From the Past
Reflections from Homilies, Fr. Paul Gabriel. Blessed Sacrament Church, Burlington, NC.
. . To lower expectations and raise hopes. (2013)
The Divine Spirit is within us. We must activate the gift. What are we doing with the empowerment? (2014)
From a Spelling Book. H.F. Harrington, A Graded Spelling Book in Two Parts. American Book Company, 1880.
“Charles, what is that horrid thing in the cornfield?” asked Luther, who had always lived in the city, and had rarely or never been in the country. “How it dangles its arms, and what sprawling legs it has!”
“Pshaw!” replied Charles. “Don’t you know a scarecrow? It is only a pole with strips of tattered cloth, a battered hat, and a pair of worn-out boots packed on it. It is to cheat and frighten the crows that come to pull up and destroy the corn.
Horace is a wretched scholar. His writing is awkward, his painting is a daub, in reading he drawls, in spelling he blunders, and he makes mistakes when he recites his language lessons. But he never gets angry when he is corrected.
Once I saw a frightful tempest. The branches of the trees were twisted off and tossed about. Clouds of dust were driven before the furious wind, and the leaves were blown hither and thither. Hail and sleep beat against the windows, and the air was keen and piercing.
In Thomas Hardy Country. Spring, 2008.
I had not seen a more beautiful countryside. The land is hilly and agricultural. Hedge rows serve as fences. There are stands of woods with huge old trees. The fields and woods stop at the town limits of Dorchester, which is thus framed. The downtown is thriving commercially.
We took a self-guided walking tour and saw part of a Roman wall and a Roman country house which is being excavated. The tiles were like those I’ve seen in Latin textbooks. We saw a handsome statue of Thomas Hardy. I stopped in a church, where a Holy Week service was ending and talked with a man who identified himself as a former minister, who began work at Coventry when the church was being built from the ashes of the bombardment in World War II. He had long since retired and was serving as a chaplain at the prison there in Dorchester. He had visited Denver and had visited Trinity United Methodist Church, where I was a member for many years.
(From there we went to the coast–Torquay, Penzance, and Lands End–and from there to Avebury, Marlborough, and on to London.)
A Student Paragraph Illustrating Description by Cataloguing. From a student in a creative writing class I taught in 1973.
At Hattie’s, by Ruth McLean
On what used to be the main road, now replaced by an interstate highway, is a beer joint know as “Hattie’s.” As you enter, the heavy wooden door closes behind you with a bang. The ceiling on this cement block building is low and the rooms are filled with noisy people and smoke. Pin ball machines with flashing lights crack and pop. Crowded around the bar, people choose their favorite beers. Drafts in big glass mugs, brightly labeled cans, and brown tinted bottles go out. Wines in beautifully shaped bottles from every country line the wall. A single lit light bulb hanges from the center of the ceiling. High-backed, thickly stuffed booths hide the faces in the dark. A juke box plays and sticks on the words.
Denver. The Dragon Boat Festival.
One of the reasons I love Denver is that the city celebrates all kinds of groups in well-attended celebrations throughout the summer. The Dragon Boast Festival is a celebration of Asian and Pacific cultures. I attended with my friend Masaki from Japan.
It was a huge festival. Three city buses were making trips from Invesco Field’s parking lot and light rail station to bring in participants. I had not previously know about Dragon Boat racing. As we were watching a race, I observed that the races did not take long. A woman standing next to us said, “About 70 seconds.” I learned that she was a participant.
Denver has 49 teams of boat racers, 21 people to each team. There are 18 rowers, nine women and nine men, a captain, a flag retriever, and a drummer for each boat. They practice two times each month on dry land and once in the water before the race.
The boats are beautiful with carvings, some of them complex. They are thin and sit shallowly in the water.
We enjoyed food booths, booths selling trinkets, booths giving out information about Asian cultures in Denver, and three stages where cultural events were happening. We were particularly impressed by traditional Japanese drumming by food young women from Arvada, a Buddhist dance performed by monks, and a dancer doing traditional Chinese dances.
In Physical Therapy Following Elbow Surgery. June, 2009.
The physical therapist, Barclay (pronounced Barklee) warned me about overdoing. If I did not rest my arm often, recovery will be delayed. He warned me about exercise in general. No hour-long walks. Twenty minutes, a maximum of thirty minutes should be in order. When the heat and humidity of summer arrive, no more than twenty minutes. I asked him about yard work. “No, sir,” he said. “You are not going to pick up a shovel or hoe or use a mower for six months.”
Yesterday, after therapy, he put an ice pack on my arm. It stung with cold. I asked him if it were supposed to be so cold. “I’m hearing this from a man from Denver?” he said. I shut up and endured the intense, burning cold.