Saturday, July 15, 2006

Toad Patrol Missing In Action

We have a Toad Patrol in our back yard, always on duty to keep the perimeter free from insects who might cross the border between the woods and our home. On any given summer evening, one may find these finely honed agents of insect destruction spread around the foundation of the house like beads on a necklace.

Cutbacks in the Toad Armory Budget (TAB) have limited their protective capacity to the insects who arrive by foot, so insects equipped for flight often manage the crossing. Still, lets face it, it is the creepy-crawlies (nods to Joe T.) that concern us most, and the Toads are highly skilled and effective in the management of these creatures.

Tonight, for some reason, my Toad Patrol is missing in action. No insects were seen sneaking across the unreinforced line, but the potential for a break would appear to be at critical mass. I have grave concerns about the whereabouts of my patrol, and I can't help speculating as to the cause of their absence. Is tonight the annual Toad Ball? Has electronic surveillance been incorporated into the Toad Patrol arsenal, leading to cutbacks in personnel? Is there a froggy flu outbreak keeping each Toad to his hole this evening? Were all Toad Guards called to the aid of a fellow officer in the front yard tonight? I suppose the possibilities are endless, and I may never know the answer to my query.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I saw cloud to ground lightening directly in front of me several times this evening, as I drove home through the Great Cedar Swamp. I've heard that a car is the safest place to be in an electrical storm, but I'm skeptical. I would much prefer to be safe at home, watching nature's glory unfold through my back doors.

I know that lightening can reach you just about anywhere, even in your home. I've seen it happen. I've seen lightening enter a house through a wall, go down a staircase, make a left turn, and knock a clock from another wall before exiting through it. It neatly bypassed each of my parents and then me. I was downstairs, in a perfect position to see it hang a Louie and dislodge the clock. Mom was upstairs in the kitchen, to one side of the lightening bolt, and my father was just to the other side of it, on his way up the other staircase of our split level home. Ironically, we had just returned from church.

I know people who would nod sagely and say that we were protected by angels because we had been faithful in attending church. I know others who would point to the randomness of such events. Although I believe in God, I would probably side with those who saw random natural activity in the incident. The undeniable truth is that our physical beings are anchored to this physical world. Good things happen to bad people, bad things to good people, and vice versa. Believers die, have car wrecks, get sick, win the lottery, get promoted, and so do non-believers. My parents and I were fortunate to avoid any ill effects from the lightening, but that can hardly be seen as proof of divine intervention.

I do believe that most of us are born with an inherent desire to understand the incomprehensible, to know God. We each have a God-shaped hole in our hearts, a longing to experience ultimate power and ultimate love. That doesn't mean that everyone who feels this will reach the conclusion of God, but I think we have a spiritual nature that craves nurturing along with the physical one.

Tonight, just moments ago, I stood in my backyard. The earth and the very trees that sprout from it are drenched in moisture, and the air is heavy enough to cast a misty shadow under the electric lights. I felt both warm and cool at once, as the gentler evening temperatures competed with the wet, cloying air. Even with the evening temperature drop, it is imperative that the air conditioning be kept running tonight, since this much humidity would be intolerable indoors.

The evening is scented with the aromatic odor of pine sap, closer in smell to turpentine than the fresh pine needle scent we look for in our Christmas trees. I wonder if this is simply a fragrant manifestation of so many turgid, waterlogged layers of wood, or if one of those bolts of lightening earlier tonight connected with a tree, setting free years - perhaps decades - of accumulated resin.

I seem to be constantly re-thinking the things I believe about life and love and God these days. I find that I experience my greatest sense of awe (is that awareness of God?) in natural settings, like my backyard.

I suppose the way I see the desire to know, and to be known by, an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent being is best summed up by Psalm 139. This poem is attributed to King David. I don't think you have to share his belief in the God of Israel to understand the longing he has to be known and to be loved. We all find different ways of expressing and fulfilling this need. Here is an excerpt:

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,"

12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.

14 I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Random Thoughts

I'm reading a book called Lamb by Christopher Moore. The book is about the missing years of Jesus' (who is named Joshua in the book) life, as told by his friend and travelling companion, Biff. In one chapter, Joshua and Biff encounter a Yeti, along with a group of Buddhist monks. Biff asks Gaspar (one of the wisemen who visited Jesus after his birth, and now the head monk of the monastery) where the Yeti lives. Gaspar replies, "We don't know. A cave somewhere, I suppose."

This made me wonder if the Yeti might not have his own blog called, "A Cave Somewhere." What do you think it would look like? Something like this, perhaps? Just curious....


Quick trivia question: Which nationally celebrated one-year-old is nicknamed, "Butterstick?"


I returned to work today, after a weeklong shutdown of state services. It was a busy day, but it could have been worse. My voice mail was full, with 12 aggravated messages, all from 2 people. Yep, one person left one message, and another person left eleven messages over the course of the week before she figured out that the office was closed.


I've decided to do some comparative shopping research. I'm looking for the best
Cosmopolitan cocktail in South Jersey. I checked out a couple of contenders over the weekend, and the search continues. This could be a life project, since one may only consume so many Cosmos at any one time, and I just don't imbibe all that often.

All suggestions regarding venues will be appreciated. List your favorite Southern NJ bar, lounge, taproom, restaurant or club, and I'll consider a visit (time, gas prices and willing companions permitting, since I won't go out for drinks alone, and it goes without saying that I won't drink and drive).


I've had more trouble with this post than you can imagine. My browser crashed before I saved it the first time around, and I had to reconstruct the entire thing. I can't seem to keep the formatting the way I want it, and I'm having a lot of trouble with the "Edit Html" feature. Sorry if the appearance of this post is poor.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sassenach Part II

If I went back in time, I'd probably choose 1700's England, Scotland, Ireland or the American colonies, if I had my druthers. The family I had in the colonies/US at the time was in Pennsylvania, and I must admit that I would love a chance to look in on them. I also had ancestors in the Edinburgh area of Scotland, as well as in England, (possibly in the Manchester area, and also in London). My Irish kin may have hailed from the Dublin area, but I'm not too clear on that score. There apparently was a family crest associated with one branch of my British ancestors. Most of my direct forebears were simple, hardworking folk. I'd love a glimpse into their day to day lives, and I'd love to see whether or not I look like any of them.

I don't have much desire to visit my Ukrainian kin on their home turf. I suspect that it would be painful to see, with social divides beyond modern American comprehension and brutal revolutions rampant throughout the region. I don't have much information at all about the history of that half of my family, and I'd love to know more, but I don't think it would be easy to visit.

There are some intriguing questions I'd love to have answered about my Ukrainian ancestors. We sort of suspect that there might have been a touch (or more) of Mongol blood introduced somewhere along the way. Imagine: I might be a distant descendant of Genghis Khan! I'd really like to know more.

One prolific Ukrainian ancestor was rumored to have been responsible for most of the population of a small Hungarian town. If that's the case, I might have a lot of Eastern European cousins to look up someday!

Of course, I'd love to watch some larger historical events unfold, too. The American Revolution, the French Revolution (though I really wouldn't want to be actively present for this one, since it was exceptionally brutal) and the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (again, I shudder at the thought of actually being present; I'd just like to see it) are especially interesting to me.

I guess you could call me the timid time traveler, with my fly-on-the-wall technique. I wish I could believe in the past life regression thing, it might be interesting. If I've had past lives, I wonder where and when they occurred? Hmmm, sounds like a topic for another post someday!