Saturday, August 18, 2018

SHE SHOULD HAVE JUST GIVEN ME CARDS

I had this girlfriend that used to give me a silver dollar for every month we made it. I didn't really realize how weird that was until just now.
Twenty two shining silver dollars I kept in a Sir Walter Raleigh can.
I remember when I got married a couple years later, and my bride asked me where I got all the silver dollars.
I lied.
I told her about how my grandfather had been a bank robber. He was the most famous bank robber in the whole country outside of Bonnie and Clyde. He operated between Detroit, Chicago, Erie Pennsylvania, up through Buffalo and Niagara hitting all the major financial institutions, and occasionally riding in a barrel over the falls. Grandfather was a daredevil. Over the years he probably robbed a hundred banks, they say, and never got caught, do tell. He settled in Texas down around Lufkin way, bought 60 acres of land did a little wildcattin’. Struck oil back around 1936. Anyway the way the laws worked the paper currency he stole wasn't as big a problem as the silver coin. So he buried the silver dollars on his property in Sir Walter Raleigh cans. Leastways that was the story . When I was little boy and my cousin Mark and I would go down there, he and his buddies would be in the barn, cigarette smoke and the soft smell of whiskey in the air, and playing dominoes, 42 mostly. To get rid of us he'd send us out with a shovel looking to dig up a Sir Walter can full of silver dollars. One day me and my cousin dug up two rusty cans full of silver dollars. We had not really believed him until then. He died the next year. We sure did a lot of digging after that never to find another rusty can full of silver dollars.
That's what I told her.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

NO WE DID NOT STOP

There was a cool Frontline Report on PBS last night called "Our Man In Tehran". He went around talking to a lot of people about a lot of different things.
He went to an AA Meeting! They had an AA Meeting in Iran! They had a copy of the AA book in Iranian. The government lets them have that. Normally, such a secular book would be censored. There were about 12 in the meeting, including two women.

He asked a guy “So with alcohol against the law, how do you get booze?”
“I have a phone number. I can call a man, He will deliver it to my house”
“But what happens if you get caught?”
“I will go to trial and be sentenced.”
“What will your sentence be?”
“I will be flogged”
“Have any of you been flogged?”
They all laugh.
“Yes, we have all been flogged”
“Does it hurt?”
“Yes, they use a leather horsewhip. It tears your skin”
“How many lashes?”
“Seventy Seven”
“Seventy seven lashes. Did you stop your drinking?”
They all laugh.
“No, we did not stop”
Even the Iranian government cannot make them stop.
That’s why they allow the book.

https://youtu.be/aCqu_-QQvrA

Monday, August 06, 2018

ACCEPTANCE



Outside my apartment squirrel has dug a spot in the earth at the base of the mesquite. He rests there after a busy morning,
In the shade and cool earth he hardly notices me anymore as I come and go. Its nice to not be noticed, to be that much a part of his world and accepted.
Now there is a downy woodpecker, busy in the tree above the squirrel. He works silently. There is no tap-tapping, and were it not for his little cap of red I may not have noticed him at all. Even the resting squirrel has paid him no mind.
It will comfort me should he be back today.
Are there trees near you?
Have you found any acceptance?


Steve 7/29/2018, with a tip o the hat to Mary Oliver.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

MY SISTER

My sister used to tell me I was hard to get close to.
I don't know how she could say that.
We were never really that close.

Friday, March 30, 2018

RICK'S GRILL

My pal Rick was the activities chairperson at my group for the last two years. Two years ago he wanted to have a cookout. “Do you have a grill?” I asked. “No, do you?” “No. You’ll have to ask around” I told him. “I’ll pray for one” he said. Which reminded me of this story Prayer Is A Funny Thing” I called him up on the morning of the cookout. ‘Did you find a grill?” I asked. “No, no one has a grill we can use” "I’ll tell you what buddy. I’m going to go buy us a grill. I’ve been wanting one anyway.” So I went down to Walmart, with every intention of buying one of those little $50 red topped family grills you see everywhere. But the bigger grills kinda caught my eye. And the next thing I knew I was at Academy Sports buying a huge heavy duty All-Pro 300 pound combination smoker grill with a firebox, temp gauge, smokestack and a bag of Hickory logs. I got it home, put it together, found a guy with a pickup truck and 4 of us lifted this monster into the truck and took it down to the group. My buddy took one look at this grill and said “The Lord has provided!” He sure did. Our cup runneth over. Man, the hamburgers and hot dogs were delicious! And now I had a grill to use at home, and the Group would not have to cancel any cookouts and wind up ordering boring ol’ pizza instead. I went and bought a lock and chain and locked it up under the stairs outside my apartment. The next day the apartment manager called. “Mr. Renfro, you cant keep that grill under the stairs. You will have to put it on the back porch of your apartment.” Well, shoot. Its on wheels so that shouldn’t be that big a deal. I just have to roll it into my apartment and through the sliding glass door to the porch. Except when I went to do that I found that it was about 4” too wide to fit through the sliding glass door! After studying the situation for a while I determined what I had to do. I had to take the glass door out of the door frame. So everytime I go to use the grill, that’s what I have to do. But I want you to know something about my buddy Rick. After I bought that grill, he started helping me count the donations for the group every week. See, I’m the Treasurer. I make the deposits, and pay the bills, and every week for the last 3 years he has come up on Sunday morning to help me open the safe and count the money. But 3 weeks ago, Rick was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. My good pal died a week later. We had a Memorial for on Saturday, and I talked about prayer, and his faith we’d get a grill, and his wife smiled and laughed to hear this story, just the way I’ve told it to you here, and I shared that I’ve decided to name that grill “Ricks Grill”, because we use it up at the group all the time; there isn’t a time I move it that I don’t think about Rick, and finding a grill for the goup. Its funny. A blog friend posted a link to that ‘Prayer is a Funny Thing “ story on Monday without knowing anything about my friend dying, or his Memorial or the second part of the grill story as I’ve written it here. I cried to see it Monday morning, and to think about Rick some more, and how he became such a part of my life. Became such a part of so many peoples lives. And that's why I don't pray for a grill anymore. I pray no one gets hurt moving it!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS


We used to do acid, once upon a time. Its true. Copious amounts. If we had a drug of choice, before discovering our drug of choice, it would have been acid. We’ll tell you what’s a trip. We dropped acid and realized we had a doctors appointment in 3 hours. In hindsight, we can hardly believe we actually went to the appointment. It was for a physical to get a Life Insurance Policy. They turned us down flat. Said we were absolutely un-insurable at any price.
Yet here we are.
A miracle of modern chemistry.

Monday, February 26, 2018

THUMB-BUSTER




I’m thinking about the first gun dad gave me. It weighed almost as much as I did. It was a 1938 model Stevens single shot 12 gauge. Dad said Military Police used it during World War Two, but maybe he was pulling my leg about that. Dad had to cut off a little bit of the stock in order for it to fit where I could pull the trigger.


This old shotgun kicked like a mule. The first time I fired it I think it knocked me back 3 cotton rows. So every time I went to pull the trigger, it was a very conscious decision. I had to have all my feathers on, brace myself, and take a deep breath. After a while I didn’t even close my eyes when I pulled the trigger. Then it was time to reload. A switch released the barrel from the stock, a little mechanism in the barrel would eject the shell. I could pop another shell in, and snap the barrel back into place. But like I said, this gun weighed about the same as I did, and with a 30” barrel came up to my chin if I stood straight up. I reckon I looked like a monkey wrasslin’ a broomstick out there sometimes.


After I got another shell chambered, the real fun would begin. It was time to pull the hammer back. The hammer is what strikes the firing pin when you pull the trigger. Operated by a spring, it took everything I had to pull that hammer back. Some people call these guns with the hammer ‘Thumb-busters” and this SOB was a real thumb-buster for me. I was always afraid when we were out hunting that I would be trying to pull the hammer back and before I could get it all the way back into a locked position, it would slip, the hammer would hit the firing pin, the gun would discharge, and blow my head off. Very embarrassing. That never happened, but for the longest time I was about scared to death to fire it.
That is to say, it had my respect.

Over time I got to be pretty good with that single shot. If a dove was flying towards me, I could get a shot off, break open the barrel, reload and pull the hammer back, and get a second shot off as the dove was going away. Dove were usually pretty safe around me.

Somewhere back about 30 years ago that gun came up missing. Either it was stolen, or maybe I left it behind somewhere when I moved.
I really wish I still had that gun.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

THE TRUMP CEMETERY

A MAUSOLEUM FOR FAKE NEWS
“The truth suffers from analysis” and that’s why I like to go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics to look at the data without all the commentary of Piers Morgan, Sean Hannity, Chris Cuomo, Donald Trump or Nancy “Whats wrong with my mouth?” Pelosi.
When you hear someone say ‘Donald Trump created 2.4 million jobs since he was elected”, its at the BLS that they got that data. When they say “President Obama lowered the unemployment rate from 10% to 4.8 %”, or that “Trump lowered unemployment to a 17 year low”, they got that data from the BLS.

Lucky for you that I saved* some of the data from the BLS site, which included ways to import data from charts to Excel tables. For semi-nerds like me, thats a wonderful thing, and I put together this chart for you of jobs created since 2012.
I offer it without analysis, because ““The truth suffers from analysis” and tomorrow we can look at a chart of manufacturing jobs lost and gained since 1981. 





*I went to the BLS today, because they always come out with new data the first Thursday of the month. I'm sad to say they have revamped their tables and charts, and it may take me a while to figure the website out. Dont you hate it when they do that? My bank does that and it really pisses me off. Just stop.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

I GOT A WHOLE LOT OF KARMA TO BURN

Its amazing sometimes how fast your brain can go. Shoot, it can flat out get away from you.
She was standing there on the median, shivering.  She had on some sweats, a cap, some gloves, and a parka that didn’t look like it would break the wind so good.
I rolled to a stop and the brain kicked in. She was about 30 I guess, or a young 40, brunette hair and a little cardboard sign. Should I look directly at her long enough to read the sign? My tendency is to look away, remain anonymous, then when the light changes, I’ll be gone and she will melt away like an early snow in my rear view. I look at my dash, I look at the light. Still red. If I look, she’ll see me and think I have something for her. But I don’t. Theress never any money in my billfold, I don’t keep money. I look in the cup holder. Seventeen cents. Not enough for her to blow her nose on. Not enough `to roll the window down.
I look at the light. Still red. Of course its still red, its only been about 8 seconds since I pulled up and my brain is at full gallop.
There is the door for the CD holder. There might be a dollar in there. And just below it is the little drawer. There might be some change in there.  I pause. If I do find a bill and give her some money, am I really doing me harm than good? Am I condoning panhandling? Maybe God wants her cold and shivering penniless out here on Westpark Way to teach her a lesson.  Who am I to interfere.  I’ve been here 11 seconds and that’s how far I’ve come.
I open the little CD door. Nothing, nada.  No tenga nada.  
Its 20 degrees out, the wind blowing 30, in an hour it will be dark. You know what? It aint like she’s out here in flip flops and a halter on a nice sunny day, trying to scrounge up enough for a dime bag. The only way she is out here is because she fucking hasn’t got anywhere else to be. This is it.
Now its een 20 seconds. It took my brain 16 seconds to get here, and that light is still red, but it wiont stay red for long. I open the little drawer.
JACKPOT!
There must be $4.00 in change down there. It takes another 2 seconds to process the idea that I have to honk the horn roll the window down and get her to come over, and that damn light is going to be turning green pretty darn quick. I scoop the change, honk the horn, roll the window down, notice the light turn green and that her sign says “ANYTHING IS SOMETHING”, and that’s when I hear it. The person behind me is honking. Would you give me one break? Its taken me 20 seconds since stopping to get to here, and this is me now, avoiding eye contact as I drop the change into the outstretched hand, and then there it is, they honk again.
“Gobless You” I hear the poor woman say, but it doesn’t really register.  I’m looking in my rear view now. The driver is a lady, smoking a cigarette, talking on her cell, looking like daggers and honking at me.
I ease forward. She guns it and changes lanes, comes up beside me.
A Lexus, go figure.
She’s in a hurry, but guess what? We only go 100 feet and have to stop at another red light.
She’s beside me now, smoking and talking. I roll my window down and honk my horn.
She sees me and I motion for her to roll hers down. It lowers, smoke pouring out and I say:
“Hey Lady, why don’t you go fuck yourself.”

Its amazing sometimes how fast your brain can go. Shoot, it can flat out get away from you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

SHITHOLE PEOPLE

Many of you have seen the image of the tearful Haitian immigrant Second Lieutenant Alix Idrache (left) graduating West Point in 2016.
Standing next to him and graduating also is fellow Haitian 1st Lietenant Pascal Brun. Pascal did not immigrate to the US, but was accepted at West Point as an International Student. Up to 60 students a year from other countries are accepted at West Point.
Alix and Pascal may have come from a disadvantaged third world country, but there is nothing shithole about them.