Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Saturday, December 3, 2016


[I posted this on Facebook, but there might be someone from Twitter or at random who does not see my occasional FB posts, so…]

I want Donald Trump to succeed as President of the USA. I want him to be a good president. I pray for him. I am distressed by folks who say “He is not my president,” or “We shall resist him at every point.” That is what many did to Barack Obama. The results were disastrous, not because Obama did not try to be a good president, or did not have the skills to be a good president, but because his opponents determined ahead of time to resist everything he did and said, regardless of whether it would be good for America.

I want Trump to be the best president we have ever had, just as I wanted Obama to be the best president we ever had. Obama had what it took to be a great president, but his opponents determined ahead of time that they would resist everything he said and did, even if it were something they favored. That is the classic example of “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” It was stupid and destructive and disastrous.

I will resist Trump every time he does or says something that is un-American. I will not determine ahead of time that that includes everything he says and does. I hope he’ll do good things for America and the world. If he does, I’ll cheer. If he does not, I’ll resist. If everyone had tried to help President Obama succeed instead of trying to make him fail, the world would be much better off. I don’t want to repeat that with President Trump.



There are two major advantages to channel surfing. The first is obvious: it keeps my fingers nimble so that I can continue to feed myself. The second is coming across snippets of commercials or shows or interviews that are enlightening.

So it was with a man named Bernie being interviewed by a woman named Oprah. He said, “I was so poor for so long, and nobody gave me anything. Now that I’m rich and have everything, people want to give me all kinds of stuff.”


Friday, December 2, 2016

THE WAY A POEM STARTS-A poem [not surprisingly] 12-2-16

[No, I’m not writing again. This is another “picked-up piece” from back in the computer, prepared some time ago.]

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

Robert Frost said it was a lump
in the throat, for Billy
Collins, a wry-full smile.
Gerard saw foil shook out
to shine. William Stafford
looks beside the road.
Wendell Berry walks
Kentucky fields.
Elaine Palencia pulls a string
that dangles from her heart.
Brother Antoninus felt grace
poured out into an open wound
and I listen for
the Word of God that issues
forth from the dark roast grind
in the burbling pot


The problem with writing a blog for old people, CHRIST IN WINTER, is an ever-diminishing population, of people who cannot remember to go to the blog site.

I tweet as yooper1721, because when I started, I thought you were supposed to have a “handle,” like CB radio, instead of a name. I was a Yooper, resident of MI’s UP [Upper Peninsula], and my phone ended in 1721, so…

Here I come to save the day! No, not Mighty Mouse. Yuri Strelnikov, the boy genius of Katie McFarland Kennedy’s delightful Learning to Swear in America. Buy it or borrow it, but read this book! [What do you mean, you’re not old enough to remember Mighty Mouse?”

I became disturbed by the huge number of military suicides, both veterans and active duty, so I wrote VETS, about four handicapped and homeless Iraqistan veterans accused of murdering a VA doctor. It’s a darn good tootin’ adventure mystery story. My royalties go to helping prevent veteran suicides. You can buy it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.
My youthful ambition was to be a journalist, and write a column for a newspaper. So I think of this blog as an online column. I started it several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, ”Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer!” [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] We no longer live in “the place of winter.” The grandchildren grew up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I continue to work at understanding what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter…

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Helen is an excellent and enthusiastic seasonal decorator. Christmas has always been her favorite time for decorating, but when we moved from a large house to a small condo 18 months ago, she bravely gave up our big Christmas tree and a lot of decorations.

Still, I had to hang as many shelves as possible on the walls of our narrow one-car condo garage to accommodate the remaining decorations. Yesterday I took down 16 boxes—some large, some not quite as large--and a wreath.

16 is actually a smaller number than last year. We learned in our first condo Christmas that some things were not necessary. We did add one thing last year, though, and Helen has been very brave about accepting it, in part because last year and this year, we did not host Christmas, for the first times, but instead go to daughter Katie’s house. She has a really big tree.

Anyway, I thought it wise to write a poem about our new condo Christmas tree, in honor of Helen’s gracious acceptance of a smaller Christmas. It’s not long, but you can sing it…


O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
How shortened are your branches.

You stand upon a table round
You’re much too short to be on the ground
Your ornaments do not make a sound
Gifts beneath you cannot be found

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
How shortened are your branches

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Forever short your stature.
But your tiny lights bring large delight
We smile when you are in our sight
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Size is no measure of pleasure

John Robert McFarland

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


There are many verses
Sung in blessings and in curses

About strange and dubious breakfast menus
About exotic eats in questionable venues

But pie for breakfast is not weird
Pie for breakfast should not be feared

Pie’s not as strange as Sam-I-Am
Eating for breakfast green eggs and ham

We must give thanks for pie for breakfast
Apple or mince or a pecan repast

Pie for breakfast we must not eschew
Give thanks for mince and give it a chew

For on a cold November day
Breakfast pie is a good reason to pray




We are celebrating Thanksgiving a day early, to continue our time with daughter Mary Beth as she recovers from surgery, and I am thinking of the people for whom I am thankful. One of those is Joe Frazier.

What Dave Van Ronk called “the great folk scare of the 1960s” featured four great trios. I enjoyed Peter, Paul, & Mary, and The Kingston Trio, and The Limeliters, featuring “the man with the voice of an angel,” Glenn Yarbrough. My favorite, though, was The Chad Mitchell Trio, with Chad, Mike Kobluk, and Joe Frazier.

After his time in folk music, Joe became an Episcopal priest. In our roles as fellow clergy, Joe and I became friends. That friendship was short, because it came late in Joe’s life, but Helen and I gained much from it, and we cherish the memory of Joe.

We were talking about teleology one day, and I mentioned that the students at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago did not refer to “the grim reaper,” but to “the international harvester,” since the school was named for Cyrus McCormick, who invented and manufactured The International Harvester. That, of course, produced a story from Joe.

“When I was studying at Yale Divinity School, I worked nights in a care facility for the elderly with mental problems. Cyrus McCormick was one of my patients. I was there when the international harvester got him.”


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Final Home, a poem, sort of

FEBRUARY 19, 2015

We bought the final place today
Not the one that’s in the ground
Called our final resting place
The one just before it
The place where life is pleasant
“Not far from the pool”
Where no little children pester
With their jumps and giggles
Or memories intrude
It’s surely “close to shopping”
And far from all that matters
The place to wind it down
Until the boredom is too much
And we are willing to move on


Another "picked-up piece" from former days on the computer.