Sunday, April 18, 2021

On the eighteenth of April in seventy-five,

...hardly a man is now alive,
who remembers that famous day and year.

Truer words were never spoken, because the year under consideration is not 1975 or even 1875.

The year under consideration is 1775. The man who could remember that famous day and year would now be equally famous for being the oldest person alive today.

I'm just saying.

Do you know who wrote the piem?

Do you know the title of the poem?

Do you know in which U.S. state the action described in the title occurred? (This is sort of a trick question.)

No fair looking things up.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Meanwhile, in Texas...'s bluebonnet time!
That is my sole surviving stepbrother, Bob Houston, who turned 84 in January, sitting in a field of bluebonnets this week near Ennis, Texas.

The photo was taken by Bob's lovely wife, Linda. I do not know and cannot explain why Linda was not the one sitting in the field and Bob was not the one taking the photograph. Life is strange in many places, but never stranger than in Texas.

The bluebonnet, which is the state flower of Texas, blooms in March and April each year.

A frond in need is a frond indeed

I am hoping that Spring has finally sprung in north Georgia. In my part of the globe, weather-wise, March is always a bit iffy but April is more reliable. So far this year I have spotted jonquils, daffodils, tulips, phlox, forsythia, azaleas, Bradford pear trees in full blossom, dogwoods (both pink and white), flowering peach, tulip trees (more accurately, magnolia x soulangiana), and redbuds (which are fuchsia, not red). I'm eagerly awaiting more of our annual outburst of local flora.

When we lived in Florida (in the 1960s and 1970s) the flora were more exotic -- ixora, hibiscus, bougainvilla, oleander, Confederate jasmine, poinsettia, and I was told that Florida had 26 different kinds of palm trees.

I am in the habit of verifying statements of fact hat I make because I don't want to be guilty of misleading you. So immediately after telling you there were 26 kinds of palm trees in Florida (of which I can name only royal palm, coconut palm, sago palm, cabbage palm, sabal palm, and alexander palm), I turned to my old friend Wikipedia. Speaking of being told something, I am told that Wikipedia is not considered a reliable source because it can be so easily edited by just about anybody, but old habits die hard. I did not find how many kinds of palm trees there are in Florida, but I did read that there are 2,600 species of palm trees in the world. By doing the math we say with confidence that 1% of them can be found in Florida. That fact, for good or ill, is now stuck in my head, along with the BBC's report from 2015 that Scotland has 421 words for snow.

Here is a photograph of a coconut palm on the island of Martinique:

That photograph makes me happy. I'd like to be there right now.

Here's a link showing some but not all of the different kinds of palm trees found in Florida.

In case palm trees don't float your boat, try these fascinating posts by two of my favorite blogging friends:

1. Vagabonde's current post: Picasso in Nashville, the weather and Paducah, KY

2. Tasker Dunham's current post: Salman Rushdie: Midnight’s Children

Maybe you will find a new frond, er, friend.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

How’s that again?

Today I'm going to tell you something I learned during the pandemic that you may have already known and I probably should have known but didn't have a clue about.

Before I do that, however, I ask that you not criticize (British, criticise) me for having ended a sentence with a preposition. Someone has said that a person who criticizes another person for ending a sentence with a preposition doesn't know what language is all about and doesn't know what prepositions are for. To the stubbornly pedantic, I quote Winston Churchill, who, when he was taken to task for ending a sentence with a preposition, said, "That is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put."

What I learned during the pandemic that you may have already known but about which I didn't have a clue is this: I thought that people wore masks to protect themselves from others. Nay, not so (as the angel said to Abou ben Adhem). When a person wears a mask, I learned, the person protected is the other person, not the mask-wearer. It is apparently what you breathe out, not what you breathe in -- what you exhale, not what you inhale -- that the medical community fears.

It is a concept I struggle to understand. It seems counter-intuitive. Maybe I am just thick of skull.

Don't answer that.

Turning from that topic, let us consider closed captioning.

Although it is a great invention and technological advance that helps many, the shortcomings and foibles of closed captioning can be downright amusing. Here are some examples of nearly-but-not-quite-accurate transcriptions that Juanita Hughes, a local historian and retired head of the Woodstock Public Library, saw on Atlanta newscasts and weather reports and shared in a recent newspaper column entitled "Live closed captioning often a source of humor":

  • riots and undressed (riots and unrest)
  • The Cab County (DeKalb County)
  • Calm County (Cobb County)
  • Alfredo Highway (Alpharetta Highway)
  • police in pursuit of lawbreakers can no longer taste (chase) them
  • Wait Green Road (Wade Green Road)
  • windshield factors (wind chill factors)
  • boaters went to the polls today (voters)
  • a surgeon cases (a surge in cases)
  • Madonna vaccine (Moderna)
  • source of female (source of email)
  • Tiger's accident could have caused (cost) him his life

In addition to the list above, here are two more that I saw with my own eyes while viewing our church's Sunday morning worship service via live streaming before we received our vaccinations:

Among God's attributes are His omnipotence, His omnipresence, and His ammunitions (omniscience).

Even the benediction was not immune:

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord lift up His continents (countenance) upon you, and give you peace.

P.S. -- Today, April 10th, would have been my mother's 111th birthday. Some days, though I'm a mere 80, I know how 111 would feel. I'm thankful that today is not one of them.

Monday, April 5, 2021

A bend in the road

This faded picture is my favorite photograph of our children when they were young. It must have been taken around 1972 or 1973 as the children are about 8, 7, and 5 years old. Our older son is on the right:

Today they are 56, 55, and 53. Mrs. RWP sewed our daughter's dress herself, which was a rich blue and included beautiful smocking on the front, which somehow didn't get included in the photograph.

Today our daughter begins chemotherapy for cancer in her left breast. She first felt a "knot" or lump about a month ago and since that time has had a mammogram, an ultrasound, and an MRI. They caught it early, so the prognosis is good. Her lymph nodes are clear and her right breast is clear. Last week she had a port installed and received an iron infusion because her hematacrit (red blood cell level) was on the low side. Her genetic testing came back clear except for one mutation in a recessive gene that the doctor says has no effect on her current situation. The three markers of estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 were tested as well; the first two were negative and the third one was positive. I've told you everything I know to this point.

Our daughter's husband is driving them to the cancer center in Birmingham, an hour and a half trip, as I sit here writing this post. My wife and I prayed for her this morning. A lot of people are praying for her today.

I hate that this has happened to her. If I could, I would gladly take her place.

I am a Christian believer, but I became very angry with God at first. I said, "You took my mother; are you going to take my daughter too?" and I also said, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, yes, but I don't have to like it."

God responded by giving me grace and my heart settled down. That quote about giving and taking away ends with "Blessed be the Name of the Lord." Mrs. RWP and I are praying for Angela today, as we always have every day of her life. There are just a few new details we are including today.

If you are a praying person we ask you to include Angela in your prayers. If you are not a praying person, at least think positive thoughts. If you can't even do that, your heart must be really hard.

On Saturday she did a little "wig shopping" because her hair will probably fall out, but she didn't buy one yet. Much of mine has already done that, so I am in solidarity with her. One of my sons plans to shave his head to show his support.

Angela has a strong support system in the town where she lives, which is about three hours from her Georgia family. She is the principal of a primary school with about 800 students and a faculty and staff of around 80 people. On Friday, all of the adults in the school, including the custodians and the lunchroom workers, wore specially-made tee-shirts as a surprise show of support.

I will close with one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Nahum 1:7 in the Old Testament: "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him."

Sunday, April 4, 2021

There's more than one way to skin a cat

...which being interpreted means if the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain.

...which being interpreted means since I wasn't able to show you myself playing "Resurrection Medley", Mark Hayes's arrangement of three Easter songs, I'll just show you someone else playing it:

"Resurrection Medley" (3:10)

Happy Easter!

...which being interpreted means Christ is risen!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Easter season in Out-Of-Tune-Piano Land

Last year, when the whole world was out of tune because of something called the COVID-19 pandemic, I made two little videos, one on Good Friday and one on Easter, of myself playing my out-of-tune piano.

On Good Friday, I played an arrangement by Tedd Smith (he was Billy Graham's pianist for many years) of the hymn "Jesus, The Very Thought Of Thee" (the words of the hymn are attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux). On Easter Sunday, I played "Resurrection Medley", an arrangement by Mark Hayes that is a combination of three Easter songs, two of which are fairly well-known and a third one not as well-known:

"Low In The Grave He Lay" (also known as "Christ Arose")
"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today" by Charles Wesley
"Rise Again" by Dallas Holm

I put them on my Facebook page at the time but did not put them in this blog. Since Easter has rolled around again and our world is possibly more out of tune than ever (some things are worse than a pandemic), this year I want to share them with you.

Even in an out-of-tune world, on an out-of-tune piano, one can still make music.

Update. I have been trying for several hours now to move the two videos from my iPhone photo archive into either a text message or an e-mail so that I can download them to my desktop computer and then upload them into blogger, BUT SO FAR I HAVE HAD NO SUCCESS WHATSOEVER AND I AM FRUSTRATED AND YES, I MAY EVEN BE SHOUTING. You'll just have to imagine them until yours truly becomes more proficient in what should be the most basic of technical tasks.

More proficient, forsooth. It is to laugh.


Apparently the piano isn't the only thing that's out of tune.

<b>On the eighteenth of April in seventy-five,</b>

...hardly a man is now alive, who remembers that famous day and year. Truer words were never spoken, because the year under cons...