Friday, September 25, 2015


Mass evacuation, a true story: Hurricane Rita, September, 2005:
            Fleeing down Hwy 71, nearing the I-10 underpass at Columbus, Sharon and I saw them.  How many were they?  As far as we could see both ways the traffic was bumper to bumper.  As we passed under I-10, the realization hit us, those poor folks were going nowhere in that 150 mile traffic jam from Houston to San Antonio.  And pressed on by the mass of humanity behind us on 71, we prayed.

            2005, as the heart breaking aftermath of hurricane Katrina continued for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the Gulf of Mexico churned once again.  A massive 180 mile per hour Hurricane Rita barreled straight at our little ranch near the Texas Gulf Coast.  I was going to stay to take care of the cattle, but wife Sharon demanded otherwise.

            So the wife and I evacuated along with border collie Candy and white rabbit, Bunny FuFu.  It was off to see Aunt Lou and Uncle Don, two hearts of gold, in Austin, Texas.  Our refuge there will always be fondly remembered.

            Now Aunt Lou and Uncle Don were amazed by our dog and rabbit sleeping and eating together in their fenced in back yard.  And I say this not casually, does it kind of remind you of how the animals in Noah's Ark must have got along, maybe even remind of a Bible verse in Isaiah of the wolf and the lamb laying together.

            Prompted by disaster coverage on TV, Uncle Don and I soon got into a discussion of the Bible and in particular Noah's Ark.  Uncle Don took the position that the Ark was not real, but a story meant to teach us moral lessons. I explained that in September of 1960 Life Magazine published Turkish military photos of a tremendous boat shaped object in the mountains of Ararat; and that in August of 1977 archaeologist Ron Wyatt was invited by the Turkish government to examine the ship. Ron found the Ark dimensions exactly matched that ordered by God in the Bible, discovered the Ark's massive stone anchors and mapped out the ships deck supports and keel.  In 1986 the Turks built a visitors center at the location.  But Uncle Don remained unconvinced, felt it was a 'flim-flam' and laughed it off.

            Later that day Uncle Don and Aunt Lou treated the wife and I to a trip to the amazing Cabelas Hunting and Sports Center. Now the first thing you see as you walk into this three story mega mecca is a two and a half story indoor waterfall and mountain populated by scores of animals from all over the world.  Do you see the theme here: animals from all over the world, on a mountain... Noah's Ark?  Do you sense something is about to happen?  We should have. God is a master of 'intricate coincidental detail'.

            Now Cabelas is so huge, a family can easily spend all day there well entertained, but after several hours Uncle Don wanted to treat us to a south Austin restaurant.  We gave thanks, we ate, we joked and at meals end we rose to leave the table.  In rising from his seat, obviously still thinking about our earlier conversation about Noah's Ark, Uncle Don chuckled under his breath, "I still can't believe you think that story is real."

            Uncle Don stood, pushed his chair to table and turned to see standing directly behind him the cutest little less than five feet tall Mexican Grandpa, Grandma and daughter... and in the daughters arms swaddled in a baby blanket... in Uncle Don's own words, "That is the most precious little baby I have ever seen!"

            Folks, that precious little mother with the glow of an angel, held up that precious little baby before Uncle Don's face and proudly beamed as only a new mother can, "HIS NAME IS NOAH."

            Uncle Don's eyes popped round as saucers, his mouth gaped wide open, and Aunt Lou chimed in right on cue, "Well Don, do you think God is trying to tell you something?"

            Well dear people, do you think God may be trying to tell us something?  In his Holy Bible, our Creator has given us the exactly how it was, how it is, and how it will be.

            ...In the hurricane of Life...

            ...Jesus is our only ark to refuge... to salvation...

            In John 14:6, His Son Jesus speaks, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father, but by me."  Please listen to Jesus in Matthew 24:37 KJ, "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."

           "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 KJ

            Romans 3:23-26;  6:23; 5:8; 10:9-10; Acts 2:38

            Noah, the ark, the great flood... Genesis chapters 6 thru 9        




Thursday, September 17, 2015


            "Molasses is my name, slow sweet lovin' is my game," she purred.

            "Spring time in hell... is no picnic," startled to the point of not knowing why nor what she said, Janet stepped back, retreat cut short by food laden picnic table.

            Molasses oozed close, in Janet's ear blew smoke, "My friends call me Moe."

            "Just because you married Uncle Ted and come to our family reunion, does not make you my friend," Janet near breathless breathed, gulped air, added, "nor family."

            "You are just uptight.  I can fix that," Moe cooed.

            Janet slipped sideways from between Moe and picnic table.  She retreated to side of approaching husband. "Robert, that woman..."

            "Is hotter than a hornets nest and twice as deadly," Robert finished Janet's sentence to spare her embarrassment. "I was coming to the rescue."

            "What is wrong with her?" Janet fought for composer.  Now in the arms of her husband, her face faded from red.

            "A diet totally void of moral fiber induces constipation of the brain." Robert glared in Moe direction.

            Nervous giggle escaped Janet. "Husband of mine," she snarfeled, "you may have just coined an adage." She giggled again.

            "Why is every family reunion a re-crisis?" Robert shook head.

            "Oh no, there she goes again!" Janet gasped.

            Cousin Bennie was just passing by.  Moe met him chest to breast, pressed into him, backed him up, pinned him against vine covered oak tree trunk.  She kissed him full on the lips.  Bennie kissed her back, spun her round.  In backless blouse her flesh found bed in the cool foliage.

             "There are children.  This needs to stop." Janet growled, added, "Robert get Uncle Ted over here right now.  You tell him to control that, that thing he calls a wife."

            "Oh, be a sport." Robert grinned. "They are just having fun."

            "What!" Janet freaked.  With both hands she reached up, pulled Robert's face to hers, looked him square in the eyes, questioned, "Is my Christian husband in there?"

            Robert kissed tip of wife's accusation pointing nose, then smiled. "You do know God gave us the Ten Commandments to not only guide us, but protect us?"

            In mini whiplash Janet's neck and head whipped back, then forward.  With blue eyes wide, her lips cried, "What!?"

            "See that oak tree those two are writhing against?" Robert nodded direction.

            Janet turned head, looked. "Yes," she said.

            "See that bed of plush green vines caressing their flesh?" Robert whispered in her ear.

            "Oh! Ohhhhhhhh!" Janet snarfeled out loud.  "You mean, oh husband of mine, do I see the consequences of sin?"

            "I think they call it poison ivy," Robert snuggled nose in wife's soft auburn hair.

            "Spring time in hell is no picnic... when itchy gets scratchy." Janet relaxed in hubby's arms.

             "I'll go fetch the garden hose," Robert sighed, then grinned at the thought of hosing down the amorous two with ice cold water.

             Janet hugged her kind hearted man, sighed too, said, "I'll get the soap from the kitchen."

Consequences to sin... are no coincidences... yet necessary reminders...

God loves the contrite heart... Tell him about it... Apologize... Ask God for forgiveness in His Son's name... Jesus...

Every one of us has something to apologize for... Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-13 of The Holy Bible    


Friday, September 4, 2015


            Two, two finger Irish coffees, please." At hotel restaurant table, Ivy placed order, added half moan sigh, hung her head to almost cry, behind dark cascade of hair.

            It is 8:15 in the morning." The right hand of old college pal Phebe gently grasped her forearm. She ducked head that her amber eyes look up into the green eyes of Ivy. "One hour from now in that auditorium right thru that window," Phebe pointed across River Avenue, "my favorite motivational speaker is going to encourage thousands of alcoholics to remain sober." Phebe turned to the waitress, "Make that two expresso macchiato, please."

            "I hate motivational speaking." Ivy whined.

            "What?" Phebe blinked. "You do this for a living."

            "You call this living?" Ivy gritted teeth. "You have no idea how I envy you, Phebe.  Unlike you, I have no confidence, no assurance, no peace, no faith.  I live in Wreckville."

            "Where's a motivational speaker, when you need one?" Phebe teased.

            "Stop it!" Ivy unsuccessfully fought the upturned curvature of her lips, smiled.

            Phebe patted her arm, asked, "You are kidding me, right?"

            "Well..." The smile of Ivy whimpered away. She whined, "Envy like Ivy climbs, till over the wall."

            "Jesus, please help us get to the other side of River Avenue," Phebe pleaded out loud.

            It startled Ivy, that little prayer, that sincerity on Phebe's face, but her calmness, her calmness seemed to radiate light, a light almost contagious.  But just a tad later...

            ...There they stood on the corner of River Avenue, huddled together, gripping coat seams tight in mid-December cold wind chill.  Ivy shivered, moaned, "Could it possibly get any worse?"

            Phebe chuckled, twisted, swayed lithe figure neath layers of warmth. "Pre-emptive groaning only stirs the gripe pot... ladles up porridge of pain," she warned thru coat collar gap.

            After a full twelve minutes in waiting, "The lights are stuck green," Ivy groaned. "No way are we crossing that raging rush hour traffic.  Lets go back in and get another cup of coffee." Ivy tugged top of coat tighter together.  She searched the face of her suddenly frozen still companion. "Phebe, what's wrong?" Phebe had stopped breathing.

            The brisk north wind swirled thru Phebe's short brunette hair.  Her eyes closed.  Her head subtly tilted back.  Her lips parted.  She breathed in... more than air.  Her amber eyes opened.  She breathed out, "Thank you." Her hair ceased swirl.

            In fear, Ivy heard it, heard the stone still quiet.  She turned head, saw not one car, not one taxi, no bus, nor van.

            Phebe took Ivy's hand, said, "Someone up there really loves you and wants you to cross on over to the other side of River Avenue." Phebe smiled...

            And as they walked across... Ivy's envy walked not...

            Time grows short... and only one way 'crosses'... to the other side of the river of life... Jesus...

                                                               John 14:6

                                                  Revelation 1:7-8 & 22:1-7

            Of crossing over to 'the other side of the river,' many are the scriptures in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  Grab a thorough Biblical concordance or plug it in to an internet search engine, read and be awed... Fascinating...



Saturday, August 8, 2015


             I could have married into the Pedernales Falls Winery up river, but did I listen to Dad, no." Jana puffed at sweat soaked blond bangs, hefted bushel basket of peaches into the back of truck. "I could have married the rich lavender farmer down the east rapids, but did I listen to Mom, nope." The former Stonewall Peach Jamboree and Rodeo Queen grunted under the weight of yet another peach basket. "And did I listen to my best friend Amy to for sure not marry that poor peach farmer smack dab in the middle, nooooo!" That last basket did not hit the truck bed lightly.

            "Be careful," Daryll warned," or my Tuetonic warrior princess will bruise the peaches." He loaded basket of peaches next to hers.

            "Bruise the peaches?  Bruise the peaches!" Jana unleashed arched right eyebrow in Viking berserker stare, grabbed and jerked Daryll off the ground into her arms.

            In her zealous embrace the squished and squirming, boot dangling Daryll managed to squeak out, "You... are... bruising the peach."

            "I'll bruise my peach if I want to," Jana matter of facted, gave Daryll one hard and long kiss.  Daryll quit squirming.  Jana sat him down on truck tail gate, had to steady him to keep him from falling over. "I see my peach is a bit fuzzy," Jana smiled at a kiss well done.

            "Yeah," Daryll croaked, "passion and lack of oxygen will do that to a fella."

            "Just exactly what are you saying, Daryll?" Jana's brain teetered on edge of... was that a compliment or a too often as usual Daryll dig?  Affection or affliction hung in precarious balance.

            "Precious Lady," fortunately Daryll's mood swing radar activated, "you take my breath away just like the day we first met."

            "Fifth grade, what a calamity," Jana giggled, "you were out of breath alright.  Those Beasley brothers were kinda kickin' the air out of your lungs for defending my honor."

            "They should never have made fun of you for being so tall," Daryll frowned.

            "And they shouldn't have skinned up my fuzzy little peach." Jana sat down beside him on tail gate.  She took Daryll under arm, hugged him to her.

            "Yep, once the scent of my blood stained my Tuetonic warrior princess' nostrils, you sorta lost it." Daryll glowed awe and admiration of his wife. "Was that a one or two week suspension Principal Haney gave you for whuppin' those two boys?"

            "Just a week that never happened, cause when their dad, Mr. Beasley, got the truth out of them, he whupped them again." Jana reminisced.

            "And the next day Mr. Beasley took them to school and told Principal Haney, then Haney whupped 'em the third time," Daryll slapped knee, chuckled, "but I guess its better, much better to be whupped now than eternally forever later.  They did sorta straighten up after that, been good neighbors ever since."

            "And we've been together ever since." Jana looked into the eyes of her man, leaned in, gave him kiss. "But we better get busy.  These peaches are not going to load themselves," She sighed, stood, was about to lift her man from tail gate...

            "Well looky here," Daryll smiled, "I think I might just see two truckloads of reinforcements driving through our orchard front gate.  Kinda looks like our wealthy neighbors, that winery fella and lavender farmer you were lamenting about earlier."

            "The Beasley brothers!" Jana retightened her pony tail, straitened her blouse. "You knew," Jana accused, "you knew they were coming, didn't cha, Daryll!"

            "I'm a peach!" Daryll grinned, admitted, "All I did... was pray."

            "Yeah, every peach has its pit." Jana arched that right eyebrow... just before she hugged him tight... and said, "That's why I married you, Daryll, because the heart of my little peach is the seed of Jesus."

            In silence the Beasley brothers and their families gathered round Jana and Daryll.  And as all, as one, gazed out upon the hills and hills and hills of ripe peach laden trees, Daryll quoted Jesus: "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest." (Luke 10:2 KJ)              

Saturday, July 11, 2015


            "Beauty beyond measure," in the sweltering heat of the beach, his tongue licked peak of chocolate and vanilla double scoop ice cream.  Tad turned, leaned back against boardwalk vending counter, saw her sitting neath table umbrella. "Beauty beyond measure," he took second lick.

            "Pretty for sure," he thought, "and unique, yet classic, even modest, like an old movie." Tad breathed in the enchantment of her perfect oval face, a face in contrast with the dark sunglasses that hid her eyes, a face near as pale as the white scarf that swaddled it.  His eyes drifted with breeze, flowed with and thru her white chiffon jacket to the light lime top and peach tinted shorts beneath. "Modesty and beauty amid the land of the bikini..." Tad's thoughts gave way to unthinking magnetism, magnetism that drew him, pulled him up from leaning on counter, propelled him to the edge... of her table.

            And there Tad stood, not noticing the cool stickiness of chocolate and vanilla dribble, dribbling down right hand.  Nor had she noticed him, her gaze fastened on cell phone screen, her pink lips repeating disenchantment, "Whatever!" She poked phone screen. "Whatever." She poked it again. "Whateverest..." A tear peaked from under dark shades rim.  She wept.

            "You need a lick?" Tad wished he had phrased that a tad better.

            "What?" Her weeping abruptly ceased, gave way to blush.

            "Ice cream," Tad offered, extended cone, "it'll make ya feel better."

            The blush of anger faded from her face.  She wrestled with the smile tugging at the corners of her lips, but... "He's not bad looking," texted cross her mind's smart phone screen, listed inventory, "sandy hair, green eyes, tan, fit, and bearing gifts." She removed dark shades; her green eyes met his.

            "Ice cream is good for the soul," Tad offered again.

            "My soul?" She took his hand.  She licked chocolate, licked lips, took a bite.  Tad sat down beside her.  She did not let go his hand.  "My soul," she repeated between nibbles. The tears returned.

            "Was it sad news," Tad asked, "sad news on the phone?"

            "More bad than sad," she answered, took bite of chocolate with a tad of vanilla below, added, "more mean than anything.  Oh, that vanilla mixed in there is good." Still holding his hand, she took another nibble, added, "Just frenemies morphing into the bullies they are.  This is the best ice cream." She took bite, confessed, "They said Dwindaline is a fataline..." Ice cream squished from between her lips, dribbled down her chin. "Dwindaline the Fataline!" She wailed.

            "So you are Dwindaline." With free left hand Tad retrieved napkin from table, dabbed ice cream from her chin. "I'm Tad... by the way."

            "Dwindeeeeee!" Dwindaline cried a bit more, managed to sniffle out, "My friends call me Dwindy.  At least I thought they were my friends." She choked out.

            "Dwindy is a pretty name." Tad dabbed tears from her cheeks, wiped her nose.

            "I can weigh whatever you want me to." Dwindy searched Tad's face.

            "Weight is only a measure." Tad smiled, laid before her his heart, "You are beauty beyond measure, Miss Dwindy."

            "But meanies judge by weight?" Dwindy half stated, half asked.

            "Whatever is more: the worth of weight, or the weight of worth; the measure, or that measured." Tad could not take his eyes off of her, as he weighed in, "Good health, both physical and even more so spiritual, is the Whateverest weight of worth."

            Dwindy could not let go his hand, trembling, she asked, "Tad, who are you?"

            "Just a Tad... by the way, who is honored to even ask you..."

            That very Sunday night, Dwindy still held Tad's hand, and his arm too, as they entered by the Way... the Door... attended Church together... the Whateverest of all beginning...

            P.S. After Church they joyfully ate at an ice cream social in the back yard of the Good Shepherd.

                                                      Revelation 19:7-9


Saturday, June 13, 2015


            "This sounds easy," Kerrie Sue Cucco encouraged her cooking challenged self, while reading cookbook. "I knew I bought that spaghetti squash yesterday for some reason." From toes to nose she vibrated newlywed enthusiasm.

            As in the baking plan, Kerrie Sue set forth with gourd on baking pan, but to open the oven door she let go with one hand.  The hard as a rock spaghetti squash promptly rolled off and, "Ouch, ouch, owwee," squashed her big toe.

            After the dance of the newly lame and in pain, Kerrie braced herself against counter top and scanned the kitchen floor for gourd escapee.  She spied it lurking under table in kitchen nook. "You filthy stinking psycho gourd! I'm going to kick..." she caught herself, "I will not cuss... I will not cuss," Kerrie swore, as she hobbled on left heel with throbbing toe pointing the way.  At table she squatted, rolled psycho squash toward her, gathered it in arms, stood... smashed head under table, "No cussing, no cussing!" All the way back to the oven that phrase took on new meaning.

            "This time I put the baking pan in the oven first." Kerrie then hoisted hefty gourd into oven. "An hour at 375 degrees might just adjust the attitude of Mr. Psycho Gourd." She closed oven door, growled, "Burn Baby Burn!"

            Approximately 37.5 minutes later on the other side of kitchen island, Kerrie reclined in family room chair, left foot propped up on ottoman, big toe draped in frozen black eyed pea package. The toe had almost calmed down, when she said to self, "For some reason I feel like I'm forgetting something.  Didn't the recipe say to be sure to cut the gourd in half or poke holes in it before baking... oh no."

            Kaaaaa-blooey!! Psycho gourd explosion blew open oven door, scattering debris and knocking bottle of wine from kitchen island to hard tile floor.  It was a special bottle of wine that Kerrie had bought to celebrate their first home cooked meal together.  And so, there poor Kerrie Sue sat, a tad too quietly, as left eyelid drooped to half mast and face birthed tic of spasm.

            Two hours twenty-three minutes later of cleaning-up gourd parts and wine and a quick trip to Local Yokels Market to purchase yet another potential bomb, one determined new wife tried it again. This time she did not forget, "Poke holes," Kerrie said through clinched teeth. Her face spasmed as she raised the blade, its steel flashing reflection in the half mast eye. "Die... Die... You stupid..." Kerrie plunged the knife at a way too hard rind of gourd.  The blade deflected.  Her grip slipped.  Her hand slid down upon sharp blade edge... "Ouch, ouch, owwweeeeee!"

           "No cussing, no cussing, no..." she chanted, but her blood shot eyes and facial tic concealed not Kerrie Sue wrath.  Her towel wrapped hand now gripped ice pick, and into wayward gourd multiple holes were stabbed; each puncture punctuated with tennis serve grunt.  All without cussing of course.

            Thus the unholy, now holey gourd was subdued and shoved in oven.  And while it baked, one persistent Kerrie Sue prepared just a few other ingredients for her first ever husband pleasing artichoke spinach spaghetti squash boat: 3 minced garlic cloves, 3 ounces cream cheese, a load of grated parmesan, another load of mozzarella, 3 cups chopped baby spinach, one overly full cup of canned artichoke hearts, fresh parsley, sea salt, pepper and of course a bit of extra virgin newlywed olive oil.

            One and a half hours later, viola: there the beautiful Kerrie sat at table, her makeup flawless, her dark hair down low, her throbbing big toe soaking in warm magnesium salt water, her injured hand bandaged and elevated.  But she sat alone, as the sun set through kitchen nook window, the food on table growing cold, matching her thoughts of worry. "Why did David not answer my calls?  Is he hurt?  Is he with an old girlfriend?  Is he with a new woman?  How did this day spiral into such an abyss? And that's it.  I am complaining.  I didn't cuss, but I am worrying; I didn't cuss, but I did fuss; when what I should have done from the beginning is pray to and praise Our Heavenly Father in Jesus name." And Kerrie Sue bowed her head... And Kerrie prayed... And a great calm enveloped her...

            No more than twenty minutes passed.  David found his precious wife with eyes closed, head still bowed.  He kissed her temple through her coconut soft and scented hair. He took her bandaged hand in his, whispered, "Looks like you might just have had a tad worse day than mine."

            Kerrie reached up with her one good hand, cupped his ear and nape of neck, confided, "The worst was not hearing your voice all day.  Did something happen to your phone?"

            "Well, first let me thank you again for blessing me yesterday with a new smart phone.  Secondly, yes, I should have opted for that armored case, we discussed."

            "What happened?" Kerrie saw the disappointment etched in David's face.

            "Going," David slid into chair next Kerrie, "going to work, I stopped at the market to hunt and gather a few snacks.  I even opted for the health conscious organic fruit section.  But on the way thru the veggie aisle I spied a bright shiny George Washington on the floor.  I braced my self on a display of some kinda gourds."

            "Oh no," Kerrie knew that was not good.

            "Oh yes," David continued, "I bent over to pick up the quarter, the phone fell out of my shirt pocket on to concrete floor, and the gourd display dislodged and rained avalanche down upon it."

            "No doubt the gourds had to be spaghetti squash." Kerrie giggled.

            "How did you know?" David smiled at her reaction.

            "Better yet," Kerrie interrupted his thoughts, "you tell me why my brand new husband is late for our very first home cooked meal?" Kerrie giggled again, added, "Did the gourds get you?"

            "Again, how did you know?" David truly wondered, as he answered her, "Well, after work, I wanted to be here early so I took the FM 616 short cut.  Naturally, a turtle could have outrun the 18 wheeler in front of me.  And joy of joys, or I should say gourd of gourds, the trailer came loose from semi, smacked down hard on the pavement, ruptured and spewed forth gourd Armageddon." David paused, a bit confused by the amused look and chuckles of Kerrie Sue.

            "Continue," Kerrie smirked.

            Gourds everywhere!  All over and up and down the road!  Zillions of them!  And no way around!" David almost lost his breath.

            "I might just know what happened next." Kerrie smiled.

            "It was like a great wind parted the gourds," David continued, "rolled them to the road sides, filled the ditches... and yet, there was such, such a..."

            "Great calm..." and Kerrie smiled...

             Pray more... fuss less...

            1st Thessalonians 5:16-17 and James 4:8

            For an infinitely more awesome and true story of Biblical proportions, please see Jesus in action: Matthew 8:23-27.                                    



Monday, June 1, 2015


            "Every town has got one," apron clad proprietress Sally Lunn hissed at headlights peeking through Buttermilk Donuts store front window.

            "Oh, he's not so bad," sporting croissant moon grin, cashier Madeleine Olla spoke up.

            "Get a grip, before reality gets a grip on you, Maddi.  You are out of your mind dating that, that pig in a blanket, Herbert Garden." Sally shuddered, rubbed goose bumps from flesh of forearm.

            But Herbie is so cute," Maddi protested.

            "Yeah, Herb sorta is the kimchi of cute," Sally muttered.

            "Don't be a sauerkraut Sally," Maddi pouted.

            "Just looking out for my favorite niece." Under arm, Sally hugged Maddi, let out a hearty, "Humphhh," in the direction of Herb Garden as he stepped out vehicle onto parking lot tar. "What man would drive an old butchered up van?" Sally shook head.

            "Herbie cutting torched it behind front seat and added a wooden bed.  He calls it his eco-truck.  Creative isn't it?" Maddi admired.

            "That's about as creative as onion fudge.  And look at what he is wearing, stained overalls.  Now that's a fashion statement!" With pinch of leaven, Sally added, "Maddi, you have wasted over a year dating nothing more than a handyman."

            "Never judge an Herb Garden by his overalls," Maddi cooled Sally Lunn oven. "Herbie is Christian and uses his skills most every day to help the widows, children and poor of our town."

            "Poor being the key word.  How Herb even has enough money to buy coffee and a donut, I'll never know." Sally fretted.

            As Sally gritted teeth, Herb strode in, sallied up to Sally and Maddi at counter, tipped paint spattered cap, said, "Sweet morning to not one but two scrumptious donut gals."

            "If only you knew," Sally gave sourdough rise.

            From under counter, Maddi popped out white paper bag donut half dozen and coffee thermos. "Your usual, Mr. Herbie." She leaned over counter, her sweet smile interrupted with kiss of Herb.
            Herb let loose Maddi lips, grabbed donuts and coffee, headed for front door, over shoulder reminded, "See ya at two o'clock quitting time."

            "Now I see how he affords my donuts... and my coffee," Sally Lunn baked.

            "Now Aunt Sally, I always pay the till for Herbie, because I know the money he saves goes to help those in need." As Maddi watched eco-truck lights back out, turn and leave parking lot, she also shared, "I finally get to see Herb's home sweet home this afternoon."

            "That log shack up on the ridge?  Good luck it doesn't cave in and fall over the edge.  But then again you get what you date; poor handyman equals... poor house.  Wake up and smell the poverty, Maddi." Sally warned.

            "Icing without cake... is but riches without soul..." Maddi hugged Aunt Sally.

            An Aunt Sally who worried out loud, "I fear the bacon is just about to hit the frying pan.  There is just something a tad strange bout old Herbie."

            Two o'clock came, and two o'clock went up a winding gravel trail; and as eco-truck climbed so did the anticipation of sweethearts side by side inside, until...

            "A... one room... cabin?" Standing in a rocky front yard punctuated with prickly pear cactus, Maddi was a wee more than a bit underwhelmed that the stone chimney overwhelmed the tiny log cabin and front porch.

            "Ah, but are the least of true homes, not homes of mansion?" Even more than profound, Herbie teased..

            "It's okay, Herbie." Maddi hugged his arm. "Mansions are of the heart."

            And up the steps, and on to the porch, and through weather beaten cedar plank door, the two entered hand in hand, stood upon cabin stone floor. "Cozy," Maddi offered, as she studied every bare log of wall, each wood brace of roof, the native stone of fireplace hearth, the hanging cast iron pots, the cupboards, the rustic wood cot, the total lack of electricity, and no running water.

            "Cozy," Herb interrupted her thoughts

            "Cozy," Maddi repeated, punched Herb in the the same arm she clung to. "Now, funny man, where do you really live?"

            "What?" With smile Herb fained, "What makes you think I don't live here?"

            "Because you never stink," Maddi giggled, added, "no bathroom."

            "Hey, is that not an antique wash stand, basin and ewer by yon back window?" Herb offered proof.

            "Why yes, yes it is; and a very dry and dusty wash stand, basin and ewer they are." Maddi gave wide eyed the jig is up.

             "Quite observant for a donut girl." He pulled her to him, caressed her neck with his nose all the way up to ear, whispered, "Oh how I love the fresh baked aroma of my Donut Girl." So followed the plant of Herb Garden kiss.

            "So where?" Out of corner of kiss cornered lips, Maddi muttered, "Where do you really live?"

            "There," Herb sort of pointed with nose to near log wall.

            Out of corner of eye, Maddi starred hard, reached out, pushed.  A fist sized portion of log sank in.  Broad hidden door slid open.  Herb stumbled as Maddi took off, dragging him with her into...

            "This is no bathroom!" Maddi blinked, "Its an elevator... with lights."

            "I got a bit tired of the manual chain hoist to your left and installed electric controls.  Pretty nifty, eh?" Herb was not above admiring his own handy work.

            "Down, please!" Maddi squealed in anticipation.

            Herb pushed button, teased, "Descent of Donut Girl into dungeon below.  BwaaaHaHa, BwaaaHaHa, Bwaa-erk!" Donut Girl elbow interrupted Herb ribs.

            "You got some explaining to do, Mr. Herb," Maddi demanded.  As elevator settled to floor, Maddi eyes saw, "The light, under ground  sunlight! Everywhere, the sunlight is so bright!"

            "Takes a while for the eyes to adjust, doesn't it?" Herb steadied her.

            "Drawing tables, plans, computers, printers! My Herbie is an architect?"

            "Guilty." Herb grinned.

            "But sunlight? Under ground?" Arms down, palms up, as a moth to flame the light drew her from the arms of Herb to the... "Windows,.. oh my!" She gasped. "How high up are we?" The majesty of the river valley straight below swept her heart away, almost as much as her equilibrium.

            "Roughly, I'd say it is about 399.33 feet or so from your feet to valley floor." Herb had surveyed. "But if you really want to see something, look to your left."

            As wide as Maddi's eyes were, they grew wider, "A city, an underground city?" In near trance Maddi's feet felt as if floating toward...

            "Not exactly under ground, nor a city." Herb explained, "Pueblo is the Indian term. In this case a town of cliff dwellers, who lived in these adobe buildings centuries ago."

            "Wow, but how," Maddi wondered, "how many people have seen this?"

            Of the living only one, until a minute ago, now two." Herb took her hand, "This alcove simply is not visible from any place, any angle it faces.

            "But who found it and built the cabin, obviously over the entrance?" Maddi asked.

            "The who found it, according to my late Dad, was my great grand father's horse Nugget.  Seems old Nugget stepped into the camouflaged entrance and near broke a leg with great grandpa Eden Garden in saddle."

            Pondering all these things in her heart, Maddi returned to the windows; and gazing out into the lush valley below, she felt familiar nose and lips warm her neck,  She smiled, "I've said it once, I'll say it again, you just can't judge an Herb Garden by his overalls."

            Standing behind her, Herb gathered her round waist with arm and hand. With other he retrieved from pocket a certain gold and diamond circle.  Into her ear his warm breath waft sacred whisper, "Until now, I never promised you an Herb Garden... Maddi, will you..."

            Bright sparkle drew the eyes of Maddi down to the hand of her Christian man. And without turning Maddi answered, "To never end... my Herb Garden shall I attend."


            Isaiah 58:10-11; John 4:14 & 8:12; John 10:9-10