Random Thoughts Rushing

Circle the wagons! I have had random thoughts rushing in from everywhere and I figured now would be as good a time to share them as any…

MORE MONEY THAN BRAINS…

Here are a few of pet peeves I have about driving: The first one is the person who pulls out in front of me when I am just about on top of them and there is nobody behind me. I have to slam on my brakes to avoid crashing into them. I don’t understand why they couldn’t wait for me to go by.

This takes me to pet peeve number 2: The person who pulls across my lane when all they had to do is wait for me to pass by and it would have been clear to safely turn. It also seems like I see more big SUV’s and trucks exceeding the speed limit and pulling unsafe stunts and yet I observe that it’s the family van or car that gets stopped by the officers patrolling the highways.

This is my pet peeve number 3. Finally, I’ve said this before; I like people less when I am driving. Amazingly though, pet peeve number 4 is that I realize I dislike myself even more as I hear myself ranting and raving at these goofy drivers.

LEAD, FOLLOW OR GET OUT OF THE WAY…

For two weekends in a row we had snow falling like we had not seen in the last 15 years. The first six inches were okay, but after that it became difficult to deal with from the stand point that my back is killing me and we now live in a community that requires us to keep our driveway and sidewalks clear.

Still I did my best to keep the area clear of the snow but it just kept falling. By the end of the first two days I was so racked with back, hip and leg pains that my wife, Mary sent me inside telling me she didn’t want me to do anymore.

But since my son didn’t have school due to closures, we went out and shoveled while Mary was at work. We even ventured out into the roadways just to assist stranded drivers stuck in the ice and snow. It’s the only way I know how to show him what to do and what is right in the face of adversity.

AND THE ENVELOP PLEASE…

Over the last few days I have heard news stories and read articles and watched the talking heads comment about how the nearly 5,800 voting members of the Motion Picture Academy snubbed Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

Please let me help you understand what has really happened. Mr. Gibson did not make this movie for the pleasure of the Academy or its award. He didn’t even submit the film for review or send DVD’s to voting members. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19

What is of greater value is that Michael Moore’s film, “Fahrenheit 9/11” was not nominated. He spent a desperate amount of time campaigning for an ‘Oscar’ and the voting members couldn’t even see their way clear to toss him a bone. “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” Proverbs 26:11

SHARPENING THOSE DEBATE SKILLS…

My son Kyle and I were in one of those office supply stores when I discovered that some of his writing lessons from school were actually sticking. We were in the pen and pencil section and he was asking me to purchase him a couple of mechanical pencils for class. I wanted to know why as I pointed out the nice bright, yellow pencils with the number two lead and soft pink erasers.

He hit me with a three-point compare and contrast statement that took me by complete surprise.

Kyle brought home the fact that if he ran out of lead he could reload his mechanical pencil right at his desk without wasting time to go to the sharpener and back, he wouldn’t have to throw the pencil away should the eraser become completely worn away, it is replaceable and lastly he said with a completely straight face, “It also keeps me from chewing on the wood.”

I bought the mechanical pencils.

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The First Drill

It was raining when they pulled through the gates of Lackland Air Force Base. I was feeling nervous because I was not certain to expect during basic training.

The sign over the guard station read, ‘Gateway to the Air Force,’ and I thought, “That’s pretty catchy.”

During the flight from California the group had been load and boastful. Suddenly they were quiet.

The silence grew more and more severe as the hours on the bus increased. At the airport a sergeant had screamed at us and called us names.

It was no longer a great adventure, it was now serious business.

The bus made a noisy hiss as it came to a stop. To the right was a yellow building with several doors.

They were all open and the fluorescent lights threw their bright white light out onto the puddle water of the asphalt parking area. The door to the bus opened up and on stepped a man.

He wore a green poncho and smoky bear hat covered with clear plastic, “Alright ladies, off your asses and on your feet!”

A terrible tremble develop in my knees, but I did as told.  It took only a few minutes to get the bus unloaded.

And within those few minutes everyone but the sergeant was soaked. He stood there looking at us, slowly moved his head to the left to right, both hands on his intimidatingly on his hips.

Soon another bus pulled up in place of the one that had just deposited the wet group standing on the wet asphalt. They too unloaded just as quickly, which was not quick enough for us.

“Alright, Ladies,” the sergeant bellowed, “Pick up your bags.”

As quickly as we could we picked up our bags. It was not quick enough we soon found out.

“Put them down!” the man shouted.

Then as quickly as he finished the first order, he said, “Pick them up!”

Again we tried to get it right. And again we failed.

The rain beat down on us so hard that it splashed back up into our faces after it struck the asphalt’s surface. This routine continued for nearly two hours.

“Pick them up,” the man in the poncho and smoky bear hat would shout. Then “Put them down.”

Over and over this continued until he was finally satisfied that we had done it in unison. From there he counted we off in fours and allowed us into the building where it was dry.

The Roll Over Accident

The glass doors to the VA’s emergency room shushed open as he hobbled in from the parking lot where he had left his truck.

“Thank goodness,” I said to myself as I sat down knowing that sooner or later a doctor would be able to check out my ailing back.

The trouble began early that morning. I was lying in bed about half asleep when he rolled over; as he did he felt or mostly heard a pop emanate from someplace near his hips.

This noise led to a sudden numbing sensation that left me unable to move or even speak for several minutes. I laid there in bed next to Mary believing I was on the verge of death.

“I’m having a stroke,” he told myself as tears gently slipped down my face and onto my pillow.

Soon the numbness subsided.

A tingling sensation replaced the numbness — thousands of needles and tiny jolts of electricity shooting through my body. The pain eventually drove me to try to get out of bed.

At first my lower half did not want to respond and then once it did, it was torture. I had never felt such agony before and it caused me to cry out.

My lower back hurt worse than it ever had before. I felt a wave of panic rush around me as I struggled to sit up and place my legs over the side of the bed.

It took me a couple of minutes, but I finally stood up. I had been afraid that if I tried too soon, I might fall and find myself in worse shape.

After about fifteen minutes I could feel the bottom of my feet again as well as my legs. The horrible pain in my lower back was still there but I figured that if I didn’t twist, turn or bend I could live with it.

As I stood up the pain grew into a stabbing pain that shot through my body, from neck and foot. I knew then I had to get to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

Sweating as I pulled on my jeans, I thought about how I had just retired after twenty-five years of working.

“I was looking forward to some relaxation,” I told myself, “now I can’t even get my own pants on. I can’t believe this is happening now.”

That’s when I discovered that my left foot and leg were very weak.

“You’re going to have to drive” I told Mary as she was getting dressed.

She helped me limp to the truck and get in. I found myself short of breath due to the pain in my back. Within minutes we were en route to the Veterans Hospital in downtown Reno.

“I hope they have good drugs,” I said aloud.

Mary looked at me in surprise because she knew I didn’t take pain medication.

After checking in at triage, I was told to have a seat, that the doctor would see me in a little while. I couldn’t find a comfortable position as every position was just as painful as the one before.

Shifting again, I looked at Mary, “I remember when rolling out of bed was jus’ something I said,” then I added, “I never really thought I’d be rolling out of bed for real!”

We both laughed. Then it occurred to me that I was in this position simply because I had rolled over in bed.

The Little Finger

The boy in the orange and lime green shirt lifted the hammer and struck the water worn stone in front of him. It sounded dulled when the hammerhead struck — dull and uneven.

Approaching the boy, he looked at me and my Sheriff’s uniform and immediately stood up. He held both of his hands behind his back.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

The little boy of eleven answered, “Nothing.”

“Then what do you got behind your back?” I countered.

I had a smile on my face, amused by the thought that children never changed.

The boy put his head down and slowly brought his hand from behind his back. In his left hand he held a white tube with yellow and red wires dangling from either end.

I stepped closer to the boy as he extended his right hand out with the palm up.

“Can I have that please?” I asked, more coaxing than demanding.

“Now go home and go quick!” I ordered.

“Am I in trouble?” the boy asked.

I jus’ shook my head “no” and he turned and ran past me and the other Deputy Sheriff standing in the field.

Sighing, I slowly started to turn towards my partner Dale.

“What should…,” I started to say.

BLAM! The white tube exploded with a thunderous roar.

For a second the world seemed to stop for both of us. Dale was frozen in place and I was sitting on the ground blinking; blood squirting from what remained of my right hand.

I raised my hand above my head out of instinct and Dale grabbed at his radio.

As I stood up, Dale commanded, “Sit down, you’re in shock.”

But I was not listening as I was looking at the bright red blood running down my arm and the mangled stump of my little finger. My ring finger was disjointed and misshapen as well.

I looked at the ground in search of the missing little finger.

“Help me find my finger, Dale,” I said.

The words sound like they spoken from a tin can, hollow to the point of nearly an echo, yet they did not echo. The fire department and two other law-enforcement officers arrived including a California Highway Patrolman, but I didn’t realize this, I was so intent on finding his missing finger.

Sam, the highway patrol officer, walked up and put his hand on my shoulder. He said something, but I couldn’t hear it.

That’s when I panicked.

Sam walked me to his patrol car and opened the passenger side, where I sat down. Dale was directing the fire fighters and the other Sheriff’s Deputy in the attempt to recover my lost little finger.

Leaning back, I closed my eyes as Sam bandaged me jus’ enough to stop the bleeding. When I next opened my eyes I was at Seaside Hospital.

Inside the emergency room the nurses were busy making preparations for the doctor to work on my hand. They cleaned the wound which consisted of a deep gauge in the palm, the dislocated ring finger with lots of cuts at the base where it should be attached to the hand, and the absent pinky finger that had been violently ripped from the big knuckle.

My ears were also a great source of irritation for me. It was the sound of the Pacific Ocean pounding the sandy beaches of DeMartin’s Beach, a sound I normally enjoyed, except it was now so loud and I couldn’t get away from it.

“I’m going to have to sew the top of your little finger shut,” the doctor said.

I couldn’t understand him, so he wrote it down, where I stared at it blankly for a few seconds and nodded “Okay”.

I was hoping this was a bad dream and that I’d soon awaken from it.

The doctor started to close the remaining flap of skin over my finger as the nurse cleaned my face. I had a little cut next to his nose jus’ under my left eye.

The nurse felt it, then looked at the doctor and felt it again. Suddenly the cut erupted.

The nurse jumped back as her eyes rolled up into the back of her head as she collapsed to the floor. The doctor’s eyes widened with astonishment as he looked at the cut and then to the object lying in my lap.

The cut burned deep as the nurse had touched it a second time and was a momentary sharp pain jus’ before the nurse fainted. I had my eyes closed tight against that pain.

When I opened them, the doctor was holding the missing part of my little finger. He was busy cleaning it off and getting it ready to be sewn back on.

I leaned back and drifted off.

The medication the doctor had given me was taking affect and could relax now. The bad dream wasn’t so bad after all; I had my little finger back.

The New Year: 2004

A new year has begun and it hardly seems like the old one got started.

I feel like I am still working on projects I initiated in the year 2000. Yet I look around me and I know it’s not true. It’s just a feeling. Perhaps it is something that comes from age and the perceived movement of time.

For me the changing of the year is a reminder that there is only so much human time in our lives yet an infinite amount of time as God would measure it . It is so hard to wrap my mind around it that I would much rather do winter cleaning than think about it.

Either way God was bound to appear in the mix.

It has been amazing to discover that as I start to clean out drawers and old boxes, some of the items I have run across. I have found papers that I figured were long ago lost.

These are papers that I had first started writing as a child of about nine. My mother saved them all through the years and I did not know it.

I only found out after her death and growing brave enough to open some of the things she left behind. These have become kind of a mini-time capsule of sorts from me.

I read them and discover that I thought some extraordinary things as a child through my young adulthood. I can also see how .come my parents ended up with all those gray hairs, too.

I write about all the many times I found myself in trouble at school or with my schoolmates and such. There are also objects that I had put away so well that I figured that I had tossed them out with the garbage or something.

It is amazing to find a military patch that I once wore over twenty-five years ago tucked under the fold of a cardboard box. It brought back memories that caught me of f guard. It also made me feel young and old all at the same time.

Often times when I get on a cleaning jag it is because I am afraid that I will end up like some pathetic old pack rat, hording every little piece of paper until it is nearly impossible to move around my home. Yet there is a small fear inside me that says that if I should throw out a certain paper or file or item, that’s exactly the time when I will need it.

That’s has happened before and then I’ve found myself stuck, either calling around to get a copy of something I needed or going out and buying a new whatever it was I threw out.

Of course I know I am not that bad, just yet. But that’s why I go on these cleaning terrors and amaze myself by the things I find. This last cleaning jag and the turning of the year got me to thinking about how the Lord works to clean or lives out too, if we let him.

Stop and think about this if you will. I found a file filled with a bunch of old bills dated from 12 years ago. They were telephone bills and I started to put them in the save and review file. My thinking was that perhaps I would find a telephone number of a person in them that I had forgotten about.

After awhile it occurred to me that I was being silly. It had been more than a decade and I had all the current telephone numbers of all the people I needed to know in my life right now. Why waste my time with the past and searching for something that is worthless?

That’s when I heard that gentle voice deep inside me say, “That’s what forgiveness is all about.” It was at that moment that I knew I had to tell as many people as I could about how simple the idea of forgiveness really is for them. It is like getting rid of unwanted and unneeded trash.

All I had to do was decide to get rid of them. I did not really outwardly ask, I just said, “I don’t want to live with these feelings anymore Lord.”

It was instantaneous for me. I cannot say that it will be the same for you as we all work differently on some basic level.

For the longest time I worried about how come I never felt relief after asking for forgiveness. It’s because I insisted on taking my trash back.

Perhaps it is human nature to do that, after all there is a saying that goes something like, “We are always are own harshest critics.”

This is an ongoing process.

Everyday, sometimes two, three and four times a day I have to tell Jesus I don’t want the feelings of guilt, of shame, of uselessness, or remorse, or bitterness or whatever may be shadowing me at the time. I have to decide I don’t want them and then give them up.

One of the best examples I can cite is the thief on the Cross beside Jesus as they were crucified together. Be simply decided to believe and therefore was rewarded with the promise of seeing God in Heaven by the end of that day.

There are still a couple boxes I have to tackle and a closet to clean out and I have no idea what I’m going to do about the garage just yet, but I have .found some peace in my soul through daily prayer and talking to God. It doesn ‘t hurt either that, I allow myself a little quite time too so that I can listen for that quiet little voice to tell me what I need to know .