Archive for the 'Absolute best of BWH' Category

Prickly things.

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

When driving West on Interstate 20, I noticed that the cotton was low to the ground. So when we arrived, I asked if the there would even be a cotton crop this year. It seems that there will not be.

Because of the long drought, the prickly things on the cotton bole are turned inside. This makes the cotton hard if not impossible to gin.

Nature is full of prickly things. The thorns and thistles are meant to point outward. They protect what is inside. Turning them outside in is never a good thing.

I never understood why mesquites are prickly. But they are. Sort of like some people I know. If you chop through the prickly things, the wood will make good food even better. It shames oak and hickory. No doubt in my mind that mesquite is the perfect cooking fuel.

Prickly pear is named for the fruit it produces. That fruit has quills but it is full of seeds and sweet stuff. I have never been a fan of prickly pear jelly but some folks love it. Again good stuff is often covered in quills.

I have never known what this cactus is called. But it grows fast. And a smart man stays out of it. A man back home had a beautiful daughter. Nobody ever snuck her out of the house. The man was smart. He planted this stuff under every window. He let the prickly things protect what was precious.

This little weed doesn’t get eaten by cattle or deer. It is just too prickly. The pretty flowers don’t have any problem getting company from little winged visitors though.

Would you ever think that a thicket like this would contain anything good? Well, it did. Nestled deep inside of it was something good. As we approached it, we heard them. They bolted around the field quickly until they found a safe distance.

Can you see them? Look a little closer.

That is quite a few pounds of good sausage right there.

Prickly things are meant to protect. When we turn our own prickly things inside, the only thing they do is make us unusable. So next time you’re being mean to yourself, remember which way those which way those prickly things are supposed to point.

Precious Moments

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

The Labor Day weekend gave me enough material for a few posts. But one event from Labor day 2006 in particular will be etched in my mind for some time.

I looked out the window at the weather. It was still dark at 6:30. I heard the raindrops falling. I knew this would make things harder but, some promises should never be broken.

I woke him up. He was so excited that I am surprised he slept. He dressed quickly and we were on our way. I stopped to buy some targets (paper plates) and a little breakfast. He ate his egg and sausage taco real slow. He was nervous.

When we pulled up to the gate, I got out and got soaked. It was coming down pretty hard. We pulled up to the spot and sat until the rain let up to a sprinkle.

He stood proud holding the youth model 20 gauge that my uncle used to teach my cousins.

We made our way to a dry place at the perfect spot. I set up the targets in the branches of a mesquite tree. Then I walked him through one step at a time. I broke it over and loaded it explaining every detail. He stood quiet and anxious all at the same time.

He watched closely as I shouldered up and pulled back the hammer. When I shot, he hollered, “Whoo Hoo! You hit it Dad!” Then I reloaded for him.

He took two plates and put them on the ground to stay a little dryer. Not that it mattered, he was already soaked. He knelt down and shouldered the gun right. He couldn’t get the hammer back and had to do it all again. He breathed one time then took aim. BOOM!

The kick and the noise got to him the way that only happens when a boy misses. When you are a 57 pound boy, that kick and that noise seem huge. He stood up immediately handing me the gun. The rain started to come down again so we went back to the van.

We sat waiting for the rain to let up.

“Dad, we don’t have to go back out.”

“Why? Are you scared?”

He bit his lip and bounced his chin on his chest in a shameful nod.

“Son, that is exactly why we have to go back out. You can’t let fear stop you.”

The rain let up and we went back out. He knelt down again. He had no trouble with the hammer this time. “You’re good son, fire when you’re ready.” He pulled the trigger and the plate flew from the tree. I sounded like he just won the super bowl. In fact, winning the super bowl wouldn’t make me any more proud than this did. He faced down his fear. That merits real pride.

I ran to the target and pulled it out of the gnarly mess. Three holes were right around the edge. The rain was coming down and we knew we had to leave. But that smile of his was all the sunshine I needed that day.

He will undoubtedly show off his bruise to his buddies today.

I have some souvenirs of my own.

Discipline: Ozzie part 3

Sunday, December 11th, 2005

Sometimes you take immediate action. Sometimes you let it roll for a while. I’m talking about discipline. I’m talking about children. Sometimes they need a spanking. Other times they need a hug. Some times they need encouragement. Sometimes they need reproof.

One morning I woke up in the old farm house. It isn’t there anymore. A tornado saw to that. I woke up late then walked up to the television. The line up was familiar to me: reruns of The Jeffersons and Alice. I just laid there on the couch watching junk television. I could here the lawn mower running outside of the window. I was hoping he would hurry up so we could go have some fun.

After the programs were over he came in to find me on his couch and in my underwear. “What is wrong with you boy? It is twelve o’clock and you aint done a thing all day! I’m disappointed in you!” He walked out of the room and left me alone with my laziness. I don’t think I have felt that way since. I know I don’t want to. This was new to me. This was a whole new kind of spanking. He didn’t use a paddle, a belt or an open hand. He used my conscience. I’ve been spanked with many things but my conscience causes the most pain.

When you grow up, you suddenly become thankful for the spankings. If you haven’t, you still need to grow up. The making of ladies and gentlemen from children is a tough business. It is often but not always fun. Children need to be directed. As my Grandfather, Ozzie had the God given duty to direct me. I don’t think he ever took that duty lightly. He was good at it. He seemed to handle this discipline with skill. I am so grateful for this moment. I never want to disappoint him.

The day comes when nobody blows a bugle for you. You have to start on your own. If you don’t, the world will pass you by and you will just miss out.

Time passed. The house was replaced. The boy in jeans was now seventeen years old with stuff in his hair. Snooks, my first cousin 3 times removed, was over. Snooks was a yellow dog democrat and I was far from that. I was spunky. I said, “Sir, I mean no disrespect but you don’t make any sense.” I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. After Snooks left we retired to snap peas. My grandfather told me, “Zeener, I’m proud of you. You were respectful and kept him laughin’ the whole time. “Now that’s the way you do it.” The words all sons and grandsons want to here: I’m proud of you.

From discipline to encouragement, he has the bases covered. Now that’s the way you do it.

The picture at the top is from my favorite artist, Kyle Polzin. It is titled “Granpa’s Gear you can purchase this masterpeice at the Windberg Gallery.

Heirlooms: Ozzie part 2

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

It is strange. The details of life are often profound. Little things that many seldom notice can symbolize so much. My grand father stands here on the beach in San Diego a few weeks before departing for the South Pacific. He is wearing stacy adams shoes and a grey piped Stetson. That same Stetson topped his head for years. It became a symbol of great value to me.

To him a grey piped Stetson was simply a good looking hat. To me that hat symbolizes what is good and right in a man. It means telling the truth. It means treating people right. It means stepping up and doing the right thing even when that is hard to do.

There are so many times that this man stopped me and made me listen. Sometimes we would walk around the farm with cold guns just to make me listen. Sometimes we would drive away together just to make me listen. He has a knack for getting me alone and encouraging me to do the right thing. He has a talent for cutting away the distractions and concentrating on what really matters. He has the ability to remind me that I am accountable to my God and my conscience. He has me all figured out.

I seriously doubt that he even remembers the moments that have made a difference. I doubt he associates golf balls, cane poles and shotgun shells with profound turning points in my life. But I do. These are the symbols of the times when his encouragement helped make me who I am.

Do you treasure your heirlooms? I know I do.

Oh Yes! I’m the Great Pretender. Ozzie part 1

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

This proved to be too much for one post. So I will write a few.

We all have some people we look up to. I wanted to post about the one at the top of my list. You see there are some folks that a man looks up to and there are some folks that go beyond that. This is one man that I try hard to copy. It is wonderful when people recognize the characteristics in you that you strive for. It is good when you seem to be like the people you put on a pedestal. I have been called many things. Some of them good. Some of them bad. I have been called a straight shooter. I have been called colorful. Some of you have even called me “the genuine article.” I must admit that any truth, any color or substance in me comes directly from the man I try to mimic. Even wearing the big white hat comes from him. This man is the genuine article. I am only a pretender.

This is Ozzie, my Grandfather. The baby is my mother. I know to the pride he is feeling here. These pictures mean much more when you have shared the experience. No Jimbo, the ’29 Ford is no longer around. I’m sure he was elated. Having a new baby in the house is a special kind of paradise for man. I’m glad he experienced this before going to the Pacific to fight a war.

Ozzie is a fantastic character. His way with words, his good judgment, his wisdom, and his mettle are exactly what I strive for. Some folks have goals for what they want to achieve. I have goals for who I want to be. My goal is to be like him. If only I could be half of what this man is, then I will be more of man than most.

This is the first of at least three posts on my Grandfather. Each of these will feature specific roles he has played in my life. These posts may or may not be sequential. My cousin (1st once removed) Rich, has posted about him here. We can attest that he has been a fantastic man for both of our generations.

True Friends

Monday, November 7th, 2005

Some people do the most perfect things. One time when my family was in dire straits, I called my friend JD to help me get bread milk and prescriptions. He did. The next day his wife Stacy came by and handed me a grocery store gift card. We were in need so I went to use it and found that it had a $500 balance. I thank God for JD and Stacy all the time.

True friends come to the rescue. They give you what you need when you need it. They buy your groceries when you’re broke. They bail you out of jail (thanks Kevin). They take your keys away. They get where you need to be with their frequent flyer miles (thanks Brad & Alex). They mow your lawn when you can’t (thanks Luciano). They help you pay the child support that you had no idea you owed (thanks Gary). They build you up when you’re down and slap you back into reality when you’re stupid (thanks Wes).

I don’t know about you but I need true friends to come to the rescue.

Sometimes acquaintances turn out to be true friends. Sunday morning this happened. I have been attending Church with Paul and his family for a while. We have never been close. But Sunday morning he scored a big white hat award.

We have decided to take Tiger back to church. The first week went well. This week was another story. He would not be quiet. I’m not talking about a few tics either. He was furious that I wouldn’t let him run wild. This meant serious fit throwing. I was taking him out of the auditorium during these fits. I went to a large hall, called the centrum, across the corridor. His fit could still be heard in worship. He was quite disturbing. I could not move him or leave him unattended. I could not stop the noise.

Just as I am on the brink of frustration, I hear click, click. The centrum doors are closing. What a relief! I look at the last door and Paul is closing it. I tell him thank you and he nods, winks and smiles. He knew just what to do.

Thank you Lord, for true friends. You send them into our lives. They deliver your blessings like prophets of good will. Bless my friends God. They serve you well. Use me to give them what they need. Your humble servant in the big white hat.

Finding a Place

Monday, October 24th, 2005

I frequently use some phrases. Some are more colorful than others. One of the phrases lately comes from a song. The phrase is: my place in this world.

You see having a child with a disability changes your thinking. You understand with certainty that you and this child may not share the same goals. Things parents dream of for their children may not be possible. Sometimes these dreams just aren’t the same and really don’t become the child’s own desires.

Two years ago, some teachers asked me about a short term goal for Tiger. I said that I want to play catch with him. The ugly truth is he wasn’t interested in playing catch.

So now I look at things differently. I try to consider his desires more. What matters to me is helping him find his place in this world. I realize that I don’t control what that place will be. The big challenge is finding the desires of his heart.

If I can only figure out what he truly desires then I can help him achieve his own goals. Thoreau was so right; most men do lead lives of quiet desperation. Those who live deliberately seem to have clearly defined desires. They strive after the longing of their hearts. Those who do not strive for their wants still want. It is all about simplicity.

I want my children to do more than long for their goals. I want them to achieve their goals. This will never happen if I obsess on projecting my own agenda on their lives.

My children are far too independent to be molded. I can’t force them to be what I want them to be. Perhaps I should start leading them instead. Tiger’s autism only accentuates the truth. God makes children. Parents just raise them.

My deepest desire is that all of my children discover what they are chosen to be. They all have a place in this world. Maybe I can help them find their place. Or, maybe they can find it without any help.