Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's National Novel Writing Month!

Frost nailed the punkin this morning for the first time this 2014 fall season. This is the kind of weather that makes you want to fill a thermos with hot cocoa and make camp around a roaring fire, even if it's just in your own backyard. Of course, such fire worship goes much better if you've a little something with which to lace and brace that thermos besides chocolate.

With cooler days and chilly nights upon us, Mrs. Miller and I have launched into our respective fall projects. She is crocheting squares for a blanket for the daughter. I'd post pictures, but Mrs. Miller has a deep and abiding aversion to being photographed. Anyway, this will be the second blanket she has knotted together from various hues of yarn. She completed her first one some years ago while occupying the tourist seat of a cross-country freight hauler while I drove.

For my project I have taken the challenge to write a 50,000-word first draft of a novel in 30 days as November is National Novel Writing Month.

The idea is fairly simple and straight forward. All one has to do is bang out a minimum 50,000 words that more or less tells a story with a beginning, middle and end. Sounds easy enough, right? Try it, and get back to me.

This, of course, is not my first venture into novel writing. It did, however, seem to be an interesting vehicle to ride toward actually completling a first draft--rough though it no doubt will be--of a novel manuscript. This is something my alter ego, David Forest, has been nagging me to do for years, ever since I launched him on his first adventure (never finished) lo these many, many years ago.

If you care to follow along on this adventure, point your browser to my NaNoWriMo Page.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pecan Fall, or, Check your gratitude to fix your attitude

Couple or three fall seasons ago, in a rather flippant mood, I posted on Facebook,

Anyone know how to break a dog from eating pecans?
Good, bad or indifferent, Beano hoovers up the pecans that fall
on our patio from the neighbors' tree.

Beano, for those of you who are new here, is our aging boglen terrier, and to this day he crunches and munches his way through pecan fall if I don't get to them first.

Within moments of posting the above, my country cousin commented,

Pick 'em up.

Nothing like being taken to school by a little girl, huh.  

What falls from our neighbors' tree are what Gran'dad Saunders called "no count" pecans. That is, they aren't worth the effort it takes to bend down and pick 'em up. They are the product of native trees, trees that go season to season without "proper" spraying for pests, "proper" fertilization or "proper" irrigation.

In other words, we're talking native Texas pecan trees that get by year to year solely on the gifts that fall from heaven. And as for being "no count", Ma'maw Saunders made killer pecan pies every Thanksgiving and Christmas from a solitary old tree that shaded their home on the corner of 14th and Grace Streets.

Those "no count" pecans wouldn't take any ribbons at the Wichita County Fair, but Ma'maw's pies were forever swathed in blue silk.

So drop by the backyard these days; the pecan can is out. The drought continues to take its toll on the crop this year, and squirrels are as relentless as ever about getting to 'em before they fall.

But Beano eats a lot fewer pecans.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Just in time for Mrs. Miller's Birthday!

Coming to your neighborhood record store November 10

Three days after Anniepie's humpty-blimph birthday. 

I've been planning a trip down to Matagorda Bay for that weekend. Some might call that "slumming" for a San Francisco Bay girl, but Mrs. Miller has taken more than a few strolls on the wild side.

She's gonna kill me for this, by the way. Says, "I ALWAYS READ ABOUT IT IN FACEBOOK FIRST!" 

Last night, right in the big middle of GOTHAM, she mentions how we never made it to Memphis, TN, like we talked about once upon a time. Hmmmmm (I wondered), could it be I was looking for a road trip in all the wrong places?

So I am putting it to you, sports fans, just to see who might be reading this and STILL NOT FOLLOWING my blog!

Which way would you go on a four-day road trip in early November?
Please vote MATAGORDA or MEMPHIS and tell me why in 144 characters or less in the comments below.

She hates it when I call her "Anniepie" in public, too.

Lantana Arrives Amid the Redbuds

Texas Lantana


Lantana urticoides blooms where we least expected. 
Mom's house on York Street was anchored in Texas Lantana along front walk. This bed beside the postage-stamp sized porch was vigorous, to say the least, and I have trimmed it back into a sembelence of submission more than a few summers.

I took cuttings from this mass of Calico bush from time to time. There's a small patch of it, as I recall, on Pennsylvania Road where we lived before we went off touring the USA in a freightliner.

Lantana urticoides is a tough little plant that can take the heat and endure through dry spells. "Urticoides" comes from the leaves which resemble the Urtica nettles clan. Originally she was called horrida for her pungent odor, particularly when the shrub is perturbed. They say Lantana's smell can take out a sensitive sort of being, but butterflies and bees can't get enough of her yellow-orange-red flowers.

Like any true Texas native, Lantana thrives on abuse and neglect, and she can be down right aggressive. Some even say she's invasive.

I took a few cuttings when Mom died to transplant at our current location, here in Brook Village. For whatever reasons, the cuttings didn't make. I thought about going over to the York Street house to try again, but new folks are in there now. Still, bringing Lantana, even if not Mom's Lantana, into our yard remained on my mental to-do list.

So a couple days ago, I'm doing the morning routine in the back john when a flash of golden orange nicks the corner of my eye. I look out the window, and there in the far corner of the lot just under the Redbuds is a solitary Lantana head where no Lantana had been seen before!

Going on four years, now, Annie and I have staked our claim on this plot, and that plant never showed itself until now, going into October and under a blood moon.

Thank you, Lord!

Some old timers call Lantana urticoides "bacon 'n eggs" for the yellow-orange-red range of her flower petals, according to the folks at the Native Plant Society of Texas. Her agrobusiness-bred cousin they dubbed "ham 'n eggs", Lantana camara, whose colors are pink and yellow. So if you are looking for the true Texas native, pass on the pink and go with the red!

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 jimtxmiller@gmail.com.


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.

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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"...]

Friends....

[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!

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Living Green in Wichita Falls: Some Upcoming Events of Interest

I'm away from my desk at the moment, but in the mean time, here's a spot on the interweb you really need to check out.



Living Green in Wichita Falls: Some Upcoming Events of Interest

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Troubles", Right Here in River City


The world is too much with us; late and soon
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Training jets scream over the playful rap of dogs chasing and being chased in circles, round and round and round again. Sitting in the backyard, taking a personal "sick" day, and it's more than sinus congestion and urban infections that plague body and soul. Lord, I suspect today I'm just feeling...old.


We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.

As I sit here with dogs and birds and shade and Wordsworth and the endless whine of rubber tires on ancient asphalt, two issues are all the talk around River City Facebook circles. Clean water and new schools.

We're one week out from a bond election that would finance school infrastructure projects, and my old-age absentee ballot lies where it landed by snail mail a month ago. 
My mind has flipped and reflipped over this one so many times; let's just say I'm torn, still, on this one.

Lazlo leaps into my lap! Ah, the joys of writing outdoors. His primary issue is a simple, "Play with me!"

The other, perhaps more pressing, certainly more distressing issue is the water thing. As noted here more than once, River City may soon -- as in a matter of two or three years -- run out of water.

Now, too many folks have entangled the water issue with the school bond issue. These two are linked purely by coincidence and timing. The school bond is a school district issue; water is a city issue. Passage of the school bond  will not affect River City's water supply nor the lack thereof.

Yet, one still hears (reads), "Well! What good is a multimillion dollar megaschool gonna do us if there no water to drink! Huh? You'd think 'they'ed have sense enough to use that money to build another lake!"

Build another lake. Building another lake as a municipal water resource absolutely cannot be done with school district money. Period. End of discussion.

Build another lake. I could get in my car right now and drive to no less than half a dozen lakes within a couple of hours that are all but dried out. So long as this drought continues, folks, what good would another multimillion dollar -- NOT school money -- dry hole in the prairie do us, huh?

Then, too, there are no end of "dead horse" floggers. They SHOULDA built that lake when they had the chance! They COULDA let the Corp of Engineers dredge the old lake for free! We all WOULDA been a lot better off now if they hadn't been running things back then!

WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA never solved a damn thing, People. We need creative, thoughtful, workable solutions to meeting our water crisis going forward, not reliving old sins from the past.

Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Open Letter to Kellogg

Raisins gotta go!
Sometimes you simply have to take the bull by the berries, as it were. So it was this morning I sat down beside my bowl of raisin bran and composed the following letter:

Kellogg's Raisn Bran Omega~3 with Flax Seed is quite possibly the greatest innovation in cereal since the birth of Tony Tiger. Personally, I swore off cold morning fare as soon as I was old enough to vote, particularly anything that went limp in milk. However, my lovely AnniePie got on a raisin bran kick some weeks back, and out of curiosity more than anything else, I pinched a sample of the flakes. OMG!!

Nothing in this world is perfect, though. I do have one issue with your cereal. Okay, two scopes worth of issues, namely, the raisins. You see, I don't like raisins, never cared for them never will, simply will not abide raisins on my palate. Every morning -- yes, I am that regular; your bran flakes keep me going -- I meticulously plck each and every raisin from my breakfast bowl, storing them in an old spice jar (but now even the birds are refusing to eat them).

Therefore, I respectfully suggest you immediately put into production Kellogg's Raisin Bran with Omega~3 Flax Seeds Sans Raisins. I mean, we have the scientific savvy to remove glutten from bread; surely you can extract the raisins from the bran. Here's a hint: Just don't put them in in the first place!

Sincerely,
One devoted flake fan

I was fully prepared to do right by the company, going to their website, www.kelloggs.com, to retrieve their email address. After all, it is only common courtesy to praise in public and critique privately. All I can say, folks, is that I tried and failed to penetrate their corporate fire wall. Fortunately, they did tout their Facebook Page. Seemed as good a place as any to offer my suggestion. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Poor Brother Bundy, Bless His Heart!

Here's the thing, folks; I was raised by a racist. Back then they were called bigots, and the English Major in me still prefers that word over racist. To wit:

:  a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially :  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Key words here, to me, being obstinate, intolerant, devoted, opinions, prejudice, group, racial, ethnic, hatred, intolerance.

If one or more of these key words pinches your toes, as they somewhat do mine, maybe it's time to consider new moccasins.

~~~~~~~

My addiction grows worse, I fear. I find myself actually enjoying fingering through the bran flakes to pick out and segregate the raisins.

~~~~~~~

Killdeer "Easter" eggs and chicks
Sunday last had to be the #1 top Easter blowout of all time and nary a hard-boiled egg in sight. The dogs helped kick things off with backyard chores, before AnniePie and I set off for the Texas Bluebonnet Trail down in Ellis County.

~~~~~~~~~

BREAKING NEWS....

Don Cowan's 82nd Birthday
Broo-Ha-Ha
is set for Saturday, June 21, at Park Place Christian Church, kicking off about 11 am. All Legacy people (you know who you are) are reminded to bring their Legacy music. If you ever sang in an S.H. Rider High School choir or otherwise had your life touched by Don, message me for more dope on how to get an invite.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Community Garden is a Sociable Plot

A first for River City
It's all good down at the Smith Street Community Garden, the first ever community garden here in River City. An idea long overdue, this town plot came into being right at the tail end of Stage Four water restrictions imposed because of the longest, driest drought in River City memory. Seems we had the space in which to grow; just no water to apply.

A test well was drilled last week. Sampling from the well shows the water to be safe for the community garden to use. With this final water hurdle cleared, plans for the plots are again moving toward opening the gardens to folks eager to put seeds in the ground.

The Paper this morning ran a pretty good piece on our community garden, "Gardens reinforce fabric of society." I would have liked it better had The Paper given credit for authorship where credit is deservedly due.

Perhaps I haven't been paying attention, but I find it somewhat sad that this Smith Street project seems to be one of River City's best kept secrets. The physical infrastructure for the garden plots have been in place since November of last year when the project was officially blessed and dedicated by all parties concerned.

Selling plots to actual patrons, however, remains on hold, last I heard, until a water distribution system to deliver water from the well head and from stored rain water to individual plots is worked out. If anyone else out there, Dear Readers, has heard differently, please let me know. I do appreciate it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Water We Thinking!?!

Read in The Post this morning how one of my favorite cities in America flushed an entire reservoir -- 38 million gallons -- of clean water because some kid peed in it. Is it just me, Dear Reader, or has the entire country gone bat crap crazy over water?

Peter Gleick, author of The Post piece Throwing Away Good Water seems to think so. "This incident shows, in many ways, why our relationship to, and understanding of, our water system needs to change."

Nowhere is that more true than right here in River City. After all, we are whom Americans are watching, because we will soon be drinking our own pee, right? Hell, the Big Boys from The Weather Channel are in town as I type documenting our delimmas.

About this widely held hysteria over "drinking potty water"; Get Over It! While we are up to our asses in alligators, the last thing we need is hysteria.

Fact is, folks the world over have been recycling and consuming so-called waste water daily ever since there have been folks. We can't help it; it's the nature of the system we call the water cycle.

If we had a decent education system -- one that works half as well as our water cycle -- everyone would know this basic science stuff. I used to introduce my primary students at River Bend Nature Center to the water cycle by asking a simple question: Did you know that you brushed your teeth with dinosaur pee this morning? First, it got their attention. Second, they quickly grasped how water works on their home planet.









Thursday, April 17, 2014

On Grandma's Lye Soap

Says here in The Paper this blessed drought we're enjoying is a boon to little boogers most of us would rather not think about. Yes, Dear Reader, we Texomans are facing flea and tick season.

When it comes to beating down little nasties like fleas and ticks, it's tough to know which is worse, the disease or the prescribed cure. Our man-made go-to chemical arsenal contains a plethora of toxic products specifically designed to target pests on pets, in the home and on the lawn. But do we really want to bombard our patch and our loved ones with a Cold War mentality of mutually assured destruction?

So, suppose I told you there is a simple solution to stemming the tide of pet pests that is totally non-toxic yet no less lethal. Would you buy it? What if I told you this solution has been used and proven effective for hundreds, if not thousands of years? Are you ready for it?

Grandma's lye soap!


I must insert a disclaimer here: IF you should decide to whip up a batch of lye soap in your kitchen, you will do well to read up on it more here. Lye is a highly alkaline, highly caustic compound that will eat the flesh from your fingers if you do not know what you are doing.

Bottom line is, you can control fleas and ticks on pets and around the house by following a few simple and basic practices. Regularly run the vacuum over the carpets, wash down pets and pet bedding with soap and water, keep your lawn clipped short.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ode to Old High

The Tired Hand


Postcard 1911

Aye, tear her brick and mortar down!
Long has she stood, Old High!
Many a voice has shouted proud
For black and red banners in the sky.
Her halls have sung with Coyote Pride,
Tears shed for fallen sons;
She’s nurtured her charges for 90 years.
Now, they say, her time is done?

Her walls have sheltered Faith City’s hope.
Her banners they held high.
Like loving arms, she welcomed all
And taught them how to fly.
But well worn tiles shall bear no more
The throng of student masses;
No longer shall her signal bells
Rush stragglers to their classes.

Oh, better that her brick so red
Should fall to the wrecker’s ball!
Let sons and daughters claim them then
To mark her final fall.
So cheer, you Coyotes, cheer!
Cheer with all your might!
Buildings in time must tumble down,
Yet Old High spirit goes not gentle into that good night.

So tear her brick and mortar down!
Long has she held us nigh.
We will not forget, no, never forget

Our beloved Wichita Falls High.

Don Cowan to 'Stay With Us'

"I talk to God but the sky is empty." Sylvia Plath

Take a kid raised Hardshell Baptist from birth. Give him a mind equipped for critical thinking, and plant within him a passion for reading. You either get one deeply conflicted and confused sociopath, or the kid finds folks who help him find his way along that lonesome valley.

One of those folks was a music man from Minnesota who rode the U.S. Air Force into River City, fell for a pretty dancer at the old YWCA, decided to stay and began teaching choral music to the first generation of Rock 'n' Rollers.

I am proud to say that Don Cowan remians a friend of mine going on 51 years.

We learned some months back that Mr. Cowan, 81, had been diagnosed with cancer. Multiple cancers, as it turned out, no doubt linked to that iconic pipe he had been sucking on ever since those early days at S.H. Rider High School.

Well, I tell you it wasn't so much that Don got cancer. Once word spread by social media and by word of mouth among The Legacy, it was more like we ALL came down with cancer. His challenge became our challenge. Like so many times before, we would rise as a family to this latest challenge, and together we would overcome it.

Prayers went up immediately and continue to this day. We were kept informed all along the way. First would come a series of chemotherapy treatments. This would be followed by radiation treatments, if necessary. Should that fail to clear out all the malignancies, the rest would be cut out. Not exactly a trip to the Magic Kingdom, but the prognosis for survival was good.

"Talk about being hit with a ton of bricks when my Dr. told me I had cancer," Don told me. 
Then he said 'Do you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.'

"That is exactly what I did. One test, one x-ray, one CT scan, one MRI, one chemo treatment at a time. I had family and friends who came by the fusion lab where I had my chemo, and they sat with me. The support, emails, cards, phone calls and letters have been so welcome and supportive. How could I not defeat this?"

Now, I've never been big on prayer, personally. Not that I'm above asking for help; it's just that I have my doubts anyone "Up There" is actually there, much less listening to our puny wants. To my mind, the Lord helps those who help themselves. That said....

Word came from Don last week that his cancer is gone. He had a session with his radiologist which included a CT scan. Nothing cancerous showed up anywhere in his body. A few chemo treatments; no radiation, no surgery, nothing more than several hundred former choral singers still considered his "kids" praying for their mentor and friend.

"Whatever you believe, I believe that those prayers and my knowing that I had the Lord's support, helped me beat this insidious disease," Don affirmed.

Good Lord willing and Holliday Creek don't rise, those of us who can will gather together one more time here in River City to celebrate Don's 82nd birthday June 21.

Thank you, Lord!