...the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. Geo. Washington Feb. 22, 1732


Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert Kennedy, South Africa 1966.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Honors at the Kennedy Center

Every year there is one night of Television that I refuse to miss. Thank heaven for my DVR as last night was the night and I chose to go to Cedar Rapids. It was the annual broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors.

Click the above link to go and learn about the honorees.

I stole the photo from another Web Site.

You know we are the luckiest people who have ever lived. We have a plethora of entertainment that we can see almost instantly.

The 2009 Kennedy Center Honorees Robert De Niro, left; Grace Bumbry, bottom left, Dave Brubeck, bottom right; Bruce Springsteen, second from right; and Mel Brooks, right, pose with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for a photo at the State Department following the Kennedy Center Honors Gala Dinner on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009 in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

This show is very emotional for me. As I watch I am reminded of the great body of work of these artists each year and I can appreciate them all over again. I usually have to sit with some Kleenex close at hand because I get teary eyed watching these people. It was a wonderful show.
Some thoughts"

Robert De Niro - Consummate actor. I think Meet the Faulkers was my favorite movie - just because I like to laugh

Dave Brubeck - I have been a fan for years and years. It was incredible to see his four sons playing for him

Seeing Bruce Springstein doubled over in laughter as Jon Stewart paid tribute to him and then to see the emotions on his face when the author of Born on the 4th of July spoke was truly moving.

Grace Bumbry - wow, I guess you know I love opera and to hear her voice and story was wonderful. I think also the fact that she sang to Marian Anderson when she was honored by the Kennedy Center in 1978 was an amazing story.

And then there is Mel Brooks. Brooks is one of only 10 people who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards. I think the fact that he is willing to take on things that we don't always consider funny makes his edgy humor all the more funny to me. Adolf Hitler, the Inquisition, and racism - Not normally humorous but Brooks had the talent to make us laugh at some pretty awful things and that made them less horrifying. If you can laugh at something it loses power over you.

It was also nice to see the President and Mrs. Obama watching and reacting and genuinely enjoying themselves. There was no smug superiority smirk on this president's face. I genuinely like her and want to like him. If he would just be the man he pretended to be when he was running for office. But then I guess most politicians are like that.

It was a wonderful show and thanks to the DVR I did not have to really watch the commercials. That was copacetic. Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, j

Albert Pike Birthday Party





Did you miss me yesterday? I just realized that I did not blog. - Excuse, I was out of town. I went to Cedar Rapids for the 200th Birthday Party of Albert Pike and did not get home until almost midnight. In the afternoon I: got my hairscut, drove to Des Moines and filed Incorporation Papers for Specialis Procer Lodge #678, met those who were riding together and relaxed in Bryce's Cadillac with massaging heated front seat (I turned off the hot seat) while he drove. I took some pictures of the event to share.

I took this picture on the East side of the Des Moines Capitol. It appears to be a memorial for those Iowans who were in Pearl Harbor. I am going to check it out after the ice is gone.

They tell me that if you have two full moons in a month you have a "blue moon" If you look real hard you can see the full moon in this photo and in the one below (if you look real hard) you can see deer grazing in the field behind the truck.

The Cedar Rapids Consistory is making some changes and there are some very nice little posters to read in strategic spots. Also some pictures of officers and the Advisory Committee. There is a warm, fresh feeling about the place and the Brethren are welcoming and cordial. We all had a great time and came home with a wonderful keepsake booklet about the evening. The picture just above was a video showing Jim Treasner (Author of "Albert Pike, the Man Behind the Monument." and Bob Davis, Secretary-Registrar of the Guthrie, Oklahoma Scottish Rite Bodies in a Conversation with Albert Pike. To learn more about Albert Pike you can go here to read an article about him.

The best part of the evening was, of course, the fellowship on the way over and at Cedar Rapids. Once again another reason I am glad I am a Mason.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Complicated

I thought that I was supposed to get my hairscut today but I was wrong - it's tomorrow. So while I was out I decided that I would take in a movie. I went to see the movie It's Complcated.

I enjoyed the film. I don't know when I have not enjoyed a Meryl Streep film and this was funny. The only character I did not like was the architect played by Steve Martin. That may be because I do not like Martin - I thnk he relies on silliness instead of talent. I know, I am bad but he just does not appeal to me. Alec Baldwin was OK but the movie was carried by Streep and John Krsinski. Krasinski is talented and his comedic timing was perfect as the fiancee of one of the three children of Streep and Baldwin.

There was a group of women sitting right directly in front of me and I thought they were going to be annoying. I have been known to suggest that, if they want to talk during the film, people should wait until it comes out on DVD and watch it at home. After a few minutes they did stop sharing remarks and were quiet.

I would recommend this film. It is not a great film but it is very entertaining and there were several laugh out loud moments. Thanks for stopping by. Stay warm, Hugs, j

Miles on Monday

Well, first there is Bailey. Looking disgruntled again because Miles was getting all the attention and he wanted to snack. His bowl is beside my chair so I can keep Miles from eating it so Bailey was on his way to the bowl. Miles sneaks Bailey's food when he can because it is good.
Jon was over Christmas Eve and I snapped this photo.
The lapdog syndrome is being encouraged (by both of us)
Waiting patiently for an invitation to sit on my lap. (He got it.)
And he likes to play. He has destroyed most of the pull toys but not this one. You can see that he has some big teeth. The puppy teeth are starting to fall out.The tooth fairy does not visit him cause Jon throws the old teeth out.. At least I think he does.
He loves to pull
Look at how tall he has gotten. I sometimes call him "horse" - He is eating some stolen Bailey food in this picture.
And then he was finished. Time to rest. Isn't the "Boy Bishop" beautiful?
(but I still miss Max)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST'S DAY


A special reverence and interest is attached to St. John—'the disciple whom Jesus loved.' (1)
The only disciple of Christ to not to forsake him in the hour of His Passion at the foot of the cross and he was the first to reach the tomb; when he met the risen Lord at the lake of Tiberius, where he was the first to recognize Him. Also, he is also attributed as the writer of the Epistles of John, and the book of Revelation.

St. John the Evangelist, with St. John the Baptist, is considered a patron saint by the fraternal society of Free and Accepted Masons (better known as the Freemasons).The festival of St. John on December 27th is the beginning of the lodge year in many jurisdictions of that fraternity, and is marked by special commemorations.(2)

December 27th is Saint John the Evangelist day, which is the 2nd feast day in the year to celebrate the Holy Saints John. The placement of the holiday also marks the winter solstice, which is directly opposite Saint John the Baptist’s day at the summer solstice in June making a notable completion in the cycle of the solar year. The actual dates are slightly off, but you get the symbolism.

Among all the nations of antiquity, the equinoxes and solstices were ever regarded as seasons of great importance. Especially in the ancient mysteries, was great stress laid upon the solstices, and the winter and summer solstice, the shortest day and the longest day of the year, commemorated with great ceremony. The well-known Masonic symbol, the point within a circle bounded by the two parallels - refers to this - the point, the sun, the centre of the solar system; the circle, the earth's orbit around the sun; the parallels, where they touch the circle, the winter and summer solstice, the limit of the sun's apparent course to the Northward and Southward of the Equator(3)

The Masons, finding the St. John's day of the church occurred about the time when, for reasons having nothing to do with St. John the Evangelist, they had been in the habit of enjoying a festival season for ages, chose to call it St. John's day, and so observe it; until those who have inherited their Masonry, having overlooked the true Masonic reason for the celebration at this season of the year, have very generally ceased to celebrate it, even as the anniversary of one of their patron Saints.

We regard it as very much to be regretted that Masons fail to celebrate the day of the Evangelist St. John. It is a loss to Masonry. It is a surrender of an opportunity to direct the minds of the Fraternity to the origin of their Institution, antedating the times of Christ and the Evangelist, antedating the times of the ancient Druids, who in celebrating the great winter festival were merely commemorating a season which had been observed by men and Masons from the beginning. (3)

Obama on Iran

The White House on Sunday strongly condemned "violent and unjust suppression" of civilians in Iran, following a fierce government crackdown on opposition protests.

The strongly-worded statement contrasted with careful initial responses by the White House following post-election protests in Iran in June and came as the nuclear showdown between Tehran and world powers reached a critical point.

"We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights," White House spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.

"Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States.

Now I hope he will apply that to those peacefully seeking the right to be married or to just live their lives as nature made them. It is about time he lived up to his campaign promise(s).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sherlock Holmes

I remember reading the Sherlock Holmes books when I was much younger. The Sherlock Holmes movies of the past did not impress me very much but this one did.

Robert Downey, Jr makes a wonderful Holmes and Jude Law is the perfect foil as Dr. Watson.

For those familiar with the books there are touches throughout the movie that will recall them to mind but you do not need to have ever read one of the stories to enjoy this film. They even has a quasi-masonic group The Temple of the four Orders which reminded me of Lodge.

Downey's Holmes is edgy and physical and a real action hero. Watson keeps up with him. This is not the cerebral Holmes of former movies with a somewhat dodgy Watson. This is a satisfying movie that does appeal to the intellect and keeps you guessing and also keeps you awake with action and adventure. I enjoyed it very much and think you will also.

There are currently three other movies playing that I want to see so I may go to one tomorrow also

Bob Wilson sent me these

And I thank him. You should too.



The Wooden Bowl

I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson.
The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.
'We must do something about father,' said the son.
'I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.'

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.
There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner.
Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone.
Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.
He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?' Just as sweetly, the boy responded,
'Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.
' The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table.
For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason,
neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I've learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:
a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life..'

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands.You need to be able to throw something back sometimes.

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you

But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others,
your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you

I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.

I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Chutzpah

Bill sent me this and it made me laugh out loud.

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word meaning gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, sheer guts plus arrogance; it's Yiddish and, as Leo Rosten writes, "no other word, and no other language," can do it justice. This example is better than 1,000 words...




THE ESSENCE OF CHUTZPAH...



A little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner for 25 cents each.

Every day a young man would leave his office building at lunch time, and as he passed the pretzel stand, he would leave her a quarter, but never take a pretzel.

This went on for more than 3 years. The two of them never spoke. One day, as the young man passed the old lady's stand and left his quarter as usual, the pretzel lady spoke to him. Without blinking an eye she said:

"They're 35 cents now."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Dinner

Found for Christmas



A Gentle Holiday Reminder

For the festive season remember: Alcohol does not make you FAT

- it makes you LEAN.... --- against tables, chairs, floors, walls and ugly people.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Question: What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
Answer: Snowflakes.

Question: What's red and white and gives presents to good little fish on Christmas?
Answer: Sandy Claws.



Little Known Christmas Fact

Not long ago and far away, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip...but there were problems everywhere.

Four of his elves were sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more. When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where. More Stress. Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys. So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey. When he went to the cupboard, he found the elves had hidden the liquor and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the he kitchen floor.

He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made from.

Just then the doorbell rang and Santa cussed on his way to the door. He opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said: "Where would you like to put this tree Santa?"

And that my friends, is how the little angel came to be on top of the Christmas tree.


Some Pick-Up Lines From Santa's Elves:

"No, no, I don't bake cookies. You're thinking of those dorks at Keebler."
"You'd look great in a Raggedy Ann wig."

"I taught Santa everything he knows."

"I'm a magical being. Take off your bra."

"Even Santa doesn't make candy as sweet as you."

"I've got the keys to the sleigh tonight."

"I get a thimbleful of tequila in me and I turn into a wild man."

"I can get you off the Naughty List." 5
A few days before Christmas, a man enters a pet store looking for an unusual gift for his wife. The store manager tells him he has just what he's looking for! A beautiful parrot named Chet that sings Christmas carols.

He brings the husband over to a colorful but quiet bird. The man agrees that Chet certainly is pretty, but he doesn't seem to be much of a singer. The manager tells him to watch as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cigarette lighter. The manager then clicks the lighter and holds it under Chet's left foot. Immediately Chet starts singing; "Silent Night, Holy Night."

The husband is very impressed with Chet's singing abilities and watches as the manager moves the lighter underneath Chet's right foot. Chet now starts to sing "Jingle Bells, Jingle All the Way." The husband says Chet is perfect and that he'll take him.

The husband rushes home to his wife and insists upon giving her this wonderful gift immediately. He presents Chet to her and starts to explain the parrot's special talent.

Demonstrating, he holds a lighter under Chet's left foot and the bird sings "Silent Night." He then moves the lighter under the right foot and Chet lets loose a round of "Jingle Bells." The wife is absolutely amazed, and with a mischievous grin asks her husband what happens if he holds the lighter between Chet's legs instead. With his curiosity aroused, the husband relocates the lighter as his wife suggested and the bird begins to sing - Chet's nuts Roasting on an Open Fire!
The Last Reindeer

A reindeer walked into a pub, strolled up to the bar and ordered a pint of lager.
Completely unphased, the barman poured out the lager and passed it to the reindeer, who handed over a ten pound note.

As he handed over the change of a few coins, the barman said "I have to say, you're first reindeer I've seen in here."

The reindeer studied the change very carefully and said. "Tell you what sunshine, as these prices I'm also the last reindeer you're going to see in here."
Dear Santa,
I wud like a kool toy space ranjur for Xmas. Iv ben good boy all yeer.

YeR FReND,BiLLy

Dear Billy,

Nice spelling. You're on your way to being a career lawncare specialist. How 'bout I send you a fucking book so you can learn to read and write? I'm giving your older brother the space ranger, at least HE can spell!

Santa
Dear Santa,
I have been a good girl all year, and the only thing I ask for is peace and joy in the world for everybody!

Love, Sarah

Dear Sarah,
You're parents smoked pot when they had you, didn't they?

Santa

Dear Santa,

I've written you for three years now asking for a fire truck. Please, I really really want a fire truck this year!

Love, Joey

Dear Joey,

Let me make it up to you. While you sleep, I'm gonna torch your house. You'll have more fire trucks than you'll know what to do with.

Santa
Three men die in a car accident Christmas Eve. They all find themselves at
the pearly gates waiting to enter Heaven. On entering they must present
something “Christmassy”.

The first man searches his pocket, and finds some Mistletoe, so he is
allowed in.

The second man presents a cracker, so he is also allowed in.

The third man pulls out a pair of panties.

Confused at this last gesture, St. Peter asks, “How do these represent
Christmas?”

The third man answered “They’re Carol’s.”



Have a very Merry Christmas.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Biker Santa - (From my Poetry Blog)


T’was the week before Christmas -I had lots to do
With my Christmas shopping I was only half through.
But just now I decided I needed to rest.
So it was off to the recliner and my own little nest.
The tree was up but that’s all that was done
This year Christmas just didn’t seem like fun.

I was sitting and resting with a fresh cup of coffee
Staring at that undecorated tree.
Those list’s of “to do’s” danced round in my head.
Packages needed wrapping and I must mix that batch of bread.
Presents to buy and cookies to bake
Cards to mail and sweaters to make.

With all that to do I must get busy
If I worry to much I’ll be in a tizzy,
But, it’s snowing out now so I’ll just take a nap.
I must pet the kitty who just climbed into my lap.)
Just rest awhile before starting all that work
(Lest you think that my duties I’d shirk

Then all of a sudden horns honking were heard
“What’s that” I exclaimed, “Oh my word!”
I leaped to my feet scattering coffee and cat,
Wondering about the noise, just what is that?
What is happening out there today?
I rushed to the window to see who was at play.


I gazed outside, up and down my street
And all of a sudden my eyes got a treat.
Eight bikers rode by, horns blaring and tooting
With green leather jackets and bags full of booty.
Each biker, an elf, with pointy little ears
And to my eyes came wondrous tears

I giggled, I laughed, You might say I howled.
And then I looked and spotted what followed
He came with a roar, a wave and a toot.
Oh Santa, I thought, “What a hoot!’
Biker Santa roaring by on a big red Harley
Making noise enough to wake Jacob Marley.


Christmas changes you’ve made
What plans have you laid?
He looked up with a grin and he gave me a wink.
So I pulled away from the old kitchen sink.
A wave of his hand and a smile from those cheeks
At a new way of thinking he’d given me a peek

I thought of the lists of things I needed to do.
And I realized that Santa had one too.
You shouldn’t have to rush around town
With your face set in a perpetual frown
While you cook and bake those cakes so fruity.
Christmas shouldn’t be just work and duty.

No, Christmas time comes once a year
With Santa, elves and (sometimes) reindeer
As Santa rode by on his bike of red,
He waved, grinned and then he said,
“You know, our work we should not shun
But, remember friends, Christmas should be FUN!”

Here is wishing you all a very Merry (and Fun) Christmas.

I looked out in front one day and saw this guy going by on a motorcycle dressed as SANTA. He was having fun and it was contagious.

The True Meaning of Christmas

My cousin Tracy sent me this little story. Since I am not sending Christmas Cards this year you can consider this your card. Have a blessed and Happy Christmas. Love from Jay, Bailey, Cassie and Miles.

This is one of the loveliest stories I have read about the meaning of Christmas.

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881.. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though. I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard.

"Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight."

I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd
already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed
doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.


Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team,
already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed.

"I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. Here, help me."

The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.


After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing?

Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"
"You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked.

The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what?

"Yeah," I said, "Why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt."

That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him.. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder
if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.

"What's in the little sack?" I asked.

"Shoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible then, we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?"

"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour.

I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears
filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up."

I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling
when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time.

She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell."

I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold.

When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something.. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you
understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.


You see, it is better to give than to receive. This may or may not be a true story but it brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of the greatest gift of all. God's love for His children.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Traditions


Two Christmas traditions I was unaware of are Festivus and Krampus

Personally I don't plan on celebrating either one of them but for those who want today is Festivus.

I am glad that we do not have Krampus here. Or maybe we do and I have just lived 68 years without being aware of it. Anyway I hate to think of little kids having to deal with it. The video below is kind of scary.




This is Krumpus. Can you imagine coming up against him on a dark night. I am surprised that Criminal Minds or some other TV show has not picked up on him and used him as a serial killer or something. Although the pants look like something John Travolta wore in Saturday Night Fever. Come to think of it Krumpus is sometihing like the guys Travolta has played in his later movies.


So here is a little movie of him. Enjoy and Happy Festivus.





And here is one for Festivus



Oh yes, here is a stolen Post from Grandmère Mimi which I find rather funny.
Christmas Carols For The Psychologically Challenged

1. Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?

2. Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Queens Disoriented Are

3. Amnesia --- I Don't Know if I'll be Home for Christmas

4. Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

5. Manic --- Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and Fire Hydrants and ...

6. Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Get Me

7. Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

8 . Full Personality Disorder-- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll tell You Why

9. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ---Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells ..

10. Agoraphobia --- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day But Wouldn't Leave My House

11. Senile Dementia --- Walking in a Winter Wonderland Miles From My House in My Slippers and Robe

12. Oppositional Defiant Disorder --- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus So I Burned Down the House

13. Social Anxiety Disorder --- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas while I Sit Here and Hyperventilate.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Invictus

Click on Poster
"The film tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match."

Mandela encouraged black South Africans to get behind the previously hated Springboks (the South African national rugby team) as South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

In reading about the film I found the following on Wikipedia.

Invictus, a 2009 film directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The title comes from the fact that Mandela had the poem written on a scrap of paper on his prison cell while he was incarcerated. In the movie, Mandela gives the Invictus poem to Springbok captain, Francois Pienaar, before the start of the Rugby World Cup. In reality, Mandela actually provided Pienaar with an extract from Theodore Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena" speech from 1910

The poem is nice, the speech is a little convoluted and perhaps that is why the poem Invictus was used instead of the speech. No matter, Hollywood does that sort of thing.

Now as to the movie. It is a sports movie and I am not a sports fan but I really liked this movie. Perhaps because Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes. I have admired him for a long time and Morgan Freeman did a Masterful (read that Oscar wining) job in portraying this wonderful man. I highly recommend it.

When I got home Jon had been here and fixed and run the vacuum and Bailey has something new. Take a look.
Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, j

Miles (and Bailey) on Monday

I smell something.
We smell something.
We wants it
Please
PIZZA (Reuben from Black Market.)
GIVE (or I'll howl all night.)

And I mean it.
Oh never mind, Jon is here.
If I can just find a toy he will play with me
Please, Dad put the computer away and play.
Oh Happiness. - I is a lap dog after all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Breakfast Club

Actully I took this photo on the way home. It was worse on the way down. Snow and mist today in central Iowa but I still got out to go to the Waveland Park Breakfast. It is too good to miss and besides I had presents for the kids.
First a full breakfast including anything you want to order and you can get seconds. The Prince was hungry.
Mom was concentrating on the paper. I forgot to tell her I liked her Christmas sweater.
The Princess loves her sausage links.
And Dad has his morning coffee.
After breakfast I had some presents for the kids because I won't see them until after Christmas.
For the Princess a Princess and the Frog (Phrog for all you Wordzzle fans) Barbie doll. A little old for her perhaps but you can see it made her happy.
And the Prince gets a Jurassic Park Hot Wheels. He could not wait to go home to set it up.
One last shot and there will be a short video of how it works after it is done processing.

Breakfast Club from Jay Simser on Vimeo.

You know these folks are wonderful to let me share their kids. I was thinking on the way down to Des Moines that the greatest gift anyone can give is the gift of friendship and I have received it in abundance from them. I hope you all had as great a day as I did and now I must catch up with another friend who sent me an e-mail. I am truly blessed. Have a great week. j