Friday, August 31, 2018

Winged and Dangerous

Summer is a time of year
With many creatures, small and dear,
That disappear when winter's chills abound.

Among them is a tiny thing
Which can seem vicious, oh, so mean,
Near any pool of moisture on the ground.

It has a long and narrow probe
For piercing skin where're it goes
To drink from living rivers there beneath.

And when I can, I swat the thing
Which leaves a splash of red on me
And often words, unkind, escape my teeth.

For though she's small and merely seeks
Something there which she might eat
I begrudge her every single liquid bite.

So, if I see her land on me
I swat her, quick, 'fore she should flee
And watch for all her friends that try to light.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Hawk

From his perch upon a post
The silent watcher spies
Movement in the sheltering grass
Wherein a creature lies

In wait for chance to find a seed
To make a scanty meal
Or, loosened stems with which to wind
Her nest where she would seal

The pink and hairless squirming babes
Who wait her quiet return
That they might suckle at her breast
'til large enough to learn

Their way out in the larger world
That waits just on the verge
Beyond the tangle where they live
Where they will soon emerge.

But, then a silent plunge begins
With speed beyond belief
Into the grass with talons spread
That leaves the babes in grief

For mother who will ne'er return
To the soon silent nest.
Her life once lived so furtively
Now lies ever in rest.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Kitchen Chemistry

As I sit within my chair
I suddenly become aware
Of a scent wafting gently
Across my senses
That causes me to rise
And go in search of
Something that I know

Is in the making
Just one room away
Where I have heard
The quiet sounds
Of bowls and spoons
And oven door for cooking
Something even though

My favorite part is still within
The bowl of eggs and sugar,
Flour and several
Other things like
Chocolate chips and I
Reach in to grab a taste
Of dough....

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My Desk

It seems I have a messy desk.
I must admit it's so,
But, everything that rests on it
Is in a place I know.

It is a desk quite large you see
And there is lots of space
That would likely go to waste
Without these things in place.

For otherwise I'd have to dust,
Not something that I do
Too willingly it seems,
At least as I've been told, so

I use it to keep organized
The projects that I'm on
With one stack here, another there,
Another over yon

Beside the pottery shards
Picked up out on our place
Beneath the shelf that holds the statue
With the Incan face.

And by the cup that holds the pens
There is a stack of cards
But, that is just the least of them
For I have them in yards

Stuffed in a drawer. From ages past,
They're likely worthless now
But, there's surely a good reason
I hang onto them somehow.

And there are several yellow pads
Each one with different things
Written on the pages there
And to them often clings

A sticky note that I have placed
To mark a certain spot
Or, maybe just to emphasize
Some written, special thought.

And up above, on the top shelf,
Mementos of the past
Or, pictures that the grandkids drew,
The things I want to last.

And of course, there on the floor
Rests a box or two
Or, three or, four or maybe more
That lean somewhat askew.

But, I know what is in each place
And filed within my mind
Is a virtual map of things
I could find even if blind

And if you try to clean my desk
By moving things around
I would be quite upset with you
For things that would ne'er be found.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Rhymes and Times

Some of you may wonder when/where I started writing poetry.  Well, I call it poetry although some of it is pretty lame.  Most of it would be considered doggerel rather than serious poetry.  I suppose it began in college  back in the 70's when I wrote a few songs.  I never did much with the songs, although I did copyright a few of them.  I would have to dig pretty hard to find them.

The next attempt at poetry would have been in the 80's when I took a "Cowboy Poetry" class from Cindy Buchanan who supposedly was a descendant of Cynthia Ann Parker -- the mother of Quanah Parker.  It was in Olton and there were probably a dozen of us that attended.  She did a later class in Lubbock which I also attended.  I met some interesting people in those classes.

After that, I wrote a few poems here and there that might be considered cowboy poetry.  I say, "might be" because I never really was a cowboy, so they more accurately would be considered poems written about the cowboy/ranching lifestyle by a non-cowboy.  They were infrequent and often written in odd circumstances such as while helping with a hamburger cookout for a feedyard crew.  I recall hearing a funny story from one of the cowboys and then creating a poem about it on a napkin.  Some years later I was in the feedyard and the poem had been framed and was hanging on the wall in the office.

It wasn't until I started this blog that I began to write poetry fairly consistently.  I probably prefer prose, but the challenge of writing in rhymes appeals to me.  It requires frequently rearranging thoughts and lines to be able to couple words that rhyme.  It also has a rhythmic quality that is similar to writing music.

If you were to go back through the fairly lengthy history (started in February, 2007) of this blog you will find that I go through periods of poetry and periods of prose.  There is also a two-year gap when I put nothing into the blog.  That doesn't mean I wasn't writing, I just wasn't doing so regularly or, for putting on this particular venue.

It is also interesting to note the things that are popular with readers (Saturday's post about growing up in a small town is one of them).  I don't necessarily write this for others, but mostly for myself.  It is a way to record my thoughts and to leave something for my family if they should be curious.  I don't know that my words will tell them much, but perhaps there will be a few clues sprinkled here and there about who I am/was.

I wish I had such from my parents, grandparents, and the generations before them.  It would interest me greatly.  Anyway, that's my thoughts this morning....

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Growing Up in a Small Town

Shotgun streets laid in a grid,
Out of doors was where you lived.
Playing football in the yard,
Riding bikes and falling hard.
Tempers flared, some fights broke out,
Quickly over with a shout
From someone's Mom you didn't think
Could see out the window at the kitchen sink.
Skins and scrapes and ripped blue jeans
Were common part of summer scenes
But, growing up was mostly fun
Playing in the summer sun.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Thinking, Planning and Praying

I've found that when I start each day
With coffee cup in hand
If I will spend some thinking time
With thoughts of this day planned
Prioritizing tasks that move
Me toward some higher goal
That waits ahead yet, still undone,
The time is well spent
Because it helps to focus me
On things important and required
For success in my tasks.

Then, as I think through daily plans
I call on God above
To guide me through the list of chores
Which I have set,
Though asking that He redirect
My path if it has strayed
From that which He desires of me
And that He guide my thoughts
As the list is made
With gaps for opportunity
To which I might respond as He asks.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Short vs. Tall Grass

I grew up in a country where the grass was short and strong;
The cows there liked to eat it and it kept them all year long.

Where I live today the grass is usually mighty tall;
It loses all its strength when summer turns to Fall.

And even in the best of times it isn't worth a lot
Although it grows quite well when summer days are long and hot.

The problem is it grows so tall because it's full of water
And it takes a mighty lot of it to feed the bovine daughter.

It's said that you can always take a cow from east to west
But, taking them the other way has never worked the best.

The cows back east have larger guts to handle this lush treat
It gives them the capacity to eat and eat and eat.

But, if you ship a cow from west to places way back east
They just can't seem to eat enough to get enough to eat.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Meteor

Flitting there across my sight
A flash lit up the starry night,
An omen, some would say in days of old.

As I watched there in wonder
My thoughts began to ponder
How it had traveled 'cross the spaces cold

To die in flash of streaking light
And bring to gazing eyes delight
With wishes breathed by those who were below.

This ancient wonder in the sky
Snuffed out before my very eye
From distant places I will never know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Taking Out the Trash

This is a poem about something done
A couple of times each week.
It's a chore that comes to everyone,
The high, the low, the meek.

It surely holds some higher truth,
This regular routine
Of taking refuse from the house
That helps to keep it clean.

We're geared up for consumption --
What we wear and what we eat --
And when we're done with using it
We toss it, nice and neat.

It happens with the things we eat,
And all the things we use;
We take just what we need from it,
The rest of it we lose.

So, as you're taking out the trash
Just think, in days of yore
There was no modern plumbing
But, a pot behind the door....

(Some of you may have to Google "chamber pot" to understand this post.)

Monday, August 20, 2018

Around and Around

Long summers past and after school
There was a never ending rule
That I must have a way some funds to earn.

I "chopped" some cotton, stacked some hay
And lots of other things for pay
And even useful skills were there to learn.

But, one I hated way back when
Is even now like it was then,
That's driving a tractor around and around the field.

It was a thing I grew to hate
From early dawn to evening, late
It never to my drifting thoughts appealed.

I just got bored and had a lack
Of staying on the narrow track
Defined by rows laid out so carefully.

My mind would drift 'long other ways,
A tangled and unending maze,
And my mistakes were there for all to see.

So mostly I was sent to plow
The fallow ground as needs allow
In endless circles cutting weeds right down.

And if by chance my mind would drift
The next time 'round my track would shift
To fix mistakes before they caused a frown.

Those years thought long since in the past
Came back just like a sudden blast
Today as I commenced to cut some weeds.

I hooked the shredder on three points
And greased up all the moving joints
Then filled the diesel tank to meet its needs.

The goat weeds and the nettles grew
In many places old and new
Where pasture grasses were what I should see.

And there I started around and around
As they succumbed to the chopping sound
And my mind drifted to this memory.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sorting Time

Not too far off there'll come a day
When there will be life's bill to pay
And some will find that theirs is overdue.

The measure might be what we did
Or, even all the things we hid
And maybe if our word was false or, true.

But, my belief is that's not right
For when I read the Word of Light
It's simpler than the works of our own hand.

The price was paid for one and all
If they but answer to the call
And with their life to boldly take a stand

For the One whose Word is true
Who came to earth for me and you
To bring us life with Him eternally.

Yes, we must answer for our life;
Was it of peace, or one of strife,
and lived of love for Him for all to see?

Our selfish hearts must e'er be turned,
For heaven isn't to be earned,
Our life should point to the One above.

How we live should show the light
To all who dwell beneath His sight
And what we do should always be for love.

We must ourselves deny each day
For Jesus is the only way
That we will ever win the race.

And when we stand before His throne
We know we will not stand alone
When we meet our Savior face to face.

Matthew 13:47-48
John 14:6

Saturday, August 18, 2018


Another Saturday has come around
Bringing its list of chores;
Most of them it seems today
Must be done out of doors.

At 6:00 a.m. it's 85
And drips humidity.
Oh, how I dread to go outside
'Cause it's so hard on me.

I'll sweat and sweat and sweat some more
'til I am wringing wet
And as I walk I'll leave a trail
From all the dripping sweat.

I grew up on the dusty Plains
As dry as it could be
And even when 'twas scorching hot
A breeze was cooling me.

I think I never will get used
To all the moisture in the air
Which just won't seem to fall to ground
That's dry and parched and bare.

How can we be in such a drought
With high humidity?
That water should be doing good
And not afflicting me!

Friday, August 17, 2018


Just like a walk along the beach
The tracks we leave today
Are only there a little while
Before they're washed away.

The legacy that we create
Is not the things we do
It's values that we pass along
To generations new.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Prairie Ghost

Standing on the ghostly Plains
He watched as I drove by --
A remnant from the recent past
As through the grass did sigh

A voice, mournful, quiet, true
Of plaintive chanted prayers
For bloodied spears and meat to eat
And on my head the hairs

Did stand on end as chills swept
O'er my senses there
Of something present in this land
Long passed to ne'er

Return upon the hunt
With rush upon the fleeing herd
Their lances held on high
While overhead the bird

Of death circled on the breeze
Awaiting chance to pick the bones
Of those whose path was slow
And destined for the stones

To join them in the sod
So recently trampled under hoof
Where to this day
A sentinel aloof

Stands there upon the hill,
A silent Prairie Ghost,
A solitary remnant
Of a vast thundering host.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hunting Arrowheads

Out the back door,
Out through the lot,
I'd head for the pasture
At a slow trot.

Visions of redskins
Danced in my head
As out to the draw
My footsteps had led.

I knew where to hunt;
I'd been there before.
I had one in my pocket
And was looking for more.

That's all I could think
And fast as a wink
I found one!

I rubbed off the dirt
And then with some spit
I polished it up
And my eyes were all lit

With the sight of this treasure,
This thing I had found,
Just laying right there
On the dry dusty ground.

My mind's eye then saw him
Right there on his horse;
The warrior that lost it
On that water course

So many long years ago.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Remote Office

The technology we wear on our wrist or carry in our pocket these days is amazing -- especially to us old gray heads that remember rotary dial phones and the first Texas Instruments calculators.  There really is no need for a "brick and mortar" office unless you have some type of business that requires machinery or stock of some sort.

I can accept a phone call from anywhere in the world, put it on speaker and then switch to e-mail to look at a document while still talking.  If by chance I am interrupted by a text from someone else I can respond to that text while continuing with my conversation.  If we then decide someone else needs to be involved in the conversation it is easy enough to add an additional caller with the touch of a few "buttons" on the screen.  A friend of mine even has his phone connected by Bluetooth to his hearing aid.  I'm not there yet.

I have been known to participate in conference calls while sitting in an ATV at the farthest end of the pasture.  No one knows whether I am at my desk or traveling down the road unless I tell them.

I wonder what the next technological innovation will be?  I foresee a computer built into my glasses that is manipulated by voice and optical movement -- oh, wait, I think they already have that but, it's too expensive for the average user.  Maybe the next innovation will project the images into my brain through some type of neurological interface.  I will be able to manipulate the functionality by thoughts alone.  I don't think I'm ready for that one yet....

Whatever is next, I'm sure it will become just the routine way of doing things after a short while.  The kids today don't even know what a rotary phone is!

Monday, August 13, 2018

It's Monday!

Today I get to go to work!
It's great to be employed
Where I can make a difference
In somebody else's life.

It's true I must admit to you
I used to be annoyed
When Monday rolled around again
To another week of strife.

But, something happened on the way
To what I'm doing now;
I learned that it's my attitude
About the things I do

That determines how I feel
When Monday rolls around and how
I now tackle each new week
As opportunity, fresh and new.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Reason to Write

I have been asked by some why it is that I write this blog.  Blog -- now that's a strange word.  For those who don't know it is a shortened form of Web Log.  It is a method of journaling designed for cooperation between researchers who might be at a great distance from each other.  Anyway, back to the subject of this paragraph -- why I write this blog.  It is actually quite simple; it is to discipline myself to write every day.

There are many who have found ways to monetize their blog.  If the site generates sufficient traffic, or "hits," it can be lucrative to advertisers to have their ads placed on the blog in hopes that someone will click on them.  Advertisers pay for the placement of those ads.  This happens on political blogs and book, movie or, product review blogs.  At one time, in fact as one of the reasons I started the blog many years ago, I thought to do the same.  My  reasons have evolved though and that is no longer my purpose.

Perhaps a better question to ask is why do I like to write?  That really is the heart of the issue.  Most people don't seem to write much unless for business purposes.  For me, it is therapeutic.  It also helps me to organize my thoughts in a way that I can "test" them.  What I mean is that it forces me to evaluate the logic of an argument in such a way that it either enforces or disproves (at least based on my current level of knowledge) any theory I might have about controversial topics.

Hmmm....I have been trying to avoid most controversial topics since restarting this blog other than a few political observations at the beginning.  I suppose that is because I find little value in attempting to inject reason into the realm of politics since it is a field which seems to be completely devoid of reason.

Ultimately, I must confess (mainly to myself), I aspire someday to write a book.  I have started many and finished none.  That probably says something of my character, however, I will blame it on busy-ness rather than on lack of ability to stick with a project.  It seems that every time I embark on a work requiring extended focus I seem to get busy with work.  It is in the slow times that my mind returns to writing.

Writing, like any other skill, requires practice.  This blog is about practice.  It gives me a reason (artificial construct though it is) to write something each and every day.  Hopefully there will occasionally be an "accidental" gem produced that someone will find who is in need of that particular reflection of my experiences and thoughts.  I suppose in that sense, the blog's purpose is two-fold -- practice and a desire to share something of value.  Value is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.  It has often been said that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

As you may have guessed if you have read to this point, today is a day in which I struggled to find something about which to write.  So, I have written of writing.  If you are a writer, you are familiar with the struggle.  For the rest of you, pray for rain; we are in the midst of a drought here.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Surviving the Storms

There is an interesting tree growing down in the woods on our place -- well, there are many interesting trees, but this one is uniquely twisted and gnarled.  It isn't a large tree, but it has obviously had a few challenges to overcome during its life.  I would love to know its story.

It is near an old cattle trail that winds through the woods.  I suspect it was stepped on by a cow and broken when it was only a young shoot rising through the leaf litter and other debris on the ground.  
It may even have been broken multiple times by the look of it as it twists and turns on a tortuous path before rising toward the scant sunlight breaking through the larger trees which overhang the trail.

It is a Bois d'Arc tree.  Bois d'Arc, also known as Osage Orange, or Post Trees are fairly common in our area and known for their hardiness.  Early construction laws required that homes be built on a pier and beam foundation which used Bois d'Arc for the piers since they are extremely resistant to insect damage.

I have pulled old Bois d'Arc fence posts from the ground that were likely put in over 50 years previously.  They show surface damage from tunneling beetles and other insects, but if you cut them in cross-section, the inside is still a bright yellow and completely undamaged other than a gray ring around the outside surface that might penetrate 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

The trees themselves, while green and growing, have a strong springy quality that is said to have inspired the name which I understand comes from early French explorers who noted its quality for making hunting bows.  Many of the Plains tribes used the wood for that very purpose.  It is extremely durable.

The Bois d'Arc is a thorny tree.  The short, thin spines seem to reach out and grab you if you are close to the trees.  They also bear large green fruit which fall to the ground and are eaten by a few animals.  I have seen cows chew on them for extended periods and froth at the mouth from the process.  Hogs, squirrels and other small animals will eat them although they don't seem to be a preferred food of any species.

The Bois d'Arc is a survivor.  I have cut them down frequently only to see them grow back quickly.  They are survivors.  They aren't usually aesthetically pleasing, but they endure.

I suppose I see a certain beauty in them though.  I admire their tenacity, if you could ascribe such a trait to a tree.  They are tough, they are prickly and they endure.  I know a few people like that.  Sometimes I think that's the best kind of person to be -- one who endures the pain and troubles and manages to survive.  They carry lots of scars, but oh, the stories they could tell....

Friday, August 10, 2018

Mabel the Guard Donkey

A few years back we adopted a jenny from the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro adoption program.  We called her Mabel.  She had been a resident of a BLM facility in Oklahoma prior to coming our way.

We adopted her because we had been having trouble with coyotes and black vultures harassing new born calves and their mothers.  We had lost a few calves and decided a "guard donkey" was probably the best solution.

We considered purchasing a donkey locally, but thought one that had been born in the wild would have stronger protective instincts than one that was raised in a purely domesticated situation.  Sure enough, Mabel was true to her heritage and was a protective mother to our baby calves even though they weren't her own offspring.

I spent some time with Mabel breaking her to a halter and to lead.  She never completely adjusted to human guidance, but did become less intractable with time.

We needed Mabel because cattle today have had most of their survival instincts bred out of them.  They are used to man caring for them rather than having to cope with a far-from-benevolent natural world which would quickly take their life in the never ending struggle for survival.  We have civilized them -- bred the "fitness" from them.

I think sometimes that is one of the biggest problems with civilized humanity today....

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Hollow Log

Walking through the woods the other day I came across a large hollow log balanced on the bank of a creek.  It was almost 3 feet in diameter and much of it had been broken.  It stretched 12 feet long or longer from end to end.

It appeared to be the remains of a white oak, although it was difficult to tell.  White oak are common in the area and one of the few trees that grow tall and straight to such a large size.  The creek on which this fallen giant lay is a feeder to what is known as "White Oak Bottom" which is the tree and brush-choked course of White Oak Creek winding eastward a short distance to the south.

To be that size, the tree was likely over 50 years old.  It had withstood wind, flood and drought, but it was unable to withstand the constant attack of the insects which are probably what felled it.  Most likely it had lain for many years somewhere along the course of the creek until decay left only a shell which became light enough to float along the frequently flooded waterway to the point where it lodged along the bank.

I'm sure that while it lived it provided shelter for birds and squirrels and food in the form of acorns for the same as well as for deer, feral hogs and other wildlife which break open the hard shells for the nutritious meat of the nut.  It now provided shelter of a different sort for some of the smaller denizens of the neighborhood.

It was large enough that I could almost squeeze into its hollow core although the thought wasn't especially appealing due to the numerous insects and spiders which lived there.  It brought to mind, though, the many times I have read or, saw in a movie, where someone hid inside a hollowed log.  It certainly seemed possible except for the fact it was open at either end and any occupant was readily visible.

Many things crossed my mind as I looked into what once held the heart of this mighty tree.  I thought of the corruption that eats from the inside and I thought of the shell which was once a mighty sentinel.  It made me think of aging and dying and of bones that molder into the earth to provide sustenance for the creatures of the soil.  Birth, life and death are but a momentary flash within the passage of time.  It was a reminder to make certain that brief span is lived with purpose.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Tracks We Leave Behind

Although we sometimes think we're small
And no one knows our name
We leave our tracks upon the earth
That show the way we came.

Life is short, our days are few
But, think of where you go
For there are those who walk behind
That you may never know

Who seek to follow in your steps
Wherever they may trod.
So, make your pathway straight and true
Led by the Hand of God.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reality Check

Nothing is real until it is experienced and even then we have our doubts.

Experiential knowledge surpasses "book" knowledge.  Once we have done something -- seen something -- then knowledge moves from head to heart.

Sometimes, from the same, or similar experience, we learn different truths.  Sometimes what we thought we learned was incorrect and must be re-learned.  From repeated mistakes comes a different view of reality.

We are weak and fallible creatures who are faultless until experiential wisdom proves otherwise.

Never accept what you think you know as truth.  All things in this life are tainted by corruption from "the fall." -- Genesis Chapter 3

I've no idea why my thoughts have taken this direction this morning.  Perhaps it is because today is an anniversary.  It is a signpost along the pathway of aging, of maturity, of the passage of time.  It is a day to remember overcoming shortcomings and struggles and remembering joys and victories.  It is a realization that there is an end ahead which marks the termination of the temporal and a heightened awareness of the eternal.  It will be an awakening of true knowledge.-- 1 Corinthians Chapter 15

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Endless Repetition

Have you noticed how life is often a series of endless repetition?  The daily routine of getting out of bed, getting dressed, eating, going to work, etc. is an endless repetition of sameness.  Oh, we try to vary the routine somewhat by eating different foods, wearing different clothes, etc., but all-in-all, it is the same thing over and over again.

Mowing the yard is another one of those tasks as is feeding the cattle, feeding the dogs, filling the pickup and car with fuel and on and on.  Why is life so repetitive?

Repetition occurs on a much larger scale than just our daily routines.  The moon goes repetitively around the earth, the earth around the sun and the galaxy itself spirals in endless motion.  The seasons repeat, the weather repeats, long-term climate cycles repeat.  The entirety of the universe is cyclical in nature with repetition built into everything.

It is no wonder that some religions believe in a life/death cycle in which the dead come back as someone, or something else.  Everything is cyclical so why not an eternal existence as various beings?  I don't buy it, but some do.

The same type of thinking leads to a theory of balance -- that it is a "zero sum" game.  For every good there is a corresponding evil.  I don't subscribe to that theory either.  I see good and evil as antagonistic, not balancing complementary states.  Ultimately, I believe good will overcome and in fact, I believe it has already occurred through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, but from a temporal perspective, the fulfillment is not observable yet.

Some day we all will see that there is more to life than endless repetition.  The first step is to recognize the salvation from this life that rests in Jesus alone.  -- John 14:6

Saturday, August 4, 2018

A Week of Sales Calls

Some days it is difficult to know what to write.  Perhaps, some days, I should write nothing, however, when I restarted this blog a month ago, I committed to myself to write something every day if possible.  I think I have missed one.

This past week was one of travel for business.  I was making sales calls.  Such weeks tire me, yet there is much that needs done here and I struggle with thoughts that I need to be out "ticking things off my list" when what I am doing is sitting at the computer and wishing for a nap although it is only 8:15 in the morning.

It is good to be back home.  I don't sleep well when traveling.  Even though motels look much the same wherever they might be -- whether of the same chain or different -- there is variety in the comfort of the bed and in the most important of all things, the thermostat in the room.  It seems I can never get the thermostat set to a level that is consistently comfortable.

Typically when I travel for business I have at least one or two set appointments.  I also like to do some "cold calling" on such trips if time allows.  It is difficult to coordinate schedules so that I can have back-to-back-to-back scheduled meetings without slack time, so I fill that slack by "dropping in" on potential customers.  I did a lot of that this week.

Many people in sales dread making cold calls.  I think they are my favorite type of call.  It is always interesting to see how you will be received and whether or not you will actually have the opportunity to present your pitch to someone with the power to make a decision.  I always assume on a cold call that it is merely exploratory to see if there is interest which might lead to further calls and ultimately a sale.  Rarely in the type of services that I represent do you make a sale on the first call.

One call this week will go in my "Effective Techniques in Sales" book which will likely never be written.  I dropped by a potential customer and asked for the manager by name.  He was not in his office, but was out dealing with something.  His assistant, however, called him on the phone and let him know that I was there and would like to visit with him.  He said yes, and that he would be back to the office in a few minutes.

I waited patiently for about 5 minutes for him to come in.  When he did, I reintroduced myself to him since it had been many years since I had previously met him and he didn't really remember me.  He said, "You've got 2 minutes," and proceeded to take me into his office where he offered me a seat.  Usually the "you've got 2 minutes" doesn't go with an offer to take a seat.

I gave him my 20 second "elevator speech" and said, "That's it.  Now, what are we going to talk about for the next minute and a half?"  He looked at me and kind of chuckled and said, "Hmmm.....I'm interested, tell me more."

That is always what a salesperson wants to hear -- the prospect asking for more information.  Forty-five minutes later I left with the promise to follow up in the near future.

Will it lead to a sale?  I don't know, but it is the kind of call that makes what I do gratifying.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Josiah Gregg

Yesterday, while heading back to Amarillo from Garden City, Kansas, I decided to take a route that I normally avoid for various reasons.  It was partly because I was a little off the beaten path after making a few sales calls on prospective customers and partly because I hadn't been that way in many years.

I came across a historical marker that I had never stopped to read (on Texas 136 northwest of Amarillo).  It was about Josiah Gregg and the Fort Smith to Santa Fe Trail.  It seems that in 1840, Josiah Gregg, one of the most famous Santa Fe Traders, explored a new route from Santa Fe to Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Instead of the well-traveled trail which followed the Arkansas River, he set off across the plains following the south bank of the Canadian River across the Texas Panhandle.

Gregg wrote a detailed account of the terrain and water sources which became invaluable to the U.S. Cavalry in the later wars against the Indians of the Southern Plains.

A brief history of Gregg can be found at the following link:

Josiah Gregg

A great resource for those interested, is the Atlas of Texas Historical Markers.  Whenever I have the time I enjoy stopping to read the markers.  There is a lot of interesting history scattered along the wayside of the roads and highways of the Great Lone Star State.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Deeper Conversations

A part of my job is sales.  It isn't what most people think of as sales, because it requires that a relationship be developed that includes a high level of trust.  I have no desire to merely sell a product to someone, I want to make my customer's life easier and I can only do that if I can deliver value to them.

Over time, what began as a business relationship can develop into friendship.  We often claim friendship with others with whom we enjoy spending time, but frequently it is a fairly shallow type of friendship.  It is rare that you can truly relate to someone on a level which allows you to talk of important things such as faith and struggles.

I had the good fortune today to spend time with someone I consider a friend.  We met this afternoon in a business setting, but were able to spend some time together this evening talking about family, faith and some of the struggles we deal with -- much of it work related, but some of which was not.  I value such times.  They are a reminder that there is more to life than work and things.

Life is better when we take the time to build relationships that allow for deeper conversations.

1 John 4:11
Prov. 27:17

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Neglected Hobby

About four years ago I decided to try a new hobby -- watercolor painting.  Above is a sample of what I painted.  This one is probably my favorite.  I drew it from a historic photograph I found on the Internet.

It is a bit caricaturish -- I'm sure that isn't a word, but it describes it anyway.  The most difficult part was drawing the picture.  Mixing colors with watercolor seemed fairly simple to me except for the fact that I usually didn't get quite enough mixed up of the color that I wanted and then had to attempt to recreate it.  Sometimes the match was fairly good and sometimes not.

To me, watercolor seems more forgiving than many other paints.  That may just be my naivete talking.  I drew a little when much younger, but never attempted painting.  In spite of the amateurish look, I suppose I was proud of it.

It is easy to become discouraged when attempting something new like this at such a late stage in life -- especially when the vision in my head doesn't quite make it onto paper in the same way it is in my head.  I need to find time to work at it some more.  It just takes me awhile to get in the right frame of mind to be creative.  Maybe the next attempts will be a little better....