Creative Brooding

Welcome to my blog. My name is Pat O'Connor and I wanted to create one little spot where I could share feelings, thoughts, even ramble if I want to. Perhaps too, reveal a side of me very few know about. If there are two words I would use to describe myself, those two would be iconoclastic and eclectic.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The latest and greatest Caelen

The latest and greatest Caelen


Friday, January 25, 2013

The Sacrifices of God are a broken spirit...

Humble Service in the Body of Christ - Putting God and others before you in selflessness, without even the expectation of recognition or a thank you.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:3

New International Version (NIV)

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” James 4:6.

Humble yourself before God - with no regard to being exalted later.  Humble yourself because He is God, the Creator of all things, Giver of all Life, The judge of all sin, Through Christ the only redemption from sin. 

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

By his stripes we are healed

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 

 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Dawn Comes No Matter How long the Night

The Dawn Comes No Matter How Dark the Night

No Matter How Lonely the Night

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect . .

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect . . .Philippians 3:12

It is a trap to presume that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do— God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. The emphasis of holiness movements tends to be that God is producing specimens of holiness to put in His museum. If you accept this concept of personal holiness, your life’s determined purpose will not be for God, but for what you call the evidence of God in your life. How can we say, “It could never be God’s will for me to be sick”? If it was God’s will to bruise His own Son (Isaiah 53:10), why shouldn’t He bruise you? What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ, and your unrestrained devotion to Him whether you are well or sick.

Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life. When you obey the call of Jesus Christ, the first thing that hits you is the pointlessness of the things you have to do. The next thought that strikes you is that other people seem to be living perfectly consistent lives.

Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life. When you obey the call of Jesus Christ, the first thing that hits you is the pointlessness of the things you have to do. The next thought that strikes you is that other people seem to be living perfectly consistent lives. Such lives may leave you with the idea that God is unnecessary— that through your own human effort and devotion you can attain God’s standard for your life. In a fallen world this can never be done. I am called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God’s purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He wants.

My Utmost for His Highest

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thinking of You on a Winter's Day

Thinking of You on a Winter's Day

Looking through my files and I ran across a song, "I Wanna Grow Old With You"

My heart turned at once to you and I am wondering how you are in the so distant land that I can not yet wander through.  

I see you splashing in the surf, the sand squeaking through your toes as your spirit laughs with such joy.  The joy from knowing no pain, no disease, no more sorrow, nor loneliness. 


I wonder of the beauty you see and the peace the envelops your beautiful soul.

You have been gone so long and still the sorrow is there as it if were but if the sun just set the evening before.

I wander so aimlessly through life now, watching the days go by in a monotonous rhythm.

Look far away behind you, and I am coming. 

Like a wave, longing for the embrace of the shore....but I seem to lost, so distant.... so unable to be with you....

always longing for that embrace, but always staying just beyond....staying just beyond that joy and rest......just beyond touching constantly

thrown about in a raging sea.....gasping for air...reaching out in a futile attempt to touch you......forever struggling....always in pain....always wondering how long....

I need the light to guide me guide me to that shore to be with splash 
in the surf with you as we are together again.....

I long to look back and see our footprints together.....

for all the days and tomorrows to come

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My Brother and Sisters - 1960's

Wow, I ran across this pic in an email folder I forgot I even had.

This is a pic of my sister Marion (in front of horse), my brother Steve on horse) and my two younger sisters Susan and Diana (left, right) taken in the early 60's.  Not sure exact year.

The horse is Star.  We all loved that horse.  Sweetest ole horse you ever saw.  I used to love brushing him and feeding him apples when I visited Aunt Paula.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Hurricane and a New School

A Hurricane and a New School

 Pat O'Connor

Hurrricane Donna Pays a Visit

**Oringinally posted in Google**

So now, with my brother and sister gone to faraway Oregon, I was the last O'Connor left in Florida.  I would miss them very deeply, yet to this day
I have never regretted my decision to remain at Aunt Gladys and Uncle Austin's
School was about to start and once again I would
be starting a new school. There were many of us in our neighborhood who had been attending Central Elementary, which was in downtown Auburndale.

But, there was a newer school just blocks from our house and the school policy changed meaning we would now be attending Lena Vista Elementary.  

I was now in second grade and my new teacher was Mrs. Dial.  She was an interesting person.  I remember her being very hefty and everyday she would take home scraps of lunchroom food for her dog.

I had the same teacher for third and sixth grade, a Mrs McCarty.  In fourth grade my teacher was Mrs Mitchell.

In fifth grade my teach was Miss Harrison.  We all loved her and she was very unique in several ways.

First, she was an "old maid" having never been married.  She was very wealthy as she owned hundreds of acres of prime citrus groves, yet she drove this ancient old car from the early fifties. I want to say, it was a 1951 Chevy. Her classroom was special also as it was the only room in the school with a television and air conditioner.

Finally, she was also a vegetarian, the first one I can remember ever knowing.

It wasn't such a bad transition though, as at least I would know a lot of the kids and actually it was a much nicer facility.  I have many good memories of Lena Vista, even when I fractured my right arm in fourth grade and broke my left one in sixth grade.  Hey, you can't live life on the sidelines.

Life was also about to get very interesting  as a result of a monster storm roaring across Florida.

Hurrican Donna was a category four (some say five) hurricane with at one time sustained winds of 160mph, and peak winds of 175mph.  It roamed around the Carribean and the Atlantic from August 29, 1960 until September 14, 1960.

It was one of this countries deadliest hurricanes aslo, due to the path it took after smashing through Florida.  It made landfall in the Everglades, came straight up Florida and then cut accross the state at Tampa.  After leaving Florida, it hugged the US Atlanta coastline all the way up through New England.

It also held together extremely well and even when  it crossed Long Island it had a 100 mile wide eye.  When it made it's way to Rhode Island, it still had wind gusts up to 130 mph.  These states were simply not prepared for such a storm as this.  The illustration to the left is an actual radar image of Donna.

All in all 364 people lost their lives and billions of dollars of destruction ranged for hundreds of miles along the Atlantic seaboard.

I was surprised too at my reaction to Donna.  After the hurricane/tornado incident in Tennessee several years before, I had been terrified of bad storms.  But, this time I was unusually calm and actually slept a little bit.   Our house was an incredibly solid masonary and block home well capable of surviving an even worse storm.

The only damage we had was a shingle blew off a neighbor's house and went through a dining room window.

The eye of hurricane Donna passed directly over our town and you know, we couldn't resist going outside in the middle of it.  It was one of the eariest scenes I can remember.  Nothing moved, not even bugs, and there was absolutely no noise.  It was a scene of total and complete stillness.

After the storm passed, there was of course no electricity and the store close to our house had to get rid of all its perishables before they went bad.  So, I took my little red wagon and brought home a load of ice cream.

Most of the houses of that time were also built about three feet off the ground so as to avoid being flooded during storms or even the heavy monsoon type rain we had.  While our house was safe, the yard was covered with about a foot of red yucky water, with leeches floating around by the seeming thousands and with occasional snakes swimming around.  It would be days before the water finally subsided.

The rest of the year, thank goodness passed without much fanfare, storms or other memorable events.

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The Summer of 1960 "A time of fun and change"

The Summer of 1960 "A time of fun  and change"

Pat O'Connor

My Perceptions of Reality

What does a discontented soul do when nothing makes sense anyway? 

Christmas tree repaired, the year ended with in a happy note.  Infact, it was the first real family Christmas I had ever had.

Aunt Gladys quickly became the mom I had always wanted.  Uncle Austin, however was much more distant, even seemingly cold at times.  Yet, what can you say about these two who opened their door and were willing to take a child that not even his mother wanted.

There were three families of the Hammock children living in Central Florida at the time.  Aunt Vivian and Uncle Kenny in Rockledge, Aunt Gladys

We only lived a hour and a half away from each other, so we were always spending weekends, visiting and doing thing together.  It really created a sense of belonging and family that I had not known before.

Winter, what there is of it in central Florida, quickly turned into Spring as soon it was time for school to be out.

Gerald, my aunt and uncle's oldest son had been living in Elba, Alabama and was getting married to one of the local girls.   So we were off for a wedding.

I, also,  didn't realize that Aunt Gladys had talked to Uncle Jake about me spending the summer with him and Aunt Louise.  So when they told me, I was bouncing off the wall.

 After the wedding I left with Uncles Jakes and Aunt Louise for the farm. It was to be a grand summer!!!!

Now every farm boy needs his own little  project to handle, so, the first week I was there Uncle Jake bought me a hundred little baby chicks that I was going to raise..what happened when they were, that comes later.

They had also completely remodled their home, including installing air conditioning and had bought a color tv.  This wa going to be a rough time, I could tell.

Morning started early ands while Aunt Louise would be making those hot delectible buttermilk biscuits, I would go out and gather eggs.

Then I would be off following Uncle Jake as he went out to his old Jersey milkcow. 

We also had an entourage of cats waiting for that special squirt of warm fresh butter-rich milk.    
After breakfast, we were off to do some work.  During the summer the was hay to cut, corn to harvest, cotton to pick and peanuts to gather.

To help with all this, Uncle Jake had a number of hired hands, but also had the very latest in farm machinary and combines.

Now after lunch, we had a siesta, sometimes went fishing, sometimes went off to get supplies, shop and the like.  I was Uncle Jake's shadow and everywhere he went, I went as did his loveable old beagle Joah.

The Summer of 1960 was also a serious turning point in my lymphedema.  For this first time I had an attack of an infection called cellulitis.  This is one of the many complications of lymphedema.

I had gone off to Bible school and within the short time that I was there, a left inguinal lymph node swelled to the size of a golfball and was incredibly painful.  Aunt Louise came to pick me up and I went straight to bed when we got home.  I don't remember a single thing for more then a week.

Once recovered though I was again unstoppable.  It was back to chores, feeding the chickens,fishing, swimming, scaring the cows and other assorted tasks like devouring home made deep dish blackberry cobbler.

Uncle Jake had this antique corn shucker/grinder that his dad once used on his farm.  I loved to shove ears of corn down that shucker, turn the handle and watch the grains of corn come flowing out the end.

  By the way, remember those one hundred baby chicks?  

Well.....yep.....when they were tender pullet size, we had the grandest cookout that county had seen thus far that summer.    All grain fed, tender and very moist!!! Uncle Jake lopped off their heads, then we threw them in pots of boiling water and Aunt Louise and I would pluck the feathers.

But Summer by now was quickly drawing to a close and soon it would be time to return to Auburndale and start second grade.

However, while I was having the time of my life up in Cottondale, down in central Florida, there were some big changes occurring.

Steve, my brother had left Florida and returned to mother.  Marion was tricked into returning when mother told her I would also be coming after I 
returned from Uncle Jake's. 

However, Aunt Gladys and Uncle Austin left that decision totally up to me.  Even as a seven year old, I knew what I wanted and it wasn't to return to that kind of life.

Like the Autumn wind ushering in a new season, there were other significant changes as well.

Next time:  a monster hurricane visits and I start at yet another new school. 

Life is meant to be a celebration of the things we can do, not a requiem for this things we can not do. The great Native American chief Tecumseh once said, "When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lives in yourself"

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Throwaway Children

To really understand this post, one needs to go back and read the one in the link below


This page is a continuation of Throwaway, and was posted initially in another blog back in very early 2007.

 It has been said, that we are all given our crosses to bear in our lives.  Certainly, lymphedema with all the complications including lymphoma was one of mine.  My second one was the abuse and rejection I experienced as a small child.
It is true, that we have no choice in the cross that we were born with.  But we do have a choice in how we respond to and carry that cross, especially as an adult.
It also amazes me how many generations and descendants of a person’s family are affected by the actions of the parents.  Mom and dad, whatever you do to your child, your are also doing to your grandchildren, great grand children and perhaps even beyond.

But, I digress, so back to our story.

When my mother and John were married, we lived in Jacksonville, Florida.  We stayed there long enough for mother to give him two daughters of his own. Susan, the oldest was born in 1954 and Diana in 1956.  After that he was transferred to Tennessee and then subsequently to southern California.   I am assuming it was Camp Pendleton as that was the largest Marine Corps facility in the state. 

Immediately after my mother and dad’s divorce, our dad disappeared forever from our lives.  The story that I am told is that mom had caused him to be fired from every position he had and that the final straw was the last time he came to see us.  He had brought Marion (my older sister) a dress.  Mother ripped it up and John threatened to have his marine “buddies” take care of him if he ever showed up again.  How true it is, perhaps we will never know, but the story comes from several sources.

Alcohol was also a central problem with both mother and John.  They are the type of people whose entire personality changes with drinking. When you add alcohol to unstable mean spirited people, they become even more cruel and violent.

My earliest memories of childhood are filled with recollections of this violence and brutality. One of John’s disciplinary tactics was to pull you around by the hair and throw you down on the floor.

When I was about four years old, our dog peed on the floor.  John of course accused me of doing it so he put the leather belt all over me and rubbed my face in the dog pee.

There was also a park nearby that Steve (my older brother), Marion and I would go to.  I remember how upset Steve and Marion would get because I would refuse to join them in begging people at the park for food.

While living in that same house, my sister Marion ate poison as a result of digging food from a neighbor’s garbage can.

From Jacksonville, John was briefly transferred to a base in Tennessee.  With one glaring exception, I don’t have too many memories from there.  

While mother and John were out at the bar, a severe storm passed through our area and a tornado took of the top of our two story house.  It was incredibly frightening for five children, ages 8 through 3 and home alone.

Shortly after that, John was transferred to southern California as I mentioned above.  We were not there long as events unfolding in Oregon were soon to have a profound effect on us. 

In the late forties, mother's oldest sister, Paula had sold all her beauty colleges, schools and shops throughout Southern California and decided to be a rancher in Oregon.

She bought an 1800 spread, called Fall Creek, just outside a tiny town named Glide, Oregon.  Her financial stature increased even more when she married a very well to do rancher Lossie.   Together, they had properties all over the state of Oregon and beyond.

You can find a little about Lossie in this article John Day Fossil Beds.

Mother decided she wanted to stake a claim on this wealth and get as much as she could from Paula.  So, leaving John behind in Camp Pendelton, she packed we five children up and moved to Oregon.

We settled into a 1600 acres ranch, owned of course, by Uncle Lossie outside another small town named Yoncalla.

John only came up for visits and even those rare events were
full of the usual violence and abuse.  I remember the first time it snowed.  I had never played in snow before, so I thought it would be a grand idea to go out and build a snowman.

Apparently, it was a very wrong decision, and John kept beating me hard enough and long enough that the leather belt he used actually broke.

In the meantime, something had changed in me and I fought back against the abuse.  This is not such a good idea when you are a five year old against a grown woman and a marine sargeant.

When I fought back, mother would hold my head under the water faucet until I could no longer breathe and lapsed into compliance.

Another favorite punishment would be to have me stand in the corner until I came close to passing out.

We were not in Yoncalla very long before John had one of those "forced" honorable resignations from the Marine Corps (thanks naturally to mother's actions).  At that point they made a decision that it was time to be rid of the O'Connor children and we were to be carted back off to Florida and dumped on relatives.

Ironically, their decision based in evil was the best possible course of action for me.  It provided me with years of somewhat of a normal childhood, gave me a person who became (and still is) my mother in my heart and enabled me to get medical care for the worsening lymphedema.

By the time we left Yoncalla, I was such a wreck from the abuse that I would wake up in the middle of the night after having vomited all over my bed....and yes, there was punishment for that as well.

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A Home for a Little Boy

A Home for a Little Boy - Originally written and posted elsewhere January 2007 - transferred here Jan 15, 2013

"Finding our way back to Florida"

So our time in Yoncalla was drawing to a close.  In planning to take the O’Connor children to Florida, there was this small problem of what to do with a couple little girls of 4 ½ years and  2 ½ years.  However, if you are my mother, the solution is actually quite simple.
You put them into a tiny little white clapboard house and put the fear of Satan in them if they open the shades, answer the phone, answer the door or go outside. Looking back, it truly is a miracle that nothing happened to Susan and Diana while mother was away.

With that little problem resolved, we packed the ole wagon,  hopped in and were cruising the highwaysagain.
Since Aunt Paula was with us, mother had to be at her best behavior so the trip was actually fun and I remember having a good time.  There were four things in particular that really stuck with me though.

Since it was still Winter, the snow wa still thick and covered the land, trees and roads going through the Dunsmuir pass in the Mt. Stasta, Calfornia area.

Mt. Shasta was spectacular and majestic against a deep blue sky.  When the wind whipped around the mountain, it would scoop up the powder snows and the mountain was surrounded by shimmering halo.        

 When we went through the Southwest, you had to keep a sharp eye out for those gila monsters.  We were told they would sneak into your hotel room at night, and gobble you up while you slept.   Now that made for sweet dreams.                            
 Then of course going through Arizona and New Mexico we kept a keen look out too for the giant jackalopes.  These huge critters were a cross breed between a jack rabbit and an antelope.  Some were so huge, we were told, they could actually kick over a building.  We sure didn’t want them jumping onto the highway and kicking us off the road.  

I was also fascinated by the seemingly mile after mile of those oilrigs along the Texas and Louisiana coast.  They seemed to go on and on and sang in unison with their rhythmic ka-thunka, ka-thunka as they sucked the precious oil from mother earth.

The trip was a whirlwind event, and was over almost a quickly as it had begun.

After a few days of driving long hours, we arrived back in Florida.  Our first home there, was to be with Uncle Jake and Aunt Louise who owned a huge farm outside a sleepy little Southern town called Cottondale.  

The farm was beautiful with lush woodlands and deep green pastures set in gentle rolling hills.  There was also a small river that ran through the farm that we children loved.    One end was ideal for fishing and the opposite end was perfect for swimming.

It was also large enough so that Uncle Jake had a number of families that worked for him, with some actually living in houses on the property.  He raised corn, cotton, peanuts, hay and a sundry of other cash crops plus hundreds of beautiful prize Black Angus cattle.       

We settled in quickly and  were promptly enrolled at the local elementary school.  It was a quaint and typical ancient country school. It was two story, made of red brick darkened by enduring sixty years of changing weather and the school yard was filled with giant live oak trees with enormous boughs of swaying Spanish moss.

I made news friends easily and it wasn't long before I had a best buddy, Cliff, to hang with. Our special treat each day was either a real orange juice popsicle, one of those real lime juice ones or the all time favorites, a fudgesicle. They were a mouthful of delight for only one nickel.
But as the old cliche says, "all good things must come to an end."  Mother had always had this problem with Aunt Louise. What it was all about I never knew, not even to this day.  Apparently, she got in an argument one day with Aunt Louise and without prior announcement showed up at their house to yank us out of there.
We were taken to relatives in central Florida.  We were very upset and saddened, but nevertheless were all crammed back into the car and were on the road again, and again.  

A Home for a Little Boy - Originally written and posted elsewhere January 2007 - transferred here Jan 15, 2013

At least this time that we were on the road again, it was a much shorter trip.

Steve and Marion were Steve and Marion were taken to Aunt Vivian (mother's sister) and Uncle Kenney's home in Rockledge, Florida.

Uncle Kenny worked at Cape Canaveral and aunt Vivian was a homemaker.  They had three children.  The oldest we called Little Paula as she was named after aunt Paula.  Kenny Jr. was the middle child and then there was Terry, son number two and was aproximately my age.

I was to stay with Aunt Gladys (mom's sister), Uncle Austin and thier family.  They lived outside a small town called Auburndale. This quaint little town was in the very heart of citrus country. Orange, grapefruit and tangerine groves were everywhere. 

They had three children of their own.  The oldest Gerald was living in Alabama and was soon to be married.  Tom, the second oldest, who  was named after his dad was in the navy.  The youngest was Rod who was about four years older then I was.

Uncle Austin owned his own leather goods business in a neighboring city called Winter Haven.  Aunt Gladys was a histology technician at the Winter Haven hospital.

That first year was difficult for me and I am quite sure for them as well.  I had a number of emotional issuesdue to the abuse from my mother and stepfather.  One time I woke everyone in the house up because I had turned on all the lights...ever fearful of the darkness.

There were medical problems as well.  I continued to have stomach trouble and according to the doctors was in an emerging ucler stage.  So, I was put on a bland (yuk) diet for several months.

Also, we needed to find an answer a to the question of why my legs swelled like they did.

Aunt Gladys had taken me to their family doctor to get his opinion.  After a thorough examination and a family history, Dr. Smythe announced I had a condition called Milroy's Disease.  This was the old name applied to almost all cases of lymphedema.

My aunt and uncle's home quickly became "my" home as I was welcomed and settled in.  I was enrolled in school at the Central Elementary School in Auburndale.  This was the third school I attended  in my first grade.

The year 1959 was one of massive change for me and it ended on a good note.

At Christmas, I had decided I was going to rearrange a decoration at the top of the Christmas tree, and boy did I ever rearrange it.  I knocked the whole tree over.  Of course, I did what any little kid would do, I started crying.      

After some hugs of comfort from Aunt Gladys, both the tree and I were tidied up.  How totally strange it was for me not to be beaten with a leather belt for something I had done.   I honestly didn't know what to do since normally I would have been beat unmercifully....maybe there really is a Santa Claus    


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