Wednesday, November 28, 2018

WHY GET UP?


During the week and it comes 7:00 am and all I can think is “God I wish I could sleep another hour”.
And then the weekend, and 7:00 am comes, and all I can think is “God I wish I could sleep another hour”.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

MEDAL OF COURAGE


Chinese crayfish rips off own claw in effort to escape boiling pot, receives honorable Medal of Courage. His owner, Chef Jiuang Xi, has given him a place in his own home, and named him Dennis Rodman.

Friday, November 16, 2018

FIRST SNOW

FIRST SNOW

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found —
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.


Mary Oliver

Thursday, November 08, 2018

THAT RABBIT COAT

I was standing in the smoking area when suddenly this white rabbit coat appeared next to me. I'd seen her around, but hadnt met her. I took a deep draw of smoke, blew a single ring, slowly exhaled, watched the remaining fog catch the wind.
She pulled a cigarette out of her bag, twirled it twice and placed it between those red lips. I kept my gaze straight ahead. A long moment passed.
"Arent you going to light my cigarette?" she asked.
"Oh, but of course, pardon me"
My lighter worked.
I'm not sure if we were both just shy or if we were both just really cool, but we stood there wordless and smoked.
I reached the end of mine, and flipped it away. Thats the part of smoking I miss the most now, flipping the butt away.
I flipped it away and asked "So, are you going to be at Jack In The Box tonight?
"Probably not" she said, and smiled.
"Yeah, me either" I said, gave her my best grin, walked away, wondering what her name was.
Later that night I grabbed a six pack of Old Milwaukee and headed to the Box. It took two passes to find that rabbit coat.
It was hard to miss. A great start to a wonderful friendship.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

MAYBE EVEN A MILE



The election results are in and we can’t wait to see what you have to say about it. We are looking for inspiration, and really dont care where it comes from.
We pulled up to the poling place yesterday and found that we had to run a gauntlet of Red State campaigners, including the Nimrod who was seeking re-election as a State Representative. He is not exactly someone I care for. He voted against providing breakfast for low income kids, a measure which PASSED because the state legislature is not all the way full on idiots like him.
He also voted YES to test folks for drug use prior to receiving unemployment benefits. This may sound great at first blush, but as a recovering addict, we see problems innumerable with this kind of legislation. If we had a dollar for every drug test we passed in our using days we could score an 8 Ball. What about hurt people that have lost their job and take pain meds?  And what about alcohol? Weak, ineffective legislation that could punish those that need some help the most.

Anyway, he and his posse of Hombres were the last people we wanted to see as we entered the polling place. We walked briskly, kept our eyes straight ahead. We thought we had made it when a woman from behind asked:
"Are you planning to vote today?"
Well, duh, but we just kept walking. We were ten feet past when we heard the Nimrod say "I hope you can count on my vote". We may have missed half a step as we fought the urge to turn around and tell him what we really thought.
I'm pretty sure the whole gaggle of them knew they could not count on my vote.

So I marched my ass in, and for the first time ever cast a ballot for a Mid-Term election.
And for the first time I cast a straight party ballot. I hope I never have to do that again.
Our guy lost.
Our guy lost but we are very pleased to see that our county voted for the Democratic candidate for senator, the first time they have done that in many years, and statewide gave Cruz a run for the money. 

Many people in our county are as filled with horror over the behavior of Trump as us. The true lesson may be that despising this president and his synchophant Cruz, although understandable, is insufficient. 

The campaigners were still out there when we got through. Again, we walked by them briskly, avoiding eye contact. No one said a word. We would have liked to have given Nimrod a piece of our mind, but we were not in the right mood for it. We would have told him to go fuck himself.

We felt relieved that the campaigners cant get within 100 feet of the polls.

They need to change that.
A half mile would be much better. 
Maybe even a mile.




Tuesday, November 06, 2018

NIGHT SHIFT



There is something about the deep night that releases a different you. Its more your own street, your own city, your own world, and you are both more and less in charge of it at 3 A.M. than in the daylight.

Bulletholes, 7/2011

Image~ Patrick Joust

JURY DUTY


A few years ago I got called up for jury duty. I got down there and they had this list of disqualifiers. There were about 3 things on the list to disqualify me. I had to stand before the judge and tell him about these 3 things from my checkered past. I was very disappointed. I had hoped to be able to serve.
The judge looked at me and said “But you are doing well now, yes?”
“Yes your honor”
“Well, get your butt over there. We need jurors that are doing well.”

Monday, November 05, 2018

SCARECROW




Once I said to a scarecrow, “You must be tired of standing in this
lonely field.”

And he said, “The joy of scaring is a deep and lasting one, and I
never tire of it.”

Said I, after a minute of thought, “It is true; for I too have
known that joy.”

Said he, “Only those who are stuffed with straw can know it.”

Then I left him, not knowing whether he had complimented or belittled me.

A year passed, during which the scarecrow turned philosopher.


And when I passed by him again I saw two crows building a nest
under his hat.



Khalil Gibran

Thursday, October 25, 2018

THE SULK

"At the heart of a sulk lies a confusing mixture of intense anger and an equally intense desire not to communicate what one is angry about. The sulker both desperately needs the other person to understand and yet remains utterly committed to doing nothing to help them do so. The very need to explain forms the kernel of the insult: if the partner requires an explanation, he or she is clearly not worthy of one. We should add: it is a privilege to be the recipient of a sulk; it means the other person respects and trusts us enough to think we should understand their unspoken hurt. It is one of the odder gifts of love."
Alain de Botton

MORE HERE...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

SWIMMING LESSONS

I was barely 4 on my first camp out at Grapevine Lake. I still smell the smoke, I remember the stringer of fish I caught from the bank, and my father cautioning as it grew into dusk not to wander too far from the camp in the brush, and to watch out for Gullywampuses.
“Whats a Gullywampus?” I asked.
“it’s a Gullywampus” was his reply. 
Over the years I came to understand that that was exactly right. A Gullywampus was a Gullywampus, it could be anything from a cow skull to a fishing lure, but on that first camping trip it was probably snakes.
I can take you to that spot even today. It looks different now, 57 years later. Amazingly, there are a lot more trees. A lot more brush.
My most recurring memory of that trip was standing on the bank and looking out across the lake. It seemed a long way to the other shore, but I was sure that if I fell in, I would be able to make it to the other side because I was taking swimming lessons.
It never occurred to me until years later that if I fell in I didn’t have to make it to the other side.
You store everything inside yourself and then one day, wherever you are, whatever the time, it appears just like that.

Friday, September 28, 2018

ROLL JUSTICE SLOWLY ROLL

There is a story I’d been meaning to write down. This is as good a time as any to do it.
When I started working at my current job 14 years ago there was a guy that kept cokes in the fridge.
He and I didn’t get along very well, and I found out over time that if a coke came up missing from his cokes, he would know about it and get upset.
I could hardly believe this guy kept count of his cokes, and if I took one he would know.
So, being the jerk that I truly am, anytime I wanted to get under his skin I just took a coke. Within 24 hours he would be about to blow his top over his missing can of coke. And over time he began to accuse me, which I always categorically denied.

But one day after taking one of his cokes I got sloppy and left the can in my trash can, which I always avoided. He found it, matched up the lot numbers and went to the manager.
The manager called me into the office.
“Are you taking his cokes?” he asked.
“No sir” I denied it.
“Well, he has a can from your trash can with the same lot number”
“Same lot number? I don’t know how lot numbers work. I got that coke at Walmart.” I lied.
“Steve, if you are taking this guy’s cokes, please stop. You have no idea how much grief its causing me”
So I went back to my desk. I sat down and about two minutes later the phone rang.
It was the Bedford Police Department.
“Mr. Renfro, your son was spotted walking home from school, and he went into someone’s garage and took a six pack of cokes from the cooler. We have him surrounded in a creek bed, and we cant get him to come out. We are about to turn the dogs loose on him. Can you call him and try to persuade him to come out”

I couldn’t believe it. Does anyone think this was a coincidence? He was suffering for my sins. Or to put it into NA Traditions speak, it was “A loving God as he may express himself in our Group Conscience”. God was expressing himself in my Group Conscience, and I never took another coke after that.

We are seeing the same thing with Judge Kavanaugh today. He is paying for the sins of Donald Trump, whose transgressions were swept under the rug in 2016. That fired up the #METOO movement.
And now the chickens are coming home to roost.


Funny thing though. He and I got along better as the years went by. He doesn't work there anymore, but I still see him regular. 
I see him at my NA Group.
In fact, I'm his sponsor. Ain't that something?

Monday, September 24, 2018

THE PEPPERMILL LOUNGE



I used to go to The Peppermill with my buddy Dominick. He was a Sicilian born madman. We would go to see his favorite band "Little Green Men".
 Anyway, one night there was this girl there that wanted to dance….no, she wasn’t a girl, she was a woman. I was 40 years old, and she must have been 60 and that would make her 80 now, but she was wearing something tight, and 80 is the new 60, and that’s what I am now, so all things being equal the numbers work out OK.
But its not like I had a choice here. She wanted to dance with ME. And NO is not a word we use around here. It started out OK, but then she wanted to dance SLOW with me to FAST songs, and she kept nibbling my ear, and she smelled really good and I asked her what she was wearing. She said it was “Oil of the Satyr”, and that was a little freaky, and she said something else that is more or less unprintable, and about that time Dominick said it was time to go.
I didn’t want to go.
But Dominick was my ride and it took 30 minutes for him to take me home, and another 30 minutes for me to get in my car and go back up there, but it was 2:15 and snowing and there was no one left there except a couple mullets in the parking lot.

I’ve kept one eye out for her for 20 years now. I’d know her if I saw her in a minute.
JD Salinger wrote “"Probably for every man there is at least one city that sooner or later turns into a girl. How well or how badly the man actually knew the girl doesn’t necessarily affect the transformation. She was there, and she was the whole city, and that’s that."”

And I guess The Peppermill Lounge, for me, is a nameless 80 year old woman wearing Oil of the Satyr.

Friday, September 21, 2018

TONIGHT TONIGHT TONIGHT WILL BE FINE FOR A WHILE

Brad is my most loyal friend. I remember the night I did some acid and I dropped him off at a house where his girlfriend was babysitting. It was just down the street from her house. I took Brads car and went the The Outpost for some pinball and Air Hockey. I was supposed to be back to pick him up at 11:00. Well, as acid trips go, I lost track of time, and it started snowing.
Snowing in Texas!
Big white fluffy flakes coming down, tickling my nose, and eyelashes, and soon my town was blanketed in the glorious stuff, how wonderful snow is! But when you aren’t used to it, its kinda blinding, especially at night. Every twinkling light is magnified like 100 times, and reflected off the snow like a million times, blues and greens and finally I completely grok Van Gogh. So I reached over and pulled Brads glittery big sunglasses out of the glove box, the ones that he would wear when we would cruise the loop in his Ford Pinto with the Quad turned all the way up, and during "Funeral For A Dead Friend", and play keyboard on the dashboard with his eyes closed, blissful, while we begged him to put his hands back on the steering wheel and drive before the song came true for all of us.
I put them on.
Much better! And it was about that time I remembered something about needing to go pick Brad up somewhere. But where? It was right on the tip of my tongue. Where was Brad?
Oh, snap, Brad Huff is at his girlfriends house!
So I went to Lisa’s house, parked the car, sledged up the hill through the wonderful snow to Lisa’s door and rang the bell., and stood there in my glittery glasses while Lisas mother opened the door.
“Hi” I said “I’m here to get Brad”
‘Who?” Lisas mother asked.
“Brad. I dropped him off here a couple hours ago where Lisa was babysitting”
About that time two things hit me.
One, Lisa’s mother suddenly recognized me, even with the sunglasses. I was the guy in Lisa’s diary that was never supposed to be within 100 feet of Lisa again according to her father.
Two, I hadn’t dropped Brad off at Lisa’s house, I’d dropped him off wherever she was babysitting.
I really don’t remember how that encounter was resolved, but the next thing I knew I was tumbling down the hill in the snow to Brads car, then I was driving down the street, and Brad was running alongside the car in the snow, I was rocking his sunglasses, stars were falling, falling, falling from the purple sky, the world was big and full of light, the air was crisp, I had found my most loyal friend, and tonight, tonight, tonight was going to be fine for a while.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dr Death

I call my dentist Dr. Death. He is a great guy. He looks just like Kramer on Seinfeld. His assistant, Candi, is an Exotic Dancer down at Fantasy Fox. While he has my mouth wide open he will say things like "Candi, bring me the big black hook" and I just crack up. There is no big black hook, not that I've ever seen. He’s just messing with me. Sometimes I crack up so bad in there that we have to stop all the dental stuff till I stop laughing. I wish there was more to tell you about Candi. We’ve never really gotten past the rinse and spit stage of our relationship. One day Dr Death was going to do a little work on a tooth without numbing me. He needed to remove a little "interference", which is a technical term I know all about because Doctor Death tells me everything about what he's doing while he is doing it. This has earned my undying respect and unflinching trust. I know enough about dentistry to do my own root canal. Certainly I know enough to do yours. “I’ll just lightly buff out that little bit of interference” he said “Let me know if you feel any pain”. The instant the drill touched down was like lightning had struck that tooth, and my left leg shot out as I gripped the chair. My survival instinct took over and I jammed my tongue onto the drill which embedded the drill into my tongue, but also prompted Doctor Death to stop the drill. Even with a drill lodged in my tongue, I couldnt help but laugh. He looked down into my face and grinned. “”You felt that?” “”Ike a ‘ofoker, ‘og” I said "’og, whudda ella oowie oo ow?" which means "Doc, what the hell do we do now" and he said "Hang on while I put it in reverse". "Brrrrreeee" went the drill! It worked like a son of a bitch Man, I just cracked up. Thats how you get a drill out of a tongue. I really wish there was more to say about Candi.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A QUIET GIFT OF EVERYDAY LIFE


I see him every few weeks. For ten years I see him.
Bumming change at Lisa’s Chicken. Crossing the Belaire Parking lot at a fast clip.
He’s a fast walker, he is.
Mostly skin and bones too.
Unshaved. Rough around the edges. Dirty pants.
So skinny his mother might not even recognize him.
Even a guy like him probably has a mama somewhere , a momma crying out “Lord have mercy on my babys soul”.
For ten years I see him, rough on the edges, same shirt, same pants, same hard look.
Same hard look, but timid in a funny way; harmless, hopeless, shy like a dog thats been whipped.
Always walking fast, like he’s got someplace to be. But one look you can tell he has no place to be.
No place to be.
I get the feeling sometimes that I know him. From back in my using days.
If I add fifteen pounds to him, yes, I might have known him fifteen years ago in some game room in Arlington, or that shack out in Rendon.
It makes my heart hurt a little to see him, for ten years, when I see him.
But I don’t dwell on it, its just part of the routine, like the guy that used to hitchhike all over, or the lady on her bike that worked at Carls.
I hardly even notice him any more.

But then Saturday morning I’m at the red light at Bedford Road and Brown Trail, lost in my meditation, lost in my routine.
And there he is. Ten years I've watched him walk
But he is not walking.
He’s on a bike. Zipping across the parking lot.
My heart just swells. I feel lifted. He’s moved up.
The quiet gift of everyday life to see this.
I remember when I was on a bike. Four (4) years I was on a bike.
Who knows? Maybe he’s got a job.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll see his bike parked outside the group, the way mine was 10 years ago.
We do recover.

Most of us do not live a life of monastic rigor. Our days are full of jagged edges and jangling moments. But most of us do have quiet routines that inform our lives. We rise each morning and greet our day in the same fashion. A first cup of coffee, a glance at the paper, a certain way we bathe and prepare for our entry into the day — these do not change. They are the rituals by which we shape our days. But we do not value them as rituals. To us they are the ordinary — sometimes comforting, sometimes mind-deadening — activities that give a familiar sameness to our life. Far from honoring them, we pay them no heed. We see them as routines, not as paths to awareness. My time in the monastery taught me otherwise. To be sure, the monks lived a life of deep sacramentality and prayer, and that was the true source of their spiritual vision. But the mindful practice of their spiritual exercises spilled over into the way they carried on their daily affairs. They were present to nuance, aware of the space around events. A cup of tea, a meal partaken, a moment shared with another — all commanded their absolute focus. They had tuned their spirits to a fine and subtle sensitivity, and nothing passed unnoticed or unhonored.”
~ Kent Nerburn, Of Coffee Mugs and Monks in Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life (New World Library. 2010)

Thanks to David at Live and Learn



Friday, September 07, 2018

KEY CHAIN MAN

July Fourth with Donald! Baseball, hot dogs and fireworks.
My nephew Donald is a sweet smart boy. He is into keychains. He wants to know all about your keys. He inventoried mine.
“Whats this key Uncle Steve?”
“That’s my mailbox key”
“Whats this key Uncle Steve?”
“That’s my friends mailbox key so I can pick up her mail”
“Whats this key Uncle Steve?”
“Thats the key to the front door of my NA group”
And so it goes, through all my keys.
“That’s the key to my car”
“That’s the key to my work”
“That’s the key to my friends apartment”
“That’s the key to the safe”
‘That’s the key to the Post Office box.”
We’ve reached the end of the keys now. Donald is deep in thought.
“Uncle Steve, where is the key for your apartment?”
I’m gobsmacked. How did he do that?
“Wow Donald, you don’t miss much do you. I left that key with my friend Laura so she could clean my apartment while I’m gone.”

I told him what the combination to the safe is down at my NA Group. It will be interesting to see if he remembers it when I go back to visit.

Friday, August 31, 2018

ASKING FOR SOME FRIENDS


So, now that McCain is gone and being daily smeared exclusively by his own party, I just wonder who it is my Republican friends admire so much within their own party that has any kind of record of accomplishment.
Is it Sarah Palin, who provided the intellectual underpinnings of the current GOP? Where the hell has she been?
Is it Paul Ryan, or Trey Gowdy? Because they have abandoned ship.
Is it Mitch McConnell, or will the five term Senator be deemed part of “The Swamp” based mostly on his length of service (TERM LIMITS!) and whether or not he wants to kiss Trumps ass any given day?
Maybe it Lindsay Graham, one of McCains best friends? Can he last in the good favors of his own party, given that infelicity?
Or maybe Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General with one foot on the platform, and the other on the train? What about Mitt? Has he disqualified himself by half-heartedly taking a stand against Trump? What about the other 15 candidates from 2016? Which ones are honorable? Which ones are part of the swamp?
Take your pick. “Little Marco” or “Lyin’ Ted” whose father killed Kennedy.
How about Carly Fiorina, whom Trump disparaged for her looks.
 "Look at that face!" he cries. "Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!"  

Hold it. I know. Allen West, the one term guy from Florida. From where I sit, he ranks number two in promoting hair-brained conspiracy theories, right behind the big cheese.
So really, I want to know. What can I look forward to the next six years. Who will be the swamp, and who will be the new hero’s of the Republican Party?
Who wants to go on record?
Because I cant think of any one in the Democratic Party that’s worth a shit, except for Stormy Daniels lawyer, who says he plans to run.
Fuck that. Lets put her in charge.

SILENT SAM

They tore another statue down last night, this time at the University of North Carolina. They called him "Silent Sam". He was erected in 1913. The dedication speech was given by an ex Confederate soldier who said:
"One hundred yards from where we stand, less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds because she had maligned and insulted a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison."


Isn't it odd that Democrats put these statues up 100 years ago as part of their racist agenda. an agenda that Republicans like to point to when criticizing the Democratic Party, and now Democrats want to tear them down, and the Republicans want to keep them up. Thats pretty funny, haha.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

MAKING AMENDS


STEP EIGHT-"WE MADE A LIST OF ALL PERSONS WE HAD HARMED AND BECAME ENTIRLY READY TO MAKE AMENDS TO THEM ALL"

STEP NINE-"WE MADE AMENDS TO SUCH PEOPLE WHEREVER POSSIBLE, EXCEPT WHEN TO DO SO WOULD INJURE THEM OR OTHERS"

I got to speak on the 12 Steps the last month down at my NA Group. Four hours total over four nights.
On night three, I had to cram in 5,6,7,8, and 9, because I had spent two weeks just doing 1-4..
I spent a lot of time talking about Step 8 and 9, and talking about my son. How we had come up together in our addiction. Not that we ever used together, we didn’t. He had introduced me a few years ago at a meeting I spoke at by saying “My dad, he taught me how to be an addict. But when it came time to get clean, he showed me how to do that too”.
Thats why I say we came up in our addiction together.

I talked about him a lot regarding the 8th and 9th Steps. I said:
“I tell my son I will always owe him. All those times I left him waiting on the curb for me to show up and didn’t. All those times we could have gone fishing, but I was out chasing dope, or else coming off a run and too tired to do anything. The times I would leave in the middle of the night, and not get back home until way into the next morning.  The opportunities I had to be a good dad, to tell him the right thing to do, but had no credibility to tell him anything. I’ll always owe him. But the best amend I can make to him is to never do any dope again today, and practice the principles of the 12 Steps in all my affairs. To participate in my own life. It may be that the very best amend I can make to him, which I struggle with even today, is to have a clean and tidy apartment when he pops in to visit.
There is a lady at work and her son is in the program. She talks about how he tries to make amends to her, but he isn’t very good at it. When I think about that, I cant help but wonder what kind of an amend my son should make to me. And I just cant think of a thing. Because I will always owe him. But some of you youngsters, you may be thinking you need to make an amend to your folks. And you might wonder how to make that amend. I would tell you its just like the one I make to my son. Live the program, be forgiving, practice some unconditional love. Be kind. Do good work. Keep car insurance and drive careful. Stay alive and tell the truth. And above all…call your mother...Just call your mother, OK?



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.
Then she clobbered me.

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.