Saturday, June 27, 2009

How many angels does it take?

Timing is everything. Have you ever heard that statement?

If you follow sports of any type, you more than likely have heard that exact statement. The games play-by-play announcers will qualify a running play in a football game as to how the running back 'hit the hole' a second before it collapsed and broke into the secondary gaining enough yardage for a much needed first down.

It's all about timing.

In baseball, bat speed is crucial. Having a small spinning orb hurled toward you that can be moving erratically itself along its path to the catchers mitt. The batter must have good bat speed to execute exact timing in order to make contact putting the ball into play.

Perfect timing...bat hitting the ball.

What about the inconvenient fender bender you happened upon while heading to the mall last weekend. Looks like the one car had run the red light and clipped the rear bumper of the car in the crossing traffic. Just how close was that?

Was timing involved here?

Suppose the driver of the car that had their bumper clipped had dropped their car keys twice while leaving the house or maybe a last minute phone call to delay them. Would that have been enough time to possibly miss the incident entirely?

Come with me into the realm of the spiritual world. Guardian angels to be exact.

Now whether you believe in this style of thinking or not, open your mind just a little and imagine it with me.

I like to believe that we all have at least one guardian angel assigned to each of us and will call for help from the other angels sitting on the bench should the need for spiritual-backup arise.

You have to admit, there are some of us that need more help than others...just look around and think about the folks driving the open road with you. Yeah, you know the ones I'm talking about...the same ones that can't walk and chew gum very well.

There may be the occasion where you never see the results of the actions from our guardian angels, which supports the fact that those type of people go thru life oblivious to the world around them. We could call them 'clueless' or 'information challenged'.

Being 'clueless' is not entirely bad. It becomes a way of life for them and supports the short quotation: "Don't know why they call it common sense, when a lot of folks don't got it".

You've seen these people before. Something happens that is really out of the norm, and the only reaction you get from them is maybe a head shake with a grunt.

The ones that scare me are the ones with the patented 'blank-stare' after a near critical encounter. You can see it in their eyes, the lights are on but nobody's home.

Just this week while traveling to one of my physical therapy appointments, I left work with plenty of time to navigate the mid-day traffic, I encountered one of the events I mentioned above.

The drive is mostly highway traffic and not at all congested. My mind is on the therapy session treating my shoulder and a dental appointment after that.

During the first couple of miles on the highway, I noticed the sound of wind blowing past the doors and windows. For some odd reason, the wind noise seemed a bit more 'pronounced' during this portion of the drive.

I did a quick check of the windows, making sure all were rolled up so not to lose any air conditioning on this HOT afternoon.

So to assist in covering the sound, I turned up the volume of the radio and before long I forgot about the wind noise. It's right about now I realize that I am doing just like my daughter used to do...changing the radio stations.

Cannot stand commercials. Want to hear music and since my CD player quit on me a couple of years ago, I am at the mercy of the local mid afternoon DJ for any type of musical entertainment.

Don't forget to take the EXIT ahead...thinking to wouldn't want to miss and have to double back. Got to stay in this lane.....

Thoughts while driving cover everything going on in your life. EVERYTHING!

Summer vacation for the kids, situations at work, the family, wanting to be at the lake complaining about it being too hot to fish, the monthly electrical utility bill due to the summer heat, and the next school year being the freshman year for our son in high school....

Don't like that song, changing the station...

It's almost automatic, taking the EXIT and easing along the service road that leads to the underpass where I will take the U-turn and avoid the traffic light and the intersection.

There are no other cars ahead of me in the lane leading into the U-turn...

Along the elevated portion of the freeway, the highway department has planted shrubs to soften the point where the concrete and grass come together.

Something catches my attention in the traffic that is stopped at the intersection and I take my eyes away from the left turn into the U-turn...

As I negotiate the turn, I immediately spot a set of denim clad legs thru the long thin blades of the pampas grass shrub moving across the same feeder road my truck is occupying...what the...

My reflex was automatic, hitting the brakes and swerving to the right...

The anti-lock brakes perform their designed tasks and I can feel and hear the tires digging into the pavement with the familiar chirp-chirp-chirp...

When I came to a stop....the individual was standing even with the driver side door just looking at me thru the window....with 'the look'. A look that just kind of asked where the heck did you come from...?

It looked like he had grunted and shook his head at me all the while wondering why I was in his way not wanting him to cross the road...

I was dumbfounded. Had I not swerved to miss him, the distance from the front of my truck to the drivers door was how far he might have been up rolled up in a heap under my truck or possibly thrown into the large concrete pylons supporting the freeway overpass.

After about a full 5 second eye to eye encounter, the man turned and walked to the rear of my pick-up and proceeded in his direction of choice...across the feeder road and towards the intersection.

You reckon there were any guardian angels involved with this chance meeting? I for one do truly believe in guardian angels with this story as my testament.

Was the sound of wind rushing by my windows actually the sound from the wings of my angels either speeding me up or trying to slow me down? Possibly.

Can you picture a wall of angels standing shoulder to shoulder across the U-turn feeder lane laying down a wall of protection for this man whose life would have been changed?

If it weren't for the guardian angels that afternoon, both of our lives would have been changed dramatically.

Talk about Devine Intervention or Perfect Timing....

I gave a short prayer of thanks for the good ending to what could have been a really bad situation. I experienced a rush of emotions within the next several minutes.

So the next time you drop your keys repeatedly while trying to start your car, or you have to make an extra trip back inside because you forgot the receipt for the gift you're returning, or the phone call while just leaving for the could be your guardian angel doing their job.

Think about this the next time your alarm clock doesn't get you up and you run late for work...just think about your guardian angel and what you may have missed.

Using a closing quote from one of the afternoon DJ's... "Don't drive so fast that your guardian angel can't keep up...."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jacob Colin Chambers

Wanting a family is sometimes more than just deciding to start a family. Some couples are destined to struggle with the journey.

My wife and I would be lifetime members of that select group. For what ever the reason, God taught us patience through the ordeal...

I remember it like it was just this morning.

A Sunday morning as I sat looking for a specific verse in my bible. It was the time before morning worship service and I was searching for that 'something special' that morning. Little did I know what was in store for me.

My hands found the verse that would lead me to an answer.

John 14:14 was a pure and simple promise. I read it again...

And then I bowed my head and asked God for a second child and I asked Him for this child in His name.

The sense of assurance was overwhelming. I told the wife when I returned home of what I had received. Her words..."Wow, it must have been a really good sermon."

I replied, "You just wait until next month, the test will be positive!"

What a birthday it would be the coming year. Cindy warned me that if our son was born on my birthday, I basically would be 'forever' taking a back seat to all of the celebrations, and I was cool with that...totally okay with it.

The first year was filled with unknowns. But our faith was steadfast in the fact that Jacob was an answer to a prayer. Within a week after the year long anticipation of surgery, the situation went in a direction we did not expect.

After almost six weeks of time in the hospital, God called Jacob home.

Why us Lord? Why us...?

And He answered,
"Who would you pick to take your place?"

The anguish we felt left us all alone or so we thought until that one night when I dreamed of Him cradling me as I had held my own children...

OR maybe it wasn't a dream after all. Who am I to say what God will do when a child needs comfort. Who better than the parent to console ?

We came to learn that the passing of time really does heal.

This very year of 2009 marks a milestone in our human existence. Jacob would have turned 21 but still in our hearts and minds, he will always be our 'Tonkers'...

Jacob Colin Chambers
2/1/88 - 4/12/89

You came to us simply, as an answer to a prayer,
Presented as a blessing, an example of God’s care.
To fill a space in time, we all know as life,
A joy, a thrill, a shining ray of light.

Little did we know the short time we would share,
I can still see you with your perfect head of hair.
The smiles and the tears would show us how much,
A blessing from Heaven, oh you were just such.

Your day of birth was a celebration of sorts,
Life with a beginning, big plans for all kinds of sports.
We had the chance to share the same birthday that year,
I thought..hey why not, let’s do it. It had a nice ring to the ear.

Troubles arose and our feelings exposed,
Fears and doubts were present, normal reactions I suppose.
Would not cast the problems on anyone we knew,
Not really sure why, but we questioned God too.

A blessing from Heaven, a gift from above,
You came and you left, like the flight of a dove.
You touched our lives in many different ways,
And your memory will live with us throughout all our days.

Your name, it was chosen, we knew it from the start,
We would call you Jacob Colin, but ‘Tonkers’ in our heart.
Now you stay busy by playing at God’s feet,
While making friends with the angels, oh that sure sounds neat.

Our time here on earth is numbered for sure,
Which may be up today, tomorrow, or late November.
There's one thing I know, and it’s a sure thing,
We’ll be together again when God calls, and it’s my ring.

Jake Chambers
May - 2001

Friday, June 19, 2009

My First Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to those of you that will get the usual Father's Day card along with the opportunity to fire up the grill and cook your own Father's Day meal.

To those fathers that will get the phone call from your children that live across the country and are not able to physically share the day with you, Happy Father's Day.

To those serving our country by being 'in-country' overseas and standing in the gap, defending our many freedoms we enjoy each and every day. Happy Father's Day.

Whether this is your first Father's Day or one of many to come, Happy Father's Day.

This just happens to be my 26th Father's Day.

If you are a stickler for details, you will argue the count by the end of the story...and that's what the comment section is all about. Please feel free to participate.

Twenty-six years ago, on Father's Day, my wife went into labor. Although it was late afternoon while we were visiting her dad, the pains began.

Suffice it to say, somewhere around midnight, we found ourselves at the hospital only to be turned away with instructions to see her doctor the next morning.

The doctor's visit was quick and to the point. Leave right now and go straight to the hospital. Do not pass go, just go straight to the hospital. NOW!

The day would bring us our first child. Our first born.

At the onset of 'our' pregnancy, we optioned for the day of delivery to discover what sex our child was...a boy or a girl.

For you scientists, doctors, engineers, and sticklers for details, that would be male or female.

Kind of like Christmas morning, you wanted to know what you were getting but just having to wait for it made it worthwhile.

We did the la maze classes in preparation of the birth. Got to go on a tour of the hospital maternity ward and delivery rooms as we neared the end of the class. This part was really boring to me, since I was working as an electrician on the expansion project at this very hospital.

The project was adding a whole new wing that included new labor and delivery rooms with an updated neo-natal nursery. The entire floor was dedicated to the delivery and care of our future citizens.

I remember seeing my co-workers from the labor room window. They were measuring off wire for one our major wire pulls for the project. Boy it sure looks hot down there and here I am in the air conditioning hanging around waiting on this special delivery......oh, sorry about that.

Getting back to the birth of our first child. The la maze class would end up being a bust for me. I was sent to the waiting room because fathers were not allowed in the delivery room during surgical procedures.

As I sat there with all my in-laws...waiting for the moment to arrive, the fact that I was about to become a parent got all over me. I was about to be a father. Was I ready? We were no longer going to be a couple.

We are family....(there's a song in there somewhere don't you think?)
....we are fam-ah-lee...i got all my sisters with meee.......

The arrival of my daughter made me a dad.

Our first born was a healthy and beautiful baby girl. All 9 pounds 8 ounces of her. I truly believe the Good Lord had a hand in the size of her because it made it easier for me to hang on to her. Like most first time dads, I didn't have a lot of experience with holding babies.

My wife and I had already picked out the names for our first child. We were ready for either one.

Our baby girl was here and we would name her Laci Renee.

Even though her birthday was the day after Father's Day that year, I still count it as my first Father's Day.

June 20, 1983. My daughters birthday.

'MY' first Father's Day!

Fastforward to June 2009.

This Father's Day I get to celebrate it as a grandfather as well. Being a grandfather is still basically new but I figure it will work itself out.

Grandma still gets top billing around the house...except for this coming Sunday, when it's Grandpa's turn to be 'top dawg'.

Well hopefully this 'top dawg' will get to sit around with family, both of my kids, and the granddaughter. Probably even fire up the grill and cook our Father's Day meal. Enjoy the day in all its glory...and then some.

Here's to all the fathers out there.

May God Bless you as only He can for being the father He wants you to be.

Happy Father's Day

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Headlights and Tail-lilghts


The word always reminds me of the ketchup commercial and the accompanying song.....

Ann-tis-a-paay-shon....... you're maykin me wait......
(you're singing it to yourself right now aren't you?)

This is one sensation everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It usually builds to a point where your focus is centered around a specific activity and nothing else matters.

The anticipation of the birth of a first child, that first new home or car.

Your first job or your next job. Grandchildren and retirement.

The flood of light onto your living room walls from headlights in the driveway has increased your anticipation level and caused your voice to change to the next higher octave as you shout out to your spouse,

"They're here! They're here! the kids are here!"

Artificial light that spills out in front of the car hides the faces of the occupants from your sight. Your adrenaline is still raging until you hear the familiar voices from the darkness beyond the headlights.

"Grandma! Grandma....Grandpa!" (grandmas always get first billing...)

Happiness all around. The family is here and the anxiousness you were feeling is replaced by the indescribable heart warming sensation we call the 'warm fuzzies'.

The annual visit with family has finally arrived, along with the sharing of old and the making of new memories.

Your kids are home and all is right with the world.

The hours pass by quickly at first as you try to catch up on all that has happened since you were last together. Hoping and wishing that the few days together could stretch out longer for more family time.

The kitchen you used to knock around in by all yourself is now filled to capacity with the kids and grand kids. Baked family favorites cover most all available counter tops as the stories from years past fill the air, mixed with laughter and even a few memorable tears.

But that's okay, you are loving it.

The kids are home.

Tomorrow will dawn different. From out of left field, the strange, no the eerie sense of change and indifference starts to seep in.

You shake this off as just being tired and the stress from all the preparations for the family visit is settling in. All of the activity whirling around you is somehow not what you thought it would be.

Before long you realize that the empty nest syndrome you once wrung your hands over was not the adversary you once thought it to be.

Where had all the peace and quiet gone?

Deep down you are thinking you must be just a bit off your feed as your grandmother used to say.

Yes of course, I'm just tired and not used to this much activity. Again you think that tomorrow will be different.

Besides, the kids are home.

But the new day dawns with new challenges. The grand kids are chasing Alice, your beloved one-eyed, slightly neurotic cat up the 74 year old oak tree behind the house, where she stays until its dark.

The youngest of the grand kids is exploring all the cabinets and book shelves within their reach and asking "What's This?" over and over and over again.

Your normal clean and tidy home suddenly has that 'lived-in' look. A look you realize that you haven't seen in about a year or so...and the anticipation starts to build.

This round of anticipation though is paired with another set of emotions. Let's face it. You have become set in your ways and how you step through your days. You realize you want your world back.

Your quiet, your solitude, your empty nest.

Wait a second, these are my kids and grand kids and I love them dearly. Yeah, and you quickly reason that you can love them from a distance also.

And before you know it, the time together is winding down. The kids are loading up for the trip home. The time has flown by these few days.

Hugs and kisses all around. Grandma wipes at a tear, Grandpa tells them to drive safe and to call when they get there.

As you watch the car make its way down the drive to the road, you see the taillights come on and you realize that happiness comes in many forms.

This time it came around in headlights and tail-lights.

The phone rings. You can relax. You can start missing them again.

The kids are HOME.

Monday, June 8, 2009

#2 Son

The year of 1973 was a beginning in itself. New friends, new hobbies, new challenges, and a definite path for a career was opened up for me.

Little did I know how the decision to apply and being accepted into the IBEW LU479 sanctioned apprenticeship training program would shape my life as it did. The brotherhood spilled over into my personal life with a boat load of new friends.

A family of electricians so to speak. This particular family had roots that ran deep into the local union and its beginning and they accepted me for what I had to offer. Which at the time was very little, but like a stray dog, they kept feeding me and I kept hanging around.

Wesley Holst and his parents soon came to be my 'adoptive' family. These are the people that took me under their wings and taught me how to get outdoors and to find my way home. I'm talking about the hunting and fishing aspect of the outdoors and all that is covered by those activities.

Mom and Pop Holst as I came to call them were patient with me back then, but patience was something they learned with the raising of their son Wesley so it pretty much came second nature to them.

Over the years we have amassed more than 30 years of hunting, fishing, and camping together. You can only imagine some of the stories that have been shared around camp fires, boat docks, and cook outs.

Recent years have brought me another set of memories with the inclusion of my own son into the mix at deer camp, my fishing partner now, or just learning the different types of trees in the woods.

My experiences with the Holst family is being passed along to my son. You've most likely heard the saying..."if you've seen the son you've seen the father", well that goes for Wesley and Pop Holst. As different as individuals can be, the apple didn't fall very far from that tree either. Just make sure you get the rope you borrowed from Pop back to him rolled up like you found it...and Wesley is the same dog-gone way.

Going back to the career, Wesley and I both were accepted into the apprenticeship program the same year. At the time of swearing in the new apprentices, Pop stood with both of us that night. I am not sure if I ever thanked him for that gesture.

Wesley and I both worked our four years of apprenticeship with the same electrical contractor and finished the class in 1979. Through the years, we have always been there for each other through marriages, children, life, and death.

Somewhere along the line, Mom and Pop began referring to me as the #2 son. I wear that badge proudly still today even if we don't get to hunt and fish together as much as we did way back when.

Being #2 is just alright with me.

D.A.'Pop' Holst has gone on over to the other side of paradise now. Mom is hanging out in the old neighborhood...I probably need to call her soon to check in.

Me and Wesley, finally got to go fishing earlier this year. First time in over 20 years. The deer lease made some changes a couple of years ago and I had to drop off, but those memories still abide in the back of my mind.

Thanks to the Holst family for making me and allowing me to be the #2 son.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

It Was a Classic Bassmaster 'Classic'

Sports. Go ahead and pick one...

What sport comes to your mind with the subject surfaces?

It kind of depends on what time of year it is, right? But then not everyone follows sports, no matter which venue it may be.

My wife might just be onto something about my hobby of bass fishing being a full fledged obsession.

The world series of bass fishing held its championship tournament earlier this year in nearby Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. What an opportunity for any fan of bass fishing to attend 'THE' event. Every year the Classic is held on different bodies of water and this year would be the Red River.

It would have been nice to attend the entire weeks worth of activities, but I opted to make the final day of the tournament. To see the winner take home the $500,000.00 dollar check, the trophy, bragging rights, and not to mention a few other perks that come with simply being the champion.

Take a few moments and read the rest of my story and you might get an idea of what this middle aged kid got to witness that one single day back in February this year.


I drove to Shreveport, Louisiana to experience the BASSMASTER 2009 Classic. Even though it was for the final and third day of the tournament, it proved to be a great choice. In fact, since BASS changed the timing of the Classic to the start of the season, it is my opinion that this only stokes the emotional fires of the Elite series anglers.

The BASSMASTER 2009 Classic is now just a memory and one I will visit every time I hear certain Elite angler names. The only regret I have is not being there for the entire week.

While visiting the EXPO, I almost won KVD’s boat from last year that was being given away. The catch was that my entry card along with several thousand other cards did not get picked.

How cool would that have been? Hitching up that wrapped rig and dragging it back home. Man oh man.

Yeah, you also had to be present to win which resulted in that corner of the exhibit hall being jammed packed with more than a few hopefuls. Someone from Morgan City, Louisiana whose name escapes me for now won the boat. After the drawing, the crowd dispersed back into and around the many great exhibits.

With information from connections through my freelance writing, I was able to gain entry to areas normally off-limits to the everyday bass angling fan. Let me tell you the experience was absolutely incredible. For those of you that only get to watch this on TV or on your computer, it’s just like that only BETTER!

Standing on the main floor watching the crowd file in, I noticed the set of banners hanging from the steel of this massive structure. These banners named the winners of each Classic since its inception. Makes you stop and think about how many casts and retrieves these banners actually represent and the winning lures that were lauded at the closing ceremonies.

My next stop would be the boatyard. If you have never been to a BASS event, you may not know that there is a team of people designated to clean each boat and tow vehicle prior to being presented to the public eye. I suppose a classic event would require a classic look. These few people give each rig a Classic Shine.

In writing this, I remember a few years ago when the Elite series visited my home lake of Sam Rayburn, my son and I found Skeet Reese washing his own rig at a local car wash. Yeah, we stopped and asked him if he needed any help, he instead stopped and gave us his autograph. Quite a guy that Skeet Reese, and today you can add 2009 World Champion Bass Angler to his name.

The boatyard itself is a bevy of activity. There were people with note pads, laptops, cameras, and microphones everywhere. This event is not going unnoticed, besides, it is the Classic.

Guys, this is so neat. Being able to pick your target and walk up and talk about their day on the water, snap a picture, and then move on to your next angler. These guys are so approachable and appreciative of the fan base.

Just a few that I got some quality time with are Alton Jones, Shaw Grigsby, Bill Lowen, Brian Schmidt, Bobby Lane, and Kelly Jordon.

Back inside along the edge of the main floor where I waited for the victory lap, I caught some motion out of my right eye. There were a couple of young boys there and they were wearing their custom fitted jersey of their favorite angler. Their choice was Kevin Van Dam.

Then I realized that these boys were twins.

It was right about now that I remembered that Kevin and his wife
Sherry, have a set of twins. You don’t think, maybe, yep, I turned around and checked out the few people behind me, Kevin and the Mrs. were standing there taking in the final moments of the weigh-in.

To me, that just defines the class that this man has and is made up of. Respect for the sport and supporting the very anglers that he battled with for the coveted title of World Champion, OR he may have been stoking his fire for the coming season. Either way, KVD is a force to be reckoned with.

The band of brothers that make up the Elite Series Tournament anglers is way more than what we see on the limited basis we are fed through the media. There is a respect for each other and a spirit that extends beyond the bodies of water that are stirred during each tournament. To see them huddled together in the media room discussing the day, the choices made on the water, or other personal stuff. These guys are truly Elite.

My thanks to Jaison and Ken for your consideration. What a Classic.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Personal Expressions

People watching.

Watching people giving in to their personal expressions.

Everyone does it. Admit it. You're at your local mall sitting on one of the benches provided for just that, sitting.

Before you know it, you have sat there long enough while waiting on your spousal unit to finish her 'shopping' from her list of stores and you realize that you have seen that person that just walked by somewhere before.

Then you realize you have just seen what may have been the not so elusive, sensible shoe wearing, fast paced mall walker AND you have been at the mall way longer than you expected.

Your mind begins to wander back to what you would really be doing if you could.

Me? It would include a man-made reservoir and my bass boat.

However, the recent problem with my shoulder has me sidelined from the 'obsession' (as my wife calls it) and I find myself people watching and wondering if it was a conscious decision they made regarding what they are wearing.

I found out yesterday that the injury to my shoulder will require 4 weeks of physical therapy and THEN we will see what the next step will include. Fortunate for me, my rotator cuff was not torn but along with my bicep tendon, both are just scared....I mean they are frayed.

Now I am 'fraid' that I may be spending more time people watching.

If you think that touch of humor was kinda lame, just imagine the thoughts about the shoulder joint that includes a humerus bone. (that spelling probably ain't right but then this is my blog..)

Getting back to the people watching, I saw young divas that will someday be some young mans heart-throb but will most likely send them running for their lives if the t-shirt really defines them..."It's All About ME, Me Me Me.."

Oh, and the twenty-ish guy dressed in all black with a neon lime green tie. Only saw him twice. Maybe he and the young diva will find each other...

Being here in southeast Texas, you would think cowboy boots would be the fashion. I saw one memorable pair on a young lady in shorts. She seemed to be walking just fine also.

Hair color could be the main subject of another article, but will mention two individuals that won my memory award.

One was what I think is normally dark in color but certain portions of the facial hair was bleached the same as certain portions of the hair on their head...didn't quite understand what he was expressing. (saw this one only one time and the next one at least twice)

The runner up candidate was a stab at a Mohawk cut, wider on top above the ears and proceeded to a point above the forehead. The color was as I recall, a greenish purple chartreuse. This color might do pretty good as a deep diving crank bait on Toledo Bend lake....

What is it with the wearing the shorts so low on ones person?

Slabbing is what my son told me least I think that's what they call it.

Long tailed shirts, to allow the secrecy of the brand of underwear they opted for. Shorts worn well below the standard waistline area which leaves about 6-8 inches of the shin showing. Because the new stylin-sneakers and socks take up the space from the floor to the same shin I just mentioned...

My son and I nicknamed a pair of guys dressed just this way...'Shins'. Think we saw them at least 4 times.

Mall walkers come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Not to mention that when there is a pair of mall walkers, one is always the ALPHA walker. They pick the pace and the path when it comes to a crowd to get through or around.

I ran into a neighbor of ours last week who happens to be a local police officer and was working security for the mall. In our conversation, I asked him how long he had been doing the mall thing and his reply took me by surprise. Every Saturday for fourteen years.

I realized then that I really didn't get to the mall much. Especially on Saturdays.

So as I sit there doing my people watching, I find a familiar face in the crowd heading right to me. If you look really close, you can probably see a smile on my wife's face that is there only because she knows I am with her and not at the lake or on the river enjoying the great outdoors. That is worth everything to me at that moment.

Let me tell you a secret...I love that little woman more today than back in 1980 when I asked her to marry me. She even let me pick the date for our wedding. So I picked January 17, 1981.

You ask why January 17th? A couple of reasons. Seventeen is my lucky number, July 17 is her birthday, and deer season was over.

have yourself a great weekend...and thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Junior High Memories

Self preservation. Whatever it takes.

Kids are survivors. These are kids that survived a school year that was interrupted by Hurricane Ike back in September of 2008. Going back even further in 2005, Hurricane Rita interrupted their 5th grade year as well.

Survival of the fittest. With the fittest being those left standing which includes we parents and the teachers.

Thursday. Today. The next to the last day of school for my son. I come home and find out through casual conversation that tomorrows original scheduled half-day of school was...WAS going to be a 'free-dress' day and not the mandatory school uniform.

Seems an impromptu round of an eighth grade food fight at lunch took that freedom away from the eighth grade class of 2009. I figure if you were to line the kids up and ask them, they would say it was worth it.

I laughed so hard I visual interpretation of this action took over as I pictured the group of students all scrambling for shelter and hoping to avoid the flying ammunition of beans, milk, dipping sauces, and the obvious chicken nuggets that were witnessed to be soaring overhead.

My son described the first item he recognized from his vantage point at 'ground-zero' lunchroom, a carton of milk resembling a comet with a white billowy spraying tail of vitamin D.

On his quick step journey of ducking, dodging, and looking for cover, he spotted someone (who remains nameless at this writing) who had grabbed a complete tray of assorted lunch and heaved it backwards over their head.

I am happy to report that there were no fatalities among the students, but cannot say for sure about the status of the innocent bystander pair of teachers that were on lunchroom duty.

There was still some final exams to be taken so order had to be restored.

With the years of hands-on experience and in-depth training of organized chaos gone bad in 30 seconds or less, the rowdy crowd of eighth graders were quickly disarmed and aligned along the edge of the lunchroom walls.

Deep down, the teachers might have enjoyed this melee a bit more than the students did. If there were any security cameras available, there just might be some evidence of a quick rub of dipping sauce in an unsuspecting students hair or ketchup down the shirt collar.

Having been around many of these kids during Little League baseball and soccer games for those formative years prior to junior high school, I can assure you, there was no harm intended, just living out their youth like we did. Making memories for themselves. Just their version of stress relief.

The few, the proud, the food fighters.

Have a great summer guys. High School is just around the corner.


Monday, June 1, 2009

A Day on Lake Sam Rayburn

Everyone has interests.

Interests that lead to what some may call a hobby or a favorite past time. My wife is bold enough to refer to one of my interests as being a full blown obsession. I am not clear as to how she came to this conclusion but I will allow it for the sake of argument. Besides, it was actually her idea for us (the family) to purchase the boat. A boat that would benefit the family and my obsession.

Bass fishing.

In defense of my obsession, I have to remind my dear little loving wife that this particular boat is the third one for me and that I still have a rod and reel that is older than the number of years we have been married.

After we came to be a happy couple together some 28+ years ago, I put aside my obsession and focused on family and career. Without going into great detail; the decision to purchase our boat involved a family trip to Rayburn a little over 5 years ago. A trip where she was unable to secure an outing in a boat that was available, she made the statement that maybe we should consider possibly getting our own boat.

I wound up with boat #3 in the driveway in four days...well hey, it was HER idea.

Trying to make up for 23 years of lost time on the water, we began looking for deals on fishing gear and boat stuff. It was during one of our excursions to the local Academy sporting outlet in search for new stuff that we stumbled across one of my soon to be newest fishing buds. Enter stage right, Lee Y. Wheeler III.

Lee is a local professional-bass angler that happened to be involved with a fishing expo being held right there in Academy. He was more than helpful with the many different questions we could throw at him. With a few quick queries of his own, Lee enlightened us on some obvious helpful items we would need.

As it turns out, Lake Sam Rayburn is a favorite lake that Lee loves to fish. Needless to say, our friendship quickly developed and lead me to a day of fishing with Lee for some up close and personal schooling on bass fishing. Did you catch the pun there...schooling on bass fishing..?? Boy, this is a tough crowd.

Man oh man, so much has changed since the time of my 14' flat-bottom aluminum boat, 20hp tiller steering outboards, black with yellow tail plastic ring worms from the local Gibson's store, up to today's fully rigged fiberglass bass boats that roam the area lakes and rivers.

I told Lee that I wanted to experience the day as a co-angler that fishes from the back of a professionals rig. The day would hold that and just a bit more than I bargained for.

Lee has 10 years of experience in several different tournament trails. Some of the trails he fishes in include the BFL, TTT, SETX Bass Federation trail, the BASS Open tournaments.

The boat of choice for Lee is a Ranger Z21 powered by a Yamaha 250hp outboard. Did I mention the nifty electronics on the boat? This was way more boat than this old country boy had ever been in, up close to, and seen in color.

Our day began with the required early morning meeting place. Early morning as in before the sun ever thought about making a little crack at dawn...and we head north to Rayburn. Conversation would run from family, faith, military service, and the closer we got to the lake...bass fishing.

Lee pretty much handed it to me that day all day long. I failed to hook up with a single fish, which is what I am used to so please keep your comments to yourself.

It was a day that Lee liked to refer to as a 'fun-fishin' day. No pressure, just out there beating the water to a froth and daring a fish to show an interest in our offerings of lures. I directed Lee to several of my favorite areas that I frequent and wanted to see how he would approach 'my' water.

It was sometime after lunch that our eyes turned towards the darkening clouds to the southwest. Dark clouds and July heat generally bring a different type of excitement to being on an open body of water. Today was not to be forgotten.

The clouds we were eyeing suddenly turned into a very definite 'square' formation which pretty much as soon as the square shape had appeared, a funnel cloud descended below the cloud just long enough to be seen, then disappeared about as quick as it had appeared.

My first question to Lee was simply, "Did you see that?!" and the response he gave still rings with cold chills.

"You better tie down your gear and don't forget to put on your life jacket."

My first experience at the power and speed of a 250hp outboard was more than welcome. The nearest shelter for us was a highway bridge that spanned the lake but was almost a mile north from where we were. We beat the biggest part of the summer storm to the bridge, but the wind and waves that worked us over for at least 40 minutes are etched into my memory bank.

The day ended with Lee teaching me how to fish a type of lure I hardly ever use. The conditions were perfect for us with the passing of the rain leaving the surface of the water slightly rippled. The 'professor' took the opportunity to show me up once more and catch fish in front of me.

All in all, it is time on the water that teaches. I still hear that phrase from Lee today for just about every situation in bass fishing that I quiz him on.

You have to spend time on the water.

I experienced the day as a co-angler. Fishing from the back of a boat, at the mercy of the pro-angler and fishing behind him. It is not as harsh as it sounds. Lee fished my 'water' that day and I learned a little something besides fishing skills. I learned that we are never too old to learn, if you are willing to just listen.

Lee, you can fish from the back of my boat anytime. Just let me know when you want to go. Semper Fi old buddy.