Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Well, that's what we taught the Cub and Boy Scouts as part of environmental awareness.

Recently, my good friend Todd the Blogger posted about finding a new use for the wedding dress that had been unceremoniously left behind when his wife walked out on their marriage.  Knowing from personal experience what a raw wound divorce can be, I wouldn't be posting this unless he had already opened the door on the subject.

Now I find there's a whole blog devoted to creative re-uses for those supposedly once worn dresses.

As they say, sometimes we laugh to keep from crying. 

BTW, may I offer heartfelt encouragement to a mutual friend as he works to save his marriage and family.  Godspeed, Shay.

h/t: Geeding

The World's Gone NVTS - Nuts!

Comes now word from the Fort Worth Startlegram that a 20 year old Grapevine boy-man has been arrested for placing his 13 month old son's mouth on his marijuana smoking bong, apparently while his shack-up old lady, the child's mother, aged 19, watched.

I am a sinner.  But you can call me a cranky old curmudgeon when I read about stuff like this.

Are we happy with all the hippie-dippie "we shouldn't judge" mentality that took root in the '60s?  We're reaping what was sown, I suppose.

I pray, and hope you will too, for the little guy.  And his parents.

Monday, June 28, 2010


In 1977, I was working at a Braum's Ice Cream store in Grand Prairie, Texas - my first after-school part-time job.  Yeah, I was a soda jerk.

Through some connections with a former neighbor who was a regional executive for Warner-Elektra-Atlantic records, I had tickets available to me for The Eagles.  The Eagles!  Only my favorite band at that time (and possibly still), on the Hotel California tour, no less!

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to grill burgers and make banana splits that evening.  Couldn't find anyone to take my shift.  Lots of folks since then have asked: "Why didn't you call in sick?", but my parents had instilled in me the work ethic that if you are sick, you stay home, and if you're not sick, you work if scheduled.  So no go.

A month ago a friend of mine for the past nearly 40 years called and invited me to the Eagles show at the AAC.  So thanks to his and his wife's generosity (not to mention swimming and a delicious pre-concert dinner at their home), I finally got to enjoy that show I'd missed over three decades earlier.

Except that this one was probably better than the '77 show, when they had five studio LPs in their repertoire.  Now, with 2-1/2 CDs of new material, plus Don Henley's solo work, they were able to put on a nearly three hour show and still leave the audience wanting more.  Befitting a show before a hometown crowd, Henley had more turns on lead vocals than the others.  Of course, that could just be because he's one of the best singers in the business, sharpest writers, and, as well, attended NTSU (about a dozen years before I did).

Despite the notion that this band has always been dogged by interpersonal conflicts, I got the impression that at an average age of 63, they're in their prime and with the wisdom that follows maturity, comfortable with one another playing a set that, by my unofficial count, included about 33 songs.

Saturday night's show was pretty much flawless - an ensemble cast of consummate professionals.  I listened to a Redbeard interview over the weekend in which Henley spoke of his commitment to giving fans their money's worth, whether on his CDs or in concerts.  It's clear he practices what he preaches.  Even if I'd had to buy my own ticket, I'd have gotten my money's worth.

And my clothes didn't smell like I'd been riding around with Cheech and Chong...

Doogie gets married

Over the weekend, I learned from the intertubes that Doogie Howser, J.D. got married.

Now, I thought I was gonna be all clever and stuff, and say that now that Doogie's married someone else, maybe Winnie Cooper is available.

Danica McKellar a/k/a Winnie Cooper

Until, that is, I remembered that she was from The Wonder Years, another show altogether.  [All: "Another show..."]

And found out she got married last year anyway.

Pre-emptive edit: Yes, I know there are racier pictures of Ms. McKellar, but I'm running a family-responsible blog here...

Oh...and congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Howser...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Building the Perfect Feast

Lambert's song speaks to that memory of place that I think we all carry forward from our childhoods. For me, it may not be just one place - three or four come to mind - places not only in geography, but in time. 

One of my favorites was in my grandparents' town park in Kansas.  There was a steel corkscrew slide, probably put there in the '30s or '40s, but could've been earlier.  It wasn't one of these modern resin slides, but honest-to-goodness American iron and steel.  The inside was polished smooth from thousands and thousands of kids joyfully riding it. It was built for kids, and served its purpose well.

I haven't been back to that town in a few years now, and have no idea if it's still there, but it'll always be in my memory, my soul.  I know I would be dismayed, saddened to find it'd gone to the scrap heap, but, as things built by human hands, nothing lasts forever.

What we make of brick, stone, wood, and metal - these things are fleeting.  In the early days of Christianity, Jesus followers met in home churches, as being known as a Christian was not beneficial to one's social standing or livelihood.  In Ray Vander Laan's DVD series In the Dust of the Rabbi, he leads a tour of Priene, where the temple to the Greek goddess Athena now lies in ruin, partially rebuilt for the sake of tourism. 

The Apostle Peter knew about the first destruction of the Mount Temple, and admonished Christ followers to be as "living stones" (1 Peter 2:5) , building not grand edifices, but building in themselves, in their hearts, the Church that Jesus commanded.  In 70 A.D., just a few years after Peter's epistle, the Jewish temple was again destroyed, and has not been rebuilt to this day.

Today, nearly every town of any size has fantastic structures built for people to worship our Lord and Savior.  I have been to St. Peter's in Rome, St. Basil's in Moscow, and St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.  All are impressive and awe-inspiring.

But more important than all of the stone, brick and mortar, carved wood, gold leaf and painted frescoes is the question:  What kind of temples are we building, in 'living stone' in our hearts?

For my part, hopefully, and prayerfully, the type my children can someday call The House That Built Me.

Edit - Found this quote that seems to tie in:

THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN CHRIST become his representatives, extending Christ’s ministry of reconciliation, restoration, and recreation. We become Christ’s body in the world, the temple of his Spirit, his living presence to perform his works.
- Daniel Vestal , Being the Presence of Christ

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wir haben gesprungen

Well, that, or maybe the aliens have landed [again].

This type of structure is called a sprung.  I don't know if it's a trend, but I seem to be seeing more of them.  Though I'm definitely no expert, they seem to be very versatile and space efficient (no interior load bearing walls).  Acoustics also seem to be very good inside. This one has just been erected near Haslet.  There is another in Argyle, and my friend Todd the Blogger's church has one in south Fort Worth.

Circle the wagons vultures

I don't know why, but every time I'm near Cottondale, I see vultures - lots of them.

Today, I interrupted a pair feasting on some sun-baked skunk.  Yum!

Due to traffic, I couldn't get their portrait on the first pass (you know how congested it gets out there), but on my return trip I was prepared.  The two you see on the bridge hopped up from their brunch to pose nonchalantly on the rail.  Later they flew off to the tree, where at one time I counted five, but by the time I snapped the picture, only four were still there.

I'm thinking the Cottondale area may have as many buzzards as Wall Street.  Or a law firm.


Edit: I enlarged the picture and found that there are seven vultures visible.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A slow ride in the country

Maybe this one's honest

I don't even know these people, but they've got to have more credibility than that other one.

I hope he has good brakes

This loomed in my rear-view mirror today:

At times it was much closer, filling the field of view of the back window.  It's not easy taking pictures backwards with a compact SLR style camera...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


OK, I'm going to the same well twice in a week.

Though most know him for the pop/country Wildfire, Carolina in the Pines, and What's Forever For, or maybe the Cosmic Cowboy from the early days of the Austin outlaw scene and Geronimo's Cadillac, 1978 found Oak Cliff-raised Michael Murphey (Martin was added later, after Hard Country) with a little more edge than the earlier folk/pop and later country/cowboy work.  Though he reportedly was unhappy that his record label was trying to mold him into another Dan Fogelberg, his Lonewolf album featured sharp writing and insights on the cultural changes taking place in post-Viet Nam era modern America, equal in many ways to the social critiques of another Texas ex-pat at that time (and now Dallas resident), Don Henley.

Herewith, Loners:

As the night gives up to the light, I'm in Tia Sophia's café.
I've got chili, I got huevos, I got beans and coffee thawing out my day.
Look outside, I watch the falcon fall.  Deep inside, I hear the lonewolf's call.
Sooner or later, it gets us all...
We all learn to be loners, in the urban sprawl.

Never knowing where we're going - loners.
Day by day, we're learning to be loners.

We've learned to be lovers, without getting too intertwined.
I don't need your approval, baby, and I'm sure you don't need mine.
Dependencies are easily contrived, so keep your own identity alive.
When we're apart, we both must learn to survive
For the rest of our lives.

Disconnected, misdirected - loners.  Heartbroken, soft-spoken loners.
Never knowing where we're going - loners.
Day by day, we're learning to be loners.

As I look out on the traffic, I realize the cowboy myth is dead.
Drifter's dreams are crushed beneath the Caterpillar tread.
There's an old man dead in the Oxford Hotel.  The hobo can no longer ride the rail.
The outlaw's just an image up for sale.
We all learn to be loners, it's just as well.


Michael Martin Murphey, 1978

Sunday, June 20, 2010

FJ Cruiser my foot

No poser here, this is the real deal, an FJ-40 pickup:

Mmmm, bacon

Just the latest in a series...

I'm not selling...

Right or left?

But, they're not for sale.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

No Man's Land

It all begins to run together, it all begins to feel the same
The endless slow erosion, the pattern of the plain.
From the charge of the Calvary cavalry, to the endless fast food chains
I have written my runes by the parking lot moons
In the sorrow of the silver L.A. rain.

Living in no man's land, drifting on a sinking sand
Living in no man's land.

On the yonder boundaries of the bitterest barren place
To the paleface waste where every trace of taste has been erased
I slept with a lonely statue, unfeeling and full of form
Awakening to the flash flood crash
To find that I'd been sleeping through a storm.


Now I am invisible, between the dream and the scene
So it's goodbye all you snowbound queens
I'm ripping up your silver screens.
I hold on to my last hope, which is living my life alive
Believing all things come to a man who goes to Hell
And somehow does not arrive.


Michael Martin Murphey, 1978

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Did you know?

There are actually 4 verses to the Star Spangled Banner, more recently known as that song they play to start NASCAR races and baseball games.

This will tingle your spine.

And here, reprinted, are the lyrics for the entire National Anthem.

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics

By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Little bit o' Heaven

A very bucolic sight:

I photograph, you caption

There were a lot of cars in the parking lot...

Go topless, go green

Continuing with the theme of re-purposing old cars:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What in the world?

Seen near the Stockyards on NE 28th.

Alien housing pods?

More silliness

...let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

Just call me a sage

A while back, I mused that it would be interesting if a certain business chain took a page from car dealerships and other retailers that use gigantic inflated gorillas and lawn maintenance equipment to increase mindshare from passing drivers.

Well, it appears they read Sonnet 116:

I'm sure that dude on the roof is setting the anchor points for the giant inflatable...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Barnyard stories

# 1 - The Little Red Hen

Once upon a time, there was a little red hen who lived on a farm . She was friends with a lazy dog , a sleepy cat , and a noisy yellow duck .
One day the little red hen found some seeds on the ground. The little red hen had an idea. She would plant the seeds .

The little red hen asked her friends, "Who will help me plant the seeds ?"
"Not I," barked the lazy dog .

"Not I," purred the sleepy cat .

"Not I," quacked the noisy yellow duck .
"Then I will," said the little red hen . So the little red hen planted the seeds all by herself.
When the seeds had grown, the little red hen asked her friends, "Who will help me cut the wheat ?"

"Not I," barked the lazy dog .

"Not I," purred the sleepy cat .

"Not I," quacked the noisy yellow duck .
"Then I will," said the little red hen . So the little red hen cut the wheat all by herself.
When all the wheat was cut, the little red hen asked her friends, "Who will help me take the wheat to the mill to be ground into flour ?"

"Not I," barked the lazy dog .

"Not I," purred the sleepy cat .

"Not I," quacked the noisy yellow duck .
"Then I will," said the little red hen . So the little red hen brought the wheat to the mill all by herself, ground the wheat into flour , and carried the heavy sack of flour back to the farm .
The tired little red hen asked her friends, "Who will help me bake the bread ?"

"Not I," barked the lazy dog .

"Not I," purred the sleepy cat .

"Not I," quacked the noisy yellow duck .
"Then I will," said the little red hen . So the little red hen baked the bread all by herself.
When the bread was finished, the tired little red hen asked her friends, "Who will help me eat the bread ?"

"I will," barked the lazy dog .

"I will," purred the sleepy cat .

"I will," quacked the noisy yellow duck .
"No!" said the little red hen . "I will."   And the little red hen ate the bread all by herself.

Moral:  Some are all too willing to share the fruits of others' success, but contribute nothing to help create the success.   And if the hen, through her own efforts collects insufficient ingredients for a large batch of bread, there will be those who critcize her, though doing nothing to help.

#2 - My Grandfather

   One of my grandfathers was a lifelong Democrat.  Not normally something I would admit, but given his era (born during WW I) and his profession (farmer), it's understandable.  Of course, he was a Democrat of the FDR variety, not the Clinton/Obama type.

   One of the things I remember from my childhood and early adulthood, was Grandfather's understanding of economics and accounting, which, I believe, tied into his Democratic politics.  You see, year after year, season after season, Grandfather lost money on every crop planted, or load of cattle, or hogs. 

   Don't get me wrong - it's definitely possible, maybe likely, to lose money in agriculture, especially if you're a gentleman farmer or don't know what you're doing.  But my Grandfather was raised on the farm - he knew what he was doing.

   I could never figure out how you could always lose money and stay at it.  Oh, sure, you can, for an extended period of time, build up additional debt on the farm mortgage.  But what I ulitmately learned was that in his accounting, if the crop/commodity/livestock price at any time during the season was greater than what he ultimately sold his for, he considered the difference a loss.  Not necessarily that he didn't make an operating profit, but that he failed to sell for the highest price that might have been offered during that season.  And he firmly believed he'd really lost money.

  A lot of folks are like this.

   Democrat or Republican, it's not uncommon for us to focus on the difference between the potential and what we net, and conclude that somehow we've been cheated, dealt a bad hand.  Too frequently, we see the empty portion of the glass, and fail to give thanks for the part that is filled.

   My own glass has been fuller, but I know that many in this world suffer from true thirst, staring at empty glasses, or have no glass at all.  I'm thankful for what I have, and keep working to make a better tomorrow, with confidence that with the Lord's guidance, and my obedience, my glass or cup will eventually run over.

A mish-mash

I haven't done a random thoughts post in a while, so here goes:
  • A couple of work buddies and I had lunch together yesterday.  One of them is happily married, and expects to be for life (I pray that he is).  The other is going through a divorce, not of his choosing.  The married one suggests that the other two of us need to find some younger women.  "Younger?" we ask.  "Yeah, like 22 or so."  "What in the world would 22 year old women see in a couple of old farts like us (I being the older fart)?"  I said I should wish to be shot if I thought about getting into a relationship, younger or otherwise.  My friend requested to be kicked in the gonads if he did. 
  • I think there's less pain getting shot.  Besides, my friend's way - he's gonna get kicked in the gonads, either literally or figuratively, anyway.
  • What's odd is that neither of us is misogynistic.  Just two guys trying to live Christian lives, teachable, trying to understand why the women we loved turned their hearts to stone.  No badmouthing them, just utter bewilderment.  With respect to our other friend's suggestion, the only 22 I want a relationship with is a .22.
  • Nonetheless, I had to consider the James Taylor song, from That's Why I'm Here (1985), called Going Around One More Time: 
my heart had been broken and i couldn't take no more
i shuttered up my windows and i bolted tight my door
then i took one look at you and i nearly lost my mind
now i'm going 'round going 'round going 'round going around one more time
  • Well maybe later, just not now.
  • Last night, I went to the laundromat to dry a load.  The matched pair a domestic war casualty, I've only replaced the washer, no dryer.  The facility is relatively new, kept neat as a pin, with Mythbusters playing on the flatscreen TVs.  Of about 10 people in there doing laundry, 8 were men.  Equality, or sign of the times, I guess.
  • Since it's gotten hot, I tend to take iced tea with me when I'm out driving.  Too much iced tea had the predictable effect today when I was in Springtown.  So I stopped at the local Wells-Fargo seeking respite.  "Sir, we don't have a public restroom."  I wasn't dressed like a vagrant, and it wasn't late enough in the day for me to look sweaty and haggard.  I didn't realize Springtown had become so high-toned.
  • Being the fervent Eagles fan, I couldn't not take this picture (en las palabras del Chupacabra, you'll have to 'enlargenate' the picture), although the referenced song was not written by any of the band.  And Todd the Blogger, before you simply dismiss this as another Eagles/Henley ode, read the Wiki - it's actually a Hank Sr. reference.

  • Finally, in Azle late this afternoon, I stopped for fuel.  There was a Santa Claus/Amish looking dude in a t-shirt with a beard that flowed down and out to meet the crew neck of his t-shirt all around, forming a band that looks like one of those clown things.   I would've been absolutely miserable.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fallen Friends

Another from the email bag (I've been encouraged to continue posting dog stories):

A Dog's Purpose? (From a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron , his wife Lisa , and their little boy Shane , were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane , who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try to live.

He said,' People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?''

The six-year-old continued,' Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

This message re-printed in loving memory of Jenny and Sara - whom I visited last Wednesday.
The cemetery used "Ginny" because that's how the vet spelled it.


I know people like this...

Yeah, I know I had a recent post regarding bail bonds.  This one is purely coincidental.

On an automotive note, this is probably the best use of GM X-body cars.

Look out Danica!

Well, maybe in a few years...

And who says dads can't have a little fun, too?

Note: I'm not really that oversized for the vehicle - someone had left a box of promo t-shirts on the seat...

Friday, June 4, 2010

How cool is this?

This is the seat I'd want on my ride...

h/t: "That Dude"

A new supermarket

A new supermarket opened in my area.

It has an automatic water mister to keep the produce fresh Just before it goes on, you hear the distant sound of thunder and the smell of fresh rain.

When you pass the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and you experience the scent of fresh cut hay.

In the meat department there is the aroma of charcoal grilled steaks and brats.

In the liquor department, the fresh, clean, crisp smell of tapped Miller Lite.

When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

The bread department features the tantalizing smell of fresh baked bread & cookies.

I don’t buy toilet paper there anymore.

h/t: "That Dude"

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Also from the email bag. 


I ran into a stranger as he passed by, "Oh excuse me please" was my reply.

He said, "Please excuse me too; I wasn't watching for you."

We were very polite, this stranger and I.

We went on our way and we said goodbye.

But at home a different story is told; How we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day, cooking the evening meal, my son stood beside me very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.  "Move out of the way," I said with a frown.

He walked away, his little heart broken.  I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.

While I lay awake in bed, God's still small voice came to me and said,

"While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use,

but the family you love, you seem to abuse.

Go and look on the kitchen floor; You'll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers he brought for you.  He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.

He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise, you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes."

By this time, I felt very small; And now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by his bed; "Wake up, little one, wake up," I said.

"Are these the flowers you picked for me?"  He smiled, "I found 'em, out by the tree.

I picked 'em because they're pretty like you.  I knew you'd like 'em, especially the blue."

I said, "Son, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today;  I shouldn't have yelled at you that way."

He said, "Oh, Mom, that's okay.  I love you anyway."

I said, "Son, I love you too, and I do like the flowers, especially the blue."

Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days.  But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives.

And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than into our own family, an unwise investment indeed, don't you think?

So what is behind the story?

Do you know what the word FAMILY means?


This past weekend I saw this very story play out, only the little boy is nearly a man.  Brimming with excitement, he wanted to show his mother the first car he wanted to buy.  But she would have nothing to do with it, offered only discouragement, and, thus far, no epiphany or resolution.  Maybe she was gripped with fear of her child on his own on the streets and highways.  I don't know.

I can understand the anxiety, and even share some of it.  But Lord, please don't let me crush the hopes and dreams of these young ones you've gifted me with.