Gateway Book

When my wife and I traveled home from Tampa in June, we ended up having to be directed to Houston for the night. To fly back “home” the next morning, the flight number was the same as the redirected flight. We were told our tickets would be all we would need to get us through the gate and on the airplane, but to make sure, we decided to suffer through the customer service experience at the main entrance to the airport.

Due to our need to verify, we arrived at the airport with a substantial time cushion. We weren’t on the only flight that had been directed to Houston, so we had lots of company. For the sake of this post, just assume the line worked out fine. (I tried to help the Spanish-speaking gentlemen ahead of me by telling him he was the next one up at the counter. He took offense and scolded me for trying to help. I shrugged and realized if I was traveling with my wife and small child I would be extra stressed, too.)

To kill the boredom, my wife and I struck up a conversation with the person behind us in the line. We started talking about various books we had read and enjoyed. A few recommendations were exchanged. Our new friend even went to Amazon and bought one of my wife’s recommendations while we were waiting.

It was somewhere during this conversation I mentioned how my wife was not much of a reader the first few years of our marriage. Other than a few John Grisham books, she rarely joined me in reading before bed. The term “gateway book” soon entered into our conversation.  Our companion’s significant other was not much of a reader.  We gave her a few suggestions from Eric Metaxas and other authors.  We encouraged her.  It is worth the continued effort.  

What was that first book that I read and convinced my wife that she should be a reader too? Was it a book by Erik Larson?  Was it some other book that allowed me to penetrate her anti-reading armor?  It has been a few years since we have become good reading buddies.  I don’t ever expect her to enjoy fantasy like I do.  And, she is likely to favor the legal novels more than I ever will.  It is good to have someone to screen books for you.  Since we know each other so well, any recommendations offered are typically VERY good ones.  It is relaxing, for me, to be able to look up at my wife and ask her how her book is going.  If lucky, we will have many retirement years to enjoy many stacks of books.  

Good News, Bad News

I needed a hair cut

Good: I have hair.

Bad: How long is the line?

Good: Online check in. Yeah, 0 minute wait.

Bad: The online application doesn’t have an asterick telling you the power is half out and only 2 of 5 stylist have equipment beyond scissors that are able to work right now..

Good News: My favorite stytlist, Xanadu (not her real name) is one of the few that has rechargeable clippers.

Bad News: My daughters (or daugher Xanadu would not give up) told Xanadu about my blog so she was ready to pounce on me and try to get me on the defensive.

Good News: Xanadu was able to cut my hair using natural lighting since her station is near the front of the business.

Bad News: The lack of electricity made the place a little extra chaotic. Xanadu got pulled a few different directions while clipping away at my head. AND, she is able to cut and talk at the same time.

Good News: We bought a card where we pre-paid for a number of haircuts.

Bad News: The card has officially been given up as lost with an excessive number of haircuts remaining.

Good News: I got to bond with Xanadu a little more. She is a good kid who I enjoy chatting with. And, I think she enjoys chatting with me too!

Wild Canes and All

I have a confession to make. We knew we had a sick rose, but we ignored it. We put our other roses at risk. For what? Just because we were determined to not sacrifice any blooms until the rose bush fully expired on its own. We ignored the warnings. We tolerated the Rose Rosette Disease in one rose. We were convinced it would decide to move on without infected all of our other roses.

We wanted to hold onto the memory of the healthy part of our rose. We chose to deny the wild, mutated canes that took possession of a section of our rose. It was possibly easier to ignore because the disease began on the edge and not in the middle of our rose patch. Maybe we didn’t think the mites would be active. We thought our roses were special and somehow protected.

When our lawn care person told me without hesitation, “You need to get those out of there. There is no cure. If you aren’t cautious, you are going to lose them all.” Before the chemicals were dried on the yard, I had both roses dug up. One in the front yard and one in the back would never again bloom in our yard. I may have bought us another couple years of roses, but it seems quite likely each of the roses will be claimed in time.

I am interviewing other replacement plants now. The roses did well in the heat. Many candidates will be disqualified immediately. If only the mites were receptive to an exorcism or some other reason to skip our roses and move to the roses next door. That neighbor is moving in the spring. They don’t care about the roses. The neighbor doesn’t love his roses like we do. We will continue being vigilant. Maybe our roses will defeat the foe. They mite!

Story in Newspaper

Pictures of Rose Rosette Disease

Today’s Walk 2.01

The contrast between yesterday’s walk and today’s walk was remarkable. Today’s walk was nearly 6 hours earlier in the day than yesterday.  Cooler temperatures were expected–20 degrees cooler made my heat-weary body VERY happy.  Texas may not welcome walkers during all hours of the day, but there are periods–even in the summertime–where it is much more inviting.

It was like the sidewalks were being rewarded for their diligence.  Rain or shine, the sidewalks are there.  Heat or chill they provide a path.  The morning provides opportunities for shade not available later in the day.  Today, the shaded areas were covered in gold dust as the trees gave up a portion of their pollen.  If pedestrians and bikers can tickle its backside on a national holiday, the sidewalk will continue to bide its time during the less desirable days.  If I were a sidewalk, I would have been quite pleased today.  The path was oozing with people.  If it were not raining people, then they seemed to be crawling out of the cracks between sections of the sidewalk.  My fellow pedestrians were very thick, and they were mostly friendly.  One lady paused her singing to give me a “Hello”.  I preferred the distractions of her singing to the occasional phone conversation I am often forced to encounter.  Even the often aloof bicyclist chose to be more social as they celebrated Independence Day.

The only negative thing–not negative for me–was the work being done today on the train tracks.  This ongoing project is apparently far enough behind.  The 4th of July would have to be a “triple overtime” holiday, wouldn’t, it?  Holes are being dug and re-dug-certainly this could have waited just one more day.  Concrete has been dislodged and repoured–apparently there are others sucked into working on this day.  I hope those who chose, or were told, to work today can pause and reflect on the bounty we share in being Americans.  As the case with me, I try to pause a little bit every day to reflect on the freedoms we are blessed with in this country.  We don’t have to agree on everything.  We should all agree on the honor due to those who were willing to sacrifice nearly 250 years ago to allow our present freedoms to be available.

Today’s Walk 2.00

With the second half of the year upon us and with my fledgling blog in dire need of attention and new ideas, I have graduated to a “2” for counting my post.  It is a small thing.  I am hoping it gives me more frequent inspiration than the waning days of the previous incantation.

Today, I found a near sure fire way to have the sidewalk to your self.  I decided to walk in the middle of the afternoon on one of the hottest days of the year.  (Over 100 degrees should easily qualify.) The humidity was low, and the breeze was light enough to keep the sweat from over accumulating on my shirt.  The humidity was so low and the sweat so minimal I was concerned early on that my sweat glands had forgotten how to correctly work in the Texas climate.  (We recently got back from a vacation in a cooler part of the world.)

My writing of this post proves it did not kill me.  In fact, the heat is likely to inspire me to an additional posting in the VERY NEAR future.


Today’s Walk 151

From the notable department, I drag these tales into the light of day.  I am hopeful the details have not entirely eroded from when they were first witnessed.  I am hopeful I can weave a portion of the enthusiasm into the story I felt when they were viewed.  They were outside of the ordinary, or at least outside of MY ordinary.

  • Gasless:  A husband apparently made the unfortunate decision to drive his car with a tank on fumes.  As I walked up on him, he was trying to put gas in the car with the empty tank.  He was too embarrassed to have his wife/girlfriend nearby as he remedied the inconvenience.  His wife was sticking her head out the window of her car that was parked behind him trying to look nonchalant.  He ignored her and just filled his car with every drop he could get out of the portable tank.
  • Bloody Bike:  There are some places on the path where bikers don’t have a clear view of what is to come.  When they ride their bike at the speeds many of them find favorable, many a pedestrian has been more than startled.  On this day, it was the biker who was startled.  As the biker came around a blind corner where the brush was growing tall, she came upon a couple spread across the whole path with their two small dogs.  When I walked into the scene, the biker was laying/sitting in the middle of the sidewalk with her glasses askew.  Her hair was disheveled as she spoke on the phone.  The drops of blood were still fresh and abundant.  As I passed, I wished the rider well.  The dog owners were doing everything I could do.
  • Jake:  As I was coming up on the bridge close to the house, there was a clear photographic session taking place.  There was a woman with a “bursting bump”.  Her props were gray styrofoam letters sitting on the top of the bridge.  They were about 18 inches tall.  They spelled out “J-A-K-E”.  Just after I passed the scene the letter “J” blew off the bridge.  I am sure they fixed the letter before taking more pictures. The would-be mother would certainly have some “ache” (ake) before Jake arrived.
  • TV Works:  Whether this TV was related to our TV a few years ago is doubtful, but it brought back memories.  A few years ago, my son rescued a TV from the street on trash day.  It wore a sign, “TV Works”.  After letting the TV ripen in the garage for awhile, we decided to find out if the sign was speaking truth OR if our delay confirmed what we already suspected.  Unfortunately, if the TV worked, it was outside of my skill level to make it perform.  Eventually, the TV ended up on our curb during a trash day.  I don’t believe it was my idea, but my son may have been responsible for attaching another sign to the TV to encourage its invitation into another home.  When it disappeared from our curb, we laughed.  When it appeared on someone else curb a few weeks later, we laughed even harder.  On the day I was reminiscing about our earlier TV adventures, I was walking 2 miles from our house.  This TV was also a large projection TV.  It had a sign similar to the sign attached on our curb.  (Rather the sign had blown into the street, but its purpose was similar to our own–get the TV cleared from our property by garbage man or deceit.)  The TV was gone the next day.  Hopefully, this time the TV found a home where it earned its keep.

Today’s Walk 1.150

The weather doesn’t really matter like it did when I was writing this blog almost daily.  Spring has moved out of the way and allowed the 90’s of early summer (late summer is the 100’s with great frequency) to be the norm.  The time of day also seems of much less importance.  If it is the weekend, I walk as early in the day as possible.  And, if it is a weekday, I usually walk before dinner with the very occasional post-dinner walk.  I am slow in posting this.  If I am satisfied with what I come up with, I will post this on Memorial Day.

I am not sure what possessed me to give up the daily posting I fought so hard to include as part of my 2018. As “nothing new” became ordinary, the desire to write in my blog became far less interesting.  It is hard to be drawn to something that you have grown to hate because of its absolute mundaneness.  After I passed the 100 mark, I sensed I would fall into the trap.  Once my mind began to accept the idea of letting the posting streak die, it was not at all difficult to force “blog post” to the bottom of my priorities list.  Though it resided there for a couple of weeks, it is my goal to promote it at least once a week.  A boring walk is excruciating to write and read about.  If not once a week, then writing whenever something notable occurs is better than neglecting it entirely.

A summary of the week’s walk (or in the case of today, a few weeks walks) will confirm a few things:

  1. I am still alive and have access to the internet.
  2. I am still capable of recognizing something of interest and describing in a way a reader can appreciate.  (If not all the time, maybe more times than not.)
  3. I care about telling stories and when I grow up someday, I might write fiction or non-fiction or something of some lingering value.

Today’s Walk 1.115

When:  Tuesday– Mid-afternoon- 4/24/2018
Weather: Low 80’s with a light breeze
When I head out the door to walk, I am either putting on sunglasses that obscure me from seeing any details, OR I am cursed with some figurative cataracts?  I walk out the door and don’t seem to see anything worth mentioning.  My eyes are prevented from seeing anything of interests.  Am I walking at the wrong time?  Are the oddballs walking an hour before or after me?  Am I taking the wrong path?  I see the same cast of characters every day lately.  They may put on different costumes or rotate between one of the more popular characters. (i.e. dog-walker/biker/jogger)  I just need some new characters.  I need the person who will wear the t-shirt I can’t forget.  (I don’t need another guy going around without a shirt.)  I could use a convoy of bikes with some never before seen quality.  I would even settle for a train wreck or a car wreck–I don’t want anyone to be hurt.  I need something to break the monotony.  I would like to find evidence these eyes can still see something interesting.  If the present pattern continues, I will just “phone the blog post in”.  I used to get them done within a couple of days.  Today, I am doing almost a weeks worth in one day.  What kind of quality is that?  I need to find a new fire for this “series” or I need to find a new topic.

Today’s Walk 1.114

When:  Monday– Mid-afternoon- 4/23/2018
Weather: Low 70’s with a light breeze
Same plot but different situation comedy. Same book but a slightly revised edition
The plot was the same, but it may have been a situation comedy (at its present pace, a comedy nearing its last episode) in a different time slot.  It has become a book that has been read so many times the plot is almost memorized.  Maybe it is even a little like the movie, “Groundhog Day”.  Each walk feels so much like one of the previous walks, it has nothing worth isolating.  I will admit to a mind full of thoughts possibly leaving little room for imaginative pursuits.  I need to hook myself up to some jumper cables and get my observational battery recharged.