Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Pursue what you love
With all of your heart.
You must start
With one tiny step;
Place your focus
On what is ahead;
Put aside your dread
Of failure.
The end is gained
One goal at a time
When sometimes there isn't a rhyme
Or a reason to go on.
Because success is
The progressive realization --
The actualization --
Of your worthy dream.
It's all in the pursuit.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Onward and Upward

It's a girl -- or, at least it is going to be in July. No, not my daughter -- a granddaughter. That was the news today.

It is hard to believe that in just a few short months I will be a grandfather. Although I'm looking forward to it, it seems like a huge leap forward in the cycle of my life. I have classmates that have been grandparents for years. I just don't feel old enough to be one!

It seems strange to me that most of us continue to feel young inside in spite of our bodies telling us that we are getting older. Logically, we should age mentally in the same way that we age physically. Admittedly, some people eventually reach a point where their mental faculties don't seem to be as sharp as they once were, but I think that's more a result of inactivity than of aging. There are many people who's mind continues to remain sharp and clear throughout their years, no matter how long they live.

Does this tell us something about the future? I'm referring to what happens after we physically die. Could it be that we are designed to remain mentally active and contributing members of society throughout our life? Maybe we are designed to continue to learn and grow as long as we are alive because that knowledge and growth extends into the next life. Our physical time on earth is limited by the durability of our bodies, but our mental capacity can remain undiminished because in some fashion perhaps, it continues after death.

I know that this is a strange line of thought, but it might well fit into the argument for life after death. To me, it is just one of many pieces of evidence that points to an eternal life. I'm glad that I'm prepared for it. Are you?

Monday, February 26, 2007


Standing about six-foot-five
Plus two inches of boot heel
If you stood him up straight,
John is topped by a black
Felt hat that's pulled down
Tight because he doesn't like
To chase it in the wind.
Unless otherwise occupied
His thumbs stay hooked in his
Pants pockets because there's
Not much else to do with 'em
When he's talking to someone.
It used to be he always had
A ready smile for just about
Everyone that came his way
But the cares of trying to
Build his own herd have
Made that smile so scarce
You sometimes wonder if
His best friend just died.
His face is lined with years
That age him faster than the
Calendar or his friends from school
That went on to city jobs because
The pay was better and the work
Wasn't nearly so hard.
But John's a survivor made
From the stock that built this
Western country from scratch
Way back before the roads or
The fences cut it into nice, neat
Patches that call it tamed.
He's an anachronism --
Living a life that many a youngster
Once dreamed of living before
Reality crashed and sent them
Scurrying for safety and security.
Loneliness and wind and too much
Sun have left their mark on this man
That was born at least a hundred
Years after his allotted slot in
The ribbon of time had
Already passed by.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

On the Line

Have you ever tried helping someone over the telephone to solve a problem that they are having with their computer? My mother does an amazing job getting around her computer but she has only learned to do so in the last ten years or less. Sometimes, when things don't work as they should, she calls me to try and help her over the telephone. It can be a frustrating thing for both of us. For me, because I can't see exactly what she sees so that I will know what to do, and for her because she can describe what she sees to me, but I don't seem to understand. It comes down to terminology usually. The words we use may not have the same meaning to each of us.

I discovered computers my freshman year in college. The very first personal computers were just being introduced, so most of my early exposure was to punch cards. Computers have come a long way since then. The personal computers we have today are very user friendly compared to what we had then. We had to write programs to do the most basic tasks. To add a column of numbers would take a program composed of several punched cards, plus a data deck containing a card for each number that we wanted to add together. If the cards were out of order, or if there was a mistake on a card, you didn't know until you ran the program and got the results stating there was an error. Then you had to sort through the deck until you found the card with the mistake that caused the program to fail, fix it, and then run the program again. The next time, a different error might cause the program to fail. Then you would go back through the process of fixing the error before trying again.

In a way it was a little like helping Mom to fix her computer over the telephone. Sometimes there is trial and error for several iterations before we figure out what to do to resolve the issue. It can be a test of patience for both of us.

I wonder sometimes if that's the way God feels toward us. He tells us what we should do, but we sometimes don't seem to understand. Or, perhaps we don't think that the answer He gives us could be correct, so we do what we think instead. He doesn't give up on us though. He stays on the line listening to us describe what is going on and how we need it fixed. Sometimes I don't think we listen to His answers. Especially when they don't fit our idea of the solution. I'm glad that He hangs in there with us. I know that I couldn't get through without Him.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Throughout most weeks it seems that we are in a continuous, headlong rush. Out of bed with the alarm (sometimes before it goes off) at 5:15 to hit the shower and shave, grab a quick bite of cereal, check the e-mail and the news, then dress and head to work is the way most days start. They generally include rushing home from work (when I'm not out of town) to get ready to head somewhere else that evening. Sometimes supper occurs before, and sometimes after the evening activity.

Saturdays are different though. Saturdays generally are lived at a much slower pace. I don't get out of bed quite as early and breakfast is usually something homemade and eaten much more leisurely. I still have to check the e-mail and the news to see what's happening in the world, but there's no rush for doing so.

Sometimes there are activities on Saturday, but we have deliberately taken care to not schedule them to where it is rush, rush, rush, from one to the other. I guess that is the advantage of having only one child (now a teenager) left at home. It is easier to do that.

We often do the usual chores on Saturday such as cleaning house and washing clothes. But a lot of that gets done during the week so that Saturday can be more relaxing.

Reading is one of my favorite Saturday activities. When there is nothing pressing to be done, it is easy to kick back in a comfortable chair and read the afternoon away. It helps to wash away the stresses of the week so that I'm in a better frame of mind for the next one.

Saturday is also a good day for pursuing hobbies such as writing, or playing the fiddle. I don't care much for watching television, so while others in the house are doing that, I'll often find a quiet place to read, or I'll work on a hobby. As the weather warms, I'm sure that I will be doing something outside on those lazy Saturday afternoons.

It seems that most people that I talk to on Sunday -- when I ask them about their Saturday -- have just as hectic, and sometimes worse, schedules on Saturday as the rest of the week. I always ask them why they are so involved in things that they don't have time to sit and enjoy life occasionally. Usually they don't know why but agree that they would like to.

The restfulness is important to me. It is a way of re-charging for the coming week. I believe that it makes a person more effective. I'm not opposed to being involved in worthwhile activities, I just think rest and relaxation is necessary for one's health. We all need to slow down a little bit, or we will burn ourselves out much too early.

Friday, February 23, 2007


In almost every business
There are those who can't wait
For Friday.
They haunt the break room
And their neighbor's cubicle
By mid-afternoon
Their productivity goes to zero
And they try to bring
Everyone else
To their level.
How they get by with it
Is anyone's guess.
It could be because
The boss is at
The golf course.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Out of the Rut

I am learning to play the fiddle (violin). It's a lot like teaching an old dog new tricks. It is taking a lot of patience and persistence.

Finding time to practice is often a challenge. Waiting until late when everyone is in bed is out of the question. The screeching would make it impossible for them to sleep. So, I usually try to get in a few minutes after supper. I know when I'm making a good impression on the household by the sound of the door to the basement closing because that's where they went to watch television and try to escape.

Occasionally some good notes come out. Whenever it doesn't sound like tires skidding on pavement, they are good notes. I cherish those brief moments.

So far, my attempts have been purely by ear. I know that lessons would be a good idea, but with my job it is difficult to know exactly when I will be available on a regular basis to take them. In the meantime, I'll muddle along to the best of my ability.

Most people are hesitant to take up something new at my age. It seems that most of us reach a point in life where we pretty much stick to what we know. The fiddle is a long-term project. I figure I've got the rest of my life to learn it. It's kind of like this blog. Sometimes you've just got to jump in and go -- whether you know what you're doing or not.

Learning the fiddle and starting a blog have both been good for me. I think they are helping to get me out of my rut. We all need something to kick us out of our ruts now and then. It's amazing what's out there in the world when you can see more than just the walls on either side and a tiny light in front of you. It has been my experience that too often that tiny light is on the front of a train.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


We pour our hearts
Into something we love dearly
Only for our efforts
To go
It is easy
To become disheartened
When we know
That no one
It is then
We must remember
Why we are doing
What we are doing
In the first place.
Then we can at least
Take pleasure in the knowledge
That we did our best.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Gardening Catalogs

The gardening catalogs are coming fast and thick now. I think they're trying to tell us that spring is just around the corner.

I'm always amazed at myself when they start to come because I dig through them like a prospector looking for gold! I think about all the things that I want to plant this year. Maybe I should expand my garden. I could add a couple of more rows.

I'll have to put up a better fence around it this year. The one last year barely slowed the rabbits down. By the time summer was over, they'd found a half-dozen places to squeeze under it. I started to feel a bit like Mr. McGregor!

Oh, and look at the trees. Wouldn't it be neat to order a couple of more trees. I'm sure I could find a good place to plant them. There's plenty of room in the back. Yes, I know we planted over forty trees last year, but you can never have enough trees.

We could add a couple of grapevines and maybe some berries of some kind. And wouldn't it be nice to have a butterfly garden out by the gate. People driving by could see the flowers and the butterflies and stop to take pictures. Speaking of the gate, I think we need a few bushes out by the gate. Something that would make it more of an "entryway" into our little world.

I sure hope this mood passes quickly. If it doesn't I'm in for a lot of work!

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Bus Driver

John drives a bus for TNM&O. He prefers charters -- which is how I met him. He said that all of the charters that he drives are usually full of friendly people. Of course they would be, they're all from the Texas Panhandle!

I asked him why he preferred charters. He said, "It's because you never know who might be riding a scheduled run. Sometimes there's some real fruitcakes on those!"

John gets to visit a lot of interesting places in his job. Most of his trips are within Texas or neighboring states. He said that his least favorite trips were the ski trips because of the cold. His favorite trips are to the Hill Country of Central Texas. "It's like driving into a completely different world in the Hill Country. It just doesn't look like Texas to me," he said. "But, they probably think the same about the Panhandle."

He loves to read. "This job is great, because when I get to where I'm going, I get to read while I wait."

He noticed the book that I was reading -- Winston Churchill's "History of the English Speaking People, Vol. III, The Age of Revolution." Then he reached into his bag and handed me "Gone for Soldiers", by Jeff Shaara, and said, "I just finished this one, why don't you take it and read it."

I said, "How do I get it back to you?"

He said, "Don't worry about it. It's yours."

We talked for thirty minutes about Civil War history and other periods that we were both interested in. It's amazing the nice people you run into if you just open up and talk to them!

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Tumbling, tumbling --
Incessantly rolling 'cross the prairie.
Gathering cotton lint
And bits of paper,
The tumbleweed
Visits the neighbor
But can't seem to cross the fence
Until a sudden gust
Lifts him high
And he flys through the air.
He soars,
He bounces,
He rolls on and on
Until he lodges
With his buddies in the corner
By the barn
Where the field mice
Will have a field day

Saturday, February 17, 2007

An Eagle

Coming back from Amarillo today, there was a bald eagle circling low over a wheat field. It is the first one that I've seen in the area in two years. He appeared to be hunting.

I could see him from a distance and immediately noted the size. His wingtips slightly curled up as he was coming straight toward me, all I could see was the silhouette -- I couldn't see any color -- only black. As I approached down the road, he turned, providing a classic view with the magnificent white head turned, searching; his tail flared for control.

Ahead of me, and behind me, were about twenty vehicles. I wonder if any of them saw him. Or, were they so focused on getting where they were going that they completely missed such a beautiful symbol of our country.

I wonder if any of them realized the life-and-death drama playing itself out within a few yards of them. I'm sure that eagle found his prey and quickly consumed him.

I think too often we are so focused on our own little world that we miss what's going on around us. Maybe we're afraid to look for fear of what might be there. Maybe we are just so self-absorbed that we don't want to be distracted from our own agenda. Maybe...

It was only a brief glimpse, but I've thought about that eagle all day. I wonder where he is now.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Commute

Blank, staring faces;
Eyes straining in the light;
Hands glued, or drumming,
Or occupied with cell phone,
Coffee, makeup, cigarette,
Or reaching for kids
In their car seats.
Another morning rush-hour
Unfolds to honking horns
And weaving traffic
Because they left too late
To be on time.
It's too bad they can't see
The sunrise splashed
In orange and red and yellow
On the purple-blue of
Fading night,
Or see the hawk
Sitting on the power pole
Watching the madness
Expectantly as if there
Might be flushed a morsel
For his breakfast.
Another day begins.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


As I drive around the Panhandle, there is a lot of optimism. There are ethanol plants being built and dairies going in. Houses are springing up around Amarillo like a new corn crop in June. Farmers are excited about the new markets for their crops -- especially corn for making ethanol. The recent moisture even has the cattlemen optimistic about the pasture this spring. When we get a little warmth, the wheat pasture will shoot up overnight and the spring grasses won't be far behind.

You can tell the sun is shining today by the tone of this post. The temperature shot from zero to nearly thirty in about five hours! The snow is melting and people are moving about again.

Isn't it amazing what the sunshine can do for your mood? When you're stuck inside because of the weather -- or if you're working out in it -- you are quickly worn down. But, when the sun comes out and the birds start singing, life seems suddenly much better. I wonder what that tells us about human nature.

When we walk in the darkness, it is as though we carry a weight on our shoulders. When we step into the light, that load is lifted from us. We all need a regular dose of light. "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Inside Job

As I sit and watch the snow falling on the Plains, I'm thankful that my job is not one that requires me to work out in the cold. I see pickups with trailers driving by with horses saddled for checking the cattle on wheat pasture. Their winter coats are long, but you can see them bunched forward under the half-top to try and escape the biting wind.

Through the fogged windows, you catch a glimpse of a hat pulled low and a bright splash of color that is a "wild rag" for keeping the wind from pushing down the front of the insulated coveralls that are partially open to let the heat soak in until he gets to the next pasture.

He pulls into the Quick Stop for a can of Copenhagen and some coffee. His face is red behind the two-day growth that looks like a sheet of sandpaper. Grinning, he cuts up with the clerk as she hands him his change. He heads out the door and throws the new can on the dashboard, then grabs the empty which he pitches into the back of the truck where it lands in a pile of straw. The black-and-white Border Collie sniffs it as it rolls to a stop against the spare trailer tire that needs to go to the shop.

Climbing in, he pauses to take a dip and then a sip of coffee. He listens to the Market Report as he puts it in gear and heads south. He's got two more pastures to go and then he'll head to the Ranch House for lunch. It's already been a long day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Canyon, Texas

The town of Canyon, Texas, is a unique oasis in the Panhandle. It is the home of West Texas A&M (WTAMU), and Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It is also the home to many people who make their living either directly, or indirectly, from cattle. I have often heard Canyon referred to as the Animal Health Capital of the world. The reason is because of the many consulting veterinarians, nutritionists, animal health sales reps, pharmaceutical company sales reps, feed salesmen, technical veterinarians, researchers, feedlot managers, cowboys, and ranchers that call the community home.

Why do they all live in Canyon? WTAMU is one reason. It is an excellent university with an outstanding staff -- many of them in the Agricultural Sciences Department. It also hosts one of the best historical museums in the country -- the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Another reason is the excellent school system. Canyon schools consistently rank among the top in the state for their size in academic, music, and athletic programs. The new High School is a beautiful addition to the southern part of town. Proximity to Amarillo without the problems sometimes associated with living in a city is another reason. Rick Husband International Airport is only about 30 minutes away, Westgate Mall is about 15 minutes, and some of the best medical care in the country is available within 20 minutes. Hereford, Texas, is about 30 minutes in a different direction. It is the center of one of the highest concentrations of beef cattle in the world. It is the destination of many of the aforementioned Canyon residents when it's time to go to work.

I chose to live in Canyon for a combination of the above. But, most importantly, I chose it for the people and the strong sense of community. The people in Canyon seem to care for each other. They are not afraid of hard work. They instill positive moral values in their children. I wanted that for my children. I also wanted them in church. The churches in Canyon are strong and growing. There are many great programs for the youth in the community. Canyon is a town in which achievement is encouraged and positive behavior is expected. It is a great place to raise a family.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Stock Market Wisdom

Making sense of the stock market
Is a challenge to most of us.
It seems the boys on Wall Street
Are constantly stirring up a fuss
Whenever they want to see a stock move.
The sad thing is we are all looking for a win
So we put our money down
Although our chance is thin.
And we listen to the mavens
From the big stock brokerage firms
Tell us where to put our dollars
That we've worked so hard to earn.
Just like a flock of sheep
We go rushing where they say
Hoping we will make a killing
On the stock market today.
But Wall Street just keeps laughing
As we put our savings down
'Cause they went short as we went long
And the profit went to town.
I wish I'd listened to the rancher
Whose wisdom now makes sense;
Keep your money in the bank
And your stock behind a fence.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


After I've had some time to accumulate a few more posts on this blog, you'll likely begin to see a recurring theme. You will see ties to agriculture -- particularly cattle. For years I've made my living in various capacities associated with the livestock industry. It's probably because as a child, my dream was to grow up to be a cowboy. Isn't that surprising. I think most boys growing up in cattle country go through that phase at one time or another.

Although I grew up in town, I spent most weekends and summers on my granddad's farm or, as I got older, working for one of the farmers in the area. My love was always to be working with the cattle. I guess I was never a very good tractor driver. I had a strong tendency to drift off from the monotony and plow up a little cotton or corn here and there. Maybe that's why I usually got sent to the layout ground with a tandem disk!

When I headed to college, it was with the idea of becoming an engineer. It took me about two weeks to decide that was the wrong place for me. I switched to agricultural economics my second semester and found something that I could enjoy. In everything that I've worked at for the last ?? years, I've been at least somewhat connected to agriculture. Since the early 90's, I've been in businesses that served the livestock industry.

Some lucky people get to live out their dreams. For others, dreams evolve through the years into something different. I think God plants dreams in our hearts for a purpose. He wants us to wake up in the morning with something that pulls us forward to face the challenges. He plants new things and new people in our lives at just the time we need them. Sometimes it takes those new people and things to revive our dreams -- to remind us that we should keep pushing forward toward what He has planted in us. That doesn't mean we'll become the next "Nashville Star", but it might mean that we can use those talents and abilities in ways and places that we never even knew existed when those dreams were planted. It's likely they'll be even better than what we envisioned.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Global Warming

Bundled from head to toe
He climbs into his truck.
The wintry blast has brought more snow
But the cattle must be fed.
It's been a tough winter
For the ranchers on the Plains.
The drifts are deep and just won't melt
Until the coming of spring rains.
He takes an axe to break the ice
Then climbs back in his truck
And sticks his hands up to the heater
To try and warm them up.
Then backing up his bale fork
To the lined-up rolls of hay
He thanks his Maker for the blessings
Of the nice warm summer days.
The cows are needing cake
'Cause calving will come soon.
Let's hope they don't start coming
For at least another moon.
As he's plowing 'cross the prairie
In his worn-out pickup truck
He thinks about his calling
And the life he might have chose.
But then he really didn't want to live
His life in some city or a town
Where folks are just confused
About the big issues in life
Like what it is that makes a family
And the value of a child,
The things that are worth fighting for
Like freedom and security,
How education starts at home --
Which takes us back to family.
And he just can't understand
Why there's all the crazy hype
About this thing called global warming
When he'd just like to get warm!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Hillbilly Willy

You may have noticed that I included a link to Hillbilly Willy's blog over on the right-hand side of the page. It's because Hillbilly Willy is a transplanted Panhandle native. It's amazing where life can lead a person sometimes. Old Willy has been in the same ag related service business just about since he graduated from Texas A&M (quite some time ago). He worked around the Panhandle for awhile after graduating and then spent some time on the Colorado River before ending up in Arkansas. It's a far cry from West Texas to Arkansas. I did get to stop and visit him the other day. I was traveling to Nashville for a convention and his place made a great stopping spot. In fact, just as you could read on his blog, he was the one that got me interested in this blogging. You know, Arkansas is a pretty nice looking place to visit. All the trees and water and hills made me a little claustrophobic though. In the Panhandle you can hunt all day just to find a tree that wasn't planted by somebody! Now, we do have a few lakes, but it's a pretty good hike between them. Don't think that I'm complaining though. What we lack in scenery, we make up for in people. We've got some of the friendliest people in the country. And Hillbilly Willy was one of 'em until he moved to Arkansas. You know, he talks kind of funny in his blog. It makes me wonder if Arkansas is rubbing off on him a bit too much!

Thursday, February 8, 2007


In my job I do a lot of traveling. Most of the places that I go to are located in the Plains region of this beautiful country. A lot of folks at home comment to me that it must be great getting to travel all of the time, eat out, and see different places. I know that it sounds glamorous, but it gets old quickly. In my earlier years, a lot of my traveling was by airplane. It seems anymore that most of the places I need to get to are quicker by car than by air. When flying, I usually leave from Rick Husband International Airport in Amarillo. But, if for instance I need to travel to Garden City, Kansas, I have to fly Amarillo to Dallas to Denver and then to Garden City. That turns into a full day of travel. Although Garden City is two states away from me, I can drive there in about four hours. Same problem if I'm flying to North Platte, Nebraska. It's about an eight hour drive, or an eight hour flight. Besides, if I drive, I can see the country, make stops when I feel like it, and have the flexibility to make side trips when the mood strikes. I think I've eaten in about every little Mom and Pop Diner in half-a-dozen states. I like the local dives because the food is usually better. But, back to my original thought. After awhile, all of the motel rooms and all of the eating joints begin to look alike. The most difficult part though, is being away from my family. It's hard on everyone when a job requires a lot of travel. Over the coming weeks, I will attempt to add some perspective to this way of life for you. Perhaps some of you might glean a little wisdom here and there. It will be nice to hear your insight.

My First Post

The intimidation of a blank page
Often leaves a writer stumped.
This bloggin' thing is new to me
And I guess I'm pretty pumped!
The words just seem to jump right out;
I know they make no sense.
My purpose with this little rhyme
Is just to get off the fence!