When I ran across this cartoon, it made me think about why I blog. It is certainly not for the money. I'm not sure why I blog. I haven't been doing it long, less than 3 months. In a way it is kind of like a diary or journal. I guess that it feels good to leave some kind of mark. Some way for people to actually know you exist and have done something. Maybe it because my memory is so poor, I feel that blogging can help my memory.
I know that I am not blogging for the money, but the benefits have been many. I have met, if you can call typing on the computer meeting, many wonderful people. With all of the ugliness we see and hear about in the world, it is nice to get to know wonderful people from all parts of the world.
I'm still trying to figure out why I blog, and if it is worth the investment of time. In less than three months it has become an important part of my life, so I imagine blogging is here to stay.
Probably the most important reason that I blog is to let the world know how great my grandkids are. I just got to spend four days with them, and it was marvelous. They just left a few hours ago, and I miss them already.
Thanksgiving Day was as beautiful and perfect a day as you can have in Arkansas in November. The temperature was almost 70 degrees with clear skies. I started the day by listening to Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie. Listening to Alice's Restaurant is a Thanksgiving tradition for me. If you have ever heard the song, you know that Arlo's troubles began on Thanksgiving. You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant.
After everyone got up and had breakfast, Autumn wanted to go outside and play. I took her and her dog Sally down to the creek behind the house. Autumn had a great time throwing rocks into the creek, and Sally spent her time splashing through the creek until she found a swimming hole. She spent a half hour or more just swimming, then getting out and shaking on Autumn and I, and then swimming again.
AUTUMN AT THE CREEK
The day was spent cooking and cleaning up the kitchen. Our kitchen is small, so we have to keep things washed so there is room to cook. It is agreed that I should not do any cooking, so I try to keep the dishes washed as the cooking progresses. There were pies being baked, and a turkey in the oven. On Thanksgiving Day, Gina is thankful for our double ovens. There was stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, Gina's awesome homemade cranberry sauce, and Christmas jello salad. Cynda loves the Christmas salad so much, that it has become a Thanksgiving tradition also.
While we were waiting for the turkey to finish, The girls wanted to play outside. Cynda raked leaves into a pile so they could jump in them. Everyone had so much fun raking and jumping.
AUTUMN JUMPING IN THE LEAVES
COVERED IN LEAVES
Rebekah liked being outside, but she didn't understand jumping in the leaves. she was content play with the rake, or just watch. "Why would you want to jump in a pile of leaves"
REBEKAH ON THE STEPS
It was great to have everyone here for Thanksgiving. My folks came over and enjoyed visiting with the kids. Daddy brought his 1950 Ford, and we took it for a drive. Rebekah liked pretending that she was driving.
REBEKAH DRIVES GRANDPA GREATS CAR
When the turkey was done, we all sat down to a marvelous meal. The table was decorated with pilgrims that Autumn had made out of toilet paper rolls. We decided that one of the things we were thankful for was toilet paper. At each place setting there were five kernels of corn. Each person took the kernels in their hand, and with each kernel told of something they were thankful for. Thanks Pastor Dan for the idea. I'm sure it will become a Thanksgiving tradition for us.
There were so many leftovers that I know we will have another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat. I'm looking forward to it.
Last week in church, Pastor Dan gave each person in the audience five kernels of corn. The story behind the five kernels of corn goes back to the Pilgrims.
While they were waiting for the harvest of 1623, they lived four or five days at a time on a few grains of corn. From their experience came the legend of the five kernels of corn. Their hopes rested on a good fall harvest, but the harvest of 1623 was almost wiped out. A six week drought began in June and the crops turned brown and were slowly withering away. They turned to the only hope they had – intervention by God, and appointed a solemn day of humiliation and prayer.
The Pilgrims assembled one July morning under a hot, clear sky and for nine hours prayed. Their prayers were answered the next morning, wrote Edward Winslow, and for the next two weeks distilled such soft, sweet and moderate showers that it was hard to say whether our withered corn or drooping affections were most quickened and revived. Governor Bradford ordered that July 30,1623 be set aside as a day of public thankfulness.
Pastor Dan encouraged us to put five kernels of corn next to each plate on Thanksgiving Day. Each person is to take each kernel and tell something they are thankful for. We are going to take his advice at our Thanksgiving meal.
I thought I would get a head start and tell you five things I am thankful for.
CYNDA AND GAVIN
Photo by Jeannie Amos
I am so thankful for my family. My parents, sisters, kids, grandkids and extended family. I feel sorry for people who do not have good family ties.
JANSSEN PARK IN MENA, ARKANSAS
I love the little corner of the world that I live in. I'm thankful that I can live in a small town surrounded by such beauty.
WITH FRIENDS IN SAN PEDRO, BELIZE
I'm so lucky to have so many friends. I am amazed when I realize that I have friends around the world. I'm thankful for friendship. It makes life so interesting and meaningful.
I'm thankful for the beauty that God shows us in nature. I see beauty every day, and I am reminded that God is the creator.
I am thankful for my church family. The warmth and love that I feel each week when I attend church is so special. I feel spiritually blessed, and emotionally fulfilled being apart of this church.
Now it's your turn. What are you thankful for? Remember the story of the five kernels of corn
S is for Signs. Whenever I have my camera with me I like to take pictures of unusual signs. This one taken in San Pedro Belize has to be one of my all time favorites. No we didn't eat there.
It seems like the maintenance men at King's Casino in Louisiana would have noticed that some maintenance was needed. It's a sin.
Just because there is a restaurant and a motel on the same premises doesn't mean that they should share the sign. We were hungry, but not that hungry.
Lake Leatherwood, near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is formed by one of the largest hand-cut native limestone dams in the country. The dam and several structures at the park were built in the early 1940s by the WPA. This sign on the lake appears to have been built in the 40's but I'm not quite sure why it was needed.
I had too many sign pictures to post, so I made a music video from my pictures. One of my favorite songs from the 70's is "Signs" by "The Five Man Electrical Band". It seemed like an appropriate song for this post. Take a look.
Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and I am getting excited. Yesterday Gina and I went shopping for Thanksgiving dinner and spend an amazing amount of money. We tried to do our part to jump start the economy. Gavin will be here Tuesday night, and Cynda, Dave, and the girls will be here Wednesday night. I can hardly wait for us to all be together. It is always blissful bedlam. Thanksgiving is such an amazing holiday. To me, even more than Christmas, Thanksgiving is the holiday that focuses on family. I know that family is something I am very thankful for.
I learned in school that the first Thanksgiving was held by the Pilgrims in 1621. I have later found out that it wasn’t quite true.
The Pilgrims did set apart a day to celebrate at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest, in 1621. At the time, this was not regarded as a Thanksgiving observance, but a harvest festival. Harvest Festivals were existing parts of English and Indian tradition alike. The Pilgrims did not hold a true Thanksgiving until 1623. The 1623 celebration followed a severe drought. After the entire group spent days praying for rain, they held a solemn Thanksgiving ceremony and followed that with a feast when the drought was over. Irregular Thanksgivings continued after favorable events and days of fasting after unfavorable ones.
PEDRO MENENDEZ DE AVILES
The Pilgrims were not the first Europeans to have a Thanksgiving celebration in America. The first recorded Thanksgiving ceremony took place on September 8, 1565, when 600 Spanish settlers, under the leadership of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, landed at what is now St. Augustine, Florida, and immediately held a Thanksgiving ceremony for their safe delivery to the New World; there followed a feast and celebration. As far as we know this was the first Thanksgiving celebration held in America.
Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving. The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is how a Canadian explained it to me. "We did actually have the FIRST Thanksgiving, a full 43 years before the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, but, in true Canadian fashion, there was something wrong with it. That first North American Thanksgiving would have been "celebrated" in sub-zero temperatures on a barren, windswept moonscape by a muttering, mutinous crowd wondering whether "the chief" had all his marbles".
Sir Martin Frobisher set out to find the Spice Islands through the Northwest Passage. He landed instead on Baffin Island. The complete absence of trees and a pitiless terrain of unrelieved rock and permafrost barely dampened his determination to establish the first English settlement in North America. Ever the optimist, he spent two years mining "gold ore". When it was shipped back to England, it was found to be iron pyrite. Fool's Gold.
Throughout the history of the U.S. and Canada, Thanksgiving has been observed. In the U.S. there has been an annual Thanksgiving observed since 1863. In Canada it has been observed since 1879 although on different dates.
Last year Gina and I drove to Baton Rouge for the birth of our second granddaughter Rebekah. Gina had taken a week off of work so that she could stay with Cynda and help her with Autumn and the new baby. That meant that I had to drive back home alone.
On my way out of Baton Rouge, I took Highway 190 to Interstate 49. I have traveled Highway 190 quite a bit, and I know that you just don't speed on it. It is heavily patrolled. The speed limit was 65 mph, so I set the cruise control on the MINI at 67 mph. I traveled along with the flow of traffic listening to a book on CD about Benjamin Franklin.
As I came into the town of Point Barre, the speed limit dropped from 65 mph to 45 mph. I tapped the cruise control and traveled along with several other cars as we slowed down. The next thing I knew, there were blue lights in my rear view mirror. The patrolman must have been shooting his radar right at the 45 mph sign, and he had to pick me out of 4 or 5 cars to stop, as we were all traveling the same speed. The ticket cost me 160 dollars. To say the least, I was not happy. I felt that the ticket was unfair. I had been trying to obey the law and yet I got a ticket.
PHOTO BY REX LISMAN
My situation reminded me of an illustration that I have heard explaining God's grace. Imagine yourself driving down the road, doing 100 mph in a 55 mph zone. A police officer stops you. If he gives you a ticket--that is justice--for you got what you deserve. If he lets you off with just a warning--that is grace--for though you deserved a ticket, he did not give you one.
I have thought about that illustration and realized that it doesn't quite fit. If he lets you off with just a warning--that isn't grace, it is mercy--for though you deserved a ticket, he did not give you one. However, if, instead of charging you, he personally escorts you to your destination-- that is grace--for he gave you more than mercy, more than pardon, more than you ever expected, more than you could ever deserve.
There are many Christians who like me in Point Barre feel that they aren’t really doing anything all that bad. They are trying to obey the speed limit, which should count for something. They don't see grace being all that great. They are trying to live right. God should realize that.
The “I surrender all” Christian realizes that the law has been broken whether he was going 5 miles over the limit or 55. He realizes that he deserves the ticket, and he is overwhelmed by the unexpected grace.
Romans 5:17 tells us that "if, through one man, death ruled because of that man’s offense, how much more will those who receive such overflowing grace and the gift of righteousness rule in life because of one man, Jesus Christ!
One of my favorite hikes in the Mena area is the hike back to an old stone dam that is not far from town. I first found the dam in August 2006 through Geocaching. There was a cache listed that was called The CCC DAM BOMBER TRAIL cache. I had a hard time figuring out how to get to this cache, and even though I made it I did everything wrong. I found an old cowpath through the brush that took me to the bottom of the dam on Ward Lake. I climbed the dam and bushwacked through the bottom of Ward Lake as it was dry. I found my way up the creek bed and eventually came to the bottom of the CCC Dam. I had to climb the dam to get to the cache. Once I made it to the dam, I realized that there was a trail, and I took it out to the road.
GINA ON THE DAM
I like to take people on this hike back to the dam. Last Sunday, Gina and I hiked back to the dam with our friend Deanna. It was a beautiful day. We took Deanna's dog Cowboy with us. He was great to hike with.
GINA AND COWBOY ON THE TRAIL
I haven't been able to finds out anything definite, but I am sure that the dam was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was a work relief program for young men from unemployed families, established on March 21, 1933, by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As part of Roosevelt's New Deal legislation, it was designed to combat unemployment during the Great Depression. The CCC became one of the most popular New Deal programs among the general public and operated in every U.S. state.
During its nine-year existence the CCC enlisted nearly 3 million single men between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five to work at erosion control, fire prevention, land reclamation, and pest eradication. For their service, enrollees received $30 monthly, $25 of which they were required to send home to their families.
In Arkansas, the CCC erected 446 buildings, constructed 6,500 miles of road, built eight dams, laid 250 miles of fence, erected 86 lookout towers in forests, planted 19.4 million trees and strung 8,600 miles of telephone line. They also built cabins, pavilions, bridges and trails in Arkansas’ state parks.
VIEW FROM BELOW THE DAM
Every time that I reach the dam I am amazed by it . It looks like an archeological site. The trail is almost never used, so there is absolutely no indication of people having been there. Every time I see it I feel like I have discovered it again.
I was recently tagged by Paul Merrill in a meme called 5 things. Paul gave me the assignment of telling you about my Top 5 grandparent times. How can I narrow it down to five? Here goes, not in any particular order.
AUTUMN KISSING HER NEW BABY SISTER
The birth of a grandbaby is always a high point. When Rebekah was born, one of the things that made it so special was how much Autumn loved her. Autumn was just barely two years old. The day Rebekah was born, every time Autumn was in the hospital room with her sister, she wanted to hold her. She would walk in saying "I holdy, I holdy". This picture of her kissing Rebekah is probably my favorite picture.
Rebekah has been a Papa's girl from the day she was born. Her and I just have a connection that I can't explain. Because we live 400 miles apart we don't get to see each other very often, but each time is very special.
AUTUMN'S FIRST STEPS
I remember when Autumn took her first steps. Gina and I were visiting in Baton Rouge. While we were there I had a very special time. Even though Autumn could take a few steps, what she really wanted to do was to hold my hand and walk.
She wanted to go outside and walk up and down the sidewalk holding on to one finger. Holding on to my finger she had all the confidence in the world and could walk for hours. One afternoon we spent an hour walking outside as fast as her little legs could go. I kept expecting her to get tired of it, but she wanted to keep going. If I even tried to walk toward the door of the house she wouldn’t go that way.
When we went inside after more than an hour of walking, she kept going to the door and pounding on it. She wanted to go back outside and walk some more. Because I was the one who would take her walking she wanted to spend a lot of her time with me.
AUTUMN TURNS 3, REBEKAH TURNS 1
In October, Autumn and Rebekah celebrated their birthdays with their cousin Katherine. Autumn celebrated her third birthday, Katherine her second, and Rebekah her first. October has been a busy month for the Grant family, with a baby born during October each of the last three years.
The party was in a nice community building in the park a few blocks from Cynda and Dave's house. They had it decorated beautifully with lots of helium balloons and other birthday decorations. After the party the kids had a great time playing on the playground equipment at the park.
We had lots of fun at the party, with lots of kids, food, cake, homemade ice cream, and presents. With three little girls opening presents it looked like a tornado at Christmas. We got to sing Happy Birthday three times, and each little girl had her moment in the spotlight.
AUTUMN'S FIRST THANKSGIVING AT GRANDMA'S
One of the things that I am most thankful for is grandchildren. They have brought unimaginable joy into my life. Cynda and Dave alternate holidays that they spend with us. In even numbered years they are here for Thanksgiving, and on odd numbered years they are here for Christmas. They will be here in just a few more days, and I will get to make some more wonderful memories with my grandkids. I can hardly wait.
Okay. It's time to pass on the tag: The Grant Adventure - Tell us about your Top 5 hikes, ones you have made or just ones you would like to make.
R is for Relay For Life. If you have followed my blog at all, this selection probably doesn't surprise you. I have been involved with Relay for two years now, and we are starting to prepare for Relay 2009.
Relay For Life is a life-changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people to:
• Celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer. The strength of survivors inspires others to continue to fight. • Remember loved ones lost to the disease. At Relay, people who have walked alongside people battling cancer can grieve and find healing. • Fight Back. We Relay because we have been touched by cancer and desperately want to put an end to the disease.
One person can make a difference. Nowhere is that more evident than with the story of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, which began in Tacoma, Washington. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office and to show support for all of his patients who had battled cancer. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed – running marathons.
In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. He ran for more than 83 miles. That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt's friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course. Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk with Dr. Klatt for 30 minutes. His efforts raised $27,000 to fight cancer.
While circling the track those 24 hours, Dr. Klatt thought about how others could take part in his mission to fight cancer. He envisioned a 24-hour team relay event that could raise more money to fight cancer. Over the next few months, he pulled together a small committee to plan the first team relay event, known as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.
In 1986, with the help of Pat Flynn – now known as the “Mother of Relay” – 19 teams took part in the first team Relay event on the track at the historic Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000. An indescribable spirit prevailed at the track and in the tents that dotted the infield.
In 2009 there will be Relay For Life events in over 5,000 communities. Check and see if you community is one of them, and if it is plan to participate.
Click on the photo above to purchase my book, The Little Things. $3.58 for the paperback and $0.99 for the kindle version
I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled An Arkie's Faith, using articles from the column.