Finding Floyd

I’M NO STRANGER TO TAILGATES

I’ve never been to a tailgate party, but I’m no stranger to tailgates.

Blueprints were almost as much a part of our heritage as the Good Book was. I remember my dad scanning the boring blueprint pages laid out on a pickup tailgate with a contractor or worker, sometimes by his lonesome. I was the bored kid using scraps in a pile of job site debris to make pretend guns, spears, and forts.

Maybe that was the inspiration for all the forts I built? That or the fact that it was just part of my DNA. Maybe that could also be the scapegoat for the pilfering of job sites that I used to build them.

It didn’t take long to figure out that the best part of building those flimsy forts was the building part of it. Once they were done my buddies and I didn’t have a lot of use for them. Being built in the middle of desert arroyos, (a fancy name for desert foothill washes), it also didn’t take long to figure out that the rats had plenty of use for them.

It seemed like an eternity, but it wasn’t but less than a decade later and l was standing behind a pickup truck with the tailgate down looking over blueprints. And I was still thinkin’ that calling them “blue” didn’t make a lick uh sense, since they were mostly white.

It would be impossible to put a number on the amount of time I’ve spent looking over blueprints, on a slab, tailgate, or in offices. It’s even more improbable to put the amount of days, months, or years I spent at a desk designing my own projects that would one day come to be laid out on desks, slabs, bid plan tables… and of course tailgates.

Another job we’re about to finish, designed by the kid who used to build forts in the desert. For scale the glass between the tub and shower is 12′ tall.

We have plenty of office space these days… but I prefer being outside. Meetings are a part of life now-a-days. Some of them I can’t steer outside and to the backside of a Ford, Chevy, Nissan, Toyota, or Hummer for that matter… but some of them I can.

I think about the old adage “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” That makes sense and a plan, or plans, is part of a wise process. We don’t have blueprints for our lives, but we have plans, dreams and desires.

I’ve built so many structures I couldn’t even begin to find them. They’re mostly in Arizona, but they’re in several states. Of all those structures, and all those plans, not a single one was perfect. They all had flaws. That’s part of the challenge to manage jobs and people.

I think our lives are like that. We plan, but we run into problems with the plans and how we navigate around them are how we determine our success in life. Even if our plans are perfect, at least in our mind, we aren’t the Great architect. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

I think about Noah building that massive boat. And David designing the temple, Paul making tents… and of course the Greatest Carpenter. Whatever our calling I believe our job is to do it in a manner that brings our Maker honor. What we do, who we are, has purpose. It doesn’t have to be a grand thing. It just has to be what God designed us for in order for us to be gratified in our works.

I’m no stranger to tailgates… and neither is God Almighty… He’s with us wherever we are and whatever we do. And I’m pretty sure he loves the smell of churned up dirt and fresh cut lumber.

IN A HURRY

I’m what you call an aggressive driver. That makes it sound worse than it is, at least for me. See, I’m not mad or crazy, well, not mad for sure, I’m just in a hurry. Aggressive makes it sound like you wanna hurt someone, I don’t wanna hurt anyone, I just want to get around them and get on my merry way.

I don’t get too rattled when someone honks or flips me the bird, I usually smile and wave. The other day I was following, obviously closer than the driver wanted, a little white economy car – waiting for the opportunity to get into either the right or left lane to get around them.

Movement from inside the car in front of me caught my eye. I looked closer to see the person, I couldn’t tell if it was a male or female, flipping the bird to the rearview mirror and shaking it violently to make a point. I smiled. Then gave a friendly wave as I finally got around them and left them shrinking in my own rearview.

The problem, or at least one of the problems, is that at some point there are a few folks who take it personally and they want to talk to me… up close.

A few nights back, on the way to dinner, there were two turtles in the left hand turn lane in front of me. We had enough vehicles in the lane to trigger the left hand turn signal, but I barely made it through the light on a long green and yellow because the first two people in line were moving like molasses.

After we made the turn onto Thunderbird, a four lane road, our two heading east, I pulled into the far right lane, the driver in front of me into the left. He was still lollygagging so as soon as there was enough room to pass I gunned the supercharged engine and shot into the left lane and was off to the races, or dinner as it were.

Pretty soon turtle two was right behind me. After about a mile he started flashing his lights. Lucky for him the restaurant was less than another mile. I whipped into a space right up by the front door. Angry turtle two was pulled in perpendicular in back of my vehicle, window down, telling me exactly what he thought of me. I’ve heard those expletives before.

image courtesy of comix.com

The other problem I inferred earlier is me. And for more than my driving habits; I don’t have a lot in the way of fear. I try to reserve that for the One who says that fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom. I’m still a beginner because I still do dumb things and have more confidence in myself than I probably should.

I grew up in a somewhat violent setting, at least when I was very young, and I’ve been around the block. Get the pun there? I’ve been punched in the face more times than I care to recall and that was long before mixed martial arts training accomplished a severely deviated septum with ease.

Turns out turtle two’s real name is Darren and Darren had a few drinks of some sort. Nothing like alcoholic courage. Eventually he apologized, shook my hand, and off he went.

The other problem is I wasn’t alone… I told my wife to go inside the restaurant as I went to face the stranger in the Ford.

Of course I wouldn’t want to put anyone in a difficult place… but I wasn’t considering anyone but myself when I set out to drive to please me… and to Iceland with anybody else… near or far from me.

Most that know me know that I admire and adore humility. It’s a beautiful trait from God above. The opposite I guess is selfishness. And when I’m honest I have to admit it’s a trait that comes far too easily for me.

That gas peddle makes me a monster… even when if I’m not in a hurry. It’s hard to smell roses going a hundred miles an hour.

I DON’T HONK MY HORN

I don’t honk my horn that often, probably ’cause I hate it when people honk at me. I sat behind the gal in the SUV waiting for her to turn, we had a left hand green turn arrow for the love of Betsy. She finally looked up from her phone and ran a last second yellow light… leaving me stuck there.🤨 My left eye and mouth twitched slightly. It’s a world of frustrations.

image courtesy of houstonchronicle.com

I like to read and write, but sometimes life gets in the way. As I type this, since I didn’t have time last week so I reposted an old one, I haven’t driven the old car I vowed to this weekend… (yeah, I’m a whiner with first world problems)… I haven’t had time to touch a guitar, I haven’t called my mom yet, and it all adds up.

I knew that I had issues with commenting on Betty’s Wise Hearted site. I’ve literally spent, I’ll bet pushing, twenty hours trying to figure out how to fix it… to no avail.

Then just this week I found out that the scads of comments that I’ve left at Diane’s site, Hadarah, and Martha’s site, Meditations Of My Heart, never showed up on their end.

So, for I would say years, probably since I got a new computer, I’ve been reading and commenting and thinking all was well with the world, but I was wrong.

It’s not the end of the world, but it’s frustrating. Add the little frustrations and irritations together and pretty soon blood is boiling.

Once I’m in that state of anger I have to step back from myself. The truth is God is sovereign. If I was meant to drive the car it would have happened, or I need to change my world and schedule. If that guitar really needed to be picked and strummed I’d have made different choices about the rest of my life.

I’ll call my mom once this is done. I’ll have just enough time before the kids and grandkids show up for Sunday pasta… the shave will have to wait…

If those words that I plucked out were meant to have been read, I’m certain they would have. My words matter little.

God’s Word matters.

I tip my hat to all my on line brothers and sisters that I’ve never looked eye to eye with, but punch out words of honor and encouragement with discipline and perseverance. God does use other’s words to remind and encourage. I’ve been the blessed recipient of them. So I say thanks again.

I’m pretty sure it’s probably a lot of your words that help me be able to not honk my horn that often…

TRICK OR TREAT

trick or treat

image courtesy of Photobucket.com

Repost from October 2010… She’s long done Trick or Treating with her dad…

I know a lot of Christians who refuse to celebrate Halloween. I understand and respect their opinion.

Me? Other than some of the ignorance shown on this day of the year, I love it.

This is a night that even some of the grouchiest people act nice. Cute kids knocking on doors, knowing if the door opens someone is going to be charitable, even hospitable.

Halloween feels to me like a warm up for Thanksgiving and Christmas. People practicing being cheerful getting ready for the championship of holidays.

I have some pretty fond memories of Halloween. I don’t remember being much more excited about anything as much as Halloween and Christmas. I even remember what I was dressed up as. I got the most compliments as I recall dressed up as a Cowboy. The home-made-by-my-mom mustache was the coolest part of my costume.

We have a ritual for Halloween in our house. My wife stays home and passes out candy and I take the kids Trick Or Treating. Now I just take the youngest.

At 12 years old my ritual and streak is at stake. My wife asked our youngest how long she was going to Trick Or Treat with her dad. “Until I’m outta high school!” she declared… That’s my girl. I hope that’s true, although I suspect her heart while in the right place may change before then.

I’m a little more sentimental than my wife when it comes to these matters. I remember when my wife announced it was time for the youngest to be weaned from her baby bottle. I was devastated. I knew that season or chapter of our lives were over forever.

As the sun is starting to make its somber descent this afternoon, I’m faced with that similar awareness. Today is Halloween and it might be my last one spent with my youngest in costume.

I think back on all of them when all three girls went with me. Kenz dropped out, Ali lasted another two or three years, and now Gurm’s (nickname) in the twilight of her Trick-Or-Treat career.

I remember the costumes. I recall reminding them to say please and thank you, even in their frenzied scurrying. We discussed tactics, which streets to take. Sometimes up one side and down the other, sometimes zig-zagging across the street to cover more houses.

I carried bags, coats, shoes, and my daughters. I walked a lot of miles Trick-Or-Treating. I loved every one of them.

God’s word says life is like a breath. An inhale, an exhale, and it’s over. I’m reminded again of that tonight. Understanding how short life is gives me strength and desire to bring God and my family honor.

This is one of those nights that will accumulate with the Halloweens past to create a vivid memory for my daughter. She’ll always remember our ritual. She’ll share stories with my future grandkids of all the fun her and their grandpa had.

I’ll bet she even remembers and shares with her children how her Dad’s favorite candy was Snickers bars. She’ll hopefully tell them the truth, how she always let me have as many as I wanted.

She’s a good girl. I wish we could Trick-Or-Treat forever, but that’s not the way life works.

We all need to cherish every day as the gift each one is, whether you celebrate Halloween or not, I’ll cherish this day as a gift from God.

If you see a cute 12-year-old dressed up as a Narnian Princess and her dad in a sweatshirt with a ponytail watching proudly from the sidewalk, wave…

It might be the last time you see me there.

COOKIE BOX

I remember the box like it was yesterday, but it was around fifty years ago. It was a white box with red printing. It was a cookie box, the kind that holds about ten of the regular sized cookie packages. It was a shipping box, but I didn’t know it way back then. That day the cookie box would be an affordable casket for our pet cat Casper.

The main road north of our house, about four houses north, was a thoroughfare that connected our little town to the town next door. It was what locals would call the “back way”, like the short cuts that exist in all small towns where you have to be counted in the small population number to know about.

We traveled that road to see my parent’s friends, to pick cherries, do over a hundred miles an hour in an old used Dodge that my dad was test driving, and visit the hospital where my grandma did stints in not too long before she passed.

I was forbidden to ride my bicycle on that road because it was dangerous. There were too many V-8 powered cars and not enough folks with the willpower to not use the muscle.

I never did tell my parents me and our neighbor Glen took our bikes on that road one afternoon after school to Sylvan Park till after I’d grown up.

Sixteen holding my mom’s cats. The black one is the one I wrote about a couple weeks ago. He was smaller than my hand.

I’m not sure who found Casper, the long haired pure white cat with perrywinkle blue eyes. The Tom cat that was stone deaf. My mom loved that cat, and almost all animals for that matter.

I’m not sure if I was in kindergarten or first grade, but it was the only day I remember being held out of school when I wasn’t sick. My mom wanted me to help her bury our pet.

We drove as far north off that deadly street as we could till we came to a wire fence. It was at the base of what the locals called “The Bench”, a small mountain with a flat top, hence the name.

We got the duct taped cookie box casket out of the trunk along with my oldest brother’s folding Army shovel and I began to dig. I remember my tears turning the dusting soil to mud in spots as I dug. I can’t remember now if I was crying more for our cat or from seeing my mom cry. Maybe a little of both.

Talking with friends last night about pets and the pain of losing them reminded me about that time my mom and I buried Casper in that cookie box.

I know God can use anything to prepare us for what lies in our future. I think He uses the loss of animals to prepare us for the passing of loved ones. It’s not the same, nothing can equal the pain of losing a loved one, but it does give us a taste of the process.

Everyone learns early on that this life isn’t perfect. There is pain and there is sorrow. In those times I remember. It’ll be ten years come May since my dad passed. I tear up just typing these words… but I know one day I too will follow in his footsteps. God has allowed things to happen in our lives to prepare us.

It doesn’t matter if I’m buried in a pine box or a cookie box. I’ll be perfect. My dad will shake his head when I remind him of that test drive in that old Dodge… with me and my brother in the back… where there was supposed to be a seat…