Published in the Rains County Leader on April 30, 2019:
“All roads lead to Rome” is a proverb of unknown origin that has come to mean that everything you do and everywhere you go will eventually lead you to the center of things. In the days of the Roman Empire, this was true because all the empire’s roads radiated out from the capital city.
In present day consumer-driven American society where trends come and go at the speed of teenage whimsy, it’s almost impossible to determine where the center of things lies from moment to moment. However, I believe I have verifiable evidence that, at least during this past week, this small town was that center and that, indeed, all roads did lead to Emory. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 26, 2019:
At the most recent meeting of the East Texas Library Friends Book Club, we discussed the book “The Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel. The subtitle is “The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.” It’s the story of Christopher Knight who walked into the woods when he was 20 years old and lived there until he was captured 27 years later.
Our initial discussions centered around what a hermit actually is and whether Knight met those requirements. We couldn’t come to a consensus on that issue, so we moved on to the morality of how he supported himself – by stealing from vacation homes and a summer camp facility near his woodland home. Most of us agreed that theft is wrong regardless of the need and the self-imposed limitations on what is taken, although there was one dissenter who thought his actions were acceptable. The majority of our time, though, was spent on the subject of being alone. What was the longest period of time any of us had been alone with no contact or interaction with another person? Most of us had never spent more than 24-48 hours in solitude, much less 27 years – and most of us had no desire to do so. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 12, 2019:
I’ve learned a lot about good and bad light from Connie, my photographer neighbor. Good light results in pictures that make me look like I want to look, and bad light makes me look like I do in a changing room mirror under the awful lighting the retail stores seem to favor.
It’s difficult to take good pictures inside our home, at least in the daytime. There are windows in every room, and I’ve learned that natural light pouring in from one of those windows results in washed out photos and lots of silhouettes. After several unsuccessful attempts to capture Kitty in her condo, which is in front of a large window, Connie advised me to change my position by ninety degrees so the light would illuminate my subject from the side. The result is one of my favorite pictures of Kitty. She is looking out through one of the round holes in the side of the condo with a regal look on her face and a halo of light bouncing off her shiny fur. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on February 26, 2019:
Back in the early 90s, the idea of “six degrees of separation” was popular. The theory was that any two people are only six or less social connections away from each other. In other words, if you began a “friend of a friend” chain, any two people can find a connection within six steps. This concept was developed in 1929, but it didn’t grab the attention of the public until a play by that name opened in 1990 followed by a movie in 1993.
“The Kevin Bacon Effect” was a spin-off of the six degrees phenomenon, and it led to a book in 1996 and a trivia game sometime later. I believe the idea was that everyone in Hollywood had either worked with Kevin Bacon or knew someone who had, thus proving that Kevin Bacon is the center of the entertainment universe. All of this is a long-winded way of saying “it’s a small world,” and if you will bear with me, I will attempt to tell you my recent small-world tale in as few words as possible. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on October 30, 2018:
I think I gained about five pounds this weekend. Besides our regular Friday night Home Group that always includes a delicious dinner, we had a family fish fry on Saturday, and a chili cook-off at church on Sunday. I may never eat again!
Home Group met at a different home, and we had to negotiate washboard ruts and water-filled pot holes in the caliche road, but everyone arrived with a smile and was greeted with many hugs. We welcomed a new couple and re-welcomed a couple whose work schedule only allows them to come occasionally. The menu was heavy on desserts, and lively conversation and laughter accompanied dinner. A sweet time of shared prayer followed, and when we finally settled down to Bible study, the discussion was lively and educational. The evening ended as it began, with smiles and hugs and promises to “see you on Sunday.” (more…)
Published by the Rains County Leader on April 10, 2018:
Friendship is not easily defined. The dictionary says a friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, but friendship is more than that. During the ten years when I was single again, I met Mary one night at choir practice. Before the night was over, we had discovered that we were both raised in small towns in west Texas, we were both single after twenty-three years of marriage, and we both had one child. We had so much in common that we sometimes wondered if I had been switched at birth with her twin sister. We were and still are fast friends. Friendships are often based on common grounds, but sometimes it takes some investigation to discover those grounds.
Ten years ago I read a book titled Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It’s not unusual for two friends to write a book together, but Ron was a millionaire art dealer, and Denver was a former victim of modern-day slavery who escaped only to end up living on the streets of Dallas and Fort Worth. Their common ground was Deborah, Ron’s wife whose passion was helping the homeless, and their heart-warming story is well worth reading. (more…)