…a New Year

Double click the image to see a larger size
Double click the image to see a larger size

Hopefully, if you overdid it last night, your headache has worn off!  What did we do?  Stayed home, watched movies, read.  But, from about 11:30 on until I supposed 12:30, it sounded like a war zone outside.  I guess that Georgia rednecks love their fireworks!  Just yesterday evening we had gone to Costco for some stuff and they had huge packs of fireworks on sale (probably 4-5 feel tall and 2-1/2 feet wide)!

There is a verse in the Bible that encourages us not to let the sun go down on our anger – in other words, if you’re angry, work it out before the day is over.  Pretty good advice, if you ask me (I know you didn’t, but I’m throwing it out there anyway!)

Today’s photo was shot from the pier at Pismo Beach in California a couple of weeks ago as the sun was getting really low over the Pacific.  I thought that, in light of the end of one year and the start of another, it might be a good idea to take that verse and ask ourselves a few questions: 1) Am I still really bitter and angry with someone about something that they did or said this last year?  2) Is there someone who might be really angry with me from this past year?  3) How can I make either situation better heading into 2015?

Someone once said that unforgiveness is like mixing up a poison for your adversary to drink, but then drinking it yourself.  Think how much better of a place the world would be in 2015 if we would learn to forgive one another, if we sought out those we’ve hurt and asked them to forgive us (whether they deserve it or not).  Wouldn’t it be great if this year was the year to end wars?  Wouldn’t it be great if no one hurt you this year?  Well, that’s not going to happen…but we can choose how we will respond in return.  I hope this year we will all resolve to not be so petty, so small…and to rise above the hurts and angry each day so the world can be a better place.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  “Folsom Prison Blues” gave Johnny Cash his first top-10 country hit in 1956 (but that’s not what happened on this day in history), and his live concert performance at Folsom—dramatized memorably in the film Walk The Line—gave his flagging career a critical jump-start in 1968. But the prison with which Johnny Cash was most closely associated wasn’t Folsom, it was San Quentin, a maximum-security penitentiary just outside of San Francisco. San Quentin is where Cash played his first-ever prison concert on this day in 1958—a concert that helped set Merle Haggard, then a 20-year-old San Quentin inmate, on the path toward becoming a country music legend.

Haggard was a product of Bakersfield, California, a hard-bitten Central Valley town that was the final stop for tens of thousands of poor, white farmers and laborers who migrated west during the 1930s, 40s and 50s seeking work in the factories, farm fields and oilfields of California. These Oklahomans, Texans and others referred to by the blanket term “Okies” brought with them a love of country music, and not just any country music, but “Loud music that plays until all hours,” as Wynn Stewart sang in his 1962 country hit “How the Other Half Lives.” Merle Haggard would eventually become an architect of the hard-driving, no-frills Bakersfield Sound, which shook the Nashville establishment in the 1960s. But not before he ran afoul of the legal establishment in ways that most country singers only sing about.

Haggard did his first stint in jail at age 11, when his mother turned him over to the juvenile authorities as “incorrigible.” As a teenager, Haggard went into jail at least three more times, and went out via escape at least once. In 1957, at the age of 18, Haggard was arrested on a burglary charge and sentenced to 15 years in San Quentin. He ended up serving only two years of that sentence, though, and he credits Cash with giving him the inspiration to launch a career after prison that included 38 #1 hits on the country charts, including “Sing Me Back Home,” “Okie From Muskogee” and “Today I Started Loving You Again.” Of Johnny Cash’s prison debut, Haggard said this: “He had the right attitude. He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards—he did everything the prisoners wanted to do. He was a mean mother from the South who was there because he loved us. When he walked away, everyone in that place had become a Johnny Cash fan.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  for all you red-heads out there: Mark Twain once quipped that “while the rest of the human race are descended from monkeys, redheads derive from cats.”

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