Friday, June 30, 2006

'Hood Tales Pt II: Beth

If there was a matriarch of the neighborhood it would have to be Beth.

She moved to our street in 1955 when there were only three houses on the block and a vacant field out to the west. Four years later her husband died and she's been a widow ever since, raising her four young kids alone.

Beth is elderly, but she gets around much better than Obi-Wan. She still drives and has just began using a cane and occasional walker. Several of her kids live nearby so she's well taken care of.

Agent wife met Beth on a walk a while back. She's come to our house twice in the last couple of weeks to give us squash from her garden. Glad someone's garden is producing around here.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

'Hood Tales Pt I: Jenny

Eight year old Jenny, first introduced here, came by our house today for a while. She usually hangs out with her 10 year old brother Sebastian, but he was at his grandparents house around the block. When asked why Jenny wasn't there too she said it was because there was another boy there with him and that her mom (Carole) didn't want Jenny to be near that other boy. Then later Jenny's story changed slightly. Something about her grandparents not being home. Kids tell tall tales a lot. I don't know if it's due to great imaginations, summertime boredom, or desire for attention. Jenny doesn't seem like the lying type. But who knows at this point.

Since school is out and Carole works all day at the Dollar Store down the block, Jenny wanders the neighborhood daily looking for something to do. She came by this evening and tells us she hasn't eaten anything all day. Could be true. But with further questioning her story meanders all over the place...much like her neighborhood travels. She said her mom was about to get off work so I didn't panic too much over the food issue. But so many kids get free meals at school. So when school's out, many mom's neglect to feed their kids with any semblance of a schedule...if at all. It's every kid for himself.

Do you question? Do you talk to the parents? That could be too delicate. Do you just open your door and feed them? I'd think so. But maybe their parents don't want them in your house eating your food. Who knows.


Allow me to redirect you to the gift salesman's post.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"Provisional existence"

During our recent closet clean I found another forgotten book that's finally being read: Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search For Meaning".

Frankl was a well known psychiatrist and expert in psychiatric things. He also endured and survived 3 years as a prisoner of Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz.

His experiences as a prisoner led to many later-life discoveries in the psychiatric field...primarily something called "logotherapy", which is explained in the second half of this book (I haven't got that far yet).

But the first half of the book is a general biography of his day to day holocaust existence, which sets up the scene for discovering and explaining logotherapy. A very shocking and fascinating read.

One of Frankl's discoveries of people's mental hi-jinks within the concentration camps is what he calls a "provisional existence". That's where a person ceased living for a future, in contrast to a person in normal life. He explains that unemployed workers go through the same thing: living long days with no end to this goal-less ordeal in sight. Yet larger frames of time like a week or a month can fly by.

Sometimes, prisoners live through "provisional existence" too. But if they know their future date of release, it gives them a goal and thus, reason to live beyond provisional existence. They know when the end is in sight. The unemployed and victims of the holocaust had no clue if and when the end is ever in sight.

I think the wilderness my family and I have lived in for the better part of 2-3 years is kin to a provisional existence. I don't intend to water down the experiences of nor compare my life to a holocaust victim. And I do have a larger hope...that is, faith in the CEO's promises for my life.

But this provisional existence of mine has trained me to identify with the poverty culture within the fair mother city far above and beyond anything I could have read or studied for. Maybe my experience is loosely similar to Frankl's 3 year hell which served as his "field work" for discovering revolutionary psychiatric studies and techniques.

After living with (and like) the poverty class in many situations, I have recently realized that it is increasingly difficult for me to identify with the middle class America from which I came. Examples are numerous. My favorite recent example is as follows:

A few weeks ago I took Obi-Wan to his foot doctor appointment. His nurse who usually drives him was unavailable. So he asked me.

I didn't want to just drop him off. So I waited with and assisted him.

We waited in the lobby with one other patient for over an hour. Then when Obi-Wan's name was called we waited in the patient room for another 20 minutes.

The doctor finally came in, looking all Magnum PI and such...complete with Hawaiian shirt and shaggy hair like he was ready for cocktails. That's fine. I look shaggy and wear Hawaiian shirts too. But I ain't a doctor. I'm a secret agent.

Obi-Wan was here to get his toe nails trimmed since he's a diabetic and only doctors are suppose to trim diabetic's toenails, so I'm told. The whole time while the doctor was trimming with this drill-like thing (which I could have done, I'm sure), I was looking out the window at his red convertible sports car parked under the special covered parking space with his name on the reserved sign. So it goes.

Then I cleaned up the blood from one of Obi-Wan's toe nails because the doctor didn't notice he made Obi-Wan bleed. He had already left.

On our way out there were two other patients waiting in the patient rooms and the lobby was now filled with elderly and helpless-looking people. All awaiting their savior, Magnum PI: the foot doc. And as Obi-Wan was settling up at the front desk, I saw the doctor out the front window taking a casual stroll outside throughout the office complex.

That's where I almost lost it.

Arrogance. "Us verses Them". This, "I'm the one they need and they can wait on me" kind of thing. That's where I realized I no longer identified with the middle class and saw things through the eyes of the poor and elderly sitting in the waiting room.

I'm sure the doctor is a nice guy. If I got to know him he might invite me and the family over for high dollar beer. Maybe have a dip in the pool. Maybe go for a ride in the sports car. Talk about his kids enrolled in prestigious universities. What's wrong with any of that? And maybe that stroll through the office complex was just a desperately needed break. I don't know.

All THAT to provisional existence is training me to see things more like "them" and less like "us". For whatever that's worth...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hope deferred

In my universe within this day and age, all appears hopeless. This is not a doom-n-gloom whining. But I have specific promises that the CEO has given me, and I'm assuming my dream of The Table is part of that promise package.

However, looking at my surrounding situation, The Table and anything else associated with music and ministry with the poor seems like a real pipe dream right now.

Friday night Pastor Bubba from Johnson County, TX (where rednecks were invented) preached to the remnant of the izzy group at the home of The Bossman. His message was on this era in his church's life on not fearing and having courage.

In 1 Samuel 27, David basically left the promises the CEO gave him on becoming king because all evidence on the matter seem to point elsewhere. He was anointed King, was invited to live in the king's house and play music, impressed the whole nation (kills Goliath), marries into the king's family, etc. Things up to that point look good on being king someday.

But then all goes southward. Saul runs him off trying to kill him, Samuel dies, etc. So David gives up hope on being king and becomes a Bandito for 16 months in Philistine. As if he just threw his arms up and figured, "I've always been good at killing people. Might as well fall back on that career path."

I haven't been promised to be king. Nor am I going to become an outlaw.

But all outlook on the way I desire serious ministry to the poor en masse in the fair mother city seems hopeless. And my wife and I are about to have a second mouth to feed, yet we have no flipping idea how we are going to pay bills this month...which is no different from the previous 20 months.

Yet I stand before you, the body of christ, and announce that Agent Wife & I refuse to fear our circumstances and the appearance of hopelessness.

We will not doubt the promises on our life. We will have courage.

Friday, June 23, 2006


The family and I had approximately 3 days/nights house-sitting for our friend's the Carrs in rural Jones county. It was our only chance at a vacation. This was also our very last bit of alone time as a trio before the influx of family comes for the arrival of Agent Offspring #2, who is due to join us soon.

We have house sat for them before. There is farm animal maintenance involved. But this year was painfully easy as our chores required only one evening of work which took about 30 minutes.

I love going out there. Their property is only about 20 minutes away from the fair mother city but it feels like hours away from civilization.

This was our first time with a toddler (AO #1). So relaxing and reading was a bit more difficult.

A few messages from the CEO were delivered to me during this time through the following mediums:

1) Several messages came through a book that I found in the old izzy group clothing ministry years ago. I forgot I had it until a recent closet clean. I can't say enough about How to Use the Power of Your Word by Stella Terrill Mann. Good luck finding a copy. It was written in 1955 and has long been out of print.

2) Went on my John Eldridge/He-Man solo adventure through the sandy, cacti terrain of Jones County. My trek's goals were to reach the well pump located somewhere at the end of the property and to listen/commune with the CEO in the process. I have been to the well before (literally and maybe spiritually, I guess) but it had been years. After 45 minutes I grew frustrated that I hadn't reached it and wondered if I missed the well. A rare urge and opportunity to climb a 30 foot oak tree arrived which gave me the view I needed to see that the well was practically right in front of my face...maybe 75 yards. This could easily be an accurate picture of my life right now. Anyway, I climbed down, found the well, then forged a path home.

3) My wife and I watched Hotel Rwanda, a movie I've been wanting to see. Good film. Probably not good to watch right before bed like I did.

It was a short vacation but I'm very thankful for it none the less...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Church bus

Back in the 1980's when I was a teenager in Houston, I had a good friend named Gus.

Gus & I were both in church of christ youth groups, but we were each part of a different church. Gus' church was on the north side of town and mine in the northwest.

Gus was a comedian and a half. He was kind of a short and chunky guy who wore hawaiian shirts and told non-stop jokes. Real funny ones. And he was wild and crazy. Imagine Chris Farley or Jack Black as a teen. That was Gus.

And with me being the tall, skinny, semi-quiet guy with a dry sense of humor, we made a hell of a team. We could have made movies or something...if we only knew how to act...and if there was such a market for coc youth group kids in the 1980's...

We joined forces in friendship when we found that the kids in our respective youth groups were too snobby and self-conscious to intermingle with each other at some youth group bowling outing. So Gus & I took a chance and bowled with each other, had a few laughs, and have been friends to this day. Although I haven't talked to him in about 2 years. I need to call him soon.

Gus' church had a church bus. Not some inconspicuous van with the church's name and address plastered to the side for all those sinner's on the road to see who's going to heaven when the van crashes. I mean a bus. A freaking huge-ass, annoying looking, white and purple (yes...PURPLE) school bus with the giant words CHURCH BUS emblazoned on the front, back, sides, and probably from the top for sinners in helicopters to see.

I can see it now: Unsuspecting motorists on I-45 saying, "Church bus? shit. Who else would be driving that thing? The muslims? Hare Krishna's?".

I could see the Krishna's, I guess.

The Partridge Family held nothing on this thing.

Actually...Gus was kind of like the Danny Bonaduche of his church youth group. So, the bus fit, I guess.

But anyway, one of my favorite memories of Gus (and there are many) was his take on a youth group song we sang that went something like "...and they'll know we are christians by our love, by our love".

His went "...they'll know we are christians by our bus, by our bus".

Gus' take on the song has been stuck in my head for years. It's probably influenced me one way or another. I don't know.

I guess we followers feel it necessary to advertise our faith with bumper stickers, fish symbols, gigantic advertisements on wheels (aka ridiculous looking buses or vans), and bible verses pasted on our clothing...all because our love wasn't good enough, I guess.

Or maybe our love is in low supply.

random note

In the ever expanding Agent Network universe...I met another fellow agent today who was visiting family in the fair mother city. We shared a few stories and laughs.

We laughed as he told me that his only memory of the fair mother city came
at age 14 while visiting to compete in a "bible bowl"...then stumbling across porn in his hotel room at night.

Bible, competition, and hidden sin.

...THAT, my friends, is the most spiritually accurate picture of Abilene, Texas that I've EVER heard...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Agent B - 007

Strolling down the sidewalk of my street this morning with Agent Offspring, I stumbled upon a house burglary in progress.

It was at the home of Vincent and his wife. They live across the street and down a few houses. They're also one of the handful of neighbors I have not met yet.

AO & I were walking on the sidewalk in front of Vincent's place. There was a young, 18-20 year old looking black guy standing at Vincent's side fence gate looking off to the side. He never looked at me. I'm sure his peripheral vision saw me just fine.

This guy was looking towards some noise in the back of Vincent's house. I got a good look at him and kept walking. Then I realized neither of Vincent's cars were home. Could be a coincidence. This black guy could be a friend of his for all I know.

But in about 4 minutes I completed the walk and took AO home. I went back to get a closer look.

The guy was gone. I walked back to the alley to get a view of Vincent's back yard. Again, no one was there.

Then a cop car shows up in the alley. "Oh crap" I'm thinking. Someone calls the cops and here I am in the alley near the property looking suspicious.

So I walked up to the cop and told him what I was doing, etc.

Turns out, the next door neighbor, John Johnson (another neighbor I've never really met, but my racist neighbor Mr. Buckley knows him) called the cops.

John actually saw the black guy plus a husky mexican kid with a buzz cut from his bathroom window. The husky kid broke a window to Vincent's house with a tire iron and was preparing to break in. The guy I saw was the "lookout" guy. And they must have bolted soon after I walked by the first time.

So I've had cops interviewing me on and off all morning. One came to my house and while here he got a call about this case. Apparently Vincent's nephew usually works with him. But he called in sick around the time of the break-in. And his caller ID showed a number from our neighborhood, meaning he was near by.

So basically, the nephew is the prime suspect last I heard.

The good news is nothing was stolen and nobody harmed. I got to talk to Mr. Buckley, even if I didn't care for his racial views on the crime. And I sort of met John for the first time. And now I have an excuse to meet Vincent.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Dream Report #004

I had another Star Wars dream last night.

I swear, I'm not a sci-fi nerd.

Much like the first one, I was Luke Skywalker again. But this time I was facing off with the Emporer. Darth Vader was watching near by.

I knew my light saber would be a joke since he was far more powerful than me in that arena. So I planned to opt out of physical combat and take a more subversive, turn the other cheek type of approach.

I woke up after that decision.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Often, I convince myself that I live at a simple level and own very little.

Then, like this week, we rearrange our house because a new baby is joining us soon. And the truth is exposed: I own a lot of crap.

A bunch of my crap was shoved in part of a bedroom closet. You know: out of sight, out of mind. Whatever I own that I have no use for, but I fear getting rid of for WHATEVER reason (sentimental, possible use one day, etc), it was shoved in that closet.

I am exposed.

In the past I have proudly announced to all that I'm the "anti-packrat" and I keep nothing.

Reality: I am a closet packrat. Figuratively and literally.'s easy for me to get rid of stuff. I hate clutter.

But the stuff in that closet has to do with my former (or dormant) identity of being a musician.

Old music textbooks from college, blank score paper for orchestrations, blank staff notebooks, about 400 copies of a CD I recorded, and folders and folders of music ideas - most of which never came to pass.

It seems that the life I live now is about as far from music as the fair mother city is from Moose Jaw. And as much as I'd like to visit Saskatchewan again someday, I just don't know if I'll be writing orchestrations ever again. It's just not in me these days and it doesn't look like it's coming back.

So why can't I get rid of this stuff?

Also, I have been delaying any sales of my music instruments and gear for months. Although truth be known, I have: a) little desire to play at all - (I don't enjoy my recent gigs at the Jedi Counsel Room much), b) few opportunities to play anywhere, c) a growing family and thus a shrinking house for such space hogs like music gear and, d) a huge need for quick cash.

But I keep hanging on to them like MAYBE something might change in the future and I can be a musician again. I really want to.

I've been playing that hopeful tune for 3 and a half years...

I think I'm heading upon some serious decisions after this new baby has joined us...

...and thanks for putting up with my self-centered whine-fest. Your prayers are desired during these decisions.

Garden files #008: what gives?

I am filing this report because there is nothing to report.

This is becoming a strange year. It is mid-June and so far the garden hasn't produced jack.

Well, we got those radishes a while back. And I did harvest a bucket and a half of spinach.

Normally by this time there's tons of yellow squash and cucumbers, the tomatoes are starting to taunt me, and the bell peppers would show signs of life.

But Nope. Nada. Nothing. bell pepper the size of a golf ball (still growing, I think).

I'm still inexperienced in the garden universe. But I'm blaming this pathetic output on an unseasonably early and lengthy heat wave. It's been in the upper 90's to 100's for 3, maybe 4 weeks now.

The garden looks lush (I water it well) but there's NO produce. Obi-Wan's garden is doing the same.

This year's garden seems to be the reflection of my life in recent years. Agent Wife and I have been going at it in what seems like FOREVER and we're waiting on some big miracles, but we've seen only small ones.

Guess we should enjoy our bell pepper. I trust that the garden will produce in time.

Truthfully...I do not despise the small miracles.

...but I am expecting the big ones too.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

calling all agents

Obi-Wan received news from his doctor that is feet and/or legs may have to be amputated soon. He goes to the hospital for testing this Friday.

He's in very good spirits despite this life-altering news.

As long as I've known him (3 years), Obi-Wan's only desires in living to his dying day has been: 1) to live in his own home (no nursing home) and 2) to use his own 2 feet (not being wheelchair bound). So far so good.

In behalf of Obi-Wan I plead for your prayers that #2 can be fulfilled. Thanks...

Kingdom paradox #002

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matt 13:44

The Shaman once taught me that the basic gist of this one verse parable can be described as detachment versus attachment.

One must completely DETACH from the old before one can fully ATTACH to the new.

I'm sure there's more than one spiritual principle that can be related to detaching and attaching.

I know this is not meaning that one must fully leave a life of sin before making Jesus your reason for existence. Like that wacky adage, "fish aren't cleaned and filleted when they're caught".

But sometimes before one can take hold of something new, one must completely leave behind the old. None of this half-assed "one foot in the old and one foot in the new" hokey-pokey.

Like getting married. You gotta leave the single life completely, stop thinking about SELF, and put the needs/desires of another first.

A risk. Businessmen understand this fully.

There's a brief period of nothingness between old and new.

And during that nothingness period one could be tempted to think, "is this new gonna be worth it? Or does this
new really exist?"

If the kingdom is within believers of christ, and the above parable is truly *like the kingdom*, then how do you embrace this?

What kind of old crap do you get rid of? What kind of new thing do you want to grab hold of?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Kingdom paradox

Just what the hell is "the Kingdom" anyway??

I've been skeptical the word kingdom in church contexts. It has been the newest buzzword in the church culture for close to 10 years. Sure, Jesus talks about the kingdom over and over. But he talks maybe once about the church. I believe this exposes the pro-church people so they simply slapped the word
kingdom over anything meaning church in their mind. Thus, kingdom has made a good euphemism for the word church.

I don't know of any black or white definition of the kingdom. Jesus' parables in Matthew 13 always start with a "the kingdom is LIKE...", not "the kingdom IS...".

The kingdom seems to be a paradox of sorts.

To live you must die. To be strong you must be weak. In suffering, there is joy. Power is restraint.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

sit com

I don't like TV. Especially sitcoms. Which is ironic since I came up with a sitcom idea based on my experiences with the izzy group ministry.

If someone can actually take his idea and make me a few bucks, I'll split it 50/50.

Since Jesus and "ministry" are usually subjects (and words) avoided at all costs by TV executives, I have created this setting in and around a generic non-prof inner-city "homeless shelter". The purpose of the series would NOT be to poke fun at the poor, but rather to raise awareness of the reality of poverty with a real tongue-in-cheek wackiness. Much like "Taxi" from the early '80s.

The characters would all be based on real-life people I've known. There would, of course, be the main characters, then a steady revolving door of "minor" characters much like it was at the izzy group. The minor characters are what keep the audience coming back.

"The Least of These" - by Agent B
copyright 2002

(main characters)

ANDY SANCHEZ: (based on myself and several co-workers) race: Hispanic. Andy is the neutral-focal point of the series which most (but not all) of the story lines bounce off from - much like Judd Hirch's character on "Taxi" (hey, who didn't like that show?). He is divorced, in his mid 30's, relates to street people very well due to his childhood as he was raised by a single mom in poverty. He becomes like a loving "father-figure" to most of his "clients" - although sometimes he'd rather kick all of their asses.

BERTINA CAMPBELL: (based on some of my co-workers) race: black or white. An overweight, muumuu wearing, mothering office keeper whose head stays in the clouds and always thinks "everything is just fine" even when her own world is falling apart. She is married to a wise cracking, self-employed lawn care worker who makes brief occasional cameos.

MS. GRETTA FINCH: (based on several of our volunteers) race: white. A widowed senior citizen who spends her time volunteering at the "shelter". She is a loving person, yet at first she has a difficult time relating to the "clients" since she worked hard all of her life and grew up in the depression. She's equipped with a southern (Georgian) drawl and always delivering some half-witted Southern aphorism (ex: "Back home in Valdosta they use to say when you'd die before you go to heaven you have to stop in Atlanta"). Wacky. Imagine that red-haired waitress in Mel's Diner on "Alice".

MR. STAN REEVES: (based on some of the 'powers-that-be') race: white. A tie & jacket wearing board member who supposedly has a caring heart for the poor, but is so removed from them that his decisions do not always reflect the overall mission of the shelter. He can usually be a class-act jerk, but not 100% of the time.

BILLY RAY BRAZELL: (based on a real guy by the same name, but who never actually worked with me) race: black. An elderly thin man with a lot of character and a punch line for everything Bertina does. He volunteers at the shelter and usually does fix-it maintenance.

(minor characters)

ADOLPHO MUSOLINI, JR. (based on an overweight homeless Mexican guy named Momo) race: Italian decent. This 300 pound, bulldog-looking, intimidating demeanor of a human has pushed a huge shopping cart around the streets of this fictional city for over 20 years. Adolpho believes it is everyone's duty to help him because he's homeless. The whole town knows him, especially law enforcement and jailers. He's a comedian within his circumstances - seriously referring to collecting cans as "his business" that he's the CEO of, etc. Deep down this guy is a big sentimental cream-puff.

JIM DREW: (based on one of the many transients I worked with named Super Dave). Race: white. Jim doesn't speak much. Yet this tall, thin Viet Nam vet has many quirks (or perhaps a catch-phrase) that make him memorable. (ie: whenever he tells a story of significant unimportance, he always gets up and swiftly walks away after the climax of the story is delivered - you just have to witness this. It's funny).

SONNY "REV" HANCOCK: (based on a couple of guys I know) race: any. Rev is a drunken street preacher. Enough said.

I have way too much time on my hands...

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I haven't seen my old friend Momo in a while. But I haven't looked for him either.

Momo gets mad at everything at least once.

And when he gets mad at you (which will eventually happen if you ever meet him), you get put on the list.

This isn't some proverbial "list" or funny guy schitck. I mean, you actually get your name written on a pad of paper along with about 4 billion other individuals and companies, etc.

Anybody who has ever pissed off Momo gets put on the list. I know I'm on there at least 5 or 6 times.

I saw this list once. It was funny. It had people's names, the mayor, the president of the USA, Coca-Cola Co, Pepsi Cola Co, owners of an abandoned building that kicked Momo off the property, and on and on. I'm sure he's lost the list and started over dozens of times, but the list actually exists.

And the list has a purpose. It contains all the people and companies Momo plans to sue and make millions of dollars from.

I asked him if he'd share a little of the money with me if he ever collected a million bucks. "Hell no", he said. "I might let you eat the crumbs off the floor from my steak dinners".

It's funny. He's actually written AND mailed these letters to organizations and people he wants to sue. I mean...PAGES and pages of child-like handwriting on yellow legal pad. I once had to kick him out of the izzy group ministry one night because he didn't want to lay down at "lights out" and instead wanted to write hate mail all night in the kitchen.

I woke up the next morning to find him writing his 36th letter while lying on his stomach out on the front porch wrapped in a sleeping bag in 22F weather.

I was put on the list.

It's funny. He'd bum stamps off church secretaries then mail these pieces of work to god knows where.

I've always wondered who received them. If you ever get a fat envelope filled with hateful handwritten ranting that makes little sense, it's probably Momo.

One of my favorite Momo list entries is "every church in this damn town". Apparently, he was upset about being hungry one day and some church wouldn't feed him or they didn't feed people at all or something.

So Momo wanted to sue churches. Every church. He said churches falsely advertise by claiming to believe in the bible but they won't follow it's instructions like giving a cold cup of water or a plate of food to a homeless guy like himself.

I'm not a fan of victimology, but I don't know if I can disagree with Momo on this one.

I have no intent on suing anybody.

But I'm curious...does anyone out there know... it actually feasible to sue a church for not obeying the bible?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Under construction Pt IV


I'm very pleased with it for many reasons:

I got some great hands-on building experience. I got to know Mr. Mackey a lot more. For 5 days I actually felt like I had a "real" job. And Obi-Wan is beaming (he's a tough nut to crack sometimes).

All in all, it's been a good 5 day experience. We couldn't have picked hotter weather. It's been at or near 100 all week and will continue this for at least the next week or 2. But thankfully the building area was covered by shade trees from 8a-5p.

Thank you CEO for the completion of this.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Testimony #013

As usual in these testimony reports, we were getting extremely low in the financial realm. But...there were a)no bills sitting on my desk, b)food in the kitchen, and c)beer in the fridge. So, what's to worry.

But today we got an unexpected financial gift from an unexpected source. Thank you CEO.

Then I open the mail today and we get a bill that couldn't have been paid without the gift.

All in good timing.

Under construction Pt III

The wheelchair ramp is moving along. I am pretty sure we'd have been done by now but Mr. Mackey is kind of like an absent-minded mad scientist. He does excellent work. But he will lay something down and forget where he put it. And although that sounds like nothing, multiply that by about 50 and your adding a whole day to your work project.

Plus, we've had to change our original structure plans at least twice due to some kind of forgetfulness on his part. It's no big deal to me. I find it funny. I can see why the CEO paired him up with his wife, Mrs. Mackey. She's always on him like a nagging mother. She has to remind him to eat because he'd probably forget.

When we started this morning we had a baby bluejay parked on the table saw legs like a mascot. It stayed there for about 2 hours with us sawing on the table it stood on.

Then after lunch I heard a thump behind me. Another had just left the nest from the tree that shades us all day. Then I heard a 3rd one fall. I thought it was injured from the fall.

After a while I went to check on the 3rd one when I thought I was being attacked by the mother. But instead it was a 4th baby bird that had landed on my back. It was attached to the back of my shirt and Mr. Mackey had to get it off with a stick.

The baby birds all hopped off around the neighborhood. I think they'll cope well in life.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Under construction Pt II

Today is church day. And in the fair mother city that means the sidewalks pretty much roll up on Sundays and not much work gets done. That's OK. It's the culture I'm embedded within and I can respectfully live with that. Most everyone works throughout the week and Sunday is the only day they get to worship one way or another and relax.

I have to remind myself of this as Agent Wife & I enjoy a life where we don't have to work for another person or punch a clock to put food on the table. I've been a part of that regular 40-plus hour work week life for years and it's schedule oriented. Schedules are good. It's how stuff gets done.

I'm a "schedule" guy myself. But my schedule is different thus my worship is different.

My partner in this wheelchair ramp construction, Mr. Mackey, goes to a church service on Sunday morning then to some kind of home group church service on Sunday evening. We only worked on the ramp from about 1:30p-5:00p. Better than nothing.

It would be selfish, if not abusive of me to expect him to skip his church services to build this ramp. Building the ramp, in a way, is one of my forms of worship. I have to remind myself that this is not so with others.

While framing out the porch deck and first 10 foot incline, a man from Obi-Wan's church dropped by. Obi-Wan hasn't been able to attend his baptist church in 3 years, so this guy comes by once every 2 weeks and brings tapes of the sermons.

Obi-Wan's church friends always get nervous around me. They usually show up when I'm doing some kind of work around his house that Obi-Wan himself can't do. It's as if they're thinking "Oh shit. That skinny ass white boy's doing what I'm supposed to be doing."

It really is kind of awkward. But I don't care. I figure Obi-Wan's one of my best friends, I'm young with energy, and I've got plenty of time on my hands. I wouldn't expect his church friends or anyone to do this stuff when they probably all work full time jobs.

Thank you CEO for Obi-Wan's church friends, Mr. Mackey's heart and skills, and allowing me to be available.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Under construction Pt I

Ever since Obi-Wan was in the hospital a few months back, he's been itching to get a wheel chair ramp made. He's had a wheelchair since last fall. His nurse had a guy build a small ramp in his garage. But it's short and steep and hard to navigate.

I'd love to build it, but I can't build crap. Well...I think I have the mind set and personality to be an excellent builder (neat, methodical, organized, etc.). But I have no experience. And no tools.

I built a compost box out of 4 pallets once.

Obi-Wan wanted to "coach" me through the building. He's built lots of things throughout his life. I've seen many of them. There all practical, but jicky. He's got a bookshelf made with a bunch of old scrap lumber. He also built his own china cabinet. It's all one piece. It can't be moved.

If Obi-Wan had the ability to build his own wheelchair ramp (a weird thought) it would probably be a glorified piece of plywood on a cinderblock. I could probably build that.

But I think I'm getting pretty good at organizing events (like wheelchair ramp building) with the right people. So I recruited Mr. Mackey from across the street. The Mackey's have known Obi-Wan for over 30 years.

Mr. Mackey is the brains behind this operation. He builds stuff for a living. He's mostly a cabinet maker. His shop in his back yard is killer. It's like a giant toy room. You flip a switch and like five blades turn on and start moving like a giant Christmas display. There's vacuum tubes hooked up from the ceiling to the table saws that remove the dust, etc.

And me...I'm a pretty good second-set-of-hands, hole digger, gopher boy, and liaison between Obi-Wan and the actual builder.

Mr. Mackey's doing a good job. It's going to turn out real pro.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Hair Cut Lady

I got my hair cut today. Not really cut. More like trimmed and shaped. Out of my eyes, etc.

I haven't had my hair cut in over a year. Once upon a time back in college I had hair down to my nipples. In recent years I've sported a more military type cut. It was comfortable and cheap. But I started growing it out because 1) I rarely have money to get it cut these days and 2) my Canadian wife wanted me to look less GI Joe and 3) I've proven to the world I'm a responsible adult, so I might as well look however the hell I want. Maybe it's a mild mid-life crisis.

A long time ago when my hair was short and sort of styled (pre-GI Joe days) I use to go to the Hair Cut Lady. I stumbled upon her by accident and found her to be the best around. Then I went broke and visited an old fashioned barber for a couple of years. But I had one-too-many bad haircuts with the barber. So over a year ago I went back to HCL. She had changed salons and thus her price dropped. She fixed everything the barbers screwed up and I said, "You'll be my hair cutter for life!". Then I grow my hair out for 15 months...and don't see her until today.

I like the Hair Cut Lady. Spunky and opinionated, she's about my age (mid 30s), real rock-n-roll looking, married to a guy who owns a tattoo shop down from the salon she works at, and has 2 beautiful teenage daughters that she loves. And I think they're into the biker scene as well. And oh yeah, as of last November they now own and operate a neighborhood bar.

Basically, HCL is an anomaly within the ridiculously religious culture of the fair mother city: a fully functional family that has no religious baggage and living the fast life. There's not too many folks like them around here.

I love them. If I ever wanted another tattoo I'd visit her husband. If I ever patronized drinking holes I'd spend money at theirs. But mean while, my hair needs cutting every so often so I'll go see HCL.

She and her husband get to see and serve the slice of life that the church crowd misses (or ignores): tattoo lovers and tattoo artists, the bar crowd, drunks, crippled elderly ladies getting their hair permed, and jackasses like me getting my hair cut once in a blue moon.

I admire (and I'm slightly jealous of) their ability to move in and out of the unchurchy parts of the fair mother city while raising well behaved and dignified school aged kids.

Although I'm not 100% positive on this, my agent instincts tell me that they do not know the CEO. I really hate writing that. There's a fine line between judgment and discernment. But I remember once HCL being mad at how churchy this town is. If she only knew how I could relate. She grew up here so I'd bet she has a church background somewhere. I pray that they would know the peace of Jesus someday.

I don't know who, what, when, where, or how...but I'd like to have more contact with Hair Cut Lady. Maybe the CEO might create some kind of alliance like that between an agent and a snitch (a snitch is someone who gets paid under the table by the agent for spying in areas the agent can't operate in for whatever reason).

Maybe I just need to get my hair cut more often...