Don’t come to pay me homage
or spill tears upon my stone.
Come now and let me touch you,
Let me know I’m not alone.
I need the sweet assurance
of your warm and gentle smile.
I yearn to hear your laughter,
sit beside me for a while.
When Jesus comes to take me
to my home in heaven’s place,
I’ll go in peace, contented
that I’ve seen your smiling face.
I will not smell the flowers
or hear you sing my praise.
Bring them now to warm my heart
throughout my living days.
Your kindness and compassion,
greater love you can’t endow.
Come share these precious moments
while I live…..come do it now

~Patience Allison Hartbauer

This poem was in a book sitting on my nightstand of the Bed and Breakfast I am staying in while visiting my dad’s grave for memorial day.

It’s a reminder to me to cherish the time we have with loved ones who remain. We may be visiting their graves and cherishing their memories all too soon.

In Memory of my Dad #14

Gremlins sit at my elbow, grinning inanely at me as I try to work. Try to be interesting and hold the reader by the hand, leading him or her through a myriad of words.

Sometimes I think writing a column is the hardest form of work there is. Certainly, it’s harder than laying pipe. It’s harder than working on a drilling rig. It’s even almost as hard as the stoop labor that the nurserymen do.

Believe me I know, having done the aforementioned things to earn my daily bread. Suddenly and without warning these small imps can evolve into full grown demons that make me want to do nothing except stare out the window at the trash bins.

Is that a fly I hear?

It’s early in the year for flies and I spent the whole of one day during the warmest days of late October ridding McClure Avenue of its sole remaining fly.

Yet that is the unmistakable drone of a fly. I try to ignore the droning, but this one has the sound of a Huey gunship. Loud and annoying.

I rise and stalk the fly. As usual it vanishes and cowers in silence. Just as I’m getting my thoughts back in some semblance of order, here comes the droning again. Still loud and annoying, and the gremlins are still lurking, keeping me from my work, so it went this fine, almost spring day in March, 1996.

I figured, what the heck? All God’s creatures need a break from each other “mas o meno”, so I’ll just take a little break from the invisible fly and go to the post office.

I notice two small grayish birds just outside my window, the bigger and more gaudy of the two, I surmise to be the male. The female has a small bit of feathery fluff in her beak. Some sort of soft flooring for the nest they are going to construct. I suppose that is what will happen, because the male of the species has a whole beak full of grass, twigs, and a brightly colored ribbon. I talk to the birds, you know, so I’ll just ask them what type of bird they are on the way to the post office.

The female seems to have the bit of feather stuck in the side of her beak. Hung in her eyeteeth, as it were. All she would have to do is put one of her tiny bird feet on the feather, rear her head back and she would be free of the bit of clinging fluff. The male, impatient to begin construction on the nest mutters under his breath, trying to hurry the female along.

False spring is the sort of weather we have been having. False spring is when it is unseasonably warm and then turns off cold once more. I think I heard that in an old John Wayne movie, The Shootist, or something like that. Do these birds then know something that the weathermen have not hit upon? It looks as if they do, because now they have elected to build their nest in a neighbor’s abandoned boat.

It is getting close to noon now, and the gremlins have field day in my head. I try to think of an idea that will fly (pun intended). I walk around the town trying to come up with an idea. Fathers, sons, mortgages, responsibilities, anything. But now the fly has returned droning louder than ever.

I sneak another quick peek at the birds. The female is taking her own sweet time about selecting a spot in the boat where they will build the nest, while her mate scolds and hops all around. I’m amazed at how the human aspect enters into this little drama, but right now I have trouble of my own and cannot stop to commiserate with the birds.

Besides there is no difference in their predicament. The female still has the bit of feathery fluff hanging from the corner of her beak, while the papa wren still carries the load of grass, twigs, and bright ribbon. The little imps that were once gremlins by now have grown into full-fledged demons, and the day is fading into eternity as I sit here and try to tap something out on the old Smith-Corona.

It has now been about five hours since I first started to observe the male and his ditzy mate with the feather hung in her beak. I see the tail feathers emerge from under the power trim section of the boat, and I’m glad that the male has finally began construction on the nest without his companion who can’t even get rid of a tiny fluff of feather.

But wait, that’s the female emerging from the recesses of the boat, her beak as clean as a whistle.

The male still hops around importantly with, you guessed it, a beak full of grass, twigs, and a bright bit of ribbon.

~Bob Briggs

Summertime and the Living is Easy

School’s out for summer!

Sing it Alice, sing it.

Just in case you’re wondering, that’s not me on the last day of school.  That’s Alice Cooper, but even I admit the resemblance is uncanny.

Today I woke up and literally jumped for joy.  My beloved husband said, “Does this mean you’re going to be in a good mood every day this summer?” 

“Yes, Yes it does.”

(looking towards the heavens)  “Thank you Jesus.”

My moods have been less than good lately.  And summertime is just what the doctor ordered.   I enjoy my job.  I enjoy my students.  I also enjoy my time off. 
Plans for my summer consist of a whole lot of nothing.  My dad used to say in reference to his retired life, “Everyday’s a Saturday.”  Agreed, that is what my summer should be.  I’m not a vacationer.  I don’t care to travel.  I hate to fly, and that big old world out there holds no intrigue for me.  I’m a homebody, happy to sit in the yard and listen to the chickens cluck.  They’re beginning to cluck now.  They no longer peep.  Their sounds are lovely, lovely to my ears.

During Summer two thousand eleven:

I’m going to work on my writing and my figure.
I’m going to start and complete household projects.
I’m going to cook supper at least four times a week.
I’m going to spend time with my niece.
I’m going to buy a pool.
I’m going to pray and draw closer to God.
I’m going to relish each day.

I leave you with a favorite quote of mine. I’ve posted it before but it’s double post worthy.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.” Unknown

Happy summer friends.

Noughts and Crosses

Yesterday I popped off about teaching my chicken to beat me at tic tac toe. Maybe you didn’t pay attention to that comment or maybe you snickered or maybe you thought I was making stuff up.

When J-Dub mentioned playing tic tac toe against a chicken one time at a fair, I figured he was full of bologna.  Which is standard fighting in our household. 

Most of our wedded arguments are dumb factual duels in which he’s claiming truth to something like tic tac toe playing chickens, while I’m shaking my head at him, my mouth pursed in a determined grimace,  my eyebrows creased, until he shouts “GOOGLE IT”!   In which, afterwards, I must feign an apology and proclaim him the know it all of the universe, and then rub his feet.

Tic tac toe playing chickens do exist. Not only do they play tic tac toe, they win. 

Currently, there are chickens playing Noughts and Crosses, as it used to be called,  in casinos across the country. For 25 to 50 cents you can get beat by a chicken and leave with your ego bruised.   These chickens are in a box like contraption, pushing buttons with lights next to them.  Evidently they are trained with positive reinforcement.  Give them a little chicken feed when they push the right button and they’ll play for hours.  And win lots of quarters.

Having a trained chicken intrigues me.  Not to make money of course, just to show off my chicken to friends and family and of course school children. 

 I’m wondering if Freedom has it in her to be an Xs and Os champeen.

What else might she be capable of? 

The options are endless. 

The sky’s the limit.

If only I had an inordinate amount of time. 

And a really smart chicken.


Because I’ve {almost} told you every sordid detail of my life.

 Because I haven’t trained my chicken to beat me in Tic Tac Toe.   Yet.

And because I have no great picture of afterbirth to share, I am relying on for a blogging idea tonight. 

Topic #136  How do you decide who to be friends with?

Friends.  Deep sigh. 

I am an earthling with few friends.  I could count on one hand with 2 fingers removed how many true blue, to the core friends I have. 

I would not say I decide to be friends with people, I would have to say friendship happens.  Almost like love.  You fall into friendship.  Usually because of similar interests and/or endearing qualities. 

It would be easier for me to relate who I decide NOT to be friends with, but I will do my best with the topic at hand. 

I can sum it up with one characteristic.  Well, two.

The characteristics I find most endearing in others are genuineness and authenticity—Know who you are and be that person.  To illustrate, here’s a story called the Yay-Yuck Man by Max Lucado.

Bob loved to make people happy. Bob lived to make people happy. If people weren’t happy, Bob wasn’t happy. So every day Bob set out to make people happy. Not an easy task, for what makes some people happy makes other people angry.

Bob lived in a land where everyone wore coats. The people never removed their coats. Bob never asked “Why?”, he only asked “Which?” – “Which coat should I wear?”

Bob’s mother loved blue. So to please her he wore a blue coat. When she would see him wearing blue she would say, “Yay, Bob! I love it when you wear blue.” So he wore the blue coat all the time. And since he never left his house and since he saw no one but his mother, he was happy, for she was happy and she said “Yay, Bob” over and over.

Bob grew up and got a job. The first day of his first job he got up early and put on his best blue coat and walked down the street. The crowds on the street, however, didn’t like blue. They liked green. Everyone on the street wore green. As he walked past, everyone looked at his blue coat and said, “Yuck!”

Yuck! was a hard word for Bob to hear. He felt guilty that he had caused a “yuck” to come out of a person’s mouth. He loved to hear “yay!” He hated to hear “yuck!”

When the people saw his coat and said “yuck,” Bob dashed into a clothing store and bought a green coat. He put it on over his blue coat and walked back out in the street. “Yay!” the people shouted as he walked past. He felt better because he had made them feel better.

When he arrived at his workplace, he walked into his boss’s office wearing a green coat. “Yuck!” said his boss.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” said Bob, quickly removing the green coat and revealing the blue. “You must be like my mother.”

“Double yuck!” responded the boss. He got up from his chair, walked to the closet, and produced a yellow coat. “We like yellow here,” he instructed.

“Whatever you say, sir,” Bob answered, relived to know he wouldn’t have to hear his boss say “yuck” anymore. He put the yellow coat over the green coat, which was over the blue coat. And so he went to work.

When it was time for him to go home, he replaced the yellow coat with the green and walked through the streets. Just before he got to his house, he put the blue coat over the green and the yellow coats and went inside.

Bob learned that life with three coats was hard. His movements were stiff, and he was always hot. There were also times when the cuff of one coat would peck out and someone would notice, but before the person could say “yuck” Bob would tuck it away.

One day he forgot to change his coat before he went home, and when his mother saw green she turned purple with disgust and started to say, “Yuck.” But before she could, Bob ran and put his hand on her mouth and held the word in while he traded coats and then removed his hand so she said, “Yay!”

It was at this moment that Bob realized he had a special gift. He could change his colors with ease. With a little practice, he was able to shed one coat and replace it with another in a matter of seconds. Even Bob didn’t understand his versatility, but he was pleased with it. For now he could be any color anytime and please every person.

His skill at changing coats quickly elevated him to high positions. Everyone liked him because everyone thought he was just like them. With time he was elected major over the entire city. His acceptance speech was brilliant. Those who loved green thought he was wearing green. Those who loved yellow thought he was wearing yellow, and his mother just knew he was wearing blue. Only he knew that he was constantly changing from one to the other. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, because at the end everyone said, “Yay!”

Bob’s multicolored life continued until one day some yellow-coated people stormed into his office. “We have found a criminal who needs to be executed,” they announced, shoving a man towards Bob’s desk. Bob was shocked at what he saw. The man wasn’t wearing a coat at all, just a T-shirt.

“Leave him with me”, Bob instructed, and the yellow coats left.

“Where is your coat?” asked the mayor.

“I don’t wear one.”

“You don’t have one?”

“I don’t want one”

“You don’t want a coat? But everyone wears a coat. It.. it.. it’s the way things are here.”

“I’m not from here.”

“What coat do they wear where you are from?”

“No coat.”



Bob looked at the man with amazement. “But what if people don’t approve?”

“It’s not their approval I seek.”

Bob had never heard such words. He didn’t know what to say. He’d never met a person without a coat. The man with no coat spoke again.

“I am here to show people they don’t have to please people. I am here to tell the truth.”

If Bob had ever heard of the world truth, he’d long since rejected it. “What is truth?” he asked.

But before the man could answer, people outside the mayor’s office began to scream, “Kill him! Kill him!”

A mob had gathered outside the window. Bob went to it and saw the crowd was wearing green. Putting on his green coat, he said, “There is nothing wrong with this man.”

“Yuck!” they shouted. Bob fell back at the sound. By then the yellow coats were back in his office. Seeing them, Bob changed his colors and pleaded, “The man is innocent.”

“Yuck!” they proclaimed. Bob covered his ears at the word.

He looked at the man and pleaded, “Who are you?”

The man answered simply, “Who are you?”

Bob did not know. But suddenly he wanted to. Just them his mother, who’d heard the crisis, entered the office. Without realizing it, Bob changed to blue. “He is not one of us,” she said.

“But, but,…”

“Kill him!”

A torrent of voices came from all directions. Bob again covered his ears and looked at the man with no coat. The man was silent. Bob was tormented. “I can’t please them and set you free!” he shouted over their screams.

The man with no coat was silent, “I can’t please you and them!”

Still the man was silent. “Speak to me!” Bob demanded. The man with no coat spoke one word. “Choose.” “I can’t!” Bob declared. He threw up his hand and screamed, “Take him, I wash my hand of the choice.”

But even Bob knew in making no choice he had made one. The man was led away, and Bob was left alone. Alone with his coats.

A Gentle Thunder, Max Lucado, 1995,

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” —I didn’t say that, someone else did.

Life is But A Blob of Wetness

It’s calving time again here on the ever so windy plains of Texas.

While the rest of the world is bombarded with severe weather, we remain rainless. And windy. And oh-so-very dirty. Today was field day at my school and when we left there, after battling wind gusts of up to 50 mph,  and no measurable rainfall since last November, we were all simply a walking layer of sunscreen encrusted with dirt.  Seriously, you could have carved your initials in my face. 

Besides all that, it’s calving season here on the ever-so-windy plains of Texas.

My husband spends his days checking heifers.  Now remember my good students, that heifers are very young, first time mothers.  They are the unwed teenagers of the bovine population.  They need to be monitored closely for birthing distress and to ensure they are going to raise their newborn babes and not spend their days drinking ale with their friends and getting new tattoos. 

J-Dub has 20 heifers to watch.  Out of those 20, 12 have calved and the rest are growing closer every day.  So he makes his rounds studying their backsides for floppy and swollen you-know-whats and big, full utters (a.k.a. bags).  But the tell-tale sign that a heifer is about to calve is a raised tail with a crook in it. 

I accompanied him the other day.  The cows who remain pregnant gather around the truck looking for a handout.  The heifers who have calved usually are hidden out with their babies somewhere, or they leave the babies hid out to come get a handout. 

The second cardinal rule of cowboying aside from ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATES is ALWAYS COUNT THE COWS. 

After a quick head count, it was discovered that a heifer was missing. 

 She was quickly found amidst the Skunk Brush, 

with a new, wet baby by her side.

A new, wet baby with a rumbly tummy. 

7 more babies to go.


I love this picture.


It reminds me of the child who denies being in the cookie jar despite the crumbs on his face and the chocolate on his hands.

“Hay?  What hay?  We aren’t eating the forbidden hay.”

  Caught with their ears up. 

And their pants down. 

If only they were wearing them.