Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from of of us at Spike's World!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Peace and Relaxation

I have friends from bigger cities that are always commenting on how they would not mind moving to a smaller town for some peace and relaxation. I usually agree with them that it is the life, but all the while I wonder is small town living really that peaceful or relaxing?
First, let me state that I love living in a small town. I don’t have to live in one, I choose to. I do like the advantages of knowing school board members and other community leaders personally. I also like the advantage of other people and friends knowing my family and children, and tell me when they see my kids out and about. I tell the kids that there is nothing they can do that someone who knows their mother or me won’t see, and these people will tell on them. This is a truth. I hated it while I was growing up, but now I really like it. I love the pride and spirit of small towns, and I like going to highschool football games an hour early and sitting with a few thousand others, all wearing purple and showing their hometown pride.
That being said, I am about as busy and stressed living in a small town as I could ever be living in a city. It is all a matter of perspective. If my life got any busier or more hectic, I would be going to the nut house, and I don’t mean a store that sells almonds. There are twenty four hours in each day, and most of my days are very full. I wake up at 5:30 A.M. most mornings to start my day and don’t go to bed until 10:30 or 11:00 P.M. and I blow and go during the day. My wife is up before me, getting ready for work, and goes to sleep after I do, and she doesn’t slow down during the day. I am not yoked to the same drive, but I am still very busy.
Between our activities with Church, school, and civic projects, we are always on the go. The older boys can drive themselves now, and that does take away some of the stresses of life, but it creates others. My friends who live in larger cities that tell me that they don’t know how I can live in a smaller town. They say they need things to do and they would get bored living in a small town. I know that living in a small town is not boring. It is a matter of perspective.
Other big city dwellers tell me that they need to be around lots of people, so they could never live in a small town. I agree with them, but I know that I have more friends that I do things with in my small town than most cosmopolitan people do, but that’s Ok. It is a matter of perspective.
The same city people do tell me, almost condescendingly, that they envy me living in a place where things are more peaceful and relaxed. I accept there back handed compliment, and move on. I even cause some of these misconceptions. When I go to a bigger city, I will sometimes act the part of country come to town. My speech gets slower, I comment on such things as traffic,(which I legitimately dislike,) noise, and how many people are out. I marvel at the size of shopping centers and the height of skyscrapers. I don’t do this intentionally, but I do it. I guess, I my own way, I am skewing these peoples perspective, I am reinforcing the belief that life in small towns is relaxed and that big cities are exciting.
Nothing illustrates perspective better than a story of mine about flying. I am basically a "fraidy-cat." I don’t like heights, roller-coasters or a myriad of other thrilling things. I do however enjoy a few things that scare others, I like white water rafting, and have floated rapids in every nation in North America, and I like to fly. I enjoy flying in almost anything, front jet airliners to very small personal planes.
My friend John lives in Taylor ,Texas, and loves to fly as well. He is an amateur pilot and usually has a small plane or two. I used to visit friends in Austin quite frequently, before I had a family, and I would visit John in Taylor on my way. One Saturday I went by his house, but his wife told me that he had bought a new plane and was at the airport working on it. So I drove to the Taylor airport, asked people where John was, and since it was a small town airport, they told me. John was in a hanger finishing up a tune up on his new plane, and when I arrived he asked if I wanted to go up with him and see how it ran. I immediately agreed, and I helped him move this small plane to the runway.
This plane was small, I mean real small. It was a tail dragger, meaning it had two wheels under the cock pit and one below the tail. We picked up the back end and pushed the plane to the runway. I was amazed at how easy it was to push the plane, it obviously didn’t weigh much. John went into the office to get take off clearance, and then we stuffed ourselves in the cock pit. The doors on this plane made the doors on a soft top Jeep look sturdy, and I had to really draw up to fit inside the plane. As we started to taxi down the runway, we were going so slow that I wanted to stick my leg outside and try to help push us along, like the Flintstones would. We eventually made it off the ground, just before we ran out of runway.
We climbed to an altitude of several thousand feet and looked at the landscape below. Taylor is an area really into farming, and the land below us was covered in a checkerboard of different cotton, corn and grain fields. It was really beautiful, and the fences and creeks made dramatic boundaries. John tried to point out some things to me, but the plane’s motor was between us and it didn’t have a good muffler, so it was very loud inside the cock pit. I yelled to him that I couldn’t hear what he was saying, so he flipped a switch and pulled a button, and the motor quit.
"I love to come up here and look around," he told me. "I think it is so peaceful." I was trying to remain calm and listen, but all I could hear was the wind rushing through the plane as we plunged towards the earth below. The only thing louder than the sound of the wind was the sound of my heart trying to beat it’s way out of my chest. I couldn’t take this anymore, so I firmly but calmly told John to "turn that motor back on-NOW!" He did, and after the engine backfired a few times it started again. It was a matter of perspective, gliding through the skies looking at farmland was relaxing for John, but it was very stressful for me.
To some, life in a small town would seem very relaxing, and it is. However, life in a small town is life, and sometimes life can be stressful. Peace comes from with-in, and just because there is not a large population around, it doesn’t mean life is relaxing. It is a matter of perspective.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Spring has sprung

Spring is about to turn to summer here. I should be ready, it is after all mid-April. My Azaleas have stopped blooming, the green flush that hits during spring is beginning to fade, and most of all the temperature are climbing. I spent most of yesterday working in the yard, and that is a job I really do not like. In a few months I will look back on these days where it only got to the mid eighties and dream.
I do most of the cooking at our home. There are several reasons for this; I have more time, I have more experience, and I enjoy doing it. I like to keep things very simple, however, and I do not follow many elaborate recipes. The main problem I am running into is that sometimes my family will not eat what I cook, so I have stopped cooking some of my favorite dishes. I used to make a sandwich filling with hamburger meat, chopped onions, and cream of mushroom soup. Neither J, A or P like mushrooms, so I stopped making the dish. Last weekend I was struggling to make a meal. J, B and G had some left overs from a restaurant, but I had cleaned my plate there. As I looked through what I had, I realized I had the ingredients for the "mushroom sloppy-Joe’s". Well, I made that and was happy. G did not have enough leftovers to fill him up, so he tried my concoction, and loved it. He ate so much that I did not have enough for a separate meal later. (What do I have to do to have left-overs?") Now I feel loved, and I can add this recipe back to my file. Life is good.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Life is Good

Life in Lufkin is good. This weekend was the Lufkin High School prom. P. Went for his last prom and had a great time. We had negotiated a latter curfew,(3:00 AM) with the understanding that was the absolute latest he could be out. Part of the deal was that he would wake his mother when he got home,(as if she would be asleep,) and tell her how it was. P woke us up at 2:45. I am very proud of him and thankful that he understood the terms and was mature enough to know that he really needed to be home a little earlier. Since I had been the deal broker, this really helped me out.
Immigration has made big news in Lufkin, like it has in many places. With the bills in congress now dealing with this subject, the Hispanic community has started to use protest as a tool to get peoples attention. There has already been several demonstrations and marches in Lufkin, and it appears there will be more. The schools are cracking down on students that leave class to protest. They are threatening to issue truancy tickets and fines for people who leave the campus without permission. Many believe that the students don’t even know what or why they are protesting, and this is just an excuse to "skip" school.
This may be correct. The schools have a great opportunity to educate here, and we are missing the boat. Obviously, there is some interest in the issues, so lets use this interest to teach. Not just the Hispanic Americans, but all of our kids could learn here. We could teach what the issues are, look for solutions and get real public feedback. We could also teach about the civil rights marches of the 50's and 60's. We could teach how civil dis-obedience in America works, and how it doesn’t. We do not get this opportunity every day, so let’s make the best of it when it comes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

So long Spike's World

Adios Spikes World. The poorly drawn, sometimes funny cartoon "Spikes World" has made it’s last appearance on this blog, at least for now. Don’t cry, it is moving to it’s own blog! You can see the same unartistic attempts updated almost daily at the new address. Spike’s new home is . Go, check him out. He needs the company.

Spike's World

Wednesday, April 05, 2006