Friday, December 26, 2014

Into the Ed Woods

I went into see Into The Woods with my family.  It's a tedious and convoluted hot mess of a movie.  The tormenting hour and a half movie seemed to have lasted three and a half hours. The songs, the madness, and meaningless stupidity would never seem to mercifully end.

If you want to see fairy tales woven together seamlessly and successfully, go watch SHREK again. Disney hoped to mash-up Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and The Bean Stalk, and Little Red Riding Hood into fun family entertainment.
Somewhere along the way, Walt Disney Productions got lost in the woods on this one. Into The Woods might be great as a stage play, but it's painfully bad on film.
Into The Woods is Disney's own Plan 9 From Outer Space. Plan 9 is actually better than Into The Woods, because Plan 9's lunacy is actually entertaining.  Disney might've had grand plans, but this one should've never been hatched.  Perhaps Disney has lost their magic touch

movie review

Saturday, December 13, 2014

friendly ghosts and rambling thought

Gina ran across this photo today.  It's of her brother Terry Hale and her cousin John Swinford behind the house her father Walter Hale built in the early sixties.  The date on the photo indicates the same month and year that Gina was born. This image shows the house on 401 College Street brick-less. The back deck had yet to be added.

This old house has just turned fifty, and has good bones. It's needed a lot of work and we've been giving it a good bit of needed TLC these past four months. We've been working on the house, trying to get it ready to rent early next year.  I can finally see an end in sight, still repairs to be made, but it won't be long.  The house is completely empty of all it's contents.

John Swinford (in the wheelbarrow) passed away this year on July 29th, on Gina's birthday. John's 60th birthday would've been this December 27th.  It's his first Christmas celebrating the birth of his Lord Jesus at the same table. Terry Hale (pushing the wheelbarrow) gained Heaven on August 28th 2002, at the age of 52. Gina was great with child (Kelsey) when her brother died, and so our twelve year old daughter never got to meet her sweet Uncle Terry.  She would've loved Terry, but then again, I don't know of anyone who could not love that fellow.  Both John and Terry were kind men with gentle spirits.

So this house in this photo is now.  It is strange walking down the hallway and hearing my footsteps and voice echo.  Betty Hale left us a year ago today. She is still missed.  All the contents, her possessions, all traces of her tastes and hobbies are now absent.  Since her passing, the house is merely a shell without her presence.  Today, a year to the day after, the emptiness of this place, the hollowness of the moment makes the realization of her death absolute.

Many days while working here, I've thought of her, imagined her here, her voice, laughter clear in my memory.  She poured out her love to everyone and if she had a fault, is was loving to a fault.  She loved each member of her family enormously and uniquely, and loved her friends as family too.  If that's her fault, it's easy to forgive.

I'm not going anywhere in particular with this post. I am roaming through thought as I have roamed through the house. Home is no longer here, just bones, a house, a place for a different family to come and make it a home again.

I look back only to remember and appreciate the good people who were once in our lives, people who have been a blessing just to know them.  This year it's been an ordeal with loss of loved ones, awkward transitions, hard choices and misunderstandings and the unknown. So much of 2013 was nothing but follow through and trusting God to establish a plan.

Gina and I had a long talk over diner last night at Shoney's.  We talked about where we both were inside, on this day, at this moment.  The house is empty, this weekend a benchmark that we can't completely define.
Amid all uncertainty, we know we love each other and have each other through today and what lays ahead. We both know in our hearts that it's time to let what is gone go, and pursue the future without regrets or sadness. What can't be mended, only He can fix. We are building on what is left, and trusting God for the rest.

Please pardon the digressions and ramblings of this post.  2013 has been an unusual ride.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

overcoming and becoming

Dad was featured in a full spread in The News and Courier of Charleston, SC - Sunday, June 6, 1937.  The article was about five young people who rose above their physical handicaps and attending the University of South Carolina. Entitled 'Courage of Youth in Face of Life-Long Adversity is Dramatic Lesson to the More Fortunate'.  Here's an Westbrook excerpt of the article written by Nell Flinn Gilland.

"Henry Westbrook Finlayson, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Burruss Finlayson, of Cheraw, suffered a severe attack of infantile paralysis when he was ten months old, but gets about cheerfully on crutches. This is Henry's third year at the university.  Music is his hobby.  At high school he conducted the orchestra during his junior and senior years and had his own summer orchestra. He began as a drummer and became leader and soloist. He wrote both words and music for his high school Alma-mater.  Still more remarkable is the fact that Henry played first base  on a Sunday school league nine. On base he used only one crutch: at bat he used both, and one  year led the batting average for the league.  Henry is well known over the Carolinas and Georgia as the leader of a popular dance band known as Henry Westbrook's Orchestra, for which he is soloist. The orchestra recently played at the opening of the new beach resort, Bamboo Gardens, at St. Simons Island, Ga. Several of his own compositions are played by the orchestra. Both Mrs. Finlayson and one of Henry's sisters have been voice teachers and his home atmosphere was musical.  All seven children, he says, enjoy singing. The Henry Westbrook Orchestra played for some of June week dances at Carolina and hopes to have a beach engagement for the summer." 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

find me only

it's of no concern
a visitation
of this present state of absence
obligation to no one
no one anymore
breathless, mindless, still
silently pondering nothing
no one anymore

find me only
in words only
see me clearly
close only
in fleshed pages
still, near, herein
and between lines

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

the best cup

About twenty years ago I was asked to sing at a wedding of a friend in Wisconsin.  After Gina and I arrived in town and checked into our hotel on the lake, we walked downtown to discover the city of Sheboygan. I had never been that far up north and was taken by how beautiful that the town was. It was Fall and I remember it being very cold.  We spent the day looking into shop windows, taking in the gorgeousness of the town and nature of that area.

Like I said, it was cold.  Anytime we stopped to warm up a little, we would order a coffee. Everywhere we went, we were served delicious coffee. Every time I asked what brand of coffee I was drinking, they'd replied it was from a company from right there in Sheboygan called
Torké. I asked a waiter at one point where I could I buy a can of it.  He told me that I could get it at any area grocery store.  So we bought and brought five cans back home with us from that trip.

Once we had our Sheboygan friends come down to Bowling Green, KY for a visit and they obliged us by bringing us a case of
Torké in which we gladly repaid them. We also ordered a case after we moved back down to Gadsden,AL from Bowling Green. Each cup of that coffee for me was a delightful treat.  I don't know why I didn't keep ordering Torké, it had become my all time favorite.

Tonight I discovered Tork
é online and placed an order. It's been at least fifteen years since my last cup.  It's the BEST coffee that I have ever experienced in my life.  Nothing has ever come close to it.  Gina wanted me to find a way to enjoy the holiday season, and I knew just what to do.  The days are getting colder and I can't wait to find that shipment on my doorstep. 

Last week I underwent a procedure in my poor mouth that prevented me from being able to drink any hot drinks for a while. By the time I'm healed up enough, I should be getting my
Torké shipment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When the City fails, the citizens stand up

Etowah County's veterans gathered on the steps of the Federal Building
after the cancellation of the Veteran's Day Parade due to "lack of interest".
The City of Gadsden failed her veterans this year, but the citizens didn't. Today was a fitting tribute to the men and women who have selflessly served our country. There are those in government who loathe the military, apathetic, or just plain obtuse.

Each of us owes a debt of gratitude to our nation's veterans. They not only deserve it, they need to hear it. Many did not receive the appropriate welcome and treatment when they returned home from war.

There was no parade this year, but it did my heart good to see our citizens gather to pay honor where honor is due.

Monday, November 10, 2014

i've already had enough

Last week I got in the car and turned on the radio.  It's early November and some radio station was already playing Christmas music.  I only got through half a stanza of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' and said to myself, "That's it, no more Christmas music for the rest of the year!"  Stores were stocking up on Christmas items before Halloween.  That's it, I've already had enough.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

complaint department

a delicate piece of crap

I originally composed the following message for the LifeScan/OneTouch website, but realized before posting that I couldn't complain unless I let them have my cell phone number (and other info) to share third party partner advertisers (giving me another reason to complain). The message reads as follows:

"Several months ago I purchased your Ultra Touch Ultra Mini through my local CVS.  I don't have a problem with the blood glucose meter itself, BUT (1) the lancing device doesn't work as well as the one I that I used with my older Reli-On Micro.  I have been wasting test strips because your One Touch Delica lancing device doesn't work effectively and cost efficiently.  A you well know, test strips are not cheap, and your lancing devise is wasting my money. I tossed the lancing device today and went back to my old reliable Reli-On lancer.  It works without a hitch.  Another issue with your product is (2) the carry case is simply too small, surely you guys had already realized that along the way.  The pouch works great when all it carries is the meter itself. This little pouch is supposed to be a convenient traveler, but it's really inconvenient because it's too small to be of any practical use. It's difficult zipping up once the lancets, test strips and your lancing device is stuffed in there. It's simply too much of a hassle to zip after each use. (3) You recently sent me a logbook in the mail, and I appreciate that.  But it's just one more to have to cram back into the tight little carrying case.  The pocket is too snug for the logbook, especially when the small carry pouch is loaded with the glucose meter and the essentials.

Even though your OneTouch Ultra Mini is a good meter, you all need to rethink the rest of this product.  I'm tired of messing with it.  I'm going back to my old meter once I've finished with this container of test strips. Case closed.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

resolution and proclamation

a of rest and baking with my oldest daughter

to be honest
previous years
i did not anticipate
or applaud the holidays
more or less
i dreaded them
every year
i tried to come to terms
pull my nerves together
as senses overload
too soon too easily
too early
as Christmas music started too soon
too early
as stores advertized too soon
too early
my internal introvertal alarms alarming
it is a challenge for me
if only i could just shut
down, stay down, retreat
allow this old bear in his cavern  to sleep
but i know
i know
i must come to terms with it

my early resolution
is to resolve myself
to make this holiday different
embrace what i have this day

i will shut out the cheesiness
the manipulation, hype and loudness 
as much as i can
i will make this holiday anew
as best as i can
i will approach it
without demand
without disappointment
without childish preconception

or expectation
 i will approach it
not looking back or forward

without mine or anyone's
special occasional agendas
i will not bother to live up to anyone's
nor anyone expected live up to mine
i am done with it

my early resolution
is to resolve myself
to make this holiday different
embrace what i have this day

there are loved ones gone
who will never come back
there are ages left
that cannot be relived
there are moments gone
that cannot reoccur
reenact, rewind, replace
there is nothing past left for us
let it remain dead
let it stay there

we do not have
what we once had
there is only what we have
and can make this day

my early resolution
is to resolve myself
to make this holiday different
embrace what i have this day

i am starting with myself
i am here to love you
and be with you
while we can

nothing more

-David B. Finlayson

Friday, October 24, 2014

paper airplanes

 My eleven year old loves to make paper airplanes.  I did too when I was her age.  I remember on several occasions - bringing home a stack of discarded programs after church on Sunday just to make a bunch of paper airplanes.  I went from pew to pew, front to back, I gathered every single one of them. I turned our living room floor into a paper airplane airport.

A few months ago I gave Kelsey a large stack of tabloid size paper for which I had no need.  I no longer had the large format printer for that particular size paper.  I should've known she would've started making jumbo paper airplanes with them.  They fly nice!

Watching this Disney animated short reminded me of my youngest.  I know that when she grows up, she'll find that special someone.  I know she'll teach her children how to make the best paper airplanes in the whole world.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

you can't go back, but...

September 1970 Then and October 2014 Google Map Now
In 2007, my siblings helped move my uncle Pat from the home he built in 1957 to be near his brother and sister in Columbia, SC.  While clearing out the cluttered old house, my mind went to many Finlayson family visits to 880 Pinewood Drive.  It was a melancholy week for me that week.  My sister Jennie had already taken Pat to his new digs at Still Hopes Retirement Community in Columbia and the rest of us rummaged through his belongings, figuring out what to leave and what to pack for the move. 

There in every room, ever closet, every corner was a memory waiting to be recounted.  Westbrook would take his family to visit his brother Pat about once a year.  I remember celebrating my birthdays there (August) a number of times down through the years. Pat was a terminal bachelor.  His house was small, but seemed to be able to take on a large amount of visiting Finlaysons.  I remember as a kid, Pat sharing his bed with me.  Everyone would share beds.  There were two couches along with cots in the closet.  I don't recall anyone complaining during these trips because we were all visiting UNCLE PAT! 

Tonight I looked up Pat's old house via Google Maps.  Even though I know there is no going back there, seeing the house perched atop that familiar hill, my mind still makes that journey back there.

Someone mentioned Macon, GA this week, of course I thought of Pat.  Wouldn't it be great to see him again, even if it meant getting shanghaied into another day long sightseeing tour under the guise of a post office run?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, 1944 ~ Somewhere in England

Burruss Finlayson, Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson and Jennie Wait Foster Finlayson

My new address will be U.S.S. LST 382
C/) Fleet Post Office, New York, NY

Somewhere In England October 15, 1944 (Sunday)
1340 (Navy Time)

Dearest Mother and Papa,

No change in my situation since the last time I wrote (yesterday), but I received some mail which has pleased me "no end".  It was forwarded to me from Portsmouth, my last location.

You can imagine how I felt reading Murdoch's letter written in Cheraw.  It was great to hear from him and all of you.  His letter was written Sept. 25.  Rutha's letter, Florence's letter of Sept. 24.  Edith's letter of Sept. 25, and Mother's letters of Sept. 24 and Sept. 26.

And how about Murd's making the crossing on Queen Elizabeth!  In six days!  Well, he went the fast way ~ I'll have to go the slow way, just as I came.  And it appears I'm going to see quite a bit more of England yet, before I leave.  I doubt if I see any places in England I didn't already see, but my stay is certainly going to be prolonged.  Who knows, I may see Paris before returning to the states!

As for Christmas, please,
don't send me any packages.  Just buy me some presents and save them until my home-coming.  It may not be before Christmas; but it certainly won't be long afterwards, I don't think. 

The sweater sound good  ~ and you know, the one you mentioned buying from Pearlman.  That would be a nice present.  Then I need a shaving kit.  The nice, fine one Wofford gave me, with Beverly's sweet little picture in it was destroyed.  I am using a cheap plastic razor now, and it's no good.  I would like some shaving lotion like "Ye olde tavern" stuff ~ or whatever it was Wesbrook and Louise gave me (in pottery ~ designed container) for my graduation.  I was still using it up 'til the time of the accident.

A jar of Vick's vapor rub, Mentholatum, some nose drops, Fitch's shampoo, and various types of useful cosmetics would be appreciated.  Oh yes, I could also use some white shirts, some collars (size 15 1/2" ~ this is my shirt size, too), and
grey shirts.  My shirt sleeve length is 33 inches, 15 1/2" collars.  A nice little suitcase (weekend size) ~ maybe just a tiny bit larger than the one Florence gave me ~ which too, was destroyed ~ would please me considerably.  You see, there are a lot of things I can ask you this year that I had no need for last year.  A matter of fact, I need some black ties.  I only have one.

I do hope Murdoch gets a commission while he's home.  I am glad he put in for it right away after arriving. He wants it so bad, and I know that's what has divided his conscience ever since he has been in the Navy.  Rutha wrote me that sometimes she found it so hard to get his attention while talking to him.  Of course, with the millions of questions your pouring at him, hardly anyone could do much better job than he's doing.  But I know what Rutha meant.  I found him the same way every time I talked to him.  I would be telling him so many things of interest, and often find him piddling around at something else or looking off into space as if thinking of something else.  I'd stop and say "Murdoch you're not listening to anything I have to say.  What's wrong?" Then he'd reply, "Oh yes, I was listening, bu I've got other troubles right now." 

I'd be telling him all about our accident or about the trip with von Schlieben aboard, and he'd never responded with any enthusiasm.  It would just "get my goat".

Murd's letter was entertaining and showed that he was having the time of his life.  Naturally, I am constantly blue and don't feel I'll ever be really happy again until I can see you all and enjoy an extensive leave.

Breman paid me a visit last night.  I was glad to see him after being separated for a week.  He likes his new ship and was surprised and amused at the fact I hadn't gone aboard my ship.  The ship I was supposed to have gone aboard met with an accident while I've been awaiting it arrival in port. That has been the reason I've been held up.  Now what d'ya know about that?  I'm really a jinx to everything, it seems.  They are reassigning me to another ship now!  Maybe, I'll get settled finally. 

Did Murdoch actually tell you, Mother, that he
flew Sicily and Italy?  Well, he should be ashamed of himself.  He was teasing you because you are easy to fool, I guess.  But he shouldn't go away letting you believe that, for it is whole untrue.  Perhaps, you misunderstood him.  Could that be possible?

You certainly did not receive all the letters I wrote in August, if you only got six.  I know for a fact that I wrote 10.  Did you get the one with the enclosed cartoon from the "
Stars and Stripes"  You know, the cartoon I thought was so funny.  I never received any comment, so I'm doubtful as to whether you received it or not.  It making me mad to think that my letters are not reaching you. Please see if you can find the other five letters.  No wonder you were complaining over my not writing.  However, I'm glad you've been receiving my Sept. letters.  They seem to be reaching you OK.

If Papa hasn't already mailed the Bible, please have him hold it at home until I get there.  I would not have it lost in the mail for
anything.  It's a nice present, and I'm proud of it.

Tell Rutha I don't think I've lost an ounce of weight.  Too bad!  I reckon dieting is the only thing that would do me any good.  And now Jennie Llew's bicycle is gone, so I guess it's really hopeless.

It was surprising to hear that Murd and my old skipper sailed home together.  We knew our captain had gone back to the states, but had no idea the two went at the same time.  He was some character.  I have lots to tell you about him.

I was glad to hear from Edith.  Tell her to give Beverly another big hug for me.  Am glad Westbrook and Edit are quickly recovering, but was uneasy when I heard Murdoch had fallen and hurt himself and had x-ray pictures, etc.  I don't want anything to stop him from passing his physical and getting that commission.  He deserves the
very best.

Florence description of Murdock's behavior was the
best of all.  I could just picture him.  I was sorry to hear of A.T. Thompson's death. I guess that's pretty definite now.  Her letter made me so anxious to get home ~ so did all the other letters.

Mother, the only way I've changed is in y love for you.  It's
increased tremendously, so you can imagine what you're in for when I there.Lots of Love to
both of you,
DF NOTE: those of you who come across this post who are not akin to the Finlayson family, let me help connect the dots concerning the names/relations.  Ainsworth, Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson, was my uncle who served in the USN in the European Theater of Operations during the war.  His brother Murdock (aka: Murd) also served in the USN and was on leave at the time.  The letter is addressed to his mother and father, but he mentions many names, mostly siblings; Rutha Dial, Jennie Llew Guyton, Westbrook (my father), Wofford (wife Edith and daughter Beverly).  Braman (Richard A. Braman) was a fellow officer on the LST-312 who visited Pat while the crew was separated after the 'accident'.  Maybe that will help clear things up a little.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Biding Time on the 382

During my last interview with my uncle Pat, I had asked him what happened after his ship was hit by the buzz bomb while docked in Deptford.  It was the last question of the phone interview and he was tiring.  I could tell it over the phone.  He simply stated that the crew went to a rest camp while the ship's officers were separated from the crew and each other, having been reassigned to other ships.
Pat asked me if I would write down any further queries and he'd be happy to answer them in time via Email.  Pat never answered those final questions because his health went into a spiraled decline until his death.  Having been a bachelor all his life, with no child of his own, it meant a great deal to him that I had taken interest in his service and doing my best to document as much as possible.  There just came a time when I knew it was time to take my hand off the project and just write him letters without all the questions.

After his death, I received his keepsakes that consisted mostly of letters written during the war to family home, and letters written long after the war to fellow crew members of the 312.  I went through a ton of letters while organizing and compiling the manuscript 'Sentimental Journey of USS LST-312'. There are letters from his old locker that I have yet to have read.  The most interesting ones are the letters starting with 'Somewhere in England', wartime letters home to Mother and Papa from aboard the 312.

It was in these letters where I found Pat reassigned to a different ship, the USS LST-382, after the Deptford incident.  Within the pages of these letters, it is easy to tell that he didn't like being apart from his ship, the 312, and his shipmates. He wondered if he'd ever make it back to rejoin his crew, when and if the superstructure would be repaired - and sent back into service.  I remember asking Pat in that last inquiry letter what LST he had been reassigned to - but he only replied that the information was somewhere in his records.  Well, today I found that piece of data.

Pat was eventually reunited with his friends and his ship. He couldn't have been aboard the 382 for long, because the 382 was decommissioned by the USN within a month, November 29, 1944 - and handed over to the Royal Navy. A letter to his parents on October 15, 1944 informed them that he could be reached aboard the USS LST-382.

I had many questions for Pat that were left unanswered.  Many answers I found after receiving his old footlocker, but even in finding answers, I have discovered more questions.

October 14, 1944 ~ Somewhere in England

Somewhere in England
October 14, 1944 (Sat.)
1020 (Navy Time)

Dearest Mother and Papa,

Please do not address any more letters to me in care of LST 312.  In other words, do not write to me until you hear further from me in regards to my new address.  You see, at present I'm being reassigned, perhaps to still another ship.  Just which one it will be, I don't know.  Therefore, you had better wait until I get settled.

I'm now beginning to doubt if I'll ever get the letters you've written to me since Sept. 19th.  All this transferring about is most undesirable, especially  for someone like me, who loves mail. I'm requesting to be transferred to one of the older ships.  I hope my request will do some good.  You can well imagine how i feel these days.

Wasn't it bad about Wendell Willkie?  It was as surprising as Campbell Laney's death - both were practically of the same age, same stature, and died of the same disease and both were politicians.  But I won't compare them any further.

I saw a British newsreel the other day in which President Roosevelt bounced back on the Dewey and the Republicans in regard to a statement they made concerning his dog, Fala.  Roosevelt displayed his acting ability as a comedian. His expressing while he talked, was so funny I laughed heartily.  Did any of you see a newsreel of it, by chance?

Did I write you that I voted for Roosevelt?  The state sent me a ballot slip in return envelope.  All I had to do was place the slip in the return envelope and mail it again.  One of the printed notices they enclosed read something to the effect: "The electoral delegates of this state (S.C.) have been asked to support the Roosevelt-Truman ticket. If you desire to vote otherwise, write to us and we will inform you of the proper channels."  I had to laugh - it suggested the "love it or leave it" idea. If you don't vote for Roosevelt -Truman, you're no South Carolinian. They also enclosed some other state issues (amendments to the Constitution, etc). I didn't fool with all that.  I felt I might screw up the works guessing  - so I just didn't express my opinion.

I wonder if Mrs. Sullivan ever wrote to you since her arrival in the U.S.. That beat anything I'd ever heard. I knew all her children were in America.  You had no idea she'd go to America before the end of the war.  She is lucky to have such people as the Vernons to take care of her things in London while she is away.  I'm going to write to Mrs. Vernon as soon as I get settled.

And did I ever write you that John Battles' father was dead, and his mother remarried?  I don't know his mother's new name by marriage and never did.  That's one reason I'm glad you had Lois' address.  I thought I wrote you this a long time ago, but maybe I didn't.  Have you heard anything further from his folks?  John's mother wrote to Dick Braman ) Braman received the letter about a month ago), stating that John was her favorite child, her "pride and joy".  It was a pitiful letter.

I never did hear from the McRae's, did you? There was another boy on the ship - an enlisted man, a boatswain's mate first-class, who was from Chipley, Florida.  His name was Otis Hinson.  Bill had known him all his life, and by a far more singular coincidence than mine and Murdoch's rendezvous in Africa and England, Hinson was assigned to the same ship with McRae.  You see, Chipley is just about the size of Chesterfield. If anything, it's smaller.  Hinson was not killed in the accident;  so perhaps someday he'll be able to report to the McRaes the full story.

I guess Murdoch's thirty days are about up now. I do hope he manages to keep away from the Pacific. The Navy is going to be even more important out there. I know on thing, the Americans are not going to waste any time with Japan after Germany's defeat.

Are you still looking forward to my 30-day leave - as much so as I am?  That's the greatest thing on earth I've ever had to look forward to. But I dread how I'm going to feel on the 30th day.  No more news right now, so will stop until later.
Lots of love,

Friday, September 19, 2014

a traveling man

Murdoch was a fellow who enjoyed traveling, yet didn't own a car.  He used public transportation and his two feet to get him anywhere he wanted to go.  If a nephew or niece ever wanted to spend real quality time with him, you'd have to tag along.  You'd find him in his garden or heading out the door.

Many decades ago, when I was around ten or eleven, Murdoch asked me if I'd like to walk downtown with him.  I had no idea what I was getting myself in for.  We walked down to Columbia's Five Points, going to several grocery stores.  Murdoch kept up with every penny (literally) and made every penny count (literally).  He always had a little ledger in his pocket that kept up with every dollar, every cent he had in his pocket.  If he could walk four blocks to save a few cents on the cost of bread or coffee, he'd walk it.  He spent so much time walking around downtown through the decades, that the people downtown referred to him as 'The Mayor of Five Points'.  No kidding.

Many times Murdoch would make his trip to Gadsden on the Greyhound.  We'd pick him up at the station.  There were times he'd ask me if I'd like to go to town with him.  We'd walk from one side of up of Broad Street and down the other, pretty much doing nothing but window shopping.  Each time I recall, he always went in to The Coffee Cup for a cup of coffee.

Murdoch moved around, usually kept himself busy, even when he was visiting.  He spent a good bit of time outside around the house inspecting our plants.  When we had a garden, he'd spend many afternoons working on it for his brother.

Dad always talked about what a teaser Murdoch was in their youth.  He remained a troublemaker in a harmless funny way.  He'd say little things that he knew would stir up his sisters and quietly watch with a hint of a grin on his face. He knew how to push buttons in a subtle way.

Ol' Murd was a funny fellow, but I don't ever recall seeing or hearing him laugh.  He would chuckle, and I do remember that grin.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

look, there's dad

Several years back I ended up with my uncle's slides.  He was an avid picture taker.  There was such an influx of images and things after his death that I didn't have the time to go through it all. This week I thumbed through some of his old slide boxes.  He's got some real gems in there.

It's fascinating going through uncle Pat's old photos, I am seeing people I knew and love, through Pat's lens.  The above photo is of my dad, H. Westbrook Finlayson.  The car looks familiar. I think it's our old Kingswood Estate Wagon...69-71?  I don't recall him wearing those black frame glasses, but I sure do recall that man.

It's something running across a picture of my dad, a picture I had never seen before.  It's a new photo to me.  It's picture of a very familiar face in a very familiar scene.  This visual is typical, dad arriving home. Perhaps we just came home from church, or from work.  His brother Pat took the picture, so I'm guessing it's a Sunday afternoon and all the Finlayson kids (6 of us) had already escaped the car and already in the house.

This photo of Pat's captured a typical scene at a familiar place, seeing dad there.  That was a long time ago.  It's good to see his face again anew.  We all say to each other that we take everything and each other for granted.  It's true. Every little moment we have with each other is a precious gift.

Moments are fleeting and so are we.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

where dad grew up

This was the home of Burruss and Jennie Wait Foster Finlayson in Cheraw, South Carolina.  The house is located in downtown Cheraw, on Hwy 1 (Market Street), directly across from the United States Post Office.  There is nothing there now but a vacant lot. 

The picture below is the only image I have of it's interior.  Sitting around the table are siblings, Rutha Finlayson Dyal, Jennie Llew Finlayson Guyton and James Murdoch Finlayson.  Their mother (my grandmother) Jennie Finlayson (standing) and long time family friend Evelyn Bland are present and ready for supper.  Evelyn lived with the Finlayson family for years, having been loved as a second mother by the Burruss and Jennie's children.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

hero ship

I found out Friday afternoon that USS LST-325 was on display in Chattanooga until Wednesday.  The 325 is on her Tennessee River Cruise.   I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity, seeing how I was probably never going to get up to it's home at the LST Ship Memorial in Evansville, IN. 

I told Gina that I was probably going to take off during the weekend to check it out.  The 325 is the last ship of her class in existence.  I was surprised that Gina wanted to come along with me.  As we drove up, Gina found herself excited about seeing one of the ships her father, Walter Clifford Hale, served on in the Pacific Theater of Operations.  Her father served on LST-479 as a cook.  Gina was very curious as to what the ship's galley looked like.

As mentioned many times here on the Long Journey Home Blog, my Uncle Pat (Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson) served as a
Lieutenant aboard LST-312 in the European Theater of Operations.  We were not permitted to check out the Radio Shack or the Officer's Living Quarters.  These are areas that I would've liked to have visited.  I did get to see the Officer's Wardroom, where officers ate and hung out.

I thought of Uncle Pat throughout the day. I would have loved to have had him along on this little venture. I'm sure it would've stirred many forgotten stories of his service aboard his ship, LST 312.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

15 things

Awhile back on facebook, a challenge went around asking for people to share things about themselves that their friends might not know.  I usually don't participate, but found that it was kind of therapeutic. 

1) I speak fluent faux-French. 

2) I am an introvert in disguise.

3) I take laughter seriously.

4) I realized I am a dancer late in life.  My feet won't let me now.

5) The first song I ever wrote spoofed a toothpaste commercial (Ultra Brite) 'How's Your Love Life'.

6) I could get my father up a flight of stairs in his wheelchair about the time I was 14. It was usually a hindrance for people to try to help. They would often insist, and I would thank them for helping, but they usually threw me off balance and made the task more difficult.  It's more about balance than lifting.

7) It still irritates me when people without disabilities take up handicapped parking spaces for convenience sake. Do these people not have a conscience?

8) Black is beautiful.

9) My middle name is my paternal grandfather's name. It's an odd old name that I didn't like as a kid. Over the years I've taken a liking to it.

10) I avoid places and events where culture snobs gather.
11) My eyebrows hang low and I guess I look mean when I am concentrating/thinking. Since Katie was little she'd ask me, "Daddy...are you mad?" I understand why this is confusing because I also look mad when I am mad.

12) I do not fear my own death.  I just don't look forward to the actual process.

13) I am selfish in that I hope I die before Gina.  I can't imagine life without her.

14) One way God reveals to us His fatherly love for us is when we become parents ourselves. We get to love children first and they learn love from our first loving them. When I became a dad, I understood God's love for me even more.

15) It's not that I don't like tattoos. It's just that there's no illustration that I'd care to have permanently inked upon my glorious naked body. I don't care if it's Michael Angelo himself doing the tat, I'd get tired of it. I would think it humorous to have Moses holding up his staff parting the Red Sea over my buttocks. "DIVIDE!"

Friday, September 5, 2014

a verse for America

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

~William Butler Yeats~
First verse of The Second Coming

I am concerned that many Americans don't understand their enemy, or realize we have an enemy.  Islam is the enemy, and ISIS is it's sword.  We have not as a whole realized that it is 'kill or be killed'.  The oldest evil has come to our doorstep and too many people are still stuck in the politically correct spin mode.  Too many are simply not paying attention.

Obama thinks ISIS is something that can be contained and managed.  America has a mortal enemy, and this enemy cannot be contained.  This enemy is coming for us in ways that will overshadow what we experienced on September 11, 2001.  There are 9/11s to come. The next event will more than likely be worse than 2001.  Our leaders, our government have failed us.  We have been invaded, ISIS is here.  There are many methods in which we will be attacked.  I believe we'll experience a series of tragic events throughout the country.  It's not a matter of 'if' but 'when'.   ISIS is a black swan event that will fundamentally change our country.
I may be wrong. I pray I am wrong.  I believe I am right.
Don't look to Washington, don't look to our leaders. They have chosen to serve themselves. They have turned their backs on we the people. I don't give Obama any benefit of the doubt regarding his well-being for America; our laws, our freedom, our very lives. 
He has no respect for our laws, only manipulates and uses the system by any means possible to achieve his ultimate ends.  His dream is to usher in a globalist utopia. I'm pretty sure his idea of utopia is death to our Constitution, our very way of life, and force America into a new world order ruled under sharia law.

Obama doesn't have a strategy to defend the United States of America because his strategy has always been to take America down, strip us of our sovereignty and liberty.
  He does not see ISIS as the enemy, but as a means to his end. Obama has done everything he can politically do to weaken America's standing in the world, and strengthen our enemies. He is more akin to our enemy than to the American people.
Obama has a strategy and it IS working.

As citizens, our hands are tied politically, yet our answer isn't political.  Yes, eventually we will be forced to fight a very real enemy. With Islam, we will be forced to fight or die.  Soon our nation as a whole will be humbled and taken down to our collective knees. Our answer doesn't come from politicians, but from God alone. Our answer can be found in a single verse of scripture.  Even by having our hands tied, and humbled to our knees, this does not restrict God's people from doing what must be done!

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
~2 Chronicles 7:14

Thursday, August 7, 2014

old ghosts

Junior High turned out to be a routine of being dropped off at Hell every day.  What made it unbearable was the racial tension that most of the school staff seemed to ignore.  Public schooling for me sucked big time.  I remember bleeding ulcers in seventh grade, and the taste of barium for the x-ray that the nurse called a milk shake.  I also remember the chalky taste of Maalox that I would swig right out of the bottle between classes.  Sure it tasted like minty chalk, but it seemed to ease the internal pain.

I remember fights that I didn't want to fight, but had to if I wanted to stay out of future fights.  With whites bullies,  you fought them one at a time and they usually wouldn't pick a fight with you in the future if you drew a little blood.  Bullies like easy victims.  It didn't matter if you lost, you just didn't make it easy for them.  With blacks, you were going to have to deal with a pack of them, and you would lose because you were always outnumbered.  It was never fair, and that's how I learned life wasn't. 

Nevertheless, if you didn't fight, you were going to remain a perpetual victim. I wouldn't show fear, not a tear.  I would internalize it and bury it with humor.  The worst times were when the kids were left idling in the classroom while a teacher was smoking one in the lounge.  I discovered as a Christian boy, I had only two cheeks to turn, and defending myself a necessity.  I came to terms with it, I grabbed hold of the perspective that even though I had to fight, I would not hate. 

I dropped my eleven year old at school this morning for her first day of middle school.  I couldn't help it, those old ghosts come back to haunt me just like they did when her older sister Katie entered those doors.  I assure myself that she'll be okay and that her world will be nothing like my world.  Her big sister came out fine, and I am glad and relieved that they've enjoyed their school experience.  My eyes and ears are keen to it though.  So far so good.

Friday, July 25, 2014

this old house

It's a blessing, but a responsibility nevertheless.  There's lots of work from ground to roof.  We've been cleaning and cleaning and cleaning.  We've been fixing and fixing and fixing.  When finished, we hope to reap the rewards, but such rewards will take time to experience the benefit.  For now, we move forward and keep our shoulders to the wheel.  We've often felt this gift a burden. It is a responsibility in which we must invest time, money and labor to experience a return.  It is a responsibility, but a blessing nevertheless.  

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
~Proverbs 14:23

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
~Proverbs 16:3

Monday, July 7, 2014

RE: Paul's Epistle to the Americans

Dear Paul (the so-called "Apostle")

When you fell off your horse on the way to Damascus, did you fall on your freaking head?  How dare you write to us and condemn our individual lifestyles choices here in America!  You wrote that God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.   Well aren't you special! How dare you say that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, will have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ. You also wrote (and I quote)
"Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."  Why don't you pull the thorn out of your own damn side before you preach to us you hypocrite!  It is written to "JUDGE NOT LEST YOU BE JUDGED!"  Enough of this sowing and reaping CRAP! NOBODY'S PERFECT!  The God I serve is all about LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, and TOLERANCE!  My congregation are all OFFENDED and APPALLED that you wrote such a closed-minded and judgmental letter.   We were expecting a letter filled with hope and loving encouragement.  You are making God unhappy by your INTOLERANCE and JUDGEMENT. Your letter to us proves you are not only a HOMOPHOBE, but A HATER as well!  Next time you write us another letter, it's going straight in the trash can without even opening. The nerve that you wrote that letter under the guise of love and concern for your brethren here.  Some Christian you turned out to be!  You need to wake up and get with it.  Haters like you deserve to be in prison, so don't expect us to try to help get you out of there.

Dr. Ichabod Wormwood
Pastor of The Emerging Church of Acceptance and Inclusiveness
6660 Progressive Way
Anywhere, USA 

PM Sunday Services Only.

P.S.  I have instructed everyone I know to un-friend you on facebook.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hey Lord

'You Remembered Me' is one of my earlier songs.  I wrote it when Michael Bynum and I were playing around as DREAMER back in the early to mid-80's.  So I've been singing it for 30 some odd years now and it's still a HOOT to sing.  I've sung it solo and sung it with bands. It one of my most requested numbers and I don't think I'll ever get tired of singing it.

My daughter recorded this song down in my studio about a week ago.  The sound quality from her camera mic did alright.  The best this song ever sounded was when Brook and I sang at a coffee house down on Bourbon Street in New Orleans back in the late 90's.  There were about five black men from a mission up the road that got into singing the 'Hey Lord' chorus and I sure wish I had that moment recorded.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

occupations of heaven

Upon my timely death I was met by a fellow with a familiar voice.  He had the appearance of a man in his forties, but I could not place his face.  I had just entered the eternal and there were many people casually standing around, but I did not recognize anyone there.

The man called my name again, he was laying down on his back of what appeared to be a hammock of sorts.  I looked at him and asked, "We have met, but where did we meet?  He stood up as I tried to recognize his face.  As he spoke, some piece of memory surfaced.  This man was once very old and a patient of Gina's.  I had met him as he was laying down in his bed, in his room at a nursing home.  I did not remember his name.  I just remembered that he was a nice old fellow nearing death's door.  He was beyond Earth now, and apparently I was too.

He began to lead me through Heaven.  I can not describe it...It's all very cloudy.  I do remember passing places as our walk and conversation continued.  I wasn't focused on what was being said, I was looking for family.  I didn't see them, but doubt if I would've recognized them, hoping maybe they would recognize me.

Believe it or not there was a point when I quit looking.  There came a place and moment where the conversation ended and the man walked away.  I was standing at a place where I knew I was supposed to be...with things I needed to do.  I had a job.  I was to do this job until whenever.   I knew that whenever this job was done, I would move on to the next occupation.  I didn't mind doing it.  I knew inside my being that the task was for myself.  That, like others there, the job wasn't for any kind of financial gain, but rather for gain of my personal character.

I knew when I died I was not a perfect man.   I didn't mind that I had found myself doing manual work, if it was building something good in me.  I don't know about other souls there, there were others in the fields with me.  I was focused on doing my job.  The outcome of the labor was complete something I never quite finished or started while on Earth. 

I figured I would one day see people that I knew and loved there.  For some reason, I was content with the job at hand.  It didn't bother me whether it took a hundred years or more, to do that work until that work was done.  I knew that I would ever become a better man for it.

This was merely a dream.  It was odd sort of imagery and I am not claiming it to have transpired or to transpire. The dream though has interesting spiritual merit.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

look back

look back
over the scarred lands
where those who were once
each became a living sacrifice
for their fellow man
all they had
and could've had
sacrificed all for freedom's sake
look back
before we barter
too freely
for what our fathers
our brothers
paid so dearly
look back
to those who so freely sacrificed
all their security
so that we might keep this liberty
with hope with confidence
that we pick up that standard
take up that fight
from beyond the place
they once fell
look back
this precious paid liberty
fought for died for so dearly
look back
so we do not foolishly surrender
this liberty for any false promise
of security

David B. Finlayson
June 7, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

adios amigo

adios compadre
a shell of man buried
a living man

now walks among us
as Lazarus
a friend and follower
of Jesus
born of tears
sorrow pain fears
putting down the old yoke
taking up another
the story of man
a story redemption
¡hola amigo
my brother returns
let's leave this sitefor Brian walks among the living

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

dating advice usually ignored

I will admit that there are nutty guys out there just as much as there are fruitcake gals. Dating is a mine field and one can't be so desperate or emotionally involved as to go into a relationship with eyes wide shut and common sense unplugged. It's a wise thing to consider the strange idiosyncrasies and realize the craziness won't get better along the way or go away. Chances are, the idiosyncratic behavior will only become more pronounced or even worsen. Lovely feeling won't make it all better. Be picky even if the pick'ens are slim.

There's another kind of crazy ~ to think one can change a partner in time. Good luck with that. My advise is, you got to know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em, know when to walk away and know when to run.