Friday, March 27, 2020

B156. Staying at Home: And That's an Order

I've been practicing this for 16 days now, so if you're thinking we just can't do this, I wrote this for you.

This afternoon North Carolina's governor joined other states in mandating a statewide stay at home order to go into effect Monday at 5:00 PM. Hopefully none of us will wait for that time.

Here are the basic rules:
No gatherings of more than 10 people. (8 or 5 or 2 or 1 would be even better.)
Keep a "social distance" of at least 6 feet at all times. (20 or 50 would be even better.)
We can still go outside. We can still buy groceries and meds. We can still help family.

We are all affected by this and all the previous mandates leading up to this one. Many are stressed financially, uncertain where this might leave them and their families. Many are out of work. Children are out of school. Those losing loved ones are having to postpone funeral services or have only small graveside gatherings.

Others are sick and afraid to tell us, because we have come to fear this virus as the Bubonic Plague of the Medieval Period or as the leprosy of  Bible times. It is neither. Still many are becoming seriously ill, and many who are older or who have other respiratory or autoimmune conditions are dying. Most get sick and get well, like the flu.

I am very fortunate so far. This is affecting me mostly as an inconvenience. I had to clear my calendar of friend visits, a family birthday celebration, various church events, etc. I continue to make adjustments to how to navigate this new and daily changing normal.

By the time this stay at home mandate comes into effect, I will be 19 days into practicing it, so here are some things I've begun to learn:

1. The gym. I miss it, but it's springtime, so it's perfect for walking, running or biking. I've been walking daily, usually in my neighborhood but once or twice a week in the park, which is not off limits as long as we keep that social distance. I've also enjoyed choosing random exercise videos on YouTube and stretching or jumping around in my living room with the online instructor. Maybe your regular exercise instructor has an online option through this time.

2. Food. Restaurants have been closed to inside dining, but many are still offering take-out or curb service. Grocery stores will remain open and are definitely thriving through this pandemic, with a challenge of keeping their shelves stocked fast enough. I have limited my grocery shopping to twice a month and am using Food Lion To Go, via InstaCart. Other grocery chains use this or a similar service. It's a fun way to shop. You place an order on-line, then drive there and pop open the trunk for someone to load it all into the car. You've already paid online, so there's no social interaction, and you don't even need to get out of the car. One warning: prepare yourself for unavailable items. If the store doesn't have it in stock (and that includes a lot right now), they can't give it to you.

3. Church. Again, I've been fortunate. My church was ahead of the curve on all of this. We cancelled services before it was mandated, and then all face-to-face meetings. Our ministers videotape the worship service every Sunday, and those of us on various committees and meeting groups have learned to meet via Zoom. I miss the face-to-face interaction, but I'm glad we are able to stay connected online and that we are caring for each other's safety. I'm learing to enjoy "going to church" in my sweatpants, and this past Sunday I "attended" four different churches.

4. Family and Friends. This one has been the most difficult for me; worrying about loved ones who are "high risk," especially those who are not taking the mandates or the virus seriously, and those who understand with their heads why I'm keeping a distance, but not with their hearts. Again, technology offers some solace. Phone calls are helpful, Facetime is the next best thing to being there, and, I haven't tried this yet with family and friends, but for larger groups, Zoom would work great socially.

And all of us have loved ones who might need some extra help during this time. Definitely call regularly to check on them. Then help connect them to services of the church or community. So many services are popping up to help with grocery shopping and other tasks, especially for those in the high risk categories: those over 65 or those with respiratory or autoimmune diseases. Those of us with helping hearts might struggle at not volunteering to do all the helping ourselves, but if we are high risk, we are not just putting ourselves in danger but also the ones we're helping, and their families, and our families, and everyone else with whom we (and they) continue to interact. What we can give though, in addition to connecting them to help, is love, through calls, notes, or whatever other safe means we have.

5. Alone time. Normally I'm great with alone time. Admittedly I've been less so these past 16 days. I've kept too close a watch on the news, wondering and worrying how this might all play out. I've stayed unsettled, but my immediate goal is to settle in and focus on other things as much as possible. I read books, journal, work on projects . . . watch movies, work puzzles, play Words With Friends online . . . I email, call, and Facetime with friends . . . I walk in the park and take photos . . .

For those of us fortuante enough to have online access (and I'm guessing you do, because here you are), I've been extremely impressed with the variety of entertainers and entertainment venues that, having had to close their doors to the public, are now offering concerts, plays, etc. on-line, for free, or as a means of keeping some income coming. There are free ebooks, free movies, and/or curbside services for books and videos at the public library.

Think of all the things you've said you'd love to do if you only had the time . . . We have the time now.

6. Health, Some of you are going about your lives as usual. Some of us are heeding every precaution even to how we handle groceries or mail being brought into our houses. Most are somewhere between these extremes. We cannot know who of us will become sick, or which of us will recover most easily. What we know we don't want to happen though is watching loved ones die because the hospitals were too full to take them in, or because all the ventilators were already in use. "Flattening the curve" means keeping everyone from getting sick at the same time, so there will be space and resources for all who need them. What we also know is that the confirmed cases are multiplying quickly now, and that we are likely heading for the worst.

Do you care about yourself? Do you care about anyone? Me too, so let's stay at home. Even if there are other good things we want to be doing, and even if we don't think any of these precautions are necessary. For us, for someone else, for everyone else. We can do this.

Monday, March 16, 2020

B155. Coronavirus: Emotional Care Across Social Distance

Across our nation and beyond, the coronavirus “curve flattening” measures are detrimentally
affecting many of our older adults who don’t understand the seriousness of the threat. These
are nursing home residents who don’t understand the no visitors rule for their protection. They are people recently hospitalized for trauma or illness unrelated to the coronavirus who also cannot understand the isolation restrictions. They are the salt-of-the earth rural church attenders who find comfort and sensibility In their preachers’ insistence that all they need to be concerned about is being in church and trusting God.

This pastoral advice to avoid panic is wise advice, but we also need a healthy balance of fear, fear based on the scientific and mathematical potential of this pandemic. We are living in an unprecedented moment, a moment that may well become a defining moment of our history. The world has changed so much in the past two weeks that none of us knows quite how to process it or what to expect from here, except that it seems likely things will be worse before better.

Are the leaders calling for social isolation considering the domino effect of devastating loss of
revenue to local businesses and restaurants? Seemingly unending cancellations, postpone-
ments, and closures have meant great stress to those having to make such calls. How much money has Disney lost in closing its parks, and the sports leagues in cancelling their seasons? Were these decisions made lightly without consideration also of the waves of disappointment from ticket holders and from families with hotel reservations and happy plans?

And the churches and organizations that have cancelled all their services, meetings, and events
until further notice? They too will lose needed income, as well as funds already spent for events
that now won’t happen, and they too will disappoint many. Did they make these decisions lightly
without considering the predictable consequences? And the widespread school closings. Did those decision-makers consider the many families with no childcare, or the many students
who depend on schools for their food? Yes, I think they did, and the decisions were heart-wrenchingly difficult. Every single one.

These are confusing times for all of us, but more so for those who are not hearing real expla-
nations they can understand, or worse, those being intentionally or unintentionally misinformed.
Besides that the lack of factual information might be putting them in physical danger, it is also
damaging them psychologically and emotionally. Their own children and grandchildren are
“social distancing” from them, and they, as they continue all their regular church, shopping, and
visiting activities, are feeling unloved, forgotten, and unimportant. Their own world has changed little, so they can’t understand why they are being abandoned. This in itself is detrimental, but we can help.

First, pastors and others who have a voice of power, acknowledge to your congregations/
groups that you don't really understand all that's going on. Avoid feeding them hoax stories, and avoid oversimplified "God is in control" messages. While "God is in control," you and those under your guidance also have some control that could save both dignity and lives. Cancel your gatherings, even if you just preached a sermon against such cancellation. Humility is a Christian virtue. “Maybe I was wrong. God is indeed in control, but I really don’t understand everything” is a good start. Yes, you will lose some needed income. Perhaps that's where the trust in God comes in. Do not further divide your flock from their family members who are trying to “social distance” for everyone’s protection. Do not take your position of power lightly. Your word is often taken as God’s, which is both privilege and enormous responsibility.

Second, for those of us who are "social isolating": Stay intentionally connected to those who are listening to other voices. They are confused by all that's happening, and they don't understand how a virus that hasn’t yet affected anyone they know could keep their own families from wanting to visit them. Explain, yes, gently, but realize that your one-voice-in-many will not be enough to give them peace. Call them more often than usual, to check on them and just to talk and listen. Facetime if they have that access.

None of us knows the end of this story. We never do while we’re living through it. Fortunately
though, even from a distance, we can offer our loved ones the peace and assurance of our love. Social Distancing has given us more free time. Can we intentionally give a little more of it to the emotional well-being of those we love?

Saturday, February 1, 2020

B154. Shine Bright, Pink Moon

My phone rang at 10:00 PM. Trevor Williams, it said. I smiled. It must be a starry night. Trevor knew I shared his awe of the wonders of the night sky. This time though it was the moon. “Have you seen the moon?”, he asked, “Go outside,” and I did. As I looked at the bright moon in wonder, he explained to me the history of the “pink moon,” so named by Native Americans, not for its color but for a particular April flower. I thanked Trevor for calling to share with me, and we said good night and hung up, my heart still smiling at such a precious friendship.

I had met Trevor about five years earlier in 2012, shortly after I joined FPC. We attended Sunday School and small group together, and our souls quickly recognized each other as kindred, notwithstanding the almost four-decade difference in our life experience, he having then about 87 years.

I didn’t know Trevor in his prime, when he was a Navy Officer or medical then psychiatrist Dr. Williams. I didn't know Trevor as an FPC elder and Stephen Minister. I didn’t know his wife Jean or their three children, nor his grandchildren and great-grandchildren except through his stories.

The older Trevor I knew was a storyteller. He loved to talk about his life experiences, his family, something he had read in a book, or something recently featured in his Biblical Archeology magazine. I knew Trevor the wood carver, not from seeing him carve, but from hearing his stories, and reading about his carvings for Hood Seminary, and seeing the long wall of carvings in our own church hallway.

The past couple of years hearing was a struggle for him, so, even apart from his cancer challenges, I saw him less often. It’s frustrating to attend meetings or sit in the midst of conversation and be unable to follow. I sent him blue cards often, and we sometimes sent greetings back and forth through his wife (my friend) Gail.

This past November I visited them twice in their home. One visit we looked through two large scrapbooks of his vast life accomplishments: documents, awards, degrees, mementos: and next visit, at my invitation, he read aloud from his memoirs written in a class he and Gail had been attending. Then I last saw him less than three weeks ago when our small group met at their house. He greeted each of us cheerfully, with signature Trevor genuineness and kindness. Then he went to his bed to rest while we had our meeting. The pain was becoming less controllable, and he was easily exhausted.

Trevor would have turned 96 this coming April, the month of the pink moon. I will look f
or it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

B153. The Third Rung

Each of us thinks s/he has reached wisdom, all anyone really needs to know about life. Maybe we are on the second rung of a 100-step ladder, but having never seen any higher, are unaware that we are missing almost everything. Such awareness, looking up and seeing that we know almost nothing, is perhaps the beginning of wisdom.

It is at that point that we hunger for more. We listen to voices unlike our own. We read outside our comfortable boxes. We travel to places we've never seen. We recognize sparks of wisdom in others. Perhaps wisdom is not about reaching the top, or being ahead of anyone else, we ponder, but something of which we find missing pieces in every human we encounter.

We slowly and carefully erase the lines that have boxed us in, and, not knowing what we might find there, we reach for the third rung.


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Sunday, December 29, 2019

B152. Personal Inventory 2019


In My Church

Like last year, if my 2019 had a defining category, it would probably be Church. I continued to be active with my Sunday School class, small group, and Presbyterian Women. I continued serving as an Elder, on the Worship Committee, and coordinating communion servers. In December I enjoyed guest teaching one of the other Sunday School classes.

In January I spent a week in Orlando in Stephen Ministry Leadership Training (photo below left), then helped to train a new group of Stephen Ministers in our church. This training is intense, initially 50 hours (meeting for 2 1/2 hours once a week), then with on-going continuing training twice monthly. Definitely a highlight of my year, as we have spent many hours bonding and training together. 

And possibly the most fun highlight of my entire year was also church related. In March I led the annual Presbyterian Women's retreat at St. Francis Springs Retreat Center. A beautiful weekend of worship, Bible study, walking, dining, playing, laughing, and bonding. (photo below right)


Other Volunteer Work

Lee St. Theatre: greeter and usher

Literacy Council and Communities in Schools: literacy tutor for three 3rd graders at Hanford-Dole Elementary School; also particpated in Literacy Council fundraisers - the Scrabble Scramble and an on-line Words With Friends tournament


More Fun Memories

Queen City Mischief & Magic: weekend Harry Potter festival (photo below left)

Raleigh get-away, featuring the Capitol, the NC Museum of History, a fabulous Lebanese meal at Sitti, and the Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera exhibit at the NC Museum of Art (photo below center)

Surprise overnight stay in The Blackburn Inn, recently renovated to upscale hotel, part of state asylum in 1800s. Features include Thomas Jefferson architectural history, an amazing winding staircase to the roof, and the best (and complimentary!) breakfast I've ever had in any hotel!

Speaking at JMU

A Daddy-and-Me day, featuring the NC Transportation Museum

A very special Christmas with my family

New car

A Buttigieg town hall in SC, and campaigning for local city council candidates

Multiple Tea Times with friend Cathy

Seeing Tony Campolo in Harrisonburg VA (photo below right)


Entertainment / Hobbies

The amazing Overdrive app I discovered last year, for free audiobook access (through the public library) has remained a constant and steadfast friend, as has the library itself for both books and movies. I listen to books while I drive, while I clean, and sometimes while I work puzzles. This year's inventory:

Books: 50  (17 read, 33 audio)
Movies: 37
Live Stage Productions: 10

My favorite books this year were: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976) and Nototious RBG (2015). My favorite movies were Philomena (2013) and On the Basis of Sex (2018).

I discovered two game apps that have entertained me: Words With Friends and Puzzle Page; and my last year's renewed passion for jigsaw puzzles continues. I held myself to only 11 this year. Also, I continue to sell used books, videos, etc. on Amazon, definitely at a hobby only level. Writing continues to be a passion, with a concentration this year primarily on personal journaling.

Books Read: 50 (listed in order of publication year)

Old Testament (repeat, audio)
Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, 1719, audio) adventure novel of sea, deserted island, faith
Silas Marner (George Eliot, 1861, audio) classic novel of injustice, disillusionment, redemption
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain, 1876, audio, repeat) boyhood antics, fiction
10 Days in a Mad-House (Nellie Bly, 1887, audio) journalist undercover in asylum

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde, 1890, audio) novel of art & darkness of the soul
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button &. . . Jazz Age Tales (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1922, audio)
Stuart Little (E.B. White, 1945) children’s novel by Charlotte’s Web author
The Crucible (Arthur Miller, 1953, audio, repeat) novel of Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism
Go Tell It on the Mountain (James Baldwin, 1953, audio) autobiog novel, 1930s Harlem

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred Taylor, 1976, audio) child’s view of race; autobio fiction
The Quest for Quality Care (Kenneth Haugk, 1990) light-hearted guide to caring for others
Catch-22 (Joseph Heller, 1961, audio) classic novel of war and power games
Tiger Eyes (Judy Blume, 1981, audio) Young Adult novel - girl coping with father’s death
Raney (Clyde Edgerton, 1985) endearing tale of newlywed’s Southern culture marital clashes

Boundaries (Cloud & Townsend, 1992, audio) taking control of your own life, non-fiction
Orphan Train Rider (Andrea Warren, 1996, audio) bio of an orphan train child; US history
We Were the Mulvaneys (Joyce Carol Oates, 1996, audio) novel of a family changed by a rape
The Intimate Merton: . . .from His Journals (Merton/Hart/Montaldo, 1999) Thomas Merton
Being Presbyterian in the Bible Belt (TV Foote & PA Thornburg, 2000) what Presby believe

Jayber Crow (Wendell Berry, 2000, audio) novel of one man’s Walden-like journey through life
Stories in His Own Hand: The Everyday Wisdom of Ronald Reagan (Skinner, 2001)
The Art of Being a Healing Presence (J. Miller / S. Cutshall, 2001)
The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers (Amy Hollingsworth, 2001, audio)
Our Lives Are Rivers (Mark Smith-Soto, 2003) poetry, autobiographical and powerful

A Mercy (Toni Morrison, 2008, audio) slavery and relationships
The Good and Beautiful Community (James Bryan Smith, 2010) spiritual formation
Home (Toni Morrison, 2012, audio) novel of young black vet’s return from Korean War
Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity (Felton, 2012)
The Interestings (Meg Wolitzer, 2013, audio) novel: teen summer camp friends into adulthood

Mom & Me & Mom (Maya Angelou, 2013, audio) page-turning autobiography
You Can’t Be That (Susan Wright Beard, 2013) novel about a female Baptist pastor
Walk To Beautiful (Jimmy Wayne, 2014, audio) homeless child turned country singer, bio
Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories (Ron Rash, 2014, audio) 35 Southern stories
Canoeing the Mountains (Tod Bolsinger, 2015) church leadership for post-Christendom world

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli, 2015, audio) young adult novel
God Help the Child (Toni Morrison, 2015, audio) captivating story of past pains living on; fiction
Notorious RBG (Carmon & Knizhnik, 2015, audio) Ruth Bader Ginsburg bio
The Secrets of Midwives (Sally Hepworth, 2015, audio) novel of mothers and daughters
Boy Erased: A Memoir (Garrard Conley, 2016, audio) memoir of ex-gay conversion therapy

Rise Up Shepherd (Luke A. Powery, 2017) Advent devotional based on spirituals
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Erika Sanchez, 2017, audio) young adult novel
God’s Promise: I Am With You (Amy Poling Sutherlun, 2018) Presby Women Bible Study
Inspired (Rachel Held Evans, 2018, audio) nonfiction; reading the Bible w/o literalism
The Good Neighbor: . . . Fred Rogers (Maxwell King, 2018, audio) well-researched history/bio

The 11-Fingered Jesus (Cathy Cook, 2019) page-turning Southern novel
Owner’s Guide for Quick Reference: 2020 Civic Sedan (2019)
No One Is Too Small To Make a Difference (Greta Thunberg, 2019) her climate speeches
How To Be an Antiracist (Ibram X. Kendi, 2019, audio) challenge to reframe, non-fiction
Furious Hours (Casey Cepp, 2019, audio) a must-read for Harper Lee aficionados

Movies Seen: 37 (listed in order of release year)

The Children’s Hour (1961) teachers falsely accused, Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, repeat) lawyer in deep south defends a black man
Catch-22 (1970) based on novel, WWII bombardiers
Go Tell It on the Mountain (1984) based on James Baldwin’s autobiographical novel
Mrs. Soffel (1984) prison warden’s wife helps 2 death row inmates escape; based on true story
Mesmerized (1985) based on true story of young bride’s arranged marriage, circa 1900
Mrs. Brown (1997) based on true story of Queen Victoria’s friendship w/ servant John Brown The Prince of Egypt (1998) animated musical story of Moses
The Matrix (1999) sci-fi, reality as virtual Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001, repeat) based on the first Harry Potter novel

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002, repeat) based on the 2nd Harry Potter novel
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban (2004, repeat) based on the 3rd Harry Potter novel
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, repeat) based on the 4th Harry Potter novel
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007, repeat) based on 5th Harry Potter novel The Secret Life of Bees (2008, repeat) touching novel-to-movie set in 1964 South

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009, repeat) based on 6th Harry Potter novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010, repeat) based on 7th Harry Potter novel
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011, repeat) based on 7th Harry Potter novel
My Week with Marilyn (2011) brief connection with Marilyn Monroe, based on true story
I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011) romantic comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker

Philomena (2013) based on the true story of a baby sold to Americans by an Irish convent
Loving (2016) based on true story of interacial couple whose case changed the law
First Girl I Loved (2016) high school drama Coco (2017) Pixar animated feel-good story inside the Dia de los Muertos The Upside (2017) rich quadriplegic & excon caretaker, based on a true story

Disobedience (2018) tense drama: same-sex and religion
Book Club (2018) Book Club reads 50 Shades; romantic comedy
I Can Only Imagine (2018) based on life of Mercy Me’s Bart Millard
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018) documentary about Mr. (Fred) Rogers
On the Basis of Sex (2018) Ruth Bader Ginsburg bio, gender equality Green Book (2018) black pianist 1962 concert tour through deep South, based on true story Three Identical Strangers (2018) disturbing and true adoption documentary
Tell It To the Bees (2019) Tale of forbidden same-sex romance, set in 1952 Scotland
Rocketman (2019) Elton John music & bio
Downton Abbey (2019) great feel-good movie for those of us who loved the series
Harriet (2019) based on the life of Harriet Tubman, slave & Underground RR conductor
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers


When They See Us (2019 Netflix miniseries) true story of 1989 Central Park 5 Orange Is the New BlackSeasons 1-3 (2013-15, Netflix) Grace & Frankie,  Seasons 3-4 (2017-18, Netflix) Glee, Season 6 (2014-15)

Live Productions (10)

The Cake  (Lee St. Theatre, Feb) struggle of baking cake for friend’s daughter and her bride
“Land of the Free” patriotic concert (Piedmont Prime Time Community Band, Mar)
Mamma Mia (Piedmont Players Theatre, Apr) musical featuring Abba music
Blood Done Sign My Name (LST, Apr) based on true 1970 story of racism in Oxford NC
Shiloh Rules (LST, Jun) set in Civil War reenactment camp

Blithe Spirit (LST, Jul) comedy of ghosts, mediums, and a living husband
Crimes of the Heart (LST, Aug) dark comedy of 3 Southern sisters and their secrets
Christmas (Phoenix Readers, Dec)
“The Gift of Music” Christmas concert (PPTCB, Dec)
A Christmas Carol (American Shakespeare Center, Dec)

Note: Bold Print denotes favorites; red must-reads (or must-sees)



Averaged 30 minutes per day of intentional exercise (gym, walking . . .)
Continued shots for torticollis
Left leg brace for extended walks


Thinking Ahead to 2020

I imagine much of 2020 will be like 2019. Most of my church commitments continue through 2020 and a few months beyond. I'm already reading 2 books to start my 2020 reading list; and, because today's Little Women showing was sold out and I bought tickets for tomorrow, I know what my first 2020 movie will be!

I'm in the middle of two organizing projects that will continue well into the new year: organizing almost 2 decades of digial photos, and indexing some 50 years of personal journals. I'm sure I'll also continue to do a lot of writing, maybe for publication, maybe just for me. And I look forward to making new memories with friends and family.

Friday, October 4, 2019

B151. For My Daddy on His 80th Birthday

I invited friends and family (via Facebook) to submit memories and stories, or statements of something they love about my daddy. Happy 80th, Daddy!

Deborah A.: He has the cutest little mischievous grin. Like he's got a secret he's not telling He & Faye have always been there. Taking Grandma to church. Always a constant Godly presence in a world of change. And he loves to watch the birds. Who could not love a man who loves to watch the birds outside the living room window! I love you, Uncle Lowell!

Tammy A.: Happy birthday, Lowell, enjoy your day . . . remembering you is so easy . . . insurance days at Farm Bureau, you were my first agent there, and so polite . . . oh, and by the way, your daughter ain't so bad either, we graduated from B'ville and S'mount together.

Alicia B.: It's hard to see uncle Lowell now because he looks and acts so much like my daddy. My favorite memories are whenever there was a baby or child around Lowell loves to hold and play with them, just like my daddy.

Amanda B.: My fondest memory is interviewing him for my graduate level career development project. I genuinely enjoyed hearing him speak about his secondary educational experience.

Marisa B.: I loved that when I was younger he took the time out of his own life to pick me up and take me to church.

Debby C.: When I think of Lowell, I think of his quick wit and gentle ways! He is a man who loves his family and others. Happy birthday to him!

Beth D.: Softball days at Booonville Elementary School

Kim E.: I love how he (and your mom) was able to love us at Mills Home like their own.

Carla L.: Always styling and profiling! Handsome uncle who's always smiling.

Melanie L-R.: Tell "Ol' Boss Hogg" I love him! Margie and Bill said I called him that when I was little. Lol! He has always had a smile and a hug ready for me and my kids.

Norma L.: I have known Lowell for a long time! To me, he always seems to be so humble! He is a blessing to many people with his heart for helping others! Great man!

Brenda M.: I remember thinking that Lowell never complained, and that reminded me of his Mom.

Scarlet M.: Memories of your dad leading the choir and congregation every Sunday at church still brings a smile to my face! You and Lisa are very blessed to have such a great and loving Dad, with your mom right by his side, also a great blessing. Happy 80th birthday, Lowell!

Mark M.: Your Dad always had a smile on his face. We would speak to you anytime he sees you. He would always lead the music at church or sing in the choir. Happy birthday, Lowell!

Melanie P.: One of my favorite memories . . . is when he used to drive Lisa and me somewhere and he played what I called his "elevator music" on the radio. Or course we thought it was the least cool music ever, but secretly I loved it because he was so cheerful; always humming and whistling and just enjoying a simple pleasure. Refreshing. We could all learn a lot from him - just sit back and enjoy a snappy tune every now and then. It is good for the soul!

Bill P.: Enjoy our trips. Great person to travel with.

Daniel P.: My Cathy and I still have a stack of $2 bills that he would send to us at Christmas.

Margie P.: I can remember we were best friends and playmates when we were little whether it was playing with our older siblings in the creek, cracking and eating walnuts under the walnut tree or climbing the apple tree in the spring or watching a line of ants coming to get the bread crumbs on the front porch that we had provided for them. We worked in the tobacco field when we got older and this was not fun. I am thankful for my brother Lowell and his family.

Bradley S.: Lowell (and Faye) were always the best examples of Christ for me growing up. They were at the church every time the doors were open, and always kind and loving to everyone. I do remember a trip to a ballgame with Lowell and my dad one time when Lowell was talking about growing up and being in great shape with "washboard abs."

Susan S.: One thing that sticks out in my memory about him is he would always give me $2 bills for birthday/Christmas. Plus he's one of the most humble, gentle, kind people I've ever known.

Becky S.: One of the BEST brothers anyone could ever ask for, not only to me but to so many people. He truly is one of a kind.

Penny S.: I loved having him as my trivia partner that year at Christmas. He is so smart, and I miss y'all.

Tammy S.: Like Scarlet, I remember him EVERY Sunday leading the choir and always dressed in his finest suit with every hair in place. Him and Faye were always and still are a big part of Charity Baptist Church. Great Christian Man!

Betty S.: I remember one day years ago when we cousins were at Grandma Vestal's. We were sitting around talking about our favorite food. Lowell said his was Pizza and I didn't even know what Pizza wa at that time. I also remember a few years ago when he and Faye came to visit us. Spencer took Lowell for a ride on the Gator and Lowell came back with his eyes itching and swollen. He found out that day that he was allergic to pollen from fescue grass. He said Spencer was his Allergy doctor because now he knew the cause of his allergy.

Faye V.: We had just barely started seeing each other when my family moved to King, and a friend of mine told Lowell that I was seeing someone else!! I didn't know this, so after a while I dropped him a card and asked if he was married or something! He came over, and now we've been married 58 1/2 years! Happy birthday to Lowell!

Kathy V.: Our special Daddy/Kathy days of family history and cemetery rides,  walks in the woods, getting questioned for trespassing through the overgrowth of the old golf course, and returning just the two of us to the Land of Oz where he became "Uncle Henry."

Tim V.: My favorite memory of Lowell (other than being daddy's twin) is when he would throw his voice and make it sound like a dog barking. So many kids in our family would stop and look, even go investigate. Lowell would just grin and wait for a chance to do it again.

Lisa W.: Two from many treasured memories with Daddy: Saturday mornings having snuggle time on the couch watching Pink Panther together (while Mama and Kathy slept in) . . . and "doodle bug hunting" in the yard. Daddy taught me to place a blade of grass in a little hole and say "Doodle bug doodle bug, come out of your house." We'd pull the grass out and there was the doodle bug hanging on!

Sarah W.: A favorite memory: Dancing with him (and he let me jump on the bed) to Elvis' "Hound-dog" coming from his record player.

Patricia W.: I always loved how he and my dad Kenneth always picked with each other on Sunday morning.

Note: Last names, exact place names, etc. have been omitted here for privacy (except in his personal printed copy). Also the few very kind comments by friends who haven't met my dad have been deleted for his sake, but greatly appreciated. Thank you to all who responded to give him some extra birthday smiles! If you missed the opportunity and would like to be added, I'll be happy to add you.

Photo: The photo is from his 79th birthday.

Other blog posts about my daddy:
B94. My Daddy
B84. Franklin McCain: You Live Forever Tall

Sunday, December 30, 2018

B150. Personal Inventory of 2018

In My Church

If my 2018 has a defining category, it is probably church. I continued to be active in my Sunday School class, my small group, the Presbyterian Women, and the Pastor Nominating Committee. I was ordained as a Ruling Elder and began serving on the Worship Committee and coordinating the communion servers. For 2019 I have also committed to leading the Spring women's retreat and taking a leadership role in the Stephen Ministry.

Other Volunteer Work

Lee St. Theatre: greeter or usher
Literacy Council and/or Communities in Schools: reading tutor of several 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students at Hurley, Overton, North Rowan, and Hanford-Dole elementary schools


Emerald Isle, NC (March) - photo below left
North Myrtle Beach, SC (March)
Indianapolis, IN (September) - photo right
Orlando, FL (October)
Savannah, GA (October) - photo below right

Entertainment / Hobbies

I discovered the amazing OverDrive app, through which audiobooks, eBooks, and videos can be checked out free with just a library card. Including this, Amazon streaming, and physically checking videos and audiobooks from the public library, my entertainment inventory for 2018 has been vast. I listened to books as I drove and cleaned, and sometimes as I walked.

Books97 (38 read, 59 audio)
Movies:   54
Live Stage: 21

I also rediscovered my childhood love for jigsaw puzzles and have worked, I think, 22 puzzles this year, 500-1000 pieces each, often while listening to audiobooks. Another rediscovered pleasure, from college days, was shooting pool occasionally at the Y. And for several years I've enjoyed selling books on Amazon at a hobby level, so if you have a pile of books you'd like to give away . . .

Some Fabulously Memorable Meals

Mezeh Mediterranean, Charlottesville VA
Garden Table, Indianapolis IN (photo below left)
Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe, Sanford FL (German)
Fox & Fig Cafe, Savannah GA (photo below right)

Health / Fitness

My biggest physical challenge this year was continued torticollis, an involuntary turn of the neck to the left, likely related to strabismus surgery one and two years ago. Also, my left foot/leg has continued to be a minor challenge.

I continued my gym membership, walked, and participated in a Restorative Yoga class, averaging 29 minutes per day of intentional exercise.


I love spending time with family and friends.

I love to write, although I have written less than usual this year: nine blog posts, one newspaper
editiorial, and my personal journaling.

Other passions that motivate every part of who I am have remained as steady: social justice,
civil rights, equal rights for all God's children . . . I participated in the Families Belong
Together march/rally in June, in support of immigrant and refugee families, and worked as a poll
monitor during the November elections, helping to be sure all voters were able to cast their votes.
Also, I regularly spend countless hours watching streaming video coverage of various local
government meetings, to stay informed.

Blog Posts

97 (listed in order of publication date)
The New Testament (TNIV, audio, repeat)
Persuasion (Jane Austen, 1817, audio)
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Harriet Ann Jacobs, 1861, audio)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865, audio)
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott, 1868-69, audio)
The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane, 1895, audio)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Frank Baum, 1900, audio)
Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925, audio)
Don Segundo Sombra (Ricardo Guiraldes, 1926)
As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner, 1930, audio)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley, 1932, audio)
Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1932, audio)
Farmer Boy (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1933, audio)
Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1935, audio)
Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck, 1937, audio)
Lord of the Flies (William Golding, 1954, audio)
The Baptist March in History (Robert A. Baker, 1958)
A Separate Peace (John Knowles, 1959, audio)
A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle, 1962)
Colonial America (Vol. 2 of the Amer. Heritage New Illus. History of the US, 1963)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou, 1969, audio)
The Tao of Pooh (Benjamin Hoff, 1982, audio)
Christian Caregiving: A Way of Life (Kenneth C Haugk, 1984)
Tell Me About Yourself (D.L. Maberry, 1985)
The Defiant Muse (eds. Angel Flores, Kate Flores, 1986)
Keeping the Sabbath Wholly (Marva J. Dawn, 1989)
Hymns of Faith & Inspiration (Pamela J. Kennedy, 1990)
Speaking the Truth in Love (Ruth Koch & Kenneth Haugk, 1992)
Lent Is for Children (Julie Kelemen, 1993)
Ministry in an Oral Tradition: Living with Will Rogers, Uncle Remus ... (Tex Sample, 1994)
The Scottsboro Boys (James Haskins, 1994)
Barbara Bush: A Memoir (Barbara Bush,  1994, audio)
Life on the Color Line (Gregory Howard Williams, 1995)
Practical Magic (Alice Hoffman, 1995, audio)
Can You Drink the Cup? (Henri Nouwen, 1996)
Encounters on the Road to the Cross (Robert Martin Walker, 1998)
This Side of Easter (J. Michael Ripski, 1998)
Selected To Serve (Earl S. Johnson Jr., 2000)
When and How To Use Mental Health Resources (Kenneth C. Haugk, 2000)
The Truth Is (Melissa Etheridge, 2001)
The Children of Willesden Lane: . . . Kindertransport  (Mona Golabek, 2002, audio)
Lamb (Christopher Moore, 2002, audio)
J.K. Rowling (Bradley Steffens, 2002)
Reflections: Life After the White House (Barbara Bush, 2003, audio)
5 Love Languages (Gary Chapman, 2005, audio)
The Last Days of Dogtown (Anita Diamant, 2005, audio)
I Feel Bad about My Neck (Nora Ephron, 2006, audio)
Home of the Brave (Katherine Applegate, 2007, audio)
The Hemingses of Monticello (Annette Gordon-Reed, 2008, audio)
Letter To My Daughter (Maya Angelou, 2008, audio)
Armageddon in Retrospect and other new and . . . (Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 2008, audio)
Return To Sender (Julia Alvarez, 2009, audio)
Louisa May Alcott (Susan Cheever, 2010, audio)
This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection (Carol Burnett, 2010, audio)
I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections (Nora Ephron, 2010, audio)
Laugh Your Way to Grace (Susan Sparks, 2010)
Committed (Elizabeth Gilbert, 2010, audio)
Orange Is the New Black (Piper Kerman, 2010, audio)
Caleb’s Crossing (Geraldine Brooks, 2011, audio)
Heart and Soul (Kadir Nelson, 2011, audio)
The Confidence Gap (Russ Harris, 2011, audio)
Bossypants (Tina Fey, 2011, audio)
Growing Up Amish (Ira Wagler, 2011, audio)
The American Bible (Stephen Prothero, 2012)
The Cove (Ron Rash, 2012 audio)
My Beloved World (Sonia Sotomayor, 2013, audio)
I Am Malala (Malala Yousafzai, 2013, audio)
Everybody’s Got Something (Robin Roberts, 2014)
Where There’s Smoke / Larger Than Life (Jodi Picoult, 2014, audio)
The Boston Girl (Anita Diamant, 2014, audio)
The Girls of August (Anne Rivers Siddons, 2014, audio)
Brown Girl Dreaming (Jacqueline Woodson, 2014, audio)
A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety (Jimmy Carter, 2015)
The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah, 2015, audio)
Gateway To Freedom  (Eric Foner, 2015, audio)
In the Unlikely Event (Judy Blume, 2015, audio)
Above the Waterfall (Ron Rash, 2015)
The End of Plenty: The Race To Feed a Crowded World (Joel K. Bourne, Jr., 2015)
The Risen (Ron Rash, 2016)
Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance, 2016, audio)
The Third Reconstruction (William J. Barber II, 2016, audio)
Waking Up White (Debby Irving, 2016, audio)
The Dust Bowl Girls (Lydia Reeder, 2017, audio)
Cloud of Witnesses (Melissa Bane Sevier, 2017)
Sing, Unburied, Sing (Jesmyn Ward, 2017)
Make Your Bed (Admiral William H. McRaven, 2017)
The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas, 2017, audio)
The Female Persuasion (Meg Wolitzer, 2018, audio)
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World . . . (Austin Channing Brown, 2018, audio)
The Beagle and his Boy (Cathy Cook, 2018)
Becoming (Michelle Obama, 2018)
The Hush (John Hart, 2018, audio)
Faith: A Journey for All (Jimmy Carter, 2018)
Undivided (Vicky Beeching, 2018)
On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old (Parker J. Palmer, 2018)
Whose Boat Is This Boat? (The Late Show, 2018)
Journey into the Light: Devotions for Advent (Susan M. Lang, 2018)

Movies / Films
54 (listed in order of release date)

King Kong (1933)
Sylvia Scarlett (1935)
Knute Rockne All American (1940)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Key Largo (1948)
Hamlet (1948)
Adam’s Rib (1949)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
A Man Called Peter (1955)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961, repeat)
The Beatles: Help! (1965)
Time To Run (1973, repeat)
On Golden Pond (1982, repeat)
King David (1985)
Children of a Lesser God (1986, repeat)
Steel Magnolias (1989, repeat)
Lord of the Flies (1990)
The Last of His Tribe (1992)
Sense and Sensibility  (1995)
The Birdcage (1996, repeat)
Mrs. Dalloway (1996)
Last Stand at Saber River (1997)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings (2001)
Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity (2002)
Ladies in Lavender (2004, repeat)
The Lakehouse (2006)
Last Chance Harvey (2008)
Last Stop for Paul (2008)
The Velveteen Rabbit (2009)
Play the Game (2009)
Love and Valor: The Intimate Civil War Letters (2009)
Labor Day (2014)
Maleficent (2014)
The Lady in the Van (2015)
I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
Moonlight (2016)
A Man Called Ove (2016)
Mr. Church (2016)
Fences (2016)
Wonder (2017)
The Post (2017)
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)
Christopher Robin (2018)
Black Klansman (2018)
Little Women (2018)
RBG (2018)
Black Panther  (2018)
The Producers (2018 PPT stage production)
Ocean’s Eight (2018)
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
A Star Is Born (2018)
Boy Erased (2018)
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

The Big Bang Theory Season 11 (2017-2018)
Young Sheldon Season 1 (2017-2018)
Blackish season 4 (2017-2018)
This Is Us Season 2 (2017-2018)
Roseanne Season 10 (2018)
Jesus Christ Superstar Live (2018)

On Stage (21)
Doubt: A Parable (Lee St. Theatre, January)
Spring Concert (Piedmont Prime Time Community Band, March)
Running on Fire (LST, April)
Children’s Concert (PPTCB, April)
Sense & Sensibility (American Shakespeare Center, April)
The Great War (Phoenix Readers, April)
Salisbury Symphony & Darrell Harwood (May)
Concert of Disney Music (Salisbury- Rowan Choral Society w/ Symphony, May)
Pops at the Post (Salisbury Symphony, June)
Taming of the Shrew (ASC, June)
Souvenir (LST, June)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  (Wayne Theatre, August)
Steel Magnolias (LST, August)
Woodstock concert (Reeves Theatre, August)
Fall Concert (PPTCB, October)
Little Women (LST, November)
Hamlet (Catawba, November)
Candlelight Christmas in Rockford (December)
Christmas Concert (PPTCB, December)
Christmas Concert (SRCS, December)
A Christmas Carol ( ASC, December)

Note: bold print denotes favorites; red must-reads