Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's Official: I'm Old

Empty Feeder
Originally uploaded by Darrell
I told my wife yesterday I may be mere weeks away from wearing high black socks and loafers with plaid shorts. It could happen. The symptoms are there and the signs are strong. You see, I have become fascinated with sitting on my patio and watching my bird feeders.
Impulsively, I bought two feeders and some bird seed. I hung them up in a couple of trees in the back yard. I had no idea how fast the little feathery gluttons would blow through my offering. The feeder pictured here was full less than 24 hours ago. I'm climbing a step ladder every evening to fill it.
While the evening weather is still mild, I find myself sitting under the ceiling fan and for hours just watching whatever flies by: blackbirds, purple martins, cardinals, finches, doves...the occasional crow. It's a jungle out there!
The best part is, the burgeoning bird population keeps our dog endlessly entertained. She stalks them, chases them and never catches them. (After all, they can fly!)
Oh, and I haven't mentioned that I planted tomatoes and bell peppers. If the birds don't eat them, I should have a nice summer of fresh vegetables.
Tomorrow, I'm thinking of driving to work with my left blinker on the whole way.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Jesus and Athena at the Prom

Originally uploaded by flylike_paper
He said he would get a haircut before prom. At this point, what can you do? My son, who has made quite a hobby of the pursuit to be hirsute, escorted his lovely long-time love interest to Senior Prom Saturday night.
I missed it all because I was deep in the Big Toe of Texas watching Arena football in the Rio Grande Valley. By all accounts, they had a decent time. I don't think there was a big throw-down, end of high school kind of party. I do know they stayed out a lot later than usual, but that's okay. Hey, it was prom night.
She looked lovely, a nice counterbalance to his shaggy presentation. At least he rented shiny shoes.
You know what? I don't have anything to say about the haircut, or lack thereof. Looking back at photos of my senior year, if my hair hadn't been so bushy it probably would have been (almost) that long.
I said something to him when he was in eighth grade that he apparently took to heart: "Grow it while you got it, son. If you're like me, it will start falling out soon enough."
Wouldn't you know that's one time he actually listened to me.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Travel Adventures Continue

Fogo de Chão
Originally uploaded by geoff.greene
(McAllen, TX) - It's eighteen hours since I had dinner at Fogo de Chao and I'm still recovering. The place is legendary, but it was my first time. It lived up to its billing. Bascially, it's a carnivore's dream. Waiters bring Medieval quantities of meat to your table until you cause them to stop. They descend upon you in groups, carrying slabs of meat on skewers and slice pieces for you right at your table.
I had Filet Mignon, garlic beef, chicken breast, pork tenderlion, lamb chops, rack of lamb, parmesan encrusted pork and that's just what I can remember.
There's a huge salad bar, too. But, that's not why you go there. My arteries are slamming shut at the moment.
I flew from Houston this morning here to McAllen. This is an easy trip because the hotel I like is across the street from the airport. I actually walked from the terminal and was sitting in the room less than fifteen minutes after I walked off the plane.
I'll call an Arena Football game on the radio tonight. My guys play their fiercest rivals. It will be fun if we win, misery if we lose.
For dinner, I'll be on the lookout for a fiber boost.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Don't Get Out Much

3 different beers
Originally uploaded by aixcracker
Recently I was asked to join a long-established local volunteer organization. I was honored and immediately accepted. I have been to two meetings so far. The people are friendly, smart and successful. By all accounts, I probably shouldn't be in their company. Obviously, someone has been fooled.
One thing has really surprised me. Both meetings have been immediately after traditional work hours. I am stunned, truly, at the percentage of people in the organization who have drinks before the meetings.
I've never been a happy hour guy. I honestly thought the practice of "having drinks" before dinner was dying off with my parents' generation. If this group of people is at all indicative of what's going on out there, I have been thoroughly mistaken.
I'm not sitting in judgment of this at all. It's legal and obviously socially acceptable. It's just not part of my lifestyle. I also didn't see anyone have more than one drink, so I guess everyone was good to drive. Furthermore, I saw several people order a beer or a glass of wine and leave half of it on the table.
So, I came to the conclusion that some people feel there is an expectation that they will drink at these functions. I hope that's not true. If it is, that's something I find troublesome.

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Country Roots Exposed

I went to a family wedding last weekend. It was a lovely affair. Everyone was well-dressed and well behaved. The bride and groom, in their early twenties, are brimming with potential. He is a high school biology teacher. She has just been accepted into medical school. They will have beautiful, intelligent babies.
I have to interject a true story here. I was sitting by an elderly gentleman who seemed to be enjoying the music provided by a string trio. He said, "Whoa. That's the biggest violin I've ever seen." I said, "Um, that's a cello." This is just to give you, blog reader, a frame of reference.
I sat on the groom's side, and I was forced by proximity to think about his (okay, mine too) family. His grandmother (my aunt)was a fiery Cajun lady. My father's sister, one of 14 children, she squeezed a lot out of life. She made me laugh and I loved her.
There were some things about her family I still don't quite understand, though. One of them was a strong tendency to use nicknames for her children and grandchildren. This came roaring back to me when my father looked at my cousin Michael and said to me, "Do you remember Cochise? I said, "Yes, I know Michael," as he laughed uncomfortably. The nickname switch turned on, I began an inventory of the people surrounding me: Hoss, Twin, Boll Weevil, just to name a few. Missing were Coon, Wooster, Kiki and others. You get the idea.
The thing is, I never have addressed these folks by anything other than their names. I think the agricultural nicknames just make me uncomfortable. Maybe I'm really afraid of what they might call me if they think about it too much.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Holy Wars Escalate

The Holy Spirit is moving in me, or something. It's the "Or something" part that really worries me. I've been drawn into great debates recently about faith and the practice of it.
Let's start with one of my newest friends, a member of an evangelical congregation. He recently asked me if I think Catholics are Christians.
He apparently does not. Um, Brother, Catholics are the original Christians. Everything else, including your church, is an offshoot. Remember Jesus established his church using St. Peter as his foundation. The Pope, the leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, is a direct successor to the man Jesus Christ himself put in charge.
You won't hear Catholics asking if evangelicals are Christians. I just don't grasp that way of thinking.

More recently, I received an e-mail responding to a February post about atheists speaking at Centenary College of Louisiana. I believe that a free exchange of ideas is important to strengthen faith. Only by hearing an opposing point of view can one intelligently reject that point of view. I prefer to be taught about religion and spirituality on a higher intellectual plane than your average Bible story offers on a run-of-the-mill Sunday. It's important to have your values reinforced from the pulpit, but one comes to a better understanding through intellectual exploration. A lot of the time, in my opinion, ministers play to emotion and fear.
That has great value. It works. I just think sometimes reason goes out the window.
So, anyway, the e-mail takes me to task, asserting "Very few kids that age know anything about the evidence that supports their faith....almost none of them have read books like...""THE CASE FOR FAITH....OR THE CASE FOR CHRIST...OR EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT...or any number of books written in the last 25 years that dramatically support the evidence of God and for Jesus's divinity....."
which goes back to my orginal premise that the problem is not having an atheist presenter, it's a lack of foundation offered to those "kids" over the last 18-20 years.
The e-mail also asks if Centenary offered programs to balance the atheist presentation. Well, yeah. On-campus religious organizations and activities for students include Icthus (United Methodist Student Movement), Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Roman Catholic mass, Canterbury House (Episcopal Church), Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Soul Interest Bible study. Stepping Stones, a student-led ecumenical praise and worship service is held weekly in Brown Chapel.
For the record, my son will be a freshman at Centenary this fall. I expect the professors to challenge him. I expect the administration to bring a broad range of views to campus. I expect he will leave there a well-rounded, well-educated person. Hopefully, his faith will be reinvigorated not in spite of the fact that other points of view were offered, but because of it.
All the while, my daughter has become active in a non-liturgical, evangelical congregation. I hope after she spends a little more time there, she still believes she comes home to a Christian-based house.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Bird over North Shreveport

Bird over North Shreveport
Originally uploaded by Darrell
"Find the Swamp" continues. Click here to get back to the original post. Several people have identified the location. However, several people talked to me today after The Big Proclamation and asked for hints. Read the comments attached to the orginal post to play along.
While I was there, I saw this bird flying over. It's not a good photo, but I want to know what kind of bird it is. It's big and it looks like an eagle to me.
Any birdbrains out there who can tell me for sure?

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Thus It Is Proclaimed

Earth Day Service
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Whereas the author of this blog is comfortable in front a large group of people and behind a microphone,
Whereas neither the mayor of our city nor his duly authorized representative appeared at the appointed hour to read a proclamation signed and with seal affixed thereto upon said proclamation,
Whereas many bosses. dignitaries, ministers, rabbis and guests were assembled,
Let it be proclaimed that this blog author shall be pressed into duty on approximately 90 seconds' notice to proclaim the day in the name of the absent mayor.

So, there you go. The mayor didn't show up and the boss had me read a proclamation. I didn't mind at all. I don't mind being the center of attention, if even for only a moment.
It wasn't my day to be in the spotlight, but a 60-second opportunity was offered. I hope I didn't embarrass the facility of the mayor.
So let it be written. So let it be done.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

My God, They're Seniors!

Chillin' in denim
Originally uploaded by Sara the senior
This young person, of whom we are very fond, is a senior in high school. She is closely associated with our son, who did not consent to pose for senior portraits.
In three weeks, they will be finished with high school. This boggles my mind.
All those little kids who we met in K-3 will be leaving home in about four months. They'll be back every now and then, probably for stretches that frankly will be too long for comfort.
Really, now. They're 18. They're adults. Men and women, technically.
Our son was sitting around with us last week and said, "Do you realize I will only be living here a couple of more months?" I said, "Yes, and you don't have any survival skills. You can't even cook an egg."
He said, "I have the skills. I know how to do it. I can if I have to. I just choose not to."
This rare moment of candor was actually encouraging. He was honest with himself and us. Maybe he is growing up.
In the meantime, we need to treat a case of acute senioritis and make sure he actually goes to school for the next three weeks. If he has too many unexcused absences, they say they'll flunk him.
Then, he wouldn't move out.
Hey, you kids stay in least for three more weeks.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Swamp in the City

Structure in the Swamp
Originally uploaded by Darrell
This little patch of swamp is in the city limits, believe it or not. A well-traveled highway runs right past it. I've passed by it no less than fifty times in the last year, and I've always wondered about it.
What is that little decaying building? It looks like an outhouse. There's an abundance of wildlife there, too. Birds of all colors and sizes, aquatic life and more than a few reptiles.
Traffic is so fast as it zooms by, I suspect few people take the time to stop and look at everything that's going on. I know I induced a couple of double-takes as I pulled off to the shoulder of the road to squeeze off a few frames.
There's a major body of water just on the other side of a levee which has created this little slice of city swamp, so it's not a surprise that it's full of life. It just seems completely out of place, like a puzzle piece forced into the wrong spot.
I hope people keep zipping by so this little dot of wetlands remains undisturbed. Here are a couple more photos. Turtles in the Swamp
Blackbird in the swamp
You would never know that five feet behind me, cars and 18-wheelers were rumbling by at 50 mph. Maybe that's why nobody else stops. They're not stupid enough to put their lives at risk for a silly picture.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gravy Wars

Legendary Shreveport Times columnist Teddy Allen knows a thing or two about gravy. He has written many a syllable, some of them thrown together essentially as prose, about the virtues of a good gravy. I've known Teddy a long, long time. I have even been honored by the pleasure of eating some of his mother's gravy. It was over rice with pork roast. It was in 1984. It was so good, I still remember it. I thank Teddy and his mother for it. I need more and soon.
Teddy recently wrote a piece about how you can't get good gravy on the streets and followed up on his blog, publishing an e-mail from a reader which read, in part:

I’ve been married for almost 30 years, and my wife has not made gravy in about 29 years and a few days now.

One of our first meals as a married couple included mashed potatoes and gravy.
I made a (first of many) mistake that day. I asked her which dish was the potatoes and which one was the gravy.

You see, I had never seen white gravy. As a youngster we did not get out much, and I had no idea that gravy could be anything but brown.

I’ve often tried to make a good brown gravy, but I can only get the brown part right and not the taste.

This got me thinking about gravy. I wrote to Teddy:

"I am right there, brother. I grew up on two kinds of gravy: natural and brown. I never heard of such a thing as white gravy.
I still kind of don't understand why you would put white gravy on mashed potatoes. Visually, you need the contrast.
White gravy, as far as I'm concerned, should be limited to biscuits. Even then, it's an acquired taste and an inferior product.
And...I still can't produce a decent natural gravy. The best brown gravy mix I've found is Tony Chachere's."

To my delight, he answered simply and eloquently:

"This is so beautiful...." while agreeing that contrast is the key. He pointed out that "people forget that."

He's right, of course, but how can that be? It's the institutionalization of gravy, that's how. Go to your average Dairy Queen and order a steak fingers basket. Your gravy will be white. That's just one painful example.
My own mother, God rest her soul, could cook a piece of meat all day just to get natural gravy out of it. As I recall (It's been a long, long time), the meat either wound up fork tender or leather tough. Either way, I didn't matter, because the gravy was thing thing that mattered the most.
I distinctly remember my father speaking derisively and disgustedly of a supper he had at another home. Everything was good, he said, except the meal was ruined by "sorry thick flour gravy." I had bad gravy just today at a downtown restaurant. It left a bad taste in my mouth in more ways than one.
So, say what you will about "eating healthy." Sometimes, you have to feed your soul as well as your body. For me and for Teddy, gravy gets the job done.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Pope and the Bushes

Maybe I can't set aside politics and religion. Maybe what I saw today was colored by those prysms; but this scene gave me a thrill. The President of the United States walked, with his wife and daughter, to the steps of an Alitalia airliner and greeted The Pope on United States soil. This has never happened before. This was an awesome moment and an historic photo opportunity. One hopes it leads to something profoundly more meaningful. The Holy Father is hoping to mend the hearts of disillusioned American Catholics. I'm one of them. I am among the millions who will be scrutinizing his words and actions while he is here.
Gosh, the President personally greeted the Pope at Andrews Air Force Base. Amazing.
The Little Catholic Boy tucked away in my memories is a little bit breathless.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Comparing Travel Adventures

Darrell on the bus
Originally uploaded by Darrell
I've been keeping up with my friends' travels through various blogs. My old high school pal Elizabeth is on an 18-day tour of Asia and India. My buddy Matthew and his wife are off to Istanbul. The best friend routinely travels to Europe and South America on business. They got nothing on me. I rode a bus to Houston! Oh, and five hours later I jumped right back on the bus and came home. I got to sleep in my own bed and that counts for a lot.
I ate takeout from Fajita Ritas and a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza. Life is good.
Such is the life of a radio play-by-play man in minor pro sports. My Arena Football team won again, on the strength of five turnovers, two of them interception returns for touchdowns.
Meanwhile, my wife was in Austin accomplishing the somber mission of closing down her late father's house there. We actually passed on the road somewhere in East Texas. I was headed south on the bus while she was northbound for home.
Elizabeth and Matthew may have the advantage over me at the moment, but wait until they get back. They will be at home in Georgia and Oregon, respectively and I will laugh at them as I launch my next big travel adventure to McAllen, Texas. Istanbul, Myanmar, who cares? I've got the Rio Grande Valley, baby.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Gee, People are Swell! (Part II)

As we have established, my wife's outer beauty is temporarily impacted by recent facial surgery. There's the swelling and the stitches....way out in front, right there on her nose. This was not cosmetic surgery. There was Something There that had to be removed before it became Something Much Worse.
She has remarkable self confidence. This is illustrated by the fact that, despite her post-operative situation, she determined it was necessary to make a trip to the grocery store. She found what she needed and went to the checkout stand. The clerk dutifully scanned her items, bagged them and accepted payment.
As my wife was turning to leave, the checkout lady took one more look at her and said, "Ma'am, I sure hope you get to feeling better soon."
As a testament to my wife's remarkable good nature, she laughed and said, "Me, too. Thanks."
This is not in the same ballpark as the Great Human Bodypart in the pulmonologist's waiting room. In fact, I'm sure the young grocer girl was expressing compassion. I just wonder what kind of conclusion she had drawn.
Man, I hope things get back to normal around here soon.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Welcome to Louisiana, Coach Johnson

LSU has its new basketball coach, and all early impressions are they got this one right. Trent Johnson comes from Stanford, where as head coach he led his team to three NCAA Tournament appearances and another in the NIT in four years at the helm.
This demonstrates that he can have success in a big-time conference.
Before that, he steadily built a program at Nevada, a member of the same conference as Louisiana Tech. He used a 25-9 season and a 2004 Wolfpack run into the NCAA's Sweet 16 to catapult himself into the PAC-10. He has credentials.
It also helps that he is African-American. This should give him an advantage in Mama's living room that his predecessor John Brady could not enjoy.
I just wonder what led him to Baton Rouge. He was poised to get a big raise at Stanford, but chose to make a move into the Southeastern Conference instead.
Except for a stint as an assistant coach at Rice, Johnson hasn't lived or worked anywhere near the Deep South. As well all know, South Louisiana is its own unique subset of that, to boot. Throw is well-seasoned LSU fans, and I suspect Coach Johnson is in for quite a culture shock.
His transition will be easy if he can redirect the program which made it to the Final Four just three seasons ago. He said there's an excellent chance to turn things around quickly, adding in classic coachspeak "The opportunity to recruit the best student-athletes across the country and have the opportunity to compete for championship year in and year out: that is the goal."
If he achieves it, this will be a landmark hire for LSU. Maybe the basketball program will be fun again.

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The Mighty Red

I know many of you have sat around wondering, "How did the Red River come to be named that? Is it a derivation of The Red Sea? Did Captain Henry Miller Shreve part the water with his staff to break the legendary logjam at the site of what would become Shreveport? Were pursuing Yankee soldiers swallowed up like Egyptians giving chase to fleeing Israelties? Let me put your mind to rest. I saw something I thought was pretty cool. I wish I had my camera, but my cell phone will have to do. Check this out:This is where Cross Bayou flows into the river. There is an amazing demarcation. The dark water is from the bayou. Tthe silty water is the river. The sand dredged from the bottom by the river's Mighty Current gives the water a reddish-brown appearance. Before the completion of the lock & dam system, the color was even deeper. Hence, the simple name: Red River.
I've been hearing about this all my life, but this was the most dramatic illustration of it I've seen. So, I thought I'd share. Now you know.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Gee, People are Swell!

First, the good news. My father got the results of his PET scan. The doctor said it is very unlikely the spot on his lung is cancer. My father had been anxious and depressed and had pretty much given up. He stopped going to his physical therapy, saying his heart just wasn't in it. After absorbing today's news, he said "Well, I guess I better get my ass in gear." Yep. He'd better.
Now, a 30-minute flashback.
We're sitting in the waiting area and he's going nuts thinking he's about to waste away with lung cancer. He recognizes another man in a nearby chair and they begin to compare notes on their ailments. The man, who describes himself to me as an "old friend of your family," asks my father "Are you having lung trouble?" This is a brilliant question, since we're waiting to see a pulmonologist, but I digress.
My father said, "Maybe so." His "old friend" compassionately replies, "That's what you get for smoking all those cigarettes." My father's response was, "Well, I stopped in the 1980's."
At this point, aghast at the conversation and unaware of who this jackass is, I intervened and introduced myself. He said, "Oh, you're Darrell?" You've put on weight." I said, "Well, thank you for saying so, sir. I've put on weight since when?"
At that moment, mercifully, we were called in to talk with the doctor.
It's a good thing our "old friend" wasn't in the waiting room as we were leaving. Otherwise, his ass may have been in gear, too, thanks to me kicking it.
Good night now.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wacky Healthcare Humor

There are many benefits associated with having a significant medical procedure performed at your place of employment. This is particularly true if you are widely liked and respected as is my wife. Most of the people caring for her are colleagues. Knowing all too well that she was enduring a painful process and realizing she was feeling a bit conspicuous, she was offered a treat. The ladies brought her a brownie. Presentation is everything, and this is what she got:Everybody's a comedian, you know that? The best part is, when she got home she ate it!
She is home after the crew removed a 1cm malignant mass from her nose. We had taken a three-day pause to consider radiation therapy, but she was concerned about secondary tumors and other side effects. She is, as I have explained, a "get this behind me" person, so once radiation was ruled out things moved swiftly.
I know, "malignant mass" sounds pretty terrible, but if you're going to have skin cancer, have the kind she had. Basal cell carcinoma probably won't kill you, but it has the potential to make you look different. The doctors are confident, however, that her cosmetic and medical outcomes will be just fine.
She says "it hurts when I move my face." If you think about that, it hurts all the time. You move your face when you smile, frown, sneeze, eat, drink or make any expression. Upon hearing this, one of our TV pals suggested the best therapy would be watching a competing anchorman, because "his newscast is scientifically proven to illicit no emotional response whatsoever." Brutal, but funny. No laughing at a time like this!
I think my wife underanticipated the impact this would have on her. I think she'll bruise. She has a lovely incision closed by big black stitches. Those should be removed next week. Then, it's on the road to recovery.
Now, we are investing in giant vats of Nivea sunscreen, SPF 70. I highly recommend it.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Gosh, I'm Glad They Noticed

I was on the local TV for a long, long time. In 2004 and 2005, I toiled mostly in a management role, but occasionally anchored a newscast. For 25 years before that, I was a sportscaster. I have not anchored a local TV sportscast since September of 2003. Three things have happened in the last couple of weeks that either affirm my impact or illustrate how superfluous I really was.
I have been invited to speak to a local civic group. I wasn't sure what topic they were thinking about, so I asked. The program chairman wants me to talk about basketball, but said I can choose any topic. I have acccepted the engagement, and I'll probably talk about mid-life career change. It can happen. The man who invited me obviously thinks I'm still a full-time sports person. If they want to hear about sports, I guess I can talk about Arena Football.
Twice in the past week, I have run into guys who were once high-profile local athletes. Each greeted me warmly. The first one said, "I still enjoy watching you." The other said, "You don't see me much anymore, but I see you all the time."
Really? Are they stalking me? I appreciate their attempts at being nice. They always have been nice guys. It's nice to know nothing has changed.
Last week at The Church, a lady congratulated me on the hire of a new anchor at the TV station. It was awkward, because for thirty seconds or so I had no idea what she was talking about.
With these strange but true stories in mind, I thought I'd share something I recently ran across, a billboard circa 1987: Two people on this board are still in local TV, at different stations. Another is on the radio every morning. The other is anchoring in another city. The meteorologist, on the far right above the word "watch," was out of television for a couple of years before emerging on the other station.
That photo was made a long time ago. I hope everybody's happy.
We all looked happy, back there in the 80's. I had hair and cheekbones. I wonder where they went.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Adventure in the Yard

lunch time?
Originally uploaded by Darrell
When circumstances cause you to slow down or even sit still for a while, you need not be bored. Just take a look at what's going on around you.
We had quite an exciting Sunday morning here at The House. Two little lizards starting fighting on one of our window screens. This caught the attention of Fat Cat, who certainly can't get enough to eat.
The gladiator geckos did battle long enough for me to grab the camera, make my way outside and start squeezing off photos.
The green guy you see here was the obvious victor. Fortunately for him, there was a window between him and his closely encountered (and hungry) natural predator.
All of this, of course, is bone crushingly boring. But, I thought the photos turned out nicely and I wanted to share.
Lookie here!

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Update on the Things Troubling Me.

I went into full Friday freakout and slammed the brakes on my wife's surgery, which was scheduled for Monday. Late in the day, alarmigly late, I decided we had not explored enough options for treating what ails her. I descended upon some physicians I know for a casual second opinion and the "drive by consult" convinced me we had made hasty decisions.
I called The Wife and told her she needed to talk to some more people before she decides once and for all to subject herself to surgery on her face. Fortunately, the surgeon involved is a terrific guy and a friend of ours and he took this whole thing in stride. He agreed that we should explore all non-surgical options and expressed a willingness to perform the operation later, if we decide once and for all to go through with it.
The Wife is one of those "get this behind me" people, so the newfound uncertainty and the unanticipated waiting are causing her additional stress. Still, she is initiating a new fact-finding process. My hope is that whatever decision is ultimately made, we can be comfortable knowing we made it deliberately.
While all of this was swirling around, I was ducking in and out of the Cancer Center while my father was having a PET scan. The doctors are hoping to have a determination that the spot on his lung is probably NOT cancer, but probably it is.
If the news is negative, then we have to discuss treatment options, something I've been through more than once. I unfortunately have a lot of experience with this, but I have yet to get comfortable with it.
All of this seems to have put my newly-widowed mother-in-law's troubles on the back burner for me. Besides, she's gamely soldiering on. She is enduring a string of unpleasant tasks, like deciding what to do with many of her late husband's belongings and then following through with the plan. The big emotional event will take place next weekend when my wife and her mother go to Austin to close down their house there.
My knuckles are getting white from hanging on, but my grip is still firm.

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The Sweet Taste of Victory

We spent Friday evening at the Lovely Bossier City Facility watching our Arena Football team defeat the team from Corpus Christi, 66-55. Home Team quarterback Gary Cooper accounted for eight touchdowns, six passing and two running.
The defense intercepted three passes. That tells you a little something about the nature of Arena football: Your defense can pick off three passes and still give up 55 points. I guess that's why you need to score 66. You can also read a lot into the fact that Our Guys had a 26 point lead but won by just eleven. It's a kooky game, but it's fun to call on the radio. Off to Houston next week.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

How Not to Win Customers

Originally uploaded by Darrell
We had about 45 early-evening minutes to kill between appointments, so we decided to cruise up the road looking for appetizers and a Diet Coke.
We noticed a "Now Open" sign outside a familiar place with a new name and a brand new look. There was an open parking spot right in front, so we whipped in. What for a long time was Bear's is now Actors Cafe. It is a kind of Sardi's in miniature, I guess. The decor attempts to be reminiscent of Hollywood, and there's a nice mural on one wall featuring famous faces. Photos of not-so-famous other pretty people are framed and line the walls.
We were the first (and only) paying customers there for the half-hour we stayed. The appetizers were fresh and tasty. The service was prompt and friendly. The waitress was pretty. The manager, a man named Caeser, was engaging.
So, I'm inclined to go back soon to give dinner a try. There was one circumstance that left me wondering, though. When we had been there about fifteen minutes, a man walked in. Caeser advised us he was the owner. His name, in a possessive way, is above the name of the establishment (Nightbyrd's Actors Cafe). There he was, the man with his name on the sign, with two middle-aged paying customers sitting in his restaurant.
He never spoke to us. He didn't make eye contact. He didn't ask us how the food was. When we left, we walked within three feet of him and he didn't invite us to come back.
I don't know what to make of that. I guess we don't look like actors.

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I Was Attacked By a Duck

Proud Mother Duck
Originally uploaded by Darrell
This little lady looks happy, doesn't she? Judging from this photo alone, you might think she's offering a feathery warm greeting to her human visitor. I mean, as a duck swims, she's got it going on. She is insulated from natural predators. She has people feeding her all the time. There's plenty of water nearby and lots of brush to nest in.
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Sometimes, though, those words are lies. While she may generally be the very essence of avian contentment, at this moment she is hissing mad!

April Ducklings
Originally uploaded by Darrell
That's because she was going about the business of protecting her 13 children! There they are, huddled innocently against the world. Why, in this photo, do they seem exposed, unprotected?
Because their mother has just flown at me and pecked my hand, that's why.
It wasn't scary, although it was a little startling. I respect her motherly instincts.
We have taken her offspring into protective custody. Think she was mad when I was taking a picture? You should see her now. She's all flappy and quacky and quite upset.
We will feed them and set them free right alongside mom, even though she did peck the hand that feeds her.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

No Wonder I'm Tired all the Time

I have a lot of experience recently giving and receiving alarming news. There are different styles of delivering disappointing information. Some people just lay it out there, “BOOM! Here it is….” When my father-in-law died, I gave people one piece of information at a time. He got sick, he was taken to the hospital, he got progressively worse quickly, and he passed away. I would give people thirty seconds to a minute to get to that place. My mother-in-law just hit ‘em with it, “I’m calling to let you know that Ken has died…” just like that. It takes your breath away.
More recently, I was with another relative who got some unexpected health news. The doctor didn’t lead anybody down any path. He just hit us over the head with the boulder. It went something like this: “Do you smoke?” No. “Did you ever smoke?” Yes. “When did you stop?” 1982. “Well, this CT scan shows a very suspicious spot on your left lung.”
Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeech! Hold, on there. We’re here because of nausea and diarrhea.

All of this is part of the “big pinch” we’ve recently discussed. In the last month, we’ve had an unexpected death, an unexpected nodule on a lung and (Oh, by the way) an immediate family member with a skin cancer diagnosis which will require surgery.

So, let’s see. In the next two weeks, I get to accompany one immediate family member to a PET scan appointment to determine if surgery will be required to remove a suspicious nodule. Three days later, another immediate family member has to have a plastic surgeon carve on her face to remove a malignant lesion. This will require a skin graft. The following weekend, we’re closing up my in-laws house in Texas because the desire or need for it no longer exists.

We’ve made a final college decision for our high school senior, so that’s behind us. Now, we’re paying enrollment fees and housing deposits.

Things are a little stressful.

I talked about all of this (and more, actually) with a buddy at some length. He said I need to stay in “hang on” mode for a while. I just need to hang on until this shit storm passes.

I gotta get a bigger umbrella. Until then, if anything else happens, tell it to me gently.

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