Friday, April 30, 2010

Proud to be a Papa.....

It's days like today that make all the trials and tribulations of being a parent worth while. My darling Amanda is finishing her last day of internship at Terros and will graduate next week with her Masters in counseling. Her Mom and I are so pride. There just aren't the words.

Now the girl is eduakated she can go forth and save the world. I'm personally counting on it. Time for the new generation to take up the mantle, pick up the gauntlet and pull the sword from the stone and go charge the awaiting world. I firmly believe that Amanda can make a difference one human at a time. What a wonderful, exciting and scary feeling it must be. To be on the cusp of your adult life with a baby growing inside you and the whole world out there waiting for you to go get it. Oh, I miss those times. As Yogi Berra once said, "Youth is wasted on the wrong people." Oh to have that excitement again.

My life effectively started when in October of 1979 Carol and I loaded everything we owned, including the dog, in a Ryder truck and our '74 Mustang and drove west. No jobs, no place of our own waiting, nothing but high expectations and the absolute feeling that nothing could deter us.

This is what Lance and Amanda have now and they will look back at these days and realize that this was one of the best times of their lives. Uncertain, scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

I'm jealous.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Shel

Here's another little piece of wonderful from Shel Silverstein;


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Have you ever washed a Bulldog?

The bell rings and the two combatants begin to size each other up. The smart combatant tries to tie the smarter combatant to a tree. This is necessary to keep the dog in the vicinity of the bathing area. And, I'm alone so I only have two hands and can't wash and hold at the same time. She's looking at me with those big soulful eyes wondering what ungodly hell I'm about to propagate. I start the hose. I have a nozzle on the hose so I can facilitate a fine spray. Not so fine to her. She gets me in a double half nelson and takes my legs out from under me. I'm the one getting wet. Undaunted I try to direct the spray at her. As soon as it hits her she begins to shake. I get wetter. I regain my feet and spray her from a distance. She calls me a coward and challenges me to close quarters. I get the baby shampoo. Yes, baby shampoo. Other shampoos sting when she gets it in my eyes. I pour the shampoo in my hand and we begin the race around the tree. She is so fast that soon she laps me and damn her nose is cold. Finally I grab her around the neck and try to massage the shampoo in. Most of it finds the ground and I have to break off and reload. I try again. This time I manage to get some on her body. Holding her with my legs I'm lathering her up and she begins that damned shaking again. Now globs of foam are hitting me like I'm going through the car wash. I get some on her back and that makes her slippery. She's loose and around the tree we go again. Three out of four heats. Now I take command. Holding her collar with the hand and arm that is about to be jerked out of its socket I try more lather. Ten percent makes it onto her coat. The rest is on my chest and belly. I begin to foam up. I come in for the last round. We are a whirlwind of ears and tail and soap and feet and fat white man. In desperation I roll away. I take up the nozzle and spray her from ten feet away. She doesn't flinch. She dares me to come back in.

I give up. I spray the soap off of me and untie her.

She runs around the back yard then goes behind the boat and rolls in the dirt.

Monday, April 26, 2010

God loves the little girls

It's a girl!! Amanda had her ultra-sound and there were no appendages except those you walk on or grasp with. I'm told that this is only the second girl (Aunt Jamie being the first) in a very long lineage of Robinsons. I only have brothers but I'm blessed with girls. My daughter Samantha has three and now Amanda will have one.

I've always loved the girls. I had my first girlfriend when I was six. Her name was Louise Baldwin and she lived on the corner. She had red hair and freckles and I can't read about Charlie Brown's crush on the little red headed girl without thinking of her. Louise's father was a minister and kept a close eye. My next love was Dina Lee Martin. She was good friends with my cousin Vicky. I remember setting on the school swing and holding her hand. I think we were in the third grade. When I was ten we had moved to Decatur and I became smitten with Linda Roberts. She wrote me letters and at the bottom next to her signature she would write "smack, smack". Two kisses. My Dad teased me about about my Chinese girlfriend "Linda Smack Smack!" I guess I was bad luck. Both Dina Lee and Linda died early in their lives.

They called it puppy love but at the time is was a big dog to me.

I was thrilled when Amanda was born and I saw I had a girl. I wasn't really the kind of Dad that wanted to do all those soccer and Little League things. Well, there was no soccer or Little League but there were the song and dance troupes, the school talent contests and the school choirs. So, I did the same amount of transporting just to different venues.

Now Amanda and Lance get the joy and responsibility of thinking up a moniker for the kid. This is a big responsibility. The little thing will have to bear the name all it's life. When I was growing up everyone called my Dad, Tramp. Tramp Jackson. I was at least seven or eight before I realized that wasn't his real name. Mom called him Dad. Walking down the street in Unionville..."Hey, aren't you Tramp Jackson's boy?"

His real name ---Cecil Francis.

Yep. It's a big responsibility.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Red and Yellow, Black and White

When I was nine years old my Mom and Dad split up and my Mom moved us from the idyllic Mayberry type existence in Unionville Missouri population 1200 to the smelly industrialized city of Decatur Illinois, population 100,000. Can we say cultural shock?

Because of arcane and racist "sundown laws" in Unionville I had never seen a black person in my life. For those sheltered ones, a sundown law said a person of color could not be in the city limits past sundown. No I'm not joking.

In Decatur we moved in with my Mother's sister, Aunt Sis. She lived in a two bedroom apartment two short blocks from the downtown courthouse. There were buildings so tall that cricked my neck looking up at them. Our playground became the downtown area of Decatur. The first friend I made was a black kid by the name of Heshless Dismuke. Not joking.

The church was a very important part of Mom's life and Aunt Sis's son was an elder of the church. When Vacation Bible School was announced for the summer they were all excited. Me, not so much. Mostly they sang inane songs and played stupid games and made you memorize the books in the bible. One of the songs sang a lot - Red or yellow black or white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world!

All the adults were entreating every kid to bring all their friends. I only had one. So I asked him and he said sure. Then I told the adults who I was bringing.

"Well, honey, they have their own church. He just wouldn't fit in here."

Nine years old and discovering blatant prejudice.

So now the new immigration law in Arizona. I still recognize prejudice 54 years later and it still is ugly. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. My God, what a State. Where's the simplicity of Ev Mecham when you need him. At least he did no lasting harm and you could just laugh at his foolish actions.

I know they are here illegally. But their great sin is that the vast majority of them are here to find a better life for themselves and their families. Like the Pilgrims. Instead of a law to arrest them, how about a law to form a reasonable path to citizenship. Prove you have at least five years of paying local, state and national taxes. Then go on a five year plan to citizenship which includes education provided to learn to speak English and learn the laws and culture of our country. If you don't have five years of history here then you have to prove you have an American sponsor - a long term job or long term income or you sign up for a work program that proves you are willing to work full time and pay taxes. If you don't work enough, you go back. If you do work enough you buy you own health care insurance. You buy car insurance and you have to prove such things to your local immigration office.

We are voting on a one cent tax to help education among other essentials. This new law will cost us far more in lost tourism dollars. We just went backwards.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shel Silverstein

Here's some fun from one of my favorite whimsical writers:

Boa Constrictor

Oh, I'm being eaten
By a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor,
And I don't like it - one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It's nibblin' my toe.
Oh, gee,
It's up to my knee.
Oh my,
It's up to my thigh.
Oh, fiddle,
It's up to my middle.
Oh, heck,
It's up to my neck.
Oh, dread,
It's upmmmmmmmmmmfffffff........

Here's the quote of the day;

Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.

Sir Francis Bacon

Monday, April 19, 2010

This and That!

I saw where Taylor Swift was skunked at the Country Music awards. This after winning almost everything last year. The bloom is off the rose. The country music fans are realizing that the Emperor's new clothes don't really exist and the poor man is parading around naked. I actually feel bad for the poor girl. Being surrounded at such a young age with sudden success and sudden money and an entourage telling her how simply precious every move she makes is. Then crash and burn. Better, maybe to have a normal life. Be the "Average Girl".

I saw also where two top al-Qaeda leaders were killed in Iraq. This pleased me and then I began to wonder why it did. Pastor Larry preaches each Sunday that we should develop a personal relationship with God and follow and worship Jesus Christ. I don't have a problem with these guys being killed from a God point of view. God pretty much kills everything and everyone indiscriminately. But, the Jesus of the New Testament, now I wonder what he would think of such things. Turn the other cheek?

There is not a doubt in my mind that the overwhelming consensus of the church goers I see on Sundays would welcome the news of these killings. Maybe a couple of tree hugging, granola eating little girls would object, but mostly the deaths would be celebrated. So that begs the question; can you celebrate and worship Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace follow his teachings and still be happy these two guys died. Is this hypocritical? How about blowing the bejeasus out of a bunch of Iraqis with a bomb from a drone that hits not just the bad guys but collateral damage as well. See how easy it is to discount human life -- collateral damage.

So another question; politically I see more hatred from the Republicans and Democrats and independents and Green partiers and the Tea Party people than I've ever seen in my life. And millions of these people go to church. And millions of them consider themselves devout Christians, so can you hate so violently and be a Christian.

I don't know, but I do have trouble believing that the two can co-exist. They really should give up one or the other.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to raise those kids?

At my age I usually find myself to be invisible to anyone under thirty. I can stand at a retail counter for hours and if I don't wave a hand in front of the youngster on duty's face, they won't even know I'm there. No, this isn't a pity party, ask anyone over 55 and they will tell you the same thing,
Now, that being said, I was gratified that while I was at a Easter gathering of my peers and their twenty something children that had their own little babies that my opinion was actually asked for. I was so shocked that I immediately fell into my routine and replied something smart ass. Then I realized they were serious.

The question was : How did I or would I react if I found a bag of marijuana in my teenagers room? And what would I do if they lied about it and completely denied it.

The reaction in the room ranged from the young mother just being mortified to the young father grounding the child for life. There was even some thought about corporal punishment.

My response was this: You can't punish character into a child.

I'm not sure this is verbatim of what I said but here's what I meant. First of all, if I can't tell when my child is lying to me, I've already lost control. The thing that gives me the advantage is that I came from a harder background than the young parents in the room. They had mostly been raised in the church by Christian parents and had only Christian peers around them their whole teen years.

In my early teen years I ran with a gang of hooligans that thought nothing of causing trouble. I was drinking and smoking by age 12. I had used marijuana before I was out of high school. I wasn't a bad kid, just a disconnected one. Because of this I was acutely aware of my children's behaviour. If they were smoking dope there would be no way I wouldn't know about it. But, what would I do if they did?

There has to be consequences for unacceptable behaviour. What is unacceptable behaviour has to be learned by the child from the moment they are aware and can think on their own. I don't remember ever spanking Amanda or Samantha but if I did the failure was mine, not theirs. I did spank my son once but the offense deserved the punishment. If the child is raised with whole hearted love and at the same time is held accountable for his or her actions from the get go, then when they reach teendom the character in the child should already be set.

All children will make mistakes. All teens will experiment. All older teens will push the envelope to see how far they get. These are as natural as rain. It's the parents job to understand this and to know their child and react accordingly.

My smart ass reply: If it's good shit find out who the dealer is!

Now don't have a cow, it's just a little humor.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where have all the pretty girls gone?

You know how sometimes something stops being around and you don't notice it's gone until suddenly something reminds you of it and then you realize that you really miss it and you're sad because it's no longer there.

When I was young one of my favorite movies/musicals was West Side Story. The Sharks and the Jets. "When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way from your first cigarette till your last dying day." And Marie singing "I feel pretty, Oh so pretty......" and all the girls with long luscious hair and pretty dresses.

I was driving home the other day, coming south on 32nd Street just before Shea and there on a corner waiting to cross was a solitary girl, probably a student from Shadow Mountain High School and I was slammed with the realization that I had been missing something.

She had long dark hair and was wearing a very pretty, very pink dress. Yes, I said dress! A real honest to God feminine dress. That was pretty. No belly showing above low slung jeans, no tattoo on the small of the back, no spiked hair, no piercings that I could see. And, she was smiling. Happy to be in this world. Standing on the corner looking like a very pretty girly girl.

When did girls stop wanting to look like girls. What fashion creep put it into their heads that the tougher they looked or the more starkly modern they looked the better they looked.

In just that one instant I realized that I miss dresses on women. Not so much on my friend Charlie but definitely on women. Pant suits - bah! Dresses - yea!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I held the future in my hands

You all know that I'm a big fan of the Charlie Rose show on PBS. I record it every day then once or twice a week I'll run through the shows and watch the ones that interest me and ditch the rest. If you haven't seen the show it is a daily interview, sometimes with just one person about one topic, sometimes up to three different interviews and topics. He interviews everyone from politicians to entertainment folks, new movies, new music, scientists, economists, everyone. I was having a heated political discussion with some friends that don't share my point of view and finally one of them asked an intelligent question "where do you get your information?" My answer, mostly from the Charlie Rose show. He interviews everyone no matter which side of the aisle, and he doesn't give commentary, he just asks and listens. There isn't another show like it.

The topic of discussion I watched yesterday was about the new Apple I-Pad. OMG! This skinny little 1 1/2 lb thing is amazing. It and it's future generations will be laptop killers. The cost at Best Buy starts at $499 depending on how powerful you need it, but it can do so much. Internet, word processing, download books, overhead imaging, just about everything. Kid's getting rowdy in the back seat, pass the I-Pad. Bored on the plane, watch the I-Pad. About the only two negatives is that it doesn't have a application for running Adobe video and it doesn't have a camera. It is so small and thin it is just amazing at its capabilities. It needs no mouse and is the most responsive touch control I've ever seen. Like if you are reading a book you place your finger in the corner and roll back the page just like you would with a hard copy, except you don't have to wet your finger.

And no, I haven't changed my mind about prefering real hard bound books. But, I must say if it's something light and disposable, and I'm traveling, hmmmmmm. Just maybe.

I went to Best Buy over lunch and checked it out. They had floor models but had sold out in a week, or less. Just imagine how cheap this thing will be in a year. No, I can't wait that long.

I told Carol about it and she said she had already planned on getting one. Ha! See, you can't get one past me, I'm so far ahead of the curve. My next blog will be about Plasma TV's and these new fangled digital camera. Imagine that, no film. What am I going to do with all of those Poloroid packs I have in my frig?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Such a curious world

I watched something yesterday on 60 minutes the television show that left me shaking my head in wonder. I guess a while back a company used human genes to develop something that helped clean up oil spills. I'm a little vague about what exactly but the point is that a court ruling allowed them to patent it. The flood gates opened and bingo, companies began to patent different human genes left and right.

Now because of this, if you are a woman and want to test for breast cancer you can only get the test through one particular company because they own the gene that when mutated causes breast cancer.

Huh? They own the human gene? The one in every woman's body? The one that was created by your parents. Or some might say, invented by God! It's not like the company invented it like the light bulb. They just got a patent on it. How can they do that? Does this even make an iota of sense?

The good news is that this is finally being challenged in court. Let's hope smarter minds prevail.

One other thing. Most of you that know me know of my opinion of President George W Bush. If you don't know let's just say the I personally think the guy is the worst President of my lifetime. But, I saw something that actually I have to give him kudos for. In 2004 he starting a program that sent life saving drugs to the HIV riddled Africa. Some of which would cost a patient here $300 a month. People there make $6 a month. HIV was a death sentence. His program has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. I know that my Pastor says you don't have to earn your way to heaven but if you did this just might be W's ticket.

Way to go George. You have my admiration on this one.

Friday, April 2, 2010


It was rare that I was sent but I was here. The room was dark with heavy curtains that held a musky smell of age and history and dust. No one could know I was there unless I chose. I sat silent and dark in the corner for the boy.

The boy’s breathing was labored. He was beautiful but tired. An angel in the making.

I could hear the festivities from below. A band played and there was the muffled rumble of a hundred voices speaking at the same time. It was obvious that this room was not known by the multitude of partiers below.

Finally, the door opened and his long, dark, lanky figure stepped in. He moved quietly to close the door behind him then almost floated toward the boy’s bed. He stood beside the boy a long time, his head bent forward. His shoulders were slightly stooped in defeat. I could not see his face in the gloom. A moment later the door opened and a small woman clothed in broad hooped clothing came in. The size of the hoops forced the door open so that light flashed across the floor and onto the bed. I could see the concern on the man’s long and bearded face but the woman closed the door behind her quickly as if she knew. She slid to the man’s side and without thinking their hands reached and clasped.

They didn’t speak. Whatever was between them was kept silent.

It was an eternity or maybe minutes.

Finally she turned to leave. He held her hand and as she moved he held on until she had to stop.

“We have guests,” she whispered. He held her hand a moment more then reluctantly released. She moved to the door and as she opened it, the door opened wide to accommodate the hoops and the light once again spilled onto the boy’s bed. The man had already turned back to the boy.

As she shut the door the room went as dark as it had been. Dark for the man. Dark for me,

The man moved to the boy and sat in a chair pulled close. He gently moved a huge gnarled hand to the boy’s hair and smoothed it. He felt the moist sweat of the fever and looked about. He leaned and picked up the cloth and dipped it into the basin and with the utmost of gentle love, he bathed the boy’s face. The boy didn’t move, his breath remained labored.

He caressed the boy’s hair. After a moment he leaned back and laying the cloth in the basin he put his head into his hands and began to weep. I could see him gritting his teeth to stop from making noise in his sorrow. His great shoulders shook. The sobs were only held in by his physical strength. His sobbing face in his hands, he slowly folded forward, his forehead in his hands until they met his knees.

After a long time his sobbing slowly subsided and it was in that time that he became aware that I was there.

He pulled a huge racking breath into his lungs and sat back. He didn’t look at me. It was a long silent moment; it was why I was sent.

Finally, “I’m going to lose him aren’t I?”

I nodded.

“I’ve already lost so much.”

I nodded again.


I didn’t have to tell him.

He took another breath and wiped the sleeve to his dark suit coat across his eyes. He turned now to look directly at me. “What am I doing here? What can I accomplish?”

This made me smile. I shook my head in wry amusement at such a question.

“Will I be successful in this awful, bloody endeavor?”

It was against the rules but this man was special. I nodded.

“Will I see it end?”

Again, against the rules, I nodded.

He stood.

“There is something there, then,” he said. “Something.”

He moved to the door, “Will I take Mother to California? I really would like to see California.”

I looked at him.

“Too much,” he said, nodding.

As his hand touched the knob he turned back to look at the boy. He stood a very long time, his eyes glistening in what light there was.

He didn’t look at me as he opened the door. “You’ll take care of him?” he said as if talking to the corridor.

He didn’t see me nod as he shut the door.