I’ll say Merry Christmas, but you say what you want.

I have seen some posts lately about the way Christmas itself is treated as a holiday. Some say it should be nothing but a “Christmas” tree, and not be called a “Holiday” tree. Some say it HAS to be “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays”

I personally will say Merry Christmas and have a Christmas tree. But…I am not going to try and “hijack” Christmas as being just for Christians. All kinds of people celebrate Christmas this time of year. I don’t believe that I should tell someone who is a Jew, or a Muslim, Atheist, or any other group who does not believe in Christ that they should NOT celebrate this time of the year.

A lot of the symbolism that goes with what we call Christmas, does not even come from Christianity. Back in the Middle ages, a lot of “Christian” holidays were placed on dates when other pagan religions had celebrations of one type or another. Their logic was to assimilate the pagans into Christianity by “mixing” bits and pieces of some of their celebrations with some Christian celebrations. A lot of the customs that we associate with Christmas were secular to begin with..or even pagan in origin.

Charles Dickens had a lot to do with how we now celebrate Christmas. The holiday itself seemed to be dying in early Victorian England until Dickens wrote his wildly popular book, “A Christmas Carol” in 1843, right before Christmas. Much of what we think of as a standard Christmas comes from that novel. If you’ve never read it, you need to. I’m sure everyone has seen the movie in one version of another. Dickens was definitely the “man who saved Christmas”

A lot of what many Christians see as being a part of Christmas…the “Santa” part, has certainly been secularized.

Also, just think back to all the “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” ads you have heard during the past week. Sometimes it feels like Lucy was right in “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” that Christmas was controlled by “a big syndicate back East” may not be too far wrong nowadays.

I think that instead of caring so much about whether people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” we should not “swat at knats while swallowing camels”

We ought to be examples, by word and by deed, of how we should truly be: friends to all of our fellow man. Feed the poor. Clothe the naked. Give to those who have less than we have. Do it without qualification. Quit worrying about whether or not people “deserve” your giving. Quit worrying about whether or not what you give will be “misused”. If you are truly selfless in your giving, then you will receive your reward no matter what happens afterward. The joy will be in the giving.

Then, perhaps things will be as Tiny Tim said in the book, and “God will bless us….every one”.


People say there is no such thing as magic. I say they are wrong.

The first great magic is light. Without it there could be no life. We humans think we see it, yet we never do. We only see light’s reflection off objects which it strikes. We see just a portion of the total spectrum of light. We see the stars in the heavens at night…and sometimes do not stop to think what we think of as current, could be anywhere from a few years to a few decades old. How can that be, unless it is magic. Light is the basis for all of our electronic communications devices. Without it, I could not “write” this.

Light is definitely the first and greatest magic. Next, will be music….

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and his Lesson

I will have to say one thing for sure, Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass were two men who were WAY ahead of their time in terms of rejecting the ideas of discriminating against people due to them being “different” in some way. Never heard of them? I’m sure that most of us watch at LEAST one of their works if not more this time of the year. As a matter of fact, I just finished watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” again yesterday with the babies. Believe me, if you watch it closely with your eyes wide open to what is going on, you will see a tenderly made cartoon which teaches one of life’s greatest lessons. Rudolph himself, was of course, “different” with his Red Nose so shiny and bright; but there was also Hermie the Elf who wanted to be a dentist and not a toy maker, and all the Toys on the Island of Misfit Toys with their “differences” from regular toys. All the reindeers teased Rudolph about his nose and even the great man Santa discriminated against him due to him being born with a physical difference. In the end, a lesson was learned when Rudolph saved the day for the very many who had previously rejected him. A lot of other Rankin and Bass cartoons also contain different lessons. “Santa Claus is coming to Town” with it’s “Burgermeister” whose dictator like rules kept children from having toys and kept their parents “under the thumb” of a repressive government. Rudolph came out in 1964, and the other cartoons not long after. I marvel at these lessons that I overlooked, or didn’t want to pay attention to, until these past few years when more and more people are coming down on others for being “different” in some manner or the other.


When I was in school I took a pencil and paper with me every day. Right up until the day I graduated High School, and even my last year in college in 1974 it was pencil and paper or pen and paper. I never imagined any other way.

When the electronic age started, I was a Manager in a bedspread and blanket factory. I think I got my first computer in ’87 or ’88. Spreadsheets soon followed, along with emails and memos via the internet. I adapted to these things and I kept up. I had to, or have someone else take my job.

Back when I was still using pencil and paper in classes…often boring repetitive classes, I doodled. It was fun and it made the teacher think you were furiously taking notes. I did some great doodles that I wish I had kept. Some epic doodles. Most often I liked starting with a simply pattern and making it more and more complex as the doodle developed. I found patterns interesting, I found them fascinating. I began to believe there was something more to patterns than I knew.

I was never a good math student. I’ll admit I had a lot of trouble with Algebra. I really like Geometry however, and actually made B’s in that area. It seemed more pattern oriented to me. I took a course at Georgia in “Philosophy and Logic” which continued to focus my interest and belief in patterns. It was one of the most difficult courses I ever took. Try an advanced course in Logic sometime if you don’t believe me.

The more I look at the world, in everything which I see, from the macro photos of plants and insects that one of my Facebook friends so beautifully takes, to the posts which show galaxy after gorgeous galaxy, the more I see repeated patterns. Similar patterns in nature. Similar patterns in all things, from the cells in our body, to our Universe.

There is a pattern.

There are patterns which were used to create all things. There will be patterns which predict the future of all things.

Perhaps everything started off with a doodle somewhere.

Since patterns are repeated, perhaps at some point in the huge pool of time our existence will be repeated.

I am one that does not believe in an end to things. Call me crazy, a lot of people do, but that’s just the way I see it.

Worlds Without End

One day last week I spent some time looking at things under high magnification. Leaves, some grass, a lady beetle. Lord knows there are plenty of them around here!

I found that what appears ordinary and mundane when viewed with the naked eye is extraordinary under magnification.

You can see the cell structure in the leafs, and it’s so beautifully symmetrical. It’s geometric and almost appears as if it was drawn. As if someone put some thought into how it should look.

Later in the evening I went to take my dogs outside for their sabbatical, and the stars were coming out and looked gorgeous. There were hundreds of them to be seen by the naked eye. Twinkling in shades of blue, red and yellow.

What is obscured by the light of day is beautified by the quiet calm of night.

I truly wondered again if the nature of existence stretches to infinity in both directions? We think we know so much when we actually know very little.

Our society tends to shine a spotlight on all bad things, when we should be magnifying the good, and bringing love out of the darkness and into plain sight.

All Will be Well

Does anyone else ever feel it? Even when you are sitting in your own house in your favorite chair, it sometimes sneaks up on you. You may feel comfortable, got your slippers and your robe on, and then you just get a feeling that you’re in a strange place…you are not home. You’re at your house, but you are not…home.

I get that feelings sometimes, and it’s a strange thing. I go outside and look up at the stars sometimes and I wonder, why am I here and not there? I saw a gorgeous, unbelievably beautiful panorama photo of the night sky that someone had taken with a special HD camera. As far as the eye could see into the photo, were the little specks of distant stars. Millions and millions of them. I felt out of place just sitting here in my chair and looking into that photo on my computer screen. What is out there? Is there a heaven out there somewhere? Are there millions of other worlds out there which are “Earth like” with life on them? The scope of my existence sitting here looking at that became so tiny…so insignificant. How does it really matter what I am doing here on this little speck of dust? Is this really my home, or is my home somewhere out there?

Based on that line of thinking, one could become quite depressed if one were inclined in that direction.

But then I pulled myself back into this world. Into this existence. Into my existence. I took a deep breath and got up and went and looked into the mirror. I looked as deeply as possible into my own blue eyes. At first nothing was apparent, but then I looked again. Deeper and deeper I looked and then I saw some tiny specks glowing deep within…like stars. I knew I was home. And I knew that no matter what happens or when, I will always be home.

Omnia Sunt Bene.

All will be well.

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving….my favorite holiday of the year. Even more so than Christmas. Even more so this year of all years

Last year on Christmas I was in Redmond hospital.  My chest  had been sawed open and they grafted four arteries into my heart and bypassed the ones that were almost totally stopped up.  I was laying there for well over 6 hours, and was on the heart-lung machine for over an hour. Motionless and essentially lifeless for over an hour, while a machine held my life in its brainless hands. Thank God for technology and skilled doctors, because I did live. I lived, although for the first week I sometimes wished that I had not. But now I’m glad I did.

It snowed in Northwest Georgia on Christmas, last year…the Winter of 2010, and I missed it!  I was so out of it still, that I couldn’t even look through the hospital window to the beautiful white Christmas that had finally come, and covered the ground below in an ultra white quilt of purest white. After all those years, it had finally arrived….and me, well…I was barely alive.  It has taken all that time since then to truly recover.  New Year’s of 2011 came and went, and I was sick as the veritable dog with the flu.  Can you imagine all the coughing while trying to hold your chest to keep it from popping open?  A trip to your doctor’s office and in his back door to see if after all you’d gone through, you were STILL gonna die!  But, somehow I didn’t.  Somehow, I lived.

Now Thanksgiving is here!

On Thanksgiving all of the family will be here and the extent of the stress is whether to have another spoonful of dressing, or some more ham.

I used to put more and more stress on myself about Christmas every year, by worrying about what to give to who and is it enough, and yada yada. This year, with things as they are, Christmas will be a little more “homey”  Things may even be homemade! But, I have finally decided that it’s gonna be ok. I would be fine if the only thing I get for Christmas is an “I love you” from my family.

I could NOT have made it this past year without them, especially my wife. You don’t know about love until you have to have someone wait on you hand and foot because you can’t wait on yourself. You don’t know about feelings, until one of your children or grandchildren walking through the door to see you lifts your heart to the heavens.

This year, in the year 2011,  I am thankful just to BE here…just to be able to be around and love the best family any man could have. I’m thankful to be able to think and feel  I’m thankful to be able to try and piece together this past year,  and try and remember where the time went, and what has actually happened.

So, come on Thanksgiving. Come on and let’s move forward with life. Come on and let’s have turkey…and pass the dressing please!


Warning…long post…

Our life is nothing but memory, as I have often said. Sometimes my mind is so closed, I cannot remember what I want to remember.

Last night I had one of the weirdest dreams ever…I was awake during part of it. Or at least I was semi awake. Every time I opened my eyes, I saw geometric patterns. Patterns from where I lay…almost out to eternity. There were wave patterns, there were geometric patterns of all kinds. It was so strange. I thought I was going blind, or something bad was wrong with my eyes. I finally got totally awake and put some eye drops into my eye. The patterns stopped. Was it the drops, or was it because I was totally awake. I really do not know. I told my wife today that I hope these strange dreams don’t herald some change in me. It’s a secret fear of mine…really not so secret.

In any case, while I can remember, I want to share some important memories. Before they fade away… For my family in particular…but for anyone who wishes to read them. It’s a pretty long post. You have been warned….

Circa 1972….

I drive our little Green Ford ‘Pinto’ station wagon down the old dirt “Snake Nation” Road towards my Grandma and Grandpa Stewart’s house. It’s an old two story clapboard house with wooden shingles on the roof. There are still a few bee hives sitting around the house. Grandpa has been a beekeeper and honey gatherer all his life. He is in his early 80’s, but still fairly fit. Grandma is in her 70’s, and can still walk further up and down the mountain roads than I can. She probably could walk 20 miles if she needed to. I am bringing my first child, their Great granddaughter, to spend the night. I see Grandma waiting out on the front porch. She always hears the cars coming, always.

We sit out on the front porch that evening in the roughhewn swing and rock out and back. The chains make sort of a musical “Squeak” in rhythm with the “Katy-dids” as they rub their legs together calling out to each other in the night. Grandma had fixed us dinner the first thing as soon as we got there. There is no turning her down when it comes to that. If you come to her house, you get a meal. I still smell the fried chicken sizzling on the stove and the fresh hand rolled biscuits cooking in the oven. Grandma made everything perfectly, and never, ever owned a measuring cup or spoon. She just would pour out whatever she was adding into her hand and put in in the pot. All of this takes place in the first hour after we get there. As I turn to Grandma to give her a hug….she fades away.

Circa 1970….

St. Mary’s Hospital, Athens Georgia. September 2, 1970. My first daughter is born. My wife has had a very difficult pregnancy, and this is the culmination. At 7:14 p.m., the Dr. comes out and tells me “It’s a Girl” I excitedly run to the pay phones down stairs and call my parents. My Mother in law is there with us. My father in law is in California, and she gives him a call. The pediatrician, a stoic looking Chinese born Dr., comes out and tells us that the baby is in perfect condition and will be brought out to the nursery in a few minutes. I pace nervously and have a cigarette. “I really need to quit this,” I think. It will be hard on the baby. About fifteen minutes later they bring her out to the nursery. What a beauty she is, with mounds and loads of dark black hair and eyes so dark, they are like the night sky when there are no stars. I put my face up next to the nursery window and puff on it. She is right under me, and I stand there and watch her blink, and stuff her tiny fist in her mouth. I think of all the things that we are going to do, she is the first granddaughter on both sides, and will be spoiled to death….I turn to talk to my Mother in law and she starts to fade away…. On September 4th, in the wee hours of the morning, my baby Karrie Lynn Bowers dies. They could never figure out what went wrong. I only wish that they had been as liberal back the about nursery policies as they are today….I never got to hold her, or touch her…and my heart still breaks.

Circa 1962

I had waited until my last year of eligibility to play little league ball. I was big for my age, and all the other kid’s teased me about my size. “Man, you gotta be at least 16” they would say. The opposing team parents would “naa-naa” too, but I had my birth certificate! I had started off hot in practices, losing all the coaches baseballs by knocking them over the fence into the river. I had some power during practices. But,. I had a case of nerves when it came to real games. I was in a slump, a really bad slump through the first three games I didn’t have a hit.

It was the ninth inning against the “Yankees” Old Russel Fox was pitching and we were behind 7-4. The bases were loaded, and I was up. I felt that tightening in my stomach that I always got…almost sick to the point of throwing up. I came up to bat and the ump called the first one: “Strike one” right down the middle. Russell grinned at me, and everyone jeered. The next pitch was too far in, and hit my HARD on the elbow. I wasn’t then and never have been one to show emotion, so I didn’t let anyone know how bad it hurt. But I was seeing RED. I was so pissed I could have killed him, because I knew he did it on purpose. He wound up for the next pitch, and threw his fast ball straight down the middle. I put it so far over the right field fence that it is still floating down the Chattooga River! As I trot around the bases with the world’s biggest and silliest grin on my face…the baseline fades away… I hit 4 more home runs that year after the ice was broken.

Circa 1958….

It’s Christmas day 1958. I had never seen a White Christmas. After all this IS Georgia and Mr. Heat Miser has sway down here! I went to bed that night with all the visions of a new baseball bat, and glove in my mind. Maybe some new comic books. It’s seven o’clock the next morning and Mom says: “Larry, wake up and come and look outside” I go look out our big old picture window at the black cherry tree in the front yard. It has snowed! It snowed on Christmas morning!! I can’t go out in it until we open our presents though, so I start to tear into them.

There’s some new “Scrooge McDuck” comics. Darn stingy old Scrooge is my favorite. There’s a box of tinker toys, and a wooden puzzle of the United States. But…that’s all. I am a little disappointed, and then from the dining room I hear a “hoot, HOOT” I go running in there, and there sit’s my Dad with a TRAIN going around the tracks. A real Lionel with smoke belching out the top! He already has the track together and is sitting there laughing as hard as I am, because he is enjoying it just as much as me! I sit down on the floor and play with the train for a while. Then I remember the snow. I want to make a snowman, and NOW! Mom wraps me up in my coat, puts on gloves, and as I start out the door…..the snow starts to fade away. There was a snowman built that day, but I didn’t name him Frosty….

The Holiday Season

The holiday season is a double edged sword. Oh how I love these days between now and the new year. These are times of the gatherings of family. These are the times of great meals and food…familiar dishes and recipes send wonderful, memory jogging smells through the air.

They pick me up and take me back once more, to the place in time where old memories are stored.

I’m at Grandma and Grandpa’s old clapboard house, and Granny has the table ready. Most of the Aunts, Uncles and cousins are already there, but there’s always a late comer or two. It might be Uncle Jack, and Aunt Kay and their boys this year….but everyone finally makes it there. We all gather round that big old wooden table…so many of us. All scattered now, and so many gone, but the memory lives.

Then I think of the days when my family was young. I had never heard of stuffing a turkey before Paula and I got married, but oh how delicious that stuffing was…and is still. I like a pan of cornbread dressing too, but I can’t wait for that delicious stuffing…my dear mother in laws recipe….I cannot believe she has been gone so many years now. It doesn’t seem possible…

I think of the times with Mom and Dad, not particularly the days when Mike and I were kids, but their very last Thanksgiving meal with us, over there in their own house on 7th street in 2009. We had moved into their house and they were in Assisted living. We went up and brought them down for the meal. Momma kept asking where their stuff was. She couldn’t understand that things had not been left the same as when they had moved out. She was always planning on coming back! Daddy just ate like he was starving, and asking for more sweet tea. Then 2010 came and we lost them.

And so there is the bittersweet of this time of year. Time passes by and people pass on, as the old Kathy Mattea song says.

So as my wife and I walk through this 65th year’s holiday season I will rejoice in all that we share together, my wonderful family and good friends! Let’s eat some turkey, and open some presents and pass the love around and back again. Let’s make some great memories together. After all that is what makes us who we are.

Fire in California

The “Camp” fire in Southern California which is the predominant fire that was so deadly in terms of damage and loss of life, occurred almost entirely on private land, which was mainly shrub land. The shrub and brush in these areas is left in place due to the fact that winter rains would cause massive mudslides without it. When the Santa Anna winds blow into these areas, it’s like blow drying your hair. The shrubs get totally dried out and any sparking, such as the impetus of this particular fire, which was started by a PG&E malfunction, is like striking a match to dry cotton.

Hundreds of people have lost their lives here, with hundreds more missing, and many thousands with permanently disrupted lives. It’s easy for people who are not there to say: “well they should have done this or that to prevent it”. It’s easy to make a political football of other people’s lives when it’s not something in which we are personally involved. That includes me and whatever I have to say.

The breakdown of forest management is, as far as I can tell from researching: the federal government manages just over 57% of the land in California, 39% is privately owned, and only 2% is owned or managed by the state of California.

This post is strictly informational, and not meant as a statement for or against any person or group of people.

I hope that everyone continues to remember the people who have been affected by these tragedies, and others this year, such as Hurricane Michael. All these people could probably use any help we can give them, and prayers if you’re so inclined.