In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.


That’s how the old poem goes. The poem is, “In The Bleak Midwinter” by Christina Rossetti, c. 1870.

Winter’s not my favorite season, yet some of my favorite things are a part of this season: Christmastime, family activities, fires, hot chocolate, spiced cider, mulled wine, strong coffee and rich food. But I miss the sunshine, the leaves and being outside. I complain of humidity in summer and the dry air of winter.

Winter seems quieter, slower, more contemplative. I can almost picture the scene where Ms. Rossetti penned her poem. From that first verse you might think she was depressed or in despair. Winter can do that to you. But when you read the rest, you see she was contrasting winter with something else. Something new. Something with promise, like the coming spring. The poem continues:

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Maybe that’s the key to seasons of bleakness whether they be in winter or summer, in abundance or poverty. 2018 has had it all, or so it seems. The world seems meaner somehow, more base, more selfish, more arrogant, more misguided.

But it also seems more hopeful. I have the privilege of being around immensely creative young people and wonderful family. They seem more energized, more visionary.

I want to be among those who understand there is more to the poem, more to the story, more to this life.

Most know of the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Many know these words to be the introduction to the Declaration of Independence. Many would see these unalienable (which means you can’t give them away) Rights to be the highest form of humanity. They’re good, don’t get me wrong, but there is more.

If we stop with these then we will put all of our hopes in political solutions. That’s the mold they are cast in. It should be clear to us that the ultimate answers are not in politics. There is more.

We always speak of the turn from one year to the next as the NEW year, fraught with opportunity, a new start. I am resolving to aim higher, drink deeper, see more, listen more, give more and live more. And with all that living there is a chance that at the end of 2019 I will weigh more. Just being honest.

By the way, that old poem was made into a wonderful Christmas Carol. I highly recommend James Taylor’s version of the song. You can find it on his album “At Christmas” along with a lovely version of Auld Lang Syne; perfect for midnight tonight.

At The Table

TRYING NOT TO SOUND TOO… pitiful, sour-grape-ish, sore-loser-ish…

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, pilgrim. We’ll have the blessing to sit at a couple of different Thanksgiving feasts over that weekend.


I am hoping everyone has safe travels.

I hope everyone has something good to eat.

I hope everyone has someone to be with.

I hope everyone around our table knows how much I love them and how thankful I am to be in their tribe.

I hope Ginger brings coleslaw. I hope to have a piece of pecan pie. I hope I don’t hurt someone’s feelings by not eating their sweet potato dish (even though it is covered with some marshmallow looking something). I hope they’ll understand that I don't like Jell-O that has stuff suspended in it. I like them, I like that they cared enough to bring something to the table, it’s just the idea of putting stuff in Jell-O. It’s like putting turkey organs in the dressing or the gravy. It’s just not necessary.

Another thing I hope won’t be at our Thanksgiving table: politics—red ones or blue ones, first ammendment or second, donkeys or elephants. I’m done. As I said at the top, I’m trying not to sound too… pitiful, sour-grapish, sore-loserish… I’m just done.

Not too far into our new marriage, we were at the Thanksgiving table at my Amazing Missus’ parent’s house. The food at that table was always wonderful and abundant. (Except for some strange tradition of putting oysters in the dressing.) [Apparently, I have an aversion to people putting stuff in other stuff that God never intended to go together.]

Anyway, we’re all seated, the blessing was said, and before we knew it, the conversation turned to A.I. This was the mid-70s and we were talking about A.I.?

Let me clarify: this was not conversation about the merits, threats, or potentials of Artifical Intelligence. This was a graphic dialog about Artificial Insemination. You see, I literally married the “farmer’s daughter”. The family had a long, successful history in the dairy farming business. As a city-boy of sorts, I don’t guess I had given much thought to the reproductive arts down on the farm.

A few seconds into the discussion, my Amazing-Mother-In-Law said, “That’s enough of that!” She spoke with a humble authority that everyone heard without any confusion or uncertainty. And, just like that; the conversation changed.

Oh how I hope that if politics comes up in discussion, someone with the moral certainty and authority, the clear-headedness, and the clear-heartedness of my late Amazing-Mother-In-Law will say, “That’s enough of that!”

Vlogging--Fun for all ages?

THE KIDS ARE DOING SOMETHING these days called vlogging. Best I can tell it hasn’t set off danger alarms and warning flags among parent groups and religious fundamentalists like poor little Harry Potter did, or Ouija boards, or Chubby Checker and The Twist, or the Hula-Hoop, or The Beatles. It does involve social media, a device with a screen, and putting-yourself-out-there, so it does come with those typical inherent concerns.

It’s kind of a fun word to say—vlogging. Rhymes with clogging, which, by the way, sounds like something you might see: someone vlogging about clogging.

Best I can tell, it is sort of a mix of journaling and home movies; except for the fact that probably few people care to read my journal, and if I remember correctly, no one wants to see anyone’s home movies. I may recall that there were times when we would have company over that didn’t seem to want to leave, even though it was “getting late.” So, Dad would say, “Let me get out the old slide projector and show you the shots of our vacation to the painted desert.” Within minutes you could see the hazy red of their taillights glowing through the exhaust of the family sedan.

Home Movies. Stevan Dohanos (1907 – 1994)

Home Movies. Stevan Dohanos (1907 – 1994)

Here’s an official definition:

A vlog (or video blog) is a blog that contains video content. The small, but growing, segment of the blogosphere devoted to vlogs is sometimes referred to as the vlogosphere. Definition from

I like to journal. I like to write a blog. I like taking pictures and shooting video. And although I’m an introvert, I have enough arrogance and creative drive to put-myself-out-there. Do I have delusions that anyone would watch an on-going vlog called About Pops? None! I can imagine someone saying, “WOW, would you look at the time! Honey, better gather up the kids. We gotta get home.”

It’s kind of like this blog. I created in August 2013. Five years ago (and my sixth grade teacher told me I couldn’t stick to anything). I didn’t start this blog with aspirations of a huge readership. As I’ve said before, it was mostly about a motivation to write. I love to write, but without a deadline, an impetus, a spark, I lean to good intentions but no words on the paper.

Now, five years later, I enjoy looking back over the posts and remembering the births of grand-kids, a marriage, trips, good times, uncertain times, silliness, making people mad, making people question my sanity, questioning my own sanity.

The other day I got a call from our son Corey: “It’s time to renew your URL for About Pops. I’m assuming you want to do that?” I didn’t think about it. I just said yes. Had I thought it over, I might have said, “Five years is long enough.” I’m glad I didn’t. It’s still fun.

Blogging is one thing. Vlogging is another. My 8-year old Grand-Girl, Karlee, showed me a few videos by vloggers. Then I found a few on my own. I find it fascinating. If I were 17, I would definitely start vlogging. At 67? Why not?

Hold on while I set up the movie projector.

Beans To Brew


I do enjoy coffee. I like the taste of a good dark roast and the whole coffee-drinking experience. And I don’t mind the buzz.


According to Wikipedia: “Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class. It is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world.

It is also legal and mostly unregulated in Baptist churches, and probably other churches too, but I’m mostly familiar with acceptable and unacceptable drug use in the Baptist Tradition. I noted that it is “mostly” unregulated; many Baptist churches frown upon coffee in the auditorium (or sanctuary, if you’re a high-class Baptist.). Other than that; it’s all-you-can-drink anywhere you want to drink it.

I don’t like to think of myself as a coffee snob, but church coffee is kind of like Vacation Bible School Kool-Aid—weak and tepid. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Which brings us to Starbucks and the conditioning of coffee-drinkers to think little of paying a lot for a few pennies worth of coffee beans and hot water. But we all know, at some point you’re paying for the experience. And I’m a willing participant.

Can you imagine, how many wonderful conversations have happened over a cup of coffee? The world’s problems are solved everyday in coffee joints across the country. Cookies taste better and politics are more bitter with a good strong cup of coffee.

So, where in the great state of Oklahoma can you go for the best coffee experience? Although I’m just a humble consumer and accidental connoisseur, I have opinions and I’m not afraid to share them. Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list. In fact, I am wide open to trying new places, especially if you’re buying. But, for what it’s worth:

In Oklahoma City:

  • Cafe Evoke
  • Coffee Slingers Roasters
  • Cuppies and Joe
  • Elemental Coffee Roasters
  • Hank's Coffee & Wine
  • Junction Coffee
  • t, an urban teahouse

I like all of these places. I have visited each of them numerous times and in many cases I know the people that run them. Try them all. Note: If you want to visit Junction Coffee, you’ll have to hunt them down. It’s a coffee shop in a double-decker bus from Great Britain and they move around from place to place. And that last one on the list, t, an urban teahouse, you can get a cup of coffee there, but go for the tea. Kristy Jennings, the proprietor will illuminate the whole process for you if you ask.

In Tulsa:

  • CHoCS: Coffee House on Cherry Street
  • Shades of Brown Coffee & Art
  • Dwelling Spaces

My hometown and three of my favorites. Each of these is in neighborhood worth visiting: Cherry Street, Brookside, and Blue Dome, respectively. On a cool evening, go al fresco at the Starbucks at Utica Square. 

El Reno:

  • Iron Tree Coffee Company

We lived in El Reno for several years back when it’s downtown was thriving. (Before Wal Mart came to town.) I love seeing this little shop helping keep downtown percolating.


  • Hoboken Coffee Roasters

One of my favorites. You know the old saying, “Location, location, location!” The Hoboken folks said, “To heck with that!” This place isn’t hidden away in a back alley, but if you can find it you won’t be disappointed.


  • Elevated Grounds

There was a great little shop in downtown Shawnee called Sips. It was just right, but now it’s gone. Elevated Grounds is fairly new and doesn’t have the same ambience as Sips did, but the cup I had there was very good and the service was beyond expectation.


  • RX Brew

This little shop in a wonderfully converted craftsman house was one of my favorites. It is now under new ownership and is called RX Brew & Donuts. I haven’t tried it yet, so you’re on  your own.

Now to that new coffee shop I want you to know about. It’s in Hinton, Oklahoma, which is about an hour west of OKC just south of I-40. Wait! Let me tell you why it’s worth the drive all the way to Hinton for a cup of coffee.


This shop is called Brew92. The proprieters are dear friends, but even if they weren’t I would still recommend you go. The coffee drinks are brewed with the same care you would find at a coffeeshop in Seattle or Portland. The pastries though… these are worth the drive. Forget about the calories for an hour or so and enjoy. 

Not only are the food and beverages outstanding, this is a place you will want to spend some time in. It’s comfortable and even inspiring. Believe it or not, there is a good chance you’ll be able to watch a real potter working clay on a wheel. Her name is Sterling and she is an artist in the best sense of that word. Could be that your next coffee could be from your new mug fired in her kiln.

Here’s my offer: want to try Brew92? Let’s pick a time, drive out together. The coffee is on me. Or if you go without me, be sure to tell them, “Pops sent me.” It won’t get you anything, but perhaps a little sympathy. By the way, Brew92 also serves teas from t, an urban teahouse. Who doesn’t need a little Tea & Sympathy occasionally, or a double shot of espresso and a scone?

Brew92 on Instagram
Brew92 on Facebook
Sterling Pottery on Instagram
Sterling Pottery on Facebook

t, an urban teahouse