Saturday, July 23, 2016

Country Girls and Hunting Trips

Today, I passed a field on the way home where a combine moved up and down long rows, cutting hay or perhaps barley; it’s too early for wheat I think. It made me recall a childhood memory.

I was 7 or 8 and down at my Aunt Millie’s house swimming in her pond. Uncle Jonas was outside with some of the farm hands preparing for a weekend hunting trek. Uncle Jonas and Aunt Millie owned over a 1,000 acres of rich east Texas farmland. They had all the latest farm equipment—plows and combines and plenty of workers.

The men—and the boys who were old enough—were preparing for a hunting trip that night. With an air of adventure and purpose, they loaded their pickup trucks with food and gear. They usually hunted in the deepest parts of the woods, an area they called Foggy Bottoms, guaranteed to be overrun with snakes and ticks.

Over fifty hound dogs danced around in the moonlight in an excited ballet they always did before any such endeavor. The noise and commotion was deafening and I watched on curiously from a pond across the road wondering at the strange ritual.

What could make a man leave the comfort of his warm living room and traipse out into dark, dangerous woods with over a dozen men and boys and 50 hound dogs just to shoot a few raccoons and coyotes?

I still live in a small rural town where young girls wear Levi’s fastened with nickel-plated belt buckles in the shape of Texas. The boys are tall and lanky from years of pitching hay. Boys that grew up taking midnight journeys with their uncles and fathers into deep woods on dark nights accompanied by a legion of hounds, howling at the moon and coyotes.

You shun being thought of as ‘country’ when you’re a teen. You hate being associated with these simple folks, but the older I get, the more I realize how much a part of me these sights and sounds are. Maybe it’s time to embrace my roots and stop running from them. Once we acknowledge where we came from, we begin to really see who we are. The world comes into perfect view.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Old Dogs New Tricks

Old dogs and new tricks. That's how it feels. I took this new job last January and it looked overwhelming at first. They use tools I'd never heard of before like Slack, Jira and Consensus. But my bottom line is paying the rent. I’m just too old to be living under a bridge so I had to figure it out and it hasn’t been too bad. I’ve learned the stuff, made some friends and had some laughs along the way.

My Project Manager is always saying that I’m doing a great job. Thanks Steve! It helps to hear that you aren’t failing miserably at something.

When it was time to head out to New Orleans after Katrina, I wrestled with those same doubts and fears and there were very real threats to my survival daily. Again, my bottom line was the money. With no investment portfolio, wealthy husband or big savings account, I must always be hustling to pay the bills. In all fairness though, that’s not a bad thing. It has given my life direction.

I really want to be the best at everything I do, but I guess we all look around at our lives from time to time and think: “Damn! You sure screwed this up!”

I think it’s easy to lose your perspective. We get so focused on the elements that make up our lives and then we forget to step back sometimes and take in the whole view.

I’m alone in the world. But on the other hand, I don’t have lots of noise and confusion to deal with. If the kitchen’s messy, I can leave it that way for days and no one complains.

Next week I will celebrate another birthday, but I don’t feel so old that I can’t learn new things. I try to learn new things every day. Sometimes these are common sense lessons and sometimes the knowledge is specialized. Sometimes its personal stuff and sometimes, I learn things that make me a better human.

Once on Star Trek, one of the aliens called humans, “Ugly bags of mostly water”. I think that’s fairly accurate. But we’re so much more complex than that. We can be brilliant and inspiring and we can be dumb as dirt. We can invent amazing machines but we can also invent things like the “Beer Hat”.

The coolest thing about us is that once we all get united and work together on a project, we can crank out some pretty incredible stuff. Unfortunately, we get too easily side-tracked by nonsense like skin color, religion, sexual preference and the like.

In my religion, Christianity, we’re all created equal by one great God and we all have a purpose and a destiny. What so often happens is that we forget this or no one tells us to begin with and then we just drift aimlessly, which leads down dark paths sometimes. When you get several million humans in that predicament, it’s a mess!

So let’s take a step back from where we are today and start over. Let’s agree to love and forgive each other, even the wierdoes. Let’s stop killing each other and find something we can agree on. At the end of the day, we all love our families and we want to get home to them safely each day. That makes sense, doesn’t it?