October 6, 2015

Too much sadness

Sometime in the next three hours I have to make a decision, one I have, fortunately, never had to contemplate before.  I have to choose between two funerals.  Same day, same time, two different cities.

It sucks.

I should find solace in the fact that my life is richly blessed with people that I care about, and whose funerals I want to attend, to say goodbye or support their families - rather than the alternative.  I am struggling mightily with what to do, and have even considered attending neither, but, ultimately, I think sitting both out would be selfish.  But, enough about my dilemma.  Let's talk about Allen.

Several years ago, I took a crazy leap and drove five hours to a ranch in Bandera, Texas, to meet with a group of strangers that I only knew of from this magical thing we call the internet.  I had never stepped out like that before, and, for all I knew there would be sacrificial offerings under the full moon, or orgies, or mass murder.  None of those things happened - that I know of.  I do recall pulling into the ranch and seeing a truck plastered with political bumper stickers and flying a "Don't Tread On Me" flag - years before said flag was 'cool', and thinking that I probably wasn't 'out' enough with my political views to keep up with this group.  That was Allen's truck, and he was one of the first to welcome me into the greatest group of strangers I have had the privilege of knowing.

Allen came to Bandera twice, missing out on other gatherings as his involvement in hometown and Libertarian politics increased.  He lived not too far from me, and our paths crossed several times in the ensuing years.  We kept more in touch through social media and email.  After reading a mutual blog-friend's book, I passed it on to Allen.  In return, he gifted me with a Dachshund.  I still haven't decided who got the better deal.

I first met some of Allen's family this past May, at an event he referred to as his 'pre-funeral', held weeks after his glioblastoma diagnosis.  It was heartwarming and heartbreaking.  I am glad I had that chance to hug his neck, tell him he was loved, and make a memory that I will forever cherish.

If you didn't know Allen, or read his blog, you missed out.  And, while it might seem tiresome to sift through the (now outdated) political posts, you won't regret reading these stories and getting a glimpse of the humor and warmth that defined this man that has been taken from us too soon:

The Caramel Pie Story

The Tragic Story of Albert's Fingers

What to do with 250 copies of the Book of Mormon

Rest in Peace, Allen.

September 11, 2015


August 5, 2015

No time

Poor, neglected blog.

I just got no time, as the song goes.
Work.  Family. Priorities, ya know?
My company will either be out of business in two months or see 1000% growth.  It is kinda stressful, very frustrating, and not at all what I would have expected this year to bring.
At the end of this month, I will be the mother of a senior in college, a senior in high school, and seventh and third graders.  Senior years are full to begin with, and while many people think of them as endings, they are really beginnings of another phase - Bang is applying to colleges, Boom is planning more college after she receives her bachelor's degree.  My hope is that they end up in the same place, so they can support one another and give my checkbook a break in the room and board department.
The Princess was recently diagnosed with scoliosis, a condition, I have learned, that often becomes most obvious during the growth spurts associated with puberty.  We use humor in our family, and the S curve that is her spine is by all accounts moderate, so her pediatrician was understandably caught off guard when I called her Quasimodo, a nickname she now loves.  We are just beginning this journey, with many consultations and opinions.  Though I had an immediate vision of Joan Cusack's Sixteen Candles character trying to drink from a can in her Milwaukee Brace, The Princess probably isn't going to have to go down that road.  

As a combination birthday and Father's Day present, the kids and I surprised Mr H with his mid-life crisis dream, a Harley, earlier this summer.  Every time he goes out for a ride, he comes back and thanks us, clearly in love with the bike, the experience, the feel of the wind in his (helmeted) hair.  I hate it.  I listen for sirens, check the local scanner social media updates for accidents.  It hasn't helped my stress level, but, hey, he's happy.
We are getting ready to embark on a family vacation, necessarily delayed due to Boom's summer class schedule.  She took her last final yesterday, and should be arriving home just in time for us to leave.  Nothing like nine days of family bonding to convince a girl to get her ass in gear and become self-supporting so she doesn't have to move back home after college!
I have missed FODs and had no place to pound out my rants about current events and politics.  Wish I had a sexy story to explain it, but it is just life getting in the way.

July 20, 2015


I have missed a few FODs recently.  My life is so crazy busy right now that I rarely find time to sit down and write anything here, which is unfortunate, but a necessary exercise in prioritizing family and work above selfish pursuits.  Don't you wish our president would do the same?

Instead of showing up at a memorial service for those killed in Chattanooga, the president went golfing with three House democrats.  This after flying to New York to attend a fundraiser and take in a Broadway show.  This past weekend's schedule eerily similar to how the president conducted himself after the Benghazi attack - when he went to Las Vegas for a fundraiser and golf.

The president has lowered flags for pop stars, eulogized and sang at a black pastor's funeral, and has fanned the flames of racial unrest at every turn.  Yet when our military and diplomatic forces are attacked, he goes golfing.  He didn't demand that American hostages be returned as part of the Iranian nuclear arms deal, he went to a Broadway show.

Next month, we will be regaled with every movement and meal the president takes as he vacations on Martha's Vineyard, another imperial slap in the face to those that face their own mortality each day, defending the freedoms that this president takes great sport in trampling.

July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day

Last year I said I would repost until our government understood the meaning.  The situation is even more dire today that it was a year ago.  God Bless you and your families today.  Let's hope for better years to come.

July 2, 2015

I just can't

Keep up, that is.

Why is it that convenience products and improved efficiency hasn't resulted in more downtime?  It just seems to have paved the way for busier lives.  I am envious of my friends that have retired, or found a leisure-oriented balance to their lives.  I know that my time will, hopefully, come, but it sure is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

Last weekend we traveled to Kansas for a family reunion.  It seems silly to me to call it a reunion, as growing up the same group of people gathered for Christmas Eve each year, and then saw one another frequently at other holidays and summer gatherings.  Alas, since the death of my grandparents, there hasn't been a catalyst for routine gatherings these past twenty or so years.  My first cousins once removed (I had to look that up - my cousins' kids) are now getting married and having children of their own, and a gathering of the family was past due.

There were over 80 that gathered.  My mom being the youngest of eight, and, other than those that have just started their families, I was the sole only child, mom's brothers and sisters all having largish families, and their children following in their footsteps.  It was easier to count who was absent, and they were sorely missed, as, at my age (and theirs), there are those that I likely will never see again.

We had a blast, to say the least.  A large group started the morning with a golf scramble.  Mostly the men and some of the kids hit the links while the women folk got things set up.  We had tons of food - my husband has been such a good dieter, following his doctor's low carb plan for months, but when he decided to go off the wagon for the weekend, he went all in.  I think that is how potluck dinners should be, you have to try a little bit of everything, desserts included.

After lunch, a grand family tradition ensued - a softball game in my aunt's front yard.  Her house is along a state highway, but the front yard has always been the spot for the game.  First and second bases are uphill!  Some of the younger adult males managed to jack a shot or two over the highway (a ground rule double, by our rules - mostly to discourage that risky shot.  Though hitting a car is an automatic grand slam).  This was my husband's first time playing, and despite my warnings, he was not prepared for how competitive some of my cousins were.

As the softball game ended, one of my cousins cracked open a cooler that was filled with iced-down water balloons.  The kids had a riot soaking everyone with the cold water.

Some watched baseball on TV, some played volleyball and a new-to-me game, Polish horseshoes, some went fishing at the pond, kids played in the yard, and a group of us went down to a pasture to shoot clays for a few hours.  Boom has been wanting to give skeet shooting a try, and I guess she should, as she proved to be an excellent shot.  Little Crash shot a 410, not hitting any clay, but coming close enough and having so much fun that he is now begging for a shotgun.

As the planned festivities wore down, many of us set off to our parent's hometown - a little tiny farming community that has had a 4th of July celebration for over 150 years.  It is held on the weekend before the holiday, so we were able to go watch their fireworks show, something my granddad had once been in charge of, and they have carried on the tradition.

It was a great day all around, and, not one to go quietly into the dark night, I instead did my part to lower the mule deer population on the way back to our lodging.  It doesn't seem quite fair, my car damaged (but driveable) and no back strap or rack to show for it.

June 22, 2015


Living in a democratic society is supposed to be about choices.  We choose representatives to be our voice in government.  We choose our religion, careers, number of children, hometowns, etc.

The growth of government has meant erosion of those freedoms, though most in power would claim that the rules in place that limit our choices are meant to protect us from harm.  Which, IMHO, detracts from our ability to choose.

I shouldn't feel like a criminal when I purchase tamales from the lovely woman who stops by our office once a month.  I am fully aware that she is preparing her food in a kitchen that is not inspected by the health department, that she has no permit or license to sell her wares.  That she likely has no food safety training or certifications.  But her tamales are delicious.  I am willing to make the choice to accept the risks of eating non-government regulated Mexican food.  I also acknowledge that my tamale lady isn't collecting or paying any sales or income taxes.  And I. Do. Not. Care.  Her immigration status is also suspect, but here she stands, working, making a living, and, as far as I can see, the only people who she might displacing in the work force, are those who perform all of the above regulatory tasks that I mentioned.  Boo hoo.

Last week, the new Agriculture Commissioner for the great state of Texas, Sid Miller, repealed the ban on deep-fryers and soda machines in Texas schools.  His comment being that Texas schools should teach children to make good decisions about their nutrition - he was re-instilling a choice to our schools.  

Unfortunately, the bigger government restricts calories, fat content, and controls the purse strings on lunch money for families who can't pay.  None of these things, coupled with the deep-fryer restriction and soda machine ban, have done anything to curb obesity.  Miller offered an interesting example of how government restrictions don't consider all the circumstances:
"You got a boy that goes to Anson High School — he plays in football, he plays both (offense and defense) — he can't make it on 870 calories. That boy burns 3,500 calories a day," Miller said. "He gets home, he hauls hay and milks cow and moves irrigation pipe. Then there's another child that's not active athletically. They may be into academics or band or some other extracurricular. Eight-hundred-seventy calories may be fine for that kid."
Miller says critics are missing the point that Texas is simply giving schools the option of reinstalling deep fryers if they want starting July 1.He conceded that his decision is mostly symbolic and that few schools might take advantage of the relaxed rules — since the state won't be the one buying new fryers for cash-strapped schools. Like practically all Texas Republicans last year, Miller partly ran on fighting what the GOP candidates call federal overreach.

But he believes fried foods are OK in moderation and says it would be nice to grab a carbonated drink from a vending machine during a basketball game.
Choices and moderation...not a new or foreign concept.