Friday, September 21, 2018


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


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


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


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.


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




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


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


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.

Monday, August 06, 2018


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 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


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


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


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 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


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.
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


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.