Saturday, August 30, 2008

beyond the pale

family and friends gathered today
it seemed the only gloom in the room
came from the paid mourners
we visited
gave our last respects to her still form
we enjoyed each other's company
i overheard a pastor comment on the laughter among the lot
he said it was good to hear in a time like this
there was laughter
hugs and cheek kissing
life's collection of loved ones
coming by to say goodbye
to someone already gone
as always
nothing remains but the remains
only the outer shell emptied
of a beautiful creature now gone
flown away
beyond the pale
later we carried the box to the hole
quietly praised our Creator for her life
her gifts
her love
we acknowledged eternity
we acknowledged salvation and death
death and salvation
as i peered down into the red clay depth
pondering this final cradle
two saints spoke
saying there is more
we do not do this for the dead
we do this for the living
we do this to give God glory
that there is more to all this
than mortal toil
there is more
more than breath
more than earth
but rather more beyond
i hope that when i die
that more people will come to laugh
over those that come to cry
i hope that when i die
i leave enough stories behind
for my collection of loved ones
to laugh and remember the time
and beyond all hope
that God is glorified
another soul leaving mortal bonds for glory
i know that there is more
in me
about me
beyond me
that will live beyond the grassy hill
beyond that red clay cradle

Friday, August 29, 2008


Well what do you know - an authentic candidate. How I wish it were Sarah Palin running for President rather than Vice President. Who knows, she might just be Prez one of these days.

McCain turned my head a few weeks ago during the Rick Warren interview. McCain gave a straight forward and to the point conservative stance. Obama tip-toed around the edges of his pro-abortion stance and McCain came right out and said that life begins at conception. It was at that moment that I decided to give him a chance. John's let us down in the past - but if he'll make a stand for the unborn - then I'll take my chances with him and toss my vote his way.

But today I am up on Sarah Palin. She's a genuine breath of fresh air. It's going to be interesting to see the media try to tear this woman down. The Republican Vice-President candidate has more qualifications and experience than the Democrat Presidential Nominee Barack Hussein Obama. Things just got interesting folks.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

my aunt millie barina

I came home from school tonight and Gina gave me the news. My aunt Millie, mom's older sister, died earlier this evening. I don't have much to say. I guess I am still in shock. Millie has had all kinds of physical problems during the past decade but always seemed to bounce back with vigor. She was a real fighter and loved life - a selfless giver - a beautiful soul that loved laughter.

There was a time in the mid to late eighties, before Gina and I married, that I spent a great deal of time with Millie. She lived a full life from the start and she could tell you countless stories of her life experience lived here and abroad. Millie was just as colorful and bright as all the wonderful paintings she created. Millie will be missed and always loved. I will look forward to meeting her once again on the other side, where sickness and death is but a faint memory. Thank you God for letting us have Millie for this time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

gscc or bust

I had orientation for the Gadsden State Community College Massage Program. I got to actually put some faces to the unseen folks who I've been communicating with online and over the phone throughout the past Summer. The classes will be challenging but I already like the teachers and the overall atmosphere. Gina and I are trying to figure out how life will be now that I'm a night student Dad. Gina has such busy days with the clinic as it is and will be taking on more responsibility with the girls. I came in from my first night of the second semester and everyone was in bed asleep. I guess I'll need to get used to that.

It's been a wild week with the tsunami of change coming with school. Katie likes the bus ride and now doesn't mind the idea of being picked up in the morning. She gets to spend time with some of her friends who are bus riders as well. Kelsey loves kindergarten - she jumps out of the car and makes a b-line for the front door. Gina and I are glad we kept her with us at the office last year. She never was in the way and always kept herself busy. We are glad we had all that time with her and now miss her during the day. I am glad that she loves going to school. God bless my sweet daughters.
I remember riding the bus to and from R.A. Mitchell. I remember being a wee tot and accidentally got on the wrong bus one day after school. The neighborhoods we passed were strange and all the kids eventually exited the old green city bus. The driver never stopped in front of my home sweet home. I was eventually the only fare sitting in the back. I remember the gruff looking bus driver eyeing me from the wide rear-view mirror. I was scared because I had no idea where buses went after making all their stops. I could imagine a huge dark hanger like complex full of empty buses...empty except for one lone Finlayson sole.

Gina let me stay home this morning. For some reason after coming home from orientation, my right foot gave out on me. It was a good thing I was heading for bed. The pain had moved up to my ankle when I awoke this morning. Gina told me to stay off it. I had to come to the office a little this afternoon after picking up the girls. While at the downtown post office my knee (same leg) started hurting. I am a sad looking puppy today. I don't know why pain is traveling up my leg. Maybe it'll go away by tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

He Is Yahweh

Tommy sent this my way today.
Thanks Tommy!

Monday, August 18, 2008


It's been a very busy day today. I've been in my sauna-mobile most of the day. I sure could use a nice cold shower and drop off to sleep for a few hours.

Gina's letting me take my birthday off tomorrow. That's nice. Tuesday night I'm going to try to get someone to watch the kids while Gina and I use that Red Lobster card that Tommy and Prissy gave me. That's nice too.

A strange thing happened a few minutes ago. Gina and I were working up a deposit. I was entering the names, check number, and amounts into Quickbooks when I thought I made a mistake. I thought that I had entered a wrong check number,1199, for a client's payment. How did I do that? I looked at the check number of the previous check and it's number was 1199 too! Both checks were patient payments and came in the mail today. They were the only patient payments that I picked up today. What are the odds that they both had the same number?

Another funny thing about the checks. They were the same check design - no flowers or kittens mind you - just plain grey with a thin black line as a border. Strange little moment nevertheless.

My cherry banker's chair is on the floor at home. They sent me a cylinder to replace the faulty piece that came with it. I called the manufacturer and the guy instructed me to hit the bottom of the bottom faceplate with a very large hammer. Of course the faceplate got all beat to hell but I discovered the wooden seat bottom had been damaged in the process. After contacting the company again, the fellow said that he would send me any parts that I needed to repair the chair. He called me Friday and said that there were no parts in stock and that the chair was made in China. Guess what - the factory is closed due to the Olympics! Last Saturday night Paul Smith told me that the reason for this is because of the smog problem over there. Just another reason to not like the Olympics. I WANT MY CHAIR!!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

my old friend doug

Doug and I go back a very long time. If you know me, you've probably heard me talk about Doug Moore. We used to hang together and sing together decades ago. I miss him - I miss his music. He is a very dear friend.

Doug shared with me a blog he wrote that is posted here. Whether you've met him or not, you find the post interesting. I don't know how long it will be posted there. Doug has a heart for missions as long as I have known him. For the past years he's focused on building a "tent-making ministry" to fund his missionary work. Doug's a bonafide entrepreneur with a heart for serving God. Keep him in your prayers.

He wrote me an email that I posted at the (now pop-up riddled) abandoned Christian Brother's site. You might like to read his testimony and about his years while living here in Gadsden among the strange Christian Brother's folk.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

surprized by joy

a pre-birthday celebration
of my 50th coming on the 19th
born in August of 1958
the day was filled with family
and friends
all loved ones
every one
a feast, hugs, laughter
and conversations
catching up on every one's present
sometime looking back at where we came from
i am blessed
enjoyed every moment of the day
enjoyed seeing you all
appreciated the wishes
i am home finally
and kind of wishing the day didn't roll by
as quickly as it did
kind of wishing i had a little more time with you
but that's life
isn't it
burning bright and fast
like birthday candles
on a birthday cake
i was a little taken back
lost in the glow
glad to be loved
grateful to have you all in my life
thanks for the wishes
thanks for the love
it was you
that made the years getting here
so much richer

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Hokes Bluff Tech Show

Cousin Red demonstrates how to make an All Wheel Drive vehicle.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

for michael

A long time ago in a Ford Galaxy far far away

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wofford & Westbrook

This is my Dad posing with golf clubs of all things. The center photo is humorous - it's Dad pretending to not be handicapped to pretend that he is working on his handicap. The third image is Westbrook sitting behind Wofford Finlayson. He was a sweet fellow of many talents. He had a sign business in Columbia, South Carolina. Dad once told me that Walt Disney himself called and offered Wofford a job as an animator. Wofford declined because he wasn't one for putting his talent into another man's mold. About thirty years ago, he allowed me to rummage through his old portfolios and I was impressed with the incredible talent of this man. I remember seeing a photo a publicity painting he had rendered across the entire facade of a Columbia theater when Gone With The Wind was released. He had painted Rhett & Scarlet in their famous embrace, while Atlanta burned behind them. While driving through the Carolina's a few months ago, I noticed some of Wofford's handiwork still on display. You see - he was awarded the job of coming up with a logo/emblem to hang on all State Stores selling alcohol beverages. Wofford came up with a BIG RED DOT. Simple image and a simple solution - you couldn't miss it. So on the way to and from Cheraw- I saw many faded red dots along the way and thought of my uncle Wofford. This is a picture of a State Store in Charleston, SC that I found online.

Monday, August 11, 2008

opening ceremonies

I must admit that I've never been into the Olympics. This time around I am even less interested. Mrs Hale, my mom in-law, asked me what I thought of the opening ceremonies. Huh? I had to think a minute. I know I must have missed all the pageantry and fireworks. An image of the opening ceremonies did come to mind so I threw one together for you.

The big news is school is officially on. I accompanied Kelsey to her very first day of Kindergarten this morning. She has always wanted to go to school and unlike her father - anticipated this day. School for Kelsey only lasted an hour. She went in and found her cubby and her place at the table. It was a very exciting day. I had to kill an hour and a half after dropping Katie off at middle school. Kindergarten at Southside starts at 9:00 the first week. After dropping a nervous Katie off for her first day of 7th grade, Kelsey and I had breakfast at McDonald's. I let Kelsey spend about a good while playing in the big plastic intestines in the kids play ground area. She had a blast and the morning went on without a hitch.

I dropped the Mazda back off at Baker Tire for the forth time and this time they found the problem. They were great about fixing it and know that they had to be getting tired seeing me walking in the door. They found a leak in a line, they think was caused during the time they were replaced the master cylinder. I am just glad the problem was found and fixed. I have been driving around town for the past four weeks with my right hand on the emergency brakes. I had a few scary moments.

I picked up Katie around 3:00. She wasn't that nervous stomached child I walked in this morning. She got in the van going on about all the nice teachers and how well the day went. Yep, school is definitely on.

I picked up the Mazda MPV after I got back to the office with Katie. I've been doing a little of this and that today. It's been a very quick and busy day today. I am glad that the work day is almost over and can't wait to get home and take a cold shower. We'll probably stop on the way home and eat something or pick-up something.

By the way, Pas'ghetti's on Rainbow Drive has an incredible sandwich called the M-5. It is awesome - very filling too. The family ate there after church yesterday. They didn't have what I wanted on the lunch menu so I ordered a sandwich. Oh my - it's very good stuff.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

this just in

Jose' came over last night to help me get Darth Cabinet in the house. Thanks again Jose'. After he left, I scraped paint of the downstairs windows and they look great.
The first semester of massage therapy is over and I'm waiting to see how I did. I'm pretty sure that I aced it. Yesterday I registered for Anatomy, Kinesiology, and a Lab class. Classes start back up on the 20th.
I'm currently at the office and have a few errands to do. I'll be taking Kelsey to her Kindergarten orientation in a few hours.
This photograph is a publicity shot of Dad. I guess he's posing with a sheet of music.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

a young westbrook

This photograph came from my aunt Florence Foster Finlayson's collection. I don't recall ever seeing this photo until yesterday. Mother commented on how grown-up they all dressed back then. What do you think? Do you think Westbrook is about fifteen or sixteen? Younger? I remember when I was working at Western Kentucky University, I had access to decades of old university yearbooks. The further back you went in time, the more the students dressed in suits to class.

By the way, when I post family images, I post larger files so that kinfolk can double click on and retrieve larger files to print. So take this opportunity to download these photographs for your collection.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Esther @ 16

Mother brought some more pictures to the office this morning. You can count on me posting many of them here soon. Most of the photographs were of my father back in his youth in Cheraw.  Mother said that the photos were sent to her from aunt Florence Finlayson's collection after her death. 

Mom told me that she was sixteen at the time the above photo was taken. She told me that her aunt Esther had invited her down to Biloxi, MS to stay a few weeks with them. She ended up spending three weeks down there. Biloxi back then wasn't the gambling town that it is today, mother said it still was an tourist attraction and had a large Army Air Force base there. She said there wasn't much to do down there other than stroll the beach and go to the dances on base on the weekends. Her uncle was an NCO that served as a photographer on base. He took this photograph of her.

Mom told me a humorous story of a young soldier that followed her around and would camp out at their doorstep. He was quite smitten with her and young Esther couldn't get him to go away. One day he asked if she would marry him if he re-enlisted. Mother, shame on her, told the love sick Italian to go ahead an re-enlist and she'd give him an answer later. "Mother - During war time!?!"  "Mother chuckled and said, "No, this was after the war but it was still a terrible thing to do...please don't put that in your blog - that's the worst thing I ever did."  My mother was a very shy lady in her youth. I'm sure she'd rather her young love-smitten re-enlist rather than her have to dish out a cold plate of rejection.

A few years later, during the Korean war, mother dated a fellow for three years. Mom said that she loved him but the guy went off to war without asking her to marry him. A friend had warned the young pilot that he needed to secure his interests here on the home-front before flying off into the wild blue yonder. For some reason he decided not to pop the question before leaving. While he was away risking his life and limb for God, Country, and Esther - a young legal eagle fresh out of law school came rolling into town. Mother fell for Westbrook and the rest is Finlayson history. I guess it's true that all's fair in love and war.
By the way, mom and dad married 57 years ago today. After reading over this blog she told me that she "married the right fellow."

P.S. Mother said that she later learned that it was that young pilot that flew the documents overseas that ended the Korean War.

Monday, August 4, 2008

darth cabinet

Sunday I put a coat of primer on the downstairs windows that Jose' trimmed out last Friday. Gina lit up when she saw it at that stage. It really is looking more like a home downstairs. She's been wanting it to look more like a home for a very long time. Me too. There's a little more trim caulking and painting to do - but I'm a little too messy with a caulk gun. I'm going to hire that work out to a professional who knows how to do the finishing touches right. I did take today off to work on the windows. I did some caulking and hole filling before putting on the first coat of paint. One more coat to go and the windows will be behind me. It's 10:00 p.m. and I am tempted to finish it up tonight. I've got a busy morning tomorrow so I'll leave it for tomorrow evening.

Jose' drove up after a long day behind him. He helped me put casters on the unit he painted Friday. He also took the time to shave/sand the doors down so they would close right. After a little sanding and adjusting - Jose' sprayed the final coat of paint on the unit. The cabinet is very large. Jose' said it looks like Darth Vader's cabinet. I've decided to name it Darth Cabinet. It really looks great. Jose' said he'll come back in a few days (after the paint dries good) and help me get it inside the house. It's huge I tell you!

The unit was originally built as an entertainment cabinet by Don Rakestraw and his dad for Robby & Irene Elrod almost thirty years ago. The Elrods had it for years and eventually gave it to me after they purchased a new entertainment unit for their home. It's a very nice, well made piece of furniture. It's been in my garage for several years, waiting for it's rebirth and prominent place in my finished office. I think Don, Robby, and Irene will be surprised to see how the old cabinet looks these days. I am very please to have it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

stormy night

Sorry about mis-posting/mis-dating Friday's post. Sometimes I do stupid things - no - I mean- a lot of times I do stupid things. I put the right date in Friday's blog.

I woke up to the girls getting ready. I found Gina was on the phone going through what credit card could be used. We've paid most of them off and closed them out. She said that she didn't have anything and that she needed to do school shopping this weekend. Everyone knows it's no tax day at all the stores this weekend. I was the only one with a card still in play and I told her that her name isn't on it. That only meant one thing - I was sucked into the shopping vortex all day yesterday.

We've been doing plenty of work at the office - constantly in motion but the money has only been trickling in from week to week. What we've made has gone toward rent and bills at the office. We look forward to paycheck soon - that is if somebody out there pays us what they owe. It's a funny thing about this business - we help regain a quality of life to folks that they had lost and many choose simply not to pay. I guess they think insurance pays us enough - but third party insurance only pays what they want to pay. You wonder what goes through peoples heads. It's obvious to the naked eye that Gina's scrubs are worn and faded, our cars are old and used, and it would seem obvious to most that we are not rich folk - just people trying to make a business work and eek out a living like everyone else...but I digress.

So yesterday I was sucked in to shopping because I was the keeper of the card - the card that ruled them all. Killing time two hours here and two hours there while the Gina and Katie decided carefully picked over blouses, pants, and shoes. We spent two hours in Acadamy. Now anyone that knows me know that I am not a sportsman- fishing - hunting - eating raw fresh killed meat beneath the full moon kind of guy. Throw me into the woods with a pocket knife and a poncho and you'll find me dead the second day. I am not interested in Alabama or Auburn - the logos sewn on hats and socks everywhere. That's Acadamy for you. Most guys wouldn't mind it but I'm a strange kind of fellow. I just don't like killing hours at a time in a store. I like to get what I need and make for the door.

We grew tired around seven o'clock and left the mall. Gina decided to head for home as the thunder was heard in the distance. The skies grew very dark and we could see the mountains fall beneath the shadow of Morador. We'll just have to hit WalMart tomorrow. The closer we drove to Southside, the darker the sky turned. Lightning was vicious and closer as we turned onto 77 from Rainbow Drive. It was pouring down rain by the time we hit the bridge and hail the size of moth balls began to pelt our car as we approached Green Valley Road. The traffic stopped and we saw blue lights on the hill. We sat there for ten minutes and the trees were bending and hail continued to hit the roof and windshield. Gina said, "Well this isn't safe". I told her to take a left and we navigated alternate ways back home. We drove around huge limbs and our way was blocked several times by fallen trees. It was as if out of a movie.

We finally found a clear way home amid the turmoil. Kelsey was frightened in the back and Katie had moved over to comfort her. The hail had ceased by the time we pulled into our driveway. The electricity was out but we were home. We slept by candlelight. The power stayed off through the entire night and we didn't get it back until 11:00 a.m. I thought I'd post a little before we go out again - back into the shopping vortex. WalMart isn't as bad as the Gadsden Mall or Academy - I just hope it's not for another two or three hours.

Friday, August 1, 2008

productive friday

It's drive-in movie night. Irene and Robby have been wanting to hit the drive-in for quite sometime now. So have I. Irene called earlier in the week hoping that we could go. We couldn't find out what was showing until this afternoon. I believe we are all going to see The Mummy (3rd movie of the franchise) and Hellboy 2. I've got the old Skylight popcorn popper going right now and will be taking a BIG batch for tonight. I'm also going to grill a bunch of hot dogs for the evening as well. Irene's bringing the drinks and cookies. I think the Elrods are just as much into the drive-in as much as I am.

Jose' just left a few minutes ago. He's been here since this morning working on my basement as well as painting my huge cabinet. I had to run to Colours paint store to pick up a particular paint thinner that would enable Jose' to run the satin black acrylic through his airbrush. While I was out, he quickly installed most of the trim around the basement. He did a fast and professional job. We continued to clean and prep the cabinet to paint. The actually painting didn't take long at all. Jose' also hung some nice looking molding around the top of the cabinet. He's going to be coming over again to give the unit one more coat of paint. It already looks beautiful and I can't wait till it's in my office. Thanks Jose'!

The next semester of school will be more of a demand on my time. I'll be expected to do lab work as well as classes. I'm also expected to do lab on Saturdays too (for the rest of the year). Gina's taking on yet another therapy commitment at work in which she said she'll need even more my attention as well. It's going to be getting real busy real soon. I feel good that the basement and studio area is almost finished. It's peace of mind. For the longest time we had a large construction site in our basement. The last of the trim is off the floor.

Gina never cared for the basement. When we first started the project she remarked that it was my area and my stuff. I told her that I would get rid off stuff and we'd fix it up to be a place where she'd like to spend evenings. We did just that last Tuesday night on her birthday. She's coming down here a lot more now that it looks more like a home. We've still got work to do on the old bar area. That area is now hers for crafts and such. She'd like a nice piece of furniture down there to serve off of. She'd also like some counter space and cabinets. That day is coming.

Gina's been gone all day to a one day continuing education course down in Birmingham. She went with her friend Brandy. When you are a therapist, you have to have so many continuing educations credits every year. She likes hanging with Brandy and they took some time after the course to do girl stuff together. She called a little while ago saying she'll be back in time to go to the drive-in tonight.

I've got some hot dogs to grill. I'll close for now.