Some people call it “Old School”. Some dub the actions “Old Fashioned”. Still, others use adjectives like “Stupid” to describe things like I did a couple weeks back.

I’m no stranger to the dreaded sound and feel of flapping and lifeless rubber. I’ve had my share of flats and blowouts. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why it always seems to happen in the summertime.

Being out of water and starvin’ like Marvin, I had one continuous thought in my head before my tire gave up the ghost, “I can’t wait to get home”. Isn’t that just how it goes?

I limped my truck backward into a parking space to assess the damage. The big ole chrome rim was resting on the asphalt with only the rubber between the two. I shook my head and grimaced. The tires were almost brand new… and they don’t offer any blue light specials on those tires.

Did I mention that I was hot, tired, and thirsty? I had to make a decision; call someone to come out and slap my spare tire on, which could take awhile. Or, get my hands dirty and do it myself.

I’m not sure if it was my thirst and hunger that drove my thought process or it was my cynical worldview that knows when someone says, “They’ll be right there”, can mean two hours.

What I know for sure is that people forget things. We lose perspective about the details in our memory.

I didn’t give a thought to still being affected by a back surgery gone south earlier this year. It didn’t take long to remember just how cumbersome it is to change a tire. Starting with playing hide and seek with the pieces bolted all over the vehicle. I didn’t use the answer book called “The Owners’ Manual” to locate the jack, the lug wrench, accessories, including the special adapter key sockets for the custom lug nuts and locking nut to keep bad folks honest.

after the ordeal

Why is it smart engineers can’t figure out how to keep all the pieces in one place? Or why Google videos are wrong? Or why I can’t stand to see a dirty Owners’ Manual?

With sweat blinding me and dropping like rain on the August Arizona asphalt, I asked myself in silence, “Who really needs a rim this wide or a tire this tall?”

By the time I finally had the truck jacked up, had wrestled the gargantuan tire out of the way, hoisted the spare off the back and was grunting to get it up onto the lugs, all the time fighting the sweat and pain in my back, I had regret.

A millennium later, after I had put all the pieces back in their random hiding places, it came time to deadlift and sling the bulky two hundred pound tire up into the back of the truck. I confirmed with myself that I wasn’t old school. I was stupid.

Generally speaking, God gives people wisdom with age. In some instances, “Old School” is a fancy way of saying that a person either doesn’t use that wisdom or doesn’t have it…


There’s something magical about all tools. It’s not just the innovation or convenience of a tool, there’s more to it. It’s fascinating how with much time, diligence, and practice with a tool, they become extensions of the user. A person that masters a tool is a sight and or sound to behold.

A tool, regardless of the type, has a distinct look in the hands of someone who has mastered it. And a tool, at least the way I define it, isn’t always made for building or fixing something.

My dad took up golfing later in life, but that didn’t keep him from becoming proficient with the tools of that trade. He golfed his age more than once in his early seventies. I wasn’t as good with the tools of golf clubs. I was better at using the putter like a pick axe and the driver like a non-returning boomerang.

It goes without saying, but tools can be abused and used in ways they were never intended.

My good friend’s dad was a mason. He could make mortar magic with his trowel. It was mesmerizing to watch him work and he could nearly crush rocks with his left hand from gripping 8x8x16’s his whole life.

all tools

At home in my hand

Even after decades removed from using it regularly, there’s still something that feels like home to me when I grip a rugged framing hammer. I couldn’t begin to count the number of thumb and finger nails lost in the quest to master that most basic of tools; my hammer.

There are no shortcuts in mastering a tool that is an extension of our body – when it’s used for its intended purpose.

Like most of you reading, I like the feel of a pen or pencil in my hand. A pencil for designing homes and a pen for writing. I also don’t mind the feel of this keyboard, when my typing and mind isn’t in a funk.

I’m not sure I’ll ever master anything quite as well as I did that framing hammer, but there’s honor in trying – provided the tools are being used for their intended means.

The problem with all tools is that they’re in the hands of folks that live in a fallen world.

I was barely in double digits when I started being taught how to drive. It’s a culture thing for folks that hail from the South. Driving was more than aiming a car down the road. You had to be able to take off uphill, with a clutch, and not roll backward an inch. We also had to be able to handle a car in a power slide on a curved dirt road. (It’s a hillbilly thing).

A car is a great tool, but a dangerous one. Like all tools, the automobile gets misused. I’m guilty. I speed way more than I should… but I never used my hammer for a weapon. Like cowards are now using cars to kill people.

All tools in the hands and minds of wicked people can be used as weapons. God help us.


Summertime usually dredges up old memories, good and bad, but occasionally it is the opposite; something else brings back long gone days of summer.

I sprinted home from school in the one hundred plus degree weather the last day of school in 1977. I was a skinny fourteen-year old that just squeaked past my freshman year. My brother was waiting for me at home, my parent’s house. Home for him was a 22′ travel trailer he pulled behind his new Ford F-150 four wheel drive pick-up.

My brother and two other guys lived in the travel trailer on job sites up and down the west coast interstates. They built truck stops. As small as that trailer was, a fourth person in it made it feel a little like the inside of a sardine can.

Everybody can point to a specific time in their life when they grew up. I don’t mean mature and wise, some of us are still working on that, but the time we finally measured up. For males, it’s considered the time, “A boy becomes a man”.

It didn’t matter that I was smaller and weaker. When you’re on a job and getting paid, even if it was against the law due to age, you gotta pull your weight. Especially when an older brother that gets you the job expects more out of you than the average punk kid.

Mishaps happen with youngsters… especially on job sites. I got caught between the handles of a wheel barrel full of wet concrete tipping over more than once. It’s like getting body slammed by Hulk Hogan. I hit one of the guys in the head with a pick on a full back swing, but only once. That dull “Thud” still echoes in my ears.

I shoveled so much concrete off the back of a 2×4 screed board I dreamed about it. And somehow, no matter how hard I tried to prevent it, I always ended up with concrete inside my concrete boots.

But those memories didn’t come back to me this summer that dumped me back in ’77 until I heard a song.

We worked like desperate people because we were, but we still took Sunday’s off.

Roger had a canary yellow Chevy Monza with a v-8, along with a stereo that was a teenager’s idea of heaven.

It didn’t take long to memorize every word to Bob Seger’s Night Moves album. But it was the song by

long gone days of summer

photo courtesy of wikipedia

Boston I heard the other night that shot me back to the summer I became a man.

“We were just another band out of Boston, on the road tryin’ to make ends meet”. That band used the memories of difficult times to motivate themselves. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s what I’d be doing most of the days of my life to come.

Difficult times and struggles are gifts. Not all bad things are bad. They can be as powerful as jet fuel. Perseverance doesn’t come from being comfortable. And, “There is no increase in strength without resistance”. It’s God’s design.

He can use anything in creation to remind us of that fact… even a Boston song and the long gone days of summer.


“I ain’t like that no more,” my buddy said. We laughed. It’s a line from Unforgiven, a Clint Eastwood movie. We both laughed because we know that people don’t change, not without Divine intervention anyway.

It ain't like that no more

image courtesy of photobucket.com

But there’s another part of us that doesn’t change, it can’t. That part of us is woven, or “knitted” into us, into our DNA. All of us have inside of us what makes us – us. Some people call it, “The way we’re wired”.

I believe each person is uniquely gifted by God to be contributors in society. Some use their free will to deny their gifts or use their weaknesses more than their strengths.

I have a brother that loves to hunt. Works out pretty good for us, since he’s willing to share what he takes. I kinda liked hunting as a kid, but have only done it a couple of times since. It’s not my thing.

I have another brother that loves to use his hands to build things. He’s been that way since we were kids. He could put a model car together in minutes. I only built one model. I smashed it to pieces when I couldn’t get the wheels to stay glued in place.

I do get the “building things with your own hands”, I’ve done it most of the days of my life too. The gratification is unparalleled.

I have a sister that could sell ice to Eskimos and has never met a stranger. The latter she gets from my mom. I don’t have the gene that makes me want to talk to everybody, but once I do get started, I can yap with the best of ’em.

I’ve shared some stories about my grandpa, my dad’s dad. He was a poet that was trapped, most of his life, by poverty and cotton fields. He had a propensity to drink and fight, but don’t all of us have our demons to contend with?

The truth is Troy loved music. And he didn’t have to be drunk to appreciate it. It was how God made him, the thing that couldn’t be changed.

I’ve heard it said that being drunk brings out the true heart of a person. That’s probably true. But I think it’s fair to say the same is true for other things. I believe money and power bring out the true nature of a person in much the same way alcohol does.

We all have gifts and we all have weaknesses. We’re all like that shiny nail that gets bent. Once it bends, regardless of meticulous re-straightening, it bends in the same place over and over… just like we do.

We have the good attributes and the bad. The part of us that is made in God’s image and the fallen flesh it battles. Our nail still tends to bend where it always has. We also have the good and honorable gifts. The two will forever be at odds till our soul is released.

I’m pretty sure the folks that feel compelled to tell you, “I ain’t like that no more,” are trying to convince themselves.


Mathematics was a necessary evil that didn’t come easy to some kids. I was one of them. But words came easy. While math was a painful chore, reading was a walk in the park. Creative writing didn’t come as easy, still doesn’t I suppose, but the process of creating is gratifying.

Not all words are created equal. Our best words probably aren’t going to earn you or me a Pulitzer Prize, but that doesn’t mean our words don’t have a purpose.

Some of my words lately have taken a detour. They have a different sound, but a similar purpose; to prod emotions out of the hearts of others. Their purpose is to make others think and relate similar feelings of their own lives and circumstances.

These words I’ve been creating in some ways are easier, but in other ways a whole lot harder, specifically setting the rhyming words to music.

A father's Pride

creating is a gift from God

Music is magical, spellbinding. Especially when it’s mixed with words that speak to our hearts. I’m not saying my words are magical, just music in general. I can say that mine, whether rhyming or not, are from the heart.

Here’s a song I wrote lately. The tempo is similar to Neil Diamond’s “Morningside – (For My Children)”.

“When he died
I silently cried
I couldn’t hide
The tears were justified

Years roll by
We sometimes cry
I can’t deny
I struggle to see blue sky

Although he died
His legacy cannot be denied
A man whose lips never lied
The Father’s pride

Oh, Dear Lord
It’s like my heart’s been pierced by a sword
I recall the man that everyone adored
… his soul has soared

Though life is sad
I was blessed to have the dad I had
The life he lived was full and dignified
The Father’s pride

Although he died
His legacy cannot be denied
A man whose lips never lied
The Father’s pride”

There you go. Not grand, but real. If and when I get music set to it I’ll share it here.

Where are your words taking you?