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. For the addict, if he can drive off with $25 worth of gas, that means he can buy $100 worth of dope, as long as he doesn't pay rent.
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”.

Monday, January 18, 2016


"The decision rendered by the Supreme Court yesterday was a victory. But it wasn't a victory for colored folks. God don't make that victory that small. It wasn't a victory for 50,000 negroes in Montgomery. It wasn't merely a victory for 15 million negroes of America. That was a victory for justice and goodwill.
Now, what will be our mode of action in the light of this decision? After thinking through this question very seriously, the executive board of the Montgomery Improvement Association recommends that the 11-month-old protest against the city buses will be called off, and that the negro citizens of Montgomery, Alabama, will return to the buses on a non-segregated basis. Are you ready for the question? All in favor, let it be known by standing on your feet....
It seems that it is carried unanimously."
Martin Luther King, November 14, 1956

On November 13, 1956, the US Supreme Court had ruled unanimously that Montgomery's bus segregation was unconstitutional.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


"A body eating cookies tends eat cookies until the cookies are all gone"

"Equal Area in Equal Time." 
However many boxes of cookies you give me, they are gone, and swept out at an equal rate given any distance between myself and the cookie.

It is Girl Scout cookie season. 
I do love the Caramel Delights.

You might be a softy if you have two one-dollar bills in your pocket, but go to your car to get another two dollars in change from the console, come back to the store entrance and buy a box of Girl Scout cookies and find yourself moved to tears walking back to your car. 
A softy, yes, or else really addicted to those Peanut Butter Patties.
Yes, I do love the Peanut Butter Patties too.

Friday, January 15, 2016


So sad to hear of David Bowies passing.
Alive on All Channels says:
I think his aesthetic choices during his life show an alive intellect constantly growing and changing. His choices at end-of-life are simply breathtaking and [I think] very courageous. He seems to be a person with little self pity and great self awareness. I am thankful to have grown up with him as a touchstone to that search for meaning in life.

That seems to be right. He quietly produced an album, Blackstar, released days before his death. His death, a surprise, as he had kept his cancer away from the public eye. And the album itself, seeming to commemorate his own passing, especially the song called Lazarus.

He did it softly and gently. He always seemed innocent, and vulnerable to me.
If Valentine Michael Smith, the gentle, innocent, superhuman man from Mars in "Stranger in a Strange Land" were ever to be fully realized, it would have to be realized as something close to David Bowie.

I found this at For 15 Minutes of Love, which led me to several versions of this song that was never done on a studio album. Its a Jacques Brel number, and David sang it first at his concerts as Ziggy. This is from 1983, with his voice deepened and wonderful musicianship to go along with it.


Aw, for the same price why not post the version sung as Ziggy.

My death is like
A swinging door
A patient girl who knows the score
Whistle for her
And the passing time

My death waits like
A bible truth
At the funeral of my youth
Weep loud for that
And the passing time

My death waits like
A witch at night
And surely as our love is bright
Let's laugh for us
And the passing time

But whatever is behind the door
There is nothing much to do
Angel or devil I don't care
For in front of that door
There is you

My death waits like
A beggar blind
Who sees the world with an unlit mind

Throw him a dime
For the passing time

My death waits
To allow my friends
A few good times before it ends

Let's drink to that
And the passing time

My death waits in
Your arms, your thighs
Your cool fingers will close my eyes
Let's not talk about
The passing time

But whatever is behind the door
There is nothing much to do
Angel or devil I don't care
For in front of that door
There is you

My death waits
Among the falling leaves
In magicians, mysterious sleeves
Rabbits, dogs
And the passing times

My death waits
Among the flowers
Where the blackish shadow cowers
Let's pick lilacs
For the passing time

My death waits in
A double bed
Sails of oblivion at my head
Pull up the sheets
Against the passing time

But whatever is behind the door
There is nothing much to do
Angel or devil I don't care
For in front of that door
There is you

Jacques Brel

Thursday, January 14, 2016


The doctor decided to change my diabetes medicine.
“Go online, and you can get a discount card” he says.
So first thing I do is go online and check what this new medicine is going to cost me.
Looks like 30 bucks a month, the same as the other, but whats this?
The Insurance company will be paying $12,000 a month on the new medication?
That’s $144,000.00 a year.

Well, I’m not going to sign up to cost my insurance that kind of money. I’ll die first. My other medication had only cost them 1000 a month, and I thought that was outrageous for something that is made from the pituitary gland of a cow.
Shoot, Saute’ Sweetbreads with Morel Mushrooms don’t cost that much.
But before I just dismiss it outright, I figure I should call the insurancecompany and ask if those numbers are correct, or if this is just some kind of accounting trick. Do they really pay the pharmacy $144,000 a year to supply a person with this one medicine?
Or are they using monopoly money in some kind of Obamacare swindle?

So I call the insurance company and ask.
You know what they told me?
They said they didn’t know. They don’t know what they pay the pharmacy for my medicine.
They said I should call the pharmacy and the pharmacy can tell me how much the insurance pays. Otherwise, the insurance company doesn’t know, and from what I could ascertain from this phone call, they don’t give a fuck.
How can that be?
That’s like asking the wolf how many sheep are in the flock.

So my next call is to the pharmacy.
“Yes, I’d like to check on a price of a medication”
Which medication mr. Renfro?”
“The Teogeofeoflo”
“Yes, that one will cost you $30 a month.”
“Right, I see that. But I also see that my insurance has to pay $12,000 a month for Teogeofeoflo”
“No, they don’t  pay that much.”
“Well, can you explain to me why it says that on your “Price A Medication” tool?”
“No, I cant. Where are you seeing that?”
“On your website. It shows I pay $30, but the insurance company pays $12,000. I’m not going to do that to my insurance company. I don’t care if I die. I refuse to cost anyone that kind of money”
“I don’t see where you are seeing that, Mr. Renfro”
“Would you like me to send you a screenshot?”
“No, that wont be necessary. I can assure you the insurance doesn’t pay $12,000 for this.”
“Then what do they pay? And what does this medicine cost you?”
“I don’t know Mr. Renfro, I don’t have that information available. All I can really tell you is that your cost is $30 a month.“

Do we need health Care Reform?
Hell yes!
And don’t think its any different before the ACA.
I went through the same drill over Testosterone a few years ago. They make that stuff from frogs, and its costs the insurance company $2500 a month. The Testosterone company pays other companies not to make it in order to keep the price up. It actually went t the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court ruled that that was OK to do!

OK, that’s my rant today.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


"My mother’s brother gave my father a box of dirt for Christmas."...
"He started renovating the backyard, in the shadow of the fort that still stands, the fort built by him and my father. He took this backyard dirt, and he put it in a box on which he wrote the latitude and longitude. On top of the box he put a spoon and a brush. In front of everyone, my father spooned through the dirt, the dirt from his old backyard. In the dirt was an ashtray he made with his 10 year old hands, carved with his initials. A plastic army figurine. The lid to a tin of coffee opened nearly 50 years ago. A marble. These things that lay under the dirt for decades, forgotten but present. This excavation of the past. How lucky to be in a room, 50 years later, surrounded by people who knew what all this meant."

A charming story from petitchou via crashinglybeautiful. If you follow the link and get the back-story its even better. His mom and dad had grown up living next door to each other. All the siblings were friends.



Sunday, January 10, 2016



I had a pamphlet a Monkish looking fellow gave me at the Atlanta Airport on November the 8th, 1980. He looked pretty surprised when I put 20 bucks in his little cup. He reached into a little box and produced a bigger pamphlet, more like an entire book, and gave it to me. It had a picture of the Dali Lama on it i think. I took a $40 cab ride to see an old girlfriend who had moved to Atlanta specifically to get away from me. I was young, and I guess I oped to salvage the affair.
I was going to stay a week, but I left after 3 days.
I left the pamphlet and book behind, and never gave much thought to them since.
It was a good lesson in non-attachment.
Thats about all I know about Buddhism.

Hold the presses! They were Hare Krishna's now that I think about. But the Buddha would probably tell you that one could learn non-attachment from a Hare Krishna. There is no law against it.

The book from the Atlanta airport. "Life Comes from Life".

The Dali Lama himself is a pretty cool cat.
China would like to take up the supervision and oversight of the Dali Lamas reincarnation. They are also a bit miffed that the Dali Lama seems to be relatively unconcerned with his own reincarnation.
“I don’t think the Dalai Lama would mind if you saw this through the prism of Monty Python,” Robert Barnett, director of the modern Tibetan studies program at Columbia University, said in a telephone interview. “But he is reminding the Chinese that, from his perspective and the perspective of probably nearly all Tibetans, the Chinese [or anybody else] don’t really have a credible role in deciding these things.”

Saturday, January 09, 2016


“Last night, an owl
in the blue dark
an indeterminate number
of carefully shaped sounds into
the world, in which,
a quarter of a mile away, I happened
to be standing.
I couldn’t tell
which one it was –
the barred or the great-horned
ship of the air –
it was that distant. But, anyway,
aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something,
and sweeter? Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness. I suppose
if this were someone else’s story
they would have insisted on knowing
whatever is knowable – would have hurried
over the fields
to name it – the owl, I mean.
But it’s mine, this poem of the night,
and I just stood there, listening and holding out
my hands to the soft glitter
falling through the air. I love this world,
but not for its answers.
And I wish good luck to the owl,
whatever its name –
and I wish great welcome to the snow,
whatever its severe and comfortless
and beautiful meaning.”
~ Mary Oliver

Friday, January 01, 2016


We lost the relatively unknown and elusive Ted Hawkins on a New Years Day. Ted preferred his gig as a street performer around Venice Beach living a life of addiction, jail, and restlessness until 1994 when Geffen Records nailed him down long enough to get an album out him. "The Next Hundred Years" brought some success to Hawkins, it was a breakthrough album, but Ted died of a stroke New Years Day, only months after its release.
Its one of those albums that plays great all the way through, and you might find it on the throwback shelf at Half-Price books.

Oh, hell why have one when you can do two for twice the price?