Dr Doolittle was a god, Redux 2020, and the Word became flesh.

Years ago when I first wrote this story of my dog Tank and his tail surgery, I thought the work was complete.  It was meant to be a simple story about communication.  It was about the journey I was taking with my beautiful dog.  Tank was more than “just” a dog, and our conversations together went well beyond the dog directed commands of “sit, stay, and come.”  And it was also about my life long journey and conversation with God.

Here’s the ending.  Tank is fine.  No surprises about a disaster during surgery.  I am not able to write that kind of thing about my own dog of the decade.  But really, this in about how to talk to Tankster and explain the details of what will happen to him and his recovery.

Me to Tank:  “OK Tank, here’s the deal.  You have a growing cyst at the end of your beautiful tail.  The Doctor is going to try to remove it in such a way that we can save your fluffy white tail flag.”

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Me to Tank: “I know that everything will be fine. But this thing can rupture.  You could bleed out when I am not at Casa Canine. It needs to be done.  Let’s go for a morning ride in the snow.  I know you don’t understand.  And I know you think you are going to the dog park.  And I have to believe you are curious why we are not in the van with your Casa Canine housemates.”

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Ok Tank, be good, I will be back for you later.  These are good doctors.

Then I got the message on Facebook. from the Vet.

Vet:  We had to dock the tip of his tail. It was a sebaceous cyst.

Me:  I understand.  thanks.  I will miss his flag

Vet:  He still has a flag. It’s at 3/4 staff…

And then Tank came home.  He was on pain medications.  And bandaged heavily.  And he was good, until the morphine wore off.

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Me:  “I know Tank, I am sorry for your pain.  We had to do this.  I need for us to be together a lot longer.  Please.  I am sorry you are hurting. Can we snuggle?  How can I ease your pain?”

Docking a tail is not a normal procedure for an 11 year old dog.  Painful enough for puppies.  But for a senior, well I guess it is similar to an adult tonsillectomy in human.  But Tank it must be done.  If the cyst continues to grow, and it is growing, it can burst.  An you can bleed out.  And something simple could become something tragic.

Oh how I wish I could be like Dr. Doolittle.  The Tankster and I are linked in spirit and we seem to communicate.  But it is not like he will blog, and he has never read any of my posts.  How much easier would this be to explain why we had to remove the tip of his glorious tail.  If I could just talk to the animals.

I have heard folks say something of this sort,  “I wish I could become a dog, and just explain to my dog in dog language.”  I watch the dogs communicate at the park, they really do speak a language they can understand between each other.  Or at least that is the appearance of what I think to be true.

I really wanted Tank to understand.  I really love him.  I really wanted to take his pain.  I hate to see him suffer.  Many dog owners are like this I think. We talk to our dogs.

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And of course, as it does do in my life, that starts my wheels turning about spiritual things.   And this is my thought for the day.

If I were God, and I wanted to talk to people, how much easier would that be to come to Earth as a person and try to explain what was going on.  If I were God, I would love for you to know me as you see me in Nature, and in babies and puppies, and in the stars and the mountains.  And I would try to make it obvious.

But a moment of conversation, Person to person.  Well that could make a difference.  And for some, this is what happened in fact.

John 1:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . .The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Well I need to go now.  Tank and I have some talking to do.

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Since this was written Tank crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  My dog and I had many conversations over the years.  He became one of my best friends.  Tank’s ability to communicate with me far exceeded my ability of talking to him.  Tank was indeed a master communicator, up to and including the day he told me he was ready to die.  I have shared this in my blog entitled “Breathless.”    Feel free to pause if you care to read.

https://casacaninetulsa.com/2017/09/28/breathless/

For decades I have listened to the voices in my head.  So much of what I see is below the surface of what is seen.  I have learned and continue to learn.  I ask, hoping it will be given.  I seek, believing I will find.  I knock on many closed doors, expecting one to open.  And this is what has been required or me in order to learn the Language and Word of God.

God is not always easy to understand   I hear His voice in the wind and weather and from the mountaintops and in the valleys.  I experience a relationship with Him almost every day.  If I listened, I know it would indeed be EVERY day.  God is a good friend.  He is both a gentle and harsh taskmaster.  There are so many Words of God that I read in the Bible or the Word of God.  Sometimes I read these Words and have not got a clue what is being said to me.  Sometimes the meaning is so clear I wonder how everyone does not see in God, what I see.  And sometimes I just stare into the abyss.  Sometimes He is the Hallelujah Chorus…. wonderful, marvelous, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting God, Emanuel, God with us, God with me.  And Sometimes He is just a fricken mystery.  There are those moments when I talk with Him that I truly have NO clue how anyone can have a relationship with this Transcendental God.  And in these moments, I know more that ever that God actually loves me, and in is a relationship with me.

Within the last year, the year of 2020, the year of the Pandemic that I began to understand why God is so easy to meet and yet so hard to understand.   It is at that moment that I remember my dog Tank.  We spoke daily in some form or another.  Simple words, and from those I learned complex lessons.  And I know that Tank and I spoke different languages.  And I remember that God and I try to speak the same language, only we speak it differently.   Communicating with God REQUIRES that I understand Two languages.   Though we use similar or same words, they are often not the same words at all.  And what does that mean, you ask?   God understands what I am saying, the fact is that it is only through God’s Filter that I can understand what He is saying to me.  God and I speak the languages of different perspectives.  God speaks The Language of the eternal and I, the language of time and space.  And what does that mean?, you ask.   Here is a thumbnail picture.  It means that I, we, humankind who call themselves Christians number nearly over 2.5 Billion worldwide, attending  37 Million churches, including over 30,000 denominations.  And what does that mean?  To me it means God spoke clearly in the language of the eternal, and lots of folks interpret, including me, in the language of time and space.

Consider this if you will.  I can tuck the Bible under my arm, The Word of God,  and easily travel both hither and yon.  (I am so proud, I have never written that phrase in my life, until this moment.)  And yet, I can sit in a Theological Library 24/7/365, consuming book after article archived sermon, and never complete the reading of the volumes, and periodicals, and digital discussions such as this.  All written, spoken, published to discern   the interpretation of the Word of God which is written in one Book, tucked under my arm.  God speaks in the ETERNAL.. “A thousand years in your sight, are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”  Psalms 90:4  And I hear the Virus tainted voices of my people cry out about the year 2020, and the people cry out, how long must we endure.   Jesus’ brother James understood this language difference and wrote about it.  For those who do not know, Jesus had siblings, and James was his half brother.  And this is what James wrote 4:14, “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”  Although we speak of long days, and long waits, and long years, in the world of the eternal, we are but a puff of smoke.

So we speak differently.  God and I converse, but we do not speak the same language.  I can turn to a chapter and verse in any book of the Bible, and read about God.  I can pray and praise and ponder and pontificate.  I can read, revive, reveal, and reflect.  I can wonder as I  wander.  I can understand that there is mystery, and I cannot ever fully explain the mystery that is God.

And so this I know.  God has spoken to me.  I am telling you I know this.  Just Like My dog and I spoke with each other.  But my conversation with Tank belonged to me and belonged to Tank.  You could listen in, but I do not think you would understand what we were talking about.  You would have to have your own conversation with Tank.  I have friends who had those talks.  And so it is also with God.  You can listen in, but I am telling you… my conversation with God… it is mine.  I encourage you to start your own dialogue with Him.  Then you might understand the language of the Eternal One. 

 

Building bridges, unexpected friends, and shared lives

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I first noticed him last year.  Perhaps as spring rolled into summer. Though the date is not particularly important, it is not like it is a “just yesterday” kind of event..  I thought him to be a striking figure.  A bit gaunt.  But handsome from a distance.  He appeared to have been in the battles of life, so in my mind I called him Thor, the war god, until I such time I would find the courage and compassion to know him and his name.

I wasn’t sure if Thor was homeless, or lived in a house around the block.  Perhaps in the subsidized housing just to the East of my place.  Wardrobe clean, then not so, then appearing clean again.  For all I knew he could have made his home in the park just to the West of Southwest Boulevard.  It is an area salted with industrial zones, and neighborhoods.  Just South and West of the city center, and West of the River.  You can see the expensive houses of former oil barons on the other side, as they lined Riverside Drive.  My side of the river was for the refineries and the workers.

Days could pass with no sign of Thor, and then I would see him travel up my block as one journeys with conviction.  Rarely would he raise his head to acknowledge that he was being observed.

In my neighborhood it is not unusual to see a small band of men and women I thought to be “between situations.”  They occasionally would appear to hang out together, but on most occasions, loners it seemed.  A culture I drive by, observe, ponder, and exclaim to myself, “there but by the grace of God, ….”  I have tossed a token dollar, or a smile and wave in the direction of many.  But no conversation.

Summer, though hot, is a fairly easy time to survive on the streets of Tulsa.  The exit ramps and four way signal light intersections are crowded with panhandlers and their hand printed, terse statement stories written on cardboard.  Some appear to be well prepared for the task at hand.  I have even heard that some make quite a living if the weather is right and the stop light cycle is good.

Thor was not one of those.  I never saw him in any action of this sort.  Maybe he had a family and a job.  Maybe his travels were travels of purpose.  But his wardrobe was oddly familiar every time I saw him.  I must say I was so curious, and perhaps a bit suspicious.  What might happen to my house, or the houses of my neighbors,  if  empty for an extended period of time.  Was Thor observing my property?   I have dogs, but they really are neither watchful nor protective.

There are empty, abandoned, houses on my block.  Are those targets of squatters.  Has Thor or “the others” set up an encampment in these framed and windowed skeletons?

I made a decision.  I would “befriend” Thor.  Start slowly.  Wave.  Smile.  Act pleased to see him as he traveled by my house.  I was going to start the friendship process.  At least that was the intent from my side of the property line.

So I would “wait and watch.”  I would not exactly call it stalking, because I did not follow anyone.  Targeting.  Yeah, that is what I did.  I targeted this passerby, whose life perhaps needed no intrusion.  But this is my street.  And I want to know you.  As I have introduced myself to my neighbors, and inquired, and none of them know anymore about you than I do.  But all have noticed you.

There were days I would not see you.  Perhaps you had multiple routes.  But I remember it was sometime late last Spring that I gave you the wave.  I believe you had looked away just as my hand elevated.  The “wave whiff.”  Embarrassing.  But I was not going to call out, I was just going to wait for the next opportunity.

And that opportunity did come.  And it came again and again.  And it blossomed as best it could.   It lead to some meals, but very little conversation or real contact.  You are quite a joy to know.  And I remember when the walls finally gave way to a friendship of sorts.  I posted on Facebook on September 29, 2013.

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Feral cats do not make friends easily.  And though I do not know your history, or at least you won’t talk to me about it.  Thor, your face shows the battle scars.  I still see you square off with the large black male, Midnight, and it is my hope that neither of you fight to the death.  And it is my hope that you will be hanging out at Casa Canine whenever you like.  There is food on the table, and conversation and comfort if you need.  Be careful on the streets.

Oh, and when I cage you, transport you,  and have you neutered, please don’t take it personally.  Welcome to my home.

God is right behind the deodorant.

P1420879This is my medicine cabinet.  The tooth bush and tooth paste are on the sink.  I am not particularly a stickler for neat.  I only live with dogs, so no one complains about appearances.  And no one has a particular order to their lives.  Other than the daily visits to the dog park, and the required two per day dog feedings, there are not assigned places for anything .  If the place is flat, it is a storage area.   So that presents a problem.

I don’t have a spot in my house to put stuff after I use it.  Oh, “put it back where you found it.”  Easy for you to say.  The result of my actions.  The classic “overlook”.  It is not that I am forgetful, though I may be.  (For I am a practitioner of the “what did she just say her name was..”)  But this practice of mine is just careless.  The place it on the flat surface,  and overlook that spot when it is time to use again.  The Fulton overlook, not to be confused with a scenic overlook, which I actually enjoy.

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Now I struggle mightily with this condition.  Particularly as it applies to car keys, and my money, and my drivers license.  And yes I know I waste time searching for these things over and over again.  And yes I was a corporate training manager of sales forces.  And yes I know the “rules”.  And yes… yesss…… yesssssss.

Oh and yes I purchase and repurchase the same thing because of this.  And yes it probably caused marital problems.  And I am now thankful that Casa Canine provides shelter for me… and unintended chew toys for my dogs.

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It is OK to judge me.  I really don’t think there are eternal consequences to my condition.  And because I sell on Ebay, and collect stuff to resell, I am either a picker on the decline, or a hoarder on the mend.  Choose your reality show and blend.  The real Picker of Tulsa County.  But I digress.. it is also part of my stream of consciousness life and thoughts and writing style..

Which returns me now to the medicine cabinet.  Where the heck is my deodorant.  Three days, it took me to find it.  Three days, and why.  Because instead of putting it back in the medicine chest in an upright position….

P1420877 I happened to lay it on it’s side.  The Speed Stick was right in front of me, but I could not see it.  The Fulton overlook is in progress.   See it in the medicine cabinet picture at the top of this blog post… there it is.  But I could have used it and set it down on any available flat surface after use. Really, I looked on the dining room table, the kitchen, my bedroom.

Ok, there’s the baby power, on the dining room table.  Excellent substitute for now.  POWDER UP.  Works for infants and strippers (or so I am told).  Go with the baby powder.  Maybe tomorrow I will find the Mennen.  And honestly, my dogs don’t care.  And my Ebay clients don’t know.  And I rarely sweat while at the keyboard.

I “powdered up” for 2 more days. As shared, I primarily sit at home and work on Ebay listings, and travel to the dog park, so it was not an issue, like losing my cell phone.  I can’t, however, message my Facebook friends and ask them to call my deodorant, to help locate it when it rings.  Some of you reading this blog have dialed me up.  You know who you are, and I thank you.

And then I found it.  For the same reason I rarely know why I put anything in any of the places I do.  I found my Speed Stick on its side in the medicine cabinet, in the place it was suppose to be.  It was a Miracle.  Or it was, as I come to find out in Casa Canine, it was a lesson.

Great, eternal consequences.  When I overlook my deodorant.

God it appears is involved in the scenic overlook business.  And If I am not attentive I will overlook that also.  And that stinks.  That causes me a Spiritual sweat.

Psalms 19:1-2 The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.

Now I understand that there are dissenters to this point of view.  I think it is because your deodorant is lying on its side.  Easy to overlook.  And certainly the world is flat when it comes to laying down a life’s journey.  So easy to pile up the stuff.. everything begins to look good.  I will take a little of this and little of that, and then I will powder up and I am ready to live.

And well you might just be.

For me, God was right behind the deodorant.  He was there all along.

And more good news.  Things are beginning to smell better, longer, at Casa Canine.  And also in my life.

Be Prepared..

I was a really bad boy scout.  I mean I just did not get the be prepared thing.  I loved boy scouts.  I loved camp outs, short hikes, and meals with adolescent peers and a wise mentor or two.

Be prepared.  To me that was two cans of Vienna sausage and a pocket knife.  In case I got hungry and in case the other scouts tied my shoelaces together.  I was not particularly good at the merit badge and oath thing.  But I did make it partway up the Scout hierarchy of achievement (Star scout).  Certainly not an Eagle Scout.

Last night and into this morning it snowed in Tulsa.  Be prepared alert.  I had already been to the store a day early.

prepared So I had earned my survival skills merit badge.  I was truly ready for the storm.  But as I have come to discover, life is not all beer and oatmeal.

Those of you who know me, particularly through Facebook, know the Residents of Casa Canine.  Tank, Fred and Shelly are the permanent residents with me. And foster addition, Bosco.

They prepared for the storm with great ease.  It is almost like they didn’t even know they should be concerned.  And they should not be.  These dogs have a preparer of the comforts.  Me.  And by the way they like Vienna Sausages on their kibble.  I actually have gotten pretty good at it.

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But there are also others who frequent my porch for food and drink. The Ferals.  Yes I am a crazy cat person.  And on a summer day you can see Survivor, Thor, and Spooky lounging regularly on my front porch nearly every day.  But they won’t come into Casa Canine.  And there are others, Midnight, Snow, Madras, and Dijon.  But they are the night visitors.

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Survivor was the first.  She was actually captured and neutered.  And after a failed attempt to turn her into a house cat. she chose to stay outside.

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Survivor became a friend.  A Feral, she earned her friendship badge, and then began to invite her friends.  Apparently she did not mention the capture and neuter part of the deal.  But the result is I have a colony that visit me.  And they are welcome to the hospitality.  (15 pounds of cat food/week)

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Oh did I mention it snowed last night in Tulsa?

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Well I thought I was prepared.  Shovels, Ice Melt, even some cat shelters in anticipation of the cold. Styrofoam lined boxes, which I had made to protect the cats from the chill.  And I have seen them seek shelter in these over the past week or two.  Merit Badge two as it were.  Good for me.

But then, it happened.  I went out to start my car.  Returned to Casa Canine while the auto warmed a bit.  And then off on a snow covered street errand.  Driving in the snow…. prepared.  Raised in the New York State and Kansas City, and most of my adult life in Colorado.. I am prepared for snow covered drives.  In fact I honestly love them.  I just am NOT ready for surprises.

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I love you Survivor.  I just was not prepared for this.  Survivor in the snow. Peering in my glass front door, and looking unprotected.   I felt helpless for the moment.  And could offer little or no further protection because Casa Canine may not offer a feline safety zone.

And of course it makes me think about my life and what I believe.  And just how much love it takes to be prepared.

And Jesus said “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  John 14:3.

And for the first time I realized that to “Be Prepared” is not about me.  It is about those that I love.  I am just too old for this stuff.  And I have never been more thankful to learn it.

Never too late to be an Eagle Scout at living.

GOOD NEWS, Epiphany Cards.. the 12th day of Christmas …

partridgeAny day now.  I will hear it for the first time.  Such meaning and joy as I proclaim in song . . . .”and a partridge in a pear tree.”

And soon thereafter, the story will hit your Television news.  Like a news reporter on hurricane watch.. standing in the storms and risking life while blowing in the wind.  Another reporter will take position in front of the crowded local mall to report the Nieman Marcus list for the cost of the 12 days of Christmas.

Good News.. Good News… GOOD NEWS!!! It is already out .  Get that guy or gal to the mall with the satellite truck.

“(Reuters) – Buying a set of the gifts named in the classic holiday carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” will cost a true love $27,393 this year, up 7.7 percent from the 2012 price tag, according to an annual tongue-in-cheek analysis released on Monday.”

And on what day does the 12 days of Christmas begin?  Did you say December 13?  Well that is just wrong.  Stop it.  That is an urban myth.  How do I know?

My Father, Albert E. Fulton, Sr., was born on January 6. 1919.   Epiphany. And Epiphany my friends is the 12th day of Christmas. Yes it is.  12 Days After Christmas, THAT was when the gifts arrived the first time.

12 days from the appearance of the Eastern Star, on Christmas day as it were.  12 days for the Wise Men, the Magi, to see the light and  travel afar, and present gifts to Emmanuel.  Jesus.  God is with you.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child (Jesus) with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). Gifts were Given on the 12th day of Christmas.  Gold (nice),  frankincense and myrrh (whatever they are) .  OK, I know, those are fragrances and incense.

nativity_set Check your nativity scene, two of the dudes are holding bottles.  Only one has the gold.

What does this mean?  Well for those of you who wonder to whom you should send Christmas Cards, it means you can wait to see who sent you one, and reciprocate in kind with an Epiphany Card.

It is a good thing.  And for the thrifty, a money saving idea.  Visit any Walgreens on December 26th and buy exactly the number of cards you need to send at 50% off.  You can even include a family picture of the clan standing by this year’s tree opening gifts.  No stale tale of the Fulton past in current mailing..

So there it is, my hint for the day, heck for the rest of your Holiday life. You owe me nothing.  Not even a card.

Oh yeah, more GOOD NEWS, GOOD NEWS..

“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.…”  Luke 2:9-10

Merry Christmas

It’s in the mail, the Christmas Card tradition continues.

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Do you know where to find me
My guess is you don’t
Send a card to my house
My guess is you won’t

The last card you sent
NO idea where it went
Texas, New Mexico
oh where did it go.

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But you are not the last to not send me a card
I seach my desk for your address, I find that quite hard.
Wait find a card first , write something kind
Into the envelope, a stamp now I find.

Sending Christmas cards is not what I do,
But Celebrate life, that for me is true.
Over 60 years, no cards sent, really, no joke
But if I find you on Facebook, I will send you a poke.

May you experience the joy and hope as intended for this time.

Don’t let any of them get you down.

Bob.

Mom saved Green Stamps, saving Snappy

turtle71st and Riverside is a bad place to play in traffic, and no place for a wandering turtle.  Because if you ask the question, “How does the turtle cross the busy street?”  The answer must certainly almost always be, “intervention and salvation.”

October 7, 2013, was really a non event sort of day.  I remember almost nothing, and if not for Facebook and a post, I would not know this date at all.  I probably was going to the Fedex to drop off packages I had sold on Ebay.  I had probably stopped at Uhaul to buy some boxes.  Why would I assume this?  Well I had a Snappy encounter in the early afternoon.  And those events would account for why I was where I was when I met Snappy.

snappy My friend Nancy has saved many an Oklahoma turtle.  I had seen her Facebook posts.  But she’s a country girl, living on rural roads.  I am an urban guy.  I observe squirrels,  feral cats, and stray dogs. However, many cities have pockets of “wild” salted within their borders. Such a place in Tulsa is Riverside Drive.   So named because in parallels  the Arkansas River, wandering through the city for over 10 miles, and remains habitat for many country creatures in the city.

Snappy the turtle was such a creature.  And Snappy was feeling his/her freedom to explore on that October day.  Is that a Furr’s cafeteria over there on the far corner?  I hear it’s a good place for soup.

I can’t explain the anguish I felt when I first saw this turtle on the side of Riverside Drive.  Edging along the pavement, I watched as this reptile plodded and searched for direction.  My stomach sunk as I watched.  I was in my car, first in line at a stoplight.   Snappy was on the road’s apron.  Helpless to intervene,  as I saw wind wake from several speeding autos actually alter Snappy’s course.  “GO WEST” is what I screamed in my soul.   I saw this turtle crane his neck.  Fearless or oblivious, either, neither, both?   I was certain I was going to witness a disaster.  I am truly on the edge of panic.  Do I abandon my car at the light and move as quickly as I can to get to intercede. No, I must wait.   I can’t get across four lanes of rapid traffic anyway.  IN my same inner voice soul, I cry out.  “Green… turn Green … NOW.”  This is the LONGEST signal light cycle in the entire world.  That is the only thing I was certain of at the moment.

And then it happens.  The light turns green.  I speed through the intersection to the road’s apron edge.  I get Snappy.  I walk and carry my friend 200 yards to the slope of the river park’s edge.  Across the green belt and the bike path to the woods along the river.

snappyoct7I waited a while. I wanted to watch him “scurry” off.  He never came out of his shell.  I suppose he hated emotional goodbyes.  So I left with a wave and a smile

And I felt sooooo good.

And then I asked, “What caused this wave of emotion in me?”   I lived in that moment to perform only one task, and Snappy is after all just a turtle.  And this is the wisdom I have received.  It works for me.  You may answer, of course, as you choose..

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27.

Well here is my thought.  Salvation is a Godly attribute.  We were created to save things.  God wants to offer salvation, and if we are in His image, are we not then born to try and help save people and things.  Many will not align or believe this, I understand that.  Yet everyone participates in Salvation.  Atheists participate in this Godly Image attribute. They often try to save people from believing in God.  Enjoy your Holiday Tree.   Get your Nativity off of my Public Library lawn.  And people get very emotional in their salvation pursuits.

Salvation is such a profound experience.  Almost everyone participates in salvation in some way. Progressives want to save the world. Conservatives want to save the world. People of all shapes and sizes want to save whales, babies, forests, dogs, old buildings, oceans, the white race, the black culture, guns, freedom, Afghanistan, and on and on and on…. People save old cars from fields and barns.  Fill in the blank… if you have read this far… I believe you have saved something, because it consumed you to do so. The salvation experience surrounds us.  And when I find something I want to save, well don’t get in my way.

I am not sure I have ever met anyone who does not want to save something. It is buried in the genetic code.  In His image, so I think. Many of us look for a savior for our cause(s). And I hear the cries of the masses…. “Who will rescue us….how shall I be saved”.  I watch folks with their Facebook rants, screaming out daily in an attempt to save the world, or the country, or the whatever.

Luke 15: 4-7 “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

Such was that moment for me and Snappy.

Oh yeah, one final note.  Snappy did not realize he needed to be saved.

Now I remember…

cart2This is where you return your carts in the grocery store parking lot.  I know you know this spot.  Nearly Every parking lot with a retailer that offers carts has several of these located throughout their lots.  It is a corral.  Rustle up the loose carts. Easily accessible to every shopper. Purposed to make cart return easier.  Centralized locations to leave the now unwanted cart for employees whose job it is to round up and return carts to the store for re-use by other patrons.  In addition to ease of return, there are other reasons for the cart corral.

cartThis is an abandoned cart, left to roam the asphalt.  Emptied after store use by a former patron, and abandoned in the middle of the parking lot.  Free to roam.  One of those pesky free range carts waiting to break away when the winds increase or gravity and incline take them on an unguided journey.  Perhaps a joy ride into the sides of parked cars.  These carts are waiting to smash your car when you least expect it.  Trading paint like NASCAR drivers on a small oval track.  They are thoughtless in their pursuit of the rear panel ding and dent on someone’s otherwise unmarked and unmarred car.

For years I was a practitioner of this method of selfish buggy disposal.  I would leave them in front of my car, between two cars, like that would be the acceptable thing to do.  After all, I did not leave it in the middle of the traffic pattern.  Very thoughtful on my part.

Carts remind me of my wife Michelle.

REMEMBRANCE:  “And he (Jesus) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  Luke 22:19

Remembrance is pretty darn important.  I  remember my trophies and grades and anniversaries and birthdays.  I remember smells that remind me of events long past.

But to create a special ritual.  To build a habit because I want to remember.  Like communion in the church. Well then that ritual act places the remembrance in the forefront of all I do, whenever the ritual is performed or repeated.  I have one friend who goes and buys bags of special chocolates to hand out on her Father’s birthday, because it is what he would do were he still alive to do it.  It is different than candy on Halloween or Valentine’s day.

I forget way too much important stuff.  Michelle often called Shelly,  my wife, well sadly I don’t remember enough.  We had a rough marriage.  So many struggles.  A brilliant woman, an attorney, and a woman who fell victim to Bipolar disease.  I must tell you, until I married into it,  I thought Bipolar was a made up disease.  Seriously Michelle, “get over it.”  I am sorry Michelle.   I was so very wrong.

Michelle would self medicate.  That is the catch phrase for drink until there was NO pain.  Because drinking felt better to her brain than the medications she was perscribed.  And she was incredible at hiding her addiction.  She would consume vodka all day, pass out and then drink again upon awaking.  She could function upright with a BAC (blood alcohol count) well above the legal limit.  Thinking clearly, making good decisions, that was another story, particularly as she aged.

Sometimes I would lose her for hours, finding her at least 5 times in hospitals or jails.  Because of this reality, she could no longer drive, she could not practice law, she could not hold any job. She was rarely ever sober when we were in public.  Hell she was rarely sober at her morning AA meeting.

But Bipolar folks, as it is written in the symptoms guide,  love to shop in their mania.  Another form of self medication.  And so shop we would.  And Shelly would shop like there may never be another open store  when she was manic.  Everything looks like a bargain.  And for Shelly, The Dollar Store looked like the promised land.  And a cart could be filled for $30.  That was a good thing, it could have been a Neiman Marcus store.

Now I hated shopping, still do.  And I was, as I have already stated, the selfish shopper.  I was the guy who would visit the grocery store, take a cart, fill it, empty it by my car, and leave the cart in the front of my parking space.  Don’t let that cart hit you in the door when I back out and leave.

Michelle, was thoughtful.  Always thoughtful.  Drunk and thoughtful. She would drive me nuts.  Michelle would actually take all of  an extra 30 seconds to return a cart to the store or the cart corral.  It would make the very selfish me, mad.  Someone else has a job getting those things.  Damn it Shelly, I am in a hurry.  Just leave the cart.  And yes, I was a jerk.  She always returned the carts… regardless of my reaction.

And then Shelly went missing again.  We had our issues, but I had no idea that she would leave that day.  In November, 2009, I left our house to go to work.  Michelle had just drawn a tub.  Shelly loved to soak.  She was excited to try the new Jacuzzi jets I had just purchased for her the night before.  She was so cute surrounded by bubbles.  The Jacuzzi jets enriched the bubbles to a whole new, never before seen in the Fulton household,  volume and level.  Truly movie star quality bubbles.

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The Jacuzzi was still running when I entered the darkened house at 6 pm….  It should not have been dark in the house when I returned from work.  There was a motor running in the darkness.. the jacuzzi should not have been running.   I feared and sensed the worst. Our dogs, Tank, Niles, and Charlie greeted me.  Michelle did not.  I called her name.  There was no response.  There would never again be a response.  Shelly had passed out sometime that morning while in the tub.  Soaking and medicating.   Michelle drowned in our home.

I still hate to shop.  I shop infrequently, and I shop alone.  But when I fill a cart and take a trip to the car with my bounty,  I always return the cart to the assigned area.  ALWAYS.

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This I do in remembrance of Michelle Diane Perry Fulton.  1/1/1965-9/5/2009  It is what I must do.  For the value of the ritual is in the remembrance.  I love you Shelly.

Casa Canine, THE place.

home4And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  John 14:3

When did I first read that verse.  Probably 50 years ago. Thanks, Ok, fine,  next please.

I am a bit of a gypsy.  I cannot count on all my fingers and toes how many places I have lived, nor addresses I have had since graduating from High School in 1969.  I can count the states since graduation,  Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Washington state, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, California.  I have left and returned to most on several occasions.  I have lost track of the number of cities.  And the physical addresses approach 50.  Never really thought much of that until 2-3 years ago.

Once again, my teacher was and is Tank, my dog of a decade.  And the wisdom I receive from God as I plow through the days and the scriptures.

After my wife Michelle died in 2009, it ultimately became Tank and me.  I lost “it.”  And my job, my house and I lost most everything I owned.  And for two years, 2010-12,  I was “homeless”.   I had a place to lay my head, and that was through the “kindness of strangers”.  Actually through the kindness of friends who gave me a room and a yard and shelter for Tank.  Two friends, two one year stints.  Incredible grace.  And grace I must write about at another time.

But this moment is to concentrate and meditate on “the place.”  When I lost my home, Tank and I moved in with generous friends.  I had my own room, and pretty much free run of the houses.  Tank had a nice yard, and a protected place to sleep.  But Tank could not sleep in my room… house rules.  I accepted it, Tank accepted it.  I was just not our place to argue.

Though there are many other details that could be shared, they too are for another time.  I move to a moment in time around two years ago… while still living with my New Mexico hosts.  I felt the tug to move yet again.  But this time it was different.  “God, help me find a place.  I am 60.  I will go where you want, but as for me and my dog, we would like a place.  And if You don’t care, I would like for it to be the final place.  While in and of the flesh.   And while You are at it, can I go somewhere were I already have some roots?  No more starts from scratch.  I am weary”

There are stories squeezed in the cracks.  But the Tulsa story unfolded like this.  I called my friend beloved friend of over 30 years, Brad, and let him know I would be moving to Tulsa.  “Brad, I know you are considering expanding your real estate portfolio.  If you want to buy a little house, and let me be your renter, here is what I am looking for.”  I shared budget, I shared preferred urban location.  And I shared that I must prepare a place where Tank can live out his years with me.  A nice yard and a fence.   Please, or nothing at all.  Thank you.

tankselfieAnd so it is, and because it is, I have a better understanding of who God is in my life. He went to prepare a place to be together.  Together.  A place where He desires to be with me.

I had to have a place for Tank to be with me.  Anytime he wanted to be with me.  Tank has a choice.  He is often by himself.  Even when we are both in the house.  This house.  Casa Canine.  He is Okay, it seems, with that, as I am Okay with it.  But when he wants to be with me… and if that is EVERY night he can be.1401814_10201690148154117_1414098755_o

That is where he is.  Along with Fred my Bagel, Shelly my Teagle, and Bosco, my foster.

It could not happen if I did not prepare a place.  THE place.  It is heaven for us.   And as I approach my future,  I understand now, and I am so thankful for the eternal place prepared for me.

P.S.  I have to brag and confess, the picture of Tank and me “asleep” on his behind, Staged, the best selfie I have ever taken with my phone camera.  My short, fat right arm did good, I think.  I am an actor.  Blessings to you.

I YAM WHAT I YAM

sweet ptotThanksgiving and the sweet potato, or yam or whatever you would like to refer to them as.  I have been told there is a difference.  But not for me.  They are the same.  I hope not to offend any fans or farmers with That statement.

The Yam made an appearance once a year at our house.  Actually two times.. because we were a Turkey feast family on Thanksgiving and on Christmas.   However I have been told it will pair well with the Ham family feast as well.  The YAM.  It was an annual Popeye joke.  I thought they grew in cans.  It was a lowly food.. but slathered with butter, brown sugar, topped with marshmallows and baked in a pyrex dish… well it rose in the hierarchy of holiday foods to the level of yet another pyrex and canned delight, the green bean casserole.

Perhaps even higher… as it sat next to jellied cranberry sauce on the buffet table.  Two, count them two sweet dessert items to be enjoyed WITH and during the holiday meal.  O blessed Yam.

And then things changed.  And frankly I was able to watch them happen closely.  I spent over 30 years after college and a journalism degree selling food to, preparing food for for, an enjoying food in restaurants.  And I saw the sweet potato change.

I did spend a short time after college working in radio and newspaper, but the food business became my career.  So I watched food trends.  I walked hand in hand with the changing Yam.

Baked, Fries, mashed.  A roasted root vegetable.  Really?  Who could ever have thought that this little used underground resident would or could displace the russet.  And yet in many ways and in many places this tuber has become a joke no more.  And nothing really changed with the Yam, except it’s treatment and environment.

Whether it is a lowly edible, or the monarch of side dishes.. the yam has found it’s level.  I am pleased that it has created for me a path I was meant to follow.

What-is-SpinachAnd so it is.  I studied journalism.  Starting as a senior in high school I knew I wanted to write.  I did not mind if it was good writing or bad writing..well that may not be true… I wanted to write good stuff.

A journalist, I should journal I thought, so I would buy a blank notebook every year, and on Jan. 1, or thereabout, I would begin.  I need not tell you that the focus was lost quickly.  And if I do need to tell you… I would just quit.

It was easy for the first day… or two.  But I did not enjoy the process.  It was great to journal, if I only had to do it on the rare occasion.  And so at some point in my life I no longer said I was a writer, or a journalist.  I became a restaurant worker or food salesman.

My life really was so much more than that.  And I traveled and shared but I did not write.

And then one day… the day before Thanksgiving, 2013, the treatment and environment changed.  The Blog.  Yes.  The Blog. Encouraged by my brother Mario, my dear friend Nancy, I decided to start one, yes this one.

Well bake me, fry me, roast me, mash me.. I am a fricken writer.  I drive around and see stories.  I give birth to words and phrases that were there all the time.. I just needed a change of treatment and environment.

I am a writer.  I YAM WHAT I YAM.  Pass me the good stuff please.