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In Memory of My Dad #10

written by Bob Briggs

I recently motored out to West Texas for the holidays.  I saw a bunch of old friends and made more than a few parties while visiting there on the Golden Spread.

One of the old friends I saw was Dave.  Dave was an old water well man and moon player, par excellence.  The only trouble was that you couldn’t tell which was his vocation and which was his avocation. 

I used to work for the guy, so I had more than a working relationship with the guy when he had a moon hand in front of him.  I think that Coy, a half mad guitar player is finally coming around to my way of thinking, after losing hundreds of dollars over the years to Dave.

When you live in West Texas, you’re a long way from big-city life.  If not in miles, then in a state of mind.  One day during a lull in the moon playing, Dave related this story to me.

It seems that years ago, when dinosaurs still ruled the earth, Dave was a pretty good cowboy.  But that was in the years when Dave was a lot younger.  Before he traded his string of rough stock for the spanner wrench and shop hammer. 

Old habits die hard, so when Dave gets all shined up to go somewhere, be it a country dance or a neighbor’s barbecue, he still dresses western.  Big Hat.  Lace up roper boot (cause they’re easier on the feet.)  Trophy buckle from one of those “punkin rollins”.  Like I say, Dave used to be a pretty classy cowboy.

Dave went to the Veterans Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico last summer to have RK surgery done on his good eye.  Dave only has one eye, so how he was going to get back to Pampa never entered his mind, seeing as how his roommate and best pal Nancy stayed home to work the first shift at Sandy’s Bar.

The first shift runs from around eight in the morning until one or two in the afternoon, due to the influx of shift workers that come in for an early morning beer.   Eight a.m. is early evening for many of the Celanese, Cabot, Ingersol Rand or MapCo workers there in the Panhandle of Texas.  Things tend to get pretty lively in the saloons about noon, especially if some fo the pulling unit hands are off that day and decide to spend the day shooting pool instead of mowing the lawn or some other honey-do chore.

Anyway Dave stayed there at the VA hospital for three days, when for lack of a better word, they unwrapped his eyeball.  Things were still pretty fuzzy from Dave’s side of the eyeball, so they decided that he should stay for the weekend.

Dave had a great-nephew stationed at Ft. Collins, Colorado.  So Dave got the doctor’s permission to fly up and see him that weekend.  “It was one of those little puddle jumpin’ airplanes,” recalled Dave.  So the first stop was in Colorado Springs, where the passengers had a twenty-minute layover.  So Dave got himself a carton of chocolate milk and a six-pack of Fig Newtons for a snack.

Dave then went to sit at a table already occupied by a businessman dressed just like Tom Bosley, reading a Wall Street Journal through a little pair of half glasses perched on the end of this nose.  Dave took little notice of the peculiar look that Tom gave him as he opened the Fig Newtons and scarfed one down.

Tom immediately reached over and got one of the cookies for himself.  Dave didn’t say anything, just thought, “strange custom” and went about eyeballing the fellow travelers as best that he could with the bum eye.

Dave then ate another Fig Newton this time noticing that Tom all but snarled as he quickly put another Fig Newton in his gaping maw.  “Must be some sort of practice that we don’t do down on the plains,” thought Dave eating the third of the Fig Newtons and pushing the remaining one across the table to Tom who was glaring openly at Dave now.  Tom took the third of the Fig Newtons and walked away all the time muttering to himself. 

“Well hell”, thought Dave, “no one in Pampa would think of eating one of your Fig Newtons without asking, and never without saying thanks.” 

Dave shrugged his shoulders and made his way to where they were boarding the plane. 

As he felt in his inner coat pocket for his ticket, Dave found an unopened six-pack of Fig Newtons.

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Out My Window

I’d love to leave you the impression that I live on a sprawling, open, isolated huge amount of land out in the middle of nowhere.  But I’d be lying to you if I left you that impression. I live in a trailer house next to a highway, next to a railroad track. 

Joy.

There are things I love about living here and things I hate. 

 As I look out my window, propped up in my bed with a laptop on my lap, hence the name, I see Freak, Jason’s new horse trying desperately to get his freak on with a mare in the next pasture.  I called my husband earlier to say, “Hey, just so  you know, your next problem is that the mare is in heat”.  But it appears Freak has been cut, according to J-Dub, but they’re still necking across the fence, whinnying ever so lightly, and it’s actually making me a bit sick to my stomach.  I think I’ll go run him off.  It reminds me of the time as a young girl, I went barreling into my teenage brothers place to tell him and his teenage friends they must come quick.  I needed help.  Two dogs were stuck together butt to butt in the alley and wouldn’t come apart.  I can’t remember my brother’s response only the laughter from the friends as I left dejected wondering how in the world I would ever help these dogs unhook themselves from each other so they could get on with life.  I’ve learned a thing or two since then. 

Looking out my window tonight, I see 5 red angus calves in the neighbor’s pasture frolicking.  Their mothers chew their cud, shake their heads, and mutter, “those kids, whatever are we going to do with them?”  They actually run quite fast, especially when you’re on a horse chasing one.  I wouldn’t know, but my husband could tell you.  His tooth is finally tightened back up.  Recently, he chased a calf on horseback, roped him, dismounted his horse with a string doubled over in his mouth, ran to the calf  to tie his legs, only to find one of the strings to have fallen from his mouth.  He stepped on it inadvertently, while the other part remained in his mouth, and nearly ripped his tooth from his head.  It took a couple of weeks of eating gingerly before he could really bite into a steak again.

Looking out my window I see 14 chickens who make the most pleasant sounds in all the world clucking around in the their chicken yard as the sun goes down.  I’m working on a children’s book, The Crazy Chicken Lady.  Yes, it’s a tiny bit autobiographical. 

Then the train whistle blows, partially disturbing my peace, but I’m partially used to it by now. 

Sometimes I ask myself, like tonight for example, did I make the right choice? Leaving a moderately nice town home to move into a trailer house in the country?  We need a new roof, our fence is falling down, and water lines need digging.  The wind constantly blows, the dirt becomes a second skin, and the skunks’ odor burns my nostrils. 

Sometimes as human “beans “we yearn, don’t we.  Aren’t we always working towards something else, wondering what else is there, or is just my age and generation? Or maybe it’s just me.   Tonight I’m home alone, pondering all the world’s problems.  I’m reminded of a Bible verse: 

Phillipians 11-1311 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Isn’t God good?  Have you experienced the goodness of God?  I desperately hope you have.  The  things of this world are so miniscule compared to what we have to experience in the presence of the Living and Holy God. 

I haven’t turned my TV on to see the royal wedding.  I didn’t even know it was taking place until Wednesday when someone told me they were planning on recording it,  and then looked at me as if I live in a hole when I didn’t know of what they spoke.  Well okay, I do live in a hole,  a small one.  But my hole isn’t terrible and I’ve hung pictures finally, so it’s more like a homely hole. A homely hovel.  With a  leaning fence and shingles missing from the roof, and train whistles every half hour.  Oh well, it’s at least a roof over my head.  What else do I need?  

I hope you are happy today, dear friend.  Now I must go pen the chickens.

Until tomorrow,

Angel

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What You Love

 

The sound of heavy bootsteps and the jingle of spurs woke me from dreams filled with high heels and travel plans. 

My husband was up, dressed, and stirring around the house, waiting on the “guys” to get here.  It was time for me to rise anyway. I threw the shoes I was trying on in my dream back into the closet,  pushed the cobwebs from my mind and rubbed the sleep from my eyes.

My husband’s day of  branding cows was soon to begin, and he was waiting on his friends/co-workers/fellow cowhands to arrive with their horses, pick-ups and trailers, so they could put the horses in one trailer, put the cowboys in one truck and head off as the sun was barely kissing the morning sky. 

It wasn’t much longer until the roar of diesel pick-ups and the rattle of trailers stocked with horses begin to break the silence of the morning. 

Cowboys have never had much appeal to me.  I’ve never been a cowboy’s girl.  In high school I always thought they were just a bunch of skinny boys with big belt buckles dressing up everyday.  Now nearly 20 years later, I find myself married to one.  Strange.

The cowboys greet each other, unload horses from trailers, and lead them to  my husband’s trailer to load.  They’ve got 3 different places to work cattle today.  

These are good men.  Actually, the best kind.  A dying breed.  Old-fashioned, hard-working, tough guys.  They love what they do, but it doesn’t always pay enough to do it.  These are men who take vacation days from their “real” jobs with health insurance in order to saddle a horse and swing a rope.  They may even call in sick just to get a workday off.  Sometimes they work the night shift at their other job, take an early morning nap, and then saddle their horse for the day.  They have a passion for this lifestyle.  It’s not about the money, that’s for sure.  

As I sit at the kitchen table, my coffee cup steaming, there’s only one word that describes me.  Proud.  I’m filled with a sense of pride.  Not because I’m doing anything.  Heck, I’m drinking coffee.  But because these fellows work hard, love their work, and do it for practically nothing.   They walk tall, perhaps even strut; dark silhouettes wearing cowboy hats starting their day.  

 I watched out the window until the heat from the house married the cold from the outdoors and steamed up the windows. 

Then I listened to the rattle and rumble of the pick-up  as four cowboys head out to do what they love. 

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still~~Henry David Thoreau
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A Marble Cake

She’s 12 today.

A beautiful joy.  Even with a wad of orange gum in her mouth.

She asked if she could have a marble cake.  Sure, you can.  And then she looked at her grandmother, and in her best 12-year-old, you’ve-got-to-be-kiddin-me, pre-teen, on-the-verge-of-knowing-everything voice, she said “You know that’s a KIND of a cake, not a cake with real marbles.”  She may have even rolled her eyes.  

Oh my.

As if my mother, her grandmother, has managed to live 60 some-odd years and not know what a marble cake is. 

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, Hey teenager! Tired of your parents?  Move out, get a job, and pay your own way while you still know everything.

Last night I baked a birthday cake for my niece.  It was one of those beautiful double layer chocolate cakes.  I wish I had a picture to show you, except it was an awful mess lying out in the pasture where I chunked it.  First of all, when I flipped the cake pans over, half the cake stuck to the bottom of the pan leaving lopsided, gouged out layers.  Not the total end of the world, I thought.  Maybe I could level it out and still make it look nice.  Icing it was another problem as crumbs mingled with icing causing a gloppy mess.  Finally to top it off, I picked up a big bite-size chunk of cake and popped it in my mouth.  It may look bad, but at least it tasted good.  Wrong.  I was talking on the phone when I was mixing the batter and, well, I must’ve been a bit side-tracked and doubled or maybe quadrupled the salt.  Salty cake just ain’t all that tasty, let me tell you.

After rinsing my mouth out under the faucet, I picked up the glass cake  stand by the pedestal, carried it out to the pasture, reached back, and slung the cake off the pedestal as far as I could.  I’m sure a coyote had a nice treat last night.  And probably a belly ache.  Today I imagine he’s suffering from hypertension due to an elevated sodium intake.

My husband, who hangs his Superman cap in the closet each night, cooked ribeye steaks, risotto, asparagus, and spinach strawberry salad for my niece’s birthday dinner tonight.

Oh yeah, and he stayed up until 1:30 IN THE MORNING baking  her a lovely cake.

One that came out of the pans beautifully,

Iced wonderfully, and

Tasted divinely.

The best  marble cake I’ve ever had.

Happy Birthday Ashy!

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Cock-a-doodle-dude?

I don’t watch Dancing With the Stars or Gray’s Anatomy or American Idol.  Instead of sitting in front of the idiot box, I spend my evenings with chickens.  Yes I realize it leaves the question, “who is the real idiot here?”   They’re my form of entertainment.

Covered in feathers, with feet like E.T., and mostly green eyes, they are growing quite rapidly and are now in the stage of developing their combs and wattles. 

All my girls are maturing into fine young hens. 

Here they are preening,

and fluffing themselves.

Of course, Freedom just wants to sit in my lap all the time.

And then there’s this one.

This one is quite suspicious to me.

As you can see, if you look very, very closely, the black Australorps are barely developing their combs and wattles, like this one.

But this one.  See?  See how red and pronounced his, er I mean her, er I mean his, er her, wattle and comb are.

See the suspicious character in the back compared to the lady in the front. 

Do I have a rooster on my hands?

I think my secret desire might come to fruition.

Have I mentioned my secret desire?  My deep, dark desire?

No, you say?  Well perhaps now is the best time to break the news.

I secretly hope I have a rooster.

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In Your Name, we ask these things

This post may not apply to you tonight.  But it’s heavy on my heart.

Tomorrow many children all across my town, and my state, will be taking their state assessments.  And although I don’t have children of my own, I have gobs that have passed through my classroom doors in the past.  I also have one very special student on my mind tonight, my niece Ashy.

Even though it’s “just” a test, for many it causes stress and worry.  The students have been working hard all year preparing and the tests are often long and laborious, taking several hours to complete. 

Ashy and I have been spending the last several days tutoring for the math test. Tomorrow is the big day. I called her a little while back to wish her luck, and to tell her I’ll be praying for her throughout the day tomorrow.

I do believe my anxiety is greater than hers.
I believe in prayer.  I believe it holds great power. Jesus himself intercedes for us to the Father.  I believe in praying scriptures. Jesus himself quoted scripture when tempted by Satan.

I compiled a few scriptures that I will lift up on behalf of my niece tomorrow while she is figuring circumference, finding common denominators, and choosing which expression can be used to solve the problems.  Perhaps it may be helpful for others as well.

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Scriptures for peace: 1 Corinthians 14:33a For God is not the author of confusion but of peace. 

Isaiah 50:7 For the Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded.

Dear Lord, grant her peace of mind.  Clear any confusion she may have during the test.  Make her mind free of hinderances.  Keep her focus where it needs to be and free the room from distractions that may interfere with her thinking.

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For confidence: Romans 8:37 In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Father God, in you, help Ashy to be more than a conqueror.

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For Anxiety:  Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Dear God, take away any anxiety or fear she may have while taking the test.  Lord, give her  peace from You in her heart and her mind.

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For Stamina:  Matthew 11:28  Come to me all those who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 

Dear Lord, when Ashy gets tired, grant her rest and renew her so that she may finish strong. 

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For Success:  Phillipians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 

Dear Jesus, strengthen Ashy.  Grant her success with her tests.  Remind her, Lord,  that she can do all things through You.

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For myself: Matthew 6:34  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. 

Thank you Lord for your word and that You hear us when we pray.

Amen.

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Hoppy Easter!

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Easter

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This is a truly touching story–perfect for Easter–about two brothers who were separated at birth.

It’s the story of one brother’s search for the other.

It’s a story of life and death.

And it has a cruel twist of fate.

Still, it is certain to stir your heart and touch your soul.
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I hope you had a wonderful, blessed Easter.