Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July 4th America and my Food Log

So I am not going to post daily food logs and weight updates.  I know that some of you are now dealing with great disappointment but I don't have time for daily updates.  I am going to mix it up today because I am going to rant about one of my biggest concerns.  First, here is what I ate yesterday.  Let's see if I stayed under 1800 Calories:

Wheaties; 100 kcal
Fage Greek with Strawberry: 100 kcal
Skim Milk: 1/2 cup 40 kcal
Strawberries: 20 kcal
double espresso with steamed whole milk 70 kcal

Total calories 330


Hoppin John (Blackeyed Peas with Rice) 501 kcal

Total 501


Gala Apple:  80 kcal


Roast Chicken legs in Lemon Rosemary Sauce: 107 kcal each

Total:  320

Corn on the cob: 255 kcal

Land O lakes light with Canola: 50 kcal

Ceasar side salad: 110

Total:  735 kcal

Ok, so my total caloric intake for Monday was 1646.  Considering my Apple Watch told me I burned a total of 4573 kcals including exercise and just being alive, I should have made progress.  My doctor told me that weight loss was simple, the execution is hard.  He said "Move more and eat less, as long as you burn more calories than you consume you will lose weight."  That does not sound hard.  Well for me it is.  However, he was right on.  Those of you that know me personally know that I have lost huge amounts of weight in the past only to gain it back.  My goal this time is to go slow and not let my body get into starvation mode.  If it does, the retaliation is severe in the form of rapid weight gain.  We'll see.

Here is my great quote from American history for the day:

The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian but an American. - Patrick Henry

Here is my great Yogi Berra quote for the day:

You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six. - Yogi Berra

Now, about that rant.  I love my country more than I can say.  Despite our country's faults I am a fiercely patriotic american.  I do like owning guns and shooting them.  I support the second amendment, but believe we can work in sensible safeguards to help prevent tragedies.  I consider myself a conservative.  I believe we need a fair immigration policy that documents everyone that comes into our country.

I have witnessed over the last 20 years that the political discourse in this country has devolved to a point where we are in danger of another civil war.  What shape or form this war will take is hard for me to conceive because it will not be in clear geographic lines like the North v. South.  This is a mix of city v. rural, suburb v. city, working class v. academia.  I believe this is a genuine concern.

People talk about how important the free press is and I agree, it is vital to our Republic.  However, what are the political motivations of the financial backers of that free press?  Which news outlets can we trust?  I would genuinely like to know.  When did John McCain become an enemy of the State?  Do the Trump haters really believe that all Trump supporters are consciously racist?  They are not.  I know many, many Trump supporters that I consider to be rational people who believe this major shake up is necessary.  They believe this country must be shaken hard to it's core to bring it back on track.  Thomas Jefferson said revolution was as necessary as a forest fire for rebirth.  I also know good, rational people that believe we have gone loose from our moorings and are completely politically and morally adrift.  In many instances, they are not wrong.

The biggest concern I have is that we are not listening to each other anymore.  The reason our politicians cant find middle ground is because of money.  They lose their financial support from the party and the PACs if they don't tote the party line.  This is on both sides.  So, you the constituent are not at all a concern of your representative.  The only thing that matters is that they make the special interests and party leaders happy.

So therefore, the only political issues that really matter are campaign finance reform and term limits.  If being a Senator or US Representative were about SERVING the country and not about a career then we might see this country truly reach it's full potential.  As long as the PACs on both sides are in control, we will never be able to move politically.

On this July 4th, I urge my friends and occasional readers to first, take a step back and be willing to listen to our fellow Americans with which we disagree.  You just might make a new friend. Then take the time to get your information from both sides and make a decision for yourself what is best for this country.  I ask you to engage the process and not be complacent anymore.  Lastly, I implore us all to demand from our representatives that we get what this country needs, term limits and campaign finance reform.

If you want to learn more and actually read stuff by someone who knows what they are talking about, please read the musings of my friend and fellow Texan here .  The blog is called Political Orphans and at worst it will make you think.

So no matter which side of the aisle you are on, get out there and get engaged in the process.  Your founding fathers would be proud.

Happy 4th Everyone!

Monday, July 2, 2018


So here we go again, I am going to try and start blogging on a regular basis.  My family and friends have told me that I am pretty good at writing and I should keep doing it.  Let me get one thing straight.  I may blog about food, weight loss, politics, stupidity (An area of expertise),family and friends.  I will leave names out but if you hang out with me you may get your picture in this blog.

Here is my great quote from american history for the day:

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." - Thomas Jefferson to William Hamilton, April 22, 1800

Here is my great Yogi Berra quote for the day:

"I didn't say the things I said." - Yogi Berra

Once again, I am on a weight loss journey.  I quit a tobacco habit a couple of years ago and packed on some pounds.  To add insult to injury, I tried new forms of exercise and decided that Mountain biking would be a good idea. It is a blast and I really enjoy it.  However, within the first month of learning about this new sport I made a series of bad decisions on the trail and wound up going over the handle bars.  This fall lead to my rotator cuff being torn in two spots and a torn biceps tendon.  Go big or go home, right?  Surgery, rehab, lack of motivation all led to significant weight gain.

This blog has been about a lot of things like BBQ, family, weight loss struggles, etc.  While I still work for the same company, I have changed jobs where I am mostly traveling by air and eating meals with co-workers in their respective communities.  This is a great way to sample food from around the country but sometimes makes it difficult to make good food choices because my hosts tend to want to show off the best of their communities.  I am not complaining as I have met some really great people and developed an appreciation for each location that I visit.  Who knew you could get great Peruvian food in Wallingford, CT?  This blog will be about my success' and failures in my attempt to get to a healthy weight for me.  I have to rebuild my discipline.  One thing I learned from my previous weight loss adventures is that you have build discipline like you build muscles.  Each good choice builds discipline muscle.  A series of bad choices leads to discipline muscle loss.

My beautiful wife and I are now almost empty nesters and have started trying to cook together more often.  This presents some challenges as she has become a much better cook than me and when I am home I really look forward to what she is planning for dinner.  I tend to eat more when the food is good.  However, we are changing some of the foods in our rotation.  We are adding things like bruschetta and anti-pasti(vegetables), caprese salad, melon, etc. into our daily diets as well as reducing simple carbs like refined sugars.

Pizza I made at home on my Big Green Egg
I will be adding pictures when I can remember to take them.  Here are a couple that I took of things we have made and one from our unbelievable culinary vacation...
Unbelievable Bruschetta in Italy at Casa Gregorio
First Plate

Some notes to consider:

We just got back from a cooking vacation in Italy.  I ate like I was on vacation, and lost 1 lb.  I did my daily walking (3 miles/day) but the location in Italy made walking 3 miles a day difficult.  I did the treadmill and a stationary bike some but I did not exercise like I normally would.  I lost one pound eating pasta, pizza, EVOO, fruits, vegetables, breads, gelato, wine, beer, etc.  While we did move around a lot, I lost one pound.  This makes me wonder what the differences in our foods are.  I am not an organic proponent or detractor but people talk about the differences in the food.  Tomatoes tasted different over there.  Cantaloupe was amazing,  I had people tell me that they spend a great deal of time in both North America and Italy that when they are in Italy they do not feel as bloated after a meal as they would in North America.  I am not sure how to work this out scientifically.  I would say I noticed the same thing but I am not sure if this is due to someone suggesting it.

Daily goals:

1. Walk 3 miles/60 minutes a day.  I record this on my apple watch using the Strava app
2.  I am trying to keep my caloric intake at 1800/day.
3.  I am striving to eat more vegetables and higher fiber foods.
4.  I will try to eat organic foods more often when the price is reasonable.
5.  I am trying to use meat that has no added hormones or anti-biotics.
6.  I am limiting my red meat intake.  Maybe once a week.

I have been working on weight loss since the middle of April.  I have lost 31 lbs as of today.  I will keep you posted, good or bad.

God and Texas.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cypress Texas, a dying Texas Town.

So I live in Cypress, TX.  Currently a suburb in Houston, TX.  When I first moved here from Denver, CO in 1979, it was quite different.  What once was small town with horse ranches and a couple of subdivisions that had gotten lost has become another faceless suburb.  That may make some folks mad but it is the truth.  Yes, we now have all of the conveniences.  Supermarkets, tasteless chain restaurants, and nail places have now replaced pine trees and horse pastures.  The Cy-Fair High School rodeo in the summer is now a distant memory.  We have had few locally owned restaurants open up and they are very good for the most part.  But something died inside when I read the article in Texas Monthly here about the closing of Tin Hall. If you don't know anything about dance halls, read the Texas Monthly article. Yes the days of community dance halls has passed us by but I cannot help but be sad.  We went there as teens because we were too young for clubs and they put stamps on our hands to make sure all we could purchase was Coke or Dr. Pepper.  Not saying that a flask never came into close proximity of said can of Coke or Dr. Pepper.

Tin Hall was a place where you might have 3 or more generations of people all enjoying the same Saturday night entertainment but all through a different generation's eyes.  There was something to be said for this simpler time.  It kind of reminds me of a trend in churches these days in the contemporary vs. traditional worship styles.  The Pastor at our church favors the blended service because he believes that all generations should worship together and learn from each other.  I get that and agree with it.

On Saturday nights we got in fights, danced, talked, and generally had a great time.  I still keep in contact with my friends from that era.  We all went off to college in different places but still manage to get together to tell lies and share news about our families.  My kids are now off to college or on their own.  They never had a central meeting place like Tin Hall in their lives growing up even though they lived closer to it than I did.  Progression is a natural part of life, but it is not always for the better.  Sometimes simpler times are really better times.  I wonder if I will ever get to go to a dance hall with my wife and be on the same dance floor with both of my children and their significant others while my grandchildren are asleep on a chair against the wall.  I hope there is still an old dance hall left for me to find out.

God and Texas

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rodney King, Jeff Pearlman, and Roegels BBQ

We often joke in my house about the great philosopher Rodney King.  Not joking about Mr. King himself, but the quote "Why can't we all just get along".  Something happens on the news where people are fighting about something like politics, social injustice, or something silly like which side of the Twix bar is better, I will pop off with a snarky comment "why can't we all just get along."  Now, I am all for standing my ground and voicing what I believe in and I want to encourage everyone to stand for something.  However, the level of discourse in this country has devolved to a level that is unhealthy for all of us.  I believe many factors can be attributed to this.  Most people will attribute this to the anonymity of the internet but I believe that it is something more.  I believe that as our culture matures, we have become less civil to each other.  Instead of respecting others opinions in healthy discourse we take the path of least resistance and completely disregard others opinions as those of nutjobs, wackos, etc. Daniel Patrick Moynihan talked about defining deviancy down.  I believe this also applies to how we have been talking to each other in the manner of social discourse.  What was considered being rude and hateful 20 years ago, is now ok in the manner of discussing important social and political issues today.  Moynihan, a Democratic Senator, said "The liberal left can be as rigid and destructive as any force in American life."  I believe that this is also now true of the parts of the Republican party and we in our country are being torn apart by not being able to find common ground.

Now, how do I start off with Rodney King and transition to Jeff Pearlman and BBQ?  Here goes, Jeff Pearlman started following me on Twitter.  I was a Twitter newby at the time and I followed him back because he was a sports writer.  I did not know anything about him.  I quickly found out that he was liberal atheist who commented frequently about just about everything from lazy slobs who leave their trash on coffee shop tables to Gun Control.  I can tell you we disagreed on just about everything he tweeted about except when it came to human decency.  Some of his tweets led to direct twitter messages about gun control, God, etc.  When we were direct twitter messaging, I discovered that we could agree to disagree without calling each other out as morons, asses, etc.  We did find common ground and I believe that if we were working together in congress we could find common ground on ideas and move this country forward.  In fact, Jeff asked me to do his question and answer session called "The Quaz"  I had read a couple of these in the past but was initially reluctant to do it.  I decided to do it after reading one of the past interviews that he had done and realized that when it came to this interview format, he asked tough questions but was fair to all the respondents.  I agreed to do it and you can find it here. As Jeff and I worked through the process of getting this interview done I realized that we could have differing opinions and still find each other likable.  We still disagree on much, but if we can work together so can our representatives in Government.  Here is my solution:

  • All Special interest Groups and money need to be removed from our elected officials.  They should not have to raise money for relections, it should be provided from a general election fund.
  • Term limits.  Two terms for a Congressman and 1 term for a Senator
  • Pay enough for them to be able to leave their real jobs and just be a representative
  • Being a Congressman/Senator should be for people that truly want to SERVE the country and their constituents.  It should not be a career, but for people that want to serve and lead.

Now how do we get to BBQ after all that?, well Jeff thinks I should blog and tweet more often so I am going to try and get back to this more regularly.  He thinks I often blog brilliantly, so I do not want to deny the one or two people that read this blog.

I was in the Houston, TX area this week traveling with a colleague as we had meetings with local chemical companies.  We had the opportunity to have lunch together and I convinced my colleague that we should grab some BBQ at one of the new Houston BBQ hotspots.  We went to Roegels BBQ also known as @thepigonvoss .  I had the two meat plate with Turkey and sliced brisket.  The turkey was moist and smokey.  The brisket was perfect and the bark on it was unique and delicious.  I also had the corn salad with black beans.  It was wonderful without a huge line on a Tuesday.  If you are in Houston, this is a great place to try out.  I can tell you the atmosphere here is perfect for a BBQ joint and I will be back when I am in the area.  I spoke to Russell for a few minutes and we we discussed our experiences at #bbqcamp at Texas A&M.  This is a great place, perfect BBQ atmosphere, and good folks.  I will do a better write up for them after I go back and take some pics.

God and Texas


Sunday, January 12, 2014

BBQ Camp and the Essentials to Life

I have been fortunate over the last few months to spend to some time with my Cousin's husband.  My cousin and I first met when I was about 5 and she was 3-1/2.  We became good friends in our teenage years and kept in loose contact over the early years when our families were young.  You know how that goes.  You are so busy and tired when your children are young.  You are constantly going to kids birthday parties, youth sports etc.  But as our kids got older we both made an effort to try to get our families together, let our kids know each other, and spend some time together.  One of the benefits of this is the relationship that I have developed with my Cousin's husband Larry.  Larry and I have some common interests.  That fact is, he is one of the most likeable people on the planet.  He is funny, a great story teller, and has the kind of laugh that will put you in a good mood know matter how down you are.  One of the passions we share is BBQ.  Not just eating it, but cooking it.  You see there is something fundamental in life about sitting around a fire with a hunk of meat on it, telling lies (always based on a nugget of truth), and then feeding a group of people.  It is one of my joys.

Problem was, we didn't do it well.  We had heard the secrets, studied articles online, bought the books.  If you have ever had medium rare brisket, and I know that some of my family has, it is not all that good.  One needs good teeth and a strong jaw to eat medium rare brisket.  Well, my cousin and my wife decided that they had had enough bad brisket, sausage, chicken, and ribs and sent us to Texas A&M BBQ Camp put on by Foodways Texas.

Last June we went to BBQ camp, It's focus is on all facets of outdoor cooking.  Brisket, Pork, chicken, etc.  This weekend was all about the Texas Holy Grail of Brisket.  About fifty students showed up along with some outstanding teachers and a few Texas BBQ celebrities.  The class started off with introductions, not very unusual but very interesting.  There were people from all over the country.  There were restaurateurs from Arizona, North Carolina, and more.  There was a an Englishman who lives in the Houston area that was just tired of making bad brisket.  There was a pitmaster from Texas that just wanted to learn more.  Some stated that they were there because they loved Beer and BBQ and an educator from North Carolina State looking to bring this to his University.  The Houston Chronicle was there. (Greg, my apologies for being a hack writer, you are the true professional and really enjoyed meeting you).  A BBQ photographer was there.  You get the drift.  There were also the stars of the show, the Texas Pitmasters who helped us get better.

I am not going to go through a blow by blow description of what happened so here is a brief rundown:

We learned about the anatomy of a brisket:

Dr. Davey Griffen teaches about Brisket Anatomy

We learned about beef grading:

We learned brisket slicing:

Dr. Jeff Savell on knives and slicing

 We did taste testing

Proper fire building

This last picture is of Aaron Franklin showing us how he slices a brisket. Genius. So if you are still with me on this blog entry, how do the essentials of life fit into this.  Well, I will try to put it into words.  There is something to being human that is primal about fire and meat.  But for me it is the process of taking one of the toughest cuts of meat and with time and careful attention turning it into something magical.  At the end of camp, there was a pitmaster roundtable with Bryan Bracewell of Southside Market, Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller BBQ, and Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ.  The question came up about how negative reviews of their product affect them personally.  The question had an impact on all of the men and you could tell that they all take it personally if someone does not like what they have made for others.  Aaron Franklin put it perfectly when he mimicked putting a knife in chest and saying "it's like a knife right in the heart".  This struck me as profound because I don't like to cook BBQ for me, the real pleasure is when someone takes a bite of something you have worked hard on and you can see the pleasure in their face and the reaction to how good it is.  It must be like applause to an actor on stage.  Wayne Mueller said that when he puts a sample of meat on the tray while a customer is ordering and they taste something truly wonderful for the first time, that is why he does this.  I can personally say that all of the teachers and professors took the time to talk to people who had questions and share their experiences and stories.  The BBQ world used to be a world of secret recipes, methods, time.  These men shared the techniques that made them successful with no hesitation.

The last question of the day was why did you take time out of your busy schedule and come to this camp.  All of the pitmasters expressed their desire to help those that love this form of culinary art.  Bryan Bracewell is an Aggie.  He sat in these classrooms as a student and was taught by the same people that invited him to come and share his knowledge.  It was an emotional moment as Bryan thanked Dr. Savell and his good friend Hoover Alexander for getting him involved in this experience and Texas Foodways.  It was the people he has encountered over the years that touched his heart.

So why is BBQ an essential to life?  Because it is fire (warmth), meat (sustenance), sharing (human contact), and art (human expression).  It is connecting with our primal selves and sharing in our heritage and sharing this with our friends and family. 

God and Texas.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Big Fat East Texas Thanksgiving

For those that know me, I am a Texas boy at heart. Although I have never delved to deeply into my ancestry, which I should, I know that my ancestors are of Scottish and Dutch decent.  My father and his family started migrating to Crockett, TX in the late 19th and early 20th century from Indiana.  My mother's side of the family is a little more difficult but they resided in Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas, and North Texas.  My parents met in Fort Smith, AR during WWII as my father was stationed at Camp Chaffee in Forth Smith.  What does all this have to do with Thanksgiving and BBQ?  Give me a minute.  You see, almost all my family was born in Texas.  My maternal grandmother Mama (pronounced "mehmaw'), was born in Pecan Gap, Texas and attended Mary Hardin Baylor where she played women's college basketball.  She used to explain to me that after every basket, they would return to center court to tip off again.  Anyway, my point is that I am not a native Texan as I was born in Pittsburgh, PA but one by lineage and upbringing.  I grew up wearing boots and cowboy hats.  I also mixed in a coonskin cap for good measure.  Where am I going with this?  Well, I always imagined our Crockett, TX home place to be more Central TX.  I have referred to it as far Eastern Central Texas.  This delusion has been forever blown apart.

Thanksgiving day started normal enough, getting up early to fix a light breakfast and enjoy good cup of coffee.

Since we were planning on about 16 people, mostly adults, we decided to cook turkey, ham, and smoke some turkey legs.  Since I consider smoked turkey to fall into the BBQ category, turkey  legs are in there too.  We planned to eat at two, so I fired up the pit at 9:00 a.m.  planning on a 3-4 hour cook and put the legs on at 10:00 a.m.  I used apple wood for my fire as I was told that turkey does really well with apple wood.  I cooked nine legs which were brined overnight in a brown sugar and saltwater brine.  Following is the brine recipe:
1/2 cup Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
40 Black Peppercorns
1 T. Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning
6 cups Ice Water
2 cups Hot water
Boil 2 cups of water and pour over dry ingredients, whisk until dissolved.  Add six cups Ice water and chill in the fridge until  it comes down to 40 degrees F.  Add legs and brine overnight. 
I pulled the legs out of the brine in the morning and rinsed and dried them thoroughly. I sprinkled them moderately with Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning and then slathered the legs with mayonnaise.  Yes, I used mayonnaise. 
Mayonnaise is great for cooking poultry with the skin on as the oil renders away and the egg in the mayonnaise forms a thin film on the poultry, prevents the skin from burning, and keeps the juices in the meat.  I cooked the legs on the pit for 3 hours at an average of 240 degrees F.  towards the end I spritzed them a couple of times with a 1:1 mix of water and Apple Cider Vinegar just to keep them moist on the outside.
Unfortunately as I was pulling the legs off the pit, things got hectic and I forgot to take a picture of them when they were done, but wow, these were delicious.  Not too smoky, very moist and the meat just pulled away from the bone.  This was my first attempt at Turkey legs and I can tell you I will be doing them again and not just on Thanksgiving.
 Now on to the story.  I have a cousin whom I have been close to since High School.  Her husband and I have been acquaintances over the years but this year we decided to go to BBQ camp together last June at Texas A&M.  This is a 3 day course and we had a blast.  We have become close friends ever since so we decided to fry turkeys for the main course. 
Larry shows up to the house and starts unloading his Turkey frying gear.  He is wearing a San Antonio Spurs Santa hat.  I would still be insulted but the Rockets beat the tar out of the Spurs last night so I will let bygones be bygones.
So there we are, frying and smoking turkey and having a laugh.  Larry and Stephanie (my cousin), have two boys.  One in college and one in high school.  They're bored and ask Larry if they can go drive around the pastures and see what they can see, I am in the house to get some foil to wrap the turkey legs in.  I come out, ask Larry where the boys went and he says "they went out to drive around the pastures", I said "You know we just had 7" of rain in the last 5 days" he said "that much?".  Well 10 minutes later he gets the call that they had buried the truck up to the axles.  They ask for him to come pick them up as they were about 3/4 of a mile away.  He says no and so 30 minutes later they come walking up laughing.  They ask to borrow Larry's truck to go pull the other truck out.  I do not question the wisdom of this and off they go.  Larry checks the temp on the turkeys that are frying and sits down next to me and says: "You know they are going to stick that one as well, right?" I said "Yup".
The call came, they were told to walk back again and come eat as the food was ready.  We all had a wonderful meal.  I practiced what I preached and got to spend good quality time telling lies and listening to them.  After the meal, we had to get a couple of trucks unstuck.  My son gets in his truck and I ask him where he is going.  He says that he is going to go see what the situation was.  I said, your going to stick that one too.  He says: "Dad, I know this property, I am not a dumba*ss".  Do I need to explain what happened? I think not.  3 trucks stuck in the mud. I suspect I am in East Texas.  If you get most of the humor in the movie "Bernie" and know someone like most of the characters in it, you're in East Texas.  I don't want you get the wrong idea, these are intelligent boys that stuck these trucks.  You just cant turn off the E. Texas gene.
So, my son goes out to fire up our tractor to pull the trucks out and.... flat tire.  So now we have to call my other cousin who was at another gathering and tell him we need his 90hp tractor to get not one, but 3 trucks out. 

He comes, assesses the situation, and is not optimistic but gets all three out.  Two of the trucks got stuck twice more on the way out so a total of six rescues.  East Texas.

I have a cousin who is a history buff.  I mean he reads more than anyone I know.  so my daughter asks him to go over her civil war test review for U.S. History.  He says " you mean the war of Northern aggression?" East Texas. We all agree that she better stick to whatever the revised history is in her textbook and notes.

We played 42, the greatest domino game ever invented and hoped the Longhorns would lose. East Texas.

So, we had a blast, made some great stories that will only get better with time, ate some great food, prayed, laughed, and renewed friendships.  My many thanks to all the folks that cooked, cleaned, and made this such a wonderful day.  It was the best Thanksgiving ever and my heart lives in East Texas.
My hopes that everyone had the same.
God and Texas

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Time to reflect and Give Thanks

On my last blog I wrote that I would discuss brisket on a stick.  I still have to put together my thoughts on that one before I publish it.  I am currently getting ready for family and friends to arrive for the Thanksgiving Holiday and I have some time alone to think about where I stand in my life and what I am thankful for.  For one thing, there are so many bad things going on in this world that I am about ready to repeat the famous movie line from Network "I am mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more".  Seriously, where the hell do people get off running around sucker punching people for fun.  I blame the parents, the interwebz, vegetarians, and the communists.  Honestly, I feel like Screwtape from the "Screwtape Letters" and will get so mad that I will turn myself into a centipede.  But then I reflect on all the things in my life and see all the things that bring me joy and realize, that it is not in my hands but God's.  I understand that we humans have free will, but did he have to make us so stupid as to go around punching people?  Ooops, there I go again.  Anyway, now that I am calmed down, here are some things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for a loving God that has allowed me so many blessings despite my stupidity and lack of faith.

I am thankful for a loving wife that supports my endeavors and gives me the freedom to be me.  She stands by me and gives me the strength and encouragement to seek after my dreams and helps me see the light in this dark world.  She is my best friend, nuff said.

I am thankful for two wonderful children.  I am so proud of them that I cannot put it into words.  Both of them have the determination to go after what they want in life and have become individuals rather than clones of what I tried to mold them into.  My lovely wife and I gave them the guidance and instruction and they have taken that and are becoming what God intended for them.  What a blessing to watch them grow up and see what they become.  It's like growing a garden from seeds but your seed pack just says human on it.  You plant them, and are surprised at each stage how they bloom and what fruits they will produce.  My son is an Aggie and my daughter will soon be one.  They have brought me such joy in seeing how they have changed in each stage in life.  When they pick up a new interest or are enlightened by something new in their life it brings me joy.  It's hard not to try and stop them from falling down and making mistakes (one of my worst parenting faults) but they seem do dust themselves off and get back on the horse so to speak.  Pretty good stuff.

I am thankful for wonderful friends and family.  I won't go into to much detail here but God has blessed me with wonderful friends and extended family.  Over the last several years I have been blessed with renewed relationships with my cousins, etc.  As our families have grown we have all made an effort to get together and celebrate our family heritage and tell stories, mostly lies based on some very small bit of truth that have grown over the years.  There is this one story where my cousin's husband had surgery and he woke up in some unexpected pain.....I better stop there.  Over last few years some old friends have come back into my life and I am really enjoying my time with them.  It's funny, it is almost like we never spent time apart.  When we get back together we just pick up where we left off.  I thought we would just rehash the past and we do to some extent but these relationships have grown and flourished.  Thanks guys.

We also had a loss this year.  One of our group will not be around to share the joy.  I am still wrestling with God on that one.  However, what came out of that is seeing the faith of family being revealed in their private grief.  They inspired me as they allowed God to comfort them.  Miss you Ann, thanks for the laughs and spice cake.

Anyway, I guess I am thankful to God for giving me all these wonderful people to share my life with.  All the other stuff is just noise.  So, when you are at your Thanksgiving table this year, take stock of those relationships.  When the food isn't timed to come out right, or the turkey is medium rare, or annoying rugrat will not leave you alone while you are trying to watch football or cook something. Take stock, thank God for your blessings and enjoy the moment, because isn't that the reason we have this life, to enjoy the moments that we are given?

Happy Thanksgiving.

God and Texas