Nursery Rhymes For Children

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So when it comes to free thought, mine may be closer to connected that one might think.  Last night, around bedtime, the General wanted to know what I was doing and I said: “I’m winding clocks.”  Think it through.  I’ve got eight clocks that chime at fifteen- minute intervals.  At some point shortly before bedtime, I noticed that one of the clocks had stopped running altogether and that another wasn’t in proper sync with the correct number of chimes at fifteen-minute intervals. Subsequently, in getting it wound and properly set, the rhythm or rotation was slightly off. Consequently, I inadvertently went passed the actual time before it was chiming and striking at the correct intervals and reflecting the current time. Long story short, getting it correct was a time consuming process.  Unfortunately, I didn’t start the process until bedtime.

 

Almost with the thrill of a kid in a candy store, befor I actually went to bed last night I was elated that all eight clocks were once again operational and doing what wind-up clocks are designed to do.  It was more than three-part-harmony. It was more like two quartets of clocks melodiously singing their sound into the night.  Yet before everything was in sync, I was moving from clock to clock advancing each at fifteen-minute intervals. I had the thought: “I’ve become the Mad Hatter.”

Maybe it all ties back to my friend’s plan to take his two grandsons from Texas to Nebraska so they can absorb 1 minute and 52 seconds of the sun playing second chair to the moon and darkness enveloping parts of the earth.  How’s that for a layman’s explanation of the total eclipse?  You are probably thinking I’m bonkers.  Bingo! – That is the correct answer. Didn’t folks think the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland was also bonkers?

Okay, so what’s the connection? Wasn’t Alice in Wonderland originally from Kansas?  Do you get my drift and see where I’m going with this?  Be careful how you answer?  You might find yourself on a list (perhaps a very long list) of folks needing a mental health assessment related to cognition. Okay, so it is contagious and it does relate to cognition.  Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz was from Kansas. It wasn’t Alice at all!  Alice was the English girl who fell into a rabbit hole and discovered a fantasy world filled with strange characters.

Of course, the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland was more than a little strange.  Okay, so he was very strange.  It was one of the pitfalls of the vocation. After all, how many poisonous chemicals can one work with in the course of a career track without having unintended side effects?  Reportedly, the Mad Hatter portrayed in Alice In Wonderland, a story made for children carried a subtle message for the adults who read the story to their children.

Didn’t everyone know you’d have to be crazy to work in a British hat factory?  There was something about the long-term exposure to mercury used in the creation of felt hats that took its toll on the cognitive abilities of those involved in that trade. If you lost your cognitive abilities it was explained away as “mad hatters disease” or so the story behind the story goes.

I guess you can read almost anything into a storyline, but some think Alice in Wonderland was actually written as a satire on the 19th century British social system.  It was easily understood that the Queen of Hearts could refer to Queen Victoria herself.  With that as a given, all of the characters were representations of various British personalities.  The Mad Hatter represented environmental dangers that could be found in the workplace of many.

It is similar to the concept that you can usually almost always get by with saying anything as long as you remember to laugh as you share the punch line.  Integrate a subtle cautionary warning to adults through the storyline that includes children as the intended audience and the message gets by without question.

What about the nursery rhymes that we learned as children? Was Baa Baa Black Sheep a story line for children or was it an acceptable form of protest related to taxation?  Some think it had to do with the medieval wool tax imposed by King Edward in the 13th Century.  It was a lofty tax.  King Edward got a third, the church got a third and the farmer got a third.  The little shepherd boy who lives down the lane didn’t get anything but a responsibility to occupy his time.

Do you remember playing or singing Ring Around the Rosie as children?  Who would have thought the storyline has to do with the 1665 Great Plague of London?  The “rosie” related to the rash of those suffering from the bubonic plague and the “pocket full of posies” were need to camouflage or neutralize the smell of death.

What about the line: “Mary Mary Quite Contrary How Does You Garden Grow?”  Oh My!  Who would have thought the story had to do with religious conflict? Reportedly Contrary Mary had to do with “Bloody Mary”, the daughter of King Henry VIII.  She was given the tagline “bloody” because of her influence to torture and murder of Protestants.  I guess you could say she was a devout Catholic who thought the kingdom was better served with fewer Protestants.  Her garden was reportedly the graveyards which were filling with Protestant Martyrs.

Getting back to the Mad Hatter, in Alice in Wonderland, some think it was a reference to one of the author’s friends.  He was a man by the name of Theophilus Carter who spent a good portion of his day standing in the doorway of his furniture shop.  He predictably was always wearing a top hat. He reportedly was a bit eccentric and folks in the neighborhood gave him the nickname, “The Mad Hatter.”

Theophilus Carter is credited with inventing “The Alarm Clock Bed”.  What better way to wake up than being dumped into a tub of cold water?  Thanks, but I think I’ll pass.  I don’t know if that makes him the mad hatter, but I’d definitely be mad at the hatter if I awakened by being spilled into cold water.

All My Best!

Don

ONLINE SHOPPING

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Is it a matter of convenience or is it simply outsourcing when a hands-on approach could serve you better? I guess that question has a lot of different variables. Take for example: credit card purchases. The way I see it, I either pay by credit card or I pay by cash. The General isn’t going to trust me to keep up with a checkbook. I guess that comes from my historical failure to remember where I left the checkbook or my failure to enter all of the needed information on the inside ledger. Trust me, she adheres to the highest standards of accounting principles and she’s determined I don’t meet the mark.

 

In terms of end of life issues, there are a number of reasons I must precede her in death. I don’t want to be encumbered by financial management issues. Trust me, she doesn’t just get the credit card bill and pay it, she carefully inventories each entry. Oh, in case you’re wondering, if anything seems out of place or unusual, I’m the go-to guy she immediately checks with to see what I’ve done! Take for example last night’s conversation: “Why do we have a $118 charge to Dish Network. “How would I know?” I haven’t bought any dishes? I don’t plan to buy any dishes. She’s the one who’s never seen a dish that she didn’t like.

 

Thank my lucky stars she finally remembered using the online method of paying the monthly billing for the satellite that brings HGTV into the comfort of our home. Of course, her need to do that was my fault. She was out of town when the bill came in and I absent-mindedly or irresponsibly didn’t open the envelope and opt to pay the bill. Excuse me! Money doesn’t grow on trees and neither does the checkbook. I can assure you, she had our one and only checkbook in her possession while she was away.

 

If she reads today’s blog, she’ll counter that I knew where to find a check. Okay, so I did. Long story short, she didn’t add open bills and pay them on my to-do list when she left town. She subsequently opted to pay the Dish Network bill online to ensure our payment was timely and not considered late.

 

Please hear me say, I am grateful for her due diligence. I don’t have her eagle eye for carefully examining expenditures to ensure they are accurate and that we actually made the purchase. Of course, there are money management experts that tell you never to use a credit card. The rule of thumb is to carry your grocery money is an envelope and pay with cash when you check out. Reportedly, you spend less money that way. Did I say, “I am not going to do that”?

 

Besides that, I’m a visual person. If I see something at the grocery store and want it, I buy it. I don’t care if it is on my grocery list or not. The General opts to shop for groceries at H.E.B. in Dripping Spring. I prefer Randall’s in Austin. About every other week, they put steak on for half price and I’m a bargain hunter. Besides that, I can’t think of much that tastes better than a New York Strip. I’d opt for one in a New York minute.  Consequently, I frequently do.

 

I was in H.E.B. with the General yesterday and had the thought “Why?” Don’t get me wrong, we’ve come light years in having access to a full-array of groceries in Drippin’, but what I needed should have been located on the aisle of empty shelving in the grocery store. Of course, if I’d taken the time to read the posted signage, I’d have known where to look to find it. As it turned out, when the General found me, she told me where to look.

 

Okay, so getting back to my initial question: “Is it a matter of convenience or is it simply outsourcing when a hands on approach could serve you better? They say there are two kinds of people: “Those who shop at Wal-Mart and those that don’t”. Yet, Wal-Mart offers the feature on online grocery shopping. All you have to do then is pick it up at the curb (so-to-speak). Of course, many name brand grocery stores are now offering the same amenity. Some even offer free delivery.

 

Please hear me say that from my perspective, a hands on approach works best and I don’t even like to go to the grocery store. I’m not going to outsource or trust someone else to pick avocados out for me. It all gets back to the touch. Maybe it’s a sensory issue, but I can tell by the feel if they are just right rather than not ripe or worse yet, too ripe.

 

Call me old school if you want, but the convenience of online grocery shopping is a venue I don’t want to embark. After all, I’ve given my proxy to the General and she does a really good job most of the time. Of course, when I want a steak, I’m headed to Randall’s. I’ll take my chances with them and most of the time get it at half price.

 

How about online shopping for shoes or clothing? Absolutely not is my take on the issue! The General would beg to differ. She does all of her shopping online. From my perspective, it leaves too much to chance. She’d disagree. If she doesn’t like it or if the shoes don’t fit, she sends them back and the vendor pays the postage. At least that’s her storyline. The way I figure it (pardon the pun), the initial price probably included the anticipated postage for returning the item(s). If you don’t send it back, it is an extra bonus for the retailer.

 

The latest craze (and yes the General bought in to the concept) is outsourcing your haberdashery needs. Of course, you make a selection of the style your prefer and leave the rest to them. Of course, there are options related to frequency and clothing colors you like. You can select monthly, every other month, quarterly, etc. It is a simply process. At whatever interval you select, five clothing items come your way.

 

What does it cost? I don’t know and I don’t want to know. I don’t pay the credit card bill, so I’ll never know. The General would say she’s using her money. The way I see it (and so does she), she carries the checkbook so it is all her money.

 

Okay, unless you think I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth, I admit that I am the beneficiary of the monthly sock club. It came as a gift and is always a delightful surprise. Of course, from my perspective, the general (not to be confused with the General) outsourcing of haberdashery needs deprives the purchaser of having the advantage of looking at all the options and selecting what he considers the best. In addition, I like it better if it is on sale. You don’t get any of that online. Consequently, when it comes to clothing and avocados, I strongly urge you to go in person. Don’t outsource or do it online.

 

All My Best!

Don

Dressed To The Nines

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I don’t know when I first heard the expression: “Dressed to the nines”, but all I can say is “different strokes for different folks”. What looks good to one person may be something another person figuratively “wouldn’t be caught dead wearing”. How about you? When it comes to fashion, how do you know the look you want to project?

 

Both my kids have warned me, “Dad, Please don’t ever wear walking shorts with dress socks and shoes”. Obviously, the warning wouldn’t have been forthcoming unless they had seen for themselves how unacceptable the look is when they’ve observed it elsewhere. Just for the record, they didn’t observe me dressed that way. I may wear loafers and no socks with shorts, but I’m not wearing shorts with dress shoes and socks.

 

Truthfully, why would any man regardless of age choose to do that? I ask the question, but it happens. More than once when I’ve seen it, I’ve said more to myself than to God: “Please God, don’t ever let me do that? A couple of weeks ago when I was flying from Washington back to Austin, I changed planes at DFW and I saw for myself what I never ever thought I’d see.

 

At first I thought I was having a hallucination. “Surely not!” – That is true for both the hallucination and what I was seeing if you get my double meaning. Of course, I also know that seeing is believing which explains the photo. I knew you’d have to see it to believe it. Most of the people I know don’t read GQ Magazine.

 

The man was obviously sporting a new look. “Dressed to the nines” would not be my descriptor, but whose to say? Of course, it was a Saturday. Maybe it fell in the category of business casual? Of course, we have Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ) to thank for the trend. Actually a couple of years ago they promoted the idea of “going with it” when you look longingly at a pair of shorts knowing it is hot outside. Why not?

 

They expressed it like this: “Congratulations on making it to another casual Friday in your casual office! We understand this is your time to push the envelope with professional style, and we want you to look great. With the heat on, you may be eying your shorts in the morning, wondering if you can make that move, questioning if you’ll instantly become ‘that guy who wore shorts that one time’. Here’s how to bare your legs at your nine-to-five without losing your dignity”.

 

Of course, GQ provided the precautionary wise counsel that if you have meetings scheduled with your boss or other big wigs, it might be better to play is safe and stick with long pants. In addition, if you want to successfully “pull off the look” you have to avoid wearing shorts that are super-casual. Instead, go for more of a tailored look with one color (i.e.: no plaid). Under no circumstances should you select a shirt without a collar to wear. As a finishing touch, add a light cardigan or a jacket and you are good to go.

 

Of course, you’re not quite done. Avoid sneakers! They are not acceptable for a dressy look. In addition, as a rule of thumb: “Keep your legs looking good”. No one wants to see them if they are “covered in bruises from mountain-biking, suffering from some dry skin, or rolling with tan lines”.

 

The anonymous man who is pictured with today’s blog had taken care to color inside the lines with all of the suggestions identified by GQ. He was even wearing a tie. Was it a good look? How do I answer that? All I can say is that, “I’m not that bold”.

 

However, under the auspices of transparency, I have to confess that the past month of retirement has found me less than at my best. I grew up with the belief that it always serves you well to put your best foot forward. I’d say that “Clothes make the man”, but my little brother in Oklahoma goes nuts when I say that, so I’m going to let it go. Consequently, I’m back to “put your best foot forward”.  I’m not sure if it’s the right foot or left foot, so I attempt to use them both the same.

 

Okay, so now that I’m on a fixed income, do I really need to get my “casual shirts” for everyday ironed at the cleaners? After all, isn’t that why they call it “wash and wear?”

 

After years of heavy starch, the new look is a little flimsy. In case you’re wondering “wash and wear” is synonymous for “wrinkled and unkempt”. Let me add that “a little of that can go a long way.”

 

Consequently, if it’s not working for you, you don’t have to stay there. Yesterday, I made the decision to do it differently. While the General was at the gym working out, I put my casual wrinkled short sleeve shirts in the orange bag for the cleaners. Please don’t think badly of me even though the shirts were freshly laundered and hanging in my closet. They didn’t look good hanging in my closet. Consequently, they wouldn’t look good hanging on me.

 

Unfortunately, I made an error. I sat the laundry bag in the hallway outside my office while I temporarily did something else. Subsequently, I noticed a “wrinkled” pair of casual pants in my closet and took them off the hanger and placed them on top of the orange bag.

 

They say, “All good thing come to an end”. I heard the garage door open. I knew she was home. It took her less than fifteen seconds to notice the pants on top of the orange bag. She picked them up and asked: “What are these doing here? They don’t go to the cleaners.”

 

“Oh, I’m sorry. What was I thinking?” was my response. I then scurried out the door with the orange bag before the General took a closer look.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

The O K Corral Isn’t O K

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Despite my unintended efforts yesterday that seemed destined to sabotage a beautiful day, intermittently the kindness of others was enough to boost my spirits and set me in a healthy place emotionally. Abraham may have set out not knowing where he was going, but he managed somehow to become the father of the Israelite nation despite a blunder or two on his part. Seriously he could have jeopardized the whole shooting match. It pays to have God watching over you and being involved in the process.

 

Please don’t judge me as being sacrilegious, but yesterday’s prayer: “God, help me figure this out” didn’t get me a lot closer to proficiency in learning the use of Office 365. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming God. At this point, I’m not even sure Office 365 isn’t the work of other forces. I am also quite sure that I really didn’t pray: “God help me figure this out.” That was a strategic error on my part. I labored under the illusion that I could figure it out on my own. How’s that for the joke of the day? I could have used the outside help.

 

Day-before-yesterday I thought I was closer to having Office 365 figured out. Yesterday it was two steps backwards. I would say at this point that if I have things saved in the cloud, only God knows where to find them. I am fairly certain that I’ll never see them again. In fact, I’m not sure I want to see them again. Yep, it was that kind of day around the “O K Corral”.

 

Speaking of the “O K Corral”, it didn’t help my attitude any when I went out to my truck yesterday morning and noticed that the “O K Corral” around my house is no longer “O K”. I’m stretching the truth a bit here, but half of one side of my yard fence is bent over. O K, so maybe “half” is a substantial exaggeration, but large four legged animals don’t stop at much. That includes what once was an attractive fence. So do I say calf-rope (pardon the pun) and pay to have the whole thing taken down and something substantially stronger installed in its place?

 

I don’t yet know the answer to my own question. I’m still thinking. The current fencing around our home was selected because it went with the look that we wanted for the house. Using oilfield pipe with a three or four-inch diameter welded together to fashion a rail fence is going to look very different. I started to say “aesthetically awful”, but decided not to in the fear that you might have a fence like that. In addition, I’d have to rob a bank to pay for the materials and the labor to build that kind of fence. That sets up another scenario of a shoot-out at the O K Corral or Wells Fargo.

 

So why wouldn’t I just have the fence refurbished? It was only about a year ago that I had similar damage done to the fencing on the other side of my yard. I opted to have that damage repaired. Seriously, the damage was only about three hundred dollars, but it is frustrating. Of course, my frustration hasn’t risen to the place that I’m contemplating a real shoot-out at the “Not So O K Corral” around my home. However, I have heard the expression: “They shoot horses don’t they?”

 

Of course, shooting horses had some relationship to putting a horse out of its misery. It hasn’t really been that long ago that it was customary and merciful to shoot a horse with a broken leg. Veterinary medicine has improved a lot in recent years.

 

Besides that, not much good comes from a shoot-out. The famous gunfight that ensued at the O K Corral in Tombstone, Arizona lasted all of 30 seconds. The year was 1881, but the memory lives on. Reportedly only around 30 shots were fired. According to one source: “Though it’s still debated who fired the first shot, most reports say that the shootout began when Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton point-blank in the chest, while Doc Holliday fired a shotgun blast at Tom McLaury’s chest. Though Wyatt Earp wounded Frank McLaury with a shot in the stomach, Frank managed to get off a few shots before collapsing, as did Billy Clanton. When the dust cleared, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead, and Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Ike Clanton and Claiborne had run for the hills”.

 

I will leave it up to you to figure out who the good guys were. I’m going to side with the country song on this one as far as shooting horses is concerned: “Son, Don’t Take Your Guns To Town.” Consequently, the horses are safe. It’s not that they were intentionally destructive. It isn’t there fault that they previously looked at my shiny tough Ford truck and gnawed on the paint. Shucks, only a drug store cowboy would worry about something like that. A real buckaroo would write it off as good luck and a badge of being rugged. After all, it is just a truck. Did I mention that I had my truck fixed?

 

Let me mosey on to the kindness of others that reframed the day for me yesterday. It was noon before I got to the Post Office. No sooner had I parked my truck than I realized I didn’t have my post office key with me. I started to back out and just go back home, but I was also mailing books to my cousin with whom I reconnected day-before-yesterday. Consequently, I gave it a second thought and went on into the post office.

 

Mercifully, there wasn’t much of a wait. The young man behind the counter asked: “How’s your day going?” I responded: “It would be much better if I hadn’t forgotten my key to the post office box.” He asked: “What’s your box number and do your have your diver’s license”. Miracle of miracles, I actually remembered the box number and I had my driver’s license. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to ask for that kind of help.

 

I told him up front that I was mailing books. He asked: “Do you want to ensure them?” I laughed and said: “I wrote them so they can’t be worth much”. A kind lady overhearing the conversation interjected: “If you wrote them, then they are worth a lot.” Her kindness boosted my spirits greatly. I thanked her for her kindness and told her I also write a daily blog. She asked for the blog address and promised to check-it out.

 

My neighbors insisted Sunday that they take me to dinner last night. That too, proved to be most enjoyable. It helped erase away some of the afternoon frustration associated to Office 365.

 

When I got home following dinner, I opened an email. It was from my cousin’s daughter that I had reconnected with months ago through ancestry.com. She sent me a note: “I don’t know if you’ve seen this picture of your mother or not, but I found it on ancestry.com”. It was a class picture taken at the school in Forestburg. The picture identifies the students by row. My mother is on the first row in the center. I don’t know how old she was at the time. The picture didn’t identify the grade level. But seeing it was a “feel good” moment for me.

 

All is well in my world even if the O K Corral isn’t so O K. The owner is and that’s all that really matters.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

Superstition – Déjà vu

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When it comes to superstition, I don’t have much of a frame of reference. I’m not even sure how you’d define superstition. Isn’t superstition: “A widely held belief related to consequences for certain actions that really are without a basis?” For example: “It is really bad luck to spit in the wind?” I guess the real answer to that question depends on the direction you’re facing related to the wind.

 

Take the number “13” for example. Some folks see “13” as an unlucky number and opt to stay in-doors on Friday the 13th. They choose not to press their luck by taking unnecessary chances. Not me, I’m going to celebrate that it is Friday. Besides that, if you don’t take a chance every now and then, you might miss out. I don’t care what numerical day of the month any Friday falls on. Fridays work well for me. Obviously, that thought leaves me optimistic for today.

 

I don’t have an aversion to staying in a room on the 13th floor of a hotel, but I have stayed in hotels that didn’t have a 13th floor even though there was an open deck on the roof or near the top of the building. I figure the open deck represents more of a risk than the 13th floor. Did I say: “I always consider it a little strange when the number 13 is not an option on the elevator select button in a multi-story building that is much higher?” Obviously, there is a price to pay for superstition.

 

Though I don’t consider myself superstitious, I do find it problematic or concerning when a black cat crosses my path. You know what they say about black cats?   Of course, the color of the cat isn’t the real issue. I interrupt it as bad luck when any cat crosses my path because they intuitively do a U-turn and head directly toward me.  Before you write me off as irrational and uncaring, Isn’t it true they smother babies? Oh, I guess that, too, is a superstition.

 

At any rate, I am a cat magnet.  Passive aggressive is the only way I can describe it. Cats love me, but only because they know they have the negative impact of making the hair on the back-of-my- neck stand up. There are two kinds of people in this world. There are people who like cats and there are people that don’t. I obviously fall into the latter category.

 

I’m resistive to the notion that I’m superstitious, but how many times do I say: “Knock on wood” while I’m knocking on wood to signify my hope that something I’ve just said doesn’t happen? I guess maybe I am a little superstitious. After all, it always bad luck when I break a mirror. For one thing, if I break it, the mirror doesn’t belong to me and the General would be a little miffed. For another you know who would have to clean up the mess. Consequently, it would be back luck on two counts.

 

I do remember at some point in my junior high school years that I had a rabbit’s foot keychain attached to the zipper on my notebook. That sounds really gross.  What was I thinking?  In addition, do they even make notebooks like that anymore? Surely you remember the type I’m talking about? It was a notebook for the storage of 3-ring paper and the notebook was held closed by a zipper that kept the paper and pencils inside.

 

Speaking of bad luck, I just discovered that it is bad luck to make a cup of coffee on a Keruig Coffee maker in the dark. Do you want to know why? I just went to retrieve my coffee and was in for quite a surprise. When I picked my cup up, I discovered the cup was upside down. I guess I’m stating the obvious, but I now have a mess to clean up. Call it superstitious if you want to, but I guarantee you it won’t serve you well to make a cup of coffee the way I just made mine. Fortunately, the General will never know. Right now I could be listening to lecture #2693 about the need to pay attention.

 

So, I had a rabbit’s foot keychain for good luck. Where did the keychain come from and why did I want it are questions that immediately come to mind? I don’t have the answers. I’m sure it was a fad back-in-the day and that many in my peer group also had a rabbit foot in their possession.

 

So did you ever carry a “Good Luck Charm” with you? Apart from the rabbit’s foot, I don’t think I did. However, I have thought of getting a James Avery silver cross to wear hanging from my neck. I wouldn’t consider it a good luck charm. I prefer to think of it as a good look and a visual reminder that it isn’t about luck, but about love that matters most.

 

I have a leather notebook stored in the top of my closet that belonged to Ronnie. It has been years since I looked inside, but as I recall, the notebook includes a slide rule that he needed for coursework at Texas A&M. But of course, he also had a slide rule in high school. Besides using it to draw a straight line, I am clueless related to its use. Would it bring me bad luck if I opted to give or throw the notebook away? What about the slide rule?

 

I don’t know if you’d call it back luck, but I would feel like something important was missing if I didn’t have it. Just saying that is really stupid because other than collecting dust in the top of my closet, the leather notebook serves no useful purpose other than to trigger a memory when I take the time to glance toward the top of my closet.

 

Of course, as you might suspect, my primary focus when I look in my closet is to look down. Could I have inadvertently dropped one of the yellow tags attached to my laundry on the floor? That, too, is guaranteed to bring you bad luck.

 

So what about the All-STAR baseball games taking place in Sealy, TX this week? What place does superstition hold related to winning or losing? As you might suspect, I am on very shaky ground with this one because I know folks who are more than just a little superstitious when it comes to baseball. Smart people really, but maybe not always?

 

Maybe the term is “Déjà vu?” If your son’s team won the first All Star game, you guarantee a win on the second by exactly duplicating the first game. If you are observing the game, you sit in the same spot or you stand in the same place. Nothing can be altered, you march to the beat of the same drum you followed previously. If you wore your favorite whatever for the first game, you leave the good luck unimpaired and unwashed and you wear it for the second. I mean, after the third consecutive game, wouldn’t a fresh look guarantee some level of success?

 

In Sealy, Little League baseball is King. In fact, someone recently mentioned that All-Star week is not the week to have your wedding. What you’ll find is an empty church because nothing, I mean nothing, is of higher importance that the All Star Games in Sealy.  The crowd might show up for the reception, but they are not missing the game for a wedding.  In Sealy, that probably would include the father-of-the-bride.

 

I recently heard of a very successful entrepreneur in Sealy who invited an elderly couple to come watch his son’s team play. The couple previously invested highly in the man’s business. They arrived for the 3rd game. With there welcome to the game came the pronouncement: “If the team starts to lose, you’ll have to leave.” The man agreed that he understood. Maybe the man is a local that knows you change nothing including spectators to continue the winning streak.

 

At any rate, the General wanted to go to the fourth game last night. I said: “Not on your life. If the team should lose, we’d always be suspected as the cause”.  No, I’m not overly superstitious, but I wasn’t going to take that kind of chance. Some risks are acceptable, while others are not. Hopefully, I have the discernment to know the difference.

 

I’d like to have another cup of coffee, but after the first cup should I take the risk?

 

All My Best!

Don

Location, Location, Location

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They say it rains on the just and the unjust.  At various times it probably could be said that I fall into both categories. Our lawn is currently green and lush, so I’m not complaining, but we’ve missed some really good chances for rain.  The man who has taken on the responsibility of maintaining our lawn has done a tremendous job.  He is a perfectionist and his rate is very affordable.   He actually does a much better job than I’ve ever done. Consequently, I don’t plan to go back.  Why should I “sweat it” since he’s set a higher standard and seems to enjoy the process.  Interestingly, his own lawn is xeriscaping and it purposefully doesn’t take up much of his time.

Last year when the General had half of our lawn replaced with river rock, I opted to get rid of our lawnmower.  It was taking up too much room in the well house.  I also tossed my old weed eater and bought a new one. I used it one time, loaned it to a friend who found that it didn’t work, and put it back without resolving the issue of its brokenness.  I mean after all, it is still in warranty, but getting it repaired is such an inconvenience.  I’ve only been to the SEARS repair center one time and that was thirty years ago.  I truthfully don’t even remember where it is located, but it was a long way from where I live.

Getting back to the rain, a couple came to church yesterday and their car had literally been through hail. The car was covered with huge dents.  I guess I needed the visual imagine to really process the level of damage that hail can cause.  Reportedly, a portion of Dripping Springs incurred golf-ball size hail one evening last week.  In case you’re wondering, that causes a lot more damage than the nickel and dime stuff.

I guess when it comes to a hailstorm; it is a lot like the real estate market. It gets back to location, location, and location.  The only variable is where you are at the time.  Hail is no respecter of persons.  If you find yourself in its path, brace yourself for the damage it can cause.  You literally have no option but to ride out the storm.

Reportedly, many who found themselves in the hail headed for the closet bank to safely park under the portico extending over the drive-in banking location.  Wouldn’t you know it? Everyone had the same idea and most didn’t find save cover. Consequently, there are dented cars in Drippin’.  Fortunately, mine is not one of them, but only because I wasn’t in that location at the time.

It is interesting that when bad things happen, someone always wants to assign some level of blame.  Sometimes people point the accusing finger  to themselves.  If only I hadn’t done this or that, I wouldn’t be dealing with this…  You can play that game out and to the nth degree and it doesn’t alter one’s circumstances or situation at the end of the day.  The blame game isn’t a silver lining that leads anywhere other than an attitude of regret unless it carries with it a lesson learned that leads to life-altering change.  Then it may be worth the price of admission.

Living under the auspices of blame and shame doesn’t often add quality to one’s life.  I’d much prefer to think each day is an opportunity to hit the reset button and with the Lord’s help choose to do it differently. 

I recently visited with a young man at the hospital who said with a smile on his face something closely akin to: “My days of drinking, wild-ways and running around are over”.  I had the thought: “Good for him!”  Yet, I’ve known the guy a long, long time and I wouldn’t have described his lifestyle as being filled with any of those things.  Back in the day when he prided himself on being a “wild bull rider who liked to rodeo”, maybe I would have been in agreement, but not now.

Fortunately, he has come to the place where he can live and learn, but I’m not sure it was a lesson he could have learned earlier.  Maybe he should have known better, but I’m not sure without last week’s wake-up call, many of us would have gotten it.  Even though he previously was forewarned by his doctor, he precipitously and unexpectedly found himself in harm’s way. 

Though he was fully alert last week, he was moved from his hospital room to the intensive care unit with a blood sugar level of over 500.  He knew something wasn’t right, but he didn’t know he was diabetic. 

The year before the doctor mentioned a “pre-diabetic condition” and suggested a dietary and life-style change.  The young man processed the information in exactly the same way that many of us would.  He saw it as “cautionary and suggested” rather than a life and death mandate.

This time, there was nothing cautionary or suggested about the doctor’s warning. It was a mandate and it effectively garnered his attention.  Just hearing the mandate made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. 

The doctor’s pronouncement was grim. Without an immediate and abrupt lifestyle change, there were three things the young man could count on: damage to his kidneys, damage to his extremities and damage to his vision.  All three were at risk.

Some may question the doctor’s bedside manner, but the physician was on a roll.  There was more to the warning on the off-chance that his mandate for a life style change weren’t followed: “In all likelihood, the kidneys would be first to go. Consequently, the young man could count on coming to the hospital three times a week for dialysis”. The doctor wasn’t finished.  “Next, we’ll start cutting off your legs and someone will be pushing you in a wheel chair to get you to dialysis.  Next you’ll lose your vision and you won’t even known where you are, but someone will still be pushing you in a wheelchair to get you to dialysis.”

So what are the young man’s choices?  If you’re thinking: “Get a new doctor”, that doesn’t really change the game plan.  I’d turn to God and ask for the perseverance and stamina to go the distance in making dietary and life-style changes.  Seriously, I think he has done that, but the journey is far more difficult than one might think.  Consequently, please remember my anonymous friend in your prayers.  I know that he would appreciate the prayer support. 

All My Best!

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Don

Traveling Light

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Yesterday was a day filled with good things. For one thing, we were having the air conditioning and heating unit in our home that covers our master bedroom replaced. Was it absolutely mandatory? I don’t know. It was cooling fine, but for the past couple of years the air conditioning man who services our units has recommended that we might want to consider replacing it.

 

We have four separate air conditioning units in our home. The other three have been replaced. I’ve procrastinated having that one replaced because of lack of access. The scuttle hole that is accessible through the master bedroom closet wasn’t large enough to get an air conditioner unit through. In fact, the scuttle hole was designed for skinny people. I’d be pushing my limits to go through it. I think I could, but I really don’t know. I’ve never been in that part of the attic. It really is the only flaw I’ve discovered over the past fifteen years about our home. What was the architect or builder thinking? Nothing last forever and that includes air conditioners. Sooner or later they have to be replaced.

 

The Scripture may say: “Be anxious for nothing”, but I can always manage to find a reason to substantiate the need for an exception on my part. That usually doesn’t serve me well. One of the chinks in my armor is the ability to go immediately to worst possible case scenario. So do air conditioning people really know how to do carpentry work? Secondly, since they were going to have to cut through one of the 2 x 6 joists in the attic in order to enlarge the opening, did they have the skill set to do so?

 

Okay, so I’ve got an active imagination and I know nothing about carpentry. Was this going to be the catalyst for a crack in the closet ceiling or heaven forbid, the entire house collapsing? I know, I need to give it a rest, but if I didn’t consider all of the possibilities including those that weren’t, who’d do so?

 

Early afternoon my daughter texted and asked: “Is now was a good time for us to bring the dogs over?” Actually, I had forgotten that we were keeping the dogs. Andrea and Kevin were headed to Cat Spring to spend the weekend with my son’s family. They go often to visit. They like having the opportunity to be involved in the kid’s lives. That has to be a feel-good for the kids and I know it is for them.

 

Before they got to their destination, my daughter sent another text. This one put a smile on my face. It stated: “The memory came out of nowhere…I was remembering Grandma DeMoss’ house and the many many times we went there. Mine was the most wonderful childhood! Love you much!”

 

I don’t take it for granted that my children were privileged to share life with my grandparents. Actually, both Andrea and Craig have lots and lots of memories of the love and extended family times shared with my grandparents. I had the thought that one day my grandchildren will look back across the memories of time and be grateful for the doting love and support they received from their only aunt and uncle on their dad’s side.

 

Like I said, yesterday was a day filled with good things. The General returned home after having been away for the past eight days. I’m not sure how I survived without the structure. Actually, I think I did pretty well. The only thing on the “To Do List” that the General left for me that I didn’t get done was to “fold the laundry” in the dryer. I suspect it is still in the dryer. This is the first time I’ve thought about the laundry since I looked at the list she left from over a week ago.

 

Following her mother’s doctor appointment on Friday morning, the General headed homeward. I smiled as she recounted for me her week in Odessa. Honestly, the General isn’t content with maintaining the status quo. While she was there, why not eliminate some of the clutter from her mother’s home?

 

Of course she always asks permission before she starts dismantling the assortment of things too precious to throw away, but not good enough to keep. Before she was done, she had totally filled the dumpster twice and made eight trips to Goodwill to donate items. At some point, her mother said: “This really is fun. At first I didn’t want you to get rid of anything, but now I’m into it. It feels good to have that stuff out of my way.”

 

Bless my mother-in-law’s heart, at some point toward the end of the week she asked: “I know you’re not Don, but do you think you could rearrange my bedroom furniture?” Hearing that put a smile on my face. Rearranging furniture isn’t one of the General’s inclinations. As it turned out, she managed to get it all done and she was very pleased with the outcome. In the process of moving this and that, she discovered artwork that had been stored behind this and that. Consequently, she also found herself needing to hang pictures. That, too, isn’t a dimension where the General has experience. I’ve always hung the pictures.

 

So the take away from all of this is that air conditioning men can also possess the skill to do carpentry work and the General can move furniture. Of course, after looking at everything she packed in her car, I think she should apply to go to work for “Two Men and a Truck” in Austin. In fact, I bet she could teach them a thing or two about adding one more thing or organizing it better to travel.

 

Traveling light is not one of the General’s spiritual gifts. In fact, I was stunned when I saw all the stuff she had packed in her car. Actually, I wondered if her real intent in taking her mother home was to leave and not return? It looked to me like she had taken everything she needed to be gone for a very long time. Are you ready for this? She had her clothing for the week on wooden hangers. Can you help me understand why she needed eighteen different outfits to be gone for only a week?

 

When I asked, she responded: “I didn’t know what kind of weather we’d be having, so I wanted to be prepared.”   For that matter, why did she have 12 and 10 pound weights in her car? In response to my question, “She thought she needed to work out while she was away, so she bought them?” Of course, she didnt’ use the weights. She didn’t need to because she got a work-out tossing things out of  her mother’s house.

 

Like I said: “Yesterday was a day filled with good things.” I’m glad the General is home. I’ve also got some things I need her to do after I fold the laundry in the dryer. I figure if our kids haven’t needed it for thirty years, there is no sense for us to continue hanging on to their stuff. Goodwill or the dumpster are the only two acceptable alternatives. While she was away, I worked on organizing the garage. Those blue plastic containers of things to precious to throw away and not good enough to keep have got to go.  I am going to provide her the same encouragement she provided her mother.

 

All My Best!

Don