Monthly Archives: December 2008



1994 ~ 2008

A Dog for Jesus
(Where dogs go when they die)
Rudyard Kipling

I wish someone had given Jesus a dog.
As loyal and loving as mine.
To sleep by His manger and gaze in His eyes
And adore Him for being divine.

As our Lord grew to manhood His faithful dog,
Would have followed Him all through the day.
While He preached to the crowds and made the sick well
And knelt in the garden to pray.
It is sad to remember that Christ went away.
To face death alone and apart.
With no tender dog following close behind,
To comfort its Master’s Heart.
And when Jesus rose on that Easter morn,
How happy He would have been,
As His dog kissed His hand and barked it’s delight,
For The One who died for all men.

Well, the Lord has a dog now, I just sent Him mine,
The old pal so dear to me.
And I smile through my tears on this first day alone,
Knowing they’re in eternity.
Day after day, the whole day through,
Wherever my road inclined,
Four feet said, “Wait, I’m coming with you!”
And trotted along behind.

 (click for:)  Jack the Dog Memorial Page on


John Inskeep Environmental Learning Center

We stopped by the Environmental Learning Center on a cold and sunny Saturday to take a look around the natural area.   It was early in the morning, and the pond had a thin layer of ice.  The path around the pond feels much like a natural forested area as you duck and weave around all the naturalized vegetation.  I seem to remember that the pathway was made and the native plants were transplanted in the 80s. It included a recycling center and other experiemental projects.  A very forward thinking environmental reclamation/education project for its time.  At that time, many bridges, benches and board walks were built, using both wood lumber and recycled plastics lumber, as an experiment to determine its longevity.  It is now apparent that many wooden lumber pieces are in need of replacement whereas the plastic lumber is much like I remember them when they were installed.  Environmental Learning Center pond

The Haggart astronomical observatory is also there.  The gates were closed so we couldn’t climb up, but then again it was daytime, so there wasn’t much need to be up there.  They do have opportunities to go up and see the stars.  That could be fun.

Haggart Observatory

Family tradition of cutting a Christmas tree

Coming in from the cold, Thomas has again agreed to be a guest writer, and to share his interpretation of an annual family Christmas tradition.
A Visit From Christmas Past December 6, 2008

The first weekend in December has typically marked an important Holiday occasion in my family; it is the weekend of the Tannenbaum. This particularly chilly morning, just shy of 40° Fahrenheit, yet sunny enough to warrant the use of sunglasses, we set out to claim our dendrologic sample. It is my first logging expedition in some time, and in my absence a newer “Ma & Pa” style plot had replaced our standard grove as the destination. The layout is unfamiliar but the smell sparks my memories, replaying them in a nostalgic, sepia-grained film reel. I can’t help but smile as the visions pass by me; reminding me of the times I’ve made similar treks before.

We are not alone in this sanctuary of trees. Other lumberjack families have ventured out into this urban forest to claim their perfect tree, many seemingly their first time; young mothers in chic Ugg boots, small children fantasizing the saws they clutch are real bows, and new fathers in their compensating trucks.

Our first find was a full-bodied grand fir, almost perfect, but not quite. A few more specimens catch our eyes, but they are not the right one; their branches are turned upwards, the needles limp, or they have holes in their structure. Our search is not arduous, the brisk autumn air isn’t biting and the trees are standing in attention for our inspection.

At last a glimmer appears before us. The morning dew sparkles like diamonds on the deep green needles of a conifer like no other. It stands upright, reaching toward the heavens, easily a foot above my hat. This Abies Grandis is the one for us, our perfect centerpiece. We pay homage to its beauty by capturing a copy for our records, keeping it alive in our family’s history.

Knowing what must come next, I sigh softly, but am not saddened. We do not mourn those that die fulfilling their destiny, and no one contested our actions. I gingerly touch the teeth of my saw, one that has cut down many of our past trees, and prepare to sacrifice a sapling for our Holiday enjoyment. Though it is not my hand that guides the blade, I play my part in its forced martyrdom. The needles grace my sleeves, but do not puncture, and the boughs reluctantly spread to allow me to grasp the trunk of the truly grand fir.

My father kneels to its base and lays the forged steel to the frost laded earth and begins to cut; slowly and methodically the blade slides through the wood, gnawing through the sinew with ease and grace. Before making the final cuts my father sits back on his heels, drawing in deep breaths, resting momentarily. I feel at ease as I’m comforting the tree in its last movements at its only known home; there is no anger or malice in the spirits here, nor fear or grief. All is calm in this new-found grove, and now it does not seem so alien to me.

Between my father and I, we are able to escort our find to its carriage for transport. Satisfied with our selection we embark on the return journey to our family’s house, eager to make a spot to display our treasure. Arriving home, we swiftly bring our tree into the safety of our backyard cloister. After a deft trimming the tree is ready to bridge the annual gap between the domains of nature and man. Spreading its branches wide, like open arms, the tree touches the fixtures of this new environment, gathering its bearings. A trail of glossy needles and a lingering aroma remain in its path, announcing its presence to the household.

A drape of fine crimson velvet and a solid iron stand full of pure spring water await the coming of our find. The water parts to allow the trunk to settle, quickly wrapping around it in a blissful embrace. A quick alignment and pivoting provides the most visually appealing display; the bold emerald tree back-lit by the azure sky showing through the window alone is enough to steal one’s breath. However, our work, our praise, is not finished; a garland of platinum lights is draped through its stoic boughs, a shining star marks its summit, and our collection of ancestral ornaments twinkle colorfully throughout its body.

At last, our Tannenbaum, our perfect tree, is home, its spirit blending with the others dwelling under the roof, filling them with holiday cheer. The season has started.