Encountering the Ark

Have you ever been driving down the road and seen a truck hauling a humongous yacht on its way to some fortunate buyer? Definitely a “wide load.”

dsc_2039You’ll never see a life-sized replica of Noah’s ark coming down the road, though. It’s FAR too huge. Better to build it in place, and that’s what the Answers in Genesis people did in Kentucky. And they built the Ark Encounter about forty-five minutes from their Creation Museum, which enables a single trip to Kentucky–about a ten-hour trip for us, including stops–to cover two extremely interesting and worthwhile visits.

arkbusThe parking lot at the Ark Encounter may not be as large as Disneyland’s, but it’s big. After buying tickets–we got ours online–visitors ride any of a number of buses to the site of the ark itself. What looked small at a distance looked humongous close up. Especially comparing it with the size of the people walking towards the entrance.

Every aspect of life aboard the ark has been carefully thought out and studied. Although the Bible doesn’t give specifics about how to cage and care for two of every kind of animal, how to provide food for what was then an unknown period of time, how to provide adequate lighting and air circulation inside–these are just some of the needs the designers of this ark had to figure out a reasonable solution for. One that would’ve been doable during biblical days.

A number of displays deal with the geological “proof” that the Great Flood actually happened, and evidence is presented to show that the earth is millions of years younger than most scientists believe. I can’t over-emphasize that the story of the ark is a study of how science and religion can work together when viewed from the proper perspective.

Let me share a few pictures and comments about the kinds of things visitors see at the Ark Encounter.

  • I said it’s big. It’s HUGE.

arkatdistance   dsc_2048   arkrear

  • Exhibits show the types of cages and pens that might have been used in Noah’s ark; a number show early species of various animal types:

     dsc_2067  dsc_2054   arkcages

  • Various type of things needed to be stored on the ark: food (even food for picky eaters like koalas), lamp oil, water, and who knows what else

   dsc_2068   dsc_2063   dsc_2084

  • Huge ramps connected the decks; the single door near the top had to be big enough to accommodate the largest animals

dsc_2077      dsc_2049      dsc_2087

  • The ark contains all kinds of exhibits

dsc_2123   dsc_2083   dsc_2066   inthebeginning

  • Life-sized exhibits of living quarters and of Noah and his family at work and prayer

blacksmithnoah   dsc_2125   dsc_2065

  • Separate from the ark itself is an amazing fast-food restaurant, a petting zoo, and camel and donkey rides

pettingzoo   dsc_2088   rogercamel

No way can I adequately represent the feel of visiting the Ark Encounter, but I hope these pictures will help you appreciate what a tremendous achievement this replica represents. And perhaps make you want to visit it yourself someday.

If you have questions about the ark or about anything else related to our trip, please leave a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

On Turning Seventy

birthdayphotoMy wife, Kathleen, knows that birthdays haven’t always been a time of joy to me. When I turned thirty and my father proudly announced it from the pulpit, he didn’t realize what a horrible thing I thought he’d done. That happened back during the days when the younger folks thought people became ancient at thirty. That’s what I’d believed until it happened to me!

Forty was less of a problem, though. I had finally ended up in a career I really liked and was good at. And at least I’d gotten used to being “over the hill.”

Fifty was horrible, though. For some crazy reason, I had it in my head I wasn’t going to live till my fiftieth birthday. In fact, I wrote a novel (not yet published) about a man who believed the same thing about himself. Thanks to friends in Australia, Keith and Maggie Long, who helped me celebrate that birthday a few months early with a homemade cake and a humongous CD package containing all of the songs the Seekers had ever recorded.

As you’ve probably gathered, I survived turning fifty. And sixty.

Seventy is a funny age, though. I don’t feel as if I’m really old. Yet I’m so aware of the various ways my body is wearing down or out and of a condition or two I’m really not certain what to do something about. But at least I’ve made it through two cataract surgeries and have decent sight now–because of astigmatism, I still have to wear glasses–and have new hearing aids and have quit having to asking everyone to repeat everything.

Much to be thankful for. Thank You, Lord. Bunches and bunches.

Kathleen wanted this to be a really special birthday. She got me a new Yamaha MX-49 keyboard for my home recording studio and suggested and arranged a long weekend visit to Kentucky to visit the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. I’ll give you a report on those two visits in upcoming posts.

cmfrontgate

We’re staying at the First Farm Inn, a bed and breakfast that is just a couple of miles from the Creation Museum. It’s a horse farm, and we expect the rest of our visit to be just as pleasant as the first part.

firstfarminn     insidestable

I have to be honest. I’m writing this the evening of the 22nd; my birthday’s not actually until the 23rd. But I wanted to go ahead and write this while I was thinking about it.

Have any of your birthdays been extra special–either good or bad? How about sharing in a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Cat-less in Virginia

sorelaxed     2012catmay     2012catapril

happykatkindle2     janashes3

Although my parents always had a dog, I chose to celebrate my independence many years ago by getting my first cat. Taphne. I’d always liked the name Daphne, and this little lady, who liked to wake me up by standing on my chest and licking me on the nose, was a tabby. So “tabby” plus “Daphne” equals “Taphne.” Hmm. No wonder the spell checker is going crazy!

I don’t recall what happened to Taphne other than an unwanted pregnancy when someone kept her for me once, but my first wife and I had a number of cats (only one or two at a time, though, and frequently with one of a long line of dogs). I made sure to end up with Erica, a tuxedo cat, when my wife and I parted ways.

When Kathleen and I got married, she brought Dirk with her. He and Erica got along reasonably well, although she wasn’t thrilled at having to share the house with a stupid boy cat after being top dog–uh, top cat–for a year. She was a bit of a snob, anyhow, and Dirk was friendlier than he was intelligent.

After Erica died, we got Ashes from one of the local humane societies. We didn’t name him–his “foster mother” had done that–but the name fit. When he was young, he had some tiny splotches of gray on the top of his head, but they disappeared as he got older.

He fit into the household reasonably well with Dirk, but Dirk died eventually, too.

The years passed. We still had Ashes, but Kathleen and I both wanted a dog. My ex- and I had had a miniature dachshund years earlier, and that’s what I expressed a strong preference for while we were researching possibilities. Remembering what Cindy (she was actually AKC-registered as Cinnamon Lady XIX) had been like, I also requested that we name the new puppy Happy even before we met her. I knew the name would fit, and I was right.

I am occasionally.

We weren’t concerned about how Happy and Ashes would get along, but we weren’t prepared for their strange relationship. Happy is typically very friendly, and she couldn’t understand Ashes’ standoffishness. Periodically, however, Happy would lie down on her back and allow Ashes to bite her. Usually on a pinch of lose skin.

We shrugged. Ashes wasn’t actually hurting Happy in spite of an occasional yelp.

But what became a frustrating problem was the fact that–whenever we would attempt to give Ashes some loving attention–Happy would come along at top speed to join in the fun. And inadvertently chase Ashes off. More than once we would pet Ashes when he was lying on top of the rocking chair when Happy came charging along, wiggling with excitement. Even two relatively small animals could knock that rocking chair over with that much momentum.

There were other issues. Like Ashes wanting to eat breakfast at least thirty or forty minutes before we got up. And that was on week days! Use a self feeder? Ha! Not with Ashes already being overweight. So overweight that when he used my stomach as a springboard–with claws he wouldn’t allow us to cut–he left scratches on me and puncture marks in my clothes. Not good.

I’d been wanting to find him another home  for quite a while, but only within the past week has Kathleen agreed. Practically as soon as we posted Ashes’ availability on Facebook, we heard back from a friend who was vacationing in Canada at that time, but who’d planned to get a cat when she got home. And it didn’t matter that ours was eight years old.

Ashes is in a good home now, and Happy is happy being top dog. Much to our amazement, she doesn’t show any signs of realizing that her old playmate is no longer around. And we can sleep until the alarm goes off!

We feel good about our decision.

What about you? Have you ever needed to get rid of a pet? How about sharing a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Bombarded!

Every few days my wife turns to me and asks if I saw something particular about one of our friends or acquaintances on Facebook. Although it’s usually something I’m interested in and wish I’d seen, I have to admit to her that–as usual–I failed to see it.

Facebook is a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family and to make new friends. I can’t deny that. Nor can I express anything but appreciation for the friends from many years past that I’ve caught up with on Facebook–people I wouldn’t have had any chance of locating and catching up with otherwise.

Whether they’re  former students or co-workers, people I used to know from former churches, or even a friend I’d gone on a mission trip to Australia with but had lost total contact with, my life would be vastly less interesting.

Maybe even lonelier.

So why don’t I pay more attention to Facebook?

Before I try to answer that, I need to admit that I’m that way about other electronic media, too. I have a Pinterest account. A LinkedIn account as well. Originally I posted some pictures on Pinterest, but now I totally ignore it. If I get a contact request from LinkedIn, I’m apt to confirm it. After all, my blog posts go there, and those people are potential readers of my books. Otherwise, why am I there?

And Twitter? Oh, wow! I don’t know why many of the people who choose to follow me do so, but I’ve met a few really interesting people that way. Sure is embarrassing, though, to admit to someone who’s apparently well known that I’ve never heard of them before. Only a few of the people I follow back respond, and I can’t think of more than one or two Tweeters whose names I can even remember. Nope, Twitter gets ignored, too.

But email is the biggie. I normally get several hundred messages a day–and that’s not counting the ones that automatically go to the Junk folder. When I check email, I typically “Select All” and then go down the list, unchecking those I’m really going to have to look at. I delete the ones that are still checked–and that’s apt to be 80-90% of them–and THEN read the few that are left.

Please don’t think I hate people, even though I might sound that way. Some of you have read the post I wrote about being an introvert. Not a shy introvert, but one who tires easily from being around more than a handful of people, and those people must be close to me at that. When I’m in a crowd, I can’t wait to escape.

I think that’s why I feel the way I do about electronic media. In my solitary lifestyle–I’m home by myself most of the day–I’m not apt to seek electronic company. Being bombarded with it is just too much. It’s apt to tire me just as much as being among a crowd of “real” people.

But I do enjoy the company of the select few.

I receive Facebook notices in my email, and I don’t mind those, no matter who they’re from. In fact, I’m happy to respond to them. But at least those are things that relate to me personally.

If I weren’t an author who’s always seeking more readers, I wouldn’t feel under such pressure to deal appropriately with the social media. Although we’re advised not to use the e-media just to make sales pitches, publishers expect authors to have a huge number of media followers.

What about you? Is keeping up with email and social media too much, too? Do you feel bombarded? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

It Pays to Have a Clever Wife

During the years I’ve been posting to this blog, I’ve periodically mentioned my wife, Kathleen.  Always in a favorable way, I might add.

One thing I’ve referred to, but apparently never really talked that much about is Kathleen’s knitting and crocheting, although the May 15 post talks about a swap she made for something she’d crocheted.

I’m really proud of her skills, although she insists it’s just a matter of following the directions. And knowing how to count. Having to count on fancier projects occasionally makes her uninterruptible.

Although she did some crocheting in her youth, Kathleen got away from doing any for a number of years. Only since we’ve been married–we’ll celebrate our thirteenth anniversary in November–has she gotten back to crocheting and added knitting to her skills. Crocheting is by far her favorite, though; knitting gets to be a bit too tedious at times, not to mention harder on the hands and wrists.

Those are very good things to occupy herself with while sitting around in the evening while I write and the two of us periodically play Words with Friends. And  during those slow times at work that would drag on endlessly without something to keep her busy.

I’ve mentioned previously the wide variety of things she’s crocheted: everything from washcloths to bedspreads.

But what I want to focus on today is those special things she’s made for me. One of the first things was a phone pouch to wear on my belt. It looked great, but was hard to get the phone in and out of, and it eventually needed replacing with something sturdier–something made of leather.

The next two projects were vests made from multi-colored yarns:

othervest     bluevest

She also made me a burgundy sweater that proved so useful I eventually asked for a navy one:

burgandysweater     navysweater

And keeping up with those cold weather needs, she made a matching hat and muffler.

hatandmuffler

She made a pair of socks–yes, I selected the yarn, as I’ve done for all of the projects for me–with the understanding that if I didn’t like them she’d wear them. So she tentatively made them short. I’ve decided I really do like them, so she’ll lengthen them for me sometime between now and cold weather. These are definitely NOT summertime socks.

socks

She just finished an afghan for me. I asked her to use rainbow colors, and she was happy to comply. However, because she has been using leftover yarn (a number of people have given her their leftovers, sometimes numerous skeins), she warned me that the colors wouldn’t be consistent throughout.

dsc_1993

Although the stripes still keep alternating in the ROY G BIV (red-orange-yellow green blue-indigo-violet, if you never learned about ROY in school) pattern, each set of rainbow stripes may not be identical to the one before.

As if I mind! I’m colorblind. I still SEE the colors. I just might not be sure what they are except for the ROY G BIV consistency.

The things Kathleen makes for me are worth far more than the cost of the yarn. Love may not be measured in hours, but if it were, I would be wealthy beyond Donald Trump’s ability to count!

Thank you, Sweetie!

Does your spouse, significant other, or another family member have a special skill that benefits you personally? How about sharing in a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained  about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

My Two Favorite Beauty Queens

janet     jane

My attitude towards beauty pageants and beauty contestants for many years was much the same as Gracie Hart’s initial attitude in the movie Miss Congeniality. Disgust. Major disapproval. After all, beauty is only skin deep, right? And what beauty queens are beautiful except on the outside?

Not until I met the two women who became my favorite beauty queens and learned to admire the women inside those evening gowns and swimsuits did I learn how wrong I’d been. Uh, not that I’ve ever known any other ones.

Strangely enough, I met Janet Roller and Jane Herlong (pictured left to right above) at the same place, the Lifeway Conference Center at Ridgecrest, North Carolina.

Janet led the worship music at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) for several years (and will do that again next month for the Novelist Retreat at Ridgecrest). She’s one of the best musicians that conference has ever had and has written a number of songs and at least one novel so far.

I don’t know how many CDs she’s recorded, but I have two of them. She’s also a teacher and motivational speaker. Oh, and did I mention she’s an excellent pianist?

Jane was the keynote speaker at the BRMCWC banquet one year. “Speaker” is an inadequate description of Jane, even though she has recently been inducted into the prestigious CPAE Hall of Fame for her speaking; she is both a gifted singer and a hilarious comedian. Oh, and now an author of several nonfiction books as well. Not to mention the endorser of one of my yet-unpublished novels.

Janet is a, uh, a few years younger than Jane, but they’re both still attractive women. I can only imagine how they must’ve looked as Miss South Carolinas–yes! they’re both from the same state–at an earlier stage of their lives. But the important thing is they are both wonderful and talented ladies, using their talents for the Lord.

Both women are quite approachable. No conceit about accomplishments past or present. (Neither became a Miss America.) In fact, I especially treasure both of them because of their receptivity to a request I made about one of my original songs–one I’d written as a duet.

During different years, Jane and Janet agreed to sightread my song and sing it with me just for the heck of it. How many professional singers do you know who would do something like that?

Nobody else was around at the time that I can recall, but that wouldn’t have mattered. They didn’t act like they were lowering themselves to sing a song with a non-professional like me. In fact, Jane emailed me these gracious words after the conference: “Roger- It was such fun meeting you and sharing your wonderful music!  Thanks for letting me sing with you!”

Jane and Janet, you’re beautiful people inside and out, and I feel blessed to know both of you.

Do you have someone special you’d like to write a tribute to? Feel free to do so in a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Addressing People by Name

Years and years ago, when I wrote my first novel, I handed it over to my wife to read and comment on. Can you imagine my shock when she advised me that I’d repeatedly made the same easily fixable flaw?

Yes, it seemed I’d overdone having characters refer to one another by name when addressing one another in dialogue. Huh?

Sure enough, in writing contemporary fiction, the author should be very stingy in using names in direct address. Even though that’s a convenient way to show who’s talking without saying, “Mary said,” we authors should rely on other methods–more creative ones–to accomplish that goal.

Why was I so shocked to be called on my misuse of names in direct address, then? (Other than the fact I hadn’t yet learned that was a no-no.)

Because I was copying real life. MY real life. I like to call people by name. It makes them feel important.

At least it makes me feel important when other people do it to me.

When we started attending our current church (we’ve been there at least ten years), a female member of the church staff who hadn’t gotten my name down yet kept addressing me as “Buddy.” Yuck! I’d rather not have been addressed as anything. Fortunately that changed quickly, and she calls me by name frequently. (And never “Buddy”.)

I became even more conscious of my feelings on this subject during the three years I worked at Target before retiring to write full-time.  I had a number of African-American–is “Black” in or out of fashion now?–co-workers, and I was pleasantly amazed at how many of them, especially the older ones, addressed me as “Mr. Roger.” It made me feel respected.

Even though I retired eight years ago, those same people continue to address me that way. I would feel artificial if I were to address them that way, and I’d like to believe I give them just as much respect addressing them by first name (I’ve never known their last names, and they probably don’t know mine) as they give me.

I’ve mentioned from time to time that I walk at the mall in the mornings. I can only think of two fellow walkers I actually know (or have known) except at the mall. One from church and one from our former church.

But over a period of time, I’ve exchanged names with some of them. Chris. Grady. John. Sam. Margaret. Dolores. We all call one another by name the first time we meet while walking, and–as strange as it might sound–it makes me feel good to have at least that small bit of familiarity with people I’m not apt to have a chance to really get to know in “real life.”

What about you? Are you conscious of addressing or being addressed by name? (Not necessarily by first name.) What are your feelings on this subject? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger