Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Stained Glass...

I used to design and make stained glass windows. I gave it up because it caused my wrist and thumb to ache without mercy for days on end. I enjoyed it and still have all my tools and a large stock of unused materials. I've thought about trying it again and yesterday I was given the nudge to go ahead and try once more. A beautiful and sweet friend of ours, Penelope Elizabeth Goatsmith (we call her Peg), asked me if I would incorporate glass from the church where she grew up into two small stained glass windows. She gave me free rein on design and a long lead time....no rush, no worries. If she had added those magic words, "Money is no object" I would be planning a revised retirement plan right now but since she didn't I opted for an extra large bottle of Advil to handle the expected pain.

Peg is a wonderful friend and we love her to the moon and back. If I could I would gladly make these windows for her at no charge. Unfortunately, I will have to charge her for the cost of materials and materials are expensive. Stained glass work was the most expensive hobby I ever experienced. Of course I'm not into sailing like a couple of my distant relatives, in which case that hobby would have risen to the top of the expensive list, but still....the required materials are unique therefore expensive. Add the cost of that extra large Advil and the cost rises to a staggering upper two digits.

I've reviewed designs on the internet for minutes and minutes now and haven't found inspiration. I may have to find my old sketch book (aka yellow legal pad) and work something out. I thought about copying the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. His designs are beautiful but good grief that man must have love cutting glass! I can't really plan on a large pattern because Peg only stole...I mean, she was only given one panel of glass from the old church. What to do...what to do? I think I'll pull out my old stock of glass and use what I have, along with her panel, to create something right on the work table....oh man, that reminds me...I sold my old work table. I guess my first step will be to build a new work table. I'm thinking I better get busy. I'll keep you informed.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Creek

There was a creek running through our town of Hurst. I have no idea if it had a name but if it did it's been bulldozed and buried along with the creek and all the pristine land running along side of it. I wish I had known the creek's name because it occupies so much of my memory.

I've told the story of the park close to our house on Elm Street. I've mentioned the trouble Glenn and I tended to get into at this park. The biggest reason we were supposed to stay away from the park is because we had to cross the creek to get there. Actually the creek was our favorite attraction. We would swing out over the creek on grapevines hanging from the old oak trees. We fished for crawdads and sometimes actually caught one or two. We waded and skipped stones. It was a wonderful pastime.

When we moved to New Mexico my parents rented out our house on Elm Street. They knew we wouldn't make Roswell our permanent home and they wanted to keep the house. It was kind of like home to us. Go figure... Anyway, we moved back to Hurst and the lease hadn't run out for our tenants. My folks found a house in a bit more "upscale" neighborhood on the south end of town for us to rent while we waited out the lease. As luck would have it, the creek....same creek, ran less than a hundred yards from this house. It took no time at all for Glenn and me to reintroduce ourselves to those muddy waters.

The creek on the south end of town was much more rugged than where we were used to playing. There were drop-offs into the water, deep areas, and lots of trees hanging overhead. It was actually a fairly dangerous place for kids to play. We loved it. In a matter of days we had the entire length of it between Redbud Drive and Woodland Avenue memorized. Because of the depth of the water and the oncoming cold weather we were a bit slow in getting soaked to the bone. I think it was about a week before I convinced Glenn, with a gentle nudge to his back, to take a jump. Luckily, the spot we chose for his little fall was fairly shallow. He managed to walk out of it, slipping and going under only twice. He chased me good-naturedly all over the neighborhood with that little shrieking thing he used to do with his voice. He kept repeating something about killing me slowly if he caught me. He was so much fun.

We never found any crawdads in this part of the creek. It was too hard being patient with a piece of string tied around a bit of bacon when the banks were so steep and slippery. What we did find was a path along the creek beaten down by what we figured must have been early explorers or grizzly bears. The path ran right along the edge of the creek. If you weren't familiar with the area it would be really easy to fall off and into the water. Glenn and I could walk it blindfolded within a week.

As the winter wore on my cousin Mike came for a weekend visit. It was bitterly cold on that Saturday morning. Sleet was falling off and on and we naturally thought we better go check out the creek. If there was ice on it we wanted to test it out. There was a thin layer of ice forming, about as much as we ever see on a body of water in Texas, but there was no way we could get on it. We were at a loss as to what we would do for fun. I thought for a minute and then challenged Mike to a race. First one to reach the bridge on Woodland Ave would not be a loser. I took off with Mike right behind me and Glenn right behind Mike. About forty yards or so into the run we came to the first of many cutouts, or washouts, in the path. The water was amazingly deep in each one of these cutouts for some reason but the deep water was nothing compared to the distance you fell before hitting the water. This first cutout was only about four feet across and I easily cleared it. Mike didn't know about it so one minute he was hot on my heels and the next he vanished.

In my defense I did have a fleeting feeling of guilt as I flew over the cutout. There was the possibility Mike wouldn't notice it in time...especially since Glenn or I neither one had mentioned it....and in fact, somewhere deep in my sub-conscience I planned it to turn out that way, but I did regret it some. As I turned around and saw Glenn looking down into those freezing waters and reaching for Mike I felt downright remorseful. But, think about it. Mike was going at such a pace that his feet ran out of dirt before his body got the message to stop. He didn't free fall into the creek. He more or less ricocheted from one wall of dirt to another until he finally hit the water. Had he been a steel ball in a pinball machine it would have sounded like, PING PING PING PING SPLASH!

I have to say, mainly because Mike never will, that he was about as funny as I've ever seen him. Did you know that freezing mud is really hard? Mike must bruise easily too. With purple bruises and blue lips he was a sight to behold. It was so funny I laughed while Glenn and I fished him out. I laughed all the way through the wooded area back to our house and I laughed as we walked into the kitchen and told the story to Mama. I sensed I might be in trouble when she didn't laugh with me but I knew her spankings never hurt. However, my Dad had taken a rare Saturday off and was sitting in the den and thinking to himself, "Boy I sure feel like spanking somebody today. Maybe Rusty will screw up." I made his day...

Monday, April 2, 2018

656 Elm Street

We were so cotton-picking rich growing up we felt sorry for most of our friends. Our house had real brick on the front of it and it was the biggest house we could ever imagine. It had to be at least 900 square feet. It was huge I'm telling you! Friends and neighbors described our house as the one on the street with all the trees. My dad loved planting trees. Every time he saw a sale on trees another one was planted in our front yard. Of course no two trees were alike. That would have been boring. Mowing the lawn in our yard was a unique experience. We felt sorry for the poor neighbors around us who walked back and forth with their mowers cutting grass in the hot sun. I don't know how they didn't fall asleep behind the mower. We never went more than a few feet in a line before getting to go around another tree. The yard was always shady. We were so darn rich!

My dad worked up to three jobs to make sure we had everything we needed growing up. Oh sure, the other kids would show up at school with their P.F. Flyers but you could buy those anywhere. It took creativity and lots of shopping skill to find tennis shoes for under $2.00 a pair. We were spoiled I tell you. My dad was an electrician at the defense plant. He also sacked groceries at the Worth Food Store in Haltom City and as more and more kids needed $2.00 tennis shoes he cleaned floors and toilets at the Glenview Community Hospital. We felt sorry for our friends whose dads only had one job. We couldn't understand how grown men could be so lazy to quit working at five in the afternoon. If our dad got home before ten at night we worried he must be sick.

One day in June, I believe it was in 1956, my dad came home with the station wagon loaded down with something. We knew it was Glenn's birthday so we figured the favorite son had scored big time. As it turned out dad had been shopping for Glenn's birthday but the White's Auto Store wouldn't let him charge a toy wheelbarrow and shovel so he went ahead and bought new bicycles for Cindy and me. That way the wheelbarrow and shovel would be a high enough amount to warrant setting up an account. For years after that all our birthday and Christmas gifts came from White's Auto Store. We were glad they sold more than auto supplies.

Yep, we were so cotton-picking rich. We never knew most people measure wealth by how much money they have.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trouble on 281

I’ve always told stories based on facts and actual events. Debbie has commented I stretch the truth so much that someday it’s going to break and slap me right in the face. I don’t think that will ever happen but I will keep it in mind. If I didn’t make the stories more “colorful” they would be boring. To be honest, I don’t have enough imagination to actually make a story up from scratch so I’ve relied on the humorous memories of my past to keep the tale alive.

All that said, the following story is a complete work of fiction. I made it all up and it’s a step or two away from my norm. Oh sure, I did actually have a seafoam green 1967 Pontiac Tempest when I was in college and yes, it did give me all kinds of trouble with overheating. And, yes I’m sure I did make at least one trip down state Hwy 281 in order to watch a cousin get married in Llano but the rest of it…..total fiction.

Trouble on 281…

I had been driving since six in the morning and making great time. My absolutely beautiful seafoam green 1967 Pontiac Tempest with chrome-reverse wheels, baby-moon caps and Goodyear Widetrack red walls definitely made a statement. The statement was, “Man, I wish I could have afforded the GTO but this is a nice alternative!” I was proud of my new car and it had no problem getting on down the road. I was on Texas state Hwy 281 headed south. I had passed through Stephenville and was about four miles from the Hwy 6 intersection when I heard an unhealthy whine from under the hood. Being smarter than most nineteen year-olds I knew this whine was simply my imagination and would go away as soon as I turned up the 8-track player. After another couple of miles the car began to lurch….you know….LuRCh. You’ve had it happen, right? Your driving along and all of a sudden...LURCH. You look at the gas gauge and realize you should have filled up in Stephenville. Because you are a kind and considerate individual you are able to make the car lurch on down the road to a little, run-down but excellently located gas station. That’s what happens, right? Not so much for me either.

When the Pontiac started to lurch along, I pulled over to the side of the road. As soon as I stopped I realized the whine I had heard earlier was not my imagination. It was high pressure steam coming out of the radiator. The car wasn’t out of gas. It was out of water. Now I don’t know how many of you take the time to check all your fluids before heading out on a road trip but I do this religiously….unfortunately I didn’t start until after this trip. I was in trouble. If I didn’t make it to Llano for the rehearsal dinner on time my cousin Joe Bob would never ask me to be his best man again for any of his future weddings. But I wasn’t sitting on the interstate and there just wasn’t a whole lot of traffic out on 281 at this time of day. I started to walk down the road in the direction of Hico but I knew it was too far away. After a few minutes I walked back to my car and took a seat behind the wheel. There was no point in trying to figure out how to fix things. The radiator was empty and even if I could have found water I had noticed that most of the steam had been coming from a long crack along the bottom seam of the radiator. Nothing but a tow truck was going to help me. While I thought about what to do I turned on the radio to see if maybe I would get an idea how far away I was to civilization. You are probably thinking, “Poor old Russ. His trouble on 281 was a broken down Pontiac but it will make a good story someday”. Well, I didn’t know the real trouble on 281 hadn’t even started. As I found a local station on the radio I heard this public service announcement: “Please be advised! Two murders have been committed on state Hwy 281 between Stephenville and Hico. All travelers are advised to lock their doors and not pick up any hitchhikers. The suspect is approximately 20 years old, 145 pounds, 5’10”, with brown hair and long sideburns”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! They just described me! I was in some real trouble. If I had been one to use profanity I would have gone through my complete library of four-letter words. If I had been one to use good sense, I would have sat there in my car waiting to be arrested. Instead, I jumped out of my car and headed east across the rolling prairie toward...well, I had no idea where I was headed. And it was a good bet I wouldn’t get there fast since I was dressed for a wedding rehearsal dinner. As I ran I tried to answer my own question of “why am I running?” but all I could get to process through my brain was “ARRRGGHHHH”!

After about thirty minutes of running, throwing up, and running more I realized I was acting more guilty than I would have seemed just sitting in my car. I also realized it was summer in Texas. Summer in Texas means lots of water, stay out of the afternoon sun, and watch out for rattlesnakes. Okay, as soon as I thought of rattlesnakes I did use one four letter word familiar to most of us. I slowed down and took stock of my situation. I was already lost, I had on dress shoes instead of boots, I had no water, and oh yeah, I was wanted for two murders!

I decided to go back to the highway and wait for the police to arrive but when I looked around I had no idea what direction the highway might be. It was straight up noon so the sun was beating down on the top of my head with no hint of where it would eventually set. I needed to go west but all the terrain was identical and the sun was no help. All of my two hour survival training from Cub Scouts hadn’t prepared me for this. I wanted to cry but it’s true that real men, and especially those homegrown in Texas, never cry. I started to climb the nearest hill so maybe I could see where the highway was hiding.

As I started my climb I was reminded again to watch out for rattlesnakes. A rattlesnake ten feet away is what reminded me. Using that four letter word for the second time in my life I slid back down that hill as fast as I could. I guess it was too hot for the snake too. He just looked at me like I was an idiot. I agreed with his opinion. I found another nice hill a few hundred feet away and climbed it instead. As I reached the top of the hill I saw a glimmer of light about two miles away. It looked like an aluminum roof reflecting the sun. I headed for that roof.

It seems like I walked for hours to find that shiny roof. I was afraid I was probably going to find nothing but a barn but if there was water I could at least stay until dark and rest. But, as I came over a small rise I saw a large ranch style house sitting there as welcoming as can be. I walked straight for the house and crossed a well manicured lawn which told me they at least had plenty of water on hand. As I got closer to the house I saw a middle-aged man sitting on the porch with his legs stretched out in front of him. He didn’t move as I approached. I waved. I smiled. I “hello-d”. I waved some more. He never moved and if it weren’t for his piercing stare I would have thought he might be a mannequin. Just as I reached the steps to the porch he moved. He raised a shotgun and aimed it right at my head. I felt like I was dehydrated but I was able to pee my pants just the same. With my hands raised high over my head I told the man I hadn’t committed any murders but I wanted to turn myself in anyway. The gun never wavered from my head. I began to cry.

Standing at arm’s length, the rancher motioned for me to sit down on the porch. He looked me over from top to bottom and if the movie Deliverance had already come out I would have been even more nervous. His first words to me were simple. “What kind of fool wanders around the prairie in dress clothes and no hat?” I have to admit with two murders on the news I would have started with other questions, but he was the one holding the gun so I didn’t argue. I told him my story from my breakdown on 281 all the way to finding his house. I told about the news report and how I panicked and ran. I think I also cried some more….just for effect, you know. When I finished I asked for water which he gave me along with some cold roast beef from “last night’s dinner”. He put the gun down and asked me who I supposedly killed. I told him I had no idea. His argument was that someone turning himself in for murder should at least know who he killed. I couldn’t even tell him if they were men or women, adults or children. Least of all, I had no idea why I had done it….if I had. He told me to sit while he went inside the house. When he came out he was carrying the keys to his pickup. He motioned for me to get in.

As the rancher drove down the dusty road toward town I found out I was closer to Hico than I had thought. He was transporting me to the Hico police department. When we arrived he made me sit while he honked his horn for someone to come out. When the deputy wandered out I nearly choked because he said, “Hey there sheriff. What cha got there?” The rancher/sheriff told the deputy he had a suspected murderer give himself up and Hico PD should process him. I have to admit, I still couldn’t believe I was in this situation. It was like a bad dream. The deputy was puzzled and asked who it was I had killed. I told him I hadn’t killed anyone. The sheriff told me to “fess up” so I said I was suspected of murdering two people out on Hwy 281 earlier in the day. The deputy continued to look confused until the sheriff started laughing. It was then I found out the culprit had been caught in Stephenville thirty minutes after the warning was given over the radio. I kind of wish I had listened to the news longer than I had.

The Hico police had my car towed into town and after waiting two days for a replacement radiator I was back on the road. I headed north on 281 instead of south though. I had missed Joe Bob’s wedding but promised to catch the next one. I was going home.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Day The Internet Died

It was another quiet morning. I had gone to the gym already and was back home drinking coffee and waiting for Deb to wake up. I picked up my computer to check e-mail and couldn't access it. I did exactly what any red-blooded American computer nerd would do. I set the computer back down and went out to my wood shop. A while later I heard a heart rending scream come from inside the house. I ran in wishing I had carried my 9mm with me. I guess I could have wished it wasn't unloaded and locked in my safe while I was wishing but I just wished I had it as I ran in the house expecting no telling what. I found Debbie moaning on the couch. There was no internet access and she couldn't start her day with "Heartland" on Netflix.

I mentioned to Deb that I hadn't been able to go on line earlier. She looked at me like I was insane while asking me....in a quiet, relaxed way why I hadn't done something about it then? She jumped up, ran to the router in another room and started the reboot process. I poured another cup of coffee. She then ran back to the den saying she couldn't get the thing to reboot. Here were her exact words: "You try to access on your computer while I call AT&T. Turn the TV on and set it on Netflix just in case it comes back on by itself. Hurry! Hurry! We have to fix this!" After a few more minutes, actually just long enough for me to finish my coffee, she came back with a sigh. AT&T was having a problem and they had no idea when they would be back up and running.

Before I tell the rest of the story I'll sidetrack for a minute. Debbie and I can't share computers. She does all kinds of things on the computer to make it "more efficient" and I can never find anything as a result. I bought my computer for one reason....to write. My software lends itself to my writing, saves automatically because I tend to wander off without saving, and makes my documents 'publisher friendly'. That's all I wanted. Well, I also wanted a friendly publisher but only the really expensive computers come with that software. It did come with other stuff but I have never used most of those things. Debbie's computer died a few months ago and rather than shell out another $2000 for a replacement Mac I offered to let her share with me. Within one day...and I am not making this up...within one day I couldn't find anything on my computer. I still have trouble finding this site and even though Debbie offered to "fix it" I'm not letting her touch it. She bought a new Mac. Now, back to the adventure.

After another short stay in the shop I came in to find Debbie reading. This is a past time she used to really enjoy. She read books constantly. Anyway, I was happy to see her lying on the couch reading. The TV was still set to come on if the service came back but so far the dragon still slept quietly. After a while it reared its ugly head and announced "Daddy's home". Debbie was so excited she immediately grabbed the remote to find "Heartland". I have some concerns based on this reaction. She might just possibly be addicted to TV. Or maybe she's just addicted to "Heartland". After it was over she turned the TV off and grabbed her computer. She advised me to get mine out too. She started going through all her programs and files looking for lost information. She found plenty and spent the next couple of hours repairing and replacing. At one point I heard her mumbling to herself. It sounded like, "mumble mumble mumble carry the one mumble mumble save mumble create file mumble mumble mumble E=MC squared mumble mumble.

After a while she looked up and pronounced her computer back up to speed with a few new dazzling files to help with efficiency. I was happy for her. She asked if I had found any problems with mine. I told her I hadn't really looked but it seemed to be okay. She asked what I had been doing all that time she was working on hers. I said, "I've been playing Solitaire"....mumble mumble move the black queen mumble mumble....

Monday, January 22, 2018

It's The Little Things...

Maybe it's just me but when I start to remember my youth I always focus on a small, insignificant event, place, or time. Today I started thinking about my dad's redwood woven fence. You remember those from the 50's don't you. All the really cool people had them. My dad was the first in the neighborhood to build one and all the envious neighbors quickly followed suit.

Building that fence was the first opportunity I had to actually help with a project. Of course I had tried to help before but my efforts were declined.....I think it had to do with the time I wandered into a freshly painted room, saw the trim paint sitting there opened and waiting to be used. I decided I would "help" by repainting the walls with the trim paint. Hey, I was like three at the time. The fence project was too big for one man and I was the closest thing to a helper my dad could come up with so I got to help.

"We" built the fence over the course of a week. We set the posts on a weekend and added the woven redwood during the evenings of the following week. It was a wonderful experience and I gained a whole new respect for this man in the family who could do absolutely anything he decided to do....and do it well! The fence was beautiful...in its early 50's kind of way. When it was finished my dad added a deep redwood stain to the already red redwood. He was an artist with paint. He then announced a rule....just one rule...easy to follow...DO NOT CLIMB THIS FENCE. I think he actually chiseled the command into stone but I may have imagined that part.

Now in fairness to all the boys who have ever been five and seven years old, it is a proven fact that fences are meant to be climbed. Fences with horizontal weaves all through them are especially in need of climbing. The fact that our dad added a 1 x 6 cap all along the length of the fence added the responsibility of not only climbing the fence, we must walk all along the top of it. We had to. It was our job and our destiny.

Glenn and I waited until the next weekend was over before trying out our balance on the fence. Maybe we waited that long to give the stain enough time to dry. Or maybe we waited to make sure all the posts were set properly. Or just maybe we waited that long because it was that long before our dad went back to work. At first we just climbed up and down the fence. We had a six foot advantage in height when we stood near the top. We yelled at our friends. We waved and showed off for the girls...not that we cared anything about girls then of course.

After a few days just climbing to the top became mundane. We decided that in the interest of manhood the top should be walked. I was older than Glenn by a couple of years so naturally I was more manly than him. I made the first trip down the fence balancing myself with youthful stupidity. Glenn quickly followed and made the trip successfully as well. After that, the top of the fence became a much traveled trail. We had a ball but sadly, even walking the top became boring.

After seeing a couple of knights facing off in a joust on horses and long poles in some movie, Glenn and I decided to do the same on top of the fence. This was a short-lived activity though because I was taller and had a longer reach. After a couple of falls off the fence Glenn decided it wasn't fun anymore. I thought it was a blast but I couldn't get anyone else to play the game with me.

As is the case with all toys, eventually the "new" wore off our fence. We went on to other adventures. And it wasn't because our dad led us out to the fence, pointed out all the scratches and lose boards, and said he was going to have to kill us. We just got bored with the fence....really.

I was sitting in the backyard a few years later feeling kind of blue. I was growing up too fast. After all, I was already twelve. I got to thinking about all the fun Glenn and I had on that fence. I decided to climb up and walk the top again. I made it all the way to the back of the yard without falling. On the way back, and just as I was over those vicious metal trashcans, I lost my balance. As I began to fall, I mentally ticked off all the rescue moves I could make to save myself from real pain.....actually all I thought was "oh no" (this is a family site) while wildly waving my arms in all directions. In one swing of my arm I touched a cable reaching from a tall pole to the back of the house. I grabbed it tight to stop my fall. It did not stop my fall. It snapped right off the house with exposed wires falling to the ground with me. I was a dead man. I hit the ground with a thud and expected the high voltage to fry me on impact. Instead, my sister came storming out of the house yelling at me and wanting to know what I had done. Her telephone call died in the middle of important gossip. Okay, there were two wires stretching across there. Fortunately, the high power line was well out of a twelve year-old's reach.

See, it's the little things...

Saturday, January 13, 2018

As the bitter north wind blew across the prairie...

...that we called north Tarrant County, a lonely individual sat by a tiny pine tree trying to keep it alive. That sounds like the terrible start to a terrible novel but it is history.

When Christmas came for my first son, Jamie, I wanted to do something special to remind us of the wonderful occasion. I bought a tiny pine tree down at Homer's Hardware store for us to decorate for our new son. My plan was to plant it in our yard after Christmas so Jamie could watch it grow along with him. He would be able to point to the tall tree and tell his children that the beautiful pine had been his first Christmas tree. Heartwarming, is it not?

The tree spent two weeks in a warm house before being planted outside. I didn't know much about planting trees but I knew this would be special. I had a hard time digging the hole for the tree because I kept stopping to pat myself on the back....such a thoughtful, sensitive man.

I finally got a hole dug deep enough to plant the little tree. I watered it as the north wind began to kick up then went inside to warm up. We lived as far north of town as we could get and like the saying goes, "there was nothing between us and the north pole except a barbed wire fence". It was a particularly hard winter that year. We had driving wind, dust storms, sleet. In fact, we had everything a winter can throw at a person except rain.

The next morning as I left for work, I noticed the little tree didn't look very well. In fact, it looked like it might actually be close to death. I went inside and got a bucket of water for it before heading out and slowly let the ground soak up the moisture. I was late for work that day. When I got home the tree hadn't improved but it wasn't worse. I worried about it all night and got up earlier than normal to check it the next morning. It's needles were turning yellow and curling up at the ends. I ran for more water. This went on for nearly a week until I was about to give up on it. I hated that my plan for planting a tree for each of my kids might be a failure. On Saturday, I clipped off a small branch and headed over to Homer's to see if anyone could help me save the tree.

It is true that most people working as clerks are just that...clerks. Not only have they not been training for the products they sell but they also have a distinct apathy for those products. I was disappointed to hear that the "Tree is dying dude. Have you considered watering it?" As I walked out of the store an old man stopped me and asked to look at the small limb. He examined it and told me the tree needed iron. I bought what I needed and memorized all the old man had told me:

  • Mix the iron with water.
  • Water the tree slowly, very slowly, once each week on the same day.
  • Try to water the tree at the same time of day.
  • Be patient.
I followed the old man's instructions to the letter. I chose Sunday at 3:00 o'clock for the watering because I knew I would always be home at this time. I had to feed the water very slowly so it wouldn't run off on the wind-baked soil. Some days it was cold. Some days it was okay. Some days it was so bitterly cold and windy that only idiots and tree lovers would be outside. I was one of the latter but always felt I was one of the former....especially when I would notice neighbors peering from their windows at the idiot sitting on the ground next to a twig. 

The tree didn't respond to my efforts. As the winter wore on it lost all its needles. There was nothing left of it but the tiny little trunk. It would have been easy to step on. A normal, sane person would have pulled it out of the ground. It was even too little to bother putting it in the trash...just pull it out and let the wind carry it away. Did I do that? No, I did not. I spent every Sunday afternoon watering my little twig sticking out of the ground. Debbie told me I was crazy. My neighbors stopping speaking to me. People passing in their cars just shook their heads, feeling sorry for the young lady married to the insane guy. 

When spring approached I will admit I was ready to give up. I couldn't see mowing around a dead twig. On the day I went out to pull it out of the ground I looked at it closely to make sure it was dead. I saw dozens of tiny buds sprouting. Jamie's little pine had survived the bitter winter. I was beside myself. I ran in and told Debbie, then I ran to Jamie's room and told him as I bounced him in the air. He said, "Gaagah googoo" which I interpreted as " Way to go Dad!" 

As it turns out, we sold that house a few months later and moved into Hurst. I drove Jamie and our newest bundle of joy out to our old house one day and showed them the Christmas tree. Cody just slobbered on his thumb and Jamie replied, "hmm". Impressed indeed!!

I learned a lot from this experience. I learned perseverance in the face of strong difficulty. I learned patience. I learned little boys could not care less about a tree you kept alive just for them. I didn't plant a Christmas tree for Cody. I am quite sure he couldn't possibly care less.