Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Three young and beautiful graduating seniors looked up, eyes wide, as I turned the corner into the dining room at a local restaurant last night, carrying three gift sacks and 3 dozen roses, one vase for each young lady.
It was all worth it, to see those huge eyes and shy smiles of wonder and excitement. The young ladies were blown away. They told me later that they had each received one rose, or six, but never a dozen each. Sarah’s mom and I enjoyed watching them discover all the goodies in their gift sacks, and listening to them talking about their lives. I had known Sarah since birth, but had not met Christina or Lindsey. The three have been friends most of their lives, attending a small school in a small West Texas town, and enjoying the family bonding between friends that a small school provides. It was entertaining and such a blessing to listen to them. All articulate, personable, and excited about going on their senior trip. And then, they turned the tables on Sarah’s mom (Rhonda) and myself.
“How did y’all meet?”
Wow. Rhonda and I looked at each other, and smiled. A trip down memory lane. We had grown up, two vibrant girls raised a block apart in a neighborhood of boys, in a town east of here. Though a year older than Rhonda, a bond was formed between us. We were sisters to awesomely protective brothers. We knew we could do anything we wanted and we had automatic backup in those boys. We ruled that neighborhood – with our beauty, wit…oh - and our ability to hit and catch baseballs, throw footballs, ride motorcycles, and (don’t freak out, Beth!) Rhonda actually participated in the rattlesnake roundups by catching snakes with her dad. Oh, we enjoyed the things girls enjoy, like clothes, makeup, the works, but silly, frilly girls we were not.
In our teens, the cool thing to do was cruise a local drive-in. Circle it in our vehicles – and if you saw someone you wanted to talk to, you just pulled your car in, and got out and visited. One evening, I was hanging out with some people from one of the surrounding little towns, and Rhonda drove by. One of the guys asked who she was, and I told him. He indicated he’d like to meet her, so of course, I arranged it.
They ended up falling in love and marrying, and are still married today. I tease Sarah, “And your mom and dad still love me!” – but the truth is, these two were meant for each other. And somehow, I knew it, way back then. And over the years, along came three beautiful children, the middle one being Sarah.
Sarah – a beautiful young lady, also raised with protective brothers – fearless, yet cautiously intelligent. Innocence shines in her eyes, but make no mistake – this little one is no dummy. She treads her own path. And she approaches her destiny with grace, and intensity. She will do well, this Sarah.
Today, Sarah, Christina, and Lindsey stand at the threshold of the door to their futures. They all glow with the promise and excellence that only comes from above. I’m excited for them.
Be blessed, ladies. I’m glad to know you all.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Don’t buy one!
We had been researching how “dry steam is the new cleaning method” and looking for the right appliance to do so. After reading about Vapor Clean products and the LadyBug vapor steam system, we were pretty sold on steam. And when I saw this (much cheaper) Hoover machine, I thought Hoover might have caught on to the steam cleaning trend.
Not so. In this machine, even the word “steam” is a misrepresentation. The only hot water is the water you put in the machine, straight out of the tap. The brushes heat up the water a little more, but zero steam…unless you count that coming out of MLH’s head right now. And the machine drinks floor cleaner – another consumable just to enhance Hoover’s pockets. This machine might work well on carpets, but by no means is it an "all-terrain" cleaning machine.
We are going to return it. Posthaste.
And we’re going to buy one of the aforementioned products – after we do a little more research, call and ask questions, etc. The testimonials rock!
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Yup, you guessed it. I’m having a travel rerun. Left Dallas this morning headed towards Tulsa. My coworker and I sat down in our seats, just in time for this announcement:
Pilot: “Ladies and gentlemen, Tulsa is experiencing a bout of bad weather, so this 45 minute flight has just turned to an hour and 45 minute flight. We are heading west towards West Texas….”
My coworker looks at me in shock…he had just flown in this morning from Midland.
Pilot: “…and then we’ll head up Lubbock way, continuing north to Oklahoma – we are going to try to get around this storm.”
Ummmm…let’s see. That will put us in Tulsa at 11:00 am. We have a 11:30 am lunch date with our customer. I pick up my phone and call our customer and tell him we might be a bit late. He’s quite content to wait for us, so we’re good to go. We settle in and have a pleasant flight until the end, when it’s quite bumpy, but not intolerable. The flight arrives in Tulsa at 11:10 am, we get to our customer’s office around 12 noon, and have a great lunch and meeting.
Before we leave our customer’s office, we decided to check our flight status. Sure enough, the flight’s been delayed a bit. We waste some time in Tulsa, then check again. Our flight is leaving at 4:45 pm, so about 3:50 pm, we head about 10 miles to the airport, return our rental car, and get to the check in counter to print boarding passes. The computer is down. Matter of fact, the air conditioning is down. The wireless is down. Evidently the airport suffered some storm damage late last night.
Our flight is not leaving until 7:50pm. In 10 minutes, things changed dramatically. I was able to get online (much to the jealousy of other business travelers who don’t have aircards) and check the radar maps on Weatherbug. After looking at the radar, we are glad to stay in the airport for a while longer. The line of huge lightning strikes runs all the way from Abilene past Dallas. If I were a pilot, I wouldn’t go there either.
If we don’t catch this flight tonight, from all reports, we are unable to get home to Midland until 6pm tomorrow. And that's reliable Southwest (really!). Were we traveling via Continental or American, we'd never get to Midland.
So, we’re sitting here…living on Tulsa time…
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
We get on the interstate.
Me: “Where are we going, guys?”
Boys: “To Putt-putt! No? To play golf? No? To Big Spring? No. We don’t know!”
I love surprises.
It’s a good thing.
We pulled up into the circle driveway, and I was amazed at how big the plants were. I had just visited this house last summer, and the outdoor foliage was just starting to take off. (Clue #1). The boys piled out of the truck, with mom in tow. We go to the back yard, and I start opening the back yard gate. A dog barks, and the boys pull back.
Me: “Don’t worry, Dillon won’t bite. He’s a huge yellow lab, but he’s a sweetie.”
Nick: “Ummm, Janie, that dog’s black!” (Clue #2)
Me: “Right. Hmmm. He sure is. He doesn’t look too happy to see us, does he? And I don’t remember Roy and Pattie having a tin fence in the back, either. I better call them.”
We. Were. At. The. Wrong. House.
Big, black lab. I’m trying to open the gate. We’re in the sticks. We could have been staring down the barrel of a shotgun.
I’m such a role model for these boys, I swear. The very epitome of intelligence. It’s a wonder I passed the background check.
We RUN back to the truck and pile in, laughing, and head north. We pull into the correct driveway. Roy and Patti and friends have been team roping, horses are still saddled, and we walk out to the barn. We are met by Dillon (the friendly yellow lab) and a cute kitty…and Norman, the 5-day old calf that Patti is bottle-feeding.
This calf is precious. Beautifully colored. Barely wobbling around, but even as we watch, he tries to run after Patti. Make no mistake, even in raising cattle, whomsoever carries the formula bottle, should one be needed, is “Mommy.” And Roy and Patti are making sure this little guy is going to make it, no matter that his mom rejected him. They may be walking into a dependency problem, though. Norman is currently sleeping in Patti’s huge garden tub at night. Covered by a blanket, at that.
Anyway, the boys go crazy!! They both obviously love animals of any type, and are all over Norman, the cat, Dillon…and then they get to help feed the horses. These boys are so much fun to watch. They both get to feed Norman his bottle, and the calf sucks on their fingers.
Boys: "Oooh, weird! That feels weird! But he's so cute - is it my turn to feed Norman yet?"
All the adults have a great time, watching them run around, play, and feed Norman and the horses.
And then, Roy lets them ride the tractor with him, one at a time, while he works the dirt in his arena. Both boys are ecstatic. It was fun to watch them experience something new.
Nick’s mom and Patti and I just sit on the barn porch and enjoy ourselves while visiting and watching these active brothers.
We had a great time…and the boys want to go back, and ride. Pattie and Roy have invited them to do so, and to come swimming, as well. We probably need to take all of our Little Brothers out to Roy and Patti’s.
There’s no life like the country life - Yeehah!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
After the shoot, I came into town, picked up MLH, and we helped a friend move his daughter back home. Then, we rushed home, took showers, and headed to Lubbock to meet some dear friends at Rockfish for supper.
With our friends, we headed out towards Levelland to this little bar called the County Line. Yup, we went to a bar. Reason? To watch Elder Son and his band play and sing. (Younger Son would have loved to tag along, but he was on a mid-semester break and traveled to Atlanta to see friends he intially met at National and Global Youth Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. a couple of years ago.)
We drive up into a muddy parking lot. Great. Wonder what it looks like inside? I don’t miss my bar-hopping days.
We go in, the guys are already playing. We’re VIP’d at the door (for a second, I thought of people like, ummm, Paris Hilton – Nicole Richie – Lindsey Lohan.) I’m feeling pretty special.
And then the bouncer says , “Oh, I know you! Come on in! You’re ES’ mom!”
Back to reality.
Outside of staff, there are about 15 people there. It’s 10:00 o’clock. And that’s when they started playing. (I may be too old for this!) The inside is nice, with a great dance floor and plenty of space and ambiance. Just a good ol’ country bar, complete with a huge open garage door at the back. And it wasn’t smoky! (Okay, maybe I can do this.)
The guys sounded good. Every time we hear him, we continue to be amazed at how much Elder Son has improved in his playing and singing. Some of Elder Son’s roommates were there, and other friends, as well, including the young man whose life Elder Son rescued in March. As the night progressed, more people came in, and there was a large table of parents on one side of the dance floor. The music was great and the band interacted well with the audience. We were seated with Elder Son’s friends, and had a great time. His friends are so great – one of the girls graduated today from Texas Tech and will be going on to pursue her audiology degree. Lots of excellence in these young people – pursuing finance, nursing, law degrees, etc. These friends have continually surrounded him, follow him to every gig, and watch out for him.
I felt that was happening, but it was great to have it confirmed. I’m glad he’s surrounded and they care for him.
This was the first time the band had played this venue. The proprietors were well pleased with the band and the draw, and asked me to send pictures for their wall of fame.
And us old geezers? We got in way too late, but a great time was had by all.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
(Disclaimer of sorts: as soon as I saw that sign, I called one of my friends who attends that church, and asked him that same question. Didn’t even tell him what it was about. The following conversation ensued. And then, of course, out came the camera. I then called and vetted it to MLH, who also gave me the go-ahead to post away.)
C: “Hello, this is C.”
Janie: “Dude. What if I have a question on May 28th?”
Janie: “What if I have a question on May 28th?”
C: “Girl, I don’t know where you are, but I know what sign you’ve seen. And I guess the answer is you’re SOL. You’ll have to go somewhere else to get the answers after May 28th.”
He goes to that church, ministers there. He didn’t get his panties in a wad. He thought it was funny. He so got it.
My “dad” in the Lord, Leo, used to tell me that that “the Father gets a kick out of you, Janie.” And Becky, his wife, would say, “You’re just real. God looks down from heaven and slaps his knee, laughing when His eye rests on you, lassie.” I had to get over myself to be able to hear that one, but I got it. I do believe the Lord has a sense of humor. And I know He made me the way I am.
I know I’m irreverent. I know. And He knows. And He deals with me daily about it…well, almost daily. Sometimes, I picture Him rolling His eyes and grinning. I know that I know that He loves me. And I know that He’s called me for such a time as this.
Sometimes, I get tired of all the religiosity. Do you? Don’t you? The Lord called me at age 38. I was never really “churched” as we know it – but the Father made sure I was mentored and He kept me hungry and seeking Him all the while. He still does. I didn’t learn a scripture a day. I’ve not ever finished “The Bible in a Year” – though I’ve tried. My Father will flat out write His word on your heart without anyone else’s help. He can do it. I know - He’s doing it to me.
We get asked to go to this church or the other, all the time. And we’re possibly judged by man, because we don’t attend a church. I don’t know that I’d fit in a church anymore. Oh, I’m plenty gifted, thank God, in a myriad of ways. So is MLH, more so than I. And we both have hearts for worship, we play and sing. We’ve traveled all over, leading worship for meetings and home groups. We led a huge home group, until the Lord told us to lay it down. We did. When He tells us to go again, or lead a group again, we will.
We are simply waiting on Him.
We love people. We hope, and from time to time, see evidence that maybe we are salt. We allow ourselves to be poured out. And hopefully, like salt, we disappear and get blended in. And the flavor changes forevermore and the very fragrance of Christ arises.
Even when I post signs in fun.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Sunday, May 13, 2007
After the shooting was over, we sat around inside the clubhouse and visited while enjoying some of Tamara and Shannon’s (Rock Bottom House) double chocolate cake. Good way to end a shooting day!
Saturday, May 12, 2007
The Rock Bottom House is in Odessa, Texas. It is fed (literally) by donations and income from the Rock Bottom Café, owned and operated by Tamara Moersch and a host of lovely employees and friends. At lunchtime, you can find simple to elegant fare, all for a reasonable price. And you’d better get there early, or the good stuff is gone. Thursdays is pot roast day. And oh, Lord, their cakes...yummmmm.
All this background leads up to what it’s all about – fundraising. At 2pm on any given day, the Rock Bottom House ceases being a café, and turns into a safe place for young people. A Christian place where they can be tutored, work on computers, their homework, play ping pong and pool, and just hang out until their parents or guardians come home. The shoot will benefit the safe place.
I met Tamara and Shannon earlier this year. They came to me for advice on how to put on a successful benefit shoot. They called and visited, regularly. They brought the best homemade cakes. They asked questions. On everything. Detailed questions. They took notes. They gave me their ideas, and let me say “Yes, that will work.” Or, “This is why that will not work.” They absorbed. They changed their format, based on my advice. They schmoozed my bosses, brought them cakes. And eventually, because of their perseverance, they were awarded a substantial sponsorship by my employer. They would listen to me, leave my office to go execute the advice I gave them, then call me and say "Okay, they sponsored for XX amount of dollars, just like you said." "Okay, Janie, I got this part done." They were soaking up anything I told them concerning putting on a charity event - and succeeding. In response, Tamara and Shannon offered to volunteer at every event I hosted in order to learn what it was going to take to make their shoot work and succeed.
They offered to volunteer AT EVERY EVENT.
Make me sit up and take notice, why don’t you, girls? I thought I’d give them a try. I figured that would either make them, or break them.
Me: “Okay, be at my office at 3pm and we’ll put the books together.”
“Thanks for helping me do the books. It’s 8:30pm. We’ll start everything at Windwalker at 3pm tomorrow. Want to walk through all that?”
“Sure. We’ll be there.”
Me: “Okay, Saturday is the big day for the Bad Boy Blast. Be there at 6:30 a.m.”
Tamara and Shannon: “We’ll be there, and we’ll bring helpers.”
They were there, early, smiling, with plenty of helpers. They worked all day. They absorbed. They learned. They got filthy. But they were starting to comprehend a bigger picture. Everybody wants to put on a charity shoot – but it takes teamwork and a host of great contributors to make it all come together.
Did I mention both of these women have four children, each, some of them under 4 years of age? These girls are on a mission…for others.
Two weeks later, along comes the Halliburton Gunsmoke Customer Appreciation Shoot.
Tamara and Shannon were there, right on time, working alongside us all day long.
At some point, Shannon said, “Hey, sometime today, I just wanna say, “Pull!” Can I do that, Janie?” We all laughed, but, hey, that’s all it took. The guys had them up on the flurry stand, loaning them shotguns, enjoying their first shotgunning experience. They LOVED it. Shannon and Tamara did, as well. We may have created some shotgunning monsters.
At both shoots, when the scoring and bookkeeping had almost come to a close, I gave them both permission to work the crowd and hand out flyers to their shoot. They did, and signed up shooters immediately.
I hope and pray tomorrow is a success for them. I will be there, early, to help them and provide oversight. I shoot at 9am.
I bet they have it all under control. I bet I get to just smile and be proud for them.
These girls have a plan...and they are determined to succeed.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
MLH wasn’t feeling well, so I went to Brooke’s house alone. It was already 8:30pm, and Brooke has school tomorrow, so we didn't really have a plan. Brooke finished her supper, took her bath, and we watched television until one of her favorite programs ended. Then, pajamas and all, we loaded up into my truck and sped off to Starbucks for vanilla steamers and Madeleine cookies. Brooke thought that was quite the treat!
We were back at the house within 15 minutes. We curled up on the couch, covered up with a quilt, and Brooke and I traded out reading pages of her favorite book. At barely 6 years of age, this munchkin is an amazing reader. We were reading about the different states, and came to the California page. She read the entire page, and only hesitated a bit sounding out “Sacramento”. She had a little more trouble with “Yosemite”, but who wouldn’t?
I was taught to read phonetically, and all these years later, I still think it’s the way to go. And Brooke is proof that phonics work – she is a child that reads well at an early age, and loves to read. May her love of reading continue.
I'm really enjoying the time I'm spending with this little one, and thankful to our friends for sharing their precious daughter with us!
Sunday, May 6, 2007
In an endless give and take of taunting, talking trash to each other, and physical contact, there is never a winner. As spring progresses, and the chicks hatch, the bird gets even more protective, and will actually chase Zack and bump Zack on his butt.
This year, for the first time, we were able to catch the start of the negotiations. As you know, Zack is a trained tree-climbing hunting dog. Well, he's not really trained to climb trees. That is a behavior he has adopted for the times he's home and "not hunting." He is trained to lock point on dove, quail, pheasant and chukkar. In this movie, he is locked on a dove in the tree. The mockingbird is not happy, and is trying to divert Zack from the general area of the kite nest located in an adjacent tree.
(The sock around Zack’s neck is an end result of Steve and Zack playing tug of war this morning, but it helps to track Zack in the movie.) (Also, please forgive my movie making and the laughter. I promise I’ll get better as time goes on. Steve’s promised to get me a new digital. Woohoo!)
Here ya go!!!
Zack and the Kite May 6 2007
Friday, May 4, 2007
Janie needs reassurance from Tea Cake that he loves only her. MLH I know, Dudley I know…but who is Tea Cake?
Janie needs a man's protection. Don’t we all?
Janie needs a gun. Ummmm. Yeah. Right. Like I’ve never won a gun…or two.
Janie needs relevance. What? You mean completing this meme isn’t relevant?
Fortunately, all Janie needs is love. Hey, the Beatles had it right all along...
Janie needs assistance in paying for extensive travel, food and lodging costs…any and all donations can be made at Chase Bank and will be gratefully appreciated and put to good use.
Janie needs a little help warming up to Jake the dog…yeah, but Zack the Wonder Dog is another matter entirely!
Janie needs better shoes, but these things are fixable…I get by with a little help from my friends, i.e. Franco Sarto and the internet!
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
This little woman-child Brooke and I have been friends since she was 1 ½ years old. She is absolute delight, super-intelligent past the point of amazing, and has a sense of humor to boot.
“Of course, I’d love to!” I said, “I’ll be right over!”
I drove up at their house, the garage door opened, and out they came. Little woman-child was carrying her purse with her Target and Barnes and Nobles gift cards. (She had received the gift cards for her birthday, and at her Mom’s baby shower.)
“Got some shopping in mind, Brooke?” I asked. She just grinned, swinging her purse. “Let’s go, chica!”
It was about 7 p.m., and MLH was still out in the field. I knew he was at least 2-3 hours away.
We head north towards Target, and I have an idea.
“Brooke, want to get your nails and toes painted?”
“Sure!” says Brooke.
“Have you ever been to a nail salon?”
“No, ma’am!” she answers.
We drive up to one of the nail salons in a strip mall owned by some Vietnamese proprietors. We walk in, and the male owner says, “Yes?”
Me: “Might we get a polish color change for this little one, both fingers and toes?”
He says, “What her thumb?” (She had a cartoon bandaid on it.)
Me: “She smashed it. Don’t touch it, we won’t paint that one.”
He says, “Okay, pick you color.”
Brooke looks at me, her eyes wide. She grabs my hand, and we walk over to the colors. She is immediately drawn to the wildest neon green shade. Just the very color would probably make her mom go into labor, and cause her dad to sign Brooke up for a convent. She jumps from that green to an iridescent blacky purple. (I can see her at First Baptist on Sunday.) I successfully steer her to an OPI Koala Beary pink that better suits a 6 year old, and we go to the station. A sweet young lady starts working on Brooke’s nails, then her toes. Brooke is still as a mouse, enjoying every minute.
The manicurist finishes Brooke’s nails and toes, and comes around to the front of the station. “Stand up, little girl,” she says.
Brooke looks at me, wide-eyed again, and stands up. I’m staying really close, watching over my chick. The lady grabs her shoulders, and waddles her over to the dryer light island. I say “waddles”, because that’s what it looked like. All she would have had to do is say “Come here.” But she gently grabbed Brooke’s shoulders and baby stepped her right, left, right, left over to the island. Picks her up, sets her on the stool. Puts Brooke’s hands under the light. No way will her feet reach the foot light. “You stay,” she says.
Brooke looks at me like, “Ummm, Janie, what was that about?” I’m kind of shocked, myself, but no one’s hurt, so I grin at Brooke. She grins back. We break into giggles. We talk about the décor, and some other things. Finally, it’s time to go. The little lady releases us, and smiles us out the door. We get in the car. Brooke says, “I couldn’t understand her!” I remind her that the manicurists are from another country, and they don’t have to speak English to do a good job. She’s pleased with her color change.
North we go to Target. We look at toys; she buys a couple with her gift cards, and also, some wrist rattles for her new sibling to be. We segue left into the shoes (yes, men, it starts this early) – Brooke’s been a shoe addict since she was 2, in no small part, thanks to me . We find some new shoes, really cute. Four pair, to be exact. Also, a cute top and some shorts to match the sweet brown embroidered clogs that were on sale.
We pay for our purchases, Brooke utilizing her gift cards for the toys, me buying the rest.
Brooke’s in the mood for Italian food, but Olive Garden is too crazy. It seems there is a softball tourney in town, and bus loads of kids are everywhere. We try Johnny Carino’s, and are able to get in after a 10 minute wait. I text-message her parents to let them know where we are. Brooke asks for her purse. She pulls out an old cell phone and pretends she is text-messaging her dad. I laughed out loud. Then, she pulls out a deposit slip and starts filling it out like she’s going to the bank. This kid absorbs everything she sees at her parents’ office. She tells our waitress, “I’m starving. Would you please bring us some fresh bread and oil? And Janie drinks tea, and I’d like some water, please.”
This kid cracks me up.
Brooke’s parents join us after their movie, and we enjoy a good time, lots of laughs, and a great meal.
It was a perfect girls’ night out.