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"It seems to me what you lose in mystery, you gain in awe."
Sir Francis Crick

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."
--William James

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If any of the photo links are broken, you can find the public photo gallery here

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Clemson beats USC, again!

Hey, quick post before heading back to church this morning! We watched a fantastic Clemson vs. USC game yesterday with my Mom, Amy and Pete. Clemson salvaged the season with a 31-14 thumpin'. I plan to write about the fun Miles and I had on Friday night in Charlotte later. In the meantime, you can listen here:

Friday, November 28, 2008


We had a lot of fun yesterday for Thanksgiving.  Tricia's brother, Frankie, and his family stopped by for Thanksgiving dinner on the way to the beach.  Tricia made a great turkey dinner with sweet potato pie, fresh cranberry sauce and all the fixin's.  It was a great meal and we were so happy to share with family.  They have a new little one, Dominique who is now 4 months old. I called him "mini-me" because he looks just like Frankie, seriously.  I thought his older brother looked just like that too.  Their oldest, Jasmine, is growing up and such a cutie.  She had a lot of fun playing with Dylan.  Miles entertained with piano and karate moves, of course...

After the dinner, we went down to Lake Robinson park and took a few pictures before sending them off down the road for their beach vacation.  I took a nap, Miles and Dylan played around and Tricia did some school work in the afternoon.  After my nap, I decided to take the family to a movie since we were going to see the lights on Roper mountain anyways.  With a little debate, we picked Bolt.  I'm glad we did, this was one of the best cartoon movies.  It had lots of action and laughs.  The hamster, Rhino, had us cracking up long after the movie was over.  We also waited until the 7pm show to see the digital 3D version and I'm glad we did.  It was awesome!  The special  effects added with the 3D were really, really worth the extra wait time and effort (including not being able to pay matinee prices).  I can recommend this one for the family and we also got the preview for the new Ice Age 3D movie that is coming out in 2009!  That should be a riot too.  

Well, Tricia just got home from a walk with Keller.  When she got back, she came in and said "Mark, you have to come look at Keller.".   Other than being wet from head to toe, he was carrying a rag in his mouth.  On closer inspection, it turned out to be a dead squirrel.  Keller got his first live kill!  Tricia said he caught it going up the tree.  He must try that move about 10 times on every walk in the woods!  Today he made it happen and he couldn't be prouder!  Tricia reported it was a fierce battle and Keller was a little confused about what exactly to do with it.  She said that during the "battle" the squirrel actually latched onto Keller's chest and he had to shake it off.  She said "he was on his own there, nothing I could or would do!"  I thought that was as funny as Keller looking at her for help with a squirrel latched to his chest.  Right now, he's strutting around the back yard with his prize!  He's our Bolt!  

Miles and I are headed to Charlotte tonight to see the Derek Trucks Band at Spirit Square.  It's a very cool venue that is actually an old church, the stained glass windows are still there.  The sound and views are hard to beat.  Can't wait!  We are staying at a hotel uptown around the corner and having dinner with some friends from NC.  We are also planning to met up with the drummer and our friend, Yonrico Scott. I got him a couple of percussion instruments while in Botswana!  On Saturday, we are going to head back early so we can be home for the Clemson v. USC game at 12noon.  My Mom and Pete are coming up with Amy to spend the weekend with us and watch the game.  I think we are going to put up the tree too.  Should be a fun weekend!  
Enjoy yours!  See ya!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday before Thanksgiving

So, do you fast today so you can eat a bunch tomorrow?  Or is that a sin for planning gluttony?  I guess I will find out!  Nah, I will just eat a little lighter instead and plan a sensible meal for Thanksgiving tomorrow.  Famous last words.

It almost feels like a holiday today, Tricia and the boys are home.  Tricia is enjoying sleeping in, tucked under a bunch of covers.  Miles and Dylan are watching cartoons in the den.  Dylan and I just figured out he is thankful for having cereal for breakfast, something he knows I agree with completely.  Even when I drink my regular soy-protein-banana shake after working out in the morning, I some how find an excuse to eat cereal at some point during the day.  Usually, it's a snack or like yesterday, it was 2 bowls for dinner.  Ok, I am thankful for cereal too.  I said it, there.

It's chilly today, 29F with the sun coming up now.  I'm sure it's even colder to Shadow since he got put outside after getting a bite to eat. He was waaaaaaay too noisy this morning around 0630am wanting to know why Mommy wasn't up and wanting to know who was going to watch him eat.  I guess he can find someone to watch his cold butt pee outside too!  I'm sure a black swirl will come through the crack of the front door the next time someone opens the door.  He will be posted there very soon.

Tomorrow will be an extra special Thanksgiving.  Not only will we be eating on the new dining room set we inherited; but, Tricia's brother, Frankie and his family will be joining us.  They are heading down from Sandusky, Ohio for a vacation at the beach and are planning to stop by our home on the way.  They have a new little son who was born a few months ago and that's always special.  I pray for them on their travels, I have been there and done that many-a-time, with newborns too.  It's never fun and the end of the line is always welcomed!

Well, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and find a moment to offer praise and thanksgiving to our God who has blessed us beyond measure.  Enjoy the meal and the fellowship with friends and family.

See ya!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Videos

Good Saturday morning to you! Not much planned today other than some karate and football. It's a crisp, cold morning and a great day to hang around the house.
I uploaded a couple of videos of Dylan last night that I think you will enjoy! Check'em out here:

Cookin' with Dylan

The Hare and the Frog

Good stuff right there! See ya!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cold Mountain and new Dylan (sorta)

I finished reading Cold Mountain on Monday night and was planning to write something on Tuesday until everything fell apart physically. I feel much better today (Thursday) and wanted to just share how sad I am that the book is done. I can't step back into that story and soak the landscape details that Frazier uses or the relationships in a different light. This book is a masterpiece and one of the best books I have ever read. While the ending was tragic, just like the war and the times, I was more sadden by the end of the reading of the story than the real ending. The movie was a good attempt and I plan to rewatch that soon but the book will be in my head for a long time as I travel these hills and mountains of the area I call home.

For my birthday, I worked a 1/2 day and then went out feeling fair and a little stronger. I went by the library and returned some CDs and put a hold on Charlies Frazier's only other novel, Thirteen Moons. I also got a new book, Bush Tragedy, that explores how George W. Bush's family relationships and circle of friends influenced the failures of his presidency. This is something that interests me like trying not to look a bad wreck on the highway. But, I feel this is something we need to examine to learn from our history and move forward. Should be a fun read as the author puts W. "on the couch". I hope I get to see the movie W. soon too. But, will have this book done before that movie.

After the library, a haircut. Then I tried to do some shopping at Best Buy and knew I was not feeling good when I cut that trip short and decided I better hit Costco and head back as soon as I could. After Costco, Tricia and the boys joined me and we went down to one of my favorite places, The Bohemian Cafe. We saw about 1/2 of J.J. Grey's set before I felt exhaustion and stomach cramps telling me I was just about maxed out. We then dropped off snacks for our life group at Cliff and Sherry's home. We did make it to Cold Stone Cremery for a quick ice cream treat. I felt like I could handle some ice cream and I was right. The Pumpkin with graham crackers was just what the doctor ordered. Tricia and the boys also gave me a great birthday gift, Bob Dylan's new collection of outtakes and remixes called Tell Tale Signs. It covers the late 80's through the most recent work and it's just amazing how he can turn a song around with a different lyric in one spot or a complete verse change. What he leaves on the cutting floor of the studio is sometimes unbelievable; but, I am glad we eventually get our ears and minds to experience the "lost tracks". I had streamed both CDs via NPR's web and was looking forward to owning this collection. The 60 page booklet is very detailed and the complete companion to the tracks. Thanks Tricia, Miles and Dylan! Just what your music geek Dad wanted for his birthday!!!

We are going to try and hit the hibachi steak house on another night when my stomach can handle more than ice cream. Before I close this morning, I wanted to share 2 things about my son, Dylan, that really exposes what he is like, personality wise. He and Miles gave me a birthday card yesterday before school. Dylan also gave me a handful of change as my "present". When he handed me the money, he looked at me and said "that's my money, not yours". He wanted me to know that he was giving something that was his, even though I gave him that change last weekend when we were out. But, I knew exactly what he was telling me and why. Later in the evening, when I wasn't feeling that good and he was getting too wound up with Miles in the van, Tricia and I were trying to get him to calm down. I mentioned that if he didn't calm down, I would consider using my belt when we got home. That got his attention and he was quiet the remainder of the drive home, not a peep. When we got closer to home, I said "Dylan, I am proud of you for making the good choice to be quiet and respectful." Without pause he responded, "that's because I didn't have anything else funny to say." Boy, what an attitude! He is defiant to the core. Hopefully, we can continue to mold that strong will to serve a higher purpose.

Thank you God for my two sons and my beautiful loving wife. Life is good.
See ya!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One step furthur, one step closer

It's my birthday today. 39. Glad to see the sun today after the awful day I had yesterday. If I had been to Mexico, I would believe I had Montezuma's revenge. It was not fun and exhausting. Miles and Dylan both wrote on my card this morning that they hope I am feeling better. I am. Keller and I got in a walk this morning in the cold woods. It's 25F here in Greer; but, no more strong gale force winds like yesterday. The winds were in the 40mph range yesterday. I spent most of the day wrapped in a blanket on the couch, in the easy chair or in the bathroom.

Today is a 1/2 day at work for me. I am going run some errands and try to get a haircut too. Then around 5pm (as long as I have the energy) we are going to try and see a free show taping at the Bohemian in Greenville. It's J.J. Grey of Mofro doing a solo performance. I have seen Mofro several times, including a fantastic set last year at Wanee. It's white blues from North Jacksonville with some good story telling in there. Should be fun. Then maybe some ice cream. We were planning to hit a Hibachi grill in town but I don't think my stomach can handle that today. We have pushed those plans to the weekend. Well, let me get to work. No coffee today, just tea and pepsi. Well, maybe some coffee tonight :-)

I will finish with a wordle and lyrics from Daniel Lanois' "The Maker". This song caught me today on my walk and fits the day. Always did love Jerry Garcia's version and Emmylou Harris' version and Dave Matthews' version and Daniel's version...
See ya!

Oh, Oh Deep water
Black, and cold like the night
I've stand with my arms wide open
I've run a twisted line
I'm a stranger
in the eyes of the maker

I could not see
for the fog in my eyes
I could not feel
for the fear in my life
From across the great divide
In the distance i saw a light
Jean baptiste
walking to me with the maker

My body is bent and broken
by long and dangerous sleep
I can't work the fields of abraham
and turn my head away
I'm not a stranger
in the hands of the maker

Brother john
Have you seen the homeless daughters
standing there
with broken wings

I have seen the flaming swords
there over east of eden
burning in the eyes of the maker
burning in the eyes of the maker
burning in the eyes of the maker
burning in the eyes of the maker

oh river rise from your sleep...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Homecoming Done

We had such a great, full day yesterday with the kids at the Clemson game for homecoming. My buddy and old Clemson roommate, Matt, showed up in the heavy rain on Friday evening. He brought his girlfriend, Naura and her son, Dawson (9). Matt's cutie pie girls, Claire and Kylie, also made the trip.

After getting everyone settled, Matt and I stayed up for a while catching up and drinking a few cold ones and watching Colbert Report recordings. Matt and I share alike political leanings, so that was a big topic of our conversations, Obama and what happens now. I think I made it to bed around 1:30am. Which made the 07am wakeup by 5 kids under 11 very LOUD. We made breakfast for all and finally got on the road around 10am, which put us a little later than we wanted into Clemson.

All things said, we still made it in time to park over by the Botanical Gardens, walk into campus, see a couple of floats and make it to our seats in time to catch the run down the hill. Since this was probably my only game this year, it was nice to soak up the spirit, even if the crowd was smaller than normal and a little low-keyed to start. The rain and clouds of the earlier part of the weekend gave way to bright blue and some strong winds. The wind was better than any rain during the game and it turned out to be a great day for football at Clemson. Clemson handidly won this game, almost shutting out Duke, save for 1 respectability touchdown in the 4th quarter.

We found my Dad's name in the sidewalk with the class of 1960 and headed to the cars. We then strolled across campus, including a walk in front of the library just in time to see some teenage boys steal some guys' clothes as they swam in the reflection pond (some weird homecoming ritual that I have forgotten?). That was funny. After the long walk back to the vehicles, we took the 2 cars around to the other side of Clemson to hit the legenedary "roller coaster road". It's a stretch of road behind the local airport that earns it's name. The descents are over 15%, seriously. It's amazing those roads are even legal; but, they sure are fun. There were several cars and minivans with Dads behind the wheels with big smiles of pure joy on their faces. It's cheap fun and the kids had a blast.

We made a couple of souvenir Tiger clothing stops, including the Mr. Knickerbocker's in Greenville so Matt and crew could get the gear they wanted. Matt and Naura hadn't been downtown Greenville, so we headed for the great downtown of G'vegas for some Mellow Mushroom pizza. We got in to MM really quickly and enjoyed some great pizza and 420 pale ale. We then strolled around Falls Park and the Sky Bridge. Some Starbucks afterwards and then we headed home. 2 of the 5 kids fell out before we made it home.

Matt and I played a little guitar and sat up for a short while with the ladies. I think we were all in bed and sound asleep by 11pm. A full day of homecoming fun with friends and family. We had a few grumpy moments for all but for the most part, a great day. I am proud of how the boys behaved and made their guests fell at home. Miles and Dylan both enjoyed their "audience": Miles was with Claire and Dylan was with Dawson. It was fun and LOUD.

On another "family" note: I set up Keller's crate and bed in the corner of the garage on Friday during the heavy rains. He has slept in the garage both nights locked in the crate on the bed. He was so happy to be in and back in his crate. He felt right at home and got in the bed without us having to tell him. Smart dog. Don't worry, the dogloo is still his home during the day! We have no plans to let him roam the garage. Just on cold, wet nights he can now have the luxury of sleeping "inside".

Well, kids are stirring and I need another cup of Sunday coffee.

See ya!

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Photos

I also changed the photo gallery on the main blog. It's now of Keller for his 1 year pictures. Ain't he a good dog? What a buddy. Here's to you Keller on a great 1st year of life. I see many more days of chasing those fast squirrels and wading in the creek by the trail in your future. Can't wait to share those walks with you!

Clemson Homecoming

This week is Clemson's homecoming. We are heading over for the game the pregame fun on Saturday. Clemson plays Duke. Usually an easy win but...we now have the same record as Duke this year. Weird and strange these days...

My good friend, Matt Hopkins, is coming tonight from Cary with his girlfriend and her son. Matt's two girls are coming with him, so the boys are excited about having a house full of kids and the football game. I have made some plans to see a couple of other Clemson grad friends and current students too (my cousin Lindsey is a freshman). Hopefully, this rain will stop before the game so we can enjoy the floats on Bowman field and not get too wet before/during the game. Matt and the crew are staying Saturday night too.

After church we are planning once again to take a family picture down by Lake Robinson. Third times a charm, right? Hopefully, we will all be rested and well, no sickness for anyone. Miles is still taking his antibiotic and no word yet from the doctor's office on whether or not his culture was negative. Miles feels well enough for karate tonight according to his report this morning.

Listening to some remixed qawwali music today while I work. One of my favorite albums last year was this Dub Qawwali project. These remixes were from the same album and put to a faster techno beat. Good music to make the work day go fast. Too bad I am on call tonight...

Well, gotta finish work. Hope you are well and enjoying the fall. Go Tigers!

See ya!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Music from the weekend and family updates

Well, one is better and the other is not. Miles is still suffering from a mean sore throat and staying home again. I plan to call the doctor when the office opens so we can do the throat swab for strep. Tricia is alive and feeling much better. She had a rough Sunday and was upright by yesterday morning. Dylan and I have escaped the wrath so far, so good.

It's been a very busy week already. I put in 12 hours yesterday since I am covering another consultant who is on vacation and I had call last night. My last call was almost 11pm but nothing afterwards, thank you God.

Today, we are getting a much needed home improvement: gutter guardians installed on the home. If you have seen our house, you realize quickly that is wasn't going to be very often that I got the chance or the nerve to clean the gutters on the 2nd floor. It won't be cheap but it will be worth it and has a lifetime warranty that is transferable (aka "Amen").

Well, Keller is ready for a walk, he has been walking circles since about 6am. Dylan and I went down to Lake Robinson park yesterday and tried to take some pictures of Keller in celebration of his 1st birthday, which was Oct 25th. We plan to celebrate on New Year's Eve since that is the day he came home to us as a puppy.

Check out some pictures from the park and here are some videoes from the bluegrass festival this weekend. See ya!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fall Music in the Upstate

What an awesome day of music fun yesterday here in the Upstate. Before I tell you about Saturday, let me compare it to Friday, which makes Saturday shine by comparison.

Friday started with plans for me to take the Sedona van to the dealer to get the automatic sliding doors to work, needed a switch reset. Ok, not too bad. I take the van, Tricia and the boys take the car to school. I get a ride back from the dealer while they take a look at the van. So, I'm now at home with no car. I also have no internet. Not good when you work from home via the net. So, I get AT&T on the phone (which is working) and they tell me that it might not be repaired until next Tuesday. I'm not happy because I can't go anywhere to use someone's wireless (shout out to Panera Bread). They give me a number for dial-up; but, I can't remember my password, much less the account name. So, I get the account name and they reset the password. The connection is running at 26k when I do make the connection. Please, shoot me first! I basically checked some email very slowly but I found my blackberry to be much faster on emails and basically went with that while trying to reset my password via the dial-up. I also did some reading on the couch and organized in the office. Cold Mountain is getting very interesting; but, that's off topic!

Long story short, I never got the password changed on the dial-up. So, by the time the Internet connection is restored at 4pm Friday, I can't connect because the password has been reset and I have not been able to do it via the sloth-like dial-up connection. So, back on the phone with AT&T, praying I get someone for whom English is the mother tongue. I get lucky! I get a black girl from Atlanta! The small things in life. We get the password reset but it takes a modem reset and restore, which wipes out my routing table and static IPs I had set for all of my wireless devices and laptops. Let me translate that for you, it's a lot more work for me later...

Ok, so now I have my Internet back. The van is ready and the doors working after a switch reset. The dealership comes to get me and then back home. This actually happened before the connection was restored. I am also now expecting the Direct TV installation guy to show up to install a 2nd line to run to the DVR, you can't watch something else while another channel is recording without a 2nd line. Of course, we didn't' learn that special feature until I got the DVR connected. Another $99 out of my pocket! To make the day go so smooth, the Direct TV guy is having major difficulty with some anger management and map reading skills. He was due to show up between noon and 4pm. He finally makes it around 4:30pm when Tricia and the boys get home.

The Direct TV guy spends the next 2 hours on the phone, chain smoking Marlboro Lights on my back deck, with the Direct TV support because they have my work order completely hosed and incorrect. We finally get that solved and he goes to work in the crawl space. Keller goes into the pen in the backyard, very begrudgingly too! The actual work takes no time: drill a hole, run a line and switch, done. I'm thinking, great, now we can just hang out and watch some TV and end this frustrating day. But, it was just one of those days and it had to continue. As Mr. Godsmack, aka the Direct TV guy, is walking out the door, he mentions "I smelled a lot of gas under the house in the crawl space, it was very strong." We have natural gas for the water heater, furnaces and the clothes dryer.

So, I call the gas company about the gas leak. It's now dark. Luckily, Dylan spent the night with his buddy, Samuel. It was a birthday wish for Samuel. So, we didn't have to entertain a tired 2nd grader during this fun time. Tricia and Miles went to karate practice. The gas company man shows up, finds the leak at the gas meter. It's in an area that is not their responsibility, so I have to get our HVAC company to repair the line. In the meantime, the gas gets turned off due to the leak. So, now we have no hot water or heat. I call the HVAC company and they tell me it's a $95/hr call plus parts for after hours (which includes the entire weekend). We settle on the HVAC company coming out first thing Saturday morning and decide we can deal with the lack of gas for the night. By this time, it's already 8:30pm. What a day! Keller also spent about 2 hours in the pen while the Direct TV guy and the gas service man did their work. He did manage to get in the crawl space and lick the gas service man's face before I got him out and into the pen. I was thinking he would be okay out of the pen. Silly me!

Saturday starts with the HVAC repair at 8am for $125, thank you. Luckily, the gas service man comes back afterwards and turns the gas back on and restarts the pilot on the water heater. So, it cost me but it was over and done quickly with a much better connection created. It's a gorgeous day in the Upstate with a slight chill and some wind. Miles and I take the recyclables down to the high school while Tricia takes Keller out for a walk. I spend some time getting the laptops and wireless printers back online with my home network.

Now, you can see why I was so happy to have the chance to head down to the Peace Center for the inaugural Peace Center Bluegrass Festival. I hook up with my buddy Dan Wallace from Freedom and we head on down. The drive through the back side of Taylors into Greenville is spectacular with God putting on the colors of Fall for all to shine. We stop by Horizon Records on Stone Ave, pick up some tickets for the James McMurtry show later that night at The Handlebar. I also pre-order the Rush Live DVD that is coming out on the 25th of Nov for Miles' Christmas. We then get some free weekend parking and walk over to the Peace Center. We catch some of the Al Osteen band in the Gunter Theatre and then head over to the main auditorium for the band I was most wanting to the see: The Steep Canyon Rangers. Let me tell: these guys are the real deal and this was the best bluegrass set I have ever witnessed. We got some center seats at the back of the orchestra pit. Our good friends, Martha and David from Freedom found us and sat with us in the sweet spot! The music was magical and magnificent and had so much energy and focus. It covered bluegrass instrumental classics, Celtic tones, country blues and just fun, fast and furious pickin'. Their vocal skills are masterful, with 2 gospel tunes showcasing their harmonies and ranges. Folks, if you get the chance, do not skip the Steep Canyon Rangers. My recording turned out FANTASTIC! I also spoke with the band afterwards and they are just fine with posting the recording, which should be floating around soon. Here's some pictures from the show:

After the set, we had the best BBQ sandwich outside the Peace Center where a ring of merchants were set up. It was just a perfect sandwich to follow such an incredibly moving music experience. A walk across the Falls bridge and a Starbucks latte topped it all on such a gorgeous afternoon trip downtown G'vegas. That's my kind of Saturday afternoon.

Back to home and just in time for the Florida State vs. Clemson football game. We hung in there with them and made a good game out of it; but, in the end, FSU's defense proved to be too much of a threat for Clemson much-maligned offensive line. C.J. Spiller added to the highlight reel with a couple of nice TD runs. I finished working on the home network and also gave Keller a chilly bath during half time. Of course, I got the pictures uploaded and the SCR's set cut and tracked during all the football fun too!

After some supper with the family we started observing that Miles and Tricia were starting to look and act a little sick. Miles started complaining of chills and being cold and was spending time under the covers on the couch. I had my ticket for James McMurtry and told Tricia I would probably not stay the whole night. I made a quick trip to Best Buy for some more ink cartridges (didn't I just do this?) and then headed to The Handlebar. On the way to The Handlebar, Tricia calls me and tells me that Miles' fever is around 101F. We also don't have any more Jr. Tylenol and she doesn't want to give him any Motrin since his stomach is a little queasy. It's not looking good for the home team getting pictures on Sunday as scheduled. I did get a score on Jr. chewable acetaminophen at Rite Aid, it's the small things in life.

James McMurtry topped off the night with his hard drivin' Texas folk rock blues set. He writes some slashingly observant lyrics about today's society and the folks trying to make it. In addition, his 3 piece group locked it down with some ripping guitar and tight rhythms. I thoroughly enjoyed about 1 1/2 hours of his show, I got my 2 tunes I really wanted to hear: "Choctaw Bingo" (see lyrics below for a taste of what James is all about) and "No More Buffalo". I did record that 1 1/2 hours from the sweet spot, so I will see later today how that worked out. I made it home around 12am and found Miles and Tricia not feeling well but resting quietly.

I am up early this morning, doing a little nursing and writing this blog. I am now heading to the high school to help set up for today's worship service like I do on Sunday mornings. I don't think the pictures are in the plans for today. Tricia and the boys are going to stay home from church and rest. I am thinking about taking Dylan down to the Peace Center for lunch and some more free bluegrass at the Peace Center. Well, I gotta run. Thanks for reading and stay in touch.

See ya!

Choctaw Bingo
by James McMurtry

Strap them kids in
Give 'em a little bit of vodka in a cherry coke
We're going to Oklahoma to the family reunion for the first time in years
It's up at uncle Slayton's cause he's getting on in years
You know he no longer travels but he's still pretty spry
He's not much on talking and he's just too mean to die
And they'll be comin' down from Kansas
and from west Arkansas
It'll be one great big old party like you never saw
Uncle Slayton's got his Texan pride
Back in the thickets with his Asian bride
He's got a Airstream trailer and a Holstein cow
He still makes whiskey 'cause he still knows how
He plats that Choctaw bingo every Friday night
You know he had to leave Texas but he won't say why
He owns a quarter section up by Lake Eufala
Caught a great big ol' blue cat on a driftin' jug line
Sells his hardwood timber to the shipping mill
Cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell
He cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell
You know he likes his money he don't mind the smel
lMy cousin Roscoe Slayton's oldest boy from his second marriage up in Illinois
He was raised in East St. Louis by his momma's people
Where they do things different
Thought he'd just come on down
He was going to Dallas Texas in a semi truck called from that big McDonald's
You know the one they built up on that great big ol' bridge
Across the Will Rogers Turnpike
Took the Big Cabin exit stopped and bought a couple of cartons of cigarettes
At that Indian Smoke Shop with the big neon smoke rings
In the Cherokee Nation hit Muskogee late that night
Somebody ran a stoplight at the Shawnee Bypass
Roscoe tried to miss 'em but he didn't quiteBob and Mae come up from little town
Way down by lake Texoma where he coaches football
They were two A champions now for two years running
But he says they won't be this year no they won't be this year
And he stopped off in Tushka at that "Pop's Knife and Gun" place
Bought a SKS rifle and a couple a full cases of that steel core ammo
With the berdan primers from some East bloc nation that no longer needs 'em
And a Desert Eagle that's one great big ol' pistol
I mean .50 caliber made by badass Hebrews
And some surplus tracers for that old BAR of Slayton's
Soon as it gets dark we're gonna have us a time
We're gonna have us a timeRuth Ann and Lynn come down from Baxter Springs
That's one hell raisin' town way up in Southeastern Kansas
Got a biker bar next to the lingerie store
That's got them Rolling Stones lips up there where everyone can see 'em
And they burn all night you know they burn all night you know they burn all night
Ruth Ann and Lynn they wear them cut off britches and those skinny little halters
And they're second cousins to me
Man I don't care I want to get between 'em
With a great big ol' hard on like a old bois d' arc fence post
You could hang a pipe rail gait from
Do some twisted sisters 'til the cows come home
And we'd be havin' us a time
Uncle Slayton's got his Texan pride
Back in the thickets with his Asian bride
He's cut that corner pasture into acre lots`
He sells 'em owner financed
Strictly to them that's got no kind of credit 'Cause he knows they're slackers
When they miss that payment
Then he takes it back
He plays that Choctaw Bingo every Friday night
Drinks that Johnny Walker at that Club 69
We're gonna strap them kids in give 'em a little bit o' Benadryl
And a cherry coke we're goin' to Oklahoma Gonna have us a time

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Uncle Charles

This week, my great uncle, brother to my paternal grandmother, passed away. Uncle Charles Ardis was a good man, a great husband, father and uncle. He lived out in Clarendon county near the old home place of my grandmother's family. His house was always a refuge from the hot sun when my brother and I were out riding our dirt bikes or walking in the woods. What I remember most about him is his laugh and big smile. I don't think I can remember him being mad. He always had birds that he raised: parakeets, cockatoos and the like. He kept busy around his little homestead out in the country. He loved to tell us stories about hunting rabbits back in the day or about when he was in the Navy and out at sea. Uncle Charles and Aunt Pearl spent many evenings at my Dad's place when I was growing up. They were really our only neighbors out there in the country and they were family too! After my Dad took the job at the ginkgo farm and moved away, I lost contact with Uncle Charles and Aunt Pearl but would stop by their place every few years and see how they were getting along and just say "howdy". We were always family.

I specifically remember one story he told me about rabbit hunting. He said there were once so many rabbits out there in the country that once when he went to shoot a rabbit about 20 yards away, another rabbit jumped directly in his line of sight and he killed both with 1 shot. Not sure if that really happened or not but he liked to tell the story. He was also great at getting the old hounds to run some rabbits on lazy Sundays. He would call them and they would sound off and he would just keep them baying and sooner or later, they would run a rabbit out of the woods and into our yard or his yard. It was cool.

I also remember one Saturday when we were down at his place and I was asking him about his electric fence. He told me I could touch it with a stick and not get shocked. Well, he was just kidding but I got a nice little shock anyways. It more scared me more than hurt me. But, I remember running away towards my Dad's place, upset and mad at him. They came after me in the car and went down and told my Dad what happened. Uncle Charles felt bad and worked hard to make me feel better about the joke. By doing that, he was showing me he really cared.

Rest well Uncle Charles, I hear the hounds, do you?

See ya!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Wow! I can hardly believe we pulled it off! We actually elected a black man to the highest office in the land. I have had so many mixed emotions over the last few weeks with the remembrance of 2000's election like a lump in my throat. I have taken some heat here in the Upstate of South Carolina for my support of the Obama campaign, including my own family. But, what it all comes down for me is an attitude that we can do better and we must. I did agree 100% with either party but Obama and Biden were the only acceptable paths for me. Tricia and I were both very vocal about the war in Iraq before it started, again at odds with our families. We both have strong convictions about economic policies that are aligned with the Democratic ticket. As environmentalists at heart, we could not support the Republican ticket's view of our natural resources and continue the policies that Bush has held towards our environment and wild places. To me, that was probably the most important issue on the table for this election. I hope our push towards a green economy will come true, for the sake of our children's children.

I was so proud of both McCain and Obama with their great speeches last night. It was worth it to stay up and listen to Obama make his historic speech in front of the crowds there in Grant Park. Miles and I have watched the speech several times today. When I woke the boys this morning, the first thing they both asked was if Obama won. Dylan even corrected me when I said Obama was the new President. He said "not until July 20th of next year." I knew he meant January but he had only been awake for 5 seconds tops! It was a proud moment for me too. Miles gave me the Obama knuckle tap when he heard the news.

Over the last few weeks, Miles and I have talked about why his Mom and I supported the Democratic ticket and what this election meant for our country. They had a mock election at school and they both told us they voted for Obama.

We did it! We made it happen and we must now all come together as one people. It's not going to be easy. Bush has left us in a mess that will take years to unravel. I don't need to waste any more time writing about that. I pray for our country and our leaders, regardless of party. I am also very thankful to live in a country where a major change in leadership does not involve tanks in the streets and blood in the ditches. There is a lot of hard work to do and I look forward to being a part of it. Now, I need some sleep!

See ya!

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Copyright ©1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

Bob Dylan

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Crash On the Levee

Hey Mr. Policeman, please don't touch my stuff
It cost me too much money
and probably ain't enough
to make through election day
through election day...

Crash On The Levee (Down In The Flood)

Crash on the levee, mama,
Water's gonna overflow,
Swamp's gonna rise,
No boat's gonna row.
Now, you can train on down
To Williams Point,
You can bust your feet,
You can rock this joint.
But oh mama, ain't you gonna miss your best friend now?
You're gonna have to find yourself
Another best friend, somehow.

Now, don't you try an' move me,
You're just gonna lose.
There's a crash on the levee
And, mama, you've been refused.
Well, it's sugar for sugar
And salt for salt,
If you go down in the flood,
It's gonna be your own fault.
Oh mama, ain't you gonna miss your best friend now?
You're gonna have to find yourself
Another best friend, somehow.

Well, that high tide's risin',
Mama, don't you let me down.
Pack up your suitcase,
Mama, don't you make a sound.
Now, it's king for king,
Queen for queen,
It's gonna be the meanest flood
That anybody's seen.
Oh mama, ain't you gonna miss your best friend now?
Yes, you're gonna have to find yourself
Another best friend, somehow.

Copyright © 1967; renewed 1995 Dwarf Music

Monday, November 3, 2008

Africa Presentations

Yesterday, I got up uber early and drove down to Sumter in time to make a presentation about the Africa trip at Home Branch Baptist church. It's always good to sing some big chord hymns out of the good ole Baptist hymnal and of course, The Doxology. It's like stepping back in time for me, reminds me of going to church with my grandparents (both sides of the family). I had most of the service to speak and show some slides. I think it went very well and seemed to hold their attention. I went over about 15 minutes and didn't get any complaints or comments about going over. So, I take that as the best compliment possible!

After a good country meal at Mom's place and of course, a nap, I went to Alice Drive for our Botswana recreation presentation. We brought the audience into the fellowship hall in small groups. We took them through a few stations with props and pictures from Old Naledi. We read scripts to recreate the environement and the daily choices that face the street orphans there in Old Naledi. My station was the last, representing Old Naledi Baptist Fellowship and why it was important for us to support the Fellowship and its work there in Old Naledi. Afterwards, we did a multimedia presentations in front of the entire assembly. James Lowe and I talked about the construction work and how hard the job was digging in that dirt (aka African concrete). It went very well and James wrote a great script for the 2 of us to read.

After the presentation, my sister, Amy, and I went to Logan's for a great steak dinner. Thanks Amy!

It was a honor to tell those stories and to share that vision of what we are supporting in Botswana. It also helped prepare me for my next Africa vision talk, for Freedom Fellowship in early December. I look forward to that opportunity to continue to share that vision.

I got up at 0500am (felt like 6am to me) and drove back to Greer. I didn't feel all that well once I got here and worked for a little while. I just got up from a quick nap and feel much better. Now, back to work!

See ya!