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Gobble, Gobble, Wobble

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  Yes, I know the song refers to the Christmas season, but I disagree.  I believe the Thanksgiving season is the most wonderful time.  It is my favorite by far. 

This thanksgiving, 2011, I am blessed beyond my wildest comprehension.  There has been loss.

And there has been gain. 

 

 How much things can change in one year.  
This time last year, I saw my dad alive for the last time.  We sat on the steps of my old house on a beautiful Autumn day as birds honked above overhead.  I mistakenly called them geese.  He was quick to inform me they were sandhill cranes.  He always loved the birds. 

We took a drive around the old Celanese plant  where he spent some time working years ago, and although we didn’t say much of anything, I’m sure he was venturing down his own memory lane, just as I am now.   Days gone by.  Out of reach.

I snapped this last picture of him and my sister lying in the floor, right before we watched Four Christmases together.  He forgot that blue handkerchief when he left.  It’s now washed and folded and put away in a box of things, along with a pair of glasses left forgotten.  He passed away the following February, and I have missed him everyday since. 

But we shall meet again, and there will be rejoicing.

This time next year, we will have a 10 month old little girl crawling around, possibly beginning to pull up, yanking all the popcorn and cranberries strands from the Christmas tree.  She will have brown hair and brown eyes and little dimples on her knees.  We will play peek-a-boo and patty cake, feed her pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream, and smother her in kisses. 

And I’ll be tired, but it will all be worth it.

Things change.  There’s no doubt I’ve changed. 
And thank God for that.

Robert Frost said he could sum life up in three words.  “It goes on.”

And thank God for that too.

I hope you take a moment to be thankful today and everyday.  We are so blessed. 
Praise God.

Cherish Loved Ones.

Be happy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love,
Angel

Posted in Stories by my dad

In memory of My Dad #35

Written November 25, 1993 by my dad Bob Briggs while writing for the Tahlequah Daily Times Journal

It’s almost December and pheasant season is about to open the panhandle of Texas.  Pheasant season only stays open for two weeks there, so you’d better get out and get some while the season is open.

Pheasant are hard to see if you don’t know what you are looking for.  I’ve seen the brightly colored birds disappear in a field of green winter wheat, and not flush until you’ve nearly trampled the beggars.

My old buddies, P.J. and “The Sarge” used to load up in Sarge’s Bronco, with a bottle of “lying Whiskey” and road hunt for these wily birds.

Now I don’t recommend that you road hunt because it’s highly against the law, but when you’re young and living in West Texas, outfoxing the game warden is just a part of the game.

We were crazy about shooting these birds.  One time P.J. had me stop in downtown Waka, Texas, jumped out of the vehicle and killed a rooster pheasant in broad daylight.  Now I’ll admit, Waka isn’t much of a town but it’s big enough to have a local constabulary of some sort that could put a man in the  for some little time.

I tripled on a covey of pheasants once up by the town of Spearman, Texas.  I was hunting alone down in a wet lands draw that had dried up and was overgrown with weeds.  That is sort of like making a hole in one without a witness.  It don’t do any good to tell anyone because they say, “Yeah, right.”

I sure miss those days.  This cold weather snap just makes it worse.  Getting up early in the morning, putting on your hunting coat with the peppery smell of blood on it, the weight of number 7 shot weighing on your shell loops.  If you’re going to be legit that day and hunt on land where you already have permission, your dog seems to sense that he’ll be going with you and he’s excited as any athlete before a game.

I don’t know about P.J. or how the hunting is around Chicago, but I know “The Sarge’ will have somewhere to hunt this year.  I hear the hunting’s pretty good out around Farmington, New Mexico where he’s been said to hang his boonie hat. 

As for me, I’ll just kick back and think about those long ago days when a walk in the field or a slow drive down a section line meant meat in the pot.

Good hunting, fellows.

Posted in Faith

Lessons from Gus

Lonesome Dove is one of my favorite movies.  It’s in my top five for sure, right up there with Gone With the Wind and Pulp Fiction. 

If you’ve never seen Lonesome Dove, rent it sometime—someday when you have about 5 hours to spare.  Augustus McCrae is an endearing character who, in my opinion, makes the movie.  If I’m ever on the Miss America stage and I am asked who I would invite to a dinner party if I could invite anyone (real or fictional, past or present), my answer would be Augustus McCrae.  A matter of fact, I love Augustus so much, if our baby-to-be had been a boy, we were seriously thinking of naming him Gus.  True story.

Augustus McCrae

In Lonesome Dove, Gus is an older man who’s lived his life chasing bandits and killing Indians.  He’s a former Texas Ranger, tougher than most men, but never hasty to use it.  He’s loves women, but only 2 have really ever stolen his heart.  He’s a philosopher, a bit on the lazy side, and a biscuit lover, who doesn’t mind kicking a pig ever now and then.  In short, one of the greatest characters ever. 

In the story, there’s a prostitue name Lorie who wants badly to go to San Franciso to start a new life.  In one scene in particular, the man who’s promised to take her away has run off, and she is crying to Gus about wanting to get to San Franciso. 

He gives her these words of advice:

“Lorie darlin’, life in San Francisco, you see, is still just life. If you want any one thing too badly, it’s likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.”

As many times as I’ve watched this movie, and as many times as I’ve seen this scene where right after saying these words, Gus starts stripping down to his long underwear, I really have never paid much attention to his words.  Until the other day. It was as if I were hearing them for the first time.  I rewound the movie and heard them again, and then rewound it again, just to hear them again.

So often we find ourselves wanting a different life.  Or maybe it’s just me.  But I’ll catch myself at times comparing my life to others, and then getting the case of  the “If only’s”.  If only this.  Or if only that.   Just like Lorie Darlin’ who thinks her life would be the berries if only she could get to San Francisco. 

It’s the whole, “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality isn’t it? 

“The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things….”

In this season of Thanksgiving, many people are posting daily what they are thankful for.  It’s easy at first.  We’re thankful for our faith.  We’re thankful for our family.  We’re thankful for our health.  But what of the little everyday things?

Today my husband made me a latte, like he does every morning.  As close to Starbucks as one can get.  And then he made me breakfast, like he does most mornings when he has time.  Perhaps he’s cooking breakfast because he has to eat too, but he thinks of me  just the same.  Those are the little everyday things that I take forgranted.

Each day, I receive no less than 21 hugs from second graders.  Perhaps they’re hugging me because I grab them and force them to hug me back, but there’s maybe one or two who offer it first.  How many hugs did you get today?  I hope at least one.

I’ve got this little baby wallering around in my belly.  And even though my back is beginning to ache at the end of each day, the little kicks and punches remind of a loving God and promise of hope and a future.  Who knew that a kick and a punch could bring a feeling of alrightness to my world. 

I pray you each have a beautiful holiday season, and may our thankfulness not be for one day when we stuff turkey down our throats, but for each day that we are given. 

May we learn to like the little everyday things, everyday.

 

The Grass is Greener

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

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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!