface. The adrenaline took over completely. I didn’t feel the cold of the water or the weight of my clothes. In that moment I existed for just one purpose. I found him in the water and lifted him up to the waiting arms of the woman who was reaching over the edge of the dock 3 feet above me. With the help of another man who had also been fishing nearby they hefted Miles back up onto the fishing pier. By the time I had regained the pier myself, Sarah had already whisked Miles away to the van where he was being dried off and wrapped in a blanket. A toothless man congratulated me on having the presence of mind to take my I-phone out of my pocket before jumping in. My heart threatened to beat right out of my chest. I went back to fishing.
But later that night, after I had put the kids to bed, I opened the book I was reading and found a bookmark that Miles had made for me earlier that morning. He had drawn a cross on a piece of paper and had proudly presented it to me. “The cross stands for Jesus,” he had explained. “You can use it for a bookmark if you want.” My heart ached as my mind filled with dread at the thought of what could have been. Then it flooded with relief that Miles was tucked safely into his bed down the hall. It felt like when you wake up from a nightmare and for a few moments you are not sure which world is real.

What if he had died? What if I had been on another part of the pier? What if nobody had seen him fall in? What if? That was too terrible a thought to entertain, and too ugly to look at for long. If Miles had died yesterday I’m not sure I would have had it in me to come back to the house. I would have wanted to seal the place off and never go there again. I can’t imagine the pain of seeing his bath toys gathered quietly near the drain, or his pajamas hanging out of the side of the hamper, or the spot near the front door where he had scribbled on the wall, or that bookmark he had given me. My life came all too close to being divided into before and after we went to that lake. Fragile.
On Sunday, a friend of mine lost his 23 year old son who died unexpectedly following an accident. I called him this morning to see how he was doing, and he said “About like you would imagine.” Even if I could imagine I'm not sure I wanted to. That reality is too horrible to look at for long. I thought of Miles. Today my friend was planning to drive over to his son’s apartment to go through his belongings and start cleaning the place out. Before hanging up I promised to pray for him. As I did I couldn’t help crying for my friend and his horrible loss. His task today was going to take a lot of strength. “Lord, surprise him with the goodness of your presence," I prayed, "For Your glory and for Your name’s sake work this for good.”  

The Lord has promised a day when there will be no more crying or pain, no more death. He always keeps his promises. Sometimes we grow too fond of this world. Our eyes grow too accustomed to the dark, but today I lived and walked in the hope of His return. O, Lord, come!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Whenever I receive letters from the kids’ school addressed to their “Guardian” I always feel like a superhero or something. "Guardian? Who, Moi? Oh, do go on!"

Guardian. It has a certain ring to it, does it not? The only title I would prefer more is “Lord Protector,” like Oliver Cromwell. Still, “Guardian” isn’t bad. It would be a good name for a superhero whose mild-mannered alter ego is a non-conventional caregiver.
Sometimes I think that the Kratts brothers are like the youth pastors in the church of Gaya. “Creature Power!” “Go Wild!”

 Walking through cemeteries always inspires me to start planning my funeral.
 If NJ Governor, Chris Christie, goes on to prove a contender for the Republican nomination in 2016 he would be wise to steer clear of Corpus Christi, TX while planning his campaign stops. From one fat man to another, speaking in a place called Corpus Christi could only invite jokes about the corpus of one Governor Christie. I wonder if that would be a difficult conversation for an aide to have with Governor Christie. “Sir, we need to talk about this plan to stump in Corpus Christi.”
What’s up with spatula design? They always have slots, holes, or squares in them, and that despite the fact that they are used most often, in my experience, to scoop and flip batter and eggs which inevitably becomes stuck in the aforementioned slots, holes and squares. Why are they there to begin with?  What is their function?

If I could trade voices with anyone I would, without a moment’s hesitation, swap voices with Gene Hackman. I love that man's voice.

I think if Stinker the Tinker is ever to take his place in popular culture he must have a catchy Christmas Carol to propel him into national consciousness. When my ship comes in I will commission such a song from Gordon Lightfoot. I wonder what he's up to.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"LIKE SMOKE," COMING TO A LIBRARY NEAR YOU! (If you happen to live in Lake City, FL, that is.)

 The local library in Lake City does not have a copy of my book, "Like Smoke," so yesterday, on my day off, I set out to remedy that sad fact. You're welcome, Columbia County!
 You'll find it in the American Poetry section just past a number of inferior works by some dude named Shel Silverstein. His mediocre efforts will look all the more lackluster because they have been shelved next to mine- not unlike like the ugly sister at a dance. I am sorry Mr. Silverstein. It is a sad bit of fate that an alphabet-based filing system caused us to be juxtaposed so harshly. Couldn't be helped I suppose.

 I even brought an extra copy to be sold in their little used book store. Fifty cents for all paperbacks? Wow, that's a bargain, especially considering that this little beauty was signed by the author.
 Let's just move that old, crummy copy of "The Hobbit," out of the way so this masterpiece can be properly showcased.
 "There, that's better."

Sunday, January 5, 2014


"Gifts from God are not for us, but rather through us to others."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The rain today has given way to a misty afternoon. Various kinds of tree frogs are joining their different songs. They remind me of my favorite Robert Frost line,

"That sang in the mist a month ago,
A ghost of sleigh bells in a ghost of snow"