First Class Envy

“Lost in thought” is where I spent the majority of yesterday.  The day was mostly filled with travel and I was content to sit quietly without attempting to engage others in conversation. Okay, so that’s not quite accurate, but it is mostly true. I wanted to ask the architect sitting next to me on the plane about his work. I only caught a glimpse of the house design he was working on when he turned on his computer for a brief moment. As quickly as he opened his notebook, he then put it away and occupied himself watching movies on his iPhone.  

The woman to my left was reading a book on her iPad and seemed content to stay focused on what she was reading. I was okay with that.  I don’t always have to talk.  Somehow in the pursuit of people watching, I always find myself wondering about their stories.  The reality is, we all have a plethora of stories. Isn’t that true of you?

I’m making the assumption that most of us lead eclectic lives. We can’t always figuratively be “sitting on top of the world”.  How did the songwriter express it? “Sometimes I’m Up – Sometimes I’m down.” Aren’t those two extremes that define our lives? For that matter, aren’t those the two extremes that define Christmas for many of us?

In his “Daily Briefing” post from Sunday, Nick Pitts talked about the impact of holiday music.  It isn’t always perceived as a catalyst that lifts one’s spirit.  Reportedly 23% of those polled would prefer to do without it. To add insult to injury, some studies have found that Christmas music can negatively affect your mental health.  I guess you could say they are in for a tough time. It is really hard to avoid Christmas music this time of the year.  

Maybe the folks who fall into the category of “damaged goods” are mostly the naysayers when it comes to Christmas. Yet at some level, all of us fall into that category eventually. If you didn’t have the privilege of being identified as the favorite son or daughter, then you’ve already got a strike or two against you.   

Of course, when parents get it right, there are no favorite sons or daughters. Everyone is on equal footing. However, ours is not a perfect world and there are no perfect parents.  The same could be said of kids.  They don’t come in the perfect category either.

As children we learned the message early on: “He’s making a list and checking it twice…Gonna find out whose naughty or nice. Santa Clause is coming to town”. 

For many children, Christmas time is filled with a sense of splendor and excitement and is not tied to “naughty or nice” categories. Shouldn’t it be that way for all children?

Life doesn’t always play itself out with a storybook ending.  I recently learned the background of a lady who grew up in a large family. The family composition was just over a dozen and times were hard. I’m not just referencing Christmas time. I’m talking about real time on a daily basis. I guess you could say the family was “dirt poor”. Almost from start to finish, the family fell into that category.

When the family was smaller and there were only three or four kids, one set of the grandparents stopped by to pick up their oldest granddaughter on Christmas Eve.  They would bring her back to her immediate family late on Christmas day showered with gifts and new clothing. There was nothing for the other grandchildren.

What if in the days between now and Christmas we chose to simply watch people with the intent of really seeing them?  Could we make a small difference in their lives?  Earlier this week, James Denison shared a moving story of the passenger in seat D-2.  He was comfortably seated in First Class.

I normally fly SWA.  Consequently, I don’t walk through a First Class section to get to my seat.  On the occasions when I’ve flown on a different airline carrier, I’ve often wondered about the folks with wider seating arrangements and better amenities. I generally make a mental note to look them over carefully as I walk past on my way to coach. I notice how they are dressed and whether they a sporting really expensive jewelry. 

I sometimes wonder what they do for a living.  Are they members of the Fortune 500 club?  Could they be folks just like me who simply choose to do it differently? I rule that possibility out pretty quickly.  That definitely is not it! Are they doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs? The comparisons could potentially go on and on, but I can truthfully say: “I have never reached the place where I thought I’d be more content if I could change places. I am not envious of the folks in First Class. I don’t think of myself as inferior to them. 

At least that has been true until this week. Now I’m thinking of myself as significantly inferior to the twenty-year-old passenger in seat 2-D. I don’t normally envy someone, but now I want to be like that passenger and find that I am not. That saddens me.

According to Denison’s posting: “Last Thursday, Kelsey Zwick boarded a flight from Orlando to Philadelphia with Lucy, one of her eleven-month-old twin daughters. Lucy suffers from severe chronic lung disease and still needs oxygen at night and when flying.

“Carrying Lucy’s oxygen machine, the two were settled into their seat when a flight attendant told them a passenger in first class wanted to switch places. Kelsey later expressed her gratitude to “the man in 2D” in a Facebook post that quickly went viral: ‘Thank you. Not just for the seat itself but for noticing. For seeing us and realizing that maybe things are not always easy.  For deciding you wanted to show a random act of kindness to US. It reminded me how much good there is in the world. I can’t wait to tell Lucy someday’. 

Denison adds: “We change the world one person at a time.”

People watching is a great past time, but it reaps real dividends when we actually see and choose to make a difference. I want to be like that.

All My Best!

Don

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More Than The View

“As I pulled from our driveway this morning onto Loop 165, I had the thought that it was cold and dark. What was I missing?  I mentally went through a checklist of things I needed and was at peace that I had remembered everything. I guess only time will tell. 

Last night the General reminded me to not forget my Bipap machine. Seriously?  Does she think she has to tell me everything?  She’d be the first to affirm that she does.  Memory is a wonderful gift. There are times I wish mine was better.

It isn’t often that I leave the house before writing my blog, but this morning proved to be an exception.  The hour commute to the airport would provide a framework to give thought to what I wanted to write.  Besides that, I had gotten up at 3:30 a.m. and my body was telling me I needed more sleep.

It didn’t take me long to settle on a topic.  Seriously, yesterday was a unique and privileged experience.  How could I fail to mention it?  It was a lunch invitation, but it was more than that. Our friend’s invitation wasn’t difficult. She asked: “Do you and Treva have time to join me for lunch this week. I’d really like for you to see the Christmas decorations.  

“Thanks, I’ll get back to you” seemed like a pretty lame response to an invitation for lunch. After all, couldn’t we make any day work?  It took me a nanosecond to remember that I am in Washington, D.C. this week. That narrowed our availability down to Monday or Friday. We could make either day work.  

The friend said: “Let’s go with Monday”.  I smiled with the thought: “I’m glad. At my age, delayed gratification isn’t always a sign of maturity. It could also signal a missed opportunity”. Consequently, most often my thought is: “There is no time like the present”.

I asked: “So what time shall we plan to meet you?” It seemed like a logical question to me, but the look on her face was one of puzzlement.  She responded: “Noon”.  I chuckled to myself. What kind of answer did I expect?  So high-noon it was.  Obviously, there wasn’t a need to get there early.  That being said, I was clueless to know exactly how long the commute would take.

So how many years has it been since the General and I went to the Oasis?  If you’ve not been, the Oasis is defined by the view and the sunset. It overlooks Lake Travis and the view is beyond belief.  So how many years ago did we go? I don’t really remember.  It is a little off our beaten path and we’ve only been there once. I’d say it was thirty-two to thirty-five years.  

At the Oasis things are defined by a timeline: “Before the fire or after the fire?” We were definitely there before the fire.  Like I said, my memory isn’t always spot-on, but I think we parked on the side of the road. There seemed to be a lack of available parking.

That was then. My how different things are now! Would you believe a high-rise parking lot? The restaurant and adjacent shops are so much more now that it was back then.  

The friend inviting us to join her instructed me to call her when we turned onto Comanche Trail.  I’m good at following instructions. Just ask the General if you questioned that.  My telephone call was met with a contagious kind of laughter. She said: “I knew you’d be early.”  So it was 11:45, what did she expect? She obviously expected us.

I consoled myself by thinking having a reputation for being early is better than being late.  When we arrived at the restaurant, it was difficult to take it in. Obviously, after the fire is a very different experience than before the fire.  Then again, it could have been the three plus decades since we had been there.

Visiting the place is a lot like visiting a museum. There is so much to see.  I took lots of pictures of things that perked my interest.  Near the front of the restaurant there are statutes made of brass. They were of children at play and they were so inviting. Wow! Wow! Wow! – The Christmas decorations that fill the restaurant are beyond belief.  You actually have to see it to believe it.

Our friend is the go-to-gal that made it all possible. She has worked at the restaurant for the past twenty years.  Her husband also worked there prior to his death earlier this year.  Thoughtfully, the owner of the restaurant honored his memory by naming one of the dining areas in the restaurant after him.  

We got the VIP tour. Like I said, “You’ve got to see it to believe it.”  I’m not just talking about the view. I’m talking about the whole enchilada, so to speak. But even that doesn’t define the experience. 

The camaraderie and closeness of those who work in the restaurant is easily evident.  People like what they do and they like each other. Who knows, maybe it is the view and the water?  Don’t those things contribute to a sense of peace and wellness?

So yesterday was an atypical day for us. It was an experience that will be long remembered. In addition, I’d invite you to add the Oasis to your Christmas experience.  You’ll be glad that you did.

All My Best!

Don

Less Is Better Than More

I was wide awake this morning when the clock or clocks sounded five strikes. I purposefully don’t have them all calibrated to strike at exactly the same time. I guess you could say, I’m content knowing the approximate time.  I do; however, have all of the clocks set to preface the striking by the sound of four rounds of Westminster chimes. On the hour, they repeat the process four times before the clock strikes. Some folks refer to Westminster Chimes as the Cambridge Quarters from its place of origin, the church of St Mary the great, Cambridge.

This morning I was content to stay in bed rather that get up. My reluctance to get out of bed had more to do with the thoughts rolling around in my head than the coldness of the room.  I often ask the question: “God, What am I supposed to learn from this?” I had asked that question this morning and wasn’t through contemplating the life lesson to be learned.

Actually, I stumbled on to the life lesson by accident. I wish I could say it was my idea, but the General deserves the credit. Of course, I had already considered her suggestion before she made it and ruled it out. I intuitively knew the General would balk at the idea. I can generally read her mind like the back of my hand. When I heard her articulating what I had been thinking, I jumped at the suggestion before she changed her mind.

They say opposites attract and when it comes to decorating for Christmas, the General and I are far from being on the same page.  My rule of thumb is: “Less is better than more”.  How many years has she referred to me as “Bah Humbug” or “Scrooge”?  Every year she needlepoints one more thing to add to the collection that must be displayed at Christmas.  In addition, the last time she went to Michael’s for thread, she purchased something else we didn’t need for decorations.  I’d tell her to stop it, but it doesn’t do any good.  She’s like a kid in a candy store. Actually I have told her to stop, but she has a mind of her own.

Don’t get me wrong, her needlepoint is a work of art and reflects hours upon hours of labor. Throw in an expensive frame and it merits being hung on the wall all year long. On the other hand, drummer boys are only good for Christmas. They along with other needlepoint creations that reflect the reason for the season get changed out with other things at Christmas.

So, what happened to reinforce the lesson: “Less is better than more?”  A decade or maybe a decade and a half ago, the General’s sister and her husband provided us the gift of a hand carved Nativity set from Africa. They were living in Angola at the time. The carvings are a work of art and I enjoy having the set on the mantel at Christmas time as much as the General does. Seriously, it is a great finishing touch.

If it were left to me, we’d probably dispense with the Christmas tree and simply display Nativity sets. We have several. Like I said, the General operates on the notion everything needs to be displayed and there is no end to our options.

The mantel in our home historically has been covered with a layer of “artificial greenery”.  I like the real stuff better, but the real stuff doesn’t stay green. On top of the greenery there are special things that get integrated into the mix. There is even a long string of something that sparkles that gets woven into the greenery.  Year after year after the season is over, I have the task of replacing the long sparkly string back in the clear plastic container where it is stored. It never goes in quite as easily as it comes out. 

At any rate, after receiving the hand carved Nativity set as a gift many years ago, we carefully integrated it into the layers and layers of stuff already on the mantel.  Never let it be said that we vary from tradition!  I have to admit that the Nativity set was the perfect finishing touch for what we already had in place.  It is a gift that we have valued across the years.

Last night’s suggestion by the General’s that we not bother with anything else on the mantel this year rather than the nativity set was music to my ears.  Seeing the Nativity in place without the greenery and the additional items we always incorporate was simply stunning (pun intended).  The stark contrast between the dark carved figurines and the light-colored rock of the fireplace was impactful.  

The life lesson in all of that has to do with the importance of keeping a sharp focus on the true meaning of Christmas. We clutter our Christmas celebration with lots of things. I’m not even suggesting the things have a negative connotation. They are not bad things, but we fill the season with much that at times it has the same effect of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  

My all-time favorite Christmas carol is: “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” written by Henly Wadsworth Longfellow. That probably shouldn’t surprise you because I like stories. The transparency with which Longfellow shares his thoughts is captivating.  

According to Wikipedia, “The first Christmas following the untimely death of his wife, he wrote in his dairy: ‘How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.’ A year after the incident, he wrote, ‘I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.’ Longfellow’s journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: ‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” 

It was the sound of Christmas bells in 1863 that prompted the writing: “Hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth good will to men.” The Civil War was raging. His son had been severely injured in the war. He was still grieving over the tragic and untimely death of his wife and mother of his children.  

While lost in those thoughts associated with the overwhelming since of sadness about him, he writes: “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Perhaps we sould all allow the ringing a Christmas bells or the westminster chimes of a clock to draw us back to the true meaning of Christmas.


All My Best!

Don

Peace On Earth

It’s strange that a portion of yesterday found me lost in thought regarding lyrics associated to Christmas music. Prior to that, the General and I didn’t really get into a squabble, but we did have a brief exchange where we expressed differing opinions. I guess when you stop to think about it, “squabble- is probably a good word to describe the brief altercation. Who’s really to say?  Maybe tiff is a better word.  However, I’m not really sure there is a difference between the two.

I know better than to air our dirty laundry of sorts in a written posting.  It would simply get me into a lot more trouble! The trouble I’m talking about isn’t that the General would have my head for disclosing the content of our dispute. In reality, she’d probably be pleased if I chose to do so.  My reluctance has more to do with my awareness that ten-out-of-ten-of-you would side with the General.  Did I mention that I don’t need that?  

To complicate the issue, you’d find it even stranger to know that a. about the same time, I was thinking about the lyric: “Let the be peace on earth and let it begin in me.” Perhaps that partially has to do with my sermon topic for this morning.  Last Sunday the topic was hope. This Sunday the topic is peace. Perhaps there is a correlation between the two.  Folks with the capacity to hope are generally gifted with a higher sense of peace.

I think sometimes it is not just the lyrics to a song, but the style and presentation of the recording artist that resonates with the listener. Perhaps with this song, it was both. The lyrics were powerful and the sound was impeccable. I actually had stumbled upon the song by accident.  

I had been invited to officiate at the funeral of a friend about this same time of the year. It may have been a week later. It was very close to Christmas. How many years ago? I don’t really remember. At my age it all goes by so quickly, but I remember the experience as though it was yesterday. I’m not sure I even knew who Vince Gill was at the time, but one of his songs (may two) were incorporated into the funeral service.

The Christmas album was entitled “Let There Be Peace On Earth”. The lyrics of the song by the same name were new to me, but years later the Christmas album continues to be a favorite. Wow! The lyrics to “Let There Be Peace On Earth” are amazing. 

The 1993 Christmas album was recorded and dedicated to the memory of Vince Gill’s older brother who died that same year.  His song “It Won’t Be The Same This Year” caught my attention like no other Christmas song I’ve ever heard.  No doubt the words flowed from his pen as he simply recorded his thoughts. The song is autobiographical. It chronicles Gill’s story and that of his brother.  Aren’t those the best kinds of songs?  

The CD includes a picture of Vince and his brother. The dedication reads: “This album is dedicated to the memory of my brother, Bob.  I hope I was half as good of a little brother as he was a big brother”.

Gill’s story is a touching story: 

“It Won’t Be The Same This Year”

It’s time to pack our bags and hit the highway
And head on back for Christmas holiday
I’ll fall apart when I pull in the driveway
It’s my first time home since brother passed away

His favorite time was always Christmas
We’d reminisce about the days gone by
Oh, how I wish that he were still here with us
My memories of him will never die

When the stockings are hung
“Silent Night” has been sung
And Christmas is finally here
It won’t be the same this year

Losing my big brother hurt so badly
It’s helped me learn what Christmas really means
There’s nothing more important than your family
We’ll all the children of the King of Kings

So when the stockings are hung
“Silent Night” has been sung
And Christmas is finally here
It won’t be the same this year

When the stockings are hung
“Silent Night” has been sung
And Christmas is finally here
It won’t be the same this year

The good news is the reality of the hope and peace that surrounds “children of the King of Kings”.  In the midst of thoughts concerning the birth of Christ is the reason for his coming. I like the way Max Lucado phrased it: Christmas begins what Easter celebrates. The child in the cradle became the King on the cross.   

All My Best!

Don

The Day After…

“The day after…” is often a day wrought with difficulty. It is frequently   accompanied by an overwhelming sense of despair.  Anger and disbelief at the injustice worked like a two edged sword the morning after the attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. News of the assault and the horror of it all eradicated any personal sense of peace. What was true for the individual was also true of the nation.

Seventy-seven years ago today, President Roosevelt stood before Congress and spoke collectively for the nation.  He expressed what was on the hearts of all of those shaken by the injustice of it all. We were the victims of Japanese aggression.  Both individually and collectively, we had been traumatized by the savagery. What other option than declaring war did we have before us?

The theme of “innocence violated” was substantiated by Roosevelt’s brief recounting of the diplomatic relationships negotiated by Japan. They were openly cooperative with the United States while they were secretly preparing for war against us. The deceptiveness of it all added to the sense of wrong-doing.

In the opening paragraph of my blog yesterday, I made the statement: “Truth-be-told, for most of us there isn’t a memory associated to Pearl Harbor. Sure, we know the causality count and we’ve read the details in history books. Despite the details, how does one ever wrap their head around what it would have been like to live through that experience?”

A couple of friends subsequently shared their memories of the impact.  A lifetime friend of my parents wrote: “I remember. It changed our lives forever.” Another of my friends wrote: “I was fourteen. We had returned from church and my Daddy turned on our battery operated radio and I remember clearly President Roosevelt declare war on Japan. I knew from the reaction of my Daddy this was something I wouldn’t forget.  I haven’t”. She went on to cite the names of many from the Henly community who served during WWII.

Another friend responded: “My friend’s father was there to witness the horror. He survived and lived to be 90 before passing away. He was an officer in the Navy”.  He went on to add: “He had some things on his wall and my 6-year-old daughter asked him about it and he sat silently and cried. He never said a word”.

You can pick any life-changing event that negatively impacts one’s sense of peace and status quo and the challenge is always represented by the day after. Isn’t life often defined by the day after?

I suspect that some of you are currently wrestling with the aftermath of the day after. It may not have been a major life-changing experience, but it has shattered your sense of peace and is on the periphery of your thought processes this morning. For other of you, the day after is tied to a life changing experience.

  • It may be the day after the doctor reported the lab results weren’t good. Neither were the reports from the MRI. The confirmation was clear. Your life had just moved from one of wellness to coping with a life-threatening illness. The treatment regime was at best, an inconvenience. 
  • The rejection letter you hold in your hand feels like the straw that broke the camel’s back.  How many job applications have you submitted in hopes of landing employment only to find the same kind of letter in response? The day after that experience always attempts to steal one’s positive attitude and hopes for a brighter future.
  • It may be the day after your wife announced that she wanted a divorce. I recently saw a posting by a friend on Facebook. It was a picture of himself and his wife.  He wrote simply: “She said she would text me some time. That is really sad”. 
  • It may not being anything significant, but it still weighs heavily on your mind.  I’m sure the guy whose car ran into the back of another car as they exited off of MoPac onto Enfield yesterday still regrets the experience. He should have been paying closer attention.  

I was in the car behind them.  I watched as they agreed to pull off of the roadway and exchange information.  It was easier said than done. The two vehicles were locked together and try as they may, the two vehicles seemed welded together.  

There is always a challenge associated to the day after.  A lot of it is defined by what you believe about life and where one’s hopes rest for the future.  I saw in the new yesterday that a radio talk show host left the broadcast mid-air and went home.  She was later found in her home. She committed suicide by hanging herself.

The day after can be the catalyst for despair or it can be a turning point to recognize the need for that which only God can provide. Faith in oneself eventually always falls short. Faith in God provides a different perspective. 

Isaiah makes the observation “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and faint not”. 

When you stop to think about it, the ability to “walk and faint not” may be the most precious of the promises.  Sometimes the day after seems absolutely overwhelming. The ability to walk and faint not is nothing short of a miracle.

All My Best!

Don

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

Today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Truth-be-told, for most of us there isn’t a memory associated to Pearl Harbor. Sure, we know the causality count and we’ve read the details in history books. Despite the details, how does one ever wrap their head around what it would have been like to live through that experience? 

On December 7, 1941 many in Hawaii awakened to what they might have first considered a bad dream. How do you even begin to imagine what it would be like to have hundreds of Japanese fighter planes overhead with the gut wrenching realization that you are the target?

Ten minutes into the attack, a 1,800-pound bomb smashed through the deck of the USS Arizona. The explosion trapped a thousand men inside the battleship. A torpedo hit the USS Oklahoma and toppled the battleship over as she rolled under the water with 400 men.

Before the two-hour attack was over, every battleship in the harbor sustained significant damage. A total of 20 American ships and 300 airplanes were destroyed. Each battleship had a name. It is with a sense of reverence that we read their names, but we can’t quite grasp the reality of what those names represented in 1941 or the precious cargo they contained.  

“A day that will live Infamy” is the phrase President Roosevelt coined to capture the sense that we will never forget. We should remember and we do remember, but we really don’t remember. Isn’t that true?

We don’t remember that we were a nation at peace with Japan. Collectively we were jointly moving toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.  The horror of it all is lost on us.  We don’t really remember because the years have erased the sense of terror and betrayal.

The morning’s news that in all likelihood Korea has America sited in its scope for destruction rolls off our conscious awareness like water off of a duck’s back. Seriously, surely they don’t think…. We discount the threat because it defies logic.  Seriously?  Is war ever based on logic?

Most of us do remember the horrors associated with 9/11. Perhaps the feelings we experienced from that assault is the closest we can come to wrapping our heads around what the attack of Pearl Harbor represented for the United States and the families who were thrust into the darkness of grief. 

We can accurately recall the sense of disbelief we experienced as we watched the live news coverage of commercial airlines crashing into the twin towers and buildings subsequently toppling into a mound of rubble minutes later.

We can probably also remember the sense of horror and outrage followed by a sense of unity as a Nation as we resolved to stand together united to support one another. The causality count was staggering. During the September 11, 2001 attacks 2,996 people were killed (including the 19 hijackers) and more than 6,000 others injured. These immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes (including the terrorists), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon.

We remember 9/11, but we really don’t remember 9/11 just as we don’t remember Pearl Harbor.  If we remembered we’d understand the need to stand together in solidarity and support the greatest good of our nation. We do that by supporting the greatest good for one another.

Perhaps the saddest of all losses associated to war are the deaths associated to “friendly fire”.  Wake Up America – we are killing ourselves with “friendly fire” and it isn’t even on the battlefield. The weapons we brandish aren’t the kind of weapons one normally associates with war.  We have taken the icons we associate with freedom and national interests and turned them into places where a lack of civility and respect is commonplace and expected.

Perhaps the saddest of all is the realization that we don’t have to live this way.  Our greatest threat is from within and we seem oblivious to the erosion of the things that are really most dear.

It would serve us well to remember.

All The Best!

Don

Watch Your Step

Before I made it to Georgetown yesterday, I was beginning to question my judgment.  For starters, how difficult was it going to be to find a place to park in the vicinity of courthouse?  Secondly, how was I going to manage the traffic on the commute back home?  As it turned out, the answer to both questions wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined.

I actually had never been inside the courthouse in Georgetown. Quaint is the best word I know to describe it. Apparently, the Williamson County Courthouse is often used for social gatherings. I was going for the retirement party for a judge who’d been a long time friend and supporter of the children’s ministry where I previously worked.  Consequently, choosing not to go because of traffic or parking concerns wasn’t on my radar screen.  I wanted to be in attendance.

Another colleague, with whom I previously worked, reminisced about his daughter’s wedding reception that was held at the courthouse. He commented, “We don’t drink and the courthouse if off-limits for alcohol consumption. Consequently, we had a ‘Blue Bell’ ice cream bar”.  I had the thought: “To each their own”. I probably would have asked for a double had I been at the wedding. I have never turned down a scoop of Blue Bell ice cream.  On the other hand, I have never associated ice cream to something you’d expect to find at a wedding reception. 

Another friend commented on his attending a wedding reception at the courthouse.  I’m not suggesting that it is strange, but a county courthouse seems off-limits to what I would normally think of as a go-to-place for a social gathering.  On the other hand, like I said: “The courthouse is quaint”. There is an ambience associated to hardwood floors and wooden furnishings.  Why not take advantage of the picturesque setting and build wedding reception memories at a courthouse.  Hopefully, it would be enough that you’d never consider going back there for a divorce.

As I was leaving the courthouse, I struck up a conversation with someone I didn’t know.  He made the observation as the door shut behind us, that in year’s past before the last renovation, there was verbiage located at the bottom of the entrance doors that stated: “Watch Your Step”.  The cautionary warning was double-fold. I’ll let you figure that one out.

Actually, maybe I won’t. Williamson County has the reputation of being tough on crime.  A criminal lawyer practicing in Williamson County includes this in his advertising: “Facing drug charges in Williamson county is a terrifying and unenviable situation, whether you are being charged by the state or at the federal level. In Georgetown, drug charges can be harshly penalized, and prosecutors can call for jail or prison time, hefty fines, extensive inpatient or outpatient counseling requirements, and frequent drug testing, which can be especially difficult for those who are struggling with addiction”.  Actually, I suspect the assertions are true regardless of one’s pick for a defense attorney.  

It has been years since I’ve been summoned for jury duty. Only once was I selected and it was for a possession of drug charge.  The defendant was found guilty, but I don’t recall if there was jail time associated with the conviction.  Obviously Hays County doesn’t have the same “tough on crime” reputation as Williamson County.

The General was once selected for jury duty in Midland. It, too, is not a place you want to be on the wrong side of the law. Actually, the General was selected to serve on a jury determining the sentencing of an individual who had committed murder. The suspect had already pled guilty. The jury’s responsibility was simply to determine the consequence.  

The General actually probably would have benefitted from trauma counseling following the experience. The sentencing trial went on for a full week. The prosecution was big into “show and tell”.  How many pictures of the body of a victim or a pictorial overview of the autopsy could you look at and still maintain your appetite? The General found the experience horrifying. It was weeks before she could get those pictures out of her head.

Of course, the General is the perfect jurist for any prosecutor that wants to gain the reputation for being tough on crime.  She plays into that hand every time.  All I can say is, “She is predictably consistent.” I’m not faulting her for her position, but I don’t always see things as clearly as she does. When it comes to heinous crimes against children, I am for locking folks up and throwing away the key. Short of that, I’m a little more flexible than the General in most cases.

Fortunately, no one has ever told me that: “I had a right to remain silent and that anything said could and would be used against me in a court of law”. I’d be toast in a heartbeat.  I probably would never opt to take the fifth. That, too, has nothing to do with being Baptist.  You can figure that one out.

I’m not sure anyone including the General has ever wanted to kill me, but I think I’d be fairly proficient in talking him or her out of it.  At least I’d give it my best shot.

I’ve been to several social events at the former Blanco County Courthouse located in Blanco. It doesn’t have the same quaint ambience that I found in Georgetown, but it is worthy of a consideration for a social gathering.

All My Best!

Don