Monday, January 30, 2012

Tough News

One of my "growing up friends", John Park (I was closer to his younger brother David, but of course knew John) has been given a very tough medical diagnosis. The docs have given him 1 - 2 years "with treatment" (in cancer terms, you know what "that" means). He's a great guy, father, husband, brother, son; his Dad is in a Retirement Center and depends heavily on him since the death of his wife.

Whatever your religious beliefs, prayers or "good vibes" would be appreciated for this good man.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Paying It Forward

I spent the day yesterday in Beaumont; Dad and Jean had some minor banking issues to resolve, and we spent some time working on their office (trying to merge two very full offices and a sewing/alterations room into one 10x10 bedroom is an interesting endeavor).  Jean’s very good friends were called in to help as well, and what was supposed to be a “3 hour tour” turned in to all day…

I left for Houston at 4:45, made it home and still had all the usual Saturday chores to do.  My usual routine (on non-haircut, non-pick-up-cleaning Saturdays) is:  Shell for gas, Specs for booze, Petsmart for dog food, H-E-B for people food, and home.  If essential, throw in a trip to Costco or New image Barber Shop or Dandy Cleaners. (I am a dull guy).

After I left Beaumont, Dad and Jean decided they were hungry and, still being “dressed up”, went to Chili’s (Beaumont not exactly being a hotbed of haute cuisine). 

They were seated and given menus and placed their orders.  As you always are, they were vaguely aware of people coming and going around them.

When it was time for the check, the waitress asked, “Did you notice the young couple at the table behind you?”  “No, not really?”  “Well, they picked up your check, so there will be no check.  Have a nice evening!”

Dad and Jean were dumbfounded; no one had ever done that for them before.

They were not aware of the phrase “paying it forward”, but since Dad had a $20 bill in his pocket, and since the waitress had mentioned that she was a student working her way through Lamar University---she received a $20 tip—at Chili’s.

Nice evening all around.


To the nice young Beaumont couple who paid for my father and step-mother’s dinner at Chili’s last night:  I’ll find someone and “Pay it forward”. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

This and that…THE HOGS, a December Romance, a Master Craftsman, and What I like About the South



  • Back-to-back 10-win Regular Seasons
  • Two losses:  Alabama (National Champion) at Tuscaloosa, and LSU (National Champion runner-up) at Baton Rouge.
  • Top 5 finish, AP and USATODAY (Coaches)—fourth time in school history
  • 32 consecutive AP Top 25 rankings (regular, pre- and post-season polls)
  • Cotton Bowl Champs!
  • Cotton Bowl victory over a very good Kansas State team
  • Only the second 11-win season in the history of the University of Arkansas (the first one, 1977, featured one loss and a spectacular Orange Bowl win).
  • Overall, a fantastic season and there’s more where that came from.

(…and Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis are both coming back, along with Cobi Hamilton and a large chunk of both the offense and defense.  My personal thanks to the Seniors, who believed and who never stopped fighting; your names have joined the Razorback pantheon of great players.  You will be missed.)

Hey, college football world:




It’s GOOD to be da HOG!


I got a little Christmas money the other day, and decided I’d have my grandparents’ clock repaired.

All my life growing up, my grandparents had a Seth Thomas clock with Westminster chimes (in case you don’t know, “Westminster” is the tune played by the clock in St. Stephen’s Tower, at the Palace of Westminster in London.  The biggest bell in the tower, which strikes the hour, is “Big Ben”).

Of course, Granny and Gramp’s clocks didn’t sound EXACTLY like Big Ben, but it’s the same idea.  Every quarter hour, the clock plays a different piece of the melody until it gets all the way round to the hour again.

Unfortunately, neither of my Seth Thomas antiques have worked in years.  They need a good cleaning/disassembling/reworking.  I looked and looked for an appropriate horologist (that’s a clock expert), and finally figured I’d found one.

So, I dragged both my old clocks over there.  I was hoping to find someone in some little hole-in-the-wall somewhere, not some slick jewelry/clock store or some such (that would charge me an arm and a leg and not fix my clock).

I’m happy to report I nailed the target on this one, and then some.  Guy has this small clock shop in an industrial complex in an industrial area not terribly far from my home and work.  I knew IMMEDIATELY that I was in the right place—walked in, his workshop is stacked and piled with clock parts, and the shelves around it are filled with beautiful clocks he’s repairing.  I’ll take a picture next time.

What I totally did NOT expect was the lesson in clockmaking I got (free of charge, comes with the service).  He disassembled my clocks in seconds (literally, seconds) and said, “Oh, yes, this is a 417” or some such.  He explained to me at length exactly how the clocks were made, by whom they were made, and even showed me the code to tell WHEN they were made (June, 1947 and April, 1967 respectively).  He told me exactly what was wrong with each, then rumbled around in his pile of parts and came up with parts that would fit each.  I was mesmerized.  He quoted me a good price (I have to come up with a little more than my Christmas money) and I left my 1967 model Seth Thomas “Heritage” Carriage clock with him.  It should be ready any day now and I. Can’t. Wait.

It’s truly wonderful to talk with someone who is an absolute expert in his field.  The man KNOWS clocks.  He is GREAT with them.  It was an honor to sit there and listen to him tell me all about them---information I’ll never really use, but fascinating to sit and listen to.  I loved it.


You know, when you can find love in this old world, that’s a good thing.

My 88 year old father, after 2 years of being alone for the first time in his life (he was born, lived at home to age 18, moved to San Diego with his older brother, moved back home, met Mother, married her, went in the US Army Air Corps (they’re kind of paternalistic), got out, came home to Mother, and lived with her continuously until her death in January, 2010.).  He’s 88 years old and this two year period is the first time in his life he’s ever been ALONE.  He asked me one time, “How do you stand being alone?”  I told him, “Well, you get used to it, then you kind of like it.  If I ever find somebody again, I’d want them to have their own place.”

In any event, it was obvious to all of us that he was miserable, declining, and waiting to die.  He read books.  He watched his 55” Sony.  I visited monthly, my sister took him to lunch 2-3 times a week.  My niece visited (mostly when she needed solace or cash or both).  Otherwise, he was alone.

Without telling my sister or me, he went online and found a “Senior Christian Singles” website and met a woman ONLINE.  She lives in Beaumont, Texas (east of Houston).  He finally admitted to me that he’d been conversing with her, and that he had stuck his courage to the sticking place and was heading to Beaumont to meet her in person.

All this was in October, 2011.

Here are the wedding pictures from January, 2012 (their comment to me:  “Honey, we don’t have time for a long courtship!”).  My comment to everybody:  “She was a lonely old lady whose husband died.  He was a lonely old man whose wife died.  If they can have some laughs and a good time together, however much that is, POWER TO THEM!”

They seem to be very much in love, in fact, like teenagers.  I’m delighted for them.  They’re making their home in Beaumont, Texas (convenient for me, about an hour and a half from my house).

(I like Jean.  She’s not my Mother, nor will she ever be, nor will she ever TRY to be.  She’s Dad’s wife and companion and bully for them!).


Maurice and Jean Jones


Jean’s comment upon seeing this picture:  “My GOD, I look like an old lady!”





Siblings:  Arline and Maurice, Nick and Marla


Rachel, Peyton, and Justin (my GOD how can Peytie-Pie be that BIG!)…and, Rachel (having lost the pregnancy weight) is a gorgeous young lady these days.


David and Phil


Leave it to Aunt Shorty to steal the show!  I love this picture!



Dad and Jean in a much more natural state (for them)


On being Southern:

Today, I was talking with a business associate.  Nice lady, I’ve known her professionally for several years, we have a cordial, professional relationship.

We were discussing a business situation today, including talking about dealing with an individual neither of us really like.

Somehow in the conversation, the topic of place-origin came up (“Where are you from originally?”  --everybody in Houston is from “somewhere else”). 

She said, “I’m from a little town you’ve never heard of:  Marked Tree, Arkansas.”

I said, “I’ve been to Marked Tree many times!  I’m from Malvern!”

We both grinned hugely, any tension immediately evaporated, our accents instantly moved “south”, and we spent the next hour and a half regaling each other with stories about growing up in Arkansas.

You won’t find that with people from NYC or Philadelphia or Chicago or Los Angeles. 

…and THAT’S what I like about the South!!!