Thursday, November 26, 2015


"When Moses, at the burning bush, says to God, “Who are you?” God says to him three words: “Hayah asher hayah.” And those words are mistranslated in English as “I am that which I am.” But in Hebrew, it means “I will be who or how or where I will be,” meaning, don’t think you can predict me. I am a God who is going to surprise you. And one of the ways God surprises us is by letting a Jew or a Christian discover the trace of God’s presence in a Buddhist monk or a Sikh tradition of hospitality or the graciousness of Hindu life. You know, don’t think we can confine God into our categories. God is bigger than religion."

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in “The Dignity of Difference.” 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


my second Thanksgiving at Loomies, we had saved bread for a couple weeks to make dressing. Billy Ray, the old black chef, hadn’t exactly taught me to make it, but he used to tell me “You caint cook worth a shit, but you sure can make dressing”.
Anyway, I got my cornbread made, and onion celery and eggs all together and I’m mixing up enough dressing for 300 and I got my hands all in it, and its about ready to go into pans when suddenly I felt something funny in there. Big lump of something. I pulled my hand out, and rinsed it off and lo and behold it was a big ol’ cockleburr!
Whats a cockleburr doing in there?
Well, now I got to check it some more and before long I had pulled out about a dozen cockleburrs.
Well, you know how it is, sometimes you just have to run with it and that’s what I did.
Or like the old chef said:
“I’ve served worse shit”.



I had a dream a few nights ago. It must have been about a telescope, but the only thing I could remember was seeing  text, as if on a page in a book which read:
"The old king said: What marvelous kind of glass could this be to build such a machine?"

As dreams go, it wasnt earth shattering, but it woke me up enough to consciously think to myself that its not the glass so much, its just the shape of the glass.  Glass is glass.
But I hoped to remember the dream, and I did. It was the first thing to spring to mind the next morning, and I pondered its meaning all day.
I guess it don't mean nuthin'.

But I'm sitting here this morning, and I suddenly realize I had a REALLY GREAT dream last night. One that jarred me fully awake.
One that tempted me to actually get up and write it down.
It was surely to be one of the more important dreams of my long life, and I was sure because of that I would be able to remember it completely.
But the fact is I cant remember it all all. Not the least little bit.
I can only remember that I had it, and hope that I might someday have it again and be able to recognize it.
Don't you just hate that?

Friday, November 20, 2015


Woman, seventy, mother of two Grandmother of ten A kind face and no criminal record. Her surviving daughter and her brood Three children, dirty smiling faces They don’t know it but the rest of their life Hinges on the next ten minutes, An innocent answer to a subtle question. Still, they’d rather be playing. “The stars we are given. The constellations we make.” I’ll sign off. Middle aged man, forty five, Leg missing from knee down. Barrel bomb he says, Three years ago tomorrow As I was serving coffee in my cafĂ©. His eyes, misty, he tells me he lost his daughter that day His wife too, and even though he Has no papers, it all checks out. “The stars we are given. The constellations we make.” I’ll sign off There were two sisters, An uncle, four kids A Grandmother And two sets of neighbors Whose lives were interwoven like The fishing nets you see. I asked the oldest woman how old she was. Fifty Eight she had said. In another room I asked her neighbor How old is the woman next door Sixty Eight she had said So I asked the old woman why she had lied. She always lies about her age The little girl had said. I’ll sign off. “The stars we are given. The constellations we make.”
steve 11/2015

"This is my original, but I should give credit to Rebecca Solnit, 
who provided the recurring lines from the following quote: 
“The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is 
to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the 
imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the 
sky, the stories we tell.”
The inspiration for this came from a post I’ve seen by an immigration lawyer, talking about how hard it is to get into the 

USA through the refugee program. He said that he had a client that
had lied about her age. The poem sprang up in my mind from there.
They say the House has passed a bill that would require the DHS, 

NIS and FBI to "certify" these refugee's as not being ISIS before they
come into the country. I'm all for the new legislation. I hope the 
president doesn’t veto it. Maybe then the FBI director will get off 
his ass, get a team together, and stop whining about how impossible it is. 
Thats what we pay him for 
I saw a picture of a man with a kid on each hip coming ashore in Greece. 
He looked pretty worried, a face full of care, desperate to get his kids 
to safety. I cant guarantee he wasn't ISIS. You want a Guarantee? 
Go to Best Buy. 
But if I was in charge, and someone showed me that picture I'd sign off 
on him. On the spot. 
I guess thats what the poem is about.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


An excerpt from the best Facebook discussion I saw yesterday:

Tom: {...}As far as Jesus is concerned, this is a pointless question. Christianity pre-dates Islam by 600 years. Jesus has no frame of reference for an entire civilization and religion whose main goal is ideologically committing to exterminating his followers, as well as the nation and religion that served as his influencers. Our government needs to do their job and be prudent in protecting us from potential murder and mayhem.

Janis: Jesus has the only accurate frame of reference if you believe he was and is God. He is not caught off guard by anything. 

Bulletholes: Janis, you just blew my mind.

Janis: God is mind blowing. Other. Supernatural. Not like what masquerades as religion.

Bulletholes: So, since Christ, being Christ, knew about the Muslims and could not be caught off guard, did he leave us any specific instructions regarding them?

Janis: Yes. Lots. Too many for this setting. All in the Bible

Tom: What Steve said.

Friday, November 13, 2015



This bible sat in a little porcelain jewelry/trinket holder on moms dresser for years, along with an old brooch and a single cuff link, a few lace coverlets and maybe an assortment of curtain pins.
Stuff like that. 
Or maybe it sat in the top drawer of a dresser at Grandma Renfro’s guestroom, with the same kind of stuff in it, and the smell of cedar.
I don’t quite recall.

When I was a kid I would go open the drawer and look at the stuff, and mom or grandma would tell me how dads army issue pocket bible, with the inscription in the front by President Roosevelt, had been lost when he was in the war, but someone found it in a field in France and sent it to his parents at the address in the book.
I’m assuming that was in November of 1945 when it was found. When they sent it they mightn’t have known if dad was dead or alive. I like that Mr. Bryant, who found dad's bible,  put “Texas” in quotation marks.

I wonder about Mr. Bryant, who was from England, and what he was doing in a field in southern France. I wonder what he looked like, what kind of work he did when he was not in a field in southern France. In my minds eye I see him, as you must be seeing him now, wiping the sweat from his brow after stacking English hay somewhere near Lancashire, or bouncing great-grandchildren on his knee, telling them what he had done, and about the bible he found from "Texas" in the great World War II.

It’s cool to still have this bible of my dads from World War II. I keep in in a drawer with my medicine, and an old Cameo necklace and ear rings dad sent home from Italy; some of dads old cufflinks, moms pearls, and an old bullet that came from somewhere. 
You know, sacred tokens and stuff like that.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Battle Monument at West Point

My brother, Colonel Don Renfro, Class of 1964, in front of the Battle Monument at West Point.

The idea of the Battle Monument at West Point was first conceived in 1863 to honor the fallen soldiers of the Regular Army in the Civil War of the United States of America. Money was raised through contributions from officers, and through $1.00 deductions from regular soldiers pay.
In total, $45,000 was raised and construction was to begin in 1865.

But there came along an altercation between Gen. McClellan, Secretary Stanton & West Point superintendent Col. Bowman. This altercation, the source of which is unknown, created a delay in the project.
Finally, in 1890, construction began.
The shaft is 41 feet in length. Including the lower and upper pedestals, and the statue of the angel “Fame” at the top, the monument rises 75 feet high. The shaft weighs 72 tons.
Surrounding the monument are 16 cannon, and 8 granite plinths. Plinths are the big polished granite balls.

Each of the 16 cannon bears the name of a major Civil War battle

Traditionally, the plebes at West Point made reference to the statue of Fame when giving the following reply to any upperclassman demanding to know "How are they all?" 
"They are all fickle but one, sir." 
"Who is the one?" 
"She who stands atop Battle Monument, for she has been on the same shaft since 1897."

On the plinths, and on tablets at the pedestal are inscribed the names of 188 officers and 2,042 men of the Regular Army who fell in the Civil War.

The names, it might be noted, are all from The Union Army, and nowhere to be found at the Battle Monument is a Confederate Flag. Not a one.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Great Starbucks Outrage of 2015

"The truth is that in a week we won’t recall why we were all wasting time over it...
Outrage Wisely"

The Slate

Friday, November 06, 2015


“That position [Lieutenant in the ROTC] allowed me the chance to meet four-star general William Westmoreland...and was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
From Carson’s book "You Have A Brain" January 2015

"I was offered full scholarship to West Point, got to meet General Westmoreland, go to Congressional Medal dinners, but decided really my pathway would be medicine.”
Dr. Ben Carson to Charlie Rose, October 2015

My brother went to West Point. The first step in the process is to submit an application. If your application is accepted, and you meet certain qualifications, you may proceed to the next step. The second step is to procure a nomination from a senator, congressman, or the Vice President of the USA. Only 2 out of 5 applicants actually procure a nomination.

Step Three begins the testing. In addition to timed ACT and SAT academic testing (which you are urged to take numerous times as your scores will improve) you have to pass physical testing for strength and endurance. It is rigorous, and many do not pass muster. From those who pass these tests, and hold up to boards of review and multiple interviews, the best of the best are selected to become cadets and start a Military career at West Point. There is no scholarship offer. There is no tuition. The government pays in full for room and board and the education and training to become an officer in the United States Army.

I don't know the percentage of applicants that are finally accepted into the Academy. The admissions site does say that of the thousands that apply, only a few are chosen.  So when Dr. Carson says General Westmoreland offered him a full scholarship at the Point, I for one believe him. 
As preposterous as it is for an offer to have been extended before the application process, I do believe him.
When my brother graduated in 1964, Westmoreland was Superintendent of the Academy. I actually met him, and shook his hand. 
I was 7 years old and guess what? 
General Westmoreland said he could get me into West Point too.
Here is my brother during his first year at West Point. He was nominated by Congressman Jim Wright. I’m very proud of my brother. He was a tough act to follow.

I won’t say Dr. Carson lied. He just didnt choose his words carefully enough. If you like him, I don’t see any reason this would change your mind about him. I don’t doubt for a minute he was an excellent candidate. 
If you don’t like him, you’ll probably think he lied like Dixie. 
Me? I remember my first job interview. I told them I would like to go to West Point, just like my big brother. 
I was a terrible candidate with no chance whatsoever. If that ever gets out I probably wont get elected president.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015


My first ant farm! I sent off for it from the back of a cereal box. I think I had to have 10 box tops.
For most people the ant farm is a great memory.
But it was a major disappointment for me.
The ants didn’t wear bandannas and straw hats, or drive tractors like in the picture. They just dug tunnels down into some dirt that you could see a side view of, like when Kratts brothers spy in on a duck-billed platypus.
But an ant is a long ways from a duck-billed platypus, and after about three weeks the whole thing started to stink and mom made me throw it away.
I guess my first ant farm was my last ant farm.


‎" Barack Obama, the first black president, proved to millions this year that he is either trying his best to lead the nation during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, or he is the modern-day incarnation of Adolph Hitler.... One of the two.
In 2010, Obama made a number of political compromises while still trying to pursue many of the reforms laid out during his 2008 campaign. Also, he was a totalitarian monster comparable to the perpetrator of one of the worst genocides in history.
He is either a president who passed a comprehensive health care measure despite staunch opposition from powerful private interests, or a radical-Islamist sympathizer bent on systematically dismantling American democracy and eradicating all human liberty.
He either lowered taxes for most Americans while failing to communicate that effectively, or he is pure evil. Whichever.

Barack Obama, two of the most important people of 2010: the one who was elected to be president of the United States and execute laws to the best of his ability, and the one who murders senior citizens and hates all white people. Only history will say which he is for sure"

Taken from The Onion

Monday, October 26, 2015


If you look close enough and use your imagination you can see the bracelet on Rhondas left wrist. No, not him. Way in the back back there. With the poodle looking hairdo.

I'll tell you about that bracelet. I went to Gibsons to get it. They had silver and gold. I couldnt decide, but ended up settling on the gold. No one, no one at all had a gold bracelet.
I got it home, and started having buyers remorse.
"Who buys a friggen' gold bracelet?" I thought. "She'll probably break up with me the minute she sees it. I'll be the laughing stock of Bedford Junior High"
So I put it in this wooden box on my dresser that I kept mercury from broken thermometers in, because mercury is cool stuff to play with. Matches are fun to play with too. If you take a big book full of matches, and keep it closed while you light one end, the flames will shoot out both ends when you light it. When you get the thermometer close enough to an open flame, the thermometer will crack in half. If you keep heating the mercury in the bulb, most of it will come out of the broken glass tube and you can collect it.
You just have to be careful, you know, not to cut yourself on the broken glass.

The next morning I opened the box and the gold bracelet wasnt gold anymore. It was just silvery metal, and not even shiny, and looked like it had been around for about 20 girlfriends, the silver plate all wore off.
And that is how I came to learn that mercury will eat gold plate off of jewelry, and Rhonda got a not-gold bracelet.