Friday, September 2, 2011

At a Loss

I saw him almost every weekend. The young man usually sat a row or two behind Ed and me at church. He took up offerings almost every week and he took care of the offering envelopes. Sometimes he would read the Scripture reading before the sermon, if it was a short one. When our pastor had to be out of town, and I spoke at church a few weeks ago, he read the Scripture reading. He was single and he was painfully shy and socially awkward. When we talked to him, he would duck his head, briefly maintain eye contact and haltingly answer whatever question we asked. He did not initiate the conversation. Some time ago, he gave me and other members at church notes he had written. I could tell they were supposed to be encouraging, but they didn't make sense. There were words all right, but they weren't poetry or prose. They just didn't make sense. It made me wonder if my friend suffered from some form of autism. Then a couple of weeks ago, he wasn't at church. I didn't notice. Then the next week he wasn't at church, and then I did notice. It wasn't like him to miss church, certainly not two weeks in a row. I asked about him, but no one seemed to know why he wasn't there. Maybe he was visiting his family, but why didn't he let someone know, we questioned. Now we know why. He took his own life. I'm at a loss.

Cowboy Stories

Our farrier Kirk is a big guy, always smiling and always has a story to tell, or two or three. Ed had already gotten the animals up when I got out to the barn. Kirk had one of my quarter horse gelding’s back legs between his knees, clipping away on King’s hoof. I whistled and called out so he would know I was around, and so would King. I didn’t want to startle either. The temperature was in the high 90s. Kirk’s grey shirt with his company name on it was already soaked and sweat was running down his face. He put King’s leg down and after slapping at a couple of horseflies making bloody spots on the horse, continued working on another hoof. “Damn flies,” he said. I’m sure he would have said worse if I hadn’t been there. Kirk has a portable stand that’s magnetic to hold his farrier tools. He wears a well-worn, divided leather apron that covers the lower half of his torso and his legs. When he finished with King, he grabbed Sugar’s lead rope and tied the donkey up to the corral post.
It had been a while since I’d seen Kirk so I asked how he’d been. Been on any trail rides, I asked? Kirk hires out to accompany trail riders to take care of any problems with their horses. That was all Kirk needed. He leaned on the corral gate, and told me he had just returned from a trail ride in Idaho. On the way up, he had a flat on his horse trailer but found a place where they lent him a heavy jack and aired up his spare. “That spare’s still aired up,” he said.
On these trips, at night he stops at rodeo grounds along the way and unloads his appaloosa gelding into one of the pens. After supper, he spreads out his cowboy tarp, sleeping bag inside, near his horse and spends the night. In the morning he finds a café and has his breakfast. “I just love sleepin’ out, looking up at the stars, and then getting up in the morning and having breakfast at some little café. I just love it!” he said again, with a big smile. “Kirk, you’re a cowboy, all right,” I said. Even up in the mountains when the dew is a little icy in the mornings, he said he sleeps “warm as toast” in his bed roll. “That cowboy tarp--best money I ever spent,” he said.
He went on describing the trail ride, and how his old truck probably wouldn’t make another trip like that pulling a load. “I’ve got more than 200,000 miles on it, but I won’t quit driving it. I’ll get me another used truck, but I’ll keep driving this one too.” Finally, after several more stories, I looked at Sugar, who was patiently waiting, and decided I’d better leave or that donkey’s patience might run out. And Kirk still had her sister Missy’s hooves to do. So, soon as I got an opening, we figured out the next appointment, I wished Kirk the best and retreated to my truck, still enjoying, vicariously, Kirk’s cowboy experiences. I love living in Texas!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Some Still Care

My daughter needed clear plastic legal-size envelopes to organize family documents, but she couldn't find the legal size locally. So she decided to check at the Container Store in the Dallas area. If you haven't been to the Container Store, it's an amazing ecperience. I hadn't been so I went with her. Of course that meant I found several items I needed too. It's hard not to in that store. The store is huge and it has more than containers. It has all types of items to organize your home and your life. We checked with a clerk who directed us toward office supplies. But no legal-size plastic envelopes. We went on through the aisles, just looking around when a clerk asked us if we had found what we were looking for. My daughter said no and told her what she wanted. The woman led us to another section of the store and, sure enough, the legal-size envelopes were there. Now, my daughter never meets a stranger so she set about getting acquainted with the helpful clerk. The woman began telling us how wonderful it was to work at the store. She praised the owners and described how good they were to their employees. She said we receive wonderful gifts on all the holidays, including Valentine's Day. The women were surprised by orchids on Mother's Day. She was a part-time employee, but she said she got company benefits as well. I don't know about you, but it's rare, if almost never, that I hear praise from an employee for their employers. This woman said the owner's wife would drop in at the store on occasion and visit with them. She was impressed by their concern for their employees. By this time, wo were we. If you're ever in the Dallas area, you might want to check out the Container Store or maybe there's one near you. I'm ready to support an organization that has a heart and cares about its people.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"You Think It's Hot Here!"

I'm always straining my neck to read church signs as we drive around the country. Some are funny. You know, like, "Don't wait for the hearse to take you to church." Or, "You think it's hot here, the weather in hell never changes." Yes, I laughed too, but cringed as well. Not likely to draw nonbelievers to Christ.
But one I saw lately read: "Seven days without prayer makes one weak." A play on words. I like those. Anyway, it led me here and there and around again with my thoughts. Is it prayer that actually makes you strong? No, I thought, it's Christ's strength. We're always weak, no matter how much we pray. Prayer can go no higher than the ceiling. But he's never weak. He's the source of strength.
Prayer is necessary, however. You remember in the Gospel of Mark when the disciples couldn't cast out the demon from the boy (Mark 9)? Jesus had given them authority over the demons, but this time they failed. When they asked him why, Jesus told them lack of prayer. They must have begun taking this power for granted, thinking they had this power within themselves. After all, they had been exorcising demons. What happened? They hadn't been prayerfully looking to God. That was a big mistake. Jesus is the source of our strength. When we try to go it on our own, we're in trouble. As someone said, "When you try to do it by your natural abilities alone, it's exhausting!" And, sometimes, it's impossible.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Not Just Another Dog

Some would say she's just another dog, but they would be wrong. Of all the dogs I've known, she's the best. When the doorbell rings, the hair rises on her neck and she has a ferocious bark, but she's a pacifist at heart. She's all love, not war.
She's not my dog. She belongs to my son-in-law and daughter. She's a golden Labrador named Lady. After first making her acquaintance I made the mistake of giving her a good all over scratch. That was it for her. I became the person who gives great back scratches. Whenever I come over, she heads for me with that pleading look in her big brown eyes we both know the meaning of. They don't like for her to beg at the table, but once in a while when she's not put outside soon enough, I feel a warm head on my knee under the table and looking up are those same eyes with another look we both know the meaning of.
One day Lady quit playing with her toys. I'm not sure when it was, but one day she didn't run up with a toy for me to try to grab away from her. After that, it seemed all of a sudden she walked slower and needed help getting into the golf cart for a ride. Was Lady getting old so soon? Then she started showing signs of a stroke. She began walking in circles and she forgot how to back up, so she would get stuck in a corner and have to be rescued several times a day. She began to lose weight and her hair started coming out. Last night, I noticed she was dragging a back leg when she got up to be let outside. Today my daughter called to let me know Lady was making her last trip to the vet today.
As much as Lady forgot, one thing she never forgot. Last night before she had to be helped outside and then helped back onto her ottoman, she walked slowly over to me for the last back scratch from her long time designated back scratcher.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

NCIS Addict

I’m an NCIS fan. I love Tony and Ziva and McGee and Abby and Ducky and Palmer, and, yes, even Gibbs. I wouldn’t want to work for Gibbs because I’ve had a boss like him and he made my life miserable, interesting, but miserable. But like these agents, I learned a lot from this boss, and that’s one of the reasons I hung in there. I’m just happy he didn’t see NCIS or we may have been slapped in the back of our heads a few times. The guys for sure.
I’ve tried to analyze why this series is so popular. It has fans from across the generations. I do think it helps the generations to understand each other’s peculiarities better. And maybe appreciate them more as well. Gibbs is the father figure. Tony is big brother and McGee is little brother. Gibbs obviously likes the girls better, treating them like daughters. Of course, there’s the usual fare of sex and violence expected of today’s cop shows, but this one is different. They’re family, and maybe that’s what people desire to see. We look in every week to share in the NCIS family life.
I’m a fan on Facebook as well, so I get previews of coming attractions. That’s how I knew Abby would be a presenter on the Grammys. She looked so cute, and she didn’t have all those tattoos she has on the show. My only concern is that something will happen to one of my favorite characters. It seems the women agents and directors are particularly vulnerable.
Oh, got to watch the clock, today is NCIS marathon day and another episode’s coming on in five minutes.

Typing Blind

I’ve had some minor surgery on my eyes, if anything related to surgery and eyes can be termed minor. This is the third day, and I’m ready for the healing to begin. Enough of ice packs and sleeping in Ed’s recliner at night. There’s no pain, but the gel in my eyes causes them to be blurry, so I can’t read, check my email, watch TV, drive. It’s frustrating. Today my eyes have begun to itch, and I can’t scratch either. My daughters have been hovering over me, concerned that all goes well. It’s not life threatening or sight threatening, but I appreciate their concern anyway.
You may wonder how I’m writing this blog. As long as I have my fingers on the right keys, I can type away without seeing what I’m doing. I have Tina check on me occasionally to see if I’m typing gibberish. I’m sure lessons can be learned from this experience, besides patience, that is, but I don’t know what they are yet. Maybe if I type long enough something will come to me.
There is one thing I need to confess. I’ve had plenty of time to think in the last few days, and I need to get this off my chest. Last year, I fof I dhsry kru,brtomh orkflsddrromy/ orkflsddrromy/myhjomhm, fkfo/ I feel better now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Family Moment

It was Valentine's Day weekend and a daughter and her husband and Ed and I were driving to meet another daughter at Sweetie Pie's rib eye steakhouse in Decatur, Texas. My daughter, nameless at her request, said to her husband: "You mentioned to Mamma (her grandmother) to notice Tina's new haircut. I wonder if she remembered to notice."

"No, I didn't say that," he answered, "you said it."

"No, I didn't say it. You said it."

"No, I didn't say it.

"Well, someone said it," my daughter said.

My husband then said, "I said it."

"You said it?" She queried.

By this time, I was laughing because it was turning into a "Who's on first" moment.

"Well, if we can't decide who said it, I'll say I said it," I said.

Somehow my daughter didn't see the humor, but later when she asked Tina if Mamma had noticed her new haircut, she could hardly tell the story for laughing. All three of us laughed until we cried. Our husbands question our sanity sometimes.

Did Mamma notice? Yes, she did.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Heart Hurts

She's beautiful and talented and articulate, a woman, a politician, a Jew, a Democrat. She was in the crosshairs, a target all right. She's barely alive; six people are dead. I'm angry and I'm disgusted and I'm also saddened and so disappointed with the radical politics in this country. You could see it coming. The hateful radio and TV talk shows, the black humor, the politicians spouting off outright lies to either obtain or maintain their offices. Of course, the political pundits are pointing fingers every way but their way. No, they're not to blame, they say.

Some say this nation needs a soul-searching. Yes, on one hand we call ourselves a Christian nation and on the other, we sling around slanderous remarks about our fellow citizens and laugh about it. Six dead and 14 injured. Why does it take a horrific tragedy to make us think. My heart hurts.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm Trying, Lord!

It's a new year. A time to think about what I want to accomplish this year. Surely I can come up with more than just changing the date of my last year's resolutions from 2010 to 2011. And, I have to ask myself several questions: Why are last year's goals still this year's goals? Did I have too many? Was I unrealistic? Am I setting myself up to fail again this year?

I'm trying to come up with a workable schedule for my 2011 goals, but it seems impossible to fit everything in. I remember thinking longingly about all the extra time I would have to do all I wanted when I retired, but I seem busier than ever. Not to mention the time I need to rest. Can you believe it? Scheduling in time to rest? But that's reality for me now.

First on my priorities, to be what some call "in the Word." Not sure exactly what that means, but I'm reading 1 Peter this morning: "Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed." I'm trying, Lord. I'm trying. Thank the Lord for his grace!