Author Archive: bjaybrooks

Autumn Dreams — The Jazz Man

I continue to be captivated by the natural beauty of Southern Illinois in the fall! The cool temperatures and the proliferation of trees with their resplendent colors…will cause you too, ‘Pack up you troubles in your old kit bag…and smile, smile, smile!’ Of course adding to my good humor is the fact that the old […]

Autumn Dreams — The Jazz Man

Am I My Sister and My Brother’s Keeper?

My favorite month is racing by! I love October! It is fall and my birthday month! I have loved this month since I can remember months… It has been chilly in Little Egypt and rainy. I walked around campus lake this afternoon and observed some beautiful autumn colors on the numerous trees in campus woods. Our world is changing and we are in the midst of our 2020 pandemic. The changes that we are experiencing are all encompassing and many of us are having difficulty in keeping up with the change! When we began…8 months ago…we suspected that this plague would pass in a few difficult months. We were wrong!

Social Distancing is hard both emotionally and mentally. We Americans love our restaurants and bars…we love the wonderful people who serve us and for whom the Virus has been an economic nightmare! Our human make-up is to be with others…our happiness is contained in our fellowship with our friends and colleagues and family. Studies have shown that when watching a movie or a play or any social activity…we most enjoy watching other people! The old saying that, No man is an island,’ is inherent in our human nature.

So we love our fellow humans. We love to see them and interact with them and hug them and shake their hands and bask in the warm glow of their brilliant smiles and friendly and loving demeanor! Whether it is on the football field or in the hockey rink or Trick or Treating on Halloween. We are at the threshold of Thanksgiving and Christmas…and all of the celebrations that ensue and which enrich our spirits and give us strength to end the current year and begin the new year! Some of our holiday experiences may be likened to the popular Christmas movie, and my favorite Christmas show, Christmas Vacation We want to see uncle Leo! We miss cousin Eddie!

We are not fighting a person or a political party or living our lives by the stanzas of Frank Sinatra’s famous song, I Did It My Way! We are fighting a sickness that is easily transferred from human to human and that can take your life! It is not about what the Democrats or the Republicans say…it about the health and safety of our fellow humans…that we all love and want to be with…

Our senior citizens are cherished by their families and friends and fellow church congregants. Do we think that it is alright to take the virus to grandma’s house? A vaccine is coming…but not yet. The Stock Market doing well is not indicative of what is happening on Mainstreet or my street or your street! We will come out on the other side of Covid-19…but will it be with over 200 and 21 thousand dead…or 2 million? When you wear a mask and practice social distancing…you are my keeper….when I wear a mask and practice social distancing…I am your keeper…

Cheers to What Birthdays Shall Come

Another great Jonathon Brooks Blog!

jonathonbrooks

I enjoy looking forward to life’s major and minor events. When I have made plans to meet a friend then I’ll look forward to that rendezvous. After ordering books I look forward to their arrival and getting to read them or perhaps save them for a later date. I always look forward to birthday or holiday celebrations. And that line brings me to this one: My father has a birthday to celebrate on Saturday!

We members of the Brooks family do birthdays right! There’ll be a fine dinner and Polaroid pictures and presents and laughter and joy and coconut cream cake. Saturday will be a joyful day! Although shouldn’t all our days have joy in them?

In a year like this one with the pandemic, I’m looking forward to a healthier world again with a vaccine. Even amidst a pandemic, however, we can still have joy. I know this isn’t…

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A Cold Rain — The Jazz Man

It was 48 degrees but it felt like 45. Chet’s mom had insisted that he put on his long underwear before he dressed in Halloween Costume. Chet told her that the Lost In Space Robot costume was very warm…but she was not convinced. So Chet complied with his mom’s wishes and he was just placing […]

A Cold Rain — The Jazz Man

What Is Truth

Pastor Kerry’s sermon this morning expanded my mind! He told us that in a little over two weeks people who would identify as conservatives and people who identify as progressives will go to the voting booths across our country and vote for totally different people and that they will do so from their understanding of love as their faith community teaches them. I posted a quote from a progressive christian yesterday and saw quickly that where I read a inspiring message regarding helping the poor and needy and marginalized and oppressed on our shared home…the earth…my friends saw a darker writing. The quote began by stating that the Bible spoke more about how christians should treat the less fortunate, while on earth…and spoke little about the afterlife… I latched on to the message of helping others…but upon re-reading I could see how other readers might feel that the message of Heaven had been discounted… I think we all see our world, rather political or our faith communities, through kaleidoscope glasses.

Let me bring you into my little secret…I have a lot of conservative friends! I have conservative friends that I would do anything in my power to help. To consider a group of people as wrong or bad or misguided is to discount their sincerity and their humanity. I was visiting with a friend recently and I mentioned that the truth of most situations is neither to the extreme left or right…but usually somewhere in the middle. When we paint each other with demonizing labels and derogatory epithets…how are we solving the unprecedented division that our country is undergoing?

Have you watched on television when protests become frightening, where each side that is advocating an issue gets in the face of the other side and they scream at each other at the top of their lungs! If you have a position that you would like to share with someone who is of another mind…do you believe that screaming at them or labeling them or wishing them harm…is the best way?

Conspiracy theories are being given the credence of truth and reality. This is happening in a dearth of collegiality and fellowship and communication. If we are ever to understand each other we must first listen to each other…and consider why they have the point of view that they have. We can sit down at the same table and break bread together, but first we must stop the spewing forth of vitriolic verbal hyperbole and learn to see our common humanity…

Old Comics for a 63 Year Old Second Childhood… — The Jazz Man

After my mom and dad divorced I took to accompanying my mother to the grocery store each week…for several years. I liked to help her and to, perhaps, pick-up a savory delight that my young palate craved. I also throughly enjoyed buying a 12 cent comic book. Actually they were a dime when I began […]

Old Comics for a 63 Year Old Second Childhood… — The Jazz Man

The Haunted House

We could see our breath as we walked the sidewalks of Eldorado! The windows had candles in them and the front porches had smiling Jack-O-Lanterns with a candle in the hollowed out middle of each to illuminate their sinister grins! Parker and Chet were following closely with me, Porter, and they both were taken with the spirit of All Hallows Eve! There were the typical costumes of Frankenstein and Dracula and the Wolfman…as well as contemporary outfits depicting President Kennedy and Jackie along with Russian Premier, Nikita Khruschev. We even had a classmate who was dressed up as the bomb…the Cuban Missile Crisis had ended just 3 days before Halloween! Our parents had all feared that we were going to be blown-up by the Russians…and our bomb drills at school had been daily! The bomb costumes were little more than bed sheets or cardboard that had been cut out to look like a cylindric weapon with a warhead drawn on the top of it…where the wearer’s head was. Everyone was breathing a sigh of relief that President Kennedy had exhibited the courage to stare down the Russians and that they blinked first… We were on our way to Eldorado’s well known Haunted House! It was a large victorian style home on Illinois Avenue that was directly across from the High School. It was said that no one had lived there in 20 years. Chet commented that he often saw faces in the long single paned windows as he was walking to Hillcrest School. He noted that although he had waved at the faces…they neither responded in anyway or returned the wave. When they arrived at the desolate yet magnificent structure they noticed that there was one candle in the upstairs window.

The lights of the Eldorado High School football field created some comfort for the 3 as they walked up to the front door of the Haunted House. Parker looked thorough the leaded glass of the front door and saw a fire dancing in the living room fire place. The fire looked inviting as it had begun to snow…on Halloween. When they entered the front vestibule of the house they heard a jolly gentleman’s voice laugh and extort them to enter and enjoy some freshly cooked popcorn balls that his wife had just prepared! On the davenport was a rotund man with a full white beard and he and his smiling wife…both dressed in red… The lady of the house asked each of the 3 their names and then told them to call her Mrs. C and her husband Mr. C… She noted that they had both been busy all day in the toyshop and that this was their busy time of year! Porter asked if they made a lot of toys…and Mr. C laughed heartily as fragrant smoke curled from his Meerschaum pipe! ‘Why yes Porter we have a heavy work load all year round…but especially so… once fall arrives,’ said Mr. C. We actually are visiting my brother here in Eldorado…and his large home is more than adequate for our projects. Mrs. C referred to her brother-in-law as K and mentioned that he was upstairs and that he liked to keep to himself until Christmas gets a little closer… She went on to say that he was European and that they did things a little differently than we do.

K was often a companion of Mr. C and frequented; Austria and Bavaria and Hungary…along with Northern Italy…at times. Suddenly K called out to the downstairs throng and bellowed, ‘Do I hear the voice of children?’ Mrs. C called out for him to stay upstairs and not interfere with her and Mr. C’s visitors as they were some nice young people enjoying fresh popcorn balls and Halloween.

Peeking around the newel post of the elaborate stair way banister was a creature with the face of a goat. As he stepped into the warm living room his cloven loves tapped on the wooden floor. He smiled and his long red tongue seemed to reach half way down his hairy chest. ‘Krampus,’ said his brother with some mild irritation…’do not frighten the children…’ Krampus replied that he was out of hot chocolate and he wanted to get some more…and asked Parker and Porter and Chet to join him in the kitchen and he would pour them up each a large cup…full…with marshmallows…

Enjoy Today! — The Jazz Man

October is whisking by too quickly! I was taking photos of the lovely leaves on the SIUC campus on Sunday…and when I returned to engage in some additional photography I noticed that the brilliant colors of the leaves and their abundance on the trees had already changed. Usually my birthday week, October 24th, is prime […]

Enjoy Today! — The Jazz Man

You Are My Cup of Tea

Please enjoy a wonderful blog from Jonathon Brooks!

jonathonbrooks

People love to laugh. A good sense of humor is a great thing to have. Part of the fun of being a Christian is the joy it brings to my life. If I wanted to settle for melancholy or sorrow I never would’ve put my faith in Jesus. A sad life was available without faith in Christ. As a boy I grew tired of that life. So I accepted a second chance and became a man. My faith saved me and gave me something to smile and be joyful about.

I believe a problem with Christians and churches at times is that the focus is on judgement instead of grace. Sometimes a sermon can seem like 99% gloom and then a mere 1% of grace tossed in within the last three minutes of the ninety minute message. Although, personally, I would’ve sat up and left around minute fifteen of a…

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Kind People Make Me Happy!

Our little group of 4 Brooks set out for Walker’s Bluff Tasting Room last Saturday. Both, Legends, which is the primary restaurant, and the Tasting Room are beautiful establishments! We went to Legends due to a wedding being held at the Tasting Room. Everything about the magnificent structures speaks of quality and promises an enjoyable experience! It had been sometime since we had been to Legends. The young woman who waited on us was welcoming and friendly…and kind. We immediately felt at home! I ordered a Pumpkin Martini. Soon the bartender came to our table and apologized for not having one of the liquors that goes in the drink and assured me that he could make me almost anything else that I desired. I ordered my favorite martini for the past 20 +

years…a Dirty Martini. The mixologist was so accommodating that I enjoyed the drink more than I have enjoyed my standby…for 2020! Everyone was masked and socially distanced and the milk of human kindness flowed freely…

Jonathon and I were at campus woods Sunday. When we first met on campus he had been telling me about his friend, Crystal, giving him a wonderful mug and how that it had Ray Bradbury’s famous novel, Fahrenheit 451, artistically rendered on the outside of the cup. So, when we arrived at campus lake…there was Crystal and Jonathon introduced me. She told me that she had read many of my blogs and that I sounded like an interesting person. Her kind words were welcome and appreciated in our pandemic isolation!

‘A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.’ Proverbs 25:11 KJV. I wonder how often that I have been short tempered or cross or indulged in criticism that went from constructive to petty and pedestrian and nonproductive. We all find ourselves in a puzzle and maze that does not yield to easy answers. We need each other! When we believe that we are not a part of a community…we are of all women/men…most miserable…

Understanding our neighbor and our friend and our family may seem like a tall order? What about understanding those whom we have not met…a person from another race…or religion…or someone from the LGBTQIAP Community? How about Republicans sitting down with Democrats and attempting to understand each other and find common ground to build on for all of the American people rather than their political base?

Jesus answered when asked, ‘Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart, and with all they soul, and with all they mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ Matt 22: 36-40. KJV