Sunday, February 02, 2020

a full-on Monet.

Like the smudgey little spots up close on canvas that coalesce with distance into an image that is nearly photographic, I see now how something that I thought was disastrous was actually a gift.

On 10 December 2018, I had emergency surgery. It was the day my first classes of students would take their finals. All semester, I'd been having a horrid feeling in my chest. I didn't feel weak or like I had any pulse weirdness going on, but I thought surely it was my heart. I pushed myself. I didn't skip workouts. I went to classes, I walked it off. I thought if I could make it to the winter break, I'd go to the doctor. Turned out, it wasn't my heart but was instead my gallbladder.

The timing was rough. It made a mess of things. I spent the winter break trying to recover.

But at Christmas, something miraculous happened to me and for me. I realized that life is short, and that I might still die from complications related to my surgery. I knew that life was fleeting anyway, and I felt I could die any day, and I needed to spend as much time as possible with Mom and Dad. I felt bad about leaving them, but I knew they'd be alright, and that they'd be in no doubt about my love for them.

When it turned out that Dad died in March just a few days after I started feeling back in good physical health again, there was so much to do. It's really been a whirlwind ever since that time, and I'm trying to fit so much in to the bag of whatever time is left for me. But I'm so so so grateful for the "disaster" that was my emergency surgery, and the wakeup call to be more present about my life and my time with my folks. It made me cherish the time so much more, it made me truly present.

I'm thinking of this so much lately, and hoping not to sleepwalk through any more fleeting moments of this all-too-short life I have. I want to make the most of it, and I want to cherish time with my dear ones.

When I die, no matter the means of my passing, I don't want my dear ones to feel all tragic about it. I've had so much that is wonderful in my life. I hope that instead of sadness, that the memory of me will inspire smiles and even laughter. I want to be that way about Dad, too, and I laugh and smile at the memory of his adorable self, but I still cry a lot. I'm a work in progress. I don't know anything. I'm just trying to find my way.

So, anyway, I always think of life as a tapestry. Some bigger picture is emerging on the other side of the canvas, but I can't see it. I see the knots and the frayed ends from this side, and it does look like a blotchy mess, sometimes. But I think something wonderful can emerge from all this, too. I'll try to keep my powder dry and hold on to the idea of what is brightest and best.

But I miss you so much, Dad.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Today is Dad's 78th birthday. Times have been rough since losing him so suddenly, but in spite of the sadness, more than anything I remember the countless joys and delights of just being around him. I miss his humming and singing.

Dad was shy and would never sing in public, but he had a great sense of pitch and a good voice. He hummed hymns quite a bit, occasionally busting out a line or a few words. I loved him singing along to the radio. He would look over at Mom on road trips and sing along.  If he knew she disliked a song, he would grin at her and sing, and she might turn the dial, or pop off a retort to the lyric in question. He would laugh, we'd all laugh. Mom and Dad's witty, affectionate banter was a joy to see.

Sometimes, he'd sing along to lovely songs of great affection. Even in the most difficult or tense moments, the tremendous respect and admiration between Mom and Dad was undeniable.

Maybe my wounded heart fills in the gaps, but I swear I remeber him singing this song ("You're My Best Friend" by Don Williams) to her. I think he would sing it to her today if he could. Such a love is a rare and precious thing, and I am happy I got to be their child.

Happy earth birthday in Heaven, Pop. We love you and miss you.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

R.I.P., Dad.

I will write more at length, later, but I have to mark this occasion now. I've written so many times of my lovely, wonderful parents. Well, my darling Father died on March 22, 2019. I don't know how I'm going to bear it, because it is the most bloody painful thing I've ever experienced, and I'd do anything in the world if his death could be undone. He just collapsed that day, and was gone, so I know it could have been worse. He didn't die as a result of an act of violence. He did not have an agonizing decline in mental/physical faculties that made him feel diminished. He did not experience the fear that he was losing his mind. For all those agonies he was spared, I am grateful. Still, it is so terrible to lose him. I will do my utmost to support Mom and to keep her around as long as possible. It has been 12 days and I still can't believe it. A tremendous sparkle has left the world, and I wonder if I will ever be happy again? It is impossible to imagine that I ever could.

R.I.P, Dad. Thank you for being the best and making me so very proud. Thank you for choosing the best Mom in the world for me, too. Thank you for everything, for making such a lovely home and life for your kids and for Mom.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Dear Darling Mom and Dad

Ridiculously busy as I am teaching at my university now. Every day is a learning experience, but almost all classes have been a good experience, so I'm calling this a win. In the mad dash to make deadlines and return graded papers, there are little bursts of insight that happen at random, and these instants are too numerous to recount, but suffice to say, I am happy in this experience.

Anyway, this is by way of saying that as my life goes on, I am daily reminded and perpetually awed by what incredible parents I am blessed to have. There is no greater richness in life, nothing to excel the tremendous and steadfast love of good parents. I have an embarrassment of riches on that score, and I am truly grateful.

I love you, Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Happy Independence Day

May your day be filled with smiles and contentment.

Please enjoy this stirring rendition of The Stars & Stripes Forever on the Majestic Bellowphone, performed by the spectacular Len Solomon:

Monday, June 04, 2018

Puppy Monday

Mochi is 6 this year, but she will always be a baby, my little guttersnipe.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Two years ago today, my friend Gay_Cynic died.

In February of 2016, Gay_Cynic came to Texas for a visit, and many friends gathered and we had a grand time. He had a wonderful visit and we hoped for a many tomorrows together, hoped for a medical miracle, but mostly, we savored precious time together with dear ones. Gone too soon, and sorely missed. R.I.P., Ray.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A word of recognition and thanks to Law Enforcement Officers

No one ever calls up 9-1-1 to say they are having a good day.

Think about that. The very nature of the emergent situations wherein law enforcement officers are called include the very worst and most tragic events that happen in our society. These situations are often not only the aftermath of a violent situation, but also frequently involve mortal peril for the responders themselves.

Our entire society is indebted to the folks who wear the uniform and who act for the protection of all of the community. LEOs will probably never tell you the horrors they have seen, or of the sheer heartbreak of senseless destruction they have witnessed. Trust me when I say that you don't want to hear these stories. Simply take for granted that despite the awfulness, that woman or man in uniform put on their belt and their badge the next day, and bravely fulfilled their vow to protect and to serve despite what they'd seen the previous day. We are in their debt.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Rodeo Velociraptor in Decatur

There's a neat art studio on one of the main drags in Decatur, just a few doors down from Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes. We stopped there on the way to Dallas last week to grab a chicken-fried ribeye sandwich, and we noticed this fabulous wall art in back of the studio. I love how the arm is 3-D and wraps in front of the pipe. Seems like he'd be pretty hard to saddle, actually!

When something doesn't quite sound right...

Remember a few years back when a news story made a splash about a family leaving a nasty-gram on their credit card receipt to the non-heterosexual person who served them in the restaurant? The story went viral, and a huge go-fund-me campaign raised many thousands of dollars for that waiter who was deemed a victim. The problem was that the family whose credit slip was bandied about the news had kept their own copy of their credit slip, and they did not, in fact, write the nasty message at all. It turned out that the waiter had written the disparaging remarks herself.

Welp. When I read the story in the Dallas Morning News on Saturday that some NRA attendees had been in Ellen's Cafe in Dallas and made vile, racist comments about the waitstaff and kitchen help, I thought immediately that this sounded wrong. I've been to NRAAMs before, and I know these crowds to be the most civil, courteous, and orderly crowds I've ever seen, so it rang false for me that someone went to the trouble of coming to Dallas for the NRAAM, only to be abusive of staff in a local restaurant. In fact, when I attended NRAAM in St. Louis in 2012, some of the custodial staff for the St. Louis facility told one of my party that they loved the crowd of this convention, because things were not torn up, and we didn't leave a lot of garbage behind. They specifically mentioned that we were the only crowd that didn't leave random beer bottles of urine around the place. So, yes, when the people who do the nitty-gritty of maintenance and clean-up after an event say that your crowd is good people, you can rest assured they are not embroidering on the truth.

In short: I didn't believe the restaurateur's claim that NRA members came in to his business speaking loudly and in offensive terms. It sounded made up to me, but I was also open to the possibility that there are outliers who are the bad eggs in the bunch of the NRA crowd. Something can be A truth about a member of a group that is not THE truth of all members of that group. Turns out that the owner of the cafe telegraphed his intentions more than a month before the convention. Even so, I do hope that no one attending the convention would have said the things he claims they did.

I won't be going to that restaurant, ever. I wish no ill upon the owner, Joe Groves, honestly. I think the best hope for American society is for people to learn how to get along, and I think this man has probably been dealing with a raft of blood-pressure-spiking stress for the past 48 hours and for the foreseeable future. I hope he learns a lesson. I am not piling on, here, and I hope that no one will read this post and go heap  more scorn on someone, even if they have earned some contempt. My greater point is that people need to be held accountable so they can recognize when they have been wrong, but there needs to be a resolution that is not merely his opponent caving in. He needs to do some serious soul-searching and realize that he made his own problem, and that maybe, just maybe, the NRA members are humans, too, who deserve to live life as they see fit, and that everyone doesn't have to agree on every little detail.

He has no business dictating the diminution of rights to which I am Constitutionally guaranteed. He and others who share his view that his deception was justified need to grow up and realize that other people have rights and valid reasons for their own points of view. I also celebrate his right to his own viewpoints, up until the point that he knowingly disparages a person or group of people to make political points. Then again, maybe he would prefer the type of patron who leaves beer bottles of urine on the premises of his business. It's a free county.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Made it to the NRAAM!

Parking was astonishing, to say the least, but we are here, happily. The crowd is massive, but this convention center seems much larger than those in Houston and St. Louis. I expected the street to be thronging with protesters, but I have only seen one with an anti-Trump shirt. I'm going to head out onto the floor and will post more updates in a bit.

For the record, this crowd is consistent with my past observation that the crowds at NRA Annual Meetings are the most polite, orderly, and calm groups of people you will see in any large venue. A large crowd is not a pleasant thing, generally, but this group is not so unpleasant as most crowds a fraction this side.

A happy reunion, and other musings.

It was great to gather with friends for a reunion meal last night in Dallas. We drank deep draughts from the meat faucet that is Texas de Brazil, whose food and staff were impeccable. It was great to see old friends, and to make some new ones. :) The parmesan chicken is as wonderful as I remember it to be, as is the wonderful picanha, which is technically top sirloin, I believe. After an appropriate cooling off period, I will look forward to my next visit to TdB!

In several hours, we will mosey over to the NRAAM, where I'll post some photos. We got to town too late to really go to the con yesterday, but it was exciting to see hundreds of motorcycle police from the motorcade near Love Field in town. 

I saw some clips online of Trump's speech at the NRAAM, and I hope he follows through with his commitment to preserve the Second Amendment. 

I am curious about the protest cohort that will be out and about tomorrow near the convention. I saw photos on FB of one sparsely-attended protest with signs that read "Nut-job Racist Assholes", "33,000 violence gun deaths/year",  and "21st Century Guns/ 18th Century Laws", among others. Winning hearts and minds, right? Considering about 12,000 of those gun deaths were law-abiding citizens protecting their own lives from attackers, it's not really rational to claim those deaths as random "gun violence", is it? I'd like to question the young lady whether she believes "18th Century Laws" on freedom of speech apply to what she says on the internet, which is a 20th century development. Finally, there might be some hideous racists who are members of NRA, but I am not aware of any, happily. Likewise, there are probably some vehemently racist people who are anti-gun, too. Something can be A truth without being THE truth, is my point. As for hate, the thing I hate most is the arrogance of someone who uses some extreme (or made-up) example as an excuse to why they should be allowed to impose on my Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. And the question of the killing of innocents really comes down to the flawed human heart-- the means by which murder is committed does not make one murder more heinous than another-- the murderer is culpable. The people killed in the bombing attacks in Austin, or killed by vans or trucks in Canada and Europe, or killed by the 9/11 attackers are not less dead because they weren't killed with guns. People being murdered by knife attack in London these days are not less dead than other dead people, and outlawing every bladed instrument on earth will not stop murder. The strict gun laws of France did not save the people murdered in the offices of Charlie Hebdo or the concert-goers in club Bataclan in Paris. People need to recognize the distinction.

Friday, May 04, 2018


Twenty three months ago on May 29, 2016, my friend Ray died. Many people knew him as the blogger Gay_Cynic, and he was a dear friend to me and many others in my blogger community for nearly a decade. Ray was a tireless advocate for a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Second Amendment, and in addition to whatever other blogger gatherings our group could muster, we also met at the St. Louis and Houston NRAAMs. For the Houston NRAAM, Ray and I organized a gathering that was very well attended by many fine folk. 

One thing Ray and I were fond of doing was casting forward to think of how we would throw a big grand party for friends attending the NRAAM in Dallas, which happens this weekend. Rather than brood on the party that might have been, I have kept my head in my studies and tried not to think about it too much. But I know that he will be on my mind a great deal this weekend. He would have loved the fact that both the POTUS and Veep will be attending. He would have loved the dickens out of interacting with protesters, as he did to great comic effect at the Houston con. 

I know there will be a thousand instants when you will flash through my mind this weekend, Ray. I miss you. It won't be such a great party without you, but we'll muddle on as best we can. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Another semester nearly done.

I attend two classes tomorrow, then take a final literature exam Tuesday and do a presentation of my research paper in my rhetoric class on Thursday week, so I am nearly done. I have a tremendous amount of writing to finish. As usually happens when I should be writing, I get a spectacular amount of laundry done, dishes clean, etc. It's amazing how my industrial energy can be diverted from a task at hand. In any case, all shall be completed in eight days, and none too soon.

I will consider that I have roughly ten weeks off, as the last month before the Fall semester will be consumed with preparation for the English Composition classes I will teach this semester. I plan to get a lot of organization done on my house, and to get a great deal of gardening done. This is going to be a great summer. :)

But enough rambling: back to my writing!