Friday, September 29, 2006


I’ve been so busy over the last ten days that I haven’t had a minute to stop and think about writing here at The Shilohman. There hasn’t been much in the news to make me stop and criticize. I don’t have a creative bone in my body and the Smoking Christian has been on such a roll that I feel completely intimidated. How does he do it? It’s been a tough week.

The buyers of our house took us to the cleaners. Somehow they found out we already had money down on another house and that we had already started refinishing the floors in that house. What do you know? They sent an addendum to the buy-sell agreement with the clear message that they would simply walk away from their earnest money if we didn’t go along with it. They wanted $2,500 for repairs on our four-year-old house! I’m so tired of all this. My lovely wife just wants out so we just signed it and walked.

(But let me tell you, the floors in the new house look absolutely gorgeous! To tell you the truth, the money we put into the floors probably increased the value of the house way beyond our imagination!)

Mia and I went out and picked out the new appliances last night…washer, dryer, frig, and water softener. Ouch! (But the refinished floors are beautiful!)

My friend, the electrician, is coming up tomorrow to put some outlets in the upstairs which has been attic space. It’s going to be two large bedrooms for us! Eventually he will have to replace the whole service but for now we’ll just get it up to code. (The floors up there were never, ever finished! They’re the loveliest pine floors you’ve ever seen!)

Tomorrow Mia and I celebrate our sixth anniversary. Needless to say, she’s a saint! She has made life an adventure! And she brought me these five great kids too! It’s been a great six years and I hope God gives us many more. She’s made me a better person.

Is everyone still planning on Parents’ Weekend at the Harvard of Evangelicalism? When will you be arriving? I had planned on getting that Sunday off but it’s not going to work out that way so I have to get back to Michigan Saturday night. Let me know what you’re thinking.

Oh, by the way, you should really come and see my floors!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006



My birthday finches are really happy up here in my study. (Those pictured are not mine. I’ll try to get a picture of mine before long.) The cage takes up about half of one wall and they fly happily about all day. We bought six nests like the one in the picture for them to lay their eggs. We lined them up along the back wall of the cage and it looks like a dorm hallway. In fact, with everything that’s going on in those nests it is exactly like a dorm!

This has been quite an education. Watching the six males and the six females pair up reminded me way too much of my dating days. The bigger males got all the cute females and the littler guys are either too shy to invite a female up to their place or the females that are left have rejected them! Can you imagine being rejected by the rejects?

Four of our apartments are currently in use. One couple got busy right away and they are sitting on six eggs in apartment number one. Yes, both the mom and dad are sitting on the eggs. In fact, they spend a lot of time sitting in there together. Apartments 2, 5, and 6 are also occupied and are incubating eggs.

The zebra finches have refused to marry within their own race. They have chosen women from the light colored finches. However, it appears that the zebra females have not been chosen by the white guys.

My lovely wife has demanded that I put little marriage certificates above each of the breeding apartments. She doesn’t want anyone to think we are endorsing free sex. I asked her if she wanted me to do little weddings for them too.

They make a lot of noise. No, not just then; all the time. They sound like little squeaky toys or something. Mia says they sound like a bunch of miniature seagulls. That’s a pretty good description. It’s a good thing I have pretty good powers of concentration or they would drive me nuts.

My question is, what do I do when these eggs start hatching? I’ve been researching this problem on the internet and I’m just not sure I want to get too deeply involved in the results of finchy romance! What kind of grandfather am I? At this rate I’ll be overrun with little finches in just a few weeks! Oh well, we’ll see what happens. Casa la parrot has offered to give me $5 for each baby finch. Something feels really wrong about that! Doesn’t that seem kind of sleazy to you?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I wonder if you guys saw this news item on AOL last week.

Among six of the best places to retire in America were three sites that are rather closely connected to the Quadblog.

Allow me to proudly begin with the Michigan site. Holland, Michigan. A mere thirty minute drive from beautiful suburban Caledonia on Lake Michigan. Home of the annual Tulip Festival where you can see countless tow-headed youngsters in authentic Dutch costumes dancing around the streets in wooden shoes. Also home of the historic, landmark windmill from the Netherlands which attracts hundreds of tourists every summer. Home of Hope College where the Harvard of Evangelicalism will come this Saturday to struggle on the gridiron and gain victory over the Flying Dutchmen. I never thought of Holland as a retirement spot because the winters can be rather cold and snowy but I suppose the good old Dutch folk probably have a place in our second wonderful retirement site…

St. Simons Island, Georgia! Yes, my dear friends, former home of our beloved founder, the Smoking Christian himself. One advantage to retired people is that they can climb the highest peak on the island without even becoming slightly winded. It stands no more than twenty feet above sea level at any point. Another advantage is that there are very few actual southerners living on St. Simons Island. The vast majority of the population are Yankees who have migrated for the benevolent winters. The golf is excellent. The pace of life is slower. However, summers are so miserably hot and mosquito-infested that most of the people would like to have a summer home in our third lovely retirement site…

Walla Walla, Washington! Believe it or not, one of America’s finest retirement towns lies only about 130 miles from the home of our friends, the Yakimaniacs! Just two short hours (100 minutes is the Yakster himself is driving) through Wapato, Toppenish, and gorgeous Wallula. Don’t miss Frontier Days or the wineries! I know absolutely nothing about Walla Walla. In fact, I thought it was a joke, like Kalamazoo. I think it is a native name meaning “old people, old people,” but I’m not sure. Perhaps our local reporters can tell us some of the wonders of Walla Walla just in case we might like to retire there. I’m sure the cost of living is cheaper than say, Fullerton or Anaheim.

I just found it interesting that so many of us have close connections to the blue-hair wonderlands of America. It’s never too early to start planning!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Well, it’s done. The people came through the house one more time last night and signed off on the last counter offer we sent them. We close on October 4 and move on the 7th. For all of you who offered prayers on our behalf, thanks! I am particularly grateful that the Lord didn’t take this sale down to the very last minute. We had three months to sell and he sold it in two. I think God knew just how much stress we could handle and he didn’t push us one day past it!

The house we are buying is not occupied. We contacted the owner and asked if she would let us get in and do some work before closing. All the floors are wood and they need to be refinished. We would really like to do that before we move in. Also, we need to add a second bathroom in the basement. We need to update some of the electrical. She said she didn’t think that would be a problem. So now I am busy trying to contract guys to do these jobs for us. I have to tell them we will pay them upon closing because the money is tied up in this house we’re selling!

All the kids seem pretty excited. At dinner tonight they started asking what we are going to do with the extra money now that we will have a much lower mortgage payment. “Are we going to get another car?” (We have two cars and two drivers in the family. Why would we get another car?) Can we go to Disney World now? (No. I’m from Southern California and it is considered blasphemy to go to Disney World. It’s only a cheap reproduction of the original in Orange County!) Will we be able to go on vacations now? (Yes!) It was actually a very enjoyable meal time!

As you already know if you’ve been with me for several months, most of our stuff is already crammed into two storage units which leaves us with skeletal furnishings in the house. I don’t think the move will be very difficult. The Shiloh Guys will come over with the Shiloh Trailer and we’ll try to get everything done in one day, Amish style. Then we’ll put on a big feed for them to express our appreciation. It will be like a giant church party!

My folks are arriving on October 3. It is a long-planned trip. We had no idea what would be happening when they were here but now we know! We’ll be grateful for the extra sets of hands around here. Of course my library will have to be packed up. I’m hoping the Yakmeister will be able to get Dennis Rodman and Mariah back here to help out with that chore.

I want the Smoking Christian to know that the house to which we are moving has a really nice garage with a heater and everything. You are always welcome. In fact, you are all welcome. We’ll have a big housewarming party where we can all meet the neighbors together! That should be something!

Monday, September 11, 2006


Just to keep you up to date...

That same family came through the house again last evening. This is the fourth time they have been through.

Mary Kay (of Smith-Diamond Realty, free adspace) called us this morning because she received an offer sheet from them. Mia and I ran over to the office and we looked it over. It was a real lowball.

We decided we didn't want to scare these people away so we countered very kindly and inoffensively. (At least we tried to!)

Mary Kay called this evening and the buyers' agent is optimistic. He said we can expect their counter offer tomorrow afternoon.

Just trying to give you the play-by-play. (I wish God would give me a peek at tomorrow's play-by-play!)

By the way, all my finches want me to say "hi" to you guys and thank you for stopping by!


I’ve spent a lot of time today watching CNN and their reminiscences of the events of 9/11/01. For those of us old enough to remember November 22, 1963 there is at least one parallel. I don’t think any of us will forget where we were when we first heard what was happening in New York City and Washington DC that day.

I was unemployed five years ago today and was sound asleep in my safe little bed when the phone rang and shocked me awake. It was Son #1, Aaron, calling from Michigan State University. He fairly shouted over the phone, “Dad! Turn on the TV. A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. You won’t believe it!”

I jumped out of bed, just a little embarrassed to have been caught asleep at that time, and turned on Peter Jennings. There were the Twin Towers and one of them had a big hole in it near the top. There wasn’t much smoke yet but the image riveted me to the TV. The news was still confusing. Some said it was a small private plane. Some said it was a plane in distress that couldn’t avoid the giant tower. No one was really saying anything about a terrorist attack yet.

Then as I sat there watching I saw the second jet fly into the other tower right before my eyes! I couldn’t believe it! It happened so fast that I didn’t even notice what kind of plane it was! I had to wait along with everyone else for the slow motion replays to realize that it was a full-sized passenger jet!

Being unemployed at the time, I had the luxury of not having to go anywhere. In fact, I didn’t go ANYWHERE! Except for trips to the frig and the bathroom, I stayed glued to that TV for two days. It was so weird because it was apparent that this was a well-orchestrated attack against the United States and no one knew when or where it would end. How many other cities were targeted? I was living in far southwestern Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. It seemed so far away from us. Except for the fears that something was in store for the Sears Tower or Hancock Building in Chicago.

I remember getting pretty nervous when the plane crashed into the Pentagon. It was all too easy! Why WOULDN’T these people have targeted scores of buildings around the country? I was wondering what Peter Jennings was going to tell me next. I couldn’t come to grips with the feeling of detachment I was experiencing. Why was I feeling so darn safe in my little house in the dunes?

So much has happened since that day. I saw a survey report on CNN this morning. There has been a huge rise in the number of Americans who blame George Bush for the events of 9/11. Can you help me out with this? What are they thinking? Didn’t the government of South Africa have Osama in custody and offer him to the United States when Clinton was president? I heard Hillary Clinton say that the way this has been handled has put us in greater danger today than we were in on 9/11.

I’m really getting sick of politics. (I know, I just said that in my last post.) This five year anniversary is being used for political advantage all over the place. Do these people have no shame? Does anyone really care about what is right and wrong anymore? Good or bad? Beneficial to the people? Our two political parties need to get down off their high horses and quit finger pointing and start doing something so that this “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Today I join the Smoking Christian in the ranks of those who have recently turned fifty three years old. My spirit still feels 33. I’d love to hit the waves at Huntington pier this afternoon. Of course, sometimes my body feels 73; usually in the morning when I step out of bed and my feet and ankles hurt so bad I think I might fall over.

The entire Moorhead Manse is all atwitter over the birthday celebrations. My lovely wife went out and bought me ten (count ‘em, ten!) of the cutest little finches you have ever seen. They are tan, brown, and black and have bright orange beaks. She also bought a giant cage that will go in the corner of my study (where Mariah Carey usually sits). These birds are the most ADHD animals in the history of the world. They never sit still or shut up. Back and forth, flitting and squeaking and chirping. I think I’ll get used to them pretty soon.

I was talking with one of the Shiloh elders yesterday about how much we have seen in our lifetimes. It’s a sobering thought. My grandparents went from horse and buggy to space flight. I actually believe we have seen much more. It seems to multiply exponentially from generation to generation.

Speaking of generations…I was talking to another friend the other day about Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation.” I don’t know about that. What do you think? If people say our generation was the most messed up generation in the history of American generations, whose fault is that? Who raised this generation to be so self-centered and materialistic? (My parents are of course excluded from this. We were taught not to be selfish or materialistic.) We are the first American generation to lose a war and we’ve survived. Isn’t it tougher to lose a war and come back than to win a war and come back to cheers and celebrations?

As I celebrate this birthday, once again our soldiers are fighting and dying thousands of miles away. It’s the war against terror. In two days we will observe the fifth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil. We will watch the towers come down again and again. I will probably have tears in my eyes again. But are we doing what needs to be done to try to avoid such things in the future?

This is an election year. The two parties are attacking each other in what has become an American tradition. The effort is only to gain power, not to do what is right for the American people. I’m feeling disenchanted. To think I once wanted to go into politics!

Enough ravings of a doddering 53-year-old! Somebody bring in my milquetoast and tea. I’m going out to the garage to celebrate!

Monday, September 04, 2006


Happy Labor Day! Hope you all had a safe and sane holiday. It was very quiet here in lovely suburban Caledonia. I thought I might just take a minute to update you on the progress of the marketing and sale of the Moorhead Manse.

As you know, we are in the midst of one of the deepest and longest buyers’ markets in many years. Precisely the time not to sell you home. Our real estate agent, Mary Kay McCleeve of Smith Diamond reality, has been doing a fantastic job of managing the marketing of the house. (I don’t get any discounts for advertising!) She has worked hard to get our house in front of as many people as possible. Each week (except one) there has been an open house.

There has been very little interest until last Sunday (27 August). A family came through and they were very interested. In fact, the husband wanted to sign papers on the spot. The wife wanted to sleep on it. (She should have been reminded to submit to her husband’s wisdom!) They are very motivated buyers, almost as motivated as we are!

Mary Kay followed up with them last week and they asked to come through the house for a second time this past Saturday. Unfortunately, they had a family issue and had to cancel that visit. But they asked to see it today. So we vacated the house today at 11:00 so they could spend some time in it. (Mia commented on how weird it is that we have this practice of selling one of the most important things we own to people we never even get to see!)

Anyway, we got to visit with Mary Kay afterwards and they are really interested. They hope to have their loan approved yet this week and she thinks they will make an offer. There are a couple of things I have to do to the house to make them really happy. I’m afraid my do-it-yourself skills might not measure up. If only OG could come up and help me out with them! I’m sure they would be easy for him! I need to hang a couple of bi-fold closet doors and fix something on the garage door.

I decided to share this entire process with the people at Shiloh. I’ve tried to be very open about how I feel and how difficult it has been for me to trust God with this. I thought it might be good for them to know that I struggle with commonplace things just like they do. Also, I wanted to give them the chance to see what God will do with our situation. Maybe it will help them some day when they have something similar. Now every time I talk to one of the Shiloh folks they anxiously ask how things are going with the sale. I think that’s a good thing!

The kids start school tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about that. I’ll get a lot more done during the day while they’re in school but I’ll miss seeing them around. If these folks don’t buy the house, keeping it in “showing condition” will be more difficult with them in school!

September 5 is my parents’ 54th wedding anniversary. Congratulations, Dad and Mom!