Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Late Night Criminal Mischeif

My daughter, freshly home following three weeks in the wilderness of western Canada (she calls it a “thin place’ because she says “the barrier between there and Heaven is so thin”), is clearly bored.
To cope with the mundaneness of home, she and a couple of her friends resorted to madcap mischief.

During a late-night trip to a local outlet of a national discount chain, they became fascinated with the photos in the low-cost frames.

Sometime in the dark hours of the morning, they snapped cell phone pictures of the frames, made their way back home, stealthily ascended the stairs and painstakingly replicated several of the photos using themselves as models.

Then, later still but well before sunrise, they boldly returned to the Great Discount Frontier and while no one was watching, placed their own photos on top of some of those in the frames, then placed them right back on the shelf.

As silly 19-year-old high jinks go, this one is pretty innocent (and I have to admit disarmingly hysterical), but I worry that they could get into trouble. I mean, after all, they did plant some pretty substantial evidence against themselves.

In this photo, one of the girls in the original image had some missing teeth, so our pranksters went to the trouble to black out a couple of their own with raisins. Details are very important.

As for the trouble: what is their crime? They didn’t steal anything. They might have impacted the value of a retail item. They could argue that the value actually increased, but that’s a dubious position.

The best part? Later in the day, my daughter got a text message from someone asking if she had modeled for the people who sell the frames. So, nobody at the store had noticed. The photos were still there....and one of her friends saw them!

Even though she and her buddies get the last laugh (at least for now), I think we need to find her something to do, like get a good night’s sleep.

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Speed On The Bayou

My afternoon was spent gliding through a little slice of North Louisiana I had not seen before. While it’s easily accessible, I suspect not many people have had this view of downtown Shreveport.

And when you turn around, this is what you see.

Cross Bayou runs into the Red River, and north of downtown it connects with Twelve Mile Bayou. My buddy Mr. Watercraft recently got two brand new Wave Runners, and he offered me a modern-day excursion into the wetlands.

Having spent an afternoon on these bucolic tributaries, I can see why people who know about this sort of thing say the waterways are woefully underappreciated and shamefully underutilized. What a treasure. We were committed to speed on this trip, which was easy to accomplish because the water in the bayous was like glass. But because we were hurtling along the surface at speeds approaching 60 miles per hour most of the time, photos were not so easy to come by. So, trust me when I say it was like being on a wildlife adventure. We saw herons, egrets, buzzards, turtles, water moccasins, catfish, gar, hawks and even a few cows. Flocks of birds flew along with us. For a moment or two, it seemed like a Spielberg movie. What a treat!

We roared all the way to Caddo Lake near Blanchard, and with the exception of a river cruise that went a few hundred yards into Cross Bayou, we only saw two other boats along the way. Truly, it was a spectacular Sunday afternoon.
We went so far so fast that we almost ran out of gas before we made it back to the boat launch. Fortunately, we were smart enough to pay close attention to our fuel gauges. When we emerged from the bayou into the river, we did take a little jaunt to the north and then turned back home. When we reached the casinos, I knew the adventure was quickly coming to a close.

I’m thrilled to have made the trip. Countless times, I’ve crossed over the bayous on highway overpasses and looked longingly at their tree-lined shores and wondered what it would be like to navigate their lengths. Now that I’ve done it, I can’t wait to do it again. Next time, I’ll go a little slower.

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Saturday, June 04, 2011

Daddy Jumped Out of an Airplane, Too.

For a guy who didn’t have any specific plans for the weekend, my day took an exciting turn.

The children have gone skydiving over the last couple of weekends and people have been hammering me with “When are you going?” There was no answer to that question; but an unanticipated slot opened at Skydive Louisiana, and it was made available to me. I considered it for a couple of minutes, then thought, “Aw, chute! Why not?”

As word of this feat spread, I was called crazy, brave, “a bigger man than me,” that sort of thing; but to be honest, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Once I made the decision to go for it, I had a total sense of peace about it. I mean, I’ve watched my children fall out of the sky and land safely. What did I have to worry about? I think my wife has even grown accustomed to dealing with the stress of watching a loved one plummet to Earth from 10,000 feet.

The plane in which we all have flown is small and thoroughly no-frills. I think at some point I might have compared it to a tin can. The flight, which takes 20-30 minutes, was exceedingly pleasant, though. I enjoyed seeing the north Louisiana countryside from the air and was fascinated with the curves and currents of the Red River. I was also encouraged to see so much progress being made on the northern extension of Interstate 49.

When it came time to actually jump out of the plane, I wasn’t nervous or scared. It was a tandem jump, and I had the same guy strapped to my back that the kids had, so I had gotten to know him a little. He shouted a “ready, set, GO!” and we tumbled from the door, doing a full somersault in the process. It was quite a thrill. I really didn’t have a sense of falling. It felt more like sitting in the bow of a motorboat as it skids across the water full-tilt.

The skydiver taking photos hung in the air right beside us, at one point coming over to me for a high-five.

I remember letting out a “Woo-hoo” or two along with way. Then, my man Bill gave the signal that he was about to pull the cord to open the chute. That went without incident.

I was asked if I had a moment of trepidation right there. No, actually. I was noting the sudden change in rate of descent, as well as the quick shift of our bodies from horizontal to vertical. It must have taken 10-15 seconds before I thought to look over my shoulder at the chute. I did, and all was well.
From that moment on, it was simply a slow float to the ground. It was so peaceful that Bill and I carried on a conversation in normal voice tones as we practiced techniques for steering and landing. The harness that strapped me to him became uncomfortable after a while and solely because of that I was ready to get to the ground. That was the only unpleasant aspect of the whole experience.

My wife dutifully greeted me at the hangar, as she has done with all three of her immediate family members now. She insists she has no intention or desire to join the club.

I’m really glad I did it, and I’m also glad it was spur-of-the-moment. I suspect if I had anticipated it for days or weeks, I might not have had so much peace of mind. And I have to admit in the plane at about 8000 feet, I spent some quality time talking to Jesus.
On the way to the airstrip, I told my wife, "If I slam into the ground, you have my blessing to marry for money next time; but you have to wait an appropriate interval." She asked how long that would be. I said she wouldn't be allowed to become emotionally involved with anyone until after my birthday in 2012. That's seemed reasonable to her. I also said, "If that happens, know my last thought was how much I love you." I didn't go splat, thankfully. So, I have plenty of time to get right with the Lord and stay right with my bride.

Now, my fall from the sky is another great memory. And the photos are pretty cool, too.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

There She Goes Again

She likely wouldn't admit it, but I suspect for the past eight days or so our daughter has been bored. From a parent’s perspective, her brief downtime was good for her. She needed the rest that is associated with being in the family home for a week. We intentionally took a low-key approach to Memorial Day, actually planning absolutely nothing. We knew that soon she would pack her bags, hoist her passport and be off again.
This time, she’s bound for British Columbia with a two-day stop in Seattle.

Let’s recap: When she wrapped up her final exams at TCU, she did not come home. Instead, she joined a large group of Dallas-Ft. Worth friends who went to Frontier Ranch in Colorado to prepare a Young Life camp for the summer. There, they did their fair share of work, but also enjoyed an abundant May snowfall and generally cavorted in the Rocky Mountains.

She came home for one night.

Then, she joined a group of Shreveport-Bossier friends and headed east for a similar work week in Georgia at a camp called Sharp Top. There was no snow, but there were mountains, hiking and general cavorting around waterfalls and other wonders of nature.

On her first day back, she went skydiving.

Then, there was the weeklong sentence of resting. Surely, she enjoyed seeing some of her oldest and closest friends on home turf. They may all be college women now, but there is still common ground to be found in the sleepy hometown. She’s going so far away, about an hour north of Vancouver, that there will be no cell phone service. So, she will be off the grid for the month of June.
Despite absurd springtime heat that approached triple digits, she dressed in flannel for her trip. The friend meeting her in Seattle said when she arrives to expect rain and temperatures in the 50’s. In the mountains of British Columbia, she should expect to experience highs in the 70’s.

She’s on the summer staff of another Young Life camp, this one called Malibu. She has been assigned to the snack shop. Good work if you can get it.
Her grandparents have essentially given up on trying to keep up with her dizzying travel schedule. One of them will call and say, “Where is she now?” Whatever the most accurate answer is usually illicits a chuckle or some exclamation of wonder.
Who knows what’s next? There’s no way to know if she will be happy for a little more down time or if she will be crushed with boredom when she gets back. There’s only one thing of which we can be certain: after spending May and June in the mountains, July on the bayou will be a little sweaty.

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