On Frost and Poetry

So I love poetry. I can’t say I always have. But I can say that since before high school I enjoyed poetry.

I wasn’t your normal child.

I played sports growing up. Was quite good actually. From a young age I played on a select soccer team that traveled all over the state and out of state and won a good number of tournaments. From six grade on I was also a referee. At 14 I started to play guitar. I had a friend give me lessons who actually went on to be a mildly successful musician. He’s released several albums and resides in Nashville. All that to say from what I just wrote you might think I was “cool.”

Let me assure you: I was not. I have always been someone that is hard to pigeonhole. Video games, board games, fantasy and science fiction are things I enjoyed growing up just as much I enjoyed the locker room camaraderie of sports.

One day I was snooping around my older sister’s room (yes, I was that kind of a little brother) and I discovered a book that had poems in it. Not sure why she had it but I sat down and I started to read it. The poem was “Memory” by Thomas Bailey Aldrich.

My mind lets go a thousand things
Like dates of wars and deaths of kings,
And yet recalls the very hour–
‘T was noon by yonder village tower,
And on the last blue noon in May–
The wind came briskly up this way,
Crisping the brook beside the road;
Then, pausing here, set down its load
Of pine-scents, and shook listlessly
Two petals from that wild-rose tree.

Perhaps it is because my mom used to call me “Forgetful Jones” when I was little but something about that opening line caught my attention. Ever sense, I’ve enjoyed poetry.

I like lots of poems and poets, but I should probably clarify: I rarely enjoy free form poetry. I think there is great talent displayed in someone communicating through the form of a sonnet. It is like a canvas: their is only so much space they can use to communicate their message. And over time, one of my favorite poets came to be Robert Frost. Perhaps that is cliche but he is a wonderful poet.

Maybe it is because of all the snow we’ve had lately but Stopping By A Wood on a Snowy Evening has been on my mind. And so this past Monday I woke up and had a poem in my head.

Digression: the creative process for me works in an odd way. When I wake up the idea is there, sometimes fully formed. I don’t mean I dream it because I often remember my dreams. Let’s say I watch too much Seinfeld. Then I’ll dream about Seinfeld. But as my alarm goes off and I wake up–my mind will suddenly be filled with an idea; a story; a poem. That’s what happened this past Monday, as my mind and body seemed to fuse back together and I became aware of the world once again I had the following poem fully formed in my mind. And when I say fully formed in less than 5 minutes I wrote this down and I haven’t changed it since.

Here is mine (left) and the master’s (right) so you can see how my poem is a homage to the master:

“Over sleeping on a super bowl Monday”
What day it is, I think I know

It’s Monday! Oh how I hate it so!

Oh why did I have that last beer

Instead of water? Oh my head, oh!
My wife must think it queer

The way I stand and stare at this mirror

Hoping soon my mind will awake

“Honey, the alarm? Please be a dear?”
I give the alarm clock a shake

To ask it if there is some mistake

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of soft sheets and downy flake.
Snow? My bed is lovely, dark and deep

And this headache promises to keep

Me in bed and still asleep

I’ll stay in bed and go back to sleep.

“Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”
Whose woods these are I think I know.   

His house is in the village though;   

He will not see me stopping here   

To watch his woods fill up with snow.   
My little horse must think it queer   

To stop without a farmhouse near   

Between the woods and frozen lake   

The darkest evening of the year.   
He gives his harness bells a shake   

To ask if there is some mistake.   

The only other sound’s the sweep   

Of easy wind and downy flake.   
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   

But I have promises to keep,   

And miles to go before I sleep,   

And miles to go before I sleep.

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How Few Remain

Well…I see my last update was in February of 2015. I notice in that post I apologized for the absence but said “things have been crazy.”

As I sit here the sun is setting on 2018. Three years since my last post. A long time.

What happened? Well, in short, a lot.

A verse that has kind of come to surmise my life over the last few years is Genesis 47.9: “And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘… Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life…'” A lot of time has passed since I last posted. And I don’t mean simply in terms of chronology. I’ve been revisiting this blog and I find it is very much like watching myself in an unfamiliar way. I don’t recognize the person who wrote these things. I don’t remember that life. Where did it go? Where did he disappear to?

So much of my life has changed. So much has happened. Much of it good. Some of it painful. Some of it bad. Some of it very bad and very painful. I learned a lot about grace. Experienced a tremendous amount of it. I hope to give half that much back to others one day. I was a very dogmatic person. I think now I’m certain but flexible. (I hope) more humble. Certainly more patient with others. Definitely less quick to judge. Hopefully, more loving?

Mrs. Wine and I had a couple of more children. Moved next door. I did some big time work in my vocation which I’d rather not discuss here. Gave up brewing. Missed it. Gave up writing. Missed it too. And that’s why I’m back.

I started brewing again with a simple cider. It was pretty good.

Then I made my Grapefruit IPA. Ran into some technical difficulties regarding the fact that I forgot to add priming sugar. So it is taking a loooong time to carb up.

Currently, I have a bourbon oaked cider that needs to be bottled. Actually, I went to bottle it tonight and discovered I was out of my sanitizing solution! Rookie mistake! I guess homebrew isn’t quite like riding a bike. Here is the recipe:

Bourbon Oaked Cider

  • 3 gallons of apple juice
  • 1lb of brown sugar
  • 1lb of honey
  • S-05 Yeast

I took a handful of French oak chips and soaked them in a cup of bourbon for about a week (Yes, I know that is longer than usual, life is still crazy but I’m trying). Either way, when I went to pour them in, it smelled amazing. Poured the bourbon into the cider through a sanitized strainer. Before bottling I’ll add one can of apple juice concentrate to back-sweeten and reintroduce the apple flavor. This one should be a winner.

In the next two days I’ll bottle this and make a dry hopped cider with chinook and centennial. Pretty excited about that. I think money will keep me making ciders more than beer. Though I have 3/4 of my ingredients for 1st Date Dunkel so hopefully by February I’ll be able to brew that up. Maybe my IPA will be carbonated by then.

So I’m not sure how to end this except to say to the readers out there, if any still remain, thanks for your patience. I’m back. The brewery is open again. And if no one has remained to see if I’d return that is okay: there is something in this writing process that I think my soul needs. And that’s good enough for me. But if you are out there, I’m currently drinking a wine spritzer. Pola voda i pola vino as I first learned it was called back in Serbia. Cheers!

 

 

 

The logical conclusion

Have you ever had one of the moments when things suddenly become very clear? I had one today. It wasn’t the most uplifting moment but it was helpful nonetheless.

My middle child has a calculator that is her “cellphone.” This morning she held it up like a camera and told me to say “cheeese” and “took” my picture. When she was finished I asked her if I could see what I looked like. So she turned the calculator around and I was the number zero.

Huh. I thought. How appropriate.

What’s on my bookshelf?

No one asked me what I was reading but I thought I would share it anyway.  The method I have developed for reading involves 3 categories.

1. Professional Development–this category is for books that I think will help me grow as a pastor.

2. Personal Development–this category is for books that I think will help my faith grow or encourage character growth,etc. Really, one could argue that category 1 and 2 are two sides of the same coin.

3. Pleasure Reading–this category is for books that I read simply for pleasure.


 

1. I am currently reading D.A. Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation. In this book, Carson takes a careful look at the prayers of Paul in the New Testament to encourage us in our own prayer life. Carson is one of my favorite Bible teachers; I just started this but I am certain it will be of great benefit to my vocation.

2. Last night I just started James B. Jordan’s commentary on Judges called (humorously) God’s War on Humanism. I have only read the introduction but I am excited to get further into this one.

3. For pleasure, I am reading the final book in the Expanse Trilogy: Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey. These books are a lot of fun. One of the more interesting things I’ve noticed about these books is either at a crucial moment or simply as an important character, the authors (James S.A. Corey is a fake name for two men) bring in Christian clergy. In the first book it was a Methodist missionary. In the second book it was a military chaplain and in Abaddon’s Gate it is a Methodist minister. I’m not Methodist and I don’t like how liberal they have made the clergy but it is encouraging to see that a secular, sci-fi work, recognizes how important religion is to society and the authors seem to feel authentic world building in the far future will still involve established religion. One of the more interesting things about this book is the main character made a comment last night that, once again, reminded me that biblical illiteracy makes it much harder to appreciate literature. The character, Holden, was trying to avoid going to a certain destination and doing everything he could to avoid going. But the harder he tried to flee, the more likely it was that he would end up there. Finally, Holden gave up and realized he was going to have to go to the place he wanted to avoid and said, “Alright. I guess I’ll go to Nineveh.” A small allusion to the book of Jonah that really provides a tremendous depth into how hopeless the character Holden must have felt at that moment. Something that a reader unfamiliar with the Bible, and in this case the book of Jonah, would miss completely.

Do right!

I am fairly certain that everyone has a song which they identify with; a song that on some deep level sums up how they feel and interact with the world. This song is sometimes called one’s “soundtack”. And I am also fairly certain that after 31 years on this earth my soundtrack would be Do Right! By Jimmie’s Chicken Shack. Because, let’s be honest: what do I do right?

If you are curious, here is a link to the music video. Listen carefully to the lyrics. What do I do right? Nothing. 

Things I’d like to have

If I could have anything, aside from the parousia, a vacation home down south, a TSX and probably a lot of other things… I’d like to own one of these mugs.

I’d love to drink my beer out of a mug with Luther, Calvin or Spurgeon’s face looking back at me.

Unfortunately, if I buy one of two of those, then I can’t buy the ingredients to make the beer and so I’d be drinking water out of a beer mug.

Maybe Buddha was right: all life is suffering.