Top of the Third….

 

Cale and Conner always enjoyed competing in a good ballgame; baseball eventually became their sport of choice.  When they were young they played any kind of ball that was in season.  They played organized team sports; they played with just a bunch of kids on the playground; in my opinion that is the best kind.  They also played an awfully lot of one-on-one; it didn’t make any difference what kind of ball; if all they had available was a leaking air-up beach ball or maybe about a half roll of duct tape wadded up to resemble a ball they made that work.  They would figure out a set of rules and a scoring system; yes if you’re gonna play you gotta keep score.

 

Frequently the two of them faced each other in a game of baseball.  The rules allowed the use of “ghost runners”; I think a lot of kids used this system, adjusting the rules as necessary depending on how many players were there or maybe just depending on whose yard or neighborhood was hosting the game.  It didn’t really matter, just as long as everyone understood and agreed to whatever rules were in effect that day.

 

They were at the lake with Sharyl and I, I think they were about eight or nine; it was a typical hot Oklahoma August day.  I thought it was a sit in the shade kind of day, they thought it was a good day for a “ghost runner” baseball game.  They had been playing for at least two hours; stopping only as necessary to make sure there were no rules infractions, some of those discussions were a little heated but they always worked things out and the game continued.

 

I had spent the afternoon in the shade with a cold drink, observing, on a non-interference basis of course.  Sharyl had spent that time in the house, probably doing laundry, fixing dinner and a host of other things.  I didn’t know how those things got done; I have since learned that someone has to do them.

 

She walked out to the “ballpark” and suggested they quit playing, come in take a shower and get ready for dinner; They offered the typical “in a minute” or “after this inning” response.  In a few minutes she returned and suggested in a much stronger voice that they probably should get their rears in gear and do as they had been told; they responded with more promises.  I stayed in the shade and didn’t get involved, those things are more fun as an observer than they are as a participant and I knew Maw Maw was fully capable of handling the situation. She returned in a couple minutes and just as I expected, she handled the situation; the ballgame was over.  On their way to the house, Conner said in a very emotional voice “But Maw Maw it was only the top of the third”.  He was probably down a run or two.

 

I love you Conman, I miss you every day; I continue to try but I can’t understand why your “last at bat” came so soon, after all it was only the “top of the third”.  Please give your Maw Maw a hug for me and tell her I love her and miss her.

 

Thanks for listening, please keep me in your prayers.

 

Good Night and God Bless.

 

Dave

 

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Really Random….

It has been a long weekend and next week is going to be difficult, I don’t understand my thoughts well enough to even consider sharing them tonight.  I am in a writing mood so I am going talk about some very random likes, dislikes, and pet peeves.  The odds of this one avoiding the recycle bin are slim.

I’m not talking about the obvious likes such as Ice Cream, little kids, spring showers, fall foliage or chicken fried steak and cream gravy.  That would be south of Interstate 40 on the cream gravy. It is real hard to find good cream gravy north of I40.

I like farm dogs, you know, the ones that walk around on the back of a flatbed one ton truck as it drives through the pasture or down I40 for that matter, those in the bed of a regular pickup aren’t in the same league, unless of course the pickup has a toolbox and old blue is standing on the toolbox.  I am amazed at their sense of balance, and the nonchalant way they walk around.  They always look happy and excited to be on the road.  I wonder if the excitement is about the trip or the destination, I believe it is the trip because normally when they reach the destination they just stay on the truck until it is time to leave.  I wonder about their names; I think a lot of them are named Blue or Possum or Cowboy or maybe Rebel.  I wonder if northern dogs are ever named Yankee.

My favorite dog that was not a member of our family was a farm dog, actually he was a Rodeo dog his name was J.D.; he disappeared from the back of my pickup during one of those stops when he couldn’t go in.  I hope he found a good home and lived to be a very happy old dog.

I don’t have a dog.  I am not responsible enough to give a dog a good home; they are probably better off wearing the title of stray than they would be living with me.  I like dogs although I will admit, most of the time I like them better over there than I like them over here.

As with the likes the dislikes are not about Broccoli, taxes, summer droughts, Cancer, winter ice storms, liver and onions or north of I40 cream gravy.

The introduction of the shopping cart several years ago (too much trouble to research exactly how many years ago) forever changed the way America bought groceries and in my opinion they made the discount department store a feasible marketing concept.  I only wish the guy that invented them would have known about round wheels. Is it just me or do almost all of them thump because at least one of the wheels isn’t round.  A few of them don’t thump but those normally have been run over in the parking lot causing them to veer to the right or left so severely that if you turn them loose before they stop they will hit you or someone else in the butt.  I think the most famous of the discount stores has a higher percentage of the real bad ones.  I try to give them a little test drive before I embark on my journey, because rarely do I find a real good one but like the days of our lives, some of them are better than others. That sometimes is a mistake because the person behind me will get the real loud one and follow me all over the store.

I am going to save the pet peeves for another time or maybe not at all and explain my cream gravy remarks.  It is really one of those “you had to be there” stories but I will try.

About thirty years ago about midnight on the way home from a weekend of rodeo in Kansas I stopped at an all night greasy spoon just barely in Oklahoma on I35 for a little coffee and a quick meal.  I was sitting with 2 or 3 young calf ropers from southern Oklahoma; we were eating Chicken Fried Steaks one of the calf ropers said about half to himself “You get north of I40 they don’t know what cream gravy is”.  I had never thought of it but he had a point and for some goofy reason the quote stayed with me.

In addition to the skills required to compete in rodeo, those kids learn at an early age how to “go down the road” and they also learn about Chicken Fried Steak, Cream Gravy, KFC, and powdered donuts.  My girls sometimes read what I write; I knew if I didn’t mention KFC and the powdered donuts one or both of them would remind me.

The young roper’s name was Charley, I don’t know if I have seen him since that night. Making a living and family obligations forced me to quit chasing the old rodeos shortly afterward.  It was kind of like quitting smoking; impossible to taper off I just had to do it cold turkey.

I like to think Charley is driving his flatbed one ton with old Blue or Possum riding on the back and teaching his kids or grandkids about Rodeo, Chicken Fried Steak, Cream Gravy and just going down the road.

Please keep me in your prayers, consider a donation to the cancer research organization of your choice.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

 

Early to Bed Early to Rise…..

My dad lived by the Ben Franklin quote “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise”. I wouldn’t be wealthy if I had a dollar for each time I heard him say those words but I could probably buy dinner for all of you and your families.  I didn’t get that dollar so don’t get your hopes up, I’m not buying dinner.

I would never question dad’s wisdom, although being an extremely quiet person he never shared a lot of it.  If his bedtime schedule provided wealth, I shudder to think how poor we would have been if he was a night owl.  I also believe kicking the cigarettes forty years sooner would have had a more positive impact on his health than going to bed early. Dad has been gone almost 28 years; he suffered from emphysema and heart failure.  He was a few months the other side of 79; I still miss him.

Sorry Ben, I never bought in to your quote; I have always been something of a night owl.  My work schedule forced me to accept the early to rise part; I didn’t get wealthy but I did manage to buy groceries and pay the bills. Maybe my writing is an indicator of my wisdom; you can form your opinion and if you must comment, please humor me.  Today my health is okay for a 70-year-old night owl, that is all I will say because I know too well how suddenly one’s health can go the other way.

I think getting up early because I had to, not because I wanted to, labeled me an early morning grump.  I don’t really think I was grumpy I just don’t like to communicate for the first hour or so I am up.  Sharyl respected that, actually, accepted might better define her feelings.  I think the sound of the door closing as I left for work was the alarm or signal to start her day.  Weekends required a little special handling; we didn’t start a Saturday with a leisurely chat over a cup of coffee. I didn’t chat that early and Sharyl didn’t drink coffee.  By the time the girls got up I was usually over the grumps, I tried to think of a word other than grumps, I guess maybe the grumpy title was appropriate. They would proceed with caution until they were sure I was okay.

Thank god she didn’t quote Ben as often as Dad did but Sharyl was kind of a closet believer of the early to bed concept.  I respected or at least accepted that and didn’t initiate idle conversation after about 9:00pm; unless it was important I let her take the lead in those late conversations.  We discussed important family matters after 8am to accommodate me and before 9pm to fit her schedule. This is just another example of the little things that made it work for forty-six years.

After she got sick and I became her primary caregiver, the previous 43 years of sleep patterns went out the window.  Those of you having been in the role of caregiver including new mothers can relate to disrupted sleep patterns.  We had some of our more meaningful and memorable conversations between 9:00pm and 6:00am; there was no longer a place for my hour of morning quiet time.  I tried to rest when she slept and to be there and not be grumpy when she was awake. I did better at being there when she was awake than I did at resting when she slept, I probably didn’t get enough sleep but I have no complaints.

The past seven or eight months I have tried to reestablish an acceptable sleep pattern.  I haven’t had a lot of success.  Most nights for the first few months I slept about 4 or 5 hours between about 1:00am and 5:00 or 6:00am.  I had Ben’s early to rise thing down; I just couldn’t make the early to bed part work.  Recently I have been sleeping about six hours, however I am still awake until about 1:00 am, I just sleep a little later. My goal is to get to sleep before midnight and sleep until about six thirty.  I wonder if that would meet Ben’s criteria for “Early to bed and early to rise”.  Maybe I’ll try that tomorrow, it is already 12:30 and I have a few things I need to do before I go to bed and I’m really not sleepy.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

 

Too Many Dave Days……..

I always enjoyed the occasional day with no work and no responsibility; I’m not talking about the routine day-off with a preset agenda of things to do.  I’m talking about the very rare kind when I had no plan, no to do list, I could just do what I wanted to do as it occurred to me. Some of those days were very productive; trees got trimmed, or the garage straightened; others maybe I went car shopping with no intention of buying a car, just felt like kicking a tire and visiting with a salesman; still others I did absolutely nothing and sometimes didn’t start that until about noon.  I could go on but I think you get the idea.

I thought of them as Dave Days, I didn’t speak of them as Dave Days because someone, probably someone named Sharyl, would have suggested, “on your next Dave Day why don’t you…..”. With a to do list it wouldn’t have been a Dave Day. For most of my professional life that kind of day was extremely rare.

I retired in ’97 and started a second career with a defense contractor in’98, by about ’02 or ’03 I was trying to figure a way to convince my company and the government, it would be to their advantage if I only worked a 4-day week.  Sometimes a plan comes together; they approached me.  Due to some funding issues would I consider a 4-day week?  I should have at least acted a little upset, but I couldn’t keep the smile off my face; my response: “Please don’t throw me in that briar patch”.

I never heard Sharyl say, “When I retire”, that meant I would be home alone, without adult supervision every Friday.  Some of those Fridays I certainly had a list of things to do, but I suddenly had many more Dave Days.  That quickly became my new routine, work 4, take a Dave Day then spend a weekend with Sharyl; it just couldn’t get any better.

For a few years Sharyl and the girls had suggested that we move to Norman, I resisted but one guy against three girls, I wasn’t going to win that one. Sharyl’s commute was a 30-mile roundtrip, after the move it would be a 90-mile roundtrip.  She still didn’t say retirement as it applied to her, but she did agree to a 4-day workweek. We moved in ’05.

Instead of a Dave Day, I was now greeted on Friday morning with a very pleasant and familiar voice asking; “what is your plan for the day”?  If I didn’t have one, she did.  I thought of suggesting, in a very diplomatic way of course, that maybe she would enjoy being off on Monday instead of Friday.  I adjusted and we enjoyed some very special three-day weekends together. I also managed to rearrange my schedule and still have a Dave Day once in a while.

I never heard her use the term Sharyl Day, but I hope she enjoyed squeezing one in from time to time.  If you don’t, I highly recommend you try it.

Beginning in early November ’08 Dave Days were no longer a consideration. I know that many of you were very capable and willing to care for Sharyl, but a true Dave Day had to be without guilt or responsibility.

I now have too many Dave Days and they aren’t nearly as fun as they once were. To make them fun again I need to start most days with an agenda or to do list and yes there are plenty things I could use to populate that list.   I think I can learn to appreciate and enjoy an occasional Dave Day.

I know I would trade the very best of those days past and future for just one Friday morning conversation that began with that pleasant and familiar voice asking; “what is your plan for the day”?

I love you babe; I miss you every day.

Please consider a donation to the Cancer Research organization of your choice.

Good Night, God Bless and keep me in your prayers.

Dave

Bouncing Around……

I’m at the lake. I guess it is part of the process, but when it gets dark here I need to write. I remembered to get a regular keyboard, I think all keyboards are a little different and require a little break in period, but it already feels much better than the laptop board.

I am making an effort to become a little more social, or get out and about a little more; after all I promised Sharyl I wouldn’t become a hermit.  This past weekend I went to a high school football game and two family gatherings.

I enjoyed the football game; I saw several friends, the young ones have kids playing and the old ones were there to watch their grandkids.  I was just there to watch a little football and to visit.  I left before the end of the game; I wanted to avoid post game traffic or maybe I was just ready to go.  I should have stayed; a girl kicker hit a 22-yard field goal in overtime to get the victory for my Tecumseh Savages.  Way to go Jennifer.

One of the family events was with my siblings and our families.  All five of us were there and more than half of the next generation, and some of the next generation.  It was the typical deal we had a lot of good food, swapped stories and smiled at the camera.  I think everyone had a good time; I know I did.  Thank you, Debra for hosting.

The other family gathering was not with my family in fact I have no idea who these people were.  I was just driving through this pretty nice neighborhood, I smelled barbeque and saw a group of people in the yard and didn’t think they would notice one more old man if he didn’t cause trouble.  Actually a friend invited me, she was hosting for her family.  I know part of her family but I wasn’t going to go because I sometimes don’t do well when I don’t know a lot of the people.  She insisted so I went, I renewed some old friendships, made a few new friends and had a good time.  Thanks for inviting me and insisting that I accept the invitation.

I mentioned I am at the lake.  The trip down left me a little confused about the economy.  I was excited as I came through Dustin; the store is open again so I can get a Red Bull if I want one, and girls if you don’t I ask I won’t tell you if I wanted one.  The police car is still manned; he didn’t need to visit with me today.  Things are looking up in Dustin. I felt good about the economy until I got to Longtown.  I believe the Pixie Woods store opened when Lake Eufaula was built about fifty years ago.  Today there was a sign advertising a liquidation sale.  Rumor is the economy may not be totally responsible for the Pixie Woods liquidation sale.

I won’t try to explain why (probably don’t need to) but when I am here I drink bottled water.  I didn’t take a written list when I went to Wally World, because of no list I forgot to get water.  At my age I almost need to take a written list when I go to the bathroom.  I had to go to the C store for water.  I bought a case of 24 bottles for five bucks.  I chuckled because I have fond memories of a time when I could buy a case of cold beer for five bucks but I couldn’t buy a case of bottled water at any price it just wasn’t available. Times do change.

I have written an entire blog about what I’m doing.  I’ve said nothing about how I’m doing; I’ll leave it that way.

I think the keyboard is ready for everyday use; ten bucks well spent.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave