It’s September 22, 2022

I live in the Northern Hemisphere, State of Arkansas, United States of America, and today is the official first day of fall. Yesterday the temperature was 101 degrees (38.333 degrees to you). Temperatures like that don’t provide any indication that the annual leave-color-changing event is anywhere near peeking around the corner. It’s a bit cooler today. The forecast is for us to enjoy a sunny 87 Fahrenheit (30.556 Celsius). When my grandfather was alive, he would still have a way to go before switching to his long handles (full-body underwear). He would normally do that on the first of October. The temperatures we’ve been experiencing in recent years, even late into October, would cause him to adjust his underwear changing schedule. Heck, he would be downright confused. He didn’t depend on trained meteorologist to provide him a weather forecast. The Farmer’s Almanac and a good gander at the sky were enough. There wasn’t much talk of global warming during his time.

It’s common for me to think about grandpa and his time when the calendar announces change of seasons. He could look out at the horizon and tell if a rainstorm was coming. Was he accurate in his predictions? From what I can recall he was. Of course, I’m attempting to recall things as they were back in the 1950s. I do know that farming the tiny little piece of land he had with two mules, required him to have a good handle on what was happening with the weather. High tech farming was developing in the southern part of the United States back then, but it did affect grandpas’ operation.

Fall, which did seem to come much earlier meteorologically when I was grasshopper height, was a whimsical time for young ones like me. Living in a rural setting gave us experiences that my urban dwelling offspring can’t begin to imagine. I can recall following my grandpa around, in the fields, as he and his trusty mules harvested the crops. The clear, crisp fall skies served up comfortable air to frolic in, far different than the humid, oven-like fare that called for sitting under my grandparents weeping willow trees to escape the heat most of the day, during July and August. Working in the field to collect sweet potatoes, peanuts and other goodies was fun. It was fun because I didn’t do much work. Why else would I recall these times of old with such joy.

I recall a television commercial that used to run for Oldsmobile automobiles. It would compare the contemporary Oldsmobile to those of older times by saying, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” Please allow to borrow that line for making a comparison to the fall season of today to that of a time way back during the last century by saying, “This ain’t your grandpa’s fall.’ Ain’t adds something to it don’t you think?

I’m old and bless…hope you will be too.

                                                                                 Tired

One thing I’ve tried to resist in the time I’ve had this space to post my thoughts is write what I’m feeling at the time I’m tired. Get ready, I’m about to disregard that personal advice. I think I’ll suggest that you don’t read any further, if you’re expecting some positive pie in the sky blog that will make you feel better after reading it. The words that follow are straight from the heart.

I dragged my seventy-two-year-old body out of bed this morning, as usual and completed my daily exercise routine: an hour of riding my bicycle in my neighborhood, thirty minutes of weightlifting and some light calisthenics before taking a few minutes to cool down. After showering and having breakfast, I was exhausted. Chris asked me later if I was tired. My response was, of course. You might be thinking what one would expect a seventy-two-year-old man to feel like after this routine. I’ve been an exerciser all my adult life. If you’ve followed my blogging, you know that my age isn’t the only factor I deal with daily. Living with cancer, Multiple Myeloma, for over twenty-two years is one of the culprits, too. Another is the drugs I must take to keep my cancer at bay. Imagine pumping poison into your body for over two decades.

At this moment, I’m experiencing the kind of tired I suffer occasionally. The kind of tired that manifests itself in every part of my body, even my toes are offering up a reframe that cry woe is me. There are others who know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m a regular participant on the Multiple Myeloma Patient Facebook Page. There you’ll find sufferers with this disease who have been recently diagnosed to those like me; who’ve been battling the ravages of this black-robe-wearing, cycle-carrying-companion for years, decades. We all share our pain, our grief, our victories, encouraging each other on this journey that only each of us can understand. I welcome the opportunity to offer encouragement to patients who have been recently diagnosed; however, when I’m experiencing days like today, I don’t visit the page. It takes energy to be an encourager. That, I don’t have today.

Out of all I’m feeling right now, when I’m too tired to be tired. I must remember that what I’m feeling now is temporary. I’ll bounce back. My old cancer infested body will be back on track and doing fine, given the circumstances. I must remember that I’m old and blessed.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

But your story can be different

I want to make it clear that the title of this piece isn’t original. On August 28, 2022, C. Dennis Edwards, I Pastor of Saint John Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas preached a sermon with the background scripture from Chronicles 24: 1-3. He handily made the point of how King Joash, ascending to the throne at age seven changed the story of his family’s time on the throne. His father, grandfather and great grandfather had been horrible kings, straying as far from God as they could. Joash’s reign for forty years in Jerusalem was godly. He made every effort to remove all practices that paid homage to idol gods.

I often get inspiration for composing a blog, as I sit in church, listening to sermons, observing the people, and meditating on all that’s occurring around me. Stories from the Bible, delivered in a good sermon, can provide relevant things to consider in our times. People as just people whether they were born seventy-two years ago, as I, or several millennia, as was King Joash.

The point Reverend Edwards made in his sermon was that we can author our own story. Family history, even the reputation of the infamous uncle, who shows up drunk at every family gathering, doesn’t have to provide a model for our individual story. Our stories are different, however, it’s okay if each of our stories contain generous amounts of love, compassion, and the desire to understand those in whom we come in contact. They would be better if they did. Wouldn’t it be better if our stories consistently demonstrated that we are made in the image of God?

If there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that stories are what keeps us alive, they capture our character, our spirit, the essence of our being. They also provide entertainment and inspiration for others who consume them. I’ve given thought to chronicling my full story, up to the current time, whatever that may be. I find myself hesitant to do so. Who would want to read about me? And so, I decided not to write my life’s story for now. Someday I’ll have enough of whatever it takes to sit at this keyboard for the number of hours necessary to chronicle the story of Hosea Long, minus some of the details even I don’t want to read. Is my story better than those of my grandparents, uncles, aunts and other who have come before me? Probably not, but it is different in countless ways. I’m convinced that my standing on the backs of the sacrifices those who came before me has made it possible for me to tell such different story.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

They didn’t need a grocery store

The last two years, experiencing the difficulties of the covid pandemic, I’ve been reminded of how dependent we all are on producers of goods, supply chains and product inventories. Do you remember in early 2020, when the pandemic had started to gain momentum in its campaign to envelop the globe? There was a shortage of paper products, specifically paper towels, and toilet tissue. People were losing their minds, fearful of running out of these products. There were stories being reported by the media of hoarders buying truckloads of toilet tissue and paper towels, with hecklers attacking them as they exited the store. These images gave us small examples of how things might be or will be at a point in the future when our modern-day infrastructure for producing consumables fails.

I’ve been thinking about my grandparents (my maternal ones), born in the early years of the twentieth century, and how they seemed to have lived a very peaceful life despite the plethora of external forces that were against them. When I think about how they lived, I can’t see them being fearful or frustrated with even the thought of running out of food staples or any products necessary for living. They lived in a world that was hostile to them simply because they were born Black. They didn’t have access; access to the places where they could purchase many of the things, we stroll into a Walmart super center today to purchase. They both went through the great depression with little discomfort, at least it seemed that way whenever I had conversations with them about it. They had survival skills that would be the envy of modern-day survivalists. When I harken back to experiencing life with them as a young child, I recall them going to town and purchasing only sugar, flour, and corn meal. They didn’t increase their purchases of additional item until I was around the age of twelve or thirteen, which would have been the early to mid-1960s.

Those who have no clue what it takes to produce your own food might think that it involves a significant amount of demanding work. They might be right; however, as a child I didn’t see the challenging work. I would frolic around in the field while grandpa with through the entire process of preparing the soil in the spring, planting seed, lovingly caring for the growing plant, and harvesting the product later in the year. He grew a large inventory of products: watermelons, corn, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, a variety peas and beans, greens, and my more kinds of produce we now purchase at the supermarket. Of course, he also had cows to produce milk, as well as chickens and other backyard foul that tasted nothing like the industrially produced stuff we buy today. Speaking of taste, the foods tasted nothing like the chemically treated products we consume today. In addition to food stuffs grandpa produced on his small eighty-acre farm, he also made treks into the woods to hunt for wild meat and collect berries, which my grandma used to make tasty jams and jellies.

We were poor back then, during the 1950s and early 60s, but lack of food was never a problem with grandpa and grandma. Life had taught them how to survive despite external circumstances. I wonder how they would do today.

I old and blessed…hope you will be too.

The evolution of Midsomer Murders

Brits are great at producing crime shows. Their police procedurals are some of the most entertaining television shows one could watch. There’s a show that started back in the late 1990s called Midsomer Murders. Midsomer is a fictional county with what seems like endless villages. I had watched an episode of this show from time to time on our public broadcasting network, but I never really got attached to it. This summer’s weather in Arkansas has been brutally hot. That, plus the fact that I have a Firestick (offers various streaming services) attached to the flat screen I have in my office, prompted me to search one day for some interesting tv fair. I ran across some twenty seasons of Midsomer Murders one day, and I decided to start watching the series from the beginning.

Let me say from the beginning that two to three people murdered on each episode in a scarcely populated village is far from being realistic. Furthermore, twenty some years of episodes, with each one highlighting the murderous shenanigans in a different village seems far beyond farfetched. How many villages could any county in Great Britain have? Beyond that hard-to-swallow aspect of the show, the evolution of technology, hair styles, automobile models, diverse ethnicities and main characters present an interesting study, if you will.

The show begins with the main character Chief Detective Inspector Tom Barnaby and his sidekick Detective Sergeant Jones. They are stationed in a town called Causton. They regularly flash their credentials when introducing themselves as being with CID (Criminal Investigation Division) from Causton. There’s a good amount CDI Barnaby’s personal life interjected into the show…not too much, just enough. We see his wife and adult daughter, who sometimes are drawn into the mysteries the show presents. The earlier episodes, which began in the late 1990s lack some of the slickness displayed in those of the iPhone era, however, the perennial invitation for the viewer to tag the murder before Barnaby is always there. I feel pretty good about myself, since I developed a keen eye for identifying the murderous culprits about three-quarters of the way through most episodes.

It’s interesting how Midsomer evolved in many ways through the decades. One such evolutions has been the presence of people of color on the show. The earlier episodes had few people of African, Asian or any other ancestry beside European. It’s almost like I turned on the tele one day and there be ethnic diversity in one of the quaint villages of Midsomer County. I know little about rural Great Britain, but I’ve been under the impression that most rural areas have few people of color. Regardless of what real life presents, I commend the producers of Midsomer Murders for answering the call of the times by including people of color in the high jinks associated with the crime that dates to early Biblical times.

Midsomer murder has provided me with some good entertainment for summer 2022. Most of it doesn’t really imitate life very well, but I give it a one hundred for trying.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

                                                                                         Why?

I was sitting in my home office this morning after having a cup of coffee and reading the daily electronic newspaper. Since it was the first day of school, I decided to turn on the television to look at the local news. There are usually some interesting people-interest stories reported on the first day. If there were some light-hearted people-interest stories reported, I don’t remember them, because they were overshadowed by some disturbing stories, a least they were disturbing to me.

One local school district in Central Arkansas is hiring nine resource officers this year. These are police officers hired under contract from the city’s police department. (I’ve decided not to name the school district or the local police department.) I moved through the television channels and the reporting was the same. Security is a top priority this year. I couldn’t help but get the sense that going to school these days is like entering a high security government facility. I also couldn’t help but to allow images of school violence to develop in my mind. God forbid there be demented school shooters this year. The decrease in onsite school attendance over these last two covid-pandemic years has lessened the opportunities for mentally unbalanced people to enter our schools to end the lives of some of our most valuable resources.

I remember when I attended school back in the 1950s and 60s, even though this was during a time when segregation and the emergence of the civil rights movement were at loggerheads, there wasn’t the practice of using schools as shooting galleries. I was more concerned with how I would protect myself from the infamous school bully, who had promised to beat me up on the playground. These little high-noon type encounters didn’t have guns or knives added to the mix, only plain old fisticuffs. As I look back now, these scrimmages weren’t as bad as they seemed at the time. They almost seem comical.

I could write more, but I’m overwhelmed with the question: WHY? Of course, I could dedicate countless words to answering that question; however, I don’t feel they would amply define the social illness under which we live these days. So, I’m left with WHY.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

She was acting, but she made a difference

I’m writing this piece to share some personal thoughts about Nichelle Nichols, translator, communications officer, and linguistics expert on the Starship Enterprise.

In case you’re wondering why I’m assigning role-model qualities to a fictitious character of a now, fifty-six-year-old TV/movie franchise. An article I read today where Whoopi Goldberg talks about the impact seeing Lieutenant Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise will lead you in the direction of why talking about Uhura is important. Whoopi was nine years old when Star Trek debuted on television. See said when she first saw her, she screamed for others in her house to come see the Black lady on television who wasn’t a maid or servant. Those were my sentiments, too. Before then, I had been served up countless helpings of characters carrying luggage, cleaning floors, invisibly occupying unimportant space on the screen (big and small). I was sixteen when star Trek debut, and I was also coming into the knowledge that Black folks had done and were doing monumental things in building this United States of America.

One of the greatest stories I’ve heard about Nichelle Nichols is when she met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This happened after the first season of Star Trek had wrapped. She told him that she was leaving the show for a career in Broadway. Dr. King convinced her that she couldn’t leave the show. Being a fan of the show himself, he told her of the importance of her role. It’s interesting how someone else can see the forest of which we’re a part. I often think of how Nichelle’s leaving might have changed the future of the show. Would there have been the same flavor to the interplay between Uhura and other characters on the Enterprise. Well, I must confess to my crush on Uhura, developed during season one. So, no anyone else playing that role would’ve been a travesty.

Uhura was a strong Black woman, equal to all others in importance, as she went about the galaxy on a mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, going where no one (no man in futuristic 1966) had gone before. She has now left us for a second and final time; the first time when she stopped appearing on Star Trek shows, and the second when she left us, as Nichelle Nichols on July 30, 2022.

Art can have an important influence on life, even when it stretches the imagination in a science fiction show that takes us where we can only imagine.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

P.S. This is my fifth mission into the Star Trek galaxy. Other posts I’ve made to little leased corner of cyberspace include Maybe we need a Star Trek, 11/26/19; Star Trek on my birthday, 7/21/21; Gene Rodenberry’s dream is good medicine for today, 2/28/22; Back to the future: Diversity for today from the 1960s, 11/15/2020. Do I have Star Trek on the brain? You bet!

Small things

Here’s facebook post I did seven years ago. You may find something in it or you may not:

Have you ever spent a lot of time grooming yourself to look your very best, not necessarily to impress anyone else, but simply to revel in the picture of looking your best? Then, when you’re about to exit the house, your significant other asks you to hold on for a minute. You wonder why. After all, there couldn’t possibly be anything you’ve forgotten, especially on your person since you spent so much time pruning and primping. She/he proceeds to pick a very small piece of lent from your shoulder. They do this without breathing a word of how the total package looks, but for some reason they noticed this almost microscopic piece of lent.

Metaphorically speaking, it is often the small things in life that count the most. Pay attention to the small things and thank those in our lives who notice the small things in our lives.

I hope you weren’t expecting something bigger. Have a great day of small discovery!

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

    Hurrying up isn’t a priority anymore

Do you recall when you were much younger? My assumption here is that you’re over sixty if you’re reading this. Please pardon me if you’re a youngster of anything under fifty. Getting back to the question, if you can recall the days of being knee high to a grasshopper, teenaged years or twenty to thirty something, you might remember being impatient. When I think of those times, I see myself never patient enough to allow time to take its course. When I was fourteen, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get my driver’s license. Seeing the joy on the faces of two of my cousins, three years older than I, tooling around in the old hoopties they had worked hard to save enough money to buy increased my impatience to wait until I turned sixteen. That rite of passage, taking a driving test would be mine to experience. With a driver’s license, I would enjoy my first foray into independence and be a legal risk on the road to myself and everyone else I encountered.

My two youngest kids, thirty-four and thirty are beginning to show signs of patience, but they still have a way to go before they reach that age where everything you’re in a rush to get to isn’t a fire. They’re still at that age where when they ask you for something, with follow-up shortly thereafter. Of course, they want whatever they want from me served up with McDonald’s speed. I must forgive my grandkids and my dog; it’s natural for their requests to be followed with whining and jumping up and down. Neither has a sense of longevity or brevity. They see it and it’s not where it should be, in their mouths, in their hands, somewhere in proximity so an itch can be scratched.

The title of this piece sums up my attitude about hurrying up for about anything, although I must admit, I still do move fast in the kitchen. I don’t mean to brag, but I can whip up a meal lickity split. I think it’s something in my DNA, which causes me to not want to wait more than an hour for a meal that I’m preparing. Alexa tells me that we’re moving through space at 1.3 million miles per second. We can’t feel it because the Earth is orbiting the sun, which is orbiting the center of our galaxy, which is barreling through the cosmic wind of radiation released during the Big Bang. When I think about that, I must accept the fact that there’s no speed on Earth any of us can achieve which can match that. I think I can just relax and enjoy the ride; a ride that has taken me on a journey during these past seventy-years far greater in distance than my mathematically challenged brain can begin to calculate. I’ve also come to the realization that it (whatever it is) will be there when I get there. There’s no need to rush. At my age, rushing could result in something falling off. I’m at that age where replacement parts are hard to come by.

In the meantime, I’ll watch the young folks and the adds on TV continue to pay homage to the god of hurry-up. I see no need to stress myself in such an ungodly fashion.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

                                                                                Your life

How old are you? If you’re at an age where you can review things that have happened over three decades or more, you’ve been given an opportunity to see how wonderful life is. However, I want to make it clear what I consider life to be. The Yogi, Sadhguru doesn’t consider life to be the things external to your vessel, your body. He has been known to say that life isn’t things like your job, community, your family and so on. These are life experiences. Your life is the self-contain biological unit that breathes and navigates through the years it lives on this planet. I agree with that assessment. That characterization of life begs the question: How well are you managing your life. We can’t do very much about what goes on externally to our vessel; however, we can manage our emotions, our health, our intellectual achievement, our attitudes, as well as other components of our life.

Have you been known to say how others make you angry, happy, sad, and so on? Is there a string or some sort of control button protruding from some point on your body which others have access to, allowing them to control how you respond to any given situation? Are you continually experiencing some emotional state that you’d rather not be experiencing? Maybe being aware that you’d rather not be in this state is a state of mind that’s prompting you to do something about it.

I’m so far away from being a mental health professional that I must make it clear that my thoughts in the blog aren’t informed by medical training. However, I have lived a long time on this planet, and I’ve experienced a lot of external stimuli. Much of it has been negative, not good medicine for a healthy mental state. I certainly don’t discount my life of faith, which gives me plenty of fuel in sustaining a healthy mental state. Faith in God, for me, has little value if I can’t use it to navigate the day-to-day struggles that are bound to be ahead. I can have faith in Jesus, and I do, but I must find a way to use that faith in my inventory of wisdom tools. It’s these tools that equip me to look at circumstances and respond to them in ways that are best for my mental health. I started thinking decades ago that there are only two people who continually have my beat interest at heart: God and me. And I’m not the most dependable of the two. Others-family, friends- do have my interest in their hearts, but they have a full-time job trying to maintain their own balance in meeting life events.

We’ve been given the greatest of gifts, life. The entire universe is about life. We shouldn’t allow outside influences to interfere with us doing all we can to have the best life we can. We should eat well, exercise, meditate, use all the wisdom our god provides to develop our lives to be the best they can be. That state of consciousness will better prepare us to be good service to ourselves and to others.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.