Ricky Bobby

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Well, it's coming around again. Thanksgiving and all the Holidays that trail behind. I'm not complaining mind you, I really enjoy the next couple of months. They just seem to come around more often these days.

Hopefully Emma Grace and Parker will be coming to see me for the Turkey Day weekend. Christy says Parker is beginning to look like the Michelin Man with his fat little self. I sure miss them. Emma Grace was all decked out for Tricks and Treats. Did I say I miss them? I've posted a couple photos of them. One of Parker and Christy and the other is Gracie and Carlton. Christy sure takes a good photo doesn't she?
These guys are just four of the many things I give thanks for regularly. I am THE most blessed man on earth for sure.
Well troops....I just haven't felt particularly inspired to write for some time. Sorry about the absence...The feeling just ain't there you know? I tell you what though. You guys send me some ideas or opinions of a few things, and maybe I'll find some creation or controversy in some of it. After all, I do want to put out things you're interested in.
Take care all and send an idea or two my way.
D & C

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Late Afternoons

Brian would have enjoyed seeing these things. All of God's creatures, scenery, and plants were a neverending sense of wonder to him.

I went to see Brian one last time last week. I was not ready to say
goodbye to him...but God sets those
dates and has no obligation to check
with any of us. Many times He told us how unexpected the time would
be upon us. Still we wait and delay. I pondered His Word on the subject long since Tilena and I returned from the trip. The afternoon following our ride home, I was wandering around about the place as the remains of the day drifted away. Any number of thoughts crossed my mind when I thought to pick up the camera and see what God showed me. In the first shot there on the left, my focus was drawn to the basketball sitting in the back of the photo forgotten where it was long ago tossed across the fence and left for me to mow around. It has been months now since I've heard the old familiar and comforting thump thump thump of the ball on the driveway. Nick's attention is being drawn to other matters these days. He grows from boy to man and the familiar fades. It's tough to keep up with things. Ryan has long since given up those ways so comforting to a Dad.
The next shot is Pepper....what was on his mind is uncomprehendable. But I think he was hoping I would try to take that bone from him and chase him about the yard. Play is still at the top of his "to do" list. He has no concerns of the future, but it will change him too...just as it has Bowden, Christy, Ryan and Nick.
The third click I took that day is an old Blue Fisherman. There is no play in his day. He has fished the canal since sun up and will stand in concentration until a soundless call draws him back to his nightly sanctuary in the Everglades. For him it's a matter of survival, not choice. That design has been successful for eons. Just like the Heron, we will all have a soundless and unexpected call....it will be time to go.
All of the photos spoke to me of God's timetable. Independent of our wants or imagined needs...just according to his plan. We must be prepared. That was the message God sent through Brian....."Enjoy it all, love the gifts of God's Hand...glory in it, wonder in it...breathe in, breathe out, move on....but prepare your soul." Brian was a deep thinker, but I don't think I ever really knew all that was on his mind. I don't think anyone did actually. He did look below the surface of things...that was evident. It came out in any discussion with him and more so in his art. His drawings seem to breathe on their own.
I know this....He was loved. His parents are crushed, but can never fault their effort. They loved Brian as God loved us all... It was just time. Twenty-eight years, eleven months and twenty days...who knew that was God's time? The silent call came. What does God's calendar have for you?
I don't know if Brian was prepared...I can't imagine such a deep thinker not being. It's impossible to ponder God's creation as closely as Brian did and not KNOW. I hope he was. I hope to see him again. But to make any guess would be to judge. That, my friends, is God's obligation alone.
My nephew, I'll miss him.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This n That

So we've come to this, have we? Two kids in college.....neither with the sense to wipe his butt or blow his nose. How did it come to this? Nigh on twenty years I've been raising these two boys, and I don't have much so much as a scorched skunk for my trouble. I do have stained carpet, busted drywall, and a car insurance bill Donald Trump couldn't pay.

The genetics are there...or so Tilena says anyway. Sometimes I just don't belive there is any evidence at all that my genes have been passed on in these boys. By the time I was 18 I was able to figure board feet in my head (the computation of area in any given section of lumber). These two clowns can't get from the bathroom to their bedroom without losing their underwear and socks. Nor can they figure out how to get urine from their bodies into a round hole without bouncing it off the wall and floor. WHEN I WAS EIGHTEEN, I had already left home, worked at a full time job and was a full time student. If I peed on the floor, I had to clean it up myself....but I digress.

My honest intent here was to update you all on us since I had been otherwise occupied for the last five months. Unfortunately, I've been busy with Bevis and Butt-Head since Friday Afternoon and that was fresh on my mind. There is much to report though, so here goes.

1.) We have a new family member in the home. My mother in law "Penny" has moved in and become one of us. She is actually away at the present having gone for a brief visit with other family. We expect her back any day now. She is a joy to have around, and I miss her greatly.

2.) Speaking of Beavis and Butt-Head, both of them are college students now. I do give them both grief, but must confess... they both work and go to school, and neither one has their portrait hanging in the post office....though the day is still young. I enjoy harranging them, but they are great kids who really try. Both still worship and attend Dad's Sunday School Class. That is a treasure to me. They're well mannered respectful gentlemen who always make their parents proud....poor with their aim, but honorable with intent.

3.) My dear Emma Grace is still my very heart. Pappy doesn't get to see her much, but I will be getting up there very soon now that I have only one job. Mr. Parker is prospering and making a regular jolly old elf. I regret not being able to watch them grow. Christy is good about calling, but it's just not like being there. Thinking of Christy always gives me hope. You know she was crazy as a sprayed roach for a couple of years too...But she sure made good citizen once she "got right".

4.) Eric and Mark e-mailed me this week. They're out in LA now working with Heather's husband. Hard to believe both those boys have earned degrees and hit the work scene. I have no idea what they studied "other that girls". But in this day and age, having boys who like girls is an accomplishment itself.

5.) Kim also sent me a note. She and Jason are thinking of leaving Colorado and moving to the West Palm area. That would be a treat for us. It's tough having family on the opposite side of the continent. Hopefully, they will find a nice place here near us.

6.) I haven't talked to my old friend Simon in some time. However, I do think Les may be thinking of going with T-Bug to see Christy. I'm not certain of that, but Tilena did mention asking her to ride along. Del will be going up with them. I always rest better when Del goes with Tilena...though too trusting of people sometimes, Del is tough enough to hold her own (and Tilena's share) if it comes to a showdown....she is always willing to "fist" someone. I do believe Del could kick your butt hard enough to make you wear it for a hat.

7.) My Sister and a couple of her sons were down to visit a couple weekends back. Guess what? Brian, her eldest, has taken up gardening. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my plants and ideas with him. He and Timothy were both loads of fun. We hadn't been together in many years. Hopefully, I'll get to see her third son Darren soon. Actually the weekend prior, we had made a fast weekend trip up to Ocala to have an impromptu family reunion. All my Dad's surviving family members came down from Virginia, so we went up to meet them. Angie & Paul and Susan & Gary came along...and even Sara was there. Great weekend!

Well troops, that's enough for now. We're about to head off to Church. It's dinner on the grounds night. Wouldn't want to be late for that now would we? I need to go to church...the more I keep thinking about that whole "genes" thing...the madder I get. I think I'll go in there and whack my wife up side the head.................maybe not...she is the kind to make me a big bowl of grits.

Don and Company

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time in a Bottle

The Immortal Jim Croce once penned the words "There never seems to be enough time to do the things you wanna do, once you find them, and I've looked around enough to know that you're the one I wanna go through time with..." The song was entitled "Time in a Bottle", and it fits more every day.

When I was a wild teen the song meant nothing more to me than a chance to "dance a slow one" with a girl. Today with the sand in my hourglass slipping away, at least I have garnered real appreciation of ole Jim's lyrics. I have gotten to the stage in life that I really do know what I want to do and accomplish "in this life"...but there never seems to be enough time to do the things I wanna do....well, you know the rest.

But aside all the time restraints and busy life....I did get to look around enough to know "The one I wanna go through time with". That is enough for me. Should this very sentence be my last act upon God's Earth....it was enough to spend it with her. God's gift to Man is the woman he goes through time with. As I post these thoughts, mine is at Church helping out with Vacation Bible School. Her boss has been kind enough to allow her to leave work early enough every day this week in order to make it to VBS on time. You can't buy that kind of loyalty from an employer. Let alone one that understands the value of the Gospel to our children. I myself, am very thankful for his heart, and we're both fortunate to work for organizations that honor and bear a commitment our Lord. She will be home any minute and Nick will be in here soon, hungry, and you can bet there will be something ready for him to eat.

T-Bug and I have seen a lot of days slip through our hourglass. There are fewer today than there were. Some we enjoyed and some we tolerated. Some days we thrived...some we just cried..but as with all Christians , our best days are yet to come. I just couldn't imagine having spent them with anyone else.

I'm afraid I'm spending too much time these days with work and too little with the ones who will be there when work is all over. I've heard it said, " No one leaves this world wishing they had spent more time at work". By August, I hope to be back to normal with my work. Then I'll go back to examining every grain of sand as it slides on through the glass. Hopefully, I'll take a bit of that time to reflect upon it all here with my friends. I'm sorry I've been so neglectful. Looking back at the number of posts I've had, it's easy to see when I picked up the extra duties in April. I will get back here if God allows me to tarry. If not, you can complain to me about it when you find me in Glory.

Until then...love the one you go through time with even if you can't find the time to "do the things you wanna do". God wants it that way.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seven years and a payoff

It doesn't look real does it? The Hand of God can be surreal in perfection sometimes. In the Summer of 2001, I had finally managed to get another of these plants to bloom. I had picked up a mature specimin at a yard sale, and managed to provoke it to bloom in three years. Conditions (sunlight, food, water and age) all have to be perfect for that to happen. The following winter, our house in Georgia burned, along with the ric-rac (or zipper) plant like this one which was sitting next to the garage. Most of my patio plants are descendants of plants from Georgia...that one just happened to perish. The plant is actually a member of the cactus family and has some wicked thorns embedded at the base of each "zipper". I've born hundreds of nasty punctures working with it over the years. Anyhoo, the next spring we moved down here and I was at a nursery in Winter Haven with Pee Paw (Tilena's Dad). We saw one of these in a small planter behind the cash register and I tried to buy it. Unfortunately, the owner said it was a personal item and not for sale....they're relatively rare. When we got back to his house, he handed me a 2 inch piece of the plant he said the owner's wife slipped to him while we were checking out.....don't know that I ever believed that story, but anyway, I brought that small piece home and got it rooted. I think of that old man every time I see this plant. This photo represents seven years work and a single payoff. Blooms on these plants are even more rare than the plant itself. It's about 4 inches across and it really looks artificial. This photo was taken with a flash right after dark when they usually initially open...its still not fully unfurled. The stamen on it sticks straight out about an inch from the petal base.

Long years of labor and a payout....not an uncommon theme. Nick will graduate high school in a couple of weeks. I bent over to change his diaper and when I looked up, he was 18 years old. He's the last calf out of the stall. The rodeo is over. I don't feel old enough to have three grown children. Then I look in the mirror, and I'm not sure who that guy looking back is. He does look old enough for three grown children....sigh, It's time for the payoff. T-Bug and I have talked on and off over the years about what the payoff may eventually be. We found with Christy that it can be a big payday. Given the least guidance of the three, she paid off big. We actually had the least invested in her because we had no idea how to raise her; we were learning on the fly. We all three just kind of grew up together. Ryan is finishing up his first year of college and the jury remains out on that charge. I'm not sure my parents would have professed great blossoms of their cactus plants. The five of us yeilded a sundry of results all across the spectrum ranging from poor to average...none of us produced particularly spectacular results. Joelene, probably the best chance at spectacular bloom, was killed at age 17.

With these two boys now, the hay is in the barn. Studies taught, lessons learned, what is done, is done. Only God knows what their future holds. Mom and Dad's knowledge have been imparted. Time will tell. We pray constantly over them, but the time for influrence has gone. It is time to let go. I can only lead now by way of model rather than word. Their eyes work much better than their ears at this age. Will we have another blossom, or a couple of thorns? We've had a lot of nasty punctures over the years....maybe we'll get another bloom or two for a payoff. There is great comfort in the promises of our Lord, and T-Bug's favorite verse. "Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not depart from it". Proverbs 22:6.

One proven, two to go.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Couple of interesting shots from the weekend. First look at the shot of the Walking Iris Bloom. I'm convinced the most perfect of all God's flowers. Three pure white petals signifying the perfection and purity of the Trinity. Then inbetween each white petal is a corresponding petal of royal purple rising up and curling back over itself as if preparing to cloak the shoulders of the whole blossom. This one opened with the early morning sun of Easter Sunday.
The other shot is the end result of four straight days of dawn to dusk kitchen duty. The undisputed queen of hospitality and sausage biscuit birthday cakes.....this was taken about 5 pm on Sunday Afternoon. I DO so love that girl.
Well Peep, Easter came again. You were thought of often Sunday. It was your favorite holiday of the year and I always remember the fun we had at your house every year. We do our best to continue in the tradition of fun, food and mostly a reverence for the awareness of our Risen Lord. The kids....as when we came to your house were the focal point of the day....but like you.....the big kids had their fun too.

I guess my greatest treat was watching my Gracie daintly pick through the shrubbery for eggs....nothing like the "Helter-Skelter manner of he mother. You know Christy has never been shy about anything. You should have seen her go after the "money eggs" There's nothing she wont pick up through or look under. Watching her with Parker is just such a joy. He's a colicky child and certainly a challenge sometimes...but she is so patient through it all. He does pay off in his good moments. I was fortunate to enjoy some of those. I even enjoyed my turn with him through the colic jags....a good reminder of the year plus we endured that with Stinky Ninky.

My sister Angie came up with husband Paul and daughter Sarah. They are still relatively new to the "discovery techniques" necessary to successful camoflage egg hunting, and therefore didn't fare quite aw well as the others who have 20 plus years of experience...but we did make sure as you always did that "everyone scored".

You would be glad to know Mimi and Penny both came down with Cheryl. Neither Cheryl or Penny get around too well just now....both have a bad wheel. Mimi seems to have fully recovered and looked good. Kristine "a friend of mine and Tilena's" joined in and completed the fun.

Well, Peep....I'm gonna go hit the bed. It's 10:00 and I've had a long long day preparing for Commission Workshop tomorrow. It will be my first one and I'm not really confident on how it will all work out.....but it will work with the Grace of our God.

Hope you enjoy the photos Peep. We all miss you so much. It will just never be the same.

Don and Company

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

But for the Grace of God...There go I....

I talked to an old friend today. Something I had needed to do and have been trying to get my nerve up to do for a long time. Time, words, and events had separated us by more than 12 years and I must confess, until recently, I had grown to consider him an enemy rather than a friend. Actually I had called his office yesterday and after leaving my name with his secretary and being put on hold briefly, I learned he was not available....after that, I honestly never expected him to call me back, but today he did. I am glad.

Although we had both grown up in Perry and known each other all our lives, and considered one another friends, the last time we had actually spoken was not a warm and fuzzy type of moment. We had both made a career of law enforcement, and it was that very thing that would drive a wedge between us. The year was 1996. We had just finished a long tough and bitter run for the office of sheriff of Taylor County Florida. Seven or eight of us started the race, but after the primary it narrowed into a tight and ugly runoff between me and "Bummy". Bummy won of course, and life as I knew it was about to change. I don't know how many of you have ever run for or been very close to a political race....but there is nothing endearing about the process. An awful lot of things are said and not much of it is generous. Bummy and I both had young families, and it was gut wrenching for them to have to go through that. I actually began to think of someone I had always considered a friend to be a bitter enemy. Through it all I learned a lot about a lot of different people and especially about myself that I didn't like. I remember sitting on the floor in a back bedroom of our house holding onto Tilena's hand as the election results came in by radio. God was pruning the first branch on my overgrown non producing tree.....the ego branch went first. How could anyone not vote for me? We had spent every dime we had on this race and borrowed $10.000.00 more. We were dead broke with three kids and a new house. The branch of financial idolatry fell next. Tilena had believed in me and I had failed her. Down came the branch of pride. She cried that night and I was so numb and hollow inside. It's a feeling like suddenly you realize....the majority of the people in you're hometown don't believe in you. Now I was working at the Sheriff's Office at the time and actually held the rank of Captain. So, as you can imagine, the last words between me and Bummy were spoken in January of 1997 and were something along the lines of..."Don, ole buddy...Bummy think ole Don gonna have to find his self another job". He actually talks that way, and I don't mention it to belittle him,,,,it is a very charming attribute he has. I really think it bestows a sort of humbleness to hear someone refer to themselves in the third person. And humbleness was something I was quickly learning.

I did eventually find another job.....but I had to leave my home and family to do it. The boys were so young, and Christy was still in school, so until the school year was over, I was in Georgia on my own. Do you know how hard it is to leave three children and a wife for six months? I had lived in Perry all my life, and even built a house for my family on the same farm my parents still lived on. I was still close enough to drive home for a short visit on the weekends, but today my heart just shatters every time I think back over those days. Knowing what a tough job it was to leave Tilena alone with three kids and knowing she had to work too to make ends meet. The job I got as Police Chief in Quitman, Georgia paid less than I was making when I left the SO and now we had two homes to support. We struggled with loneliness, fear, finances and sometimes even our faith. I still think of those Sunday Nights when it was time to get back in my little truck and head back for Georgia all alone. Ryan was four years old and he would hold so tightly I would have to peel his little hands away from me. Then he would run inside the house so I wouldn't see him cry. As I drove away down that long dusty drive way, I always watched out the rearview mirror and could see him standing in the window of his room watching as long as he could see the lights of that truck. That will leave a hole in your heart. Nick was really too young to understand, but he was crying because Tilena and Christy were crying. Daddy would cry too, but as I've said before, none of them ever saw it. It wasn't just that it was my immediate family, but my parents were both advanced in years and I was the only one of their children still around. They had always depended on me an awful lot too. A farm doesn't run itself and there's not much a 70 year old man in failing health can do about it. The whole place fell into disrepair over the next few years, as did the health of my parents. I shed many, many private tears on that dark road to Quitman. It would be fair to say a blackness began to spread around my heart and I felt like I owed it all to Bummy. I said many times....."he needs to feel what it's like to do this". I blamed him for my missing out on my children growing up and I blamed him for missing out on my parents growing old. I was blaming him for a process God himself was using to take me where my service was waiting on me. The first fork in a new road always has the most potholes. But God knew from day one that Don's life was not to be spent in Perry, Florida. The branch of idolatry by family was being pruned.

The years slid by and we eventually found a home and wonderful church family in Quitman and it was there I learned to be a Police Chief. Those people were awfully patient with me as I seemed to make a mistake for every success. I made lifelong friends and memories. I was blessed to coach both my boys in little league football and baseball...we just never quite could get ahead financially. God was still pruning that branch...it kept wanting to re sprout. Quitman is a poor town and finances there are brutal. That part was always a struggle. But still in my heart, I always harbored hard feelings toward Bummy. I knew that was wrong, but I just still wasn't man enough to deal with it and get on with it. Eventually we found ourselves in Clewiston. Although not rich and never will be, we are comfortable and happy. As I write there are four people in the house and five cars in the driveway. One kid in college and one set to start this year. My soon pending retirement is secure and I won't have to worry with finances as I walk those final years. Contentment is a blessing of God's own Hand. I've thought often of the friends, sights, experiences and life I've enjoyed that I would never have known without having to experience that that awful day I had to drive away from my family. We survived...we actually thrived. God has blessed us in every way imaginable. Tilena and I walked over bridges we never knew we would face. Each trial making us stronger. During one particularly tough stretch, I lost both my parents in a span of eleven months. Every Friday Night for a year and a half, I drove six hours to Perry and every Sunday Night I drove six hours home. For eighteen months friends....think about that. Most of those trips, my family faithfully climbed in the car with me and kept me company. My thoughts turned many times to Bummy and my false belief that he somehow was the reason for all my pain....all my loss. At a time when my momma and daddy needed me the most, I was six hours away. Mom and Dad have been gone for several years now. The old farm so rich in my mind fell derelict and has been sold. My own boys are standing on the edge of the nest now, they'll soon follow Christy and fly on too. These days, I've found myself thinking of Bummy again.....but differently.

See, on New Year's Eve this past January 1st. I was enjoying the evening at Christy's house in Savannah with ALL of my family around me. Including my Emma Grace. While we were enjoying each other's company my cell phone rang. A friend of mine from Perry called and told me that Bummy's son had just committed suicide. God had just cut off the branch of grudge. Maybe the most painful cut I had suffered yet just filled me with unimaginable shame. I stood without talking or moving for several minutes just looking at my two sons and my daughter, granddaughter, and perfect wife. Bummy's boy was about the age of my two boys and all I could think about right then was Ryan clinging so tightly to me when I left him on those Sunday Nights so long ago. Time changes things people, and if you'll just let him, God will change your heart. Yeah, I left my family that Sunday Night in March of 1997....but every Sunday before and every Sunday since that day, somewhere, somehow...we gathered together somewhere as a family and worshipped our Creator. Christ Jesus has always led our family. It was never a question of what Dad said to do versus what Mom said to do. Our lives were led according to what God said. He eventually took me to a community where we prospered with family, friends, church and community. A commmunity that not only has entrusted me with their safety for more than seven years now as Chief of Police, but even appointed me as their Interim City Manager for the next several months. That's a long way removed from the floor of that house in Perry where I held a crying young wife in November of 1996.

Bummy's boy I think was his only child...I'm not positive. I don't know what his relationship with Christ was. I never did know him well enough to have an opinion of him, but any judgement anyway is strictly between him and God. But I do know where my wife, Christy, Ryan, Nick and Don Gutshall stand. We each cluster daily beneath the cover of the cross and allow the blood of our Savior to flow again. The days apart were tough, the nights sometimes almost intolerable. But on a cold January night when a young man found his life too painful to bear and decided to end it, our lives found us gathered together thanking God for a prosperous year.....and my old friend sat in the grief of his dying child's blood. I made up my mind right then, I had spent years harboring a grudge against someone I had no reason not to call a friend. God's road is not always pointed in the direction we want to go. There's rocks, thorns and more than a few rickety bridges to cross. But he always has a destination. I wound up where God intended, and instead of counting it as a blessing, I had nurtured it as a grudge.

I sent Bummy a card and a Book of the word of God that week. I prayed for him often and asked often during the following days for the courage to call him and to give me the words to say. Well, today the circle closed. I talked with my old friend for about forty five minutes. He's still grieving, and there's not a lot I could say to make it any better. Only our Lord has that salve. I will still commit to pray for Bummy. Our lives have taken divergent paths since that conversation in early 1997. Bummy was not my enemy, he was a tool God used to pry me away from a place I didn't belong. God knew Bummy was the best man to be Sheriff of Taylor County and he knew he had other plans for me in another place. Bummy Williams is actually a man you just can't help but like. He is a charming, low key guy with a real genuine love for his community. Over the years I found myself forced to rely more and more on my Lord. More and more...he delivered. How easily things could have been different and I could be Sheriff of Taylor County Florida....but at what price might it have been? Save for the Grace of My God, might I have been sitting on the floor holding a dying son on that night this past January? God himself only knows these things....but I do know this....But for the Grace of God...There go I...

Today I go daily to an office I find hard to consider work. Surrounded by people who I love greatly and admire. We live in a community of prosperity compared to Quitman and great riches compared to Perry. It seemed that the more I abandon the worry and chase of financial gain...the more God blessed me. The more I gave, the more he returned. God finally revealed the truth to me on these matters....contentment IS the only true wealth. I have found God's calling of missions in my life. I'm blessed with friends from many communities, and the knowledge that I served my Lord at every stop. I've taught sunday school and served as a Deacon in three Churches in three different Communities. Worked with youth and ministered at every stop. Countless friends have enriched the lives of me and my family. My children all know there is a world bigger than Perry, Florida. Perry these days is sort of hollow to drive through. I think I referred to it in an earlier post as "hearing an echo rather than a voice". The place is dying and I don't know what the future holds for them. The population falls every census and it just has a forgotten look and desperate feel. If not for God's painful pruning of my branches...might I still be there? There was a particular path and purpose all along he had in mind for me. Who, but God, is wise enough to conjoin law enforcement and ministry.....He can do all things. And I live a life of comfort contentment.

Go hug your family....and whatever path God has you on today....walk it closely, and with a grateful heart. Listen carefully to his direction. The path may have a fork at the most unexpected moment. What seems a curse may well be the greatest blessing of all.

God Bless you Bummy, I hurt for you and pray ernestly for God's Grace upon you and your family.

Don and Company

Monday, March 30, 2009

It ain't all paradise

It's 11:30 p.m. amd I've just crept in after another long day. The boys are in bed and I hear Tilena's soft breathing a few feet away. But Bowden, faithful Bowden, lay right next to the garage door where he knew I would come in sooner or later. I sure wish I felt the confidence in myself he always shows in me. I feel like I'm missing so much the last couple of weeks. It's not going to be easy to accomplish this....but I have the confidence in my God to see me through. Spending most of my time learning things I'd long ago forgotten (Calculus and Statistics) is chore enough. Believe me when I say this kids.....you will need this stuff again one day.

I really thought I was gonna get an earlier than normal exit from work today. My lessons were complete at City Hall by 4:30 and I ran briefly by to check on a couple of ongoing issues at the PD. Kristine of course had things well in hand and I slipped on out the door. I came home after making a quick stop at the Animal Shelter project we've just finished building. By 6:30 I was dirty, content, and pulling weeds in my back yard...just really enjoying life. Then the reality of todays world invaded my peace.

Three young men had been shot in a drive by shooting within a city park crowded with kids, parents, toddlers and teens. I honestly don't know where this will all end. But I am fairly confident it will not end well. All of South Florida is at a crossroads. The culture of our people has changed and I am struggling to understand. I have begun to experience a feeling I never expected to know......what day will I get a call to the hospital for my wife or child caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. As I sit here now, dozens and dozens of interviews and interrogations continue at the police department. We're not even sure at the moment if these kids were intended targets or simply standing in a park being kids. Two of them have very serious injury a third has a bullet wedged into a bone in his leg. No one can tell me why this is happening......"Oh, I know what they say...."he's a member of that group, or he's a member of that group" but why....that just don't tell me why. Three young men damaged physically tonight to a degree none will ever fully recover from. And then the other side a group of kids who WILL be caught. Their lives and very freedom gone for nothing more than vanity and status. Satan's Dominion shows stronger by the day,

I have no fear for myself, but I bear full responsibility ordained by Jehovah God to protect my family. There are days now I fear I'm not fulfilling my obligation.....I love Clewiston, but the culture is changing at a pace I find myself, my experience, my training, my limited knowledge struggling to cope with. I honestly have great doubt if we're going to be able to salvage South Forida. I know that every minute detail is within our Creator's ability to control.....I just don't know what he has in mind. I recall well how he allowed his own chosen people to experience decimation and disaster a number of times. There's no reason he wouldn't choose to allow it again.

Pray for me please. Pray for my ear to hear, heart to feel, and a mind sharply attuned to Christ our Lord. There will be no peace in this town without his direct influence. I need to recognize his voice when he speaks. I need the courage to follow his word.....whatever he speaks to me. Pray I'm wise enough to follow. Pray with grinding conviction, our community will be willing to fight with me.

The phone rings again, I must go tend the store. The night is dark...and so far tonight, Satan is on the prowl.

Don and Company

Sunday, March 29, 2009

In the blink of an eye

Belly full, family here, rain on the ground, Jr. on the track, a precious afternoon of peace....good time for a nap. The week is in the books, and I've learned a lot about myself and other people I didn't know.

Some of you guys don't know, but my life is going through a dramatic adjustment these days. About ten days ago, we were in a City Commission Meeting and I was in the back of the room sitting on my stool in the corner which is my customary position where I can see everyone in the room and get to the door or the commission podium quickly if need be. Things had gone fairly normal and we were just about to adjourn when a quick exchange between the Mayor and City Manager suddenly went South. Five minutes later, literally in the blink of an eye, the City Manager had resigned and I found myself as the Acting City Manager. But nothing was said about relief from the sworn duty of Police Chief. The current Manager's contract calls for him to vacate the office on April 17th. Now being the Acting City Manager is nothing new, I've held that place for several months now, but never with the knowledge that there was a possibility of the word "interim" slipping in. A 2-3 day Acting Manager role is infinitely different from the possibility of a 9-10 month interim duty.

I don't know what the days ahead hold, but I will have a better idea on April 16th. We will have a budget workshop that evening and hopefully the Commission will act to officially appoint an Interim Manager. While there has been some indication the Commission intends for that to be me, no one has officially said that.....and for that matter it could be anyone they want it to be. So, just to be prepared for whatever the future holds, I've been going into the office (PD) very early every morning. One morning I was there at 2:15 a.m. Once City Hall opens up, I go over and try to learn from my current City Manager as much as possible about all the issues facing our community. Now these are some fairly interesting issues (SFWMD and State of Florida's purchase of US Sugar for 1.5 Billion dollars, a wastewater treatment expansion project and the related financing package, completion and occupation of a new industrial park which is pending millions of dollars of USDA Grant Funds) Now these issues are aside from the normal day to day employee and administrative functions of the job. So, then later in the afternoon, I'm back to the Police Department to try and catch up on my normal duties. Most days are now ending between 6 and 6:30 p.m., with a return trip to the police department after dinner each night.

Weighing heavily upon my mind through all this are the difficulties a couple of my officers are facing. One officer lost his wife unexpectedly this week to a tragic accident. Another officer and his wife who also happens to be one of our dispatchers have a child (infant) who is critically ill and has been in ICU at a hospital on the coast all week. My Assistant Chief had an unexpected trip come up late in the week, and her absence has magnified my awareness of how much I depend upon her day to day.

The toughest thing in all this is the things I've had to let go of. I'm going to have to turn Sunday School, Missions and my lawn over to some other people for a while. I'll just claim every free moment for a while for Tilena and the boys. T's been so patient with me so far. She even came to the PD with me after church today while I took care of a couple of things I didn't get done during the week. Who knows, maybe the Commission will appoint someone unexpected next month and all my extra studies will be for naught. We won't know for sure till the gavel falls that night. But till then...a fella has to be prepared. And I do intend to be prepared.

The greatest comfort is knowing we don't have a single Department Head who is incapable of handling their business indefinitely. Having a current City Manager who is willing to answer the phone and help me through any scrape is golden. Serving a professional, honorable, knowledgeable, and most of all Godly City Commission is priceless. There is enormous knowledge and support available to me or whoever the Commission appoints. We will be alright.

Through it all God has increased my energy and given great strength to my confidence through ernest prayer. I ask you all to join in prayer for our community these days.

Be patient with me in the days to come. I will update as I can. Love you all.

Don and Company

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What did YOU do today?

I'm fairly certain we were not meant to live as we do. Not in a spiritual sense mind you , though in that fallen nature we certainly lack God's intended purpose, but judging simply in physical existence, there's an absolute conviction in my soul that challenges our place in this creation.

The last couple of weeks I've spent nearly all of my free waking time laboring in the yard on a new project. Measured by soul and spirit the effort has been strong...by physical standard though, quite weak. What has taken two weeks to accomplish I once could have completed in three days. At a time in my life now when I have more physicians than friends, I have been cautioned against strenuous labor. As I lie in bed nightly of late, I recognize the wisdom of their collective reason. The exercise so necessary for a healthy heart, severely challenges the rest of my body. Joints, lungs and muscle fiber scream in rebellion against the days requirement of physical toil. By comparison though, as I look over the results of a fortnight labor, my spirit and soul rest in great calm.

Stopping often (as I must these days) in the midst of labor, ample opportunity is given to reflect on things. The feel of rough bark in my hands and soft grass underfoot reminds me of my roots. Not just the fact that I spring on both sides from a family of hardworking farmers. But a deeper root...an awareness that back into the mists of dawning days when man's fall drove us from the garden; there was a command of God unto us to labor and toil upon the soil. No feeling compares to the warmth of a sore back and a rich mind full of the confidences of an honest day's labor. As I sit here before this trendy flat computer screen, I wonder about what God thinks of our electronic advances, artifical intelligence, stock portfolios, and just where what I'm currently doing fits into "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Growing up on a farm gave me a great appreciation for the miracle of all things green. There's a satisfaction to be gained by "harnessing the ground". It's a good thing. Any directive of our Creator is a good thing. See though, there just simply doesn't seem to be a lot of "sweat of the brow" type of sustinence going on anymore. Actually there's more "software" than "hardware" people today. Again I'll refrain: "I don't know what God thinks of all of this", I just question it all in my mind. We can't all claim root to the Tribe of Levi now can we?

My hands quickly remembered how to callouse over these last few days. A feeling I appreciate in a man. The countless days of harvesting corn by hand, picking peas, staking tomatoes and cutting hay washed over my mind like an old friend as I worked. The smell of those steer stalls I shoveled out weekly still wafts around in my nose. Growing up knowing how to work pays a lifetime of dividends. Stopping because you're sore or tired is just sometimes not an option. It has felt good to sweat and labor in spite of the price I've paid in pain of late. It just seems to me that far too few of us truly experience physical labor anymore. Even in my condition of health I recognize the value of the toil and sweat. I'm not what I once was physically, not even close really. Neither hand nor foot will respond to the direction of my mind very well anymore. Sometimes there's not enough air to breathe. There was a day when I could swing an axe and run a chain saw from sun up until after dark. I've pulled crab traps, and dug post holes by hand day after day for weeks on end. As a 12 year old, I ran all day for what was supposed to be a "Walk-a-thon". Remember those? I was just so darned competetive that I ran 20 miles that day just to be first at the finish line. I didn't win anything, but I DID run 20 miles. I read somewhere....I don't recall where, but it was a truly insightful phrase....Accomplishment is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. We have a lot on inspiration going on these days and precious little perspiration. I struggle some days just to get out of bed in the mornings. It seems to be getting worse of late and that burdens my heart. But I just can't find it in me to sit down and "do as the doctor ordered". The peace of a contented spirit soothes me more than a comfy body. It just seems to me, we would all be better off wearing our bodies out...spending them up, using them up. Hands and feet were created by God for work. What part of this physical body are we saving up for Heaven anyway? When I trade this model in for a new one, it will be without shame. I intend to have squeezed every ounce of usefulness out of the one I have now. The soil will not rest as long as I am able to command this body to rise.

I have decided that I'll do all I can do as long as I can do it. I don't know if my heart will quit first or if my joints will cease to move. But my spirit will never rest. God said to toil, sweat and work his earth. He didn't say, "unless you're a doctor, lawyer, or police chief", He said work and sweat. I take that literally and intend to obey. Many of us satisfy that challenge with a labor of physical exertion of our jobs. Other's "like me for instance" rarely break a sweat at our profession. There are many ways to sweat of course...worry will do it and so will a pick up game of basketball. But somehow, I don't believe that's what God had in mind. Looking over a green manicured lawn, sweet smelling blossoms and harnessed "for the moment" vegetation convince me every day that God intends us to literally "tend his garden". I'll be back in that soil one day. Until then...I'll tend it with bone weary hands and water it with the sweat of my brow.

Hope you're tired tonight from an honest day of labor. Hope you sweated. Hope you did enough today to dignify your existence. I'm still trying to earn that feeling myself.

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

Sunday, March 15, 2009

To the Moon Alice....To the Moon

1943 hours 15 March 2009....the last Shuttle Mission ever. Space Shuttle Discovery just roared out of our atmosphere enroute to a final rendevouz with the International Space Station. I was blessed to be able to watch it with the family. I just remembered it was going up about five minutes before launch. It just gave me time to grab the camera, Tilena and Ryan and get outside to watch. Nick was off watching basketball with his friends. Hope he remembered. I'm glad to have lived in a time and place where I could just walk out the front door of my home and "watch her ride". This evening we got an unexpected treat, we were actually able to see the main rocket booster separate and fall to the ocean. We had never seen that live before. Before you look, no, I did not get a picture of it....well I did, but you can't tell what it is just looking at it.

A lot has changed over the lifetime of the space program. I'm not convinced it has all been for the better either. Maybe I just don't remember as well given my age, but I just don't remember as many disasters happening during the Apollo Missions. It certainly doesn't seem to be any safer today considering all the technological advances. You know, the idea of a man on the moon is a concept our kids see as completely foreign if not totally irrelevant. They don't even know the relevance of the title of this post either. I am thankful my Creator saw fit for me to experience life during the days I grew up. What a rich, wonderful time. I can imagine the draw for a man to ride a rocket into the cosmos....I would go given the opportunity. There just has to be such a quiet, glorious reverence in the deep vacuum of space.

The nighttime launches were always the best. What a light show they were. People up and down the street would pull out lawn chairs while the kids ran around playing. It's kind of sad in a way. The final chapter of another era. I don't know what the next space craft will be or where it will call home, but I do know this...a lot of history goes into the books tonight. I will remember it well.

Many times the shuttle would glide directly overhead on her final approach coming home after a mission. The sonic boom would rattle your bones. It was really a shock if you weren't expecting it. Gliding is not really a good word for such an ungainly awkward bird. A controlled crash is more like it. I don't know what the re-entry plans are for this mission, but I sure would like one final "boom".

All that's left now is the trail of dust. She left here like a winner; blazing off in a cloud of glory. This is the aftermath of the liftoff standing in the front doorway of our house. She's on her way friends. Adeiu and farewell lady. May God smile upon your "discovery" and all you "endeavor".

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wish you were fine, the weather is here...

Its been awfully dry around here. The weather lady said this morning we've had only 3 inches since the 1st of November. That is typical for us, we get 3 inches per week for 26 weeks, then only 3 inches total the other 26 weeks. That's a tough environment for plant or animal. You'll see a lot of brown in the vegetation around the lake and lagoons in these photos, but it's not cold weather that does it....it's drought.

In this first shot, the Army Corps of Engineers is doing some type of construction work. I'm not sure exactly what...I think it may have to do with the restoration of the dike. They're probably trying to get it done while the lake is low.

The next photo shows some skullers enjoying the day. As much as I've complained about it being so dry...I don't know of any place have any more glorious weather. I actually took time today to check out the weather around the country and world where some of our friends are and here's what I found for the past 24 hour high temperatures in each of those locations:

Monterey, Va. 29 degrees
London, England 51 degrees
Congo 95 degrees
Perry, Fl 66 degrees
Savannah, Ga 57 degrees
Los Angeles, CA 63 degrees
Edinburgh, Scotland 50 degrees
Clewiston, Fl 82 degrees and tonight"s forecast low is 63

I think I'll shut up about the rain.....

Down below "for our out of town readers" is a shot of the lock from
the inside of the dike. The locks stay closed because the lake is
normally higher than the level of water in the lagoon and canals connected to it which meander through the town. There's not a great deal of difference right now, but by the end of the rainy season, the lake will be four or five feet higher which could cause some serious problems in town.

The bottom left photo is a picture of the actual levee. It averages
30 feet in height, 150 feet thick at the base, and runs all the way around the lake...143 miles. There's a paved road on top of it all the way around. It's a comforting sight when hurricane season rolls in.

Over to the right here is another group of scullers coming through today. You never know what you'll get off that old lake. One day 150 ft mega yachts, the next day freighters, and then rowboats and scullers.....But always, always screaming 250 hp bass boats and
v-8 powered air boars. When these barges come through, they're drawing so much depth, the water runs up the bank 3-4 feet in advance of the craft.

This guy had just come in off the open lake and was making the turn to head on West toward the Caloosahatchee River. Clewiston sits halfway along the cross state inland water way. These barges can come in at St Lucie...cross the Lake and then get through the locks into the Caloosahatchee River. Then they come out in Ft. Myers Harbor. A shortcut that saves hundreds of miles versus going all the way south through the Florida Straits at key West.

These last couple of shots are from the January FLW Bass Fishing Tournament. These guys are the last flight to leave that morning and they're just coming through the lock. 130 boats went out with two fishermen in each one. Just by way of information for Terry and Vickie....notice how these folks are dressed at 6:30 a.m. in late January. By the way,

there was no snow in the forecast that day. Right below is the Folgers Coffee Sponsored boat. Every boat has a major corporation sponsor. Everybody from Crown Royal, to Kellogs, to Castrol has a couple of boats out there. They've got some spanking paint jobs on them. Just like the NASCAR hot rods. And if you've never seen it, you just gotta be there when a 16 ft boat with a 250 hp outboard pulls a hole shot.

Well, you guys all have a good night. I'm about to punch the clock. My ole body is pooped.
I've been out in the yard digging holes since I got off work.....I

know, I know, one thing I don't need is another flower bed. But,
hey....that's my thing. I'll be crippled tomorrow, but I sure enjoyed today. Tilena's in Ft. Lauderdale having her hair done then staying with Del tonight so it's just me and the dogs...the boys are off being teenaged boys.

Till the next time, may God richly bless you all. Live righteously, pray ernestly, and go to church Sunday....and Sunday Night....and Wednesday for that matter. It will do you good.

And where ever you may be....enjoy the weather.

Don and Company

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In the books

I just happend to catch this sunset tonight. Nick and I were playing basketball in the driveway when I chased an errant ball before it rolled into the canal. When I picked it up and turned around, I looked straight into this. I ran into the house to grab the camera and just made it back outside as it slid into the cane field. The last moment of the day hangs in the balance on the Western edge...another one in the books. By the time it rises again to the East, T-Bug will be another year of this earth. We've had another blessed year and seen our world change. Not always for the better mind you...but change it did. Goodbyes were said to Darlie and a big hello for Parker.
Doing anything for Tilena's birthday is always hard for me. Every time I wake to another day with her is like a birthday all over again for me. She's the rudder for my life. I would just drift with any wind without her. I sure pray the Lord sees fit for us to enjoy many birthdays together to come. We've got a beautiful strawberry cake in the kitchen. T's friend Vickie makes them and they just look divine. Tilena and the boys say it tastes as good as it looks...I don't eat much in the way of sweet stuff, so I've never tasted one of them. We went ahead and had cake today cause tomorrow is a church night.
Well, speak of the birthday girl, I hear her pulling into the driveway. She went to Praise Team Practice tonight. I'm gonna go visit. You all have a great night.
Happy Birthday T.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tilena and I left home Saturday Afternoon at 3 pm. It was 81 degrees and sunny. We made it to Savannah at 1030 p.m. and spent the night with Christy, Carlton Emma Grace and Parker. Grudgingly, we left there about 10:30 on Sunday Morning. A hard days drive brought us into Monterey at 1000pm Sunday Night. The last three hours were in the snow...not an everyday experience for a salty ole cracker like me. Particularly in the most mountainous terrain East of the Mississippi. We took the first photo here from atop Monterey Mountain Monday Morning.
The second photo shows the time of the morning (9:21) and the temperature (13). Getting up that winding road in the ice and snow was a trick. God is Glorious when we listen to him. I really had no intention of buying an all wheel drive Saab the previous month when I started car shopping. But I did prayerfully consider all options and was awfully glad to have it on this day.
The third photo is a shot looking South at the bottom end of the "holler" where my Dad and all his siblings were born and raised. That is the historic Jackson River flowing through there. We had just driven over an icy one lane rickety old ancient bridge to get to this point.
The fourth shot is mid way up the holler (about a quarter of a mile above the Jackson River) headed East from the highway. The shot is looking "down holler" to the West. We were steadily climbing a slippery icy snowy lane headed up to the top of the holler. Believe it or not, we made it up to the old two story farm house about a quarter mile on above this shot. The new owners have restored the place and it is absolutely gorgeous. The house itself sits next to a small creek at the edge of a steep shale cliff which runs on up to the top of the mountain.....and I forgot to take a photo.
As we left Monterey following Darlies funeral, we stopped about halfway upthe mountain and took this photo of the Town of Monterey. I think you can see what draws me to the place. If you can imagine these places in the Springtime with wild flowers covering the slopes, Summertime with the multi colored greens, or most impressively the Autumn reds, yellows and oranges blazing away. It really is one of God's great works. Cold cold cold cold cold cold....but stunningly beautiful.
I'll tell more about the details of the trip later, right now I must tend to the grill. We're having steak, baked potatos, pork sausage, green beans, and Cuban bread....yeah Terry, I'm grilling outside barefoot and in shorts....hear there's some weather up your way.....
Don & Co.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rubbin is Racin

For our regular readers, I would like to show off some of my "Northern" family. This is the King clan of the Commonwealth of Virginia. They all live is a small hamlet of about 150 people along the Virginia /West Virginia line deep in the Alleghenny Mountains. As you can tell, they are 'racin' fans like me.
The Matriarch of this group is my dad's youngest sister "Darlie" who is married to my Uncle Tinker. Terry "my cousin" married
Vickie and they live next door to Tink and Darlie. Their son
Aaron is the biggest racing fan of all. You can see him in the shot
below standing next to Dale Jr's car. Above, you can see Terry and
Vickie standing with Aaron next to the truck. Terry's sister Denise
lives on the other side of Tink and Darlie still "I think". Ole Kirk
is Terry and Denise's youngest brother and he lives at home to
help take care of Darlie who has been ill for years. As a matter of
fact, Vickie e-mailed me earlier to tell me Darlie is back in ICU.
Please lift this family in your prayers. The last sibling of the group is Darrin. Last I heard, he was living in Manassas....that's near DC for you ignorant South Georgia readers....Anyhoo, the whole tribe is in the photo to the left. This was taken this past Christmas.
My life is certainly richer for having known them and being a part
of such a warm family. They stick together and have unabashed
love for each other. Terry is an accomplished artist. He makes
signs and drawings of various natures as a part time job. Had he
chosen, he could have moved to a larger place and made more
money than most of us could imagine. But he is evidence of a truth
I've learned....Wealth seldom brings contentment...but
contentment always brings wealth. He knows the needs of his
Mom and Dad. I'm sure neither has ever voiced it, but he just knows his loyalties and obligations. Now then, Vickie...she's a bird. I don't think I've ever had more fun just being around someone than her. Before my Dad died, he bought a bumper sticker for Vickie's car that he never gave her. It said..."I ain't speeding, I'm qualifying". I do believe she would have fun just going to the dentist office. She's more fun than a bucket of greased eels. I've watched her sled down the hillside for hours just to entertain the kids when I was too cold to stand on the porch. They're both rock solid in their faith and raising Aaron on a narrow path.
I don't get to that part of the world very often, and I feel a strange draw to it. It is my ancestrial home, and who knows what the future holds...A man has to make a living and there's just not much need for a police chief in Monterey. You would have to see the beauty for yourself to understand it. These folks live on a hillside above the Jackson River. Just across a small valley rises the first of five of the Alleghenney Mountains to the East....ya just gotta see it.
Pray for my family if you will. I do.
In God's Glory
Don & Co.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Husband Years

Below is a couple of shots of two identical vanaties situated on opposite sides of our bathroom. The one on the bottom belongs to my bride, and the one on the top is mine. They illustrate as well as anything can one of the many mysteries of the differences between man and his keeper. The photos were taken at the same time, same day, with absolutely no preparation or pre planning. They are both just as you would find them on any given day of the year.

One hundred forty-seven years of marriage will be entered into the books for us as of Saturday. I guess that spending so much of my life living in the dog house has caused me to age in a similar canine fashion. Anyway I was lying in bed at lunch today, as is my custom, thinking over the things Tilena and I have seen, done, succeeded at, failed at, rejoiced about, and worried over together. There's a formula for super glue out there that has made someone very wealthy, and I'm sure it contains many of these ingredients. Those experiences have bound us together in a way no human intervention could separate. There were ,of course, days when the committment we made before God was the sole reason we remained together. More and more though we are reaping huge dividends and banking enormous profits from gritting out teeth and hanging in there through those tough days. The balance came as we recognized more and more the truth of the words written in Red, and a realization of the trivial nature of most everything else we would encounter. The triangle theory "as some refer to it" says....Take any two entities separated by time, experiences, beliefs, social placement, likes, dislikes, distance and education, and focus them both on the singular Glory of God our Creator and challenge them both to travel "alone" toward that single point. Focus only on the destination God and look neither to the left nor the right. The next time they look over at one another, they will realize how much closer they've become to one another during that time. And as more and more time passes, it becomes clearer how God's mandate of "two becoming one" is fact. I think I said once before...I'd rather be in jail with Tilena, than free with anybody else in the world. She is me, me is she, Me and She are today simply WE. We've fought more battles and suffered more losses than most. But we remain as a testament of a Glorious God's Grace.

Never let it be said though, that we don't have our differences. Actually, we have more differences than commonalities. It was curious that just as I got up from considering these things and a nap that never came, I looked directly into our bathroom. The view gave me a quick reference into the subject. On the one side you see my vanity....identical in construction, scope, size, and material to my bride's side. The similarities end right there. Even at that, of the six small items on my vanity, four of those were put there by my wife. I guess it takes a lot of work to keep such a good looking woman "dressed out"....Now I ain't complaining mind you, just making a comparison. Shoot, I don't even need a comb anymore.

There is a lot a fellow learns over the course of a multi-decade marriage. The fact that wives speak a completely different language is one of them. For example...if she says "whatever, it really doesn't matter to me..." IT MATTERS. If she says "does this dress look bad on me?" your answer shall be..."honey, NOTHING looks bad on you". The most trouble I remember getting into was early in our marriage. One night she pulled on a pair of jeans and asked me...Do these jeans make me look fat? and of course, me being the wit I sometimes think I am, thought it would be funny to say..."No...it's your hips". As soon as the swelling went down and I could see clearly again, I remarked how slim she was looking.

We're just different, women and men. Don't try to analyze it...just accept it. There's no earthly reason to argue over something you're never going to agree about anyway. We simply see things differently. You know, I quit arguing with my wife many years ago. When we don't agree, I just let it go. I'll find something else to do, somewhere to go. What I've recognized is that I love her more than being right. See, if me and her argue, somebody will win and the other one has to lose....and I don't ever want my wife to lose at anything. So here's the thing. either I was wrong to begin with...as I probably would have been anyway...or I go away knowing I've given her the gift of grace. At some point past or future...I owed it to her anyway.

So anyway, these are just a few thoughts I often point out to my sons. I do hope my son in law shares a similar philosophy. Cause he's living with both the second and third most valuable women on the earth today. Besides....I don't imagine he gets a whole lot of "unsecured credit" from my Christy anyway. She can hold her own with anybody. Are you listining boy? Don't make me come up there...............

That mentioned, I'll attempt to put up another shot of Clayton Parker. Of course, there's no way I would leave out my Gracie Bug. She just don't sleep enough.

It's hard work being a big sister.....We're off to Ft. Lauderdale for our anniversary this weekend, so those of you at church, we'll miss you. The boys will hang around and take care of Bowden and Pepper.

God Bless us all.

Don and Company

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Anybody seen Al Gore?

Mama's Home...Woo Hoo! I finally got my lifeline home late Thursday Night. What a blessing. She did manage to get here with the camera and all photos intact. It's actually a bear to download photos to this blog, so you're getting only three out of the batch. The shot of Clayton Parker is pretty close to the moment he drew his first breath of air on this planet. And check out that handsome family of four...my Emma Grace is still my heart beat. Nothing ever compares to my gorgeous bride though. No picture is complete without her in the frame.

It's been a very good couple of days around here. We got Nick home from DC in one piece. He has been a constant chatterbox about his experiences. Ryan and I are most thankful to have Betty Crocker home. We survived on my cooking...but we certainly didn't prosper. We even got grilled salmon and shrimp last night. Stack that up against fishsticks and t.v. dinners. The house smells much better now too. The floor was beginning to wiggle around a little.

Of course, with pleasure comes the pain. The weedy and overgrown lawn was quickly pointed out to me....begging the question...please somebody, please answer me this...When Tilena pointed out the weeds in the flower beds, I told her that putting weed killer out when it is below 70 degrees is a complete waste of time and resources. Then she says "WHY". She is always asking questions like that. Does she really want to know why? "Cause I understand the science behind this phenomenon...and when I start to give the answer, she sort of gets a glazed look on her face..." Or is she just being contrary? Trust me, weed killer don't work in cold weather folks, it just don't. Which leads me to another conundrum...has anybody seen Al Gore? It's 65 degrees outside today, and that's the warmest its been in a week. This has been the coldest winter in 15 flapbanging years...GLOBAL WARMING my eye! The coconut trees are almost completely brown. When was the last time anybody saw anything like that at this latitude? Those weeds are the only thing growing here these days. Irregardless of all that....I faithfully and obediently went outside to cut the dead grass and pull the green weeds. I came back in three hours later and found all the furniture moved around...and some even shoved onto the back porch. One of these days I'm going to come into this house after dark and break my neck. That woman of mine does not like for man nor beast nor inanimate object to sit still long enough to collect dust. But I digress.

Enough for today. I really didn't have much to say....I just wnated to show off the Giddens Family. I'll put up a blurb on the fishing tournament in a couple of days. I do have some goods shots of the boats.

All in God's Glory.

Don and Company

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Flash Flash Flash

He's here, He's Here.....Clayton Parker Giddens has arrived. At 8:45 p.m. A 7lb 2.5 oz baby boy born to Carlton and Christy Giddens in Savannah, Georgia.

I am one happy and relieved Pappy.

Tilena walked into the delivery room as he crowned........God is mighty.

I'll give more news tomorrow. Me, Bowden and Pepper are going to bed. It's been a long day.

PS I did get to tell the boys this time.

A Little Late....

This is a post about "What Could Have Been". Do you ever feel like you're just running a split second behind? Everything I've endeavored to do today....was just done or boogered up by someone else. And as usual...the same person is cutting in front....T-Bug.

I was gonna run a post today about Christy going into labor a week early....but Tilena's apparently already told the entire civilized world. As we were getting ready for work this morning Carlton called to say he was on the way to the hospital with Christy. She, we, and her doctor were all expecting her to deliver in 8-10 more days....everyone that is except Master Clayton Parker Giddens. He's decided there's no time like the present. So, instead of going to LaBelle, Tilena heads off to Savannah. I'll have to wait until later to go up there; work just won't allow it right now. I thought it may be fun to tell Ryan the news at lunch....too late, Mom called him at work. Then I thought, I'm sure Nick will call to check in from Washington DC and I'll get to tell him first. Well, he did call in this afternoon, but guess who had already called him? I don't even get to show Christy and Carlton my new car....guess who drove it up there instead of her own? As a matter of fact, she's a serial tattler. Every one of her family members and friends knew she was pregnant with Ryan before I did....see, this behavior has a pattern. I do worry about her traveling today though, I know she's tired. We were both up at 3 a.m. this morning to see Nick off to the airport. By then we were wired, and niether of us was able to go back to sleep before time to get up for work. You know, the hang nail of all this is....I've just realized, she's even gonna get to see Parker first...

Since I've been beaten to the punch on the baby news, I guess I'll have to settle myself with posting to my blog the photos of the FLW Tournament I've been compiling this week...wait a minute....where's my camera? One guess...Just little late I suppose, just a little late. I'm pretty sure my camera is on the way to Savannah with my bride.

The Tournament has been a lot of fun for me though. As of yesterday the "big fish" of the week was 10 lbs. The five fish leading total yesterday was 25 lbs. I think more than 50 teams were over 18 lbs for the day. Tomorrow will separate the sheep from the goats though. It will be windy and rainy all day with a cold front coming through in the afternoon. It was 85 degrees today and will only be 65 tomorrow. That's an enormous change for fishing conditions. I had some really good photos to show you....I really did....you'll just have to imagine them for now. Maybe we'll have a photo of a fat little boy to show soon instead. Hopefully, the merry "button pusher" won't erase them before she gets home with them.

Until then...love your family, give thanks to our God, and if you're thinking of doing something....go ahead and do it....before you turn up just a little late.

Don & Co.

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

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blood on Our Hands

Today is the second full day of the Obama presidency. "Change" some said we needed....."change" we got. That change will signal the premeditated murder of millions of infants worldwide. The new president has already approved the use of American Taxpayer money to pay for abortions not only in the United States, but worldwide.

A couple of the young men I endeavor to disciple have completely succomed to the popularity of this man. I understand how difficult it is to stand against peer pressure as a young person, and there is great pressure from every side to "follow the Obamarama party". Hollywood, the media and the liberal educational system of this country proved a formidable opponent as they painted any opposition as racist and bigoted. So many bought into the propaganda on "change" principle. Forget the fact that no one knew what they were changing from or changing to. This week, the price tag is becoming visible. Babies are paying the first bill. Blood will flow from every corner of the globe, because so many people were afraid to think for themselves. Blood on our hands. As bad as I feel for myself having to live through this, I feel worse, even grieve, for those who supported it and made it possible. Many are shocked already at what their vote has made possible in a county founded on Christian foundations.

If murder is not enough for you, look at the mess of the world economy. Not a word has been breathed from the media, but I challenge you to do a bit of research. The credit crisis and Wall Street's fall began the day after it became apparent Hillary Clinton would not win the Democratic Party's nomination. The corporate financial minds of the world have known all along what the rest of us are just beginning to understand about the Obama economic "plan" of giveaway and takeaway. Every week since he has been nominated, the markets have sustained a net loss. It has only worsened since he's been in Washington. He said "free" and all of the grazers of our country followed. We will suffer from this "reign" and we will suffer huge.

Here's how to put this whole "free money" thing this clown is offering into perspective...Years ago, I was a School Resource Officer. One afternoon I was invited into a 3rd grade classroom to serve as an impartial observer for a mock election. The kids drew straws to determine which two would actually "run" for the office of classroom president. Willie and Ann Marie were the lucky two and set about getting themselves elected. Ann Marie was extremely articulate for a 9 year old and gave a compelling speech which pointed out her interests, good grades and many school activities. Her parents were often around and involved in school functions. Willie on the other hand was a marginal student who was involved in no extra curricular activities at all. No one could remember ever seeing him at a school function let alone a parent or guardian. He stammered for a few seconds and then said..."If you vote for me, I'll give everybody free ice cream". Well, of course, when he said that to a room full of 3rd graders....school's out. Nevertheless, the teacher insisted the students ask the candidates questions and some did. One kid even asked Willie how he would pay for the ice cream and who was going to bring it. Of course, Willie couldn't answer either question, but assured the group they would get the ice cream. Well, of course Willie won by a landslide...and nobody yet has seen that ice cream. That's where we are today...a slick snake oil salesman has promised the whole country free ice cream if we vote for him and 52% of the voters reacted like 9 year olds foolishly buying into a slick lie. 48% were wise enough to realize that we're the ones who will have to feed that cow, and we're the same ones who will later have to clean up the mess. Money money money, everybody gets money, but the idiot doesn't have any idea who will pay for it. Ice cream ain't free boys and girls...and welfare always creats a big mess.

See, Obama's ice cream comes in the form of "socialized healthcare", "stimulus checks", and unlimited foodstamp and welfare programs. He showed up on the scene like Willie...seemingly out of nowhere. Never paid his way, never earned a thing. Never worked, never sweated. He was admitted to law school with grades that would have gotten me or you expelled from school. He's had a free ride to everywhere and never earned anything. Got by on pity. Hung out with people who were murdering police officers. Married a woman who has professed "shame and hatred of America". Neither one has offered a single word of regret. Ice cream for everybody....don't worry about the mess. The hardworking people of America will clean it up...we always have...

Murder and pillage....and only day two. What will tomorrow bring?