Here’s Johnny


Last night Andrea and Kevin wanted to orchestrate a belated birthday dinner for the General. Of course, as part of the entourage, I was also invited. In all truthfulness, I can say it proved to be an exceptional evening.


For starters, Andrea and Kevin chose a restaurant where the General and I have never been. Truthfully speaking, I am mostly a stranger to the kind of fine dining that includes something more than a white tablecloth and dinnerware. I am not accustomed to having a myriad of choices for the first course, second course, main course and the grand finale (aka – desert).


It was a touching moment when Andrea looked at the menu and said to her mom, “Why don’t we take this and this and this for starters?” She offered several suggestions to include for the second course and pretty much left the third course for our own choosing.


Seriously, for the most part, I had looked at the menu and had no idea what was being served. When it comes to culinary choices that include something outside my regular fare or frame of reference, my first reaction is to look for something else on the menu that seems more familiar. I kind of discount the possibility that I will like it if I haven’t already tried it.


Andrea has a culinary charm about her where she can get by with promoting a menu selection for consideration. She does a good job of convincing you that you have a treat in store. I had a flashback to the General coaxing Andrea throughout her childhood to try different foods.


It was both interesting to observe and experience the role reversal-taking place before my eyes. Andrea was taking on the role of teacher and mentor. Though she’d never suggest that we were her inept students, we were on unfamiliar territory. She was pretty convincing that we would enjoy the taste. Never once did she use the line: “It is good for you”.


The waiter was a young man named Johnny. Actually, when he first came to our table, I missed his providing us his name. At least, I didn’t recall his name when he came back around. Consequently, when he came back around I said: “Help me with my memory. I don’t remember your name.” He smiled and said: “It is Johnny. Just like Johnny Cash, except that I don’t have any cash. Okay, so now I had a frame of reference. I would remember his name.


As our two-hour-plus dinner took place, I watched Johnny interacting with a host of other folks dining in the restaurant. He was attentive, personable, and had a genuine gregarious nature about him that added to the ambience of the evening.


He mentioned early in waiting on our table that he had just returned to work. He had been on vacation. I asked about his vacation and he provided a thumb-nailed sketch. He had gone to Arizona. While he was there, he attended his brother’s wedding. He added: “I also had a great time visiting with my mom. I sprung her from the hospital for a while. She has just finished chemo and radiation treatments”. He mentioned that in four months she has aged about fifteen years.


Immediately, I had the thought associated to the complexity of his family’s circumstances. His mother’s health status had to weigh heavily on the family as they rallied around and celebrated a family wedding. I’m sure there were lots of emotions surrounding the celebration.


I mentioned that I was sorry he was dealing with that kind of stress. He said, “It comes with life”. Who could argue with that? He went on to say: “It is interesting, but my mother has developed the most magnificent sense of humor. She had never been so funny. I guess she figures, ‘What do I have to lose’?”   He added: “I really enjoyed the time with her. In addition, my brother’s wedding provided an opportunity for me to visit with a lot of old friends I’ve not seen in awhile. It was really nice. I enjoyed my time at home, but it is also good to be back at work.”


Through the course of the evening, bits and pieces about his life surfaced in conversation. He mentioned George Straight’s song: “Ocean Front Property In Arizona”. He said he had recorded the song and given it to several friends. His friends had responded with positive reviews.


I asked: “So did you come to Austin to get in the music business?” He said he had graduated from high school at the age of seventeen and was ready to advance his career. He had started skateboarding at the age of four and thought he could make it as a professional skateboarder. California was calling his name. He had to go and give that career track a chance”.


I doubt that is just the kind of thing every parent wants to hear from his or her seventeen-year-old son? Actually, he told his dad he was going to request court emancipation. The dad countered that he would allow him to go, but that he wasn’t going to be emancipated. The dad wanted to keep him on as an income tax deduction. Did I mention that his dad is a CPA and his mother is an art professor?


He had support from his family as he pursued his dreams. In the course of the two hours we shared, he shared several more tidbits about his life. He got a degree in nursing and things began to fall apart with his girlfriend at exactly the same time that he was beginning to see a line of white picket fences.


I had the thought: “What a clever way to express where he was in his human pilgrimage.” Romance didn’t work out in California and he made his way to Austin. His story associated to getting into the restaurant business really caught me by surprise. He said, “It was all about the Balloon Animals”. “The what”, I asked?” He said when he was still in high school a friend had showed him a stash of cash in his wallet. He said: “He had twenties and hundred dollar bills.” His friend explained: “I’ve been working at a restaurant making animals out of balloons for children.” He said, “The parents love it and they pay me. Some pay me very well”.


“You’ve got to show me how to do that,” was his response to his friend. In short order, he received permission to do the same thing in another restaurant. He said, “I guess it was my gregarious nature, but folks really liked me. When the restaurant decided to stop allowing me to do that, they said I was too valuable to loose. They employed me as a part-time server while I was in high school”.


When asked about his passion going forward he said: “I am a writer. I was made to write. I can’t stop writing. I haven’t gotten anything published yet, but I will. I write. I can’t stop writing”.


Something tells me, he’s got the stuff to reach his dreams. I liked his line: “I was beginning to envision a line of white picket fences”. What an incredible way to say much in a very different way of expressing it!


Johnny gave me permission to share his story and reluctantly provided the same regarding his picture. It would serve you well to find him. He is an exceptionally knowledgeable server who works for an incredible restaurant. You’ll enjoy a fantastic meal and an exceptional waiter.


All My Best!



It Is Wet In The Texas Hill Country


So, what do you do on a rainy day?  I ask only because it is pouring down rain outside. Seriously, managing one or two consecutive days of wet weather isn’t generally a problem for me. One or two weeks is a stretch. One to two months is a wake-up call. Is it time to move to Florida?  After all, doesn’t Florida have the nickname “Sunshine state?”


Yesterday a friend posted pictures of some of the homes in Kinglsand built on Lake LBJ. Unbelievable was my reaction. I remember when those homes were built. The property had been sold by the agency where I once worked. The acres and acres of land along Lake LBJ were contiguous to the agency’s boy’s ranch program. They simply downsized the size of the ranch and cashed in on the value of lake front property.


One of the pictures shared was a home built by my friend’s husband. He actually is the man who built our home. He was building on a lot he had purchased for himself. Before the home was completed, he changed the game plan.  A person who had accessed the home by boat made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Consequently, he opted for the cash rather than the home address.  The home is a three-story home.  The photo reflects only the top two floors. The first floor is totally submerged in flood waters.


It is wet in the Texas Hill Country. Actually, I could say “life threateningly wet”. Is it time to move to Florida? Of course, an annual hurricane could cause one to carefully consider the odds. However, I’m beginning to think the 100-year flood concept is an antiquated concept. Is it possible it could become a more frequent occurrence.  We’ve got friends whose home was flooded the past couple of years. I guess when you live on the river, that is always a possibility. It is like rolling dice.  Maybe – maybe not?  After the second flood, they are opting to sell and move to dry ground.


A friend responded recently wrote: “Seems we’ve been having 100-year floods fairly regularly. I would think building in that 100-year flood plain would be illegal. I’ve seen the Brazos flood in the early 50s, the Austin Memorial Day floods twice in the early 80s, and the Navasota River flood too many times to count.

My great great grandparents suffered through several Brazos River floods in a little place called Steele’s Store. They eventually moved to Galveston just in time for the Great Storm. They settled in Dickinson on the Dickinson Bayou.

If given a choice, I would choose rain over drought. Rain and flooding affects fewer than drought. It’s a tough choice. Eventually, we will learn that the only constant is change. Be prepared. Have a Go Bag! Visit for good information”.


My blog yesterday was entitled “Stir Crazy”. Folks who are smarter than me (that includes most everyone – if you don’t believe me, you can ask my wife) figure out how to manage their time in a productive manner. I’m sure my golfing buddy (not to be mistaken for a guy I play golf with – I don’t play golf. I may not be smart but I don’t chase a ball with a stick) has figured out how to manage his time. Actually, I’ve thought of him often while I’ve been walking the dogs in the rain this week.  Seriously, Monday was really cold and wet.  I envisioned him beginning his day with a roaring fire in the fireplace.  I doubt that he went outdoor even once unless it was for firewood. Obviously, he spent a portion of his day going through old photos.


At any rate, he sent me an email asking: “Who are these guys?” I smiled with the memory. It is a picture of Craig and myself. I had the thought, “Craig has really changed”.  Of course, I still look the same with exception of the big glasses and slightly darker hair.  Seriously, could that picture have been taken 28 or 29 years ago?


There is nothing like a photo to take one back in time. Seeing Craig dressed up was a rare occurrence. He generally dressed like a drug store cowboy.  After all, he was in the second grade when we moved to Henly. There was nothing about the ambience of country life that he didn’t enjoy. Our home was always filled with his buddies. Consequently, it was easier to move furniture back then.  I simply recruited Craig and his friends to help. Somehow, I really miss those days.


On the outside chance some of you are not smarter than me, I recognize that “drug store cowboy” has a couple of meanings: “1 : one who wears cowboy clothes but has had no experience as a cowboy. 2 : one who loafs on street corners and in drugstores. Let me make it perfectly clear, we didn’t have a drug store in Henly and I don’t think there was one in Johnson City either.”


When Craig finally reached the age where a car was a necessity, I opted to purchase a Toyota Celica from a friend who was getting a new car. I thought he’d be overjoyed. He wasn’t. For starters, he would have preferred a pickup truck. Secondly, he didn’t like the color of the Toyota. He thought it looked like UT Orange. Actually, it was a good look.


He subsequently loaned the car to a friend at school. Who would have thought it possible to have a fender bender in a place as small as Johnson City? Trust me – it happens. Fortunately, there were no injuries and the car wasn’t badly damaged.  However, Craig convinced us that it was an opportune time to have the car totally repainted. I bet you’ll never guess the color? I’ll give you a clue. It was not UT orange.


I’m not sure how Craig and his friends managed it, but I was honored to be invited to speak at the baccalaureate ceremony for high school graduation? The years have gone by quickly.


Maybe looking through old photos and reminiscing is a great way to spend time on a rainy day.


All My Best!



Stir Crazy


Weeks ago I promised myself never to complain about rain again.  After all, you can only go without rain for so long before the shortage begins to surface in a barren wasteland kind of facade.  I should know. I grew up in West Texas. Sadly, the sunburned vegetation that covered the fields was evident as August turned into September.


Actually, it seems like a stretch to remember that far back. We’ve had more rainy days than clear sky days since then. In addition, the perpetual rain has resurrected the ground cover that previously looked dead. I guess you could say the grasses found their second wind and have now transformed the countryside back to green.


At any rate, I was making casual conversation with someone at the Post Office on Tuesday.  She was a total stranger, but I read somewhere that folks who randomly talk with everyone live longer and fuller lives.   Besides that, I saw my grandfather embrace that approach for years.  It seemingly served him well. He never met a stranger and he always took advantage of any opportunity to interact with others. The older I get, the more I want to be like Granddad.


The lady in the post office mentioned that she needed a day or two of sunshine.  How did she express it?  I think she said she was going “stir crazy”. I had the thought: “Hashtag me too”.   Maybe “stir crazy madness” was true of me as well. Initially, the term “stir crazy” was used of prisoners who were trapped by more than circumstance.  As the “Bobby Fuller Four” expressed it through song in 1965: “I fought the law and the law won”.


In 1851, stir crazy meant prison. It referred to a prisoner who had become mentally unbalanced because of prolonged incarceration. Of course, stir crazy is now expressed to describe anyone who feels trapped or restless in situations where there is a lack of engagement or productivity.


I get it. The past three days have been unseasonable cool and wet. I need something more than the exercise of walking the dogs back and forth down the driveway with puddles of water and mud on the periphery to feel useful and needed.  I guess the potential existed to reflect on life with each step, but if that was the opportunity, I missed it. I was far too focused on getting out of the cold wet weather.


Don’t get the wrong, the two dogs provided companionship, but they were a little short on conversation. Of course, I told myself they looked at me with eyes filled with respect and appreciation. Had it not been for me, they would have still been inside. That was especially true on Monday. The General wasn’t going to take a walk in the park with them as long as it was cold and raining. It was uncomfortably cool; especially on Monday. Somehow shorts and short-sleeve shirts weren’t nearly enough.


Charlotte knew we weren’t going back inside as long as she needed to be outside.  I could have expressed that differently, but you get my drift. I can truthfully say, “She took her sweet time.”


On Tuesday I needed to print a document, so I drove over to our house to accomplish the task.  The deluge of rain that fell after I got home was significant.  Some would call it showers of blessings. Others would say, “Not so much”.


As I made my way back to Andrea and Kevin’s to rejoin the General and two dogs, I found that getting across the low water crossing represented a problem.  “Turn around –don’t drown” seemed like sage advice. It was doubtful I’d drown, but the General’s car in the creek would have been difficult to explain to the General. Trust me, I didn’t even want to try. She already thinks I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box.  Of course, she doesn’t often tell me that directly, but the hints through verbally charting my course represent a pretty good clue.


I know some of you are thinking: “I’m a little tough on the General at times”. Let me ask you: “What would you think if someone told you you’d be better off to take your brain out of your head and play with it?” The General has only used that line with me one time, but the memory is etched indelibly in my bank of memories. It was priceless! Of course, she was not in a particularly good mood with me at the time, but I thought the line was hilarious. I was definitely amused.  I still think it’s funny.


Unfortunately, there was no place to turn around at the low water crossing. At best, two cars can negotiate the approach to the low-water crossing by passing side by side if one pulls over and stops. Having ample room to turn around was a problem. Thankfully, the back up camera in the car worked great in helping me successfully negotiate the turns as I back up all the way home.


It was later in the day that I learned that a bridge had washed out in Kingsland.  In fact there is flooding all over the Texas hill country. The news coverage of the bridge collapsing in Kingsland was daunting to watch on the news. I can’t imagine the terror of watching it first hand.


I subsequently learned that a friend from high school who lives in Kingsland lost his home (aka – recreation vehicle). They were awakened at 5:30 on Tuesday morning with the mandate evacuation notice to leave immediately. Time was of the essence. It figuratively was, “Now or never”.  They opted for now leaving everything they owned behind. Later in the day they learned their home (aka -recreation vehicle) had been swept down river.


Three other friends I went to high school with live in the Kingsland/Llano/Marble Falls area. Reportedly, they are okay. Roads and bridges are impassable, so folks are waiting for the waters to recede before getting out.  No doubt, they are experiencing “stir crazy” in ways I can’t begin to imagine.  My thoughts and prayers are with them.


All My Best!


Want To Go For A Walk


Some would say I’ve gone to the dogs.  If you’ve known me for any length of time, I can come across as dog friendly, but at the end of the day I don’t need a dog in my bed.  Seriously, you have to draw the line somewhere and that’s an absolute for me. I can only think of one of two exceptions and they were circumstances beyond my control.  Trust me, had they been in my control the outcome would have been very different.


The General was out of town and we were keeping the dogs.  From my perspective, the dogs sleep most of the day on the floor. Why can’t they sleep in the same place through the night?  You’d have to talk to the General and/or my daughter to get an answer on that. I mostly do as I’m told, if I find I can bend that far. Sometimes it’s a stretch.


We are on dog patrol again this week and I have to say, it has been easier than I anticipated.  If for any reason we both need to leave the house, I simply walk to the dog crate and open the door.  Charlotte doesn’t even need coaxing to walk into the crate. She just follows me to the crate and walks inside. That is a dramatic contrast to two months ago when I had to bulldog her like a steer to get her inside the crate. I have to say, “This is so much better.”


Obviously, something has changed in the relationship. The dogs appear completely comfortable and relaxed with me in charge. Actually, I’ve never been in charge, but the dogs seem to have a higher level of trust.  Maybe trust is the key.


When there is an absence of trust, you never let your guard down.  When you can’t let your guard down, it doesn’t take long for that to seem uncomfortable. Shucks, I’m beginning to feel like a real pet owner. I don’t even mind going to the pet store and buying food that is probably more expensive than I’m having for dinner.  Of course, that’s another story.


So if that’s the case, why do I need to share mine with the dogs.  Don’t get me wrong. Pizza isn’t my favorite food. For starters most people eat pizza by holding it in their hand(s).  I’m not big on finger food unless it is shrimp. I’ll pick up shrimp with my fingers.  It isn’t going to happen with pizza.


Many years ago, the General and I were traveling from Arlington to Odessa for a brief weekend visit. We’d only been married for about a year and a half.  I remembered it like it was yesterday. It was late in the day (aka – night) and we were driving through Abilene. We stopped at a Pizza Hut for dinner.  So what did we want on the pizza? I don’t remember what we selected, but I do remember the question: “Do you want anchovies? “ So what kind of spice was that?”  I should have asked the question.


You’ve got to understand that during my growing up years, we were meat and potato kind of people.  We didn’t eat Italian food at our house. We also didn’t eat Mexican food. We ate steak and potatoes. Don’t get me wrong, I really like a good steak and I’ll take my baked potato loaded. I didn’t know much about pizza. Did I mention there is something about small silvery fish all over a pizza that can absolutely ruin the taste?  When we got back in our VW Beetle and headed westward, it was with the intent to never order anchovies on anything again ever. True to my word, I haven’t.


What’s the best part of a pizza? I’d dare say that 99% of folks would say, “The crust on the outside edge.” Whether it is Chicago style deep-dish pizza (my favorite) or the thin stuff, the crust at the edge is the best part.  Okay, so are you with me on this? Do you agree that the crust is the best and that is why you save it until last.


So the General looks over at me as I’m eyeing what’s left of my pizza and says: “Save the pizza bone for the dogs”.  I have eaten a steak with a bone, but I have yet to eat a pizza with a bone. Long story short – Don’t eat the crust. It is for the dogs.


The crazy thing is, I didn’t mind. If the dogs want the best part of my pizza, I was willing for them to have it.  Okay, so I’m in serious trouble.  How far of a jump is it before I begin to want a dog?  Did I actually put that in writing? By the way, the answer is irrefutably: “Not no but….absolutely not”.


Interestingly, the dog lover in the family has repeatedly fastened Charlotte’s leash and called me to the door to take her outside to do her business.  So how many times a day does a dog need to go outside.  I counted six times yesterday. No, don’t get me wrong. Charlotte and Samson didn’t ask. The General thought it was in their best interest and ours.


The same was true for the day before. The day before it was raining hard enough that an umbrella was in order. Did I mention that the past two days have been cool? I can absolutely guarantee you that the General took great delight in watching me trudge off on a rain-saturated driveway with two dogs at my side.


At some point toward evening yesterday, I stepped out back to do something the General requested.  A few minutes later the question was: “Where is Charlotte?”  I had no idea. I certainly didn’t let her outside.  “Want to bet?”  Of course, the runaway took full opportunity of my back being turned and didn’t look back. Before it was over, I was looking backwards and forwards for the runaway dog.


By the time I got back to the house, Charlotte had returned. Just for the record, I’ve already gotten in trouble with the General this morning. Reportedly, the dog knew the instant I got up this morning. Why didn’t I let them outside?  Of course, Charlotte needs an escort or she’s not likely to come back anytime soon.


Long story short- I’ve gone to the dogs.


All My Best!


P.S. – Just as I was getting ready to hit publish, I was overwhelmed by the most unpleasant smell. Finding the source, required turning on a light. What I saw came as no surprise. The smell had given it away.  There is nothing like starting one’s day with a gag reflex.  Yuck – We will NEVER have another dog.

Forever and a Day


It wasn’t a new concept. I probably heard it first from my mother. Where she came up with the expression, I don’t know.  Perhaps you’ve heard it too?  Pardon the pun, but it represents a timeless truth.  Drum roll – “Time stops for no man”.


Think about it. Isn’t it true? Day-before-yesterday you were half your age. Your children were young and the house was a flurry of activity. Throughout their childhood, you had the passing thought that life would eventually slow down once the kids were grown and gone. Instead, you’ve found the opposite to be true.


Truth-be-told, for most of us, life seems to be going past us in a blur of unrelenting activity. Someone recently asked you about your hobbies and you had the thought almost with a sense of panic: “Healthy people have hobbies, but frankly I don’t have the time”.


Seriously, even simple things like reading a book, listening to music, visiting with friends, enjoying the outdoors and the sounds of nature have been replaced with traffic jams, over commitments and literally more than you can say grace over.  Life gets lost in living. Isn’t that your story and my story and the story of almost everyone that you know?


Consequently, I can’t say I routinely get it right. My automatic default is usually fast-paced by design.  I seldom live life in slow motion. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but it is the exception rather than the rule.  The couple of hours I devote to my daily blog each morning is probably the only time I’m stationary during the day.


Yesterday morning, I discovered an antidote to fast and furious. The simple formula was cold and wet.  Cold and wet doesn’t co-exist with fast and furious. It probably goes without saying, but cold and wet has the propensity to stop time in its tracks.  So how do I know that?


I have a couple of K-9 critters to thank for the life lesson. One is named Samson and the younger is named Charlotte. They have the unique ability to stop time, or so it seems.


Did I mention it was cold and wet in the hill country yesterday morning? I’d even say, “Unseasonably cold and wet.” As a first order of business, the K-9 critters have a responsibility to do their business. They were having nothing of it!  Like I said, “It was cold and wet outside.”


For starters when I picked up the lease to escort Charlotte outside. She did a stage right and headed toward the master bedroom. She jumped in bed with the General. It was only 5:30 a.m. and the General was dead to the world.  She didn’t move and neither did Charlotte.


Okay, so I provided Samson the privilege of solitude. He didn’t need Charlotte’s company or mine for that matter. Maybe – maybe not? Perhaps he likes company? Samson refused to move beyond the covered front porch.  He looked back at me with an, “I’m not doing this resolve.”


He wasn’t going to get any static from me.  I was without a light jacket and it was cold.  Unlike Samson, I did have the luxury of having an umbrella, but it was not “take a walk in the park” kind of weather.


Samson and I both came to the same conclusion: “Go back inside the house.”  Like they say, “All good things come to an end.” It may have been thirty minutes or it may have been an hour later. Bottom line -The General was up! “Did you let the dogs out?” When I replied that I’d offered the opportunity and the K-9 critters declined, it didn’t make much of a hit. She doesn’t get it. Perhaps if I gave her more static instead of routinely defaulting to “Yes, Ma’am”, I be farther along.


Okay, so I had my first order of the day. The General didn’t even have to verbalize it. The fact that she put  the leash on Charlotte’s collar and handed it off to me carried a vivid  unspoken message. The two dogs and me were going outside.  I barely had time to grab the umbrella before she was shutting the door behind me. Who knows, she may have even locked It.


“Forever and a day” is the best description I can come up with to describe the length of time we were outside.  “UNCOOPERATIVE” was Charlotte’s posture. It really is true, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. The same could be said of other things.  It is true of dogs as well as horses.


We walked up and down the rain soaked driveway yesterday morning until I thought I’d scream. Talk about the epitome of passive-aggressive. Charlotte seemed content to trudge through standing water along the side of the drive. She was in absolutely no hurry. That’s when the lights came on in my head and I connected the dots.  It really is true: “Cold and wet” has the ability to trump “fast and furious”.


Throughout the course of the day, the General summoned me for the same outside detail several times. Did the dogs really need the experience? I’d say, “No”.  I know that because they didn’t tend to business.


Okay, so I thought about running away from home, but it was cold and wet outside.  Today reportedly will be the same. Currently it is not raining. Both dogs were overly cooperative this morning. Morning business has been done and all is well. Did I mention the General is still sleeping?


All My Best!


Come Before Winter



I went to bed last night with the phrase “Come Before Winter” rolling around in my head. Of course, the onset of autumn is less than a month behind us, but change is in the air or so it seems. So, is the temperature really going to drop down into the 40s by noon tomorrow?  Surely, that can’t be; can it?


I’m a little resistive to the notion for a number of reasons.  September was mostly too wet to fully enjoy the ragtop down on my car. More than once, I found myself stopping the car to pull the top up.  Folks observing the experience would probably liken it to the way one would frantically grab for an umbrella.   October was proving to be just right for driving the car, but temperatures in the 40s make that kind of ride unacceptable.  It is certainly off-limits in my book.


Actually, I have plans to travel to Oklahoma toward the end of the month. I’ve already designated it as my first rode trip in the car with the ragtop down. I’ve had the car for a year and a half. It is time I hit the road and go the distance. For the record, the General isn’t going to ride shotgun. “Thanks but No Thanks”, was her response to the invitation. I’m on my own for this one.  When I made the plans it my head, it never occurred to me that the weather could be anything other than perfect.  So do I live in a make-believe world? Only time will tell.


It is strange how the weather can throw one a curved ball almost without warning.  Seriously, didn’t Hurricane Michael show up in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and several other states almost without warning? Even without the fanfare, he’s garnered the reputation of being a monster storm. His presence didn’t do anyone a favor including our neighbors in Mexico.


The orders from the General last night were to let the dogs out when I got up this morning. (Note: I call them orders, she’d probably call them instructional hints).  I may be as dumb as dirt, but I don’t need to be told when to take the dogs out. If I’m up and the dogs are vying for attention, I have enough sense to let them outside.  Just like I have my morning routine, Samson and Charlotte have one as well. I know the drill. I don’t have to be told to take the dogs outside.


I actually was awake before I heard them barking in unison around 5:30 this morning.  Hurriedly, I made my way to the front door with them to let them outside. For my sense of wellbeing, I didn’t want them to awaken the General. After all, I had been provided my instructional hint. As a rule of thumb, always let sleeping dogs lie. The same principle is true for the General.  I am really smarter than I look.


Of course, I’m beginning to wonder about Charlotte. I reached for the leash and she did an immediate about-face. Guess where I found her? She was on the bed snuggled next to the General.  I did an immediate about-face and went to let Samson outside.  Samson obviously didn’t want outside in the rain. He walked across the covered porch and did an immediate about-face and came back inside. He is currently sleeping soundly next to the front door.


Andrea and Kevin are out of town this week on a business trip and we have the privilege of keeping the grand-dogs. Actually, I’m pretty comfortable managing them even without the General’s assistance. I have enough sense to feed them and let them outside when needed.  Please don’t mistaken what I’m saying. I am not saying, “I want a dog of my own.”  I’ve got grand-dogs. I don’t need a full-time companion.


The General is beginning to think she might want another dog. Is that crazy or what?  I’ve discouraged it. For starters, I say this mostly tongue-in-cheek: “Neither of us could live comfortably on my retirement if we were divorced”.  After fifty–years, it would be a very difficult adjustment. We are not – repeat are not getting another dog.


“Come before winter” is a phrase that resonates with me. For starters, I think Chuck Swindoll wrote a book by that title. It was mostly short devotional stories, but the stories were good and I still have the book.


“Come Before Winter” is the name of a documentary telling the story of last days of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I suspect it is probably well done and would merit the investment of one’s time.


“Come Before Winter” is also the title of a popular sermon by Clarence Macartney, a Presbyterian Minister (1959-1957). The Biblical basis for the sermon is the text: “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me…. Do thy diligence to come before winter” (2 Timothy 4:9, 21)

Reportedly, Macartney preached the same message at least 60 times. They say timing is everything. “Come Before Winter” was a message Macartney preached every October.  It carries with it the urgency of attending to business.  He expresses the urgency this way:

Before winter or never! There are some things which will never be done unless they are done ‘before winter.’ The winter will come and the winter will pass, and the flowers of the springtime will deck the breast of the earth, and cover the graves of some of our opportunities, perhaps the grave of our dearest friend. There are golden gates open on this autumn day, but next October they will be forever shut…There are voices speaking today which a year from today will be silent. Before winter or never!”

I am not a fan of winter unless I’m on the mountain slopes in Colorado. There is something about the sensation of skiing that neutralizes the bitter cold.  From memories associated to childhood, nothing was less enjoyable than hanging wet clothes on the clothes line in the midst of winter.  Probably, the memories are from adolescence rather than childhood, but it was not a task I ever looked forward to doing. The same was true of taking clothes off of the clothesline.

My to-do list for today is closely associated with the urgency of getting some things done before winter-like weather makes its way to the hill country. Somehow stopping by our house to get us each a light jacket seems high on the list of things that need attention. I think I’ll also opt for a long sleeve shirts.

All My Best!


I Believe I Can Fly


I awakened in the early hours of the morning. What time was it?  I didn’t know, so I waited patiently for the clock to chime. It didn’t chime. It was then that I realized anew that I wasn’t sleeping in my bed and we weren’t in our home.  I couldn’t anticipate that three grandfather clocks would confuse me by striking at slightly different times.  After all, I like hearing the sound.


Yesterday, I received an email from dear friends.  “I have just gotten caught up with my emails and we have learned of the horrific home invasion that you were victims of. Who can make sense of such a violent sickening act? Congratulations on making the decision to do your best to stay on the positive side of mental well-being. At the top of your list of ‘Things I Am Grateful For’, right up there with God’s grace and eternal love, I’m sure you have put ‘We were NOT home at the time of the crime’. It is at the top of our list. Our prayers and love are with you.”


Okay, so I had been thinking for the past couple of days, “If only we had been home, none of this would have happened”.  Even my son had opted to suggest, had we been home none of this would have happened. We would have fed him and provided the money he needed. My friend’s kind note helped re-orient my thinking.  The potential at least exists that we could have been in harm’s way, had we been home. Rational respectful people don’t throw river rocks through windows and glass doors.


Seriously, once you choose to go there it becomes kind of a game changer in terms of knowing what to expect. If you’d start there, where would you stop?  It is interesting that the perpetrator who reportedly was fleeing from three men chasing him with guns and knives spoke highly of me with law enforcement officials.  So, was the level of paranoia a side effect of some drug or was it a legitimate mental health issue?  I don’t have the answer to those questions and I don’t have the knowledge base to figure it out. It could have all been a cover-up story to legitimate his presence in our home after he had cut himself on jagged glass getting inside our home.


I’ve been surprised by the number of email communications from extended family members of the perpetrator who are literally both surprised and heartsick over the ordeal. Interestingly, I’ve not mentioned his name nor will I.  Over all, there are in excess of seventy-five responses from Facebook friends. One Facebook friend expressed condolences and asked: “Can you turn the other cheek?” In a subsequent email, it was pointed out that I had not answered the question. The subsequent question was asked: “Can’t you give the kid a break?”  Add to that the question, “Is this a test?” and I was really confused.


I’m not sure I know the answers to those to any of those questions. What I do know is that I have never treated the individual with anything other than kindness. Actually, I am extremely saddened for his current circumstances. I don’t wish him harm. He just spent his birthday in jail. That can’t be a good feeling. In terms of giving the “kid a break” that doesn’t fall in the purview of anything I have control over. Besides that, most folks age forty-five aren’t generally thought of as kids.


With the reference to tough questions,  I opted not to answer mostly because I didn’t have answers. I did a pretty good job of distancing myself from thoughts of the mess in our home yesterday.


Lunch with a soon-to-be fifteen-year-old granddaughter was one of the highlights of the day. Actually, the lunch invitation was extended by my niece. Karoni and Chris joined us.  Lilian turns fifteen next Saturday.  When I asked her plans for “Driver’s Ed” she definitely has a plan in place. I smiled with the thought.


Lilian is on the dance team at Lake Travis High School.  Is it possible she could be in high school?  Judging from her picture, she can fly with the wind.  So Lil, how did you do this? I really wanted to know.  I occasionally see pics of people in mid-air. I always envision myself as having that capability. It is called delusional thinking! Seriously, wouldn’t it be nice to be caught in mid-air?


Lilian mostly looked at me with a “you’ve got to be kidding” countenance.  Instead of saying, “Grandad you’d be at risk to be off of the ground”, she gave me a clue on how the picture taking process works.  You simply take a video and then pick a frame out of the video. Sounds easy enough to me. Now to find someone willing to take that video.  The next time someone tells me to “take a flying leap”, I’m going to ask that they video the process.


So, the dance team is participating in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Actually, the group will be in New York for a week. The curriculum also takes in a couple of Broadway plays.  Can you imagine a school trip like that?  In addition, the dance team has Hawaii planned for Spring Break. Seriously, do schools really do that?


Late in the day yesterday, the General and I took a walk around the neighborhood in which we’re currently staying. The townhouse belongs to our daughter and son-in-law. They graciously offered for us to stay there until we can get back in our home. It is a gated community (a lock and leave setting).  It definitely has a posh close-in feel to it.


Perhaps, the only thing missing is the sound of a grandfather clock? I’m not sure Andrea wants to be gifted with a clock, but if we spend too much time there, she may be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised.


All My Best!


Why Not Shoot Skeet?


For my own sense of well-being, I need to shift my focus from things I’d rather not think about to things that put a smile on my face. This morning’s topic is my nine-year-old grandson, Jake. Jake’s name is closely tied to my blog because periodically, he offers to write it for me. He comes by it naturally. Always, always – Jake has a story ready to share.


Recently, his teacher sent Becky a note expressing her delight at having Jake in her class. From her description, Jake is kind to everyone.  He is one of those kids that takes pleasure with life. She also said: “Jake is a great story teller.” I smiled when I read that line.


We’ve all got a story to share. Jake has the unique capacity to craft his story into words that compel attention. He can certainly spin an interesting yarn. The kid has the gift of gab. Craig recently shared about a conversation he and Jake had when they were in the truck for an extended period. Craig said, “Jake talked non-stop.”


At some point, Jake said: “Dad, I’ve been witnessing to one of my friends at school.”  I smiled with the thought that Jake wants to share his faith. Who knows, this kid could turn out to be a preacher. Like I said, ‘He has the gift of gab”.  He’d be a natural.


That conversation led Jake to the next topic.  You’ve got to love the kid! “So, the Bible says there are mansions in heaven, do you think I’ll have an opportunity to have a say in what I want mine to look like? Actually, I’ve got some ideas.  I know what I want”.  That’s hysterical!  Never in the seventy-one years I’ve been around, have I ever stop to contemplate the size, shape, dimension, décor and layout of an eternal home in heaven. I guess I’ve been more concerned about the neighborhood. Without the concept of grace, I don’t have a snowball’s chance of making it to the pearly gates.


Yep, Jake has some definite ideas on what the mansion needs to look like. For starters, it has to have a gigantic garage. First mentioned in his fleet of vehicles is a Ford F-350 with a lifter kit.  Next on his list is a Ford GT. I talked to him last night. He definitely knows what he wants.  The F-350 will be black and the GT will be white. He thinks the two colors make a great combination on red carpet.


Jake may currently live in a “one horse town”, but he plans to add pizzazz to whatever environment in which he finds himself. I’m not sure where he’s heard the expression: “Roll out the red carpet”, but he plans to have that kind of floor covering for his garage. Last night he mentioned that the garage in heaven will also need to accommodate a space for his wife’s car. He’s not sure what kind of car she’ll want, but she needs to have the choice.  I chuckled and asked: “Have you picked your wife out yet?”  He said, “I haven’t met her yet.”  I responded that might leave a lot of fourth grade girls disappointed.


Just off the garage will be a very large workroom.  Where else but Cat Spring, America?  Jake’s long-term heavenly goal is to be the gunsmith in heaven. He will be the go-to-guy to fix your firearms.


They say that delayed gratification is a sign of maturity.  When I asked Jake last night about his plans for a heavenly home, he indicated that first he wants to have the experience here-and-now. He wants his heavenly mansion to be located in College Station.


God as my witness, it is in the DNA. The kid doesn’t have a chance (Oops – I meant to say “choice”). Of course, isn’t it true that the most important thing in real estate is location, location, location. Jake has that figured out. If he lives in College Station, he can watch all of the Aggie football games.


Spending part of his summer with us watching the “Property Brothers” on HGTV, Jake got some ideas he hopes to carry with him to both College Station and Heaven. The kitchen will be to the left with a very large island. The living room will be to the right. The bedrooms will all be located upstairs and accessible through an elevator.


The thing I left out from Jake’s description was the need for a huge safe in the work room. He knows the importance of keeping firearms in a safe.  Who knows, maybe Jake could be right. There could be firearms in Heaven, but I suspect they will only be used to shoot skeet.  Clay pigeons will probably be the only target for a past time sport.


So, I’m almost off and running this morning.  I plan to focus only on the positive and make this a day to have the time of my life. After all, I’ll never get the chance to do it over again.


All My Best!