Friday, November 29, 2013

Post-Thanksgiving Limerick

Robert usually woke up perky.

but today, he felt sort of jerky.

Was he getting a cold?

Did he breathe in bad mold?

He suffers from overdose of turkey.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. -H.U. Westermayer

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty. ~Edward Winslow, A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1621.

More than 200 years after that first thanksgiving celebration, President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.

Most people living today cannot really imagine what life was like for the Pilgrims. With their own hands, they made tools and built a nation. Their food crops weren't grown for bragging rights or as a hobby; their crops determined if they would starve or live through the winter. They were truly thankful when the rains came, when the hot days made the corn stalks climb. They thanked God for a bountiful crop of acorns and other nuts, which fed the game that fed them. They gave thanks that their children had lived to be a year old, that their hands were able to hold the axe and the plow. The pilgrims were thankful for neighbors who would help them, sharing seeds and knowledge of the land, without which they could not have survived.

Thanksgiving doesn't have much importance anymore in our culture. It is a day to eat too much and fall asleep later watching football. It serves as a launching point for the Christmas season, with Black Friday the next day and the coffee table piled with ads for 5:00 AM (or earlier) shopping. This year, many places are open Thanksgiving Day.

Some decorate their homes and businesses for Christmas after Halloween, just skipping Thanksgiving completely. Please, just for today, can be take a little time to be thankful? A gentle reminder:

*while you're enjoying your comfortable home, 80% of the world live in substandard housing.
*while you're reading your Bible or other book, 67% of the people can't read.
*while you're stuffed from your dinner, 50% of the world is malnourished and 1% is starving.
*while you're cleaning up after dinner, 33% of people don't have safe drinking water.
*when you go to the bathroom, 39% of people don't have improved sanitation.
*while you're comfortably watching television, 24% of people have no electricity.

God has blessed our nation, for in its beginning, they didn't forget Him.

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
–Psalms 30.12

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On Being Thankful

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.

Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:16-19(NIV)

Monday, November 25, 2013

November When the Leaves are Gone

But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them. 
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Scripture: Rain

If you live by my decrees and obediently keep my commandments, I will send the rains in their seasons, the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. You will thresh until the grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting time; you’ll have more than enough to eat and will live safe and secure in your land.  ~Leviticus 26:3-5 The Message

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Florence Life Magazine

December's issue of Florence Life has a beautiful story about Kerry Gilbert and his struggle with lymphoma.  It is a well written article with lots of colored photos...check it out!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Books by Lee Smith

I have just finished Lee Smith's new book Guests on Earth. It was beautiful, thought-provoking, and haunting.  But then, that's just what I expected, having read all her books.   This book is a fictional account of a mental hospital near Asheville, North Carolina, and the fire that killed several of their patients, including Zelda Fitzgerald.

I can't remember the first book I read by this writer, but I have loved them all.  I think my favorite is Saving Grace, or maybe it is Oral History.

Her first book, The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed, was published in 1968, and I found a copy of it a while back at Loaves and Fishes, the local thrift shop that I frequent way too much.  The people around me seemed quite surprised at my enthusiasm upon finding this book, but they just didn't know that now I have all of Lee Smith's books. Oh, Happy Day!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Looking East

Looking around in any old cemetery, you will notice that all the graves are positioned so that the feet of the body is facing east. Fortunately, you can't see the body beneath the ground, but if you could, odds are it would be face up.
The tradition of burying bodies in this position comes from Christianity.  The star that appeared before the greatest event on  Earth was in the east.  Those that die with the hope of resurrection want to be looking eastward when Jesus splits the sky.
  For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  ~Matthew 24:27

Before the days of bulldozers and perfectly landscaped cemeteries, people sometimes encountered obstacles that made it impossible for graves to be in the typical east-west position. When this happened, the grave would be dug in a north-south position, and the body would be laid on its side, head to the north and facing east.
Rarely can these graves be found facing true east, but are off several degrees.  This might have happened because the people who started the cemetery looked directly at the position of the sunrise, which shifts a few degrees according to the position of the Earth at different seasons.  I don't think this will matter at all to the bones waiting; they will be able to see the Light when He comes.  Even those buried facing the south won't miss a thing.

In this America, this wilderness
Where the axe echoes with a lonely sound,
The generations labor to possess
And grave by grave we civilize the ground.
~Louis Simpson

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No pity, Girl

No Pity, Girl
Wanda Stricklin Robertson
We see you sneer as you
bounce by the arthritic pool
while we are stretching cellulite
legs with titanium parts.
 We don't need your pity, Girl.
You are looking at you
after you have birthed babies
and scaled mountains and drunk in life.
 These winged arms have hugged
away hurt and served as a haven
for breaking hearts. They have
pushed back monsters and storms.
These varicosed legs have run many
miles, more uphill than down.  They
have reached the summit and danced
all night in celebration and light.
No pity, Girl, we're doing fine.
Don't use up precious time on us,
just love large and live out loud and
leave laughter on your road here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Scripture: Hard Times


I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
~Lamentations 3:19-24 The Message

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fishing Near the Dam

They say the best fish are caught near the dam, but this is a little too close for comfort to me.

I wonder if the people in the boat saw all the danger signs and thought they were for other people. Then again, maybe they never looked up.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, W.C. Handy

1969 United States Postage Stamp
Hard times that's all we hear 'round this way.
Odd dimes they're growing thinner each day.
Good times, "Just 'round the corner," so they say.
                                                ~ W. C. Handy

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze...
Grant me, O Lord, a sunny mind,
Thy windy will to bear!
~Emily Dickinson, November

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Old Railroad Bridge


From the historical marker at the site of the Old Railroad Bridge:

In 1832, the Alabama legislature authorized the Florence Bridge Company to construct this bridge across the Tennessee River.  In 1840, it opened as a toll bridge.  Twice damaged by storms, it was reopened in 1858 as a double-decked bridge by the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.  Additional piers were added to support the large wooden superstructure with trains using the upper deck while the lower deck served as a toll bridge.  In April 1862, the Confederate army burned the bridge. Later in the Civil War, the piers were used to assist in ferry crossings and to anchor a pontoon bridge built by Gen. John B. Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee in November 1864.  After the war, both decks of the bridge were rebuilt and returned to service in 1870.

 In 1892, an engine and five cars crashed through both decks into the river.  The superstructure was replaced with steel spans which are still visible.  A turn span crossed the navigation channel until 1962 when a lift span was installed and used until 1992.  Trains used the upper deck until 1988, as did streetcars from 1904 to 1933.  The lower deck served as a toll bridge until O’Neal Bridge opened in 1939.  In 1993, the Norfolk-Southern Railroad Company donated the bridge to the Old Railroad Bridge Company.  The 1560-foot long lower deck was restored to serve as a walking trail.  With the original piers a part of the present structure, it is the oldest river bridge in Alabama.
Sponsored by the Old Railroad Bridge Company and Colbert County Historical Landmarks Foundation [2010]


Looking east from the railroad bridge: Singing River Bridge and Wilson Dam

On the railroad bridge looking west: The O'Neal Bridge

Local historian, Harry Wallace, tells how young men in the open street cars that crossed the Tennessee River on this bridge would swing out over the side of the car to impress the ladies. 

What a beautiful gift this group of volunteers gave us all.  They worked diligently to make sure the bridge would be open to the public and never destroyed.

Walking there is a lovely way to spend a glorious autumn afternoon.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Church Meeting and Turkeys

This is what happens when five intelligent and highly motivated women get together to discuss Sunday School business.  Yes, that is exactly what we were doing.  My turkey is on the left.  So I'm not the best turkey maker in the world---I can live with that. Move on.

I knew I was in trouble when I broke an Oreo right after we got started.  The turkey just never was the same after that.

Apparently, some people are natural-born turkey makers.  Not me.

Blind turkey.

Of course, we could eat the ones we messed up.

Hard at work!

Just look at the concentration on Lo's face.  Pretty sure Annette is getting rid of the evidence.

It looked easy on paper.

Five little turkeys all in a row; Ho, Ho, Ho!

No, wait!  It is Thanksgiving; no Ho, Ho, Ho yet.

You be the judge.  Kathy's was perfect, except it didn't have any legs. Still mighty tasty.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

 To celebrate Veteran's Day at the University of North Alabama, this outdoor display “Remember” was created by the UNA Military and Veteran Alliance with help from the Kilby School Cub Scout Pack 297.

The flags in the display represent the 6769 fallen from Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. For perspective, the current enrollment at UNA is 6931.

This flag display is eye-catching and a great reminder to remember.  Thank you, Veterans, for your sacrifice.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Scripture: Morning Star

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you
this testimony for the churches.
           I am the Root
                    and the Offspring of David,
                         and the bright Morning Star.
~Revelation 22:16

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I Still Miss Someone

I sat at my desk and watched the leaves rain down as the northwest wind blew through.  It reminded me of an old song by Johnny Cash called, I Still Miss Someone. The song has been recorded by numerous artists, including Emmy Lou Harris and Willie Nelson.

I have to wonder why we love that song so much.  It may be the saddest song ever written; a song of loss and loneliness and hurting.  I have dealt with loneliness, even though I have never really been alone.  I left a large family to get married, and we had a son within a year, always surrounded by talk and fussing and laughter and extended family.  Many times, I have thought that I was the only person in the world like me, convinced that no one understood that.  As I have matured, I have learned that is a common theme among people: all of us so much alike as we struggle to learn to live and face down the fear that we won't be able to finish everything before our time is up.

But, still.  Why does that sad song give us comfort? Does knowing that others struggle bring us peace? Is it because  the song is not about loneliness for some, but about memories of a simpler time? Do we just love Johnny Cash?
Help me out here.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Love your neighbor as yourself; but don't take down the fence.
~Carl Sandburg

Fear is the highest fence.
~Dudley Nichols
It doesn't matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.
~Jim Rohn

Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
~Robert Frost 

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
~Maya Angelou