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Saturday, June 30, 2007


A great American

This gives me chills; the good kind.

Have a great weekend as we run up to America's birthday.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, June 27, 2007


When is the last time someone asked you for a cup of sugar?

It was a semi-typical Wednesday evening. Barbara and I got home from work about 6:30 PM. Bear had already bolted out the door, ran around the yard wagging his tail looking for his ball to play, and I had retrieved the mail. I dumped my lunch box on the counter and thumbed through the mail. Nothing much, just the gas bill and some advertisements.

I was changing out of my shirt and tie into my "dog walking" clothes when I heard some rumbling in the pantry in the kitchen. I could tell Barbara was looking for something. It sounded the way it must have yesterday morning when I was in that closet. I went to the pantry to get the JIF crunchy peanut butter, but it wasn't there. As I moved things around on the shelf with more and more purpose, I began to resemble a heroin junkie looking for an overdue fix. That is how Barbara was making it sound.

I heard words coming from around the corner, but I couldn't make them out, because her head was deep in the closet looking for something. My best guess is some of the words were the shorter four-letter variety.

Feeling brave I walked out to the kitchen and inquired about the cause of the fracas. "No rice," she said. That was a problem, because the night's menu called for red beans and rice. The rice was half of the meal. Then it happened. From somewhere deep, deep, down in my memory came a remedy. "Why don't you go borrow a cup of rice from the neighbor?"

We both laughed. Our neighbor would probably think that we slipped a cog. After all, when is the last time anyone ever showed up at your door asking for a cup of milk, two eggs, or a couple of drops of vanilla?

When I was a kid, my mother sent me and by sibs to the neighbors frequently. The neighbors came to us as well. If you were out of a commodity, you didn't go to the store, you just walked next door. You only shopped once a week. Who went shopping more than that?

I guess all I can say is times change.

In my memory, summers were spent outdoors. Daytime at the public pool. Evenings playing in the yard as the adults sat in nylon weave lawn chairs. I scoured the garage for a glass jar to hold captured lightning bugs. Then when it was all over, the hose knocked off the day’s dirt and then it was inside for a bath and bedtime.

When I laid down my head, I felt the muggy evening air and went to sleep to a chorus of locusts. I often awoke to the smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of distant lawn mowers. Barking dogs and an occasional passing car broke the general serenity of quiet and singing birds.

Sweet memories and they all poured in just because Barbara couldn't find any rice.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, June 25, 2007


Talk about your bad days

If you think you're having a bad day, just remember that 131 years ago, George Armstrong Custer had a really bad day.

Custer's Last Stand

Maybe that will put things in perspective for you.

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, June 17, 2007



Kansas City June 27, 2002
Me, Dad, LJ (son), and Geroge (bro) Kansas City June 27, 2002

I have been a son for 50 years and a father for 22 years. I feel more like a father than a son. I marvel at how life takes you over the same ground, but with a twist. I went to first grade as a student and then I went back as a father. Hopefully some day I will do it as a grandfather too.

I remember watching my father and wondering how he could seem content coming home from work, drinking a beer as he surveyed the yard, then winding up in the chair reading the paper. I wondered how he could stay home as I went off on adventures. He seemed happy to just let me go have all the fun.

As a father myself I understand a little better. The adventures change as you age. Now, I am content to stay home as my son voyages off here and there. I am in the support roll. I finance his excursions and I am happy to do it. I give more advice than Ward Cleaver and he pretends to listen.

My father was / is a good example. He was consistent. He provided. He gave me his time and attention. I remember the emotional boost a kind word from him could render. If I knew he was proud of me, I walked on air.

For a boy, it means a lot to be told you are fast, tough, strong, smart, or funny. Fathers have a lot of power in that regard and they can shape men.

What a gift to have a father. What a gift to have a son. For this I need only thank my Heavenly Father, it was His idea.

Even as I write this, the water supply line to my house is leaking. My front yard is nearly ready to be stocked with bass and catfish, but that is OK. I am a father and I know how to handle it, because my own father showed me how.

Here’s to you fathers; take your responsibility seriously, but don’t miss the treasure that is in the day to day. Here’s to you sons; your turn is coming and I hope we prepare you for it well.

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, June 10, 2007


They put me on a diet

by Bear

Hi Everyone, its me Bear.Bear

Well, they put me on a diet. Yesterday I went to the vet for my shots and stuff. That would be bad enough by itself, but this time, they added a new twist to the usual torture.

The worst thing is being in the waiting room and staring at "the door". The door is scarey. I can hear the doctor behind it talking and making noises. Sooner or later, he opens the door, looks at me, and says, "Bear, it's your turn. Come on in." I try to straighten my front legs and sit when daddy starts into the room, but he just drags me in by force.

The first thing I had to do was stand on the scale. Before I put my first paw on the thing, the vet was telling my dad, "Gee, Bear looks like he is getting fat." Dad laughed and said it was mama's fault for giving me too much food. But daddy gives me chips and peanut butter, and all kinds of stuff too. Anyway, I weighed 82 pounds and the doctor said I should only weigh about 68 pounds. So I am 20% over weight.

"No problem," the doctor said, he took out a calculator and started doing some figuring. He said I had to eat a special food called r/d. I only get four little measuring cups of it a day. I don't get any table food anymore or my hips will get hurt because I'm fat.

Bear by his diet food
Here I am with my new bag of diet food

Fat Bear
These are going to be my "before" photos.

I needed to get in shape anyway, so I am glad. Everyone has been laughing at me though. They have been making jokes at my "expanse." HeeHee.

That's it from down here on the bayou. I hope you don't have to be on the program where you are.



Friday, June 08, 2007


Running again

My legs running again
After nearly 6 months of a rebellious groin, I am finally back to running. At least I managed 10 minutes on the treadmill yesterday. I have been working to get back on the road since January. Last years 7 marathons must have taken a toll. Anyway, I have been lifting weights and recently working on the orbital trainer. I tried running on the treadmill for the first time in a while and no pain. No pain after either. Therefore, I am pronouncing myself cured.

I still have to build up smartly, but I am on my way. I have officially removed the "No Running" graphic from the side bar of the blog and replaced it with a photo of my legs running.

Do you feel it? The world is right again. The stars and planets have aligned themselves just right. The hypnotic sound of my shoes pounding on the road and my breathing will soon carry me off to places I have not been for 6 months.

I haven't been climbing the walls, but I have missed running. I missed running in the nice cool spring air, but I still enjoyed it walking Bear Dog and doing yard work. If you can't do something, there is no use whining about it. You just have to make an adjustment.

I am welled up with gratitude right now. I have been given something back that has been lost to me.

Thank you God.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, June 07, 2007


Stop talking and start doing

“We’re going to march!” These words are used as threats and the ultimate form of protest to any corporation or entity that is not willing to drop their pants and bend over for the offended group.

Here in Katrina Land I have heard it a million times. “WE WANT!” “WHY DON’T YOU DO SOMETHING FOR US!” “WAAAAAA!!!!” “BOO HOO!” The national protest leaders have been here, Jesse and Al. They have led marches into the flood-devastated areas of the poor. The middle class folks are somehow not mentioned by these champions of the oppressed.

I have often turned on the TV to see hundreds of able-bodied people walking around carrying signs; looking angry and demanding the government do something.

On one such evening, the following story was about a senior citizen group in the same area working on one house at a time. One 82 year old lady was chipping paint. She stopped working long enough to smile into the camera and say how happy she was to be able to help in some small way.

The reporter asked her about the previous day’s work and if it was tiring. “Well, we worked about 10 hours,” she said, “But then we went out and partied, so I am a little tired.”

What a contrast. The people who stand to benefit from her work are not working to help themselves. They are marching in protest, to demand SOMEONE help them.

These marchers don’t like folks like Bill Cosby who tells them to work, go to school, and stop having babies until you are married and can afford them. He tells them to focus on the solutions and not the problems. He is an Uncle Tom I suppose.

What we have here is a disparity of values. I believe a person is responsible for taking care of their self and their family. Help comes from friends, family, churches, and then government. If the government gives you something, you should be grateful. The help should be very temporary until you can get back in the game and resume handling your own business.

Others believe the government owes them housing, work, healthcare, and food. These are the folks who march, while the first group lends a hand, which is never thanked or acknowledged.

These are people incapable of shame. If they felt shame, they would get off their tails and help themselves instead of letting old ladies do their heavy lifting.

So my advice to them and anyone anywhere waiting for the government or some hand from heaven to help you; MARCH. That’s right MARCH. March over and pick up a hammer and nail, pick up a rake. March to a pile of trash and haul it to the curb. March somewhere and help your self. Help your neighbor. One house at a time, your neighborhood will be rebuilt.

Or you can keep doing what you are doing. Whining on TV believing in leaders who are exploiting you. You can keep waiting for that to work. You have a long wait, because most folks will not help anyone who is not willing to help themselves.

You can say I am hard, I don’t understand, and that I am a racist insensitive prick. See if that solves your problem.

It’s too bad about Katrina, but it is your problem. Do something about it more than just bitch.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, June 04, 2007



Yes, for those who might wonder, I am alive. Everyone is busy and posting has always been a part of my routine. Lately though, I haven't made the time. This will not stand.

Mr. Creech shamed me yesterday. Thanks Mark. As a matter of fact, Bear does have a post or two in those paws of his and he intends to share his dog thoughts with the human world, complete with photos.

I still have to get my income tax done so I can do John's student loan routine before the end of this month. I hate having that hanging over my head, but I guess not enough to get it done.

Hobo Garden
Hobo Garden

Though my blog has been neglected, my yard has not. I have worked my arse off the last few weekends and I walk like a question mark to prove it. Flowers are blooming, the sod is taking root, and hedges are trimmed that have not been for more years than I would like to admit.

I still have a big ligustrum hedge with which to contend, but I will win in the end. I am thinking about taking a National Geographic film crew on the expedition as we are sure to find lost civilizations deep within the recesses of the hedges leafy confines.

I know the trash crew hates to pass by my house, because it takes them an hour just to load all of the weekend's clipped vegetation.

Enough with the exaggerating. I have a zillion other things to do.

Until the next time
John Strain