2nd Cup for 7/9/18: WE CALLED HER ‘JO’

Her given name was Joella Jane Boone.

She was a Boone in many telltale ways:  a lifelong learner holding two Master’s degrees in education yet whose greatest joy was teaching in the school classroom, and who loved to write on white- or blackboard in a lovely, effortless cursive; artistic to the point she could do nothing plainly; articulate and precise in her speech and grammar; and had a velvety, almost sultry alto voice she used in sacred solo, small ensemble and choral work her entire life.  There was nothing mannish in her.

It was no surprise she’d catch the eye of, and later marry, William Tromble, Ph.D., himself a musician, educator, and in later years active in university institutional advancement.

Jo was a Boone in the other necessary ways, too.  She knew how to kill and dress chickens and small game animals, how to grow and tend both flower and vegetable gardens, and how to milk and clean up after cows.  Jo was at home on forest trails, and our dad often found her tracking a deer or hunting blackberries by herself.  She built good fires, knew how to prepare meals over them, and how to properly extinguish them.  She knew how to tell relative time by the sun’s position, could wield an axe as well as most men, and was an accurate shot.

Jo and her two closest siblings were about twenty years older than I.  That means by the time I was born, they’d already been married and gone, and I was a preemie uncle by 3 months.  When I was born, my mom was 42 and was finished raising her family.  To add insult to exhaustion, I made my debut on Mother’s birthday.

Since both her siblings already had families, it was Jo who came to be with our mother prior to, during, and after my birth.  She spent so much time holding, cuddling, and feeding me, she said, that I’d cry whenever Mother took me from her.

Vintage Jo-isms:

  • “You were such a cute little guy with your coonskin cap.”  I was told by all I literally entered the world with a full head of hair.  You’ll understand if I don’t remember. 
  • “I wanted to take you home with me.  I mothered you more than Mom did.”  She told me this several times in later years, always with tears in her eyes and voice.  She was serious.
  • “I gave you your middle name.”  It seems there was a close family friend in those years named Dean.  Mom couldn’t decide on a middle name, so Jo said, ‘Why don’t we call him Daniel Dean?’  Dandy.  Alliteration from birth.

From my earliest memory, Jo always sent me cards, and always embellished inside with ink artistry of some kind.  Shading.  Perspective.  Something.  And always with a handwritten note folded and tucked inside in her stunning cursive.

After my freshman year of college I could find no suitable work in North Idaho and was exhausted by driving 60 miles daily into (and back from) Spokane, Washington to work and to computer programming school.  I held on for two reasons:  I hate not finishing something I’ve started, and Jo kept writing and encouraging me to keep going.


When the school folded, there was no incentive to keep making that drive.  That was when Jo suggested I come back to where they were in Kankakee, IL, and try there.  She said I could stay with them while hunting work.  At her suggestion, I auditioned for and locked in a spot and associated scholarships on the university’s main quartet – IF I could come up with the money for the sophomore year.  Once again, I did odd jobs, even painting Olivet Nazarene dorm rooms.  Alas, in ’71 and ’72, there were no good jobs available for those my age.

I’d had enough.  In June, I went down to the Air Force recruiter, chose a career, and enlisted under the delayed enlistment program.  Jo took me in until I shipped out in September of ’72.  All during my USAF years, and since that time, she never forgot to send her signature cards.  There was no doubt who’d sent them, for no one else I know had either patience or ability to make them pop like Jo.

It was from Jo that I picked up the habit of cleaning as I go.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Mowing.  Weeding.  Writing.  That makes me a little slower, yes.  But there’s rarely any mess or empty stuff laying around for others to have to pick up after me.

My sister Jo was always very verbal, often wearily so.  She could wear a political strategist down with her word-gusts.  Yet buried within the lush bouquets of her verbiage, there were always-always-always words of personal encouragement, of assurance to me of her faith in God, and her support that I keep mine strong as well.

My big sister, Joella Jane Boone Tromble, is gone.  We received word Saturday of her passing.

They say grief is just love with no place to go.  They’re right.

After years of dealing with other patients, and other families’ grieving, I’m numb right now.  I didn’t expect to feel this way, for I never lived close enough to Jo and Bill to spend any time with them until those few months prior to serving in the Air Force.  I didn’t expect this deep, resonant, echoing emptiness.

It hurt when I lost my mother.

It’s hurting now that I’ve lost my other one.

I loved you, big sister.

Thank you.

© D. Dean Boone, July 2018.


Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments


There are many things that, as a senior adult, I’m willing to overlook, mostly for my own inner peace.

Earlier this morning I was one of two diners in one of my favorite breakfast spots.  I’m sure that, somewhere, there are restaurants open that early with more luxurious surroundings.  I don’t think you’d find one with more friendly appeal and better food.  They know me there:  “Let him sit wherever he wants.  He won’t need a menu.  Oh–and keep his coffee cup full.”

I’d ordered and was sitting quietly, reading after Elizabeth George’s great book about the art of writing, WRITE AWAY.  What could be better than a well-constructed, inviting book and fresh, hot joe?  I had my notepad lying close.  Ideas are constantly bubbling up, and I hate to miss them.  I know better than to talk myself into, “Oh, I’ll remember that.”  I am ruthless with myself, for in most cases, I do not.

For a writer, the morning solitude, a solid book, coffee and comparative silence are a winning blend.  Most of the time I’m the one doing the writing, so it’s a special treat to sit and muse over the thoughts of another good writer.  I’d just reached for my fluorescent yellow highlighter to mark a thoughtful phrase when they came in.  Except for the two booths I and my fellow diners occupied – one on my end, theirs on the opposite – the newcomers had their choice of anywhere else to sit.

‘They’, defined, were a threesome:  a morbidly-obese man of indeterminate age whose mouth preceded him in the door, and two substantially younger, plump women.  The only time he refrained from reemphasizing his twenty-nine-word command of jargon-laced and slurred Slanglish was when his food was placed before him.  You’ll have to guess which twenty-nine words, for almost all were racially-popular and profane.

His voice had all the charm of a car crusher ingesting an Audi.  It was irritating.  He knew that.  And because of a girth the approximate size of Vermont, it had that abrasive foghorn quality that made any other conversation within the same zip code impossible.  He knew that.

From the time the three walked in, he never shut up.  That in itself was bad enough.  But his language was coarse, vile, and disrespectful to any self-respecting woman.  Someone he said was his daughter called him three times, and each time he made sure to put his phone on speaker so he could continue Hoovering whatever he’d ordered, as well as what remained on the women’s plates.  That’s what I surmise, anyhow.

They sat behind me.  From the Doppler effect of the women’s not-totally-convincing laughter, I could tell they were looking around to see if I was sufficiently bothered.

Who would not be?

I quietly reread the same paragraph seven times while I finished my meal.  I’d already paid, so when done I had a few extra sips of coffee, reveling in the fact that I was now irritating him.  He’d hoped his story about where he sat being where his momma, God-rest-her, always sat would cover for him choosing to interrupt my solitude and ruin my concentration by sitting right behind me.  From everyone’s faces, I doubt any of us believed him.

Far from chasing me off, he made the worst possible error:  he got me praying about and for him.  That wasn’t in his plan.

While enjoying my coffee, I prayed God would shut his mouth and make his throat sore every time he thought about using the foul language he’d repeatedly demonstrated.  And I prayed God would open the eyes of those two women to realize what the price of breakfast was costing them in terms of their self-respect – if any remained.

When I got up to leave, his voice had developed a rasp.  I never bothered turning to get a good look at any of them.  I’ll know him by his mouth and the sound of his voice if he ever comes in again when I’m eating.  And in case you’re curious, I knew saying anything to him would have only caused what he was hoping for.  Should he attempt it again, I’ll gather my things and move or leave.  And because I know the owner, I’ll personally tell him why I’ll never again return – and why I’ll tell any who ask why I never go there any more.

Joe won’t like that.  His employees won’t like it, either.

Herein are many lessons, only one of which I choose to mention.  If you keep getting in other people’s spaces and faces, sooner or later all around you will tire of your mouth and methods:  the only loser will be you and those who follow you.

Yes.  That truth applies in several ways.

The best for me is you need not make a scene to make a difference.  Do your communicating where and with whom it will matter.  Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves . . .


D. Dean Boone, July 2018



Categories: Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment


It was one of those mornings you wish you could seal in an old Ball/Mason jar and keep.

A rollicking, early-summer thunderstorm had stomped its way through at 1:30 AM with all the finesse of an attention-starved 3-year-old.  I’d ground and perked a pot of Air Capital medium roast.  As I sat sipping the fragrant java, my thoughts interwove with its steam.

Each morning’s quiet time is special.  I guard it, cherishing it at the same time.  A notepad and pen are necessities for me, anyway, but never more than during my quiet time musings.  God always has interesting stuff to pass along.

Pouring my second cup, I sat tapping my PaperMate InkJoy gel pen on the pad, idly looking out the window at the sunlight glistening off each leftover water droplet.  What a thing of beauty!  And God nonchalantly pulls that off every time it rains.

My eyes still stuck somewhere in Middle Distance out the window, I didn’t hear it until my phone twittered again.  Or maybe it deedled.  Any more, I’m unsure what, exactly, my Galaxy S6 does.  Zedge has so many settings I can’t keep up with them.  Some I hear constantly; others I rarely hear at all anymore.  Anyway, whatever it did, it just did it again.  I’m almost sure it sounded just a L-I-T-tle perturbed I hadn’t yet recognized its prominent place of importance.


“What’s your Pandora playing right now?”  Arlough.  His greetings are always unique and mostly refreshing.

“Dinner Jazz.  Deep In A Dream by Sonny Clark.”

“Seriously?  I thought your morning preference leaned more toward Relaxation Radio or Calm Meditation . . .”

“Normally, yes.  My ancient tablet sometimes drops stations or just quits playing.  Usually if I dial up another station, it wakes back up.”  It was quiet for a few seconds while my friend’s synapses whirled and sparked.

“So–what’re you doing?”  I noticed again the slight discoloration on the sleeve of my mottled-grey Adidas running suit.  Probably coffee, knowing me.  Maybe this time I’d remember to toss it in the laundry.

“Arlough, you called me.”  He sounds slightly addled, but he’s not.  You’ve seen a bee moving from clover blossom to blossom, here and then there–right?  Consider what that would look like at Mach 1.  I’ve never known a human’s brain can have such a variety of thoughts in such a miniscule amount of time.

“Um, right-right.  Hey, you’re an Introvert, correct?”  I waited, knowing he knew that.  “Whaddya do with them?  How–is there a right and wrong way to relate and stuff?”

I smiled.  Laying on my desk was something I’d just picked up online and thought worthy of copying to work over for an article.  “Short answer?  Yes.  Hang tight while I get a refill, then I’ll see if I can clear away some of the fog.”  I smiled again because I could hear him in the background, fiddling with something electronic while he waited.  Arlough never sat on hold.  He put his phone on speaker and kept his agile mind doing laps.  Or warmups.  Whatever his mind did.

“All right; I’m back with you.  Now, mind you, this is neither exhaustive nor clinical.  It’s common sense, borne of life experience.

Arlough:  ” ‘kay.”

“First a general rule:  never mistake being an introvert with being insipid or intimidated.  Many a person has done so to their own detriment.  Here we go . . .

“Number 1, always respect an Introvert’s privacy.  Introverts love solitude and comparative quiet; writers are usually introverts.  Solitude is their gas station, their tanker.  Trying to keep an introvert too busy for too long will make him or her noticeably irritable and restless, and they’ll begin to resent you and your company.  Soon they’ll decline going with you.”  I paused for a few seconds.  Since Arlough likes dead air less than a radio station manager, I knew I’d stumbled across something important to him.  I waited.

His stuttering was uncharacteristic.  “I, um– yeah.  I guess I get that.”  It was my turn to pause.  I listened to the gold wall clock going “p’tock” about seven times.  “Arlough, that’s it, isn’t it?  You’ve found somebody special, and she’s an introvert.  Right?”

Again, the slight hesitation.  “Yeah.  I figured with you being one and all, maybe you could keep me from massively screwing this up before it even starts.”

“Got it.  Okay.  I’ll fashion my remarks with a special relationship in mind.  Ready for the next one?”  I know he nodded, because I’ve watched him talk on the phone.

“Number 2, never embarrass them in public.  Oddly, some think it helps break the ice to do that.  Get them laughing, and it’s all good.  However, many introverts are also perfectionists who find public embarrassment as much fun as ramming a sliver under a fingernail.  What may seem to you like an innocent, silly wisecrack intended to make everyone laugh may unwittingly lacerate an introvert’s heart.  If they don’t know you well enough to recognize sarcasm, I can just about guarantee they’ll take your words seriously.  You can wound an Introvert that way; it may be innocent from your perspective, but the wound will cut just as deep.”

“Number three, always let an introvert first observe a new situation or new surroundings.  Don’t expect them to be comfortable by instantly charging right into a new group or situation.  They may be capable of doing so because of professional training, but that’s not their default setting.  When you see an introvert hanging back, they’re not being obtuse or uncooperative.  They’re inputting a whole lot at once, noticing things others rarely do.  Never equate an introvert’s silence for ignorance; they always notice far more than they say.”

It was quiet enough I could hear Arlough’s keyboard.  He was serious.

“Four:  Give an introvert time to think.  Once again, when introverts hesitate before responding, it’s not because they’re too simple to form words.  Introverts don’t lose debates; they may run out of time while thinking through their position, but it’s unwise to engage one in a serious conversation without being confronted with a compelling argument and some insights you didn’t know they’d noticed.  Introverts are habitual overthinkers.  They’ve already run through a mental checklist of 5 or 6 possible responses, assessing each one’s effectiveness.  They’re probably still doing that when you’ve impatiently broken number 5, which is a biggie for any introvert . . .”


    “Do not interrupt them.  Reasons are that they are deeply introspective, thoughtful people.  Often they’re composing what they want to say, while at the same time editing as they go.  To barrel into their unfinished thoughts has the same effect as a drunk driver plowing into the middle of a crowded outdoor restaurant.  Not only will you not get the full effect of the process in #4 above; but you’ll give them the idea what they have to say is unimportant, and that the only purpose for your conversation is for them to hear what you’ve already decided.  Soon, you’ll begin noticing they hesitate to answer at all.  That’s not because they have no valid opinion or preference.  It’s because they feel their opinion or preference has already been devalued, so why expend the effort to explain it?”

I paused.  My big, black-and-green “COFFEE made me do it!” mug reminded me of my distaste for lukewarm joe.  I curled my forefinger through the man-sized handle and swigged down a healthy, ah, swig.  Yep.  Lukewarm.  Its only saving grace was that it was fresh-ground Velvet Moon by Cameron’s.  While thus occupied, I was listening to Arlough muttering to himself as he made notes.  I heard him saying something . . .

“You ready?”  He allowed as how he was, softly saying, “I, um, think I’ve already stomped on the pressure plates of numbers 4 and 5.”  I smiled.  “Arlough, I think every other personality type has done the same.  They all tend to think it’s an arrogant trait as in, “How dare you interrupt me?”  They don’t stop to think it’s part and parcel of an introvert’s personality.

“Here’s numbers 6 and 7, because they’re related.  6 is to give an introvert advance notice of expected changes in their life; and 7 is to give them 15-minute warnings to let them finish whatever they’re doing or working on.  Personally, I don’t think these two should be limited only to introverts, but they are crucial to that personality’s well-being.  Because an introvert is usually thinking out ahead of whatever project has them occupied, to break into that unexpectedly will be like tossing a wet stray cat into their lap.  Many a boss has failed miserably to get the best work from introverted employees because they never bothered understanding this personality trait.  You can only imagine what ignoring this would do to any close relationship.

“Number 8:  reprimand them in private.  Refer to numbers 1 through 3 above.  Dressing down an introvert in front of coworkers, classmates, or anyone else may be your idea of management style or leadership; but it’s also a way to ensure you’ll never get the chance to do it again.  Introverts rarely make a big, public scene, although they’re quite capable of it.  Most of the time, they’ll quietly fade away and you’ll never see them again in that setting.  I’m guessing, Arlough, you get how important this one is in any personal relationship.  Introverts love to be informed.  They want to please–and because of that, they’re incredibly sensitive to the possibility of offending or hurting those with whom they’re close.  Introverts have finely-tuned senses.  Again, though they may say little, they also forget little.

I could hear the tapping on his laptop again.  Must’ve hit a nerve on that one, too.  I waited until the clicking slowed down.

“Here’s number 9.  Teach an introvert new skills in private.  Remember that I mentioned in number 2 introverts are mostly also perfectionists?  Perfectionists despise practicing.  That’s not because they don’t want to excel and be at their best:  they absolutely want both of those.  They hate to practice because it means making mistakes where others can see or hear them.  Ever overheard somebody asking an introvert something like, “Well, when are you going to have _______ finished?”  If you’ve observed the introvert, you’ve seen the characteristic hesitation before answering.  When you want something perfect – or as much so as is reasonably possible – how do you respond to someone who either has no understanding of an introvert’s mind, or doesn’t want to?  I can tell you this, Arlough:  the mild response that finally made its way out is rarely the steely, penetrating first or second choice.  And, yes, I’m speaking from personal experience.  I’m finding the older I get, the less patience I have with those who ask such questions.  Beware of the introvert whose internal filter has slipped!”

Though I wasn’t being intentionally humorous, I could hear my friend sniggering in the background.  He straightened up, then said, “Got it.  And number—which one are we on?  Ten?”

“That’s a rog.  And that is, enable the Introvert to find one best friend who has similar interests and abilities.  For a let’s-party type of personality, this is no big deal.  To an introvert, it can literally save their sanity.  The necessity of this can’t be overstated.  Introverts don’t easily open up to anyone, for as the saying goes, it is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.  In one story, a young boy remarked, “There’s too much risk in loving.”  “No,” said the old man.  “There’s too much risk in not.”  Introverts’ emotional channels run very deep, so a young introvert would agree with the boy:  It’s not worth it.  It takes too long to let down the barriers, to let another person close enough to seriously hurt you.  An older introvert, though, understands the sere hollowness of living one’s entire life without any truly close friends.  Once more:  introverts have an uncanny sensory panel.  The closer they get to you, the more attuned they are to the slightest nuance of change in your interaction.  It can be unsettling to someone who’s never been close to one, yet it’s not ever a personal thing; it’s a personality thing.

“Got time for two more?”  Arlough almost sounded eager.  When an engineer sounds thus, it may not be a good thing.  “Just two more, I promise. . .”

“Number 11 – do NOT push an introvert to make a lot of friends.  The introverted personality never has and never will easily make friendships.  Don’t expect it.  What you can expect is for those few real friendships they do accept are ironclad.  Once you’re an introvert’s friend, you’ll need to make it painfully clear when you decide you no longer want that relationship.  Here’s the caveat:  it takes a LOT to convince an introvert you really don’t want them or their friendship; but once you finally do, you’ll never know them like that again, for they’ll never let you back in.  This has nothing to do with their spiritual state, either.  They can be the most sincere of Christians, but once you’ve pushed them away and convinced them you mean it, they’ll still love you–but they’ll not allow you to ever again get close.”

“A-a-and finally, number 12:  Respect their introversion.  Don’t try to convert them into an extrovert.  Honor them for the personality God created them with.  Celebrate their individuality.  Make the effort to get to know them at their levels of thought, reasoning and conversation.  Introverts are by design very private, very deep and complex creatures.  Trying to somehow alter them into something easier and more malleable will only result in frustrating you.

I paused, slurping some now-definitely-cold coffee.  Again, I waited while my good friend processed what I’d just shared with him.  Because Arlough was rarely at a loss for words, I never mistook his silence for anything other than what it was:  collecting data just as sure as any computer.  I’d no doubt he could do a credible job of repeating back everything I’d just read to him.  What a mind!  What a—

“Dominoes tomorrow night?  My place.  Six-ish.  Bring that queso gunk you guys make.”

Saying g’night would’ve been superfluous; he’d already clicked off.  Engineers.

Something told me his new relationship was in for some interesting times.

I leaned back in my old, restuffed office chair, contentedly listening to an old Duke Ellington/John Coltrane arrangement of My Little Brown Book, and appreciatively sipping at my newly-refilled mug of hot java.

I sat reflecting on some relationship quotations I’d collected that seem to speak to the introverted character, reminding me:  it’s not easy for an introvert to fall deeply in love; and it’s much harder for one to let go of it.

The reason we struggle so with insecurities is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels. –

“One of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do, my dear, is to grieve the loss of someone who is still alive.”  – my father’s advice

“Long after I have given up, my heart still searches for you without my permission.” – Rudy Francisco

“Sometimes we aren’t meant to get over someone, and we go on living a little emptier.” – Leo Christopher

“It is a frightening thought that in one fraction of a moment, you can fall in the kind of love that takes a lifetime to get over.”

“It’s so much easier to act like none of this matters and to pretend to wear a smile, than to confess that my heart is nearly broken from losing someone who was never even mine.”

“Why are you sad?”  “Because you speak to me in words and I look at you with feelings.” – Tolstoy

© D. Dean Boone, June 2018


Categories: Common Sense, Humor - Lighten Up, Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup for 6/18/18 – “ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT” For The GENTLY USED

It had been a relaxing summer break, but the choir was ready for our annual “Let’s Make Music Together” catered taco feed and karaoke night.  These events were always a hoot, because they signaled the beginning of the church’s Fall work toward the holiday seasons of year’s-end and the following Spring.



Everybody was excited to come back together, for we were a large choir and derived real blessing from singing together.  We usually brought new people with us, for that evening let anyone looking on see that we weren’t stiff and solemn.  A few would sing the same things over and over.  Most did not.

I always worked up a love song.  One year was “Love Me Tender”.  Another was “Unchained Melody”.  Then I surprised one member by singing, “Only You” to her on her birthday.  Our quartet met and began singing at that church, so we usually wound up doing a recurrent request:  “Elvira”.

One year I’d been trying to locate a track for the Bee Gees’ “Words”.  No joy.  So, I thought, “Okay, self.  You found those lyrics to an Elvis love song, and you’ve never done anything funny, so—

Here, then, is . . .



(You know the tune . . .)


Are you lonesome tonight? Does your tummy feel tight?

Did you remember your Maalox and Tums?

Do your memories stray to that bright, sunny day—

When you still had your teeth and your gums?


Is your hairline receding, are your eyes growing dim?

Hysterectomy for her, and a prostate job for him.

Does your back give you pain?

Can your knees predict rain?

Tell me, dear, are you lonesome tonight?


—{ * }—


“Is your blood pressure up?  Can you pee in this cup?

Are you eating your low-fat cuisine?”

All that oat bran and fruit, and Metamucil to boot

Keeps you just like a well-oiled machine.


If it’s football or baseball, he sure knows the score

He knows right where it’s at—but forgets what it’s for

So your gall bladder’s gone, and his gout lingers on—

So tell me, dear, are you lonely tonight?


—{ * }—


When you’re hungry, he’s not; when you’re cold, then he’s hot—

So you start that old thermostat war.

When you turn out the light he goes left, you go right.

Then you join in a great symphonic snore.


He was once so romantic, and really no slouch,

So how’d he wind up such a cranky old grouch?

So, don’t take any bets, this is as good as it gets!

Tell me, dear, are you lonesome tonight?

( Unknown )


If we can’t have fun in this life, there’s something definitely haywire with it.

Glad you enjoyed it.

© D. Dean Boone, June 2018

Categories: Humor - Lighten Up, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment


Of course I thought I knew more than my dad when I was growing up.  What kid doesn’t?

You can spare me the wide-eyed, head-shaking denials.  Neither you nor I are children any longer.

Can we save some time and agree to stipulate that you and I were far more brilliant as kids than our parents were as adults?

I knew my father had to quit school at age 13 when his dad died of the pulmonary disease plaguing so many Northern Indiana steel mill workers.  I knew he then had to go to work himself.  Even though he never went back to school, my dad never stopped learning.  I should have picked up on that quicker.

There was one thing Dad did I felt was smart:  he saved his change.  He hung onto everything from pennies to fifty-cent pieces.  He even (get this) . . . he even went so far as to buy clear plastic little tubes with lids to keep it all in.  Amazing he’d do that out of convenience for me.  After all, I knew where they were because he’d show me how he’d check each one’s mint stamp, date and features.  The ones he meant to save, he’d put in little blue cardboard books with little cutouts where each coin would go.  I thought that was cool, because the rest went into the little clear plastic tubes.

As a kid, I knew what to do with those pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and half-dollars.

I spent ’em.

Candy.  Gum.  Pop.

Part of me knew there were better reasons for my dad to save those ‘extra’ coins than just for my belly.  But I also knew they were legal tender and spent just as easily as any others.  I knew a dime was worth ten cents, after all.  I mean, how much brain power did that take?

More than I had.

Dad was saving them up because he’d researched and found which ones were appreciating in value.  Each one by itself might not have been any big deal.  But having entire collections in those blue booklets?  And having five, ten, and twenty dollars’ worth in those little plastic tubes?  The silver content alone in many of them was worth far more than the ten or twenty-five cents’ value I got when I dropped them in the hands of a very accommodating store guy.

See, he knew what he was getting.  I never had a clue.

The dad I dismissed as simple and uneducated, showing him less respect than neighbor men I barely knew, never let on he knew I’d been systematically spending his coin collection.  He just quietly went on working hard, buying me things I HAD to have for this or that, faithfully providing for Mom and I.  He let me go on that way until I grew enough to realize, no matter how much or little those coins were worth, they weren’t mine to spend.

Of course they weren’t.

They were part of my inheritance.

I never faced up to that with my dad; I was too ashamed at the time.  And later, when I began to take notice of how valuable some coins could be, I’d gotten busy with my own life and family.  There’d be time enough to make things right.

Only there wasn’t.  As I grew older, so did he.  With each passing year, I began to notice all the quiet strength, the powerful character, the uncompromising friendships that were so much a part of Dad.

I began sending him handmade, handwritten cards that took time and effort to make and mail.

“You did that as an adult?”

Yep.  I wrote to him all the things I should’ve been saying to him.  I honored him.  I gave Dad the most priceless thing any son or daughter can offer their father:  r-e-s-p-e-c-tI know now I should have begun that quest much sooner, but I was too busy running my mouth.  In my imagined superiority, I didn’t realize until much later that I rarely knew the immense pressures under which my father bore up almost daily. 

At his passing, I kept reading tributes from those who’d known him, tributes that made me wonder if I’d ever really known my father at all.  I’ll not bore you with particulars.  I’ll just say the amazing, imposing man who slowly emerged from within the slight, five-foot-ten, one-hundred-eighty pound chrysalis I so took for granted was nothing like the dad I thought I had all figured out.

Dad was a math whiz, an avid reader, was a dead shot with a rifle and a National Guard BAR rifleman, understood philosophy, loved God with all his heart, and could outwork any two grown men matched against him.  And – AND he was bright enough to let me figure out on my own just how foolish I’d been to spend dimes and quarters on candy, in the process making a store manager comfortably able to retire much sooner than he anticipated.

That manager had to know after the first few coins went dingle-dingle-jingle on his counter, five and ten at a time, he was getting somebody’s collection.

He was.  It was ultimately mine.

So.  You tell me.  Which of us was simple – me or my father?

Hunh.  And all this time I thought it was HIM who didn’t get it.

© D. Dean Boone, Father’s Day 2018



Categories: Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Granger: THE NEW GUY LIES, TOO – 6/7/18

His name was “Doc”.

At least, that’s what his nametag read.  Since Jimmie’s is a 50’s-style diner, the décor reflects that, and the servers all wear that period of dress:  poodle skirts, bobby socks and big hair bows for the women, slacks, white shirts, bowties and soda jerk hats for the guys.

I don’t know what his real name was.  I don’t know how long he’ll stay at that job.  I don’t know much about him at all.  That’s only fair.  “Doc” didn’t know much about me, either.

That wasn’t going to change just by dropping in and having him serve me breakfast.  It takes time and interest to form a friendship.  I could do nothing about the time factor, but showing some interest?  That I could do.

Being an early riser, I prefer eating an early breakfast.  Not only am I good and hungry by seven in the morning, but there are fewer other diners.  That’s important to me because I often take writing material with me.

This was one of those mornings.  Doc and Peggy Sue gave the normal “Welcome to Jimmie’s!” greeting.  Doc seated me in an otherwise-vacant area, brought me the requested coffee, took my order, and retreated.  At first I was preoccupied with my writing, gathering my thoughts, shaking the overnight dew off the webbed ideas that had gathered while I slept.

I’m a people-watcher.  I began to notice this young man named Doc.  He circulated back and forth, doing his job and bringing me my food.  Yet I noticed a reserve just beneath his professionally-cordial demeanor.  He wasn’t brusk or sullen; yet he didn’t exactly sparkle, either.  Scanning the section, I saw no one else there yet, so I waited until he brought the coffee pot to refill my cup, then sought his opinion about what I’d been writing.

“Hey, Doc, I have a question for you.  It’ll help me with an article I’m posting.”  I saw his eyes flick down to the writing pad and pen.  When he looked back up, I noted again a faint distrust, a spot reserved from public display.

“Sure.”  He even sounded tentative.

“When someone says, ‘How are you,’ why do you think people either say, “Great.  Fantastic.”  Or say nothing at all?”  He didn’t even hesitate.

“They don’t really want to know.  It’s like they’re just saying something vanilla to keep you at a distance.”  I sat there making eye contact with him for a few seconds, absorbing his ready and real response.  I could see the mild embarrassment in his gaze, for he’d used the same dodge.  I told him I appreciated the directness of his answer.  About then some hungry folks walked through the door and he left to serve them.

Here, then, are my thoughts resulting from that encounter over my corned beef hash and eggs.

Many of us lie almost daily.

“How are you?”

“Oh, fine.”  With respect, no.  You’re not.  That’s CLOSED socially-accepted shortspeak for

  • a professional brush-off, an automatic reaction to which no response is expected.
  • a surface-level, shallow “relationship”, like a Facebook ‘friend’.
  • it’s too painful to talk about
  • I’ve been hurt too often, and I don’t want you or anyone else getting that close to me again.

Why CLOSED?  Because each of these reactions shut out and close down any possibility of conversation.  They are the verbal equivalent of crossed arms and a frown.

Possible real and OPEN responses:

  • “Blessed and grateful.”
  • “Got time for coffee?”
  • “I’m dying.”  (This one takes a minute to grasp:  even in perfect health, we all are.)
  • “I’m loving life!”
  • “I’ll listen if you will.”
  • “I’m excited about today, right here, right now.”

Why OPEN?  Because each of those responses are thoughtful, and invite further conversation if desired.

I don’t expect long-held habits to immediately disappear.  That takes time and effort.  I do try to incite some mulling, however.  All lasting change takes time.

I do know that Doc seems pleased when I show up at Jimmie’s, and he keeps my coffee cup full.

That’s a great start.

© D. Dean Boone, June 2018





Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, May 17, 2018: WHERE HAVE ALL THE SHOWERS GONE?

I don’t remember that first shower of married life, that cloudy Portland morning of May 18, 1974.

Irish Spring?  Probably.  I’d bunked with Dad and Mom, and that was Dad’s go-to soap for as long as I can recall.  I think he got some kind of reward for having bought so many bars of it.  In the Air Force, with TDYs a fact of life, I’d learned to scan the soap dishes in the showers before opening a precious new bar of my own.  I was pretty utilitarian about it, using what was there first – if usable.  At Dad’s house, the shower soap was Irish Spring.

Glad Dad wasn’t into Dove.

“So, forty-four years of showers, huh?”

Mm-hmph.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 16,060 of them – one for every day or so of our journey together.

“Y’know, I heard writers are weird, but—thinking of showers on your anniversary?”

Oh, that Friday was memorable for the usual reasons.  I’d soon be marrying my oldest best friend.  We were about to become a couple.  A thing.  What the Bible calls ‘one’.  We’d known each other since toddlerhood, and our two families knew each other personally and professionally.

Other things were happening that day.

  • 18th European Cup: Bayern Munich beat Atletico Madrid 4-0 at Brussels.
  • Dmitri Shostakovitch completed his 15th String quartet.
  • Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) exploded four bombs in the Republic of Ireland, killing 33 civilians and wounding 300 (highest number of casualties in a single incident during “The Troubles”).
  • Marcia Turner, Miss America of 1996, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Sendhil Ramamurthy, American actor, was born.
  • Wiki González, Venezuelan baseball player, was born.
  • Actor Charles Braswell, (Only Game in Town), died at 49.
  • Ernest Nash, German born archaeologist (b. 1898) died that Friday.

None of that registered.  It was our wedding day.  The ‘wedding party’ had decided at the last minute to take in the Portland Zoo that morning, and it blessed Mom’s socks off because she got left with all the last-minute prep that always is a part of all weddings everywhere.  Normally taciturn, she was griddle-hot when we all finally showed up.

Not an auspicious start for her new son-in-law.  The shower before the wedding was short.

We meant no offense by it.  Our minds were already on the road, headed toward the new home we were starting together.  I was on leave from my duty station in Great Falls, Montana, and needed to be back for duty on the following Tuesday morning.  Shortly after reciting our vows and a swift change of clothes, we only flipped a U-turn when we realized Dad still had our marriage license.  Otherwise, we were on the road first thing Saturday morning, stopping at my parents’ home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for what still takes the place of a honeymoon.

“Your—you spent your first n—”

Technically the second, but at my parents’ house.  Yes.  As an Airman First Class, I wasn’t awash with money.  Mother said, “Well, just stay here overnight.  You can use my bedroom, and I’ll have coffee and breakfast ready for you in the morning.”

She had me at coffee.  Well, and breakfast.  It was another three hundred twenty-nine miles to Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, and slightly over six hours’ driving time.

Forty-four years later, there’s little my bride and I haven’t seen, and with God’s help, weathered and survived.  We’re both worn around the edges, fuzzed by the stuff of which life is made.  The sharp contrasts of romance and excitement, of getting used to another human in each others’ space have gradually been worn and polished in the lapidary of experience and God’s grace.

Don’t mistake that for softness.  Life’s diverted us through some whitewater rapids.  We’ve rafted them together through Grace and the grit with which both sets of parents raised us.  Just because we look calm and are saying little, we both are titanium inside.  To this day, if anyone asks me to define ‘tough’, I just step back, gesture toward Babycakes, and gently smile.

How shall we celebrate this 44th anniversary?

Shower for me, hot, soaking bath for her.  Yeah.  Dove . . .  Later this week, we’ll decide which of the great eateries of Wichita deserve two such veterans of Life As It’s Really Lived.  We’ve learned that it’s not the day that’s important.

Every day is important.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go continue something I’ve been doing for many years:  taking my bride a cup of fresh, hot coffee to help her awaken and start this new day.

Brenda, love?  Thank you.  Without your influence and presence in my life, I’d not be near the man I now am.

Hmm?  Oh.  Dollar Shave Club’s Mint & Cedarwood hard soap.  I can’t stand to look at Irish Spring.

© D. Dean Boone, 17 May 2018



Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee for 5/10/18: YES, THE MAMA!

I knew I had just written history’s all-time, lifetime-achievement Mother’s Day message.

No new pastor before or since had ever shown such sparkling wit and penetrating insight.

See the source image

I knew every other pastor would read my work and lower his eyes in blushing shame.  I knew publishers would be lined up at my door, begging for just one more paragraph.  I knew I was in trouble because I had next year to plan for and I’d swung for the fences on this one.

Funny, you say?

Give it some thought.  How long has your pastor served your church?  How many years has he stepped up to deliver holiday-themed messages that have kept you sniggering long after he’s gotten serious?  Kept you dabbing at your eyes and clearing your throat?

Un-hunh.  Wull, it ain’t as . . . easy as it looks, pelgrum.

As challenging as it is to constantly generate fresh, inciteful, engaging material for every special day, that pales next to trying to describe the importance of mommas.  Seriously.  Your pastor deserves a homemade pie, a pound of his favorite coffee, and a great book just for trying.

There are no adequate words that do my mother justice.  As adept a wordsmith as I work at being, I’d always be leaving something out.  Ida Jane Wise married into this merry band of Boones, picking my quiet, hard-working dad, one supposes, because he seemed the safest choice of all the rest of the Boone men she encountered.  I guess she momentarily overlooked the fact he was directly descended from Daniel.

To be fair, my father hadn’t any more clue of the marital adventures awaiting him, either.  Ida Jane was disgustingly cheery no matter the obstacle.  If she ever faced one that scared her, I never knew about it.  When told at 91 she had a kidney tumor, she never hesitated:  “Take it out, then.  The other’n works just fine!”  At five-foot-zip, my mother was fearless.  She was a human lie detector with the aural acuity of a wax moth.  Trying to sneak back into the house after dark was like trying to smuggle daylight past a rooster.

My mother’s faith in God was legendary.  Never a morning passed that you’d not find her sitting quietly with her coffee, worn Bible laying open as she spent time with Jesus.  Like as not, there would be tiny tear-pools in the polished maple wood of our dining table where she’d been once again praying over and for her children and extended family.

I began my quiet time habit early on, even before understanding it, by observing her.

Ida Jane wasted no time mooning over The Cooking Channel.  Well, yeah, it hadn’t yet been invented.  Though never trying to be a gourmet chef, she could make hearty, healthy, filling meals out of less than anyone I ever knew.

Wherever we lived was ‘home’, a place of solace, joy, music and flowers where neighbors were always welcome, and coffee always on.  I always wondered upon moving who’d take care of all the roses and shrubs my mother planted.  Lighthearted:  “Not my worries.  I’ve left this place nicer, greener and more lovely than when we moved in.  That’s what matters.”

It’s a life philosophy I adopted.

My father never came home to a messy house or a sloppy yard, even during my three eldest siblings’ early childhood during The Great Depression.  Whether a tent or a boxcar, Ida Jane always made the best of what she had, fixing what she could, doing without what she couldn’t.

Nothing in life gave her any reason to believe it would be easy.  That would lead one to think she became sour and cynical, approaching each dawn with the assessing glare of an air crash survivor scanning fellow survivors for possible nutritional value.  You didn’t know my mother.

Can you say, “Reveille” played on the piano?  When Mother was up, the house was annoyingly, cheerfully up as well.

So, no.  After decades of Mother’s Day messages, articles, and posts, I’m no closer to getting a handle on the woman God gave me as “The Mama” than I was that first Mother’s Day Sunday of my preaching years.

I know what you’re thinking.

“What about your wifeYour kids’ mother?”

If I’m still challenged in discerning and articulating the worth, the impact of Ida Jane after all these years, what makes you think I’d do any better trying to offer tribute to the woman who dared to partner with me 44 years ago next Thursday?

Brenda, whom most of you know as Babycakes, is unique in all womandom.  Well, yes, in a way all women are thus singular.  Yet the one who became my wife back in 1974 is unlike any other from the standpoint of grit, determination, and sheer will to ‘make it work’.

  • She watched me wave bye-bye to several well-paid careers in favor of following God’s leading into pastoral ministry.
  • She suffered what every pastor’s wife weathers, watching and hearing her mate be savaged and shredded by pride- and tradition-bound church members not particularly keen on growing.
  • She saw her big, muscular hubby instantly brought down to certain death by a previously-unknown disease.
  • And though God intervened with miraculous, medicine-defying healing, she how has a permanently-disabled little man where a big, healthy one once was.  I can and do still do what I’m able; just not as much, and not for as long.

My children’s mother never signed on for that.  At any point, she could’ve done what other stressed-to-the-breaking-point wives have felt forced to do.

She didn’t.  Hasn’t.  Won’t.

You could say it’s the spirit of Ida Jane all over again.  You wouldn’t be far off.

What does being The Mama mean, then?

One day two of our three, Jennifer and Cass, were home from school.  Nate was expected in from football practice any time, so I and the girls were all kind of doing our own thing while Brenda ran to the store for last-minute dinner fixin’s.  True to form, Nate slammed through the door in a credible proximation of a young ‘nado.  He dumped books, etc. on the sofa and proceeded with the patented search of all adolescents everywhere.  Not finding his mom anywhere on the premises, he stormed good-naturedly back into the living room.


Three pairs of eyes went, “Really?”

That’s what ‘The Mama’ means.  Get used to it.

Yes, you did, too, say it trying to sound like John Wayne.

You’ll have to take my word about the wax moth until you do your own search.  It’s enlightening.

Oh, yeah.   And you need to cover for the 23,417 things your pastor will be feeling pressured to do while he’s supposed to be enjoying the pie, coffee, and book.  That, too, is enlightening – and humbling.  Pray for him; hold him up.  Love on him and let him know you’re glad God brought him to your worshiping fellowship.

And be sure to take special care of The Mama of his kids and household.  Nothing you do could mean more.


© D. Dean Boone, May 2018

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Granger – 4/24/18: YOU GONNA EAT ALL THAT?

What on Earth is THAT mess?”  Sparks always was such a sensitive soul.  His six-three frame let him peer over my back gate.  “Okay to enter?  I didn’t want to be one of Biff’s snacks.”  I interrupted typing ideas into my laptop long enough to cast a droll look at him.  It would’ve qualified as beetling but I’d recently trimmed my eyebrows.

See the source image      “If you happen to be referring to my plate, this is my breakfast.”  Being unsnarky is an art, though I admit I was hard-pressed to resist a sarcasmic retort.  Some folks just bring the sarc out in one.

“Dude!  You can’t even see the plate.  What you got there could feed a family of four!  Well, five if they’re on a low-protein diet . . .”  The young deputy sheriff unlatched the hefty back gate and stepped in, latching it behind him.  He helped himself to one of the cushioned swivel-rocking seats I keep on the back patio.  Biff galloped up, skidding to a stop and waiting expectantly for the inevitable snack Sparks always seemed to have.

See the source imageThe powerfully-built Shar-pei was a beautiful shade of caramel, a heavily-muscled dog whose massive chest and squarish muzzle belied his goofy nature with those who knew him.  He was the perfect match for me.  I never had to worry about unwanted encroachment at my home; typical of his breed, my big pet let even acquaintances know:  nobody gets past the Biffster unless I allow it.  He’s not aloof; he’s just proud of his “DOG ON DUTY” sign.

Sparks grinned as the dog nuzzled his hand until he finally pulled a small dog treat from his pocket.  While he was distracted by Biff’s trying to con him out of another one, I struggled to reassert my creative juices enough to complete the thought I’d been developing.

The only ones who say anybody can write well are those who’ve never seriously done any of it.  After a couple of abortive attempts, I gave up, put my trusty laptop to sleep, and took several man-sized bites of delicious—

“Seriously.  What all you got in there?”

“Ah gaw thith edth, shawub madoes nam a uyuhs an murooms an sheez, wi—I stopped to swallow and suction up an approximate pint of coffee.  “With toast and jay-lih.”  I couldn’t entirely hide my half-smirk as I watched his eyebrows almost meet in his attempt to translate my stuffed-mouth dialect.  We’d been through this drama enough times I’d have thought he was cured of asking questions of me when my mouth’s full.

“Did you just mumble SIX eggs with whatever-whatever?”  I was busy chewing.  Nodding seemed prudent.  I did.

“Lemme get this straight.  You’re, what, one-seventy, right?”  The nod worked before.  I tried it again.  I was having too much satisfaction chewing.  “And you’ve stayed at that weight for how long?”  Rats.  A nod wasn’t going to work.  I wagged my head, exaggerating my chewing.  I did hold up my left forefinger, signaling I’d heard the question.  There are some foods so delicious it’s a pity one can’t swallow them twice.

“Fifteen years.”  Did I mention I love that Tabasco brand milder jalapeno sauce?  And this locally-baked Stone Hearth Rustic bread?  With blackberry jam?

 “Not everything that at first looks like a blessing turns out to be one.”

“And you get to eat like this at every meal?”

I stopped chewing and waited until he raised his eyes from where he’d been fiddling with Biff and saw the look in my eyes.  I slowly shook my head.  “No.  I have to.”

“You h—”  For one of the few times in the years I’d known this younger man, he was speechless.  Again, I nodded.

“Not everything that at first looks like a blessing turns out to be one.”

We spent several hours enjoying the kind of visit only good, close friends can have.  Yet after he’d had to leave in response to a call, I mentally replayed the assessing look he gave me.  It was yet another lesson we all must learn as we travel along on this journey God’s laid out before us.

Not everything that at first looks like a blessing turns out to be one.

Take nothing for granted.

© D. Dean Boone, April 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

2nd Cup of Coffee for 4/16/18: MIGHT AS WELL FAITH THE FACTS

It is a thing of pleasure to listen to a masterful communicator.  Our lead pastor is one.

Yesterday morning’s message was a piece of a series, the theme of which is seeing Jesus for who He is, and working to follow in that understanding as authentically as possible.  Studying in Luke 18, Pastor Brent ended that study passage with verse 8:  “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?”

That verse has always got my attention.  The passage talks about a cynical, dispassionate judge who’d seen and heard it all in his courtroom.  Seems there was a widow who had a knack for nag, and she kept pestering him for justice.  If you don’t know the story, stop reading this, grab the nearest Bible, and refresh Luke 18:1-8 in your mind.

See the source imageI’ll wait.  I need to refill my “FORMERLY KNOWN AS STUD MUFFIN” mug, anyways.  C’mere–I’ll refill your cup while you’re reading.

Got it?  Alrighty, then.

So Jesus finishes this little story, then casually slides in the question in verse 8.  Subtle as a flash-bang grenade.  Jesus was a master with those one-liners, by the way.  In them reside some of His most potent truths, designed to keep The Lads pondering what in Galilee He meant long after He’d either physically gone elsewhere, or had switched topics.

Ever wanted to ask Jesus, up front and personal, what He meant by something He said?  Luke 18:8 would be a super place to start.

  • “When, not if.  He flat told them, without fanfare, He’d be back.  Considering God’s track record, I’d believe Him.
  • He lumped the Twelve – and you and me – in His query:  “Am I going to find faith when I come back?  Any faith?”  “Well, what are we–chopped lox?”  His point:  if we’re not careful, the closer we get to His return, we could lose our hope and abandon our faith, too; especially in light of how many people there are surrounding us who are just as disbelieving and jaded as that judge.  Some would say they have reason to be.  In a single question, Jesus nailed it:  “As Time gets short, you keep your eyes on Me.  Focus on Me, not each other, nor your churches or ministries or—”  He knew it’s deceptively easy to drift as Hebrews warns.  The farther from God a culture swerves, the easier it is for the Church to begin a Leftward drift into “It’s okay.  Everybody’s doing it.”

But here are the new takeaways I got from yesterday’s Scripture lesson, as written by Dr. Luke.

When Jesus returns, there will be:

  • prayers as yet unanswered

  • faith as yet unrewarded

  • passionate persistence as yet unnoticed (at least from our perspective)

So.  Statements like, “Someday, the last prayer will be answered…” are romantic, but not factual.  Your last prayer, maybe.  But not the final one.  When Jesus asks if He’ll find any faith here upon His coming back, He’s telling us it’ll still be available to exercise.  Still available and effective to live by.

Hebrews says right at the end of Chapter 11 NONE of us will ever see ALL our earthly dreams, hopes and faith borne out–because God’s waiting until we’re all Home together, so that His best hits us all at the same time! 

You wanna talk ‘party’, here?

See the source imageRay is our newest family member, a 4-year-old registered Shar Pei.  At least twenty-seven times during the day, I’m telling him, “Wait” and making the ‘stop’ sign with an upraised hand.  Repetition.

If that persistence works with training animals, why are we so shocked when God uses it with you and me?

“Patience, grasshopper.  The best is yet to come.”

“What?!?  More of that delayed gratification cra—  junk?”

Yep.  You got it.  It’s like the Holy Spirit is gently smiling and saying, “Patience, grasshopper.  The best is yet to come.”  So, yeah, no.  We may not see all the answers to our earthly praying until we’re there with Him, and can see it all playing out perfectly in EternalVision.

And when you think about it, that’s pretty cool.

It just might be worth the wait.

© D. Dean Boone, April 2018

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment