Desperately seeking Lynyrd’s bus driver

I was in it for the bus driver.

After watching for three days, Saturday morning found me and my co-workers overseeing the final stages of the set up for the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert that would be held at Inn of the Mountain Gods in Ruidoso that night.

One of those co-workers happened to be my Publisher/Mother.

We had time to kill before a final brunch of a newspaper leadership conference, and decided to spend it on the fourth floor public balcony of the hotel that overlooked the concert area beside the beautiful mountain-surrounded lake.

Being a good southerner, I knew that it is required to know not only who Lynyrd Skynyrd is,  but know most of the words to at least three songs including Free Bird, Sweet Home Alabama and Simple Man.

Which I do. I just have no idea what the band looks like.

While we were watching the roadies and crews efficiently and happily putting up a huge portable amphitheatre, barricades, lighting, speakers and police tape (which should be my kryptonite, but isn’t), we noticed black tour buses pulling up the length of the concert area, which was longer than a football field.

LS_setup

Not happy, one of the the bus drivers backed all the way back out – without taking out the fence or porta-johns. Then, they turned the bus around and backed all the way back in, successfully.

I decided right then that I had to meet that bus driver.

I’ve never been terribly shy, which serves me better than those around me.

Since people had been asked to leave the area at the back of the venue a few minutes before, the anxiety was palpable when I announced I was going down to meet the bus driver, and if there was a God in heaven, get my picture with him or her.

Some of my compadres not only believed I would get thrown in jail, but proactively refused to pay my bail.

But the woman who said she wouldn’t bust me out of jail didn’t raise no wallflower.

So, I headed down and took several pictures of nature with my iPhone when my trained eye spotted a roadie at one of the barricades continuing to guide the bus driven by my new personal hero.

I engaged him in light conversation that included first name and city exchanges, a little religion, the grueling pace of touring, the fact I thought watching the set up might be as much fun as the actual concert, and by the way, is it possible for me to meet the bus driver?

My new friend, Johnny from Florida, tells me it will be no problem to meet the bus driver and he will even take a picture of us together.

I now love Johnny, too, even though my heart is still #teambusdriver.

After 20 minutes of probably doing whatever celebratory practice one does after backing up a huge bus 120 yards twice without mayhem and death resulting, Carlo the driver stepped out.

It was then that I finally asked Johnny what his job was with the band.

“I’m the lead singer,” he said with a slight hint of a smile.

Boy, was my face red.

Pictures were taken. Johnny Van Zandt took my picture with Carlo; Carlo took my picture with Johnny, and I headed back upstairs thrilled that I met the best bus driver in the universe.

LS_K&C 

Mission accomplished     #teamcarlo!

LS_K&J#teammanagoodsouthernerwouldrecognize

Johnny got on the elevator with me, pointed to the poster of Lynyrd Skynyrd on the wall and said, “Look! It’s me!”

“Thank you for twisting that southern knife,” I told him.

He got off on the fourth floor with me, and I asked if he would go out on the balcony to meet my Mom, even though she had planned to let me rot in jail if things had gone south.

He did, graciously, and took pictures with all of us before going to his room for a nap before the show.

LS_group#teambackinmymomsgoodgraces

After the brunch, we started the nine-hour drive back to flatland and listened to Lynyrd Skynyrd, who my Mom was not as familiar with. She really enjoyed the music and decided she might go to their concert in Irving in October.

“I wish we could have met the head guy, though” Mom said, after Simple Man finished playing.

“What head guy?”

“Lynyrd,” she said.

That is a hard picture to get.

Lynyrdsbus

#butigotit

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To all the dads I love

Father’s Day hasn’t been celebrated the same for me since 2008, when my own Dad died.

Now, instead of buying him something he really didn’t need or want, but would graciously smile at and thank me for anyway, I reflect on the 42 years I had him.

I think he would think that was an even better gift, and no returns are necessary.

It’s a paradigm shift to go from celebrating to reflecting, and while it’s not my preferred way to spend Father’s Day it is an unwavering fact of life.

In this reflection, I’ve learned to appreciate what he brought to the table more than I did before, both literally and figuratively.

To honor my father, I now celebrate a couple of special men in my life whom I revere and are also fathers – my husband and son-in-law.

I spent the past week in South Carolina with my daughter, her husband and son and got to witness first-hand what modern parenting looks like in their natural habitat.

My heart is happy to report that my son-in-law, Branden, is everything I could ever ask for as a husband for my daughter and a loving, patient Dad for the little man he and my daughter brought into this world.

His unabashed love for his son, his patience, willingness to be an all-hands-on-deck kind of man are the kinds of things worth acknowledging and celebrating.

As a mother and grandmother, the blessing of him in our lives is a gift in itself.

Then, there’s my husband. Like many families are now constructed, Bobby is not the biological father of my two children. But it would be difficult to tell that from looking.

I am one of the luckiest people I know to have a husband who takes my kids as an extension of myself and loves them fiercely, and genuinely.

My Dad would be proud, he would smile and consider it his gift, too.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads – biological and step, granddads and special uncles. Celebrate those who are still here, doing their work to love the next generation; and reflect on those who made us who we are.

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It’s been a weird couple of weeks, y’all

It’s been a weird couple weeks, y’all. 

We’ve had a whirlwind of new words, inexplicably redundant health foods and silent assaults.

First, I found out two things I did not know.

“Covfefe” is a word. 

I don’t know what the definition is because its meaning is known only to an elite few as well as God, who is undoubtably shaking His head slowly right now. Also, in case you think this is fake news, it is officially worth 18 points in Scrabble and accepted in Words with Friends. So there.

In other news, organic Gatorade exists. I only know this because I saw it on the Ibotta app on my phone, right there next to the Twinkies. 

I offer no opinion on why one would want to make electrolytes more organic, just letting you know in case you have a condition that requires organic electrolytes or something.


But the news that is likely to resonate with locals is even more alarming. After a 20-odd year absence, buffalo gnats are back.

That’s right, those tiny flies on hallucinogens and steroids have returned to our neck of the woods with their toxic saliva.

If you you do not know what a buffalo gnat is, it is a regular gnat on steroids, whose bite can leave a baseball-sized welt if you happen to be allergic to buffalo gnat spit. 

(Note: this is not a scientific explanation. I didn’t even Google it.)

Buffalo gnats, in my estimation, are the mafia of the flying insect world. 

They swoop in and leave you battered on the curb, with a new determination to buy some Skin So Soft. Also, nobody ever sees what happened.

I still remember the great buffalo gnat invasion of the 1990’s. So many people were allergic to them it looked like Iowa Park had an epidemic of domestic violence. I saw burly men with their eyes swollen shut; people with swollen lips and ears, and God knows what else.

Golfers cracked the code on this one, and found that Avon’s Skin So Soft is a deterrent, and yet smells so good. Golfers are a motivated bunch when an insect they can’t even see makes them look like they switched from the putting green to a boxing ring. 

Luckily, buffalo gnat spit and me are copacetic, but I have a friend who looks like she owes Avon some money.

Twitter as my witness, the weird weeks aren’t over. I can almost covfefe it.

*You are welcome Avon distributors, and by the way, one of you please come see me.It’s been a weird couple weeks, y’all. 

We’ve had a whirlwind of new words, inexplicably redundant health foods and silent assaults.

First, I found out two things I did not know.

“Covfefe” is a word. 

I don’t know what the definition is because its meaning is known only to an elite few as well as God, who is undoubtably shaking His head slowly right now. Also, in case you think this is fake news, it is officially worth 18 points in Scrabble and accepted in Words with Friends. So there.

In other news, organic Gatorade exists. I only know this because I saw it on the Ibotta app on my phone, right there next to the Twinkies. 

I offer no opinion on why one would want to make electrolytes more organic, just letting you know in case you have a condition that requires organic electrolytes or something.

But the news that is likely to resonate with locals is even more alarming. After a 20-odd year absence, buffalo gnats are back.

That’s right, those tiny flies on hallucinogens and steroids have returned to our neck of the woods with their toxic saliva.

If you you do not know what a buffalo gnat is, it is a regular gnat on steroids, whose bite can leave a baseball-sized welt if you happen to be allergic to buffalo gnat spit. 

(Note: this is not a scientific explanation. I didn’t even Google it.)

Buffalo gnats, in my estimation, are the mafia of the flying insect world. 

They swoop in and leave you battered on the curb, with a new determination to buy some Skin So Soft. Also, nobody ever sees what happened.

I still remember the great buffalo gnat invasion of the 1990’s. So many people were allergic to them it looked like Iowa Park had an epidemic of domestic violence. I saw burly men with their eyes swollen shut; people with swollen lips and ears, and God knows what else.

Golfers cracked the code on this one, and found that Avon’s Skin So Soft is a deterrent, and yet smells so good. Golfers are a motivated bunch when an insect they can’t even see makes them look like they switched from the putting green to a boxing ring. 

Luckily, buffalo gnat spit and me are copacetic, but I have a friend who looks like she owes Avon some money.

Twitter as my witness, the weird weeks aren’t over. I can almost covfefe it.

*You are welcome Avon distributors, and by the way, one of you please come see me.

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Use your voice

“Tell me I’m the Queen, y’all,” I begged everyone in the office Wednesday morning.

No takers. Yet again.

It’s a slippery slope when four people work in an office, and all four watch The Voice. It’s even more slippery when it gets down to the final four grand season finale and all four of us wanted someone different to win.

It was a bookie’s dream.

I called Chris Blue as the winner from the blind auditions. Even Sherrie, who is a Jesse fan, will admit that. Kevin was #teamAliyah, while Dolores liked Lauren the mostest.

It wasn’t even tense until somebody got snippy because I had played Chris Blue’s cover of  Rhythm Nation from the night before only three times on YouTube, the volume not even on 10-ish.

Those who know me best will not be surprised at this.

But no bets were placed as we quietly left the office Tuesday night, each one of us secure we knew who the winner of The Voice would be. (Spoiler alert coming)

They did not know.

Not to gloat, but “winner, winner, fried Spam and potatoes dinner.” The office winner gets to choose, right?

Still, we haven’t unfriended each other on Facebook. Yet. I should check.

This just in – most of us haven’t unfriended each other on Facebook.

We haven’t had caps and t-shirts made noting the other’s obvious inferiorities as human beings because of our respective opinions; and I don’t anticipate Thanksgiving being awkward this year, unless somebody messes up a key dish then all bets are off.

It’s how we roll. (Pun should be noted, strongly.)

Now, on to more important things.

Graduation at our area high schools will be held this weekend.

My oldest great-nephew, Jordan Amador, will graduate Rider High School, and the children and grandchildren of some of my best friends will graduate Iowa Park HIgh School and Rider as well.

What I want to say to graduates of both high schools and colleges is don’t believe some of the hateful things being said about your generation. I say this because I have two children not too much older than you, and I find them to be thoughtful, intelligent and fair human beings.

You are not snowflakes, or irresponsible, or without a voice. You are young, yes, and so were the people who would have you believe those things.

Please dare to dream, to form your own opinions and use your voice – but use it so very responsibly. And use it in a way that heals and promotes growth,  and not as a weapon.

When I graduated Iowa Park High School 34 years ago, my principal, the late and legendary Bob Dawson, said in a speech to our class, “If I am looking at the leaders of tomorrow, stop the world because I want off.”

We actually did better than one would have thought as a class (shout out to IPHS Class of 1983!)

But there is work to do,  and you have to do it together.

The disrespect I’m seeing on social media among people of my generation is alarming. But I don’t see it so much with yours’ and it gives me hope. Keep working for positive change. Keep an open mind and open heart. And choose your words carefully. They do not go away, nor does the damage they can cause.

Blessings to the Class of 2017. It’s a big world, and you are up for the challenge.

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The Peace Treaty rages on

As a woman with curly hair that would make Mother Teresa lose her religion, I am no stranger to trying every hack out there designed to make my hair more socially acceptable.
I tried the “plop” method where I wrapped my hair in a soft t-shirt and slept overnight in it, giving me soft, yet still sociopathic curls.
My friend, humor author and proffessah of English,  Dr. Gina Barreca, who has beautiful curly hair and wears it with pride and pizzazz, gave me this advice when I was whining about my curly hair: “Sleep in a scrunchie!”
If you read that in a Brooklyn accent, it’s even better advice.
I tried the scrunchie advice and it works. However, it did something to my bangs that I can only describe as dazed and confused. When I explained the problem with my bangs, she gave me a response not publishable in a family newspaper, but it had nothing to do with hair.
So I continued my search for the perfect panacea for curly and crazy hair.
Enter some device invented to give a woman “perfect beach curls.”
Of course I bought it, copiously read the instructions and began the process of looking like I was running along the beach at the age of 30, only with a 50 year old body.
This …. device …. resembles a long, padded Slim Jim that you place over your noggin like a halo and lovingly wrap every strand of your hair around it, then sleep.
I fully expected to wake up the next morning ready for an audition for Baywatch, The Golden Years.
It was not to be.
After I wrapped the halo with my damp hair, my husband was surprised to find me reading a book, and walked around me in a wide path with his signature  “Please, dear God, no” look on his face.
I said, “That’s right, big man. You’re sleeping with Princess Leia tonight.”
And he did, but he didn’t wake up with her.
He woke up with me, who looked like I had gotten a perm around a bowl placed over my skull. It was decidedly not sexy, and neither Luke Skywalker nor David Hasselhoff would have any part of it.
The epic battle between good and evil continues to play itself out on top of my head, while the peace treaty with my hair rages on.

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Yes, you can enter a peace treaty with your hair

A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, which formally ends a state of war between the parties. It is different from an armistice, which is an agreement to stop hostilities, or a surrender, in which an army agrees to give up arms, or a ceasefire or truce in which the parties may agree to temporarily or permanently stop fighting. ”

Love, Wikipedia

Lord God, I love Wikipedia.

My hair and I, after more than half a century of co-habitating, have entered the “Peace Treaty” phase of our relationship. Wikipedia confirms it.

I know I am not the only one.

This phase comes after the honeymoon, “whatever you say, dear,” and “you have got to be kidding me” phases most relationships meander through.

So after much thought and 20 years of straightening my hair almost daily, I recogize I have been at war with my hair, and a Chi iron has been my weapon of choice.

My Chi has helped me daily to  go from looking “most likely electrocuted” to “less traumatic”  in only 45 minutes.

The peace treaty thing only began in the last couple years as I’ve gotten older, and lazier. Also, a side effect of straightening irons is turning your hair into dehydrated straw.

Although entering into a peace treaty with one’s hair may sound a little left of center – and I’m not bragging, but – I’ve lived through some incredibly weird stuff.

Things, as I’m sure most of us are well aware, are crazy everywhere right now.

People (who should) not understanding the difference between vetted news and social media.

Our country’s politics have never been weirder – and this comes from somebody who has a thank you note from President Nixon. I think he had phlebitis and I sent him a get well card when I was like nine years old. I was like a tiny female version of Alex Keaton with unruly hair.

I have personally witnessed the opening of a box of fresh cow dung sent to the Leader office and pinned with Texas Lt. Governor Bob Bullock’s business card, that had been sent to my Dad after he wrote some unfavorable columns about Bullock.

In light of how my life has played out so far combined with the historical timeline of my hair, I figure how weird would it be to enter into a peace treaty with my hair?

Not very.

As a young child I commonly looked as though I had been raised by wild wolves –  I was usually running around wearing minimal clothing, my curly hair going in 16 different directions. When I turned 11, my mother took me to local beautician Joan Green to get my hair cut, and had secretly arranged (read: without my knowledge) that I would get the Dorothy Hamill haircut that was so popular in 1976, after she won in Olympic figure skating.

It was one of the saddest days of my life.

For a while, I looked like I was raised by wolves who somehow learned to use scissors. I did not look like Dorothy Hamill.

I muddled through the next decade looking confused and curly.

I lucked out in the 1980’s and 90’s, when the school of thought in Texas was “The higher the bangs, the closer to Jesus.”

My hair was actually made for those two decades of my life. I even got a perm because I wanted to be as close to Jesus as possible. Also, I used Aqua Net. It was tall hair season and I was winning.

Then somebody invented the Chi iron and made my mother a happy woman. She gets nervous when she sees my hair curly to this very day. I must have been a fairly bad kid for her to still recoil, which might explain why I got a thank you note from President Nixon.

In addition, my husband has a condition that makes his tongue bleed when my hair is curly. Me asking “does my hair look all right?” usually starts the ball rolling.

And yet, I’m still in talks with this mass of curly mess on my head because I’ve been at war too long, and I’m tired.

*** Nest week:  They Call Me Princess Leia.

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Mark Your Calendar, or don’t

Nobody has ever threatened to hire me as a personal assistant, probably because I would forget to show up for the interview.

Not that I wouldn’t be a great assistant if it only entailed talking and writing down things that amuse me – but that whole, pesky organizational thing is what would put the brakes on that train wreck.

I totally want to be organized, and I have the will and the tools, but there’s this space between wanting and being that is  my personal black hole of good intentions.

I’m the kind of person who is madly in love with the promise a great daily planner holds. It’s my favorite fantasy ever.

At the first of every year I buy myself a planner that has it all – months, weeks and days; to-do lists; pockets (because nothing says you are organized like a planner pocket); and places to makes notes and goals. It’s just so … optimistic, and always makes me feel like it alone can cure me of my complete lack of skills in that area.

I vow to be organized, write down action items and plan for success with a zeal normally reserved for someone who knows what they are doing.

It’s worth mentioning, I also resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables and floss my teeth.

And every year like clockwork, the part of my brain that means well says “OK, that’s enough for this year,” on January 2.

I also love journals, and notecards and sticky notes and notebooks that fit in my purse, which leads to a problem.

I want to write in them all, and I generally do, just not at the same time. As a result, my schedule is usually recorded on pieces of paper spread between two towns, three purses and a cubby in my desk that is supposed to be used for organization, but actually holds cryptic sticky notes, acetaminophen and a whoopie cushion.

I just heard many of you cringe.

Most of my own friends live on a schedule, and one that is written legibly and in an orderly fashion on either a calendar or a planner. They always seem to know where they’re going, when they are going, why and with whom.

And they love me anyway.

I have one friend who asks twice if it’s for real when we make plans because nothing is more disappointing to her than having to deface her calendar. It’s like she actually looks at it.

I live on text message reminders and the accidental discovery of appointments written on the back of Carmex-stained receipts floating around in the bottom of my purse.

Not all of us were born to be organized. Some people, like me,  were born to make organized people feel better about themselves.

You are welcome.

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I just spent a gloriously exhausting week with my daughter and grandson. They flew back home to South Carolina Wednesday, so if you need me, I am taking a nap that should last somewhere around four days. During the week, there was lots of food, love, and remembering going on. And exhaustion, which is what…

via I wrote this just before a 4 day nap — One Funny Broad

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I wrote this just before a 4 day nap

I just spent a gloriously exhausting week with my daughter and grandson.

They flew back home to South Carolina Wednesday, so if you need me, I am taking a nap that should last somewhere around four days.

During the week, there was lots of food, love, and remembering going on.

And exhaustion, which is what brought about the remembering.

They say you forget, and you do. But there is no replacement for a toddler in the house to make me think, “Holy crap. I lived through that … twice.”

My almost two-year-old grandson  climbs like a mountain goat and runs like a Weeble with a track star’s legs. In addition he has the quiet determination of Jaws, and the mind of an engineer.

I don’t know how his mother is still standing, as I now need some assistance. But admirably, she is.

In retrospect, I probably should have been training for American Ninja, but I’m sure they wouldn’t want the responsibility of getting a grandma ready for the toddler olympics. “Too much, too soon,” they would say. And they would be right.

A lot has changed in the 30 years since I’ve been completely in charge of keeping a tiny human out of harm’s way. Food has changed, rules have changed and my ability to read a toddler’s mind has wavered more than a little

There’s now a thing called “Almond Milk,” and I didn’t even know you could milk an almond. But you can, and I have a half gallon of the stuff in my frig.

As a matter of fact, from what I can tell so far, almost every single thing I did with my kids should have rained certain death upon them, from letting them sleep on their stomachs as infants to never, ever feeding them green peas.

My children should never have survived me.

We had front-facing car seats, for God’s sake, but at least we had car seats.

In retrospect, I do remember my own mother driving around Littlefield, Texas, while three-year-old me stood in the front seat of her Country Squire station wagon wearing only panties and singing Downtown by Petula Clark. In the event of a sudden stop, her arm was my seatbelt. Every generation has it’s shame.

We’ve gone from free-range tots roaming in the front seat (1960’s) to sort of strapping them in the front seat (1980’s) to a four-point rear-facing seating system that faces backward in the back seat, today.

And yet we all survived.

Now they are home safe, and I am finding sad reminders that they were here – Cheerios in the couch cushions, a back that may never be straight again and that feeling in my heart that I cannot wait to be this exhausted again.

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You really can make this stuff up

I’ve been duped out of a hysterical blog.

This  is going to be much shorter than usual as I grapple with the realization that something I thought was too crazy to be true, but really was true, isn’t really true.

You see my confusion, right?

Such is the world we live in.

Also, fake news is the bane of my existence, so it was a valuable lesson.

I saw a story on the internet about a woman in Detroit who trained squirrels to attack her ex-boyfriend.

I was very interested, to say the least.

According to the story, the woman was a former lion trainer in the circus and had the skillset necessary to pull off this crazy crime and torture her former beloved.

It should have been an instant clue the story was questionable when it was reported that the squirrels not only chewed off two of the man’s fingers, but another body part that would reduce his chances of having children by 50 percent.

Because seriously, who sleeps through that?

Still, by the time I got to the part where she used dummies with her ex-boyfriend’s picture taped to the face to train the squirrels to attack, I was in my “you can’t make this stuff up” mode.

Turns out you can make this stuff up.

One Google search later I learned that somebody out there somewhere makes up unbelievably funny stuff and the openly fake and satire news site The Onion should put this person on staff.

Lesson learned.

Fake news sucks, but repeating fake news as fact – even if you want it to be true in a harmless and sick way – sucks worse.

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