Waiting

The heat factor is 106 degrees and the dew point is 75. It is one uncomfortable afternoon. I just finished watering our plants…they were happy for the respite and I was happy when it was over. My Buddy, Elizabeth, texted me Tuesday to be sure and stop for a Snow Cone that was sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office and the Civil Service Council. It sounded inviting but I was in St. Louis. Elizabeth remembers our time together as members of the Civil Service Council. I thought that I was passionate about the Council…until I have witnessed Elizabeths’ dedication to the betterment of all Civil Service Staff. I have been retired for nearly 12 years from Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…yet I am on Campus virtually every day that I am not out of town. My dear friend, Joe Cash, told me years ago that I would be surprised how fast retirement would come…and he was right.

Often we are in a hurry with no particular place to go. We seek constant frenetic activity to assure ourselves that we are making every minute count…and to validate the air space that we take up on our beloved Earth. The concept of Waiting is onerous to us. ‘I want what I want and I want it now, said my mother-in-law, Fernie, to me. This was regarding her asking MJ if I would pressure wash her house. I told MJ that I would be happy to and that I would do so on Saturday…since it was already Wednesday and Saturday was my day off of work. Fernie telephone me on Thursday and told me that she was going to get someone else to pressure wash her house as apparently, I was busy. I replied that I was happy to do it on my first day off work…Saturday. She laughed and said that would be alright. I did not charge for this service that I had done on several occasions.

It is possible to be in a rush even in retirement. You feel that you must get to this location and do the thing prescribed in your plan…by a date certain. Old habits die hard.

Billy B. could not wait to graduate from Eldorado High School. He was convinced that the adult life of doing what you want to and when you want to do it…was a halcyon experience compared to what he was accustomed to. He moved from his home the day after Graduation. Billy B. was going on ahead of Chet to explore life at Southern Illinois Univesity @ Carbondale. Billy B. took a job in the Building Services Department and Chet enrolled in Accounting. They loved SIUC…but it soon occurred to them that their young adulthood…was a herculean amount of work. They shared a house in Elkville that was a few miles from Campus. Elkville was a village. A peaceful village with one moderately sized market and one very small and family-owned market with dust on the can goods. There was neither Theatre nor Billard Parlor…but there was a large furniture store. There was a massage parlor…that Chet heard offered risque massages… The 15-mile drive from Elkville to Carbondale was on highway #51 and the little town of DeSoto was in the middle. Soon Billy B. enrolled in Electronic Data Processing…or EDP. The African American Chairman of the Department treated Billy B. with such respect…that he believed that he did have what it takes to succeed in College. Billy B.took an overview course in Computers and the Professor treated him with such respect that he knew that he was going to continue his education. She gave him an A in the course and told everyone he knew about his academic success.

Chet enjoyed academic success from the beginning and became a CPA and opened his own Accounting business in Eldorado. He became one of the most successful Eldorado Business in the Community and his mom, Thelma, served as his assistant. Billy B. began as a Building Service Worker I…but ended his career as the Superintendent of Building Services. They waited for success and it came…quietly and on little cats’ feet…and with God’s Blessing.

‘Life is short if you live to be 100,’ Grandma Askew said to Billy B. ‘What God wants for you…you will receive…in his time…and his time…is not our time,’ said Grandma Askew.

The Longest Day

June 21st is less than a week away and with its’ coming…the longest day. After June 21st the days begin to become a bit shorter each day. I like that…but I am in an apparent minority on this affection. I believe that there is a large segment of people who would prefer that the sun never set. I will never forget taking an Alaskan Cruise on Holland America and observing the sun still shining at 2:00 A:M:. It was somewhat disconcerting. It gets dark in my neck of the woods at 8:20 P:M: this evening…but will not be totally dark until about 9:00 P:M: The late days afford a nice opportunity for late evening Blog Writing…but then again…I do have lights on the Writing Porch.

Summer is a fascinating time. You can go where you like without a jacket or coat…unless it is raining. It is a great time for outdoor activity. Sitting and observing the scenery and the wildlife and the trees and flowers…and sipping some lovely coffee or wine…come to mind. Swimming was Billy B.’s primary pass time in the summer. He and Chet and Jane and Neva J. lived to swim and return to Pounds Hollow…every day…if possible. Pounds Hollow was an escape from the ordinary and an oasis in the desert of the oppressive heat and no air conditioning. Floating in the deep water of the Hollow was another world. You could not hear the chattering throng on the Beach…and the peace of the gently wafting waters and the coolness of the experience was nirvana. ‘I am going to swim over to the far bank of the lake,’ said Chet. ‘I will float over and be with you soon,’ Billy B. responded. ‘Oh no…is that a Water Moccasin,’ cried Chet. ‘No…silly…it is just a green limb that has fallen into the water,’ Billy B. answered. Chet was sorely afraid of Water Moccasin Snakes.

Finally, Chet and Billy B. arrived on the far Pounds Hollow bank. The bank was really the edge of a woods and the trees were so thick that they blotted out the sun thus the trail that they were walking on was in the shadows of the great oaken limbs that were full of leaves. As they walked they heard two men talking in a low speech. ‘We had better be ready for anything,’ whispered Chet. ‘Yes, the voices sound like the men are planning something that must be a secret,’ Billy B. noted. ‘Well as I live and breath…if it is not Billy B. and Chet, said Bill B. ‘Come over here…Chet and let me give you a hug,’ Carol laughed with his arms outstretched.

‘How could this be happening,’ asked Chet? Billy B. walked up to his dad and gave him a big hug. Chet and Billy B. had been deprived of their fathers by the fates of life. Billy B.s father and mother had separated…and then divorced…and he had not seen him since that time. Chets’ father, Carol, had died in his sleep of a massive heart attack. ‘Miracles happen at Pounds Hollow,’ said Chet. ‘Happy Fathers’ Day…’ said Billy B. with a tear coursing down his cheek…

Hot Sand

‘I can not wait to dip my feet in that cool Pounds Hollow water,’ said Chet. ‘You know even though it is going to be 100 degrees today…the water feels a bit chilly when you first get in,’ said Neva J. ‘I will tell you what does not feel a bit chilly…the beach sand…it burns my feet every time that we go swimming,’ Billy B. said…with a historical passion. ‘I love to apply a liberal amount of Coppertone Suntan Lotion and lay in the warmth of the Sun and feel the warm sand beneath my beach towel,’ said Jane. ‘It is similar to being in an oven…’ noted Chet.

Pounds Hollow was especially crowded on June 14th and both the hot sandy beach and the cool lake were full of summer Sun Worshippers. The little store that was located in between the women’s and men’s locker rooms had candy bars and potato chips and Sun Tan Lotion…and a new item…Sunscreen was supposed to protect your skin against burning and then tanning. ‘Well…I am always extremely proud to be one of the first kids in Eldorado to complete my sunburn in order to proceed with the wonderful tanning process…why by the end of summer…I am very dark…indeed, Billy B. boasted. ‘Sun Burns is just a part of loving the beach,’ laughed Neva J. ‘I think that they are somewhat painful…’ said Chet quietly.

‘Did you bring your Thongs…Billy B., asked Neva J? Yes, but they keep slipping off of my feet and I do not like the bar that fits between my toes to facilitate keeping them on,’ Billy B. responded. ‘Some of the babies are crying as they sit in the sand and make sandcastles,’ Jane sadly said. ‘Next time perhaps we will bring a big umbrella to sit under and maybe deflect some of the most powerful Sun Rays, Neva J. said. ‘You know…I have often wondered what the difference we humans are from the roast or steak or hamburger…that cooks in the oven…we just do not cook…as long,’ Chet remarked. ”Oh let’s not think such dour thoughts today…let us get into the water and enjoy this beautiful June Morning, Jane proclaimed as she ran to the lake’s edge.

Peace and summer serenity and joy embraced our happy group…as a hidden monster watched over them…

Hot

It feels like 111 degrees according to my iPhone. I am perspiring…and I almost never perspire. I went to Campus Lake and the Baby Ducks and Baby Geese ran to meet me. I am a regular there. As I took some additional photos of Carbondale…I heard a man screaming at the top of his lungs. There was so much profanity that it was difficult to discern his complaint. A young mother with her little children looked afraid…as did the kids. Hot weather produces additional anger issues. We have road construction on every side. I think it must be the fruits of the new Infrastructure Bill passed with bi-partisan support. As I passed them, the hot construction workers were laying on some concrete that had the shade of a tree overhead. I remembered summers in Eldorado.

‘How did you sleep…Billy B.,’ Neva J. asked? ‘About an hour…I think…my sheet is wet with sweat,’ Billy B. moaned. ‘Did you open your bedroom window two inches…as Demetrius instructed and let the fan that is on exhaust in the kitchen window…pull in the cool night air,’ Neva J. said with a wry smile? ‘It did not get below 82 degrees outside and the pitiful amount of air that can seep in through a two-inch crack…felt like a furnace,’ Billy B. remarked as he wiped the sweat from his brow. ‘Chet is coming over and he assures me that he has the answer to the heat wave,’ said Billy B. wearily.

‘Good morning Neva J….my you are looking lovely this morning,’ said the always complimentary, Chet. ‘What is your answer to the heat wave,’ said the perspiring Neva J.? ‘Think cool thoughts,’ Chet replied with a wide smile on his bespectacled face. ‘Knock it off…Chet…you said that you have something special to tell me about beating the heat wave…now spill the beans, Billy B. demanded! ”Hold your horses…my friend…it will be my pleasure to share with you my secret, Chet laughed. ‘I have manufactured a container of ice…50 pounds thereof…and a high-speed fan that blows the cool air off of the melting ice…,’ Chet said. ‘As you sit in front of the Ice Fan Cooler…you will be transported to Alaska…and thus will need a winter coat,’ Chet continued confidently. ‘I have sprinkled a bit of LSD on the chipped ice…and the cooling results are amazing,’ Chet grinned.

‘I feel like that I am really in Alaska,’ said Jane. ‘I do not see any psychedelic colors or shapes or feel like I am on a bad trip, Jane continued. ‘There is a sign for Ketchikan, Alaska…We are disembarking from a Cruise Ship and this is as real as the wonderful Lochs and Bagles that I enjoyed this morning on the ship, said a happy Daryl. ‘You got me…the ice machine and higher-powered fan is a Time Machine that I developed with Dr. Smith from Lost In Space…we are in 2005. and we are in Ketchikan, laughed Chet.

‘What about Eldorado and our lives in the 60s,’ asked Neva J.? ”We will return when fall arrives and the heat wave is over,’ said Chet.

Solar Panels And Life

Billy B. visited DeSoto today. He always thought of it as the town between Elkville and Carbondale. But he did have some history with the little community. For instance…in recent years he had the honor of helping his dear friend, Thelma, set up her IPad. Thelma lives in DeSoto. Many the times he had eaten dinner at Thelmas’ table when she barely had enough food for her two sons and yet she graciously invited Billy B. to partake…and he did…he was hungry. Thelma treated Billy B. like a mother would a son…and he loved her for it. Thelma was the example of a strong Christian Woman. She was humble and yet resolute in her commitment to Christ and to all who needed her assistance. Billy B. had never met anyone like Thelma…and still has not…although he is now an old man. Thelma would listen to Billy B. as if he were an adult and he felt humbled by the experience.

Over 40 years ago…Billy B. had attempted to sell Solar Panels for his friends, Margo and Jeff, in their insurance office at DeSoto. He wanted desperately to find his place and fit in with his good friends’ organization. MJ was a dear friend of Margo and Billy B. was a friend of Jeff. Billy B. admired and aspired to the success that they had achieved at a young age. Jeff had been a true Horatio Algier Story of Rags to Riches. Today…Billy B. remembered working in the Insurance Office attempting to sell Solar Panels in DeSoto, Illinois. DeSoto looked different over 40 years ago. It was more thriving and Billy B. knew several people that he attended church with…that lived in DeSoto. Ben and Ethel Mezo lived in DeSoto. Ben told him that the Mercury Grand Marquis that he owned in the 70s…was nothing but a ‘Young Cadillac.’ Later…Billy B. would work on the same crew as Willis Gottschalk who was the son-in-law of Ben and Ethel Mezo.

Billy B. drove through DeSoto on his way to work at Southern Illinois Unversity and on his way back home to Elkville. He often stopped at the Handee Mart for gas and coffee to aid in keeping him awake on the third shift or the second shift. Billy B. traded rides with a colleague, Elbert Eskell Covington, who lived in an upscale area of DeSoto. Elbert Eskell…was a shade tree Historian…and had the history books that he had written to prove it. One time Billy B. forgot to pick up Elbert Eskell…and Elbert Eskell visited him at his office in the basement of the Engineering and Technology Building on the Campus of SIUC. EE was angry and was beet red on his face and spoiling for a fight…when Billy B. rose from his desk and took his Stanley Coffe Thermos in his right hand and told EE in no uncertain terms to leave the building and to not come back…the Stanley Thermos was made of steel…

Saturday found DeSoto in a quiet reflection of its’ former glory. Many of the Towns’ buildings were deteriorated and were in disrepair. There was a wonderful Jayco Camper Sales Display that looked somewhat out of place in the poor confines of the Little Village of DeSoto. I passed a gentleman who remarked that he would just like to be able to afford one of the little Jayco Campers…I agreed and we understood our economic reality…

Little Egypt Excavations

Today I continued my photographic tours of Southern Illinois. Some to the little towns such as Royalton…I have not driven through in years…while most of them I have failed to pay close attention to the antique and vintage architecture that they contain. I have noticed that over the past ten years or more we have had a proliferation of Dollar General Stores spring up in every town and village and hamlet. I went to the Dollar General in Royalton and was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of my old memories of the Ben Franklins Dime Store in Eldorado…well over 50 years ago. A gentleman was walking from far down the street and as I proceeded to the Dollar General he followed me inside. When I checked out with my three possessions…he smiled and I thought that he looked somewhat familiar…from so many years ago.

During the early 70s, Royalton had a police officer that was notorious for giving speeding tickets. It was an urban legend that if you were very nice to him and called him sir and stayed humble…he would let you off with a lecture…but if you defended yourself or were a bit cock-sure…he would issue you the maximum fine. The speed limit in Royalton in those ancient days was 20 miles per hour and one late night I was stopped for 23 mph. I was humble and took my lecture and he told me to watch my speed in the future. My buddy, Steve, was stopped a few nights later for just a few miles over the speed limit and he attempted to defend his speed…and he paid a hefty fine…

Carterville is my neighbor. It is a highly thought of town with a lot of entrepreneurship and activity. It is my understanding that Carterville has great schools and they certainly honor their sports teams by placing the individual member of the teams’ names on large placards along the roads entering the bustling town.

Little Egypt is full of proud and humble people. Treating each other fair and like you want to be treated is a lifelong creed in our neck of the woods. Church and hard work and dedication to God and Country are admirable and worthy goals…remembering those members of your town who gave the ultimate sacrifice…are memorialized in every hamlet…no matter how poor.

I was taken aback again today when I spoke to a lady in the Dollar Store and she was so kind and somewhat apologetic and humble. I realized that in small towns of Southern Illinois…I may not be recognized by the locals as they often interact with the members of their own communities…but to feel like a visitor to the area that I was raised in…is a bit disconcerting.

Junebug

‘I have Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches ready for you…so hit the deck you rubberneck,’ called out Junebug. That was the nickname for Neva J. that she was known by many of her friends. She smiled when she heard it and remembered her brother, Gene, who she called…Fetch…and thought of how he had been at the beginning of…Junebug. Each time Billy B. saw an actual June Bug…he thought of Neva J. Billy B. literally idolized Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches… The summer sandwich was his primary nourishment throughout the summer vacation. At times he had them both for breakfast…but also supper. Chet was on his way to his house and they were going to go hiking. Jane and Daryl were to join them at the woods…and Neva J. had packed enough BLTs for the lot of them. ‘I have heard that there is an unidentified creature in the woods and that the Eldorado PD are afraid to go into them too deeply…also here is a Polaroid photo of the monster…but it is kind of blurry,’ said Chet as he met Billy B. at the front door of his house. ‘That looks a bit like Mr. S. when we scared him on the Pounds Hollow Beach,’ laughed Billy B. ‘It is hairy like Mr. S…but it is also smiling…and Mr. S. never smiles,’ noted Chet.

‘I read in the Eldorado Daily Journal that some campers were awoken by the creature and that he asked for a glass of water…when they poured him a glass…he ran when he saw a June Bug on the rim,’ laughed Daryl. ‘Do you think that Neva J. would come with us,’ asked Jane? ‘I not only will come with you…but I will wear my old Halloween Costume…it is a giant June Bug, laughed Neva J. as she winked and had a drink of Red Wine. Neva J. loved Red Wine…preferably Merlot or Cabernet. She and Billy B. had made Balloon Wine on several occasions and Billy B. thought it was wonderful. Neva J. was a once in a while…Day Drinker…and it improved her attitude on life and made the summer day all the more enjoyable.

Robert Frost said it best, ‘The Woods were lovely…dark and deep…’ Neva J.s’ Picnic Basket was full and overflowing with the BLTs and several bottles of Red Wine…and napkins…of course. The little antenna that protruded from Neva J.s head and the black spots on her red costume…make her a compelling sight to see. As the sun began to set…the Creature Hunters set off on their mission…with Merlot in their canteens and a song in their hearts. Neva J. brought up the rear of the entourage and she was on the lookout for the Monster that looked like the Junior High Principle…Mr. S.

‘Did anyone bring some Off Bug Repellant…something is biting my legs,’ said Jane. ‘Me too and I have picked off a hundred June Bugs from my arms, Chet replied. About that time…the sound of rustling and twigs cracking underfoot and a general unease…filled the air. ‘Hello…I am Jim the June Bug…what are you doing in my forest,’ said the six-foot-tall black-spotted and red-bodied…giant June Bug! ‘We were just looking for you…Fetch…when did you get the cool costume,’ asked Neva J.

The Evaporating Economy

‘I have been picking shit with the chickens,’ answered Billy B.s colleague at SIUC. Billy B. was new to the University and he noticed that one of his co-workers carried a bag on his shoulder and that he looked somewhat unkempt and life worn. Billy B. later found out that his friend was from a town in Little Egypt called Mulkeytown. He had never heard of Mulkeytown although he had spent the bulk of his life living in Southern Illinois. Billy B. also thought what a unique and clear manner in which the ‘Man-Bag’ carrier had described his life. As he considered the implications of a life that would elicit the very ready response of…’Picking shit with the chickens…’ and having the physical appearance to back up his claim…he reflected on a time in his own life that the ‘Tobacco Road’ response would apply.

Billy B. wanted to be a salesman. He had aspired to this lofty goal ever since he had witnessed several examples of successful salesmen who had seemingly gone from rags to riches…before his eyes. Billy B. loved to read the World Book Encyclopedia. Not the online version…but rather the halcyon days of a full hardback version of 23 volumes with an update to add to the 23 each year. His pastor…at the time…had a friend who had been a former school teacher and now was a recruiter for salespeople for Door-To-Door Sales of World Book Encyclopedia. Even in the 70s, a set of World Book Encyclopedias cost several hundred dollars. Billy B. drove to Herrin, Illinois to meet Mrs. Butler. Mrs. Butler looked him up one side and down the other and pronounced that he was going to have to purchase some new clothes to endeavor to look the part of a World Book Encyclopedia Salesman. When she asked him how old he was…he announced that he was 16…but would be 17 in a month. ‘I have never had a recruit as young as you,’ said Mrs. Butler…with a very worried look on her face. ‘I am sure that I can succeed…Mrs. Butler as I am highly motivated…I live on my own and I need the money for groceries,’ Billy B. said with a large grin. ‘You know what…I believe you,’ replied Mrs. Butler. ‘Your area will be Herrin…and you will have the entire town as your territory,’ Mrs. Butler pronounced.

In the mid-70s Herrin had factories such as Maytag and a vinyl upholstery factory. Billy B. began to work under the tutelage of his supervisor, Dennis P. Dennis P. liked to begin each morning at a local restaurant for coffee and doughnuts. Billy B. simply had coffee…as he did not have doughnut money. Dennis P. talked for up to two hours before they began their training. ‘Let’s have lunch…I will buy,’ said Dennis P. ‘But we have not knocked on any doors yet,’ said Billy B. ‘That we will do directly after lunch…after lunch is the best time to catch the customer at home,’ said Dennis P. with confident bluster. Lunch lasted two hours. ‘I just remembered that I have an appointment in Christopher this afternoon…you will do fine Billy B.,’ Dennis said as he pointed him to the street to begin on.

Billy B. had been to three training classes at Dennis P.s’ home in Christopher before the Big Day in Herrin. There was a word-for-word script from the time that the potential customer answered the door that Billy B. would be knocking on…until the sale was secured. The premise was that Billy B. was conducting a survey as to children’s educational needs…and that he had seen some children’s toys in the yard or on the porch and did the kind mother or dad have just ten minutes to discuss education in Herrin? Of course, the opening statement was a bit of a fabrication. The entire purpose of the visit was to sell the books.

Door after door was either slightly cracked…for a moment…in order to facilitate Billy B.s’ scripted opening remarks…and then slammed…or slammed…outright! Door-To-Door sales are almost unheard of today but in those somewhat safer times…it was just the thing for earning a living…if you had the gift of gab. Billy B. soon discovered that the lie that he had been told to say…did not fit with his personality or ethics and thus he began simply telling the person who opened the door what his real purpose was…that he was selling the wonderful set of encyclopedias and that he would like to take a few minutes to show the kind person how kid-friendly the books were and how they could purchase them on time… Suddenly doors began to open and sets of World Book Encyclopedias were sold. Billy B. knew that he had a quality product and most people that he spoke with knew that as well. Honesty and straightforwardness…paid off. Still finding enough of the poor hard-working people of Herrin to facilitate a living selling Encyclopedias…was hardscrabble and a bit like…’Picking shit with the chickens.

The Time Study Man…came to the door after Billy B. knocked three times. Billy B. had first met The Time Study Man when he had worked at Essex International Factory at DuQuoin. Billy B. had been placed on what was called a Carousel. This was with four women and one very young man. It was his first job soon after high school. His colleagues loved to speak of their fun weekends and sexual exploits. Linda was the Shop Steward for the Union. Billy B. thought that Linda…must have said it all one Monday morning when describing her ribald weekend…when she announced, Girls…I would tell you more…but Billy B. is much too young to hear such talk!’ Billy B. discovered that he was a little slow for the fast-paced circular assembly line. He then recalled the strong coffee that he had drunk each morning before he caught the bus to school. He drank the coal-black coffee of his step-dad…and it opened his eyes and gave him an entirely new outlook on life. He began to place his precious dimes into the coffee machine in the Essex Break Room. When he returned to Merry-Go-Round…he was a new man. He had been transformed from Clark Kent…to Superman…and his female coworkers…were amazed. Linda said, ‘I have never seen anyone perform the procedure that Billy B. is doing…faster than him…I am calling the Time Study Man!’ The Time Study Man came and watched and peered at his stopwatch and then at Billy B…and then again at his stopwatch…and gave Billy B… another task in addition to what he was doing so fast…and well.

Billy B. thought…’Chicken Coop…and Chickens…and shit…

Love Conquers Fear

We are all a bit afraid. We must be honest with ourselves and admit that we are still in the midst of our Pandemic Mass Shootings War in Europe and runaway inflation…gas just climbed another ten cents in Carbondale and is now $5.19 per gallon…we want to stay in and triple lock our doors…and shut the curtains. Now with all of the realities that confront us and then there are the conspiracy theories that are perpetrated and promulgated as if they were the gold standard of truth.

Billy B. knew that Gene was Gay. He had always known this fact like he knew that the sun was either shining or that it was an overcast day. Gene was a loner and afraid and living a lie. He pretended that he was Straight and dated girls…but he had a secret life that he told no one about. In the 60s the Closets were made of heavy oak and had solid core doors and were kept locked tightly. Chet and Jane and Daryl were good friends with Gene. Gene kept his secret life…secret from his best friends. Gene was often sad and had endured the taunts and name-calling of his schoolmates for years. What hurt him tremendously was that he was a member of a fundamentalist church that did not accept Gay people. In fact, the pastor made fun of homosexuals and lesbians and gave the congregation the tacit approval to do the same. When a Gay person was hurt or abused or defamed by the so-called religious community this church would rejoice in their Self Righteousness. The Hate Speech that was accepted and secretly welcomed by the revered City Fathers and Church Elders…was a manifestation of the lies that they were living…as many of them were secretly homosexual.

Stan was a great kid! Chet and Billy B. enjoyed talking with Stan and being around him. He was intelligent and had a wisdom that was above his years. Stan was Gay in a hostile world. He kept to himself and kept his own counsel. He was a compassionate person and cared about his fellow human beings.

Billy B. said, ‘Some of my best friends…are Gay.’ ‘It seems that Gay folks really understand what being a friend is all about,’ replied Chet. ‘Well, anytime you have been made fun of for who you are and marginalized by laws that do not include you…and chastised for your love for Christ…you quickly discover who your friends are,’ said Jane. ‘Many of the most insightful religious thought and literature…and deep philosophical ethics…has come from the minds and hearts of our Gay friends,’ noted Daryl.

‘I think that our Gay friends must look at much of the Straight Community and wonder what the problem is,’ said Jane. ‘They are living their lives and working and studying and love their kids and love their partner…and love Jesus…who beckons them to come to him. ‘I am going to ask Stan to come with me to church this Sunday,’ said Billy B. Our church will welcome him and love him as a member of God’s Creation. ‘Gene is a Master Organ Player…one of the best in Southern Illinois…and he has agreed to play our Organ for Sunday Service,’ exclaimed Chet. ‘Finally our beautiful Pipe Organ…will resound with the joy of a child of God…playing it again,’ Daryl said as a tear escaped his watering eyes…

The Ordinary Is Extraordinary

Another morning has come. When I was still working I often said to my colleagues ‘Good Old Monday’ and Nancy would laugh. She told me once that she was waiting to hear me say ‘Good Old Monday… Although Monday is not the first day of the week…it seems like it when you are employed. Everyday life is a bit like a forest…’It is hard to see the forest for the trees.’ Most days are filled with some type of routine. Many of our activities have become muscle memory. So often life is rushing by us…while we are waiting to live. Next year is our motto…or ‘Tomorrow is another day,’ Scarlett O’Hara said in Gone With The Wind…

Learning the Secret of enjoying life on a daily basis is valuable. The ordinary is extraordinary when looked at through the right prism. The joy of small things is another way to see the ordinary as special. I regularly walk in Campus Woods and I see the most magnificent lessons of nature. We of the human family believe that rabbits and deer and my Building Beaver that is constantly working in my pond…are interlopers and visitors to our property and our world. But…how do the wild animals feel when they see us. Are we not interlopers and visitors to their world? Are we truly superior because we can read and write…or are we basically a destructive species due to our hubris?

Of late I have been photographing our surrounding small towns in Southern Illinois. These are towns that I have visited many times and one, Eldorado, that I grew up in. Yet, I did not see the many nuances of the buildings and the people that I now see in my senior years. When I was younger…I did not take the time to really look. We are a bit myopic in our vision and thus in our understanding of what is around us. I could liken our lives to a Gerbil on a Wheel…always furtively running and never getting anywhere. When you keep your nose to the grindstone…and never look up…the panoply of life is on an IMax Screen and Surround Sound is encompassing you…but you are preoccupied with the Stone…