Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Who's Perspiring?

Birthday Lunch
Originally uploaded by Darrell
I heard somebody say the other day, "marriage is hard work." I suppose that's true for a lot of people, but I have to say I've never broken a sweat.
My wife might have a different reaction, if plied with truth serum. Maybe she's been breaking rocks for two decades, but you'd never know it.
That is why things have been so easy for me. She has the sweetest disposition of anyone I've ever known. When she gets mad, she kind of turns red but never makes a scene. She has a gentle spirit and a gentle way, an amazing and necessary balance to my mercurial ways.
And here's the thing about her winsome personality: It's real! Some people have good manners and work at being nice and polite. She just is. She's just sincere and sometimes a little naive.
I bring this up now because she just got a new position at work which means significantly more responsibility, with the pressure and stress to go along with it.
She's been too good to be true since the day we met. Now comes the test. I'll let you know if she gets cranky.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

For the Sake of Tradition

Collin Street Bakery
Originally uploaded by Darrell
My wife's late great grandfather ALWAYS had a cake from Collin Street Bakery. I don't know how he did it, but he could make one cake last exactly long enough to get him to the next cake in the perpetual series of mail order baked good.
Our road home from Austin took us right past the actual bakery in Corsicana, so how could we pass it by? We couldn't. Inside the allegedly world-famous place is a drool-inducing array of confections, pralines, muffins, breads, pies, cakes and so on.
I actually wanted to get doughnuts, but they didn't have any! I thought about it and didn't ask anyone about it, instead coming to my own conclusion that a doughnut is technically a FRIED item, so I guess a bakery can get away with not offering them for sale or consumption. A lowly doughnut seems beneath this place, anyway. At least that's what the prices would seem to indicate. I bought a pecan-cinnamon cake. I'm looking forward to discovering for myself whether it's worth getting on the mailing list.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Deep in the Heart of Texas

(Austin, TX) - It's hot in Texas. The temperature topped 100 degrees today, which dampened my enthusiasm for walking around downtown. Plus, I still felt bloated from an evening of overindulgence at a Brazlian steakhouse.
We did what you're supposed to do in Austin, though: took a stroll down 6th Street on a Friday evening and enjoyed some live music. That particular part of Austin seemed to be everything one would expect: live music, a young crowd and a few eccentrics thrown is for spice.
We were given a list of places to see (well, mostly to eat), so we took the advice of many and had lunch at Stubb's Barbecue, a downtown landmark near the University of Texas.
A brief stop here at the computer as we visit relatives will be followed by Arena Football, of course. Why else whould I travel on a summer weekend? If my team wins, we're division champions and earn a home playoff game. Where I will be next weekend will be determined by a group of large, sweaty young men in helmets and pads. I'm rooting for them to win.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hang in There, Football's Almost Here

Les Miles
AP Photo by Rob Carr
During my many travels around the workplace, I will run across Known Sports Fans. My standard greeting is, 'Hang in there. Football's coming." LSU coach Les Miles may not have a quarterback this year, but expectations remain high. The Tigers are, after all, the reigning national champions.
Today, a non-sports fan heard my greeting and asked, "what would you do if there was no football?" I said, 'I suppose we would talk about the symphony."
He asked, "What if there was no symphony?"
I said, "I suppose I would get a stick and a ring from the outside of a whiskey barrel and roll it down a dirt road while running alongside it barefoot."
What's the point? He said "See, you CAN find something to do without football."
I said, "Yes, but there IS football, and that's what's important in reality."
I'm avoiding that guy from now on.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Birthday weekend

Birthday lunch
Originally uploaded by Darrell
My man-child met me at the door Friday night and said "Happy Birthday." He decided to go reasonable with the facial hair, losing the Uncle Sam look in favor of a close-cropped presentation. I can live with it. Now, if we can get him into something besides a Led Zeppelin tee and jeans, we've made substantive progress. I said, "Before I die, I will see you in a polo shirt and khakis." It probably will be a long time before I die (at least we hope so).
The kids split up birthday festivities. The Daughter was the driver one evening because I wanted to go to a wine-tasting dinner. We tasted plenty of Pino, but I have buyer's remorse.
On the actual day, the man-child and his girlfriend joined the rest of the family for lunch. Then, I celebrated the Big Day by hopping onto a charter bus for a four-hour trip to an Arena Football game. Our team scored 80 points and won and my wife was with me.
The people on the bus gave me a birthday cake, so I would say we celebrated in style.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Confusion About the Jews

Father Phil
Originally uploaded by Darrell
I continue to be amazed at the stories I'm hearing about Bible Belt myopia with respect to our Jewish friends, so I will pass along my own. A middle-aged woman I know was labeling this photo. She gave it the caption "Rabbi Kawaler."
I said, "That's not the Rabbi, that's Father Phil." She argued with me!
I said, "First of all, I know both Father Phil and Rabbi Kawaler and I can assure you that this is Father Phil. I was an altar boy for him when I was in grade school. I have been to hundreds of masses celebrated by him. I have had lunch with him. I know Father Phil."
She said, "Well, I'm going to have to check."
Now this person was just being obtuse, right?
I said, "Hey if you don't believe me, all you have to do is look at the crucifix on the altar and see the elements of the eucharist on the side table, then you would know it's not the Rabbi."
Silence. Confusion. Blank Stare. She didn't know what a rabbi was!
I get flabbergasted just thinking about it again.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Eating

I like it when I look into the sink and see peels, stems and ends of fresh vegetables. It feels like I accomplished something and did so in a healthful way.

Originally uploaded by Darrell

Let's see....tomatoes, bell peppers, onion skins, lime rinds, and mango peels. What could it be? Pico de gallo!
I love to eat in the summer. A fresh, ripe tomato is a simple joy for me. When I can use it as a base for almost any dish, I'm ready to chow down.
The tomatoes are rolling in now, which means my family can start rolling its eyes at my annual fresh salsa glee. You can almost guarantee in a couple of weeks, I will say something like, "This is so good I wish I could swim in it!"
My next goal, which I've been attempting to reach for three summers, is to make a decent batch of gazpacho. I just haven't figured it out yet. That's okay, it's a good excuse to go eat at Jacqueline's Cafe.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Grace of Tolerance

Jewish symbols
Originally uploaded by Darrell
There was a discussion today about the nature of grace. It's a broad concept, grace. By its very definition, it's not earned but simply bestowed. The topic turned to being an evangelist or a Christian disciple. One person in the group shared that he occasionally feels uncomfortable at work because he is a devout Christian but his company was founded by people of the Jewish faith.
I offered that as a Christian knowingly accepting a position in a company founded and operated by non-Christians, the onus is upon him to show respect for their beliefs. He can evangelize by his actions instead of his words, and there's grace in that.
To his credit he accepted that, well, with grace!
In small work groups where the boundaries are clearly defined, it seems alright to speak openly about your faith. It seems that a free exchange of ideas over lunch or coffee might be productive. Trouble starts when we presume to impose our beliefs on others while being closed-minded to their points of view.
My wife and I work in an organization with almost 6000 employees. Almost every religion or belief system imaginable is represented somewhere among our co-workers. As Christians, we must gracefully acknowledge that we simply don't understand the way some our co-workers think. We must also realize that they don't get us, either.
My buddy with the Jewish bosses made a reference to "The Jewish church", which tells me everything I need to know about how much he's doesn't know about them.
Grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ. Oh, and to everybody else, too.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Return From Exile

Three Amigos
Originally uploaded by Darrell
For many years, the dog on the left was a part of our daily lives. As you likely can infer from the photo, she was fully assimilated into the family dynamic.
Sadly, a series of canine misdeeds led to her banishment from the family home. Simply put, she was no longer welcome in the neighborhood. Her objectionable behavior overrode her lovable qualities. My affection for her never waned, however. We were able to convince a family member to take over her daily care and feeding while we maintained responsbility for her veterinary care.
We're not sure how old she is, but we have known her for twelve years and that's a long time in dog years. She's geriatirc and the light is fading from her eyes. Her custodian has had a difficult time providing sufficient attention in her declining years, so we have brought her home to live out her last days.
The mischievous energy which led to her exile is gone and she seems scared and needy. It's like the first time I saw her. She had been hit by a car and I rescued her from certain death on the street. The look in her tiny brown eyes that day is seared into my memory. It breaks my heart to see her in decline, but I'm glad she's home. I hope she behaves herself so she can stick around. Maybe she has some quality days left.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Poster Boy for Fireworks Safety

Just like any red-blooded American Southern boy, my son enjoys blowing things up on Independence Day. The need to waste money on explosives is an irresistible force, I suppose. He has a job and he's technically an adult now, so there's nothing I can really do to stop him. His mother and I are reduced to parenting by cliche, reminding him to be careful out there and not do anything stupid.
Imagine my joy when I ran across a photo of him on the internet which clearly depicted him holding a Roman candle while it spewed its fiery colors. YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THAT! Hey, when I was a kid, we shot bottle rockets at one another, so I don't have much to say....except that we lit them and stepped away. The other side saw them coming and STEPPED AWAY.
He came home from the party and laughingly told us that he had explained to the people there that "If my Dad were here, he would (insert colorful word for bilogicial funtion) in his pants. Having seen this photo, I cannot disagree.
My only weapon is ridicule, so here you go:

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Happy Reunion

Going Away Party for Jerry
Originally uploaded by Darrell
A long time ago, I really don't remember when, my heart hurt when we said good-bye to my friend Jerry, who was leaving to seek fortune and happiness in The Big City. He's one of my favorite people for a variety of reasons, among them his immense talent.
This weekend, he came home for a visit and we were thrilled to spend time with him. As with any comfortable friendship, the time and distance seemed to evaporate when we got back together.
It pleases me to report that he found happiness and apparently his fortune too. He has moved from Houston to Seattle, both big cities to be sure. Since he is half a continent away, it remains difficult to see him often. When we do, it's always a treat.
He and his wife are both big-time "voice talent." It's a virtual certainty that you have heard at least one of them on a TV or radio many times. They enjoy a certain media ubiquity. In fact, my wife has started making fun of me for saying, "Oh, there's Jerry" when his voice booms through a nearby speaker quite at random. So, while I miss his company, I still get frequent visits from him even if he doesn't know it.
And look, no comments about how much we've aged. I said it was a long time ago.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Humor Behind the Hair

Is that Bill Murray?
Originally uploaded by chrisrebouche
I've spent so much time dwelling on my son's hair, I fear I've neglected to mention many of his positive qualities. For one, he's got a flair for observational humor. I was poking around some of his photos from his trip to the Bonnaroo music festival and saw this random image of a pensive partygoer. He doesn't know this guy, but he nailed him with a caption: "There's a storm a-brewin'...I feel it in my belly!"
My own belly got a laugh out of it, and that counts for something.

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Adventures at the Super Center

Target parking lot
Originally uploaded by Darrell
We are smiling not necessarily because we are happy, but because we are relieved. We filled a shopping cart at Target and rolled up to the check out stand. The items were totaled up and bagged. Then, we realized that neither of us had our wallet. No money, no card, no ID, no groceries. I'm glad we didn't get pulled over by a policeman. That's been happening a lot lately.
I left my wife behind to baby-sit our unpurchased supplies while I scrambled for a way to pay. That's when something remarkable happened. I called looking for reinforcements. Completely by coincidence, both offspring were within a mile of us. In fact, our son was in the same shopping center. We had no idea. Happily, I was able to wrangle a debit card quickly so we could rustle up the grub.
Who needs a wallet when you have kids with cars and jobs?

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Unusual Independence Day

Jeremey camp concert
Originally uploaded by Darrell
While most of America was watching fireworks on the 4th of July, I found myself at a Christian rock concert. Jeremy Camp, who apparently is well respected in Christian music circles, performed locally. I had free tickets and my daughter seemed excited about seeing him, so off we went. The crowd was moved by his music. That was easy to discern. I didn't know any of his songs, but his melodies were pleasant, his band was tight and his message was wholesome.
I made it home in time to see a nice fireworks show offered by the country club a couple of streets away, so the experience was kind of complete.
Earlier in the day, we had what I called an unintentional party. We cooked some hot dogs and French fries at noontime. The kids, the girlfriend and the mother-in-law all joined us around the table for a nice holiday lunch. No way it would have gone that well if we had planned it. Sometimes, when you lower expectations and go with the flow, good things happen.
On top of that, my son got a haircut! My birthday is two weeks from tomorrow. When he asks me what I want, I'll tell him I want hm to shave. We'll see how that goes.
--------------------------------------------------- Left Eye Louie made a return visit just before the concert.
Oh, and...am I wrong, or does Jeremy Camp have kind of a young Hugh Grant vibe going in that second photo?

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