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South by Southwest vs. West by Northwest

41_19_76_web[1]It was just a spur of the moment trip.  I really had not planned to go anywhere last Friday, but there I was, driving west and headed to an old familiar place.  I’d taken this road many times—back and forth to my dad’s place over the last 30 years.  The road felt like an old friend.  I knew where each turn was, where the speed traps were, and how far it was to the next bathroom.  I knew where you had to stop and fill up with gas because THAT gas station was always the cheapest.  And I would stop there again–just because.  I knew I could make the trip in less than 4 hours.

You start off heading west on Interstate 20th[10] as if you were going to California—because, if you don’t stop for several days, that’s where you’ll be—or at least El Paso for an overnight stop!  In El Paso, you can catch Interstate 10 600px-I-10.svg[1]and then scoot across the edge of New Mexico around Las Cruces and Lordsburg.  From there it’s just hours on to Tucson.  That’s where your compass might become confused because you come to a crossroads.

Crossroads can sometimes be confusing if you don’t have a clear idea of what your final destination is.  But I didn’t need a map today…I knew the road and my destination.

From Tucson, you can continue to California by taking a hard northwest on to Phoenix and then set your sites on The Los Angeles area.  Of course, don’t get me wrong…that’s more than the 4 hour trip that I’m making to west Texas…but if the music on the CD is right and the gasoline card and credit card have enough available balance, I just might keep on those west-bound roads and be sipping a cool drink on the pier in Santa Monica. Tempting!cocktails-and-lemon-slices[1]

But I’ve overshot my daydreaming just a bit.  I’ve just arrived near the small town of Cisco TX so this is one place I have to make a decision.  Do I make that south turn and go on to my dad’s place—or do I set out on a 5-day trip that takes me all the way to California.

I know deep down he would think the trip west was a good idea.  He traveled all of those roads for many years and told great stories of traveling across the US during the depression and WWII years working when they could.

I would love nothing more than to sit with him again and hear all those great stories.  But a few years ago, his life, well-lived, came to a close.  I’ve gone back only a couple of times since then…and maybe that’s enough…to see if everything is still the same in the town’s rock-road cemetery.  What do I expect will change about it?  I don’t know, but it feels as if I ought to watch over his place like he always watched over me.

MY DADDY…

…could do anything—and I mean ANYTHING!  A carpenter by trade, that didn’t stop him from fixing my dainty jewelry, helping with homework, building a house for us, or making sure that we had enough to survive.

Seems it didn’t take as much in those days to get through—something about our greedy desires have increased since the 50s & 60s.  What we didn’t know about, we didn’t need. 

I have just picked up a hamburger and cherry coke and I’ve made the south turn onto State highway 183th[6] that will take me on to Brownwood, then a connect with US 377 on to Brady, TX.

Brady - Heart of TXA town of about 5,500 located in the geographic heart of Texas, Brady had been a place I had looked forward to visiting every summer when I was a little girl.  My mother and dad would go for a visit to my Mama’s & Papa’s house there, and I’d get to stay for a couple of weeks.

That was just great—especially when I was the last of the cousins (and the youngest of a dozen) to still think it was cool to be gone for a couple of weeks in the summertime staying with some old people.  My Papa grew vegetables and they had chickens.  I didn’t like that at all so I’d just stand at the wire and watch my Mama feed the chickens from the pockets of her always-present apron.

My Papa would pick and dig up vegetables and put them on the big picnic table under the tree to ripen.  I could already imagine those juicy tomatoes, that warm yellow watermelon, and those snap peas cooked in a big pot with potatoes!

Yes, my grandparents were old, but I didn’t mind because I was alone with them and my thoughts.  They had lessons to teach if I would just listen.

The town hasn’t changed too much from those days.  The roads are still made of shale rock and unpaved in most of the town.  Many of the old houses still look like they did when we would drive slowly (because everything in that town was/is slow) to the town square.

Brady Courthouse (2)The square, built around an old county courthouse constructed in 1878, never changed.  There were maybe 40 stores around that square.  As I drive in today, some are still closed up and some have transitioned from a theater to a hardware store, to a boutique, to a coffee shop, to another empty store in a dying commerce of downtown shops.

My destination is just a little off the square northwest on Highway 87  There, in the constantly blowing wind of west Texas, is the old cemetery.  My dad’s place is looking sleek and clean—because nothing can stay long under that incessant wind.  I tell him how much I love him, think to myself of how hard he worked, how much he liked Country Music & TV, how much he loved me from the time I could remember to those recent few years ago.  Many times he rode his white horse (really a brown Ford pickup truck) to save me from a bad decision I had made or a situation that surprisingly turned bad.

YellowRoses[1]I put some yellow roses in the vase near his name with birth and death dates.  Then I blow him a kiss and let the wind clear my eyes.  The skies look clear out here because the wind just blows the clouds out of those west Texas skies.  I look up and I feel the power of God in that wind and I know my daddy is resting in His arms.

I’ll get another cherry coke and start that ride back.  It’s less than 4 hours.  When I get to the crossroad again, I’ll turn east back into central Texas.  El Paso, Las Cruces, Phoenix and Santa Monica will have to wait for another time.

TX sundowner             Driving away from the setting sun with the road humming along and my music set to old country music–the kind my daddy loved. I start to sing along, like my daddy always did.  I felt sad but comforted by the trip to my daddy’s place.

In some ways, today I carved out a new journey down this old road. Traveling never looks the same when your purpose changes.

It’s good to know God will help you if you develop a new vision 

or if you need to take a new journey

even if it is down an old road.

Magic Snow

magic snow

A SHORT STORY ABOUT THE JOYS OF CHRISTMAS ~

The people were surrounding me stepping on my foot, jabbing with their elbows, bumping me into other people. I was pushing back just to maintain my balance. There was so much noise my head was pounding.  A squealing sound near the ceiling of the big room made my headache worse.  Long lines, crying babies, noisy talkers, so many bodies pressed against me.

Why did I ever agree to go out shopping and make myself nervous and tired?  Sure, she’s my best friend and her kids are normally fun and cuddly, but right now, I wish they were sleeping in their little beds at home.  I thought it would be festive if Momma, Sabrina, my husband, Matt, and I met them at the mall for Santa pictures where he sits in the big chair surrounded by magic snow and more screaming kids.

Baby Bradley pulled on my coat asking, “What is that white stuff around Santa?”

It’s magic snow, Bradley,” I said as I smiled.

He broke away from his sister’s hand and laughed as he crawled around in the white stuff now covering his Christmas suit and matching hat.  Children–the innocence of Christmas.

And that’s how it all started…with magic snow!

Momma said it would be a good day to get out and enjoy the season.  Really!  Well, I’m worried about her as well as myself.  I would feel so bad if someone pushed her down and caused a broken bone.

My teenage daughter, Sabrina, with all sorts of tubes and ear muffs on her multi-pierced ears, is not listening to a word I yell at her. Of course she’s not because she hasn’t heard anything I’ve said since she was 13 when her aunt Elizabeth bought her those earphone things.  I can tell from the rolling eyes—the only way she communicates with me for the past year—she wishes this “seasonal event” was over so she could meet her friends. I’ve learned to accept that all of us, as old people, are such lame companions.

My husband said he would just wait in the car and watch the rest of some ballgame on his phone sipping his café espresso .

“Well, of course, honey, that’s fine if you want,” I grimaced at him—and he smiled as if I just made a pass at him!

So much for thinking he would carry the packages. I looked back at him as the rest of us got out slowly watching for ice patches surrounding the van.  Why can’t I be the one in the car with my Grande peppermint mocha latte?  When do I get my Christmas wish?

Immediately I heard the shrieks of Bradley and his older sister running up and down the sidewalk. The kids were jumping up and down and waving their chubby mitten-covered hands beckoning us to join their fun.

As we entered the mall and I saw all the people, I remembered how horrible it could be shopping on Christmas Eve.  If I survive this mob, I’ve still got to stop and get replacement bulbs for the tree lights.  Got to go to four more stores for gift cards, and pick up the ingredients for my famous rum pumpkin pie.  Rum? Maybe two bottles I’m thinking!

It’s coming back to me now how much I hate shopping on Christmas Eve.

In fact, I am so tired that if Christmas doesn’t hurry up and get here and gone, I may just see if Santa could use a new elf for next year—I hear it’s a year-long training in a far-away place!

 Splat! Ouch! Ugh!

I’ve been attacked with something akin to a baseball bat!  Oh, it’s just Baby Bradley and his bottle he’s swinging like a boomerang.  The screeching sound in my ear is him laughing and squeaking.

My friend said,“Bradley, honey, don’t hit anyone with that.”

No problem, my friend, it’s not anyone—it’s only me!

A short time later, I got candy cane sticky kisses and hugs from Bradley and his sister.  My friend and her two little ones left us to our shopping.

Where is my daughter?  You’d think I could find her with all that electrical equipment on her head but I think she’s run away and left me in this colossal mess and disorderly crowd.  Surely she knows if she retreats to the car with her dad, I’ll be left alone to fend for myself and Momma.  Would she do that?  In a heartbeat or a drumbeat or whatever her stethoscope-like wires hear when they are stuck in her ear.

Oh, no, where’s Momma!  Did someone slam her to the floor and steal her huge purse. No, they couldn’t wrench it off her shoulder the way she ties that on…and they would be weighted down with its contents.  But where is she?

“Oh, I’m so sorry ma’am – I didn’t mean to bump into you and step on your foot and elbow you and the little ones,” I said.

I apologized profusely to a woman and five children strung out like a “Hands Across America” exhibit.  I really had done nothing to her but it sounded nicer if I apologized to them as they continued on through the crowd forming a bulldozer-like barricade.

Momma, Sabrina, come back and help me.  I’m dropping the packages and a boy has his Game of Thrones-like sword stuck in my back and he’s jabbing for all it’s worth.

I raised my voice above that of the blaring loud-speaker crying, “Come back and help me!

After what seemed like hours of abuse and stomping and noise, I realized it was quiet and dark.  Oh, no, I’ve blacked out and am dying!  The crowd of people are all finally gone and debris is all around me.  My packages are strewn about with their contents lying hither and yon.

Oh, no! My ribs hurt as I chuckled because draped over my feet are the Santa boxers that are supposed to be a private gift for my Naughty Santa husband.  My purse—where’s my purse?  Ouch…that must be it I’m lying on that’s punching me in the ribs.  Well, at least no one took that—one good thing.  The sign which had been hanging near the checkout line was across my body.  I could still read it though:

“Last Mark Down Items For Christmas Eve Shoppers”

Now I remember… I’m in the midst of the Joys of Christmas

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