All In The Family

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I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that my son and daughter are amazingly close. I didn’t know until last night that they often text each other to provide a snap shot of the interaction between the General and I. When you stop to think about it, I’d say it is comedy at its finest. Of course, I have a fairly warped sense of humor.

 

When Andrea and Kevin stopped by to pick up their dogs from “Gram’s day care” yesterday, Andrea showed me the text she had sent her brother on Sunday during our commute to Sealy. Craig provided a two-word response: “That’s hysterical”!

 

Another friend whose been reading my blog from day one thinks the script could be used to forge a sitcom similar to the interaction exchanged between Archie and Edith in All In The Family. Of course, she was quick to add: “It would be with a more genteel layer of interaction”. For starters, even with that disclaimer, I didn’t immediately consider the observation or suggestion the highest of compliments. For one thing Archie Bunker was pretty narrow minded and opinionated. If you’re thinking: “Don – That’s you to a T”, I’d say: “Give me more time. I’m working on it.” Hold on, I’m giving you too much credit. That is not who I am at all (well – hopefully not).

 

I don’t think of myself as narrow minded or seemingly prejudiced against folks who think differently or look differently from the way I think and look. I’d like to think that I’m still learning and that diversity provides a platform where we can learn from each other. For starters, the General and I are as different as night and day. Of course, at times she thinks I’d be better served if I thought just like she thinks. She’s also smart enough to know that is never going to happen. My mantra is: “Give me liberty or give me death, but don’t give me that”.

 

Never let it be said: “You have to look at life the way I look at life to be my friend”. In addition, my nickname for the General is meant as a term of endearment focusing on one of her strengths. Archie referred to Edith as “dingbat”. Ouch! It is difficult to process that “label” as a term of endearment. It seems pretty harsh and denigrating. Of course, like I said, the friend who suggested a sitcom of a snapshot of the interaction between the General and I indicated it would be more genteel and upscale than All In The Family.

 

Of course, I’m referencing a television sitcom from the 70s. Some of the people who read my blog have no idea what I’m talking about. They weren’t even born when All In The Family was popular. Either that or they were watching Captain Kangaroo on television. Don’t minimize for a minute the influence that television has on children. When we were visiting in Maine, I talked with a lady who sold her business in Los Angeles and moved to Bath, Maine. I asked about her motivation and she responded, “I have wanted to live in Maine since I was five years old. I remember the pictures taken in Maine that Captain Kangaroo showed on television from a book. I was fascinated with the stories and pictures he shared. I knew at the age of five that one day I would live here. It was a life-long dream.”

 

Wow! That’s pretty impactful. Good for Captain Kangroo and for the five year old who cast a vision to one day live there. As for Archie, I’m not really sure what a five year old could learn from watching the sitcom that would equip them for negotiating the demands of life. Actually, that’s not totally true. The show revolved around the life of a working-class bigot and his family, but the show also broke ground on referencing and discussing a lot of controversial issues and differences previously off limits for television.

 

For those who missed it, “All In The Family is about a typical white working-class family living in Queens, New York. Its patriarch is Archie Bunker (O’Connor), an outspoken, narrow-minded white man, seemingly prejudiced against everyone who is not like him or his idea of how people should be. Archie’s wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) is sweet and understanding, though somewhat naïve and uneducated; her husband sometimes disparagingly calls her “dingbat”. Their one child, Gloria, (Sally Struthers), is generally kind and good-natured like her mother, but displays traces of her father’s stubbornness; unlike them, however, she is a feminist. Gloria is married to college student Michael Stivic (Reiner) – referred to as “Meathead” by Archie – whose values are likewise influenced and shaped by the counterculture of the 1960s. The two couples represent the real-life clash of values between the so-called Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers. For much of the series, the Stivics live in the Bunkers’ home to save money, providing abundant opportunity for them to irritate each other”.

 

Okay, so what did my daughter overhear on our commute to Sealy on Sunday that she thought was worthy to forward on to her brother?

 

“Mom – What do you mean you haven’t decided how long to leave the house on the market?
Dad – I’m thinking about buying a duplex. One-side for you and one-side for me.

 

Mom – Do we have to live that close to each other?

 

Dad – It depends on whether your mother comes down with her cat.”

 

All MY Best!

Don

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Deacon Ordination

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Both of my children have a heart of gold and a spirit of compassion for those in need. I am so very proud of them. Yesterday morning, the General and I along with Andrea and Kevin made our way to First Baptist Church in Sealy. Our being there was important because Craig was one of two young men being ordained as a deacon. Each of the candidates for ordination was asked to share their story. Listening as Craig shared about himself filled me with such gratitude for the man he has become. I couldn’t be prouder of him.

 

Craig said of himself:  “I grew up in Henly, Texas. Which is really to say that I grew up in Henly Baptist Church in Henly, Texas. I’ve always viewed the two as synonymous; you can’t have one without the other. Henly Baptist Church is a small country church where everyone is family. I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior in Henly Baptist Church. As a young boy I used to listen to my father preach on Sunday mornings and I envisioned myself following in his footsteps and one day becoming the pastor of Henly Baptist Church.

 

I then made a couple of important discoveries. The first is that the thought of public speaking scares me to death. The second is that I have a bit of an accent. Can you imagine the number of roasts that would have burned waiting for me to get all the words out?

 

Rather than my father’s footsteps, I ended up following in his twin brother’s. My Uncle Ronnie went to Texas A&M, I went to A&M. Ronnie became a Marine Officer, I became a Marine Officer. Ronnie went off to war; 32 years later I did as well.

 

On the campus at Texas A&M is a monument dedicated to the A&M men who have given their lives in defense of our country since World War II. My Uncle Ronnie’s name is on that monument. Though my uncle’s name is what initially drew me to the monument, it’s the scripture inscribed on the monument that has had a lasting impact on my life.

 

The scripture is John 15:13. Christ told his disciples “Greater love hath no man than this, than that he lay down his life for his friends”. When I read this scripture I think of Christ’s example as the servant leader and I think of his disciples, men who left behind everything that they’d known to follow Him and to serve others. To me this scripture is a call to selflessly serve others. Now I won’t claim that I always get it right but I wanted you to know what’s in my heart.

 

My senior year at Texas A&M I met a pretty young girl from Cat Spring, Texas. A little over a year later we were married and we set off to make our mark on the world. For the next twenty years we went wherever and whenever the Marine Corps told us. With each new duty station came the challenge of finding a new church home. I say challenge because I was always looking for Henly Baptist Church.

 

When I left active duty three years ago and we moved back to Cat Spring, our Connect Group in Camp Lejeune was praying that we’d be lead to a new church home. We were led here. We visited a few times and realized that we were being called to First Baptist Church, Sealy. In short order we’d joined the congregation. The more we got to know you, the more we considered you to be family. Our three children came to know Christ as their Lord and Savior in this church. They were baptized in this church. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re home. I am both honored and humbled to serve as one of your Deacons”.

 

As a father, I could not be prouder of Craig. The same is true of his sister. Craig and Andrea are almost ten years apart in age, but unlike what one might think, the age differential is irrelevant. They are extremely close. It had been Andrea’s hope to run in the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon with Craig in Washington, D. C. following his last tour in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, a work commitment and a change in supervisors resulted in her previously approved vacation time being rescinded. Despite the disappointment, she resolved that one day she’d run in that marathon.

 

Consequently, months ago Andrea and Kevin purchased tickets that guaranteed them the opportunity to participate in this years Marine Corps Marathon. The package deal included plane tickets and non-refundable hotel reservations. When it comes to living out one’s dreams, Andrea has the stamina to make it happen. In the process, she also hoped her passion for participating could also generate support for a charity of her choice.

 

Life doesn’t always turn out the way one anticipates or hopes, but I like the way my daughter has the ability to take the ball and run with it regardless of circumstance. She’s not a complainer and she is fairly private. The last several months have been months of difficulty for her. Yet rather than tell her story my way and get into trouble, I’ll defer to what she’s shared with others. That way, I stay out of trouble and perhaps even help the cause she supports.

 

The email communication she shared weeks ago with her friends began like this:

Many but not all are aware, Kevin and I started 2017 training to run the 42nd annual Marine Corps Marathon this October. We joined the Semper Fi Fund Team for an incredible opportunity to raise money for our nation’s wounded heroes (www.semperfifund.org) . As life has a way, God brought to light a medical condition that precludes my ability to run this year although we will attend the race. While our sneakers may be hung up for now, our commitment to support Semper Fi Fund remains. Our goal is to raise $5,000 and to promote the continuing needs of our nation’s injured service members. We need your help to reach our goal!

 

First and foremost, we ask for your prayers – for our country’s wounded warriors and their families as well as for the brave men and women serving in the Armed Forces. 

 

Secondly, if you are able, we truly appreciate any contributions you can provide. You can also help us reach our goal by sharing this message and links on Facebook!…”.

 

My world is good because the world in which my children and their families live is good. Treva and I are honored that they routinely invite us to be active participants in their lives as well.

 

All My Best!

Don

P.S. If you’d like to make a financial contribution to assist reach my daughter and her husband to reach or surpass their goal for The Semper Fi Fund you can do so by using either of the following links:  https://runsignup.com/kevinstearns or https://runsignup.com/andreastearns . Donations can be made securely online. The Semper Fi Fund will send you a tax receipt by mail within two weeks. Any amount you can give will help; no donation is too small.

 

Many companies offer matching gift programs to their employees that can increase the power of your donation. Contact your personnel office to see if your employer or organization participates in matching gift programs.  Semper Fi Fund’s Federal Tax ID # is 26-0086305.

 

 

 

A Time For All Seasons

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I didn’t consider it an act of indiscretion, but I was busted within two minutes of my horrendous crime. Actually, to describe it as horrendous would be something the General might do. She’s the one that asked the question. It was a question best left unanswered. She wanted to know: “Why did you put the plastic bag off of your cleaning in the bathroom trash?”

 

Maybe I wasn’t functioning on all cylinders. Then again it was early. The only honest answer I could come up with was: “Because I knew you’d not be happy if I left it in the closet floor.” I know, some of you are thinking I’m making this up. Who would have thought? Actually, the way I see it, if that’s the most either of us have to complain about ours is a charmed life. By the way, I left the General’s question unanswered. Sometimes you just can’t argue with city hall.

 

I guess under the category of unfinished business, yesterday we were on a hunt for fall colors. Of course, the hunt for fall colors was second on the list of things the General wanted to do. For starters, she thought it’d be nice if we went to the greater Sealy area to watch our granddaughter run cross-country. After having been gone from home for the past eight days, I needed some down time. No, I didn’t want to do that.

 

I didn’t ask the General, but how do you watch someone run cross-country? The way I see it, unless you run alongside them, you really don’t see much. The General was all about going. I get it – she wants to demonstrate support by being in the cheering squad. So do I, but there have to be some limits. In addition, had we gone to my son’s yesterday we would also have had an opportunity to drive to Houston and watch our youngest grandson play baseball last night. He had a game at 6:00 p.m. and one at 8:00.

 

Okay, so I selfishly opted out. I wasn’t going to do that. For starters it would be close to 11:00 p.m. by the time by the time we got back to Craig’s home. Secondly, isn’t baseball seasonal? Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but global warming is killing us. You can now play baseball year round. In addition to two night baseball games, Jake also had an afternoon football game. William on the other hand, didn’t have anything scheduled for Saturday. From my vantage point, I’d say: “Good for him”. Even God rested one day our of seven.

 

We live within view of the Field of Dreams. In the greater Dripping Springs area and obviously elsewhere, baseball is no longer a summer sport. Kids play baseball year round. At least the lights from the field of dreams perforate the darkness of night on almost a yearly basis. I guess it goes without saying, but I’m not a fan. I’m not registering this as a complaint. Unless you own the land that borders yours, you really don’t have a right to complain. I’ve seen worse; actually heard worse. At one time we had a neighbor that converted his property to a firing range. It sounded like we were living in a war zone. It is really difficult to register positive thoughts concerning everyone in the neighborhood when the tranquility of your environment is forfeited to the sound of gunfire.

 

I’m old school. I know, “No one is surprised”. I’m for restoring the seasons. We had the most wonderful trip to Maine preceding my five days near Boston. I say near Boston because I wasn’t in Boston. Even the folks at the hotel, when asked about attractions in their area said: “There is nothing to do in Andover.”  The only thing that could have improved our trip to Maine would have been the splash of color we anticipated by the changing of leaves. However, one of the things we noticed in Maine is that many people had flowering plants in their yards. I guess when you know your days are numbered with that kind of opportunity, you take full advantage of enjoying outdoor flowers while you can.

 

Okay, so the General returned home from our four-day weekend in Maine ready to decorate for fall. Since we delayed our trip to Craig’s by a day (we are going today), it served me well to say “Yes Ma’am” and follow the General’s lead. Sometimes it is like walking a tight rope. Some of that is by my own doing.

 

While I was away, two of the chairs we had ordered several weeks ago for our living area arrived. Much to my chagrin, they didn’t look good with the Karastan 9×12 rug that I’d moved from the front room or our home to our primary living area. How could that be? The rug has over fifty colors in it and it is timeless. Reportedly, Karastan was birthed in a North Carolina mill during the 1920’s by Marshall Field & Co. who created “an exciting and innovative product – machine-made oriental design rugs of high quality at realistic prices”.

 

Okay, so the General was ready to purchase a new rug. Hold on! We had other options. We only had to move three rugs from three different rooms to make it all work. Moving rugs describes my first night back from New England. It was my idea. I didn’t like the look of the living area either. Long story short, we went back to the more rustic look in the living area with cowhide rugs covering our floors. I figure cowhides were around long before Karastan so the look is even more timeless.

 

Yesterday we went to two different places looking for fall colors. The General was on a roll. She has now changed the look both inside and out. Now if the weather would cooperate, it would feel like fall. Like I said, “Global warming is killing us.” By the way, that is not a political statement.

 

All My Best!

Don

Playful People Always Have More Fun

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Shortly after arriving at Terminal A – Gate 21 at Boston Logan International Airport yesterday, the display on my Apple iPhone notified me that I had exceeded my exercise goal. Shortly before the message appeared, I had the passing thought that I’m really tired. As far as exceeding my exercise goal, I don’t remember that I ever entered one.

 

However, prior to arriving at my gate, I did participate in a race with a family making their way through the airport at about the same time I was attempting to locate my gate. Of course, the family didn’t know that the race was on. They were walking on what proved to be two consecutive moving walkways.

 

I picked up my pace a little and even without exerting myself beyond my usual pace or with the extra help of the floor moving under my feet, I smoked them. Who knows, maybe I looked back in their direction and they read my mind or they noticed the smile on my face that reflected the exhilaration of winning. Who’s to say?

 

Periodically, my watch reminds me to breathe. You’d think that would be second nature to me, but I always smile and inhale deeply whenever the message “take a breath” or “breathe” appears. Certainly there are physiological benefits associated with breathing deeply.

 

Okay, at some juncture inside Boston Logan International Airport, the only way to get to the section of the airport in which gates 14-22 are located is to take an elevator to the lower level. You could have fooled me. I didn’t know there was a lower level.

 

Actually, it was on the lower level that the race between the family of four and I took place. Of course, under the adage, “what goes down must come up” (okay, so the inverse is true, but not necessarily accurate regarding the statement made) there was an escalator transporting passengers to a much higher floor. I’m going to suggest it was at least two flights (pardon the pun). It was more than a one-floor incline.

 

I paused to check my phone messages before stepping on the escalator. To my surprise, at some point I noticed someone on my right. The woman was physically climbing the stairs. She smiled and said, “I thought I’d see if I could beat you to the top.”

 

I smiled and replied: “Not a chance.” Well, the race was on again.   I stood at the top of the landing and waited for her to make it to the top (imaginary finish line). Stretching out my arms in both directions, I animatedly said: “Welcome to Boston”. My New England accent couldn’t have been better. I told her I had practiced dropping my “R”s so I could sound like a local. She laughed and replied: “Not everyone sounds like that.”

 

I asked: “Are you folks local or are you traveling back home to a less picturesque and notable city than Boston?” She said: “We live here. We are headed to Michigan for my nephew’s wedding.” She added: “It will be a very wonderful family fun time.”

 

She asked about my travels and we engaged in a brief, but pleasant conversation. The remainder of her family stood some distance away looking in our direction. I had the thought: “I bet she’ll have more fun at the wedding than they?” I don’t know why I thought that. Just a hunch I guess. She had a playful disposition and playful people always have more fun. Can you argue with that?

 

Of course, my hunches aren’t always right. I stopped for gasoline in the rental car about four miles before I got to the airport. The venue appeared to be an oil change place that also sold gasoline. I wouldn’t have stopped there, but I had been looking for a place to purchase fuel for at least two miles. I had veered off the freeway (or maybe it was a toll road) to find a place to purchase fuel. When I saw this place, I noticed the sign, but there were only two gasoline pumps. There was no covered awning. Getting out of the ca (purposefully left the “R” off – I love being in New England) I attempted to locate where to insert my credit card. I didn’t see a slot.

 

Looking up, I was startled by the imposing figure of a man standing twelve-to-eighteen inches away from me. He appeared out of nowhere. If he had been parking a ca (sorry, can’t help myself), his distance was perfect. To be in my space, he seemed way too close and imposing for comfort. He was a guy you had to look up to because I’d guess his height at 6’ 5”. He was tall and looking down toward my head. He asked: “Cash or credit?”

 

Stepping back and away from him, I said: “I’m looking for a place to insert my credit card.” He replied: “This is full service”. The concept escaped me. Honestly, I had no idea what he meant. He repeated: “You don’t pump your own gasoline here. This is full service.”

 

I was speechless. I looked again at the pump to ascertain the price of fuel. I wasn’t going to pay $4 a gallon for gasoline. The price was only $2.64 a gallon. I think that’s what I paid earlier when I purchased fuel elsewhere. It was self-service. So did this guy really work here or was it a ploy to take my credit card and/or my money? I didn’t see anyone else at the station. Do you ever have the sense that something isn’t quite right?

 

Embarrassingly, those were the thoughts going through my head. Maybe I’ve watched too may episodes of “America’s Most Wanted”. Actually if such a series exists, I’ve never seen it. However, alarm bells were still going off in my head. Buying time, I asked: “Is there a men’s room?” He replied, “At the back; on that side of the building” tilting his head in the direction I needed to go.

 

When I returned, he had opened something on the island where the two pumps were located to process my credit card. Okay, so just because your paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you. Isn’t that right? At any rate, seeing the mechanism to run the credit card was a huge relief. Fortunately, the tall imposing stranger who initially startled me by his presence was legit. He had filled the tank with fuel.

 

Seriously, I can’t recall the last time “Full Service” was an option in Texas. Do such places still exist? I honestly don’t know, but I can’t think of any. Even the General knows how to pump gasoline for her own car. Of course, if I’m riding shotgun or driving, I wouldn’t allow her to do so. I would do it for her.

 

So the eight-day trip ended well. You have no idea how great it is to be home. The downside is that we’re leaving again in a few hours. The good news is that it is for a special occasion.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Degrees of Separation

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It was six degrees of separation x 2. Six degrees of separation is the idea that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of “a friend of a friend statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

 

Who would have thought? A group of forty-five people gathered for the caravan of vans going to Boston. Of course, I was eager. I was standing on the curb when the first of four vans pulled up. The first van was a small Dodge van that could transport five people plus the driver.

 

I engaged the driver in conversation and asked if I could ride shotgun? He said, “Absolutely, just throw you jacket in the front seat.” Other than reserving my seat and place in line, I’m not sure what other useful purpose my light jacket held. It really wasn’t cool enough to need one.

 

When you stop to think about it, the term riding shotgun could carry any number of connotations in today’s environment. Historically, riding shotgun was used to describe the guard who rode alongside a stagecoach driver; ready to use his shotgun to ward off bandits. In modern use, it refers to the practice of sitting alongside the driver in a moving vehicle.

 

Of course as it turned out, the protocol for the ride to Boston included a roll- call to ensure that all the people who’d signed up for the excursion were present. There are some people who’d be fashionably late to their own funeral if left to their own discretion. I don’t know their names, but I could point them out in a lineup. They were oblivious to the fact that we were waiting on them. Either that or it didn’t matter.

 

Finally with the head count done and everyone present, it was time to “Head ’em up, move ’em on”. From my perspective, I was past ready to keep them “rolling, rolling, rolling.” Strange the songs that comes to mind from out of the resources of one’s memory. Some of you are way too young, but the line comes from Rawhide. The lyrics were part of the theme song. Rawhide was the name of the made for TV Western starring Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood. It was all about a cattle drive and the first episode of the series started on Friday night, January 9, 1959.

 

Actually, last night’s experience proved to be more like herding cats than a trail drive. We were going to Boston. Actually, in my head I envisioned the number of words where, if you “dropped the R” you’d sound like a local. For example: “Park the Car” would sound like “Pak the Ca.” It was going to be a fun adventure and I was riding shotgun or so I thought.

 

I opened both the side door of the van and the front door patiently waiting for the four additional passengers to get in. A lady who was older than me (can anyone be older than me) was obviously used to riding shotgun. It wasn’t a big deal. There wasn’t going to be a shootout at the Okay corral, I simply said: “Let me move my jacket, I had planned to sit there”.

 

Realizing my jacket was in the seat, she said: “I’m sorry” and moved to the other door I’d opened. I noticed she was having difficultly stepping inside the van so I suggested she ride up front. Without hesitation she gladly did so.

 

Woudn’t you know it? I was now in the sandwich seat between the front seat and the back seat and I had a great view of the back of the driver’s head. As a first order of business, the driver wanted to know where everyone was from. As it turned out, the two passengers in the back seat were from Hawaii. The lady riding shotgun was from Texas as was the lady sitting next to me. In fact, the lady sitting next to me was a national advocate for mental health and the lady riding shotgun was her mother.

 

Turning to me, the lady next to me asked: “Where do you live?” When I answered Austin (Not many people have heard of Henly) she asked: “Where in Austin do you work?” I replied that I’d retired several months back. She then asked: “Why are you at the conference?”  Interestingly she’s the second person whose asked me that this week.

 

Anyway, when I mentioned where I previously worked, she threw out my former boss’s name and said they’d been friends for many, many years. Small world! Consequently, the conversation with the lady made the next hour go by more quickly. Traffic in Boston is a lot like traffic in Austin. Stop and go is the name of the game and the commute time took an hour.

 

When we finally arrived, we headed in different directions. My intent was to walk the freedom trail. The General and I had done that when we came to Boston several years ago. After walking for two hours last night, I’m convinced that the folks who laid out the streets in Boston are the direct descendants of the folks who laid out the streets in downtown San Antonio. Trust me, I can get lost in either place just trying to get through downtown.

 

Speaking of lost, most of us were back at the designated area to be picked up fifteen or twenty minutes early. So after we were accounted for there were a couple of folks missing. I intuitively felt sorry for them. Even though the driver had provided us a map of the area, it is easy to take a wrong turn. Been there/done that.

 

So we wait for the stragglers for over thirty minutes. As it turned out, they had tired of Boston and took Uber back to Andover without letting anyone else know. The map the driver had provided us had his cell phone number on it. As it turned out, he tracked the missing people down by calling their cell phones. They had provided their numbers when they signed up for the excursion.

 

In the interim, the lady sitting next to me mentioned her two children. She said both were adopted. When she mentioned the adoption agency, I threw out the name of a close friend that I’ve known for forty years. She was the head of the agency. As it turned out, she was the person who had done the couple’s adoption study thirty-five years before. She subsequently placed a second child in their home.

 

It really is a small world and the concept “a friend of a friend” really ties it together nicely.

 

All My Best!

Don

A Quick Trip To Boston

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Did she call me or did I call her? Actually, I think I’m the one who initiated the call. I had just returned from an evening social event that many of those participating in the training session I’m attending in Andover, MA also attended. I’m not sure when I’ve been around so many people that I didn’t know. I won’t say that I was like a fish out of water because I know enough to introduce myself and engage in conversation with strangers. I can’t say that it is a favorite pastime, but I can ride for the brand and colleagues in the child welfare arena don’t usually intimidate me even if I don’t know them.

 

I was standing in line waiting for the shuttle to secure transportation to the after hours reception when someone looked at me and said: “You look so familiar to me”. She then looked at my nametag and said, “So you’re from Washington, D.C.” She then asked: “Do you ever travel to Texas? I know that I know you.”

 

I smiled and said: “I live in Texas”. As it turns out, I knew her although I didn’t recognize her in a setting miles from home. She works for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. We’ve both attended many of the same meetings across the past several years.

 

I was a little startled when the shuttle driver stepped out of the van. She was outfitted in a roaring twenties outfit. We were on our way to the Gatsby Mansion reportedly for “a roaring good time” filled the live music, good food, costumed characters and a really big crowd of people. After all, you’ve got to be the quintessential host to invite 400 people to your home. Actually, the Gatsby Mansion looked a lot like an office building to me, but I’m not going to suggest that. In the world of make believe, even a cardboard box can serve as a mansion or a fort. I remember that from my childhood.

 

The folks who arranged last night’s reception are also responsible for arranging for a ride to Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston later today for a minimal charge. Trust me, I jumped at the chance to get on the list and that was before I got the General’s mandate not to go at midnight.

 

I seldom know when the General reads my blog. It is a very rare occasion for her to comment or select “Like”. Seriously, how hard would it be to select “Like”? The other day I got a message from Facebook telling me that I collectively had received 44,000 likes (I’m giving you that number from memory – if it is off by 20 or 30, don’t hold that against me) but she hasn’t been responsible for the numerical count. I think with her I’m averaging fewer than half a dozen “likes” a year.

 

All that said, she obviously read my blog from yesterday. I took the risk to be transparent and added that I wasn’t going to be this close to Boston without seeing Boston even if I had to orchestrate a midnight ride (Pardon the pun, that sounds like a line Paul Revere obviously used). Oops, that was the wrong thing to put in my blog. I guess you could call it spousal redirection or maybe even and order from the General, but her words were closely akin to: “Don’t Go To Boston by yourself or at midnight. It isn’t safe!”

 

Fortunately, when I telephoned home and was greeted with the General’s sagely redirection: “Don’t go to Boston at midnight”, I had already opted for making a better plan. The General knows me well enough to know that telling me not to go probably wasn’t going to work. I was going to Boston. How could one be the close to Boston and not go?

 

In addition, as I thought about our conversation later, there are no guarantees related to safety. Who would have thought that an outdoor concert in Las Vegas could turn deadly at the hands of a crazed gunman? I still can’t quite wrap my head around a mass shooting leaving 59 people dead and over 500 injured. How does a round of gunfire last for ten to fifteen minutes? It defies understanding.

 

For that matter, who would have ever thought that the Boston Marathon could turn deadly? How long ago was that? I’m guessing three or four years. It wasn’t that long ago. In addition, it took place mid-afternoon close to the finish line in the light of day. The two bombs that detonated killed three people and injured hundreds.

 

No, when it comes to safety, even being wrapped in bubble wrap isn’t a guarantee that harm won’t come one’s way. Earthquakes, floods, mass killings, accidents – the list goes on and on.

 

I don’t want to be morose, but this side of eternity, ours is a broken world filled with broken people. Our only hope is in the One who holds tomorrow. For now, I’ve got to cut short the chronicling of my thoughts and get downstairs to a conference.

 

All My Best!

Don

I May Go Out Walking After Midnight

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I awakened early this morning with the thought: “Do golfers live longer?” My friends who play golf would probably say, “Yes”. How can I argue? They always seem to find the time to mix business with pleasure. For my golfing friends who are retired, their primary avocation seems to have a swing to it.

 

Of course one of my retired golfing buddies has to juggle watching re-runs of the Andy Griffith Show and Gunsmoke between his golf games. I know some would say that he has a tough life. I couldn’t agree more. I’d rather be hit in the head with a bat than watch old reruns on television.

 

I don’t cut him a lot of slack. I good-naturedly remind him that he needs to get a life. Of course, he counters that it would serve the church well if I’d embrace the concept of a twelve-minute sermon. Whether he could stay awake that long, I don’t know.

 

I don’t play golf and I haven’t been retired that long, but in the early morning hours I had the thought that golfers are smarter than me. My friends who golf would say hands down that is undeniably true.

 

Of course, I grew up in the non-profit world and undeniably that places a financial cap (huge financial cap) on some of the kinds of things one can find to do. If the sky were the limit, would I live differently? My answer is probably not, but then again my frame of reference is fairly limited.

 

At any rate, I looked again at the conference schedule for this week and had the thought that the sponsors of the conference could have picked the worst possible location in the United States and it really wouldn’t have made a difference. Today’s conference has every minute allocated from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 this evening. That doesn’t give much time to look at the leaves in New England or do anything else.

 

So I’m 20 or so miles from Boston. I might as well be at home on my back porch. I’m not going to find the time to look at the route Paul Revere took. When the General and I were in Boston several years back, we walked the route he took (2.5 miles) and we looked at the home where he lived on the “Freedom Trail”.

 

It was Longworth who chronicled Paul Revere’s Ride in a poem by the same name:  Listen, my children, and you shall hear    Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,                                                                   On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five: Hardly a man is now alive                                                                                    Who remembers that famous day and year.  

He said to his friend, “If the British march   By land or sea from the town to-night,                                                              Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch     Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,–                                                     One if by land, and two if by sea;   And I on the opposite shore will be,                                                                     Ready to ride and spread the alarm  

Through every Middlesex village and farm,    For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”                                                         Then he said “Good night!” and with muffled oar     Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,    Just as the moon rose over the bay,       Where swinging wide at her moorings lay     The Somerset, British man-of-war:

Okay, so it sounds like I’m complaining. I always feel obligated to attend every session of every conference I’ve ever attended. The agenda is always so tight that it is difficult to find time to do much more. That’s where the golfers always have it over me. I don’t care where they are they find time to play golf.

 

Of course, I’ve noticed that a few of my golfing buddies are generally somewhere else other than the conference by the second day. Are they smarter than me? I’m sorry, we’ve already answered that question once and I don’t think the answer has changed.

 

I attended a conference years ago at a really expensive hotel near Grand Central Station in New York City. Of course, New York City is one of those cities that never sleeps, so we were able to get the lay of the land after conference hours. Of course, the General and our daughter came along for the ride and they had a wonderful opportunity to see New York while I was attending the conference. On the other hand, my view was fairly limited.

 

I was working on a monthly report last night after my session and delayed dinner until long after dark. I had the thought, “I’ve got to get out of this hotel. I don’t want another meal in a room without windows.” Like Abraham, I initially thought I’d go out without knowing.

 

I gave it a second thought and asked one of the staff at the hotel where to find a good place for a burger. His response was in keeping with the party line. He said: “We have a great burger in our dinning room.” No, no I’ve got to get out of this building”, I replied. He excused himself and said, “I’ll find out for you. Give me a minute and I’ll be right back.”

 

How’s that for using my brain? He provided me a name and address. I don’t remember the name but the address was 89 North Main St, Andover. I went to maps and discovered I had two routes. One was five mile and the other was ten. Is that crazy or what? Both routes ended up at 89 N. Main St. I opted for the shorter distance.

 

Would you care to guess what is located at 89 N. Main St.? Long-story short – 89 N. Main St is where the street abruptly comes to a dead end. Of course, the automatic voice of my tour guide announced that I had arrived. I should have brought golf clubs with me. I’d have found something else to do with my time.

 

This time I relied on Siri to help me back track from the dead end street. Besides that, I like his British accent and he seldom steers me wrong. There was a 5-Star Restaurant within two miles.

 

It was an upscale restaurant. After l had time to look over the menu, the waitress asked if I wanted the “all you can eat barbeque” special. It was $33. I may not be all that smart, but I wasn’t coming to the East coast to eat barbeque even if they were giving it away. I’d have gone for an “all you can eat” crab cakes special, but not barbeque. I may not be smart, but I’m not that dumb. I actually selected grilled salmon with mashed potatoes and green beans. It was delicious.

 

Okay, so here’s the deal. I will attend all my sessions, but I will find a way to walk the 2.5 trail of Paul Revere before I come back to Texas even if I go out walking after midnight.

 

All My Best!

Don