Oh is for October…

OK, OK…I celebrated too much today to put a whole lot of thought into posting. But lucky for me, I had already dropped a couple of links into the editor. So here’s to keeping the streak alive.

And thanks to my favorite big brother for a good birthday!

Under the wire, and on track.

 

Friday Free for All…

Happy Friday, y’all! And happy October Eve. Some of you may be getting back on track after a hurricane, and some of you may be hunkering down, waiting for it to hit land again. Either way, if that’s you, prayers going up for you right now.

Let’s dive into the Friday Free for All, shall we? Here’s a couple of things I found on the way to somewhere else this week…

  • We learned from the erudite ornithologist, Barney Fife, that songbirds speak their own language and that their songs are really intricate communication tools. Did you know woodpeckers drum to their own song? The incessant hammering on the side of my house? It’s not just random banging away, looking for insects or whatever.
  • It’s no secret to the both of you that I’m right in the middle of a C.S. Lewis jag. So I’m noticing stuff about Jack all over the place. Hillsdale College is offering a free course about C.S. Lewis. It’s online and it’s free. You can’t beat free, right?
  • Did you ever want to do something, wish you could do something…but struggle to move into action? Leo Baubata gives us some tips on moving from desire to action.
  • Don’t worry, be happy? No, don’t worry…be thankful!
  • Finally, with National  Coffee Day yesterday, and International Coffee Day tomorrow, Lifehacker asks, “How Many Cups of Coffee You Should Drink Per Day, According to ‘Science’?” The real answer, of course, is four! Why four? Because four cups of coffee is an effective vaccine against Ebola and Covid-19. How do I know that? Because for as long as I can remember, I’ve averaged four cups of coffee per day, and there was no Ebola in sight back  in the day. The same has held true in the age of Covid, so far, at least. “Science” has the answer for every important question, right?

Happy weekend. Do something fun!

 

Thursday Is for Thinking…

Hello, Thursday! And hello to all of my devoted readers out there—all both of you!

Somebody said today is National Coffee Day. Now that’s one of those made up holidays I can get behind! Oh, and the International celebration is only two days away. What a coincidence for your humble writer! But, alas…I digress. A day set aside to honor coffee and those who love it is like a day set aside to honor…well…breathing! Might as well go ahead and call it Thursday. For the record, I’m starting the celebration off with a large mug of locally-roasted, locally-purchased Organic Whirling Dervish from Dancing Goats Coffee.

But, now, on to why you came today…

  • Most of us, myself included, probably yap a whole lot more than we should about all kinds of stuff. Sometimes I think the best course would be to just shut up. Maybe  listen a little bit more. Maybe ponder a bit more. Maybe think on some things. Here are 115 pretty good quotes about silence to help us do just that.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately. (See a couple of recent posts for reference.) I continue to believe we are created for community, and to neglect community is to deny and deprive ourselves of an essential part that makes us truly human. One of my daily follows  in my Reeder feed is Greg Morris. I think he’s a Brit, but we won’t hold that against him. Here’s his recent post on Being Lonely.
  • Speaking of coffee, sometimes you just need a good vessel to keep your good coffee hot and available. I used to have a no-name bullet thermos that kept my coffee hot (not just warm!) for a couple of days. But it bit the dust a long time ago and I don’t even remember where I got it. But have no fear: Bean Ground reviews some of the best Thermoses available today.
  • If you use and love all things Mac, you’re probably familiar with the great David Sparks, AKA MacSparky. I discovered his excellent Mac Power Users podcast when we made the switch to Apple machines almost ten years ago. Anyway, I don’t think it’s overstating to say that Mr. Sparks is a pretty influential voice in the Apple environment. How influential? Well, the Original Mac Guy pointed to MacSparky’s One Question that changed his morning journaling routine for the better. I think it’s worth including if you have a daily routine. Maybe we should start one?
  • Finally this morning, as a person of faith, I look around at our culture and think we’re done. Finished. Over. Beyond hope. But then I remember the Lord is still the Lord and He is still in business. Stephen McAlpine reminds us today that Jesus is still at work even in a secular age.

Thanks for stopping by today. Here’s hoping your Thursday is filled up with good books, good work, good coffee, and good friends. See you tomorrow!

My Friend Tina and a Couple of Other Assorted Things…

The best part about today, by far, was hanging out a bit with my pal, Tina at the Y. She’s one of the most interesting people I know, and I totally mean that in a great way! We talked about grandkids and books and art and artists and artistic bypasses at birth (mine!) and vacations and soccer matches and the Golden Mean and the patterns in the windows and typography and…well…you get the idea! We share a love of great books. I adore her family. And she’s one of the most winsome and caring people in the world. She always goes out of her way to encourage someone and to point them toward the grace of God. She’s immensely creative, talented, and skilled. And any day I get to see her is a pretty awesome day in my book.

The dark and early predawn jaunt was powered by Jonathan Rogers’s podcast The Habit. It’s a podcast about writers and writing. This week’s guest was Katelyn Beaty, who was talking about celebrity and fame. The conversation focused on how we really need to be a part of an “embodied community,” not chasers of celebrity. At one point, the host recommended an essay called “Nebraska,” and he said something like, “In this small town in Nebraska, everyone is known and necessary.” That line resonated with me today, since I’ve been pondering what it means to be a part of a community.

I gave away a book today. One of my other buddies at the Y, whom I’ll call “Lloyd,” because his name is actually Lloyd, saw my copy of The Magician’s Nephew by my computer. he picked it up and we had a conversation about C.S. Lewis. Lloyd said he’s never read Mere Christianity, and that maybe he should get a copy and read it. I reached into my bag, pulled out my tattered and dog-eared copy (circa 1979) and handed it to him. “You don’t have any excuse now,” I said. “Here’s a copy right here.”

The last several days at work have felt a lot like drawing up an empty bucket from a well. I keep putting it down and pulling it up but there’s never anything in the bucket. I know in my head and in my heart I need to refill and recharge. But knowing it and doing it are two different things entirely.

Finally, I’ve shared my love of pencils in this space on more than one occasion. I’m fond right now of the Tennessee Red Cedars from Musgrave Pencils. The aroma of Tennessee cedar, freshly sharpened, is a delight. But today, I pondered this: Without sharpening, a pencil is a stick. To use it, it has to be subjected to the sharpener. That sculpting away of wood and creation of a fine graphite point transforms the stick into a beautiful, elegant, and useful tool. Used in the right hands, that tool produces beauty and inspiration and encouragement in turn. But it has to be sharpened first. Oh, and that glorious cedar aroma? It goes away when the pencil grows dull. Resharpening it disturbs the surface and the core, and produces an essence that is unmatched. That essence infuses everything it touches. And I’m certain there is something to be learned from that in our everyday walk with God in this place He’s put us.

Here endeth the lesson.

The Clock is Ticking…

It’s about twelve hours after I normally log in and think about writing something in this space. Today started with my nose to the grindstone so to speak, and it’s been hard to find even a few minutes to stop and scribble. But I’m watching the clock and I realize if I don’t get something—anything!—down, I will have already blown the commitment to put some words here every day.

A couple of things I’m pondering…

I read on Drudge about a Chinese study which discovered that loneliness and/or unhappiness speeds up the aging process even more than smoking. Wow! I might be in trouble! It turns out the “article” is actually an infomercial for some anti-aging product. But I kind of get it, I suppose. We were created for community, and we were designed for joy, so all kinds of things can happen when either of those is not optimal. The last couple of years, working from home almost exclusively has made me feel like an old man, a hermit even some days. The key may be finding some companions, some Inklings like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had. Friends who will listen to your work, give you honest feedback, and still enjoy your company around the table.

Speaking of the Inklings and such, I’m a big coffee guy and have been for a long time. But recently, I’ve begun the habit of tea at 4:00 pm. Maybe just to feel some camaraderie with Jack and the others. I went through the stash I had in the pantry pretty quickly. My staples, when I’ve had tea over the years have been Earl Grey and English Breakfast, with the occasional and obligatory herb teas like Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime. Today, I restocked and got some Darjeeling. It bills itself as “lighter and woody.” All I know is it was pretty good on the veranda…I mean…the front porch this afternoon. It was the great Bilbo Baggins who reminded the dwarves, “Tea is at four every day, and you need not bother to ring the bell.”

Side note about tea: I just realized I used the word “stash” in that paragraph. I have some green tea called Stash. It’s the best green tea I’ve had, but the name makes me smile out loud sometimes.

Well, the clock is still ticking, and I’m not quite at the 500-word mark. But at least I didn’t miss today. And who knows? I might get some more inspiration before I call it a day for real. After all, not only did I not write dark and early, but I didn’t read or make my way through my Reeder feed. (Oh, look…the word count is 442…447. I might make it to 500 yet!

I’ll leave you with this random thought among all these others. I came late to the Game of Thrones party, but I started at the very beginning with House of the Dragon. One thing I’ve noticed after just six episodes? There are no honorable characters in the show. There aren’t even any sympathetic ones. GoT had the only honorable man in Westeros, Lord Eddard Stark. And there was, of course, Jon Snow. But HotD? Not a single one!

Looky, looky…over the 500 mark! Thanks for playing and thanks for waiting with bated breath, checking back and refreshing the page to see if I really was going to make it a daily habit. So far, so good.

Peace.

What Shall We Write About Today?

That is the question facing us today, dear readers—all both of you—as we contemplate the goal, the intention, the vow of posting something every day in this space in tribute to my upcoming birthday. What shall we write about?

I could write about The Dream. Yep, the one I had last night. The one that awakened me with a start, one of the most disturbing and fearsome dreams I remember having. That one. The one with the maniacal laugh and crazy eyes. The one that involved not only my son, but my grandson. I’ll spare you all the details for now, but let’s just say I may have actually screamed my son’s name in real life when I woke with a start. It was that terrible and that realistic.

I could write today about the Ongoing Discombobulation that seems to characterize life these days. Maybe that will come soon. Or maybe it will go away soon, and be replaced by something more productive and pleasant.

I could write about the latest picture of the grandson, mad about his food, but looking like an intense rock star singing into his spoon as a microphone.

I could write about the joy of starting The Chronicles of Narnia over again and catching up with where the grandson is hearing the tales for the first time in his nightly reading/listening time. I could write about how happy it makes me that my son is introducing his son to the wonders of Narnia at an early age.

I could write about how I got some words stuck in my head during this morning’s predawn jaunt, and how I pondered the difference between “shore” and “bank” as the boundaries of bodies of water. Because I tend to geek out about words like that sometimes.

I could write about the fascinating account of one woman’s bicycle adventure from Ireland to India in 1963 (via Maria Popova, natch).

I could write about my put-out-ness (there’s a word for you!) with people who should be grateful for your work on their behalf, but instead pile on incessant demands for impossible results. I could even ponder why I can’t say no to those demands.

But I think, for this moment, at least, I’ll leave all that and think about the scent of books. Real books, I mean. The dead tree/dead octopus kind. One of the most common reasons bibliophiles give for preferring real books over, say, ebooks, the unmistakable aroma, the smell of them. There is a technical term for that aroma, I think, but I can’t put my cursor on it right now. Suffice it to say, the interwebs are rife with articles, posts, and reminiscences about the comforting scent of books. Many of those commentators limit their appreciation to the smell of old books, but I’m quite partial to the smell of all printed books, old and new. Some kids remember the amazing experience of holding that brand-new catcher’s mitt up to their face and taking in the smell of fresh leather, and how that was part of the game. (True confession: that was me, too.) But books! The essence of paper and ink, the feel of the deckled edges…these all add to the tactile adventure that beckons the reader and the lover of craft and art.

That’s what I’ve got on my mind this dark and early Monday. I think I’ll take a few minutes and sniff some books.

 

On the Supposed “Historical Jesus”…

C.S. Lewis on the alleged “historical Jesus”…

Any theory which bases itself on a supposed ‘historical Jesus’ to be dug out of the Gospels and then set up in opposition to Christian teaching is suspect. There have been too many historical Jesuses—a liberal Jesus, a pneumatic Jesus, a Barthian Jesus, a Marxist Jesus. They are the cheap crop of each publisher’s list, like the new Napoleons and new Queen Victorias. It is not to such phantoms that I look for my faith and my salvation.

C. S. Lewis, “Why I Am Not a Pacifist,” in The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses (New York: HarperCollins, 1949/2001), 88.

Random Thoughts Saturday, 09.24.22

This morning—actually, the last couple of days—I’ve been thinking about reading and writing and creating and curating and sharing and encouraging. I guess maybe it’s the steady diet of C.S. Lewis I’ve been on during that time. Anyway, in one of those serendipitous dark and early moments, I happened upon a few things that are resonating with me and rolling around in my brain. Here’s where a  few of them roll over toward the edge and drop out.

  • I came to CJ Chilvers’s post from yesterday. The links at the end of that post are gold for me today. One of those links pointed me toward his post from January about how to post something every day. I have a birthday coming up in a week or so and that’s going to be my goal: to post something every day.
  • I created a color theme from a Talbots ad. Why Talbots? Because the lovely and gracious MrsCharphar likes Talbots (and looks dang good in their clothes!), and the autumn colors are my preferred palette. Anyway, I played around with the “Monet brushes” in Photoshop and created a terrible and ugly picture I called Random Autumn 01. (It’s at the top of this post. Be gentle.) It’s ugly and uninteresting and reflects the artistic bypass I had birth. But I liked making it and I love the interplay of the colors in that palette.
  • Did I mention I’m on a steady diet of C.S. Lewis? I’m currently working through the dead tree/dead octopus edition of The Weight of Glory I scribbled in my Moleskine one day that when I read Lewis, “the next word is the right word,” and that’s why I think he’s a great writer.
  • I’m also restarting the Harper Trophy edition of The Chronicles of Narnia. My son told me the other day he’s started reading Narnia to our six-month-old grandson, and I figured every little boy needs his own brand-new copy of Narnia, so I ordered him one “like Grandpa’s.” Now I’m trying catch up with where they are in their reading.

 

Thursday, September 1…

Ah, September! And the beginning of fall—at least in meteorological terms. Thanks, JoAnne Feldman!

Once again, “fall” just doesn’t have the same elegance as “autumn,” which is still three weeks away. I’ve said it before: “Fall” is a very pedestrian word, denoting a school term or a baseball series. “Autumn,” on the other hand, is full of magic and beauty, an enchanted word for an enchanted season.

Give me autumn, and may it last until spring!