Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas And Happy New Year And All, Y'all

Hopefully I will see you first thing in 2012.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Buried Treasure And A Family 'Miracle'

(This ran in today's Times and News-Star. Merry Christmas!)

There are lots of sick-to-your-stomach feelings that result from pilot error. One is when you step in something. Doggone it…

Or when you hit that sweet, sweet shin bone on something hard. (I am thinking wagon tongue or trailer hitch here.) Mercy.

But it’s a different kind of pain when you drive off with something on top of your car and, in mid-drive, realize it. This can happen when people in other cars point at your car’s roof – “Hey idiot, look above you!” – or it can come in a gut-punch moment of “Duooh!” self-awareness.

Unless it’s a dead deer or strapped-down luggage, you usually don’t carry anything up there. Certainly not your Bible.

But that’s what Mr. Bill had lost. It’s been more than a year now since he and his wife of 50 years headed to their car in Ruston for the drive to Wednesday night prayer meeting. He spotted something he wanted to put in his storeroom, put his Bible on the car roof, then forgot about it until he was halfway to church -- and running late.

Oops. “Let the lower lights be burning…”

After church – where he and Mrs. Minette could concentrate little – they searched ditches until dark. Mr. Bill looked some more the next day. No luck. Of course it rained the whole afternoon and night. The Bible was gone.

Not that any Bible is “just any Bible,” but this was not just any Bible. Not to Mr. Bill and his family. There were pictures in the margins that he’d drawn to keep his now-grown children quiet in church when they were little. All sorts of margin notes from decades of Sunday school teaching. Deacon notes. Training Union lessons.

He started using the backup Bible he had at home. If there was a silver lining in this black Biblical cloud, it’s that his “new” Bible had larger print! But it wasn’t the same. The other one would almost always seem to fall open wherever he needed it to.

A year passed. The phone rang. It was Mr. Bill’s Bible calling.

Actually, it was a gentleman in Jonesboro, 30 miles away. He’d been cleaning off his work desk and came across a book and wondered what this Bible was doing there.

Then he remembered that his boss, who lives on the same Ruston road as Mr. Bill, had brought it in about a year before on a rainy morning. He’d picked it up off the side of the road. “Look what I found,” he said, and put it on the man’s desk. And a year had gone by; no one had taken time to do anything with it, so it had been covered up with the business of that day, and then with the business of the year.

But this day, the man took the time to open it. He saw a name and address, and pictures drawn in the margins.

That afternoon, the Bible was on its way home. And all Mr. Bill could say to his family when he hung up the phone was, “Do you believe in miracles?”

It’s Christmas Day. So much of the business of the year has covered up the things that are important. But if we look – and we don’t even have to look too hard – if we look underneath all the wrapping paper and presents and food and football, surely we can find something priceless that, in our rush, maybe even in our rush to do what’s “right,” we might have dropped outside.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Feast Day Of Fools, by James Lee Burke: Hello!!!

Love me some James Lee.

Have not read one of his books in six years and my buddy got me his latest to sort of get me back on track. He's got to be America's most accurately descriptive writer. He and Pat Conroy. At least of the authors I've read. Burke is hard to beat in sensory and flat description.

This is more of a mythical, "why did they do that" kind of crime novel than a whodunit. It's a terrifying deal. And one of the great book jackets ever...


Monday, December 19, 2011

We Saw It All On The Radio

(This will run in the Ruston Daily Leader at some point. It runs here now. I was the 'color analyst' for Louisiana Tech football this year, teamed with my old friend and Tech Athletics Hall of Famer Freeway Dave Nitz, who is 7th on the current list of football games called for one school; Tech vs. TCU in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 7 CST will be Freeway's 427th or 428th call of a Tech football game...Here's a look at our season from the booth, though it is just the tip of Mr. Iceberg...And the photo is of Dave and me at Fresno State; the Hall of Famer is on the left...)

It started at 9 at night in a south Mississippi tropical storm and ended in mid-evening in a steady north Louisiana rain. In between was the football version of something mixed up enough to look like the inside of my grandmamma Ruth’s handbag.

It really was the strangest season of Louisiana Tech football I’ve seen since joining the program’s radio crew. It was also the first season of Tech football I’ve seen since joining the radio crew, but still…

Steve Davison had been the caddie for longtime Tech football play-by-play aficionado Dave Nitz, a Tech Hall of Famer we call “Freeway” because of his love of the road and its love of him. The only thing that’s been on the road more than Dave in four decades of radio work is asphalt.

Steve and his wife Sarah had twins in the spring, causing Steve to opt for “color analyst” early retirement. So I got the job in a way familiar to me: I begged. I was in the ear of LA Tech Sports Properties general manager Mason Ellenberger so much that by the time I’d broken him down, there was hardly enough of him left to scrape up with a putty knife and put in a shoe box.

(His original offer was $400 a game, which I laughed at. I countered. He laughed. Negotiations continued over a few stressful weeks, all the while with me remembering what my dad had taught me, that I could do most anything I wanted if I were willing to pay the price. We finally settled on me paying Mason $100 per game; I drive a hard bargain. $400 a game? Ha. That Mason. I swear.)

On the LA Tech Sports Network crew were returning veterans Dave and sidekick Benny Thornell, a statistician with a love for and encyclopedic knowledge of Tech athletics. (Benny knows where the bodies are buried.) The rookies were me and sideline reporter Max Causey, a quarterback for the 2001 Western Athletic Conference champion Bulldogs and a member of the Tech family since before birth, literally: his mom Linda is the daughter of Mrs. Gerry Lambright and the late Maxie Lambright, Tech Hall of Famer and former Bulldogs football coach. Max was juiced.

Other rookies included engineers Chris Brister and Ryan Kavanaugh, who split duty and were the only people besides Mason who knew how to hook up anything that would involve fans begin able to actually hear us on the radio.

I won’t give you the play-by-play here, but I can tell you that our first road trip was the season opener to Hattiesburg for the 9 p.m. game at Southern Miss. To be at the game five hours early as Dave prefers, we – me, Benny, Max, Ryan, Tech associate athletic director for media relations Malcolm Butler and Freeway -- left from Thomas Assembly in a van around 11 a.m. and made it all the way to Tallulah’s gravitational pull before stopping at Dave’s favorite restaurant. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: it’s called Wendy’s. (Dave suggests the hamburgers.)

Dave still hasn’t seen the Tech-Southern Miss game. The rain and fog on our broadcast booth window turned the thing into a shower door. Inside the booth was an actual shower; we had four trash cans catching water. (I am not joking.) I pressed my forehead against the glass to spot jersey numbers I hand-signaled to Dave, who watched as best he could on the end zone’s giant TV screen. Max battled the elements and looked like a prune in postgame.

We unfolded ourselves from the van back in Ruston, all cheery and whatnot, at 6:30 a.m.

That was the beginning. The season’s been well-documented by now, so you know that what ended up as a WAC championship and berth in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl started off more like something you step in and can’t get off your shoe. Dave and Benny took it particularly hard, and again, I’m not kidding. A 1-4 start – three heartbreakers and a game against Hawaii in which the team reacted terribly – well, it made every other game a grind. You could not afford to lose and still entertain any thought of a championship.

And what a grind it was.

But what a finish.

For the first few games, I hung something in the press box to make Dave feel at home, and each item had a story and fit the opponent. An old Southern Miss jersey, a pair of Houston Astros pants, and on like that. But it wasn’t working. So starting in Idaho, I taped just a baseball card of Dave (there IS such a thing!) and an advertisement for the new Wendy’s Hot ’n’ Juicy burgers to the press box wall. Seven games and seven wins later, I haven’t changed a thing.

It helped, of course, that Tech quit turning the ball over late. Started intercepting passes. Completed balls deep. Played like a band of brothers, whistle to whistle.

I could go on and on with examples, and maybe soon I will. But for now – I mean, since I am an “expert” color guy and all – I’ll just say that after all the limp-offs and plane trips and penalties and momentum swings and gut checks, the sole team standing atop the WAC really proved itself a champion. Anybody who knows anything about football will tell you that the team who won the WAC worked its way up a hill to get there, earned it step by step, down by down, quarter by quarter, game by game.

And when the smoke from the long regular season cleared, there was only one jersey at the top of the mountain. Its color was red and blue. Even a rookie color analyst could see that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pout, cry and watch out!; Santa understands

(From today's Times and News-Star; I'll try harder next time!)

It bothers me that Santa sees me when I’m sleeping and knows when I’m awake.

Does he see me in the shower? Does he know when I have gas? If he does and I do, will that make him go away?

I guess it is a small price to pay, though, this constant surveillance, as long as the presents keep rolling in. It’s a Yuletide hazard. Like fruitcake.

Christmas commercialization does not come without its downside. For every plus, there is a minus. It’s almost like real life!

Consider that in sports they tell you to “keep your eye on the ball.” They coach you not to “drop the ball.”

Yet at the same time, we’re supposed to “have a ball.”


The holiday season is especially pressurized, ball-wise. Opportunities for disaster lurk in the form of festive balls nearly everywhere you turn. Lurkers. Lurking. Doing what lurkers do.

I hate lurking holiday disaster. But, in a fallen world with a lot of round things, it’s inevitable. We’ve got to be “on the ball!”

You’ve got your ball that involves dancing and dip and parties. Christmas Balls. Galas. Will I dress appropriately? Get caught in Yuletide chit-chat? (“I don’t mind ordinary conversation, but I hate chit-chat.” – Bernard P. Fife) Have an olive stuck in my teeth? Ask the host when the baby is due, even though she’s not pregnant?

It happens.

You’ve got your holiday bowl games, or ball games, and the potential for slips there are obvious. Drop the ball, lose the bowl.

There are ornamental balls to drop when you trim the tree. One of those breaks and it’s like breaking a light bulb. They haven’t invented something harder to sweep up than broken light bulbs or broken Christmas balls.

There’s the bell ball that hangs on your door and drives you crazy when the festive tingling wears off, which is quickly. There’s the jelly and crème cheese ball that lures the unsuspecting in like mosquito bulbs lure moths. Zap!

And there’s the most beloved Christmas ball of all, the cheese ball, which I eat until I get my bloat on. Who thought to put cheese into a ball and sprinkle nuts on it? How much time did THAT guy have on his hands that day? Regardless, God bless him. Yet there are hazards even in the good things, so my cheese ball holiday limit is two. (“No officer, I had just a couple of cheese balls is all. I was at a party!”)

Shopping is another holiday hazard, though it’s not so bad if you enjoy human bumper cars. I try to avoid mixing it up with a few thousand people whenever I can, so most of my Christmas shopping is online. Or, if I have to “go out there,” I try to do it in June.

Driving? During the holidays? Just because that person has a wreath tied above his bumper doesn’t mean he won’t pick you off in the parking lot.

There is the hazard of light hanging. Lights are hazardous enough, but when you go to hanging them, I mean, that’s like jumping into a hip hop contest with Ghostface Killa: you are asking to get “lit up.” Those old days were magical, but I have hung off my last house eve.

Hey, Santa knows the Christmas pathway is dicey. But most woe comes through pilot error. So take it easy. Relax. You’re supposed to have a ball, not break one.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Taxman's Take On Christmas: 2

(My notes from Dr Chris' message at FBC)

Matthew 1:21-23

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”
(which means “God with us”).


1. God In The Flesh v. 23
Isaiah 7:14.."The virgin will be with child...they will call him Emannuel which means 'God with us'
John 1:1 -- "The Word came ... the Word was God....
John 1:14 -- "The Word became flesh ..."
John 14:8-9 "anyone who has seen me has seen the Father..."
GOD WITH US -- friendship, companionship...that's what "with" means here...and Jesus says, "anyone who has seen me has seen the Father..."
Christmas is God saying, "You NEED me, and you need me close to you..."

2. Our Savior
John 3:17 .. Jesus came "not to condemn the world but to save it"
* v. 21 "name him Jesus because he will save..."
Joshua = Yahweh saves; "Jesus" in Green for ancient Hebrew Joshua ... usually a baby was named after the baby's father...
* John 10:10 -- "that you might have life abundantly" He came to save us from ourselves.
* "He became one of us, down in the middle of us, to save the worst of us." -- Milton
* Phil2: 5-11 ... Paul writes that God lay aside he godly rights to save us

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Tax Collector's Take On Christmas: 1

(From Dr Chris and my FBC notes)

Matthew 1: 18-24

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Joseph is the first person NOT to believe the Virgin Birth story ...v 19

When you are hurt, what do you do?

1. Decide To Handle It As Gently As Possible
There are dicey things we must do now and then -- actually often. It's even Biblical to ask people NOT to come to a certain church anymore, to fire people, etc....

But Joseph, though he did not believe Mary at first, was a godly young man and finally believed, and did not want to hurt Mary...v. 19 -- "Not wanting to make her a public example ..."

Gal 5:22-23 .. The fruit of the spirit
Phil 4:5 "Let your gentlenbess be evident to all. Thye Lord is near..."

2. Make A Choice To Hear God In The Issue
Most of us will NOT hear him...
* Pause, be quite ... We heard through his Word, and through the Holy Spirit (v 20-21).

3. Obey God No Matter What v 24

4. ... And God Will Take Care Of You (when we decide to do it His way)
a. Sometimes the situation will miraculously work out...
b. But God will ALWAYS take care of you ... you can be reconciled to one who doesn't want it, but god will always take care of us when we follow his voice. The old hymn "God Will Take Care of You," through every day, all along the way...


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dropping The (Christmas) Ball

(From today's Times and News-Star)

At unquestionably the biggest night church service of the year, with proud moms and great aunts and uncles tucked in tight to see cute children take part in the symbolic Christmas ceremony, a granddad fumbled the mistletoe ball.

Literally in front of God and everybody.

“The fan mail continues to come in,” he said in mid-week after that traumatic Sunday night. “It’s nice to be noticed again. I’m surprised it wasn’t ‘Play of the Day’ on ESPN.”

He’s accepted the electronic waves of mail and the face-to-face snickers with the guarded good cheer of a man who stepped over the edge -- and lived to be ridiculed about it.

“This is the gift that will keep on giving,” he said, “right on through 2012.”

It happened during the Hanging of the Greens, a traditional service in which every branch and bough hung has seasonal meaning. Cedar represents royalty, fir and pine represent everlasting life, holly for resurrection, mistletoe for … sin? I’m not sure. But this is what happened.

The children go all over the church putting up wreaths and boughs at predetermined times. The organist plays. The congregation or choir or soloist sings. At some point, a fashioned orb of mistletoe the size of two basketballs and with a hook attached is lifted by a human holding a hooked stick and placed on a high hook in the sanctuary.

When you’re dealing with that many hooks and a human and a stick and a somber audience, you’re dealing with liturgical dynamite.

Dressed in his holiday finest, my guy (to use his name would be indiscreet; we’ll just call him Pat) had practiced before the gig. Hung it right up. But as he sat in the congregation preparing for The Hanging, the hook appeared smaller. And higher. And the stick looked to weigh roughly the same as your average piece of pulpwood.

It was time. He secured the mistletoe ball on the stick. Heaved it skyward. Arms began trembling. He zeroed in on the hook. It bobbed and weaved. He glanced over his shoulder toward his precious wife of 50 years, who seemed to say with her eyes, “Please! While we’re young!”

He got it! The hooks hooked! But only a bit. And as he brought the stick down, well, the mistletoe ball…she fell. To Pat, it happened in slow motion. The ball seemed to fall in sections. Took a calendar day for the thing to hit the ground, which it did with a soft splat. Of course to Pat, it sounded a clothes washing machine had just been dropped out a fifth-story window.

It was all about pride at this point. Again he went in, with the stick, and hooked the ball. (What I’ve imagined is a guy trying to land a marlin, only in reverse.) He pointed the stick and the unruly mistletoe ball skyward, took aim, and after a few more agonizing eternities, she hooked. She hooked! Lord have mercy, securely, she hooked.

The children, lined in back and paying more attention in church than at any time previous in their entire lives, paused, eyes on the ball, just to make sure. And when she’d held for five seconds and then 10, and the end of the torment was assured, they actually burst into cheer. They cheered in church!

Pat sat. He did what he always does in times of distress: he looked upward. The center held. It was finished.

But not without a price. “The only other greens I’ll ever hang again,” he said, “will be turnips.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Old Friend Donnie Golfgame...

Readers of The Times and many alums of Louisiana Tech will recognize our friend Don Walker, who moved to Florida a few years ago and now works for Florida Today. He is a beautiful human being and loves him some golf. He also just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas. Here he is asking Santa for another cruise for Christmas. (Don is on the right.)

We love us some Don!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hurts me ...

Col. Sherman Potter. He was no Col. Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson and my personal preference), but he was good and helped M*A*S*H hang around for another 10 wonderful years.

Loved him on "Dragnet" too.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Of The First 'Big" Books I Ever Read...

...and it was a beautiful thing. One day I'm going to get another copy of this. Borrowed it from the Bookmobile in Dillon County, S.C. The "We Were There..." series was AWESOME -- at least it was when you were a kid in Dillon County. At that point, the only book I could have written was "We Were There In Dillon County."


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In His Presence: 8

Isaiah 6: 1-8

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

This text written around 740 BC by the prophet Isaiah...

I. We got into His presence how?

1. In His House
v. 1 "I saw the Lord..." or I 'understood' the Lord ... while in his house...
Heb 10:25 "Do not forsake assembling..." Church attendance is not a Biblical option...

2. In Prayer v. 1 "...saw God high and lifted up." Isaiah is in prayer, and has a fresh encounter with God.

II. When in His presence...

3. You Will See Him As He Is
People will say, "I have my view of God," but what is "God's view of God"? That is what's important (v. 1) -- Isaiah saw God as He is, "on the throne" as King of Kings

4. You'll See Him Holy and Perfect...
v. 2-3 "Holy Holy Holy..."

5. ...And Awesome
(v. 4) "the posts were shaken..."

III. What happens when we really meet him?

6. Brokenness and Cleansing and Forgiveness

v. 5 -- "Woe is me..." You don't strut into or out of God's presence..(Illus: Look into a magnifying mirror and see how you 'really' are

v. 6-7 .. 1John 1:9 "If we confess, God is faithful and" will purify us ...

Isaiah 5: the prophet "beats up" the others
Isaiah 6: he beats up himself

7. A Willingness To Be Completely God's
v. 8 -- "I heard the voice ask, Who do I send...Who will go?" Isaiah heard...

8. A Willingness to Serve With Abandonment
v. 8 "Send me..."

Why do churches struggle for workers? They haven't had an encounter with God, maybe?...


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ode To Kermie And Them

(from Sunday's Times and News-Star)

I nearly pulled seven leg muscles getting to the picture show and “The Muppets,” the seventh feature film but first in 12 years for this band of fits. If they were misfits they would not have already grossed an opening week haul of nearly $50 million (a solid No. 2 last week behind That Big Vampire Movie) after a dozen years on the shelf.

My son Casey is a hard-to-believe 22 now but humors me in that we’ve been quoting the movie all week, as if it were “Caddyshack” or “Arthur.” Like ice cream, The Muppets are generationally friendly.

I love me some Muppets. When they had their regular TV show 30 years ago, entertainers from John Cleese to Elton John to Don Knotts to Linda Rondstadt appeared. Rich Little. Steve Martin. Superman and Raquel Welch and Carol Burnett. They all wanted a piece of the action.

Today’s generation is not familiar with the not-in-syndication Muppets, which hurts me. (I might ask for a Season Two or Three DVD for Christmas?; it’s between that and a shoe horn.) But the current movie would make a fine introduction or, if you’ve missed these guys (and the irrepressible Miss Piggy, and who hasn’t?), a fine re-introduction. The old dudes smarting off from the balcony and Bobo The Bear alone are worth the price of admission.

It takes a poet to express how I really feel about The Muppets, and since I know no poets, I had to write the poem myself. Sorry! I hope if they get a copy, The Muppets will accept this for what it is, just a small but sincere love letter from a man fan.

Ode to Kermie and Them

Is a Muppet
Just a puppet,
Or is it something more?
Seems to me
The Muppets be
An entertaining metaphor.

Don't mutt turn into
family pets
When on your bed they sleep?
‘Just food’ becomes
A banquet
If it’s at your mom’s you eat.

Is it water
Or an ocean
When you’re standing on a shore?
Doesn’t golf
Turn into dodge ball
When you hear a guy yell, “Fore!”?

Is it sky
Or is it heaven
When you’re looking up at night?
Wasn’t Ali
Verses Frazier
More than just another fight?

In a world of
Fickle facebook friends
Where people come and go,
The Muppets --
More than puppets --
Stick around after show.
(A lot more fun
Than many of the
Humans that we know!)

They’re honest as
The day is long
They tell you how they feel;
Made of cloth
And buttons, sure -- but
Otherwise, they’re real.

Things aren’t always
As they seem
Despite what grownups say.
The Muppet that you meet
By chance
Could be your friend someday.

Daily Muppets laugh
And cry
And hope upon a star.
My prayer for me:
I hope to be
As human as they are.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Missions Is About ...

(From my FBC notes; missionary to Macedonia Kyle Kirkpatrick was wonderful as our speaker...)

John 4: 1-42 (Jesus and the Woman at the Well)

1. ...Crossing Barriers
"being in the wrong place at the wrong time" ... Jesus intentionally goes to Samaria, which He could have bypassed as Jews and Samaritans didn't socialize. I need to cross barriers where i would feel uncomfortable ... Are we willing to cross barriers for the sake of the Gospel, for Jesus' truth...?

2 ... Knowing God, Not Comparing History
well water = manmade, old religion
living water = what satisfies the heart of man
v. 23 .. "worship in spirit and in truth" ... too often we associiate worship with emotion and a place

3. ...Reorienting Our Lives
v. 29 -- the woman "met a man" ... she left her waterpot, willing to abandon what she thought was her purpose for His mission.

4. ... Teamwork v. 35
It unites us ... Jesus shows disciples that the woman has done the hard work of missions, and now the Samaritans, the 'harvest,' is coming to hear...
The disciples had gone into town and done as Jesus asked, but nothing in the text says they 'witnessed' while they were in town; the woman at the well did...Now imagine the disciples there with Jesus, and here come the Samaritans who have heard the woman; they are coming to the well..... "Open your eyes and look at the fields; they are ripe for harvest..."