Archives for June 2012

The High Calling of a Hair Cutter

Yes, I mean hair cutter. I don’t go to a place with  hairstylists. Even hair dresser is too stylish a word for the shop I go to, on the rare occasions I actually get my hair cut. I let it go for a whole year while my mom was sick. It takes courage for me to go in for a trim because my hair grows back so slowly. Every time I get it cut, I feel like I’m signing a contract for the next six months.

But on this particular day, I felt bold and daring. I walked into Bobby’s shop just before lunch. Why then? Because he’s closed at lunch. If you think that’s weird, then you don’t live in a small town. Shops around here still close for lunch because that’s when you eat your noon meal, right?

I’ve heard about Bobby for years because my husband has gone to him often. So I knew that Bobby leaned toward the short side of any requested length. I had planned to ask for 2 inches off. When I landed in his chair, I changed it to 1 1/2. I got 2.

As he combed through my hair, Bobby said, “Boy, your hair is really thick!”

“It’s deceiving,” I said. “I look like I’m going to be easy, but I’m not.”

“Oh, it’ll be fine.”

While I sat there quietly, noticing that Bobby was carefully  pinning up my layers to ensure an even cut, a young woman came into the shop just to talk to him. She complained that she was supposed to start school, but she was putting it off for another couple months. She wanted to save up a couple of paychecks first.

“Are you working?” Bobby asked.

“No,” she admitted.

“Well, you can’t really save up paychecks until you get a job.”

“Yeah, but all the classes, they’re during the day. I want night classes,” the woman said.

“So you go to class during the day, and you work at night. There’s tons of night jobs,” Bobby said.

“Yeah, I know.”

“You just don’t want to work.”

“No, I don’t. Just another couple of months,” the woman said.

“If you start now, you’ll be done two months sooner,” Bobby said.

“Yeah, I know.”

Then they talked books. The woman said she’s only read two books in her life, and one was “The Shack.”

“Have you read it, Bobby?”

“Nah. The only book I’ve read all the way through is the Bible.”

His Bible was sitting on his stand, all worn and ragged. He’s become a Christian just since we moved here six years ago. I heard he got married recently. There were snapshots of a bride stuck into the corners of his mirror.

He finished my cut, then thinned it real well and dried it, which, he didn’t have to for that price. I tip well because I know that whoever cuts my hair gets more than they bargained for. (Think: Cher.) I left the shop looking like a nice, graying, middle-aged mom with a nice, middle-aged cut. Perfect.

It’s amazing what a good hair cut can do for my mood. I felt beautiful. Well, as beautiful as can be expected for only getting cheap cuts and only getting them every six months or so. Thank you, Bobby.

Johnny Cash was playing over the radio as I left.

The Fighter

I woke up on Sunday morning, and one of my dogs was wearing a cape with an “S” on it. You know, the Superman-S. So I guess that Polo is Superdog.


I never knew. And she’s been with us for three years next month. Of course, her background is a mystery. Abandoned on some ranch. The vet isn’t even sure what kind of dog she is. Perhaps she really is Superdog.

Maybe while we’re asleep she sneaks outside to keep us safe. Between the kids staying up late and me getting up early, there isn’t much time for her to get her crime-fighting work done, but I guess it’s time enough. We do live in Fredericksburg.

I guess she didn’t want me to know that she’s a fighter. She looks so cute and innocent, but I’ve seen her bare her teeth. I’ve seen her defend us, her little family, with every ounce of her 20-pound life.

You never know where a fighter will turn up, a puppy in the Texas Hill Country or a gymnast in the Bronx. A fighter doesn’t need a cape to have superpowers. All that’s needed is the element of surprise.

Perhaps I just haven’t been paying attention.

Now, for more on that gymnast, go watch “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes, featuring Ryan Tedder.


Offered for Tweetspeak Poetry’s June theme: Trees. With apologies to Ezekiel 17:22-24.

Why the good Lord would put cedar in the holy Bible

is beyond me. I mean, cedar!

He went and called it “noble.”

Please, spare me!

Aspens are noble. Maples are noble. Cypress

trees with their toes stuck in a river are noble.

The live oak tree that shades my whole front lawn

is noble.

Cedar sucks up every speck of water, stealing

from the trees that play fair. Cedar spills golden dust

from Christmas to Valentine’s Day, making everyone

sick at the most wonderful time of the year.

I think it’s just plain ugly, although it’s not too bad

for a fence post.

I hear the old ones are better than grass for drainage,

which would be a fine thing if it ever rained.

Ezekiel must have been talking about a different cedar.

Or maybe when this spinning top slows

when fire and hail and locusts have take out my pecan

tree, my elm, my crepe myrtle,

maybe that dang cedar is all that will be left.

Maybe birds will finally nest in its branches. Maybe

I’ll sit down and rest under that indecent shade.

Beware of Ducks

Normally, I’m somewhere between sedate and boring. I like to stay home. My fear-o-meter doesn’t run properly, so I prefer not to trip that thermostat. I don’t do rollercoasters. I don’t see horror movies. I don’t even like to fly.

So why did I agree to go white-water rafting on the Snake River at my cousin’s wedding a couple of Junes ago?

Everyone else was doing it.

There were three rafts — one piloted by the groom, one by his father, and one by his best man. Since we were going with locals who grew up navigating the Snake, we took the necessary safety measures required by park rangers (life jackets), but we didn’t go overboard (no helmets). We also had plenty of beer. Ironically, this made me feel safer. If everyone is too cautious, I’m sure disaster lurks around the bend.

Our guides knew the risks of the river, and they felt confident to meet whatever came our way. Plus, our group included three former Army Rangers, two of whom later went Delta Force. I figured that training must be good for something. I got in the raft.

Don’t tell anyone, but I had fun. There’s even a photo of me smiling as we approach another swirl of death.

My only injury occurred when someone pointed at a flock of ducks and said, “Oh, look, ducks,” and I let go of my chokehold on the raft just as we hit another round of rapids. My knee slammed into the wooden plank the best man was sitting on. I still have the scar.

Don’t get me wrong — white-water rafting is dangerous. This point was made clear when we pulled off to the side so our guides could rest. Their idea of resting included cliff diving. Three of the Wyoming boys took turns jumping off of a cliff about 10 feet high, while one strong, Delta-type person waited on the side with a long rope and a buoy tied to the end. Delta Boy threw the buoy to the jumper (in this case, the groom) so he wouldn’t be washed away. The groom missed the buoy the first time, and it had to be re-thrown. He’s a great swimmer, but he started drifting downriver.

By the way, he was fine. The wedding proceeded as planned.

I tell this story because since that trip, I’ve been a lot less scared. I recently flew overseas (all by myself) just a few days after switching denominations (all by myself).

It’s kind of got me worried, this all-by-myself thing. Should I be scared that I’m getting sort of good at it?


FYI, if you live in Waco, there’s a companion piece to this story, also about the Wyoming wedding, in my column, Musings.

Psalm 139 (the cycling version)

I have searched20120609-170913.jpg

and I have known.

I know when to coast

and I know when to get up in the saddle.

I discern when it’s safe to turn.

I think about my going out when I’m lying down.

I am familiar with all my routes.

Before my wheel makes a complete circle

my ride is known.

The path before and behind is laid out.

Such views are too wonderful for me.

too spectacular from the hilltops.

Where shall I go today?

If I go north, Cherry Mountain is there.

If I head south, Luckenbach greets me.

If I ride east, I find the oldest church in the county.

If I pedal west—well, I haven’t figured out west yet.

Yet even there, my hands grip the bar and climb.

If I ride in the morning, as the night becomes light,

the moon still watches over me.

Even if the sun blinds me

I turn into the shade around the next bend.

I don’t know who formed this machine’s inward parts,

who ratcheted it together.

I give thanks that it is fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are Trek’s works,

that I know very well.

No road is hidden secret. Not one street is secret.

My speedometer keeps track of every mile and minute.

How vast the paths yet unridden!

If I were to replay every one on my bed,

I’d never sleep.

Begone, dogs!

Shoo, sheep!

Go, goats!

Mooove, cows!

Die, deer! (if you lived here, you’d understand)

I hate harsh winds.

I despise dirt piles that hide glass and nails

and 4x4s that honk unnecessarily.

Oh God, search my paths. Test my routes.

Know my leavings and returnings

and the miles yet to be.

Tournament Mass (or AAU Basketball with Catholics)

(all names have been changed to protect the faithful)

“Where’s Diana? We need Diana. Diana can find a Mass anywhere!” said Sharon.

It was 4:30 p.m. The boys had finished the Saturday portion of their AAU basketball tournament. We’d all be back the next day, Sunday, at 11:30 a.m. The tournament, like all the tournaments, was about 75 miles away. Almost all the families on our team are Catholic.

In case you don’t know, going to Mass is an obligation. It’s not something you can skip unless you have a good reason. Some people might find this oppressive. This group of families considers it a challenge. When they can work one in on the fly, they rejoice.

At the previous tournament, the Saturday games were scheduled at 12 noon and 7 p.m. That left time to squeeze in a quick Mass. Diana got out her iPhone, found something at 5 o’clock in Manor, Texas, and she and Kathy went.

“The homily was only four sentences long!” Kathy told me later. “We were in and out in 35 minutes. Back in plenty of time for the next game.”

Kathy, Diana, Sharon, and the other moms prefer these Saturday night services so that they can sleep in on Sunday mornings (unless we draw the early game).

“Sunday mornings are so hard,” Kathy said. “We all work all week. And with these tournaments, it’s just easier to find a Saturday night Mass.”

When these families aren’t in tournament season, they are the faithful ones at our local church—teaching, leading, reading. These boys have grown up together, worshipped together, lost a friend together, and tournamented together.

The only other person I know who takes church this seriously is another friend of mine that I ran into at the tournament, a friend whose husband is a Lutheran pastor.

“We weren’t sure about these Sunday tournaments, but so far we’ve been able to work it out,” Amy said to me on Saturday. “Chris is bringing [our son] back here tomorrow.”

“Is Chris off?” I asked. “He doesn’t have to preach?”

“Oh, he does,” Amy said. “But the game’s not until 3. We won’t miss church.”

In honor of our former car …


is not a color

unless you’re a car salesman or a bride-to-be

pale yellow-y orange

“it’s light brown, ain’t it?”

the color of hose (when we still wore pantyhose)

Sahara Rose

white tea

if a horse has a champagne gene then

it will truly be a horse of a different color

bubbles flee the flute

like that supernova exploding into song