Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 20

Chapter 20
August sat with Holden in a large living room, the early afternoon sun shining through the plate glass window, marred by the bars bolted across it. Holden's few wisps of brown hair stuck out from his head at odd angles. His bushy eyebrows threatened to attack his eyes if they ever got coordinated. Holden blew his thick nose, the sound loud in the small room. He snuffled as he put the cloth handkerchief away in his back pocket, shifting his wide frame in the chair. He straightened his wire-rim glasses and looked back at August, his nose now redder than normal.
Holden took a swallow from his glass of water. "So that's what happened. All of us got sick. Of the three hundred or so people living here, a third died." He put his hand over his eyes. "Ninety-three, to be precise." A large tear formed in his eye and he fished his hankie out again, wiping the tear away with no sense of self-consciousness. "I know each of their names. Eleven were children, not even fifteen years old. Another third of us got over it. After a few hours it was like we were never sick. I'm one of those." His face hardened. "A hundred and twenty one disappeared into the forest, slavering and howling like animals. Some got sick and converted in a few hours and some took a day. They killed seven of us. We killed ten of them. Ten, August. Ten people we knew and loved converted to something I've never seen before." He sighed and shook his head, a small scratch showing above his left ear as his hair shifted. "Three people changed in a different way - like the Transformed - in just a few hours. They are faster and stronger and their senses are sharper than anything, like an animal. But they don't seem to get their youth returned. They're different, too. A little bolder." Holden chuckled. "One of them is Ambrose. He's seventy-two and looks every day of it. Now he says he feels like he's twenty, though between the two of us he's not quite that spry. He used to do research. Now he wants to run out and fight zombies."
August watched Holden gain his composure. He took a deep drink from his glass. "So, Holden, I hate to ask, but where's Hemanth?"
The dust motes quit moving in the beams of sunlight. Motion in the living room stopped. Holden quit breathing for a moment. The moment passed.
Holden let out a deep breath. "I'd like to say my little brother died from the new virus. I'd like to even say he died fighting..."
"But he's one of the, what do you call them? Converted?" asked August.
Holden shook his head, tears threatening to overwhelm his gentle eyes. "Converted, as in converted to an animal. A smart, dangerous, bloodthirsty animal that's faster than any zombie I've ever seen."
August leaned forward in his deep chair, his elbows on his knees. "Is there a cure? Anything you can do to bring them back?"
Holden shook his head. "Maybe. I have had four people working on it for the last few weeks, including three of our best biologists. It's their main focus, since we know the Converted people, August. I don't know what to call the new Transformed people, but using them as a basis, Frank thinks he made some progress on a cure for the Converted ones." He waved his hand toward the town outside the window. "And we still need to put the town back together, August. We suffered some damage, but worse than that, some of our critical skills were taken out of the community."
"So that's what happened with the radio?" asked August.
"Yeah, the radio broke about a week before we started getting sick," said Holden. "Ashley was the one who maintained it, and she died from the fever."
"You must have a dozen people here who can fix it, though. You've been out of touch for over six weeks." August sat back again. "We were getting pretty worried, and I suspect we aren't alone." August looked at Holden, great sympathy in his eyes. "There are a lot of communities that think highly of you and your people, Holden. Many of them would help if they knew what happened."
"Quite a few of us could fix it, August, but we don't have the parts. We haven't had the time or resources to scavenge anything, much less electronics." Holden shook his round head. "We're not brave people, and the converted can attack at any time. We're a bit afraid to venture out on an expedition."
"What do you need, Holden? How can I help you here?" August asked.
Holden looked at August, a smile lighting his face. "You could get the radio parts. That would be a huge help. You'll have to watch out for the Converted." Holden clapped his hands. "And if you're willing, I have a surprise for you that might help. Well, help you to help us." Holden stood up and motioned for August to follow him as he left the house.
"This is one beautiful machine, Holden. A little small maybe..."
Holden slapped August on his left shoulder. "It's perfect for you. The perfect size. The new batteries are amazing." He ran his hand along the cool metal surface of the motorcycle.  "These batteries are what they were trying to develop a decade ago, but we made some great breakthroughs in the last few years here." A slight frown crossed his face. "Well, Jeannette's team did." He smiled. "I think we can duplicate the batteries, but be careful of this baby, August. Right now, it's one of a kind."
August walked around the motorcycle. "I have to say I like the silver and black motif, but what's with the pink hearts along the bottom?"
Holden laughed. "I did mention it was Jeannette's team, right? She had a thing for pink hearts and green clovers." He moved to the black seat and opened it. "Let me show you how to charge it with the solar screens. They are awesome. It takes about two hours of direct sunshine to fully charge it, which is, frankly, astounding." He tapped the windshield. "This is a polymer and a transparent solar cell. Jeannette made some amazing progress." He looked at August. "She's converted now and running around the forest. What a waste."
An hour later August was on the road on his new motorcycle, heading for Sterling. He planned to check in the smaller towns along the way for the few parts Holden needed for the radio. With some luck, it would take a day. Travel to more distant cities could take longer.
August smiled as the electric motorcycle hummed along the road, the vibration of the tires along the rough concrete the only sound as he traveled. As the wind blew through his hair, August shifted gears and deftly maneuvered around a missing chunk of road.
He laughed, chasing his shadow to the east.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 19

Chapter 19
All the lights in the dining room sparkled as the evening outside deepened into blackness.
"... and then the wolves left and Lone Wolf came in and we spent last night and today cooking everything and making it a nice dinner." Fae's face lit up as she told the story of the wolves for the second or third time, depending on whom you asked. Everyone sat at the large table in the dining area where steaming food waited to be devoured. The smell of roasted meat drifted up from the huge plate of sliced venison in the middle of the table, the centerpiece of the meal. Herbs and spices tickled their noses. The Selah Ranch residents each had a chair and a sparkling glass of water, though there was no ice. An empty place sat at the head of the table, as was tradition, the knife and fork crossed in the center where a plate would normally sit. Jed sat to the right of the head, with Maddie next to him. The others sat around the table, with two empty seats at the foot of the table.
"Hey, I helped with the dessert!" Sam objected.
Fae flipped stray strands of her long red hair from her forehead and rolled her eyes. "Oh, puh-leese… You helped for like an hour before dinner and all you did was stick your hands in the cake batter. Like that counts."
"Okay," said Sam, raising his hands in mock surrender. He didn't mention that he helped put the drinks on the table. "I give. So where is the mysterious Lone Wolf?" Sam grinned to his left at Fae. "After that story, I'm excited to meet him. Sort of the last Indian native, maybe in the whole world!"
"Well, except for August. They are brothers," Linda chimed in. She sat immediately to Sam's left, Fae next to her.
"I helped mash the potatoes. And I helped find and dig up the sweet potatoes, too!" Fae still chattered happily. She paused, a slight frown crossing her features. "I'm not sure I like sweet potatoes," she added, then grinned again."But I'll sure give them a try."
Maddie turned to Jed and smiled sweetly. "And what did you do to prepare dinner, my dear?" She grinned at him.
"Well, it sounds like I didn't do much of anything, but I distinctly recall being pretty busy for two days." Jed laughed and squeezed Maddie's right hand with his left.
"Oh. Oh. And I helped to marinate the venison. Lone Wolf showed me how. He had these herbs and stuff and we mixed it with water and some sort of vinegar stuff that we had in the cellar and I had to rub it into the meat with my hands..." Fae mimicked the motions, but jumped as the front door opened and closed with a solid thump.
Claire and Shelly smiled as the newcomer walked into the dining area, coming toward the table from behind Sam. Lone Wolf, clean and wearing spotless buckskins, moved to the chair at the foot of the table and looked at everyone seated. He gave a slight bow.
"I apologize for being tardy. I dozed off this afternoon and overslept," said Lone Wolf.
Jed stood and introduced each seated person. "Lone Wolf. Sitting next to Maddie is Ted." Ted nodded his head in greeting. Jed indicated Claire and Shelly with his hands. "You know the ladies, of course." Lone Wolf offered a slight bow to both of them and a bright smile to Shelly. "Across from me," continued Jed, "is Nancy. You know Fae and Linda." Jed pointed at Sam. "This is Sam, an amazing mechanic with copious skills that I'm sure he will regale you with when he gets a chance."
Lone Wolf bowed at Nancy and looked at Sam, who stared at Lone Wolf, his face pale. "Is something wrong, Sam?" asked Lone Wolf. "Do I have something on my chin?"
Sam shook his head and grinned, as if coming out of a daze. "No, no, I'm sorry," he laughed. "I guess I've never seen a real American Indian in deer clothing before." He shook his head. "It's a little amazing."
Lone Wolf smiled. "Buckskins, Sam, and much softer than regular deer hide. Takes some work to make them, but they are worth it. This is my preferred outfit, and has been for a long time."
Jed sat when Lone Wolf did. Now he spoke up. "Let's say grace and then we can eat from this bounty. Then we can get your stories of the trip to Pueblo and we'll be caught up." He laughed. "You've already been caught up on our tale." He grinned at Fae.
They bowed their heads and prayed. For the next two hours they ate and talked, each interjecting comments and thoughts about the events of the last two days.
"Can we do anything about the new virus, the one that infected the rats, Claire?" asked Jed.
Claire sat back in her chair, an empty plate in front of her. "No, Jed. If the virus mutated enough to cause other animals to be carriers, that's a real problem, but I don't know what to do about it. I'm hoping it is an isolated incident, but we'll have to be on our guard."
Sam grimaced. "I hate rats anyway. Is there any way to tell if other mammals are also affected by the new virus?"
Claire looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "Good question, Sam. The answer is that I don't think we can predict anything without a lot of testing, and I doubt we'll get that chance. We'll have to see how it plays out in nature, and that means keeping our eyes open, especially when scavenging."
After a brief moment of quiet, Nancy looked at Jed. "What do we do about Tomás?"
Jed looked back. "I know what I want to do about him." Jed's voice was tight, his mouth grim.
"Well, he tried to kidnap me for one thing," said Maddie, looking at Jed. Nancy frowned.
"Yes, and we need to have a discussion with him on that, but what else did you have in mind?" Claire interjected, looking at Maddie with concern and staring at Jed's hardened face. "Tomás runs a small city-state, an independent entity." Claire waved her hand around the room. "And there are ten of us right now. We can't declare war. You know our ammunition levels are low as it is."
Maddie pursed her lips and glared at the table. "I know you're right, but I want us to do something."
"Revenge, Maddie? Kill the father of three Transformed children? Make them orphans?" Claire smiled sadly at Maddie, her face determined. "What he did was wrong. At some point we'll need to make an issue of it, but with a clear head." She aimed the last part of the sentence to Jed.
"I don't like it, but you're right. Our independence relies on boundaries and discussions, not force." They could see his jaw tighten. "Although I think I'm inclined to lean toward force in this case."
Maddie jerked her head up when Jed said that, tears in her eyes. "I wouldn't want the children to go through that."
"In the meantime I think we need to keep an eye open for intruders and strangers. Maddie might not be safe from him." Nancy took a sip of her water.
"Maddie?" Sam laughed shortly. "You're the one who shot him, Nancy. I think you'd be worried about yourself."
Nancy smiled. "I didn't hurt anything that won't heal." She paused. "Except his pride. I don't know what to do about that."
Lone Wolf, quiet until now, spoke in his deep voice. "His leg will heal with time. Not so his pride. In my experience, pride can cause many problems."
"What about the blood wine that Tomás gave to Maddie?" Nancy looked sharply at Maddie's face as she asked the question.
"You do look a little pale." Claire looked at Maddie. "I can give you a checkup if you'd like."
Maddie agreed. "Yes, that would be a good idea, but I think I'm fine."
Sam chuckled. "I think this Tomás character was trying to psych you out, Maddie. I think the entire thing was a fabrication designed to make you think he had some hold on you."
"That makes sense. He didn't have any other way to coerce you," said Jed.
"Telling you that about the children, though, that was pretty mean of him." Fae said to Maddie. "I'm glad I didn't go on the trip."
Lone Wolf smiled at the young woman. "And I am glad you were here, Fae. I don't think the dinner would be nearly as nice without your assistance."
Fae blushed as red as her hair.
"Hey!" said Sam, a hurt look in his eyes. "I helped with dessert!" Everyone groaned.
Nancy looked at Jed, smiling. "What was it you did for the last two days?"
Jed sighed dramatically and stood up. "I guess I volunteered to do the dishes!"
Everyone went to bed with full stomachs and vivid dreams. Nobody noticed Sam staring at Lone Wolf, except, perhaps, Lone Wolf.
"You're very quiet." Maddie curled up against Jed, who was on his back in the large bed, staring at the wooden ceiling.
"I'm not sure what to say." He pulled her to him and Maddie put her head on his shoulder. "On the one hand, we built Selah Ranch on fairness and equality. We make group decisions on things that matter. I don't play judge and jury, and I certainly don't play executioner." Jed ground his teeth and Maddie reached up to stroke his face, trying to calm him. "On the other hand, I think I should visit Tomás and put a permanent end to his tyranny. Just the thought that he would use you that way…"
"But he didn't." Maddie was silent, her hand patting Jed on his bare chest. "Part of me wishes that Nancy shot him in the head, but then we wouldn't have escaped New Pueblo. His children adore him, and he seems to adore them."
"What about their mothers? Where are they?" Jed asked.
"I don't know. The old man said they ran off, but that didn't ring true to me. Something there isn't right, and I can't put my finger on it."
"What about that thing with having children?" Jed tilted his head to look at Maddie softly. "You still want children, don't you?"
Maddie smiled back at him then snuggled closer. "I think so, if it's possible. But that's not something we have definitive information on."
"So there's a couple mysteries. Aside from asking Tomás, I don't have any idea how to get more information."
"He mentioned that he knew Holden and Hemanth. August will get more information on his trip to Fort Collins."
"He won't know what questions to ask."
"But part of his trip is to get the radio working then you can ask."
"Maybe. I don't want the entire world listening in, though." Jed growled. "I'd still like to kill Tomás."
Maddie moved back and looked at Jed. He turned his head to look in her eyes. "You're pretty mad about this, aren't you?" she asked.
"I am." Jed's mouth tightened. "And I get madder the more I think about it."
"I'm still angry, too, but I'll get over it. I need to think about something else for a while." Maddie got up on her elbow and looked down into Jed's face. "I can help you think about something else, too…" She kissed him.
Jed quit thinking about Tomás.

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 18

Chapter 18
"This gas might protect us a little." Claire covered her mouth to avoid the pungent odor of the gasoline as she poured it from a glass jar onto grass in front of the store. She looked at the setting sun. "I sure wish I knew where Sam was. Where anyone was, for that matter. This trip isn't going as planned."
"Do you have matches or something?" Ted's worried eyes scanned the rapidly sinking orb as it slid closer to the pointed peaks of the mountains in the west.
"I have a lighter." Claire laughed. "I have this thing for fire starters or something. After everything went bad, I collected those tiny disposable lighters like crazy. I have a backpack full of them at the Ranch, and they're in pretty good shape." She reached in one of her cargo pants pockets and pulled two lighters out. She gave the transparent green one to Ted and kept the red one.
They sat on the hood of the Chevy and watched the front of the store, looking for movement as the darkness descended.
Two trucks roared into the parking lot at the same time. Maddie jumped out of the passenger side of the red truck and stared at the small collection of bottles and dented cans lined up along the rear of the Chevy. She raised her eyebrows at Claire.
"Thank goodness you are finally here!" Ted was halfway to Sam's truck when he stopped and looked at Claire. "I think we need to go."
Claire faced Maddie's questioning glance. "It's a long story. I need one of the plastic bags from the truck, though."
Maddie brought the bag as multiple conversations broke out.
"Where've you been?" Ted said to Sam, who continued to sit in the driver's seat of the blue truck.
"Hey, how come you guys don't have any stuff? You've had hours to scavenge. I could've found a dozen trucks of stuff by now," Sam yelled through the open passenger window of his truck.
"You wouldn't believe what happened. We were kidnapped and drugged and almost assaulted…" Shelly tried to talk to Ted, Sam and Claire at the same time.
Claire wrapped the cloth-bound rat in the plastic bag, placed it under the truck seat, and looked at Maddie. "Assaulted? Kidnapped?"
"We found infected rats," Ted said to everyone else.
"And Nancy shot this guy named Tomás," said Shelly.
Darkness dropped like a blanket over the parking lot and a chill breeze blew down from the mountains. Small shadows disconnected themselves from the front of the store. The truck headlights reflected from hundreds of red eyes across the parking lot, the shadows moving closer.
"We'll swap stories later." Maddie jumped back into the truck as Ted climbed into the passenger side of Sam's vehicle. Claire looked at the small shadows then said something in a whisper, running toward the wrecked Chevy.
They saw the small flame as it licked at the edge of the piece of cloth sticking from the bottle.  Claire ran with the flaming bomb. With an effortless throw, the bottle flew toward the old Chevy. It didn't break, but it knocked over cans on the rear of the car and flame erupted, spreading along the top of the flowing gasoline.
Claire jumped in the back seat next to Nancy, grinning.
Shelly hollered through her window at Sam. "Guess you'd better follow me!"
The flames leaped across the parking lot toward the front of the store, small bodies igniting as it swept over them. "With a little luck that will clean out some of the little monsters," said Claire.
Maddie looked over her shoulder at Claire. "This should be a good story."
Claire grinned back. "Sounds like yours is, too."
The fire brightened the sky behind them as they travelled south on Highway 25 toward Colorado City. When they found a building that looked relatively intact, they pulled over and spent the night, eating the bland rations they had with them.
In the bright morning sunshine of the next day, the sole thing that marked their trip to Pueblo was a slight smudge of smoke in the sky to the north, and an unfamiliar thirst in Maddie.
And six cases of toilet paper Sam had in the back of his truck.

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Psalm 22 - All about Prophecy

As I read through my family's Catholic Bible (a daunting task considering the length of Ecclesiasticus!) I once again read Psalm 22. This time, however, it hit me hard.

You'd think that over the years and with the number of times I have read Psalms, including Psalm 22, that the impact of the psalm would have already burned itself into my soul. The fire did not descend until the other day. I was supposed to write this last week; better late than never!

The 22nd Psalm doesn't get as much press as the hugely popular Psalm 23, and is often overlooked, yet it was this psalm that Jesus referenced as he hung on the cross, dying for our transgressions. 
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matt 27:46)
When Jesus cries out, he references the first line of Psalm 22. The Psalms are more than poems, as most know. They are songs, and just as most of us know an entire song from the first line, so the Jewish people knew the entire Psalm from hearing the first line.

Some scholars say that Psalm 22 was written about 1044 BC (by David), and it was certainly penned before David died about 960 BC. There should be no question the psalm was written before the time of Christ.

The very first verse of the psalm is what Jesus echoed on the cross, calling out to His Father (and ours), crying because he was now abandoned, nailed to a cross and dying. During Jesus's life He was never far from the Father. Even as a boy He was in the temple, going about His Father's business. Yet on the day He died, God the Father stepped away. Jesus suffered more physical pain than I can imagine. The Romans stripped the flesh from his entire back by scourging him. They forced a crown of thorns on his head. Jesus used his broken body to carry the cross until He could not bear the pain any longer and the Romans recruited Simon of Cyrene to carry it to Golgotha. The soldiers pounded huge nails through his hands and feet. I doubt he suffered from hunger, because the other physical pains ripped through his body for hours, but He did say that He thirsted.

Yet for all the physical pain, He cried out when the Father's gaze left Him.

This man, my friends, died because of what I did wrong in my life, but he was innocent. Though I cannot entirely fathom the pain He felt, I can only think that when I finally see Him, face to face, I will only be able to fall at His feet and choke out an apology. I will only be able to wash his feet with the tears of my regret.

Jesus could have called legions of angels. He could have donned his mantle of glory and stepped down from the cross. He could have walked away from the pain and suffering. But He did not do that. Instead, He chose to die for my sins.

Back to the Psalm.

David cries to God in verses 1-6, declaring the holiness of God and a feeling of abandonment. Jesus does the same.
David, in verses 7-8, despairs of the scorn heaped upon him by others. Look at the parallel as Jesus hangs on the cross:
And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. (Mark 15:29-32) 
In verse 15 the psalm notes David's thirst as he draws closer to death. Jesus cried out for water. 
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:28-30)
In verse 18 David says "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." Each of the gospels states that the soldiers did this during the crucifixion.
And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. (Mark 15:24)
Each of these verses from the psalm prophesied what happened during the crucifixion of Christ.

In verse 22 of the psalm, the tone changes. Now we see praise. David praised God for helping him, and Christians should see the parallel to our worship of the risen Savior. We should each "declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born" by word and deed.

For as Psalm 22:27 says "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee" and this is echoed in Romans 14:11 "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." *

I hope that helps make Psalm 22 more special for you. Thanks for reading!

Psalm 22
1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.
10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.
11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
21 Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations.
29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

* Yes, I realize that the verse from Romans repeats the verse from Isaiah, which is probably what inspired David to include it in Psalm 22. The prophetic passages in Isaiah are an entirely different (and greater) study!
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:22-23)

All scriptures are taken from the King James Version (KJV) which is Public Domain.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Six things the Lord hates

Someone once told me that in the Bible, when God states He hates something, then adds more to it, He really hates it. That's the case with Proverbs 6:16-19 (NASB). There are six things God hates, then He adds one to show he detests it.

Let's dissect this one a bit. They are all sins against another person. God loves us all so much, that He hates to see us hurt each other, regardless of whether we agree with them or not in our life choices.

There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:

Haughty eyes,  <self-conceit and over-weening pride in ourselves and our accomplishments>

a lying tongue, <Satan is the Father of lies and God is truth. Lying to others almost always stems from a desire to be better, in thought, word or deed, than someone else>

And hands that shed innocent blood, <abortion instantly comes to mind, as well as murder (of course), but this would include physically hurting someone else>

A heart that devises wicked plans, <I find that people usually come up with wicked plans because they covet what someone else has - again, to the detriment of the other>

Feet that run rapidly to evil, <God mentions this one in Proverbs 1 as well, so we should be aware of how much He hates it when we turn to evil methods of doing things.>

A false witness [who] utters lies, <Again God focuses on lying, but this time a person is using false witness to accuse another wrongly. Intentionally hurting another is the worst of evils.>

And one who spreads strife among brothers. <Gossip, spreading rumors, causing discord between others is the chief abomination God refers to as His seventh. Again, people gossip to lift themselves up, in an effort to seem more than they are by causing others to seem less.>

In conclusion, God hates it when we are not other-focused. We are to love our brethren, our neighbors. Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan for a reason! The Samaritan did not believe the same as the person he helped, but he helped anyway. We want, in the final analysis, for God to tell us we have done well - and it seems from this passage that the crux of doing well is treating others well.

So how about it? Conceited or prideful? Lies or half-truths come from your mouth often? Do you physically or emotionally hurt someone? Scheming to get ahead? The End Justifies the Means for you? Do you lie about others to lift yourself up?

Even if you do none of those, how about gossip? And here's one for my fellow Christians - "I just want you to know that Susie is doing <insert sin>, but I'm only telling you that so you know how to pray."

Convicted yet? I am, and I'm sorry Adonai!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Workout Thursday

So off to the gym again this morning. It has been almost a week since the last workout, but I had bad headaches this week and we just weren't feeling well. I hate to say my headaches are migraines, since I read such horror tales about people with real migraines. They have auras and need to stay away from light and/or noise. Mine aren't that bad. I have some sensitivity to light and/or sound, but nothing like what I read about.

I feel bad for them. On the other hand, the headaches were bad enough that I just didn't feel like working out. But this morning (despite a residual headache) we dressed out and went anyway.

On a Thursday! (Thursdays are run-the-vacuum/laundry days.)

Bench Press - 10x145, 10x145

Bicep curls - Inward 20x35, 10x50, 10x55, 10x60, 10x55, 10x50, Straight 15x35, 15x40, 15x40
Tricep Extension - 10x50,10x60,10x70,10x60,10x50
Tricep Overhead Machine - 10x50,10x55,10x60,10x55,10x50
Tricep Pushdown - 20x140, 12x150, 20x160
Lat Pulldowns - 12x100, 12x100,12x100
Pec Deck - 12x100, 12x100, 12x100
Pec Cable - 10x35, 10x35, 10x35

Seated Leg Press: 50x240
Calf Raises (on Seated Press): 50x240

Looks a lot like the other workout days, but that's okay. My muscles are tired and it was an okay workout.

Then I came home and washed my car and ran the vacuum. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 17

Chapter 17
"Hey, there's gas in this one!" Shelly yelled and jumped up and down. The setting sun cast long shadows on the buildings.
Within a few minutes, Shelly and Maddie transferred the gasoline from the abandoned car to their gas can and trotted back to their truck with five gallons of gas.
"It smells okay." Maddie poured it into their old vehicle. "It's not like we have a lot of choice."
"We should have gotten our full gas cans back when we left New Pueblo." The anger seethed beneath the surface of Shelly's voice.
Nancy shrugged her shoulders. "We weren't thinking too clearly at the time, and you weren't thinking at all."
The old man sat in the front seat of their truck. He looked at Maddie as the women put the now empty gas can into the truck bed. "So, Maddie. Now what? You kill me?" His lined face showed an ancient weariness.
Maddie shot him a sharp look, but saw he was serious. "No, Señor Luis." She looked around the area where the stalled truck sat. Shelly was wiping her hands on a sparse patch of grass by the cracked sidewalk.
"I hate the smell of gas on my hands," Shelly said as she stood up. She looked at the old man. "Really? You think we'd kill you?"
Luis looked from Maddie to Shelly and shook his head. "No, ladies, I think not." He pointed at Nancy, sitting on the truck seat behind him, the pistol in her hands, her eyes bright. "But she might."
"She wouldn't," Maddie said.
"She shot my son." A look of anger crossed the old man's face.
Nancy snorted. "I shot him in the leg. He'll be better in a few days. I could have shot him through the head. That would be a lot harder to walk off, wouldn't it?" She grinned wickedly. "I could have shot him in softer places." She quit looking at Luis and mumbled, mostly to herself. "I should have, too."
Shelly got behind the wheel and turned the key. The engine cranked and died. When she turned it the next time, sooty black smoke belched from the tailpipe, smelling of oil and gasoline. The engine sputtered then evened out, the smelly black soot turning an acceptable ash color.
Maddie crossed her arms over her chest and looked at Luis. "We're ten miles from the front gates of New Pueblo. Do you think Tomás sent anyone after us?" She stared into the old man's eyes.
He looked back at her, a deep hurt in his eyes. "No, Señora, I do not. He would not risk injury to me. He loves me. He loves my grandchildren. In this world, that is much for a man to do."
Maddie stared at him for a moment, her gaze softening. "Well, old man, that's always been a true statement, in this world, in the last one or in the one we're trying to build. Kidnapping a woman to be the mother of your personal race of rulers is a bit over the top, though."
Luis dropped his eyes and stared at the ground. "That…is true, Maddie. I am sorry for that behavior of my son."
Maddie nodded at Nancy, who holstered her weapon. She looked at the old man. "Go home, Señor Luis. Tell Tomás to leave us alone and we'll not bother with him." Luis moved away from the truck, watching Nancy from the corner of his eye.
Nancy grinned at him. "I like you, Viejo. I would have been sad to shoot you. Not so much your son, though." She spat on the ground. "He's goin' to cause you some major grief, I'm thinkin'." She sat further back onto the seat of the truck and closed her eyes. "Even evil men love the people who love them," she whispered.
Maddie climbed into the passenger side of the truck and addressed Shelly. "It's getting dark. We need to find the others and head back." Shelly turned on the truck headlights, dim beams of yellow shining on the road ahead of them. Before closing the truck door Maddie looked at Luis. "One more question, Señor Luis. I enjoyed meeting your grandchildren, but what happened to their mothers?"
Sadness crossed his face and he waved his hand in dismissal. "They wanted nothing to do with the children. I loved them like my own daughters, and they disappeared, every one of them." Tears glistened in his eyes. He muttered another word, but Maddie didn't hear it. She slammed the truck door closed as Shelly drove away.
The old man watched the truck drive away in a cloud of grey exhaust and then turned toward New Pueblo. He looked at the ground as he walked, his feet shuffling along the cracked and broken sidewalk.

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Friday, August 5, 2016

Training Log

So off to the gym again Friday.

Bench Press - 10x145, 10x145

Bicep curls - Inward 20x35, 10x40, 10x45, 10x40, 10x35, Straight 12x35, 12x40, 12x40
Tricep Extension - 10x50,10x60,10x70,10x60,10x50
Tricep Overhead Machine - 10x50,10x55,10x60,10x55,10x50
Tricep Pushdown - 20x140, 12x150, 20x160
Lat Pulldowns - 12x100, 12x100,12x100
Pec Deck - 12x100, 12x100, 12x100
Pec Cable - 10x35, 10x35, 10x35

Seated Leg Press: 45x240
Calf Raises (on Seated Press): 50x240

My muscles were pretty sore, and they are tired now, but it was an okay workout.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Training Log

Gym Workout - Wednesday, 03-Aug-2016

The Lad has a workout log of his own, so I thought I'd give it a try. His is much more intense, but I'm old now, and only do a few weight-lifting things. Most weight lifters would probably say I don't do any!

All my weight lifting, with the exception of bench, is done with machines.
Bench Press - 12x95, 10x145, 5x145

Bicep curls - Inward 20x35, 12x50, 12x55, 12x65, 12x60, Straight 12x35, 12x50
Tricep Extension - 12x70, 12x80, 12x90
Tricep Machine - 12x50, 12x60,12x65
Tricep Pushdown - 20x140, 12x150, 12x175, 12x150, 12x140
Lat Pulldowns - 12x100, 12x100,12x100
Pec Deck - 12x100, 12x100, 12x100
Pec Cable - 10x35, 10x35, 10x35

He was confused by Straight and Inward bicep curls, as he should be. That note is for myself. You see, the machine handles have that V-shape to them. When my hand are on the V-shape, that's inward and works the thickness of my biceps. I can see those results. There is also a wider grip if I use the straight portion of the bar. That's the difference.

I asked the Lad for comments, and this is what he wrote:

This all looks really good. Lots of volume. The only things I'd say is make sure you're hitting your shoulders (all 3 heads) and legs, and make sure you're wearing out the muscles as best you can on compounds and not isolations (pulldowns, bench press, military press, etc.) and then supplement with the isolations to wear out the smaller. Arm size will come first and foremost from working compounds. But for the most part this a solid back/chest workout. I'd probably integrate one more back exercise, maybe two- pretty much any pulling motion. I'm really glad you shared this!Also, for a list of exercises, if you're interested...

(Since it is now Thursday morning, I'll admit that my muscles are sore, the result of not going to the gym in a month. Pain pills. More rest. Complain a lot. That's my solution!)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 16

Chapter 16
"Keep the children away for now. I'll see them soon." Tomás hobbled into his large bedroom, the clean white bandage on his leg matching his pale face. He gritted his teeth against the pain of his leg and the anger in his heart.
The thin teacher nervously clasped his hands and stopped in the doorway of the room. "They are worried, Patrón. They heard the shot and would have rushed from the room if I had not stopped them. They looked through the window and saw your leg bleeding and their grandfather going with the women."
"Distract them then, Phil. That's your job, after all," Tomás snarled. He saw the hurt look on the teacher's face. "I'm sorry. I'm in pain, and I'm worried about Papá, so I'm not being kind right now." Tomás sat on the bedspread of his large poster bed, gazing at his aide.
Phil's face clouded with concern. "I thought the doctor gave you pain medication."
"She did and it gives me a headache." Tomás rubbed his fingers over his forehead, his eyes closed. "Just go. Leave me in peace. Tell the children I'm fine and will see them tomorrow. Tell them a story that's believable. You're good at that." He glanced at the injured look on Phil's face and sighed inwardly. "I meant that as a compliment, old friend. Aside from Papá, you are the person I trust the most."
A pleased smile crossed the aide's face as he bowed. "Thank you, Patrón."
Tomás reclined on the bedspread, three large pillows stacked behind him. "And send my father to me when he gets back, no matter what time it is." Tomás sighed. The door clicked shut, leaving the massive bedroom in near darkness, though the early afternoon sun cast a bright line of yellow between the tall curtains of the bedroom window.
Tomás closed his eyes, exhaustion claiming him. He thought he dozed off. Late afternoon light streamed in the large window when his eyes snapped open.
"Well, you've had an interesting day, haven't you? The whole town is yammering about how some woman shot you in the leg and kidnapped your Dad." The unwelcome visitor sat in a plush chair near the bed, mockery in his voice.
Tomás sat up and looked at the man in the chair. "Yes, it's been a bad day. Seeing you makes it worse."
"After what we've been through? I thought we got along famously, though you have never invited me to dinner." The man smiled widely. "Which is too bad, considering I'm charming company." He chuckled. "I could find my own date if that's the problem."
Tomás looked at the open window. "How did you get in here?"
"In the town or in your room?" The stranger moved to the window and looked out. "Sloppy sentries at your city walls. Easy climb to the second floor. It wasn't difficult, Tomás. I'm quite skilled, you know." The voice hardened. "I'm here because Dr. Doctor will want to know the results of the last batch of serum."
Tomás closed his eyes again. "And you plan to see him soon, do you? I thought you had a task to do first."
"Yes, that was the original plan, wasn't it? Fortunately, I'm quite adaptable." The man moved back to the plush chair. "So I'm heading to Dr. Doctor in a few days. One little thing to do and I'll be on my way." He leaned his head on his open palm, looking at Tomás. "So how was the last batch of serum?"
Tomás shifted his weight, sitting straighter on the bed. He grunted in pain. "The serum failed. All twenty people turned to Z's. I could only isolate the twenty without raising suspicion." He shrugged. "I might be able to test more. There is a group that is thinking of leaving New Pueblo. I could use them if I needed to."
The man sighed. "Well, a failure is information. Dr. Doctor knows that. I'll check with him, but he said if there wasn't at least a ten percent success rate then this wasn't an improvement." He sat straighter in the chair. "He'll send another test batch of virus with the next shipment of blood wine."
"We did have one minor problem." Tomás waited but silence greeted him. "We stored the zombie bodies for disposal on one of the northern farms, by the river. When the floods came last week, the bodies were swept away with some farm animals and a few residents."
The figure shook his head. "Wow. I would have burned them right away. Those were some nasty rains. Hopefully the bodies will rot somewhere down river."
Tomás frowned. "I was planning to burn them, but the flood…"
The stranger raised his hand, palm toward Tomás. "Hey, you're the boss of your city. I wasn't criticizing." The light brown eyes twinkled. "Well, not much."
Tomás sat up on the edge of the bed. "Good. Then we're done here? I'll expect my next quarterly shipment on time."
The stranger stood up and moved in front of Tomás. "Well," he said, his voice deceptively quiet, "we're almost done."
Tomás's eyes tightened. "What else do you want?"
The man's voice deepened. "What's with trying to take Maddie hostage? Care to explain that one to me, because it sure didn't seem like a bright plan."
Tomás stood up and looked down on the shorter man. "I don't have to explain myself to you." He reached his hand forward to push the visitor away from him, but the man intercepted his hand and slapped it away.
"Sometimes you do," he growled, "and this is one of those times."
"Maddie has nothing to do with..." Tomás began.
"You don't make that judgment call, do you, Tomás?" The voice was hard, a low snarl sounding from the man's throat. "She's become vital to my plan, and that means vital to Dr. Doctor, too."
"Yes?" Tomás's voice had a hard edge to it. "I thought she was mine."
"What you think is up to you, but what happens is not. Until I found the man I was looking for you had some leeway. Now you don't. I need her, and you might get her later."
Tomás laughed.
The visitor clenched his fists at his side. "And what's so damned funny, Tomás?"
"I gave her blood wine."
The silence stretched for a long time, the stranger barely breathing. "Well, that's a problem, but I have some blood wine. I'll find a way to use this to my advantage." He moved toward the open window, his back to Tomás.
Tomás moved forward. "She's not your target. Why do you care?"
The stranger didn't move, but stood looking out the window, his hands hanging loosely at his sides. "Because I met the target and he's a bit more than I can handle."
Tomás said nothing for a few seconds. "I see. She's bait."
"Precisely," the stranger whispered.
Tomás gritted his teeth against the pain in his leg. His head was pounding again. "What about the rest of the people at Selah Ranch? Do you care about them?"
"Not really, though I don't particularly wish them harm. Why?" The man turned to face Tomás again, his eyes bright.
"That Cajun woman, Nancy, shot me," Tomás said, rage in his face. "I have to respond to that."
A smile crossed the visitor's face for the first time, and he chuckled. "You can do whatever you want, but wait...well, let's say about five days before you do it."
"I don't take orders from you," Tomás snapped.
Faster than Tomás could move, the smaller man's right hand was around his throat. Tomás grasped the man's right arm with both hands, but could not move the steel cords of muscle. The man's fingers tightened perceptibly. Sweat broke out on Tomás's face.
The man released his grip and stepped back. "In this case you do." He slipped to the sill of the tall window and the sun shone on his short black hair. He glanced back at Tomás. "You need some sleep. You look like crap."
Tomás rubbed his throat, murder in his eyes. "Let Dr. Doctor know I expect my shipment on time."
He grinned at Tomás. "Sure. I'll do that. Any messages you want me to give to your lovely wives?" He chuckled.
"No," said Tomás, glaring at him. "So I can send my message to Selah Ranch in five days?"
"Five days. Then do what you want, but be careful. That group isn't a bunch of pushovers." His face got grim. "Whatever you're planning might not be taken too well."
"That's the idea of revenge, Sam. You should know that."
Sam reached out the window and grabbed the edge of the low-hanging roof. "I'd stick around for dinner, but I have someplace I need to be. I think I'm already late." He flipped himself onto the roof.
"Hey, make sure Papá gets released." Tomás shouted.
The voice drifted back. "They probably already let him go, Tomás. They aren't evil..." Light laughter drifted through the air, and Tomás stared at the setting sun through the now open window, his lips tight.
Tomás grit his teeth against the pain in his leg. "Phil!" he shouted. As Phil entered the room, Tomás moved to the small desk against the wall and sat down. "I'm making a list. I want these people rounded up, quietly. Put them in Building 12." He looked at Phil. "I have a special mission for them. You understand?" He paused. "In fact, I want an entire truck full of soldiers." He looked at Phil. "The group of people planning to leave are going to disappear a little sooner than they think. Make that happen. I'll add that new guy, Jason Breely to my list, too, since he said something about going back to Selah Ranch, didn't he?"
"Yes, Patrón," said Phil, his hands behind his back.
Tomás paused, his pen poised above the paper. "We'll need some blood to set a trail they will follow. I need them to go in a specific direction."
"No problem, Patrón. We have lots of blood at the slaughterhouse. I'll use some gallons to pour on the ground in the direction you want them to go." Phil paused, a thoughtful look on his face. "The dormitory in the J Section is a firetrap, Patrón. That would give you about fifty Z's."
Tomás grinned. "That will work. Use the sleeping gas, inject them and get them loaded on trucks. We'll have a public funeral for the poor people who died in the dormitory fire in a few days."
"I've done it for you many times already, Patrón. You can trust me," said Phil.
"I know I can, Phil." He started writing names on a piece of paper.
"What if some of them become vampires?" Phil moved to stand by the desk.
Tomás lifted his pen and looked at Phil. "Shoot them. I don't want any more vampires in this city, Phil." He continued to write names on the paper, a look of satisfaction on his face. "I want them ready in two days."

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Monday, August 1, 2016

Nutrisystem, sort of a week

Weight after week one of sort of following the program.

244.8 lbs.

That's just disappointing.