Category Archives: Texas

What matters most

I didn’t know spring until I came here
Here we’re pushing up the lid on the cool hemisphere
Everything melts I know even your tears
Here in this hemisphere

What matters the most is what you do for free
Me believing in you and you in me
You try to find work and you do your best
You get what you get and you deserve the rest

– “When The Ice Goes Out” by John Gorka

trinity churchI went to visit my girl this past weekend in a region of New York known as the North Country, up near the Ontario border. She’s been staying up there for the past three weeks, visiting old friends and family. I went to get a taste of the place and people she so often talks about and found that she didn’t exaggerate when it came her descriptions of the land and the souls who live on it.

It started snowing the night after I arrived and accumulated several inches by the time it was time to leave the next day. I had never seen so much snow outside of the Rocky Mountains and it was beautiful as it blanketed the Grasse River, frozen in parts, still running in others and visible from the kitchen window. I kept saying how beautiful this place was and everybody kept replying, “No, you really need to see it in spring or summer when it’s so green.” But I’ve seen incredible, lush green, this summer in Seattle and the Puget Sound, everything growing and constantly saturated with a sheen of fresh rain.

But all that white frosting a rural area like this was something I wasn’t used to and it WAS beautiful. Still, I get the point the locals were trying to make. The green of springtime, at the end of so much winter white, must really be breathtaking.

As we were driving around town on that last day to meet a friend with a more winter-ready car to drop me off at the airport, I tried to imagine what spring might look like. I remembered a line from a song by one of my favorite songwriters, “I didn’t know spring until I came here.”

In Texas, everything is flipped. The summers seem never-ending and often brutal. Fall is what I look forward to here, and it comes late, but when it finally arrives with that first crisp turn in the air temperature and a hint of woodsmoke in the air, it’s a joyful occasion for me. Spring seems to last about a day in comparison. There’s the first break in what we consider winter, then bluebonnets, maybe a tornado or two, then the mercury rises and rises and rises.

I don’t have an appreciation of spring, not like these winter folk do. But I kept reciting those lyrics aloud and came to the next line. Maybe one of my favorites.

“What matters most is what you do for free.”

This fall (and really even a bit longer than that) has been a time of learning for me. Learning about what really matters. Learning to silence the premeditated resentments of expectation, edit out the constantly-comparing language of pride, and to reframe life’s goals, joys, pleasures and treasures in terms of what truly lasts.

I’ve always liked Gorka’s lines but there’s a double edge to them. On one hand, the things that are most important are things for which we don’t receive a check – being good husbands/wives, raising a family, glorifying the Creator with all the blessings He’s given us. Or even some of the more trivial things, talents, hobbies, pursuits we do simply for the enjoyment of them – music, cooking, writing, art.

On the other hand, there’s the implication that we assign value to the ways we spend that “free” time. Look at how we spend our moments away from our day jobs or routine responsibilities – what does it say about what matters most, deep in our hearts? The lyric used to make me smile. Now it convicts me. I think good music can do both.

What matters most to me is changing, slowly but surely (it’s just the way I seem to operate). Because I’ve been coming out of a winter of sorts, and it seems that I’m starting to truly know spring for the first time myself.


Gimme a T for Texas…

I don’t claim to be the biggest baseball fan in the world. I’m a bigger fan of the history of the game, more so than the playing of it today.

But I’ve been to more Ranger games in my life than any other team, and other than my teenage devotion to Don Mattingly (and the then-perennial playoff missing Yankees of the 80s and early 90s), Texas is the closest thing for me to having “a team.”




Prior to the past few weeks, my Rangers memories have been highlighted by seeing Nolan Ryan pitch a near no-hitter vs. the Tigers, and the roughly 25 Steve Buechele autographs my brother and I collected over the years.

But I bought myself a new Ranger ballcap. And I ordered Ken Burns‘ “Baseball” on Amazon. And I’m planning to pick up some hot dogs and beverages today after school, then settle in to watch every pitch of Game 1 tonight in San Francisco.

Call me a poser, a bandwagon jumper, a frontrunner… I’ll accept that. (Although I think my past 15 years of unwavering support for Arkansas State University sports teams should give me lifetime immunity from those types of comments)

But this is too much fun to care about what other people think. Go Rangers! Beat the Giants! Claws and antlers! Just don’t bring up the Cowboys…

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Rangers fans are passionate, but…

they suck at Photoshop. Yes, there’s an entire gallery of equally fine graphic design available for viewing at the Dallas Morning News website. And yes, I realize most of these probably weren’t done on “Photoshop” per se, but these Ranger fans are still terrible on MS Paint or whatever they can get their hands on.

But at least this awful piece of sports fandom reinforces the idea that money can’t buy “everthing.” Yes. “EVERTHING.” Rangers fans apparently suck at spell check too.

And I’m saying this as a Ranger fan who watched every pitch of a masterful performance by Cliff Lee – perhaps one of the greatest post-season pitching efforts ever.

I can understand being inspired by this team, antlers, claws and all. I can’t understand why the Dallas Morning News chose to publish this big batch of terrible to begin with. Do you think they actually rejected some submissions? Those are the ones I really want to see. What would a fan poster that didn’t meet the high quality standards of Big Red (above) look like?

I used to work for the sports department of a small daily newspaper in Arkansas. When Dale Earnhardt died in 2001, we received several letters and e-mails featuring poetic tributes to the Intimidator from members of the community, who expected us to publish their verse in our newspaper pages. I’m not even sure the poetry devoted to #3 was all that bad, but still, we declined to publish it. Because we were the sports section of a daily newspaper, not a literary magazine.

Just saying.

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My bucket list will pail in comparison…

Texas Monthly - March 2010

I haven’t seen the movie, but it seems like “bucket lists” are becoming more common all the time.

In March I got the new Texas Monthly featuring “63 things all Texans should do before they die.” I’m encouraging my newspaper staff to put together a  similar list of things around the area that all of our students should do before they graduate.

Then Donald Miller retweeted a link to this blog from Lindsey Tipple, a graphic designer in Ohio. Lindsey created a list especially for this summer, before the season kicks the bucket (included: canoeing, riding a hot air balloon, cooking a feast for her grandparents, and my fave – do a cannon ball).

She has two rules: 1. Don’t include anything you already had planned (my book list is out). And 2. If you cross an item off the list, you have to document it.

I’m on board and my list will be posted soon, most likely after school finally dismisses on Thursday.

In the meantime, what do you think I should add to my list? What would you put on yours?

Holy crap! It’s just hot out there…

iPhone screenshot... we could have record heat tomorrow. Yes!

It ain’t no joke. The back of the heat is very scrong indeed, 96 degrees at 5 p.m. tonight.

So… I have one more week of school left. After I squeeze in about two weeks of work into that one week, I should be ready to begin my summer vacation.

Every year I get the same question: What are you going to do this summer? And every year I had the same answer – just a combined shrug and sheepish look. (Actually I had a quite different answer at one point for this summer, but that’s a whole nother story… it’s back to shrug, sheepish look).

I know that I will be trying to continue with my diet and exercise (down about 35 pounds since rejoining WW in December). I know that I’ll be working on a reading list developed from the 100 books every man should read from the Art of Manliness (see my new tabs for more information). And I know that I’ll have a few gigs at least with the band.

Past that I’m not sure… though I was looking at some possible travel options the other day – maybe a road trip to Santa Fe and Flagstaff, or possibly Colorado Springs might be in order.

I haven’t ever taken a trip like that solo. I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy it, but also not sure who else would want to come with me.

If you’ve got some insight into the world of solitaire vacationing, please share. And if you’re interested in taking a road trip with me, please don’t turn out to be creepy.

Either way, I hope that I’ll spend a little more time blogging this summer.

Time to leave and face the heat… here’s a shot from outside my window!

Catch some rays!


Biggest. Win. In school history.

Photo from
ASU’s Kevin Jones scores the go-ahead TD at Kyle Field on Saturday.

ASU 18, A&M 14

I can still barely believe this myself. ASU, in its first game under the Red Wolf mascot, was a 20-point underdog in this game. I didn’t think the Aggies would cover the spread, but I didn’t think we’d get out of there with a win because…

  1. It’s Kyle Freakin’ Field.
  2. It’s Texas Freakin’ A&M
  3. It’s A-S-Freakin’-U.
  4. We played the Longhorns so close last year (lost a 21-13 game when the officials robbed us of a chance to tie it with a blown call on an onside kick). I just knew there was no way the Aggies would be unprepared for this game.

But as it turned out, season openers are season openers and you never know what strange thing might happen. Like the Aggies committing four turnovers and getting shut out by the ASU defense in the second half. Or like ASU outrushing A&M nearly 2-1 (255 vs. 133), with 145 yards for Reggie Arnold! ASU kicker Josh Arauco goes 4-4 on field goals, while the A&M kicker is 0-2 (25 and 32-yarders)

I was at a birthday party in Addison for my friend, Audrie, when I checked the score on my Blackberry and saw that ASU had pulled ahead 15-14 with 4:39 left. My friend Shanna called her sister, who was AT the game, to give us frantic live updates at the restaurant (we weren’t the only people interested in finding out if the Aggies lost). When ASU picked off a final Stephen McGee pass with just a few second left, I shouted “That’s what I’m talking about!” and added a “Whooooooooooooooooooooooo” that would’ve made “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair proud.

Then I proceeded to high-five everyone I could find. I think I even shouted, “Sorry about that one, Aggie fans!” Not my classiest moment, but give me a break. I’m not even an Anti-Aggie… even as a Longhorn fan. I respect the school’s athletic history and I think a lot of their traditions (however crazy) are really cool. But tonight belonged to Arkansas State, and it’s not that often I can say that.

So GO RED WOLVES! This “Indian” is awful proud of you!

* For those not versed in Aggie-ism, here’s an explanation of “Gig ’em Aggies.”