Nature’s Truly Most Perfect Food

Since my wife and I don’t watch TV, I don’t know whether the dairy industry still touts milk as “Nature’s most perfect food.”

Nonetheless, I disagree. Not because I dislike milk. I don’t. I not only love it, I drink eight ounces of milk every morning. Skim, at that. And I have fond memories of drinking fresh milk at the dairy farm where I stayed many years ago on a mission trip to Wales.

No, maybe I’m exaggerating to say I disagree that milk is “Nature’s most perfect food.” I suppose it is.

But there is one food–and one only–that is “Nature’s truly most perfect food.” And that is PIZZA!

That’s me finishing up my half of the pizza we had for lunch last Sunday. Bacon on mine, pepperoni and mushrooms on hers.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t always crazy about pizza. Not because I disliked it at all, but because I never had any until I was in the tenth or eleventh grade. My mother didn’t cook pizza, and those were the days before every corner that didn’t have a church on it had a pizza place.

Not that it would’ve mattered. We wouldn’t have gone there, and since I didn’t know what I was missing, I wouldn’t have bugged my parents about it.

Not that I would’ve bugged them, anyhow. They were fine people, but not very bug-able.

But then came that magic Sunday night when we were invited to somebody’s house for an after-church social. There I had my first pizza, and I fell in love with it. Unfortunately, that was probably also my father’s first pizza, and it made him SO sick. He’d never reacted to other food that way.

I couldn’t convince my parents that the problem was probably something specific to THAT pizza, not pizza in general. Alas, we continued never having it.

I don’t know when the one-eighty came. But definitely while I was in college. I have fond memories of walking the snowy streets of Frostburg, Md.–named after a family of Frosts, not the frigid weather that typified that area in winter–from where I was living off-campus (Frostburg State) to a place downtown where I’d buy two or three slices and eat them out of the box trudging back to my room through the snow and trying to keep from falling down and getting my pizza wet.

Once I was totally out on my own, pizza became a staple. Both with my ex-wife and Kathleen. We don’t splurge as much as we might enjoy, though. “Nature’s truly most perfect” still comes with a calorie-laden price tag.  At our age and stage, we can’t ignore that.

I don’t know what foods will be served in Heaven, but I assume pizza will be available at every meal. And that–Heaven being Heaven, and Heaven being perfect–I’ll not only never grow fat there, I’ll also never get tired of pizza.

What do you think? How about leaving a comment.

 

    

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Best regards,
Roger

What Does a Guy like Me Do on Vacation?

Ah, we’re enjoying the midst of summer here in Virginia. The outside temperature right now is 94; it was 100 in the car before I turned on the A/C. That’s hotter than some days, cooler than others. But at least the sun is shining. What a perfect day to do…to do what?

That question is one I ask whenever my wife, Kathleen, starts talking about planning a vacation. And she understands. She knows that my vacations used to consist solely of visiting distant family members. And she understands that–no matter how much I love my family (I’m counting hers as mine since I have practically none of my own left)–that is NOT a vacation, even if we’re able to do one or two activities apart from family.

She understands something else. I have trouble thinking in terms of “vacation.” I can’t come up with activities that please me. Not vacation-worthy activities, anyhow.

Everything seems to have a drawback. Going on a cruise means endless eating…and having to diet for who knows how long afterwards to lose what I gained on the cruise. Going to a dude ranch would mean hours of horseback riding; a few months ago I learned that even an hour of riding caused enough pain to make that unappealing.

We could go to the beach, as we did recently with our daughters and their families–or by ourselves. But I’m not overly fond of the water. And walking the boardwalk time after time gets old after a while. I’ve avoided skin cancer so far, so I’m not tempted to lie out on the beach. I like certain kinds of seafood, but why go to the ocean just for seafood when I can enjoy it thawed and fixed at home?

Lest you think I’m just being picky and perhaps even a bit difficult–let me assure you you’re correct on both counts–let me point out that I am a better judge of what I dislike (or think I would dislike) than of what I actually like. And because I’m retired and sit around all day writing and/or piddling around, going somewhere just to sit around has no appeal. I can read my Kindle just as comfortably at home. However, I did enjoy a short time here by the pool while nobody else was around.

Going to see interesting and/or beautiful things might sound appealing, but I know me. I would spend my time taking pictures of them and then do hours of editing my photos with Affinity Photo software. I can’t wait till I get home to do that. I have to keep up with it as I go along. Go figure.

What vacation activities have I actually enjoyed? Two or three things really stand out from our recent beach week vacation. Although I hadn’t fished in years, being able to walk out the back door of our rented beach house and fish in the canal for catfish was really nice. I don’t think I could do it for endless hours, though. Especially in the hot Florida sun.

  

And a day trip to the Everglades was actually fun. I loved the wildlife we saw there–alligators galore, black buzzards, deer, a very tame wild racoon, and a good-sized grasshopper. And I’d always wanted to ride in one of those air boats. Nonetheless, I lived behind the camera, except when Kathleen was taking a picture of me holding a baby alligator, and then–not unexpectedly– I spent hours editing my pictures.

            

See? I couldn’t even write this blog post without “inpainting” the picture you see below to cover up the band that kept the alligator’s mouth shut so it couldn’t bite me. Don’t I look bold this way?

Hmm. But looking bold isn’t an exciting vacation activity.

I hasten to point out that I’ve been on numerous mission trips–to Nicaragua, England, Wales, Romania, and Australia. Mission trips are not vacations. If the host pastor has enough vision, he can work his team to death. But each mission trip also has times set aside for enjoying the locale. And I truly love that part. Who wouldn’t want to climb the steps to the Sydney Opera House?

Why can’t choosing a vacation be that simple?

I’m open to suggestions for inexpensive vacations that would suit a fuddy-duddy like me. Please comment.

 

    

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Best regards,
Roger

Guest Post: Key Car Driving Technologies to Assist with Seniors (conclusion)

I’d like to thank Craig Hammontree of Healthmax360.com for sharing this fascinating article, the first part of which appeared on this blog last Sunday.

Voice-activated driving help
While it’s great to have a map on your phone, it isn’t all that helpful when you’re driving. Looking down at a screen while behind the wheel is a very bad idea and not one that you should practice.

However, a GPS system can be a great help. Now, you can have the convenience of a digital map and some help avoiding traffic with a voice-activated navigation system.

These new systems are an extension of the basic map. They alert you to traffic snags to help you avoid them, give you options for alternative routes and find places based on what you already know.

Going to a new restaurant and not sure where it is? That’s okay – just say the name the system will do the rest.

Back-up Cameras


The United States Department of Transportation is a huge fan of these cameras and wants to see a lot more of them by 2018. According to the current data, this basic addition to help drivers back out of a parking space or driveway can make us up to 90 percent safer as we move around in cars. By being able to see what’s directly behind us with the help of some easy tech, we can avoid hitting animals and small children that happen to run into our paths.

The camera gives the driver a quick glance at what’s directly behind the car. The image is projected on a small screen just next to the driver, so no more twisting around to see what’s back there. Not having to guess what’s happening behind your large, heavy vehicle is a relief to any driver and can help us all move more safely on and off the road.

Swivel Seats
This technology is more basic and not as shiny and new as the others, but it deserves a mention because it solves the problem of getting in and out of a car.

The basic addition to your driver’s seat helps with stiff knees or longer legs as it swoops you over to the door side and lets you skip the difficult business of judging the distance between your leg and the car frame. The added handle can help with standing and sitting and just makes exiting a car much easier and smoother.

If you already have some great, slick tech in your car and just need a little boost for your mobility, this is the way to go.

A built-in helper
Automatic systems such as OnStar are made to help respond to crashes, assist in navigation or just make suggestions if you’re not quite sure which place to go for dinner. This quick connection to an actual human is the equivalent to having your phone on during the entire drive – if anything unsafe is taking place, your assistant jumps in and calls authorities, checks on you and keeps you calm. These are especially great if you live in a place where it can be difficult to get roadside assistance, or if you’re far away from law enforcement and want to be safe.

Other systems are 911Assist, BlueLink or SafetyConnect. While it can seem a little intimidating at first, these systems do work. If you get lost or disoriented, they can alert your family and let them know you need help, as well as where to find you. It may feel odd to have someone talking to you in your car, but that same person could save your life.

 


 

    

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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

Back from Vacation

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m writing this post before leaving for church in the hopes it won’t be too late.

Kathleen and I just got back last night from our week at the Isles of Capri, Florida. There we spent time with Kathleen’s single daughter, her younger daughter (with hubby and toddler), and my daughter (with her hubby and two kids, one of whom is still a todler). This trip had been in the planning stages for close to a year. We rented a huge beach house, where each of the four family groups had a separate bedroom and bathroom. This is the house.

And this is all of us.

Although the weather had threatened to be rainy all week, that prediction proved pleasantly inaccurate for the greater part. Although we enjoyed trips to the beach, we spent a lot of time at the house playing Uno and Five Crowns and in the pool. You may not realize this, but pools in Florida are typically totally enclosed and screened in. Unfortunately that didn’t keep the NoSeeUms from feasting on us the first day; I’m still covered with bite marks.

     

Although we opted not to rent a boat, our house backed up to a canal that was perfect for fishing. It had been years since I last fished, but I loved it. Especially the day I caught three catfish. We always threw the fish back, though.

We had our meals all planned out, with each family unit responsible for one dinner. I couldn’t count the number of runs we made to Marco Island (about three miles) to pick up additional food from the nearest Publix grocery store.

Kathleen and I did a few activities on our own. We ate breakfast out three times at this place, BREAKFAST & MORE. After eating there the first time, we didn’t want to go anywhere else.

Our biggest adventure was a trip to the Everglades, where we went on two air boat rides and a swamp buggy ride. To say the least, we learned a lot about the Everglades during the five hours we spent there. Did you know the Everglades is the only place in America that has both alligators and crocodiles? That’s because fresh and salt water come together in certain areas.

          

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve said enough for today. As so often happens, I served as the resident photographer of our family get together–I failed to mention earlier that we came from Richmond, Virginia; Las Vegas; New York City; and Orlando–and I spent a lot of my time editing pictures with the Affinity Photo software I’d bought just a few days before heading south.

Comments are welcome.

 

    

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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

In Transit

Hmm. What’s a guy to write a blog post about when he’s sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for his connecting flight to Fort Myers, Florida?

It’s been a long day, even though only a little over an hour of it has been spent in the air. We had the alarm set for 5:30, but both of us were awake at least ten minutes before that and went ahead and got up.

Nobody was going to bother with showering today. Not before reaching our destination, anyhow. We were on our way to the Richmond airport by 6:00. It’s less than twenty-five miles, and we’re less than a mile from Rt. 95, and from there we turn off almost immediately on 295. In short, we were there in no time.

At least we would’ve been, but since we were hungry and running ahead of schedule, we stopped first at Hardee’s to eat.

Checking in online is great. Although the bag drop line was fairly long, it moved rapidly. On to security. Not a problem. The last few times we’ve flown, we’ve been TSA pre-checked or whatever they call it. We’re obviously not terrorists.

So we found our gate, and I started reading a novel on my Kindle. I’d just started it the day before, but it was fast moving. Especially when I found myself skipping unnecessary paragraphs. I’d read several books by this author, but found this one only vaguely intriguing. I’d do him a favor by not writing a three-star review.

So here I am in Atlanta. I’ve finished my lunch–the grilled chicken sandwich could’ve used LOTS of mustard, but the fries were great. I decided it was time to write something for my weekly post, and this is it.

I’m curious. Which would you have preferred, an account of my acceptably tame day (so far) or no post at all this Sunday? You won’t hurt my feelings, I can assure you.

     

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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

If History Should Happen to Repeat Itself

Right now I’m about a third of the way through a novel by my friend Ann Tatlock. ALL THE WAY HOME is a historical novel, and the fact that I’m reading it says a lot about Ann’s writing; I ordinarily avoid historical novels at any cost. But this one sparked my interest in a special way.

This novel is about a young girl, Augie, whose home situation is so undesirable that she hangs out as much as she can with Sunny, a schoolmate she became friends with at the park. Over time, Augie becomes more and more a part of Sunny’s family. Sunny’s parents do  everything short of legally adopting Augie.

An interesting story? Of course it is.

But when you put the story in its historical context, it becomes more than simply interesting. Sunny and her parents are Japanese-American. Genuine flag-waving American  citizens.

And the setting makes this story even more intriguing. It starts prior to the beginning of Word War II, when Augie thinks the Japanese are the greatest people on the face of the earth. She thinks of herself as Japanese and wishes she was Japanese, too.

But then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the United States enters the war against Japan, and Augie and Sunny can’t really understand why things are the way they are. Especially the fact that seemingly all non-Japanese-Americans turn their backs in fear on their Japanese fellow citizens and make hatred the byword of the day. Sunny’s family sees the possibility of being moved to an internment camp as a real possibility.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I foresee Augie’s Japanese family being sent to an internment camp and Augie wishing she could go, too. Perhaps she even tries to. I don’t know.

Because I’ve gotten so caught up in loving and sympathizing with those two girls and Sunny’s Japanese family, it’s hard for me to keep reading. I’m not sure I want to see what they must go through.

Looking back on that period in American history, I’ll bet most people today would insist that the internment camps of yesteryear wouldn’t happen today. I hope they’re right.

But we’re facing a similar situation regarding Islam. Because of the Muslims who are unquestionably our enemies, some people are tempted to view all Muslims the same way.

Can you blame them? How many of the Islamic terrorists who’ve wrought havoc in America were described by former neighbors as kind, friendly people? How can we tell who’s dangerous and who’s not? How many criminals look like criminals, anyhow?

I’m on President Trump’s side in restricting immigration from Islamic countries, at least for a while. I think liberals who claim that Muslims are being discriminated against because of their religion are forgetting one thing: those potential immigrants are not U.S. citizens; does the Constitution actually give them the rights citizens should have? And those same liberals appear to have no objections to discriminating against American citizens who are Christians.

Even if President Trump can keep potential terrorists out of the country, that doesn’t change the fact that we already have a number of terrorists living here, just waiting for the right chance to strike.

What I’m afraid of is that genuinely peace-loving Muslims who’ve already become American citizens and have begun making a positive contribution to their new country’s welfare may have to pay the price for the Muslims who believe in jihad.

The relatively small acts of terrorism we’ve seen since 9/11 have been bad enough, but what will Americans’ attitudes be if the jihadists carry out another 9/11 attack–or something even worse? In our fear and our inability to tell who’s who, will we treat all Muslims the way Americans’ treated Japanese-American citizens during Word War II?

I pray that we don’t. And that we won’t separate two cute little girlfriends–one Christian, the other Muslim–because of our fear and resentment.

I’d appreciate your comments on this post.

 


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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

The Beauty of the Neglected

 

 

I’ll be honest, as I usually am when talking about my shortcomings. My wife and I aren’t as conscientious as gardeners as we are about keeping the house clean and tidy.

We have friends in Australia who have a backyard full of beautiful roses. I don’t have any doubt that Merilyn does everything she needs to do to assure having the maximum number of healthy-looking flowers on every bush. Her efforts pay off.

We, on the other hand, planted two rose bushes some years back. One on either side of the ramp leading into the shed. The first year–maybe the second as well–we fertilized or whatever we were supposed to do to baby our bushes. The results were satisfactory, as best I can recall.

But the bushes themselves weren’t growing, and–frankly–I’d planted them where it was hard to mow between the bushes and the shed and between the ramp and the bushes. Despite my best efforts at being careful, I finally mowed one bush down; there hadn’t been enough of it left for me to tell the difference, anyhow.

As tempted as I was to cut down or pull up the other bush, I couldn’t. It periodically had some really beautiful flowers. And strangely enough, that bush seemed to bloom best when the weather was cold enough we didn’t really expect a rose bush to bear flowers. But the picture above was taken several months ago–before the weather started turning warmer.

And this picture was taken in December of last year! Definitely NOT warm weather.

Amazing what God can do with neglected things as He makes them beautiful in His own way and His own time!

At a recent writers conference in North Carolina, I couldn’t help noticing these dead flowers outside the dining hall. Not as beautiful as they had been in life, I’m sure, and yet amazingly beautiful in their own way even lying on the pavement neglected in death, waiting for someone to sweep them up and throw them away.

God is the all-time expert at making all things beautiful, even in death. How thankful I am that He’s continuing to work on me before I reach that point in time!

How about leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. Better still, go to “Follow Blog via Email” and sign up to get each of my weekly posts.

Best regards,
Roger

      

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