As Easy As Falling Off The Face Of The Earth – by Lynne Rae Perkins (2010)

As Easy As Falling Off The Face Of The Earth

“An avalanche of mishaps” is how I would sum up this humorous novel. It begins with Ry, a 16-year-old guy on a train bound for camp. When the train stops in the middle of nowhere for repair, Ry gets off to stretch his legs, then meanders off to explore. Bad decision. Before he realizes it, the train fires up and rolls away – without him. All he has is a cell phone with a nearly-dead battery. He tries calling his parents, who are on vacation, and his grandfather, who is supposed to be dog-sitting for a neighbor, but there is no answer. Where is everyone?

Ry manages to walk to a small town, where he meets an eccentric guy named Del, who takes him under his wing. Most of the story consists of Del and Ry’s travels here and there in their attempt to connect with either the parents or the grandfather, who seems to be missing. Most of the tale is told from the viewpoint of Ry, but occasionally the the grandfather or the two dogs take over telling.

This book was hilarious! I loved the interaction between Ry and Del as they went through one mishap after another. Some of the minor characters were fantastic. My favorite was Carl, the blind vet that they bummed a ride with. The hair-raising ride with him had me laughing till I almost cried. Although the book was written less than a decade ago, it had the feel of an earlier era, when people didn’t mind helping out someone they met on the street, and would just drop what they were doing to be a good neighbor. It was ridiculous enough to be unrealistic, but adventurous enough to keep you constantly reading until the last page.


Where’s The Cracklin’ Oat Bran?

2017-09-21 Junk cereal a

It’s hard to find a cold cereal that doesn’t leave your stomach rumbling an hour or two later. The majority of the breakfast aisle at the grocery-store is cereal that is sugar and air and little else. Like the boxes in the picture above. And the pictures below.

2017-09-21 junk cereal c

2017-09-21 Junk cereal b

One exception is Cracklin’ Oat Bran. It does have a fair amount of sugar, but it also has some solid ingredients, and carries you most of the way to lunch. But lately, it’s been in sparse supply. First it was moved to the top shelf at the store, above eye level, but at least there were two stacks of it. There there was only one stack. Then it started being entirely absent about every other week. Today was the third week that the shelf has looked like this:

2017-09-21 empty cracklin oat bran cereal shelf

I sighed and asked the friendly store employee re-stocking the shelves if she had any more Cracklin’ Oat Bran. Sadly, she did not. She said the Kellogg’s company has eased back on their production of it, and they won’t be getting any more till October 7.

What a shame. I guess we’ll keep eating Cream Of Wheat.

The Cross And The Switchblade (1962)

The Cross And The Switchblade

In the late 1950’s, David Wilkerson was the pastor of a small country church in Pennsylvania. One day he read the story of seven young men – “boys” as he called them – on trial for murder in New York City. Almost immediately, he felt God calling him to go to the city and talk to them. His attempts to meet the seven were thwarted repeatedly, but while David was in New York, he was introduced to gangs and the drug culture.

He went home to his wife and small congregation, but just couldn’t stop thinking about what he had seen. On his days off, he would drive to the city and just walk around. Before long, the Lord told him to move to Brooklyn and minister to those battling drugs, alcohol, and gang life. From that point on, miracle after miracle happened. David told gang members about God’s love and how He could change their lives. It started slowly, but one by one hardened gang members chose to leave their old lives and follow Jesus.

Then David started praying about buying a house where people who were trying to get off drugs could stay while they were detoxing and recovering. God sent just the right people and exactly the right amount of money to buy a run-down house. Former gang members cleaned it up, as a squatter had filled it up with eight garbage trucks’ work of junk.

That was the beginning of the Teen Challenge ministry. At that time, the average person living outside the big city had no idea how bad the gang problem was, or that an epidemic of drug addiction (primarily heroin) had begun. David’s description of being in a room with a few people who were shooting up heroin was especially vivid.  In the book, he says: “I had never felt so close to hell.” He also wrote users’ descriptions of how they were forced into gangs, and how easy it was to get sucked into using drugs and then selling them to support their own habits.

This much love could not be contained to one city. Teen Challenge houses sprang up all over the country. Other people grabbed the torch and ran with it, although David continued to be involved until his death in 2011. One man with almost no money, but endless love for his God and his fellow man, made the world a better place by the way he lived and loved. If ever there was a book to inspire us to help others, this is it!

Those Old Photo Albums – part 3

2017-09-08 photo album falling apart Denmark pictures

Who are these people? The pictures are beautiful, with their soft worn edges and sepia coloring. They came from my father’s side of the family, but he had no idea who they were. He kept them for the same reason I keep them – they are somehow family. We are connected to each other by the threads of time and genealogies.

Danish picture 3 front side possible Howard's grandparents

These folks looks absolutely nothing like anyone in the family. I imagine that the woman is thinking of something funny and trying not to laugh. Her husband is trying to remain perfectly still for the photographer. Lovely people to get to know, I think.


Danish picture 2 front side

Oh, would I love to go to the “old country” and see this little cottage with its fruit trees and flowering bushes in the front yard. More people I don’t know. Is the man in the uniform a postal carrier or a constable? Hmmm.


Danish picture 1 front side

This picture puzzles me. It almost looks like a postcard, but there must be some reason it was kept in with the family pictures. Was someone in the family the pastor of this church? Maybe there’s a cemetery beyond the brick wall where our relatives are buried. Or maybe men in our family constructed the church with their hands, and wanted a good picture of what they helped build.

If there’s one thing I’m learning from this scanning project, it’s:
Write the date and the name of the people and places on the back of the pictures!





Those Old Photo Albums – part 2

picture from 1970's all orange and pink

Amazing how terrible the color is in many of our “color” photos! I find myself trying to adjust the color of pictures that have a hideous green look, purplish faces, red-as-a-beet skin tones, or a bizarre orange/pink look (like the one above). Some pictures can be improved by adjusting the color balance, but sadly, I have given up on many and simply changed them to black and white.

picture from 1970's all orange and pink converted to black and white

I also found blurry pictures, pictures that cut off half of someone’s face, and pictures with eyes closed. Why did we keep these pictures? I guess it was because years ago, every photo counted. There were 24 frames in a roll of standard camera film and you paid to get them developed, so you felt obliged to keep all but the absolute worst. And let’s face it, because we didn’t have a lot of practice with picture-taking, some of our shots were pretty bad. But even so, those photos document a time and a place in our family history. So on I go with the scanning.


Those Old Photo Albums – part 1

2017-09-08 photo album falling apart

Several weeks ago I passed by the neat row of family photo albums and thought: hey, I should finish scanning these pictures. Some had already been scanned into the computer by our youngest son, but many had not. So I grabbed the first one and carried it over to the scanner. But as soon as I opened it and started flipping through pages, the pictures – as well as the plastic covers – started sliding out. It seemed that somewhere along the years, that lovely stickiness on the pages had lost its stickiness.

I sighed and started scanning. Each day I try to do a little scanning, but I can see that this project is going to take way longer than originally thought.

Mockingjay – by Suzanne Collins (2010)


In the final book of the “Hunger Games” trilogy, it’s meltdown time. The citizens of Panem are finally ready to revolt and overthrow the oppressive, tyrannical government. They want Katniss – the Mockingjay – to lead them into battle against the President and the Capital. But Katniss – as well as Peeta – is battered, exhausted, and mentally deranged by this point. The rebellion is chaotic and bloody. The lines between who is friend and who is foe begin to blur. But in the end there is freedom and a chance to rebuild.