Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Nude

Not long after we moved into our present home a few years back, we were trying to decide how to decorate the rooms. The front guest bedroom was a particular quandary because we didn't seem to have any artwork that was appropriate to our tastes.

The big, bare wall opposite the bed begged for something bedroomy, but it remained vacant until Cindy got to digging around in her packratted stache of art supplies, which she had secreted away from my knowledge.

She produced this original nude, which she bought at a garage sale before she met me. This painting had been purchased for almost nothing along with an art kit containing quite a bit of pencils, brushes, colors, etc. Apparently, all of this came from Europe originally. The painting (obviously not done by one of the masters) is dated circa 1920---thought to be done by an art student of the era.

So---if you ever come to visit and decide to spend a night in the front guest bedroom, this is what will greet your eyes when you open them in the morning.

Monday, August 30, 2010

REVERENCE Ref: James 4:14

Listen to earth's senses,
Her currents beckon long
God's timeless law condenses
Mere science to a song.

For you are but a vapor,
Here for a little while;
Take time to feel each moment,
So fleeting is Life's smile

Appreciate the plunder
Of rivers, stars and seas;
Remember Life's short wonder
Evokes eternities.

There is a Higher Power
Directing your brief stay;
For time on earth to flower
Requires his Holy Ray.

For you are not aware
Of what tomorrow brings;
Humbleness and praise are rare
But necessary things.

For you are but a vapor,
Here for a little while;
Take time to feel each moment,
So fleeting is Life's smile.

(C) 2005 Clint Ellison

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Perils of Life......

When I was 14 years old, I was in a Jr ROTC unit in Jr High School. This was back when such units existed in Jr High Schools.

Anyway, the first time I had to stand at attention with my unit for an extended period of time, I fainted. I remember getting hot and shaky and sweaty. The next thing I remembered I was on the ground getting lots of attention.

I suppose it made me feel a little better to know that a couple of the other guys crashed just like me that day, but not much. Since that day, I have maintained the habit of fainting at an approximate rate of once or twice a year. For some reason, it has to do with my blood pressure deciding arbitrarily to just go in the tank. It always happens when I am standing, or when I have just stood up from sitting or immediately after getting out of bed.

A couple of years ago, Cindy and I went to a wonderful dinner hosted by a couple in our Sunday school class. There were eight of us at the dining room table. We had just finished a superb repast, when it was suggested we repair to the den for conversation and dessert. I had noticed that I was getting a little hot and shaky---always a warning sign. As I arose, my B/P crashed and I went down for the count. Made a lovely impression on the group, as well as scared the hell outta' them. Oh, and I also dumped my coffee on the carpet as I hit the deck. Lovely.

Anyway, when I came to in about three seconds, I knew immediately what had happened. All I needed was a couple of minutes for my pressure to get back up. But, by that time, with the excitement and fear that I was dying of a heart attack, the paramedics had been called and I was made to ride the ole ambulance to the hospital. Cindy held my hand the entire three minute trip. I guess it was good from the standpoint that I had always wanted to ride in an ambulance.... :)

At the ER, I was beginning to feel pretty good, but they still ran some tests---including a brain scan. Of course, they found nothing. Ha.

Well, today, it happened again. I've been on a low carb diet, which squeezes water from my body. I am also on B/P meds, including a diuretic, which further pulls water from the cells. In the 95 degree midafternoon heat, I decided to walk for 40 minutes. I got home after a nice power walk with the telltale signs of heavy sweating, shakiness and dizziness. Bottom line is I crashed in the shower.

Compounding my problem was Cindy, who happened to walk in as I was trying to get up off the shower floor. She went nuts, which I don't blame her. Let's just say I don't think I'll be taking any more power walks on an empty stomach in the summer heat of Texas again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Honor, Courage, Leadership, Greatness, Humility

Without question, one of the greatest military leaders this country has ever produced is Robert E. Lee of Virginia.
He was born at Stratford Hall, Virginia. He is buried at the Lee Chapel in Lexington, Virginia. The journey between his birth and death is the stuff of legend.
At West Point, he was never charged with a demerit. That alone is incredible. He was a hero of the Mexican War. He released the slaves his family owned long before the War Between the States, thus showing the way to a troubled country.
In the Civil War, his leadership and generalship were unprecedented. Against all odds, time after time, he led his ragged army to victory after victory.
After the war, this great man strove to heal the wounds of four bitter years of destruction.

He loved God, Virginia, the South and the United States of America.

He was universally loved.

I mention General Lee today because it is said that he is barely mentioned in the textbooks of our schoolchildren. Political Correctness, I guess.

The snapshots shown here are General Lee the soldier; His final resting place at the College of Washington & Lee; and the famous marble carving over his grave, a masterpiece by the sculptor, Edward Valentine.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Life is Toooo short For...And who knows what the future holds?

Our existential experiences lead us, in our contemplative moods, to certain great truths concerning choices and relationships. One category of such truths is entitled "Life is Too Short For...".
We, of course, do not know what tomorrow shall bring. We may die tomorrow---or today, for that matter. Therefore, it is prudent to begin eliminating from our lives those things that do not bring us pleasure and fulfillment. After say, a half century or so of living, relating, experiencing, evaluating and so forth, we come to a few decisions in this regard. A few of mine are:

Life is too short for cheap mayonnaise. You save a few cents but you don't like yourself very much afterward.

Life is too short for "friends" who refuse to answer their phones even when they are sitting right next to it as it rings. They make you leave a message and then they may---or may not---get back to you later.

Life is too short to put up with people in your life who do not do what they told you they would do.
Life is too short to keep wearing those underwear with the worn out elastic.

Life is too short to put up with a job or boss that is not fulfilling/reasonable. You only have this one life, so do something with it you enjoy. At the end of your days, you don't want to have profound regrets about your work on earth.

Life is too short to not diet and stay fit. If we are overweight, we don't like ourselves much.

Life is too short to not have a good vacation every year. Most people who don't go on vacations cite lack of money or time as a reason. That is a lie. The best vacations I have ever had have been simple, inexpensive, with little or no extensive planning.
Life is too short to worry about making a fool of yourself. Just do it. God knows I don't have a problem in this area.

Life is too short to not have finally recognized the presence of God, and the fact that everything we individually have comes from Him. You say you're self-made? Really?

Life is too short to put up with arrogant people. Refer to the above paragraph.

Life is too short not to have loved deeply and unconditionally. Yes, it can be difficult. Yes, it is worth the effort.

Life is too short to not give your best at every endeavor.

Life is too short to not learn to play a musical instrument.

Life is too short to fall into a nice, comfortable rut. Venture out. Take a risk. Have faith. Learn. Grow. You'll be glad you did.

Life is too short for worry. Let go and let God. Worry has been called the greatest form of atheism.

Life is too short to be complacent politically. Stand up for your beliefs and VOTE.

Life is too short to believe everything (or anything) in the news media. Do some homework. Read between the lines.

This list could be much longer. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Way We Were.......

I look around and all of a sudden this doesn't look like the country I grew up in. I guess I was so busy with my job, my family, trying to build a future, that I just never thought so much change would take place over my lifetime.

I mean, when I was just six or seven years old, I learned to ride a bike. Oh, how this opened up the world for me as a little kid growing up on Houston, Texas' southeast side! I rode to my friends' homes, to Reveille Park, to the community swimmin' pool, to the Santa Rosa theater on Saturdays (where the kid's movie---usually a "B" western)---would pack the tykes in for a quarter apiece, and there was never any fear of crime or fear for my safety. If there was a crime rate, we never heard about it. Crime against kids was nonexistent. My how times have changed.

Riding my beloved Schwinn did not require a helmet or tricked-out garb. Just put on some shorts and any ole shirt and take off. Heck, half the time most of the kids under 12 years old were barefoot, anyway.

In 1951, our neighbors got a television set. Oh, my gosh!---the entire neighborhood piled into their home almost every night to watch the miracle. There was Milton Berle and Red Skelton and Jack Benny and so much more. Neighbors actually knew each other back then. We got our television set a couple of years later, along with an air conditioner. Before that, we all used fans to stay "cool" in the south Texas heat (if I had to do that today I'd shoot myself).

There were times that the various kids in the neighborhood needed discipline. Back then, if any parent saw an instance where a child needed disciplining, they would take care of it on the spot, whether it was their child or not. Often, a swift, sharp swat to the derriere was the attention-getter. After that, the child's parents would receive a phone call from the disciplining parent, and the child would get another tannin' when he/she got home. "It took a village" back then, and it worked. People were nice to each other. People were taught manners. Children respected "their elders". It just doesn't seem to be that way any more.

At school, if a guy got out of line, there was a paddle in his immediate future. Then, once again a phone call would be made home, and another tannin' would be administered there. A few of these episodes would generally teach a guy a lesson. But don't try that today.

People went to church. They prayed before meals. All my friends were taught by their parents to pray before bedtime. I would always end my prayers by saying "God bless mommy and daddy and David and grandma and grandpa and Fritz" (our dog at the time). They read the bible. Not much of that going on any more---mainline Christian denominations have lost membership every year for the past 40 years. Methodist membership in the US is now down to about 9 million.

I was taught, along with all my friends, to call adult men "sir" and ladies "Ma'am".

My mom taught me it was ok to compliment someone on their appearance. If you thought their dress, or hat, or shoes, or purse was particularly nice, it was a mannerly act to compliment a girl/woman. You might be thought improper by today's standards. Some might think you guilty of sexual harassment.

As I grew a little older, I could see how women just did not speak about their "curse". The monthly period was a taboo subject. They would talk all around the topic but never directly mention it. This always perplexed me. There was a mysterious aura about it.

I was also perplexed around the age of eight by scandalous talk at school---there was a vicious rumor going around that women did not have a penis. I found this to be an impossible anatomical arrangement. And, since I was not allowed anywhere near my mom and dad's bedroom when their door was closed, I had no way of knowing. Therefore, fertile mind that I had at the time, I decided to do some research to determine the veracity of this rumor. As I walked to the school bus stop one fine day, I stopped and attached a mirror to my right shoe. My plan was to approach the first girl I met and stick my shoe under her dress (the girls all wore dresses back then) and see if I could get a gander at what the female anatomy actually looked like.

Well, of course, you are immediately going to notice anyone with a mirror stuck on the toe of their shoe, so this extremely clumsy attempt at anatomical exploration did not pan out. I had to learn about girls' anatomy just like most of the other boys---out behind the barn. But, the point is that it was not acceptable to talk about anatomical differences between the sexes, even among adults. The few kids who had parents who were open about such things were fortunate.

Guns were an accepted fact of life. Everyone had 'em. This was in the 1950s---not long after WWII, when virtually all the men were in service and trained to use firearms. No one ever talked about banning guns. Guns were considered part of our national fabric.

Those are a few reminiscences of my youth. That was back when we had Free Speech, telephone booths (what would Clark Kent do today to change clothes?), "Dime Stores", a military draft, party lines, a poll tax, DDT sprayings, asbestos as insulation, polio shots, baseball as a national pastime, zero soccer, virtually no Muslims, homosexuality was considered an aberration, cokes and candy bars were 5 cents, railroads were the best form of travel, no seat belts in cars, no interstate highways, and you could actually eat the fish you caught in the lake, and so much more.

Have we progressed over the past 60 years or not?

Monday, August 23, 2010


Circa 1958, my family vacationed up in Michigan. We stayed with my grandparents on a lake and spent a wonderful week in the summer fishing and boating.

One day, my brother, David and I decided to paddle a canoe out on the lake. What transpired has gone down in Ellison family lore as one of the zaniest examples of the opposite of teamwork ever recorded in the annals of history.

After getting in the canoe we managed to paddle out a few feet from the dock...and then the uselessness of it all began.

David was facing one way in the boat and I was facing the other way. We began to paddle, hoping to propel the skiff to the lake's center. Instead, we toiled for several minutes going nowhere, not realizing that we were working against each other. The canoe stayed pretty much where it was.

The laughter from the adults on the shore was deafening. As it finally dawned on us what a bone-headed spectacle this was, my mom snapped this "Kodak Moment" for posterity.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Coins, like people, can be cast aside---and redeemed

It all started about ten years ago when I was in Richmond, VA, on a weekend business trip. On Saturday morning I decided that my recent weight gain would have to be addressed, and I vowed to begin walking briskly before work on a daily basis to boost my activity level as I dieted.

As I strode out of the motel lobby and into the parking lot, I noticed a small, shiny object against the curb. Close inspection revealed that it was a dime that someone had lost.

Without thinking, I picked it up and put it in my pocket. I didn't think about that coin again until I returned to my room and felt the small disk next to my room key in my pocket.

I looked at it closely. It must have been on the street a very short time, I reasoned. The surface was smooth, unworn by the elements. The date was recent. I began to wonder how the little coin had been lost. Perhaps someone had a hole in his pocket. Perhaps someone pulled something from her pocket and the coin happened to tumble out inadvertently.

I wondered what stories that little coin could tell. Who had lost it? To whom had it belonged over the months between its birth at the U.S. Mint and now?

Oddly, those questions seemed to stay with me all day. That night, I decided to walk once again, this time in the glow of a Virginia full moon.

Now, if you have ever walked briskly on a daily basis, you know that it can be a downright boring chore. I thought that I would actively look for coins on the sidewalk and in the parking lots that made up my walking track. Perhaps that activity would aid in my battle against the boredom of walking.

Of course, I didn't expect to actually find anything at night, but there was a good moonglow that could reflect against metal, so I was hopeful.

Yes! Fifteen minutes into my trek, I spotted a glimmer in the gloaming---a penny!

From that day to this, I have walked on a daily basis, and I have broken the drudgery of my walks by searching for coins. Over time, I have begun to see these coins as "lost souls" begging for a home. I have found them in parking lots, on sidewalks, in streets and in the most unimaginable places.

If you look for them, they are there, silently pleading to be found and given a good home.

Most of the coins are, of course, pennies. Perhaps some folks think a penny has no real value and isn't even worth the energy required to bend down and pick it up. But there are also nickels, dimes and quarters lying around, waiting to be rescued.

Over the years, I have come to refer to these coins as "orphans". I keep them in a special bank called, of course, "the orphanage". Many of the orphans are pathetic in their physical appearance---worn and weathered, thinned by the elements, perhaps half of their original thickness. Many are so worn that you cannot read the date or any of the inscriptions on them. Some look to be brand new, shiny and proud.

My orphans come from probably half the states in the contiguous United States where I have traveled. My wife, Cindy, has also caught the bug, and she avidly searches for our lost souls when she travels with me.

Our favorite place to search is the French Quarter in New Orleans. Look closely under the benches at Jackson Square. Keep your eyes on the ground on Bourbon Street. Where you find one coin, your chance of finding another nearby is excellent. Some days you will find none. Other days will yield multiple finds.

Of course, we can never spend our orphans. They are special, just like people who are lost and then miraculously found. And, like people, the true value of each of our orphans is the same, whether it is a quarter or a penny. Some are worth a worn out penny. Some are worth 25 times that much.

But, like people, they are all lost souls, kindred spirits, now found, in a warm, safe place. They, like human beings, have had the chance of the miracle of being saved. And they will never again experience the indignity of having no respect, of being lost and useless in a wealthy society.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Love of Grandpa & Baseball

I was 11 years old in 1955. Growing up in Houston, Texas meant that I was a fan of the Houston minor league baseball team, the Houston Buffaloes, of "Buffs" as the locals called them. I followed the team religiously, every night hunkering down beneath the covers, with my little radio tuned as low as possible, and listening in rapt attention to the broadcast. My heroes might be playing OK City, or Dallas, or Tulsa---they were part of the old AA Texas League.

But the summer of that year proved to be truly magical. My parents decided to vacation in Chicago for a couple of weeks. We would stay with my grandparents (my mom's parents) on the south side of town. OH boy!---I couldn't wait! I knew grandpa would take me fishing off the banks of Lake Michigan! And I knew I would also get to go swimming in the lake! And how I loved playing outside the apartment complex where they lived!

But the biggest thrill I could imagine was this---grandpa said he would take me to a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GAME! I had never been to a big league game before---I had only heard stories about the larger-than-life figures who made headlines across the country. I shook with the thought of being able to see such great White Sox stars of the day as Nellie Fox, Chico Carrasquel, Sherm Lollar, Billy Pierce, and of course, the one and only "Cuban Comet", the great Minnie Minoso.

Sure enough, grandpa was, as always, good to his word....we rode the bus to the great Comiskey Park for a night game. I don't recall who played the Sox that night, but I do remember they won. The Sox were a running team---great pitching, great speed, but not much power at all. They won games the old fashioned way---great defense and pitching.

Minnie Minoso (who, to this day is one of the most exciting players I ever saw in my life) singled. And I began chanting "GO...GO...GO...GO....." until the entire stadium had joined with me. The huge ballpark was rockin', big time. It was electrifying to an 11 year old boy who was at his first ball game. After a few pickoff attempts, The Comet exploded toward second base and slid in under the tag. My heart almost burst with excitement!

Yes, the Sox won that evening in the summer of 1955. But a young boy from Houston, attending his first major league game with his beloved grandpa, was the biggest winner of all.

The above photo was taken of my hero and me that special night at Comiskey Park, in the summer of 1955.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Selling a Home! Aaarrrgghhhh!!!!

One of the craziest, darndest, most inconvenient, hair-pullingest, funniest events in life is the sale of one's home. Yes, when one decides to sell their home, one decides to become slightly psychotic for a while.

Most people---like me---are quite emotionally involved with their place of residence. They live their lives there. They eat, sleep, socialize, and much more in the confines of their home. Naturally, where we live becomes a special part of who we are as individuals. Deciding to sell that residence is a huge step---parting with a part of oneself.

Then, there is the decision of whom to choose as a realtor. Gotta be someone who can relate, be honest, communicate. If possible, it should be someone you can respect and LIKE. Getting all that in one package ain't easy.

Then you have to settle on a price. Can't be too high or you'll end up having to lower the price at a later date after going through months of showings. Can't be too low or you'll "leave money on the table".

Then, when the "For Sale" sign goes up in the front yard, expect lots of questions from friends and family and neighbors---"Why are you moving?" "Where are you moving?" "If you're going to have a yard sale, can we come have first pick?"

Then, the fun begins...NOT. The realtor calls beforehand to schedule an appointment. Normally, these fine folks give themselves a 2 hour window, say, from 3:00---5:00. So you leave the house at 3:00 and return at 5:15, but you don't know for sure if the realtor showed up or not. They no longer leave their business card as a courtesy to the home owner. Typically, around 5:30 the doorbell rings and there is the realtor---the guy couldn't even hit a two-hour window. So, just when you were gettin' comfortable with your gin & tonic, you got folks walkin' through the premises, looking at your books in the bookcase, examining the artwork on the walls and generally looking at most everything EXCEPT the house. This goes on day after day.

Some days there is no activity. Other days there are several showings. I was in the pool naked the other day when the realtor called and said she was at the front door with a customer---could they come in? I no longer go to the pool au naturale.

But no matter---every day until you get a contract, you must keep the home clean and well lit. Pool must sparkle. Kitchen must be spotless. Naturally, all this unnatural cleanliness can make for a little bit of friction between the wife and me. We almost never exchange "words", but occasionally tension can be detected in the air. Someone suggested divorce as a solution. I told them we do not believe in divorce.....murder, yes; but not divorce.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Between the Lines

We take normal conversation for granted. But, how many times have we come away from a discussion and realized that we did not really get the full meaning of what was said to us?

For example, when my dad came out of surgery and was placed in ICU, my mom and brother and I sat down with the surgeon to hear what he had to say about the surgery. He said "The tumor was very aggressive, but I think I got it all".

Well, after the doc left us, we began to discuss what he said. I said I was so happy that there was no cancer.....but then again, while the surgeon did not use the word "cancer", he did use the word "aggressive". What did "aggressive" mean? Was that different from cancer or was it an easy way for him to tell us dad's condition without using the "C" word? Two days later we found out that dad did indeed have cancer, but the doctor just didn't have it in him to tell us. We should have "read between the lines".

Another example was the time in college when I asked Maggie Ellen to go to the concert with me---she responded by saying "I'd LOVE to go with you, Clint, but there may be a family matter I have to attend to...." It turns out the "family matter" was a date with Joey, who had not yet got around to asking her when I called. I should have "read between the lines".

And, of course, our entire citizenry has been thoroughly educated by a former president on the importance of knowing what "is" is. We should have read between the lines.

In fact, reading between the lines is a most important skill; for, in virtually every verbal interraction we must employ that skill.

I wrote this poem in 1999. I hope you enjoy it.

Between the Lines

Between the lines the truth does lie
In understated, silent, sly
Suggestion; thus, 'tis hard to know
Exact explanations, and so
We wonder whether, what, and why.

We read and listen; then do try
To interpret meaning, and spy
Understanding beyond, below,
Between the lines.

Weigh woven words which may belie
The thoughts that underneath them fly
Averse; so secretely they sow
Innate insights, inklings which grow---
Lying, lurking with spectral sigh...
Between the lines.

(C) 1999 Clint Ellison

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mighty White Man 1962

The date was September of 1962. As an 18 year old freshman at Furman University, I had plenty to fret about. This was my first extended stay away from home, so along with the homesickness, I was also concerned about my studies. There were many "scare" stories about the multitudes who never made it through their freshman year, and I couldn't go home and face my parents after failing out. So, my nose was to the grindstone and my focus was on my studies.

But, I love football, and the Paladins were to play their first game against Presbyterian on Saturday. Naturally, I took a few hours to forget studies and I made the trip to downtown Greenville and Sirrine Stadium to watch Furman play.

Sitting in the freshman section, I noticed a truck wheel into the home end zone. Trailing the truck was a horse trailer. "What's this?" I wondered aloud. "Oh", my friend next to me said, "That's Mighty White Man!"

The handler opened the trailer and out pranced the most beautiful steed I could ever imagine. He was pure white---like the shining paladin he carried into battle. His coat gleamed in the sun. He was large and powerful looking, and when he moved, it was in a prancing trot of extreme self assurance. The sight of the beautiful mascot was so very exciting to all of us freshmen.

When the Purple Paladins scored, the powerful charger would emerge from his home in the end zone, and he would flow like a comet in his royal gait down the Furman sideline, bearing his knight past the stands for the Furman faithful to see. The fans would go wild at this wondrous spectacle of beautiful steed and flowing mane and tail and shining knight.

Of course, even the name "Mighty White Man" would be politically incorrect in these sensitive times. At the time, of course, that name was simply a proper description of that magnificent school mascot.

I have never forgotten the excitement of that first football Saturday afternoon of my freshman year in college, and how a beautiful horse temporarily eased the stress of my first year of college.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Diets, Diets, Diets....

Today, my peeps, we shall discuss the great American pastime of dieting and the constant hold it has on most of our lives. And what, you ask, makes me think I am qualified to lead this discussion? Because I have been on just about every diet known to humanity. And I have failed at all of them, too....Low Cal Diets; Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet; The Drinking Man's Diet; Jenny Craig; Weight Watchers; Nutrisystems; The Popcorn Diet; Vegetarian Diet; etc ad nauseum.

There are two main reasons these diets fail:

1. You are in a food comfort zone when you begin the diet, and that comfort zone is immediately stripped away as you begin. Me, I got to have my meat & potatoes every day---sometimes every meal. I mean, I suffer the DTs after 24 hours without my meat & spuds. I love sandwiches, too---bread is forbidden or restricted on most diets, so I am taken right out of my comfort zone, without bread, mayo, mashed potatoes, hash brown potatoes, potato chips, french fries, baked potatoes, etc...it makes me crazy. After about two days of torture, I usually start a second diet because I can't get enough to eat on just one.

2. Keeping the weight off after you complete your diet (if you are one of the rare folks who can stay on the damn thing in the first place). It turns out that the human body rebels at being forced to lose weight. And by God, when the diet is over and you think you can have a few good meals again, the pounds come roaring back---to an even higher level than when you began. It is diabolical.

"Experts" say that you are supposed to "change your lifestyle" and never go back to the foods you loved all those years. This is not natural. It doesn't work.

Eight days ago, I began yet another diet. This time, I chose the Atkins diet, which involves restricting carbohydrates. So far, I have lost 6 pounds. The diet works. But, there are problems---I can't eat bread or potatoes. I crave bread & potatoes. And, because I am not ingesting carbs, my body is rebelling with fits of weakness and a tendency to become "stopped up" in the bowel department. So, of course, I must compensate with a daily dose of metamucil. Nice.

Our ancestors did not deal with weight gain. They actually got out every day and WORKED---did a lot of physical stuff like plant crops, butcher hogs and build railroads. We have now "progressed" as a society to the point that we move our fingers and hands all day at a keyboard and call it "work". As we are sitting, our butts and bellies are bulging.

It would be really nice if we had a pill we could take to make our bodies just the right weight. Probably someday we will have that magic bullet. But, in the meantime, we must diet. Gotta go now---the DTs are startin'...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Poetic Roots

I love to write poetry and I love reading the works of the English and American Masters. Friends often ask me how I became interested in poetry. I tell them that my mother, from my earliest memory, would read to me.

Oh, she would read me all kinds of stories---fairy tales, fables, and rhyming verse. I loved it all; but, I was especially drawn to the sheer beauty of rhyming, metered verse. And, not only was it beautiful to the ear, it had a meaning to be thought over and discussed.

Longfellow, Poe, Masefield, Field, Riley, Kipling, Wordsworth, Lanier, Stevenson, Emerson, Tennyson, Whitman, Bryant---and so very many more---were my heroes (and still are).

If you want your child to love something---like poetry---expose them to it lovingly at an early age. It will grow as the child grows, and be a living testament to your love for them.

My wife, Cindy, is an artist. She created this wonderful shingle for me a few years ago. I keep it in a prominent place in my office.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Alexander the Great

Meet Alex, our 16 year old grandson. Alex is into working out every day, sports (mainly baseball, football and basketball), is involved with XboxLive (an international interactive computer application), going to school and hangin' with friends. We are very proud of him.

In 2006, Alex expressed an interest in learning to play the guitar. In September of that year, I sent him his Christmas present early, along with a poem I wrote for the occasion.

Merry Christmas in September, Alexander

Merry Christmas in September,
To my grandson from afar;
And may you e'er remember
Where you got your first guitar.

I bought it in the Lone Star State,
A fact that's really awesome;
'Cause think of all the singers great
Who from Texas came to blossom.

I hope that fifty years from now,
Long after I've gone to Glory,
You'll gaze upon the OLD guitar,
And fondly recall the story

Of grandpa Clint and long ago,
And how he gave with love
The old guitar, now aged and so
Cherished as from above.

I hope you'll take it in your hands
And lovingly strum its strings;
And remember through the sands
Of time the joy that music brings.

(C) 2006 Clint Ellison

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Jesus says we should keep two basic things in mind: 1) Love God and 2) Love our neighbor (and just WHO is a neighbor?---EVERYONE). Aye, there's the rub...

I don't have any trouble at all loving God. What He has given me is far beyond anything I deserve. I couldn't be more thankful for my life and my happiness, none of which I deserve.

But when it comes to loving my neighbor, I got a problem. The minute I get in my car and pull onto the streets, it starts. Rudeness exists throughout our existence...on the road, in our places of business, at church, in all of society. Here are a few of my pet peeves, which occur all the time, everyday. There are more than this short list, of course, but this is an excellent start:

1. Perfectly physically able drivers who park in spaces specifically reserved for the physically disabled. We've got many thousands of disabled folks who NEED these spaces. They are disabled vets, people suffering from a multitude of ailments, etc; and not a day goes by that I don't see some arrogant bastard, in good physical condition, nonchalantly drive into one of these reserved spaces, hang a phony handbill with a wheelchair outline on his rear view mirror, and go about his/her buisness. It makes my blood boil.

2. People who ignore those who greet them. I mean, what does it take to simply smile and say "hello" after someone has smiled and said "hello" to you? I don't get it.

3. Drivers who do not think to use their turn signal. Self explanatory.

4. Cell phone use in church, Sunday School, restaurants, movie theaters, public meetings, etc. WTF?!? Why? The damn thing can easily be shut off. Others don't really want to have their day interrupted by self-centered, arrogant shmucks. Turn the damn thing OFF, or put it on "vibrate". You are not the only person in society.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


He burst upon the scene four years ago, and no one's life has been the same since. This is my #3 grandson, Canyon. He practically owns the city of Knoxville,TN where he impresses everyone with his energy level, intelligence and disarming personality. I love the shots of him on his chopper and with his musket; but why did he have to fight on the Union side in the Civil War?

Monday, August 9, 2010

You Are Probably Blind and Don't Know It

Bartimaeus was blind in more ways than one. But he did have complete faith that Jesus could make him see again. Because of his faith, he was healed and was able to see not only in the physical sense, but also in the more important spiritual realm.

Take a minute today and reflect on your faith. Are you able to see clearly?

REF: Mark 10:46---52

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sun Records

The year was 1956, and I was quickly falling in love with the breath of fresh air in music that was known as "rockabilly". I loved the drive, the excitement, the uniqueness of it.

At the center of the new wave in American music was a little recording studio on Union Avenue in Memphis called Sun Records. The man behind this movement was Sam Phillips. Operating out of this studio, Mr. Phillips signed some of the most talented and famous new artists of the century....Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins.

I was in Memphis on business a couple of years ago and stopped by to see this historic building. It's just a couple of blocks over from Beale Street. You can take a tour of the facility and hear the wonderful stories of the country and R&R greats who passed through there.

Friday, August 6, 2010

America's Death

All now is gone in the heat of the blast
And the mushrooming afterglow;
Her future is now a thing of the past
As time moves from rapid to slow.

The land that was once the world's best hope
Is forever now ruined for all;
Her promise of greatness and unbridled scope
Now slumbers in ashes and pall.

Now swept away is the Mayflower's trek
With its sailors of strength and of vision
Gone now alway in the ruin and wreck
Of her leadership's gross dereliction.

Away from us now is the genius of man
Who created the great Constitution;
Who, with Jefferson, vowed "We can!"
And proposed to propel a great nation.

Gone now as well are the dim memories
Of Longfellow, Sandburg and Poe;
Of Paul Revere's Ride and Annabelle Lee
And Chicago's hot, brawny torso.

A nation which stood for hundreds of years...
A nation which served as a beacon
To those who toiled with blood, sweat and tears
And offered the promise of freedom.

A nation which fought both with Blue and with Gray,
Spilling volumes of heroic blood;
Which mightily strove for equality's way,
Damming prejudice's historic flood.

Who fought two World Wars for the good of mankind,
Who gave the world lasers and drugs;
Whose generous nature's now Gone With the Wind...
Whose great deeds are now but a shrug.

Away, yes away! Away now forever!
Awash and forgot, gone the whole lot...
The prince's and pirate's and poet's endeavor
Erased in the blast of the shot!

Sons and daughters, grandaughters and sons,
So loved by their fathers and mothers;
Now sleep like the dead under dust by the tons
Or exist in a hell like no other.

This is what happens when vigilance wanes;
The end price of failing to lead...
America's greatness now fallen and slain
While CHINA advances HER creed!

(C) 1998 Clint Ellison

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Clinton Patrick (My Grandson)

A son of the South (Well, do shut my mouth!)
So gently born and lovingly bred;
While through your bloodline a common thread
Links hopes for success of heart and head.

Gorgeous blue eyes (Hear the ladies' sighs!)
Reflecting beauty and honor bright;
Prisms of innocence, pale and light,
Beguiling masculine strength and might.

Oh!---what a smile! (Come 'ere honey chile'!)
Infectious in its daily display;
Laughter and frolic, always at play...
But ne'er far away from boyhood's fast fray.

Eire's patron saint (not weakly or faint)
Guards o'er your life through and through;
With mom and dad's love (and grandparents, too!),
May all of your dreams become true!

(C) 2001 Clint Ellison

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

William Ellison

My great-grandfather was William Ellison. Following the Civil War, in which he proudly served the CSA (24th Mississippi Infantry), he and his wife Burnetta moved to the town of Bazette, Texas. Bazette no longer exists, but it is now a rural area about 20 miles east of Corsicana.

After arriving at Bazette, William and Burnetta built a large family. He became a leader in the post-war community and was appointed their first postmaster. He later donated land to the local Baptist church, which still exists today. He and much of his family are buried in the lovely churchyard behind the church building.

This picture was taken a few years ago when my daughters, Diane & Debbie, came to visit. They are posed by a historical marker in front of the church. My grandfather and his donation of land are mentioned on the marker.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer Heat Wave

Here in north Texas, we are in the midst of the "dog days", with temps at 100 degrees+ every day. Today, we expect a high of 106. I thought you might enjoy these pics from last winter.....

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Crater

Fifty thousand years ago---give or take a few millennia---a meteor struck our planet just east of Flagstaff, Arizona. It created a giant crater 550 feet deep, one mile wide and 2.4miles in circumference.

Cindy and I had a chance to view this wondrous work of nature on one of our recent jaunts out west. It is the most remarkable sight I have ever seen. And yes, I have been to the Grand Canyon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

North Texas Sunrises and Sunsets

Just about the first thing Cindy and I noticed when we moved to the Dallas-Ft Worth metroplex seven years ago was the incredible beauty of the sunrises and sunsets.

I remember the first day we were here---we were staying in a hotel, and at the end of a busy afternoon working with a realtor looking at homes, we walked to a restaurant adjacent to our hotel and were astounded by the raging colors of the western sky.

We stood there, fixated on the wonder of the rapidly changing hues and brilliance of the clouds. A passerby remarked to us that almost every day features an atmospheric show like that. They were correct. I don't know if it is because of the dust content of the western breeze or the color of the land beneath the clouds, or just God's preference that Texas have beautiful shows at dusk and dawn; but the skies of Texas remind us of the beauty of our earth and the wonders it contains.