Friday, February 12, 2016


"You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine."
- Wallace Stegner

Crossing to Safety

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


I am the man who spits wet clay back
into the face of God and yells, “I am weary!”
And I don’t yell it in Greek or Aramaic,
but in the dead language of Adam’s bones
from those days when he was alone, before
God made a word for pity and gave him Eve.
There wasn’t even any way to measure time
before her.
The moon meant nothing to him,
The sun meant nothing. All his senses knew
the missing shape of her. I know it… I know
how he named the taste of her, how he felt
the skin and lips and sway of her body. I know
how he could hear her voice in his mind, how
the missing smell of her was so powerful.
I know… I know he saw her in everything,
in everything… I know it because of you.
I know it and I am, God, the fuck weary.

Peregrine @ Your Eyes Blaze Out



Two years before the Kent State shootings was the Orangeburg Massacre, February 8, 1968.
28 were injured and 3 killed when state police on the South Carolina State University campus fired into a crowd of protesters.
For three days the protests had escalated over a segregated bowling alley, the All Star Triangle Bowl. Anyone tries to keep me out of a bowling alley is in for a fight.
Nine troopers were acquitted and Cleveland Sellers, a black activist with the SNCC, was convicted for inciting a riot. He served 7 months before being released on good behavior, and was pardoned 25 years later.
South Carolina State University's gymnasium is named in memory of the three men who were killed. A monument was erected on campus in their honor and the site has been marked. All-Star Triangle Bowl became integrated. Cleveland Sellers wrote a book.

The Nivens Laws might never have been abstracted were it not for Kent State, the first of which is:
1) Never throw shit at an armed man.
1a) Never stand next to someone who is throwing shit at an armed man.

Friday, February 05, 2016


My insurance changed again this year. My premium went down, but my out of pocket went up. I expected it to go up a little, and all thing being equal, if I stayed out of a hospital setting my overall savings from the reduced premium would come to about 750 bucks for the year.
So I determined this would be the year I get a hearing aid. Because I cant hear shit.
But I ran in to a snag. One of my diabetes medications, the one that cost 30 dollars a month the last 6 years, ended up on a different tier with the new insurance.
And the price on this new tier?
Three Hundred bucks a month! The lady at the mail order pharmacy, she tried to console me.
“After you reach your Out of Pocket Max, that medication is covered 100%!”
But I didn’t plan on even hitting HALF my out of pocket for the entire year. Now it looks like I might hit in 8 months.
There went my 700 savings. There went my hearing aid. My medical expenses just doubled!
So I called personnel to confirm all this and see if there was a way out.
It was all true.
But when I told the personnel lady that my hearing aid I planned to get was off the table now, you know what she said?
“Mr Renfro, Hearing Aids are covered this year”
They havent been covered in the past.
So by financing a 4000 dollar hearing aid, I met my Out of Pocket max, and basically financed the deductible.
I’m trying to figure out what procedure to get next year.
A hysterectomy perhaps?

Thursday, February 04, 2016


On this day in 1794, France abolished slavery, only to have Napoleon re-institute it four years later.
In March that year, the United States would pass the Slave Trade Act, limiting transport of slaves to American ports. This set the stage for further restrictions which eventually outlawed the importation of slaves to the United States until finally the Thirteenth Amendment  made owning slaves in the United States illegal.

One of my favorite movies is Amistad, about a slave ship revolt in 1839. While owning slaves in the United States was legal in 1839, the transport of slaves was not.  John Quincy Adams, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, tries the case to the Supreme Court against the ship owners and has some of the best lines of the movie.

"Well, when I was an attorney, a long time ago, young man, I err... I realized, after much trial and error, that in the courtroom, whoever tells the best story wins. In un-lawyerlike fashion, I give you that scrap of wisdom free of charge."

[to the Court, with a copy of the Declaration of Independence in hand]
This man is black. We can all see that. But can we also see as easily that which is equally true: that he is the only true hero in this room? Now, if he were white, he wouldn't be standing before this court fighting for his life. If he were white and his enslavers were British, he wouldn't be standing, so heavy the weight of the medals and honors we would bestow upon him. Songs would be written about him. The great authors of our times would fill books about him. His story would be told and retold, in our classrooms. Our children, because we would make sure of it, would know his name as well as they know Patrick Henry's. Yet, if the South is right, what are we to do with that embarrassing, annoying document, The Declaration of Independence? What of its conceits? "All men created equal," "inalienable rights," "life, liberty," and so on and so forth? What on Earth are we to do with this? I have a modest suggestion."
[tears papers in half]

Great cast, great script and direction, I give it 6 stars out of 5, and find it so enjoyable I watch it on a regular basis.

Monday, February 01, 2016


Last summer I got to go visit my good longtime  blog friends Souby and Red Dirt Girl down in Houston. Its rare to meet in person your blog friends.
Souby is a Master Potter. He gave myself and my sister-n-law Becky a pottery lesson.
He explained to us the particular properties of clay. He showed us the machine for mixing the clay. There is a worm gear inside a steel chamber that mixes and then pushes the clay out as a 3” diameter plug. From this plug you cut a piece, and work it in your hands which delights the clay and aligns the molecules in a certain way as to be in harmony with the Universe.

Then, you slap it onto the wheel. You slap it onto the wheel, and follow your dream. Its not that easy slapping in onto the wheel, because it has to be CENTERED on the wheel. Otherwise it gets the wobblies. And if it gets the wobblies, your little pot is going nowhere. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve aligned your clay with the Universe, if its not entered on the wheel, you are buggered.

I really sucked at getting mine centered on the wheel. I think I would have done better if I had paid more attention and followed instructions.
Lets just say it’s a lot trickier than it looks.
After that you get to form the clay up and down, and back up again, as it spins on the wheel. There are certain places to put you thumbs and fingers, and certain ways to palm the clay as it spins to raise it up, hollow it out, and keep it smooth.
I sure did have fun doing it, and learned a lot.
Someone took a picture of me, my hands cupping the clay. I was hunkered over the wheel in total concentration, my face inches from the pot I was forming. All you could see was my purple shirt, hands, clay, and the top of my head.
The top of my head?
If it hadnt been for the purple shirt I would have wondered who the bald guy was.

Thanks to David @ Live and Learn for helping me find the comment on his site for the closing lines of this post.

Friday, January 29, 2016


 “Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that.
Cormac MacCarthy, The Road

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


"We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and the power to carry that out."
Step Three, Narcotics Anonymous

Back around the year 2000 I had been doing a lot of drive offs after getting gas. I wasn’t making much money doing tile, and had a substance abuse problem. I did drive offs as a way to supplement my income.
One day I just decided “Enough”.
I was way on the other side of town, with no money and no gas. So I started going to places that sold gas, and going inside, trying to beg for a couple dollars worth of gas from the attendant.
“I’ll be back tomorrow to repay you. I’ll leave you my DL” I’d say. I was going to get paid that night, if I could just get home. I meant to keep my word. Only God knows if I would have
I just needed to get home, and just for today, I wasn't going to steal gas.

Of course, no attendants spotted me any gas. They probably hear it all the time.
Turned away for the umpteenth time, I walked back to my truck and got in and put my head on the steering wheel.
“I’m not going to steal gas today” I said to myself.
Then there was a tap-tap-tap on the window. A black dude was standing there. He had heard me begging gas, and said it hadn’t been long since he had had to do the same.
He said “I can see by your clothes and truck you are a working man” and filled it up for me.

I wish I could say things got better for me and I stopped with the dope and never drove off on gas again. I cant. But for that one day I didn’t have to do what I usually did. It was years later I got better. Every now and then I get a chance to help someone and when I do I always think of that man that helped me that day.

But I didn't realize until last week this story is really about much more than kindness. Its very much connected to the day my sponsor and I worked the Third Step, and Jason and the Argonauts.This story is about making a decision to live in Gods will, and take the actions necessary to do so without worrying about the results. I didn't offer up a prayer so much that day as an action. I didnt really know anything about trusting God, but I decided I wasn't going to do whatever it took to get home, I was just going to do whatever it took to not steal gas.
That is a hell of a prayer, don't you think?

"Not stealing any gas today Sir, not doing any dope either"

Friday, January 22, 2016


Why is mine the only cord in the office that looks like this all the time? I unwind it, I replace it, and still my cord looks like this. Every few days, if I don't unwind it, I end up having to put my face down to the phone when I pick it up because the receiver cannot be moved more than three inches from the cradle.
A six foot cord!
The woman that works with me, she is on the phone at least twice as much as I, and her cord lays there, relaxed, like a woman on the beach, not a twist or winding one.This is one of the great questions in my life.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


I remember one time when I first started at Dallas Hyatt, I’d had a tough day. I fucked some stuff up. Sous Chef's aren't supposed to fuck stuff up. I went back to the pastry shop. There was David, the Hippy Pastry Chef. I'd met David a few years earlier, at the Pritzger Dinner.  I asked him a couple questions about what he was doing . He looked at me funny.
He said ‘Why are you asking this?” I said “I just fucked something up, and I’m just trying to get my mojo back”
He said “Oh, you are looking for a friend”
And he took me over to a production line where an Oriental girl was piping whip cream onto cakes. Perfect little round balls of whip cream.
He showed me how to do one.
But my little round ball had a tail on it, where I pulled the bag away.
I did a few, and they all had tails. We took the balls off, smoothed the cake and he showed me again.
I did another few, and one looked good!
“I think I got it now” I said.
He looked at me and said “No one gets it on their fourth try. I been doing it 10 years. That’s how long it will take you”
The Oriental girl looked up, smiled at me, gave me a thumbs up.
David let me do a few more, and I went back to the Main Kitchen, rejuvenated.

After transferring to Hyatt Hotels in Hawaii years ago, David is now an instructor at KapCC, a Culinary Arts program at the Community College in Hawaii. It looks like he has lost the beard, but he still has the hair.Follow the linky to read more about David. (Click Here)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


I dreamed last night I met a lady in charge of Flight Attendants for a major airline. 
“You should apply. You are so good with people” she said. 
“Yeah, and I know all about wines, and good food, and I like to sleep” I said.
“I want you to go interview with Mr. Richards tomorrow” she said, and she handed me a slip of paper.
I said “OK. Do you have any tips for me for the interview? 
And she said “Well, you might want to lose 100 pounds”.