Tuesday’s Gone

Well, not quite yet, but almost.  Today was my Monday, thanks to the rain yesterday, but thankfully it didn’t behave like a Monday.  Granted, I did spend all day at one of my least favorite properties, rezoning irrigation controllers and trying to make a watering schedule that will satisfy the residents of this particular HOA. (For those of you that may be new here and don’t know, I do commercial irrigation for a living).  On any other day, being at this property would have been a royal pain, but today was different.

If you haven’t been here before, let me give some quick background information.  I have been trying for most of the month of October to get a small residential business off the ground (or should I say in the ground?).  Today I received my first contact from a potential client.  Nothing is set in stone yet, but I am very thankful to have the first contact behind me.  If any of you have ever tried to start a small business, I’m sure that you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Nothing in life worth doing is ever easy, but waiting is probably one of, if not the, hardest thing a human being can do.  At least having that potential makes it seemike the idea and effort put into it were worth it.

But that is not all.  It is Tuesday after all, and besides being the preferred day for tacos, it is also a two ‘fer kind of day.  My wife received a message from our friends at the thrift shop that works with our homeless ministry that helps provide clothes and hygiene kits to the needy and underprivileged in our area.  They have another load of donations for us that will be ready to pick up this weekend.  Although, like Forest’s box of chocolates, we never know what we’re going to get, any items received will greatly benefit those in need.  Our friends have been a huge blessing for us.  Without them our ministry could not do what it does.

So, even though I had reasons to not look forward to going back to work today, God gave me two more reasons to thank him for the blessings in my life.  All I have I owe to Him.  As my good friend Kevin always says, God is on the move friends.

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The M Word

It’s here again.  The one day of the week that everyone likes the least.  That’s right, the dreaded M word.  Monday.  There, I said it.  The very mention of it can turn smiles to scowls.  For most folks, it marks the ending of the weekend and the beginning of the work week.  I am normally included in this group, but today Mother Nature decided I needed another day off (it’s hard to do landscape work in the rain after all).  So I’m sitting here, on the couch, waiting for everyone to wake up so that the day can truly begin.  As i look around the house, I can see the many ways I have been blessed.  Yesterday (as well as the rest of the weekend) was a bit hectic, so not all of my son’s toys made it back into the toy chest.  This may drive some parents nuts, including my wife, who like things to be in order when they start the day.  This reasoning is why our kitchen is sure to be a nerve-wracking experience for her this morning.  Let me explain.

Saturday morning I was up far too early for a Saturday to go help set up for the fundraising yard sale at our church.  I mean, who wants to hear the dreaded alarm clock toll its bells at 4:45 am on Saturday, right?  But, I had committed to help the day before and it would have been wrong to stay in bed.  Despite how warm and comfortable it may have been.  By 5 am I have managed to claw my way out of the clutches of my bed and have ventured out in search of breakfast and caffeine.  By 6 I had calmed the rumble in my belly with a biscuit from Bojangles and, with a liberal application of cappuccino from the gas station en-route to the church, I am resembling a fully functional human being again.  Set up for the sale goes pretty quickly and then I came home to grab my trailer (I volunteered to haul some trash from the back room to the local convenience center for disposal).  After I returned to the church and loaded the trash, the yard sale was in full swing.  I hung around for a while, helping load up the heavier items that our patrons had purchased, before receiving a call from our friend that donates clothing and other items to us from the thrift shop.  They had more items for me to pick up.  I excuse myself from the sale ans set off to unload the trash before heading to pick up the load of donations.

Our good friend that helped us get started on this mission of helping the homeless and less fortunate told us at the start that it would quickly snowball on us and we’d be up to our ears in it before we even knew what happened.  Y’all, he wasn’t kidding.  This was the second weekend in a row that our living room and kitchen has been full of clothing for the needy.  The twist came this week was that we also received some Christmas items in this week’s donation.  We have done pretty well so far finding places to benefit from all of the items we receive, either through a direct and immediate use by the people in need of them, or by donating them to shelters that can distribute the items out as the need arises.  Now we are faced with a new opportunity.  Our friends at the shelter here in town (I have mentioned them before, here and here) have very limited space and therefore are not able to decorate for Christmas with a tree.  That will change this year.  Part of what we received is a mini tree (3′ 6″) and some small ornaments that will fit it perfectly.  There were also some wall hangings that will be perfect for hanging on a door or in a window.  It may not be much, but sharing God’s love and brightening the lives of others can be accomplished just as well, if not better, by small acts of kindness over large and extravagant actions that may not represent what you truly feel in your heart.

We have a couple of full-sized trees as well.  We are going to try to place them with families that may not otherwise be able to have a tree for Christmas this year.  Right now we don’t have lights or ornaments for them, but I know that God will make a way if that is what we are meant to do.  He has blessed us with these friends and items that have allowed us to help so many others.

We also have a box of stuffed animals that we plan to donate to children this Christmas.  We are still looking for the best way to distribute them, but like most of the things that we have encountered on this journey, the way will become clear when the time is right.  As my wife and I have learned already, no matter what is given to us through the generosity of others, there is a need for it somewhere.  We may not see it at the time, but God didn’t bring these items into our hands without a reason and He will show us where they are needed.

As you begin you new work week, try not to overlook the blessing that it is.  Yes, it means that the weekend is over and you have to go back to the daily grind; but it also means that if you were fortunate enough to get out of bed this morning that you have been blessed.  You have been given another day, another chance to make a difference.  You may not know it, or believe it; but God has a plan for you, not just today, but everyday.  If you woke up this morning, if you are going about your routine, even if you are reading this blog, God has a plan for you and by allowing you to do these things He has given you another opportunity to find your place in that plan.  May you have a blessed day and be a blessing to someone else.

On This Date In History – Special Edition

I don’t usually post history on consecutive days, but as a man of the southern persuasion, I would be remiss in my duties if I did not acknowledge this sad day in Southern Rock history.  Especially since, like all boys (and girls) raised in the south, the subject of today’s post was part of our essential music exposure.  So come along as we take three steps (give or take) back to October 20, 1977.

October 20, 19

Plane crash kills 6, injures 20

Our journey today actually begins in the summer of 1977.  Members of the band Aerosmith inspected a plane they were considering chartering for their upcoming tour.  Concerns over the flight crew led the band to look elsewhere for their plane, which saved their lives.

The aircraft in question – a Convair 240 operated out of Addison, Texas – was then later chartered by the southern rock band Lynrd Skynrd, who was just setting out on a fall tour that promised to be their biggest to date.  However, on this date, during a flight from Greenville, South Carolina, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, their plane crashed in a heavily wooded area in southeastern Mississippi while attempting an emergency landing.

Three members of the band were killed, including Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines.  Also killed werethe band’s assistant road manager, the pilot, and the co-pilot.

The band, originally called “My Backyard” formed in 1964 in Jacksonville, Florida, and consisted of Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Larry Junstrom as its core.  The band performed under this name and several others at local and regional gigs before settling on the new name, Lynrd Skynrd (named after a high school nemesis named Leonard Skinner).  The band broke out nationally with their debut album Pronounced ‘lēh -‘nérd ‘skin – ‘nérd, which featured the hit song Free Bird.  Their follow up Second Helping featured the even bigger hit Sweet Home Alabama.

On October 17, 1977, the band released their fifth studio album, Street Survivors.  Three days later, their chartered plane began to run out of fuel while flying at 6,000 feet.  The crew tried to make an emergency landing at McComb Airfield, but the plane went down just outside of Gillsburg Mississippi.

For more information on this tragedy click here.  

I wish you safe travels to Sweet Home Alabama.  And remember, whiskey bottles and brand new cars cause trees to get in your way. 

On This Date In History – Special Edition

Howdy y’all.  It’s been a little while since my last post, partly due to a mild case of writer’s block but mostly due to the fact that life goes on.  Since this blog is just a recreational outlet for my thoughts, it may fall to the wayside from time to time when life gets busy.  For example, I spent the weekend collecting clothes donations that my wife and I had to sort and then deliver them to where the need was greatest.  I’ve I’ve also been trying to get a small side business off the ground in my spare time, so this blog has been neglected.  However, I saw something in my inbox this morning that could not be ignored, thus today’s blog post was born.  

Here at Friar Tuck’s, I try to do more than just share my thoughts and opinions.  I also try to inspire and, on Fridays or days like today, to educate.  When I saw this I knew it was my duty to present it, because the youth of America probably have no idea that these ever existed.  Follow me, if you will, on a little trip back to October 19, 1985.

October 19, 1985

The first Blockbuster store opens.

That’s right.  Before Netflix and chill.  Before Redbox.  Before Amazon.  Before the internet (yes, there was such a time)  came along and made everything convenient and on-demand.  Before any of that, there was Blockbuster.  If you wanted at home entertainment that exceeded the offerings of your normal television programming, you had to drive to a real brick and mortar store and search through shelf after shelf, looking for that certain VHS cassette (no DVDs, not in those days) that would provide the entertainment you sought.  And you had to have your membership card!  Without it you got nothing!

This was your ticket to an entire world of entertainment.

In the mid 90s, DVDs started to populate the shelves.  You could also rent games for nearly every gaming system on the market.  But then, in the late 90s, Netflix came along and offered DVD by mail.  Now you didn’t even have to leave home for entertainment! (Except to walk to your mailbox). 

In the early 2000s, Redbox presented a new option for DVD and game rental.  No waiting for the mail to run.  Redbox thrived because there was no overhead, there was no large staff to stock, restock, and check out your rentals.  By this time, Blockbuster’s rental fees were quadruple what Redbox offered the same movie for.  And the Redbox was in more convenient locations, at the grocery store, outside of the corner pharmacy,  even at gas stations.  Things began to look bleak for Blockbuster.

Then, by the end of the first decade of the new millennia, Netflix was offering live streaming movies from your internet connection.  Now you didn’t even have to get off the couch to see any movie you wanted.  You didn’t even have to put on pants!  Blockbuster tried to remain competitive, but they were late getting to the digital age and their gate closed in around them like a closing coffin lid.

Now, Blockbuster is gone.  A distant memory for those that were their loyal customers for well over a decade.  Today’s youth will never know about this now defunct way of life because, their world has always been digital.  They may have seen one of the once proud entertainment havens, but they look like this now:

If you want more information on the founding and growth of the franchise, click here.

If you enjoyed this brief stroll down memory lane, give a like and maybe a share.  And remember: Be kind, please rewind.

Pet Peeve Of The Day

This isn’t a new one, I’ve shared it before, but I’m bringing it up again because I was surprised by my reaction to it today.

Let me paint the scene.  I had just left the job site, headed for the shop after a particularly frustrating, and thanks to a pop-up rain shower, muddy afternoon.  I caught a break in traffic, but had to enter a lane that ended less than half a mile away at the next traffic signal.  I had to take this lane because there was, yep, you guessed it, bicyclists in the lane I needed.  They were in the lane because there was no designated lane for them.  I get that, not every road has them.  There was a line of traffic behind them, which should come as no surprise, but no one in front of them.  All I had to do was get up to the posted 35 mph speed limit, pass them,and change lanes before the traffic light.  Easy enough.  Except I never got the chance.  As I was accelerating, the guy pedaling in about 6th place in the pack decided that now was the perfect time to change lanes and pass his buddies.  Yes, that’s right, I got cut off by a bicycle y’all.  My first reaction was to hit the brakes, which I did.  My second reaction was a threefold action. 1) Lay on horn. 2) Extend the good ol’ one finger salute.  3) Direct names at and list off actions my fellow commuter could perform on himself, which I didn’t do.  I  quietly seethed at the fact that, by the time the guy on the bike had completed his pass, I had no room to pass and was forced into a left turn that I had not planned to make.  By the time the light had changed and I was watching the group pedal on and away from my new course, I had cooled down.  The steam had vented and the core was no longer at critical mass.  That made me think.  Did I avoid the latter action because I was in the company truck and it proudly advertises where to send complaints?  The answer is no.  Although, had I followed through on that plan I no doubt would have heard from the boss tomorrow morning.  The actual reason I didn’t do any of those things is because I’m starting to control my temper better, thanks to a lot of help from God.  He’s my anger management now.  After a few deep breaths, a new thought came to me.  What if that delay, which was only a few minutes (that I was still on the clock for anyway) kept me from being in an accident?  Busy road, lots of side streets, on-street parking, plenty of opportunities for anything to happen.  I actually had to smile.  Where the devil wanted me to lose my cool and get angry, I was able to maintain my composure and give thanks for what could have been a blessing in disguise.

I’m thankful that the situation turned out the way it did, but I still don’t think bicyclists belong on the same streets as cars without having to obey the same traffic laws.  I  am also proud of my self-control and faith that He was watching over me today.

A Tribute To The Greatest Woman I know

This one’s for you sweetheart.

My wife, in my opinion, is the single greatest woman I know.  Hands down, this is not a debate or a democracy.  You don’t get a vote.  This is the woman that I met shortly after my 19th birthday when I was a long haired rebel in a souped-up Nova, hell-bent on breaking every rule I could while rocketing down my path of self-destruction (for those of you that ever rode in that old Nova, you’ll agree that rocketing is a fairly accurate description).

At that time I was almost 4 years removed from watching my father lose his battle with cancer.  I was just over 3 years removed from being transplanted from my native home of Jacksonville, Florida and plopped down in Monroe, North Carolina, which at the time, was Hickville, USA as far as I was concerned.  (I mean, who puts a Walmart in the mall?).  I struggled to adapt and make friends.  I had 2 failed relationships behind me, and was stuck in the middle of a terrible one.  But, in my defense, I was a teenage boy and we all know what rules the life of a teenage boy.  I was a highschool dropout and I had one real friend.  I did have a full time job, but my money went into my bad habits and keeping my hotrod blazing down the road.  Ok, so I had two friends, because my car was always there when I was having a bad day.  Which was a common occurrence in those days.  It was nothing for me to hop in the car, crank up the hard rock, and drop the hammer.  In fact, it was a near daily activity.  Somehow the combination of obscenely loud exhaust, coupled with the scream of heavy metal guitar riffs, and the thought of all of those horses under the hood, waiting for their chance to stretch their legs, has a soothing effect on the mind.  It also has a way of making you feel invincible.  And you know what that leads to, right?  No?  Let me tell you then.  It leads to pushing it just a little bit harder, a little bit faster.  The next thing you know, you’re barreling onto the highway, oblivious to surrounding traffic, with the hammer down and no intentions of easing up until you outrun what’s eating you or you crash and burn (and not really caring which comes first).  So, yeah, I was was headed down the highway to hell in a multicolored, rattletrap Nova.

Now, enter the girl, and suddenly the car that was quite nearly the death of me catches her eye (I can only assume it was love at first sound, because that car looked like something out Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory).  The car inspires conversation.  Conversation leads to discovering common interests.  Then before you know it, the long haired rebel and the beautiful girl are best friends.  Fast forward a few months and that friendship has become more.  The car is no longer a demon, and the long haired rebel has been saved from his self destruction by an angel sent from above.

I knew almost from the beginning that I had found The One.  She had managed to pull me back from the edge, gave me reason to be happy, and showed me that life was worth living.  I later confirmed this theory when, as my 21st birthday rolled around and she bought me another Nova.  Guys, ANY woman that’ll buy you a hotrod is a keeper.  So, we got married.  We bought our first home. And another Nova (are you seeing the trend yet?).  And life was great.  For about 3 years.  Then we decided something was missing.

It was time for kids.  The only problem lay in an irregularity in a certain female system function.  So we went to the doctor and were told it wasn’t a problem.  We were given a prescription for birth control, told it would help to regulate everything and in 6 months to a year, we would be able to try.  Again, life was great.  Until the birth control did more harm than good.  Do you know one of the side effects of birth control?  Blood clots.  Do you know what the side effects of a severe blood clot are?  Death.  Now, don’t freak out on me.  She didn’t die, but came very close.  That was 2008, 6 years after God blessed me with an angel.  I was fortunate enough to keep her, but it made the possibility of going back on the birth control impossible.  So our dream of children would be just that, a dream, for 9 long years.  9 years of watching friends settle down and have kids.  9 years of seeing reports on TV of parents that didn’t want their kids abandoning them, or worse, killing them.  9 years of wondering, “Why not us?”. 

Then it all nearly fell apart.  Life hit the wall hard.  There were major problems, hard feelings, even a separation.  Things looked bleak, but we were determined to make it work.  (In other words, she was willing to forgive me for being an idiot and give me another chance.). Right after I learned that I would be blessed with yet another opportunity to live life with my best friend, we learned of another blessing from God.  That’s right, hello baby!  It was tough at first, working out issues and preparing for an event that had been given up as a “never gonna happen”, but we persevered and we made it.

But there was still something missing.  We had each other again.  We had our wonderful son.  But we still weren’t happy. She figured it out first.  We had been blessed numerous times, but still hadn’t gotten the message.  She heard the call first.  It started as a desire to help veterans, a group of people that she, as well as I, have always been very fond of.  She started making some calls, and meeting dead ends.  But, she persevered (she may not believe it, but it’s one of her more prominent traits.) and eventually she found someone who would talk to her.  That led us to the shelter we cook meals for twice a month.  That contact led us to the ministry we help feed and clothe the homeless through.  And it also led us to church, where we finally found what had been missing all along.

We had been blessed to find each other.  We ignored the message.  I almost lost her in the most serious way possible.  We ignored the message.  We almost lost each other.  We were given a second chance and the blessing we had been looking for all those years.  We finally got the message.  We were ignoring our blessings and not giving thanks to where they had come from, but no longer.  Now we are attending church, we’re helping out with the homeless and less fortunate, we’re trying to create a better environment for our son to grow up in.  And most importantly, we are happy.  We are now working toward living the life we should have been all along.  

I know you’re reading this sweetheart, so let me say thank you.  I am so grateful for the day that God put you on my path.  Thank you for not giving up on me and letting God bring me home.  Thank you for being a wonderful mother to our son.  Thank you for all that you do for me on a daily basis, even the small things that I often forget to say thank you for.  And finally, thank you for being the spiritual center of our little family.  If you had not finally answered the call, we wouldn’t be where we are, helping those that we are, or be anywhere near the road that will take us where we want to go.  I know you’ve been feeling down the last couple of days so I thought I’d tell the world, right here with God and the internet as my witnesses, that you are an amazing woman.  I am lucky and blessed to have you.  Our son is fortunate to have the best mother he could have asked for.  And finally, because of your huge heart, you are being a blessing to so many people.

I love you angel.

Ode To Southern Humidity

Anyone that lives in the south knows exactly what I mean.  You probably just cursed silently, or even out loud thinking about it.  For those of y’all that don’t know, a beautiful spring or fall day across the south can be ruined by a little (or a lot) of excess moisture in the air.  Like today for example, although it has been a beautiful day (I know it’s overcast and rain is threatening, but if you’re reading this then you woke up today and that makes it a beautiful day.) with temperatures in the mid 70s this morning, the humidity lay across the landscape like a thick down blanket.  The air felt like it weighed a ton.  If you had to do anything more strenuous than walk to your car this morning, you looked like you showered with your clothes on.  And it only took about 10 minutes.  Thankfully, the humidity eased off after the sun rose and helped the moisture to evaporate back up into the clouds, where it will return to us this evening or tomorrow in the form of rain.  I don’t know if this phenomenon occurs up north, (not the rain, obviously, but the oppressive humidity) and I have always heard that parts of the southwest know nothing of this, because “it’s a dry heat”, but mornings like these make the desert look attractive and maybe the winters in Yankeeland aren’t so bad…nah, who do I think I’m kidding?  I mean, who retires and moves to Jersey or anywhere else above the Mason/Dixon right?  I’m proud to be southern and happy to be in the south, where we say God bless you and bless your heart.  True Southerners will know the difference.