Best Friends For Life


Is the quest for adventure linked to a person’s DNA? I don’t know the answer, I’m simply asking the question. Is a child’s behavior in elementary school an indicator of what to anticipate over the course of their lifetime? If so, then I’m suggesting it may have to do with the innate quest for adventure ingrained somewhere deep inside that predicates choices, lifestyle and emerges with a sense of pizzazz. By the way, those are the fun people with whom I want to share my time.

Sunday morning at breakfast the General and I had the privilege to sit with a small group of former classmates whose history and shared experiences started long before junior high. A couple of the ladies had been friends for life. Their mothers were best friends. They met regularly in the mornings to drink coffee and study Scripture. With the stories that emerged over breakfast, I’m sure they prayed together as well. Trust me, Divine intervention had to be at the top of their list of things they most needed. After all, their small daughters were best friends. Wouldn’t you know it; both girls embraced and yielded to the quest for adventure. The outcome was incredible. They added a sense of pizzazz everywhere they went.  They still do!

My son credits my gray hair to his sister. There is almost a ten year differential between Craig and Andrea’s ages. Craig is right. The gray hair emerged after Andrea joyfully entered our lives. From that day until now, Andrea has added a dimension to all of our lives that makes me grateful she’s my daughter. She never needed assertiveness training. Perhaps she learned the skillset from her mother, but she has consistently been on top of her game and has approached life from the vantage point of making it work. She, too, adds a level of pizzazz to the room.

When I was a kid growing up, the articulated warning from both of my parents was closely akin to, “If you get in trouble at school and have to go to the principal’s office, you will be beaten to within an inch of your life when you get home.” I believed they were people of their word. Consequently, I can truthfully say, I never was called to the principal’s office.

What was true for me was not necessarily true for the two ladies who shared stories from their childhood. As elementary aged students they decided on more than one occasion, “Why eat in the cafeteria when it is a great day to go on a picnic.” Invariably their “great escape” was always discovered. The principal would call the parents and say, “Your daughter is gone again.”

One day one of the parents was surprised to return home from work to discover the two girls decided they wanted to play house. What child hasn’t?   These two decided they wanted to play house outside. Actually, I think they were pretty clever. They opted to move all of the bedroom furniture into the back yard. That takes ingenuity, determination and an ability to color outside the lines. No wonder the two mother’s met for coffee, Bible study and I can assure you – PRAYER.

All of those behaviors and life choices predated junior high school. Can you imagine what junior high and high school years would bring?

Ronnie and I never had a car to drive to school. Some students did. We didn’t. One of the two ladies had the good fortune of having a father who sold used cars. Consequently, he’d go to an auction, buy something for his daughter to drive and in a few months sell it and provide her something else. He obviously made a mistake when he brought home a faded out blue car.

Who could have blamed them? The two girls came up with a solution for changing the faded blue paint. They bought red paint, paint brushes and had the time of their life doing an extreme make-over. Do you think they got permission from the dad to do that before they started? Sure they did! Well, the same kind of permission they got before they moved the bedroom furniture in the backyard. When you embrace life with a spirit of adventure, you can get by with almost anything. You may want to write this down for future reference. “Forgiveness is always easier to get than permission.” When you add pizzazz to life, you can generally get by with anything.

I had the sense that the two friends are not done. Who knows what they will opt to do next, but it may be a cross-country trip to Montana. One of the ladies said, “I really want to go to Montana. Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t want to travel. The friend replied, “Great! I will go with you.”

I interjected, “I can see the headlines now: “Thelma and Louise are at it again.” One of the ladies replied, “We haven’t stolen anything or killed anyone yet.” She then smiled. The friend replied, “I haven’t killed anyone either, but I’ve shot at them. Does that count?” I figure if she missed, she was shooting while she was riding horseback.

Since I don’t have permission to share this story, I’m not giving you the names. However, if you remember a red brush painted vehicle or know anyone who continues to ride horses, you’ll probably figure out the identity of dynamic duo.

You know, I think it’s true. The quest for adventure is linked to a person’s DNA. How grateful I am to be friends with the two ladies who place a premium on adventure and choose to enjoy life to the fullest. Wow! They really do add a sense of pizzazz.

All My Best,



Shared Joy Is Double Joy – Shared Sorrow Is Half Sorrow


My daughter telephoned last night to ensure that we were safely home. I guess my voice coming from our home telephone provided the answer she needed before she asked the question. The way she asked her next question signaled me that I had done something wrong. She asked, “Why didn’t you tell me that you were co-host for the program at your reunion?” She added, “I had to learn it from someone at work.”  In case there is any doubt, any time someone begins a question with: “Why didn’t you…”, that is code for, “You’ve got some explaining to do”.

My daughter works at Apple Computer. The only other person I know who works for Apple is Karoni. Obviously Karoni had shared the information with someone who mentioned it to Andrea. At any rate, the easiest way to get out of trouble… (You may want to write this down. It could come in handy). The easiest way to get out of trouble is to say something that makes the other person laugh. Laughter is good medicine and it has provided me a healthy escape from harms way many times.

I explained to Andrea that I was invited to co-host the program because my spiritual gift is nonsense. I can’t grasp and retain the important stuff, but nonsense is second nature to me. Sometimes it is the catalyst for laughter.

I mentioned to Andrea that I got all the fodder I needed by quickly thumbing through my high school annual. One classmate wrote: “Donnie – I shall give you the highest compliment I have ever paid another. You have a way with wimmen! There is only one other higher compliment that could be made of anyone: ‘You have a way with horses’”. I went on to tell Andrea that it was true. In looking through my annual, four girls wrote a complete page in the back of my annual expressing that I was the best friend a girl could have.  They also said they would never forget me. The downside is that “the best friend a girl could have” negates any kind of romantic involvement.

Andrea didn’t laugh. Oops, I was still in trouble. Either that, or it wasn’t funny. Maybe she was right.  I moved our conversation to another line, “I don’t know what we were thinking in high school. Most of us signed our autographs over our faces in the yearbook. Did we not know we looked better then than we’d ever look again?”

Silence. There was deafening silence on the other end of the line. Consequently, I thought I’d break the ice with: “Thumbing through my annual reminded me of something I had forgotten. It wasn’t true of Ronnie, but it was true of me. I was not selected as one of the top ten classmates most likely to succeed. That reflects inordinate wisdom on the part of our graduating class. What I can’t figure out is how they knew.”

My comedy routine was not working with my daughter. Consequently, I didn’t share, “Two women met for their fist time since graduation from high school. One asked the other, “You were always so organized in school, did you manage to live a well planned life?” “Yes”, said her friend. “My first marriage was to a millionaire. My second marriage was to an actor. My third marriage was to a preacher and now I’m married to an undertaker.” Puzzled, her friend asked, “What do those marriages have to do with a well planned life? “Oh you know, one for the money, two for the show, three to make ready and four to go.”

My attempt at humor was not working with my daughter.  I dropped the jokes and told her that her mother and I had an incredible time at the reunion. I really don’t have the words to express how meaningful and fulfilling I found it to be.  Several of those in attendance came long distances and needed assistance to make the journey. Because of health issues, life for them is not easy, but you would not know that from their countenance or from shared conversation. Upbeat, positive and grateful to be reconnected with classmates from long ago was the refreshing theme of conversations.

My daughter asked, “Did you have an opportunity to sell any books?” I responded, “Yes, the EHS planning committee asked to purchase four as door prizes. I brought them with me, but I opted to donate them rather than sell them. Two or three people knowing I had written a couple of books inquired about how to purchase them. Instead of selling them, I responded, “I’m giving them away out of the back of my truck. I’ll go get you copies.”

Sunday morning as out time together came to closure, it occurred to me that the folks who likely were more interested in the content of my books than anyone else, were the people I had known in childhood. I told Treva that I was going to give books away. She smiled and said, “I agree.”

Andrea was horrified. She wasn’t horrified because I was giving them away. She was horrified with the thought that I forced my books on other people. I assured her, that was not the case. Hopefully, that was not the case.  Now Andrea has me worried.

In my niece’s presentation on Saturday night, she thanked the graduation class of 1965 for sharing Ronnie Forrester stories with her. She has no firsthand memories of her dad, but each story shared with her about her dad was a gift.  I like the way she expressed it, “Each story shared with me is a piece of my dad that I didn’t have before”.

In similar fashion, I was amazed at the number of our classmates that privately shared with me that before Ronnie left, he stopped by to visit with them. I heard those stories repeatedly. That was over six years following our high school graduation. Did Ronnie suspect he wouldn’t be returning? I don’t know, but what I do know is that he understood the importance of connection and he understood the importance of staying close with others who had been close.

Ronnie’s status of “Missing In Action” was not just a loss for our family. It was a personal loss for each of our classmates. Ronnie stories, stories of friends from long ago who have visited the Wall and were moved to tears were repeated themes of conversations this past weekend. I had the sense that Solomon was right. He wrote that, “Shared joy is double joy and shared sorrow is half sorrow”.

The class of 1965 had its dreams. We still do and we best fulfill them by understanding the importance of friendship and connections. It was a remarkable weekend. It defies description and I don’t know how to explain it, but I think what was true for me was also true for others. It was good to be home. The friendships forged in childhood had not decayed through fifty years of silence. In fact, from the vantage point of adulthood, we gravitated not to just close friends from long ago, but we understand the importance of being inclusive. Folks mingled. They talked. They forged connections that will not be broken.

All My Best!


“The Class of 57 Had Its Dreams” – So Did The Class of 1965


My niece’s presentation was too powerful not to include as my morning blog.  She was invited by the Ector High School Reunion Committee to attend our reunion, share information about her dad and her work to support veterans and the on-going efforts to recover those who continue to be missing in action.  Though I’ve heard Karoni speak to large audiences on a number of occasions, she has never been more eloquent or more favorably received than she was last night at our banquet. I have never been prouder of her or more honored to call her niece.  Her message was too compelling not to share.


It’s wonderful to be here with the Ector High School Class of ’65 tonight!  I’ve heard about many of you for a long time.   The planning committee has been working long and hard on this weekend’s events. There has been no doubt in my mind this weekend was going to be something special.  A big THANK YOU for inviting us.  It is an honor for my daughter Lilian and I to join you all this weekend as you celebrate 50 years as a graduate, rekindle old friendships and share memories and laughter.

I assume most of you remember the Forrester twins – Ronnie and Donnie.  I belong to them. I am Karoni Forrester, proud daughter of Capt Ron Forrester, USMC, Ector High School Class of ’65, MIA in Vietnam since 12/27/72.  I was asked to speak this evening not only because I’m Ronnie’s kid, but because of the work I do in the POW/MIA and Veterans communities – to take time tonight to honor our veterans in this room and to share with you about Daddy and his legacy.

d like to by asking all of our veterans in the room to please stand and be recognized.   WELCOME HOME.   We are SO glad that you made it back!  Thank you for your service to our country, thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for our freedom.

The silver lining for me in losing my dad in Vietnam is the opportunity I have had to know so many who served or are serving.  Those of you who have worn the uniform are some of the greatest people I know.  It is also the veterans who have helped hold up the Gold Star and POW/MIA families as we navigate through life missing our loved ones. You always offer a shoulder for us when we need it, a hug or to share a laugh.  We are not alone because of you, and I thank you forthat as well.

When I was first asked to speak tonight, and to talk about Daddy and share a bit of our family’s story, I immediately said yes.  Then I paused and asked myself, “What do you say to a room full of people who remembers someone that you don’t?”  You see, I was only two when Daddy was shot down.  I do not have memories of my own, but rather I know my father through the memories of others, through family photos and of course, through the deep love and connection I feel for him in my heart.  I love to hear stories of him, even the ones I’ve heard before.  I’ve heard new ones already from some of you in this room and look forward to more.  Every new “Ron Forrester” story is a gift to me – a piece of my dad that I didn’t have before.

Since tonight is about rekindling old friendships and reintroducing yourselves after a few years since high school, let me just summarize quickly for you who Daddy is…Ron Forrester is the son of two of the most amazing people I’ve ever known.  He is the brother of two.  He is a twin.  He is a husband.  He is a nephew.  He is a cousin.  He is a best friend.  He is an uncle.  He is a grandfather.  He is a fighting Texas Aggie!  He is a United States Marine.  He is MY father.  He is missing.

Most of you know, but for those who do not – Daddy was a Marine Corps aviator, a bombardier navigator on the esteemed A6A Intruder. He deployed to Nam Phong, Thailand in August of 1972 to a base lovingly referred to as “The Rose Garden.”  I’ve seen pictures, and trust me, there was nothing garden-esque about the place.  The aviators there were to fly over Laos and bomb strategic targets in North Vietnam.  During the Christmas bombings of 1972, that resulted in Vietnam signing the peace treaty, Daddy and his pilot Capt Jim Chipman went on a solo night mission to take out a bridge on Hwy 1.  They hit the bridge.  I’ve been told Marines don’t miss their targets.  They never returned to the Rose Garden. On the way back to base, their plane was hit with anti aircraft artillery.  There are conflicting reports about whether or not anyone got out of the plane.

Today, both my dad and Capt Chipman are Missing in Action. Needless to say, losing Daddy was devastating.  That is not what I want to share with you today… They say that when you lose someone in your life that you love dearly and they leave this physical world, they are still always with you.  I’d like to share a few examples of how I know my dad is with me.

I too grew up in Odessa, TX.  I am a graduate of Odessa High School.  Now, like most teenage girls, I was a little difficult to raise.  Just ask my uncle.   As a teenager in high school, my high school principal was Daddy’s buddy Mr. Raymond Starnes and my vice principal was Dad’s teacher and coach, Mr. Vance Horsely.  Not only that, Mr. Horsely lived just a couple of houses down from me.  I wasn’t getting away with anything!  …well, not much.  Some may call that divine intervention, but I think Ron Forrester had something to do with that!  Now is a good time to say Thank you to Mr. Starnes and Mr. Horsely for keeping me in line back then, well, as much as you could.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Southeast Asia to meet with the governments of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  It was intimidating to go to Vietnam – my entire life it had seemed like another planet and then here I was looking out the window of an airplane about to land in that foreign place.  It was surreal, overwhelming, and kinda scary.  We were met at the airport by two members of our government team who are there working our MIA cases, both of them were Texans, and one was an active duty Marine.   When we got to our hotel room, in every room of the suite,including the bathroom were yellow roses – the flower I associate with my dad.  Texans and yellow roses?  In Hanoi??  I knew Dad waswith me, and I knew I was going to be OK.

It is said that the legacy a man leaves when he is a true testament to his character.  I have a few stories that I think will shed light here. s oldest, and the impact my father had on him.  Craig and I both went to Texas A&M after high school, and Craig joined the Aggie Corps of Cadets just as Daddy had.  One day he was talking to our grandfather and His senior boots s s junior s senior of COURSE!  What an honor forsoled and shined those t wear them to get them in pristine condition for their debut.  They looked awesome when he first put them on, and Craig made sure they stayed that way, shining them daily.  Craig went on to be commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.  He served four tours of duty and just last October he retired after 20 years of service.  I think you could say Craig quite literally walked in my father’s footsteps.

I, too, have been called to action by his loss.  I joined the National League of POW / MIA Families when I was 14, have been the TX State Coordinator for them for the past 15 years, and have served on the national Board of Directors for the past 7 years.  I participate in many POW/MIA events as well as veteran’s events across the country to support a myriad of veteran’s issues.  I was involved in the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument that resides at the state capitol and have had the blessing to help other families at their point of need.  We are getting answers and MIAs are being accounted for – it’s just a very slow process.  We celebrate each answer with the families who get one. It simply has not yet been our family’s turn yet.

We will not give up hope and will continue the mission of accounting for our MIAs. What is maybe more impressive though, are those whose lives he’s touched with his absence that we had not known but we met along the way.  The stories are truly countless, so I will only share a few.

For the past seven years, I have participated in a cross-country motorcycle ride called Run For The Wall.  Our mission is to promote veterans healing, call for the fullest possible accounting of our POWs and MIAs, to honor all of our fallen and to support those currently serving.  In fact, Run For The Wall – Southern Route stops here in Odessa each year for a night on our way from LA to DC.  When you see about 500 motorcycles coming through the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, that’s who we are!  Don’t be alarmed by the bikes – it’s all veterans and patriots coming through town.

My first year on RFTW I met five different people either on the run or in communities where we stopped who were wearing Daddy’s MIA bracelet.  They didn’t know Dad, we didn’t know them, but they had been wearing his bracelet for years.  Those meetings were emotional for both myself and those wearing the bracelet, and a blessing for each of us.

A couple of years back, after returning from the Run I received a FB request an message from someone I didn’t know.  He explained that he heard me speak at Texas A&M in 1995 and had been wearing a bracelet for my dad since.  After graduating A&M he was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force and was flying C-130s.  He still is.  He shared that he had the honor of flying a repatriation mission from Hanoi to Honolulu to return remains of two of MIAs to our homeland.  It really made my heart smile to think of this pilot, bringing our men home, wearing my dad’s bracelet and making Dad a part of that mission.

s life touched many while he was with us, and continues to touch others with his absence. the veterans in this room and my t be with us tonight, I need to tell you something about the other Forrester twin.

Don Forrester is an amazing man. He has always been there for me, knowing his brother couldn’t be. He offers “gentle re-direction” as he calls it, when I’ve needed it – at times, that has been often.  He is the first person I call when I need advice. We were at church one Sunday when I was pregnant with Lilian. He pointed his finger at my huge pregnant self and told me, as he told the congregation, “My brother will not be here to be that child’sgrandfather, so I will be that child’s grandfather.”  And he is. If you ask him how many grandkids he has, he will answer four.  He never leaves her out. Lilian knows Uncle Don as Granddad.  She also knows all about Grandpa Ronnie and attends events across the country with me, even riding motorcycles in Run For The Wall.  But she doesn’t have a void in her life because of my Dad’s absence. Because of Don, she has a granddad and gets to experience the relationship and love you get from a grandpa.

The Forrester twins: Ronnie and Donnie.  You may remember them as the twins working in the ice cream shop, or racing around town on a scooter, or trying to blow up their elementary school with a dynamite cap that they though was an electromagnet.  They are my heroes and I am beyond blessed that I belong to them.

Thank you Ector Eagles Class of ’65!  I wish you an amazing reunion weekend and thank you again for including us and for the opportunity to share with you tonight.  May God Bless each of you”.

My niece was right. It was an amazing reunion weekend and she helped make it so.

All My Best!



Fifty Years Of Silence Is A Strange Way To Nurture Relationships


Fifty years of silence is a strange way to nurture relationships.  Yesterday as I made my way to Odessa for my 50th high school reunion, I wondered if Thomas Wolfe was right. He made the assertion that “You can’t go home again”.  Was it going to seem awkward standing face-to-face with former classmates that I haven’t seen in 50 years?  I was both eager and apprehensive.  Strange isn’t it, one of the things I’ve most looked forward to for the past several months began to be a source of anxiety as I neared the city limits of Odessa.

I momentarily remembered the anxiety I experienced as I left the comfort of the single-teacher grade-school class room environment to negotiate the hallways and freedoms associate with having different instructors.  It was an opportunity to broaden my perspective and make new friends, but with it came some level of anxiety.  Would I fit in?  Would I like my teachers?  I don’t remember all the questions that loomed on the horizon of consciousness, but they evaporated almost immediately as I was drawn to a more enriched learning environment.  The subsequent transition from junior high to high school was a piece of cake.  It was the same kind of environment and it took place in the same school setting.  They were good years.

Yet, fifty years of silence is a strange way to nurture relationships.  On Thursday evening I thumbed through my 12th grade high school annual. I looked at the pictures of former classmates.  I read the personalized written comments made by classmates at the end of the school year when the annual came out.  We were a close knit group.  We promised each other that things would never change.  Regardless of what life brought our way, we were destined to remain friends and support one another through life.  They were heart felt words.  They were meaningful words.  Yet fifty years of silence is a strange way to nurture relationships.

The reality is that as we emerged from the nest to explore the broader post-high school lure of living life, we were absorbed with new places, new opportunities, new friends and new responsibilities.  Ours was a different world than the one we now experience.  We didn’t have cell phones.  We didn’t have Internet connectivity.  We didn’t stay in touch.

Perhaps the test of real friendship is the ability to negotiate fifty years of silence and still find that the bond of friendship that drew us together initially continued like a magnet that irresistibility draw us back together.  The experience was exhilarating.

I didn’t want yesterday to end and yet that was only a precursor for the activities planned for today and in the morning.  I guess like Cinderella, as the clock signaled midnight, the group of folks with whom I was visiting determined sleep was in order and we opted to call it a day.

Thomas Wolfe was wrong.  You can go home again to discover that fifty years of silence doesn’t eradicate the tie that binds.

All My Best!



“What Were You Thinking?” – I Obviously Wasn’t


My son-in-law is in advertising. I was amused with his take on my misadventure from yesterday. He reportedly communicated to the General that he thought it was worthy of blogging about and that it would be ideally suited for an insurance commercial. While his was a clever response, I was not yet at a place where I was amused. I’m not even sure I’m at a place for folks to know I’m so… “How did the General put it?” Hold on. I’ll get to that. Of course she’s fairly predictable. I bet you can almost audibly hear the encouraging words she articulated to me.

I probably should say that the two-hour-plus commute from Round Rock to the edge of heaven on Thursday caught me a little off-guard. That time-line is more characteristic of a Friday than Thursday, but in reality yesterday was figuratively Friday since I’m not going to work today.

Despite the fact that we are driving to Odessa this morning for my 50th high school reunion, the General’s mother came in from Odessa yesterday. The purpose of her trip centers on the General’s brother and the planned celebration honoring his twentieth year as pastor of the First Christian Church in Johnson City. She was at our home when I arrived after work yesterday. Of course, the plan was for us to have dinner last night with the General’s brother in Johnson City.

Treva and her brother had picked up my mother-in-law at the airport yesterday morning. Consequently, with the exception of a backpack, all of her luggage was already in Johnson City. Treva’s brother took it with him when he went back home.

At any rate, it was time for us to head from Johnson City by the time I got home. I picked up the backpack and placed it in the back of Treva’s car. She drives a SUV crossover and the back door lifts up.

What happened next was my son-in-law’s take that it would make a great ad for an insurance commercial. At some level carelessness generally plays a part in any accident. Consequently, I’ll admit up front that I was careless. All I had to do is press one small button on the back door of the vehicle and the door would have shut automatically.

I know, you’ve got it figured out. Even when I heard the sound of crunching metal, I had no idea what was going on. According to the rearview image on the monitor, there was nothing behind me. The garage door was open. What was going on?

“What did you run over?” It was a good question. You’ve got it. It was the General asking the question. She also asked the question with less than a pleasant sound in her voice.  Actually, simply reflecting on the tone makes the hair on the top of my head stand up.  I took the car out of reverse and pulled back into the garage. That generated another sound of crunching metal. I was puzzled.

If only I had engaged that small black button on the back door, the door would have automatically closed. How stupid to you have to be to back up with the vehicle’s door left wide open? Don’t answer that question. I’m still not even sure that I want to share this story.

The opened back door of the General’s car caught the edge of the open garage door. Two open doors and what seemed to be a clear egress, was anything but “good to go”.

In the early immature years of our marriage, both the General and I collected stamps. Whenever either one of us erred, the other countered with the “You always do…” Finally, we moved to the place of handling any level of disagreement based on that one disagreement without the need to recount previous history.  Yesterday promoted some level of regression on “you know who”.  I don’t fully remember exactly what the General said, but it was closely associated with “You don’t pay half attention most of the time. You are so easily distracted that you seldom get one task completed before you are in the midst of a second.”

When I’m in big trouble with her, she raises one eyebrow and I know I’m dangerously close to crossing the line. I wish I knew how she does that. I would have raised one eyebrow and looked toward her yesterday. I was frustrated with myself for rearranging the garage door. While the damage to the vehicle was minimal, it was still damaged. “Yes” a trip to the body shop is in order.

A dented car, broken garage door and a lecture from the General was almost enough to push me over the edge. But then it occurred to me, yesterday was figuratively Friday. Why not let it go? Besides that, it could have been so much worse. The picture I’ve attached to my blog is not my home or my garage door. I selected it, simply to remind myself it could have been worse.

Isn’t it true? We all have insurance to cover the little things that pose an inconvenience along the way. I’ll deal with those issues later. Today my focus is heading homeward, even though it is no longer home, to attend a high school reunion.

All My Best!



I Will Know It When I See It


“I’ll know it when I see it” is the formula that I use for lots of things. Whether I’m Christmas shopping or choosing a paint color for the house, I’m open to lots of options, but ultimately I know it when I see it. When it comes to choosing color, historically I’ve been fairly skilled in knowing what works. I’ve always operated on the notion that whatever I did, it would not fall under the auspices of “rent-house beige”. I’d much prefer to step it up a notch or two and try something a little more daring than many people would opt to select.

When we lived in Midland, there was an interior decorator whose signature series was painting a room dark plum (purple) accented with a “cheetah-look-alike” carpet. When I say daring, step it down a notch from that. I’m not quite that bold. My “signature series” is not quite that over-the-top, but I’m not afraid to take some chances.

I figure that of all the things you can do to your home, paint is the least expensive option to make a dramatic difference. In addition, if you don’t like it, you can always change it. I don’t always get it right, but I’ve made very few mistakes with paint. The only exception to that is use of the color blue. Blue is difficult, particularly if you are using more than one shade of blue. I once painted some kitchen cabinets blue. Bad mistake! The paint wasn’t even dry before I started taking hinges off the doors to start all over.

Speaking of kitchen cabinets, I looked at an open house once that, as luck would have it, took a very long time to sell. The builder had painted the lower kitchen cabinets “UT- orange” and the upper cabinets white. They say, “seeing is believing”, but it took a lot of imagination to make that work regardless of your alma mater.

For the past three or four weeks the General has be fixated on one thing. She wants the interior of the house repainted. For the first time in our lives, we are opting to have someone else do the painting. After receiving a bid to get the painting done, it became obvious to me that I chose the wrong occupational track if money really matters. After all, I like to paint. But I’m not sure I like it well enough to want to do it forty-to-sixty hours a week. But sticker shock continues to resonate in my mind.

I don’t generally have a fear of heights, but repainting will require the use of scaffolding. There is virtually no way to safely paint the walls by simply using a ladder. In addition, according to the General, “If we’re going to spend that much money”, I want something different. Something different means that we also need to repaint the ceiling. Thirteen years ago when we chose paint colors, we opted to paint the open living area and our bedroom and bath green. “Dried Thyme” is the official Sherwin Williams paint selection and I really like it. I still like it. If it was up to me, we’d paint it that color again. Did I mention, it isn’t really my choice?

The mistake we made in selecting paint originally was the choice we made related to the color of the ceiling. We opted to choose two shades lighter on the paint chart from the wall color. Consequently, changing the color of the walls requires changing the color of the ceiling. “Hello Houston”, we’ve got a problem. We have cathedral ceilings and twenty-five feet up in the air is a little high for me to negotiate on a ladder. It isn’t going to happen.

“I’ll know it when I see it”, has always worked related to paint samples. Choose a color, order the paint and you’re good to go. “Not so fast”! This time the General thought we needed to purchase paint samples and try them on the wall. After all, we don’t have the luxury of doing it again if we are outsourcing the work due to the expense.

According to the General who keeps up on stuff, the new trend in choosing interior color leans to grays. Are you kidding me? Didn’t Restoration Hardware make that mistake (I mean decision) years ago? The signature series of their paint color was “restoration hardware green”. They painted the interior of all of their stores that color. Subsequently, everything eventually got changed to dark gray. It didn’t work for me, but I don’t have to live at restoration hardware.

Okay, from my perspective, if we can’t stay with “dried thyme”, a dark taupe with a hint of gray will work. Easier said than done. We’ve now purchased eight different samples. They look different on the wall than they looked on the paint chip. We finally narrowed it down to a color that “popped”, but was it too dark? “No”, it looked great. On the other hand, why not ask for an outside opinion? We invited Andrea and Kevin over. At the time, we had only four colors of paint still evident on the wall. Both of them said, they thought the color we had selected was too dark.

So what did we do? I called the painter, told him the General and I were immobilized by decision making and that we needed more time. Consequently, he didn’t start the project yesterday as we had planned. He isn’t coming until Monday.

As I was driving the Houston this week, I had an “aha” moment. Several months ago I had been to a photographer’s studio in Houston. I was totally captivated by the accent wall. Of course, the wall was covered with incredible photographs she had taken, but the background color also carried with it a big wow. If memory served me correctly, the wall was a dark taupe. Simple solution, I’d simply go to Cindy Crofford’s photography studio again and look at the color.

The wall was just as I had remembered it. It really had the wow factor. It was more the color of chocolate ice cream than dark taupe, but it was close. Cindy wasn’t in the studio, but her assistant told me they were going to soon be repainting the accent wall. You guessed it. They are choosing a dark gray.

Not me. We are going with “Tavern Taupe” by Sherwin Williams. If it doesn’t work, I may have a drink. On the other hand, I’ll probably opt for therapy. I’ll need some help adjusting. If I don’t like it, we’re not changing the color. I’ll simply need to change my mind.

All My Best!



“Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid” Was The Clear Message From Her Father


My failure to immediately remember the “junkier” pickup my dad initially purchased after Ronnie wrecked the 1956 Chevy was the catalyst for trying to remember the automotive line-up available to us through our high school years. Do you realize that was a very long time ago? For the most part, we didn’t drive Mom’s car. The thing of it is, I always had an interest in cars. How could I forget the junkier pickup?

For the first forty years of my life, I was fixated on cars. Even as a kid, I had a pretty good model car collection. You probably remember the plastic models that you both painted and glued together. I had several and I was particular. It was true of the plastic models I put together and it was true of the fantasy cars that were only a dream in my imagination, but they were for real in my head.

Following yesterday’s blog, I had more than one question about the girl (my date) that broke out in tears when I went to pick her up in the truck. What she didn’t know is that we weren’t really going more than a block in the pickup. I drove it as a joke. She obviously needed to lighten up. We were actually double dating with a friend from church whose father was one of the owners of the Buick dealership in Odessa. He had navigated getting the loan of a new Buick Rivera. It was a hot looking expensive car! The year was 1963 and the model had just been released. I don’t even remember the occasion for the date or what “fancy” event we were attending. It obviously merited pulling out the big guns because – Buick Rivera – definitely fell in the category. Truthfully, I was more excited about the car than about the date.

I never had a steady girlfriend before my senior year in high school. I did invite one girl to go to a mutual friend’s birthday party and you would have thought I had just proposed. She had to ask permission from her parents before she could make a commitment. The next day at school she reported that she had asked permission and that her father wanted to meet me first. Fortunately, it was before we had the truck. Can you imagine the reception I would have received from her dad?

My meeting her dad was not a relaxed “come to dinner” and say hello to her dad kind of experience. Thankfully, dinner wasn’t included. It was simply an opportunity for me to have a private conversation with her father. Perhaps you’ve seen any number of variations to “Ten Steps For Dating My Daughter”. Trust me, this guy could have authored any number of them. Perhaps Step Ten comes the closest to describing what I’m talking about:

“Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine”.

Honest to God, I’m not making this up. I got the “if she leaves with you, you are responsible for bringing her home and I’m holding you fully responsible… lecture”. I should have seen it coming, but he also wanted to inspect my car. That’s why I remember I was not driving the “junkier” truck. It would never have passed inspection. The guy actually had the nerve to look under the seats and in the glove compartment of the Chevy. Lesson learned, never ask anyone out if you don’t already know their parents! The risk is too great! As it turned out, the girl’s curfew was 9:00 p.m. I don’t recall that we had a second date.

Moving on to the automotive lineup. Dad didn’t keep the truck very long. I’m not sure where he found it, but he purchased a used Morris Minor Station Wagon. I don’t remember if it was a five speed, but it was a stick shift in the floor. It was a fun car to drive. Actually, Dad didn’t keep that vehicle very long either. I think he had the mindset that “foreign cars” represented trouble in terms of maintenance.

At some point Dad’s brother opted to by a new car and Dad purchased the 1959 ugly brown Chevrolet that belonged to him. It didn’t look anything like any of the “fantasy cars” in my head. The color was bland. However, the car had a lot of pep. I say that. It could have simply felt like it had a lot of pep in contrast to the Morris Minor. The Morris Minor was not the fastest vehicle off the line.

As it turns out, my car stories aren’t nearly as good as the one Ronnie generated. I’m still at a loss for words. I can’t believe he never shared with anyone that the truck was stolen, abandoned in downtown and by happenstance he ran ( I mean walked) across it, got in it and drove it home. He would have been in so much trouble for leaving the keys in the truck. Good for him! I like stories with happy endings.

All My Best!