Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tales from the Mile High City

We stayed up way too late packing to be grabbing bags and zooming to the MAF airport to catch a 7 a.m. Continental flight to Denver, but finally, we arrived in the Mile-High City, rented our car, and trekked on to the hotel. Exhausted, we ate a late lunch and hit the hay! Last time we were here, the weather was delightful, middle of summer, hot in the daytime, cool at night. This trip is somewhat different. Denver has endured some major snow here – all along the road are 5’ mounds of snow, artwork de la snowplow. And all the locals are griping about it.

It. Is. Cold. In. Denver.

The average temp since we arrived has hovered around a cool 24 degrees…and it’s supposed to drop below 10 degrees tonight, and snow. I did not bring enough warm coats for that.

Ready for some inside scoop on this oilfield gal? Janie. Hates. To. Shop.

It’s hard to believe, but I do. I dislike going in malls, and always have. Maybe it’s the tomboy in me – at heart, I’m a jeans, ropers, cute t-shirt, and ball cap with my ponytail pulled through, and hanging down my back kind of girl. (Oh, yeah…I cut my hair, some years ago – so that doesn’t work anymore.) I hate shopping. I will go into an anchor store that is in a mall, but rarely will you see me in the thoroughfare of a mall. I probably should sign up for therapy. My disdain of shopping adds a measurable degree of difficulty to dressing in a professional manner. We live in a smaller town, with only a few name-brand stores, so when we go out of town, time permitting, we might plan a shopping trip.

To get past my hate of shopping, I:

(1) Shop online, when necessary.
(2) If I physically go shopping, I plan ahead – which store, etc. (especially if it’s in a mall.) And that’s where I shop. No meandering.
(3) MLH goes with me. He has a great eye, and helps me tremendously

All that said, we had a lovely day yesterday. We were very productive in the morning, working on our respective projects. MLH closed an oil deal that he had been putting together. Time to celebrate! We enjoyed a late lunch at the Kona Grill, and were served by an absolutely awesome waiter.

We then shopped at three stores (two for me, one for MLH), grabbing Starbucks on the way out. Two stores were in an upscale mall – the other, in a very upscale strip shopping center (Maybe planners are catching on that malls just don’t work!). The sales clerks were absolutely charming. Talk about favor – all three stores graced us with extra discounts, over and above any sales prices, and then shipped our purchases home at no charge. Now that, my friends, is the ultimate in shopping.

At noon today, my national board meeting begins. Later in the afternoon, the meeting will morph into the Denver board meeting, and we have all been invited to the Denver chapter meeting. This will be an Operator Forum, where the local operators sound forth on their 2007 Drilling and Production plans and budgets. Operator Forums are usually very entertaining – the Bakersfield chapter calls their Operator Forum the “Liars Club”. MLH and I always look forward to meeting more of our peers and making new friends, so this should be fun!

So far, I like Denver. Onward, through the cold!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

New Blogger on the Scene...

Earlier in the week, Eric turned us on to Bob Westbrook, of the Blog Ran With The Devil, Walked With Angels.

Bob’s a survivor of a Traumatic Brain Injury, and has quite the story to tell. If you get a chance, go by and visit him and welcome him to the blogosphere!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Land-locked seafood...in Midland!

Ahoy, amigas and amigos! A new restaurant has opened in Midland, called Vela Bay!

What? Seafood, in Midland, Texas? Not only that, but seafood with a little taste of south of the border? West Texans, try it out! My husband and I met there for supper Monday night, and it was good. Paper plates, but who cares, with food like that?

Tuesday lunch, I took 7 customers; the food arrived hot, with appetizer orders of blonde gumbo and etouffee, side orders of home-cooked black eyed peas, pinto beans, and we were treated like royalty. My Cajun buddies loved this place!

Thursday, we arrived at noon with 5 customers in tow, who were duly impressed. Service was great, the food was awesome. By now, the wait staff is greeting us by our first name.

But tonight…tonight beat all the prior visits. We walked in at 8 p.m. (a late visit is always a good test for a new restaurant) to sounds of a Mexican guitarist with a beautiful voice. The owner, a sweet long-time Midlander named Les Vela, was sitting at a table with a friend, eating…
snow crab legs. She encouraged us to try them.

We did! And they were fresh, cooked to perfection, and the portion was larger than I've ever received at any Pappadeaux's or other large-town seafood house. This is definitely the place to go for fresh, sweet-crusted fried shrimp, raw oysters on the half shell, succulent snow crab, fresh fried fish. At this point, you may bring your own Pinot Grigio or cerveza to this BYOB – soon, Vela Bay will be operating under its own by the glass license. Live music on Monday, Tuesday and Saturday nights – and you might even get to witness Les doing the cumbia, and singing along (she's good)!

If this week is any portent of the future, there will soon be people waiting at the door to get a seat! Vela Bay is located west of the old K-Mart, on Midland Drive, north of Illinois Street. Their phone number (should you want to call ahead for reservations, or to take out orders – they even have a drive-through!) is 432-218-TUNA.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Mile High City

Come Sunday, we're heading northwest to Denver for an industry meeting. Looking forward to getting away, it's been crazy around this oil patch (so I head out to another oil patch, and…yet another meeting?).

Last time we went to Denver (for this same organization's meeting, but in the summer of 2004) it was so nice. Beautiful weather. Thanks to the patient teaching of my husband, I enjoyed my first fly fishing experience. I was blessed to meet some long time friends of hubby's, as well. What a great family. On top of that, we racked up enough funny happenings for yet another crazy Janie travel story – but I'll share that one later.

I don't think we'll be doing any fly-fishing this time. The temperature is quite a bit colder this time of year! It will be fun to see all our Oilpatch compadres from all across the nation. (And the Zackster will fare well, one of our friends is going to house-sit for us.)

Anyone want to share any Denver area shopping, shows, museums, tourism, dining tips?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Positive, Effective, Results Driven...yadda, yadda, yadda

Meeting with a customer. Meeting today to get ready to meet with customer, to make sure all our ducks are in a row prior to the meeting. And then, I have to leave one meeting to go to yet another meeting. Meetings, meetings, meetings. I get tired of meetings! I can’t get my job done for going to meetings to figure out how to effectively do my job.

And I even use a Franklin planner! And Plan Plus! I am a modernized woman who utilizes tools, organizes well, and administrates!

At some time in the very near future, my tasks (which, by the way, automatically forward to the next day’s planner page if they are left undone*) are going to mutiny and say, “Enough! Enough! We want to be completed! We are sick and tired of being left undone!”

At which point, I will say…

“Fine. Schedule a meeting on Outlook Meeting Planner and I’ll see what I can do.”

*Really! I learned how to do that in a meeting!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Freedom Writers Project - Person-by-person, heart-by-heart.

We went to see the movie Freedom Writers this week, and absolutely loved it. The movie is based on a true story, and even though it’s one of the familiar themes depicted lately of the teacher saving the students, this one struck a note of absolute truth. Erin Gruwell (portrayed by Hilary Swank) naively tries to reach a group of 150 gang-bangers, divided by race and past experiences. In the process, these kids break her heart, and she dives right into their lives, getting so involved with her students that…well, go see the movie. You’ll see!

This is a story of redemption in that these young adults are inspired by their teacher to let down their walls and begin to cautiously trust. The teacher, Erin Gruwell, and the original students depicted in this movie have formed the Erin Gruwell Project. Of these 150 students that graduated in 1998, many have gone on to college, and some are now teachers themselves. Many of the original students organize and lead nationwide teacher training workshops to spread the Freedom Writers message and to teach others “to write what needs to be written.”

Teachers across our nation are attending the Freedom Writers Workshop. It is still a young organization, but it is having a positive impact. Here’s a comment from a teacher that really touched me…

Dunbar Middle School – Forth Worth, Texas
After experiencing the Freedom Writer workshop first hand, this Freedom Writer Teacher is in the beginning stages of forming her own Junior Freedom Writers group, which in time, will consist of 50 students. After attending the Freedom Writer workshop, she told us that “my life is changed forever, and each encounter with all of you is surreal…your capacity for an educational and moral revolution is being realized person-by-person and heart-by-heart.”

You can check out the vibrant organization inspired by Erin Gruwell and these young students by going to Freedom Writers Foundation. And spread the word!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The HUGE Fish that got away....

It’s 5:20pm…We’re home from the field trial. I have now added many things to my repertoire. As of today, I have shot chukkar in snow, sleet, and rain – all within the time frame of a couple of hours. It was cold. Did I say it was cold? And muddy. Many hours later, my feet are starting to thaw. My husband (who went with me, after all, due to the weather) and I decided we’re going to have to get better outfitted for this sport.

I did have to shoot over Zack, and I was so nervous! My trainer was right by my side in the field, which really helped. This was my first time to shoot over my own dog. It was fun! My first run, we did in 9 minutes (out of 20 allowed). Zack found three birds, pointed them, and I shot them. All the other competitors and hubby were cheering! On our first retrieve, Zack looked a little like Billy on the Family Circus cartoon…go around that tree, throw the bird up in the air, catch it, stop and relieve himself, then bring the bird back…to the trainer. It took Zack a second to bring it to me. (After the bird is shot, the shooter has to keep one foot planted and can only move one foot to stretch out and get the bird from the dog after the retrieve.) After we got that bird, Zack really went to work. At the end of it, we capped 238 points, only 2 points behind the leader, and went right into the finals. How exciting!!

I’m a sporting clay girl…in that sport, you step into the box, safety off, then load your gun. You shoot 2, make sure your gun’s unloaded, step out of the box. Usually, it’s warm, so you have on summer clothing.

In a hunting situation, your gun is loaded, and gun is on safety until you flush your bird. It was cold, I had gloves (and everything else imaginable) on, and I had a little safety trouble on my second run. I shot and missed 2 birds just because my safety was on - I had to kick it off, then shoot. I thought I was ready when we flushed the bird.) We got our third bird, just barely under the 20 minute call. My bad shooting and lack of expertise kicked us right out of the finals. If Zack could talk, he’d probably be lecturing me all the way home.

I’m going to have to practice field shooting. I’ll get it down – I don’t want my dog to lack because of me. The field trial was so much fun! And Zack, as usual, is a joy to watch!

And a new twist (and pressure)…my trainer told me I would be shooting over Zack in the National Finals in Missouri in March.

Guess I’d better rope up - because I love, love, love this sport. And…oh, my Lord - so does Zack.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A-hunting we will go...

Zack's field trial starts at 8 a.m. tomorrow, and will continue through Sunday. That will mean load the truck, extra clothes, guns, Zack’s food, water, kennel, blankets and towels to dry him off in between runs, and be gone from Midland by 6:30 a.m. Hoping the weather won’t be too bad, driving an hour east. And I guess I’d better not forget Zack!

It’s going to be cold, wet, and maybe icy. Zack needs to rack up some more points, though, before the National Upland Classic in March. And working in the cold and wet will only help season him. I don’t know if our trainer will ask me to shoot over Zack tomorrow, but I’d better be prepared.

Hubby has other things to do, so I’m trekking it alone. It’s sure easier when he goes along, but it’s been a busy week and both of us going will only put us more behind on chores, etc. Times like this I’d like to have an RV to pull behind my truck so Zack and I could wait our turn in relative comfort…

Happy hunting, everyone!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea...

Thinking about snow (and we’re supposed to get even more snow before the weekend!) brought to mind our Caribbean cruise we took Christmas of 2004. And we did all the things pre-cruise travelers do – bought shorts, tanned, a few of us even got the spray-on tans (not that I would divulge who did that). This was a spur of the moment decision – our mom had passed away, and Christmas was her favorite holiday. And my brother and I were mourning, and…we wanted to skip Christmas. It just wasn’t going to be the same without Mom. (Like a cruise was going to fix that??)

You may be wondering - how does a cruise make me think of snow? Well, upon our return, our ship docked in Galveston. There was a record snowfall of 8 inches of snow there that day. And yes, we were in shorts. It was absolutely crazy - but no more crazy than the actual cruise. (Warning – it’s a little long. But it was a long trip.) See below.

Sounding Forth Cruise Tips from the “Party Boat Cruiseline" cruisers of my family:

Listen more closely to your friends who just got back from the very same cruise – they are wise.

It doesn’t matter how busy or how stressed out you are, if you’ve never been on a cruise, ask your travel agent and your friends and anyone you can find detailed questions. You will be thanking God for giving you the gift of wisdom, later.

Lay out your clothes to pack for a 7 day cruise and then put ½ of them back into the closet. It doesn’t matter what the
Cruise Diva website says.

Figure in the cost of dry cleaning when you get back – because everything takes on the smell of the boat (very bad when the ship is full, and you find out that three partying girls occupied your deluxe suite prior to your arrival.)

Remember – if the ship is full, (and Christmas cruises always are) there is NO place they can move you to make your room better, should there be problems.

If you like wine, take your own wine onto the boat (we have friends that say colored water bottles work out really well!). You can get away with it. Take your own bottled water onto the boat – because “Party Boat Cruiseline" charges you out the wazoo for a bottle of water.

Take your own bottled soft drinks onto the boat (one family checked their cooler as luggage – worked great! Why didn’t we think of that?).

Take your favorite snacks onto the boat.

Don’t forget meds like antacids – they’ll cost you $1.99 per roll (plus $1 gratuity). Anything you buy in the gift shops has an automatic gratuity on it. No exceptions.

The Fountain Fun cards are $44 each and only work for (duh) fountain drinks. So if you’re bottled water drinkers like we are, it’s not worth it.

“Party Boat Cruiseline" does not know what
Dr. Pepper is. They are strictly a Coke boat. My brother, who only drinks DP, took a 12 pack. In Belize, he bought more. Still ran out. (Man, he gets grumpy without DP!)

Know that if you buy liquor on the boat, it’s staying in the store until you dock, back at home. You are not taking that bottle to your room. (We were trying to somewhat defray Ben Gump’s liquor bill. You’ll meet him later in this post.) They don’t tell you that until after you sign the sign and sail card slip, and all of a sudden, the bottle is on the floor behind the counter with your name on it. Feel free to have them take it (and the gratuity) off the bill right then, no matter the language barrier. We did.

If you’re going to gamble, set daily limits. Do not exceed those limits. No matter the temptation.

As a matter of fact, don’t even go to the casino unless you’ve had multiple visions that it’s your time to win. (And did you know? Cows really can fly.) You win one hand, dealers change places. Immediately. And when there is a guy on the boat that gets his own blackjack table because he’s laying out $142,000, you are just another stupid pretty face putting bucks into their bank account. All attention is focused on Big Boy.)

Don’t fall within the rating as one of the top ten slot players unless you’re winning big bucks…all you get out of that is a t-shirt. Don’t fall within the rating as one of the top ten table gamblers (other than the $142K guy)…all you get out of that is a t-shirt and a mug.

Go to every advertised show, karaoke hour, breakfast, dinner, lunch, bathroom flushing, watch them oil down the wood railings, whatever – just stay the heck out of the casino.. You are not going to win. That casino is in there for their financial health, not yours. Think of it this way…Las Vegas pays your airfare out to their city to gamble, and comps you great hotel suites to come spend money with them…duh!!!! Get the picture?

By the way, I just checked eBay for the price of a “Party Boat Cruiseline" brand new t-shirt…there’s one on there for $2.99. Much cheaper than setting foot in the casino!!

Allow an average of $625 per person spending money on the beautiful “sign and sail” cards, no matter their age.

This is over and above the cash amount you’ve given each person to spend at will. This is also over and above the amount you’ve already prepaid for the cruise. And take cash unless you want to pay exorbitant international ATM fees.

Take your kids’ cellular phones away before you leave home. From watching commercials, they think because they’re on Sprint, and they can catch a tower, that they can talk worldwide, at the same rates. Do it quickly!!

If 11 people are in your family group going on the cruise, allow for 11 different personalities, likes, dislikes. Or maybe 22. Or 33. It varies, exponentially – and does not cover any potential schizophrenics that may be lurking in your closet.

The 10 and under kids we saw that were in the “Party Boat Cruiseline" Kids Club had a blast – and they were so cute!! Unfortunately, our kids ranged from age 11 – 23.

The two youngest kids that were with us were pretty well homebodies – they wanted to stay in their room and read or play Game Boy. (Which kind of grounded their Mom?) They did have fun on the howling monkeys tour in Belize.

And mi esposo and the big boys had a blast on the zip-line rain forest canopy tour in Belize. Matter of fact, all the tours were great!

All of the shows were great – except we allowed our 16 year old into the R-rated comedy, with us. That comedian was so intimidating when he threw out the kids he busted, we hid ours. We should have all stood up and left, and suffered through the harassment. It was way more than R rated – it was XXX.

We now know that if your kids are over 10 (we had six of those), it’s probably best to keep them chained in their rooms…

Because everyone else has also had the great “walkie-talkie idea”. And there are no “clear” channels left. Kids out of sight means parents are worrying, not relaxing. So you don’t have to roam the entire 855’+ ship to find them…And when you do find them, you might know the crowd they’re hanging with.

Why chained to their room? So they don’t act like they’re Ben Gump and buy drinks for “the gang” repeatedly at $6.25 per drink, plus gratuity.

And you don’t have to worry about how many times your 16 year old son gets kicked out of the casino. And the only reason he thinks he can be in there is because his 17 year old cousin is already at a table gambling like an adult, with parental permission.

Nor do you have to worry about your 17 year old nephew hooking up with the 23 year old drunk girl and her crew, then not being able to locate them. Anywhere.

And you don’t have to cringe on the next to the last day when your 23 year old, who by the end of day one has lots of friends on the boat, starts identifying the drunk girl’s crew by the name the “Trifecta”. (We still are afraid to ask.)

Know this one thing for sure – the cruise line is there to make money. They don’t want you spending money anywhere else but on that boat. Ports are short called – there are no night life scenes at the ports…and if you’re not there when it’s time to leave, they will leave without you. (Ask the parents of another 17 year old (not ours, thank God!) who decided he wanted to go on the other Carnival cruise line boat with a girl he met in Cozumel – and he missed the boat on purpose, and ended up in New Orleans, as opposed to Galveston.)

When you are in the ports, pay your taxi driver to hang out with you – that way, you can ensure timely return. (And they know a lot of places and people.) Due to a lack of taxis, some crew members didn’t make it back on board in Cozumel. And again, the boat did not wait.

Be sure to know all the fines that customs can charge you before you get off the boat – or better yet, before you even shop in a port!! A Cuban cigar quickly reaches its economic limit when a $100 per cigar fine is levied. Same with bottles of alcohol (not that we tried – we gave up while we were ON the boat.)

Don’t buy Cubans in port unless you intend to smoke them before you get off the ship – it’s just not worth the stress. No matter how the cigar shop owner dresses them up to make them look like Mexican cigars, and tries to cajole you with “Si, senor, ju can geet these ceegars through de customs, I do it many time, no problema, senor. Ju want 3 boxes of the Romeo Juliet, or 4? I fix them for ju big time, es tal bueno?!”

About the food - if you’re a meat and potatoes guy, you might have a hard time. We thought the food was great, though we had a little trouble meeting all their “dining hours” and often times had to make do with hamburgers or hot dogs or the great free (?) room service. But the 24 hour pizza was awesome – the absolute best pizza we’ve ever tasted. My brother, however, had some trouble with the food…he’d go to the buffet and not be able to identify one single thing – not even the fruit. When we hit Houston, needless to say, it was nine-oh to the Saltgrass Steak House for a steak or burger…limo driver and all!

In our best estimation, the very best room for the bucks is the one like my brother had. It slept four, had a king size bed, a huge balcony, and lots more room than our pricey, higher up on the boat (thus feeling every movement of the ship in an exaggerated way) verandah suite. And when you figure in the next item, my brother’s room was way steadier in the bad weather. (Exception: the glass divider, separating the living room from the bedroom .)

Check the weather forecast as much as you can. Spray on tans or even no tans at all are good this Christmas time of year – because the weather was too cold to swim, and even lay out, until you got into the ports. And high winds make it cold up on the pool decks. And even with anti-nausea patches, 18-22’ ocean swells for 28 hours are absolutely no fun at all. Unless you’re an engineer, into physics, and want to figure the stress factors of the force of storming ocean versus a huge ship, not to mention 55 mph winds. Are you ready to calculate? 855’ long, guest capacity 2052, speed 21, tonnage, 70367. If your answer doesn’t include most of the glass breaking on the Sports Deck 12th floor and the crew ratcheting metal covers over the port windows in the boys' rooms so they couldn’t be opened (and water couldn’t come in), you might want to recalculate. I don’t think anything we could tell you could even accurately convey what that was like. Mi esposo told me at one point during the cruise that he should probably go present himself to the Captain, and ask to be thrown from the ship in order to salvage the cruise for everyone else (apparently, he was suffering from the Jonah complex).

No one told me we’d be shuffled from room to room on the ship like cattle for 4 hours when we finally got back into port. Moooooooooooooooooo. Mooooooooooooooooooo. From immigration to customs, the time to disembark took a full 4 hours. Taking the “self-assist” route does not make you get off the boat quicker, no matter what they say. Neither does the “Those who have to catch flights will be first off the ship”. Several people missed their flights. We were lucky. We had a 5 p.m. flight, and docked at 9 a.m.. We got off the ship at 1pm. We were in phone communication with our limo driver from 8:30 am until we got off the boat. Thank God he was patient. Limo driver, you say? 11 people = limo driver. We did treat him to lunch at the Saltgrass Steak House .

Remember our goal for this cruise? To skip Christmas. Goal accomplished - we did it. Most of us were trying to hold on to our beds in our rooms to ride out the storm on Christmas Day. It was the safest place. And, now we have yet another funny travel story!!

"Happy seas to you...until we meet again!" (to be sung to the tune of "Happy Trails to You")


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Be safe out there...

What y’all wanna bet this little corner of the ol’ oilpatch will be shut down tomorrow?

Thank God we drive 4WD vehicles…

If it’s bad, they'll make us stay home manana and trabaje de la casa. No reason to be out and about when you’re in touch via telephone and laptop.

Stay safe out there.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

It’s cold here. It’s supposed to drop as low as 16 degrees tonight. All my Texas blogger friends are writing about it, from their respective necks of the woods. These guys and gals are funny. Us Texans just can’t handle the cold (I can say that, 'cause I is one.). Well, we probably can handle the cold, but we will whine about it. We could all be in the running for some trophy team roping buckles, we are all whining so much. Did I tell you it’s cold here? Colder than a…
Never mind.

Go ahead, take the tour…slide across Texas with us!

Local to Midland,
Jimmy makes a politically cold statement here, and in Houston, Bret's playing weatherman/news anchor here, and back in Midland, George took some winter pics – check them out.

Wallace was inspired by the cold to recount stories of his younger life almost cut short, Kyle's waxing poetic down Austin way, and somewhere called Fake Cow County, still in Texas, Spooky's taking pix of funky trees and wild cats! Back in Houston, Karen's writing in the rain about MLK, and home again, Eric's thinking it's outside, inside. Snuggle up, bunnies. Stay warm.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


My apologies to all. I’ll take the blame - it seems I had my “comments” blocked where only people with blogger accounts could comment.

Hopefully, it has been repaired. If not, maybe
Eric or Gwynne or Winston can help me out. Thanks, Winston, for calling it to my attention!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Food Groups

One day last week, after eating cereal for breakfast, I placed the bowl in the sink to be washed later. To be honest, I thought about pouring the remaining milk into Zack’s bowl, but decided against it. It’s hard to remember what people food is good for the dog’s digestive system.

Zack came home this time from the trainer pretty lean and mean. He is treated well, and fed well, but it’s been a heavy bird hunting season, and our boy did inherit that running gene. Andy, our trainer, gives Zack “hot” feed when he’s training, insuring high energy and stamina. When it was time to bring Zack home, even our trainer was worried about him. He had lost a little bit of weight – and hunting dogs tend to lean anyway. Andy encouraged us to give Zack plenty of “gravy and biscuits.” We took Zack to the vet for his checkup, and all was well – Zack just needed some rest and a little fattening up.

The countertops in our kitchen are pretty high. And since we’ve started occasionally augmenting Zack’s food with some biscuits and gravy, he now thinks it’s okay to put his front feet on the countertop to check out whatever it is we’re cooking up (for him. Surely, we are cooking for him, right?).

It. Is. Not. Okay. To. Do. That. Ever.


Back to the cereal for breakfast part. I put the bowl in the deep sink. An inch or two of milk remained in the bottom of the bowl.

I went to get into the shower. A second later, the pocket door to the bathroom slid open, and a liver-colored head poked in, as usual. I said, “What’s up, Zack? Need a shower?” I turned around to look at the boy, and started laughing.

From the tip of his nose, to the top of his ears, there were a million milk droplets. When I could finally breathe, I took a towel and wiped him off. I trekked back into the kitchen, and tried to figure out the geometry of Zack’s actions. As big as Zack is, getting the milk out of the bowl would have been a stretch. High counter. Deep sink. Low milk level.

We always laugh at Zack when he yawns, because he does the classical “Snoopy” yawn…his mouth opens wide, his very long tongue extends waaaaaay out of his mouth, and then does that little curly up thing.

The milk level in the bowl looked unchanged. Zack must have been just able to reach the milk with the very tip of his tongue, thus the beautiful milk artwork displayed on his head. He looked up at me, with that goofy grin of his, “Did I do good, Mom?”

And, yes, I caved.

I poured the remainder into his dog food – because…well, you know the drill.

Milk. It does a body good.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Scoot on over...

Funny quotes to check out at Emma's place. And jchrisrock at Fluid Pudding has some custom-themed Bible titles here. Pretty funny. (To be read in a lilting Irish accent, with just the right amount of brogue…) “And if that be offending ya, laddies and lassies, well, then, be a lettin’ him know, he might could be a namin’ one with your kind in mind!”

Scoot on over there and check ‘em out. You know you be a-wantin’ to…don’t ya, now?

Please welcome Leo!!

One of our very dearest friends, Leo, has entered the world of blogging!

I’ve know Leo & Becky for many years. They were (and are!) a huge part of the richness of the Lord in my early walk with Him, and we’ve remained staunch friends. When I first met them, they lived in Big Spring, Texas. They’ve since migrated east to the Metroplex, and we’ve found that true friendship withstands the stretch of time and distance.

Their son, Josh, is touring the nation (check out
Dimlit Daylight ). If you’re young and in the music scene, a MySpace page is a must, and Josh had one! Leo got on MySpace as well, to stay in better contact with his son as he traveled the country. I was reading some of Leo’s blogs there, and encouraged him to enter the other “mainstream”. I guess he must have given some consideration to what I said, because, today, you can read his first entry at Leo's Blog.

Check it out, and please give Leo a heartfelt welcome!

And like Leo always says, see ya UP the road!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Videos from Show of Military Support

Here are some videos taken from our Second Annual Show of Military Support. Show of Support is a non-profit organization, founded by our fellow Midlander Terry Johnson, and provides hunting adventures to the brave, wounded heroes of our Armed forces. This year, 24 servicepersons from different branches of our military, as well as their significant others, were honored for their service to America. See prior post for more details.

See for yourself what this hunt meant to these heroes! Here are short little video clips from
John Fuller, Robert Roeder, Layne Morris, Aaron Rice, and Ryan Crunk, all heroes that were feted at the Show of Military Support. Chris Gill, another injured serviceman, shot this video (16 minutes long but worth it!) of the escorted ride, banquet, deer hunt, and some commentaries. (Warning: a short portion of this video is very graphic, showing actual gutting and cleaning of deer - but easy to skip past!) The music is awesome.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Show of Military Support

For one weekend in November, Midland, Texas feted some of our nation’s finest. And I and some of my co-workers were honored to participate. This weekend is never far from my mind – so I decided to share it with you.

The event was our Second Annual
Show of Military Support. Show of Support is a non-profit organization, founded by our fellow Midlander Terry Johnson, and provides hunting adventures to the brave, wounded heroes of our Armed forces. This year, 24 servicepersons from different branches of our military, as well as their significant others, were honored for their service to America.

Upon their arrival in Midland Wednesday night, the families were transported, by limos escorted by local police and sheriff’s office deputies, to our local Hilton hotel. Many activities awaited these "honorary" Texans, thanks to Arminae Ward, Executive Director, Show of Support. She is amazing – I cannot imagine all the facets of coordination this woman blended to make this event flow so well. The honorees and their families attended a luncheon on Thursday, and then were again taken by escorted limos to the Midland Horseshoe Event Center. Many tears were shed as these servicemen and their families walked up the long red carpet, lined on both sides by applauding West Texans as well as the
Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans, and members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.

The walk up the red carpet was followed by a short meet and greet. What an honor to meet these servicemen and their families! This was followed by the Show of Support banquet, featuring
Texas Governor Rick Perry, and performances by country music singers Clay Walker and Aaron Tippin, as well as an auction. Through various sponsors, each serviceperson was presented a hunting rifle, a Texas flag, camouflage hunting gear & boots, and of course, the ultimate gift for one visiting Texas, requisite Stetson® cowboy hat!

Anyone can volunteer at this event, and/or sponsor. My employer sponsored a table at the Show of Support banquet, as well as providing a fine chicken fried steak meal, complete with homemade ice cream, for the hunters at the Rocking Chair Ranch in San Angelo on Friday. My coworkers and I volunteered at the banquet, auction, and also, Friday night at the ranch.

(Thanks to
Texas Trophy Hunters Association, you can view television clips of the hunts here and view the profiles of the selected hunters here. Want to sponsor or participate? Contact Terry Johnson.)

The morning following the banquet, the 24 servicemen were whisked off to various West Texas ranches for a weekend of whitetail deer hunting. Many of these servicemen were taken straight out of military hospitals such as
Walter Reed Army Medical Center and scheduled to return to hospital to complete their rehabilitation at the completion of this weekend. Men and women from any branch of service who were wounded and are discharged or would be discharged prior to the scheduled hunt, are eligible for consideration to participate in the outdoor adventures that Show of Support offers. Some of the servicemen were handpicked by different generals and Terry Johnson as they toured the hospitals where the servicemen are rehabilitating from serious injuries. Terry visits the hospitals frequently throughout the year, and builds friendships with these servicemen, servicewomen, and their families. The military encourages spouses to be at their serviceman’s side at the hospitals, to speed the healing process. Needless to say, the Show of Support weekend was also a short vacation for the spouses and significant others of the servicemen. While their men were gone a-hunting, the ladies were treated to a weekend of spa treatments, tours of The Petroleum Museum, CAF Museum, Museum of the Southwest, and donated shopping sprees at Susie's South Forty Confections, the Ivy Cottage, and Miss Cayce's Christmas Store.

The whole weekend was awesome, and the honorees and their families could not say enough about the generosity of Terry Johnson, Show of Support, and Midlanders.

Terry Johnson is a man among men. He is quiet, and humble. Though he’s never himself served in the military, Terry is a man who cares about this country – and the men and women who serve her. Seeking no glory, Terry chooses to honor those men and women, in the way he loves best – by providing them with an outdoor hunting adventure.

As Terry Johnson simply states on the Show of Support website, “These individuals have selflessly given their service to our nation to guarantee our safety and to protect our freedoms. There is not a more noble cause than what these individuals have taken upon themselves to do. Their sense of honor, dignity, pride and sacrifice is what allows us to live in a nation that others clamor to our borders to be a part of. They have volunteered to put their lives on the line for their beliefs, a free America. Free from the threat of a segment of those who would want to see us living in fear. This mighty nation will and is standing up to this terror threat thanks to these individuals.” ©

I’m glad there are men like Terry - and glad to know him.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Boys and Their Toys on Christmas Day

Boys and their toys!!!
Christmas Day, 2006

Younger son is on the left. MLH in the middle. Elder son on the right. MLH’s new toy, big black box (Fender Deluxe Hot Rod Tube Amp) in the middle. Younger son’s new Fender Telecaster in Dad’s hands. Whole lotta jammin' going on!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

A New Day...

Eric tried to warn me…if I was going to start a blog, I would need to commit to posting regularly. Yesterday, the first day of the first month, should have been an easy post day. Lots of reflection back, lots of looking forward. And a lot happened yesterday. Not really any resolutions, per se, but definitely renewal and restoration.

Maybe soon I'll be able to capture it in writing.