September 26, 2011

Friday Night Lights once again...

If you have lived in Texas for any length of time, you know very well that Friday nights beginning in September are all about high school football. And if your team does well enough, that season can stretch deep into the winter. But most of us usually don't have the good fortune of our team going "all the way" down the championship road and so we only get to spend eight to ten Friday nights in the stands cheering on our boys.

My Friday night was spent with a delightful young lady, who I have to admit, was not my wife. No, she's a sweet, young and gorgeous blonde and let me just say, she's more than fond of me. Folks might have a thing or two to say at the age difference, until they knowingly figure out that this ten-year old bombshell is my granddaughter, Cristian.

Ms. Cristian attends grade school in Joshua, Texas and starts making plans with her granpapa weeks and weeks in advance for out "date night" during homecoming week. She inquires about the mum and where we'll eat, if we get to sit on the 50 yard line and most importantly if we have to stay for the entire game. (Insert chuckle).

On this Friday night, the Mighty Joshua Owls would be taking on the Arlington Seguin Cougars for a hopeful homecoming win. As we entered the stadium, you could feel the electricity in the air. The smell of fresh popcorn and nachos blanketed the entire snack area . My date and I had just finished dinner at the local DQ not even five minutes prior, but the smell of fresh popcorn always taps into that primal hunger spot and my mouth immediately began to let me know that my nose picked up the fragrance. It must have hit Cristian too, because she immediately asked for nachos, popcorn, M & M's and a soda. I convinced her that her mind and tummy were having a conflict and we'd settle the fight at halftime.

We took our seats in seats 25 and 26 on Row Q and began to watch the pre-game festivities. The visiting team was at the south end of the stadium warming up and the Owls were at the North end doing the same. The stands were filled with ardent fans shaking empty metal containers with anything from rocks to pennies to see whose side could make the most noise for their team. In front of us, a choir of about 40 - 50 students were busy "warming their pipes" to sing the National Anthem, acappella. The cheerleaders were all huddled together in the end zone working over last minute details on the paper "spirit wall" the players always smash through on their way to the field.

Finally the time had come. The announcer asked all to rise and for the gentlemen to remove their caps and hats in respect to the flag ceremony. After the Navy Junior Reserve Officers had posted the flag, the group broke into a rousing, although very fast paced, version of the national anthem. After they were done, a display of appreciation erupted that set my heart and patriotism afire. God bless America.

The teams took the field and the Joshua Owls won the toss. The crowd was ecstatic and into the game immediately. The Owls marched the ball down almost effortlessly and scored the first touchdown. The stadium erupted into applause and cheer, for the Mighty Owls had drawn first blood.

At the half, the score was 21-14, in favor of the visiting Cougars. The two teams moved up and down the field running, passing, intercepting, tackling and putting forth effort at a level that you just don't see in the National Football League. These kids aren't influenced by multi-million dollar contracts, signing bonuses and endorsement deals. They're influenced by the boys around them, their coaches and fellow students and most especially, their community. Money and notoriety beyond the city limits doesn't concern them tonight. Tonight, they play for respect from the visiting team, family, friends and the community.

Around the latter part of the third quarter, the questions began to come from the tired and weary young lady sitting beside me. "Granpapa, when are we going to leave?" I answered, "when the game is over sweetheart". I absolutely enjoy our yearly get together at the stadium and the time we get to spend together before, during and after the game. It's a time that I get to reflect on how much she matures and grows each year between our dates. She's getting to be quite the young lady.

She is now in the 5th grade and is starting to show interest in school activities. She ran for Student Council, she's joined the choir and is doing as much as she can with the energy she has to do them. She's a wonderful person and I love her dearly. But what amazes me more and more each day, is how she deals with Tourrette's Syndrome and a lower level of disorder in the Autism spectrum called Aspberger's Syndrome that she has to work through. If you were around her for any length of time, you'd begin to see the traits of someone that aren't normally displayed in other children's developmental cycle. But just seeing her from a distance, you can't see anything blatantly obvious. And this child is brilliant. She's always on the honor roll at school, she's in accelerated math and has the memory of a  computer's hard drive.

Miss Cristian and I had another wonderful evening at homecoming this year. But unlike the previous two years, the Mighty Owls of Joshua High School had met up against a mightier opponent. The clock was dwindling down and with less than six minutes left in the game, the score went up to 31-20. I looked over at my date and could tell she was bored out of her little mind, so I told her to get her things and we'd leave. She said, "I thought you said we were leaving when the game is over?". "It is over sweetie, let's go home".

One more year of the sights, sounds and flavors of Homecoming has come and gone. Although our team didn't win, it was a memorable night. Friday Night Lights will always hold a wonderful place in my heart and mind when I get too old to get out and enjoy the real thing. It'll remind me of special times that I was fortunate enough to spend with a wonderful young lady that has entered my life. I pray that one day, she takes her son or daughter or a grandchild out on this most special of all occasions in the fall, here in Texas. Life is all about memories you see. And the more times you can take to make them, the more you'll carry with you in the "golden years". Happy Friday night, Texas.

"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...

September 15, 2011

On this day in 1896, the celebrated “Crash at Crush” occurred 15 miles north of Waco, Texas in McLennan County. As a publicity stunt for the Katy Railroad, two railroad engines were deliberately crashed in a head-on collision at the non-existent town of Crush. Elaborate preparations and extensive publicity brought a crowd of more than 30,000 to witness the event. After a two-mile run, the two engines, the bright green No. 999 and the brilliant red No. 1001, met in a fiery crash. Flying debris killed two people and injured many more. By the nightfall, the site was abandoned. In the early twentieth century, Scott Joplin commemorated the event in hs march, “Great Crush Collision”.

"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...

September 14, 2011


If you like guacamole, you'll LOVE the song written for it. Watch for the baby with the Mustache...

G-U-A-C-A-M-O-L-E, Guacamole!!!!!

"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...

September 12, 2011

September, 12, 2011...

Ten years and one morning ago, America woke to a new nation and to the realization that we would never be the same. September 11, 2001 made us all realize there are others in this world that have forgotten that we are the United States of America. But are we still? Are we really?

As I drove to work this morning, the crisp feel of autumn was in the air. I had the windows opened slightly, the radio was off and my mind was reliving that horrific day so long ago. I saw the world going on about its business like nothing was out of the ordinary and from what I took in, it seems most everyone has moved on. 

On September 12, 2001, I recall seeing flags everywhere. They were on buildings and on signs, there were messages written in shoe polish in peoples car windows and on make-shift signs that proudly reflected sayings like “We will never forget” and “God bless America” and “USA”. I looked for any of those things this morning and regretfully, I didn’t see any of them.

I don’t like to say that it’s because people have forgotten or are lazy or just don’t care, but we must face the truth, those are the reasons why those visible memorials weren’t visible for some in this country. Some in this country could care less about the importance of remembering national tragedies.

I would have loved to have woken up today, in New York City. I would love to have walked up Fifth Avenue and then over to the Financial District and finally to Central Park. I would like to see how New Yorker's spent this day. I admit we, as Texans, have a bit of an ongoing and unspoken “friendly feud” with the Empire State. We poke fun at New York and they poke right back, but inside, we respect each other deeply. There is a bond between New York and Texas, between California and Iowa and Minnesota and Arizona and that bond is one of pride of country and being Americans.

On September 12, 2001, there were souls nationwide grieving, crying and in despair for their brothers and sisters in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. We weren’t Floridians or Virginians or Dakotans, we were Americans. For a period of time in the early fall of 2001, America was one, visibly, emotionally and most importantly, nationally. Members of Congress set aside political party and belief systems and actually gathered together in prayer for the healing of an injured country. And in today’s political spectrum that seems almost unbelievable and impossible to pull off. On that day, did we all gather together lifting prayers to Heaven because we thought that was the right thing to do? Or was it that the true Judeo-Christian belief system of a nation manifested itself without regard of the fallout that would surely come from unbelievers and those among us that have no patience for all things religious? I’m convinced it’s the latter.

In the days and weeks that followed the attack, I had no worries of how we would move on from such a tragedy. Americans have always had the ability to rise from the ashes in the face of great adversity and tragedy. But today, I have to say, I’m worried about our country.

We’ve become so “politically correct” and afraid to face politically flammable subjects that I believe the United States of America has seen its better days. No longer does our government try to “teach a man to fish”, instead it’s easier to “give that man a fish” each month without any output on his or her part and to keep the political fallout to a minimum. Oh, and it's politically correct too. God forbid that we ask someone to actually give back to the country that gives so much. The words of John F Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country”, no longer echo as a cry to give your heart and soul to America. Sadly that famous quote has been reversed and its counter-productive meaning is deeply woven into the fabric of this society now. We have become a nation of “me and I” and a growing demographic believes the federal government owes them a home, an income and free health care.  We are in perilous times and I believe America is on the verge of “imploding” as a direct result of the new “me” society and political correctness.

What does all of that have to do with remembering 9-11? I believe that being “politically correct” prevented us from identifying those responsible for the attacks on 9-11. I believe being “politically correct” has reduced us to being molested at the hands of the federal government when flying, because our government is afraid of “racially profiling” someone that fits the criteria of a terrorist. Pardon me, but if profiling a group of individuals determined to kill as many Americans as they can before they meet their own demise, I say begin profiling tomorrow. And I'm very sorry that it just so happens that the majority of the ones that want to kill and maim American's just happen to be from the most violent parts of the Middle East.

We’ve become soft as a nation and every country in this world knows that we will only go so far to protect our interests. After that point, America and Americans don’t matter anymore, what matters is how other countries view us. Political Correctness has opened the lid on Pandora’s Box in America and not only has it made us vulnerable as a nation, it has shortened our memory of our dead that were sacrificed in the name of political correctness.

America is at a turning point. We have the ability to move forward as the great nation we’ve always been or to continue to move toward becoming a third-world nation. And in my most humble opinion there are many things we could do to get America back to where she used to be. I won’t go on about most of the reasons, but I will just say, remembering all that have made the ultimate sacrifice is a good start. We normally show our respects on the day that we are honoring, but wouldn’t it be great if each of us woke up every morning and the first thought that entered our minds was “Thank God for all that sacrificed for me and thank you God for letting me born an American in The United States of America”…

"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...

September 6, 2011

Icicles in Summer

With the setting and rising of a single sun, attitudes from Las Vegas to Vicksburg changed literally overnight this past Labor Day weekend. Smiles are starting to form again on the faces on folks from all walks of life across the Southwest, South and Southeast. I’ll make an attempt to not sound sexist in any way, but throngs of women across the nation are in celebration because relief blew in on the breeze this weekend.  The incessant barking of the “dog days of summer” is starting to wane as it comes to an end for the Summer of 2011.

The welcome change for many showed up in a blustery gust as the first hints of fall blew in with 30 – 35 mph winds in tow. I stepped outside and realized immediately something was amiss. I saw the weather reports, but come on, I live in Texas and things don’t always go as planned or forecasted when we’re talking about weather in the Lone Star State. But alas, it didn’t feel like I’d just crawled into the circular hell of my clothes dryer, I didn’t break out into an instant sweat and the heat didn’t stifle my breath as I walked in wonder in the front yard. No, it was actually comfortable and this is coming from a man that has zero qualms about hot, North Texas days.

Men and women seem to have differing views on heat and summer in general. Although the change to the weather this weekend was a welcomed change, those that know me, know that I love me some summer. I can honestly say, it’s a rare instance when I hear a man complaining about how “I wish summer were over and fall would get here”. There a a few, but not many. The ladies, on the other hand, are a different story. I honestly don’t know of one woman that has thinking inline with mine. Not one.

Not a soul on this piece of gravel we call earth can truthfully testify, that I’ve ever said anything remotely related to “Oh man I’ll be glad when it starts getting cooler, I can’t stand this heat”. I do, however, remark from time to time that “It’s a scorcher today”. But that in no way dismisses my love for the heat. Ok, ok, go ahead and tell me I have dain bramage and I won’t deny it. But there is just something about the heat and sweating that is invigorating and renewing to me. I know, I need serious, long-term therapy.

My wife and I are always sneaking back and forth from the hallway engaged all summer long in the old “thermostat skirmish”. She’ll lower it to 69 or 70 and I’ll go behind her a while later and bump it up to 74 or 75. I’m not sure why, but women are just wired differently when it comes to heat/cold and being comfortable. And in this case, my wife and I we are polar opposites in that respect.

She loves to be bundled up to the neck in cover on those long summer nights when it’s still 84 degrees at 2:00 a.m. I, on the other hand don’t mind the house being a tad bit warmer, because the covers are too uncomfortable to be pulled up to my ears when I know we could walk outside at that instant and fry an egg to a delightful “over medium” on the hood of my truck. But as the long, hot, lazy days of summer retreat and make way for shorter, cooler days, I once again begin to think of what lies ahead and what the coming months hold in store for me.

As I spoke of earlier, the heat doesn’t bother me basically, at all. Yes, I get hot and sweaty and my skin turns a medium walnut brown if I stay out too long, but again for me, the heat awakes something inside of me. If I have a headache and an overdose of Ibuprofen or Tylenol doesn’t relieve the pain, ten minutes with my face in 105 flames, takes my headache away. I guess my head forgets the pain and is screaming for me to get back inside to cooler temps. And when outside, the sweat feels like a cleansing of sorts and after a nice, long, cool shower, a feeling of renewal moves over me. Sort of like when a snake sheds its skin. But the colder weather always brings something that I do not look forward to and this is wife’s frigid digits.

It’s not such a big deal during the summer, because the cooler weather in the house that my wife demands doesn’t require her to get closer to a heat source, (me). It’s quite the opposite, actually. But in the winter time, when it’s cold and the wind is blowing and I’m getting ready for bed, dread sets in early as I lay me down to sleep.

For those that know my wife, they know she’s a 5’2”, 106 pound bundle of kinetic energy. She’s goes from sunup to sunset without stopping and sometimes, back to sunup again. Many times I’ve awakened to find her still in the kitchen baking or cooking or at the computer answering emails and I realize she hasn’t been to bed yet. And yet, she never, ever seems tired. There’s just something wrong with that. She’s amazing with kids and has the respect of many for the community service programs she initiates, runs and is proud to give service to. But like me, she’s not perfect and forgive me darlin’, but dang, she got cold hands and feet!

I try to make sure to be the first in bed when the temps dip below say, 40 degrees, because once that level of temperature is here in Texas for the duration of winter, I’m officially cold. My feet are cold, my hands are cold, my nose, ears and elbows are cold. I’m cold until the spring thaw. So I try to get into bed and wrap the covers around me, to get a head start on warming up.

Once I’m in bed for more than two minutes, the heat my body puts out creates a nice little, warm cocoon and I’m very comfortable. And as my wife will tell you, once I’m comfortable, I’m asleep in no time. Well, THAT’S when she decides to get in bed toting those lethal weapons she refers to as fingers and toes. And yes, the first thing she does is scoot right up next to me.

Not only is she a little bundle of energy, she’s also a bundle of humor. Knowing full well the temperature of her fingers resemble that of the dangling stalactites hanging from the eaves of a house right after a freezing winter rain, she carefully, gleefully and oh so strategically places the tips right into the small of my back. The placement ensures that I make a sudden, catapultic launch straight out of the bed and into the wall next to me. If these little events were “accidental”, the pain and discomfort wouldn’t be so bad. But the demonic little giggle coming from the red-eyed face of my beloved tells me that this was planned well in advance. And for the next twenty minutes I have to endure the unending cackles of her, “I’m so sorry” laughter.

Her explanation is that she wants me “to understand how cold she really is”. Ok? I’m not sure why, but that’s her excuse and she’s “sticking to it”. I know it’s cold outside and that’s why I make the attempt to get warm and go to sleep quickly, so I can forget that I’m freezing to death. But right or wrong, happy or sad, cold or hot, she is my sweetie and soon I’m warm once again and somehow I dismiss the trauma I just endured and drift off.

About six months from now, or when the days start warming to the point where I can crawl out of my winter shell, I will be outside non-stop. I do admit there are days that can be too hot to do anything, and most of the Summer of 2011 was just that. It was (still is) a record breaking heat wave and the drought that we’re facing here in this part of Texas goes on with no relief in sight.

For the first time in my life, that I can recall, I can honestly say that I look forward to the fall and winter rains and snows. Now before you think I’ve lost my mind and just retracted everything I just said, let me explain. It’s not for the glory of watching the new fallen snow, or the delight that I might get to miss a work day or two because of bad weather, no, it’s partly because I’m sure there won’t be any precipitation of any noticeable level for the rest of the Texas summer. Oh yeah, on the calendar it might say we’re getting close to “fall” and in Maine, or Washington State or even Southern California, fall may have arrived. But here in Texas, the heat, albeit a lot less than the abnormal levels we’ve experienced this year, go on. So I’m praying for the cold weather to bring the rain and snow to heal this parched land. To turn the brown, flat mess I call a yard, into a lush green landscape once again.

Unfortunately for us here in North Texas, I don’t think the color green will be visible again until the first Robin Redbreast returns once again in the early days of Spring, 2012. And when it does return, I’m praying for it to bring two things... spring rains and the warming rays of summer.

The Impulsive Texan

"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...