Friday, June 8, 2018

That Strange Girl

Photo bomber, stalker, schmoozer, grabber.    Maybe she’s just lonely, I thought.   The other night, hanging out with some friends, a strange thing happened.  We were touring different restaurants downtown when we noticed this strange woman – who always seemed to be where we were.  We would duck into a storefront – and there she was.  We would stop for a cold drink, come out, and there she was – on the sidewalk, waiting.  We cut through a chain of restaurants, came out the other end – and there she was again.

It wasn’t a crowded night, there were very few people on the streets.  So, it wasn’t like she was hiding in the crowds – it was obvious – and creepy.

We finally settled into a nice restaurant for dinner, and for about 2 hours we talked and ate.  We paid the bill, walked out and there she was.  We asked a guy nearby to take a picture of our group before we climbed into a cab – and there she was – joining in like an old friend.   The bold one in the group finally spoke up . . “would you mind not being in our picture!?”   She backed-off slowly, and faded into the background.  She was gone.

“Did that really happen!?  Who was that girl?!”  We checked our pockets, our wallets and purses.   All was in order, we thought.  But still, we felt violated in some way.  We joked and laughed about it all – came up with some conspiracy theories.  But when we had driven back to the house, about 10 miles away, it was dark, and I could have sworn that I saw someone in the shadows, with blonde hair, ducking behind a bush. 

Sometimes we see things that aren’t there.

 Bottom line:  she was lonely, desperate for attention, likely wanting to be part of a group.  She needed friends to walk down the street with . . .  to eat with . . .  to socialize with.  OK – we know that’s not the way to do it – but she could have been at the end of her rope.  So, what do we do?  Guilt can take over: why didn’t I befriend her and ask her for her ‘story’?  Because that would take time and we don’t have time.  It would make us vulnerable – even to danger.  But in this life, what are we called to do?

Next time, what will I do?

(funny though - in retrospect, looking back and seeing pictures, I’m now much less concerned about the strange woman and her behavior.   It’s the guy to her left – with the glasses and that wide smile, that makes me think hard:   who’s really the crazy one?!).

Monday, June 4, 2018

Mark - retirement

Mark has given me a new outlook on things . . . . I missed the first half of his life, but this second half (retirement) is already spectacular!   Mark has qualities that I admire – like saying what he means and having a thoughtful opinion on everything from FOOD to MUSIC to SPORTS to POLITICS to INVESTMENTS to GRANDFATHERING and SPIRITUAL ISSUES  (oh, did I mention food and music?).  He doesn’t mince words, and he’s not offended if I don’t mince mine!  He has a quick mind, and it forces you to focus, just to keep up - - - - -In this day-and-age, that is unusual.   He’s a breath of fresh air, the kind of buddy I need.

Because of Mark, I now think more about what I eat (focusing on quality more than volume), I ride a bike every day to get in better shape, and I reflect more on the music I love (and who is singing it – because there will be a test).


One of my favorite (very recent) ‘memories’ of Mark, is this:   He’s in the kitchen preparing one of his famous meals, the aroma coming from the stove top is intoxicating, overwhelming the senses, the Pandora music is up loud (the way I like it) – filling the house with memories, the patio doors are wide open, a warm breeze weaving through the cold air conditioned rooms, there are waves crashing on the white sandy beach below, and the sun is setting on the horizon, lighting up the sky with a dark orange and blue hue.   I shout out  – “Mark, what can I do to help”?   “Nothing”, he shouts back (to be heard over the music).  Moving quickly back and forth from the refrigerator, to stove, to a cutting board – tossing plates and knives like a Ninja – he shouts to me:  “Scot – who’s this?!” - -  The music and words are undiscernible to me.  I shout back – “I have no idea!” – and with a scowl of friendly disappointment, he shouts back - “It’s Bruno Mars!”.    I pulled out my camera and started a video of Mark simultaneously cooking, dancing and singing the words “Uptown Funk You Up . . . If you sexy then flaunt it, if you freaky then own it . . . “. 


Ya, I have that video.   Great memories – thanks Mark!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Plano Cops & Me

The siren shocked me – very loud.  I looked in my rear-view mirror and sure enough, a Plano cop was on my tail.  A big cruiser, and a big guy driving.  I pulled over quick – and sat there.  Two ladies were walking their dogs across the street, and one of them shouted out at me – “looks like you were speeding!” – and they both laughed, annoyingly.  I yelled back – “I’m sure I was!”.  I thought to myself, ‘that’s pretty rude’-   I had never heard a sidewalk commentator when someone got pulled over by a cop.

I was hot and sweaty, running late, and annoyed.  The cop got out of the cruiser and headed toward me.  Sure enough, he didn’t look happy and he looked like he needed a fresh Dunkin Donut to calm him down.   I said – ‘hello officer’.  He said, “would you mind turning down your radio sir, please?”   I said – “well, actually I do – it’s harder to do than you might think.”

He says- “really?   Would you mind standing over here on the sidewalk then?”   I said ‘ok’, and went to the sidewalk and turned to him and asked – “officer, what is this all about, is this really a good use of your time, really??”    Now, the second those words left my mouth I realized I should have held it back.

He immediately started wagging his finger at me and said “do you realize you just ran a stop sign back there?!”   I said, “no, what stop sign?”.      He said “there” – pointing at a corner, one block back.  “Do you have your license”.   I said “no, actually, you won’t believe this, but I left it at home.  But I live in the neighborhood, you can follow me to my house and I’ll run in and get it.”  

Incredulous – very annoyed, he says – “never mind.   I’m just going to give you a warning – you HAVE to STOP at all stop signs!!”

I couldn’t believe it!  He turned and walked away. My lucky day. 

And I got back on my bicycle, and finished my Friday afternoon 20-mile route.    Plano cops.  Can’t live with’em, can’t live without ‘em.  

Saturday, April 7, 2018

$13 Cup of Coffee

Why would anyone, in their right mind, pay $13.00 for a cup of coffee?   You would have to be nuts, on an expense account – or very rich.   Even still – no matter what - it just ain’t right to do that. 
But if you ever do – this is what it looks like (at Starbucks ‘Reserve’ – Legacy West).  They put on a show for you – and everyone sitting near you, so the entertainment is part of the price.  This kid named ‘Jonah’ knows far too much about coffee and the regions of the world that grow it, the altitudes that are best for the beans, and the special techniques used to brew the perfect cup.   Not many people get this show  - and I’m hearing a lot of ‘ooooh’s and aaaaah’s’ in the background.  I’m the center of attention, and I like that.  The crowd thinks I’m a big spender, a player, somebody to deal with.  For this special occasion on a Saturday morning, I wore my new Robert Graham shirt and my best worst Levi’s, and styled my hair (meaning I held my head out the window of the car to dry on the way over).  If I still had a dog, like my old best friend Kahlua, I would have brought him – then everyone would really think I was cool.
Today – is my birthday – a milestone birthday.  I do appreciate a good cup of coffee.  It’s the first time for this, and I’m running out of time.  Plus, this one was FREE (a gift from Starbucks) – so no, I’m not crazy.  What am I supposed to do – say No?
Priceless. Funny thing is, this fancy cup of coffee tastes, mysteriously, like Dunkin Donuts.
Day #1 – of a new year. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

That Rainy Day

There's something to be said for consistency and patience.

It was about 1990 I think - about 28 years ago.  I would go out, come back home, and toss my extra change into a jar under the sink.  Then, the next day, I would do the same . . . . on and on, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.  As a jar was filled, I'd get a big coffee can and pour that jar into the can, then get another coffee can, and another, and another . . . .

I never spent the coins - I never took them out of the jar - never.   (in the early years, some unknown family members would take coins out of my cans when I wasn't looking, to buy gas, pay tolls, buy a coke - who knows - -  (you know who you are!) - it's ok, I really didn't mind).
I told myself that this change was for a 'rainy day'.  blah, blah, blah . . . .
Years have gone by (28 years).  And in the back of my closet I've had this stack of cans.  Now, i need that space for my other stuff (and if you know me, you know I have a lot of other 'stuff').

So this week I started rolling coins.  It was hard - especially the dimes, they are a pain, so small.  I had to go to Wal-Mart three times to get more sleeves for the coins - it never ended - quarters, nickles, dimes, pennies.  My fingers are actually stained with I don't know what - some sort of oily, dirty, coin dirt.  Gross.
Quarters = $1,720.00
Nickles = $152.00
Dimes = $570.00
TOTAL = $2,442.00   
Consistency and patience.  and a little crazy . . . . will buy a lot of car washes.  Do you have a rainy-day fund?  It doesn't have to be money.  The best rainy-day fund is simply having the Hope you find in Christ, that daily belief that He is in control of your future (regardless of the number of quarters you have in the can . . .. ).
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty"  Ps 91:1 


Friday, February 16, 2018

California Dream'in

Sifting through boxes in the garage the other day, I came across this old license plate.  A long time ago we bought a new 1976 - red Ford Fiesta, back when we lived in California.  We moved to Texas in 1981 and took this old plate off and replaced it with the new Texas plate. 

So then I was California Dream’in.  Growing up, I lived on both coasts, and in another country.  Depending on who asks, and my mood – I’ll tell someone either that I grew up in New Jersey, Kenya, or California (because I did).  They each have their own intrigue, but I admit – I like to use the California line.  Invariably, someone will ask: “did you surf a lot there?” – to which I always say “Yes” – even though I really only did it a few times – in my mind, I was a legendary surfer from Southern California.  If it wasn’t for school and work I probably would have advanced to the professional level, traveling back and forth from Hawaii, Costa Rica and Indonesia – the Endless Summer (in my dreams).

When I wasn’t surfing, I was skiing the powder on Big Bear Mountain, Mammoth and Snow Valley.  That’s a true story. 

When I wasn’t surfing or skiing, I was driving my car - up and down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway 1, 101, 5), listening to the radio – the best music decade of all time – the ‘70’s.

  • The Eagles
  • The Bee Gees
  • The Commodores
  • John Denver
  • Rod Stewart
  • Neil Diamond
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • The Doobie Brothers
  • Simon and Garfunkel
  • Glen Campbell
  • Bread
  • The Carpenters
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Elton John
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Bob Dylan
  • James Taylor
  • Chicago
  • Jim Croce
  • Marvin Gaye
  • America
  • Neil Young
  • Fleetwood Mac
That’s what I remember most about California – driving in the car, radio on - - and how it all seemed to sync to the surroundings: the beaches, the surf, the mountains, the palm trees, the desert. 

California Dream’in . . . Great times..  Now, with the proliferation of Christian Contemporary music on the radio - that's all I listen to.  I wish it existed in the 1970's.  There's nothing better or more uplifting than worship music. 
"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always."  Ps 105:4
What's in your garage?


Friday, February 9, 2018

4 Beach Chairs

I was looking through some pictures I had taken in 2017, and found this one of four empty beach chairs sitting on the sand, facing the vast ocean in the early morning, in Pensacola, Florida.  While we were there, early each day, a guy named ‘Larry’ would setup 4 chairs with umbrellas for us.  At the end of the day, he would take it all away.  He prepared a place for us. 

It got me to thinking.  The beauty is what got me to thinking.  The peace, the sound of the surf, the feeling of sand between the toes, the rising sun, the soft breeze, and the enjoyment of company that happens in those chairs each day.

For me – that would-be HEAVEN – a bunch of beach chairs, setup each morning, facing the water and the sun (Son).  But now, I see 4 significant people in my life, in those 4 chairs: 1) Dallas Bateman, 2) Cynthia, 3) Tom, and 4) Dad.    

Just as I’m writing this, I’m listening to Bethel Music – Kristene DiMarco – "It is Well" - - and it rings true:
“Through it all, my eyes are on you.  This mountain that’s in front of me, will be thrown into the mist of sea.  The waves and wind still know His name.  So, let go, my soul, and trust in Him. Through it all, my eyes are on you, and it is well.  It is well with my soul.”