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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Important Birthday

Two score years ago (that's 40 years), my son was born. This is his high school graduation picture. Hard to imagine that was over 20 years past.

This is how I remember him fondly. Hard to imagine him that small today.

December 30th is a big year in my family. My brother was born on this day, my son and my sister's daughter. Three within the family are celebrating this day. May they all have a happy birthday.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Enchanted by the Light

 It's Christmas day, barely. Still it demands attention. Hank Bruce has been a dear friend for over fifteen years. We met at Southwest Writers Workshop and Writer2writers back in the day. He's reviewed all my books on Amazon, and for most his is the only review. I've read many of his books and actively promoted some of them, they are great. He has done wonders in third world countries by promoting the Moringa Tree.

His gardening books are a delight, he has Cowboy ghost stories and a wide range of topics in different books.

Hank is best telling short stories, He has a wonderful way of turning a phrase and making a truth abundantly clear. The latest one I'm reading is Enchanted by the Light. The ebook is free with unlimited on Amazon.

Fifteen short stories set in New Mexico during Christmas.

There's a little girl who somehow makes her way from Acoma Pueblo to Chimayo to get sacred dirt for her dying grandfather and brings it back.

There's the story of a six year old girl who suffered brain damage as an infant, but during Christmas when she's six where she impacts the small village and they have a special Christmas pageant in her name.

An old cowboy in the 1800's who everyone knows, but is not really valued until he's dead.

Hank even lets us in on the most important secret in New Mexico concerning the alien landing in 1947 outside Roswell, NM. If you read it you have to swear to keep the secret and tell no one. Oops, maybe I messed up here.

A Native American boy named: In a Hurry Hawk.

My favorite is about a disabled Vietnam Vet recently returned and facing PTSD and poverty. He blessed his village with tumbleweeds.

A judge and junior high school principle agree that seven boys arrested for vandalism be punished by making them sew a quilt.

Some of the stories make you laugh, many make you cry, others are heartbreaking, but uplifting at the same time.

Hank gives a glimpse into the life of people of all races, religions and social standing and how Christmas brings all of them together by shedding light on their love.

There's a heated debate in New Mexico about a certain Christmas decoration. They are brown lunch bags filled half-way with sand and a candle is lit. Sidewalks, walls and roof tops have them spaced out and they make a beautiful sight.

They come from a tradition of lighting the way on Christmas when people traveled to be with family and they needed something to light their way home in the dark. They built little fires. Hank used the Spanish word for this "Faralitos."

Others refer to them as little lights or "Luminarias."

Here Hank and I disagree.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Captain's Log 122320


I have another blog named Captain's Log, but I've used this one the most for the last few years and I've decided to incorporate the Captain into this one. I'll still do Wednesday Challenge and Top Ten Tuesdays after the first of the year, but from time to time I'll also do Captain's Log.

Captain's Log 122320

This date in 1971,hard to imagine that was 49 years ago.

Subject: Dennis Elliot.

I was staying at a friends house down the block from mine while they were out of town. I woke up on the morning of the 24th to a phone call from a friend from church. He asked if I heard about Dennis. The bad news he was killed in a car crash the previous night.

My brother was at that time a Police Aide which was paying his way through college. He went to the desk where the reports came in on the accident. Dennis's twin brother, David, was driving. Two underage boys ran a red light and cut in front of them. Dennis was thrown through the windshield. He died on the way to the hospital. David's arm was broken. The two boys were cited for DWI.

When you're sixteen it's hard to go to a friend's funeral the day after Christmas.

The summer of 1971 the youth in our church went to a summer camp in the Sandia Mountains. Dennis and David were there. At lights out we were in a dormitory style room and naturally the preachers had a trouble getting us to quiet down.

All of a sudden music came from a bunk a few down from me. One of the preachers took it away from Dennis. In the morning it was give back. It was a curious instrument to me so I asked him about it. It was a recorder. I played Clarinet, but I like the way it sounded, it's also known as a straight flute. The fingering was much easier than the clarinet and when I got home went out and bought one.

I focused on track and cross-country in high school and dropped band. I found playing the recorder an easy way to destress. I now have three recorders of different sizes and sounds. But every time I look at them handing on a wall and take one down to play it I picture Dennis.

About six years ago I was called to jury duty. I've found this to be an exercise in futility. Someone with my credentials will never be allowed on a jury. My father was a deputy sheriff. My brother was on the police force. I'm a Baptist minister, I have a B.A. degree and was a teacher. In the waiting room I utilized this time to grade papers, helped me get caught up until I faced the ones generated while I was away.

Worst of all I didn't get paid for Jury duty. The school district was given the pay to reimburse them for the substitute.

For the most part we would wait around and every so often a few names were called off and they left. Around noon they sent us home.

I was called in for one screening. We were sitting in a group and asked a few questions with answers yes or no by raising hands.

The case involved DWI, the question was, "Did we have a family member or know anyone who was killed in by a drunk driver?"

I wasn't prepared for my response to this question. It was like forty plus years vanished as if it happened yesterday.

I wasn't selected.

Change of topic:

I now am back in my old office. My friend who's an attorney has graciously allowed me to come back and write. I haven't been able to do any writing since my wife retired. There are too many things she wants to do or for me to do.

My friend suffered a heart attack a year and a half ago and shut down his practice. At my wits end I called him and asked if he's still in the office. He is on a limited basis. 

I'm going in two days a week when he's home, and am doing some cleaning and other things for him so I can sit and write undisturbed. Now to get the creative juices flowing again.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Sad Day X12


Saying goodbye to my sister for the last time.

Twelve years ago today, she went to be with the Lord. She was only 45.

Summer of 2008, my sister was in the final stages of ovarian cancer, A Dallas news station payed for her family to come to Albuquerque so she could visit our father's grave. Dad died in 2007, but Penni wasn't able to attend because of problems with her cancer. She was in Palliative Care and the station used her as an example of how it helped the families facing a terminal illness. To view the broadcast click here

We traveled as a family to Santa Fe's National Veterans cemetery to view the plaque on his grave site. My mother joined him this year.

From there we spent time in the Square in Santa Fe. Penni's husband David is to the right of me and Michelle is behind her being shy.

Next stop was the Glorieta prayer gardens, where Penni and David were married, and where her ashes lie around a bench left in her memory. Our mother and combined family. Our brother, Bruce and his family were unable to attend.

After Glorieta we met up at my house and had a nice chat until it was time for them to leave. That was a very difficult parting for both of us. 

Penni's group of her husband David, her daughter Michelle, and the reporter went on to the tram to see the view from atop Sandia Mountain. I don't know how she put in such a long day in her condition. Penni was going to make the most of this day and she did.

Monday, December 14, 2020

TTT 121520 TBR list for 2021


Today's topic is my TBR list for 2021.

Every time Berthold reviews a new book I seem to add it to the list. Others I pick up on fb when they're advertised there and they catch my fancy.

Here they are:

I have a tendency to download box sets like this, but they gather dust in my Kindle until I'm really bored and want to tackle all at once. If I start and stop I'll never go back.

This one is a second book, Berthold recommended the first one and I liked it so I've downloaded this one, there are more too. Good spy adventure in the 19th century.

Oh my, hard to believe I've read all 49 of the books and this is number 50. A few ghost writers had their stories pulled for plagiarism. Since Tony Roberts took over they just keep coming. He tries to do 2 a year.

This is one of the two free books I can get each month. They tend to stay there until I get around to them. Some months I don't choose any of the ones offered.

Another free book, it's getting higher on my list.

One I'm looking forward to when I get the time.

Ditto on this one.

I've read four of Audrey's Herbert West books. Berthold recommended this one. It's short stories tied in with the Herbert West series.

I've been putting this one off since April. It's just 12 books takes a lot of time from start to finish.

Another free book I'll get around to sometime this coming year.

Just kidding. I downloaded it for reference purposes. 71 books works better on my kindle that on my bookshelf.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

WC 200920 Profession


This week's topic is a profession from a book you'd like to be.

I've always wanted to be a detective.

Deductive Detectives:

I loved the Purloined Letter and Murders in the Rue Morgue that I read in literature class in 7th grade. Poe's C. Auguste Dupin set me on a life of deductive reasoning.

I've enjoyed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and some of the other sleuths, but Dupin is my favorite.

Agatha Christy's Hercule Poirot. Still love Murder on the Orient Express. Love the twisted ending.

Private Investigators:

Micky Spillane's Mike Hammer's I the Jury made me addicted to his tough guy bowling ball approach to finding the killer and dealing justice. Thank heaven for used bookstores that practically gave his books away. Too bad Amazon is not as generous. 

Dashiell Hamite's Phillip Marlow. A tough guy, but milder than Mike Hammer.

I enjoyed James Garner is The Rockford Files. Magnum P.I. (the original), Charlie's Angels,

Police Detectives:

A staple in movies and TV: Starsky and Hutch, Cagney and Lacy, Rizzoli and Isles, Coogan's Bluff, Dirty Harry X 4, Mannix, Lethal Weapon X 4 or 5, and a TV show. Hawaii 50 both versions.

Forensic Detectives:

Loved CSI, hated CSI Miami, CSI New York was okay. Have watched NCIS through thick and thin.

TTT 120820


Today's topic is Holiday/Seasonal Freebie (holiday books/covers/titles, wintry reads, snow on cover, cool color covers, takes place in cold settings, cozy scenes on cover, etc.).

I couldn't come up with any books that had holidays or winter in as their focus. Now I think on it Harry Potter books took place in winter. Okay The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.

Instead I have a dear friend from college. We were Patrick and Patricia with both of our last names starting with P. 

Professors and other students kept getting us mixed up for some reason. We kidded each other that we must be twins, so we've called each other twin for over 40 years.

When she became an artist she changed her name to Anne Littlewolf. I have two of her works on my wall. She's sold her work to Ricky Skaggs, John Denver and some other notables. After Denver's death she and her husband went to Windstar in Colorado and she donated a few of her paintings to their charity. Found out her husband and John Denver's brother worked together at NASA. Here are some of Anne's work she did while living in Colorado. It gets cold in Colorado!

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Society of Friends (Quakers)

Settle in, I'm on my soapbox today.


Today Berthold Gambrel posted a review of a 1956 movie named Friendly Persuasion

I've posted about the movie a number of times. It is one of my all-time favorite movies. It's about a family of Quakers. I used the movie during the study of the Civil War when teaching U.S. history. In order to do so I had to enlighten my students about the beliefs of The Society of Friends.

I'm a licensed Baptist minister. I've never been to Quaker church. I've studied the Society of Friends solely based for a more profound understanding of this movie. 

Some in my wife's family are Mennonites. It is a sect very similar to Quakers and are followers of Menno Simmons, a German theologian that preached pacifism in the 16th century. The Amish are a more radical branch of Simmon's teaching. Both branches are pacifists.

In England during its reformation a number of illegal sects arose. Puritans, Baptists and Methodists and The Society of Friends. The official church frowned on them and imprisoned preachers who spoke without the official sanction of the Church of England.

John Bunyan was such a man and while incarcerated wrote Pilgrim's Progress.

The Society of Friends were quite different in some ways which got them into trouble. They were egalitarians. They believed that everyone was equal before God. This belief found its way into the Declaration of Independence.

The other distinction they're known for is pacifism. They are non-violent. They refuse to fight even when attacked, and will not join the military. The last part is a big no-no for commoners in 16th century England.

The Quakers, for being a rather small religious group, have had a profound impact on U.S. history.  They established the Underground Railroad to help runaway slaves escape to Canada. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a Quaker and wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin.

She once met with Abraham Lincoln in the White House. Lincoln is said to have remarked, "So you're the young lady who started this war." 

The basis of Society belief is called: Priesthood of the believer

Protestants starting with Jan Huss, John Wycliff, William TyndaleMartin Luther interpreted the Bible to mean no person stands between you and God. That we all will stand on the day of judgement and be held accountable for our actions and beliefs. The only advocate we have is Jesus who intercedes on our behalf, if we believed in him while alive. Salvation by Grace.

Okay, so what does this have to do with Quakers?

Society members because of their egalitarian belief ruffled feathers. English society was very class oriented. Lords and commoners. Even today in their parliament it's divided that way.

If a commoner passed a lord or lady on the street they were required by law to tip their hat. The civilian version of a salute. It was a sign of respect for your betters. Society members, considering everyone is equal, refused to do this. 

A man by the name of George Fox was arrested for this crime. When brought before the magistrate, the judge scolded Fox and admonished him by saying that if he didn't repent from breaking the law he would face punishment.

Fox replied, "It is thee that shall quake and tremble in the presence of God on the day of Judgement."

It is from this statement that the Society became known as Quakers.

It wasn't just refusing to defer to their betters, but they also insulted the aristocrats with their language.

We think of the usage of thee and thou as Shakespearean and biblical. It was also a caste distinction. 

"Thee" and "thou" was class specific. A lord used thee and thou when speaking down to a commoner. The commoner was required to use "you" and "your" towards the lord.

Shakespeare did not make this distinction in his plays because it rhymed better in iambic pentameter. The same can be said of the King James Version of the Bible. 

Quakers refused to use "you" and "your" toward aristocrats. Hard to imagine, but that was a crime. They were imprisoned, they were hanged and burned at the stake over this.

In the New World the language went upper class for all with "you" and "your." It makes Quakers still using thee and thou a little archaic, but it's still very poetic when used for effect. 

Many Quakers fled to the New World to escape this persecution. In New England they were persecuted by the Puritans for being pacifists, and being egalitarians who allowed women to be preachers. All Quakers are considered to be a minister in the church: Priesthood of the believer taken to it's logical conclusion.

In Captivating History's Anne Hutchinson, about a woman whipped and finally exiled from Massachusetts for speaking her mind over the "faith" or "works" argument. At the end of the book I was shocked when it told of Anne's daughter who lived in Massachusetts and was hanged for being a Quaker. It seems the Puritans did more than hang witches.

This was one of the reasons why William Penn petitioned the Crown for the charter of Pennsylvania, for it to be refuge for Quakers from both England and other colonies.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

A day in the life...


Today's topic is an average day in my life.

The mundane: Get up test my blood sugar, eat breakfast, get on computer check e-mail, fb, blogger, and friend's blogs. Tuesday is for TTT and Wednesday of for WC. Go outside, clean up dog's mess, every other day fill up bird's feeders, in warm weather water back yard then front yard.

 Take do for a tug, err, walk.

Before pandemic I'd hit the gym. Loved the water aerobics. 

Before noon get in recliner and read or go into my office to write. Since the pandemic started I've been too stressed to do any writing and am doing a lot of reading. 

Get take-out for lunch. There's a fast-food Mexican place called Twisters that makes really good enchiladas and a Twister's Burrito (comes in 1/8,1/4, 1/2 and whole sizes. It's a burrito covered in curly cue fries and red of green chile sauce. A 1/8 is too little and 1/4 is too much. A whole one will feed a family of 3 or 4.)One of the Twisters was used as the El Pollo Hermanos chicken place in Breaking Bad.

Sit down restaurants are out. Wife and I miss going to some of our favorite places. If we feel like splurging we'll order take out, but it's usually lukewarm by the time we get it home.

There's also a Blake's hamburger place within walking distance that has great breakfast burritos and hamburgers. It was prominent in the Breaking Bad series.

After lunch wife wants to watch TV. We do marathons on Netflix, Prime, CBS All Access, Hulu, IMDB.

Snack for supper. Watch more TV.

Being retired my routine hasn't changed much even with the lock down.

Since my mother passed away I've been busy sorting through her possessions and doing all the legal stuff. She's buried with my father in the national cemetery in Santa Fe. Waiting for the pandemic to abate before getting family together for a memorial service.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

TTT Books I want to read again


Todays topic is books I want to read again.

1. The entire Chronicles of Kastania by Tony Roberts. Book six will be coming out after the first of the year and I like catching up before I read it.

2. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. I listened to them on audio the first time and this year I think I'll read them. I imagine to pick up new insights.

3.Into the Dark series by J. A Southerland. He has another one due out the next year too.

4. The Dark Blade series by Tony Roberts. Can't wait for the next one.

That's 17 books to re-read. I'll be busy.