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Welcome To Oakleaves

Oak Leaves: EICHENLAUB

…from Eichenlau, a topograic name from Middle High German eichen ‘oaks’ + ‘loch, lo ‘brush’, ‘undergrowth’, reinterpreted through folk etymology as Eichenlaub ‘oak leaf’. Jewish (Ashkenazic): ornamental name from German Eichenlaub ‘oak leaf’.
(Source: Dictionary of American Family Names c2013, Oxford University Press.)

Thank you again for taking the time to check out my website. From one generation to the next we often fail to share anything of value. Please comment and let me know you visited.

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Eichenlaub
Oakleaves

This is my personal web log, or BLOG, if you wish. Yes, it does amaze me that the millennial generation feels that this pseudo-brevity of speech somehow makes them sound more intellectual, but, then again, there was a time that we too were alien abductees in the eyes of our parents and grandparents back in our day; “Far out,” “Cool man,” “Groovy baby,” and so on. Older people viewed Elvis as a subversive and the Beatles, well, they weren’t just aliens, they were from another dimension entirely.

Thank you again for taking the time to check out my website. From one generation to the next, I hope I have something of value to share. Please feel free to comment, I would really appreciate knowing that you visited.

Opening website: August 1, 2019

Just…Because

I am doing this because

The lizards stir at sunrise to slew across the patio screen

Cleaning as they go the night’s collection of leftover spider fodder

I am doing this because

One duck and then another joins the quacking, morning palaver

Bobbing bottoms up to eat as the flotilla skims the lake

I am doing this because

The old squirrel sits again in the bole of his tree with a nervous tail

Guarding his quiet gatherings as if whispering prayers into its tiny paws

I am doing this because

The turkeys jog around a bush, following the leader they take turns

Featherless heads barking a soliloquy into the still, morning air

I am doing this because

The sun, the lord of the sky, appears above the eastern shore

Posting itself with conviction as it makes ready to leap over our heads

I am doing this because

Within this vigil of daily behaviors, I close my eyes and see myself

Again, upon my knees, whispering prayers into my tiny paws.

Just…because

Until The Angels Are Gone!

You said that you believe in God but not in the way of religion

Is there a way to believe without religion…in God…or is religion the god

Upside down here in my tree of circumspection God seems so real, but

God has barely taken notice of us; you and I; we but whispers in time

Years ahead of you and you keep wanting to outpace me

Are you really listening to the idiots of the world around us…all of them

Do you know how I know that they are all wrong…all idiots…all stupid

How I came to realize that what we need to know will not come from them

All we need to know, is that we do not know; we are just as ignorant as they

This fact alone makes us smarter than them…more real…more correct

The same way a broken clock is absolutely correct at least twice each day

The most forcefully spoken (verbo veritatis) the least likely to be truth

The louder the claim (veritas cognoscitur) of truth, the more suspect it is

And God has no reason to lie, as men and angels do, and they do, always lie

The Great Awakening did not happen twice; the angels are still here with us

The Great Awakening is with us now, and will be, until the angels are gone.

The True Nature of Truth

There is an old saying that goes: “Never discuss religion or politics in polite company.” Sage advice, right? It is obvious that people do not like their beliefs, values, or ideologies being questioned or undermined. My assumption is that it causes insecurity and spawns fear, and fear turns quickly into anger, and anger into resentment.

A long time ago, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I used to preach from door-to-door, and one of the lessons I learned was to convey such messages gently. In fact, someone stated that to blatantly challenge other’s beliefs would be like, “yanking the rug out from under them.” Nobody likes hitting the floor unexpectedly. God is a God of peace and love. Or so the Bible says. From what I’ve observed, I have to assume it all depends on the situation.

My cousin is a Scientologist, and as she recently asked me to mention this:
“Don’t forget to make sure the viewers (readers) know that I am the 1st Scientologist in the family. And proud of it. I know it will be helping mankind repair this messy planet’s ethics.”

Do I agree with the Scientologist’s precepts and practices? I do not. But I do admire her tenacity and devotion to wanting to apply what she’s learned, and how she works so hard to help others by doing so.

My second eldest son is an existentialist and a deist. He shares with me his insights and beliefs on the expansion of the mind, and growth of the spirit, and he, like our cousin, explores his spirituality thoroughly, and practices what he learns.

Do I agree with deism or the purely existential search for God? I do not. At least not in it’s entirety, and although most of the precepts and beliefs I do hold are taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses; I certainly take no offense toward anyone who will attempt to assist me in my quest to better understand and discern ‘The Truth’.

Also, I respect that both of the above are set on their own course toward their pursuit of eternity, and…that said, although we disagree on many of the precepts relating to God, eternity, etc., I have no right to project animosity toward them, nor to strike any attitude of superiority in regard to my own ideology over theirs. Why should I, because both their’s and mine are essentially, unprovable!

Why are they unprovable?

Well, I should qualify the statement of provability by saying that these are unprovable on this plain of existence. Only when we each solve the great mystery of transference after death, will we know who, if any of us, is absolutely correct. In reality, we can argue the point until, as they say, the cows come home, and yet at the end of it all each of us still fears what may lay in store. As William S. put it, “What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause. There’s the respect that makes calamity of, so long life.”

Having observed, evaluated, analyzed, meditated on, and written numerous journals about people over the past forty-plus years, and not only those with whom I associated, but of ALL of those who claim to be “spiritual” people; common, famous, and infamous. Among all of those, there were, in my estimation, none worth emulating in regard to their behavior and/or ideologies. If you are a Christian, then you are familiar with, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

When considered rationally, the only way something can be PROVEN is if there is a single source that does not rely on opinion, conjecture, or supposition. A single source that everyone agrees is factual, irrevocable, without corruption or contradiction, and most importantly; unquestionably true! However; does such a source exist?

Laughably, most of the worlds population says there is such a thing. The example below is the short list of religious texts that people of this planet venerate and hold to be truth:

  • Bahi’a – Kitab i Aqdas / Kitab i Iqa’n
  • Buddhist – Tiptaka (In Pali Script)
  • Christianity – Bible
  • Hinduism – Bhagwat Gita, Ved, Uphishad
  • Islam – Quran, Sunnah
  • Janism – Jain Agamas
  • Judaism – Torah (Tanakh or Hebrew Bible)
  • Mormonism – Bible (King James Version) /Book of Mormon / Pearl of Great Price
  • Paganism – tradition and/or varied and often non-specific text
  • Rastafari – Bible / Kebra Nagast / The Promise Key / Holy Piby
  • Shinto – Kojiki / Nihon Shoki / Fudoki
  • Sikhism – Guru Granth Sahib
  • Taoism – Tao te Ching (Daodejing) / Zhuangzi / Daozang
  • Zoroastrianism – Zend Avesta

The source is: QuickGS, to which I will attribute the accuracy of this list, or lack thereof. The point is, there are MANY religious text, and few of us, if any, could find a way to subject ourselves to the learning and comprehension of each of them, ergo, we will most likely latch onto the one that is most popular within the region to which we are born.

Personally, I believe that the Bible is far and above everything else that claims to offer “the truth.” But the Bible, is also the only book I have ever been exposed to, and the book that I learned to be the oldest, most widely read book in the world. Does this, however, necessarily “prove” anything true about its revelation of the creation, or our continued existence, or the spiritual eventuality of mankind? Well, proof or not; those dedicated to it, read it as absolute truth and nothing but. Every thought and every word they glean from it, they hold to be true, no matter what.

Yes, you are correct in thinking that, “Just because they believe it. has no bearing on whether or not it is TRUTH, or whether or not it holds anything that pertains to TRUTH. What they believe is irrelevant, and what anyone else believes is equally irrelevant.” If it does hold “The Truth,” why are there so many sects and schisms among those who call themselves ‘Christians’? How can one book mean so many different things, to so many different people?

Descriptively, the Bible is a collection of sixty six books written through thousands of years, by about forty writers, many of whom claim that the words were given to them directly by our Creator. Therefore, the Bible is considered to be the truth because it declares itself to be such. Nothing else, no external sources, but the contents of the book, itself, claims it to be so.

2nd Peter 1:20, 21

“20 For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. 21 For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were moved by holy spirit.”

So then, ‘IF” we accept that the Bible is inspired by our Creator, or God, and that these men were writing what our God (Jehovah, Psalm 83:18) dictated to them; how do we account for all of the different churches, beliefs, and so on, many of which fight and kill one another over their so-call interpretation of “The Truth.”

“… This can be seen in Christian fundamentalism, which idolizes the Bible yet largely misunderstands it. Fundamentalists venerate a Bible that does not really exist, a perfect text that perfectly reflects what they believe.” “…central doctrines, such as the trinity, that are almost entirely absent…central ideas in the New Testament …’salvation by faith through grace’, that at least until the reformation, were never part of official orthodoxy at all.”

A History of the Bible – The Story of the Worlds Most Influential Book, 2019, p.3, by Professor John Barton, the Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford England,

During the so-called “Great Awakening” of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, besides the mainstream Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish beliefs, new offsprings of these religions flourished across America. Among these were the International Bible students that later became Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, the orthodox churches, the reformed churches, the fundamentalists, the Pentecostals, and so on and so on.

Besides these, there are scores of others that use the Bible, but do not necessarily consider it to be the final authority on their beliefs and practices, e.g. Scientology, et al, but they all acknowledge the voracity of the Bible and its importance to the human family.

Personally, however, I happen to know in my heart that the precepts of Jehovah’s Witnesses are far more in line with truth, logic, and practical thinking than any other belief system I have studied in the humanities, or elsewhere.

From the beginning of the Bible to the end, the enveloping theme of God’s Kingdom under the rule of His son, Christ Jesus, is the only practicable explanation for the hope for mankind. Far surpassing the nonsense that ‘everyone’ is going to heaven, or the even greater nonsense of transcendentalism, transcendence, moving through circles, etc., and so on.

Do I believe that the people who are in charge of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, otherwise known as the “Governing Body,” are speaking to, or directly in communication with God, Jehovah? No, I do not.

They are men, just like any others when it comes to their foibles and personalities. They are not gods or angels, nor do they exhibit any of the attributes of such. They are, however, honest hearted seekers of truth, and despite their shortcomings as humans, will continue to strive to understand what our Creator expects of us and will help us to accomplish. These men, in turn, do their best to communicate to us what they understand the Bible to say, not in a dogmatic way, as do the churches, but in a way that beckons us to consider, evaluate, reconcile, and understand what is written in the same fashion of the Beroeans.

Jesus’ teaching is plain: we become Christian by abandoning our selfish interests, and devoting our life solely to God.
If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself…” Jesus said. (Matthew 16:24)
This is what everyone who wants to be a Christian (or Christ-like) has to do. Can we really be considered a Christian otherwise?

Well, yes, to some degree we can. In fact, none of us can live our lives so selflessly that we could nullify the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. It is simply impossible for us to do so, considering our spiritually weakened condition, but we have to try, and we have to ask for help through prayer in order to keep us focused.

Jesus taught his disciples that, by bringing their lives into harmony with Jehovah’s requirements; gaining God’s spirit; they would be able to accomplish anything. “If you had faith the size of a mustard grain, you would say to this black mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea!’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6) This means we have to USE the Bible, to know what it says, and to put it into practice.

Did such faith exist among men, even in Jesus day? No, not completely. In fact accounts are presented in the Bible in which Jesus told his disciples that they could not perform certain miraculous healing and such, because of their lack of faith. That lack of faith to move mountains plagues us even today. The important lesson is that they tried, and continued to try to gain that faith.

The apostle Peter actually walked on water for a short distance. Apostles were given the ability to cure illnesses by the touch of the hand. Prophets were also granted the use of many miraculous powers including raising the dead to life. All miraculous in the sense that God granted it and performed it through them, and not for the titillation of curiosities, or to impress, but to show that the hope offered through Jehovah and the Christ Jesus is REAL.

So knowing that there are no perfect men walking the Earth today. Knowing what I do know, that Jesus, the one who perfectly emulated his Father, his God, did set the example for us to strive for. That ‘man’ is the only one whose character and being that wish to emulate, and I suffer each day in the knowledge that I am unable to do so.

When one will do as Jesus said, “disown himself” and recognize the corrupt nature of the churches and other so-called religious teachings; abandon all preconceptions and false notions about the Bible; about God and eternity; about Jesus and his relationship with his Father; only then will the true power of the Truth be recognizable and useful, and that will be found only within the pages of the oldest book known to man, given to us by an undying author who safeguards its purity, and is willing to help anyone of us to understand it.

The Many Falls of John

Tuesday morning is trash day, and as I went to bring my cans in from the curb, I noticed John sitting on an old chair in his garage. His head was bent so far forward that it nearly rested on his folded arms that laid across his knees. Watching him for what seemed like minutes; he never flinched. John is ninety years old, and sitting in the 100 degree Florida heat inside an open garage, well, I feared the worst, but the fact that he was still in the chair was a positive indicator.

Watching him steadily, I crossed the street at a quick pace on the chance that he might begin to fall, honestly thinking him to be unconscious and not permitting my mind to believe otherwise. I decided I would pull his cans back to his garage on the chance that he simply dozed off and would stir when he heard my approach. Having, many years ago, discovered my mother deceased while sitting on a toilet, it gave me chills to even think of again reliving such a scenario with John, even if he is only a neighbor. Still, if he was breathing, it was indiscernible through distance that separated us.

At the end of his driveway I took hold of his trash can and recycle bin, and began dragging them noisily toward the garage, still no movement or other indication of life. However, as I set the cans inside the garage and walked towards him, I realized he was not wearing his hearing aides and simply may not have heard me.
“Hello John,” I said in a very loud voice, and was much relieved when he attempted to lift his head to see who was talking to him.

Sitting in the position he held for so long, he seemed unable to muster enough strength to straighten himself. Not to mention that doing so most likely meant enduring a good deal of pain due to his deteriorating spine. He finally just twisted his head to the side so that I could see his eyes as I bent low to speak to him.

To lend credence to his superiority through age; although I’m in my late sixties, John considers me to be a youngster by comparison. So, when he speaks to me he addresses me as Jimmy.
“Hey, Jimmy,” he said breathlessly. “Thank you, Jimmy! Thank you!”
His voice sounded even more weak and frail than his body looks, but at least he recognized me. I stood there next to him as he attempted to rise up again, like the phoenix rising from the ashes.

As he gather his strength and pushed through the pain, his head raised slowly and he continued saying,
“I was trying to get up enough energy to go bring those damned things in by myself, but my god damned legs are too weak! I’m jes gettin to damned old, Jimmy! I need a new body!” Moving his arms slowly away from his legs, I could see the deep depression left on his thighs where his elbows pressed into them.

“No worries, buddy,” I said, “I completely understand.” I waited another little while until he could finally straighten his back and bring his head upright. “Is there anything I can do to help you,” I asked him. “Are you alright now?” My voice was so loud I feared I might be disturbing the other neighbors.

His skin is as translucent as wax paper, and despite the garage sweltering as it was, he didn’t have a drop of perspiration on him anywhere. I looked around for any sign of a water bottle or other drink, but there was no indication of anything.
“Hey buddy, I think you need to go inside and drink some water,” I said. “It looks like you’re all dried out! How long have you been sitting out here?”

Instead of answering my question, he stared at me in silence, which I took to mean that he had either not heard, or else, had not understood, but just as I began to ask again, he said,
“Oh yea! I’m okay. I just can’t get used to this heat! I’m usually to damned cold, but a couple minutes our here and then I feel like I can’t breathe anymore. It’s HOT outside!”

Again, more or less shouting at him, I asked,
“Do you need me to help you back inside where it’s cooler?”
Again, a blank look and silence for a minute or two, until he spoke again,
“It’s this goddamned body! It’s too weak,” he shouted back. “I can’t do a goddamned thing for myself anymore! How bout you find me a replacement body,” he says, laughing weakly; “under sixty mind you, and I’ll pay you a finders fee!” He manages to continue a hoarse, but weak laugh at his own oft-told witticism.

“Well, how about I give you my phone number so you can call if you need help with anything,” I responded. “Is that okay?” Again a long stare. “I’m just across the street and I want you to feel free to call me if you need anything, okay?” I say it loudly again, hoping he heard and understood.

He shook his head slightly and continued to stare at me, so I wasn’t sure he actually heard or understood.
“I’ll be right back,” I tell him, and I dash across the street to find something to write my number on. I return in less than a minute with a white business envelope bearing my name and number in large letters, and written in black, indelible ink. “Hang onto this, okay, and call me anytime!”

As I handed him the envelope, he managed finally to stand and take hold of the door to his kitchen.
“The offer stands, twenty four hours a day, okay John,” I say, “If you need my help, just call.”

He examined the envelope as though it held some secret meaning, and after a long moment staring at it, he said, “Okay, thanks Jimmy, thank you for bringing those in,” and he nodded toward the cans.

“Your welcome,” I tell him, as he opened the door to go inside. As I stepped outside the garage, the garage door began to close slowly behind me and glancing beneath I saw his left foot lift off the step as the door to the kitchen closed behind him.

Flashing lights and motors running; it’s late!

John lives totally alone, with the exception of his cat, Jemjem, and according to another ninety-something neighbor who lives next door to us; she says that John has no one, no family, no cousins; literally alone in the world with the exception of friends like her and a few others who have known John since he arrived here in the community about twenty years ago.

She, her name is Bessie, a real sweetheart, also told us of John’s frequent falls and calls for help. For the past several weeks we have, from time to time, seen the paramedics at his house. So there was no irony in the fact that this same evening, of the same day that John and I spoke in his garage; I heard the sound of engines on the street and looking out the window saw that, once again, a fire truck and an ambulance were out there. He’d evidently fallen again.

The next morning, which was Saturday morning; there were two cars parked in his driveway, and so I went across to offer help and see if he was okay. Since everyone knows that he cannot come to the door, I knocked and then let myself inside where I was met by Barbara, and Bonnie; two of the other neighbors whom I mentioned, who, along with Bessie, have known John so for so many years. All three began looking in on him daily since he began taking these falls. Introducing myself, I explained how John and I became acquainted the day before, and that I saw the rescue team again last evening and was hoping that he was alright.

From the front door I could see into the bedroom where John was tucked into bed, his reading glasses resting on the tip of his nose and a book lying across his belly. He was looking at me, so I waved, and he waved back. Next to him lay his old cat, Jemjem, and when I went to his bedside to say hello, I notice the bed was littered with papers, books, an unused pee bottle, a sandwich in a plastic bag, and several document folders stuffed with papers. He appeared to be keeping himself busy and was far more lucid now than he was in his garage the day prior.

The cat, Jemjem, I learned, got his name from John’s initials, J.E.M., because John would name the cat and then forget what he named it. So, he used his own initials to ensure he would remember its name consistently. Of course Jemjem didn’t seem to mind one way or the other, and it was obvious that he and John were good companions for one another. Unfortunately, or so it appears, a companion was no longer going to suffice. What John truly needs now is a live-in care provider.

In the ensuing conversation about John and his health issues, I made the ladies aware of the trash can incident on Friday, and how it worried me that John is so weak and possibly dehydrated. Then, after hearing of the many falls he’d taken, I had to ask,
“Should he be here alone?” Of course, the ladies had the same questions and concerns, but what to do about it was not easy to answer. With each fall, John refused to go to the hospital, and we all felt certain that his reasons for not going was his concern were for Jemjem and his home; who would take care of either of them.

Speaking to John as he lay there in his bed, I told him again,
“Don’t hesitate to call if you need me, okay!”
He had my number next to his bed on the nightstand and promised he would let me know if he needed anything. Although the ladies assured me that he would be fine, when I returned home, I told my wife that I was uneasy about leaving him alone as there was no way for him to get to and from the bathroom or to get food or water, or anything else on his own. It left me feeling very uneasy about his situation.

That same evening, as my wife and I sat in the kitchen playing a board game with our son and his family; the phone rang. It was a 386-number that I didn’t recognize, so I assumed it to be John’s number and I answered. John’s panicked voice came through in such a fearful tone that I knew he was in definite trouble.
“Jimmy! I need help Jimmy, can you help me please!”

My son and I immediately rushed across the street and found John wedged between the edge of his bed and the wall next to it. His shoulders were partially on the mattress and his feet were twisted and jammed against the baseboard. His right hand clutched the headboard and his face was an expression of fear and distress that was so painful to witness because he was crying and hopeless in his condition.

We lifted him as gently as we could up onto the bed amid loud cries of pain that truly made me wonder if he hadn’t actually broken something during one of his many falls, but did not realize it.
“What happened, John,” I asked. “Did you fall out of bed?”
Instead of answering, all that he could do was apologize.
“I’m sorry Jimmy, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be such a burden to everyone, I’m sorry!” It took him several minutes to calm himself as we stood next to him and waited for the pain to subside and for him to catch his breath.

Once he was relaxed he explained that he’d made it to the bathroom and back, but when he attempted to lay down again, he was unable to lift himself onto the bed. Instead, he slipped off the edge and into the position in which we found him. Fortunately, the telephone laid next to him or, otherwise he could have been there until, well…we don’t know what could have happened or how long before someone found him.

Finally calm and appearing settled, he assured us that he would be fine for the remainder of the night as it was already after eleven o’clock. Making certain the the phone and my number was within reach, my son and I crossed the street again and finished our board game, which ended just after midnight.

Around 1:00 am, about thirty minutes after we all went to bed; I lay in bed reading and once again heard the sound of truck engines in the street and the hints of emergency lights flashing against the blinds. I peeked out and saw the ambulance in front of John’s house. Had I fallen asleep, I most likely would have slept through it, making it an even more horrific night for John to live through on his own.

Wearing only a pair of shorts and sandals, I quickly crossed the street and followed the paramedics into the house where we found John laying in a heap on the floor, only this time he’d fallen on top of a utility table that shattered beneath him. His right arm was folded beneath his body and his left arm was extended outward as he appeared to be attempting to grip the carpet and pull himself off the broken table. Once gain, however, his body is too weak to aide himself.

For some time, the paramedics just stood there talking to one another in such low tones that I was unable to hear what they were saying. Finally, one of them knelt next to John and asked what happened. There was no explanation as he was crying and obviously in severe pain, and most likely could not hear what they were asking anyway, not without his hearing aides.

After some minutes of waiting, two of the six medics began to extricate him from the tangled mess.
“We’re going to get you up into the chair,” one of the medics said to him loudly. As they attempted to move him he screamed in pain again, as he had when my son and I moved him earlier, and he again began apologizing profusely for having done so.
“No need to apologize,” one of the paramedics answered, “we know it hurts but we have to get you up.”

It shocked me that there was no back board, no checking for broken bones or neck injury; they simply flipped him and lifted him into an arm chair that was padded with one of the cushions that belonged on the sofa.

Trying to piece together what may have happened, they merely theorized that John had attempted to sit himself on the padded armchair and missed. Either that, or the over-sized cushion was too high for him to slide onto, causing him miss the edge and fall onto the table. In either case, he ended up on the floor and unable to recover himself.

In the meantime, John sat in the chair wearing nothing but undershorts. He chills easily at his age and sat there shivering and shaking from head to foot, and still moaning in pain. After several minutes of discussion, one of the male attendants asked loudly,
“Do you want us to take you to the hospital?”
He either didn’t hear or understand the question at first, so one of the female attendants repeated to him,
“Do you want us to take you to the hospital?”
“I don’t want to go to no hospital,” John shot back; his voice shaking and barely audible.
“Okay then, if you fall again, just give us a call,” she said, as the others began preparing to leave.

My jaw had to be hanging open as I watched this.
“Are you just going to let him sit there? Shouldn’t he be in bed?” I asked. The older medic then turned back to John and said,
“Do you want us to help you into bed?”
“No!” John shot back at them. “Just let me sit here for awhile.”
Unable to justify the scene mentally; no exam, leaving him alone, etc., I said to the group, “He’s not going to be able to get back into bed himself.” And then asked, “How is he going to take care of himself when he can barely even walk?”

One of the female medics turned and asked if I was a relative.
“No,” I said, “Just a neighbor. I live across the street.” and then went into the explanation of how my son and I had rescued John from an earlier fall that same evening, and that he has nobody to care for him, and that there is no way he can take care of himself.

Without any acknowledgement of what I told her, she turned toward the door and shouted,”Okay, well, give us a call if you need us again.” She fired the comment over her shoulder and across the room toward John like a mortar shell that he never heard explode. The others were already outside as John sat there, shivering, uncovered, and with no one to care for him but me.

Although he objected weakly to my remaining with him, I could tell that he was grateful for the company, so I ran home and dressed and returned with a pillow and a book to read. The sofa was missing cushions and piled with paraphernalia so I took up my station on a small love seat near the back windows and, more or less, directly in front of John just in case he tipped over while dozing. As much as I tried to talk him into resting in bed, John refused. He said he did not want the pain of getting into and out of the bed to go to the bathroom, and I soon discovered why he said this.

As it turned out, he had taken a laxative earlier, so we spent the remainder of the night with repeated trips every hour to and from the bathroom. Had I not remained, I’m certain he would have hurt himself again, among other nasty things that might have happened. There was no way for him to maneuver without assistance and his bathroom visits were frequent. Had I not been there to lift him in and out of the chair, on and off the toilet, and assist him across the room, he would surely have fallen again, or worse.

In between bathroom trips we sat and talked (he talked, I shouted). After the paramedics left I’d covered him with warm blankets and watched closely that he did not slump or tip forward as he periodically dozed off for a few minutes at a time. So we just sat there together the remainder of the night. Just as the sky began to lighten with the break of day, and despite his awkward sitting position, John appeared, finally, to be in a sound sleep.

Laying back into the love seat with my legs dangling out into the room, I had just begun to doze a little, opening an occasional eye to see that John was still upright (it was just about 7:30 am) when the front door popped open and in came Barbara.

Seeing me laying there across the small sofa obviously surprised her as she let out a little yelp that was not quite loud enough for John to hear. His chin resting on his chest, he was sleeping soundly now and taking breaths so shallow that it was difficult to detect them.
“What on earth happened!” Barbara asked, obviously startled by our appearance there together and poor John sitting in the chair instead of laying in bed.

As she and I talked about the events of the evening, John finally stirred again and joined the conversation. She told him that she was going to call a nurse to come visit him, and I, again, expressed my concern to her about the lack of care the paramedics showed, and concerns about John’s possibly having broken bones or other injuries of which he himself may not even be aware. Barbara stated that she would tell the nurse and have him examined.

Saying my goodbye’s, I took my leave, again telling John to call if he needed me, and I returned home to try to enjoy a very groggy Sunday with my family.

What are neighbors for; ambulance service notwithstanding!

The next day; Monday afternoon, Barbara called and asked if I could assist her and Bonnie in taking John to the emergency room. They explained that the nurse did come to evaluate him and then spoke with his primary care physician, and that the doctor asked that John be taken to the ER as soon as possible.

The ladies dressed him in some clothing that appeared to have been worn for some many months; i.e. filthy blue jeans and a stained and graying t-shirt. It was difficult and very painful for John as we moved him to the car. Barely able to support his own weight, I dead-lifted, and stood him behind his walker and we held him upright to get him out of the house and safely into and out of the car, and with as little pain as possible. We did manage to get him into the Emergency room where, fortunately, the wait was not long and John finally received his much needed examination.

Although he was now, finally, getting some medical attention, we were not certain that his troubles were over. We were told by the nursing staff that, if they did not find a reason to admit him, he would have to return home. We explained the situation to his attending E.R. doctor, i.e. that he had no one to care for him, and that after his many falls, he could, in no way, care for himself. The doctor then assured us that a social worker would be called in to assist.

Leaving him in their care, I returned home and waited several hours before following up. When I called the E.R, about 9:00 pm, his attending nurse said he was doing fine, that so far no injuries or major issues were found, meaning that they found no reason for him to be admitted. This was cause for great concern, and I informed her again of his situation and asked if she would please call me when he was discharged. I then told my wife that I would be spending another night with John.

When bedtime rolled around, about 11:30 pm, there was still no word from the hospital and I peeked out at his house, which lay dark and still. He obviously did not come home and since no call came, I went to bed assuming they were keeping him.

When I awakened, I immediately called and learned that, thankfully, they had admitted him because he was unable to walk. When we went to visit him later that morning, the charge nurse we spoke to informed us that there was no possible way that he would be discharged in his condition, but would likely be moved to a rehab center. Doctors were ordering an MRI and other tests, and social workers were finding a bed for him at a local center.

What will happen during and/or after therapy is still up in the air. The neurosurgeon plainly pointed out to him that, at his age, surgery is out of the question. The best that can be done is to move him to a rehab facility where they will attempt to strengthen him, however; his spine is in such a deteriorated condition there is not much optimism about his ever walking again, or taking care of himself.

Sadly, during our last visit, John was exclaiming his views on self-euthanasia, and my wife and I did our best to encourage him to not give up. Fortunately, the conversation was interrupted by a visit from the surgeon. John curses his body for failing him and wells up with tears, recalling how things used to be. Falling into long periods of quiet thought, he will suddenly erupt with a mental list of things that need to be done with his possessions, and particularly with Jemjem, his cat, which he says that Barbara will inherit. “She really good with cats!” he repeats with a smile.

As he lays there in his hospital bed, I watch as he looks at the back of his hands as if contemplating his age, and eventually he says to me,
“Jimmy, I doubt that I’m ever going to see my house again, you know. I really have my doubts about it.”
He eyes remain downcast as one hand touches the other and then I say to him,
“Well, John, there’s just no way of knowing until you see what rehab will do, but we will be with you whichever way it works out, you know! Your friends will still be here with you!”

As I age, there are constant reminders of what lays ahead: My brother-in-law died just last week of cancer, and my sister (his wife) not many weeks before, of a stroke. My oldest living brother is eighty one with several physical maladies and he and I have both been treated for prostate cancer. The other four of our older siblings are already gone, as are our parents who died ages ago. Even the thought of my grandson’s dog, who was a newborn puppy that his mother purchased from him when he was only two or three years old; is now thirteen years old approaching the limits of his life.

So as I lay my head on my pillow at night, my mind is full of questions that I cannot even begin to put into words. It has always been my view that there are many things in life that are far worse than death; one of them being, simply waiting for it to arrive, as it is in John’s case, and so many others who live around us in our current community that have passed the octogenarian stages. There will be no warden to walk us to the chamber, and we will probably never know when or what our last meal will be until after we’ve eaten it, but we will all have one, sooner or later.

Like being nose deep in water, barely able to tip our head back far enough to take another clean breath, one has to consider, ‘Is another breath worth it, or would it not just be simpler and more justifiable to simply allow ourselves to submerge and enter that quiet sleep where all these troubles cease to exist.’ Like the Shakespearean writer opined: “To sleep, perchance to dream—aye, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause. There’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life.” (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1)

Sour Grapes

The grapes I just ate were tart; almost bitter actually.

There is a world of difference between us now, now that I don’t believe there is such a place as hell, but you still do.

It changed my view of life, you know? My opinion of you! How one believes; how one feels about life and death makes you a different person every time.

There are not many people like us left, you know? Those who lived apart but remained close for sixty years or so and then, went one way and the other.

The new cotton sheets my wife bought are PERFECT! 100 point, or something like that, she said. She loves them!

Actually, it’s all very rudimentary, this rift between us, that is. The rudiment, of course, being that neither of us knows what he’s talking about.

You feel you know because you believe them! They tell you what to think and claim to be God’s very own messenger. And so, you follow!

My claim is to not know! All that I do know is that I don’t know, and I’m full of doubt because of what I see around me. Because of what I experienced.

You make a pretense at humility, but it is all disingenuous. You may as well pin an ‘I Am Humble’ pin to your lapel, to make sure everyone knows.

You already wear that ring you’re so proud of, whereas I have never had enough fingers to justify wearing anything. I am lacking too much!

But neither am I humble. It’s not a ring or a pin that makes us what we are.

House cleaning brings out the worst in me, but my wife cannot do it anymore. She’s done it so long that it finally broke her back.

I kept mine in one piece, just in case that happened.

Did you know that regardless of how old you are, it has nothing to do with WHO you are? And who you are has nothing to do with WHAT you are!

Looking into a mirror as I type, I’m trying to decide if I like myself or not. Your beliefs made me hate myself, my weaknesses; for all the things I am unable to do.

As I learn, and I think, I somehow behave differently; there, in the mirror, is a slightly different person than before. I still don’t like him, but I let him live.

Oh, yes…all those forty-plus years I cried out, “Change me, help me change, make me a better person, take away this constant pain that none can see or feel but me!”

Or is it true that one must suffer first to appreciate heaven all the more? No worries, I never had any intention of being in heaven. But, it would be nice!

Were we really made to endure all of this…or is the joke on us? Eat, drink, and be merry … and all that other brouhaha!

The sacrifice applies to all, you said, but only if you perform certain duties, only if you observe certain rituals! If then, you are found deserving … well … maybe then.

What? I don’t get it?

Go forth, and make the world observe these…so that a few, only a few, will survive; you said. A man’s enemies will be those of his own household!

Did I create a thousand chairs to find only six that I want for around my table? Do I then burn the nine thousand nine hundred and ninety four?

Without law, there is no sin, so law was introduced into the world so that sin could be brought to light; once sin is made evident among all men, destruction will be justifiable.

Is it really? Is it rightly? Through one man sin entered the world and death spread to all men. The wage that sin pays is death, but the gift that God gives…

A gift to be received with stipulations?

How easy it is to speak with the voice of God! As so many seemingly believe themselves to do!

You don’t believe in hell, I know, not even a bit more than I do! Either I am condemned or I’m not. Time will tell. To die, to sleep…no more!

But without hell, can there be a heaven? Yes, we’re pretty sure to whom that belongs.

In the meantime, I’m going to have a glass of wine, and kiss my wife!

Famous Quotes – By Me

“Sometimes the words, “I can’t” can be loosely translated as, “I don’t want to.”

“Too often we educate ourselves just enough to become self-righteous: that’s when we begin to preach.”

“Faith does not protect us from life, or death; it only provides us with what we need to endure either of them.”

“Fear of death makes liars of us all.”

“It’s too bad The Baker Act was not in force when Darwin concocted the ‘Theory of Evolution.”

“The appreciation of ‘fine art’ is too often preceded by steeping oneself in popular opinion and swallowing a generous portion of pretentiousness.”

“It certainly appears that music, art, religion, as it is with food; are an acquired taste.”

“…to enact the Baker Act Florida, there must be substantial evidence that an individual has a mental illness as explained in the Baker act, or there is intent to harm oneself, others, or be self-neglectful as described in the Baker act.” There’s definitely enough evidence; all that is needed now is to go to the White House and get him!

Every religion fleeces its flock by claiming speak with the voice of God.

Inside Dorian – Hurricane Hunters

Dorian … The Purple Hurricane

Dorian passed through Daytona and visited itself upon our daughter’s family. During the storm, they captured some pictures of the sky as the storm came and went.

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Dorian begins its approach on Daytona Beach

Whey Back When

Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey!

Foregoing the part about the icky spider, one has to wonder how many people today even know what curds and whey are (or should that be, what curds and whey ‘is‘?) Anyway, having recently observed a college coed who could not read an analog clock, I feel certain that this nursery rhyme is quickly losing significance.

We, that is my wife and I, only recently began experiencing a new found liking for curds and whey, aka cottage cheese, which is, like so many things on the market today is supposed to be good for you.

Merriam-Webster defines whey as: “the watery part of milk that is separated from the coagulable part or curd especially in the process of making cheese and that is rich in lactose, minerals, and vitamins and contains lactalbumin and traces of fat.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get enough ‘lactalbumin’.

In my experience, a cup of cottage cheese that is coated a with light smattering of salt and lots of pepper on a plate with the wedges of a fresh juicy peach, is not only a healthy lunch, it’s quite delicious! Regardless, I believe the reason that I enjoy cottage cheese is because of my grandfather, John Matthew, aka “Pop” Eichenlaub and his odd, and at times, savory depression-era meals.

The Old House
Our home in 1952 @ 1410 9th Av. Altoona, PA. Old PRR row house.

Like so many post-depression era families, ours were ‘humble’ beginnings, which looked more like poverty than anything else, but I guess humble works if you like. It was the early 50’s and we enjoyed odd foods like coffee-soup, poor-man’s gravy, I even recall pickled pickled pig’s feet and other such delicacies. I call it sushi for the poor. Our diet was thin because Pop had a meager pension from the railroad, and our father had difficulty passing a barroom when he had money in his pocket. so food was often scarce.

In the early 50’s there was a “Government Surplus Food Program” or “Commodities,” as we called it, that helped keep us alive. A precursor of food stamps. Of all of the good and the bad to recall from that period, nobody can forget the huge blocks of government cheese that are still around today! According to some, it was once called “The perfect food.” My mother would hold my hand as we waited in line for our box of food that always included a five pound block of the perfect food; American cheese.

  • Cheese and dairy products
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Peanut butter, dried beans, jelly
  • Canned fish and various meats
  • Evaporated and nonfat dry milk
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Fruit juices and beverages
  • Rice, macaroni, spaghetti

That list displayed on the Internet is far more comprehensive than I recall ever receiving, but then, I was very young and may not recall all of it. But I do know that what we did receive often required a ‘tolerant’ palate, if you take my meaning. Even as a child who knew no better, the smell of the canned meat was nauseating; a very similar odor to today’s canned dog food. The peanut butter; a hardened mass of half ground peanuts beneath inches of yellow oil, when stirred long enough, became a tasteless, pasty goo that made the bread more filling. On the top of the box was that HUGE bag of puffed wheat cereal. Half the size of a bed pillow, the puffed kernels swam on top of the watered-down confectioners milk like tiny organic balloons that veritably disappeared like cotton candy on the tongue. A small child could consume the entire bag in five or six servings..

Better Than Butter

Although not mentioned in the list above, there was always a large sack of flour our mother used to bake bread. To put it in today’s vernacular, “OMG” was it amazing! We dared not let the smell of it baking to escape the house or we would have neighbors dropping by constantly; it was that good! Unfortunately, butter always seemed to be in short supply for some reason, but as a substitute, old Pop would come home with a tub full of cottage cheese which, for the two of us anyway, was better than butter!

Besides his cottage cheese, Pop also loved his canned tomatoes; i.e. whole tomatoes, peeled, uncut, and sweetened. Emptying the tomatoes into a bowl, he opened the cottage cheese and then filled our plates with a goodly portion of each. He taught me to coat them both with salt and pepper, and then taking the fresh baked bread slice, we would fork small bites of the cottage cheese and tomato onto the bread in succession, savoring each bite as we worked across the plate, rivaling even Marcel Proust’s savory description of petite Madeleines dipped in tea.

The bread served to provide a variety of meals;; like bits of fresh-baked bread soaked with coffee and covered with canned evaporated milk and sprinkled with sugar, which made our “coffee soup” (believe it or not, you can find ‘modern’ recipes for it on the web). Another was to fry bacon to an almost black char that was cooled and crumbled into the hot bacon fat, and then bits of flour are stirred in to form a thick, brown gravy. The gravy was poured over that same fresh-baked bread and sprinkled with apple vinegar to make a savory breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and sometimes all three. Probably the most unhealthy diet you can think of, but the memories of it all will always linger in the curds and whey.

The Flag; The Cross; The Stake…A Moot Point

Just recently I saw a middle-aged man wearing a t-shirt that was emblazoned with a giant religious cross in the background, and in the foreground is an America flag; essentially side by side with a caption that read: “I always stand for the flag, and kneel for the cross.”

Now, it’s logical to think that this gentleman feels that he is being very noble in his professing belief in God and country, and most others likely feel the same as he. Unfortunately, the one whose opinion matters most is not yours or mine, but that of our Creator; our God!

Does the Creator, our God, view this as a noble gesture? Or is such a statement and action quite the opposite of nobility, and actually an ungodly and unlawful act in our Creator’s eyes? Is this more so the expression of man’s ignorance and lack of understanding of God’s requirements as well as his lack of knowledge of what the Bible has to say about such a presentation and proclamation?

Consider this, if you would, please? First of all, to “stand for the flag” and putting the flag foremost, presupposes that the flag is somehow more important than anything God has to say in the matter, something we are forced, from birth, to believe through our government propaganda.

It also presupposes that this country alone is “doing the will of God” and has the right to raise itself to a level that is equal to, or above the Creator, and therefore “expresses the will of God.” Again, something we are forced to agree with from birth through the propaganda of political leaders who feel that the power of God was given them.

Of course, every other nation of the world presupposes the same things about their god and their countries; some even have many, many gods to back their claim. So, it appears we battle on more than one level of existence, both spiritual, and political. Yes, some actually do.

The second supposition is that the ‘cross’ represents true Christianity, but this is not likely to be the case, either. There is evidence that Christ did not die on a cross, but rather, was hung on an upright pole, or stake similar to a large fence post or perhaps something more like a telephone pole.

According to Roman tradition: His hands were overlaid, i.e. one on top of one another, above his head, and then nailed through the palms to support the weight of the body. The arms being pulled above his head put excessive strain on the heart, causing a much faster death. The feet were nailed as ell as lashed to the pole, but in order to expedite death, the legs were broken so that the full weight of the person would come to bear on the arms and cause the heart to literally burst from the pressure.

What though, if the Christ had died other wise; say, by hanging or a firing squad? Or even if they had burned him at the stake, or garroted him? What kind of symbol would people wear or display considering any one of these? Or would they display anything at all?

Jesus was murdered by the Romans, and hundreds of years after Christ died, when the Romans hijacked Christianity in 523 AD and called it Catholicism; they melded it with their pagan rituals and only then did the fallacy of the ‘cross’ surface and become the adopted to symbolize his death. The cross is of pagan origin and existed as a religious icon for centuries prior to Jesus. Ergo, it is not a fitting symbol to use to commemorate anything about him.

The 10 Commandments of God are still valid, or are they?

Exodus Chapter 20:4-6 (Please read all three translations – different Bibles)

New World Translation (NWT)
4 “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. 5 You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them, for I, Jehovah your God, am a God who requires exclusive devotion, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing loyal love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.


New International Version (NIV)
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

New King James Version (NKJV)
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Within the overall theme of the Bible, Jehovah (Psalm 83:18) established the “Kingdom of God,” which does not hold this or any country of the Earth in greater esteem than any other. In fact, Satan offered ALL the kingdoms of the Earth to Jesus to entice him away from his Heavenly Father. Luke wrote; 5 So he (Satan) brought him (Jesus) up and showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in an instant of time. 6 Then the Devil said to him: “I will give you all this authority and their glory, because it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.

Regardless, the SECOND COMMANDMENT should be sufficient for us to understand that just because the rest of the world does it, does not make it correct!
Again: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,”

Bowing to anything, whether you are “saluting” a flag, or “bowing” to a cross; an idol is and idol. Satan is the ruler of this world, and we should not bow to anything he puts before us: Revelation 12:12 “12 On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing that he has a short period of time.

Love Songs For Darcy

You were just a few years old
Not many days ago, It seems
When I sat you on my arm
And we danced to love songs
And I sang along, to you,
and for you.

You dance now, and sing along
To songs of your own
My little girl
Married and grown
A woman with a child
To sing her own songs to.

But, still
When I think of you
Or look into your eyes
We will always be dancing
You and me, and I will always
Sing love songs for you.

James Eichenlaub 2001