Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Its A Wonderful Life

Every year, a few days after Christmas when the Blues are over and I realize what a jackass I have been for not having found my Christmas Spirit until like January 3rd, and having blown yet another opportunity to have had some special kind of holiday that always eludes me, I tell myself that next year will be different. That next year I will start early and find at least one special present for someone, and I will feel good, and all jingly, and I won't have to wind up running though Wal-Mart like George Bailey in Pottersville trying to figure out how the world got all upside down, and getting punched by my kids teacher's husband (the only guy in town that seems to know anything about me) in housewares, where I could never find anything special for anyone there anyway, not if I looked all year.
But here I am once again, a mere 6 hours before Christmas Eve and I'm looking another annual trip to Wal-Mart in the face, its ugly big-boxed storefront font and ubiquitous selection of House slippers and Summer Sausages in Holiday tins; Hardware's and Heirloom collections of cheap China made in Korea; the electronics are nice, priced to sell, but there is one thing I know for sure~
There are no special gifts that plug in.
There shall be no comfort or joy anywhere at any Wal-Mart location.
You know, you'd think a creative guy like me could come up with one single lousy special Christmas present for someone somewhere.
But I can't.
Never could. I only bought one decent gift my whole life and that was a Cuckoo Clock for my cousin Khim Mauldin and her husband Jimmy. When they divorced they fought like cats and dogs over it.
I think he got it and no one has heard from him in thirty-five years

So I guess the best I can do right now is to wish you all a merry-merry, and thank you for the many kind comments and attentions you have paid to me this year, and hope that when you check your pockets at the end of the day you find your very own Zu-Zu's petals, and have many pleasant memories, and Confetti.
So grateful for Confetti!
There really should be more confetti, and it really is a wonderful life.
If I could just get out of this Wal-mart.

Thats the great thing about Its A Wonderful Life. Who among us can’t relate to a life not going as planned, making small concessions that eventually turn into an entire life you’d never really meant to have? It’s heartbreaking to watch. It happens a little bit to almost every single one of us.And the movie assures us that like George, we can all run down the street yelling Merry Christmas even though our life is falling apart. And that, like Clarence says, if any of us were missing it would leave a mighty big hole in the world.
Stolen and paraphrased from a piece at Your Eyes Blaze Out

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


“It's the kind of night that's so cold, when you spit
it freezes before it hits the ground
And when a bum asks you for a quarter, you give a dollar
if he's out tonight he must be truly down
And I'm searching all the windows for a last minute present
to prove to you that what I said was real,
for something small and frail and plastic, baby,
'cause cheap is how I feel”

I had avoided the mall for two years. The last time I was there in 2014, a really slick salesman tried to sell me 80 dollars worth ofpink salt. These guys are good.

But I had to go last week. I was invited to a Gala Event, a White Dress  Banquet, where everyone is supposed to wear all white. Believe it or not I actually have a couple white shirts, but I don’t have any white slacks, or a white dress jacket. In order for me to meet the dress requirements, I am going to need at least a white dress jacket. And I only have one days notice.

So I trudge down to Dillards at North East Mall. I’m willing to buy a jacket with my Credit Card, if they have one.
But they do not. The salesman tells me white jackets are out of season, especially in my size. This doesn’t surprise me, because guys my size dressed in all white usually look like something you would put on top of your hot cocoa.
Unless you are Gary Williamson, who always looks good no matter what he wears

I hate to go to the mall and not buy anything. I thanked the man, and as I was turning, spotted a rack of ties.
Ah, a tie! If they have a white jacket at Men’s Warehouse, a nice red tie will look nice. I take a look at a few and ask:
“How much are the ties?”
“Seventy-Nine Dollars” the man says.
“$79.00 for a tie? I don’t think so.”

So now I’m at Men’s Warehouse, Damon is measuring me, and we go over to the rack, and there is not a single white suit or dress jacket in my size there. Big Surprise. And then I spot the ties again. You know, maybe a guy like me with a winning personality can show up to a Big Fancy Christmas Gala Where Everybody Wears All White, dressed in black slacks, a navy jacket, white shirt and festive red tie. Even though everybody else there has had weeks to get ready for the Gala, with rented Tuxedos with tails or elegant Yves St. Laurent tailored suits, I can just waltz in there wearing my Navy Blue jacket I bought last year to try to hide my tremendous gut, and a stupid grin, dance like no one is watching,  and no one will notice.
And anyway, who cares? I’ve suffered many worse humiliations…

So I look at the ties. The tag says they are 16 dollars each. I grab two and head for the register. I have to fill out an entire questionnaire to buy two ties. About this time, Damon shows up with a gorgeous Calvin Klein suit, and things start happening fast.
‘Mr Renfro, I can call the Irving store and see if they have this in your size”
‘Sure, that would be nice” I say.
The cashier takes my questionnaire and rings up the ties.
“That will be 80 dollars” he says.
“80 dollars? I thought they were $16 each?”
“No Mr. Renfro, they are 75, plus tax, and on sale two-for-one”
“Well you can take them back. I’m not spending 80 bucks on a tie, even it if its TWO ties.”
He looks at me like I’m a worm, and now its Damon’s turn.
“Mr. Renfro, they have this suit in your size at the Irving store!”
“Oh, thanks Damon. Is that at the Irving Mall?”
“Yes, you cant miss it. Right in front of the Best Buy. Tell them Damon sent you.”
“Ok, I’ll head right over”
And that’s when it hits me.
“Damon, just for grins, how much is that suit?”
“Lets see….its 1100 dollars, but on sale half off. $550 dollars”
I look at him, slack-jawed.
I wanted to say “You know I can buy a Trump suit for $179?
Instead I said “That’s way out of my ballpark” and turn and left. I could feel the eyes of he and the cashier watching me, both thinking “that’s one cheap dude right there” but I really didn’t care.
Because cheap is how I feel.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


I think its great, Trump giving Rick Perry a shot at the department Perry wanted to eliminate.
Shrewd management that.
Kind of like rubbing a dogs nose into its own shit, only its not a dog, its Rick Perry. Perry will find out what is so important about the Energy Department now, and probably do a kick-ass job.

Reminds me of when I hired a blind dishwasher. He didn't look that good on paper, but I went with my gut. It ended up that he saved us money on breakage and lost silverware.


Friday, December 16, 2016


I had to have a shoulder surgery a few years ago. I got everything lined up for it. Ready to go into the OR in three days. Then it occurs to me.
What about the anesthesiologist? I have heard that if the Anesthesiologist isn’t on the insurance list, you have to pay full price for getting knocked out . And they say sometimes it happens.
So I call the hospital.
Is the anesthesiologist covered by my insurance?
“I would imagine he is Mr. Renfro”
“You would imagine? What does that mean?”
“They usually are, That’s why wqe use them”
“But you can’t say for sure?”
“You’ll need to call your insurance”

So now  my cortisol levels are spiking because I cant get a straight answer. And calling an insrance company doesn’t usually help. But I need to know, so I call them.
Is the anesthesiologist covered by my insurance?
“Thank you for your question Mr. Renfro.  What is the provider number?”
“Provider code? I have no idea. His name is Dr. Shakyerbootie. Does that help?”
“Im sorry Mr. Renfro. We need the provider number”
“But how many anesthesiologist’s named  Shakyerbootie can there be around here?”
‘That’s why I need a provider number Mr Renfro”
“Where do I get that?” I’m almost in tears now.
“You’ll have to call Dr Shakyerbootie.”
“Do you have his number?
“if I knew the provider number I could tell you. I can tell you that if the hospital has him lined up to do this, and the hospital is on your plan then it would be very unusual for him to not be under your plan”

Would you believe there are 6 Dr Shakyerbooties in Dallas?
So I’m trying to decide which one to call first, when it occurs to me that this surgery is taking place, and I wont be doing it without an anesthesiologist, and I may as well just relax, turn it over to the Big Anesthesiologist in the sky, and not worry. If they send me a bill, I’ll just pay it out over the next 30 years.

Everything went just fine. It was all covered, despite my best efforts to be in charge.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I went to this horrible restaurant last night. They only serve soup and salad. The name of it was “Souper Salad”. My advice is to stay away from places like this. The Tuscan Tomato Basil soup was watery. I don’t know where they got their Tuscan's. In fact, I couldnt tell that they had any Tuscan's at all in there, or real basil for that matter. And like I said it was runny. God, I hate runny soup, especially runny Tomato Basil soup that may have rather dubious Tuscan's in it.
But the worst part was the tea. The tea was weak. Weak tea is worse than runny soup. I tried to put extra sweetener in it, hoping to give it a boost, but no, weak tea really cant be saved, even taking some of the ice out didn’t help that’s how weak it was.
And that really was the most God awful part of the whole day.
How can I work a Tenth Step when that's the worst thing that happens?
There was a place next door that looked interesting.
“Miss Saigon” was the name. I’m thinking I might go tonight. What could possibly go wrong?

I wish I could find something to complain about.
They told us last month here at work that we wouldnt get raises this year. No raises? Actually, they said we would, but they wouldn't take effect until September, haha. Those guys at corporate always coming up with funny shit like that.
I decided not to complain, or in the words of Merle Haggard "if we make it thru December we will be all right".
So then they came to me last week and said "You know how we said you wouldnt get a raise until September?"
And my heart started to sink because, in the words of LC Bill Kilgore "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like victory" and I figured they were going to tell me instead of a raise starting in 9 months, they were going to be docking me 100 bucks a week, starting right now.
But that's not what happened.
What happened was they gave me a promotion, which is better than a raise because, in the words of my manager it puts me in a new "pay grade", and my increase will start in January, if we make it through, you know, December.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


When I got married my brother was my best man. Don graduated from West Point second in his class. He is a real smart guy. 

For the honeymoon Shila and I were going to Puerto Vallarta , and Don was going to let me use his fancy camera. 
So the morning before the wedding Don spends and hour giving me a quick tutorial about F-Stops, ISO and shutter speeds, apertures, film speed, and I’m taking it all in as best as I can. 
As I’m putting the camera back in the bag, I say “I’ll get it figured out as I go along once we get down there". 
Don looks at me and says “Its your Honeymoon. If you're smart, you won't pay any attention to that camera”.
It took a minute for that to sink it. 
Smart guy, my brother.

Friday, December 09, 2016


It seems to me that if you can believe in a butterfly, its unlikely change from egg to larvae, chrysalis and metamorphosis, that maybe, just maybe, you could find a way to believe in Jesus.
"This is the irrational season
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
there’d have been no room for the child."
--Madeleine L'Engle

I bought myself a camera for Christmas. I believe in butterflies.
Merry Christmas!

My friend Holli

More Butterflies

I was hoping to get our reflection in the bulb. It didnt quite happen, but check out the triangles of light in the bulb to the left. having fun with my camera.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016


Walking through a field with my little brother Seth
I pointed to a place where kids had made angels in the snow.
For some reason, I told him that a troop of angels
had been shot and dissolved when they hit the ground.
He asked who had shot them and I said a farmer.
Then we were on the roof of the lake.
The ice looked like a photograph of water.
Why he asked. Why did he shoot them.
I didn't know where I was going with this.
They were on his property, I said.
When it's snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.
Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.
We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.
But why were they on his property, he asked.
- David Berman
Actual Air

Thursday, December 01, 2016


A friend called me last night, asked what I was doing.
“I’m about to eat this Tufu Soup I went and got at the Papaya Garden”
“Tofu soup? Man, thats out there” he says.
“I know, I got to do something. I been feeling like crap, my blood sugar is through the roof these days. I’m upping my medicine every day, but cant seem to get caught up.”
My friend offers some advice.
‘You should change your diet. Its one of the hardest things to change. My doctor (blah, blah, blah) and my sister (blah, blah, blah) and so I switched to having just fruit for breakfast and I’m eating a lot of weird salads now”
I let there be a good 6-8 second pause, and let him have it, very softly:
“Well, my friend, what do you think is up with me and the Tofu Soup?”

"If one day you become sick of words, as happens to us all, and you grow tired of hearing them, of saying them; if whichever you choose seems worn out, dull, disabled; if you feel nauseated when you hear 'horrible' or 'divine' for some everyday occurrence - you'll not be cured, obviously, by alphabet soup.

You must do the following: cook a plate of al dente spaghetti dressed with the simplest seasoning - garlic, oil and chili. Over the pasta toss in this mixture, grate a layer of Parmesan cheese. To the right of the deep plate full of the spaghetti thus prepared, place an open book. To the left, place an open book. In front of it a full glass of red wine. Any other company is not recommended. Turn the pages of each book at random, but they must both be poetry. Only good poets cure us of an overindulgence in words. Only simple essential food cures us of gluttony."
 - H├ęctor Abad Faciolince
Recipes for Sad Women
live & learn