Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Baptisim

Last Saturday was baptismal day for Penny (Penelope) Ann Cotrell, daughter of Tracy and Robert Cotrell. Her Godfather was Sean Monroe and Godmother was Amber Beauregard, soon to be Amber Rainwater. Penny was quiet for the entire event and very cute in her baptismal gown and cap. Robert held her for 98% of the time, just could not share his six week old daughter.

The event took only about 40 minutes including some remarks from the deacon who talked about having both Tracy and Amber in his classes. He told about an incident during the training Amber received for becoming a Eucharistic minister. At one point Amber found herself up on the altar all by herself. She was confused about what to do and in her embarrassment started to cry. Tracy, seeing Amber's predicament, dressed down the deacon for leaving her up there by herself.

In attendance were: Cheryl, Pat, Phillip, Debbie, Cliff, Betty, Cindy, Neil and Steve, Tracy's old boss from Freeman. There was somebody taking pictures but I do not who he was. Later, we met at Debbie's house for a spaghetti diner followed by cake and ice cream. While there, everyone that wanted to hold the baby got to do so. She slept through most of it.

Karen and Sean had travelled from Knoxville to be part of the ceremony and they stayed with us for two nights. We had a most pleasing two days with them and even, along with Cheryl and Scott, got to play "Pegs and Jokers". It was girls against the guys and the girls won both games played....grrrrr.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Astronomers are continually enlarging our understanding of the universe, Galaxies and beyond. It is mind numbing to try to understand it all. Microbiologists, through nano-technology, are continually making discoveries into the small universes that inhabit our bodies. The understanding of physical matter, for one person, is too much for the brain to handle. We are capable to understand our own bodies, yet, even here that knowledge is expanding through medical science which employs new techniques, instruments and technology. It is a formidable task to keep up with it all.

To thinking persons it is apparent that inside their bodies there is a spirit that is not the same as the material of which the sensing body is constructed. This spirit is sometimes called a life force, but, it is more than that because even animals have a life force. Our spirit recognizes that it is unique and it has a desire to continue it's existence. The basis of religion is on this understanding of a spirit that continues after death. If it does continue after death then what form does it have, what senses, what understanding? Since it is not material it then does not inhabit the material world when the body dies, it would inhabit the spiritual world. Where is that? Does it have place as we understand place in the universe, for it is possible to make a map of the universe and pinpoint where our place is. It is understandable that the spirit world does not need a material world and here is where the mind does not do it's job for us.

We make efforts to understand the spirit world. Cinematographers have tried to give a visual view of spirits, remember "Ghost Busters" or "Casper".  Seances have been held for audio communication with the spirit world. Praying is an effort be in touch with the spiritual world.

Religion, based on the belief of an after life, does it's best to help us to understand the spiritual world and that an individual soul is important. If it is not important what is the use of existence? For those that believe in both a material and spiritual entity there is the question of why such a dual system. And they have come up with the understanding that the material world is a test and a preparation for the spiritual world. Perform righteously in the material world and there is reward in the spiritual world.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Political Scene

To many newspaper readers, "Current Events" are about global catastrophes: floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, extreme cold; to others it is about entertainment: movies, television shows, bands, sports; and others it is about local catastrophes: robberies, car crashes, shootings, food purity, electrical outages; and of course, some newspaper readers know nothing about current events concentrating on the "funnies".

In our time, the single most important area of current events is the arena of politics. It is in our time that the choice of the future direction of this country is to be made. There have been other times in the history of this country when the people faced decisions that meant the future direction of this country. 1) In the 1770's there was the decision to opt for Independence from England, and I believe we made the correct choice even though many people died. 2) In the 1850's and 1860's we had the choice of maintaining a country divided on two economic systems: a paid workforce in one, a slave workforce in the other. The outcome was decided by two armies and many, many people died. This country changed to a totally paid workforce. 3) In 2012 we are faced with two systems again: a free market, capitalist system which is the system that made this country the best in the world, or, a socialist system which has never succeded in any country in which it has been tried and has been the root of millions upon millions of deaths to support that system.

What is lamentable about this choice we are about to make is that a vast amount of the electorate have no understanding of the different choices. Hispanics believe it is about ease of citizenship attainment. Environmentalists believe it is about the abuse of the planet. Blacks believe it is about hatred for a black person. Homosexuals believe it is about gaining their rights. Feminists believe it is about women's health. Economists believe it is about the unsustainability of spending and a large unmanageable debt. Seniors believe it is about taking away their health care. Welfare recipients believe it is about sustaining their monthly payments. The Catholic Church believes that it is about forcing Catholics to do things against their conscience. The above cases are single issue people. People that vote only for their single issue. I have a niece that once said: "I don't want to think that I am going to vote with my vagina", a case of single issue voting.

Historians believe that before the 1770's there was a great awakening of religious fervor among the population, and they call it "The Great Awakening". A second "Great Awakening" has been identified in the 1830's and 1840's. It was through the Great Awakenings that the people were prepared to fundamentally change the course of their country. If that is true then the question comes up, have we had a Great Awakening to change the course of this country? Barack Obama believes that he is the one to fundamentally change this country. He truly believes this and, for those that are aware of the present political scene, we are most concerned for our country.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Automotive Pleasure

We bought the Acura in 2011 because we both thought it was beautiful, the right color and had many features that intrigued us. The sale was greatly improved when we got up to walk away with the intention of walking next door to the Lexus dealer and see what they had. So we got a car with Bluetooth, XM radio, heated seats, three buttons for auto. door opening, and a very solid road ride. The first thing that turned us off was the need for premium gas. Next, the ride was more like a race car than we like. Getting into and out of the car was difficult for me because it was so low, I was always hitting my head. Driving low in traffic was irritating, most cars and all trucks in front obstructed a clear view of traffic.

We shopped for a car that would be more to our liking and traded for a Honda CR-V. The sale was greatly improved when we got up to walk next door to the Toyota dealer to see what they had. So we got a car with Bluetooth, XM satellite radio, heated seats, backup camera, GPS system and regular gas. Getting into and out of the car was now a snap for me. Pat says she has to hike her butt a bit more but copes with it. (I have coped with her butt and the experience is pleasurable.)  We have owned the car for about six months and here is what we have found:

1) XM radio has no commercials and a very extensive range of audio offerings. The cost is worth it.

2) The backup camera is most accurate and the lines on the screen help in many ways. Parallel parking is quite easy with this feature as is backing to another vehicle and leaving enough space.

3) The hard, race-car ride is now softer. (Still not equal to our Camry which gives us excellent feel.)

4) Road vision is safer as seeing over other cars is now possible. (Will we ever perfect a camera that will give us an overhead view of traffic in front and sides?)

5) The latest version of GPS was a delight with it's ease of programing for desired destinations. On coming back from a doctor's appointment on Atlanta's north side we decided we were low on Trader Joes wine. Typing in Trader Joes, we were given two choices, picked the closest one and directions were immediately given. We were travelling through Atlanta on I-75, exited about three exits down and drove right to the spot. Getting back in the car, a push on "Go Home" resumed our way through Atlanta traffic and back onto I-75. It saved us a special trip to get wine.

6) While Pat was driving us to "River Dwelling" she mentioned to me that a light was on the instrument panel. I got the instruction book and saw that the light meant a low tire pressure. We stopped in a gas station to observe the tires. One was extremely low, almost riding on the rim. Pulling the car over to get air into it, I found to my amazement that I could use my credit card for a dollars worth of air. We decided to have a Honda dealer look at it and programmed for the nearest Honda dealer. It was only a few miles down the road. They found a hole that was left by a nail and it was losing air fast. The dealer plugged it, balanced it and we were on our way. Thank goodness for that warning light.

We are pleased with this car.                            

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A Walk

While vacationing in the Georgia mountains we stayed at "River Dwelling" on the Toccoa river. On the third day some of the grandchildren were getting restless. I decided to take some of them for a walk. (Upon renting this place I believed that the children would be playing in the river. As luck would have it the river was high this year. Duane said that pools formed by rocks in the river would be good for the children to play and be easily guarded by adults. All these rocks were underwater.) Those that wanted to go were: Sarah, Nathan (both Duane V"s children) and Erin (Kelly's son) and off we went. At my insistence they put on tennis shoes, or at least something that would protect their feet. I planned to walk on the dirt access road running by the house and returning by the paved highway, a distance of about 1.5 miles was my estimate.

Upon starting, Sarah stayed by my side and the boys trailed close behind. We passed other vacation homes an this road, some below us and some above us. For the most part the road is 10 to 20 feet above the river, sometimes there are homes between us and the river. At a point where the road was very close to the river we climbed down to the river. Not an easy thing to do with the wild foliage growing on an incline. The kids were like goats in handling that incline but for me it was a challenge to keep my footing. Once down, the boys immediately started throwing rocks into the river. Hearing a "ploosshh" with each rock seemed to inspire them to throw more. Sarah attempted to skip a stone without success. Right away the boys attempted to do the same, also without success. I told them I would show them how it was done and selected as flat a stone I could find. My throw was not an improvement on their results, it did not skip. A few more throws and I was beginning to believe the art of skipping a stone, for me, was gone forever. Finally, I got a stone to skip about three times and desiring to quit while ahead I directed everybody to get back to the road. Just before we left Sarah skipped a stone about five times, the clear champion in this group.

As we walked along the boys took the lead. They were very cute as they held hands and talked while walking. I was not close enough to hear the conversation but the sight of that friendship warmed my heart.

I decided on another descent to the river, where it was a bit easier. Here there was a large flat rock in the river just off the shore edge. I stepped onto the rock and Sarah did too. I helped Erin to get on the rock but Nathan would not risk it. All three of us urged him to join us but his caution overcame our pleading. Nathan pointed to something sparkling in the water and Sarah put her hand in and brought up some sand. Nathan was horrified that she did that. She tried to show him it was only sand but he only backed away as if it was poisonous. There was a bit of moss on the rock just below the waterline and Sarah pulled some of it out of the water. Once again, Nathan was overcome with fear and wanted Sarah to throw it away. (It was than I recalled how fearful his father, Duane, was when he was a kid.) Sarah is a curious observer.

We resumed the walk and the boys once more went on ahead. This time they were running a short distance then coming back when I called them. Sarah stayed with me. We found some bright green moss and called the boys back to see it. To the touch it felt like a putting green and I encouraged all to touch it and feel the texture. Nathan, ever the skeptic, refused to touch it. (When I told Duane about the incident he laughed and said: "When I was his age I wouldn't have touched it either.") I was on the watch for the herb fennel to see if I could get Nathan to taste it but none was spotted.

The dirt road came out onto the highway and we started back, once more the boys ahead. When cars came by we stepped off the road and walked in the rough grass. It was easier to walk on the road and the boys complained that the high grass hurt their legs, so we tended to stay on the pavement. I was pleased to see that, upon hearing a car approaching behind us, the boys would step off the pavement and onto the grass until the car passed. They did not need to be told.

While on the highway it became obvious that it was about to rain. The kids asked what we would do if it started to rain. My response: "We will get wet" was a bit unsettling to them. I think they believed their great-grandfather had a plan to keep them from getting wet. Eventually we came back to the dirt road on the way back to the house. At this time the weather turned misty and water droplets were building up on my hat and shirt. Just as the house came into view, a very light drizzle started. The boys ran ahead to get back to the house but Sarah stayed with me. It stopped raining before we got to the house and the two of us investigated some mosses that were in an open glade. At this spot, there was some moss that was even greener and brighter that what we had previously seen. Sarah pulled some up to take with her. She has a very healthy curiosity.