Ricky Bobby

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

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

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lucky Penny

I guess you could call this the next contestant in "The Women of My Life". By far Penny is the funnniest nut to fall off our family tree. And when she fell, she fell on her head. She's more fun than putting crickets in your shorts.

Penny is Tilena's birth mother and one of my greatest friends. She spent her late childhood and early adulthood married to Ed Dozier. Somewhere along through there she and Ed parted ways. They are both the kind of people who allowed their friends and family to remain true to them both without "picking sides". We're all fortunate for that, because I don't think any of us could have chosen. They both enjoyed a rich family and a rich life absent the gut wrenching hatred so often present following the break up of a marriage. They just made it easy to love them both.

Growing up, I always knew Penny by sight, but I didn't know what her name was. Similarly, I knew who Tilena was, but never talked to her before I was 25 years old. Neither did I have any idea the two of them were mother and daughter.....well, I almost said something there that would have gotten me in trouble. I AM getting a bit smarter with age. Anyway, you insert your own smart alec comment here. I guess the greatest difference between them is that Tilena tends to be a bit more "lippy" than her mother. A promise of great things to come is the realization that Tilena has Penny's genes and will hold her looks all of her life....just like her Mom. Praise God she got her lip from her Daddy and her looks from her Mama. Can you imagine if it had been the other way 'round?

Penny is not your ordinary everyday Mother-in-Law. If we were to have any friend or relative ever live with us, I would want it to be Penny. She's one of those people who come to visit and you forget she's even here. Then all of a sudden she has you laughing till snot blows out of your nose. Her genes show up most evidently in Nick. They will both say anything, anytime. Penny somehow commands obedience. She can keep a house clean even in the presence of two teenage boys. Which is in itself another of her endearing traits. I can have 30 men and women charging into a gun battle at a single word, but I can't get a kid to pick his dirty underwear up out of the floor. If Penny is visiting, the house will always be immaculate. She is a constant house keeper. I would not hesitate to eat off her floor. She is a tireless worker and somehow manages to have fun all the while. You want great fun, just get Penny and her sister JoAnne together telling stories on one another. I had no idea two Senior Citizens....can I say that? Anyway, I had no idea that women of their "maturity" knew some of the things they know, let alone DO some of the things they've DONE.

Boy am I gonna be in trouble for this one.

Anyhow, Tilena is up in Ocala with Penny as I write. She's going to spend the night there on her way up to Perry for her High School Reunion this weekend. Calm down boys, calm down....I'm going up later. I know what I've got and some of those ole boys have just shown too keen an interest in whether or not Tilena's coming and if she has a "family". Code word for husband.

I'm gonna get in trouble for that too. In for a "Penny" in for a pound. And I'm gonna get "pounded".

Well, I've got myself into enough trouble for one day. We've just had our Summertime daily thunderstorm and I think I'll go outside, sit on the porch and enjoy a nice evening. The moon will be coming up through the coconut trees soon. I plan on being there to see it.

Glory to the King!

Don & Co.

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

Friday, August 1, 2008

Company Days

Wow, just looking back at how fast the time here has gone by. We'll soon have been down here seven years. To the left is a photo of Tilena and the first two friends she made here.

Here's Tilena with Ryan the night of his graduation. To see that big ole boy reaching over the fence for his "Mama" was something special. He starts Edison next month. My oh my the time.....

Isn't she still a heart stopper. All this after three kids and a grand baby. Not many Nanna's look like this...After 22 years she still takes my breath away.

As normal, Tilena's chatting it up with another ball player's Mom while Nick is playing ball. In the foreground is our Associate Pastor and one of Nick's buddies.

Here's a shot of all of us right after Ryan's graduation. You know, Nick is a Senior this year....it's our last rodeo....the tide rolls on.

I think that's all I'll post tonight. Nick and I just got back from Beef's for dinner. Ryan has gone swimming with a friend and T-Bug is shopping in Ft Myers. Bowden and I went for a quick bike ride and I'm about to turn into a pumpkin.
God Bless you all.
Don and Company