I wouldn’t be without you

From the time two sources came together in a moment of passion, you have been there. You have energized me, given me opportunities to learn, watched me, while never depriving me of my freewill. You were there waiting to usher me into my first exposure to light. You provided a platform for me to test my endowments; to begin the process of developing my humanity. In the initial stages of my development, I had no knowledge of you, what you were about, what your purpose was. I simply reveled in uninhibited joy, most of the time anyway.

As I’ve meandered about, sometimes with short periods of understanding, most of the time with unadulterated ignorance you’ve been there offering more challenges, more opportunities for me to learn and connect with all that I see. There have been forces coming at me from all sides, convinced that they have the answers I require to better prepare me to navigate through the times I’ve been granted. Each force is convinced that it has the best answers, the best tools, and at time, each is willing to vehemently attempt to win me over to its side. At times, I’ve resisted because I’ve wanted to seek my own answers, my own path. Little have I known that paths already taken by other have been better for me than any travel plans I could conjure. Fortunately, I’ve learned much during those times when I turned left when conventional wisdom said turn right. I wish I could say all bad decisions left me unscathed. Sometimes the wounds from bad decisions seem to linger for ever.

There have been times when I have come near being deprived of your presence. I can recall one time when you, in your dogged determination, decided the forces that tried to take you away had to retreat. I don’t think that bothered them terribly, since that was simply a battle lost, not a war. I’ve come to enjoy you in my own unique way, but that was the intent. You’ve been my personal companion, gifted to me to use in the best way I can. I honestly wish I had used you to the fullest of positivity; however, I wasn’t always that good at ignoring the distractions that offered greater sensory experiences at the time.

I’ve had more time with you than I deserved, and now that you’re short on supply, I have a better understanding of who and what you are. I understand your purpose. But isn’t that the refrain of many of us who have been gifted with your presence: Just when we think we’ve got you figured out, the screen goes black. Ironically, it’s a blessing to be given the time to get to that point.

Life, my greatest gift, my greatest friend, my greatest companion, thanks for what has been and what has yet to come.

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

A strange new world with old content

There’s something happening with me that’s difficult to explain. For the last three years or so, a good portion of my emotional and mental energy is focused on the past. My dreams during slumber at night take me off into experiences I’ve had years gone by. And the confusing thing is that they are patchworks of a variety of experiences, woven into single stories with individual elements that have nothing to do with each other. People, places, times of joy, pain and suffering separated by years are mixed into some weird cauldron where non-related elements are interacting with each other. The amazing thing is these distinctly different elements function as though they are familiar with each other, and they aren’t behaving, in the least bit, that they were from various times in my past. I often wake in the morning wondering why this is happening. One thing I can say for certain is that these nighttime, mental theatrical productions are of epic quality. Hollywood could learn a thing or two from the production quality.

Is my subconscious somehow experiencing short circuits or is this common for someone my age. I’ve had seventy decades plus to accumulate countless stories; stories that have allowed me to be involved in the entire inventory of human emotions that has been existed since creation. Speaking of emotions, yesterday was my mother’s birthday. She has been dead now for four years as of this past July 5. I sat down at my keyboard to right something about her yesterday; but I found myself too emotionally stirred to move thoughts to keyboard. At the end of yesterday, I asked myself why was such an emotionally experience was visited upon me. I yet have an answer today. This has not happened to me before, during the last four years mom has been gone. I posted a piece about mom April 8, 2019: Momma – oldblessedwordpresscom. This recounts some thoughts I had during her Alzheimer’s experiences.

I know many of us tend to romanticize about days of old. I suppose the more days one has, the more the collection of romanticized stories are chronicled in your brain. Or is the sheer weight of all these thoughts so overpowering that they simply assume authority of what’s going on in those cobb-webbed infested brains of ours? I don’t think I’m in need of psychiatry services at this point. If I ever do, I won’t know that they’re needed. Chris is standing at the ready. I’m sure she’ll do what’s necessary should professional services be required. Until then, I’ll keep enjoying the shows of days gone by.

The old stuff of life, of the world, of my individual experiences just seem more substantial than the fare dished out during these current microchip, digitized times. I can smell and touch a paper book, but nothing of my library contained on my Kindle, where there’s no real-life texture.

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

Even disgusted doesn’t describe it

I’m making it clear from the start that this post contains complaints. Please, I ask that you hold your nose or turn away if you don’t care for complaints about politics. We’re amid our mid-term elections in the United States, when national congressional seats, some state political offices and local offices are subject to election. Traditionally, this is the time when political tides are subject to turn, gains made by one political party two years ago just might be lost. The electorate has had a couple of years to ponder what it did twenty-four months ago, and it just might want to fix things. I’ve written about our mid-term elections before: Make your mark – oldblessedwordpresscom; life has taught me that there’s always something to say about politics.

I live in the red state of Arkansas. For anyone reading this, who resides outside of the North American area, someone has assigned the colors red and blue to describe the predominant political leanings of each state. Simply put red is used to designate those states that vote Republican; they have state legislatures that are predominately Republican, locally elected officials who are reflective of the same and so on. These states voted for forty-five (Trump) in 2020. Yes, I’m sure you noticed the hint of bias there. Since this is a blog, where I express my opinion, that’s okay. In contrast, blue states vote predominantly Democratic and are more progressive in their thinking; they voted for Biden in 2020.

My how things change. When I was much younger states that voted Democratic are today’s red and those that voted Republican are today’s blue. Confusing, don’t worry politics wasn’t meant to make sense anyway. Remember those colored maps the teacher used to use in school, where the states and global land masses were colored. They showed the states of the United States in bright vibrant colors. The first time I took a plane ride over the Unites states, I found myself missing those colors. I would like to think of my state being something other than red politically, maybe a light brown would look much better. If I remember from my elementary school art class, purple is what you get when you mix blue and red watercolors. Purple would suggest, to me anyway, that some thinking is occurring, and that the electorate is doing something other than drinking the Kool aide being served by the politicians.

Arkansas has been given an opportunity to elect a very bright young man to its governorship. He’s well educated, with a proven track record of public service; he’s a thinker, who’s capable of serving all the people of our state fairly; and he comes into the political arena from the Christian faith tradition that Arkansans purport to be important to them. He’s thinking is blue. His opponent has spent time buying television ads, not based in facts, that appeal to the emotions of the red colored electorate in Arkansas. She often refers to forty-five with a sense of endearment and respect and President Biden with terms that denote something other than the same. She even credits him with the increasing inflation that’s affecting the entire globe. She doesn’t mention her opponent very much in any of her ads. I would think she feels she doesn’t have to, since Arkansas is a red state, and she knows how to speak red with the best of them.

A little purple would be nice right about now.

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

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!