30 September 2010

Old Hymns

Every once in a while I find the lyrics to some old church hymn stuck in my head. Hymns that aren't sung much in churches today, in part because times have changed, in part because some of them just weren't that good. They are also absent because we find the words or message unsettling or they harken back to a life of suffering and destitution that we find it hard to relate to.

I never cared much for the music of "When the roll is called up yonder", but the lyrics are beautiful. It was typically played in a quick tempo but I think it comes across best when played very slowly and there is time to contemplate each phrase. All of human history and all our activity is a road to that first sentence in the first stanza.

"When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.

On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of his resurrection share;
When his chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there."

It is not the greatest of hymns, but it's a very good, and stuck in my head this 30th day of September. The greatest of hymns, that is reserved for this one where both lyrics and music seem to be from beyond this realm....

O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad, the honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice, new life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice, The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come, and leap, ye lame, for joy.

Glory to God, and praise and love be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above, the church in earth and heaven.

28 September 2010

Summer to Autumn

You can't tell it from this picture but it was absolutely a fall day last Sunday afternoon when this was taken. Surprising how the trees look so green, despite all the changing colors that seemed to jump out to the naked eye.  It was 37 that morning, our first temp with a 3 handle since May. As you can tell by the attire, this was autumn, not summer. A nice church picnic to close the summer.

23 September 2010

O'Hare on a Thursday

I have lately had a knack for snagging an early flight home, particularly from Ohare and usually on United. No one likes getting stuck at the airport but if I had to be delayed at one of America's mega-airports, my pick would always be this one.

22 September 2010

Life in America's Best City

I live in the best small town in America, according to Money magazine.

It's even a great place for vandals. Such as the one who broke into my car yesterday. I park daily at Southwest Station, and when it comes to bus stations, this place is beautiful. A state of the art parking facility. Even has a picturesque lakeside setting, as shown in the picture that i found on the web.

Yesterday I got in my car to find my back window busted in and my gps gone. The window was worth much more than the gps. From now on, i'll keep the doors unlocked so my fellow citizens of America's best city can have whatever they want. When I got home one of Eden Prairie's finest had called the house to inform me of the details of the robbery and ask that I call her back to discuss my loss further. In America's best city, this is high crime.

13 September 2010

The Bus Stop

My bus stop. At the intersection of 6th and Marquette in downtown Minneapolis. The 690 Express to Southwest Station in Eden Prairie. This was taken around 430 this afternoon. In the winter we stand here in sub-zero weather waiting and waiting. Ten minutes seems like ten hours. There have been a few times when it was so cold that I swore I was getting on the next bus, whether it was going my way or not, just to get warm. Today I saw a few people with coats. Not heavy winter coats, but a step heavier than a windbreaker.

11 September 2010


It looked much better in person. Taken today in Excelsior, MN

10 September 2010


I don't like to shop, though I love for others to do so. Perhaps it goes back to my first "real" job, as a management trainee for JCPenney at McCain Mall in North Little Rock, Arkansas (another story for another time).

Anyway, as an orthodox capitalist, I like to watch the exchange of goods and services unfold and witness the way it all plays out to create jobs and wealth. How people find new ways to innovate and get a better product to me at a better price and then convince me to change my buying habits in their favour. This is the big stuff of commerce that people do very well, both on a small scale and a massive one, particularly when left to their own devices to figure it out. It's also something that governments by their very nature cannot do well, on either a small scale or a large one.

These are a few of the places I like to shop, when I have to. Most are big, because they're really good at what they do. A few have chosen to stay small.

Gander Mountain          Costco
Macy's                          Dunn Brothers Coffee
Amazon.com                 QT
Bachman's                     Fleet Farm
Tim Horton's                 Cracker Barrel
Valley Park Hardware   Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

07 September 2010

House - Early September

Not much in the way of falls sign from this picture. However, the tree in the front yard has been trimmed. The shrubs along the left side of the front yard have been replaced. Here and there in the neighborhood a few trees a showing color, but with the exception of a drop in temp, it still looks like summer.

The flowers below are from our side patio.

Roan Mountain II

I spend a part of each summer in Roan Mountain, Tennessee. Roan Mountain State Park to be exact. You can travel all around this country, and the world, and find few places to spend a weekend better than this. The most recent stay was a collection of events that made for another memorable trip...

Thursday - A beautiful drive from Charlotte, up one side of Jonas Ridge and down, driving to the cabin.  A special afternoon to cherish with my mother and later share over coffee that evening with two of my dearest cousins. Grocery shopping for the weekend at Ingles in Newland, NC, which sounds routine, but never is.

Friday - Another year and another grueling run up to Miller's Homestead and back. A prayer of thanks at the top that I have lived to return to this spot one more time. Creating my annual version of breakfast, complete with grits, biscuits, my amazing sawmill gravy, eggs and bacon.  Hiking the beautiful Balds at Carver's Gap, which straddles the NC/TN border. For the second year it includes Laura, this time her status elevated from my son's girlfriend to his fiance.

Saturday - A picnic at Elizabethton's Covered Bridge over the Doe River with the four main women who watch over me - my wife, my daughters, my mother. Can't leave out a special niece, the only one on this side of the family who will ever call me "Uncle". Watching my brother assemble one of the best meals of my life. The greatest steak in the world from the worlds greatest family chef. His is the only cole slaw that you can make a meal of. His baked beans could almost be served as dessert.

Sunday - This day begins with a sermon from a local minister shared at the park with fellow campers and believers. Hiking Linville Falls and losing three of our party who were in search of a bathroom. Missing the goodbyes to relatives who left before we returned. A hilarious re-telling of Aunt Bill's reaction to Aunt Inez' experiences in the death of Uncle Harry Goforth.  Finally, a Sunday night gathering of all the leftover kin and leftover food for one last feast and sharing of memories.

Along the way there were games of Scrabble, Dominoes, Catch Phrase, and Take One. Discussions of wedding plans that finally get my attention as they have something to do with my family. Empty bottles of Dr. Enuf rattling around in the bottom of the trash. The morning clean up of trash cans attacked by raccoons. Nights spent staring up at the Milky Way, which you never see in the city. Frosty mornings that really do call for a roaring fire in the stove.

In a flash it was over. In a wink, it will be back.