Tuesday, January 29, 2008

He Said/She Said

He said,

“The wrong party is leading this country. I don’t like the direction we’re going. There are too many unsolved problems and they aren’t spending the money properly. I think things are getting worse. I wonder if we will ever get this turned around.”

She said,

“I love you.”

He said,

“I don’t like the climate here. It’s too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. I don’t think it is the best place to live. Besides, we don’t have many close friends and our neighbors are crazy. Maybe we should go somewhere else.”

She said,

“I love you.”

He said,

“My boss is a tyrant. He makes my job miserable. He wants more and more from me and where is the reward? I don’t see any potential for advancement and I’m sick of the internal political games. I don’t know how much longer I can take this.”

She said,

“I love you.”

He said,

“I love the kids…really I do. But it seems that we are so busy all the time and spending so much money. When will we ever have the freedom to do other things? Maybe things will be better then.”

She said,

“I love you.”

He said,

“I’m not sure about the new preacher. He talks too long and rambles too much. I wish he would get to the point. I have a hard time following him, my mind wanders, and am not getting much out of the sermons.”

She said,

“I love you.”

He said,

“My back just isn’t working well anymore. It seems like I’m in pain constantly. I can’t do as much as I once did. I wish I could do fun things again.”

She said,

“I love you.”

He said,

“Why is life such a struggle? It seems we can’t save money and can’t afford to have nice things. It is all we can do to keep the old cars working, pay the bills, and keep the weather out of the house. We can’t seem to make any progress and improve our lifestyle. Why can’t we do the things that other people do?”

She said,

“If my love is not enough for you…

…then what else can I do?”

Friday, January 25, 2008


When the vacation objective is to NOT go anywhere, a winter vacation works well. When the forecast for today called for temperatures near freezing, clouds, and rain. Firewood was gathered off the pile out back and stacked under the covered back porch...in sufficient quantities to keep the fire going all day.

Outside it was somewhat gloomy and cold.

But that made sitting in the big, comfy chair by the fireplace all that much more attractive. Not needing to be anywhere at anytime felt amazingly right. To often we work, buy a house, maintain it, fix it up, and make it pleasant, but for what purpose? The instant we have vacation time, we go somewhere else. Why can't we enjoy the place we have chosen and sacrificed for? Those maintenance tasks, routine chores, and enhancement projects would all take on a new significance if we had the ability to stay around and enjoy them. Go figure.

So while it was cold and wet outside. It was warm, dry, and cheery inside. Even the furry rascals were relaxed, quiet, and harmonious. With only a few exceptions, it was peaceful.

He still thinks he is a weinie dog, but it didn't even take ol' Gus long to figure out how to point his hind end to the warmest spot in the room.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Down Time

Most of my readers are probably already aware that I am changing jobs. I have never been more reluctant to make a job change. The most excellent people at Dodson & Associates, Inc. have made my 8+ years there a true joy. However, since I now reside in rural Denton County, it is a long way to the "office" and to my dear colleagues in Houston. So, I finally acknowledged the limitations of geography and accepted a position with Michael Baker, Jr., Inc. in Denton. So far dealings with my new colleagues have been very pleasant and I am looking forward to whatever is ahead.

Because much of my regular "vacation" time involves travel, I have longed for some down time at home. That is why I decided to take a few days between jobs. I've been off this week. To be more precise, I've been unemployed this week. It might be suggested that I've chosen a poor time (being the dead of winter) to be off work. Especially since it has probably been the coldest week of the season yet. However, nothing says stay inside by the fireplace with a book like cloudy, windy, cold days. On the other hand, when I start to feel a little cabin fever, nothing says get out and ride like nice warm wool clothing.

So, it seemed good to me to get out there and explore a thousand shades of brown. In reality, the landscape was quite beautiful in its own stark, dead of winter, sort of way. There really are thousands of interesting shades of brown. With the leaves gone, there are new things to see even on routes I found and rode during the summer. My "old" routes become new with the changing of the seasons. I like that and wonder what spring will be like. Something to patiently anticipate...

Living in north Texas has taught me to ride in temperatures much lower than I once did. Changing my ride objective from "speed" to "fun" and finding better clothing has shown me a completely new way to enjoy a winter day. There might be a whole bunch of brown out there, but it's better than a strip mall, isn't it?

To imagine what it is like to be me, look out there and say to yourself, "I think I'll ride to the horizon...and turn right."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Knowing When to Fold 'em


Not long ago, I said that an announcement was forthcoming. The announcement was related to an ongoing effort to overcome cycling obstacles. It was noted that rain and darkness obstacles have been minimized and that investments made in these areas have proven themselves many times over. Until recently, travel remained a HUGE obstacle. Hopefully, this latest investment will prove to be as successful as the others.

The "Tikit, Model T" from Bike Friday arrived while I was in Phoenix. Although it did not arrive in time for that trip, other opportunities will come. After returning home, it was unpacked, unfolded, and pedaled around the living room within minutes. The bike is designed to allow it to be folded and carried or rolled indoors, on other modes of transportation, in an office, in a trunk, etc. Since Bike Friday was had special pricing during January, it was a great value. So I also purchased the optional suitcase and packing materials so that I can partially disassemble, pack it, and check it as baggage during air travel. The clever design allows for a quick and simple pack/unpack process.


There was no plan to ride this today. The plan was to ride much farther yesterday...on bigger wheels. Since it remained in the 30's yesterday and the forecast was for temps in the mid-40's today, I rescheduled the long ride for today. Contrary to the forecast, it remained in the 20's all morning. When it is that cold, I generally don't need to ride far. A short shake-down cruise on the "clown bike" (as affectionately named by Janet) seemed perfect. With its small wheels, it is not ideal for long distance cruising. However, it rides surprisingly well and should be just right for those shorter adventures while traveling. A clown bike obstacle climber, as it were.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'd Rather Stay

The travel has been reduced lately, but it is time again to go. After making travel arrangements, packing, and completing assorted other work-related preparations, it was time to make one last lap around the neighborhood. As the sun dove toward the horizon, it turned everything to gold. Like I will miss my wife and my friends, when I am gone, I will also miss this place.

It is often a place of beauty, quiet, and refreshment. Like this mid-January afternoon on which I decided to stretch my legs a bit. When I don't have much time, I don't need to go far. It's a nice way to end the day and cap off travel preparations. So I am almost ready to go.

But I'd rather stay.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Overcoming the Enemy

Speaking of obstacles, a little perspective is helpful. It is understood that "climbing over obstacles to ride a bike" is insignificant in comparison to other obstacles we have in life. Today I was reminded that "overcoming the enemy" is vastly more important. You might ask, "What enemy?" I refer to this one...

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Sometimes we foolishly forget there is an adversary out there seeking our destruction. We get distracted by the easiness and frivolity of life when it is good. We get consumed with the struggle to cope with life when it is full of trouble. Some of us, sadly, try to run away from this enemy because we fear him and feel that we can not defeat him. In our retreat, he devours us.

His weapons, "...the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life..." (1 John 2:16) are powerful. He is a skillful and mighty foe. Too many times, temptation looks like a bully that's nine feet tall. We should be wary, but we should not lose heart. We should not lose confidence in the almighty God eager to defend us. When confronted, we should stand and face the adversary and challenge him. We should shout, with a clenched fist, a battle cry like that of David...

You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands. (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

...because we remember that the battle is indeed the Lord's.

Let's not allow the enemy defy us any longer. We will not seek to be tempted, but when he comes at us, let's identify him as our adversary. Let's stand up like warriors, "in the name of the Lord of hosts", and face the temptations thrown at us by the enemy. We will not surrender. We will not retreat. We will allow the Almighty to demonstrate His power. With Him, we shall overcome the enemy "that all the earth may know there is a God..."

So be it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Climbing Over Obstacles

Since there are lots of other things in life to fill a day, some rides happen in the dark. When the days are short, it happens more often. Before lights, darkness was a significant ride obstacle. Not anymore.

In the quest to change the goal from "more speed" to "removing obstacles to ride", much progress has been made. In fact, another HUGE obstacle is about to be put behind me. Stay tuned for a major announcement.

Monday, January 7, 2008


It has been suggested that, perhaps the greatest Dachshund of them all, has not had sufficient acclaim. Since that suggestion has merit, let me introduce to you, the "special one".

Normally, Joey keeps a low profile. He is above the childish shenanigans of the furry rascals. As one of the foster dogs that never left, we don't really know how old he is. His behaviour indicates that he is the elder statesman of the group. Joey saves his strength for carefully selected activities.

Joey does everything 100%. You remember the verse, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..." (Eccl. 9:10)? Well, Joey lives his life this way.

He can curl up for a nice long nap anytime of day. He might have been sleeping all morning, but if you lie down on the couch for a rest, he'll hop up there with you, curl up, and commence the snoring within seconds. He is what we call a leisure specialist. That said,...and let me be very clear about this...he is NOT lazy.

Everything he does is done full speed ahead. You should see him eat. If you choose to take me up on this suggestion, let me caution you...don't blink. Not only is he fast, he'll eat almost anything. When given baby carrots, our largest Dachshund, Gus, ...you know, the one that looks like a pit bull... Gus moves them around in his mouth a bit and ejects them from the side like a rifle ejects spent casings. Joey is the one who vacuums up the leftovers. He inhales his own carrots and Gus' too. No one knows how much Joey could eat. It appears the only limitation is the point at which he would explode.

Surely, you must have the wrong impression by now. Given that he eats and sleeps with amazing enthusiasm, you must think he is inactive. Not so. I will admit that his usual circumstances are condusive to leisure. However, if you've the need for someone to wander the property and track wild beasts like a bloodhound, he's your dog. He can do this with a level of focus and intensity of a gunfighter standing on a dusty street eyeing his adversary. I've seen him chase squirrels with those short little legs moving so fast, his running looked like a solid black line being drawn across my brother's backyard grass. When the season is right, he'll track down grasshoppers, pounce on one with two front paws, and eat the crunchy delicacy while waddling proudly back to the house.

"So," you say, "is he a good with people?" Joey is everyone's best friend. The first time I saw him, he looked up at me and walked right up to me with his tail wagging like had been my dog for years. Remember, I'm NOT the dog person in this family. I can't think of anyone Joey doesn't like. If you've got a lap, he's there.

Although Joey loves everyone, it is clear he has a favorite. Most of us will pat his head or scratch his chin. Janet will feed him, bath him, and see to his health needs. But, Lisa, our Coastie, is his favorite. She is the one who most sees to the special things in Joey's life...those extra treats, the birthday parties, and those nice long cuddle sessions during movie time. Joey does everything 100% and he's picked, with great admiration, a best friend.

Now that she is at sea, he misses his best friend...and he misses her with everything he has.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Exploring Waide Road

There is a lightly traveled gravel road that intersects the 3-mile loop. Since living here, it has beckoned for exploration. For various reasons, it has remained a mystery until today. It is hard to explain why, but this same "Bridge Out" sign that once served to dissuade looked rather inviting today. Don't you think?

On a sunny, Sunday afternoon you might ride a bike for more than an hour on Waide Road and never see a car. Instead, you might amble along and see empty roads...


...and when you get to the highpoint of the ride, you might look admiringly back across the valley toward home.

If you did these things, it is quite possible that you'd also realize that there are amazing bicycle riding opportunities right here at this little spot on the map we call Bolivar...and realize how fortunate one would be to live here.

I know, because that's just what I did when I explored Waide Road today.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Going Back

For many, the end of a year is a time for reflection. It is a time to go back and remember certain things of significance. For my family also, the end of the year is a time to go back. In my case, going back means more than reflecting on events in my life. It means going back to a place that ties me to my family's heritage. It means a trip to my Grandaddy's place in northwest Alabama. I made mention of this treasured place here.

When I visit my Grandaddy, his house, and his land it is like traveling through time. He is a living bridge between a time preceeding the memory of anyone else I know and what he and I, together, share today. He has lived in this place for decades. He knows the longest, most complete version of the story of this place. He fills in the gaps in our minds as we ask questions about the "why", "how", and "when" of things.

He is an amazing man, and his place is an amazing place. We walked it, my brother, his son, and I. What was winter beauty for us, has been toil, sweat, worry, and a labor of love for my Grandaddy and his family. But there has also been time of abundant harvest and there are places on this land that were joy and beauty for my Grandaddy too. I'll bet there were times when he was filled with joy as my Grandmother worked there with him in the field. They must have shared unimaginable hours there together. There are places where he hunted, trapped, walked, watched, and listened. Some of what he saw and heard were probably very similar sights and sounds that I enjoy when I visit his land. I am grateful to be connected to him and this place through my mother and through these things we have in common.

...and I know that I am connected to this place when I miss my Grandmother, because I know my Grandaddy misses her too.