Monday, August 31, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, Suna and Beccano talked me into buying a bird feeder for the front yard. I had put one up in my front yard in Granger and found out that most of the seeds in wild bird food are weed seeds. I had a few birds but a whole yard of thistles.

So I was a little sceptical. I have, after all, worked very hard to beautify the front yard over the last few years. I didn't want a bunch of thistles taking over the flower beds and lawn.

Then I came home from work one day this week to find a dozen birds pecking seeds from the lawn. Another half-dozen tiny birds hanging on the feeder. Of course, they all flew off when I pulled into the driveway.

The next morning a small flock flew away when I opened the front door. As I watered the container garden, I noticed the loudness of the Morning Song around me.

I love the sound of the birds in the morning. For this I am grateful.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Meaning of Life

The meaning of life … is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.
— Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist.

More To Be Grateful For

Beccano in his brother’s dorm residence hall living-learning domicile

Last night Beccano told us that Junior Roundup—the day juniors at McNeil get their schedules and books—was this morning. Both he and Suna said that he had told us previously, and it had slipped all of our minds. So I got up early (for me) this morning to take him by school.

We had a nice talk on the way to school. About half way there, he said, “You know. You don’t have to go in with me. I’m just going to get my books. It shouldn’t take that long since I’m not getting a locker or anything. That’s what takes all the time.” So we planned put where and how I should pick him up when he was done.

I found a parking place in the lee of the PAC and started this blog about how proud I am of this young man. It was just a couple of years ago that he wouldn’t even ask a clerk at a game store about a game he really wanted. Now here he is going into a crowded room to deal with authority figures on his own—not wanting his peers to see him with a parental unit.

It also made me aware of how independent Trackgrease was and how I should have appreciated that more.

I am grateful to have had both of these fine young men in my life. I have learned so much from each of them that my paltry contributions to them are negligible in comparison. Mostly I am grateful to Trackgrease for surviving the vast number of parenting mistakes his mother and I made in raising him. I would do a much better job if I could have a do-over.

Mobile Blogging from here.

RIP: Les Paul

OK. I never was a big fan of Les Paul (June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009). I only recently discovered how much I like the music he and Mary Ford recorded before I was born. But no one can doubt the influence he had on twentieth century music. Where would rock and roll be without the guitar that bore his name?

Ironically, when The Economist showed up in the mail on Friday, the cover featured an angel playing a Les Paul guitar to promote a feature on why we love music.

Les Paul became an inspiration to me a few years ago when I heard an NPR interview with him. Arthritis had all but taken his hands. He could only use one finger on his left hand consistently, sometimes two. But he kept playing. The bit they played on the radio sounded as good as many four-fingered guitarists and better than most.

How did he deal with the pain? He said, if you want to play, you do what you have to.

Les Paul died last Thursday, but today I am grateful for all that he gave us.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Suna is talking to a neighbor we haven’t seen in a long time. We actually met a lot of people have known or should have known on campus this weekend.

The convocation was held in the gym. All us old folk had to sit in plastic bleachers or folding chairs for an hour or so before the event began— just long enough for ourbutts to go to sleep and our backs to ache.

A brass quintet started a few minutes before the students arrived. They played well, but the gathered families wouldn’t shut up enough to be able to hear the band. Some of us applauded any way.

While we were waiting, we met a nice family I’m San Antonio. We talked of traffic, the drought, and hail storms until the quintet started playing.

Of course, I had to go just before the students marched in, but I got to see Kynan and Nic precess anyway.

Kynan’s roommate and Beccano leaving the brunch.

The convocation itself sounded more Unitarian as it went on. The speech on integrity drove home both why we were today and what has gone wrong in this country since Reagan, maybe even Nixon or Johnson.

Afterward, the kids all gathered outside on a set of bleachers for a panoramic photo. We got a couple of shots or parts of Kynan’s face in the crowd. Then we gave him the last of the stuff from home (at least, until he comes home for the first time). The students still have a full day ahead and a busy week to follow.

Suna, Beccano, and I went home with a brief stop a Piranha Records, where I got a Stone Coyotes CD. Beccano, who inspired the stop, couldn’t find anything he wanted.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


This is the “living learning center” where Tubaboy will live for the next academic year. When I was in college, we called them “dorms.”

Suna and I spent the day on the campus of Southwestern University in Georgetown. The students had their own activities, while parents were ensconced in crowded lectures that either extolled the virtues of the university or encouraged us to let go and empower our fledglings to solve their own problems—a learning method in which I wholeheartedly believe. (That may be the longest sentence I have written in 20+ years.)

For example: we learned the value of shelf liner in the morning session. To be fair, there was also a lot of information repeated from the New Student Day this Spring. But that repetition was needed as the crowd today was much larger than this Spring. Many of the adults hadn’t already been told of the campus police presence. Or of the dedication of the faculty and staff to the betterment of our children.

Suna enjoyed the lemonade they served to keep us from keeling over on a 100º+ cloudless afternoon.

All of the speakers were as polished as you would expect from a highly rated, if small, liberal arts college. Most were even funny, and all seemed sincere and caring. The cynic in me says that’s why they were the ones on stage, but I have also found those qualities in everyone we have met here.

One thing I am certain of is that if Kynan starves here, it’s his own damned fault. The food is plentiful and good, and I don’t believe that is just to impress the parents. It is institutional food—very good institutional food, but still very institutional.

I started this post during the second afternoon session, which was misnamed “Begin with the End in Mind” or something very like that. It was really four students droning about how great Southwestern is now that they have adjusted to college life. Since I have always been turned off by self-proclamations of school spirit (thanks to the fascist traditions of Brazoswood High), I left to read and write for a few minutes.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life Is Hard But Good

OK. Suna blogged this one, too. But it’s such a nice picture. Photo by: Jon Montgomery

Well, I’m still not blogging with the consistency that I was earlier this year, but maybe that’s a good thing. Work is good, and it’s been taking most, if not all, of my writing energy lately. So I’ll keep this Grateful Monday short.

This week I’m grateful that our family economics are to the point where both Suna and I can start investing some of our energies outside the home. Tonight, Suna is leading a meeting at church. I cooked a nice sausage dinner—Suna and Beccano picked out the sausage yesterday—and had it ready when Suna got home.

Suna, the boys, and I sat down to dinner and conversation, something else to be grateful for. In spite of the dreadful manipulation of paranoid souls in which the Right continues to engage, I have some hope for the future. With Trackgrease, Tubaboy, and Beccano putting their energies into making the world a better place, how can we fail? Again.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

John Deere Green

Dad sits in his new tractor.

See the album on Facebook.

This was a long Saturday. I started, as usual, by oversleeping. Mom once gave me a plaque for my bedroom door that reads, “There has to be a better way to start out the day than by getting up in the morning.”

Suna had a beading class in the afternoon. So after reviewing the calendar earlier this week, I determined that this would probably be the only weekend this month that I could make the trip down—even a day trip.

Other than just seeing Dad again, I wanted to meet his new tractor. After five years of arguing with him, we were finally able to talk him into the tractor. Not only does he deserve the new tractor, he needs it to be able to stay on the farm and continue working it. He hasn’t had air conditioning in his old tractor for several years. I believe this lack contributed to and worsened his recent health problems.

Chris and Beth were again spending the weekend at the farm. Chris was busy fixing things that, being neither a farmer nor a welder, I had no idea how to fix. He built a couple of new stands for Dads implements. Dad had been propping these implements on rickety collections of scrap lumber and stone.

After lunch, Beth and I drove into Victoria to buy a connector I needed to hook up speakers to the new TV Chris gave Dad a couple of weeks ago. It took much longer than I thought because we made several pointless stops, learning, among other things, that the Radio Shack in Cuero no longer exists and that the Best Buy in Victoria Mall is a dark and scary place.

While we were doing that Dad took a nap and Chris fixed the generator on Dad’s friend Robert’s antique tractor. By the time he got back, I had smoked sausage coming off the grill, and Beth had made another big batch of Grandma’s German sweet rice. Chris was a little miffed that we hadn’t called to rescue him. He spent five hours total for a half-hour’s work.

I headed home about 22:30, glad that I had taken the truck even though I didn’t see any deer on the side of the road. Maybe I should be glad because I didn’t see any deer. You’re more likely to hit the ones you don’t see.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I’m Back

I’m so glad to have this guy hang around for a little while longer.

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a while—neither writing nor doing much in the way of reading. I’m sorry. It’s been a couple of months where life just got in the way. So I thought it appropriate to resume this endeavor with Grateful Monday.

I have so much to be grateful for, and so much has happened since 22 May. I hope to back-post some of what has happened, not that I think anyone is all that interested. I just have a thing for completeness.

So here’s what I am grateful for:

  • Dad is alive and well. He is going to keep farming for at least another year and has decided to buy a new tractor. All of that has been in question at one time or another since May.
  • Suna’s position at the company with which she has been contracting seems secure. They may even bring her on as a real employee.
  • My contract at the Fruit Company will end about a month earlier because I have accepted an offer to work there (albeit in another department) as a real employee. I’m looking forward to getting back into tech support training and working with some old friends.
  • TrackGrease seems to have gotten married. I don’t think I was officially invited, but I am happy for him. And I’m proud of him. I don’t think I tell him that enough. I know I don’t call enough.
  • TubaBoy has been getting ready to start his undergraduate education at Southwestern.
  • Beccano is getting ready for his junior year of high school. He continues to play guitar really well. Getting better all the time.

That’s the short version.