Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Love your enemies; No, I didn’t stutter

 


I’m pretty sure this talk was assigned for the purpose of having me, Brother Stern, take yet another step toward becoming a better disciple of Jesus Christ.  When the assignment came in from President Bumbaugh to tie our ‘Third Sunday Talks’ in with Dallin H. Oaks’ talk,  Love Your Enemies,  my thoughts were something like, “Oh, great, this should be fun”, thinking in my sarcasm mode. 

Then I remembered the opening scene from, Fiddler on the Roof, where the rabbi’s son asked if there was “a proper blessing for the Czar.”

The rabbi responded, “A blessing for the czar?”  He pondered awhile, then pronounced: “Of course: May God bless and keep the czar — far away from us.” Amen!”

Interestingly, this was used in Colbert I. King’s Washington Post op-ed piece, “Should you pray for the president?,” as he discussed the current struggle in faith communities over whether to pray for President Trump and his appointees as they have routinely done for others in positions of trust. Mr. King concluded that, “it would be in our country’s best interest for all of us to pray that this president gets the appropriate help he needs”. 

I, on the other hand, was thinking how it fit easily with Joe Biden and Kamal Harris.  You can see the importance of Elder Oaks’ cautionary words, bear in mind, his talk was given a month prior to the much-contested elections.  The Lord’s admonition applies evenly to all, regardless of political leanings. 

While sitting in the last Fast and Testimony meeting wondering how to best accomplish putting my thoughts together a curious idea surfaced.

Some of you will have doubts about my sanity as I share a line from the movie, Cool Hand Luke, when the prison warden stood, holding a sap slapper in hand, addressed Luke after he’d been apprehended for attempting yet another escape.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate”, his slow southern drawl dancing into the air followed by, “You have to get your mind right”.  Luke was then punished by having to dig a huge hole all day only to have to refill that hole as his energies were taxed to the limit. 

What has this got to do with Elder Oaks’ talk, Love Your Enemies?  He mentioned the political climate and how it was affecting members; but in reality, Elder Oaks was talking to me, saying, “Brother Stern, You have to get your mind right”.

We live in a time of anger and hatred in political relationships and policies. We felt it this summer when some went beyond peaceful protests and engaged in destructive behavior. We feel it in some current campaigns for public offices. Unfortunately, some of this has even spilled over into political statements and unkind references in our Church meetings.

{…}

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43–44).

 

{…}

What revolutionary teachings for personal and political relationships! But that is still what our Savior commands. In the Book of Mormon we read, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” (3 Nephi 11:29).

 

Loving our enemies and our adversaries is not easy. “Most of us have not reached that stage of … love and forgiveness,” President Gordon B. Hinckley observed, adding, “It requires a self-discipline almost greater than we are capable of.”  But it must be essential, for it is part of the Savior’s two great commandments to “love the Lord thy God” and to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). And it must be possible, for He also taught, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7).”

 

I found myself at odds with the Lord’s commandment to Love Thy Neighbor, even those we don’t agree with.  I was encouraged to ponder the message found in James, chapter 3, basically the entire chapter; but more particularly as I read, starting in verse 8, which identified my shortcomings in greater detail. 

“But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

 

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

 

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”

At this point is where I borrowed a sobering thought from Dicken’s, <a href="a_christmas_carol__abridged___1_.pdf (weebly.com)"> A Christmas Carol </a>.  

Ebenezer Scrooge had been shown his own failings by the Ghosts who’d visited him. He then is found, pleading as it were, to make things right.

 

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge.”  I remember adding an extended pause between each thought as he continued…

 

“But if the courses be departed from… the ends will change”, (unsure if that was a period or a question mark in the manner of his speaking) ... “Say it is thus with what you show me!”   (Once again, in my mind I wasn’t sure if that was an exclamation mark or a question mark with emphasis.)   

 

In case you need that translated…Dickens understood the ability to Repent along with the promise that anyone, regardless of how long they’ve traveled in the wrong direction…anyone can alter their path and be forgiven by the Lord.

 

During that same Fast and Testimony meeting Sister Dean of the Madisonville Branch shared her definition of Peace as being in harmony with God.  Oh, how we could all use that feeling of Peace and of being in harmony with God.

 

I was looking in the mirror and didn’t like what I was seeing.  I’d bristled at having to give a talk on a subject which I had yet to master, in my heart and mind, not really willing to follow the Lord’s commandment, Love your enemies.  Pride was getting in the way; isn’t that at the heart of our inability to follow the commandments of the Lord?

 

To become better disciples, we must do things the Lord’s way, turning our will over to Him.

 

Elder Oaks continued,

 

“The Savior’s teaching not to “contend with anger” is a good first step. The devil is the father of contention, and it is he who tempts men to contend with anger. He promotes enmity and hateful relationships among individuals and within groups. President Thomas S. Monson taught that anger is “Satan’s tool,” for “to be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can make us angry. It is our choice.”  Anger is the way to division and enmity. We move toward loving our adversaries when we avoid anger and hostility toward those with whom we disagree. It also helps if we are even willing to learn from them.”

 

How are we to take the next step toward becoming better disciples, being slow to change from our ways to being one in heart and mind with the Lord?

 

“The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “it is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love—show forth our kindness unto all mankind.”

 

President Howard W. Hunter taught: “The world in which we live would benefit greatly if men and women everywhere would exercise the pure love of Christ, which is kind, meek, and lowly. It is without envy or pride. … It seeks nothing in return. … It has no place for bigotry, hatred, or violence. … It encourages diverse people to live together in Christian love regardless of religious belief, race, nationality, financial standing, education, or culture.”

 

And President Russell M. Nelson has urged us to “expand our circle of love to embrace the whole human family.”

Okay, I get it; but what about folks in positions of power forcing me to pay taxes, using my money to fund abortions, open our borders to anyone to include those intent on destroying our culture and nation?  What about that?  Am I supposed to love these folks too?

I got hammered again as Elder Oaks explained:

“An essential part of loving our enemies is to render unto Caesar by keeping the laws of our various countries. Though Jesus’s teachings were revolutionary, He did not teach revolution or lawbreaking. He taught a better way. Modern revelation teaches the same:

“Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.

“Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:21–22).”

 

Apparently, once I’ve paid my taxes according to the laws as set forth, how that money is spent no longer falls under my responsibility.  Those in government take over and will have to explain to the Lord how they completed their stewardships.  We can do our best to put individuals of integrity and character in positions of power and then trust in the Lord who knows the beginning from the end.

 

I’ll touch on a little bit more of Elder Oaks’ talk before tying this up.

 

At one extreme, some seem to have forgotten that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That is the authorized way to raise public awareness and to focus on injustices in the content or administration of the laws. And there have been injustices. In public actions and in our personal attitudes, we have had racism and related grievances. In a persuasive personal essay, the Reverend Theresa A. Dear of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has reminded us that “racism thrives on hatred, oppression, collusion, passivity, indifference and silence.”  As citizens and as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we must do better to help root out racism.

 

At the other extreme, a minority of participants and supporters of these protests and the illegal acts that followed them seem to have forgotten that the protests protected by the Constitution are peaceful protests. Protesters have no right to destroy, deface, or steal property or to undermine the government’s legitimate police powers. The Constitution and laws contain no invitation to revolution or anarchy. All of us—police, protesters, supporters, and spectators—should understand the limits of our rights and the importance of our duties to stay within the boundaries of existing law. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.”  Redress of grievances by mobs is redress by illegal means. That is anarchy, a condition that has no effective governance and no formal police, which undermines rather than protects individual rights.”

 

{…}

 

Knowing that we are all children of God gives us a divine vision of the worth of all others and the will and ability to rise above prejudice and racism. As I have lived for many years in different places in this nation, the Lord has taught me that it is possible to obey and seek to improve our nation’s laws and also to love our adversaries and our enemies. While not easy, it is possible with the help of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He gave this command to love, and He promises His help as we seek to obey it. I testify that we are loved and will be helped by our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ…”

 

It is my prayer that through repentance, doing our best to have our lives in accordance with the commandments of the Lord, we find that Peace which comes from being in harmony with God.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Working on the Engine

 

This morning there was a photograph of an airline mechanic standing on top of a ladder while putting what looked like Duct Tape around the front of the jet engine.  The likelihood of Duct Tape being used for that particular function is minimal at best; but it might have caused a mild panic for passengers looking on.

Back in the early 1970s, while on my way back to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina (it might have been Ft. Gordon, Georgia, to complete Military Police School), I was awaiting a delayed flight out of IAH in Houston.  The delay had something to do with one of the four jet engines as I watched the mechanic standing on a huge ladder as he went over the schematic printed on the engine cover which was propped open.  His finger followed the diagram to a certain point whereupon he’d turn his head and try to follow the information offered by running his finger across the jet engine.  He did this several times; each time a scowl crossed his face as he grimaced in dissatisfaction.

He had my attention.

While talking into a portable radio, he again ran his finger along the schematic diagram while listening to the instructions being offered.  He repeated the ritual of feeling his way across the jet engine which didn’t match up with the diagram; his finger stopped as if there was a hole preventing it from moving further.  He put the jet engine cover down, similar to slamming the hood on a car in anger, and fastened the screws that held it in place; not having done anything other than shake his head in disgust.

My attention to his every action was intense as I followed his getting off the ladder and his using the stairs that led up to the passenger jetway.  After getting his attention, blocking his forward progress by standing in such a way as to make it impossible for him to ignore me, I asked if the plane was okay to fly. 

His answer did not put me at ease.  “Oh, these newer planes fly just as well on three engines as they do on all four.”  He probably thought that was a clever comeback line as he walked away, thinking that he’d have a good laugh once he reached the employee’s break-room.

I, on the other hand, was about to fly across the county in an airplane that had been delayed for about an hour and a half.  From what I could tell, nothing had been done to correct whatever had been the cause of the delay.  Aside from that, the odds of meeting up with my connecting flight were slim. 

About the only positive mark was that all the seats in Coach were filled and they had to put me in First Class.  One of the perks of being in First Class…speaking as a young Private in the Army who had never flown First Class…they served alcoholic beverages at no charge from the moment the doors closed until the airplane reached its final approach into Atlanta.  I got ‘properly snockered’; I believe that’s the appropriate term.  I figured if the plane was going to crash, I was going to be smashed before anyone else. 

Amazingly, the flight across country caught a terrific Jet Stream which pushed the arrival time making it possible for me to catch my connecting flight.  I hurried across the airport and was happy to see the connecting flight had also been delayed due to mechanical issues.  Running through the airport with a heavy buzz was a new experience; plowed would be a more accurate description, I was plowed.

They boarded everyone onto the plane while a team of mechanics dressed in overalls continued with their repairs.  I managed to engage one of them in conversation and found that something wasn’t working with the air conditioning system.  I told him about needing to get back to base to avoid being late and not to worry about the air conditioning.  He explained that the air conditioning and passengers being able to breathe were all part of the same system. 

Looked like we might have to wait for repairs; I was going to be late reporting back in, about two hours late.  I took a bus back to base around ten o’clock; it was raining, just perfect.

The Duty Sergeant listened to my lame excuse for being late, observed my alcohol induced state of readiness along with my sincere attempt to sober up.  He determined the situation really was out of my hands as I stood before him with my travel bag and paperwork.  Instead of writing me up he assigned me to work a guard post the remainder of the night. 

As I stood guard that night it might have been nice to have a roll of Duct Tape, something to hold me up till sunrise.

 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

What Would You Recommend?

My sister lives just outside of Durango, Colorado, on a beautiful piece of property in a valley surrounded by mountains and plateaus covered with all manner of scrub brush and trees. She’ll send me pictures of wildlife wandering across their property to include Elk, Deer and even Bobcats. In turn, I’ll send her images of our property along with pictures of our dogs and cats.  This is about the best we can do because her location is fairly remote and her telephone reception is terrible.

That said, she used her land line phone to call me yesterday after having noticed a couple of voice mail messages I’d left on her cellphone.  She was excited for us; having heard about the rare snow storm we’d had and wanted to know how much snow had fallen in our area.  I’d actually measured the depth using the accumulation on the roof of our car, six inches.  It turns out we, here in Buffalo, Texas, had gotten more snow than they’d gotten in southwest Colorado from this same storm.

The conversation turned to our being without electricity due to the storm and how we couldn’t watch shows on television with the internet out; however, we have a wonderful collection of movies on DVD.  I almost forgot; the DVD player wouldn’t work without power either, that pesky electricity thing again. 

She wanted us to recommend some movies to watch based on our mutual criteria, movies that really are worth watching.

I’d mentioned that if my son gets excited about a movie and recommends it to us, there’s a pretty good bet the movie isn’t worth watching since it won’t have much of a plot while depending on plenty of gratuitous sex and/or violence to carry the audience through it.  My sister was laughing at my description of the garbage being foisted off on the public as entertainment.

While this conversation was on going, we were looking at our collection, some of the better movies we’d recommend watching, movies that touched our hearts and minds enough to say they were of value.  I won’t bore you with a list; but will say that as we mentioned titles along with some of the key actors, my sister quickly added her approval, acknowledging each as better than average, outstanding or some similar recognition that we shared similar tastes and qualifications when it comes to what we’ll recommend to each other.

That brings me to the assigned topic, Being Recommended to the Lord, as we heard in last October’s General Conference talk given by Elder Rasband.  Many of you will remember how the COVID-19 pandemic created the unusual situation whereby the First Presidency of the Church came up with physical distancing directives which included shutting down Temples to avoid spreading the virus.

We figured this would last only a short while; but as weeks turned into months our ability to attend the House of the Lord becomes more and more a memory of things past rather than something we can put on next week’s calendar.  Some of us haven’t glanced at our Temple Recommends in quite some time; why bother since we can’t attend…

Temple Recommends are issued with a two-year expiration between required application for renewal.  We look forward to meeting with our Branch Presidents, Bishops and Stake Presidents for the opportunity to repeat our commitment to live up to the standards the Lord has outlined in order to enter His Holy House. 

I say we look forward to this opportunity and yet, since we can’t actually go to the Temple during these interesting times, some of us don’t consider it all that important to make sure our Temple Recommends are current and up to date. 

A Temple Recommend isn’t simply a ‘hall pass’ that let’s you get past the front door; no, it’s validation that you are on the covenant path striving each day to be the kind of individual the Lord wants you to be.  He’s more than aware of our struggles and daily failings; but understands these mortal frailties.  He expects us to repent of our shortcomings and move towards being worthy to hold the title Child of God.

During his Conference talk Elder Rasband shared the following story.

“My father-in-law, Blaine Twitchell, one of the best men I have ever known, taught me a great lesson. Sister Rasband and I went to visit him when he was nearing the end of his mortal journey. As we entered his room, his bishop was just leaving. As we greeted the bishop, I thought, “What a nice bishop. He’s here doing his ministering to a faithful member of his ward.”

I mentioned to Blaine, “Wasn’t that nice of the bishop to come visit.”

Blaine looked at me and responded, “It was far more than that. I asked for the bishop to come because I wanted my temple recommend interview. I want to go recommended to the Lord.” And he did!

 

That phrase, “recommended to the Lord,” has stayed with me. It has put a whole new perspective on being interviewed regularly by our Church leaders…”

I had a similar experience a few years ago when I went with another priesthood holder to give a blessing to a dear friend, Scott Sulski.  He had serious health issues which were life threatening; his body was literally shutting down one organ at a time.  During our visit this brother shared his testimony of the gospel with us with such strength of spirit as to defy his weakened physical state.

As we laid our hands on his head to give the blessing, we were instructed to tell him his mortal life had reached its conclusion and that he was going home.  I had never been prompted by Spirit to share such a blessing.  The look of serenity that appeared on this brother’s face assured me that he was prepared to be taken home.  Scott’s Temple Recommend was current and so he would be entering the House of the Lord.

Elder Rasband emphasized the importance of the Temple Recommend.

“Your temple recommend reflects a deep, spiritual intent that you are striving to live the laws of the Lord and love what He loves: humility, meekness, steadfastness, charity, courage, compassion, forgiveness, and obedience. And you commit yourself to those standards when you sign your name to that sacred document.

Your temple recommend opens the gates of heaven for you and others with rites and ordinances of eternal significance, including baptisms, endowments, marriages, and sealings.

 

To be “recommended to the Lord” is to be reminded of what is expected of a covenant-keeping Latter-day Saint. My father-in-law, Blaine, saw it as invaluable preparation for the day when he would humbly stand before the Lord.”

Did you catch that? “Your temple recommend opens the gates of heaven for you…” 

I have a Texas Driver’s License and keep it up to date; but that only let’s me drive my vehicle on public roads.  An old friend of mine, Gary Lewis, wrote along these lines the other day.

I am reminded of a 1965 Ford Fairlane 500 car, that my mother allowed me to borrow during my later teen years. It was a treasured privilege, and I learned to handle it responsibly and maintain it properly. Eventually, it wore out, and would no longer function.

For a period of time, I was without a vehicle. I still had a driver's license, and still had my driving skills, but I was on foot.

 

In the same way, we borrowed our mortal bodies for a season. We each learned how to use it responsibly, and enjoyed its privileges. Eventually, it will wear out, and we will walk in the Spirit World for a season.”

 

My Temple Recommend, while similar to a Driver’s License in that it offers certain benefits, opens the gates of heaven.  Is it important to have it up to date and in my wallet regardless of whether or not I have the ability to attend a Temple? 

Getting back to the phone conversation with my sister…and having recently watched an old classic movie, The Ten Commandments, with Charlton Heston playing the part of Moses.  I’m pretty sure if I asked the Lord for a Recommendation of good movies, The Ten Commandments, would be on His list.

Here’s what Elder Rasband had to say about Moses.

“Consider when Moses climbed Mount Horeb and the Lord Jehovah appeared to him in a burning bush. God told him, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

 

Putting off our shoes at the door of the temple is letting go of worldly desires or pleasures that distract us from spiritual growth, setting aside those things which sidetrack our precious mortality, rising above contentious behavior, and seeking time to be holy.”

{…}

I remember hearing President Howard W. Hunter in his first general conference address as the 14th President of the Church. He said: “It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend.” I would add that a limited-use recommend will set a clear path for our precious youth.”

In case you just walked in, or woke up…being the holder of a current Temple Recommend should be of great importance to each and every member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  If you are in the process of becoming eligible to obtain one, then strive to meet the requirements.  If your Temple Recommend is up for renewal then make sure to meet with your Branch President or Bishop in order to have the necessary interviews.

I look forward to that day when we may once again attend the House of the Lord without having to be concerned with physical distancing.  I leave this admonition with you in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I've posted this after having delivered it to the Huntsville Ward of the Conroe, Texas Stake on January 17, 2021  (As for the interesting font adjustments and formatting changes that took place; I've no idea why Blogger does that.)

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Alias F U

Since becoming a member of the Retired Houston Police Officer’s group on Facebook various incidents from the past have been surfacing in my memory.  There was one time when I was sitting in court, having been subpoenaed on a DWI case that I’d made several months earlier.

While listening to the proceedings where the prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyer were up front working out some kind of plea agreement, the judge halted them while holding the arrest blotter form in his hand.  He appeared to be miffed as he pointed and had me approach the bench.

“Officer Stern, do you think this is funny?”  I honestly had no idea what he was talking about until he had the prosecutor hand me the arrest blotter form, pointing to where Alias had been filled in with “F*&^ You”.  I did smile while reading the information; but quickly reassembled my thoughts and explained to the judge why I’d entered that information.

“Your Honor, when I arrested the suspect and asked him his name that is what he told me.  I entered his name as an alias just as he gave it to me, Sir”. 

There was a slight rumble of muffled laughing from those present in the courtroom as the judge considered my response.  The judge thanked me for the additional information as he turned to the prosecutor and defense attorney to continue with this incident’s conclusion.

“This court will not accept the plea agreement as proposed.  Police officers will be treated with dignity and respect; go back and try to find a more appropriate arrangement” 

The judge smiled as he thanked me for my appearance and nodded as I left the courtroom.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you just get lucky.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

New Year Surprise I’d Like to See

 

Lots of folks are waiting for the January 6th showdown where President Trump’s team of lawyers will find out if they will be permitted to present evidence of the corruption used to steal this last election, an election which so many have claimed was legally won by Joe Biden.  Rather than go into that at this time, there is a much larger surprise I’d like to see.

Sometime between today and January 6th I would gladly turn on the news to hear that a military tribunal had been authorized, sealed indictments were being carried out and that individuals who were involved in the attempted overthrow of our government had been arrested.  The “fit would hit the shan” as those involved with these treasonous actions looked for cover, only to find that with each arrest, those arrested were spilling their guts in order to obtain leniency for their minor role by snitching out those in charge.

Eventually the big fish would be looking for one-way airfare to countries with a Non-Extradition policy.  They would have packed and silently vanished like a fart in the wind.

Dang, that was a neat dream to wake up to here on the second day of 2021.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

My Best Play in High School Baseball


This past week I’ve been enjoying a Christmas present from my sister, the history of Baseball, a set of DVDs put together by Ken Burns.  Having loved baseball, playing sandlot ball with my friends and practicing in a neighbor’s back yard until the sun went down and we could no longer see the worn-out baseball, a ball we’d salvaged with black cloth tape to hold it together; baseball has been an important part of my life.

Baseball was a means of getting through childhood, a chance to be the greatest ball player in history as long as imagination opened that door to the future. Mike Palermo and I tossed the ball to or at each other for hours on end.  We could hear the voice of Mel Allen, as if he were paying attention to our antics, announcing each dive at a sharp grounder, the pivot and transfer of the ball, each impossible toss over to first base.  Top Yankee scouts were on hand waiting for a chance to sign us, holding up our uniforms with pin-stripes; that’s how good we were in Mike’s back yard.

In Little League, I played for B and B Sunoco one year, then the next for Pittsburg Plate Glass before my family moved to Houston, Texas.  That was the same year the Mets and Colt 45s became expansion teams so it was easy to make Houston my replacement “favorite” team.  The Yankees would have to be number two from then on.

Next came high school baseball where I learned that some guys could play the game better and I had to accept that perhaps Cooperstown was only a pipe dream. 

I did actually get to be on the high school baseball team for Madison Senior High, their B team; but it was still a chance to play.  I’d watch the really good ball players and figured out fairly quickly that openings for the next level up were not in the cards.

I wasn’t a power hitter, not much of a threat unless you counted singles or an occasional double.  I threw sidearm to three-quarter overhand which drove coach Ashmore nuts.  It didn’t matter to him that my throws were accurate to first base; he said I was hiding the ball, making it more difficult for the first baseman to see.

I was playing Shortstop and threw a ball sidearm style over to first, again.  Coach Ashmore shook his head as he said something towards the dirt.  He then took the Fungo bat, tossed a ball into the air preparatory to hitting one over my head so that I’d have to go chase it down and made contact with the ball.

Normally such a swing would have launched the ball in a sweeping arc far into left field where I’d have to run to the fence and retrieve it, a reminder not to throw side-armed while playing infield.  Instead, the ball was hit on a line several feet above my position; but I timed its flight perfectly as I leaped, fully extended and snagged it, my body suspended momentarily high above the playing field.  I’d caught it cleanly, much to his surprise, and a huge smile graced my face as I landed, tossing the ball joyfully back to him.

Coach Ashmore wasn’t as pleased as I was.  He may have acknowledged my singular act of athleticism; but that didn’t keep him from attacking another ball with his Fungo bat, this time making sure the ball reached the fence. 

Here I am, in my seventieth year on this spinning planet and this one play came to me as the best play I’d ever made…and it made me smile for having done a great job.  I find that more than remarkable.

You may have guessed by now; I was never that good at playing the game of baseball.  That hasn’t deterred my love for the game; I still savor nearly every aspect of it.  What my experience as a mediocre ball player in high school did was point out the reality of life and how we should appreciate those moments when everything does go right.  For most of us, that doesn’t happen all that often.  

At the end of the year, I got a “Letter Sweater” since I was a member of the team and it’s still hanging in the closet next to the Dress Greens I wore as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. For some reason I no longer fit into that uniform; it must have shrunk.

Do you want to hear about my best shot in the game of golf?  It involved hitting the hubcap of a passing car…Never mind…

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Toenails and Super Glue

 

I don’t have sufficient funds to go and let professionals perform various services which means I’ve learned to become industrious and creative.   Take for example this morning when I jabbed my big toe into the base of a piece of furniture tearing up a portion of the toenail.  If I had plenty of money and the inclination to do so, I’d go see a podiatrist and let that individual remove or repair the damaged portion of toenail.

But there’s quite a bit of Scotch and German ancestry working against wasting hard earned money; I’ll fix it myself.  …And in the past, I’ve been successful repairing this kind of minor damage.  We keep a small sheet of clear flexible plastic, the kind that wrap small items onto a piece of cardboard when you purchase those items.  I’d cut a piece of plastic into the shape of a which ever nail had been damaged, sand the edges down and then place a few drops of Super Glue on the nail.  A few minutes of pressing and waiting; good as new and twice as strong.

A little more sanding around the edges and you can put a pair of socks on without snagging the torn-up nail.  That was the plan this morning…and it should have worked, having done it many times in the past. 

I opened a fresh tube of Super Glue, cut out a piece of plastic, shaped the plastic to contour with the nail and was satisfied that all was ready.  While sitting on the edge of the bed I made sure to have a couple of Kleenex tissues handy just in case along with a three by five index card to place the opened tube of Super Glue to prevent any from getting on the night-stand table.

The Super Glue covered the broken nail; but it also managed to spill over and coat the side of my big toe while I was applying the pre-cut plastic toenail covering.  That’s when I noticed the glue had also failed to unite with the top of the toenail or the plastic; however, it had come in contact with my fingertips.

While wiping away the glue that had managed to stick to the fingertips, the Kleenex stuck to my fingers and then, in turn, stuck to the fingers on my other hand.  (stop laughing, it’s not over yet)

The old solution for removing Super Glue was to apply Nail Polish Remover; but the new and improved Nail Polish Remover does absolutely nothing to Super Glue.  Apparently, they’ve changed the formula to get along with the Save the Earth crowd.  Fortunately, we do have some Goo Gone that comes in a can similar in appearance to the old Lighter Fluid products.

I was able to free the big toe from the one next to it, remove the particles of Kleenex from the top of my toenail and from my hand.  I then got some paper towels from the kitchen and squirted a healthy portion of Goo Gone onto the neatly folded paper towel.  That stuff has a powerful odor; but does a great job dissolving Super Glue from between stuck toes and fingers.  I also used it to remove the Super Glue from all the other locations.

The chunk of toe nail that got snagged had become welded back down so as to be reattached to the toe.  I then sanded the rough edges down and came to a realization, no plastic covering was needed this time.  I then sanded off Super Glue that had dried on the sides of my toes and fingers as was permitted without sanding down to blood vessels.