Wednesday, March 31, 2010

the sands of time

june 21, 2004 is a day citizens of amarillo will not soon forget. if you're like me, you don't remember that exact date (i had to look it up) but if you lived in amarillo that day, you'll recall an event most will take to their grave. it was on that june evening that amarillo was struck by a thunderstorm bearing hail stones the size of tennis balls, baseballs, softballs and some stones as large as grapefruit. the storm hammered the city. the west side, which BTW is where we live, was hardest hit. we have two, 2 ft. by 4 ft. skylights in the lviing room. i'm here to tell you that having ball sized hail crashing through the skylights into your living room will perk your adrenaline level right on up there. fast forward, our insurance company replaced the roof, the skylights and the windows in the master bedroom. soon after that storm, i promised myself we would get hail guards to cover those new skylights. no more hail crashing inside the house for me thank you. as i'm likely the worlds worst procrastinator, i spent 3 or 5 summers sweating out whether each coming storm would be a repeat of the one in 2004. luckily, we haven't had a repeat of that storm. finally, i did order the hail guards and they are steadfastly standing guard over the skylights. still, i don't care to see the storm that carries hail stones that large ever again, even with the skylight protection in place. that brings me to where i was going with this piece when i started it. i've mentioned the winds we have here in the spring. i was sitting in the living room the other day, the winds were howling outside. the sound of the wind whistling through the hail guards took me back to the spring days of my youth. it reminded me of riding out similar days cooped up in the cracker box of a house i grew up in. day after day, the spring wind raced and the whipping sand did it's best to blast whatever was in it's path. many days were so windy and sandy it just wasn't worth trying to venture out. even on a good day the tv's rabbit ears antenna were doing good to pick up the two available channels on our small black and white. of necessity, on bad days, kids were forced to find their amusement elsewhere; sand stormy days left a kid with no other choice. isn't it odd that something as simple as the sound of wind can trigger a memory. i recall an easter Sunday so sandy out the easter egg hunt had to be moved indoors. not the prettiest of memories, i grant you. although it's a fond one, it's still not one i'd wish for you on this coming easter sunday. have a very happy, safe and beautful easter weekend, ya'll. and i'm out

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

i'm too old for this...

i spent a miserable night last night. up and down all night long trying to get some relief, some way, from the pain in my throat. tylenol, ibuprofen, alleve, numbing throat spray, throat lozenges-- i tried them all without relief. the nurses in this house have postulated that the pustules on my tonsils might be strep throat. I don't recall ever having strep throat. sinusitis, pharyngitis yes. tonsillitis as a child probably, but not to the point some doc thought i'd be better off without them. the pain is bad, i'm tellin' ya'. bad enough that i even took a tylenol #3 that i have left over from my nose surgery in '07; medicine held in reserve in case i ever get one of my headaches from h***. still without relief, it'spain such that i'm going to the doctor this afternoon. i like to think i have a pretty high pain tolerance what with the tension headaches that plaque me from 1-4 days a week. but this pain is different. it's like my throat is on fire. it's hard to swallow. how am i supposed to drink my daily pot of coffee? tell me that will ya'? enough on the pain in my throat. but isn't it nice to hear me whine about something other than my truck? i hope you all have a pain free day! and i'm out.

Monday, March 29, 2010


what is marriage? ask a million people, get a million different answers, i would guess. i have yet to understand why she chose me. but i do realize the enormity of the project that has been, and is me-- a work in progress still. i scratch my head in wonder that someone from polite society would choose to take me on as her life partner. i've heard it said that marriage is a process that over time takes the rough edges off a man. it's hard for me to believe there's enough emery on planet earth to take the edges off the likes of me. i had the basics of yes ma'am and no ma'am, let me get that door for you ma'am, down i guess. any old country boy knows those things. which fork to use first was never a problem for me growing up. our table was set with one of each. no decision was needed. emily post? i had never heard of her. the mean years of my younger life were devoid of the finer things. one does not miss what one has never had. ignorance is bliss, if you will. coming up as i did is the wellspring for who i am today. there were a few times when meals were skimpy but for the most part there was enough. i learned that hard work won't kill you and that there is satisfaction in seeing what a days labor has wrought. in the middle 70's i was still very much a naive farm boy. though i had spent time in the army i knew little of the world at large. about then, a whirlwind named bonnie came blowing into my life. being swept up in the moment led me to all i enjoy today. she gave me family, wondermous sons and a precious daughter. along the way, the gentle emery that is she has taken the worst of the rough edges off me. life with her has been good. we've watched our children grow into adulthood. our son's exposed us to the pleasures of the theater, our daughter to the grace of ballet and later the symphony. i bought a leisure suit, it was 1976 after all, to be married in. now i own two tuxedos and find occasion to wear one from time to time. any refinement i may have acquired through the years comes from the infinite patience, the giving heart and the love showered on me by my bonnie. with her i've come to have an appreciation of good food and good wine. she has shown me there are foods, even good foods that --gasp-- are not chicken fried. she has taught me life's finer points. she has made me a better man. with her there for support and guidance anything is possible for me. lord knows where or what i might be had she not been my wife. i'm glad she is.

the rocks

monday, 3/29/2010-- and the saga continues. i guess i'm supposed to be grateful to be provided with any kind of wheels at all while my truck is idling it's time away in a mcgavock service bay. i called ann this morning to tell her i wouldn't be bringing the 2010 frontier back today. she--okay??? me-- they called and got it back on saturday. they stuck me in an '03 dodge intrepid. she-- so you want me to put you in another vehicle? i don't think i can do that if that's what they gave you on saturday. you should call the body shop and ask them to put you in a rental. me-- i find it hard to believe that a nissan service department would not know that the heads on that engine can't be polished. she-- it didn't say that in our service manual. it should have, but it didn't. me-- so when do you think my truck will be ready. she-- it could be today. i think the heads came in on saturday. let me check. no, they didn't so it might be ready tomorrow. me- i thought the heads weren't supposed to be there until tuesday. she-- that's right, but he already has your truck apart so it could be ready tomorrow, or it could be wednesday morning. (i thought to myself--or next week, if things go the way they've been going.) like a ship lost in the dark and on the farthest sea, i cling to the beacon that is hope. hope that in my lifetime that beacon will see my truck and me reunited. please, keep us all in your thoughts-- me, my truck and the folks at mcgavock . we need all the good vibes you can muster on our behalf. a better day is coming. i have to believe that. and i'm out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

panhandle weather

this will be your panhandle weather update for sunday, march 28-- could it be that spring has sprung. if the predictions bear out, it just might be true.
sunday's high is expected to be in the 60's with the temp edging toward the upper 70's on monday. but hold your hats, the week's weather only gets better. tuesday, wednesday and thursday should be in the upper 80's. friday brings a cool down into the 70's again with 60 for a high on saturday. you can''t beat those temps with a weather stick. of course along with the warmer temps will come winds at 15-20 mph. folks around these parts don't take notice of the wind until it gets up into the 30-35 mph range with a few higher gusts thrown in just for thrills. i grew up on the south plains, down south of lubbock. springtime on the south plains can be a gritty experience. it's something to see to see the earth moving along at a horizontal and at 35-40-45-50 miles and hour. there is dirt in the air when the winds get up in the panhandle but it's dust more than sand. i tell my patients that i've been gone from that area for 30+ years and i still don't have all the sand out of my craw. and on days when the wind is really gettin' with it and the panhandle horizon is brown with dust, i've been know to posit, "this is a great day not to be in lubbock". in the coming week, i wish you fair skys, little wind and the sun to warm your back, and where ever you are, i hope you have a great week. this has been your panhandle weather update. and i'm out.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

the cartoon sums it up for me. i'm feeling blue, sad, down, sorry for myself and in general wretched! i figure you are all tired of me whining on ad nauseum about the situation with my truck. hopefully for you and for me it will be resolved soon and i can stop perseverating on the subject. still, i feel a bit of stress and a certain degree of anxiety re: it all which may be putting a drain on my resistance. as a rule, i'm a guy who seldom gets sick. there is a line of thought that says running/jogging boosts one's immune system. over the years, i think that has proved to be fairly accurate, at least in my case. but, over these last weeks, my usual paltry mileage has taken a hit. i've not been running even my usual three days a week. that and the emotional drain of it all has me feeling like i may be coming down with something. it might just be allergies, the panhandle winds are doing what they do, stirring things into the air but when i woke on saturday morning i felt like my left sinus had been draining down the back of my throat. as the day wore on my whole throat became quite sore, i've started sneezing my head off, and it's progressed to my just feeling yuck. it all sucks. but what will suck even more is if i really am getting sick. i've just started my four days off. so if i am sick i'll likely be better by the time thursday rolls around. boo! piss and moan! i'm loading up on echinacea, vitamin-c, b-12 an benadryl and going to bed. afterthought-- oh--shoot, i could have had a hot toddy!

Friday, March 26, 2010

hope springs eternal

okay, the picture has little to do with this post. the picture speaks of eternal hope, that bulbs planted in the fall will do their nature thing come spring. that the first little green leaves will peek out of the ground as though to be sure it is safe for the tulips to follow. plants, given the right conditions-- moisture, good soil and the heat of the sun will go about the business of growing, doing their planty best to strut their beautiful stuff. the picture has nothing to do with how i'm feeling about my truck situation. i only wish nissan mechanics were as dependable. ann called to let me know they had at last figured out why the truck would not start after the engine head was polished and returned to the motor. it seems they finally gave up looking for the cause of the problem and decided to ask an expert. that is, they called up the nissan food chain, explained what the problem was, a blown head gasket and what they had done, replaced the gasket and polished the head(s?) and when the engine wouldn't start, replaced the original computer-- all with no solution to the problem. nissan's response-- well, there's your problem. the heads on this motor can't be polished, they have to be replaced. the computer wouldn't let the engine start because the heads have been polished. the tolerances aren't the same with a polished head and the engine would have been harmed even further so the computer would not allow the engine to start. Okay? for me, not so much. that raises several questions for me. 1.) is this mechanic a nissan mechanic working at a nissan dealer ship? supposedly yes. then, why did they not know this little tidbit about the heads requiring replacement and polishing is not an acceptable fix for this problem with this engine to begin with? 2.) why did the diagnostic machine indicate a computer needed to be replaced, not once but with the second, new computer as well, if indeed the problem was with the head-- and not the computer at all? 3.) if ever i do get my truck back and it is running, how much confidence/faith can i have in these "repairs". i guess i can hope that all will be well. but doubt, and lots of it, keep springing into my train of thought. ugh! hope is is faint and fading fast. and i'm out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

what the heck was i thinking. starting a blog? me? some would say i'd be the last in the world to take such a leap of faith. but i did. then i began to have doubts. am i wasting my time? is there anyone, even family, mildly curious enough to read the wordings of a rambling mind? it doesn't matter. if nothing else i'll chalk it up as my battle against impending senility. i didn't have a clue as to what i was getting into. there is a certain pressure to write something. but can it be just anything? i would say not. would i recommend you start a blog. probably not. while i've enjoyed putting together my thoughts on family and raving about my truck, who cares really! the truth is the blog basically has taken over my life. there is the pressure to write and pressure, self inflicted i will grant you, to approach the level of cleverness demonstrated at my favorite blog, "the monkey heart discourses. my aim would be to write something humorous. what sounds funny in my head however doesn't necessarily translate onto paper (okay, your computer screen) as laugh out loud funny. know what i mean? but if something i've written causes even one person to crack a smile, i'm happy. okay brain, get it in gear. what should we write about today? all four of your followers are waiting with bated breath. and i'm out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

xxx i cracked up when i read Hagar the Horrible today. my apologies to the artist browne for co-opting his work. the similarity between the 'toon and the siuation with my frontier amused me. my truck has been sunk at the bottom of the mcgavock nissan lagoon for-- wait for it- four weeks today. will we ever be truck and driver again? i hope so. and i'm out.
it was probably around age 11 that our middle son, chris, started lobbying for a guitar. not taking his request seriously, i didn't accede to his wishes right away. but he continued to broach the subject from time to time until i guess he wore me down. it may have been for his 13th birthday, but i finally agreed to take him around to the various pawn shops about town in hopes that we might find a used guitar he would like (but for cheap i'm sure i was thinking). it was in a pawn shop on e. 10th that we found a new, not previously owned, guitar in my price range. another $10 for a cheap case, and voila, chris was instantly in the guitar business. i had it my mind that he would play around with the guitar for a while then it would end up in a corner collecting dust. that was not the case at all. before long chris was back asking if he might have guitar lessons. seeming like a reasonable request, we got him signed up for lessons with jerry thompson at randy's music mart. to my surprise he was diligent in his practicing the lessons jerry gave him each week. you might say chris took to the guitar like a baby duck to water. it was on a subsequent birthday, his 13th or 14th i think, he requested an electric guitar. an entry level, bright red fender stratocaster and baby practice amp came to live at out house. i'm guessing the fender may have led to the formation of "burned blue", the first band he played with. guitar lessons continued with jerry. his prowess with the guitar grew as did the skills of the rest of "burned blue"-- chris on guitar and vocals, johnny gibson on drums, ty swindell on base and vocals and ky williams on guitar. it doesn't take a trained ear to hear the growth of their sound when comparing the songs on "sometimes maybe" and those on"balancing lead an light". i hated to hear that the guys of "burned blue" would be going their separate ways and on to other projects. one of my great regrets is that we didn't encourage/force chris to take piano lessons. if there is anything holding chris back musically, it is that he doesn't read music very well. he has a great ear, but not reading music well is a limiting factor for him. he "writes" music in his mind but noatation is another thing.. where might his music have gone, where might it have taken him, if only... still, what he has been able to do is amazing to me. he makes me proud!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

more snow????

big john harris, the local nbc weather guy, says we're in for another round of snow courtesy of our old pal, "el nino", starting wednesday night and into thursday morning. . the difference this time around, it's not a winter, but a spring snow storm. if we have accumulation, this one won't hang around on the ground for long. temp for thursday should be in the 50's and on friday into the 70's. gotta love this panhandle spring weather! huh? but guess what! there's a chance for a rain/snow mix for saturday. with the predicted high to be in the 50's on saturday, hopefully any moisture we get will be rain. while all of us would be satisfied if the snow storms were over until next winter. i for one, am a bit anxious re: what the coming spring and summer storm season may hold for us. if you recall, we've already had an F2-3 tornado at the beginning of march. and that was a "thunder snow" storm that blew through here last saturday. just past midnight, we were jarred awake by a loud clap of thunder that rolled on and on. at the time i thought, "it must be raining". what a surprise when i woke up to see 4-5 inches of snow on the ground. and there was an earlier snow storm that had some thunder and lightning with it. so, you're thinking, what's the big deal? it's just this. tornados and thunder snow are indications of instability in the atmosphere. that, ladies and gentlemen, is what worries me. if we are having this degree of instability i.e., thunder snow and a tornado, so early in the year, what might the weather have in store for us when severe weather season finally does get here. i guess we'll see. get ready to batten down the hatches folks! we could be in for a rough ride. and i'm out

frontier's are not created equal

come on ya'll, don't go jumping to conclusions. yes, it's a 2010 nissan frontier, color is red brick (not maroon). almost every car we've ever own has been some shade of maroon. i hate maroon. but i digress. i called ann at nissan, a bit ago. just to irritate her more than anything i suppose, but under the pretext of seeing what might be happening with my truck. she informed me "he is still trying to isolate the problem" and added "i was just getting ready to call you. i need to get the toyota back. they've listed it in the paper and have someone interested in buying it". me-- that's great, you can get me the truck you promised. she-- i can get you a truck. wait, let me check. it might have to be a used one. me-- that's okay, i just want a truck. i'll be right over. she-- we can come pick it up. me-- that's okay. i'll bring it to you. that way i can pick up a truck to drive. in fact how about that red brick xe you have on the lot. she-- i'll see what i can do. so i drive over there, pull into the service area. there is a bright red frontier se sitting there, she offers me the keys. me-- that's great but it's not the one i was talking about. she--oh, which one did you mean. so i told her. she-- i can trade them out if that's what you want. the se she had there had a sticker price of $28,000+ . really nice. i should have just got in and drove it away but i didn't. i came home with the one pictured here. sticker price $20,000+. after getting in i see why there is no xe, le, or se on the back. it's a basic work truck, no power anything, no cruise. the same engine that i have in my truck but talk about a dog. i guess it's the automatic tranny. okay, it has a bedliner but i can't for the life of me figure why it's listed at 20g+. i wouldn't give 5 cents for the thing. just give me my '07 back. i did ask her if they could leave the new and true heart (ecm)" in mine when and if they ever get it figured out. she said they would because they can't take it back. that's great news for me but where exactly is this "ecm' located anyway? no matter, i get to drive this new truck around for week or ten days, until they get mine "fixed". or until they call me to bring it back 'cause they have someone interested in buying it. good luck on that, mcgavock. and i'm out.
egad! i checked in with nissan yesterday. it seems the nissan's black heart may not have been fried after all. fates, please forbid that to be true. please! that all knowing machine the truck surgeon uses to diagnose my truck troubles is indicating the truck still needs a new heart (ecm) even though it is the "new and true heart" being tested. that would seem to indicate that one or more of the coronary arteries (wires or cables connecting to the ecm) were somehow "pinched" when the mechanic had the motor opened up replacing the head gasket lo those many weeks ago. ann said' "it could be a few days before he figures it out and gets it fixed" me- "uuuugh"!!! ann--"that's what he's saying". on another note i had a call on the answering machine, from mcgavock yesterday inquiring as to whether i might be ready to make a trade. curious timing, i thought. has someone there been reading my blog? could that pendulum be swinging back the other way? stay tuned. and i'm out.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

a black heart transplant...

i've been wavering back and forth with all that's happened with my frontier, on whether to keep it or trade it away. today the pendulum swung back to my thinking i want to trade it off. searching the local nissan dealer's web site, i found one truck on their lot that might suit my needs (in my price range, that is). the transmission wasn't included in the information on the site so i took a drive over there to scope it out. the answer, an automatic, which really doesn't work for me. the manual transmission is so much more fun to drive, at least i think so. could it be that i'm still a dry land farm kid at heart? driving over to the dealership gave me a chance to think. i wondered how other folks go about selecting a new vehicle to buy. the usual things i guess. you know-- i think i want a ????? ?????. if you're like me, you're out cruising the car lots after closing time searching to find the make and model of your dreams, in the color that you want, with the desired features, at a price you think you can afford. looking and looking until one of those in consideration speaks to you. pick me! pick me! that's the way my frontier and i got together . on one of those late night visits, this particular frontier "spoke to me". thus the string of unfortunate events chronicled here came to pass. out of the clear blue sky i had the thought that my frontier was born with a black heart. one that for some unknown reason has had one minor catastrophe after another visited upon it. considering that possibility, i then thought perhaps the dealership frying the "ecm", the black heart of my truck if you will, might be a most fortuitous occurrence. the frontier's black heart is fried, requiring a heart transplant, a new "ecm". giving this possibility some consideration, the pendulum swung back the other direction. from the depths of the frontier's soul, it's old black heart is removed and in it's place a shiny new heart implanted. yeah, that's the ticket!

can i live with a newly reborn frontier? the one that spoke to me on that night two years ago, but with a new heart that is good and true? a heart that will show me only good times? one that never, not once incurs some angst inducing event to burden MY heart in any way? in a pie in the sky world, that's the way it would be. at least for this moment in time i'm thinking i'll give the frontier and it's new heart a chance to prove itself changed for the better. and let us all hope the pendulum doesn't have reason to swing the other way yet again. wish me, and my reborn truck, lots of luck! and we're out.

and for the second day of spring....

today dawned with beautiful, clear skies. the temp is in the mid 20's, headed toward the 50's they say. reading the headlines in today's newspaper i see that yesterday's storm dumped 5 inches of snow at the NWS, setting a new record for snow fall on the first day of spring. the old record was 4.2 inches set on the first day of spring in 1989. from that we can gather it was not the first time it has snowed on the first day of spring. not surprising, i suppose, as it is just one day away from the last day of winter, after all. the order of the day will be watching for the temps to rise and the remainder of the snow drifts to melt away. from kenemac47, this has been your panhandle weather up date. i hope the weather in your neck of the woods is as worthy of the second day of springs as ours promises to be. have a great day, where ever you are. and i'm out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

the first day of spring amarillo/texas pandhandle style

so, to celebrate the first day of spring around these parts, what do you suppose the weather mavens ordered up for us? another beautiful day to kick off the new season in style? one could hope. but that's not exactly what happened. instead, the mavens predicted another winter storm to go along with the several we've already had this winter. what are they trying for? a matched set? the prediction was for 2 inches during the night and another 2 inches during the day. the first day of spring, for pete's sake. for most folks in this part of the world, 4 inches of snow is not too much of a problem. a hassle perhaps, but not a problem. it's not the snow, it's the blow. four inches of snow, with wind like we had during the night and this morning, can whip the 4 inches into drifts several feet high. and that is exactly what happened. it was still snowing and blowing as i drove cautiously to work about 6:30 in the a of m. blowing such that one could not really see the road ahead of you. trusting in the 30 years of driving this road i managed to make it to work on time. It continued to snow and blow until mid day. the clouds thinned, the sun finally showed and by quitting time the roads were clear and the latest thaw had begun. predicted temp for tomorrow? mid 50's! gotta love the pandhandle weather. and if you don't love the weather at the moment, wait 5 minutes, a change is on the way.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

there is an eerie similarity between the look and sound of patrick wilson, who played jerry lukowski on Broadway, and our son robert i richardson IV who had the role when it was staged at le petite theater in new orleans. i did a triple-take when I first saw the pic in the cd insert of "jerry"/patrick wilson singing the song "big-ass rock" from "the full monty". the pic was in the broadway cast recording insert. and the pic on the back of the insert of the guys as they sang and danced their way through "michael jordan's ball", if you didn't know bobby as well as we do you might have sworn , in court and under oath, that it was bobby and not "jerry"/patrick wilson appearing there. the similarity is that strong! as i sit here listening to to the broadway cast recording what i hear and see in my minds' eye is bobby/"jerry" as he appeared there on the stage at le petite. it's no wonder to me that sonny borey cast him as "jerry" for the le petite production. " breeze off the river" is just now trilling from the computer. it's giving me chills, and yes there are some tears. i see and hear bobby/"jerry" pouring his heart out to his "son"--- "there's a breeze off the river-- through the crack in the window pane-- there's my boy on the pillow-- and i feel like i'm lost again....". but for a lack of luck and an in, we might have seen our bobby appearing in that role in NYC. it's a bit like our kelly's dream of being a prima ballerina. bobby's dream of appearing on broadway is yet to be. that does not change at all how proud i am of him, and of the good works he's done. only the fates know what the future may hold. keep a good thought for him, will you?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

and on to-- dance shoes and tutus

I don't rightly recall what prompted our Kelly to start with the dance lessons. I think her first dance teacher was Miss Carolyn. Perhaps not, but it was Miss Carolyn I believe who first instilled the love of the dance into our baby girl's monkey heart. She was tall, taller than most in her class at the start and at whatever the level, ever destined to perform her best from the back row, partially hidden by those in front. For a time she had the body of a true ballerina, thin and graceful. A vision she was, with blond hair swept back into a tight bun at the back of her head and always that dazzling smile beaming out her joy in the moment. Sadly her body, cursed with the McMillan genes, betrayed her as she grew into womanhood. The desire, the aspirations never waned as she danced her way through Amarillo High, through a minor in dance at Texas Tech and a masters degree at WTAMU. But like many young dreams, hers of being a professional ballerina was not to be. Life interfered as it so often does, leading her down a different road. Where exactly that road will end, what destinations the monkey heart will see, we are yet to know. But this I know for sure. No matter where the road less traveled leads her, somewhere safely tucked away in a quiet corner of that gentle heart is the soul of a dancer.

and on down the lane

It never ceases to amaze and bemuse me as to the talents of our three children. Just how all this artsy fartsy stuff got started remains a mystery to me. Or maybe not. If I recall correctly, it started with Bobby opting to go the theater route instead of pursuing a second year of attempting to stutter step the high hurdles in track. The notion that theater might be more fun likely came from hanging around a kid, I forget his name, who was involved with the children's theater at Amarillo College. Bobby's first really memorable performance for me was Amos Hart in a production of "Chicago" during his first semester as a student at Amarillo College. I can still see him in that ridiculously tall, floppy hat, shoulders rolled and slumped forward, his hands in his pockets. I still get misty eyed as I recall him, chin tucked, eyes cast up at the audience as he sang " Cellophane, Mister Cellophane, should have been my name, Mister Cellophane, 'cause you can look right through me, walk right by me, and never know I'm there." Chills, I tell you and tears of pride and joy. I saw growth as an actor during his turn as Eugene Jerome in "Biloxi Blues." Regretfully we didn't get to see much of what he did while at Southern Utah. I got a kick out of sharing the stage with him and the rest of the family in AC's production of "Oklahoma" during the Summer Arts Festival. The highlight for me while he was at the University of New Orleans was his thesis role, portraying the tortured life of Amedeo Modigliani in the play, aptly name, "Modigliani." The play itself was not my cup of tea, give me a rousing musical any day, still there were moments when the tears ducts kicked into overdrive, revealing to anyone who might have been looking, the enormous pride his performance extruded from me. Sure there was his role in UNO's production of "Blood Brothers". I enjoyed his turn as Mitch in the two man show "Tuesdays with Morrie". But speaking of roles in musicals, what an evening, what a performance as Jerry Lukowski in "The Full Monty" at Le Petite in New Orleans. I'm sure I barely took a breath as he sang to his son "Breeze Off the River" and the tears came in buckets as he sang-- "All I know is I love you kid" and in falsetto, "All I know". Buckets, I tell you! The final notes of that song did me in big time. Shortly after that came the move to California and the process began again injecting himself into the San Francisco area theater scene. We hope we can catch him in something out there, perhaps this summer. So, we know from whence it all started. Now if I could put my finger on where all the talent sprung from. Hmmm... I wonder. Nah-- it must have come from his mom's side of the family!

Monday, March 15, 2010

a stroll down memory lane

Doodling around the net , I found myself re-visiting the Burned Blue myspace page. Playing songs written and recorded so many years ago made me pine for days past. Days when the boys of Burned Blue, Chris, Johnny, Tyson and Ky (from left to right above) were just beginning to shave, all still in high school and working at polishing their burgeoning talents. I remember acoustic shows played at Barnes and Noble. The first time I heard them play Maruse, the words lilting along in Chris's dulcet tones. until for the first time my ears and brain registered "Words on deaf eyes falling". The manner in which that song was crafted, the message, the delivery blew me away! What a talented group of guys. They had a shot at the big time, imho. But the siren call of the Austin live music scene tempted them away from hearth and home, from all the good that was Burned Blue. First one, then another. left until all had made Austin home. And as other opportunities often do, first one and then another pulled at the group until Burned Blue faded away into the haze of what might have been. Each guy went on to other ventures with other groups, exploring different approaches to music with guys perhaps as talented as the glorious foursome aka Burned Blue. Chris played guitar with BB but switched to base to play with the Deadlings, Pretty Pretty and Isaac the Blind. Ky switched to drums to play with Pretty Pretty and Elysium. Tyson moved on to play with Pack of Wolves and others. Johnny pursued a higher calling, seeking to serve his Lord and saviour. So ends this wistful journey, a considering of what might have been. And, to the guys of Burned Blue, wherever the waxing and waning of life takes you, I wish you well.


blue Monday

Another day without an essay from The Monkey Heart Discourses. That's perfectly okay, the monkey heart is doing what it takes to keep two new New Orleans souls close, their hearts beating as one. The picture fits my mood on this Monday morning. I hear the sound of rain splattering itself against the skylight lenses, a look outside reveals a gray and dreary day. I should be thankful that it is raining, after all we are still days away from spring. It could be snowing, blowing, making the panhandle white with misery. Moisture in any form is welcome on these semi-arid plains. Rave on rain. Perhaps tomorrow will favor us with sun. Until then, stay warm and dry.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I can see clearly now

As the kids were coming up no matter what their request might be I plead guilty to instantly denying that request. After a bit and some further consideration I would often modify my response to one more acceptable to both. By chance, in this morning's newspaper I saw an article about the 10 worst cars of all time. It described how the author, Jon Mark Beilue, had been the unfortunate owner of not one, but two cars on that list and had ties to two others. That article made me realize something. That is, my Frontier is not the cause for all my rantings. Not once has it failed me mechanically or otherwise. Without some untimely act, my failure to take into account the increased length of the truck on the night I brought it home, without my failure to note the state of things stacked along the garage wall, without the force of gravity dumping those paint cans, without Mrs. M***er's failure to yield the right of way or Mrs. J***s's not noticing my truck as she backed up, without those instances of happenstance my Frontier would today be entirely unsullied. Without bad luck there would have been no need for the various visits to the body shop nor the visit to the truck hospital for open heart surgery. Jon Mark's article this morning has prompted me to pause for a moment, to analyze all that I've written on the subject. It has made made see the rush to injustice I was prepared to visit upon the Frontier. On more careful consideration I see that the problem is not with the truck at all but lies solidly within my own rotten luck in the truck ownership department. So there will be no midnight car lot visits. I will not be tempted by the various rebate offers into buying another truck. To trade the Frontier for another truck would mean taking on another 2 or 3 years of payments, years of payments the money for which could surely be put to better use elsewhere. Hopefully the truck hospital will discharge it's patient into my care tomorrow and at that moment when we are at last reunited I will give my solemn vow to the Frontier to pull my head out and PAY ATTENTION! If I can exorcise the demons of my own sorry luck, if I can pay better attention to what is going on around me, if the fates do not align against my truck and me again, it is my hope that the Frontier and I will have many happy years together. Wish us both well, will you?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eureka, at last I see!

After I finished writing the bit I posted last night, I was reading it again looking to see if it made any sense at all. As I read the references to having a black cloud hanging over MY HEAD I had a sentinel moment of revelation. I have had a black cloud hanging there these past two years, not literally of course but in the figurative sense. And guess what the cloud hanging there all this time has been? One 2007 Black Nissan Frontier XE! But not for much longer I'm thinking. Stay tuned. The midnight car lot cruising has just begun.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

is there a black cloud over my head?

Of late I've felt a bit like Joe Btfsplk, who for you young ones is a character in the Lil Abner comic strip drawn by Al Capp. Poor Joe was forever the victim of various misfortunes thus the black cloud that was ever present above his head. My feeling like Joe got it's start about two years ago. One day I was at the office (Donut Stop) drinking coffee and trading lies with those assembled that day. A lull in the conversation found me mentioning that I'd been thinking about getting a new vehicle. My bud, Rick G. asked what I was going to get. I said I wasn't sure but I'd really like a truck. That prompted Rick G. to opine that if a truck was what I wanted then a truck is what I should get. And on those fated words two years of one unfortunate happenstance after the other had it's beginning. I took Rick's words to heart and thus began a week or so of midnight dealership visits. Having grown up in a barely subsistence circumstance, my needs are not that lavish. On one of those midnight runs I fell in love with a 2007 Nissan Frontier XE. Now the XE is the Frontier base model, still it had everything my simple tastes might require. It was/is sexy in my minds eye. Black with a light gray/silver pin striping. It sports an economical 4 cylinder engine, (not a problem because I wouldn't be towing anything) a 5 speed manual transmission, power windows and locks, am/fm radio with a single CD player, cruise control and an alarm system. What more could a simple man of simple tastes require. So in January 2008 I signed papers on the truck of my modest dreams. And on that same night the trouble, the ever so tortuous slide toward feeling like Joe Btspflk began. It started on that night, that very same night I took ownership. On the way home with my new prize I stopped to wash the dealership dust off it. I had to have it that night. There would be no leaving it overnight to be prepped for me, no not for me. And so it was with chest swollen with the pride of new ownership that I pulled into the drive at home. Now understand I'd been driving a Nissan for 10 years, but a Sentra which is considerably smaller than the Frontier. So as I pulled into the drive at the angle I'd taken for years when entering the garage in the Sentra. I quickly realized that angle wouldn't do for the Frontier. Into reverse and as I backed up for another try I bumped the dumpster with my brand new toy. Jumping out of the truck, hoping against hope that all would be well, that it would only be the bumper I'd hit. But there would be no such luck for me and the Frontier on that night. It's now less than 2 hours since I signed papers and already I've dinged up the tailgate. A half-dollar sized blemish now graced the tailgate of my new truck. I was sick, sick I say, sick. It was with heavy heart that I finally screwed up the courage to go inside and say to my wife "you're never gonna believe this". And within the next week there was another mishap in the garage resulting in a dented front fender. Paul, at Harvey's Precision Body Shop, ironed out the wrinkle in the fender and did what he could with the bulls eye zit in the tailgate. Sometime later there was the incident with the shelf in the garage bearing 12 one gallon paint cans on the top shelf that mysteriously decided to tip forward depositing 12 paint cans in perfect formation onto the hood of the Frontier. The result of that-- 12 + linear dents into the hood. Luckily, none of the cans lost a lid in the crash. So for some months I procrastinated about taking the truck in to see Paul again. I talked to him about how much this latest fiasco might cost to correct but hadn't yet taken it in to be fixed. It's just as well, he took care of the hood when he fixed the damage inflicted by a lady who turned in front of me, rearranging my front bumper somewhat and setting off the airbag for good measure. Those folks at Harvey's are magicians I tell you, my baby emerged looking good as new yet again. Have you heard it said that no good deed goes unpunished. I have, and I believe it with all my heart. Just a week or so later, after having done what I thought was a good deed, another little old lady backed into the truck in a parking lot requiring yet another trip to Harvey's. Again it exited the shop looking good as new. I mentioned to Paul that since the visit for the front end repairs the truck had run hot a time or two and I had added two gallons of antifreeze to the radiator in the interim. Looking back at his records he saw that they had replaced the radiator due to a broken part that attached the radiator to the frame. He asked I bring it in to test for a coolant system leak. There was no leak found. That prompted a second trip to the dealership, on the first visit they told me the coolant system caps had been reversed at Harvey's. This time they diagnosed what they thought to be a blown head gasket. I left wondering why they didn't find it on the first visit but... The good folks at Nissan denied coverage under the warranty because the engine "got hot". One bit of good luck in that Harvey's is covering the work under their shopkeepers insurance. But it's all this that has left me feeling like Joe Btfsplk, black cloud or not. Hopefully, I'll be reunited with my Frontier tomorrow. I have only ten payments left. Should I hang on to the truck and 3 years of residual warranty or should I trade it and any further mishaps for a new truck. Comments are welcome.

storm as thou wilst... Oedipus

Our old pal El Nino has graced us with some much needed moisture in the form of repeated snow storms over these past winter months but just look at what he's been up to of late. Pictured above is the tornado that mussed up Hammon, OK on Monday. That would be Monday, March 8th. March 8th, for pete's sake. The temp that day was in the mid 50's yet the storm was rated at F2 or F3 on the Fujita scale. Not only that, by report it stayed on ground for 30 miles and about 45 minutes. As you can tell, except for Hammon and maybe a farm house here and there, it's path was over mostly open country. The weather guys are alarmists for the most part in my eyes but they keep talking about what El Nino might have in store come tornado season. (Which BTW, is not here yet) Okay, I get it they do know what theye're doing. Their predictions have been right on about the snow amounts this winter. That fact, and the storm pictured above have my attention. When tornado season does truly arrive, when the conditions reach a state more conducive to spawning storms, you can bet I'll be keeping an eye to the sky and when that siren goes off I won't be messing around. I'm heading for shelter.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

from the depths of a rambling mind

As sure as the sun rises in the east, and with the same anticipation, my first computer task each day is to check for a new entry at "The Monkey Heart Discourses". If none appears I find myself disappointed. Always I am curious to see and read what musings might be forthcoming from the reaches of the monkey heart on this day. A recent note therein hinted that all things happen for a reason and in my mind there is truth in that nugget. Had circumstance not lead me north, had east not traveled west, most certainly the twain would not have met and the rest of the story would read much differently. The pull of the universe did bring us to our intended places and thus a monkey heart was planted in baby's chest. And all that came after has served to make that heart insightful, searching, tender and loving; wanting and yet not afraid to step out on a journey of uncertain end. Only the spinning of the universes and the twists of fate will show to all just where the monkey heart's journeys will lead, what sights it will see, what moments will make their mark on that brave and glorious one.