Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Liz is Teaching!

Yesterday, my lovely and gracious wife, Liz, started teaching second grade at East Primary in Kermit. She started out three years ago as a volunteer helper in the classroom. Last year she was a paraprofessional at the high school, and this summer she got her provisional certificate. Way to go, Liz! Robert and I are proud of you!

More News

Here's a great looking boy who just started fourth grade!

That great UFO video from last week has been revealed as a fake. Check out the details here.

And Opus got censored this week! Those wacky Islamic radicals don't scare me! Think they're gonna come after this blogger? ... Wait! Who's that on the front porch? EEYAAAAAAAGH!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not Funny Signs

We liked it so much that we named it twice.

Home of da Village People.

Don't drink water in a bar.

Does your mammy have her own creek?


Duh again.

Don't stand here and read this.

We've all been there. At least it's tidy.

Kermit's nightmare.

Strong ones, preferably.

Better yet, you shouldn't be here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Leona Ruth Kirk

I've never written about her, except for one diary entry long ago, which was unfinished. I've never written down her story until now. This is what I know:

Sunrise at Pandale.

She was a strikingly beautiful woman, but in an unusual way. Supposedly she was part Native American, from the Blackfoot tribe, though I've never been able to verify this. She never spoke of her mother.

She was careful in her speech to avoid all appearance of evil. In her vicinity, you could not refer to the male bovine as a "bull". You always had to say "gentleman cow". The police were always police, never "cops". And she was serious about this, too!

She loved to sing. She had a melodious voice, so that even when she was talking it sounded like she was singing. She would sing while she worked, whether she was at her sewing machine or whether she was cooking or sweeping the floor or whatever she did. She mostly sang hymns, although she liked the records I listened to, especially the Beatles.

I don't know if she grew up singing the songs of faith, but in any case she learned them and made them her own.

When my mother needed to have a word with you about something, she had a gift for getting to the heart of the subject and cutting through the, um, the gentleman cow.

"Do what you know is right," she would say.

She loved the outdoors. She loved camping and fishing. Baker's Crossing and Pandale, both in Texas, were her favorite fishing spots. She was agile. She could sit for hours on her ankles, in a most uncomfortable-looking position, while she fished. She could scamper over the large boulders at Pandale like few humans could do.

She could kill a chicken with one hand. (I'll spare you the details.)

She could swing a mesquite limb switch really effectively at a disobedient son.

Leona met Milton, my dad, while they were in their late teens in Waco. They married, and had their first son, Norman, when she was just 20.

When she was 42, after Norman left and joined the air force, she and my dad had some trouble and separated for a short time. She went to see her sister in Dallas. After a week or two, my father went and got her. They worked things out, got back together and had sort of a second honeymoon. Soon she discovered she was pregnant a second time. She broke the news to my dad on a fishing trip to Baker's Crossing.
This pregnancy would be much more difficult, considering her age and all. Her blood pressure nearly went through the roof. But in December 1958, she gave birth to me.

At the age of 49, she learned to drive for the first time. I remember when she got her license.

She was active in the PTA. She and another lady were sort of the class moms at Midland Christian School, where I went. My classmates loved her.

One year, she got to be the witch in the spook house at the Fall Festival. In the darkened room, she had a big cauldron with dry ice, and a plate for the kids to touch, with grapes and noodles representing eyeballs and brains.I remember she did such a good job that she had to console at least one frightened little girl.

She was always learning new things. She bought an electronic organ and took lessons. She played very well.

On Thursday, May 2, 1968, Leona was alone at home, talking on the phone with Norman. She collapsed, and he called an ambulance. The doctors said she had had a cerebral hemorrhage. A weak spot in a blood vessel had given way. She had been born with it, they said, and had never known about it. It was a miracle in retrospect that she hadn't died when she gave birth to me, when her blood pressure shot up so high.

The doctors said she would recover. It would be difficult for us all, most of all for her. She would have to have much rest for a year. Plans were made to care for her at home. No one believed she would die except for herself. She knew she wasn't coming back to her earthly home again.

Leona passed away on Mother's Day 1968.

In the years since then, many family members have joined her. My dad. My brother's wife. My grandmother. My stepmom. My brother and his wife's parents.

If there are rivers in heaven, as many people have said, there must be fish. And if so, I can imagine the family, those who fished anyway, gathering by the river. I can see my mother sitting on her ankles in a most uncomfortable-looking way on the heavenly banks and dropping a hook in the water, all the while singing a song earth cannot know, and making the song her own.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Eternity, Space, and Other Fun Stuff

As I said, I'm writing an article about my mother, and it's taking an

eternity. When I was little, the concept of eternity would sometimes cause me to lose sleep. Not that I was afraid of eternal punishment, mind you, I was afraid of the idea of life without an end. I just couldn't "wrap my mind around" the idea of eternal life. I still can't, but I guess I don't think about it as much or as vividly as I did then. Or maybe my imagination was better then. Or my faith. It was a disturbing obsession to me, like thinking about how often your eyes blink. I can't explain it any better than that. Forever used to be a frightening concept to me. Did anybody else ever feel that way, or was it just me?

Here's a cool UFO video you can watch while you're contemplating all this.

Oh, and here's a Trekkie alert!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Slinkys, Signs and Splits

  • My next article is about my mother, and it's takingan eternity, so in the meantime here's some random thoughts:
  • A sign at the McCamey Allsup's:
    Some people are like Slinkys. They serve no real purpose, but it is pleasant to push them down the stairs.

  • Actual concert line-up (3 bands coming to Odessa August 14):
    She Turned Us Into Trees, How to Start a Fire, and Hit the Ground Running.

  • A very good friend grew up in Andrews (45 miles away) and used to be Max Lucado's biggest fan. She phoned us twice last week to express her outrage over the fact that his church in San Antonio, Oak Hills, had dropped the "of Christ" from their name in 2003. All we could do was look up their reasons for the change - to reach people with the gospel - and send the information to her. She was not consoled. I asked my preacher about it and he said "If you had the power to preach the gospel to more people just by removing two words from the sign, wouldn't you do it?" Hmm...
  • It is difficult to tell the story of Frogtown without touching on the church split of 2003, which some say never even happened. It came about suddenly and without warning. Supposedly, it began when two guys didn't agree with the idea of the church hosting grief seminars, financial seminars, and marriage classes. "We need to touch people where they hurt," the preacher at the time said, "not hurt people when we touch them." Those who agreed with the preacher, including the three of us, mostly wound up at the Wink church, eight miles away, while the rest remained in Kermit with the two guys. The preacher moved to Carlsbad and sold cars for awhile, until he eventually got a preaching job again. Can't we all get along?
34 hours after the split, a gas plant blew up 6 miles outside of Kermit, at 5 in the morning. A sign from God? In any case, we remember that week for the church and the gas plant both blowing up. In a manner of speaking.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


This is the strangest thing I've ever seen on a store shelf. It may be one of the strangest things in existence. Ten years ago, the Kermit Alco store received a case in and put them on the shelf. It's called the "Law Stay Away" candle. They're even listed on eBay. One website says that if you really want to keep the law away, you should burn the candle while heating Law Stay Away oil and reading Psalm 91 out loud. There are also Law Stay Away ringtones available.

Next, we have this product, the "Make Opposing Lawyer Look Stupid" candle. I had to look to find a public-domain picture of one. Most are under copyright. If you get sued by the candle company, they can probably make your lawyer look...well, stupid.

Here's a gift for a mom or a teacher. It's a "Shut Up" candle. It's like a mute button, I guess.

On the Christian side of things, sometimes store managers will burn a prayer candle during inventory to bless the auditor's mind. I appreciate that, because at 48, my mind needs all the prayers and blessings it can get.

There was a manager about ten years ago named Nancy who took this idea to an extreme, however. Not only would she burn a candle specially blessed by her priest, but she once reached across the counter and put holy water on my forehead without any announcement or permission. She also demanded that her employees and even the area supervisor wear a medal with a saint's picture on it during inventory. I refused to wear it. She thought I was being obstinate.

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