“LARRY THE LOSER”

larry the loser

DON'T LET LAR'S EYES DECEIVE YOU

We have two dogs. Larry and Lola. Larry is older than Lola, he’s a little over six years old and Lola is a couple of years younger.

By the way, it wasn’t my idea to get either of the dogs. I nicknamed Larry, “Larry The Loser,” right after we got him. It was an easy call because he started doing bad things right away.

Let me give you a little background info for our story and on our cast of characters. I’m not an animal hater, the truth is I like animals. I still miss our old cat named “Box,” he died when Lar (pronounced Lair) was around one and a half.

The reason I didn’t want the dogs was the same both times. I didn’t want to clean up after them. All three of our girls gave the emotional pitch for the dogs, especially the first one, Lar. I got the perfect parent snow job. “We promise to clean up after him, and feed and water him everyday”! “You guys won’t have to do anything”! “You promised we’d get another animal”! etc, etc, etc…

Guess who cleans up the backyard smellies? You guessed it, me… McKenzie and Ali are gone off to college, but it wasn’t much different when they weren’t. Gurm picked up some bad habits from her sisters and struggles with the coordination of holding the shovel in one hand and the collapsing plastic bag in the other.

Lar is a good natured dog. He’s friendly and loves people. He’s also smart as a whip and although difficult to admit, has a better personality than me. One of his favorite past times is to entertain. He loves guests and likes to sport his black bow-tie for the occasions. He might be a tad conceited, but he knows he looks good with his “slick duds” on.

Lar has it all, personality, good looks and charm. He can shake, roll over and dance. In fact, it might be possible for Lar to learn anything, due to his addiction to “jerky treats.”

Lar has one big flaw, he’s male and he likes to mark his territory. It doesn’t matter where to him… He wants it all… I’m OK if he thinks he owns the outside, but he and I have come to a complete disagreement about the inside of the house.

He won’t pee in the house when any of us are around. No, he’s pretty sneaky as well. He’ll wait until no one is in sight to declare the couch, chairs or drapes his new conquered territory.

Lar knows he’s not supposed to pee in the house, but he does it anyway. He’s got a lot of talents, but playing poker isn’t one of them. He gives himself away. He puts his tail between his legs, licks his lips and turns his head from side to side looking longingly for the backyard.

Lar doesn’t look so proud these days. He doesn’t strut around like he used to when he didn’t have to wear a diaper. Once the diaper is installed Lar hangs his head and heads straight for his basket.

Lar is my little buddy, we are friends after all. I don’t know if I’d call him my best friend, but we’re pretty tight. We’re a lot alike Lar and me. We’re both stubborn and strong willed, but I have an advantage over Lar… I have thumbs!

I wonder what kind of diaper or control God will place on me for my stubborn and sometimes willful disobedience? I know the rules my Master has for me to live my life by, but sometimes like Lar, I just want to get my way regardless of what my Master wants.

I know that when I screw up and go my own way pleasing myself my Master will still feed and water me. He’ll still provide protection and provision. I know that despite my disobedience He’ll still give me treats occasionally whether I deserve them or not.

All this love and forgiveness from my heavenly Father and I’m not near as cute as my little buddy “Larry The Loser”!

NOTE* (If you care to see Lar, he’s in a video my wife shot for a contest that she won. Go to youtube and type in “larry the loser.” My youngest daughter has a small cameo appearance in the video as well.)

A VEGAS WEDDING

vegas wedding

MY NEW PEN THAT CRUSHED MY "DREAMS"

My nephew on my wife’s side got married in Las Vegas this weekend. I have to confess I’m a little biased because I don’t really care much for Vegas. I’m not much of gambler or a fan of fancy shows.

I like the architecture and I’m amazed by the amount of money people have spent to turn that place into what it’s become.

We took a cab from the airport to our hotel. The cab driver set the tone for my weekend. He wasn’t singing the praises of “Sin City.” No, he was telling the ugly truth and getting free therapy all at the same time. In fact we paid him to drive while he vented his way through his session.

Our new Chamber of Commerce nightmare was an out of work electrician. He worked seven days a week driving that cab to support his wife and four kids. He taught us a lot in a short amount of time. We learned that Nevada, made up mostly of the population of Vegas was the leading state in the Union in unemployment at around 14%.

He was just getting started. He said, “You know Vegas has more bankruptcies than any other state too.” He continued, “They have to tear down one of the bankrupt casinos that were under construction when the “hammer” dropped. I guess it rusted or something, now it has to be imploded”!

“That one over there,” he pointed, “was put on hold, that was gonna employ 300 electricians.” His voice trailed off.

The electrician-turned-cabby had me in a somber mood at this point, but being the comprehensive instructor, he still had a few more facts for us to learn. “You know this place is “number one” in the country for childhood prostitution”! “Really,” I answered, although not at all surprised. “Yeah, and for high school drop-outs too.” He added.

I sat there listening and knew some of the statistics, but not all of them. His viewpoint made the facts more real than just hearing them in the media. After he dropped us off in front of the hotel he finished with a spark of enthusiasm, “Have a good weekend Bro”! “Thanks Man,” I replied.

I enjoyed my weekend but for different reasons than the majority. I enjoy spending time with my in-laws and we don’t get to see them that often living almost 1000 miles away.

I bought a new pen Saturday for this posting occasion. I love pens, I love what they represent. I cherish the hope of what can be done with a pen, and I’m excited at the prospect of it.

The pen was beautiful and expensive. It has a matted gold body with a brilliant gold clip, rings and tip. My classic new pen ran out of ink after I got around 50 words into this post.

So I experienced in Vegas something similar to what others experience in Vegas. Disappointment… My disappointment was temporary and my need easily fulfilled. I used a cheap throw away hotel pen to temporarily squelch my addiction. My guess is that the general population there won’t be as lucky.

Last night as we were passing through the casino we heard loud cheering. An average guy who looked like he hadn’t slept in a few days started screaming. “WhoooHooo”! “I’M THE KING OF ROCK AND ROLL”!!! “WhoooHooo”! “SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE DOLLARS”!!! “I TOLD YOU”!!! “I TOLD YOU”!!! “I TOLD YOU”!!! “WhoooHooo”!!!

Although, not being a gambler, I thought to myself, “I bet he doesn’t get out of here with that $1700 bucks.” I don’t think I could have found anybody to take that bet.

Oh, my pen? Yeah, I lost the receipt.

That shiny new pen reminds me of Las Vegas. They both offer glitz, glamour and hope. In the end, they both delivered regret.

To some Vegas truly is “The City of Broken Dreams.”

For me, it’s just “The City of Broken Pens.”… and “Lost Souls”…

A TEST RUN

test runMy youngest daughter leaves on a one week field trip tonight. She’s never been away from us for that long in her short twelve year life.

She’s a little apprehensive about the sleeping conditions, the seasick medicine and the confidence in it, the no cell phone rule, and the time away from us.

I guess this is like a test run. She’ll get to see what it’s like to live away, sort of on her own without her parents for a week. We’ll get to see what it’s like to be empty nesters for a week.

I’m not diggin’ this test run… The sun will rise and set seven times before she gets back home. Then the rising and setting of the sun will continue for a time, a very short amount of time… And she’ll be gone.

She texted her sister at college yesterday to let her big sister know that she was “on her way to work.” She has volunteered to work at the library restocking books. I have to say I’m impressed with the fact that she went directly to her passion to find work, she doesn’t care that she doesn’t get paid, she loves it.

This, of course, is another test run for her to see what it’s going to be like someday when she works for real.

I know it’s the natural way of things, I’ve been down this road before. It’s just that this is the last road… My job is to make sure she’s on that road and knows which direction she’s headed. I know she won’t get lost because she has a GPS. (God Provides Service) She’s learned that with God she cannot be lost.

I know it’s a gradual process, off to college, back for the summers, it takes a while. When McKenzie left for college our life changed forever, it hasn’t been the same since. The realization that yes they do grow up and leave is very real. That was a difficult adjustment period, especially for my wife.

I thought it would be easier when Ali left for college. It wasn’t… Change is a monumental task. The reality of coming to the day you’ve prepared your kids for their whole life. I hate to use the worn out coinage, but “surreal” really does best define it. I’ve stood there in shock twice now, struggling to grasp the realness in the moment of drastic change. And then they’re gone…

That reality of kids growing up and going off to college caught me off guard, and I was watching carefully, them and my watch, and it still snuck up on me.

The little one is learning valuable tips on how to prepare for a trip. My wife has made several lists, crossed of each item as they finished them. She’s learning how to be organized and prepare for change. This change is just a different place to sleep for a week.

My list of things I need to get done before she leaves on her more permanent trip is getting close to the bottom. I’ve crossed off many things. There are more items crossed off our list now than items outstanding…I hope I haven’t forgotten anything on her list…

She’s getting ready to go now. I’ll drive her to school and I’ll wait until the bus pulls out of the parking lot. We’ll be waving at each other until she’s out of site.

I’ll be thinking of that day in the not so distant future when I’ll be waving goodbye for the last time…

ONCE AGAIN…

once again..Yesterday was a difficult day. I had a million things on my agenda to get done.

It was a tight schedule, but with the proper amount of management, “No Problemo.” On days like this I become the “multi-tasking musketeer,” once again…

There’s one problem with a tight and hectic schedule, you can miss some of the basic needs of a day, like food, (I don’t think this really qualifies as fasting…) but not gasoline.

I was on the on the back edge of being behind schedule. I made my stops in between business calls and sometimes during them. I didn’t really have time in my schedule to eat, but I was “starvin like Marvin,” once again…

I went into a fast sit down “greasy spoon” right next to the gas station. I inhaled my food and headed for the door on the phone of course. I was putting out fires and setting sparks for new ones, once again…

In the truck, down the road, headed to see my mom. Yesterday was her birthday. She lives in a not-as-small-as-it-used-to-be town where I grew up. The town is almost 200 miles away from where I live.

I was still on the phone when an unfamiliar alarm sounded… I’d never heard this sound before, but instinctively knew instantly what it was. It was the sound of regret… It was the sound of humiliation… It was the sound of the “low-level fuel alarm.”

With a new focus and a wildfire from nowhere, I put all my attention now on one thing, being rescued. Funny how priorities change so quickly in life, once again…

My fast paced world would come to a complete stop in about 15 miles, 45 miles from the next small town.

There I sat, all four windows down, both passenger doors open to allow some cross breeze, feeling like a dumb kid, once again…

Three hours is a long time to sit in the southwest August sun. A person can do some thinking in that time. There would be absolutely no napping with Semi’s passing me about six feet away.

You might say this is an ugly place to be. Surrounded by danger, civilization on one side that allow no mistakes at 75 miles per hour. Where the black top ends and the desert starts is what feels like “no man’s land,” my new home for three hours. About 15 feet from the black top is thick brush that graduates into trees. This is where the rattlesnakes live. After dark packs of coyotes wander through it.

God has his ways of slowing us down. I find those loaded Semi’s and speeding cars on one side with the poisonous snakes and wild animals on the other, isn’t near as dangerous as trying to navigate this life without God’s guidance. Sometimes He uses those dangers in life to get our attention. He got mine, once again…

I made a new schedule, it started with a prayer. I watched a one foot long lizard-hunting for an early dinner. I spotted some big branches for targets in the trees and threw rocks trying to revive an old pastime. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, it felt pretty good, once again…

After my overdue rescue, I was off, but not like before. God gave me a new perspective on my day. I didn’t set the cruise control to 10 over the legal limit or pass everything in sight.

The sun on those purple mountains on the other side of the lake are beautiful just before sunset. It was good to see them once again…

I made it to town just in time to take my mom and some of the family to dinner in celebration of her birthday.

After dinner, my mom and I talked, reminisced, and laughed once again…

It was good to slow down and catch up with my mom, the perfect ending to a perfect day. Once again…

THE WORN OUT SWEATSHIRT

the worn out sweatshirt

My Youngest Sporting The Almost Famous Sweatshirt

What happened to the average I-don’t-care-what-I-wear-on-Saturday people? They’re either gone or they’re hiding.

This was a typical Saturday for me with a few exceptions. Work in the morning hit the gym early and take care of whatever falls into the “his” category of responsibility.

I don’t dress like Frank Sinatra any day of the week and I’m the polar opposite on Saturday. This is the day that society has deemed acceptable for a person to wear worn out, discolored, wrinkled, outdated or just plain ugly clothing. At least it used to be. Come to think of it, I guess I’m probably the only one at the gym with  holes in my clothes nowadays… Whenever they changed this code they didn’t inform me of it.

I went straight home from the gym, got my wife’s much past due for an oil change car and took it to the “lame lube”. (We don’t pull out into the desert to change oil anymore, I did get that memo) They were even slower and more inept that day than usual. I didn’t have time to let them try to figure out how to reset the oil life percentage read out. My youngest daughter was at home waiting to be taken to her orientation at the library where she has volunteered to work on the weekends.

She is definitely a “chip off the old block.” She loves books even more than I did when I was young. There is a possibility that she has read more books in her life than I have in mine. At any rate, we only had time for her to hop in the car and head straight to the library.

She was a little apprehensive about walking into the library by herself. She wanted me to walk her in. This, a job that she volunteered for without my wife or me coercing her into. I didn’t even know they had such positions. I thought you had to be middle aged, wear glasses, wear your hair in a bun and have strong lungs to be able to say, “Shhhhhhhh”!

What do I know? I know enough to know that she needed to walk in alone and learn to be independent. “Please go in with me”! She pleaded. I responded, “Do you really want me to walk you in with holes in my shirt”? A perfect prop for the occasion. She started again, “I think y-“-RIP!!! I cut her off. Mid sentence I reached over to my left shoulder and enlarged the size of the hole in my shirt… to ensure independence. “Okay, Dad.” She smiled as if to say, “That was a good one, Dad.” I finished with, “I’ll wait out her for a few minutes in case they need me and my ripped up clothes to sign anything.”

She walked briskly with intention in her steps, I know because I followed her at a distance. The library is adjacent to the mall and sometimes has some suspicious looking characters hanging around. You know, people with holes in their clothes and the like…

With one hour to kill, I stepped through the parking garage to the mall. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been to the mall by myself in the last two decades. I can count, on the other hand, the times I’ve been with my wife in that same time period.

To my surprise, I was the only one walking through the mall with a sweatshirt on that had noticeable sweat discoloration and holes. Doesn’t anyone else wear their old favorites that should have been thrown away years ago except me?

While discovering a $9.99 baggy shorts sale rack, I got a text from my daughter. It read, “It’s getting ready to start, I think it’s going to be really good”! – “I don’t need you to come in.” I texted back, “Good job girl, I knew you could do it”!

Off in the distance, in my minds eye, I see and taste that bitter-sweet day of my little girls independence…

This worn out sweatshirt soaks up the tears quite well.

I think I’ll keep it for a while…..