Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Offering one small box of hope

South American refugees await processing in the U.S.
We've all read the stories, we've seen the images of thousands of children flooding the U.S. border from Central and South America.

This post isn't about immigration policy. This post isn't about debate. This post solely is about what we as compassionate neighbors can do for as many as possible of these kids while they are here.

Before you turn away, thinking this catastrophe is simply too much for one person to address, allow me to adjust your thinking. What if you and me, your friends and mine, our neighbors, co-workers, members of our congregations approach this challenge on a one-to-one basis?

The question then becomes: What are we willing to do for one child, one-on-one, one neighbor to another?

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has launched just such an approach, and a group here in River City is organizing to help. Follow the link for details of the aid program.

Here we will be collecting and assembling Welcome Boxes and gift cards for refugee children processing through Texas. Once we have collected a load, we will deliver the boxes and cards to the Fort Worth Diocese. How many runs we make to Fort Worth depends on you and the amount of goods you provide.

Here is the suggested composition for one Welcome Box:

  • 1 Plastic shoe box sized container
  • 1 Shampoo
  • 1 Conditioner
  • 1 Body Wash/Bar Soap
  • 1 Toothpaste
  • 1 Toothbrush
  • 1 Brush/Comb
  • 1 Pack of Hair Ties
  • 1 Deodorant
  • 1 Small Toy

The Diocese also requests that gift cards be donated rather than cash. Suggested are $25 cards from Walmart, Target, McDonalds, etc. so that volunteers can shop for specific, individual needs and a rare treat for these kids, most of whom arrive in Texas with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing.

We are in the process of ironing out details for donation collection here, and should have a central location for drop offs by next week. In the mean time, if you would like to help us with this neighbor-to-neighbor effort, you may send your name and contact info (email is fine) to

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thoughts on Praying for Rain

Common sight around River City

THEY say rain is on the way. Ever wonder what folks in River City, your neighbors and mine, are doing behind all the Pray for Rain yard signs? Me, too. Walk with me ….

I’m sitting on some 100 gallons of collected rainwater, and that’s not saying much for a roof the size of ours. We could easily harvest five, six times that in one little thunder shower, given the storage capacity to handle it. Getting by on Social Security and two part-time pay checks, my catchment system is eight or ten 5-gal. cat litter tubs.

Where would we be without crazy cat ladies, praise the Lord.

[Crazy cat lady Annie waves]

Main storage is two 32-gal. “trash” cans, and I could use a couple more.

Don't get me wrong; I've nothing at all against prayer. But I was taught and brought up to ask the Good Lord's blessing, then knuckle down and do the work.

Western Wall and Rain Garden in progress

Excavation over here along the western fence is to remove hardpan clay for a rain garden catchment basin. What I take out of here is crushed and used as fill dirt for a small yet persistent sink hole over in the southeast corner. The clay stays on site in various other applications, as well, and is remixed into building soil.

Granddad Saunders was a Primitive Baptist deacon, as was his daddy, John, before him. His faith taught him to go to the Father and let his needs be known him. Then, get up off your knees, roll up your sleeves and deal with the situation at hand as best you can.

However, W.P. would have been the last man on Earth to put a sign in his yard about it.

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet,
and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret;
and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Matthew 6:6 KJV

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Little River Bend Redone

Somewhere on the Little Wichita
We called it Tree in the Middle of the Road Park.

That’s what our five-year-old Brian dubbed it back when we first discovered this patch of a park hugging the Little Wichita River. The tree stands to this day, some 30-odd years on; but the road has been moved aside, no doubt an effort to protect the undriveworthy from their own self-destructive idiocy more than for the safety of the tree.

While the good folks of River City flooded the polls Saturday to put down a proposed school bond issue, A.D. Porter, the afore-mentioned Kid (now 42) and myself escaped to the TMRP for an overnighter and a chance to see just how much city one can purge in a mere 24 hours.

This little patch just off of highway 281 officially, at least, still exists as Shoshone Park owned by the City of Wichita Falls. City of Wichita Falls took possession of the land while constructing Lake Arrowhead and opened Shoshone as free public-access, something of an informal park, if you will.

Anyone could see Shoshone Park would be a maintenance issue for the city; these few acres of riparian wetland, lying some umpteen miles south of town in a neighboring county.
The city put in a hard-surface road, a concrete boat ramp and placed several trash barrels in strategic locations. A minimalist effort, perhaps, yet a righteous plan for a quiet retreat beside the river.

Nor did it take long to be discovered after Arrowhead was impounded in 1965.

Shoshone was a fishing hot spot for crappie, sand bass and catfish. There was ample space for primitive camping -- no drinking water nor potties on site -- a large open meadow where kids and dogs could run wild, and easy access to the river all along the road. Families, fisherfolk, birders, boaters as well as young folk looking to get lucky flocked to Shoshone.

Deep ruts after a rain hamper vehicle access to some sites.
Today Shoshone is an overgrown, tangled thicket of its former status. It's as if no one save a few old codgers with long memories go out there anymore; she's the forgotten, abandoned park, the neighborhood haunted house.

And that just tickled us to death! For A.D., Brian and me, this was like discovering our secret spot all over again. With few remnants of city-park trappings left, nature had worked a serious makeover.

For the record, the land still is owned by the City of Wichita Falls and it remains open to public access without any fees. Archer County Sheriff's Dept. routinely patrols the area. The boat ramp is in place, but it does not reach to the river channel at this time. And, yes, folks are rediscovering this good old park.

Here's praying, Lord, we don't lover her to death all over again.

The Kid (front) kicks back while A.D. (rear) tries to recall what the humpy, cloth-covered thingie is for.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When All My Green Has Gone to Weed

A Stage Five fright, flight or fight song

'Twas the damnedest thing I've ever seen,
when my manscaped lawn took the turn toward mean.
It's been dry most days, and some drier in between,
now weeds are eatin' up my green.

[RECITATION, in the manner of Arlo's "Alice"...]


[Some soft, kicky, road-trippy kinda strum riff wafting through the background]
[.... Waitin' for the music to come 'round....]

I say, friends... and neighbors. Yeah, Tea Baggers, too....
This here is a little song that came to me... or should I say, started coming to me on a warmish payday hump day while sweeping up desiccated aborted mulberries deposited on my driveway by the so-called fruitless mulberry tree that lives... you guessed it... ride beside my drive.

Friends.... Ain’t nothing in this world…. fruitless.

[....just waitin' for the music, again....]

I was sweeping up the desiccated aborted mulberries like rat turds and recalling a day,
not more than a few years ago,
a day when that mess of mulberries literally writhed with feeding butterflies.
Red Admirals
Mourning Cloaks
Fritillaries and Painted Ladies.
Yeah, even some Monarchs came through. At least one or two.....

[....You should be catching on about now. Unless you're a Congressman.....]

That set me to noticin' that the irises lay limp with heavy heads and that other various and sundry green-producing flora on or about my measley half-acre patch decidedly were lookin' the worse for wear what with a million-year drought, empty reservoirs and city fathers..... and mothers!.... sayin' I can no longer fling and flood water, good city water, on or about my property in any manner that I see fit while THEY keep a full-blown over-priced water wonderland rollin' merrily along through the teeth of another hundred-plus summer.

I love my city council!

As I say, friends, this here song started coming to me... or at me.... you decide....
and that one verse you see at the top there, that's as far as I got before I knew I had to get that verse down on paper, as it were, before I lost it.

Not to mention....

By half past ten it was too discomforting to be outside manually tuggin' dry yellow crackly weeds out of the driveway cracks, anyway, which I tend to do when my mind is set on cruise control and ambling on down the imagineering highway.

And here it is near eleven and my other self is due down at the dealership. So I'm leavin' it up to you, friends. Cast aside your chores for a moment or two and tack on a few more verses....a chorus would be nice, too....Anybody know how to write music? How to read it, once it's wrote?

Just think on When All My Green Has Gone to Weed and let yourself go. I look forward to reading and making snarky comments about your lyrics!

Pray for Rain, people, whether it helps or not, 'cause it sure as hell can't hurt!