Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Because of a Nail the Floor Was Lost

From the Adventures in Home Ownership Department:

When the plumber who came to fix the leak in the ceiling starts using words like "rotten joist" and "soggy subfloor" you just know it isn't good news.

And it wasn't.

The house is about 25 years old. It seems that a pipe was pierced by a nail during the original construction. Over the years the nail rusted until it fell away from the pipe, causing leakage to be visible. But for many years there was slow seepage that damaged the wood under the tile floor, including the subfloors and the joist in the garage ceiling below.

And thus it is that what began as a call to stop a leak has turned into a complete floor replacement. Ugh.

That is my day. How's yours been?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Houston and Borger Update

We returned from our trip to the Texas Panhandle to find things returning to normal chez QG. Our niece and family got power Saturday evening and gratefully scrambled home to sleep in their own little beds! There are still about 150,000 people without power in Houston and broken traffic lights scattered around the area.

The paper noted this morning that the one Jewish bakery was severely damaged by Ike and can't make the challah for Rosh Hashana this year so some small local delis are trying to step into the breach, causing people to line up early in the morning to get this traditional holiday bread.

It was really good to get out of town for a few days. It was the first visit for El Jefe back to his home town since his father died in July, which made it particularly poignant. His two cousins and their wives also attended the reunion in support of him and we all had a wonderful visit. How great is it to stay up late laughing uproariously with members of the family?

Cousin Mary took me to a spa in Amarillo which was truly fabulous, and so much better than spending the day listening to our hubbies reminisce about every dang football game ever played on the High Plains. Everyone was happy, and Mary and I were the best Arm Candy at the dinner!

The MC at the reunion was a former football player whose exploits in high school were related in El Jefe's book. He choked up and cried when he was presenting El Jefe with his letter jacket. All the books we brought with us were sold and there were requests. A big surprise was a nice note from El Jefe's friend and former Yale classmate Mike Medved (now a radio talk-show host) on the occasion which one of the classmates had gone to some trouble to get.

We didn't get a T-bird at Hertz. Instead we got a white Crown Victoria, which made us look like the old folks who frequent the early bird special at Luby's Cafeteria! Next time, I want that T-Bird.

Here's our photo, courtesy of Cousin Buddy:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Outta Here

We're leaving on a jet plane to the Panhandle for the weekend, where El Jefe has been invited to be the special guest of the Borger High School class of '63 at their reunion. His book about their football team (see sidebar) will be sold and he will be awarded an honorary letter jacket. He played basketball, not football, back in the day.

I'm going along as Publicist and Arm Candy. Where's the T-bird???

We hope our neice and her family enjoy having a house to themselves for the first time since Ike struck. They are praying for power by Sunday. Lord, hear their prayers!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

QG's Bed and Breakfast Re-Opens

QG's Bed and Breakfast re-opened yesterday for our niece, her husband, their three little girls and two dachsies who are STILL without power. The girls' school now has power so they returned from our bay house. All three are happy to be back in school!

They've been told they MAY have power by Sunday. And maybe not. This is really a stressful time for them and everyone in their position. In the meantime, they will be with us until the lights go back on.

Beatrice is very excited about our guests--especially her old littermates, James and Dolley, who she hasn't seen for a while.

El Jefe and I are going out of town this weekend, so they can have the house to themselves, which ought to be a good thing for them. We are really happy to have them and blessed that we have the bedrooms upstairs to make them comfortable. Our pool will keep the girls entertained. It is really nice to have little girls around the house again!

It's amazing what a big hurricane can do. This is the fourth largest city in the US and there are still major power outages in many areas of town. Never mind the devastation in Galveston and on the coast which will take many years to repair and restore. See today's update on the PNC Hurricane Recovery blog (link on sidebar) for more news about volunteer opportunities, ways to help, and church damage updates.

In the Department of Can't Blog About It, yesterday I was reminded that not all hurricanes are acts of nature. Some result from the fallen nature of man, but cause much devastation in their own way.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Houston Ode After IKE

(Inspired by the fact that my church, my niece and her family, and several friends still are without power. Eleven days after Ike. And counting.)

See how the fates their gifts alot--
Some have power, some do not.
And some are worthy, I daresay
Of having their power back yesterday.

If I were CenterPoint (which I'm NOT)
Each one would have the power he sought.
Lights, A/C and dryers would whir away
And TV's, DVD's and fridges run all day.

Pity the mom with kids at home
Without any power and no where to roam.
There isn't even any school--
No power, no classes is the rule.

Pity the poor with no where else to go
Waiting for assistance in a hot, sweaty row.
Applying for food stamps and FEMA rent
From agencies the government sent.

Pity those who lived in Galveston town,
Now most of their houses have fallen down.
No visitor now allowed on that historical Isle
Because living there is a dangerous trial.

The national press left Ike survivors behind
As the financial crisis put the US in a bind.
This series of recent hurricanes
Has left the national psyche drained.

See how the fates their gifts alot!
Some get the press and some do not.
But Texans don't care, because we always say
We'll pull together and fix it anyway.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Helping With The Cleanup in San Leon

Cross-posted from the Presbytery of New Covenant's Hurricane Recovery blog:

Rev. Dean Pogue, pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Pasadena, sent me the photos in the slideshow below. Here is his description of the pictures:

One of our members lives directly on the water in San Leon, about 12 miles south of Clear Lake. According to insurance adjustors, she lost about 85% of her home and its contents. The attached photos show our church cleanup group (First Presbyterian, Pasadena, Texas), responding to her SOS for help.

A few notes: Her house was built on piers, and the steps to her front door were washed away. Entry was via step ladder. The storm surge washed away everything on the ground floor. She lost quite a few sentimental items, although she was able to salvage some family photos, including her high school photo, and ones of her son and her dad.

(Photos courtesy of Dean Pogue)

Thank you, Dean!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Volunteers Needed in New Covenant Presbytery

I am cross-posting this call for volunteer assistance from General Presbyter Rev. Mike Cole from the PNC Hurricane Recovery blog.


We are getting our support structure in place to coordinate offers of assistance with needs in our communities. We need volunteers to help us for the next couple of months in the following areas:

Worksite Assignment Manger – someone to work with the Volunteer Coordinator in assigning work groups to work sites

Case Workers - people to do on-site visits of families needing assistance. It would be especially helpful to have folks with degrees in social work.

Financial Officer – A CPA serving on the Ike Recovery Team to help administer funds and design systems of financial reporting and accountability.

The Golden Triangle area is prepared to receive work groups immediately. Beverly Antilley is our Golden Triangle Volunteer Coordinator. Her phone 409 223-0118 She can handle groups coming in with work assignments and accommodations and other information.

Clean up buckets can be take to Clear Lake Presbyterian Church. CLPC will oversee the distribution of the buckets to the community.

The High Island Retreat Center will be housing some teachers from the High Island Independent School District who lost their homes to the storm. There is still no electricity on High Island and no generators available. If anyone has a generator they are no longer using and would be wiling to donate/loan it to the Retreat Center, that would be very helpful to those we are housing. The teachers also need food, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

Please contact Mike Cole at the Presbyterian Center for more information or if you want to volunteer. (email: mcole at pbyofnewcovenant dot org )

Got Presby-IKE Photos?

Dear Readers,

If you have digital photos of Hurricane Ike damage to a Presbyterian church or relief/clean-up efforts by Presbyterians, please email them to me (jody dot harrington at gmail dot com).

Presbyterians Today requested I try to get some photos and forward them to their editor. Photos should be high-resolution.



Sunday, September 21, 2008

Worshipping in the Dark

El Jefe and I went to worship at our church this morning. The church is located in one of the areas hardest hit by tree damage--and power outages.

Services were held in the Fellowship Hall. We were greeted by two loud generators in the parking lot powering a couple of large fans, a couple of portable video screens and a laptop. There was no printed worship bulletin or amplification. The pastors talked really loud and it was pretty dark, despite the fact that there is a wall of windows on one side of the hall. It was warm-ish, but not uncomfortably so.

There was a good crowd on hand. Most of those who live near the church are into their 10th day without power. That included the senior pastor. As you might expect, his sermon centered around "power issues." What if we yearned for the power of the Holy Spirit as much as we yearn for the power of electricity? he asked.

Later in the afternoon, Portia and DK went home and found their electricity had been restored. Yippeee! We sent them home this evening with clean clothes and a "care package" of perishable items to begin the restocking of their refrigerator.

Work crews came by our house this afternoon and picked up the mountain of bagged vegetation El Jefe and the boys placed in front for them. The big tree that feel on our fence is still there, but the neighbor says he has someone coming next week to remove it. That will take a big winch and rope to pull it away before it is cut up and hauled off.

I'm really sad about all the damage to Galveston. I grew up going there every summer and we took our girls there for vacations when they were little. We have lots of memories tied up in that place which is now struggling very hard. Please pray for all those whose recovery from Ike will take much more than the return of electricity.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ike Recovery Continues

Today Centerpoint (the company responsible for maintaining the power lines) reported that just over 50% of the customers in the Houston area have had power restored.

Portia and DK are not counted among the lucky majority, however. DK drove into town this morning to check on their home and cats, finding it still dark. They have done everything they can without power, so are now settling in at our house for what will probably be a few more days at least. Portia has turned her nervous energy to cleaning out upstairs closets for me. Hooray!

Babs has a friend who is without power staying at her apartment, too.

Our neices and their families are also still without power. They are staying with the children at our bay house (which was far west enough to be unscathed) until Sunday since school resumes Monday. Their husbands are staying with my sister-in-law who also has power while they try to deal with the downed trees and roof damages.

Maybe I'll have some deep philosophical thoughts about IKE and its aftermath later next week. For now, I'm distracted with clean-up, managing the presbytery's hurricane recovery blog (see sidebar), checking on those without power to see if we can help, and figuring out what is being postponed and what is going forward next week.

What a mess.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Report on Damage to Galveston PCUSA Churches

New Covenant Presbytery General Presbyter Rev. Mike Cole visited the Presbyterian churches in Galveston today and filed a report on the damages there from Hurricane Ike. I posted the report on the presbytery's Hurricane Recovery Blog. The report also has more information about the status of other churches in the presbytery.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Presbytery Re-opens Monday

I'm cross posting this information with the PNC Hurricane Recovery Blog.

Power has been restored at the Presbyterian Center! However, downed power lines remain in the parking lot so the office will not officially re-open until Monday morning.

The server and internet are now working. If you sent an email to a staff member on September 11 or later, you will need to re-send it.

Presbyterian Disaster Relief representatives will continue to office at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church, Houston.

(The majority of the Houston metropolitan area is still without power. Officials expect 75% of the power to be restored by Monday.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PNC Hurricane Ike Recovery Blog

At the request of our General Presbyter, Rev. Mike Cole, I have morphed the presbytery's General Assembly Newsblog into a Hurricane Ike Recovery Blog so that it can serve as a clearinghouse for information and assistance to those in our presbytery affected by Hurricane Ike.

As folks send me information or requests for information and assistance, I will post it on that blog. The blog is also linked on the presbytery's website. Please pass the word by email, blog link or word of mouth to whoever would be interested. Most of our area is still without power, but folks are getting to the internet via wifi in public areas.

They also serve who simply sit and blog!

QG Embed Report: Children and Pets at Work

As Houston area employers regain power and resume business, they are finding creative ways of helping their employees return to work. Schools and day care centers remain closed, so children are coming to work with their parents.

Yesterday at El Jefe's law firm, they opened up the moot courtroom to the kids, found snacks, ordered pizza, and ran movies on the big screen. Someone found some folks to supervise the whole operation. Other employers were doing the same. See the full story here in the Houston Chronicle.

Intrepid Houston area RevGal zorra reported that pets spent the day at her office. Methinks the law firm isn't ready for Beatrice and Olivia--but who knows? Things are different after IKE.

Our church is still without power and doesn't expect to have it restored anytime soon because it is in an area where lots of trees and utility poles are down. Services are planned for Sunday in the Fellowship Hall (which has lots of windows) rather than the Sanctuary (which has no windows other than stained glass)--power or no power.

UPDATE: El Jefe just emailed the movie schedule for today for the kids coming to spend the day at his firm.

Courtroom Movie Schedule

10:00am- Daddy Day Camp
12:00pm- Alvin and the Chipmunks
2:00pm- The Incredibles
4:00pm- Madagascar
For the older kids in Courtroom B:
12:00pm- Enchanted
2:00pm- The Prince and Me

Hmm. Maybe I can make it down there in time to catch the 2 pm show and then follow it up with the 4 pm show!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NCP Church Damage Status Report

For the benefit of those of you here in the New Covenant presbytery area who can access this (and for anyone else out there interested) here's the status report on our churches I received by email from the General Presbyter of New Covenant, Rev. Mike Cole.

"I have set up a temporary office at Clear Lake PC (Houston), which has both electricity and internet access. The presbytery office is structurally fine, but there is no electricity. The staff will not be in the office until we have electricity. Meetings scheduled for this week canceled.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance will be setting up temporary offices at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church – 281-488-6731 – for the purpose of coordinating response efforts in the Greater Houston area. Our Disaster Response Team is discussing the possibility of setting up work camps in our presbytery for the most heavily affected areas – north of Galveston, the Beaumont/Orange/Port Arthur area, and north of Houston. We’ll know better where the work camps will be as we assess damages.

Reports are still coming in from affected churches. Here's what I have heard thus far - a universal concern is no electricity:

Texas City, FPC - they did ok.

FPC, Galveston - information on the church is scattered. The congregation will worship with FPC, Dickinson on Sunday. About half are accounted for.

Galveston, Westminster - no report
Galveston, West Isle - no report
Galveston, Emmanuel - no report

Dickinson, FPC - no significant damage. They are hosting FPC, Galveston for worship on Sunday.

Freeport, FPC - Church did not sustain any significant damage.

Lake Jackson, FPC - no major damage to the church

Tiki Island (Galveston) - the church is ok - Red Cross will be using the chapel

La Marque - there doesn't appear to be major damage

Angelton, FPC - Angelton is still closed to access. No water and no electricity. no reports of major damage

Alvin, FPC - the church did ok. Tress down but no structural damage

Beaumont, St. Andrews - no major damage to the church. Beaumont sustained about 10% of the damage they had sustained from Rita. work teams for the Golden Triangle are being organized

Beaumont, Westminster - the church is ok

Beaumont, Pioneer - no report

Nederland, Providence - the church where they are worshipping sustained no major damage.

Port Neches, Trinity - the church does not appear to have sustained major damage. No on site assessment has been done.

Orange, FPC – front door on church blew off. Some leakage in the sanctuary. They did get water in the first floor of the sanctuary building. The dome is ok. No major damage.

Orange, Drake – no report

La Porte, St. James – Some water in education building and sanctuary

Pearland, FPC – Casey Jones reports they have lost some shingles, an ac unit was destroyed, one roof leaked, and we have water damage to carpets in 3 buildings. We have electricity, but most of Pearland doesn't. All members we know of are OK.

Galveston, West Isle –the church still intact. Many shingles missing and we have flood damage. As far as church members, they are scattered to the wind.

Galveston, Emmanuel – most members are accounted for. There are reports on the church building itself.

Pasadena, FPC – most congregants are without electricity; no reports of significant problems or injuries. Some minor structural and water damage to facility.

Sugar Land, FPC – they withstood Ike with minor issues: they had some leaks in Sanctuary and in Education Building. Most of the trees on the property were damaged - Providentially, every single tree limb that broke off fell away from each building!

The Woodlands, Timber Ridge – Timber Ridge weathered the storm. Many large trees are down in the area including one that punctured a hole in the church roof. However, it was found before much damage occurred. We did have Sunday services in the dark. All members are accounted for and fine. Word is those of us in The Woodlands may be without power for several weeks.

Jones Creek, Gulf Prairie – One of the town aldermen reports that there appeared to be no damage at Gulf Prairie.

Orange, Drake – there is no significant damage to the church building.

Presbyterian Service Center (Center for limited income individuals with disabilities) – Georga Thomas reports that they need help with tree removal and general clean up. This would be a great spot for a local crew who is eager to “do something”."

As I receive more reports, I will update you.

The magnitude of all the damage is slowly sinking in with all of us, but so far the report on our churches is much better than feared.

Tuesday at QG's B&B

Here's a picture of the tree that crashed into our fence, courtesy of IKE. It just missed the roof, the AC unit and the pool equipment. How fortunate was that?

It is owned by our neighbor who came over yesterday to let us know he is calling a tree service to come remove it. He hopes that will happen in a day or two. Oh well. Beatrice and Olivia have found it a delightful place for their...um...toilette.

We have a new guests. Babs and the BF each have power at their places and returned there. My niece's husband moved to his mother-law's which now has power.

They were replaced by Portia and DK and our good Doctor Mickey, who all don't have power. Portia and DK rented a car and drove back from Colorado where they had gone for a vacation. They found a downed power line in the front yard of their home, but had no damage to their house itself.

Portia and DK's employers are closed today for lack of power or building damage from IKE. Dr. Mickey's office had power but no internet, so she's off to see patients.

El Jefe is downtown viewing the damage to his office from IKE and absorbing the damage to his law practice from the financial failures of Lehman Bros., Merrill Lynch and AIG that went down whilst we were distracted with IKE. His crackberry is working again, so he read through a chain of emails from his partners and associates. Many are now in Austin because of damage to their homes--never mind the lack of power.

I just had a call from a friend from church, letting me know that the church doesn't expect to have power restored for at least a week. Maybe two. I need to call my BSD group ladies, if I can find them. Many phone lines and cell phone towers were damaged, so it is hard to get in touch with people. Yesterday I sent out a group email to see if anyone would be able to respond. Only one did.

However, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood with clear sunny skies and mild temperatures. As Scarlett O'Hara said, "Tomorrow is another day."

Note to my Gentle Readers: This blog may be hurricane-pre occupied for a while.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beatrice Blogs:My first hurricane

Woof! Woof! Woof!

There's a lot of barking required during a hurricane. I have to bark when:

the wind blows really loud
the big tree falls on the backyard fence
the security alarm wails because the power went off
Flashlights are being used
the security alarm wails because the power came back on
QG and Babs have a Come to Jesus Meeting with the alarm and cut its wires
Olivia took my toy squirrel
Strange people are spending the night
Strange people are using computers in the kitchen
QG is giving ice to the workmen across the street
the doorbell rings
Olivia is sleeping in my bed
the phone rings

Whew. I'm tired. Time for a nappy-pooh.

Note from QG--it's been hard on the pets, too.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

QG Embed Report: Hurricane Ike Aftermath

Now that we have power, we can catch up with all the news.

Apparently downtown Houston, Sugar Land and Katy are the only areas affected by IKE that have power. Broadcasters are telling people that it will take up to FOUR WEEKS to get everyone back online. OMG, it looks like we will have Babs, the BF, Portia, DK and maybe more at our house for the duration. Just call me Martha.

Did you see the spectacular pictures of all the broken glass in the high rise buildings downtown? Picture El Jefe inside one of them. He had a call from the business manager of his law firm letting him know that one of the glass walls in his office is gone. Thankfully there is no other damage. Portia and BF's office building was also damaged. Babs doesn't know about her clinic yet.

So they all may be at home for a few days. With El Jefe trying to work from home. Fun.

Portia keeps calling from Colorado, desperate for news about their townhome near downtown. We tried to drive down to check on it for them, but were stopped by high water. Babs and BF will go tomorrow morning when the water should be gone.

I'm not sure there are enough trucks in the known universe to haul away the debris in just our neighborhood. Never mind the rest of metro Houston.

Feeling very, very blessed to have power.


PS. Just got a call from my niece's husband. Long story short, he asks to come stay with us, too. Welcome!


God be thanked. Our power is now restored, after a scary night. The house is not damaged. We lost part of a back fence to a downed tree and a downspout. That's all. Hooray!

We and all our family and friends got through it fine. Beatrice and Olivia were frightened, but are slowly acting more like themselves.

Many thanks for all your thoughts and prayers--it was very comforting to know you had our backs!

And now, the answers to the Quiz--

Matching the Drinkee-Poo With the Hunkeree:

Double Glenfidditch with a few rocks: The Old Marine
White Wine: St. Betty, QG
Beer: Babs BF and El Jefe
Hard Cider: Babs
Red Wine: QG, El Jefe, Babs and St. Betty

But who's counting?

We didn't sleep well, due to the noise of the storm, so now it's time for a little nappy-poo.

Love to all my dear readers, QG

Friday, September 12, 2008

Time for a little Drinkee-poo

We're still waiting for Ike to show up. The winds are gusty, but that's all.

Here's a little quiz. Match the drink with the hunkeree:


A. Double Glenfidditch with a few rocks
B. White wine
C. Beer
D. Hard cider
E. Red Wine


B. El Jefe
C. Babs
D. Babs BF
E. St. Betty
F. The Old Marine

Note that some drinks will be matched with more than one hunkeree.

Update: Some hunkerees will be matched with more than one drink!

Random Bullets Waiting on IKE

  • The internet went out for a couple of hours. Not weather related, but frustrating for El Jefe who was trying to work.
  • Beatrice and Olivia have had TWO walks already. We're stir-crazy and nothing has really happened yet.
  • El Jefe is bringing the last piece of furniture off the patio and sweeping it up(?). Nervous energy methinks.
  • I'm posting again. Yes, nervous energy
  • Cloud cover has moved in. There is a steady breeze with occasional brief gusts of wind and the occasional drizzle.
Let's get on with it.

Waiting for IKE

All the patio furniture and plants are sitting in the hall. We have Olivia with us because Portia and DK left Thursday on a long-planned weekend trip to Colorado with friends. Hey, kids--wish we were THERE, too.

Beatrice is happy, as always, that Olivia is staying over. Both seem a bit clingy, no doubt because of all the stuff in the house and the empty back yard. We'll take them for a walk this morning before the winds get too bad.

Babs came home to weather the storm with us and is having her boyfriend come as well because his place is in a flood-prone area.

I made a Grace Cake after all. Too much nervous energy.

Last night we went out for Tex-Mex and margaritas. That made us feel better.

Dear Readers, thanks for your concern and good wishes. We should be fine--just inconvenienced. I'll post as along as we have power. We're planning to leave after the storm if the power will be out for an extended period of time. Pray for the folks who will be MORE than inconvenienced.

For now, just waitin' on Ike.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You Know It's Getting Serious When....

Your homeowners' insurance company calls to tell you that you are in the path of the storm and give you their phone number so you can make a quick claim for damage.

Ironically, a "Thank You Houston" celebration organized for this weekend by Katrina and Rita survivors has been canceled....

Trying to be a non-anxious presence, but needing some adult beverages,

Hunkering Down for IKE

We're distracted from remembering 9/11 today as we prepare to hunker down in advance of Hurricane Ike. It looks like it is headed to Freeport, just southwest of the Houston area, which puts us on the storm's "dirty side."

Sugar Land is not in an evacuation zone, so we are going to stay here. It's important to leave the roads clear for those who live in storm surge areas and must leave.

Lots to do today! I won't have time to bake a Grace Solidarity Cake, so if you are so inclined, bake one for me and everyone in the path of Ike.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Ministry of Admnistration

Today I am very, very grateful for all those whose ministry is administration.

I'm thinking of the wonderfully well-organized and diligent women who keep me supplied with rosters, calling lists, attendance sheets and weekly agendas for our Bible Study Discussion program that resumed last week. There are several hundred women involved in BSD at my church so this is no small task.

The hours they spend word-processing, editing and double-checking all the details allows me and the other small group leaders to focus on our ministry of encouragement, prayer and facilitation of the lesson discussion. I've done it before myself, but it so nice not to have to do it!

It's an amazing gift. Thank you, ladies!

(This year our study is Revealing God, based on the J.I. Packer classic Knowing God.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

When Lovebugs Attack

Our car looked WORSE than this yesterday as El Jefe and I drove up to Lufkin, Texas for an installation at the First Presbyterian Church.

Fortunately, we got to town early and stopped at a service station to clean up the car a bit. The windshield was almost completely covered in Lovebug goo. The front bumper was totally black with (ahem) lovebugs lovebugging. It took us 30 minutes to get the windshield clean. We gave up on the bumper. Lovebugs have no shame.

Since it was getting dark on the way home, we stopped midway and did it all over again. Squinting through lovebug parts into oncoming headlights is not recommended by the National Highway Safety Administration.

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor lovebugs will keep the Mom-derator from her appointed rounds...

UPDATE FOR PRESBYTERIAN GAL: Here's a photo of the lovebugs.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Random Thoughts While Watching the RNC

There's a lot of talk about "mavericks" at the convention. The term comes from the Texas pioneer family that refused to brand their cattle. Neighbors would call the unbranded cattle were "the Maverick's." Maury Maverick, Sr., was a long-time mayor of my home town, San Antonio.

I remember his son, MM Jr., with great fondness. He was a colorful plaintiff's attorney and erstwhile liberal Democratic politician with a big heart and a compelling turn of phrase. I got to know him when I first practiced law there. He used to call me "the kid" and was a friend of my father's. Now you know who the real Mavericks were!

Someone mentioned that Gerald Ford considered putting Anne Armstrong, then the Texas Republican Party committeewoman, on his ticket back in 1976. Anne was the matriarch of the Texas Republican party and died just a couple of months ago, aged 80. Back in the 1950's and 60's, she ran the Republican primaries in our precinct out of the garage apartment in her home. She would have been tickled to see a woman on the GOP ticket.

Thinking of Anne Armstrong made me think about my grandmother a staunch Republican from the Midwest. She remembered when women got the right to vote and always preached to me "if you don't vote, you can't complain." So we both voted and we both complained!

John McCain's P.O.W. story brought reflections of the legacy of the Vietnam era veterans like El Jefe's cousins, one of whom continues to suffer the effects of his wounds. The difference in attitude at both the party conventions towards our service men and women, despite disagreements about foreign policy, must be gratifying to Vietnam vets. At El Jefe's last high school reunion, the class staged a touching tribute to those who served in Viet Nam. I remember when they were shamefully treated by their fellow countrymen upon their return from service. This is indeed a change for the better.

Babs came home for dinner last night. She and her boyfriend, Portia and DK all watched Sarah Palin's speech together last night and they are very excited about her nomination. If she comes to Houston, they will so be there. If my grandmother was still with us, she'd hitch a ride with them! But Texas isn't one of the battleground states so I doubt we'll see either ticket campaigning down here.

Now the campaign begins in earnest. It would be nice if the candidates and their surrogates and supporters stuck to debating issues and policies. But history and an understanding of human nature tell us that hasn't happened and it won't happen. Vicious personal attacks and slanders have been a staple of national elections since the early days of the republic. All sides have been, are, and will be guilty. It's the ugly underbelly of democracy and the constitutional guarantee of free speech. But it's still the best system for the government of a free people devised by the mind of man.

Let Election 2008 begin!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

PresbyBookBlogging: The Shack

Today I'm hosting the PresbyBloggers Book Club over at the Presbyterian Bloggers webring. Join us here if you would like to take part in the discussion of this month's selection: The Shack.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Book Review: Jonathan Edwards: A Life

Congratulations to me for finishing all 505 pages of George Marsden's award winning biography Jonathan Edwards: A Life. That's the text only, I'm not claiming to have read the appendices and 100 pages of footnotes that follow.

I've been reading this book for the last month. Well researched, well written and packed chock-full of both references to and explanations of Edwards' prolific theological writings, it is not light summer reading. I found that it was difficult to stay focused on more than one chapter at a sitting.

Last fall my son-in-law spent a lot of time researching our family history and discovered that my father's family lived in the New Haven, Connecticut area at the same time as Jonathan Edwards. Part of my reason for reading the book was to learn more about the world in which my ancestors lived. Another reason was because I just finished reading J.I. Packer's Knowing God, with a summer book study group, which referenced Edwards several times.

It is impossible to summarize the life of Edwards as Marsden described in this masterful work. Edwards was a brilliant, complex character and his influence on Reformed theological thought was powerful and pervasive in his time and continues to influence the conservative wing of the PCUSA and other related denominations in this country today.

Marsden emphasizes throughout the biography that Edwards viewed himself as an Englishman throughout his life, as did his contemporaries. Edwards died (after being vaccinated for smallpox) about 20 years before the American Revolution. He was significantly influenced by the thought of the Scottish Enlightenment.

In the "nothing new under the sun" department, I learned that Edwardswas involved in:
  • ordination controversies ("the unconverted clergy");
  • multicultural ministry (he spent 6 years at a frontier mission working to convert and educate the local indigenous people);
  • and church schism ("Old Light" vs. "New Light").
I recommend the book to those of you with an interest in American history or Reformed theology. Reading Jonathan Edwards: A Life is time well-spent.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What's In a Name?


Now they've named one after me.

Here's hoping it is not an omen.....

Monday, September 01, 2008