Roses Are Red, Violence Is Blue . . .
My new book of poetry "Herding Butterflies" is available in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle "Unlimited." My publisher describes it as "An eclectic collection of thought-provoking poems that will intrigue you, delight you, and make you ponder the beauty of words." ... Makes a great gift for less than the price of a Turkey, Provolone & Pesto on Ciabatta with a Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino. ...
Such a deal!
PERSONAL VIEW: “Embarrassing Moments at Work”
By Jim Lamb
Woke up this morning with a blue spot on my nose. It was toothpaste. That tells me two things: 1) Must have brushed my teeth last night. 2) Apparently without the bathroom light on … and that’s not the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. Not even close.
Some years back (in the early 1990s) I was a section editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. As I stepped out of my cubicle, one of my colleagues made an observation:
“Your shoes don’t match,” he said.
Looking down, I realized that my socks didn’t match, either ... Embarrassing. And that’s still not the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.
(Drum roll, please.)
In an interview with the then-Saint Petersburg Times, I showed up looking sharp—shoes matched, socks matched, etc.
After the interview, I stopped by the restroom only to see a big booger hanging from my nose. Disgusting.
Did not get the job.
What about you? What’s your most embarrassing work-moment. (G-rated, please.) Can you top toothpaste on the nose? Shoes that don’t match? A booger? Share your story, and help bring a smile to my face.
PERSONAL VIEW: “The Pond in my Back Yard”
By Jim Lamb
There’s a small pond in my back yard fed by a river connected to the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve seen mullet jump, baby tarpon turn, and alligators lurk like semi-submerged submarines waiting for prey to slide by.
The pond is a stone’s throw from my writing room. When I’m stuck on a paragraph, I look out the window for inspiration. Birds and butterflies fly by. Squirrels zip through trees, jumping from limb-to-limb, defying gravity. Before long, inspiration returns, and I’m back hacking on the keys of my iMac.
As I’m writing this, the sun has not yet risen. Tops of trees are mere shadows. The pond has yet to appear. I’m listening to the late great R. C. Sproul, founder of Ligonier Ministries, who was born in my home state of Pennsylvania and later moved to Florida, where I now live.
His sermon title this day: “Is God Just?”
Or, to put it another way, “Is there unrighteousness in God?”
“Of course not,” I think as I watch the pink-orange orb bull-doze into the sky.
Why then, Sproul asks, did God choose Jacob over Esau before they were born?
Not based on their behavior. Not based on what they would do. God sovereignly chose one over the other so that His purposes would stand. He didn’t need anyone’s permission. He owed no one an explanation.
The sky is pink now with swatches of light blue—layer-by-layer-by-layer. The pond picks up on the sun’s glory and honors it by adding a slight shimmer-glimmer.
Beauty begets beauty. Light begets light.
The orchestration of this sunrise happens with no help from me. Not one drop. Not an iota. Not a speck, jot, dot, tittle, or particle. Yet I am blessed by its appearance.
R. C. Sproul has just quoted from Romans 9:15 …
“For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
Today, God will have mercy and compassion as He sees fit. With His sunrise, He has already blessed me. It almost seems greedy to ask for more—yet I will. It’s my nature.
PERSONAL VIEW: “We Lost a Friend This Week”
The world is spinning out of control with wars and rumors of wars—but that’s not the topic of conversation in the Lamb family. Why? Because we lost a friend this week, a chocolate lab named Bailey.
She was friendly. Confident. Fun-loving.
As a puppy, Bailey was awkwardly curious, in that way only labs can be. The most serious exploration became a humorous escapade. Puffy toys turned into willing accomplices. Slippery floors transformed into a center-stage.
Bailey belonged to my son Jesse and his lovely wife Shawn. When they lived in Florida, I visited their home each day and let their pup into the backyard where we played Frisbee-toss over and over and over again.
She loved that game.
When she got tired, she hunkered down under a tiny tree for shade and a rest.
When the kids moved “up north,” Bailey tagged along. She was equally at home playing in the snow on the streets of New York City as she was running in the sand under the Tampa Bay sun.
When the kids moved back to Florida, they brought with them a little Lamb named Clara. It wasn’t long before they had another little Lamb—this one named Isabella, nicknamed Bell.
Bell, Clara, and Bailey got along just fine. Playing together. Napping together. The perfect little family. But you could tell Bailey was getting older (15) and slower. Visits to the vet didn’t seem to help. After all, age catches up with pups as well as people—and it shows.
Dylan Thomas wrote a line in “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” that seems appropriate:
“Though lovers be lost love shall not.”
Bailey may be lost, but not our love for her.
The world is spinning out of control with wars and rumors of war — but that’s not the topic of conversation in the Lamb family. Why? Because we lost a friend this week … and we miss her.
Is that a Sax I hear?
Backed by drums,
clicking in time
Not with a piano part
that sounds like
Is love like that?
Some love, I guess.
Love with pain?
Pressing on my chest?
I take a breath
that I can't swallow.
into a sky so blue
that I go blind.
Writer’s Tip: Every Hero Has an Achilles Heel
According to WIKI, Achilles was a hero of the Trojan War and the greatest of all Greek warriors. In addition, he’s a central character of Homer's Iliad. Famous dude. Lived in the spotlight. An MVP. Big-time. He had just one weakness.
How could that be?
Great question. Here’s the answer: “…when his mother Thetis dipped him in the river Styx as an infant, she held him by one of his heels.”
That dip made him invulnerable—except, of course, for where his Mom held him.
Flash-forward to Monday night, Sept. 11, 2023. Another hero. Another warrior. “Grade A.” Numero Uno. MVP.
After a stellar career with the Green Bay Packers, Rodgers went from Cheese-head to Apple-head, when he became a quarterback for the New York Jets, where he was touted as a savior for a franchise that hadn’t been a consistent Super Bowl caliber team since Broadway Joe Namath led the J-E-T-S to a 16-7 upset victory over the Baltimore Colts at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.
By the way, that was the third AFL–NFL Championship Game in pro football and the first to bear the moniker “Super Bowl”—but let’s get back to our tale of terror and tendons.
Aaron Rogers stepped on the field Sept. 11 to kick off a new era of hope for the Jets. There was even talk of Super Bowl run … finally.
The hope didn’t last long. Minutes into his first drive, the aging quarterback (he turns 40 in December) was sacked, injured, and helped off the field, never to return. It was later announced he was out for the season. The culprit: a torn Achilles tendon.
Rogers was a five-time All-Pro and 10-time Pro Bowler. An all-around MVP. To get him, the Jets gave up a first-round draft pick, a second-round pick, a sixth-round pick and a conditional 2024 second-round.
So much for so little return.
There are many lessons in the Aaron Rogers saga … “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket comes to mind.” What about you? Have you ever done that? I have … one time, long ago, I remember planning my future around winning one of those big-money contests at McDonald’s. … Didn’t win, but at least I got a great burger and fries out of it—which is more than what the Jets may end up with.
WRITER'S TIP: If you're crafting a story about a hero, remember to give him/her a weakness. For example, Indiana Jones was afraid of snakes. His Dad feared rats. Having a vulnerability raises the stakes in a hero's journey.
The Early Bird Gets the News ...
I’m sitting in my writing room, eating a home-made scone, sipping on a cup of hot tea, laced with real milk and fake sugar. It’s the anniversary of 9-11, a disaster that nearly put the company I worked for out of business—but that’s a story for another day.
This morning I tuned in to a call-in talk show that asked listeners to share memories from that wretched day.
“I remember it well,” said one caller. “It was a Monday …"
Of course, you and I both know Sept. 11 was on a Tuesday that year. Such is the collective’s memory—but at least they remembered something.
A few years back, a newspaper here in the Tampa Bay area forgot to commemorate Dec. 7, 1941, which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called “a date which will live in infamy”—not a great move in a state populated by old people with long memories.
In a century or two, who will remember Dec. 7? Or Sept. 11? Or Nov. 22, the day U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.
This year, it will be 60 years since shots rang out in the streets of Dallas, Texas. Sixty years since CBS interrupted a telecast of the soap opera “As the World Turns” with a Bulletin saying JFK had been shot. An hour later news anchor Walter Cronkite reported “… President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time…”
I was a senior at Windber Area High School in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, when news of the assassination piped over the school’s PA system. Remember it well—as well as can be expected after 60 years. Also remember walking into my Uncle Angelo’s house after going to church at Saint Anthony’s and hearing someone shout, “They shot the bastard!”
The bastard in question was Lee Harvey Oswald.
* * *
There’s a cardinal outside my window, pecking away at the bird-feeder hanging in my backyard, the one my wife just filled the other day. This is the first time I’ve seen activity out there. I guess it takes time for news to travel.
Birds and squirrels are fun to watch when the feeder is full. They don’t know what day it is … Sept.11. Nov. 22. Dec. 7. They worry about important things like, “Did the Lambs fill their bird feeder?”
Kind of makes you jealous of birds, doesn’t it?
X Marks the Spot
Could it be a letter?
Secret sign — or better?
Mindless Rap ....
Cat or Irish Setter?
Let’s dig way too deep.
(Cry until we weep.)
With dirty nails,
& legend-making leaps.
Try & try again.
With bloodied iron pen.
Change our stripes
with dreams & hype —
until we cry again.