I started reading Psalms again this morning.  I had just been skipping around lately, not really sure where to begin, not having felt connected or moved by scripture in some time.  I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but I just seemed to have lost it a couple weeks ago, and have been reading maybe 2 sentences from half the books in the New Testament before moving on to something else.  Prayer time has not gone well, either.  And to add to that, I’ve been struggling with a lot of old…”dark thoughts,” I believe they’re called.

So this morning, I just flipped through my Bible to psalms, and it opened at Psalm 23.  I read that first, and then 24.  Then I got to Psalm 25, and read no further.  I read it, and read it again.  For your convenience:

Psalm 25

Of David.

 1[a] To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

 2 in you I trust, O my God.
       Do not let me be put to shame,
       nor let my enemies triumph over me.

 3 No one whose hope is in you
       will ever be put to shame,
       but they will be put to shame
       who are treacherous without excuse.

 4 Show me your ways, O LORD,      (should have been
       teach me your paths;                    praying this all along)

 5 guide me in your truth and teach me,  (ibid!)
       for you are God my Savior,
       and my hope is in you all day long.

 6 Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
       for they are from of old.

 7 Remember not the sins of my youth              (how easily I forget God does this)
       and my rebellious ways;
       according to your love remember me,
       for you are good, O LORD.

 8 Good and upright is the LORD;
       therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.  

 9 He guides the humble in what is right
       and teaches them his way.

 10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
       for those who keep the demands of his covenant.

 11 For the sake of your name, O LORD,
       forgive my iniquity, though it is great.    (most important of all, to me)

 12 Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD ?
       He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.

 13 He will spend his days in prosperity,
       and his descendants will inherit the land.

 14 The LORD confides in those who fear him;
       he makes his covenant known to them.

 15 My eyes are ever on the LORD,
       for only he will release my feet from the snare.

 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
       for I am lonely and afflicted.

 17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
       free me from my anguish.

 18 Look upon my affliction and my distress
       and take away all my sins.

 19 See how my enemies have increased
       and how fiercely they hate me!

 20 Guard my life and rescue me;
       let me not be put to shame,
       for I take refuge in you.

 21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
       because my hope is in you.

 22 Redeem Israel, O God,
       from all their troubles!


So, for what it’s worth, I heartily recommend Psalms, when you’re struggling with freaking anything.  Especially with prayer.  If you don’t know what to pray, or how to pray, that’s Psalms, man.  They’re meant to be prayed. Sung. Shouted, even….

hopefully, this morning is the beginning of something really good….I’m tired of struggling.  Not that struggling is going to end anytime soon.  I could use a bit of rest, though.  But even if I don’t get it, God is still good to me.  I guess the better thing to pray for would be to get through whatever I’m struggling with.  Not have it taken away.  Then I wouldn’t learn anything….

Girl Friends

Except for when I was younger, I’ve always had a lot of female friends.  Never dated much, and never dated any of those friends.  There were times over the course of my adult life that I wanted to, but I never did, and those girls (women) that I was interested in eventually ended up in the friends “bucket,” as Lorana calls it.  Which, while disappointing from a dating point of view, is not bad at all from a friends one.  And as some of you know, one of those situations not working out is what’s chiefly responsible for changing my life, and getting me here today.

I never really thought to ask myself why I seemed to associate mostly with women, but rather just accepted it as the way my life was going to be.  Before your minds start whirring away, no, it isn’t because I’m a secret member of the Rainbow Coalition.  Never swung that way, in spite of a lot of jokes, and my admitted fondness for musical theater.  I think now what it mostly came down to was fear.  Spending time with women was safe, or safer, anyway.  I would get the benefits of hanging out with the opposite sex (such as interesting conversations–which was hard to get from guys–and I like to talk.  And also the things I liked to do weren’t always the type of things men enjoyed.), without much of the drama that would inevitably occur when dating someone.

And really, the dating experiences I’d had were not good, to say the least.  I had one sort of long term relationship that was born out of loneliness on both our parts, and of course ended when it became obvious we weren’t actually dating at all, but just enjoying each other’s “company.”  She was divorced, and several  years older than me.  The end came one evening when her 5 year old son asked “are you going to marry my Mommy?”

No, I was not. 

My other two situations were both sojourns into what I thought was love, but both ended with me getting hurt.  The first was because I was afraid to say what I felt, and it cost me the only healthy relationship I ever had to that point.  The second was completely my own fault.  I persevered in that situation despite really good advice from a really good friend, and it not only cost me the relationship, but also my best guy friend at the time.

Which reinforced my tendency to not have a lot of guy friends.  And the thing about that is that God has been working on that aspect of my life ever since.  I’ve gotten beau coup healing in that particular area, and had a lot of the lies I’d gone a lifetime believing brought into the light of God’s truth.

Most of these had been so ingrained into my psyche, and my heart, that they seemed completely like truth.  Because I’d been hurt by my brother growing up, I knew that I could not trust men, and I knew they would hurt me if I did (lie #1).  Along these same lines, because I’d always been told no one wanted me (parents, family, friends….), and no one ever would, I believed this, too (lie #2).  And it made sense to not try, because I’d be hurt eventually anyway….

After Ben died, this made the most sense of all.  And there was a period of my life where I had no friends, male OR female, because I simply could not bear to be hurt anymore by anyone, regardless of who they were.  So I withdrew as far as I possibly could, without climbing into the Bell Jar.

Of course, eventually I was able to climb mostly out of this particular abyss, and I began to have friends again, and eventually very good friends.  And then came my second crash.  When that second relationship I mentioned a little while ago ended, along with a decade-long friendship, I knew that my first instinct about guys was correct, and I shouldn’t be close to them.  I’d been hurt again by a person that felt more like a brother to me than my own brother ever had.

Not that long after that, I tried again, and began to forge a friendship with a guy one of my female friends was dating.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  He went to my church, seemed to be strong in the Lord, and the type of friend it would be good for me to have.  Then his relationship ended with my friend, and with me as well.  He never really understood my friendship with her, and our own friendship was not able to overcome it.  And because of my own issues and brokenness, I told myself that he had only pursued a friendship with me because of my friend.  He had not been interested in my friendship at all.  This was a lie, of course, but it felt like truth….

I haven’t really even tried to date anyone since then.  Only had a couple of opportunities, but I was grateful when they didn’t pan out because it meant I would not have to put anything out there, and if I didn’t do that, then I couldn’t be hurt again.  It made sense to me.

 I have not put myself out there at all.  I haven’t. 

What am I trying to say with this post?  A couple things.  One is that I think God has been working on my heart for a really long time now, preparing it for something.   In the way of friendship, the ones I have with my closest female friends have changed and matured, I think.  Perhaps we are not quite as close as in the past, but in a healthy way.   The way those relationships should be, I think.  I feel good about all three of them.  I think the Lord brought these women into my life for a reason, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say they are all extraordinary friends, and add a great deal to my life.  Their candor, lack of pretension, and sometimes very tough love has been what’s helped me continue to grow, I think.  Both as a follower of Christ and as a man.

As far as guy friends go, I think God knew what he was doing all along, and I can see that now.  I needed to heal a lot my personal wounding before I could pursue healthy and fulfilling friendships with men.  One of the best things that happened to me over the past year, I think, was reconciling (after a fashion) with the guy friend that had been involved in love foray #2.  We both said what we needed to say, and it was good.  I doubt we can recover what we lost, but there was forgiveness and healing done, and that’s all I can ask.  It’s probably better that we don’t go back to where we were, because when I look at it now, that was a dangerous friendship for me in a lot of ways.

But God opened another door for me when he brought Merrill into my life.  He’s been a blessing.  A man I can trust, an elder in my church, and someone I know will not bullshit me about myself.  Our friendship probably leans more toward the mentor/”mentee” side, but that’s what I think I need in a lot of ways–never had it before.

The Lord has also brought me a little distance and perspective in a few other female friendships I’d had over the past couple years, and that’s been healthy as well.  In short, I found out who my real friends were.  Things are getting better, though.  Just recently I met Lorana’s Chris, and he is a really awesome guy.  I think if they lived in the SD, or I lived in ATL, we’d probably become pretty good friends.  I hope we still will. 

I have to say that I’ve also come to like Krysco’s b-law a great deal, and I look forward to getting to know him a little better as well.  What’s my point with all that?  Well, it’s that God is stitching up the rents in my heart.  I’m doing my best to be the man he wants me to be, and to develop healthy relationships with my brothers in Christ.  It’ll take a while, but I’m willing to put in the time.

To that end, I’m probably going to be doing a men’s group with another older gentleman (older than me) in the single’s ministry–it should be good. 

The other thing is that I feel God has been preparing my heart all this time for the person he intends for me to meet.  I don’t know who she is yet, but I’m gonna do the best I can to stop hiding from her.  Can’t meet someone if your head is buried in the freaking sand.  I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do it yet, but I’m going to try and listen when God gives me direction.  And we’ll see.

The last thing for now (since I’ve been meandering like a bastard) is that I can feel myself being strengthened in the spirit daily.  I think the parts of my life that I used to feel were lacking were because I was not yet ready to experience what Jesus had for me in those areas.  Not that I’m totally arrived there yet, but I believe I’m on the way.

I better go–I have about thirty subpoenas next to my keyboard giving me the stinkeye..

a brief postscript.  Been working on restoring my friendship with the guy my friend used to be involved with, too.  I forgot to mention that.  He’s part of the Healing Prayer ministry that has gone a long way toward changing my life.  It will take a while, but Jesus will be there, and I think we’ll end up where He wants us in the end….

One vs One

Scary Band pictures: check

Old movie clips to reinforce song point (war is terrible, and war injuries can be even worse): check

Kick ass song: Check

U2 Version:

Scary Band Pics: Check (U2 wins the Gold for ugliest Irish band–since Dexy’s Midnight Runners has gone the way of the Dodo bird)

Old movie clips to reinforce song point (not sure.  We’re one, but we’re not the same?  No war scenes.  Instead, Bono smoking in a restaurant.  Woman smoking somewhere else. Band walking around): negative

Kick ass video: Negative.  Nice song. Nonsense lyrics.  Bono needs to get over himself.

Advantage: Metallica


Not by might, nor by power


I’d never read this book before, but I was flipping through it the other day and came upon the following passage.  I read it, read it again, and then read the rest of the book.  And since I like to run off at the mouth, you’ll also find some of my thoughts about it.  Entry level thoughts, perhaps, but they’re mine…

“See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey…”

He could have chosen to come some other way.  Some way more befitting to a man about to lead his people (us) to salvation, to the “promised land.”  Or if not exactly lead us, show us the destination and let us choose our own route.  Why not ride into Jerusalem on some great stallion, or in a chariot?  Was it only so that prophecy would be fulfilled?

People thought they’d be liberated by the sword, and by many battles and deaths.  Instead, we were liberated for all time by a single death and a single resurrection.  The power of that resurrection is available to all, with only one catch.

We must recognize that Jesus triumphed over death, and that through him, and only through him, we can do the same.   An easy realization, right?  Not exactly.  Surrender, absolute surrender, is never easy.  But when it comes, when we are able to let go of all we know and receive all Jesus has for us, well, then you’re talking about a whole new ballgame.

We already know we win this war.  Scripture tells us.  Yet the individual battles are just as difficult as if we had no knowledge of the ultimate outcome.  You’d think an assured victory would make it easier to “soldier on,” but it isn’t that way at all, at least not for me.  But maybe it’s better that way.  Or maybe better still if we had no idea of the outcome.  If we had to live with the thought that we were fighting our battles simply because they needed fighting, that we were fighting for our lives, even if losing the war was a real possibility.

With that said, why is it so difficult to fight spiritual battles?  Why so hard to rebuke the enemy when we know if we do, he must go?  I struggle with this one almost every day.

Maybe it goes back to a person’s innnate sense of self-preservation.  It costs us something of ourselves to wage spiritual warfare–it costs us that which we know about ourselves to be true (or think we do).   We are depending on another to do the fighting, and we are (perhaps) losing part of that sense of self  that is more worldly than anything else.  We have to do this, we must do that.   The doing of those things, the performing of those tasks, whatever they are, is what makes us who we are.  We’re defined by not only what we do, but what we have, and what we have in our lives.  So inevitably, it’s much easier to capitulate to the world than to fight, and change, and grow.  And even knowing Christ, it’s something I still do some of the time, and maybe even most of the time in certain areas.

In other words, it’s still incredibly difficult for me to die to myself.  In a way, I suppose I’m waiting to be redeemed by the sword.  Or waiting for someone to fight my battles for me.

“His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth…(v10-11)”

 That’s good to know.  It’l really be something to be part of that vast a kingdom, to live there for eternity.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of Grace and supplication…(Zech 12:10)”

It’s a little hard to reconcile the heroic images verses 10-11 call up (Zechariah also goes on about how the enemies of Israel will be destroyed) with the image of a King riding in on a donkey, and the idea of supplication.  

Why is it so hard to be a supplicant?  I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we all have to admit that it is.  Why so difficult to throw up my hands and say, “Lord, help me!”  Doesn’t seem to have much to do with the enemies of Israel, but maybe it does in the sense that the battle is being fought in our hearts, over our spirits.  We must give Jesus control of them.  We must forgo our own will over His, and in a sense the victory won in our hearts over Satan is really not much different than Jerusalem’s enemies being vanquished.  In a way, our hearts are Jerusalem, and Satan is the enemy of Israel.

“Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused Himself from His heavenly dwelling…(2:13)”

What a difficult thing, to be still before the Lord.  I don’t know about anyone but myself, but I’m uncomfortable with silence, and inevitably will do what I can to fill it.  And when I’m making noise, I can’t hear.

But He “roused Himself from His heavenly dwelling.”

And He came here.  “righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey…”

For me.

And it doesn’t matter if I like it, or if I’m comfortable with it, I need to surrender my will.  I need to supplicate, to prostrate myself before Him, if I am to have any prayer of finding my way at all.

That’s tough as hell.  Maybe it’s a man thing.  I don’t know.  I’ll finish my rambling with a line from Romeo & Juliet, and hope that it’s something I can say myself when I really need direction, and leadership, and guidance (in more ways than one)

“He that hath the steerage of my course, direct my sail…”


The guys

There’s a line in the Stephen King novella The Body (the movie version was called Stand By Me) that I think is absolutely true, at least from a boy’s point of view.  It comes toward the end of the story when the narrator is giving a post-script about the lives of his friends.  He says “I never had any friends later on in life, like the ones I had when I was 12.  Jesus, does anyone?”

The guys I grew up with were amazing–these two little blond-haired and blue eyed boys named Ravi and Paavo Laird.  Their mother was a dyed-in-the-wool hippy named Tracye, and the house they lived in was this messed up whirlwind of clothes, musical instruments, and records (yes, records) all over the floor, and piled on every availabale surface.  They had a yardful of animals, and only organic and unfiltered products in the refrigerator (and that stuff was a lot harder to get in the seventies).

But the best thing about them is that they were always there for me when I was growing up.  When I felt like I had to flee my own house (which happened fairly frequently), or when I really felt like I needed to be with people who got me, and seemed to like me without condition or expectation, that was where I went.  It was just the three of us from the first grade until junior high school, when a fourth boy joined our group–a tall, skinny kid named Ben Wise.  That was when our group really began to gel together, and go deeper into things, or at least as deep as you could get for a boy.

A word or two about that.  It’s different with boys than girls, I’d imagine.  We are not so “touchy-feely.”  I am now, of course, but when I was younger, I was pretty much your typical boy in what I liked to do, certainly more so than any other time of my life.  

 And it was a different time, to be sure.  We did play video games, but in arcades, rather then holed up in rooms.  We would ride our bikes or hike around Santee.  We’d watch movies (lots of them), and we’d play football or basketball.  The older we got, it tended to be the latter a lot more frequently than the former.  I’ve never really been much of an athlete, though I did (and do) like sports.  But the time from late elementary school through high school was the closest I ever came to actually being in shape.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget those endless days, afternoons, and evenings with the guys.  Not always playing sperts, but just spending time together, talking about girls, and movies, and music, and life.  We did take those conversations onto the courts and fields, too, and I think those were the best times for me.  Talking, laughing, sweating, swearing.  It was awesome. 

And we also got each other into things we might not have otherwise done.  I never thought about singing, but Ravi got me into choir, and men’s chorus.  Ben, too.  I broke my arm in P.E. in the 9th grade, and ending up taking drama instead of typing because my arm was in a cast–I got both of the Laird brothers into that.  It got to the point where it almost seemed like we could read each other’s minds, or at least that’s what some of the parents speculated.

My father died from a heart attack when I was 16, almost at the end of my sophomore year in high school.  It happened on a Thursday, I think.   But maybe it was Friday, because there wasn’t school the next day. Anyway, when I got off the school bus, and my sister was waiting to take me to the hospital.  I ended up not getting in to see him before he died, and it was pretty tough.  My father and I did not have a close, loving relationship, but he was still my father, and I loved him as best I could. 

I got home from the hospital, and rather than call my friends and tell them what was going on, I just went to my room and listened to music.   I didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to hear the inevitable platitudes from people.  I fell asleep with headphones on, listening to Bruce Springsteen’s The River.

 My bedroom window was right next to the front door, and at a little before 7 the next morning, I heard a knock at the door.  I peeked out my window, and saw my three friends standing in the doorway, with Ben holding a basketball in his hands.

What the hell? It was freaking early…

I quickly dressed and went to the door.   I just stood there for a couple of seconds, kind of glaring out at them.

“Thought you might want to shoot some hoops,” Ben said.

I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to do anything, really, but I nonetheless found myself walking the half mile or so down Prospect Avenue to my old junior high school, and the basketball courts.  I walked in front with Ben, and the Laird brothers followed behind.  I found out later that the three of them had had a feeling something was wrong, and that the brothers had prayed about it.  Then they collectively decided the best thing to do was come over.  They were right.

We got to the school, and just stood around in the key for a few minutes, no one talking.  And then I just said it.

“My dad died.”

They all said they were sorry, and it felt good to hear them say it without any of the awkward things attached people always say when someone dies.  Then Ravi took the ball from Ben and loped up to the hoop for a quick lay-up. 

“Let’s play,” he said.

We played two-on-two that day, and we played our asses off.  To my surprise, I was almost good that day.  It felt good to not think about anything but running, passing, and shooting.  I hardly thought about my dad at all, and to the guys’ credit, they never said anything when I started to cry.  We just kept playing.

I never told them, but I think it was that morning that I first really felt love for anyone besides my family.  I loved those three idiots, though I would have died myself before telling them that.  I wasn’t a chick, for heaven’s sake.  I think now that friendship is the truest, most pure form of love.  And there is nothing later in life like the friendship you experience as a boy.  Your friends really are closer than your brothers in most cases, certainly in mine.

There are another couple of lines in The Body  that also applies to me.  Gordie is talking about the other two people that went on the hike/journey to the body with him and he talks about friends passing in and out of his life like busboys in a restaurant.  That’s so true.  But I believe that the ones that mean the most stay with you in some way.

Later, Gordie is crying over the sudden death of Chris, the boy he was closest to.  He writes: “although I hadn’t seen him in more than ten years, I know I’ll miss him forever.”

I can understand that, and I pretty much feel the same way about the guys.  Although we started to scatter during my senior year of high school.  One day in January, the same day the shuttle Challenger exploded, we found out Ben–who had graduated a semester early so he could join the Marines–had taken his own life.  As a group, we never really recovered from that, and I have to admit his loss colors my life to this day.  So we began to do our own things.  Ravi and Paavo began playing music, and continue to this day (Ravi plays in a local jam/fusion band called Tapwater). 

I see Ravi play occasional, and sometimes Paavo will be there, too.  We have a good time talking and catching up, but then it’s time to go.  And that’s OK.  I’m not the same person I was 20 plus years ago, obviously.  But when I think about them, the picture I see is those three assholes standing on my doorstep after my dad died.  I think about basketball.  I remember how much they meant to me.  And I think with immeasurable gratitude of the friends I have now, who I also love.


check them out sometime….

Fear Every Drop

 I hear that’s the catch-phrase for this monstrosity.  I can see why.  I have a friend that swears by this ride, that it’s one of the best ever, if not the  best ever.  I’m not too sure about that.  I can tell you one thing, though. It scared the crap out of me.  Of course, obviously, the damn elevator is going to really drop you.  But when you get whisked up to the top, and it goes all freaking dark, I nearly shat myself (I just now created that word).  Then drop, up, drop, up, drop….AAAAGGGHHH!   And the worst part is, there’s no way to prepare yourself! It’s different every time!  I felt like my stomach stayed up, and the darn elevator had to go up to catch it again, and just when I was shoving it back in, DROP again….

man, that is an intense freaking ride….


The most wonderful thing in the world…

Hershey’s Take 5
WEIGHT: 2 oz.
Truly unique: Start with a pretzel base, with plenty of caramel, peanuts, and peanut butter layered on top, all of which is dunked into milk chocolate. Take 5 is divided into two halves – just like Almond Joy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and the ill-fated Glo-Balls.

It’s as if someone escaped from Ben & Jerry’s Headquarters and took the Hershey plant hostage for a day, forcing everyone inside to make a candy bar that tasted like Chubby Hubby, minus the ice cream.



: How did it take the U.S. candy industry this long to try such a candy combo? After all, mixing a ton of stuff into one sweet treat has been an ice cream industry standard now for over 15 years. Turns out, it works in a candy bar, too.



The pretzel base is just smart. Put a waffle pretzel at bottom and pile on the fixins!  (Go ahead, kids – this is one trick you can try at home.) Holy smokes, this is good candy. And very satisfying, too. Eat just one half of it and you feel like, if you had to – if robbers swooped in and took your other half – you could go on with life without really needing that second half. But fortunately Take 5 robbers don’t exist (yet), so you’re free to enjoy that second half when you’re good and ready. Immediately after eating the first half, for example.


The packaging.
Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka in Warner Bros. Pictures' Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryYou’ve got to be kidding me. Hershey’s finally comes up with a killer candy bar, and they decide to hide it by wrapping it into a bright red, reflective gold-lettered package that screams Energy Bar for Geeks. It honestly looks like a Hershey’s product manager decided that he wanted to try and appeal to both snackers and health nuts – snackers would get the ultimate candy combo, and health nuts would get the ugly reflection wrapper they’ve come to expect from Health Bars disguised as candy. Only the packaging repels snackers and health nuts are obsessed with reading ingredients. Nice work.
I’m honestly pissed off. Who designed this package – the makers of New Coke? The same ass that dressed Johnny Depp’s Willie Wonka to look like a cross between a member of The Cure, Betty Boop and an extra in Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” video?
And for gosh sakes, the cross-section image of the candy looks like my eighth grade Earth Science textbook’s drawing of layers of the earth’s crust. Do I see igneous rock in there?


Yes. The candy is so good you’re going to be closing your eyes in ecstasy, anyway, thereby allowing you the added benefit of not having to stare at the hideous packaging.


Clever, but it works better on paper than in reality. I just don’t see kids saying to their parents, “I want a Take 5!” Or, if Hershey’s offers these in movie theaters (where they really belong – a perfect sensory overload to get you through the 10 minutes of movie trailers), I can’t see someone saying to a flakey snack attendant, “I’ll take two Take 5’s… no wait, three Take 5’s. Four Take 5’s? Okay, I guess my wife is going to take one, so four Take 5’s.” There’s no way you’re not getting 20 candy bars after a conversation like that. (Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing if each candy bar in a theater didn’t cost you a mortgage.)




Not even close. Those who brave the packaging to find the delicious snack hidden underneath have been awarded for their courage. And then they all turn around and email WASAW asking us to review it. Done.

On a side note, Hershey’s would do well to approach Netflix or a similar DVD-rental mail company and ask to insert a coupon for a free Take 5 candy bar in each DVD rental that gets mailed out. Take 5 just really tastes like a great movie snack, and such a promotion would greatly help awareness for a snack that would appear to be in serious need of some marketing help








Oakridge Death Squad

This one’s from a while ago, but soon the battle will begin anew:

Until today, our battle for survival had been fought without the use of much in the way of deadly force. The ants would force their way into the house by whatever means they could; through gaps between window screens, through badly closed doors, and God only knows how many other ways. They would form a line of battle down the wall, across the table or floor, and overrun everything in their path. Until today, they were the locusts of San Carlos. They were the aliens from Independence Day, simply devouring everything in sight and retiring fat and happy to their ant living rooms and easy chairs, secure in the knowledge that all we had to combat them was Windex. That’s right, Windex.

At a glance, it appeared to work. It seemed to kill the 6 legged menace. We’d spray them and they’d lie there, seemingly dead. But if not disposed of immediately, the dead would arise and begin their scourging anew (well, either that or the ants were the insectile version of Army Rangers–“no one gets left behind”).

Why Windex? I’ll tell you why. Deanna, it seems, has a profound sensitivity to chemical odors of any sort, and a pronounced horror of anything other than a sponge and tepid water coming into contact with the blessed sanctity of the house’s “cooking surfaces” and countertops (sometimes hard going when they are littered with pine nuts and little bits of Martian lettuce). So we spray Windex on the ants and they laugh at us.

Today, however, was different. Today I vowed to purchase a non-chemical based weapon of mass destruction–the new, plant-based Raid. No way could she deny us this, I thought. As I stood in line at Wal-Mart to pay for our wonderful deliverance, I heard the middle-aged woman at the register to my right cry out at something skittering by on the ground near a cooler full of soda. “Oh, look,” she said. “He a alligator! He a baby alligator!”

I looked and saw a gray-green streak about 5 or 6 inches long run past me into the garden center like Quasimodo running for the Notre Dame cathedral. No, I thought. He a garden variety lizard.

“Baby got no tail,” she said to the lizard’s retreating, tail-less back. “He need one o’ them handicap signs. Little man in the wheelchair?  Mmm Hm.”

I was tempted to try out my Raid on the lizard, but he reached the refuge of a large BBQ and disappeared. I put the escaped alligator out of my mind and paid for the Raid, ecstatic at the thought of our soon to be ant-free existance.

I arrived home with trembling hands, barely able to take the beautiful can from the bag. “Hey, Deanna,” I said. “Plant based Raid. Now we can kill the ants without fear of reprisal, after they retreat to the sanctuary of our cooking surfaces and countertops.”

“Plant based?” she asked. “Must be from blahdeblahblah.”

She picked up the can and examined it carefully. “No,” she said. “It’s from flahdeflahflah. I wouldn’t have thought that.”

Apparently not. Deanna, it seems, in addition to a degrees in plant husbandry and the equine arts, has also studied extensively in plant-based insect killing. Regardless, she pointed the can at a single ant and pressed the button. A small jet of blessed death reduced the ant to a withered, 6-legged corpse, but before she could move on to the next, a problem arose. “I just know this is going to give me a headache,” she said.

Don’t spray it then, I thought. Silly woman. Go look at horsies on the internet and leave the killing to me. “I’ll do it,” I said, and took the can.

I lifted my weapon and began to rain death on those little bastards. I was the Grim Reaper of the insect world, harvesting with my plant-based scythe and all fell before me. When the blood lust abated a bit, I saw there hadn’t really been that many ants in the kitchen and dining area. I had come upon a small expeditionary force. My cat sat in the den and looked at me with a stoned look on her face and began to eat Bella’s food. After polishing off much of that, she moved on to the cupboards and began looking for potato chips. I decided to open a few doors.

The ants in the kitchen and dining area that survived will not forget me. And I’d like to think their fallen brothers, when they reach their little ant Valhalla, will hoist a mug in my honor for defeating them honorably on the field of battle. And when their kinsmen arrive seeking vengeance, my plant-based sword and I will be ready.

Calcutta or Something

From 2005, but  Deanna hasn’t changed any–neither has the pantry

I saw this really horrible movie with Patrick Swayze once, and it was completely unbelievable. He was this doctor in India, in the really tore up part. It was Bombay, or Calcutta, or some f****ing place where they have tons of lepers and houses made out of aluminum siding and cardboard and crap like that. I think it was called City of Joy. Those wacky Indians.

Anyway, there’s this one scene where Dr Patrick is standing in the street and it’s raining (it rains more in India than Seattle, apparently. They get monsoons like a motherf***** in Calcutta). The camera pulls back and you get this wide shot of this Calcutta hillside and it looks like an Oklahoma trailer park that a tornado just ripped through.

Until last night, that was the messiest, most chaotic thing I’d ever seen. Well, Kris and I were putting away all the bagged crap from the fumigation last night (no one else was, and we had been back since TUESDAY), and we got down to Deanna’s stuff. Zeus’s BEARD, was it ever the mother of all CRAPHEAPS. Try to imagine, if you will, that a trailer park, a 99c store, Trader Joe’s, and the Nestle Quik bunny all got together and had a foursome. Then, the Nestle Quik bunny got knocked up and exploded from the shame and horror of mating with an overrated store and a double-wide. What would be left after the conflagration is what Deanna’s pantry shelf looked like. Little bags of dried up, unidentifiable things. BIG bags of IDENTIFIABLE things (somehow worse). And literally ALL THE TEA IN F****ING CHINA!!!! Why, in the name of all that’s holy, does a person need 5,000 bags of freaking tea? And weird ass tea, too. The kind of tea that people drink when they want to lose 50 pounds overnight–the stuff that makes your ass explode. And really, really old stuff, too. A jar of preserves from 2001, for instance. But GOD FORBID it should be thrown away!!! Hold on, I think I just had an aneurysm…..crap, I think my brain just came out of my eye socket….

What Can I Believe?

O God, I am so fragile:

         my dreams get broken,

         my relationships get broken,

         my heart gets broken,

         My body gets broken.

What can I believe,

          except that you will not despise a broken heart,

          that old and broken people shall yet dream dreams,

          and that the lame shall leap for joy,

                 the blind see,

                       the deaf hear.

What can I believe,

         except what Jesus taught:

         that only what is first broken, like bread,

                 can be shared;

          that only what is broken

                  is open to your entry;

          that old wineskins must be ripped open and replaced

                  if the wine of new life is to expand.

So I believe, Lord;

           help my unbelief

                   that I may have courage to keep trying

                           when I am tired,

                   and to keep wanting passionately

                            when I am found wanting.

O God, I am so frail:

       my life spins like a top,

             bounced about by the clumsy hands

                     of demands beyond my doing,

       fanned by furies

              at a pace but half a step from hysteria,

                     so much to do,

                            my days so few and fast-spent,

                                   and I mostly unable to recall

                                          what I am rushing after.

What can I believe,

       except that beyond the limits

               of my little prayers and careful creeds,

        I am not meant for dust and darkness,

                but for dancing life and silver starlight.

Help my unbelief

        that I may have courage

                to dare to love the enemies

                       I have the integrity to make;

                to care for little else

                       save my brothers and sisters of the human family;

                to take time to truly be with them,

                       take time to see,

                                take time to speak,

                                         take time to learn with them

                                                  before time takes us;

                and to fear failure and death less

                       than the faithlesness

                               of not embracing love’s risks.

God, I am so frantic:

       somehow I’ve lost my gentleness

                in a flood of ambition,

       lost my sense of wonder

                in a maze of videos and computers,

       lost my integrity

                in a shuffle of commercial disguises,

       lost my gratitude

                in a swarm of criticisms and complaints,

        lost my innocence

                in a sea of betrayals and compromises.

What can I believe,

       except that the touch of your mercy

               will ease the anguish of my memory;

       that the tug of your spirit

                will empower me to help carry now the burdens

                        I have loaded on the lives of others;

        that the example of Jesus

                will inspire me to find again my humanity.

So, I believe, Lord;

help my unbelief

        that I may have courage

               to cut free from what I have been

         and gamble on what I can be,

               and on what you

                     might laughingly do

                             with trembling me

                                     for your incredible world.

                                                                                       –Ted Loder