Thursday, November 28, 2013

Then Thank the Lord

I came across this hymn recently.  I'm sure it's of more traditional provenance than the setting I (and folks of my, uh, antiquity) recall from the 70s-era musical Godspell, but that's the tune I have in mind when I read this.  Anyway, today being Thanksgiving, it seems suitably apropos. . .


We Plough the Fields
     by Matthias Claudius (1740-1815)

We plough the fields and scatter
     The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
     By God's almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter,
     The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine,
     And soft refreshing rain.

All good gifts around us
     Are sent from Heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
     For all His love.

He only is the Maker
     Of all things near and far
He paints the wayside flower,
     He lights the evening star.
The winds and waves obey Him,
     By Him the birds are fed;
Much more to us, His children,
     He gives our daily bread.

All good gifts around us
     Are sent from Heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
     For all His love.

We thank Thee then, O Father,
     For all things bright and good,
The seed-time and the harvest,
     Our life, our health, our food.
No gifts have we to offer
     For all Thy love imparts,
But that which Thou desirest,
     Our humble, thankful hearts.

All good gifts around us
     Are sent from Heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
     For all His love.


"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
     His steadfast love endures forever."
          - Psalm 107:1  (also Psalm 118:1, Psalm 136:1)

I wish a happy and richly-blessed Thanksgiving to all my friends and their families.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Word to the Wise. . .

A while back, I was engaging in some playful teasing with a lawyer friend of mine, when he got a mischievous look on his face and told me (I'd say he reminded me, but it honestly hadn't occurred to me before then):

"You know, if you and I should ever happen to be in court together, you'll have to swear an oath to tell the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.  I won't. . ."


And hey, while I'm thinking of it, how 'bout my Spartans?  Undefeated in the Big Ten (with one game left to play), they punched their ticket to the conference championship game yesterday.  I told some of my friends from the school down the road that winning our game with them is nice, but we're REALLY looking forward to playing Ohio State. . .  Heh. . .

Anyway, Coach D'Antonio has got it goin' on in Spartan-land.  We're not used to this level of high, sustained success.  Or beating our friends down the road with quite such regularity.  But we're sure as heck enjoying every minute of it. . .

And the basketball team isn't doing too badly, either. . .


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cats. . . and Possums

When we lived in our previous house, there was an elderly gentleman in the neighborhood who kept 30-or-so cats in his house.  Which bothered nobody at all; he kept them in his house, and looked after them, and it all impinged on none of the rest of us in the neighborhood.  When, inevitably, the gentleman became sufficiently aged that he couldn't look after himself anymore, his kids came to clean out his house, and, when it came to figuring out what to do with 30-or-so surplus cats, they decided that the most efficient course of action was to just broom them all out the back door, to fend for themselves in the neighborhood, as best they could.  Wonderful people, that man's kids. . .

And immediately, of course, we neighbors noticed all these stray cats, in all kinds of unpleasant ways - diarrhea in sand boxes, stuff like that.  We called the Animal Control people at City Hall, and they told us that they would come to capture a loose dog, but they wouldn't capture a cat for us.  If we, however, managed to capture a cat, they told us they would be happy to come and take it away.

As it turned out, one of our neighbors was an occasional hunter of small game, and he had a spring-loaded squirrel trap, which was a tad small for cats, but we decided to give it a try, and see if it would work in a pinch. And what do you know, it did.  Like a charm.  Every night, we'd put the trap out in some hidden corner of the yard (we'd alternate days between his yard and ours, just to keep things varied), baited with an open can of cat food or tuna.  And virtually without fail, the following morning, we'd have a caged cat.  We'd call Animal Control, and they'd come and take the critter away.  We counted something like 20 cats we caught, between the two of us.  We figured the other 10 were either taken in by cat-lovers or wandered off to another neighborhood, or died, or were still living off the land, but clever enough not to get caught.

After a month or so, we stopped getting cats, and started getting possums instead.  Which surprised me, on a couple levels.  First, that the change was very sharply defined - one day, we were getting cat after cat after cat, and then, abruptly, we weren't getting any more cats; none at all, but possums instead.  So maybe the cats were dumber, or less streetwise, than the possums (having seen both cats and possums in action, though, I don't think that was it), or maybe they scared the possums off, and once there were no more cats, the possums figured they could grab the goodies for themselves; I don't know.  Second, that there were so many possums at large around our neighborhood - we probably caught a possum a night for a week, before we decided that, much as we wanted to rid the neighborhood of stray cats, we really didn't care to keep catching possums in perpetuity.  'Cuz, you know, possums are just that disgusting.  We were aided in reaching this conclusion by the folks at Animal Control, who told us that, whereas they were happy to come and take a cat off our hands, they had no interest in relieving us of any surplus possums, and told us we could release them into the wild.

Well, as luck would have it, there is a low, swampy area about a half-mile from our neighborhood, so the first few possums were power-shifted to the swamp, which wasn't too onerous a task.  But after a week of daily trips to the swamp, we grew weary of the daily expense of effort required for the Possum Relocation Plan, and decided that, however many possums remained at large in the neighborhood, we were willing to adopt a policy of peaceful co-existence, as long as the possums were agreeable, which they proved to be.  At least, they never made any trouble for me. . .


As long as I've got you here, reading about possums (and why anyone would want to read this much about possums is quite beyond me, but de gustibus, I guess) (although, now that I think about it, I suppose it's at least interesting that possums are the only marsupial native to North America; just, you know, for what it's worth). . .

A buddy of mine is a deer hunter.  One fine late-November day, he was out in Michigan's beautiful woods, enjoying the crisp, fresh autumnal air, and hoping to cross paths with a deer he could turn into food for his family, when he happened upon a rotting deer carcass in the woods.  He shook his head sadly, because some hunter had obviously shot the deer, which had then bolted and outrun the unfortunate hunter's ability to track it, eventually dying, but no longer fit to be eaten; the waste of such a fine animal was a sad thing, indeed.

The deer had been dead for a few days, my friend surmised, as it was emitting a powerful stench, and my friend, not wanting to linger near the rotting carcass for very long, began to turn and walk away, when. . .

From between the deer's hind-quarters (ie, right out of its, uh, anus), a small, furry head appeared.  It was a possum, which had been engaged in eating the rotting deer's intestines and their, uh, contents.  The possum looked up at my friend with an impatient look, as if to say, "Can I help you with something?  'Cuz, you know, I'm kinda busy just now."  Which, I suppose, might tell you more about possums and their, uh, lifestyle, than perhaps you wanted to know. . .


Joeh pointed out to me that I gave the 'condensed version' of this story in the comments to a couple of possum posts at his blog several months ago.  So, if you just haven't had your possum fix completely satiated here, go ahead and check them out. . .