Tag Archives: my family

The Robbie Report

robbie picture

Okay, we’re back from the vet and I want to thank all of you who’ve prayed for Robbie, and thank the Lord Our God for hearing our prayers, and granting them.

The doctor was surprised by how much better Robbie has gotten in a month. Last month she was a poor little bag of bones, 10.25 pounds. Today she weighed in at 11.50 and just looks so much better! The treatment she’s getting has been working, and will continue for some time longer.

Again, everybody, thanks.

Memory Lane: Toothpick Sam

Image result for images of 1959 topps sam jones

Something about the light outside today whisked me back to an early Sunday afternoon in 1959, in my Grandpa’s gardens. They’re all gone now, along with the house, the chicken coop: dogwoods, roses, black and red raspberries, grapes, butterfly  bushes. All torn down as a sacrifice to Progress.

So I was standing there in the sunshine, ten years old, opening a pack of baseball cards which Grandma had just given me. And as the wrapper came off, the top card was, as pictured above, Sam Jones: aka “Toothpick Sam,” because he often chewed on a toothpick.

What a treat! This was one of my favorite players ever. I don’t know why. Something about his face, I think: it made me feel like it would be just so wonderful if this man someday took me fishing. It wasn’t exactly hero-worship at first sight: no. Just something in this man’s face that made me really, really like him. Until I had his baseball card, I’d never seen him before.

And oh, bliss! A few days later he was traded to the Giants–my family was a Giants family–and went on to win 21 games for them that year.

Maybe it was the way the light came down on the gardens, behind a houseful of my family. They’re all gone now, too. And as far as it goes for me, baseball’s gone, too–changed so much, I just don’t care about it anymore.

But the memory remains; it’s a very vivid memory. And I’m thankful that I have it.


Bonus Video: Aslan’s Music

For no other reason than how good it is to hear, this is Aslan’s theme music from the BBC’s 1988 Chronicles of Narnia. It’s short, but it never fails to move me. And these movies were the last Christmas present I got from my father before he died. I have many reasons to treasure them.

Performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra.

‘Gather at the River’ (Burl Ives)

I can never hear this beloved, old-fashioned hymn without thinking of my Uncle Bernie, a wonderful, big-hearted man who late in life finally achieved his dream of being ordained as a minister in the Methodist Church. This hymn was one of his favorites–Shall We Gather at the River, sung by Burl Ives.

Sorry I’m late–wanted to get my bike ride in before it rained.

Robbie’s Doing Better

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I would’ve thought doubling the dose of her medicine would have made her even sicker–just goes to show you what I know.

Our poor little bag of bones is now eating heartily–I pray she’ll put some weight back on–and yesterday unloaded a fine big poo. Not to gross you out, but it had been some days since she’d pooed at all, and we were getting a bit concerned about it. She must’ve been happy: she ran all around the living room when she was done.

As of now, she’s not acting like a sick cat. I think God has heard our prayers for her: thank you, Father. Thank you.

Memory Lane: A Bad Date Gone Good

Image result for images of car stalled in water

Patty and I met in Keyport, at The Bayshore Independent, in 1976. She was the bookkeeper; I was managing editor. She was captivated by my column on the inanities of Affirmative Action. For my part, she once happened to mention Ecbatana, the ancient capitol of the Medes, and I knew this was the woman for me.

One evening, early in our relationship, a bodacious storm came over Raritan Bay. She had a suggestion: “Let’s go down American Legion Drive to see the high tide.” American Legion Drive is right on top of the water. And of course, I was all for it.

Well, the tide was high, all right, and American Legion Drive was underwater. So was my car, which very quickly shorted out and wouldn’t go any farther. We had to get out and slog through the water to the police station, so I could report that my car was stuck there and please don’t give me a ticket.

My future wife was very upset, blaming herself for the whole debacle. To this day, neither of us can remember what we did after checking in with the police. “I was afraid you wouldn’t like me anymore!” she said. But you don’t give up on a woman who knows Ecbatana–and whom, by the way, your iguana likes almost as much as you do–just because your car got stuck in a flood. Anyhow, the tide receded, there was no permanent harm done to my wonderful 1970 Pontiac, and after it dried out a bit, we simply drove away.

As Agatha Christie’s Superintendent Battle often said, these things are sent to try us. And I think we passed the test.

Simple Pleasures

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God has given us simple pleasures to keep us sane. I don’t have space to list all the simple pleasures I enjoy, because in this respect, God has made me rich. And without spending a lot of money on it, either. But here are just a few of my favorites, which help me to avoid going off the deep end.

A sweet, sunny day, 70 or 75 degrees, my lawn chair, a nice cigar, and the book I happen to be writing at the time.

In bed with my wife, Peep the cat purring, and us with our bedtime books: Agatha Christie, Freddy the Pig, Narnia, and other favorites.

A nice game of chess by one of the old masters–Morphy, Marshall, Anderssen.

A Christmas tree.

Coasting downhill, no-handed, on my bike: makes me feel 12 years old again.

Combing Robbie, who can barely contain herself for pure pleasure.

A satisfying supper: Patty excels at creating these.

Jigsaw puzzles.

A snowy day.

And a tiger swallowtail butterfly visits our little garden…

I could go on with this all day and into the night. Thank you, Father in Heaven, for all of these and more–and for teaching me to appreciate them.

Equal Time for Peep


This is Robbie’s sister, Peep. She doesn’t much care for all the attention Robbie has been getting lately, and it has made her rather cross. Her behavior was so bad the other day, I started calling her Black Bart. But at the best of times she is a very nice Peep indeed.

Robbie Update

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Robbie’s famous portrait for the Old Farmer’s Almanac

All right, we got the dreaded vet call this afternoon. It wasn’t as terrible as I’d feared. Robbie’s thyroid numbers are still sky-high and we must increase the dosage of her medicine, which I pray won’t make her sick and stop her from eating. The good news is that the number is down significantly. The bad news is, it’s still way too high.

Last night and throughout this day, she’s been eating normally, with a hearty and healthy appetite–making up for lost time: she’d gone three days without eating–taking nice naps, and occasionally attacking her sister for no reason. That’s normal for them.

And so tomorrow she gets a stronger ear gel dose, which still has to be better than the asthma medicine I had to squirt up her nose for several years. This poor cat has really had her share of tough sledding–so please, friends, keep those prayers coming, and we thank you for them.

Memory Lane: ‘The Vikings’

This movie was a huge hit when it came out in 1958. All over my neighborhood there were skinny little kids running around with sticks and yelling “Odin!”

We all would have loved to try this Viking oar-walking stunt, but we didn’t have enough oars for it. That’s Kirk Douglas himself doing it in the movie, so how hard could it be?

(Editor’s note: I’m posting the happy stuff now, before we get the report on Robbie’s blood work from yesterday. She ate normally last night and this morning, but you never know what dreadful thing diagnostics might uncover.)

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