Sunday, December 16, 2012

i'm trying hard not to imagine the horror visited on the victims of the latest mass murder in newtown, ct. the details being shared in a continuous loop by cnn and foxnews are too much. such a tragedy.
i can identify, to a degree, with the shock, the empty void of loss thrust upon those families and the people of newtown.

the day was November 11, 1958; a day like so many others.  my sister and i rode the bus home after school.  the day, as i remember it, was sunny and warm.  we walked up the lane, from where the bus stopped to let us off, to the house.  coming in the front door the house was quiet and still.  calling for our mom we walked through the house and out the back door.  still our mom was not to be found.  what we did see was the smoldering remains of one of our dads dog houses. not sure what was going on we stood around staring, not seeing, until a truck drove up close to where we were standing. our cousins dad got out.  one of us asked "what happened?" he replied "that baby burned to death" and with those words the world as we had known it changed forever.  our five year old sisters remains were there in the pyre. the innocent, funny sister we left in the morning was no more. she was not a victim in the sense of those in newtown but our loss, our pain was just as deep.  as with newtown's slain youth, the bright promise of what might have been was gone in that instant.

our hearts ache for those in newtown, most especially for those whose lives were forever altered on friday.  whether by tragic accident, or an event as awful as the one at sandy hook school, there is no making sense of it.  those remaining are left to wonder why and to try to carry on.  with the passing of time the scars left by tragedy fade.  yet on remembering that day 54 years ago the hurt is still there. as it will always be.  

people of newtown, we here at 7420, families across America and around the world are lifting you up in thoughts and prayers.  may god be with you in this time of numbing sorrow.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

to say the weather we've been having this fall, heading into winter, is unusual in the extreme may well be an understatement.  yesterday was a typical panhandle day with gusting winds but it was another 70+ degree day.  in fact, the first three days of december were 70 degrees or above.  seventeen or more days in november made that mark.  odd, you say?  global warming at work? or is it that this variation was one seen before man began to keep a record of such things.

besides the warmer than it ough'ta be days, i've noted the wind on my run today, and last thursday and Friday, was doing an imitation of its southern cousin. I commented in a post while we were visiting my sister that the air was so still as to be unnatural.  not unnatural for those parts.  but living in little a-town there is most always one front  moving out as another system moves in. these three days are unusual in that the air was as still as it was on my runs down south.  rare enough to make note of  but more so to enjoy the absence of resistance the wind inflicts on my runs on a regular basis.

i'm fully convinced the wind can blow all four directions at once.  some of my runs are on a square or rectangular route such that i might start out running west, turn north, then south and then east.  i swear on all that's holy there have been days when the wind was in my face every way I turned.

but who am I to question mother nature. if she chooses to deal some calm days to those of us who live where the air on the move is a constant, i should just shut my trap, and enjoy.

is another calm day tomorrow too much to ask?  calm or windy, it's another day above the dirt I shouldn't take for granted.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

even in the year of our lord, 2012, one should do a little vehicle assessment before taking off on a long trip.

remembering back to my youth, i can see my dad checking the oil and fluids, the pressure in the tires, in general doing all he could to assure that whatever wreck he was driving at the time would make it to wherever we were going-- and back.

on the friday after thanksgiving, we were in austin with our son c.  he was driving the wife's suv on our way out to eat when he noticed the check oil light would come on briefly.  on saturday we drove to arlington for the Tech/Baylor game and back.  other than the engine noise being louder than usual, i noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

in fact, i'd not noticed any warning light before, having driven from little a-town to conroe then up to Austin, but when filling up with gas in prep for the trip back home on sunday I checked the oil.  the dipstick came back dry on the first check.  $5 for a quart of convenience store oil later, the dipstick came back dry a second time. another $5 for another quart of oil later-- the dipstick registered "low".  another $5 for another quart of oil brought the level up to where it should have been before we ever left town.

i haven't a clue how the oil level got that low.  the engine is not burning oil that I can see, it's not dripping oil out onto the floor of the garage.  the car was in the shop a while back during which the timing belt was replaced, among other things. perhaps the shop didn't put in the right amount of oil after the repairs. who knows?

what I do know, or what I have been reminded of, is that even with the level of sophistication in our modern vehicles, there is a minimum amount of attention/pm required to ensure that your ride will get you there, and back again.

what was good enough for my daddy in the '50's is the new order of the day here at 7420.  it worked for him and it will work for me, you and anyone. just do it!  no more, stick the key in the ignition and if it starts it's good to go for this old fool.

and, do you know what?  it's amazing what three quarts of oil will do to quiet down that loud engine noise. and, do you know what else?  $15 for convenience store oil is a small price to pay as compared to the cost of a new engine, or worse.  : )


national day of thanksgiving....

                                                                                                                                                                                    most of us know we should give thanks for all we have.  how many of us give that thanks daily, not waiting until the fourth thursday in november to send our gratitudes aloft?  fewer than one might think, i would guess.  certainly fewer than should be.

i plead guilty to being one in the former group but as we bowed our head this thanksgiving day the wife and i have reason to send extra thanks along with our thrice annual, formal prayer of thanskgiving. 

on  the friday before thanksgiving, we were on our way to my sister's house for an extended holiday.  zipping along at the newly posted 75 mph and thinking, as we cleared Gatesville, we'd be there soon.  traffic on i-45 was as you might expect on a friday evening just past six.  the sun had set.  moving into the left lane to go around a semi, of a sudden there began and awful noise, instantly raising my antennae.  the truck was covered by a tarp; i thought maybe what I was hearing was a loose tarp flapping at the speed limit. as we cleared the front of the truck the racket became worse.  it was no tarp flapping that we were hearing  but the sound of a catastrophic tire failure (a BLOWOUT to those of us of a different age).  Somehow, at 75 mph, I managed to pass the truck, maneuver into the right lane and then onto the shoulder of the road without further calamity.

sitting there for a minute to digest what had just happened, to gather jangled nerves, the world continued to race past on the 45, at 75.  getting out of the car to assess the situation i found the right front tire shredded.  a goodyear integrity, with under 7500 miles on it,  that had been rotated to the front just that morning before we set off.  a call to the sister told her what had happened. did we want them to come?  no, we'd be fine and we'd be there asap.

call it esp, or whatever you want, but i had put the emergency roadside kit from my truck in the wife's car before we left.  the caution triangle on the side of the bag alerted oncoming traffic to our plight.  what we did not have was a flashlight. 

I  had struggled for a long hour trying to lift the tire and snag the lugs in the semi-darkness. at last i agreed my wife could hail some assistance.  amazingly a car stopped right away,  at exactly that point, i lifted the wheel onto its mark as a figure began to shine a light on the task at hand.  it was probably 10-15 seconds before i realized it was by b-in-law leaning in to help.  with his assistance the spare affair was put behind us in short order and we were on our way.

i believe each of us has a guardian angel; at least one, perhaps more than one.  i  believe one of ours was riding in the semi that friday night, that somehow he saw the problem i was having and cleared the way for me to make our way from the left lane into the right and on to the side of the road without his scooping us up or me causing our car to crash.  another came along in the form of my b-in-law who arrived just as i was reaching the limit of what is physically possible. 

to both the trucker and t.c., and to our good lord, thanks seems woefully inadequate.  stick around though just in case, but i hope we won't need you again, at least not anytime soon.


Monday, November 19, 2012

i'm spending some quality time with my sister and her bunch coming up to the holiday later this week.  being from the land where the wind never stops, i'm finding the area where she lives outside conroe amazing.

did i mention the wind blows where i'm from.  her place sits on a small acreage off old conroe road.  milling about this afternoon i was struck by the quiet, but more than that, by the still.  the dearth of sound pales to  the absence of any wind, no current of air sufficient to stir the smallest blade of grass. absolute calm.

the quiet is profound, if not absolute, broken only by the distant raucous cry of a crow. in the background can be heard the muted drone of traffic on the freeway, reduced to nothingness by distance and the woods between here and there.

in the early mornings deer, mostly does and yearlings, filter out of the greenbelt behind the house to feed.  this morning a group of eight stood with ears on point, attention focused as one to something they, nor i, could see.  after a time whatever had piqued their interest passed and all began to bed down in the open less than a stone throw from where i stood watching. 

the life of riley, i tell ya'. then again it is late november here with it's coolish mornings and warm afternoons; not june july, august, and september with their stifling heat and humidity.

 i'm having a grand old time.  going back home, to the land where the wind never stops blowing, where the only trees to be found were planted at some point; going back to where spring like weather is long gone and far from a return --  will just plain suck.

i guess i'd better get busy enjoying all this.  I wonder if she takes all she has for granted.  i wonder if all the beauty, the serenity of her country idyll ever slips out of the consciousness like the kitchen wallpaper.  surely not, huh?


Monday, October 1, 2012

4th dayin a row... round 2!!

after getting little in the way of measurable rainfall with the first system i wrote about yesterday, to what did my wondering eyes appear, coming on to 11:30 pm, but a second system barrelling down from the oklahoma panhandle, straight down the middle of the texas panhandle, taking dead aim for little a-town.

i most assuredly thought i was being given a second chance for some significant rainfall here at 7420; and i did get some in the old rain gauge, but like so many systems that seem to be a can't miss situation this second one veered off to the east barely dragging its outer skirts over my place. it rained enough to dribble out of the gauge, but just barely.

them's the breaks my friends.  maybe next round, say monday next, if the clouds are willing.  i'll be ready-- and waiting.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

4 in a row???!!!

i got all excited, watching the radar as this system as it worked its way down from colorado, across the northeast corner of new mexico and the western panhandle of oklahoma; hearing the sound of thunder rumbling its way into little a-town.  

it did rain here at 7420, there is rain in the gauge, but my gauge is barely discreet enough to tell me how much.  it rained enough to wet the sidewalk, enough to run off the house a bit, flirting with 0.1 inch, but nothing close to the previous three days.

i don't mean to sound ungrateful; one should not take any moisture at all for granted. this system has already moved on, delivering its welcomed gift to parts south of here in this bitch of a drought that still has this country by the throat.

thanks to the great spirit-- ruler of the heavens,  of the earth and of man. we are blessed.


empty bucket....

a check of the rain gauge first thing this morning showed it to be empty with the exception of a baby bug of some kind; a tiger beetle i hope-- and not a termite.  i'm leaning toward the tiger beetle option as the gauge was placed in the middle of the back yard.  i hope it's not just wishful thinking.

here at 7420 we've seen much welcomed rain on the three previous nights.  probably it was too much to expect, rain on four consecutive nights.  there is still a chance of rain in the forecast for today.  a check of the radar shows a little something building in the southeast corner of colorado and moving in this general direction.

if it continues to build and if it holds together and if it finds its way to 7420 before midnight, it will have rained here 4 consecutive days.

if it doesn't grace us here, that's okay, we'll be happy for those drought stricken folks who do get it. 

such is the life of a dry land cotton farmer's son.  


Saturday, September 29, 2012

three in a row... whoa!!

no rain, or wind, woke me on friday night. imagine my surprise when i finally dragged out of bed this morning to find that indeed it had again favored us with a downpour.  my rain gauge showed 0.7 inches with another 0.1 added through the morning. the system is moving away, spreading its bounty across other parts of this thirsty land.

i can't recall when we've had substantial rains three days/nights in a row. whatever, but in these parts it's a rare occurrence. if my gauge correctly reflected rainfall on wednesday night, the heavens (read our good Lord) have favored us here at 7420 with 4.3 inches of life sustaining moisture over these few days. even if that wednesday total was off, and an average for the area was used to figure a total, we'd be looking at 2.8 inches.  either way, things are very wet here and we are left feeling extremely blessed.

the forecast still has a small chance for rain through sunday.  my gut tells me we couldn't be that lucky.

or could we?  i guess we'll see.


Friday, September 28, 2012

one, more, time!!!

here we go again!  yahoooooo!

pictured above is what is left of the system that rolled through little a-town around 5 in the a of m this morning.  rain, driven by the gusting wind, pecked away at the window at the head of my bed, waking me-- again. that's a problem i can live with. 

it was quite a surprise as the local weather gurus hadn't given much lip service to chances for rain during the night.  hey, whatever-- when you're smack dab in the middle of the worst drought since the 1950's you take the rain when it comes (as if you have a choice in the matter).

checking the rain gauge this morning showed something over and inch of moisture fell overnight.  or did i fail to empty the gauge yesterday morning?  whatever, the sprinkler system is off until these chances for rain fade into yesterday's memory.

like i said, we'll take whatever the clouds are willing to give, today and every day.



Thursday, September 27, 2012


"stop, children, what's that sound... everybody look what's going down..." jefferson airplane

in the wee hours of this morning, before the dawn of a new day peeked its head above the eastern rim, the sound of thunder and the insistent patter of rain on the roof dredged me from my slumber. pausing, not fully awake, not sleeping, i listened, unsure if what i was hearing was part of an unremembered dream.

"wow, it's raining" and sleep came again. from time to time the gentle rumble of thunder and a persistent tap dance on the roof told me that rain was still around. heaven!

the drought persists around these parts.  local tv reports that little a-town has received more rain than in 2011, some 9+ inches, but we are still 7 inches behind the average annual rainfall-- still bone dry.

i've seen reports of 2 inches of rain around the area with this system.  when i checked my rain gauge this morning i found a like amount. still, until i saw these reports i was unsure as someone around here has been known to help the gauge along via her garden hose; not helpful, but with good intent.

rain remains in the forecast for tonight with a better than even chance of rain tomorrow. predictions are for some small chance of rain through sunday night.

bring it on! we'll take all the clouds are willing to give, and more if we can get it.

(let it fall, let it fall, let it fall)
please don't stop the rain!
(let it fall, let if fall, let it fall)
please don't stop the rain!          james morrison


Thursday, September 20, 2012



it is a sad fact that we have as yet not been blessed with grandchildren.  in lieu we, perhaps foolishly, refer to our kiddos pets as grand-cats and grand-dogs. 

on tuesday we got a call from our daughter in new orleans reporting that one of her two cat's, alice, was not doing well-- not eating or drinking and thus not peeing or pooping, that she knew of at least.  over the last little bit she had reported that alice had been losing weight.  in truth, alice could lose some pounds without missing them at all.  K. lovingly called alice "sausage" and the last time i saw alice the name still fit.

on wednesday, alice was no better.  if anything she was worse having become unsteady on her feet as she tried to walk.  she had a 3:00 p.m. appointment with the vet to see what's what.  the answer--  without running $1200 dollars worth of tests, which might or might not explain alice's decline and perhaps point the vet to a solution which might or might not be effective, his educated guess was kidney failure or diabetes. our daughter certainly doesn't have that kind of money and though we love our daughter more than life itself, and we love alice as we do our own three kitties, we were not inclined to front what was unlikely to be a positive outcome.

facing the stark reality of circumstance our daughter made a brave, extremely tough decision--that being to put her sweet alice to rest.

she called when she got back home.  i cried buckets of tears as she told me of being there with alice, gently speaking words of love and comfort for her delightful companion of ten years. as she painted a picture of alice's last moments, i could hardly speak.  the words i so needed to share caught in my throat. 

as i write this tears are streaming down my face, not so much for alice, she is with gus and buddy, with roxie and velma in the kitty hereafter, but for K. who is nigh on to 900 miles away from the hugs and love no phone call or blog entry can sufficiently convey.  

k., i know you are in pain... i know you will miss her.  treasure your memories of miss alice, of your "sausage" and know that we too will treasure memories of our grand-cat.
alice (second from right) you were a wonder. R.I.P. 09/19/2012


Sunday, September 16, 2012

and the race is on...


the inaugural concerts of the amarillo symphony's 88th season are a done deal.  the season is aimed at selecting a new maestro. candidate number one is stilian kirov, a native of bulgaria, more recently serving as assistant conductor for the seattle and memphis symphonies.

it has been said "you never get a second chance to make a first impression".  now ain't that the truth! my first impression of stilian was positive.  he strode confidently onto the stage, conducted our national anthem in fine style and took his leave giving sway to the introduction of this year's symphony belles and beaus.

to the audition at hand.  i've heard it a million times from the judges on american idol, the voice and others.  song choice is key.  the same would apply to orchestral music as well it seems.  Leonard Bernstein's Candide Overture  and Serge Prokofiev's Violin Concerto, No. 2, op. 63, G minor --while ably conducted and played, both left me unimpressed.  Stilian's style is reminiscent of our previous maestro.  his hair, styled in a minor key, managed to convey the passion he is feeling for the music that was so telegraphed by maestro's hair in years past. 


Ludwig von Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, op. 67, C minor.  from the first four notes -- pum! pum! pum! pum! --it's on!  Stilian and our Amarillo Symphony took us on a ride I'll not soon forget. Skillfully conducted, and yes we noticed there was no sheet music to refer to, and beautifully played; one word-- BRAVO!!!  A true, lengthy and much deserved standing O for Stilian and our merry little band of symphony musicians. way to bring on the big guns to finish with a bang!

song choice is key.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Think blue TOO...

you may not be aware that September is national prostate cancer month. on a takeoff of the breast cancer awareness slogan "think pink"-- we have "think blue, too". if you see someone wearing a blue ribbon, most likely it is for national prostate cancer awareness month.

last year the agn printed an edition on pink paper to promote awareness of national breast cancer month.  little a-town has an annual susan g. komen 5-k run to promote awareness of breast cancer in women. 

in what may be a first anywhere in this country, today's edition of the agn was printed on blue paper.  there is no equivalent, on a national scale, to the susan g. komen "race for the cure" to spotlight the importance of prostate health screening in men.

locally, in 2007,  joe ed coffman picked up that torch for area men in the form of a "friends of fogelberg" concert. it is staged bi-annually in memory of dan fogelberg who died of prostate cancer at the age of 56.  there is hope that "friends of fogelberg", now a second-party fundraiser, will catch on across the nation ala the komen foundation.

funds from the concert are given toward prostate screenings for indigent and uninsured men through the don and sybil harrington cancer center.

anything the "friends of fogelberg" bunch can do toward raising awareness of the critical importance of prostate screening,  particularly in men aged 50 and beyond, is a potential life saver.  the agn reported last year's free screening found 10 men in the 300 screened who were referred for future monitoring. 

men are such pussies!  denial is our strong suit!  a "that'll never happen to me attitude" can lead to a personal, potentially fatal health crisis.  no man wants to think about suffering the indignity of his physicians annual "finger wave" exam.  but, it is over in seconds and should be seen as an investment in your longevity.

and let's face it guys, the "finger wave" is nowhere near as personal as the exams our ladies must suffer through.  think about it, you, on your back with your legs up in stirrups, splayed wide to facilitate a speculum exam or having your breasts squashed  during a mammogram.  what if a similar exam was required to document "your boys" continued health. ouches all the way around, right?

face it men, what we have to endure to monitor our prostate's continued health is nothing in comparison!

so men, swallow your foolish pride.  get your prostate checked, i did; and while your at it explore the need for a colonoscopy.  your future just might depend on it!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

let there be light...

and there was light.  my last post ended with the HOPE that the power would soon be restored at the daughter's place there in new orleans.  her place is but one among hundred of thousands of homes and businesses affected by isaac. she bore the previous nights away in  an inky blackness broken only by candlelight, the stars and a rare blue moon.

what is hope, if not a form of prayer?  hope was rewarded last night about 8 in the p of m.  she was in the process of lighting her candles when the lights came on.  thankfully she would not have to withstand another anxiety ridden night in the dark, another night of humid discomfort with only the sound of cicadas singing to pierce the quiet of the march toward dawn. 

thank you entergy for your due diligence in not making my daughter be one of the ones whose power may not be restored before midweek. thank you to the powers that be for listening to our supplication for relief.

what is left of isaac is still doing its thing in indiana and kentucky as the currents steer him where they will.  there will be some good come of isaac's passing.  while the miseries of the folks along the gulf coast linger still, isaac's path will have left behind some much welcome moisture across parts of this drought plagued country.  for that too, we are grateful.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

too long gone...


there is no more helpless feeling than sitting here in little a-town with some guy named isaac bearing down on the big easy.  so what's the big deal about that? weeelll... that's where the daughter and her hubby live, in orleans parish in that hurricane magnet called new orleans, louisiana.

as far as that goes, they came through the storm mostly unscathed. oh, they did lose power around midnight as isaac snailed his way past out to the west of new orleans proper.  the problem is, going onto 72 hours later there still is no power at their place.

what WAS isaac is up at the top of illinois and indiana doing its thing while the daughter sits in her apartment off napoleon, stewing in her own juices.  miserable doesn't begin to describe the conditions. no power doesn't end with no lights, but also means no a/c... which anyone along the coast will tell you is a disaster in its own right.  sweating the day away is one thing but sweating all night, in the dark no less, is quite another.

it seems there are entergy trucks in the neighborhood this morning giving some hope that power will be restored in her lifetime.  that's another thing that's adding fuel to my angst; that being... all she, or i can do IS hope.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Manual did me in!

memory fails to dredge up a time when i've felt more worked over than i did this morning as i crawled out of bed.  yesterday's vis-a-vis with manual labor pointed up the fact--  "this old, gray nag ain't what he used to be."  it would be easier to name the muscles that aren't aching than to list those that are.

what i know from my years of running tells me that tomorrow is gonna be a b***h!  the second day after overexertion is most always worse than the first.  hmm... does that mean i won't be able to untrack?  time will tell, i guess.

the way i feel today points up the fact that i'm not as young as i used to be.  then again, who is?

when it comes time to say goodbye to the two aging and sickly trees in the front yard, i think i'll look into hiring it done.  trying to take down those bad boys myself might be the death of me too.

who says i'm too old to learn?


Saturday, August 25, 2012

beyond saving...

i ran into an old acquaintance today.  some of you probably know him, his name is manual labor.  on closer inspection the defect at the base of the tree turned out to be pretty awful.  we decided the tree would have to come down. so that's what me and manual have been doing for the better part of the day.  first we worked at taking off the smaller limbs with my dinky little chain saw.  then we went to the tree trimming saw on the 16 foot handle.
the thing to remember when using this tool is to use the legs.  the key is to keep the hands and arms in one position, rocking forward and then back, the saw makes short work of  limbs 4-5inches around.
the next chore, get the rest of the tree  down.  i was able to rock the trunk, moving it back and for a few inches but it was not to be that easy.

i transplanted this tree from the side yard to its' present position many years ago.  to get it out of the ground then i dug down about two feet.  i then tied a rope around the axle of the sentra. i was driving at the time, and around the base of the tree.  using a gentle rocking motion i was able to eventually tease it out.

i used  the same technique today using the tow rope from my emergency road side kit looped around the tree and hooked to the frontier's rear bumper.  with infinite patience and after multiple tries the tree finally surrendered; didn't want to jerk a bumper off after all.
okay that's done. take a look at the closeup of the non-existent tap root .  i have to believe it's because i transplanted the tree, leaving a big part of the tap root at the original site. i'm sure that played a part in the hurricane force winds having its' way with it.
the next chore was to get this monster out of the yard.  the frontier and the tow rope managed that without taking out the fence.

i have my dad's old scissor jack.  using the jack to raise the bole of the tree off the ground, propping up the bole to save the height i'd gained, i used a car ramp, bricks etc to gain more height and after multiple fits and starts i finally got it high enough. i then backed the frontier up until the tail gate touched the bole.  resetting my contrivance, at long last the beast was in the bed of the truck. after loading the trimmings, and some 8 hours from the start of this grand adventure, i headed out to the tree cemetery (aka the chipping site).
 manual, you're no friend of mine.


Friday, August 24, 2012

...and i'll huff and i'll puff and i'll...

...blow your tree tree down!!  the lone tree in our backyard has always had a bit of a westward list-- but not like this.

on this past monday evening a severe thunderstorm blew threw little a-town.  a rare torrential downpour moved through rapidly.  the rain was horizontal pushed from the vertical by near hurricane strength winds.  reports have the winds gusting to 78 mph;  and i, for one, beleive they were every bit that strong.

as the storm raged i looked out the patio doors amazed that the panes at the top of the french doors were wet. i saw something odd; and i asked myself "has that tree always leaned that far over"?  after the storm passed i went out to check things out and indeed the tree was leaning quite noticeably.  There has been a bit of rot at the base for a while but on closer inspection i saw that the rot involved at least half the circumference of the bole.  as you can see i have braced it up after a fashion.  the job this weekend will be to see if i can somehow push it back into a more upright position. or if worse comes to worse, decide that it has to come down. i'm thinking that it will be the latter but i guess we'll see. 

wish me, and the tree, good luck.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

little a-town...

the daughter's latest post at poses the question "what do you love about where you live?" living in new orleans there is a lot to love for her.

living in little a-town since the early 70's, it's not hard to conjure up many fond memories but with the kids grown and gone it's easier to think of things that i like "not so much" about where i live.  the biggest dislike surely is the little factoid mentioned above, that is the kids are long gone, time wise and distance wise as well.

the closest, son number two, is a hard days drive away (for my ailing knees) in austin. he of the musical persuasion is as "in love" with the "live music capitol of the world" as is his sister is  infatuated with "the big easy".

son number one is way out west in concord, california. close enough to be within an easy drive to the sonoma or napa valleys or to drop on down to san francisco for dinner, he is in love with exploring the many wineries of the area and mainlining foie gras before the ban takes affect.  calife seems to have made him an oenophile and a bit of a food snob.

the gist of  this points to what i like least about little a-town, that is that it's just too damn far from where they are to here, or here to there, to suit me. still and all, moving some where else would do little to make an exceedingly disagreeable situtation better.

so-o-o-o, little a-town i guess i'll stick around seeing as you make for the shortest long distance to where they are.


Sunday, August 12, 2012


this sunday morning, the final day of the 2012 summer olympics, i watched the usa men's basketball team squeak out a win for the gold over a determined and talented spain.  in truth, i haven't watched much of usa's previous games coming up to the gold medal game.  in hindsight that's a shame.  what i saw this morning was something of a marvel to me, that is lebron, kobe, kevin, carmelo et al-- a group of highly paid pros from the various nba teams playing together.  here's the amazing part to me, they played as a team, checking egos at the door pledging their willingness to do whatever needed from coach k, working towards a common goal, that being to win the gold; again proving usa is the team to beat. it was neat to see coach k jumping for joy when one of his boys hit a three in the waning seconds of the game to put the usa up by nine.  it was neat to see this collection of highly paid pros celebrating the win as one unit. when the final buzzer sounded at last with the usa on top of spain  -- 107-100. and even neater still was seeing them step onto the podium as one, arms linked, to accept the gold medal. what impressed me even more was the sight of kobe bryant, kevin durant and others signing along as our national anthem played, tears in the eyes of a few and in mind for sure.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

gotta love them hills...

so, i was able to drag myself out of bed for the second sunday in a row this past weekend.  on a beaut of a sunday morning the usual line of suspects failed to show so it was just me, myself and I to carry on. i "ran" down wallace to west ninth and out west ninth to soncy. i marvelled at the quiet on this coolish morn, the only sounds i heard were my footsteps, my ragged breathing and the wind in my ears.  there was the distant hum of cars and trucks on the i-40 a mile away and the occasional car racing into and out of hearing on soncy but mostly i was lost in the vacuum between my ears.
i was alone, or at least i thought i was.  caught up in the meanderings of my feeble mind i was unaware of another runner until, a few feet off my left shoulder, i hear and enthusiastic "good morning".  of course i started like i'd stepped on a  rattle snake, levitating into the air.  they guy was most apologetic, all 6 ft. 4 inches of him, he with the 4% body fat and legs from here to there.  I watched him as he sped effortlessly away.

i intend to thank him, if we ever cross paths again.  that big shot of adrenalin rush was just what i needed to slog my way through the last leg of the hilly 4 miler. 


Sunday, July 22, 2012

shades of yesterday...


it's been forever since i've dragged my saggy carcass out of bed for an early sunday morning run.  i managed to do so today. 

back in the day, "red's raiders" gathered every sunday morning at 7:00 for what was usually a 10 miler.  rick, johnny, mike, tom, red and me; the cast of characters changed some over time.  in those days we all were running 10k's on saturday.  the goal for most was to break 40 minutes.  for some that milestone had already been reached.  for all, anytime we toed the line the goal was to set an new pr.

time.  it was all about time back then.  the goal-- to run the course in the fastest time one could coax from body and mind.

i remember those sunday mornings of thirty years ago; the six of us running shoulder to shoulder in lockstep.  six pairs of feet, the sound of our footsteps in perfect synchrony as six lefts, then six rights struck the ground as one.

time has changed the look of our merry band.  red and mike have passed on. tom has moved away. on this fine morning rick and johnny showed up for their usual sunday morning stroll.  as for the "runners",  it's dan and me.  dan first joined us for our sunday runs in the early 80's.  since then he has been there most every sunday morning. these days he is often the only "runner" who shows up. 

all of us are less than the lean, mean running machines we were in the old days.  time you see is, and never will be, a runner's friend.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

sun, sun, go away...


fair weather clouds, you are a friend of mine. i had my best run in a while, today.  the old thermometer was stuck on the century mark; that's right-- an even 100 degrees as i headed out the door. 

for the first half of the run old man sol was tucked in nicely behind a cloud and though the air temp was 100, without the radiant heat, with the sun in hiding i perceived the temp to be at least 10 degrees cooler. nice!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Who needs Dad?


we here at 7420 are slowly coming back to a semblance of "normal", gradually recovering from what I presume to be jet lag after our nine days in Hawaii. the mom seems to be doing better than me.  i still don't seem to have the energy to spit. 

tonight, i noticed an open magazine laying open on the floor. the title, "who needs dad?", caught my eye so I picked it up to see what it might be all about.  the gist of the piece spoke to the kind of dad the author had tried to be when his children were young -- you know-- involved, invested, interested, fair and so on. it went on to question what is the role of dad in their life now that they are all grown and gone, scattered to the winds, like the three of you.

that raises a valid point for me.  what do you see as my role in your life in the 21st century? more to the point, the author asked "what do you need from me" and so i ask the same of you.  what do you need from me? 

it's more than a rhetorical question.  i would like an answer and please make it as honest and frank as you can be.  i promise there will be no repercussion for your honesty; my feelings won't be hurt.  the will won't change.  i'm just curious to know what you see as my role in your life as you make your way in this cold, cruel world.

BTW, the magazine was AARP.

please favor me with a response.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Heaven on Earth-- Hawaii

It has been a dream of mine for years to take those closest to me on a cruise.  About a year prior to my actual retirement date the dream began to take form.  After much discussion the destination was chosen-- Hawaii.  So it came to be that on the 22nd of June, from around the country, we gathered at SFO for our flight to Honolulu.  On the 23rd we sailed on NCL's, Pride of America, for a 7 night, 6 day tour of Hawaii's main islands, visiting Honolulu, Maui, Hilo, Kona and Kuaui. 

The above photo was taken on Maui on our "Road to Hana" excursion. I could sit forever soaking in the peace and tranquility exuded by the sight and sound of its' beauty.  In the corner of the picture is part of the one lane bridge over the stream of the falls' waters.  A one lane bridge over the stream and the one lane road on either side equalled a rain forest traffic jam. Our tour driver-- "Champ" was a veritable fount of information-- historical, botanical, adding humor throughout to keep all the info from overwhelming.


Pictured above is a painted eucalyptus tree, another of the wonders on the island of Maui. 

Over the week we were there I took hundreds of pictures and shot some amazing video.  In time, I hope to put the best of both into an album of sorts to preserve our time in paradise for an intermittent return, if only as a stroll down memory lane.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day Ya'll!!

Reading the Sunday "funny papers" on this fine Father's Day morning, it seems to me today's panel from "the Family Circus" got it just right.  Pictured is dad sitting on a stool with any number of gifts and the wrappings gathered about his feet-- a tie, golf balls, a CD collection, etc and his children looking at him expectantly.  "Which of the things you got for father's day do you like best?" The thought bubble over dad's head has none of those things in it, but instead he is thinking that his wife and kids are the best things he's received on Father's Day. To that thought I would just say--"amen brother-- on Father's Day and every day."

It is said that Father's Day is the Rodney Dangerfield of manufactured holidays.  It gets "little respect" and that could be because a father's contribution to the conception, care and feeding of his children pales in comparison to that of the mother.  But does that mean that a dad loves his kids less than their mom.  I think not.

Speaking for myself, there is little I would not have done-- or to bring it into the now, would do-- to ensure the health, wealth and happiness of our three. As I see it, that's a dad's main job-- on father's day and all the days of his life.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

one week in


my last day at BSAHS was last Saturday. can it have been just seven days ago?

because my usual days off were sunday, monday, tuesday and wednesday, to me, my first realized day of retirement was thursday past.

without the structure of the coming work week, without that point of reference, i find myself asking--"what day is this?"

surely that won't last forever.  i have hawaii to look forward to, if the tomorrows between now and then will just hurry themselves into yesterdays. 

after that i guess i'll just have to see.


Sunday, May 27, 2012


as i lay in bed saturday night, in search of sleep's sweet embrace, i found myself wondering what the new day, the first day of retirement, would feel like.

 i finally freed myself from slumber's grip at the stroke of noon on this sunday morning.  my first thought was, "you lazy bum, you've wasted half the day, half the first day of the rest of your life."

after getting the first pee of the day out of the way and seeking coffee's saving grace i fetched the paper.  coffee and the sunday paper; so far, this day no different than any sunday morn in recent memory.

the phone rang.  it's my daughter calling to check on "how are your feeling on this first day of retirement? do you feel any different?"  after a moments consideration i told her, "it does feel different.  not that i've dreaded going to work these past months, weeks and days, 'cause i haven't.  but it does feel different knowing that come next thursday morning i don't have to go to work.  i can spend that day and the remainder of my days doing whatever i choose to do."

come on retirement!  hit me with your best shot! 

yesterday, i swiped my badge one final time beginning the last day of my 38 years at BSA.  as the day wore on the laggard second hand of the clock rounded its way past the hours and minutes until, with one last lap around the dial, it was done.
my least favorite thing in the world is change.  that might go a long way toward explaining why i've spent my whole career at one hospital; why the last 27 of those years were spent on the rehab unit assisting patients through the difficulties that life so often brings.

but change?  i've seen a few!  when i embarked on what was to become 38 years, the hospital was still using glass thermometers to measure patients temperatures.  the beds had cranks for adjusting positions. blood pressures were measured with cuff and stethoscope. all that changed in short order, automated this and that, faster indeed but more accurate?  i'm not sure. 

back in the day, nurses, the female of the species anyway wore white everything; dresses, hose, shoes and the ubiquitous cap bestowed upon them from their school of nursing.  walk down the hall of any hospital today and it's nearly impossible to tell a nurse from a housekeeper or diet tech.  everyone wears scrubs!  the id badge likely has a job title on it but 50% of the tags are flipped around backwards.  i'm told that bsa will be switching to a new badge that has the same info on both sides.  oh, yea! another change!

people ask me what i'm going to do with my time in retirement.  i tell them i'm not sure but i do know that i'll not be swiping my badge every thursday, friday, saturday at BSA.

i reckon i'll just have to see what the next lap around the old clock dial has in store. 


Monday, May 14, 2012

te quiero, el nino

it's a dark, gray day out there again today.  after last summer, the whole year really, with it being the driest on record around these parts, today is just a treat.  why, might you ask?  it just doesn't happen that often here, this year or any other, that we have rain in significant amounts-- two days in a row.  and this on top of a very rainy day this past saturday.

this morning i heard the wife bemoaning, " i can't believe it's raining again today."  i told her she should hush. 

when there's a drought like we've been having around here of late, you take the rain when, and as often as it comes.  one never knows, this rainy spell could dry up with the last drop of rain that falls this morning.

the dry land cotton farmer in me says, "keep it coming" and "i love you, el nino!"


Sunday, May 13, 2012

mother's day, 2012

sitting here on this fine mother's day afternoon in the year of our Lord 2012, listening to dulcet tones of Bonnie Raitt's latest cd-- "slipstream", reveling in the irony of my being married nigh on to 36 years to none other than one Bonnie Raitt. 

no, not the one pictured above.  still she is of the same family tree but fruit of a different fork.  the aforementioned bonnie of blues star fame was born to john of broadway spotlight fame.  my bonnie was born to William C. aka "Bill" and wife Estelle.  That would make E. my mother-in-law.  I give her credit for raising a fine daughter, one schooled in the refinements of life.  by extension she exposed  me to things of which this dry land cotton farmer's son had no clue. 

it has been said that marriage serves to take the rough edges off a man. i'll be the first to admit that these last 35+ years have been good for me. 

and so on mother's day 2012 i say thank you to the lovely Estelle and to my Bonnie Raitt, wife-- and mother to our children, for all she's done for all of us through the years.

 i love you; yesterday, today and for all the days to come!



Sunday, May 6, 2012


standing at the sink this morning, getting ready for the 10th remaining day on the job, a resident mockingbird is singing to the sun at the top of his avian lungs. hearing the trill "wake up! it's morning already!" in the varied tongues of the neighborhood bird species takes me back to the mornings of my early youth.  In those days my dad kept a stable of fighting game cocks whose habit it was to crow in the new day long before the sun poked its shining head above the eastern horizon.

As the ride toward retirement approaches the speed of  a runaway semi on a 10% grade, I think of how many sunrises separate me from those early days and those more recent along the road of my life.

who woulda thunk on any of those mornings so long ago that the last sunrise of a 38 year career could ever be just 20 days away?  it just goes to show--  life is what happens while waiting for today to become yesterday and for tomorrow to become today.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

sayonara, kimbo!

first, let me say the hair was in fine form tonight.  each of Kimbo's best concerts with the ASO, and all of them were excellent, came on nights when the hair was most alive. somehow his hair action imbues itself into the symphony's performance and the mane was working some musical magic on this swan song performance.
the last ASO concert of the 87th season, the last ASO concert with Kimbo on the podium was perhaps the best performance of his five year tenure. In a word electrifying.  Four choirs, 80+ musicians, 3 guest artists and the baton in the deft hand of Maestro Kimbo made for a performance not to be soon forgotten.

kudos to all; your collective efforts were par excellence!

Kimbo, may the hair be with you always and the best of luck to you and yours wherever you may land. those patrons will be some kind of lucky ducks.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

david massey...


we made a flying trip down tahoka way today for the memorial service for my uncle david. the truth is he was my aunt callie fae's husband.  still he was my uncle. 

for reasons i find hard to explain, i was closest to my uncles on my daddy's side of the family.  likely it was because they were just way more fun to be around than the sons of my mom's foot washing , primitive baptist parents.  there's nothing wrong with the primitive baptists, i'm just sayin'.

uncle david had just passed his 88th birthday back in december.  he married aunt cal in 1946 and spent the bigger part of his life coaxing a living from dry land cotton farms in and around lynn county in texas.  the young man who led his graveside service had the good fortune to know uncle david at least a little bit.  he was right on when he said "david was a good man." david was kind, soft spoken, always with a word of  some value for a young man growing up; always interested in how my family was doing in my later years.

i wish i had a nickel for every funeral i've attended.  without fail some one or other feels the need to ask, "doesn't he, or she, look natural?" in most cases the truthful answer would be-- "nooooh, he looks exactly like he is, that being dead".

in uncle david's case the gods came together for a perfect funeral.  it was a very simple service for a man who, i would guess, abhorred fuss.  in david's case, he did look natural. he might have been sleeping but for the fact that he was laying in a casket. cleta and sandra's choices were perfect for their dad.  into the coffin's lining was embroidered a "john deere" tractor.  the casket spray had tucked among the perfect red roses, cotton bolls and burrs. the day was cold and gray, the sand was blowing across the road as we came down from lubbock, in other words typical weather for the time of year and the current drought conditions.  as we neared tahoka it was raining hard.

at the cemetery his casket was draped with the stars and stripes.  a three man honor guard stood at attention.  the marine played taps, standing in the rain as the other soldiers folded the flag for presentation to the family. as a unit they were there to pay final homage to david, a fellow soldier, in recognition of his service to our country. 

the rain may have been seen as unfortunate by some. somewhere i'm sure david was smiling.  for a man who spent his life praying for rain, the day was a perfect send off and  the funeral arrangements perfectly suited the man i will forever remember as my
uncle david.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

dreams really do come true....


have you heard the old saw, "it only costs twice as much to go first class."?  i've had this idea in the back of my mind for years.  that being, if i ever make it to retirement, the first thing i want to do is take my whole crew on a cruise.

if the good lord's willing, it looks like both those things will come to pass this summer.   it's been a frustrating few months waiting for the purchase window to open, hoping that as the weeks passed i would see ticket prices go down. just the opposite has happened, prices i looked at 6 months ago are now almost double what they were back then.  in fact they took a huge jump from just a week or so ago, after the pronouncement that gas could reach $5 a gallon by years end.

my vision has been to have the various members of the crew fly into a common airport, continuing on to our cruise port city together. dollar signs had me doubting the wisdom of such a move.  hours and hours of searching, at last i thought i'd found a way to save a pretty penny, only to realize that bargain figure was for the first leg of the flight, that in fact the "bargain" was $200+ more than my original search.

i hate shopping!  i try to remember that, if i find something i want at a price i can afford, i should just buy it.  more often than not, after wasting time and money, i end up going back to where i started, buying the item that caught my eye in the first place.

and that's what happened in this case, i ended up buying the tickets that i looked at the beginning of my search.  did i save any money?  probably not. but it will allow us to congregate, proceeding en masse, to the realization of a dream.

bon voyage. aio