Events Make Memories

Blog 1759, 18 March 2019, Monday

Dear friend,

Today you only get highlights, but I have several. Yesterday we drove to Federal Way and had dinner with six others at the Black Angus. They gifted me for my birthday, all consumables because when you’re my age (only 73), you don’t need much “stuff.” I got a couple of Starbucks cards, I got a bag of coconut almonds in dark chocolate, several cards, a Mariners gift card, and a gift from someone who doesn’t read my blogs. What is the one thing (beside alcohol) that you shouldn’t give me? Licorice, especially “Australian Style Wiley Wallaby Gourmet Black Liquorice” (made in Perham, Minnesota!)! Do you remember by January bout with high blood pressure when my blood pressure zoomed up into the 180s because I had eaten a bag of licorice the day before going to see the doctor? I don’t eat licorice any more, but I’m tempted. It was a sad gift and a funny gift—both are true. It was given in love so it’s OK.

This morning I walked with a fulling moon (fulling as in growing fuller) to Starbucks, limping slightly all the way. With an agility I did not think I had, in my dream when the little hooded and masked creature tried to grab Jean, I kicked his legs out from under him. A very deft move that ended with a loud bang when I kicked my nightstand, a full and heavy two-drawer file cabinet. Jean apparently slept through it, I didn’t. My foot was numb, but when I got to the light I found two nails were bleeding and in time, when the numbness went away, I was left with the gift of pain. The larger toes are fine (except for the blood) but the little piggy that went “Wee-wee-wee all the way home” is painful back to the knuckle-joint. Together may we sing in an ill-conceived choir verse, “Dumb, Marvin, Dumb!”

It’s my welcome to my seventy-third year—pain and temptation. Actually it’s my 74th year, which is how the Chinese count ages, they include the first year; we don’t say we’re one until pass our first year. It’s the first celebration of our birth-day, not our birth-year, that we celebrate. Later today I further celebrate with a two-hour visit to the dentist. It’s gonna be a tough year, isn’t it? Love,


Birthday 2019

Blog 1758, 17 March 2018, Sunday

Dear friend,

I just looked it up on the computer; the town I was born in (Laurium, Houghton County, Michigan) has had 286 inches of snow so far this winter, still a hundred inches short of the record that, apparently, no one wants to break. I was born in 1946 at 11:45 p.m. under a full moon (the Worm Moon), and it was Purim, the Jewish day of deliverance. Laurium is at a latitude of 47˚ N and an elevation just over 1,000 feet. Two points to take from this, it’s absolute trivia and isn’t the computer a great source of trivial information. Conclusion: I am so glad not to live there any more that words cannot describe it. This morning my BP is 122/71, pulse 64, and weight 263.9. A final trivial revelation, as of today my height in inches and age in years is equal!

Good Morning! Soon we’ll be at church teaching Second John, the elder writing the elect lady. My insight into the opening of the letter is that at the time he wrote it, John could have called himself the “eldest” because, as the surviving disciple, he had been a Christian longer than anyone else alive. Humorously, only according to John’s Gospel, John, himself, was the first of the twelve original disciples, other writers would place him in the fourth or fifth place called. Truly, he is the eldest elder.

Later today we’re meeting family in Federal Way to eat, a good way to celebrate. I won’t weigh myself tomorrow. I’m not sure who will be there. It’s all on Jean’s side of the family, they embraced me from the very beginning, something I didn’t understand at first. My family members all move independently and sometimes exchange information about what they’re doing, but her family wants to be together. They are a tribe and they are many; we are few and growing fewer, they are many and growing more. Today I celebrate with the many.

Many blessings to you all! Thank you for being in my life; your presence is appreciated. You give me reason to continue writing. That’s a gift from you that needs no wrapping. Love,
Marvin and Jeannmarv

Waiting for Tuesday’s Mail

Blog 1757, 16 March 2019, Saturday

Dear friend,

I can’t believe I’m still waiting by my mailbox. Everything is done and ready except for my two readers of the Study Guide. He mailed his last Saturday; she mailed hers on Monday. The large envelopes were self-addressed and stamped to bear the weight. I did it myself in the Post Office with their assistance. The books arrived to their destination in three days. Is travelling west harder than travelling east?

Today was the first day this week I walked over to Starbucks for coffee. The previous days were spent working on the final draft. I had nothing to do today so I began reading Anthony Doerr’s 2015 Pulitzer winning All the Light We Cannot See. Immediately I figured out he’s written a remarkably well-written book. How do people do that? I write OK, he’s a delight to read.

I wrote that and then I heard someone at our mailbox. The mailman cometh. Our building was built in the 1960s and the mailboxes are in the entry, so every day the mail is delivered to our building. I’m sure the mail folk hate getting out of their vehicle to walk around our ten buildings to hand deliver our mail, but this puppy loves it. I waited until he was out of sight then shot down the stairs and opened the mailbox. One of my books was there, the one that had been mailed Monday. Where is last week’s? I then spent two and a half hours transferring her red marks into my manuscript. She’s the punctuation expert. After working on a half-dozen books of mine, she’s making me understand punctuation more fully. She found fewer punctuation errors than before, but she found plenty of others to make up for it.

Now, my neck sore because I think I didn’t move it for two plus hours. I went out to walk and stomp around in a mock fit for why the other book is not here. Fortunately, there is other news besides my complaining: spring comes on Tuesday with the possibility of 70˚ weather. Life is good. We apparently are teaching the Book of Job this spring and early summer. Blessings, with love,

Snow Scents and Spring

Blog 1756, 14 March 2019, Thursday

Dear friend,

Missing blogs are missing for a reason. I’m focused on the readers’ returned copies of my Study Guide for the Cloud of Unknowing. The last two are expected to arrive today (don’t hold your breath) and I’m going through three of them together. It’s slow, methodical, and mind consuming. When two or three disagree for different reasons, there’s a mental scramble that take place to make sense of a pile of words. One of the things I learned today is that Neither/Nor usage only applies to two items, as in “I eat neither blue nor red food.” If, however, you have more than two items, you can write, “I eat neither blue nor red nor white food.” I didn’t know that rule or couldn’t remember knowing that before, which is really the same thing. That rule does not apply to Either/or statements. But, when using the word “Either” for more than two items, “Any” is preferred. “I can eat either red, white, or blue food.” Best and most accurate is, “I can and do eat any food.” That was a joke, don’t correct me!

I’m in English land this week. It is amazing how many flaws there are in my (or any) writing, simple mistakes that the eye skips over. Jean and I both missed this little prayer typo: “Lead is to believe.” Try “Lead us to believe.” I’ve read that line ten times, Jean has read it, and still the flaw eluded us. For your knowledge, probably my specialty is prepositions. People flow over prepositions, but they really are major little pieces of communication. When we speak we make sort of an “ah” sound and the hearer hears what is probably meant, much like proofreading works.

I walked today, three out of four days. It felt like the first day of spring, and that amazingly included the smell of snow melting in the warmth. Snow has a unique scent both Jean and I are familiar with, fortunately it reminds us both of spring and not those long winters. The weather promises to get better through this next week, with 70˚ temps. The last time we hit 70 was November 12th, that’s actually quite a short gap for us. In the year we got back from Africa, 2010, it was late in June before we hit that number. We’ve been back nine years now, we were only there twelve; yet the intensity of those twelve and the relative ease of these nine play tricks on our memories. I go back to the computer now and work on the Study Guide. Love,

Three Task Day

Blog 1755, 12 March 2019, Tuesday

Dear friend,

Today I went to the Men’s group at the church after missing two weeks of hard duty in Hawaii. I’ve missed six of the last eleven Tuesdays: Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Tuesday, we met four times, then we snowed out twice, I went once, and was off to that island state for two weeks. By my attendance pattern, you’d never know how important that men’s group is for me. Today I walked in full rain gear, needing it. We’re reading Learning to Speak God from Scratch by Jonathan Merritt. It’s a good book but now I’m 52 pages behind.

My next stop was about car insurance. The AARP magazine asked if we were paying too much for our car insurance. It recommended checking up on it. We drive 9,346 miles a year (a two year average) and we’ve had no tickets, accidents, claims, or complaints and yet we’re paying $1,300/year for insurance with State Farm. I have no interest in getting insurance from the gecko or the general, but I did check out some of the larger insurers and got roughly the same price, maybe saving a hundred dollars a year. I don’t know the right answer, so I’ll continue on this current path for another six months.

My third and final task of the day was to get a new driver’s license. I walked to the bureau yesterday, Monday, and found they weren’t open on Mondays. So today I returned, I got a partial ride and walked the rest of the way, dressed for rain, looking like some movie character, a really cheap homicidal night lurker. I walked in, signed in, got #133, stood in line for about two minutes to get my picture taken. The man behind the camera didn’t even tell me if my part was in place, mainly because I’d parted with my hair Sunday night. No humor, I moved on to the “Express Line” where I learned if you’re under 70 you can renew on line. As of this coming Sunday my height in inches and my age in years match. At that window a very sweet Asian woman said read line two. So, I said, “chuminex.” She asked, “What?” I said I didn’t know how to pronounce Cmnx. She rephrased herself and said very slowly, “Read the letters on line two.” Said I, “C, M, N, X.” She then asked if the information was correct and I told her I didn’t live in an apartment, I lived in a condo. She changed the “Apt.” to a “Unit” and I was grateful. Then she took all of my money and told me to go home.

Fourteen thousand steps today, nineteen thousand yesterday, I may take tomorrow off. Love,

Insight into a Friend

Blog 1754, 10 March 2019, Sunday

Dear friend,

I’m gathering my Study Guides, I have two, one is in the mail, two more are being worked on. I got a cover e-mail from my reader in Michigan, a devout Buddhist who considers Western religion to be a myth. I wasn’t sure he’d even be willing to read the Guide, but he did. He’s the one who told me to rewrite that last book, a project I’m delving into part-time until I get this Study done. I do listen to him; he is a good friend. This is what he wrote about my latest book:

“Given that I don’t believe in God, grace, heaven, an afterlife, Jesus as redeemer (Christ), or the Bible as the word of God, there are some key elements I agree with, for what that may be worth to you . . . probably not much. You have brought me to the point of deeming the traditional Christian faith to be, while delusional, at least not mindless.

I howled with glee when I read that sentence. He’s married to a wonderful Catholic woman who has a doctorate in rhetoric. He’s never understood why we love that “delusional” Christ. The great compliment is that he’s willing to admit that Christianity may not be totally mindless. Really, it’s the nicest thing he’s said about Christians in years. He and I have exchanged many barbed missives over the years, we know how much we can push the other’s buttons on these religious, or in his case quasi-religious, subjects. And though he questioned whether I might consider the “worth” of his opinions, I do care deeply. He knows I pray for him but does not object.

He is, in his own words, “a huge admirer of Jesus, and try to follow his teachings.” I consider that to be like looking at a picture of food until you’re not hungry anymore. He thinks I’m deluded. It’s a friendship based on honesty and admiration—but agreement is not necessary. That’s my blog for today. It really is a fun blog. Love, with a pure and traditional Christian faith,

Settling In

Blog 1753, 9 March 2019, Saturday

Dear friend,

As much as we loved being in Hawaii those 17 days, it’s good to be home. It took all day to go through the mail, delete 75 Comcast e-mails, answer real ones, unpack, do the laundry, etc. Last night we were in our own bed, full sized and full length, with a real blanket on. It was wonderful. In Hawaii, on those bitterly cold nights, we slept under a sheet and the bedspread—that’s not cold! It’s 29˚ this morning in Bellevue, foggy with potential ice on bridges. Also, today’s Bellevue forecast had no surf advisory information.

Without planning this, we’re back to teaching our Bible Study class tomorrow morning at 7:15, made so much earlier because four and a quarter hours earlier we all, without our approval, switched to Daylight Savings Time. What a euphemism! It doesn’t save any daylight, there is a natural rhythm to sunrise/sunsets so we cannot actually save anything, but it sounds so good. We’re wrapping up First John, chapter five, with some review and strong coffee. We couldn’t have picked a worse Sunday to start meeting again. But this Sunday they promise us “No Snow.” We choose to believe them.

Getting home means we have to “get in our groove again,” whatever that means? I have the Study Guide I’ve been working on, but three of my readers’ books are still out and I never want to pressure my readers to hurry. I am serious when I say that they make my books better. If you write, find knowledgeable people to read. All readers are different. It is rare that all five of us (I need to include myself on that list) find the same error unless it’s really glaring, you know, like when I write “In the Name of Jess” when you’re speaking of the Lord. Jean has to gear up for church business and the other four hundred thousand things she’s involved in. It’s deliciously hectic for her to be back and she loves it.

For the forty days of Lent, I’m reading the 42-chapter book of Job. It’s an interesting book, and surprisingly, one I’m very comfortable in. I go read now. Love,

Hey, This Is Cold!

Blog 1752, 8 March 2019, Friday

Dear friend,

Thanks to Delta Airline, we didn’t come home Thursday as expected but we got back on Friday. They extra time they gave us enabled us to roam the Honolulu Airport (an open-air terminal, most appropriately). They said it was a weather-delayed flight from Seattle, but we were there when the late-arriving passengers got off the plane and we’re pretty they were coming from someplace in Alaska; we could tell by the way they were dressed. That’s true except for two who got off in shorts and tank tops—although they may have shed their outer layers to get that way.

Later, in Seattle, I was one step off the airplane when someone behind me exclaimed, “Hey, it’s cold here!” They wouldn’t let any of us get back on the plane. All those winter clothes we saw getting off the plane in Hawaii told me that they were from Seattle. They said the day’s snows had melted, which is fine with me. We got home at 1:30, fortunately jet-lagging to the east is a lot easier than going west. When I woke this morning, it was snowing. Again.

I hate going through that security. I’m honest, have no hidden agendas, and feel guilty like a real Lutheran. In Honolulu we had to take off our shoes (sandals, no socks, nothing hidden) and anything that was electronic: my CPAP machine and my computer. They pulled my computer case, in which the computer was not resting but contained dirty clothes. Why? Those clever puppies found two mock-Weatherman toolkits. Oh! I’d got them from our friend there, I was bringing them to the mainland and put them in the suitcase we were checking. But we were overweight and so I took the computer case out and put my computer in it. Did I check the other pockets on the case? Oh no! Jean sometimes wonders if I do these things on purpose. I don’t, and neither do practice them; I’m just really good at screwing up. Love,

Ash Wednesday 2019

Blog 1751, 6 March 2019, Wednesday

Dear friend,

May Ash Wednesday be a meaningful day for you. We survived Shrove (confession) Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day or Mardi Gras. Lent is a church created special day designed to prepare us for our walk to Easter, forty days with Sundays not counted, Sundays being considered days of rest. As a kid, I had a 1955 game called “Going to Jerusalem” and the idea was to race your opponents (each of whom had their own colored Jesus) to get to Jerusalem and if you did, you won! At the time, theology was not an issue. It is today. We’ll be at a UCC church this evening at 5:30, hopefully to get a temporary, ashy tattoo.

Jean is aware that traditionally people “give up something” for Lent, but she’s urging people not to increase something up (although caffeine or chocolate seem to be the main two Lenten go-bye-byes), to pick up something new. Add something to your life. Read the Bible, learn to play checkers, join the choir, pray for the Mariners, dog-walk your neighbor’s dog, etc. Put a new dimension in your life. Start to learn Spanish. Pick up loose trash in your neighborhood. Do something, but staying away from caffeine, chocolates, or cigarettes.

We haven’t received much sympathy for the weather we’re enduring, not even during this cold spell. Our lowest low was probably twelve degrees above your highest in the last two weeks, so when I tell you it’s raining today, you’ll boo at us, won’t you? How warm is the rain? Pleasantly so, I say. But starting tomorrow you want us to have good weather because we’re flying home. Thursday weather features a high of 43, low of 31, with snow flurries and rain showers. We’re here one more night. When next you hear from us, I’ll be complaining about the weather. Ah, back to the good old days! Love,

David’s Bad Coffee Maker

Blog 1750, 5 March 2019, Tuesday

Dear friend,

I am David’s bad coffee maker. I don’t make bad coffee, but sometimes I do things wrongly. The first time I mopped up the kitchen counter and floor was when I didn’t close the door completely in that section where the coffee grounds go, so the water came and went and never had to bother with the pot. Which was different than when I took to lid off the coffee pot to put the right amount of water into the machine and when I came back I found I’d not put the lid back on the coffee pot which actually allows water to flow into the pot; if you don’t have that lid on, the coffee and the water hang together until the water breaches the plastic basket and flows down the sides, across the counter and all over the floor. Again. Not only does David have a clean kitchen floor, it smells like coffee, too. It’s got a great Verona smell today.

But now I have a problem, because when a blog has an opening paragraph as funny as I think that one was, what do I say next? I can tell you that my “Ghost Woman” (see last blog) returned my greeting this morning with only a slight hesitation. Winds are predicted to hit 19 mph so Jean and David are not playing golf today, I couldn’t sleep all night (3 hours worth) so I slept all morning, but only after I made two round trips to Starbucks, one for me and another to accompany Jean. And that’s the news here from Lake Pacifica. Love,