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Halloween

It’s Halloween night and it’s a first for me.

It’s a first to not be trick or treating with my niece as she obviously has reached the stage where she’s outgrown it.  Or even worse, we’ve made her feel too old to partake in festivities.  I feel a little sad about that.  Do you remember the last time you trick or treated?  How old were you?  I remember being about 10 or 11.  My sister 2 years my senior, who felt too old, dressed me up as a hobo.  A fat, unshaven hobo.   She stuffed throw pillows from the couch in my shirt, mixed coffee grinds up to put on my face for a stubble, and walked the streets with me picking up my pillows and stuffing them back in my shirt all night, probably all the while longing to be dressed up herself.  I remember smelling that coffee  beard for the duration of the trick or treating episode and hating it. 

That was my last time dressing up, until Ashy.

 

We’ve had our fun.

 

Last year we dressed up as an apple and banana.

 

 

Although everyone thought she was a tomato. 

 

We tricked out our trunk and gave candy away at our church’s “Trunk or Treat”. 

And now this year, I find myself home alone, reminiscing yesteryear, wondering where the time has gone, while she is helping at the church’s Fall Festival.  No longer a trick or treater, but a full grown “helper” now.

   It’s also a first for me to not have any Halloween candy in my house.  Not one bite size Snickers bar, not a pixie stick, not even those gross little orange and black taffy candies in the black wrapper.  I live in the country, and I don’t expect the Trick or Treaters to come by ringing my doorbell, even if I had one.

It seems the years I was “having” to do Halloween, I dreaded every second of it:  the costumes, the make-up, the walking the streets, the fighting the traffic, the weather, the sore feet.  But now that it’s slipped me by, I’m feeling a bit melancholy, longing for it.  I’m experiencing those “auntie guilt feelings” of wishing we did more.  Wondering if Ash will look back on her years of Halloween and have fond memories.  Or will she only remember us prodding her to outgrow trick or treating.  For the silly reason of  it being a little kid holiday. Will she wish she’d had a few more years.

And then there’s next year.  This time next October 31st, we will have a 9 month old baby.  Of course, we’ll dress her as a pumpkin, a butterfly, a scarecrow, or something equally adorable and take her around showing her off, letting her have candy in order to rot her 2 little new bottom teeth.

And you can bet I’m going to make sure Ashy gets a costume by golly.  This little baby will be a great excuse for her to get a few more years in.

 

 

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #33—Armadillo

No matter how many times I leave Tahlequah, I’m always ready to return to the old hometown—but first, I had a commitment to some friends in another town to take care of before my departure for home. I had already said goodbye to my two daughters, and after a rousing night in Donny Duree’s bar, I said adios to the Golden Spread and headed southward toward where my friends live.

3:00 a.m. is what the digital read out on the clock beside my bed said in bright bold numbers—the drinkers hour.  Drinkers all over America were coming awake at this hour, staring at the shadows as they prepared to do one more dance with the demons.  I was no different as I went into the bathroom, washed quietly, then went into the kitchen to prepare a huge pot of coffee prior to leaving.

The morning breeze was cool on my face on that morning drive south.  The eastern sky was turning a pale salmon pink, when all the coffee that I’d drank teamed with the beer from the night before and told me it was time to stop and check the atmospheric pressure–I lifted my foot from the accelerator and let the pickup coast to a stop beside a wild plum thicket.

I was standing there admiring the sunrise when an uncommonly amount of noise came invisibly through the shinnery.  Whatever it was I felt vulnerable standing there dressed in nothing but a pair of cutoff wranglers with a twosome of ratty flip-flops on my feet.

Squinting into the semi-darkness and trying to walk backward and keep the loose shower shows on my feet and fumbling with my zipper, I sat right down in a patch of sandburrs.  Sandburrrs are God’s bane to the barefoot traveler.  They pierce the skin so easily and once they’re in the flesh they curl into unforgiving hooks that bring grown men to tears when they’re being removed.

I was glad for the darkness as I removed my shorts and tried to get the miniature hooks from my hands, feet and posterior.  I was working diligently on my hands and feet, when something that resembled a basketball tumbled down the embankment and started making its way toward my pickup.

“Hey Bob, that’s an armadillo.”  I said.  I had seen plenty of the little creatures dead alongside the highways, but in my short lifespan this was my first encounter with a live one.  The creature moved like a live steel helmet snuffling and poking its small nose into every nook and cranny until at the last instant my scent must have wafted gently on the morning breeze and the little armored one veered off and unhurriedly made its way down the bar ditch.

I stopped at a roadside park and hour or so later and who should pull up but a member of the Fish and Wildlife Division.  so I thought why not do a little impromptu research on the little critters. 

I found out that the armadillo was named by the conquistadors as they made their way through Mexico and the Southwestern United States.  But most Texans today simply refer to them as diggers because of their penchant for digging for larvae and grubs.  My Dad used to call ’em ‘borers” and swore that they fed on the newly buried.  I never knew he was talking about armadillos though.  I’m certain that  armadillos looked for grubs or what have you in freshly dug graves, but going down 6 feet and through a couple containers for your dinner seems a little far-fetched and the game ranger assured me that it was.  There goes another old wives tale out the window.

The game ranger, while admitting that he was no expert on the subject of ‘dillas, said that it would be fitting if they did feast on the dead because poor whites cooked the ‘dillas with a mess of greens and cornbread where during the Depression they became known as “Hoover Hogs” or “Texas Turkeys’ and graced many holiday tables.  Even today, some poor blacks still  barbecue the soft meat of the ‘dilla and consider it a delicacy.

Ancient Mayans refused to eat the armadillo because they believed that common vulture did not die but metamorphosed itself into an armadillo.  Smart people, the Mayans.

But the young ranger assured me things were going better for our Cenozoic cousins now.  Texas law protects the hardy reptile from the exploitation of commercial hunters and that means it would be harder to find a lampshade or a purse made from the skin of one of the tiny varmints.  The main concern of the armadillo today is to keep from getting its remains pressed into the asphalt by passing cars as they amble myopically down life’s highways.

It was coming onto noon by now and I just passed the outskirts of Quanah, Texas when I thought that I’d stop for a quick bite to eat.  Quanah is named for the great Comanche war chief Quannah Parker, born of mixed parentage.  Parker, a self-styled hellion, made things tough for the Texas Rangers just before the turn of the century.  His name means “fragrant flower” in Comanche and was said to be the cause of many-a-fight with Quanah’s boyhood pals.  But writing about him would take up a whole column, so we’ll let that slide for now. 

The Dairy Queens and the drive-in parking lots were filled with cars and pickups and the few promising looking steakhouse lots were filled also, so I opted for one of those plastic, laminated looking places called the Brewbaus or Der Schnitzel Palace or something like that.  I knew I was in trouble when the menu read “order by number please”.  I ordered number whazzit and received a grey-colored wiener covered with sauerkraut and a mixture of slurry that was supposed to be German potato salad.  The wiener squeaked like I was chewing on rubberbands and the potato salad had the consistency of and tasted like wallpaper paste.

I sat there chewing this untasteable mess and found myself wishing  I had a hunk of that barbecued Hoover Hog and a good mess of turnip greens.

~ Written by Bob Briggs
1943-2011

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #32–Arm Wrestling

Sports events that take place in bars include wet t-shirt contests, women’s mud wrestling, chug-a-lug contests, belch offs and arm wrestling. What makes them different from normal sports is their spirit of bawdy, drunken democracy. Anyone can join in.

Arm wrestling has long been a favorite way for men to match strength since big muscles came into vogue at the turn of the century, but until fairly recently, it was sheer anarchy with the guys going against each other anytime, hell-bent on destroying each other or at least trying to break an opponent’s arm.  There is no regard for rules, sportsmanship or the other namby-pamby moral implications of the game.

A man can come into a bar, sit and drink like a gentleman, and the minute he starts getting in his cups, here comes the challenge, “Let’s arm wrestle!”

Now there is a higher standard.  The American Arm Wrestling Association sponsors matches in the swankiest casinos in Las Vegas.  They even have a team of chiropractic and medical doctors on hand for injuries.

While not yet as refined as golf, bowling, or even semi-pro tobacco spitting, the arm wrestling association is trying to find some respect.

Like chess, it demands such concentration that it sucks a contestant dry.  Whereas chess players use brains in putting their opponent in check, arm wrestlers must use muscle to achieve their goal of defeating an opponent and in neither sport do brains or muscle alone make the winners.  The winners are the ones who have mastered the psychological edge that it takes to beat their opponents.  Which in arm wrestling is to force the other guy’s arm down on the table before he forces your own arm down.

To gain an edge, arm wrestlers make themselves as repugnant as possible.  They may grow a Fu-Man-Chu mustache or shave their heads or perhaps grow a full beard.  Or they may adopt a fearsome nickname such as the Hulbert Maniac or Bonecrusher.  They might drool, bark or even go so far as to start speaking in tongues as they approach the table where the match occurs. 

Bill “the animal” Brewski is said to drink motor oil straight from the can and eat fistfuls of live cockroaches to gather his superhuman strength.  Most competitors are manual laborers with huge arms, the kind of man who uses Lava and Borax to get their hands clean after work, the kind of man who will order beer by the pitcher when he’s drinking by himself.

But good technique will beat raw strength any time, aside from the psychological games already mentioned.  Good technique means knowing how to curl an opponent’s wrist after “lock up” (the initial coupling of hands with the first thumb knuckle visible).  This way the opponent is not ready for a surprise slam.  One slim kid that I knew from Hobbs, New Mexico used this tactic.  He would stand stock still after lock up, offering only enough resistance to stay motionless, all the while pumping blood into his arm readying himself for the kill while his opponent grunted and strained and generally exhausted himself.

There are two ways to arm wrestle, standing up and sitting down.  AAA rules specify that when standing, a contestant must keep one foot on the floor at all times (the other may be wrapped around a table leg), and it is a foul to use any other part of the body other than the forearm to try to pin an opponent.  During a seated match kicking under the table is forbidden, and you are required to keep one buttock in contact with the seat at all times.  competitions take place in weight categories that range from 0-135 pounds to 242 pounds and over for men, while the women go in the 0-120 and 140 pounds and over. 

Arm wrestlers are looking at the sport being in the International Olympic games soon.

written by Bob Briggs

Posted in Faith

Blessings

I have a hot drink, a quiet house, and a long to-do list, but I’m going to sit a minute and write.  I miss blogging.  If I had my ‘druthers, I’d stay home, write everyday, and make preserves; or some other similar lost art.  It sounds idyllic, but I’m sure it would get old after a while.

J-Dub and Ash have gone on a bike ride to a nearby, near-dried-up lake, and I’m sitting in my comfy chair, in my comfy preggo pajamas, listening to the flock of birds that live outside my window in an evergreen tree causing quite a ruckus. 

Today I feel so blessed.  Most days I feel blessed, but sometimes it is an overwhelming feeling that I simply can’t describe.  I believe it has something to do with Fall.   It’s quickly becoming my favorite time of year.  or it may have something to do with my little baby to be, Emma Kate.  Oh I dreamed of her last night.  It was the most precious thing.  She was about 5 or 6 months old, and had the biggest eyes you have ever seen.  She was eating a strawberry.  It was the first strawberry she’d ever tried.  When she got a taste of it, her big eyes grew even wider.  It was like a taste of heaven in her mouth.  I loved waking up with that sweet image in my mind.   I must plant strawberries this spring! 

For the past two years, I have attempted a pumpkin patch, and have failed both times.  Ash used to have a flower-pot of strawberries and they would produce about 3 a year.  I hope to have better luck with my green thumb.  Emma needs strawberries.

I’ve also been dreaming of my lost loved ones lately.  My dad and my grannie have both been present with me in my dreams.  It’s nice to wake up after being visited by a loved one, passed on. 

But mostly, my blessed feeling has a lot to do with God.  Isn’t he awesome?  He has given me so much, even the things I thought I didn’t need.  He knows our every thought before we think them.  He knows the number of hairs on our head.  He knows us better than we could ever know ourselves, and the most amazing thing is, He loves us still.  His love is bigger and wider and deeper than anything we can fathom. 

I hope you know Him.  Somedays I’m an ungrateful child of the King, and I think I’m too busy to spend much, if any, time with Him.  But He doesn’t hold it against me.  He welcomes me back as a loving Father.   He’s with us all ways.  Even before we ever knew Him, He knew us.  Right now I’m reminded of a scripture, Psalms 139. 

1 You have searched me, LORD,
   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
   you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.

 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.

 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
   How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
   they would outnumber the grains of sand—
   when I awake, I am still with you.

 19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
   Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
   your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
   and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
   I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.

He’s always with us.  Always there.  May you have a blessed day.

Pinned Image

Posted in Uncategorized

J-Dub’s Burfday

Today my sweet husband turns 38 years old.

Remember when you were a little kid and made homemade cards?  I’m still doing that.  Especially after I’ve already gotten home from town and forgotten the dang thing.

He’s not home yet, because he’s still working. 

That’s what he does.

  Works his butt off.  The word lazy is not in his vocabulary.  Unless he’s talking to me.  Nah, I’m only kidding.  He may think it, but he doesn’t say it.  He knows when its best to hold the tongue. 

He has so many wonderful qualities. 

He’s a good drummer.

He’s a great cook.

A patient uncle.

Whose not afraid to get a little dirty.

A handsome devil.

A loving husband.

And my best friend.

Happy birthday, Jason!

Posted in Uncategorized

Decisions, decisions.

Decisions, decisions. 
Thankfully not life or death decisions.  More on the caliber of comfort kind of decisions.  As in “should I do an exercise tape or go to bed and read?”  And along the lines of “I just ate mac and cheese, but I really want some milk toast.” 

Do you know what milk toast is?  Does the very mention of those two words together make you throw up in your mouth?  I was raised on milk toast.   Probably not exactly correct, but the modern day version consists of toasting some bread, buttering it, putting it in a bowl, adding sugar to it, then pouring milk over it.  Hence the name Milk Toast.  So yeah, if you don’t like the idea of soggy bread, it might not appeal to you, but to me, it’s like manna from heaven.

Since the weather here has turned colder and the wind has decided to rear his ugly head once again, my walking regimen has been put on hold.  Now for a little cause and effect.  Because my walking regimen has been put on hold, my belly has increased dramatically in size in the last couple of weeks. 

So instead of eating milk toast, then going to bed and reading, I decided perhaps to blog and bore you with more uninteresting stuff like milk toast recipes. 

I’ve reached the age where my mind still says I can but my body says No Way Jose.  Case in point.

Weekend before last, J-Dub, Ashy, and I took a weekend trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico.  We were hoping to see some beautiful foliage, visit some family, have a nice weekend get-away, and find a house to live in.  Not really on that last part, but my husband is set on moving to Ruidoso.  Or anywhere close to the mountains. 

Ashy and I decided to take a little walk around the neighborhood Saturday morning, so we set out with our tennis shoes, no cell phone, and a camera for a nice little stroll on a walking trail that wound around a fenced off golf course. 

We stayed on course enjoying the weather, watching the crows that were as big as my yard chickens, and simply enjoying one another’s company. 

Before we set out, we were told that the trail was about 3.5 miles long.  Not bad.  We could handle that.  And we did.  We did just fine until our trail ended and we were on a street. We didn’t know whether to turn left, turn right, or cross over.   You might say we’d come to a crossroads.  Literally.   We lost sight of the trail and were forced with a decision, decision. So we decided we’d take a right turn since that was sort of the way we came.   After walking a few several blocks, we still had our eyes on the golf course and knew that we weren’t lost.  But then somehow we ended up behind some buildings that dead ended into the fenced off golf course again. 

All during our walk we read signs posted on the golf course chainlink fence that read:

NO TRESPASSING
VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED

But before you knew it, we found ourselves trespassing across the golf course.  We could see the trail on the other side.  There were runners, walkers, and all we needed to do was get over there to them.  It made sense that the quickest route to the trail we needed to get on, was to cross over the golf course. 

Decisions, decisions.  So we headed out walking across this golf course with elevated heart rates, not from the walk but rather from the thrill of trespassing, and all the while Ashy chanting, please don’t prosecute us, please don’t prosecute us. 

Our destination was in sight.  The trail was right before our eyes.  We had traversed the golf course and made it to the trail.  There was nothing stopping us from stepping onto it except the dadgum chain link fence that surrounded the entire golf course. 

There was no gate nearby. No doorway.  No tunnel.  We’d been walking at least 45 minutes.  My feet hurt.  I was getting warm.  I was thirsty, and I was tired of this adventure.  I turned and looked around the area behind us of which we had travelled.  Our choices were either to turn around and re-trespass over the golf course prolonging my misery or climb the chain link fence. 

Decisions, decisions.

“We’re just going to have to climb this fence.”  I told Ash.  Of course the fear of getting caught was weighing on my mind.  I thought surely no one would really harass a pregnant lady and a 12-year-old, but you never know in this day and age.  We took our chances.

We walked over by a little grove of trees away from the trail, behind some buildings which we later discovered to be the police station, and I stood while Ash positioned her sandaled foot just so-so inside the chain links and climbed up and over the fence.  I have never seen anyone climb a fence so slowly.  I was on high alert, looking around for golf carts and flying golf balls, men with badges, and passersby. 

“Hurry up!”  I snapped at her, hoisting her on the butt.  Then as she slung her leg over, of course her pants got hung on that pointy little part sticking over the top bar of the fence, and I had to wiggle it and yank on it to get her free as she gingerly positioned her feet on the opposite side and climbed herself down, safely on the non-trespassing side.

Now for my turn.  Piece of cake.  I mean how many chain link fences have I climbed  in my life?  At least 300.  Not only have I climbed my own fences,  I’ve watched COPS.  I’ve seen how criminals can get over a fence in a couple of seconds time.  My mind knew I could do this.  All I had to do was put my hands on the top bar of that chain link fence and hoist my six month pregnant self on to the bar, then swing my legs over and climb down.  

Now all I had to do was convince my body.  I hoisted.  I strained.  I grunted.  I jumped.  I stood on my tippy toes.   The fence was wobbly.  My upper body was weak.  After a few attempts, my heart rate was really elevated from the anxiety of getting caught climbing a fence and the exertion it was taking.   I was sweating.  In the mountains.  In October.

Finally, with all the strength I could muster, I hoisted and slung my leg at the same time.  I managed to get on top of the bar and laid there smashing my poor baby girl into my backbone, then flipped my legs over and let myself down.

Panting and red-bellied we limped home.  Well I did anyway.
Thankfully without prosecution.
But more than likely, the whole thing is on someone’s surveillance camera.  I hope they’re getting a kick out of it.

I think I’ll go eat some soggy bread now.

 

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #31

“Not even God can hit a one iron” –Lee Trevino

This is true.  Most golfers don’t even carry one of these bloody things in their bag.  The one iron is a confidence crusher, a fear trip not to be believed, an almost certain guarantee of shame, failure, dumbness and humiliation if you ever have to use one of the things in public view.

All golfers hate and fear the one iron.  It has no angle, no pitch nor any loft.  It is straight up and down like a putter, and the chances of a normal person getting a ball aloft with it are about 1000 to 1.

Few PGA players ever touch the one iron, and most amateurs won’t even have one in their bag, lest the pure ugliness of the iron poison the  beauty of their matched set of $500 clubs.

The one iron is so ugly, they will tell you; so evil and wrong by nature, that it’s mere presence in the bag will cause seven irons to fly off course.  It will make a Ben Crenshaw putt like some school boy whose only existence  is to see how far he can drive the ball.

The one iron is usually the cheapest club in the 50 percent off barrel which sits all alone among the seastraw hats and the Titlest visors.  Charlie Manson once said he’d rather hit a whippy hickory shafted Bobby Jones two iron than the best one iron made (I tell you this to show how diversified golfers are).  Or perhaps they’re just bedrock crazies.  Trevino said, “Not even God can hit a one iron”, which proved to be true in Trevino’s case—but so what?  I can flat out hit a one iron.  I can mortally kill a one iron.  The Ping Eye 2 Berylium one iron is my favorite golf club.

One night at Gene Cryer’s driving range in Pampa, Texas it felt so weird the first time I hefted a Ping one iron.  It felt like an extension of my arms that soft summer evening.  I teed the ball up and lashed it about 240 yards down the middle.

I then placed about five or six more out there where you could cover the whole bunch with a J.C. Penny sheet.  A deathly silence fell on the crowd that summer night at the driving range, as I continued to hit balls out at the 250 marker.

“Hot Damn,” I thought.  “This is it.  This is the club that will put my game on an entirely different plane.  This is wonderful.  The people were frozen and stunned, they made me an object of worship, a real hero of golf.

They were like law students watching closely as my old friend Mike Stone won five DWI cases in a row.  He worked best when he was under a bit of pressure and always in the face of huge odds.  Mike couldn’t hit the one iron, but in the courtroom he could walk with the kings.

Written by Bob Briggs