The saying is about as old as dirt, "While the cat's away, the mice will play." To the extent that's true, the mice don't usually announce that they're planning to exploit the cat's absence, but not so with one business in our town. Where we were living back then, I drove by there. I saw a new display on the big sign that was in front of the business. The sign said, "The boss is away, so we will play." Let's hope the boss didn't come back early. Or maybe we should hope he did.
The Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri are known for their rocks. They make for some hard farming, some beautiful views, and some challenging road building. Like this one stretch of highway from Branson, Missouri, to Springfield, Missouri, that they widened. As you slowed down through those construction zones, there were some pretty impressive changes that were taking place. Some places were nothing but solid-rock mountain, but somehow they managed to blast away at those mountains and they literally made a road where a mountain used to be!
When you drive into Texas, these signs say, "Don't mess with Texas." One reason might be the weather in Texas! And, you know, if you just watch the national weather on any given day from spring into the fall and you're likely to see the color red. That's for severe thunderstorms or possible tornadoes. Our son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter were driving across the Texas panhandle one spring day, and sure enough, they drove into one of those really nasty weather fronts. Amarillo, Texas, was behind them. New Mexico was ahead of them. The sky was featuring that special shade of tornadic green. The rain was torrential and the clouds were growing those little fingers, you know, that sometimes turn into tornadoes. Our son decided it was time to call his brother and see what the Internet was saying about this weather. His question: "Shall I keep going or turn back to Amarillo?" The answer: "Just keep going, man. Twenty more miles and you'll be in bright sunshine!"
As part of our ministry among Native American young people, our sons helped out with the local high school football team on a reservation. That was a team that hadn't known much about winning until the previous season. The players were pretty much the same as the year before, but their record was dramatically different that year. The year before, they won one game. That year they were undefeated and even went to the state playoffs. Everybody was in shock! You could tell it was going to be a great season after one of their very early games, because they soundly defeated a team that had beaten them the year before 59-0! What was the difference? Pretty much same players; pretty much same opponents, but a new coach. He knew what to do with that team!
There's this two-lane highway that's a main link between communities. And when they had to close one lane for a short-term road project, it created some delays for all of us tremendously patient people. It was one of those projects where one flagger stops the traffic in one lane while another flagger allows the traffic for the other lane to proceed. All day long, open your lane, close your lane, open your lane, close your lane. They had a car with a "pilot car" sign on it that led the proceeding traffic to the end of the one-lane area. Then the pilot of the pilot car (How you doing with all this?) got to turn around and drive back with the traffic following him from the other side. That's got to be exciting work! One lady apparently was short on patience that day. Oh, she waited until her lane was open and the pilot car came. She happened to be the first in line, but her patience ended as soon as she started to follow the pilot car. She decided to floor it and pass the pilot car. Bad idea! She crashed right into their heavy equipment.
Over the years, with the arrival of each new grandchild, I've watched this device appear in their home - a little transistor radio-like looking thing. Really not much channel selection on this little radio. In fact, there was only one channel. It's tuned to Baby. When Mom put the little angel to sleep, she'd go into another room and turns on what they call a baby monitor. With it, you can hear unusual noise coming from the baby's room, and then you know baby needs you. My observation in our family was that no matter what else was going on in the room, Mommy remained mentally tuned to that one channel; always listening for a sound from baby.
Snacks. Oh, I know a lot of them aren't the most healthy stuff in the world to put in your body. But when you're driving, I view them as something that helps with an essential function. It's called staying alive. As in staying awake at the wheel, you know. A number of times I've asked my wife to open up some cookies or chips or some other goodies for me, only to find that when she passed them to me that they weren't all there. At first, I thought maybe the company had robbed me. No. No, see, I only had to look across the seat to the passenger side to find the culprit. It was the woman I love. Yeah, the crumbs on her lip and the chewing in her mouth; that was my first clue. Our conversation predictably would go like this: I would say, "What happened?" Then, with a whimsical smile, she would answer: "Tax. There was a small service tax." Right!
Both our boys played high school football if I signed the permission slip. My wife was not willing to sign on for what football might do to the bodies of her sons. And the more that's happening in the news these days, the wiser she looks. Well, part of the standard preparation for the next week's game was to study films of their upcoming opponent. You wanted to see how they operated because, well, you wanted to know how to defend against them. Most teams have a coach who is called the "defensive coordinator." It's a good idea to have a coordinated defense, or else your opponent is going to run right through you or right over you, which doesn't go over well with a mom who didn't even want to sign the permission slip!
Nutmeg was a beautiful young horse with this white blaze on her nose and what looked like white boots on her feet. Her owners learned that her grandmother had actually been a prize-winning jumper. Apparently, Nutmeg had her grandmother's blood; she just kept jumping every fence her owners ever used to try to restrain her. One day, trying to get out of another fence, she broke her leg. The veterinarian told the owners it was the worst break he had ever seen in a horse, and there was no way to save her. She was a horse with such great potential and a very sad ending.
You know something's up when a friend offers you a piece of candy and then stands there to watch you eat it. Yeah, it happened in our office when my administrative assistant then offered me a piece of sour apple candy with the interesting name "Warheads." I didn't know what that was then. That should have been my second clue, besides her standing and watching me eat it. The third clue should have been the drawing on the wrapper. It's this cartoon guy with his head sort of blowing up. Well, being the good sport that I am, I went for it. The first minute was awful. Bitter doesn't begin to describe the taste. It was just bad bitter! I mean, my mouth puckered. It even made my eyes water! And then, as suddenly as that sharp bitter taste had invaded my mouth, the taste changed to a really enjoyable sweet fruit taste. Which, I am happy to report, lasted considerably longer than the bad taste.