"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." Saint Francis De Sales

Friday, January 31, 2014

My Slow Takes about miniature figures, Pete Seeger, Edgar Allan Poe and me.

1. Paul’s Bods is a blog that deals with 1/72 figures. He has many different periods that he works on and last April he started his Bannockburn Project. His plan is to build both the British and Scottish armies that were present at the Battle of Bannockburn. I have been following his progress and last week he completed the Scottish command which included Robert de Bruce. Here is a sample of the detailed work that he does.

2. An excerpt from a possible short story.

The demon, Sturwig, is always near, sitting in the darkness waiting to pounce. I have fought him many times. The encounters long and arduous. 
Today he came again, swinging his long sword and bellowing insults. I ignored his ramblings. He approached slow and cautious. I held my ground, focusing on his eyes. Black like the moonless night and full of hatred. They were focused directly at me, his sword held high. He charged forward and swung down at my head expecting me to take the full brunt of the impact. I anticipated his move and pivoted sideways. His rush moved him forward exposing his left side. My sword came down on his exposed flank. He moaned but recovered quickly and swung back around. His sword smashed into my shield, the force of the blow pushing me back. It was difficult keeping upright but I managed to stay on my feet. He came at me with a furry of strikes that I had to dodge and parry. He stopped and stepped back expecting me to lunge in for an attack. When I failed to take the bait he came at me again. I was more prepared this time and managed to counter with some strikes of my own. We parted again, each one looking for an opening. I was bleeding through the cuts in my leather armor. Sturwig bled as well but didn’t seem to be weary from the wound on his back. He starred at me again and I thought he would rush straight ahead as before. Then his eyes shifted to my left. He gave a loud war cry and charged. I lowered my body into a position making me a smaller target. As he passed over my left I rammed with my shield hitting him in the side. The blow pushed him off balance and he went down on his back. As he  struggled to rise I struck with my sword. Thrusting upwards through his lungs and twisting to complete my attack. He howled in agony, the sound reverberating off the nearby hills. I stepped back pulling the blade out. Dark red blood flowed onto the ground draining that which the demons call life. Then very slowly the body crumbled into dust as his soul traveled back into the darkness. 

3. My favorite author, Snoopy.

4. Pete Seeger, an American folk singer with a message, died January 27, 2014 at the age of 94. There was a very good article written by Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY. My favorite song was “Turn, Turn, Turn.”

5. “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door— "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door— Only this and nothing more.”

This is the first part of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “The Raven.” It was published on January 29, 1845 in the “New York Evening Mirror.”

6. "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!”
The photo below is from the blog of a "French Canadian Wargamer." The figure is a 25mm Jabberwocky which took 3rd place in the Analogue Hobbies painting contest, "Villians' Theme Bonus Round." I like the figure and how well it was painted.

7. Last Saturday was my birthday. I have reached the age of 67. The number itself is not relative because I don’t think of “being old.” My life has been and continues to be blessed by God, for which I am thankful.  

Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Slow Takes (Vol. 130)

1. I have written about my cowboy heroes more than once on this blog. Last week I received an email from my wife Dee. It was a YouTube video about The Lone Ranger. A great story told by Jay Thomas and one that I have watched many times.

2. Dawn Moore is the daughter of the actor Clayton Moore. She wrote an article about Jay Silverheels, the actor who played Tonto. She wrote about what Jay accomplished as a Native American.

“If one wants to look for negative stereotypes, they are easily found. Certainly, in the insensitive decades during which the scripts for The Lone Ranger were written, it is bitingly evident. However, endless tributes from Native Americans about the lessons of tolerance and pride of heritage prove that Jay Silverheels made a difference. By conducting his life with a strong grace and profound nobility, he walked the walk.”
3. The “Polar Vortex Part Deux.” This whirling mass of snow is like a “Frost Giant” from Dungeons and Dragons. Charging down from the north with his snow axe. Swinging and spreading snow, ice and freezing winds. Impervious to magic swords and wizard spells. I sit in my chateau, protected by my armor of wool and my elixir of black coffee. Safe from the frigid 12 degree temperature outside. I know that it’s just a matter of out-waiting the beast. Soon, “Sunbringer,” she who wields the sword, Meltan, will arrive. She will clear the snow and ice and stop the freezing winds. She will send the winter beast back to the north   

4. Peter, Paul and Mary were part of the folk-singing era that I grew up in. I loved their music and still enjoy listening to it. This is one of my favorites that we used to sing when our friends gathered. There was always one or two guitars present to accompany the not so melodious voices.  

5. I was never a fan of basketball, but Dee and I have been attending more of the Richmond Spiders games this season. The game has become more interesting, especially those that are close. The last two games against Dayton and the University of Massachusetts were exciting. Both games 73-64 and 58-55 were wins that kept my heart pumping. Go Spiders!  

6. Margaret is a patient at Brandermill Woods Health Care Center. I met her Thursday morning as part of my Communion Service for our church. She is a lovely lady in her mid eighties and suffers from dementia. I spent some time talking and listening to her after this mornings readings. Margaret feels alone and confused. Please say a prayer for her that she will retain her faith and realize that she is loved and not alone.

7. Today is the memorial of Saint Frances de Sales, my patron saint. Born August 16, 1567 in Chateau de, Sales, France. Joined our Father on December 28, 1622.

“Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you.”

Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Slow Takes (Vol. 129)

1. My Word Today: Decrease

From Saturday’s Gospel.

“No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.  You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ, but that I was sent before him.  The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.  So this joy of mine has been made complete.  He must increase; I must decrease.”  John 3:27-30

From Saturday's Your Daily Tripod.

John the Baptist shows us how to deal with the tug of war.  Rather than getting wrapped up in his ministry and his interests, John was on guard against his own ego getting too big.  We must have that same awareness.  We must decrease.  Our thoughts, wants, needs, desires must decrease.  That is the only way to make room for what the bridegroom asks of us.”

John's Gospel was one of those that just reached out at me. I thought about some things to decrease and added a short reflection for each one.

Decrease from being angry with others …
People are not “out to get you.”
Decrease from being selfish …
Listen and open your heart to others.
Decrease from being lazy or complacent …
Get involved with others, make changes in your life.
Decrease from excessive self-esteem …
Change your outlook on life …  (Paradigm shift.) 
Decrease from extravagance …
Don’t lust after those things you think you must have.
Decrease from being resentful of others …
Be grateful.
Decrease from being greedy …
Share with others, do good.

2. One of my favorite Paul Simon videos. “You Can Call Me Al,” with Chevy Chase.

3. Our Monday night men’s group has been reading about Saint Augustine and Saint Benedict the last couple of weeks. During our discussions the question came up of how many different religious orders are there. I found there are over 100 for men and over 90 for women.

      Religious Orders for Men.               Religious Orders for Women.

4. Shopping at Costco’s provides an opportunity to sample different food and drinks that they are promoting. Our last visit there we tried some organic coffee. It was delicious. On our way out I stopped for another sample and a bag of the coffee. Later, at home I opened the bag to fill the coffee container and discovered coffee beans, duh! I never looked at the package, just assumed that it was regular ground coffee. So off I went back to Costco’s. I learned that I can ground the beans there. Another lesson in life.

5. January 17, 1781 the Battle of Cowpens took place in South Carolina. Banastre Tarleton led the British troops and the Americans had Daniel Morgan in command. The victory by Morgan was deemed as the turning point of the Southern Campaign for the American revolution. More details here at Wikipedia.

Battle of Cowpens by Charles McBarron
6. Thursday morning we had some unexpected snow in Richmond, Virginia. I love the early morning snow as it falls. It's peaceful. Watching it slowly cover the trees and lawn is like having God dressing the earth for a winter day.

7. “Let us pray for peace, and let us bring it about, starting in our own family.”   Pope Francis

I like this quote and can’t help think that the word “family” includes our own families as well as church, community, work and political families. However, we need to start with love and peace in our own family. This is a challenge but does create a foundation from which to build. I find that our family still has it’s issues but most families do. We are all “work in progress.”

Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.

Friday, January 10, 2014

My Slow Takes (Vol. 128)

1. It’s Tuesday about 10AM. The temperature is 12 degrees with a wind chill factor of minus three. My coffee is hot and my wool sweater is comfortable and warm. The sun is shining allowing me to forget about the frigid weather. It is a beautiful winter day.

2. On January 8, 1815, the final battle of the War of 1812 was fought in New Orleans. Andrew Jackson defeated an invading British Army, commanded by General Edward Pakenham. More details at Wikipedia.

3. Phil Everly of the “Everly Brothers” died Friday January 3, 2014. He was 74. 

4. On Wednesday the temperatures were warmer. It was 20 degrees and the sun continued to shine. This made for an enjoyable morning walk. I was the only one on the road and dressed as I was, it reminded me of Rocky Balboa when he was training for his fight. “Yo, how you doin’?”

5. I was putting together some writings for our men’s weekly group meeting. I found and re-read Steve Givens “Today’s Word: Gratitude.”

“We treasure the time with older family members and friends and learn to lean in a little closer when they tell stories that we want to make sure we never forget. Our friends — both old and new — become all the more precious to us as the years pass, and the opportunity to spend time with all those we love is a blessing beyond measure. When you face any kind of serious health issue you learn this fast: It is the presence of those special people that enriches our lives, and everything we have or own pales in comparison to the gift of that time together.And so we learn to live in gratitude and come to know that “thank you, God” can be the most important and deepest prayer we can ever say. For “thank you, God” means, “I’m paying attention.” It means, “This is not all just about me.” It means, “Everything is gift.””

The last two to three weeks I’ve been blessed to be able to spend time with family and friends. We shared many things, laughed, cried a little bit and created memories that will always be with us. I am grateful to God for this time and treasure these gifts.

6. I went for my annual flu shot this week. While I was completing the necessary consent form I was asked if I wanted the high dose shot. 
"Does that mean we have regular and high test vaccines?"
"Is the high test more expensive?"
"Does the high test give me more oomph?"
The druggist politely asked if I were 65 or older. Hmm, she was getting a little bit personal now. So now age is a factor. I had already written down my date of birth, so she had me. "Okay, I’m a candidate, you win, give me the high test."
"It’s high-dose sir, and it was designed specifically for your generation.” There was a smile on her face and what seemed to be a triumphant gleam in her eyes. Druggist 1, Paul 0.

7. I had Xbox, then purchased Xbox 360. Now Xbox One is available. The price is more than I want to invest in, but the new games are tempting me. "Ryse: Son of Rome"  and the new Halo trilogy are not available for Xbox 360. Well, at least not yet. Maybe I'll wait and see what develops.

Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Slow Takes (Vol. 127)

1. We were having lunch at Fishbone’s Restaurant Saturday. Our waitress, a pleasant cheerful young woman, was named Rachael. The name reminded me of an old childhood tune, “Rubin, Rubin.” It kept running through my mind but I couldn’t remember all the lyrics. Found a rendition on Youtube.

2. On January 1, 1960 Johnny Cash appeared on stage at San Quentin prison in San Rafael, California. He sang for the inmates, one of them being Merle Haggard.

3. The Irish Lads played in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. They outscored Rutgers 29-16. This was senior Tommy Lee’s final college football game. He threw for 319 yards and there were no interceptions. Senior Zack Martin, an offensive lineman, won the MVP award.

4. The ladies of our Winter 2013 trip to Duck, North Carolina. Jeanine, Maureen  Pam, Brenda and Dee.

5. Dee and I, oceanside, Duck, N.C.

6. I took this with my iPhone. It is on the sound side, late afternoon, along the Duck boardwalk.

7. Happy New Year. May you all have a blessed 2014.

Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.