More than just a Cheeky Hat

John Calvin Cheeky Hat

Edit 3/16/19:  Having noticed some readers have clicked on this post, I thought I’d have a look to refresh my memory.  Noticed the image links weren’t working, so I’m uploading today images to replace them.

In a post a week or two ago (that I can’t find, now), I mentioned how surprised I was to discover from his own writings that John Calvin had something to say to me about human suffering. That is, I was surprised to find somebody I’d more or less written off as a tedious and, at least ecclesiologically mistaken, if somewhat necessary doctrinaire whip-cracker who lived during an age when humans barely had sense enough to utter two-syllable words, much less reflect.

Here’re some quotes taken from a slim volume edited by Emilie Griffin – John Calvin: Selections from His Writings, the 12th chapter:

“But as for us, there are many reasons why we must pass our lives under a continual cross.…(God) can best restrain this arrogance when he proves to us by experience not only the great incapacity but also the frailty under which we labor. Therefore, he afflicts us either with disgrace, poverty, bereavement, death, or other calamities. Utterly unequal to bearing these, insofar as they touch us, we soon succumb to them. Thus humbled, we learn to call upon his power, which alone makes us stand fast under the weight of afflictions….Believers warned, I say, by such proofs of heir diseases advance toward humility and so, sloughing off perverse confidence in the flesh, betake themselves to God’s grace. (p. 125)”

“For not all of us suffer in equal degree from the same diseases or, on that account, need the same harsh cure. From this it is to be seen that some are tried by one kind of cross, others by another. But since the heavenly physician treats some more gently but cleanses others by harsher remedies, while he wills to provide for the health of all, he yet leaves no one free and untouched, because he knows that all, to a person, are diseased.…(p. 127)”

“….He afflicts us not to ruin or destroy us, but rather to free us from the condemnation of the world…Scripture teaches that this is the difference between unbelievers and believers: The former, like slaves of inveterate and double-dyed wickedness, with the chastisement become only worse and more obstinate. But the latter, like freeborn sons, attain repentance. Now you must choose in which group you would prefer to be numbered….(p. 127)”

“Yet such a cheerfulness is not required of us as to remove all feeling of bitterness and pain. Otherwise, in the cross there would be no forbearance of the saints, unless they were tormented by pain and anguished by trouble. If there were not harshness in poverty, no torment in diseases, no sting in disgrace, no dread in death – what fortitude or moderation would there be in bearing them with indifference? But since each of these, with an inborn bitterness, by it’s very nature bites the hearts of us all, the fortitude of the believing person is brought to light if – tried by the feeling of such bitterness – however grievously he is troubled with it, yet valiantly resist, he surmounts it….You see that patiently to bear the cross is not to be utterly stupefied and to be deprived of all feeling of pain…(pp. 128-9)”

I could go on quoting from this chapter, but to do justice to the sense Calvin makes of much that befalls the believer especially, I’d have write out the chapter, verbatim. Better just to cadge a copy and read it for yourself. The editorial remark at the top of the chapter notes that the material following is taken from the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book Three: The Way in Which We Receive the Grace of Christ.

Calvin and Hobbes

100 Dulces

Colombian Coffee Candy

Colombian Coffee Candy

I’m making this candy last, and have taken them to the office, so I feed on them from time to time to reward myself for my brilliant work.  Eric brought them when he came to visit last summer.  Instead of scanning the wrappers this time, I scanned the burlap candy bag.  Very attractive commercial art.

Some Baby Firsts

Yesterday evening, Seventy-Six observed me eating popcorn from a bowl and indicated by facial expression and reach that he wished to share my snack.  Of course, with only two very small teeth in front on the bottom, he’s not ready for popcorn.  Caution-Lady instead took part of a slice of whole-wheat bread and broke it up into tiny pieces, made ‘pills’ of them, and fed them to the boy out of his own bright orange, blue, and green solid-foods bowl.  That made him happy.

Then, a little later from another room, I heard Seventy-Six make his happy crowing sound and my wife clapping her hands exclaiming, “Good boy! I knew you could do it.”  In I went to see what was going on, and the Cautious One informed me that our baby had rolled over from his back to his stomach while chewing on a sock he’d pulled from one of his feet.  This advance in mobility delighted the little guy, his affect brightened considerably, and he appeared to view every familiar object in his play area in the light of this newfound ability.  He spent the next hour or so playing, rolling around to get things.

Our son in his first boat - pool practice session at the Sheraton Read House

Our son in his first boat - pool practice session at the Read House

First time for 76 in a real kayak - practice session in the back yard boat on saw-horses

First time for 76 in a real kayak - practice session in the back yard boat on saw-horses

Conservative T-Shirts That Mock Liberals, Oh My!

This morning I posted a link at my Facebook profile (search Facebook for Christov_Tenn) to the website of an online retailer of T-Shirts and other paraphernalia emblazoned with sometimes mocking and otherwise humorous or clever conservative slogans and/or designs. Heck, I didn’t even choose a mocking image to illustrate the link, just a simple McCain/Palin campaign T. One of my cousins, as far to the left as I am to the right, mocked back in the comment box Facebook provides. Other comments were posted. When I returned home from work, I drank about half a pot of black, room temperature coffee left over from this morning, soapboxed a wordy reply of my own.

Here’s the design that seems to have incited the Facebook exchange:

Is this offensive?  Should conservative slogan-writers be required to produce what amounts to comfort speech for the left?

Is this offensive? Should conservative slogan-writers be required to produce what amounts to "comfort speech" for the left?

And here are my comments posted in response to those of my cousin:

creating an environment…” (cousin’s name removed), I’ve got to say, “Blah, blah, blah.” Political mockery is absolutely something that Americans of every ilk have always indulged in. If anything, it allows us to blow off steam and release tension.

We are never under any obligation to utter “comfort speech” to any group or person. Free political speech is a constitutional right.

I guess if you want to be scared over there on the left that some “lone gunman” might commit a crime upon the basis of the mocking replacement of sibilant with a labial stop, you’re free to express your fears in the same way those on the right are to express their fears about the possibility of some authoritarian, power-hungry socialist whip-cracker ceding national sovereignty to ideological brethren in the United Nations.

But c’mon, let’s have the courage to poke fun at all the asshats who imagine it is their divine right to impose their half-baked ideas and wills upon us.

Adds a final blah, steps off soapbox

And a little while later, after I realized my mistake:

Hey, but the reason I posted this link in the first place was to give my own ideological brethren (which at this point means those willing to press McVote touch-screen-happy-meal button for “Anybody but Obama”) a source for McCain Palin T-shirts since the local Republican headquarters are all out of them.

Sibilant & stop I got mixed up, supra. Actually the unintended meaning in re: the aspersion cast is pretty funny in itself.

I thought it would be interesting to bring it out here into the blogosphere.

Have a look at some of the T-Shirts and stuff at MetroSpy, then tell me whether they scare you, whether the people who find them amusing scare you, whether you find them amusing, or whether they make you want to burn thing and throw stones outside embassy gates…

The poll’s skin is a soothing pink bearing the image of a buttlerfly, a universally recognized symbol that bespeaks change and peace, intended as comforting framework within which to meaningfully express by clicking true sentiments in the safe online world of Mr. Christov’s WordPress blog.

Winchester City Park to Wagner & Boiling Fork Creeks

Last Thursday and Friday, I completed most of my Chattanooga reports and did some other work. I haven’t felt much like writing anything else, but do want to post some photos from my paddle yesterday afternoon at Winchester, Tennessee. Mapquest revealed the location Winchester City Park, which is across the street from the city’s Swimplex. A windy day, and possibly the coolest sunny day we’ve had this Fall, the boat ramp was not busy, although a children’s party of some sort was taking place at or around a nearby pavilion.

As I was readying Campsis Radicans for launch, a man in a bassboat in friendly fashion told me I would be well served by a sailing rig. No fish had he caught. We laughed about the wind. I was looking forward to paddling against it, I felt like I needed the exercise and something to resist (however, if the radical socialists prevail in the coming US elections, thinking Americans who put their nation and its constitution first will have plenty to resist – see Buchanan & WSJ).

On the water, I paddled left, past the other boat ramp and the fishing dock, then under the bridge. I came to a sort drainpipe through which I paddled into a backwater into which flowed a creek the name of which I do not know. Paddled under a footbridge and around a bend then through a tiny sea of twigs until I ran aground, then back the way I came. A footpath with benches and a bridge passed over and along the creek’s bank, apparently part of the city park complex.

Both my prior trips this way, I ignored Wagner Creek Branch. On the map, it doesn’t look like much. From the water, too many houses on the bank at my right, steep and rocky with fewer houses on my left. I liked the left bank much better. Saw a small kayak unsuitable for covering flatwater distance on a paved private boat ramp behind a too large, too new house that I tried not to covet. On the left bank I saw an eccentrically but attractively painted dock.

Under the road bridge farther upstream I saw a fat, brown groundhog on a rocky shelf next to the water. Looking at me as I greeted it with a quiet and surprised, “Hello,” the creature turned and hastily walked out of sight under an overhanging shelf nearby. Around the next clump of trees and shoreline, I met a man and woman fishing. They said they had caught nothing, and asked a couple of questions about kayaks.

Back out and around the point to Boiling Fork creek, the wind began to howl from the northeast, as NOAA had predicted. I spoke baby words my son uses into the wind, “Eeeachh,” “Eh, Eh,” then “Bwah!” to the water. Early yet, I thought it would be interesting to back to that cave I’d paddled into on June 21, the day I paddled twice to the map’s edge. The water was lower by several feet, yesterday, as Tims Ford reduces volume to winter pool levels. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it that far back up Boiling Fork.

Strong wind at my back I thought, “Paddling back against this will be difficult.” Water was sufficiently high to wend my way through Winchester, the slough behind the main street into town, probably Hwy 41-A/64, then past the new Franklin County High School, and to the cave in question. I could have gone farther, but since I’d got such a late start (on the water around 12:15 pm), I’d head back after seeing the cave. I observed tracks in the cave I could not identify. One of the photos I took of the inky blackness beyond the muddy floor shows the gleam of what might have been an animal’s eye. Maybe a raccoon or a small wildcat of the sort indigenous to the region. I observed the cave paintings of a troglodyte band proclaiming themselves “PUNKS” next to red earthen handprints and an alphabetic arrangement I have not yet deciphered in the same medium. Through a cloud of mosquitoes at the cave’s mouth I paddled backwards, observing a large carp in the shallow water unconcerned with my presence.

Stopped out of the wind to eat a snack made of two Slim Jims and a croissant, three generic Fig Newton cookies, and two hands full of salted almonds and raisins. And then back to the boat ramp against the howling wind that sped my passage the other way. Near the roadbridge close to the city park’s boat ramp, I saw two men in a flatbottom, motorized fishing boat. One of them said he was having a pretty good day, had caught no fish, and opined that less the wind, the day would improve.

Shortly thereafter, upon reaching the boat ramp, I wished the wind had been stronger. I saw another of the groundhogs standing on the rocks beside the ramp. I took a picture as the animal quickly walked away.

Paddling back toward the drainpipe on a nameless creek's backwater

Paddling back toward the drainpipe on a nameless creek's backwater

Back from Chattanooga

This is where we stayed again, this year

This is where we stayed again, this year

Caution-Lady, Seventy-Six, and I returned home to our Loathsome Stepford home after a couple of days at Chattanooga. Chattanooga, with the exception of Savannah, Georgia, is my favorite Southern city. I spent most of my time there this week slaving for the people. We did have supper last night with friends, and the night before that overrate at The City Cafe, around the corner from the Read House.

Roof Better Now & Island Paddling

Island maze is visible at far right - click for larger image

Island maze is visible at far right - click for larger image

I got out and cleaned the rain gutters yesterday morning. After the roof shingles dried, around 11:00, Don came over and fixed the roof. I was going to act as his helper, but got preoccupied degreasing Thursday’s motor, then trying to figure out why it quit running as I’d left it in neutral, hood-open to dry out the engine-compartment. By the time I climbed up the ladder, Don had pretty much got the chimney work done. Then I got hung up trying to figure out whether to pay off this house, list it, sell it, before buying another, or do those things without first paying off the mortgage. Trying to think through emergency funds, investments, Seventy-Six college funding. By that time, Don had completed the work and I wrote him a check. I felt bad leaving him to do that work alone when his goal had probably been, in part, to teach me how to do some of that stuff. Somehow, when I’m trying to manage things, I often manage to disappoint myself and others. Maybe just myself.

Car started again, probably some moisture in the distributor cap that dried off after awhile, because the plug sockets were bone-dry when I checked them, earlier.

Around three o’clock, I loaded the car with gear, and roof-racked Campsis Radicans, took a check out to my Hillsboro mechanic to pay for that replacement radio I got a month or two ago from a smashed 850 Turbo in his field of parts cars. Brian and I talked about parenting, Tommy educated me on the finer points of engine-compartment beautification, I looked at an ’01 Cross-Country and ’89 745 that still had both corner lights and something I’ve never before seen on any 700 series car – the towing-eye cover. Yes, I wanted to buy both cars. Heck, we need a wagon. My dream car has always been a Volvo wagon. Caution-Lady would love a wagon. We could trade or sell Whitecar (’93 940T)…

A fellow named Denny paddling upstream from Dabbs Ford to fish

A fellow named Denny paddling upstream from Dabbs Ford to fish

Yeah, so about an hour later I made it to the put-in below Prairie Plains Road Bridge at Dabbs Ford, and saw something I’ve never before seen on Woods Reservoir – another seakayaker. Guy in a truck with a 17′ Wilderness Systems Unknown-To-Me model kayak on the roof racks. We talked about paddles, the unlikelyhood of meeting another long-boater at Woods. He paddled upstream to fish, and I paddled downstream to challenge myself with the maze of islands down at that end of the lake.

Entering the maze of islands where the Elk flows into Woods Reservoir

Entering the maze of islands where the Elk flows into Woods Reservoir

I didn't know turtles were such good climbers

I didn't know turtles were such good climbers

Because I don’t often get on the water this late, I didn’t have any clear idea how much daylight remained to me. I paddled down the Elk, past the small refrigerator that serves as a channel-marker, its door open and empty. Keeping left, I paddled to a shallow place, got out, and inflated the hip pads I’d forgotten to inflate when I launched. Climbed back in and continued. I saw three bird-boxes on posts in backwater channels and along the shore. I saw a fist-sized turtle clinging to the branch of a fallen tree. I saw duck blinds. Heard two sonic booms occurred one quickly after the other; these sounded, if possible higher because their shockwaves were not very intense. I saw herons and three or four ducks.

These red leaves attracted my attention

These red leaves attracted my attention

On the water only an hour and forty-five minutes or so, I didn’t feel like I’d had much of a workout. I drove out Prairie Plains Road to Miller’s Crossing with the low mountains of Grundy County ahead and to my right.


Here’s something I wrote to a few friends yesterday.  I’ve been preoccupied and concerned about this matter for the past few weeks.  The message kind of explains itself.  If you haven’t heard from me for awhile, or if I haven’t seemed myself, this is a big part of why.
Today was a better.  House doesn’t need a new roof, and I’ll have help with the repairs tomorrow.
Seventy-Six wrote: “l klm k ;../4.”

I had a reply all written out, then had to hold the boy while his mother made him a bottle. I thought it would be fun to let him type on the keyboard, because that is often his greatest desire, and while he wrote nonsense like what you see above, he also managed to strike the sequence that closed the browser window and lost what I’d already written.

This time, I let him write something before I started writing.

We’ve got some more information. For brevity, I’ll cut and paste what I posted at Facebook. Yeah, I know. But my excuse is that many of my relatives spend time on Facebook…The damned wall text boxes only take a few dozen characters.

Christov wrote: “I just sent this to (emailed to younger brother and sister-in-law). What I left out of the message, because I forgot it while writing, is that the Small One will require surgery regardless of the radiological interpretation. Best case is day-surgery that will hopefully not leave a Franken-Baby scar, best-worst-case is neurosurgery and overnight stay that hopefully will not reduce our little monkey to simian intelligence.

This accursed text-box will not accept the entire pasted email message to which I alluded supra. It follows in the next text-box.

The doctor, an old guy who teaches at VUMC and communicates what sounds like sense, said it is most likely a dermoid cyst, and is located where these excrescences are most commonly found. VUMC has scheduled Seventy-Six for a head CT scan, I think they’re called, 31 October. He will have to be sedated in order to remain still for imaging. The scan should reveal whether the cyst extends through the suture line into the skull as a roughly dumb-bell shaped mass or is entirely outside the skull. It appears to be completely covered in bone, is fixed in its position, and is non-pulsile.

We returned home to find a puddle of water near the red tile between the fireplace and the dining area. New shingles, ceiling re-taped and painted, and chimney resealed again.

I so want to smash things.”

I’ve been pissed off all day. Angry with my wife, my house, my life. I expressed myself Godward with profanity. Do a google image search for “dermoid cyst” – they’re pretty disgusting. I have no idea how much the surgery will cost – insurance pays 80%. You know, like if I was a better man I would inhabit better circumstances.

If F-words were bombs Stepford would be a smoking, greasy black pit.

Crumpton Creek Branch, Normandy Lake

Fallen leaves litter the lake's briefly still surface

Fallen leaves litter the lake's briefly still surface - click for larger image

More of the pictures are here.

Up this morning before five, I intended to get on the water by about six-thirty. I was about to make my lunch, I heard the baby making happy sounds and went in to play with him. Way more fun than paddling. I was on the water an hour later than scheduled, and the wind was earlier than usual, blowing from the south or southwest.

My goal today was to paddle as far up Crumpton Creek branch as I could get. I last paddled there with Mike and his son, Jesse, in the spring of ’06, if memory serves. At that time, I was paddling sans rudder, which proved a trial in beam and tailwinds. Water was higher then, and we got maybe three tenths of a mile further than I got today. Leaves turning now fall is here, and released by their trees scattered upon the water’s surface.

Light rain fell some this morning. I saw blue, purple, yellow, and white wildflowers in bloom. All the flowers were very small.

Sonic boom startled me as I rested under the overhang

Sonic boom startled me as I rested under the overhang

This morning, under the overhang below the house in the picture, a plane broke the sound barrier and its boom shook the rock. Thought it was a thunderclap right overhead until the next boom from the chase plane again shook the earth. A startled fish jumped beside my bow.

I ate my lunch seated on a rock in the middle of Crumpton Creek an easy walk upstream of where I beached the kayak. Then I paddled back to the car. Wind almost took the red boat off my car’s roof as I attempted to strap it down.

Later this afternoon we looked at houses, found one we think we like enough to make an offer on. We may put our house on the market next week.