Ricky Bobby

Ricky Bobby
If you ain't first you're last

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas in these Latitudes

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Saturday 27 December...and we're racing through the last couple days of 2008. This post is particularly for my friends and readers of a more Northern Clime(ie..Scotland, England, Colorado, Carolinas and Virginia) I thought I would give you a glimpse into our deep winter at 26 degrees latitude South. Some of us replace sleet and snow with coconuts and sand. It will be 85 degrees here today. There is a downside to this...I still have to cut the grass every week.

Tilena and I were on the patio having coffee at 8 this morning and yes, we were wearings shorts, t-shirts, and no shoes at all. The birds were crowded around the feeder making a general ruckus. I had to smile to myself as I watched a common scene of nature. Birds (as humans) are generally dignified in appearance and behavior. But introduce them to welfare and watch the brawl begin. My birdfeeder is the mainstage for the WWF of the bird world. We've seen some great smackdowns develop on the ground just under the dispenser. Somehow, those big tropical blackbirds are always the first to discover the freebees. They have a great squabble among themselves until the heavyweights drop by drawn in by all the commotion. The pigeons just come shoving through and push everybody back. The mocking birds and scrub jays dart in and out fearlessly amidst the tumult snatching up seeds in mid air. The whole scene just reeks of Wal-Mart shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving. Pepper and Bowden just delight in bowling up into this free for all and watching feathers fly.

The feathers floating on the breeze in turn reminded me again of the days of the year drifting away. Time is getting away and there's no way to hold it back. I'm learning more and more to relish every moment...to squeeze every drop of joy from every tick of the clock. I've spent so much of my life complaining about Tilena being slow and making us late for everything we go to. It has occurred to me lately though, I'd rather be late with her than be on time without her. As a matter of fact, I'd rather be in jail with her than free with anybody else in the world. The kids will all drift away. Christy is long on her own, Ryan in college and slowly spreading his wings. Nick is a senior and spends more time away than at home. It will soon be down to just me and Tilena. I'm sure she dreads that more than me. She taught me patience among so much else. She just made me a better man. I hope I live long enough to make her effort worth her time, because it took so long for me to learn how to be a husband and father. I don't think I would have put up with me this long. And all the time spent learning the curve glided on past. Learning is the most expensive lesson because it spends time. There are days I want to put my foot out and stop the time from spinning away. It seems like this old ball we're riding on just keeps spinning faster and faster and sometimes I want to get off...you know, just catch my breath and think things through. Maybe cling to some of these moments a bit longer. I dove underneath the tree on Christmas Morning in 1966 and when I looked up I was a grandpa.

How do I ingrain into my kids that they are living away their lives? They expend so much time and energy looking forward to and eagerly running for the future. The song of our lives is playing away and there is no replay button. The artist only gave us so many notes to sing. I've learned not to say "I can't wait until"...to do that is to wish my life away. I do look forward to a lot of things, but the older I get, the more time I spend looking back. At my age, there is really only one more great event to attend, and my Creator alone knows when that will be.

The boys are out doing their own thing today. Ryan is off fishing. He and his friends camped out on the river last night. I guess they will stay again tonight. Nick just headed off to Palm beach with a couple of his friends.....gotta go spend those gift cards. I've been out taking down the Christmas Lights...another sign of the time creeping by. Tilena is cleaning house. I try to stay out of her line of sight. If she sees me, she will give me a chore to do. Looks like I got too much sun this morning too. Thats not too hard for me to do. We're just getting everything in order. We'll be going up to visit Emma Grace in Savannah next week and it's good to come home to an orderly house. Pepper will be going with us, but a baby sitter will be staying here with Bowden.

Well my friends. I pray God has richly blessed you this year and this season. 2009 stands at the door.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Feliz Navidad from South Florida

Monday, December 22, 2008

Almost Here

Tuesday 23 December 2008.....Christmas is almost here. There just seems to be such a rush this week, things have really gotten away from me. Three nights in a row Nick has played in a basketball tournament over in Cape Coral. It's a long way to go and twice as long to get back. Nick don't get to play as much as me or he wishes he could. But at least he gets some play time. I remember going to Christy's basketball games. The only time she got off the bench was for the National Anthem. She was always lonely too...there were only six girls on the team, so it was a long game sitting there by herself. There were some long road trips back then too. I've been traveling so much lately, I'm thinking about taking the night off and just staying at home. Then the "wishes" creep into my mind....

I wish I could still go help my Dad all those time he would call, not because he REALLY needed me, but because it was his way of just getting me to come visit him.

I wish I could still pick up the phone and call my Mama. You know, I picked it up to call her many many times in the months after she had died before I would remember there was no one to call.

I wish I could still look in my mirror and see a smooth face framed by "down the back" platinum hair. I have to look in Tilena's mirror to see it now.

I wish I could still help my Grand Pa weed his garden.

I wish I could still crowd around that ole gas heater with my sisters.

I wish I could go hunting again with Uncle Clyde.

I wish I could still talk to JoJo.

I wish I could see Christy hug her Papa again.

I wish I could still hear little boys footsteps running up and down that ole doublewide.

I already wish I could stand on the Tigers sidelines next to #52 again.

.....on second thought, I think I will go to that game tonight....one day, I'll wish I still could.

Merry Christmas all.

Don and Company.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tis the Season

Thanksgiving has come and gone. The Barrett's came up from Naples and my Uncle Hunter came down from Perry. So good to have Hunter here in particular. He's in his 80's now and I just never know when my last time with him will be my last time with him. He's the only Gutshall left not living in my household. I had some really, really great photos to post here from our gathering of family and friends....but the Tilena Monster struck. Do you know anyone who just HAS to push buttons? Whether on a camera "or on me" no one is more inclined to push buttons than my wife. She picked up the camera last week and just had to find out "what all those little gadgets do". Well she found out and all my photos are gone. Oh well, on to Christmas...I'll take the photos and hide the camera afterward.

Emma Grace enjoyed her 3rd birthday Saturday the 6th of December. I was able to talk with her briefly...no one talks with Gracie any longer than briefly. She has an attention span like Pappy's. Sure hope I get to go visit with her soon. Christy is now at the end of her 7th month of carrying Gracie's brother. Should have that boy by mid February.

We're all decorated and enjoying the season around here. As the boys have aged, it has become a more relaxing time for us. These days it is easier to focus more on the miracle of our Savior's birth and less on packages and gifts. Most every day is like Christmas to me anyway. The more I contemplate my life and circumstances, the more convinced I become that I'm the richest and most blessed man on the face of God's earth.

This season "as most" has me thinking a lot about my own childhood. I've mentioned a couple of my friends here before. Both happen to be lifelong friends. Winter time always brings to mind the many camping trips the three of us shared during Christmas Vacations. Now mind you, North Florida can be a chilly place in late December. I recall once in particular when we all camped up near the bank of Cow Creek. Donnie had fallen asleep early "as was his custom" curled up tightly in his sleeping bag. He "Donnie" had been pushing us all evening to go skinny dipping in the creek. Now I'm no prude mind you, but it's 35 degrees and windy. No way I'ma gonna git myself in that crik water. So anyway, Donnie's asleep and Roy and I slip down the trail about 20 yards where its good and dark. There was no moon out that night and it was black as the inside of a cow. Then we started shouting out loud and screaming at each other. Roy had a tree limb and was smacking the water splashing around just making a general racket. I rolled a large half rotten tree trunk down the bank into the creek and yelled out "how's the water?" Roy yelled back "It's freezing!, come on in". So I threw a limerock in that was about the size of my head. Of course that made quite a splash too. Well, by now, ole Water Head "Donnie" is wide awake and realizes me and Roy are down there swimming without him. We heard him call out to us and we both then ducked in the bushes. Here he comes running down the trail on that cold dark Winter night and he's a tearing clothes off as he runs. Now he wasn't hard to spot cause he's as lilly white as I am. When he pulled off all those clothes he just glowed in the dark. That silly clown sprinted right on by us without a stitch of clothes on yelling his fool head off "wait on me!, wait on me!".. SPLOOOSH! right into the creek he goes....SCREECH, HOWL, AAARRRGH!...then....HELP! HELP! HELP! I'M DYING, I'm FREEZING! HELLLLLLLP! That boy went from glowing white to electric blue in five seconds flat. He was cold as a frogs belly. I think I laughed till I threw up the scrambled eggs we had for supper. That's the night we started calling Donnie "waterhead".

Well, childhood is a special time. I just grin to myself thinking about some of those days...I laugh out loud thinking of Donnie's naked butt tearing down the trail that night. Boy oh boy...those were the days.

Well troops, that's it for today. Call your friends, hug your kids, kiss your spouse. But most important of all. Talk to God. Thank him for the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas.

Don and Company

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks "for" giving Friends

My Mom told me once, "Son, you'll only have three true friends in this life, and one of them is your Mother". Well let me tell you. I was about 15 years old when she told me that and, like all teenagers, I thought my Mother was simply a ridiculous, misinformed, out of touch, old fashioned ninny. I had hundreds of friends. And we were all so much more intelligent than out parents....The river flows, life happens, hours drag and the days fly by. Through the years I've been disappointed many many times by my "friends". I forget sometimes how long its been. This morning I'm feeling all of my 47 years; and my Mother (as always) was right.

Donnie (the third of those true friends) e-mailed me this morning. It just started me thinking about how little I get to see him and Roy (the second of those three friends). Now, before you say anything...I know I know, my wife should be my best friend...I've heard it all before. Here's the thing. That's a whole 'nuther thing. To say Tilena is my friend is like saying a Ferarri is just another car. See Tilena is something no one can ever touch in my heart. She is in me, she is me. We are me. She is an entire category unto herself. So, that put to rest, and let me get back to my thoughts...I look into the mirror nowadays and don't even recognize the face looking back. The face that I expect to see there should have peach fuzz that's never felt a razor, a head full of platinum hair hanging over my shoulders and down my back, and smooth soft creaseless skin unlined by worry. But, instead I get a shock every time I see myself and all the wrinkles, hard grey beard, scars and scalp....lots and lots of scalp. When did this all happen? I still think of myself as a kid....until I try to get out of bed in the morning. Isn't it funny too? I'm getting out of bed these days about the same time I was getting into bed 30 years ago.

Me, Roy and Donnie...the things we've done and seen. But you've heard it all before. Our motto back then was.."what you see here, hear here, say here, and do here, stays here, when you leave here". We began living that long before Las Vegas came up with a similar slogan. So I guess we'll just have to leave that there. The important thing though, is Donnie and Roy's understanding of friendship. See, we all have friends...many, many friends. But what seperates the friends from best friends? Here's my thoughts on that. When you're enjoying the best of times, you'll find your many friends...when you're facing the worst of times, you'll find your best friends. That's where I found Donnie and Roy. I didn't realize it until I was a 30 something grown man...but sooner or later, truth will always prevail. I found my true friends in the midst of one of my darkest times. The fact is, they had been my best friends all along, and I had failed to appreciate it. See, when you're stuck in the bottom of a dark well and finally get smart enough to quit digging, looking up is you're only option. The people still hanging around trying to pull you out become pretty easy to see. Those folks who come to your party, or who hang out with you after work or sometimes even those who come to your wedding...they're not necessarily your friends. Those people are aquaintences. Now when you've made the greatest mistake of your life. When you've embarrassed yourself and your family. When most folks avoid you because "you're a loser or an idiot". When you're so alone...that's when you'll discover who your friend is. An aquaintence comes to your house warming party. A friend is the guy who helped you move. It's tough being so far away from my two true friends. Some days I really miss them. I still have dark days now and then.

Thanksgiving is upon us. I will be taking a little extra time out to thank God Almighty for blessing me with true good friends. Mom is long gone from this earth and that first true friend now abides with the Savior. But Donnie and Roy are still around and will always hearken upon a call. And Tilena...another story for another day...she remains. Thank God for your blessings folks. They're not all on the dinner table...

Call your true friends today...tell them how much you love them. Then thank God.

Palm Trees and Sand.......................

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Say What?

Day sixteen of my self imposed incarceration. I'm doing a lot of what I have tended more toward the older I've gotten...listening. I don't think its been out of any great introspective enlightenment. More likely its no more complicated than, after 47years, I've already heard everything I've got to say. I don't think I've ever learned one single thing while my mouth was open; with the possible exception it is possible to fit my foot in it. So, please don't consider me rude if I'm not much of a conversationalist when you're around....I'd just much rather listen. Two and a half weeks of mostly just me and the dogs now. Me, Bowden and Pepper communicate quite well without a word passing between us. There's a lot to be said for that. As I've thought about this today, and listened to the news on TV, some thoughts came to mind.

The national news this morning ran a spot concerning the pastor of a California Church who opined his insistence his church members have more sex, more often. Now there was precious little detail given in the 15 secons spot, so I'm just assuming he meant "with their spouse". Before I could fully digest this bit of news, out steps a charter member of the "Americans for Better Nutrition Board". This dude is piping up on national TV about how the government should step in to ensure no restaurant in America be allowed to prepare a single dish containing trans fat. Now, don't get me wrong America...I know darned well there's a lot of well meaning people out there. And I'm sure they're healthy, and sexually sated...but if I choose to be neither, either or none of the above...let me be. Mind you, the day has now come; I've got a preacher wanting to control me and my wife's sex life, Mr. multi-grain wanting to run my kitchen, every rookie cop who ever came through the academy telling me how to run a police department...and everyone, and I mean everyone who ever fell off the turnip truck telling me how to raise my children. And you wonder why I don't talk...I'll say it again...there's really nothing wrong with a little quiet time. God gave every one of us two eyes, two ears, two hands, two feet and one mouth...think about it. If we would all look for problems twice, listen for needs twice, then use those two feet to go and those two hands to do...there would be a lot less time to talk about it. If what I'm about to say isn't directly and immediately beneficial to someone...there's probably no need to say it. I know a number of folks who simply talk out of meanness, selfishnessness, boredom, or habit. Some who really think other people enjoy listening to them. I even know one woman who talks because there's oxygen in the room. Why do some of us feel so uneasy in a quiet room...nobody ever got sick because there was nothing to say.

There's a whole "nuther" world out there for our senses to experience. Spending two weeks watching Bowden and Pepper has given me a little insight to share. These two dogs...these guys know a world completely invisible to me. They hear it and smell it. They relate to their surroundings in a way completely foreign to me. It's almost as if they know something I don't. They know the garbage truck is coming five minutes before I do. They know Tilena is home before I see her car. They're attuned to their senses. I've never known them to bark, unless they've got something to bark about. Could we as Christians live a little more like that? Could we bark a little less and experience a little more? We certainly "know" things most people don't know. We will get to experience things most people never will. Christians see things, hear things, sense things the world can't fathom. Why don't we take a little more time to relish in that ability? I'm telling you guys...silence is golden. To feel God's breath on your back is beyond belief. To hear his words in your heart is joyous. But you can't smell perfume in a pig pen. You can't feel his breath in a maelstrom, you won't hear his voice when you're talking...be still...be quiet...listen to the King.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

For the Glory

Have you ever known someone who just seems to "hit the lottery" with everything they do? I'd have to say our little groundhog "Ryan" falls into that category. That skunk called me last night from Perry. He went up with Tilena last Thursday and was out hunting with his lifelong friend Tyler. At the time of his call, he was sitting in a tree stand out in the wilds of Taylor County. He had just killed his very first deer....an eight point buck! Can you believe that? The first deer he's ever even fired a gun at and he kills an eight point. As always, his first thought was to tell Dad, and he called me before even climbing down from the stand. You can't have better kids than I have. Those three never cease to amaze me.
Ryan has had that sort of fortuity before. He decided to start playing football as a ninth grader. He hadn't played since little league after opting out throughout middle school. He went out for JV and played 2-3 games as their starting center when he caught the eye of the varsity head coach. The next week he was suited up on the varsity sidelines when the starting senior center went down with an injury...the rest, as they say, is history. Now let me say, he got his ever loving backside worn out, kicked around, beat up and handed back to him on a platter that Friday Night. He thought he was a big strong kid until he got a close up and personal interview with those defensive lineman from American Heritage. But he lined up again every play that night. It's gotta be hard to keep getting up when you know you're getting whipped every play. He played every single game following that night until he went down himself in the third game of his own Senior season. Even following that devastating knee injury, he would miss only three games. He came roaring back and played right through the playoffs relying on grit, a brace, and mule headedness. He played those last five games with really only one leg. He hurt so bad sometimes, he would just be shivering next to me between drives. Sometimes a Dad has to let his son learn something about himself. We both liked what he learned about himself those five games. As much as it hurt him tearing up his knee, I think the worst injury he ever suffered was the heartbreak of realization he had played his last down as the clock ran out on the last game of that Senior season. I don't know if my heart has hurt much worse either. As a parent, knowing your kid's heart is breaking and not being able to fix it...well...you know. Thank God I was led to snap a photo as Ryan trotted off the field that night. This was as he was coming off the field following his last drive. We didn't realize it at that instant, but God had led me to snap that shot at the very instant Ryan was taking the last step on the field he would ever take. The Tigers never got the ball back and two minutes later it was all over. There aren't many Dads who get to live out the dream of having a son who's a four year starter on the varsity ball club. Even fewer who spend those years standing on the sidelines with them. By the end of four years, Ryan would be one of those guys who he had lined up against as a freshman. Over the years though, he would win many more battles than he would lose. The Fighting Tigers rushed for a many a yard behind the "Sheriff" as they called him. Big ole #52 posted some weight lifting records on the wall of the Tigers weight room that will be there for many years to come. Larry Antanacci sai Ryan could curl a Harley, bench a Volvo, and squat a Cadillac. "For the Glory" "you had to be a part of it to fully understand the context of that phrase" I was blessed to be a Chaplain for the team. Following every game, me or Jimmy "the other Chaplain" would pray for both teams. Every prayer ended with..."For the Glory"
I expect T-Bug and Ryan back sometime tomorrow. Nick stayed behind to help me out. I know he really wanted to go to Perry too, but he stayed around to help me without saying a word...again I'll say "the best kids a man could have". We did have a fun day yesterday watching football and eating fast food. We'll both be glad when Tilena's kitchen is open again. Bowden and Pepper are ready for some "leftovers of value" too. Bowden is restless I think. He's grown accustomed to walking with Tilena every day. This morning he was sitting in the hallway just staring at the closet door where we keep his halter and leash. Although there's no doubt he's "Daddy"s Dog"...he does know who his exercise partner is. I'm still not able to go outside. My skin is sizzling. As my Uncle Clyde was fond of saying..."I'm hot as a hummin' bird layin' a goose egg". With God's good grace, I'll over all this before next weekend. I am feeling better than before. I don't expect but a couple more really bad days now.
Well, I'm gonna go feed my dogs. Tilena called a few minutes ago and she got to eat lunch with Emma Grace today. I don't think she called to give information, I really think she was bragging.
Serve the Lord everyone. Serve Him gladly... For the Glory.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What have we done?

Nick and his friend "Jessica" are all set for the Homecoming Dance. I didn't know at the time, but it was to be one of the rare bright spots in the week gone by. Last night saw us wave goodbye to the strength, pride, and prosperity of the United States of America. It's probably only a matter of years now until we regress to levels beyond the point of return. This experiment has played out time and again, country after country, continent after continent over the last two hundred years. When a "person" like him takes over....we'll soon be a nation of unicef refugees. Spread the wealth is like opening the bank vault. There'll be a huge party for a few days...maybe even a few years...but soon, the money is gone and so are the toys, ssi checks, welfare checks, unemployment checks, and medicare checks all gone. We are destined to be a nation of beggars. Don't be so indifferent to those images of Central and North Africa....THAT may likely our future.

Times will be miserable. Prosperity long gone...You can be sure of that. In time these shiny buildings, retirement accounts, and green landscapes will be memories. I can't stress hard enough how serious the ramifications of last nights election will be. There may well be serious threat to our freedom of worship in the not so distant future. Even Wall Street knows this. The huge gains made yesterday when the hopes for a mcCain victory have been wiped out. Trillions of dollars vanished just on news of Obama's election. I'm afraid this is only the beginning. The American Dream will become a nightmare. For me and Tilena I don't despair so much, because these things take time to gain traction, but traction they are gaining. Hopefully, our Lord will call us home before the worst comes. The damages done in the next 4-8 years will likely be the end of our country, but the slide will likely be gradual initially and the slope will steepen with time. But for Christy & Carlton, Ryan, Nick, Jessica, David, Emma Grace, Angela...all the kids of generation next. I feel convicted of the weight of failure. We let these kids down. They will likely never know Social Security, Medicare, Retirement let alone any semblance of prosperity. The will likely know great persecution for their Christian beliefs. Millions and millions of children will be murdered, filling their lungs with blood rather than air for their first and only breath in this world. Who knows, maybe God has allowed us to do this to ourselves in order to redirect our focus. After all, we had allowed the prosperity to become an idol to us. I don't think anyone can argue that..I can't stress enough, what an evil dark thing we've set in motion in this world. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who once said..."I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go". My loved ones, we now have no where else to go. We are no longer in a "what if" situation. We have taken the step down the path toward annihilation. We have handed over our future, prosperity and our security to an immature selfish child who's sole purpose seems to be a personal axe to grind. The sadness of the whole thing is that those with the most at stake, those who will suffer the most, are by and large, the ones who elected him. My heart aches for us all. We have failed our children. I fear the serpent may be loose.

Now my family and friends, having said all that...hold these words. You pray. You pray honestly openly and with great fervor. Pray for these young people, pray for your enemies, pray for your friends and family and listen...listen very closely...pray for Obama. Yes you read that right. You promise me you will pray for Obama daily. Pray for Godly men and women to intersecect Obama's path daily. Pray for conviction in Obama's soul. Pray for a miracle akin to Saul's Conversion. This disaster we're living out is not without precedence. We can see the majesty of Jehovah God here. Only God can help us now. Only by the true conviction of the Spirit will we have any chance here. And our God can do that. My God has done greater works than this. My God has no fear of Islam. My God has no fear of Socialism. My God does not fear Marxism. My God does not fear a misled, immature child who finds himself leading a nation. God CAN change hearts...not even Obama is immune to my God. Obama will kneel to Jesus the King now or he will kneel before him later.....but know this...he will kneel.

The outcome is in God's hands. What will you pray him to do? The God I serve is omnipotent. But he does have a history of allowing his children to suffer the consequences of their actions. We're at that juncture today. We're at a fork in the road. Which way will you go? Take the wide open freeway if you want....but as for me and my house...you'll find us climbing this steep and narrow path.

I love you all. I pray for you all. I pray too for Obama......will you commit to join me?

Don & Co.

Palm Trees and Sand..........................

Thursday, October 30, 2008

They poured what?

Tonight will be much ado about nothing. It's getting late now and Tilena is already asleep. Ryan is doing schoolwork and I'm not sure I want to know exactly what Nick is doing. I've been off work now for two and a half days and beginning to go stir crazy. Sitting awake like this does have its benefits though. One of my greatest pleasures in life is watching Tilena sleep and hearing her softly breathing. Sometimes I purposely lie awake just to listen to her in the dark.

Bowden, Pepper and I have just finished out nightly cereal ritual. For years Bowden has waited on me to finish my nightly bowl of cereal. He can be sound asleep when I open that box and he will appear out of the blue. He knows the left over milk...2% these days just for his benefit...is all his. It didn't take ole Pepper long to pick up on that though. He's fully attuned now and every bit as vigilant as Bowden. We just split the same amount of milk three ways instead of two.

Not that the topic will interest anyone, but there is a football game on the t.v. right now and it brought the matter to my mind. People are so vastly different dependent upon their geographic location. I mean...to be so much alike in many ways...we can be so different in other ways. Here's the deal. Almost anywhere you go, you'll find a college football fan. But have you ever taken the time to notice how differently they behave based upon the venue? Now I've been to football games in a lot of different places. Tallahassee (surprise), Gainesville (yuck), Jacksonville, Atlanta, Sanford Stadium (it's not in Atlanta mind you), Orange Bowl (and Dolphin Stadium), Blacksburg Va., Charlottesville Va., Auburn and even once in Valdosta (I don't know why). But the thing is, they all seem to have their own rules of(or lack thereof) conduct. I've watched the Noles play against the Virginia Calilers in Charlottesville and I don't think the people there even knew a game was going on. I've seen the students at Florida Field dump beer bottles filled with urine on opposing teams going in at halftime. I've seen many many times the fans in Tallahassee not come into the stadium until the second quarter...they still do that for some reason. But without a doubt..and I say this without malice, but with first hand experience...the most beligerent, obnoxious, rude, ill mannered ball fans I've ever encountered anywhere were Penn State fans. And it wasn't even in their stadium. I'm not sure what makes them the way they are...but they are terribly rude and poorly behaved as a group. And get this...they call their stadium "Happy Valley" There has got to be some good reason for all this...Maybe I would be unhappy too having to survive Pennsylvania winters and New Yorkers for neighbors. More likely though, its just the embarrassment of having Philadelphia as part of their state.

I know this was probably the most aimless post I've ever made, but it was following an aimless mind. I'm going to let it go for now. I'm trying to do this in the dark so that I don't wake T-Bug. I'm a seeker peeker (I have to look at the keys to type) and I'm having a hard time of it in the dark. Maybe more tomorrow.

Seek the King, Serve Him Gladly.

Don & Co.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bowden's Baby Mama

Meet Sandy Everyone....daughter of Ricky's Silver Rocket and Carla's Little Katie. She's a nine month old purebreed. When she's ready, we hope for her to be the future Bowden's Baby Mama.

Her most recent family bought her as a six week old, and just weren't prepared or knowledgeable in the ways of the Grey Ghost. It's not a breed of dog for everyone. Certainly not for the first time dog owner. They're wild as a sprayed cockroach as puppies...and the puppy stage last for 2-3 years. But, if you're up for it, tough enough, and smarter than the dog. You'll be rewarded with the most loyal of all breeds. A fearless guardian and constant companion. Tilena and I have owned or been owned by a Weimaraner most of our marriage and well versed in the nature of these most beautiful of canines. They've just got bats in their belfry.

Of course it didn't take long for me to find a home for her. The deal is for the new owner to hold off spaying her until she is old enough to meet Bowden for that most special of dates. Then we'll choose a perfect home for the pick of the litter. She's spending the night with us (well supervised of course) in order for them to become aquainted with each other. No need in wasting time on formalities when the "time is right". I've waited on neutering him for years in the hopes of finding that perfect someone for him one day.

She's about 50 lbs (almost grown for a female and about 60% of Bowden's weight at the same age) She will top out around 65-70 lbs...about average for a female. Bowden is very large even for a male. Most boys mature at about 85 lbs. Bowdie boy weighed in at 105 lbs at his Vet's visit last week...I've had him on a diet and he's dropped about 10 lbs. over the last year. There aren't many people who rate higher on my list than Bowden....most of those live or have lived under the same roof with me. I have just not found many people who offer as much and ask so little.

It's a shame we already have two dogs (one watch dog and one guard dog) or we would now have two guard dogs. See the difference in a watch dog and a guard dog is quite simple. Pepper (watch dog) wakes me up and says "there's something outside...I'll wait here while you go check it out". On the other hand Bowden (guard dog) who wakes me up and says "there's something outside...you wait here and I'll go eat it".

Hope you all have a great day. If you don't have a dog, you're missing out on one of God's great blessings. If you do...go give him a hug.

Don and Company

Palm trees and Sand.......................

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rats in the Corn

I want to apologize in advance, this is not the most politically correct or sensitive post I've ever written, but my patience is growing thin. Tilena will chastise me over this and my Pastor will just shake his head. I ask your forgiveness in advance if this offends you. If you're a Democrat....just quit reading right now. You will be offended. But then again, you've deeply offended me for years..........

I'm just sort of hanging out today. I've got quite a bit of time built up and I just as well use some of it. Tilena is up in Ocala for a couple of days. Penny (my mother-in-law) fell Sunday and fractured her hip. She will be having surgery today. The whole thing sort of surprsed me. Penny is only 75 and keeps herself in fit condition. You would NEVER think she was anywhere near 75 to look at her. She is a very attractive, petite and active woman. That's good news in my mind for the years to come. Please keep her in your prayers. I would really like to have her come stay with us...at least through her rehab period. I've tried for years to get her to come live with us. She's just so much fun to have around.

I'm going to start working on my face, neck and scalp this week. I'll have to take off the next three weeks. I can't get even a brief shot of sunlight on my skin during this period. Its a painful and messy process to go through, but its just something I'm going to have to do every 2-3 years as long as I live.

The news on t.v. is so depressing. I'm holding out hope and continued prayer for our country during this election season. But I'm afraid the "rats are already in the corn". Every time I seem to have a good day, something comes along to remind me of the ill wind blowing across our country. What would you say if I told you I was coming home this week from work and saw a local woman who had put her Barack Hussein Obama sign out. What would you say about someone who already gets a government stipend of our tax money worth more than I earn each year because she belongs to a particular race? What if that person also gets more than $100,000.00 each year from the gambling casino simply because of her "ethnicity"? What if that woman was all of twenty five years old, had no job, doesn't want a job and receiving over $200,000.00 annually because she's a member of a particular ethnic group? Now what if that same woman had the unmitigated gall to want to "share my wealth" some more? See, this socialistic "share the wealth" program won't come from her pocket because she's in a "protected group". Barack Hussein Obama wants to give here even more of our money. What if now she was entitled to get more and more for every offspring she produced?. How do you give 90% of the population a tax cut when 40% of the population doesn't pay taxes to start with? Hey, Democrats for Obama "Welfare Wagon" Hussein Obama... If that's not buying votes, nothing is. I'm sorry for that, I really am...but that's the way I see it and I tell you this... I'm tired, I'm really, really tired. We're in for much more of that and worse I'm afraid. The future is bleak and I feel the "change" in the wind. Evil, dark change. The change coming will not be a friendly one for Christians I'm afraid. As Christians, we knew this day would come. Whether this is indeed the time or not...that time will come. As bad as the economic implications are, the critical issues here are the freedom of worship and protection of the helpless. Religious freedom is being threatened. The Church had better wake up. The wolf of Socialism is at the door. I wonder what our chances of getting a Sarah Palin / Condie Rice ticket ready in four years would be? I'm all for that.

I talked to my nephews Mark and Eric today. Sounds like they're going to be able to make it down for Thanksgiving. I always enjoy them tremendously. They really look forward to a weekend at Aunt Tilena's kitchen. Their mom and dad are in Congo and won't be here for the holiday. They're the ones I've written about before who work with the UN. Heather, their sister, may also come in from LA. Tilena has been decorating for Thanksgiving. The front porch looks quite festive. And as for me...the photo proves it...I'm putting my money where my mouth is. Go McCain!

OK all, I'll get off my soap box for now. I know you're all tired of hearing me. Vote...Vote Republican....Vote often.

Don & Co.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bad Dad

A photo of my mower "with the grass shroud reattached again" sigh...JUST GO CUT THE GRASS.........For 21 years I've been King of the Turf, Ruler of the Yard, Unchallenged Czar of the Green World....and now Tilena's telling me how to cut the grass. That woman just called me on the phone "she's in the car on her way home from work" telling me I need a new mower cause mine blows grass all over the place....who woulda thunk it... Translation, ten minutes ago I made Nick get out of the bed "its 4 p.m." and go outside to mow the grass. So now he's called Mommie about mean ole Dad mistreating him. He gets grass and dirt on his head and Daddy don't care. For those of you who have never seen my mower, its a lot like me. Kinda beat up, ugly, rusty and missing a few parts...but if you have a little patience with it...it can still get the job done. It embarrasses the heck out of Tilena for anyone to see it. Now Nick knows this and no one is better at pushing mama's buttons than little stinkie ninkie.

So what if it is old, beat up, rusted, dented, bald tires and missing the entire hood. The fact is, the motor is strong, blades are sharp and it cuts a nice lawn....if the driver is out to cut a nice lawn. Nick complained initially because it had a grass shroud deflector that left clumps of grass on the lawn and I would make him rake it up after mowing. He didn't like raking, so I took the shroud off to enable the mower to mulch up the clippings....no more clumps, no more raking. Now that the shrould is gone, the clippings blow up on him and gets him dirty....oh boo hoo. MOMMIE, Daddy is being a doo doo head....yes honey he is...I'll call him right now. So here we are. What Nick wants is me to hire someone to cut the grass "anyone but him is my guess". The truth is, he doesn't cut it to my satisfaction anyway. No one can cut my grass to my satisfaction but me. But lets get this straight here...we're not talking about the darned grass. We're talking about a 17 year old asleep in the bed at 4pm. A 17 year old who will still be in the bed at noon tomorrow. A 17 year old who has a car, meals, home, game cube, nintendo, Wii, satellite t.v, cell phone, computer, health and dental "four retainers so far", chips & dip and all the mountain dew he can drink......that's what we're talking about. He can cut the flapbanging grass once a week.

And let me digress here for just a bit. We should all really know how my mower came to be in the state its in. A couple years back, Ryan "the other brother Darrell" while in a learning curve of his own...was taking the mower over to cut the grass at one of the vacant parsonages in town. He loaded it onto the trailer and headed out. Well, as he was going up the street, he hit the brakes to make the curve and the trailer with mower still attached "caught up with him". Learning to lock the trailer hitch onto the tow ball can be an expensive lesson. That's why even today the back of the jeep is as ugly as the front of my mower.

You know, most men would take advantage of this opportunity to go buy a fancy new Dixie Chopper "the cadillac of lawn mowers", when their wife left the door open like that. But the issue is just more dadgummed important here. My mower cuts the lawn like a golf course when I use it, so there's nothing wrong with the mower. There's a lot wrong with most teenagers. There's not a doubt in my mind that Nick will make the curve and one day grade out high. I'm sure he'll eventually have a lawn of his own. But I owe it to him to stand fast on this issue. A little sweat equity is a noble thing. And as for "mommie", I make fun of her, but the fact is, she really is on my side...but she really don't like my mower.

I've learned, the lessons are so much more valuable than the chore. A bad mow job is like a bad hair cut...it will grow back. Just like all the holes where home plate and first base used to be...they will repair themselves. I'll sorely miss these "bad mow jobs" one day. With the possible exception of the "Tilena mowing experiment". Some scars really never do heal. But I refuse to let the lessons pass. I love him too much to let him ride around on a Dixie Chopper; or to let someone else be riding around on it in his place. I really would love to have a Dixie Chopper and a 1962 Corvette...But by the time I can afford them, I'll be too old to drive either. In the mean time, I think God left us to cut the grass. See, here's the way I have it figured...now this is not Southern Baptist Theology...just Don's understanding of things. Anyway, the way I see it, God got out of the gardening business back about the time of the Fall of Man. God does provide a gorgeous natural world....but he just ain't to eager a gardener. You should see my lawn when he has it to himself for two or three weeks. If you want to get a quick refresher, just look back at Genesis 3:17-19. In my mind God said..."From here on out, you can cut your own grass..."

So Nick...sorry buddy. But you'll just have to bear it on that ole mower a couple more years. I sure wish I had a mower to ride when I was 17. Try being a farm hand, boy. But that's another story....don't mean anything to a sleepy 17 year old anyway. Like Ryan and Christy, Nick will get there...he's just a little behind the curve right now.

And Nick, don't forget to blow off the sidewalk.

Monday, October 6, 2008

going slow in the fast lane

I thought about you this morning...old man. The second half of the night was a restless one and sleep just didn't come easily. Odd dreams flopped helter skelter across my mind leaving me with a sense of unease when I crawled from bed before daylight. Going to bed with unfinished thoughts will do that to a person and must have been the case with me last night. At some time yesterday, I must have heard your name because you were the constant theme in each of the dreams. In some I was mad with Tilena, but you appeared somehow in all of them, and I just couldn't make sense of it. None seemed to "end" right.

Just like you're untimely departure when I felt like you had gone too soon. There was still too much to talk about, too many laughs yet to share. We didn't spend as much time together there toward the end. Maybe a lot of it was that I knew it was coming, and didn't really know what to say to you anymore. You didn't know what to say either. Our last few conversations were forced and uneasy. Nothing like the twenty years worth of discussions before. It really seemed sort of anti climatic when I think back over the years. The end should have been different. I should have been there. It should have been funny...or at least controversial.

I know you weren't ready. Some people look forward to their homecoming day. Others just seem resigned to the fact that time is up. Then there are some like you who really didn't want to go. It was hard to look at you knowing that you knew...and didn't want to go. There were still Gyros to eat and politicians to grumble about.

Remember our first meeting? There you were in much the same condition as you would be twenty years later on our last meeting... Laying up in the bed on your lazy butt. You had just suffered your first heart attack and I had driven down from Perry with Tilena to see you. Tilena and I had only been out twice, so I don't really know what I was thinking to offer to ride down there with her and Christy...it just seemed the thing to do. Actually that visit sealed the deal for me. I finally met a family more disfunctional, weird, and nutty than my own. Anyway, you never actually spoke to me although you did grunt in my direction. But you said to Tilena, "Watch him, you know what they say about those policemen". No, I don't know Peep, I never did know exactly what that meant. But I do know this..Somewhere along the line I went from being a suspect to being a confidant. The last meeting was, in a way, similar. You were in that hospital bed again. And again, you didn't speak to me. But you knew I was there. Maybe you had just said everything there was to say. I hadn't though, and I wish I had said it then. But it was just so difficult. A lot changed between us over twenty years, and that lump in my throat just wouldn't get out of the way there at the end.

Well Peep...today would be your birthday. I think you would be 75 if you were still here with us. You really would be one of those old "farts" you always complained about. You've been three years removed from us now. You've had three "real" birthdays huh? I wouldn't wish you away from Glory for anything....but I do miss you.

Happy birthday old man...and, oh yeah, stay outta the fast lane.

Don & Company

Palm Trees and Sand.......................

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

These old hands

I looked down at my hands today at work wondering why they just won't do what I want them to do anymore. They just seem to get clumsier by the day. When I think back over all they've touched and all they've done, I'm sure they hold a life map in them somewhere. They're beginning to weaken of late. I can tell when I try to do some of the things that had been so easy and natural for so many years. The bottles don't open as easy anymore, the keys get fumbled, and throwing a curveball is almost a mystery now. The fingers are all beginning to grow in separate directions and like most of my body...they hurt most of the time. Swollen knuckles and calloused palms bear silent witness to a lifetime of joy, work, play and more than a little sorrow.

As I looked at them it occurred to me, if they could talk what a story they could tell. I had been thinking since Sunday about some of these things I'm about to say. I guess my ole hands have just prompted me to begin. See, Sunday morning as I was teaching Sunday School, I mentioned something I hadn't really thought about in many years....I decided a long time ago that no one would ever see me cry again. Tilena had never heard me say that and she said so that afternoon as we were driving over to a movie together. Then she said "You know, come to think of it, I don't think I have ever seen you cry". And I replied "I know for a fact you've never seen me cry". "I have always made that a point in life". I was surprised that she didn't know, nor had I ever told her why. I guess it's bit embarrassing, but as we get older, things just don't embarrass us as much anymore. Anyway...the whole thing started me thinking about how little we really know about each other, even the people we love most in this world.

So, as I considered these things, I also began to think about it in terms of my children and what I've experienced as opposed to what they've known. In particular what they really know (or think they know) about their Mom and Dad. Of course Tilena, Christy, Ryan, and Nick know me better than anyone ever has....but then I thought, how much more do they not know? I decided it may be best to just start out and talk about why and how that happened to me. All in all it was one of the most profound life affecting processes I've ever encountered...probably following only accepting Christ's Salvation and marrying Tilena. Here goes....

Middle School, Fall of 1973. I was by all accounts very unpopular in school. I was right in the middle of a growth spurt and terribly clumsy. Having creamy white skin, crooked yellow teeth and no friends and certainly no clothes of any style didn't help at all. I had grown up on a farm with little social interaction zero social skills and no one who could teach me. I wore work clothes to school and they were stained with tomato vine the same as my hands and arms. There was a particular bully who was a couple years older than me that tormented me and made my life miserable. My stomach ached all the time with dread at the thought of going to school. I was beat up (never seriously) regularly and teased constantly. This guy just chose me as his sport and had his play with me daily. Worse than the physical bruising, was the name calling and humiliation of it all. Everyone in school knew who the "albino kid with yellow vampire teeth and green hands" was. I can still hear that guy screaming those things at me today. Those sort of things are deeply embarrassing to a 12-13 year old boy and I would have died before telling anyone or asking for help. Who do you tell anyway? The whole school and a couple of teachers knew it already and no help was offered. My Dad never went to the school for any reason good or bad the whole 12 years I was there. Mom would have made a scene which would have made it even worse on me. I don't remember my Dad even being there at my graduation....it says something that I don't remember even if he was there....but I don't think he was. Anyway I would often times just sit in desperation crying in the locker room or outside by myself during lunch. I didn't have anything to eat anyway because the guy also took my lunch money every day. When the other kids saw me the either teased me more or avoided me altogether. Nobody wants to be associated with the "loser". Anyway, the worse it got, the worse it got...when the other kids got the chance, they would get in on the act too. It was a year I don't like to remember much and it seemed like it would never end. I think it was during this time I began to develop more and more as a...well, not exactly a loner, but I seemed to have more fun by myself than I did with anyone else. I certainly was a lot more comfortable alone. Maybe the best way to describe it was "self sufficient". Then one day on the last day of school I was crossing the parking lot headed for the bus when "Jerry" and his buddies cornered me. All the kids gathered around laughing and enjoying the show. I got a dozen strawberries and a nosebleed from the pavement and a concussion where I hit a concrete parking bumper with my head. That night, in the emergency room, Doctor Dyal said..."boy, you're just a little too much like your mama". Today, I'm not sure if he was talking about being hardheaded or something else, but a 13 year old boy took it like he was calling me a sissy. I cried again just to prove him right, but that night at home in my room I promised myself Nobody would ever see me cry again.

When I returned to school that Fall, Jerry was gone "sent to a Technical School" and I was gradually growing into an athletic body. I would eventually become fairly popular and an accomplished high school athlete (funny how a little athletic prowess can do that), but I never forgot my lessons in humility and I never forgot my promise. The shame and humiliation drove me all my young adult life. I lifted weights, accomplished a number of on hands self defense arts and became tough as leather. No one is better at hiding emotions than me. I see some of the other kids from time to time since we've grown up, and you know something...not a single one of them has ever mentioned any of it. I've suffered a lot more painful injuries since then, both emotional and physical. My hands show a lot of it, but my emotions never showed any of it. Through it all though, I've kept my promise except for one solitary time. Right after my Dad died, I was sitting out in the barn alone among all his things thinking about him the day of the funeral when my two boys walked in the door. I cried right then before I could even blink. It wasn't because I missed him so much, although I did, but It hit me so fast that I never had with him what my children have with me...a true bond and open love. And it was too late then to ever have it. I got a hold of myself pretty quick, and they've never seen me like that again. But they are the only ones to see me cry since that day in June of 1974.

I'll cry again one day I'm sure. I'm too heavily invested in my family not to. Nor does that vow seem as important today as it has most of my life. But for now, I just still hold most things close. I don't mind saying whats on my heart or mind, I'm even inclined to show love...just still can't quite show the hurt yet. I've lived long enough to see scores settled and debts paid. I know it all evens out. Jerry regreted many times over even knowing me, let alone hurting me. The God I serve has a way of handling those things...they are his to settle. I think that year of humble pie was the driving force behind my chosen profession....just want to see unfair things made right. Jerry spent more time in jail than out over the years and I just can't imagine today, why I was so afraid of him then. He died a couple of years back, just a little wisp of a man broken by disease and chemical addiction. Although I did allow myself a moment of pleasure on one of the many trips I made escorting him to jail; for the most part I just had sympathy for him. He was just a brief sad, but important, chapter in my life.

So here I am today still looking at these hands while more and more memories come to mind. They've held Christy down in the mud and fingerprinted corpses at autopsy. They've held my newborn boys and my dying parents. Hugged Emma Grace and Joelene, But neither one often enough. They've loved Tilena and had their bones broken fighting with outlaws. Thrown rocks, bottles baseballs, footballs and snowballs. Held snakes, lizards, possums, coons and severed body parts. They picked a scared thirteen year old boy up off the pavement and knocked the guy down that did it fifteen years later. Then did it again out of sinful pleasure. They've held a bible and taught recruits self defense. They've written term papers, arrest affidavits and activity reports. They've pulled weeds and planted flowers, hit grown men and held frightened children. Spanked butts and wiped noses. I've squeezed them together in anguish while my kids made bad decisions...but held them from falling all the while. One hand wears my Dad's wedding band and the other hand my own. Both have spent more and more time folded in prayer as the years have drifted by. Lot of history in these hands...but they ain't talking. I think that's about all I've got to say about that.

It'll be sundown soon and I've got an appointment on the patio.

If your Dad is still alive, go hold his hands.

Don & Co.

Palm trees and Sand...........................

Monday, September 29, 2008

Something's Brewing

Hello Troops,
Another day is in the books. When I got home today Bowden and Pepper were ready to get outside, so we went out to romp around a spell. We heard a big whoomp to the South and that's when I noticed this rolling in. That was about five p.m. and it's still raining at 8 p.m. Looks like we're going to have a couple more days of it too.

Had a nice talk on the phone with Angie and then Uncle Hunter this evening. Everyone seems to be doing well in North Florida. Down here, things are much as normal. Ryan is in class tonight and Nick is doing homework. Tilena is in the kitchen and everything is alright in my world. Tilena and I went to the afternoon matinee yesterday after church. We saw "Fireproof". It was everything we had heard and more. If you've not seen this movie, I highly recommend it. KC and Jason especially....please see this film. If only because Uncle Don asked you to...please go see it together. It's a reminder that there is still excellent entertainment out there that is not lewd or obscene. Besides...it's probably a film that everyone should see. Whether married or not, it's just a good message about how to treat the important people in your life. Besides that, it was very funny, had great action, and deeply thought provoking. The scenery (Spanish Moss and tall Pines) also made me miss South Georgia.

After the movie, we just took the afternoon and wandered through a couple of grocery stores...something I kind of enjoy when I'm not pressed for time. I always buy too much though. Especially since I was hungry when we went in there. I probably bought stuff I'll never eat. That gourmet cheese I just had to have don't look too good now.

Well guys, hope your day was as pleasant as mine. I've been thinking about a post for a couple of days and should have all my thoughts organized in a day or two. I'll try and get something a bit more entertaining to update this blog then.

Until that time....God Bless

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tied up in Knots

Well, it was the big weekend we've all been waiting for. KC and Jason are now husband and wife. The knot is officially tied. The wedding was absolutely fantastic. The reception was......well....uh....what you would expect as the rare person who very rarely drinks....and had not on this night...., in a sea of torched revelers. I have some really great stories to tell, but at the risk of alienating most of my family and a couple of friends, I'll just leave it be.

Have I ever told you guys that Emma Grace is one of God's own Stars? I just don't know how many ways I can say what she is to me. This weekend was just so much fun with her. "Gracie" and "Pappy" had a day at the beach together, a meal at the Fried Pickle Hut, and then danced the night away. Never a better Saturday Afternoon spent anywhere.....then the reception.....maybe one day, I'll tell that story. I really didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with Tilena once we were there. She was busy shopping with the girls and then helping them all out with make up the afternoon of the wedding. I was more than content to keep up with Emma Grace. Those days are rare and I'll treasure them forever. I told Tilena, "we're going to go to sleep, wake up, and we'll be dancing at Grace's wedding"...sure gets by in a flash.

It really was a lot of fun, mostly. I don't believe I had ever seen Mimi dance....let alone dance with a handsome young man....but, I got proof, and here's the picture to prove it. We have more photos of the wedding, but not enough room to show them all here. Some may even be a bit too condemning anyway.

It's a long way to Destin, Florida from here. Five hundred forty miles each way. All day Friday and all day Sunday spent in the car. Here's the tab: $200.00 per night for a room, $200.00 for gasoline, $200.00 for food, 75.00 to replace my shirt, $300.00 to replace my shoes, $25.00 to dry clean my coat (see, I told you there was a story in there)... Seeing KC get married on the beach at sunset....yeah, priceless. Weekend with Emma Grace....well, you know.

It rained heavily on the way home. That just makes a long journey that much more arduous. By the way...a pet peeve of mine is people who drive with their emergency flashers on. That is a moronic move. Never ever do that. It is dangerous and foolish and against the law. Flashing amber lights on a passenger vehicle indicate a STOPPED vehicle in distress. If you don't believe me look it up. Florida statute 316.2397. The only exceptions ever are, road maintenence vehicles, garbage trucks, wreckers, mail vehicles and petroleum vehicles. You've been warned.

We enjoyed our time with Christy and Carlton tremendously. She's beginning to show now. I think you may be able to make the ole belly out in one of the photos. Gonna get me a grandson in February. Carlton is making one heck of a son in law. He's got a few annoying habits...(i.e. rooting for the gators) but all in all, we could not have done better. He's become quite a fine spiritual man of God too.

It's always good to be home. Tilena and I could hardly wait to get home to our kids. We missed Nick and Ryan too. You should have seen Bowden and Pepper "cuttin' the buck" when we came in.

OK everyone, have a peaceful evening. I'm going out....you guessed it, to watch the sunset. May God Bless You Each and Every One.

Palm Trees and Sand.........................

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another Day in the Books

There's not a better ending to a day than this. Right after the heat, right before the mosquitos. I live for that moment every day...it just sort of wraps everything up for me. There's not much else I want to see again befor a similar views creeps over the opposite horizon about twelve hours later.....actually about ten hours later at this latitude.

We just got back from FCA. Had good food, good fellowship, good fun, and Great WORD. We're just kind of lazing about here waiting on bedtime. Tilena had a bowl of fifteen bean soup waiting for me when I got home. The sheets won't touch the bed all night.

KC's wedding is this weekend. I know she's getting nervous about now. She's probably already in Florida by the time I write this. They live in Colorado, but will be getting married in Seaside, Florida. That's next to Destin out in the panhandle. Hopefully, the tropics will behave and I'll be able to attend. However....there's already a tentative forecast for some trouble spinning up in the gulf. Hey, them's the breaks when you schedule a September wedding on the Gulf of Mexico. I do so look forward to seeing KC, Christy, and my Emma Grace who will be meeting me there. It will be an enormous sacrifice to miss the Seminoles playing their first conference game. However, the 'Noles will play other conference games, but with God's great Blessings, KC will never have another wedding.

Troops, you all have a blessed evening. I'm gonna have a bowl of cereal and go see how many sheep are in the pasture. God is on his throne....He will take care of the goats.

Don & Company

Palm Trees and Sand......................

Friday, September 12, 2008

Duly Noted

As I opened my mail this morning, I was confronted and appropriately chastised by one of the young men I endeavor to disciple. He noticed right away I had omitted some very important people from the blog yesterday about 9/11. There were some other great American heroes who died that day besides those in the twin towers. Many died at the Pentagon and (probably the greatest, bravest heroes of the day) those in a Pennsylvania field.

Thanks, David for the humbling reminder. You're right, it is all to easy to just mention the people in the towers....many more died that day, not to mention a way of life that forever changed for us all.

Don and Company

Thursday, September 11, 2008

911 and harvest

Today was a reminder of how frail and fragile we really are. It's been seven years now since the Towers fell. The world would have us forget; our own liberal media deems the photos too graphic, offensive and "insensitive" for the Muslim world. We're not allowed to see the pictures or footage of the horrors of that day. Michael Moore and the other media barons will brush it all away with time. In my heart, the dust will never settle. Now, here we stand at the brink of electing their own representative as president of the USA. My gut just clenches every time I consider the possibility. There are seven small flags in a coffee cup on my desk at work, the seventh just added today. I've received one as a reminder each September 11th since 2002 from the Criminal Justice Class at the High School. The kids sponsor a memorial every year in honor of our fallen heros. Today was the latest in that annual event. Every public safety agency in the region is welcomed and awarded a plaque commemorating 9/11 and their ongoing efforts to aid the community (and a small US flag too). There is a photo above of me with the Fire Chief and Sheriff at the gathering. Those kids always do a great job. My Nick is one of them.

There's also a shot of the only two members of our family who have never appeared on the blog before. They're doing all they ever do. Eat, sleep and poop. You can see booger in the grass behind them. While I was out there I could hear the JV Team playing football in the distance. We're close enough to the stadium to hear the PA if we're outside. I think they won their first game in three years last week...woo hoo!

The other photo is a reminder of a season of God's rich blessings. The coconut harvest is great this year. Plenty of rain and sunshine have yielded a healthy bounty. All the trees are loaded. We have seven or eight of these trees in the yard and they're all heavily laden with fruit.

Tilena is ringing the dinner bell, so I'm off to prosperity. The moon will be creeping up through those coconut fronds soon....you know I'll be there watching.

God Bless you all.

Don & Co.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pepper, Pepper and I dunno....

Christy wanted a couple more pictures of Pepper, so here they are. There's also a shot of something I've never seen before. This is some sort of a UFO that flew onto the lanai while Bowden, Pepper and I were out there. It's about 3 inches long with fuzzy antennae and long celluloid type thin wings with tapered tips. By way of orientation, it's sitting on a leg roller on the Bowflex. If anyone has any idea what this is, please let me know. I was born and raised in Florida and I've never seen a bug like this.

I've been out in the back yard pulling weeds. There's one area right underneath a Guava Tree that just sprouts them like....well....weeds. If I don't get in there and work a couple times each week, it quickly gets out of hand. It's a nice cool overcast afternoon and the dogs are frisky. They both took turns chasing the cats.

We're having some minor rainbands from Hurricane Ike. Nothing much, but they're just rolling through and adding a bit more rain to our total.

Well, everyone have a great evening. I'm trying to blog a bit more often and a bit less at the time. Everyone drop me a line sometime.

Don & Co.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rainin' Cats and Dogs

Another Good Day! At my age, Every Day is a Holiday. Pepper and I just got back from the Doctor....He's turned up with a case of the worms. It was time for his vaccination booster shots anyway so we took care of it all at one time. Of course they gave him a courtesy bath and trim then touched him up with a bandana...he looks like a regular little bandit right now.

Check out these photos close. It rained so hard last Friday Morning, the walking catfish were out. When I pulled up to the house for lunch I noticed one in the drive way. When I was standing at the sink making a sandwich I saw these two on the back porch. It rained 4.88 inches between 5 a.m. and Noon. That was on top of the 18 inches we had received in the two weeks prior. Catfish knocking at the door was the least of our problems.

Hey all, How 'bout them NOLES! We should jump and hoot while we can. Something tells me we won't get many opportunities for celebration this year. The weekend was very fruitful for me sports wise. Noles won, Dale Junior finished 4th, and the Hurricanes lost....pretty good round up. The only way it could have been better was if the Gators had lost.

Well troops....thanks for reading and participating. The votes for best all time TV are coming in. Make sure to get your two cents in.

I'll have more to say in a day or so.

Don & Co.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ole Red Eye

New day, new challenges. I woke up this morning with a red, itchy, gooey eye....I knew I would. Yesterday at lunch, I let Pepper out to pee and poop. I let him back in without paying much attention really. Then I smelled him before I saw him. The dreaded puppy runs. He had it all over him in that long fur; and therefore by that time, all over the floor as well.

I spent lunch cleaning carpet and washing the puppy. While I was washing him he shook and got it in my eye....yeeeccch. So, today the ole red eye.

The photo here is my old buddy Don Nix and his family. This shot was taken in our back yard a couple of years back. He's the best and most loyal friend I've ever known and I miss him a lot. He's like me in the fact he married over his head and out of his class.

Otherwise things are rocking along. Hope you all caught the speeches by Rudy Gulianni and Sarah Palin. Boy did they rip Obama Sama Bin Laden. But he had it coming. By the way....thanks to those of you who voted in the presidential poll posted on the blog. The results were Bobby Bowden 50%, John McCain 37% and Osama Bama Bin Laden 12%. I just can't believe any readers of my blog would actually vote for a terrorist. An ignorant terrorist at that.

Well, all eyes are to the East this week. We'll just claim God's protective hand and see what's in store. I may be sending Tilena and the boys away mid week. Day by day....new challenges, same solutions...keep looking up.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

When a Show was a Show

Every now and then I get a reminder of just how old I really am. Sunday Night I went with Tilena, Nick and a buddy of Nick's to a John Mayer concert. He is supposed to be "THE" entertainer of our day. Let it be said.....things have changed a bit since I last attended a concert. Being a veteran of these things, I was prepared for a show. But it was just not what I was expecting.

See, the concerts of my day "The Eagles, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston...now those boys rocked! As good as the music was in my day, the show may have been better. Laser lights, fog machines, fireworks, explosions, jumbotron TV, bodies being passed overhead, "exotic" aromas, dancers, fighters, lovers, police...a real show. Sunday Night we just watched a little bird chested boy sing and about 10000 middle school girls scream and swoon. It was a lot like 2008's answer to Neil Diamond....when he was fourteen. It's not that seeing swooning little girls bothers me, but 30 years ago even the girls were enjoying the show too much to swoon. Just imagine "or remember" 80,000 people in a stadium at night with Boston lighting up the night with a couple of those lead guitars roaring, fireworks shooting off.......makes my chest thump just to remember....those guys could really bend some guitar strings.

This little Mayer boy may be a star today, but if he is, kids really need something more to do. Guys like Jim Morrison, David Bowie, Steven Tyler....now they were rockers...they were musicians....they were showmen. There is really no comparison....they were just extraordinary and bigger than life. The world was just a lot more fun then.

I've grown up a lot since then, physically and more importantly spiritually. I realize that Steven Tyler and John Mayer are both probably lost and saving a miracle...both will probably spend eternity in Hell. But if given the option, I'm glad I grew up when I did and was able to experience the world I lived in. The wildness of our day seemed more born out of a sense of hope and a world learning to live together. What we were doing then was who we were. Sunday Night I sensed desperation and a need for escape. A sad world with no one of this earth to listen to. Just a skinny little boy with no sense of entertainment.

I hope I have the opportunity to witness to them all. Unfortunately for Jim Morrison, its too late. He knows the truth. Praise God I lived long enough to know the truth.....One day, I'll see a real show.

Don & Co.

Palm Trees and Sand........................

Monday, August 25, 2008


There's been a whole lot of changes since I last posted. TS Fay was in the midst of passing through town when I wrote last. She didn't go quietly either. Though only a tropical storm, she did drop vast amounts of rain all through the state. Our official weather reporting station here in Clewiston showed a total of 14.86 inches of rain during the five day period we were affected.

Fay wasn't very strong as tropical systems go, but we did lose a nice tree here in the back yard, and half of another one. Most of the siding from the West end of our home was blown off as well, and I've had to set a couple other trees back up and stake them since they were blown over. I've got quite a pile of debris sitting by the street waiting on the city garbage crew.

The most interesting development around here of all though is "Pepper". He's the newest member of the family. Tilena has wanted a lap dog for a long time now and I happened in the humane society at just the right time. He's a tiny little button of a thing, all fluff and fuss. At most he weighs a couple of pounds. He's a 50/50 mix of Shih-tzu and Maltese. The ladies there at the shelter said he would probably mature at 5-6 lbs. Bowden is not overly impressed, but hopefully will warm up to him more as time goes by.

Simon and Leslie were here Saturday afternoon and evening. We had a nice dinner of steak and baked potatos. They brought Bowden's friend "Copper" with them and the two of them ran around and played all the while. Their kids are really growing up fast. It's always such fun to visit with them all.

If we had not had enough, its raining pitchforks and hammer handles out there right now. Nearly two more inches this afternoon. The lake has now risen almost three feet in ten days. Not complaining mind you.....it was sorely needed. We could still take more.

Well, I must be about my afternoon business. Dog walks, dog feeding, dog pooping and peeing. Such is the life of a "Trophy Husband".

Just a quick last note, Ryan started his college experience today. I'm looking forward to seeing him when he gets home and finding out how day one went.

God Bless you all.

Don & Co.

Palm Trees and Sand.......................

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's that time again

Here I sit. I've been in the office since 0400 hrs.....that's 4 a.m. to you civilian folks. Storm Fay lurks in the gulf preparing to make landfall South of Naples. At the current trajectory, she should pass right overhead about 1300 - 1400 (1 p.m. - 2 p.m.) this afternoon.

Sometimes it seems like I'm always away from home when my wife needs me the most. I've carried a great deal of guilt about that over the years. Many times I've had to send her and the kids away while I remained behind. Other times I've slipped quietly out as she slept. Always going to take care of other people and leaving what I treasure in this world behind. What I've found through the years though, is that I need her far more than she needs me. The profession I've followed has served up a number of dichotomies through the years. She's tough....not quite as tough as she wants people to believe, but she is resilient.

I've been sitting around waiting for bad weather one way or another for 26 years now. I've seen just about everything that can come off the Gulf or out of the Atlantic. In the end, its just so much rain and so much wind. If it's gonna fall down, it will fall down. From the hand of God we see the frailty of human existence. There is no proper shelter when his full wrath strikes.....only His Judgement and hopefully His Pity serve in those times. None of our man made efforts at shelter and safety will stand in the end. As smart as we congratulate ourselves for being, we fare worse in a storm than snakes and turtles.....think 'bout that fer a spell.

Fay will pass over in a few more hours. Light is grudgingly creeping out now and I see the signs of the night's winds. As always, the Coconut, Royal and Washingtonian Palms come through unscathed. God planted those trees here and knew what he was doing. Everything else just falls down and blows away. But those three hang in there "like a hair in a biscuit'.

In all acts of God there is divine purpose. We will end up with nigh on ten inches of rain. After a two year drought, that will go far in feeding a thirsty lake. It has rained now fairly steady for 20 hours. We have about eight more to go and then should be free of this one. However, there is an ominous rumbling in the far Atlantic already. Looks like its going to be a busy August and September.

The wind is rising. I should get to work now and check on the Troops. Hope you're all slumbering peacefully. We'll take care of things here.

Don and Company

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

High School Reunion

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T-Bug and I spent the weekend in Perry for her class reunion. For the most part we enjoyed ourselves. But as it has been said, "You can never go home". Perry is not what I remembered. Somehow it just seemed a bit faded, maybe even tired or desperate. It was like an "echo" rather than an actual "word". Maybe that has more to do with my age and memory than Perry's actual state of being. In spite of all that I learned a number of things though; most evident was the fact that I somehow wound up with the pick of the litter out of that whole group. More painfully learned was that by attempting to dance I discovered "I ain't what I used to be". Tilena says my dancing looks like a giraffe on roller skates......I think she's just jealous. A lot of the time there, I just spent sitting and watching Tilena with her old friends. I could be content for hours and hours watching her and listening to her laugh. At times it just seemed like she was a young girl in the midst of a group of older women. She has defied aging somehow. It was also clear that many of the guys there thought the same thing.

She's still the magnet and we kept a table full of company. Some I enjoyed and some I tolerated. There's no doubt many of those ole boys still "carry a torch" for her. It was depressing to see how many single men and women were there, and how many married people were there alone. Life is too short and too hard to spend it bitter or by yourself.

Even there 350 miles away from my work, I was not able to fully be "away from work". Some girl's ex-husband showed up fully gassed and ready to roll. Unfortunately, some of the hosts of the event knew me and had me "follow the ole boy to his pick up". Thankfully he left without serious incident. There were a whole lot of "gassed up" people there. There's an enormous amount of entertainment value in watching them. I'll bet Bayer asprin had a spike in sales Sunday Morning. I'll tell you, there is no truth to the urban legend that alcohol makes someone smarter, better looking or a better dancer......but there were a lot of people out trying to prove it.

We visited with Regina and Charise. You would have to know them. There is no description fitting for either of them.....you just have to know them. Regina is in the first photo above with Tilena, Charise is in the center of the second shot with Robin at the right. The last picture is Tilena, Christy, Charise (open mouth normal) and Regina. Tilena and Charise were room mates when she and I met. That's a story for another day. I knew of Charise long before I knew Tilena. In the same way Regina and I were friends long before I even knew Tilena's name. Her mother taught all four of my sisters to play piano. Her Uncle John is the most Honorable Man, Friend, Boss I have ever known. It would be 10 years before I knew Tilena and Regina were friends with each other. Robin and Tilena have been friends from early on. Robin is one of those who never left Perry.

There were many old aquaintences who had obviously succumed to the ravages of chemical dependency or other poor personal decisions. It was painful to see the despair in their lives. We've been gone so long and remembered them as bright lively people with so much promise. There were others who had prospered against all odds. Often, it seems, its the ones you think are a lost cause who make it, and others who have every advantage who fail.

To be sure there were some who were truly prosperous financially and even a precious few who were honestly content. There were some who just seemed to feel the need to "exhibit" financial prosperity. I don't have any money, but I'll say it again....I am the richest man alive on God's earth today. He has blessed me with eternal life, wife, children and contentment. There is no salve like the knowledge that a man and his family are permanently destined for Glory.

Well, enough for tonight. To keep on is to risk telling too much.

Don & Company