How to make your own charcoal or fire starter

Step 1: Cut up some cardboard
Step 2: Coat the cardboard in paraffin wax.

That’s it.

I went out this afternoon to fire up the smoker to cook a pork loin. I had to use my last Kamado Joe firestarter and I had no lighter fluid left. I’ve become kind of a fan of those little firestarters, so I decided to google “DIY firestarters.”

I found some waffle’s site that droned on and on about a life story, multiple high-resolution photos of the husband’s wonderful smoked meats, and paragraphs on paragraphs about the adventures in various markets and grocery stores in search of paraffin wax.

So I saved you the headache. Look at steps 1 and 2 above. It’s not rocket surgery nor is it worth 5,000 words. And I’ll spare you my life story and my spiritual experiences in the quest for wax. I’m sure you can find that somewhere on this website.

In the meantime, enjoy some photos of the process.

On junk miles

I’m at the apex of what has turned into a 22-week marathon training block. This week is a down week. Next week is my final peak week before tapering. Regardless of it being a down, build-up, or peak week, Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays are usually, in my head, the hard days. Wednesday runs are usually just base miles. Some people call those types of runs “junk miles.” As if they don’t matter. They’re sometimes considered obligatory miles to stack onto an aggregate number of workouts and miles in a microcycle.

Usually, when I’m out on a run I think about random things in short blips. Sometimes I don’t think about anything at all. Often I think about running. Today I thought about work, family, and running. Today I thought about the non-consequential “junk miles” run that I was presently in.

It was hard to get going this morning. I’m still beat up from Sunday’s 20-miler. My left hip is feeling it. The outside of my right foot hurts. My calves and thighs hurt. Yesterday’s tempo run was tough. And then I realized that I’m in the thick of it right now. That apex. Things are going to hurt and runs are going to be hard. Even the 6 easy junk miles on a Wednesday.

I was once told that “no run matters.” That means that life happens and that if you have to miss a run or a workout for any reason, be it injury, illness, work, life events, or just not feeling it, then it doesn’t matter. There’s no sense in beating yourself up because you can’t follow your prescribed plan to a tee. You’ll only set yourself up for setbacks down the road.

Today’s run mattered. It’s those little runs. The base miles. The “junk miles.” It was difficult for me to settle in this morning because I’m in the throes of a training plan. My body is relearning to keep going despite the discomfort and fatigue.

This morning was not the run where I thought I’d come to this realization. Usually the notion of “getting comfortable being uncomfortable” sets in on a really long haul. It’s interesting how I can be very regimented and come to expect specific outcomes and realizations, but instead, my expectations are met with what is completely out of my control.

No run matters. But every run matters.

One of those days

  • Woke up at 5-something, before my alarm.
  • Met the run club for a 10k around the neighborhood.
  • Had a great turnout. I think there were 9 of us there after we hadn’t run together in months.
  • Came home and reassembled the lawnmower. I’d taken out the gas tank on Friday to patch a crack in it with a generous amount of JB Weld.
  • Mowed & edged our lawn.
  • Mowed & edged Sandy’s lawn.
  • Moved a bunch of stuff from Sandy’s backyard to the curb for bulk pickup on Monday.
  • Broke down a bunch of limbs for Sandy for compost pickup on Monday.
  • Pulled out the dead bushes in Sandy’s backyard that had died from the storm back in February.
  • Fixed Bill’s water hose reel.
  • Fixed my water hose that busted under pressure while I was across the street fixing Bill’s hose reel.
  • Fixed the steps on the deck.
  • Moved Maly’s old plastic picnic table to the curb for bulk pickup.
  • Took Maly over to Bowie to pick up her yearbook.
  • Found a 5-gallon gas tank that was on the curb and transferred the gas from my old 5-gallon tank that I loathed to my newly-found tank.
  • I think I shoved a few slices of pizza into my face.
  • Used up my last resort fix for the tub spout in the girls’ bathroom. That proved to be the final, permanent, unsuccessful attempt that rendered the diverter useless. So I had to take a bath. Our master bathroom is currently in full remodel mode so all 4 of us are using the guest bath. A tired, grown man trying to take a bath (not a shower) is also a futile endeavor.
  • Loaded up the children and went to Home Depot to get a replacement tub spout.
  • We also got a lamp, leaf bags, lawn spray for mosquitos, an extending ceiling fan cleaner thing, 3 bags of top soil, and whatever else we got that I can’t recall at the moment.
  • Went to grocery store for things for dinner.
  • Came home and feebly made dinner.
  • Went to work on the guest bathtub spout. Cut 4″ from the copper pipe sticking out of the wall only to find that the pipe had been previously coupled, so my new spout doesn’t fit correctly.
  • There’s probably some other stuff in there that I’m forgetting.
  • I didn’t sit down all day until we got in the car for yearbook pickup and the trip to Home Depot and the grocery store.
  • I’m tired.

Missing great grandma

Maly and her great grandmother had a tradition of going to Olive Garden for lunch ever since she was a little girl. Maly really wanted to eat at the OG tonight. She saved great grandma’s spot for her.

Maly’s first day of school

First day of 10th Grade today:

First day of 9th Grade last year:


First day of 8th Grade two years ago:


First day of 7th Grade three years ago:


First day of 6th Grade four years ago:


First day of 5th Grade five years ago:


First day of 4th Grade six years ago:


First day of 3rd Grade seven years ago


First day of 2nd Grade eight years ago


First day of 1st Grade nine years ago:


First day of Kindergarten 10 years ago:


First day of school 11 years ago:


First day of school 12 years ago:


First day of school 13 years ago:


Mara’s first day of school

First day of 4th Grade today:

First day of 3rd Grade last year:


First day of 2nd Grade two years ago:


First day of 1st Grade three years ago:


First day of Kindergarten four years ago:


First day of preschool five years ago:


First day of preschool six years ago:


The last days of summer

I think this might be the biggest bluegill we’ve caught in this pond

I’m not sure if it’s the anticipation of school starting soon, but it seems like the last few weeks of summer have been really slow and low-key. I get anxious and start to worry: “did we do enough with the girls during their break?!”

When I look back, invariably we always have a bunch of fun adventures and trips. But I tend to want to cram a bunch of fun stuff in when the first day of school is just around the corner. I decided that I really wanted to take the girls fishing again. We hadn’t been fishing since October of last year and thankfully we have a pond a few miles away that always yields lots of sunfish.

So we went to Meridian pond at sunset yesterday. Unfortunately there was lots of pond weed so it was a bit difficult to get a hook far enough out, but Maly was able to bring in a couple good-sized bluegills and a red-eared slider. And we caught everything with blinky hot dogs from Costco. Unfortunately, Mara didn’t catch anything because she was afraid she was going to catch and hurt a turtle.

We stopped at Chipotle on the way to the pond for our dinner. Dinner proved to be difficult for me because I was busy baiting hooks and releasing fish so it was an exercise in balancing a huge burrito, a beer, a barbed hook, and needlenose pliers. The sun went down quickly and we soon found ourselves without any daylight remaining.

Mara was still pretty bummed. She was having a bad evening all together. Earlier in the evening she found out who her 4th grade teachers are going to be. And she also found that, after 4 years in elementary school, she and her best friend, Kyla, aren’t going to be in the same class together. So I promised her that we’d go fishing again before school starts so she can catch some bluegills.

Short weekend and closing of the Olympics

This past weekend was a bit tame. I wanted it to be less tame because it was the last official weekend of summer for the girls. This weekend is actually their last official weekend, but it’s the weekend leading up to the first day of school so, if the girls are anything like me when I was in grade school, this upcoming weekend will probably be met with more anticipation than any other previous summer weekend.

I honestly can’t remember when we did on Friday. Pretty sure the girls were camped out inside all day while I worked. Pretty sure the Olympics were on all day on the living room TV. Oooh. I just remembered! Friday evening was the women’s Olympic marathon. That was awesome to watch and see Molly Seidel with bronze for the US!

Elise had also started feeling weird – to the point where we thought she might have Covid. This was considered because she’d worked a photo shoot earlier in the week and was exposed to lots of unmasked people. Friends brought over a rapid at-home COVID test that came back negative.

Saturday was a slow day too. My training plan had me take the day off on Saturday, but I can’t stand staying still or being couped up inside. So I decided I’d take a Fender emblem over to our old neighbors’ house in the neighborhood. I talked Mara into go along with me for the ride on the RadRunner. She and I rode to the Fender’s house and then we tooled around the streets of the neighborhood, looking for the blooming Pride of Barbados plants. Then I decided I’d take Mara to see some of the cool parts of the Drop Drip trail over by our house. Then we had a flat on the back tire. We knew we’d gotten something stuck in the tire as we were making our way back homeward from the Fenders’ place somewhere on Escarpment. Turns out that it was a little staple the pierced the tube.

So we walked the 1-mile home while I pushed a 70lb. bike. Mara didn’t complain, but she immediately hopped in the shower when we got home. It had gotten hot by that time (noon). Then I spent the next hour or so in the garage pulling off the back tire and patching the tube. Thankfully I’d recently purchased a bike tube repair kit.

I got the tire patched, went on a couple test rides and found that I did a bang up job of patching the flat.

Not much after that. The men’s Olympic marathon aired at 5 pm, so I watched that and saw Kipchoge take the gold with a minute lead on second place.

I went to bed early on Saturday night and woke up at 5 am on Sunday to get ready for a 7 am run with Ryan. That was a fun but tough run. I’m not too great of shape endurance-wise, and it proved to be a bit of a challenge to run with someone nearly 20 years younger than me who is planning to run a 2:40 in Boston. But I held on and it would up being a good and just-challenging-enough run. And it was really nice to catch up with Ryan. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went on a social run.

I was really tired the rest of the day, so I tried to take a nap on the couch when I got back. I think I might’ve fallen asleep for 10 minutes. Elise was on the phone trying to secure our accommodations for Boston in October.

Maly asked if I’d take her to Walmart to get graphic tee shirts for school. So we went to Walmart. She got her graphic tee shirts. She got a Purple Rain Shirt, some kind of “No bad vibes” shirt, and a Corvette shirt. I don’t know. I asked her if her friends might take notice of her shirt choice. They’re obviously from Walmart. She said she didn’t care. I thought that was pretty cool – she’s not worried about being a brand snob or if any of her peers are brand snobs.

We also bought some Jolly Ranchers, some pretty gross but addicting Taki’s flavored “meat sticks,” and a female adapter for the water hose in the backyard.

We got home and I fixed the water hose. Wasn’t too long after we got back from Walmart and the day started getting away from us. The girls went to church and I put a new saddle on the RadRunner that I’d gotten earlier that day from Amazon delivery. Then I went to HEB and got stuff for grilled pork street tacos.

The girls got back from church and I grilled pork and made all the stuff for tacos. Then we watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and then some new show on NBC called Family Game Fight.

The weekend came to a close way too soon. Another weekend that went by in a flash. I’d really wanted to take the girls tubing as one of their last hurrahs for the summer, but since Elise wasn’t feeling well, we had to postpone. Hopefully we’ll be able to go this upcoming weekend.

A Facebook hiatus

I’ve always considered myself pretty versed in culling my Facebook feed so it only shows me what I really want or need to see. I’ve “unfollowed” a bunch of people because, while I still truly like and care for them, I don’t necessarily agree with or have enough information or an opinion on agenda(s) of which they’re passionate and post about on Facebook. And personally, I feel like if you’re insistent about posting and posting and reposting about your stance, feelings, etc. on Facebook, it’s like screaming into your pillow. You may feel better about getting it out, but what you’re really left with is a wet pillow.

So I’ve culled out the majority, if not all of the wet pillow posters.

I’m also part of many Facebook groups. Most of which are relevant to me. For example, I’m part of many groups about running. I’ve considered myself a serious runner for the past 8 years. After 8 years of being in virtual social media running groups, I see the same thing(s) posted day in and day out. Same questions. Same arguments. Same opinions. Emphasis on arguments and opinions. Much like the tangible world.

I guess I’m blessed in that it has always been easy for me to slink away from an argument or a heated discussion about something in which I really don’t care too much about, or of which I have little or no opinion, and/or if the outcome of such discussions impacts me in no way whatsoever.

I’m part of a few hyperlocal neighborhood groups. These groups have come in handy for hyperlocal things. Things like “Help! There’s a rattlesnake curled up by our front door. How do I get rid of it?” Or “Our air conditioner just blew up. Know of a good AC guy that works nights?”

I’ve seen the ebbs and flow of social media. Specifically Facebook. Probably takes me longer than other folks to recognize patterns. Or I recognize patterns and I accept and adapt. I think I have a tendency to make it through a handful of pattern cycles before I start questioning if this thing is of any benefit or use to me anymore.

In the past couple years I’ve made it through an election and a pandemic. The division and opinions were amusing at first. It was like watching an episode of Jerry Springer. A train wreck that you couldn’t peel your eyes from. In between the debates there were still some things of use and interest but was still left to endure the negativity.

Most recently the negative noise has been around the Delta variant of COVID-19 and Austin going back to Stage 5. Opinions on vaccination status, social distancing, ICU beds and other things aside, the most important issue within my digital social ecosystems has been, “Great, but why do they have to close the pool?” And then there are arguments about the neighborhood pools.

So I put down Facebook. I can still easily go to on my computer. The app is still in the “Social Media” folder on my phone. But I haven’t gone to either of them since Monday. And that’s been nice. I’ve now had four days without Facebook and there’s nothing that I feel that I’m missing. I did use Messenger the other day to communicate with a neighbor to whom I gave a bedroom door basketball goal for her sons. And I’ll probably use it today to coordinate a group run with the neighborhood run club (thankfully there’s no drama in my group there). But I don’t miss much of anything else. It was nice to see friends’ photos from cool vacations in the national parks and tropical islands, but I’m not going to die if I don’t see those. In fact, I’m sure there’s a level of jealousy that’ll just be non-existent. And most of my Facebook friends are real friends in the flesh, so I can see those photos in person with my friends if that opportunity presents itself at some point in the future.

It’s a hiatus. I’m not claiming to leave Facebook. I’m just noting how I feel lighter having not passively checked and scrolled through my Facebook feed all week. I haven’t lost anything and I feel no FOMO.

I have less mental inventory. Less chaos. Less stress.

I realized this post has absolutely zero funnies. I will use my newly-found mental inventory to get back to finding and recounting the funny things in life.

Do something

Elise is working with Buster today. They’re shooting debutants or something. That’s going to be funny to read in 10 years.

I told the girls this morning, “Don’t sit around and eat crap while y’all watch TV all day. Do something.”


Eight year runniversary

On July 11, 2013 I went for my first run. My week had started with the intention to ride my bike, lose weight, and get healthier. I tried riding my bike for half a mile on July 9th. I made it half a mile and my hip started hurting to the point where I couldn’t ride the bike. I made myself ride eight miles the next day. Same thing. Hip hurt.

Hell bent on my newfound quest for cardio health, I decided that if I couldn’t ride, I would try to run. So in the early afternoon of July 11th, I walked up the hill to the local middle school track and I ran 1 mile as fast as I could, just to see if I could do it.

Here is the recount of that very first run back in 2013.

I’m now officially entering week 6 of my training block for the Boston Marathon. For most of last week and intentionally remembered that my 8-year runniversary was coming up on Sunday. I looked at my training plan mid-week and noted that I had a 14-miler planned for my 8th runniversary. However, yesterday morning, and all during that 14-miler, I’d totally forgotten that it was my runniversary. I guess it’s not as big of a deal as I have it made up in my head.

Yesterday’s 14-miler was a slog. I didn’t get out until after 10 a.m., so it was still, humid and hot. The first hour wasn’t too bad as there was cloud cover, but after that hour, the sun poked out and it got hotter. I intentionally took it slow, but I was dogging it. It probably didn’t help that I’d spent 12 hours and driven 500 miles the day before driving to and from Big Sandy to pick Maly up from camp, and then didn’t get my run in until the early evening on Saturday.

It’s hard to believe that 8 years have already passed. It’s funny – when I first started running and getting enthusiastic about all things running, I rabidly consumed articles and videos about running. I was teaching myself everything about running. I very vividly remember reading some article about how a runner peaks or plateaus at around 7 years. And that number has stuck in my head. Honestly I don’t hold 7 years as some kind of truth. If anything, I see it as a kind of challenge. An opportunity to dispel some old wives’ tale. But in a way, I’m kind of embracing it too. I did some pretty cool “peak” things when I hit my 7-year mark in running. I did things I never set out to do when I started running. I ran two of my fastest marathons and I ran a 50-mile trail race.

Is it all downhill from here? Is it uphill? Honestly, I don’t really mind either way. I might have another sub-3 marathon in me. But I don’t really have a reason to run 26 miles that fast. I’ve done that. I could PR in some shorter distances. Or I could hit the trails again and go farther. Or both. And sprinkle in some other things. I don’t know. I have no plans as of this moment.

And that’s one of the coolest things about running. You can always set some new kind of goal(s). Or not set any goals at all and just get out and run for the hell of it.

I wasn’t even thinking about it when I walked through the doors. I’d driven over to 7-11 yesterday to get a couple fountain drinks for Elise and me. There was an employee standing behind a table toward the back of the store. She said, “here are the cups for the free Slurpees.” I stood there for a second and then said out loud, “Oh, yeah. Today is 7-11.”

You can’t really pass up free Slurpees. And that’s the prize for running for 8 years. A couple free Slurpees. Personally, I think that’s a little excessive.

Mortality and Errands

Mid-June rolled around and I remembered that Mom’s birthday was coming up. She was born in 1941. I paused for a second, did the math and realized that her 80th birthday was in a couple weeks. I’ve never wanted to think of my parents getting “old.” My dad died the month after he’d turned 70. I never thought of my dad as old after he’d turned 70. Your age is just a number. I’m 45 and if I really think about it, I don’t feel much different than I did when I was 30.

No, I probably do. Things ache now. And my ankles pop whenever I walk. And my knees pop whenever I come up from a hunkered down position. And I’m tired more often nowadays. But I’m still spry. Spry is a word old people use.

80 just seems like a big number when it comes to age. But my parents both never really made a big deal of their ages. I remember when we still lived in Houston my dad had a 50th “over the hill” birthday party at our house. There were black balloons and streamers and a cake with black icing. But that wasn’t by his choice. It was the neighbors and his coworkers that did that for him.

As I’ve gotten older and now have a family of my own, I’ve been focused on my own little family ecosystem. Admittedly my mom and I aren’t as close as we were all throughout my childhood and young adult life. A lot of that is circumstantial and I don’t want to dwell on details. I love my mom and she means the world to me.

I don’t know if this is 100% factual, but the story in my mind is that my parents were on the fence about having a child together. You see, they were each others’ second marriage. My dad and his first wife divorced. My mom’s first husband died. My parents met in their thirties. My dad had two daughters from his first marriage and mom had two boys. Mom always wanted a daughter and so she talked my dad into having a child together. So they got a boy. That’s me.

Dad worked hard and provided. Mom stayed home, raised me and took care of all of the things that needed taking care of. I was a Mama’s Boy. She taught me most things about life. She talked to me. She took me everywhere. And I don’t really recall every bemoaning the errands we’d go on. Dad did well as a salesman in the food brokerage industry so, while modest, we didn’t really do without. So I remember running a lot of errands and going shopping with mom. We didn’t go on sprees, but I remember being on the go quite a lot.

After we’d moved out to Cat Spring a lot of our errand running meant we were on the road. Houston had been our home, so we’d go into Houston a lot. Or Katy. Eventually we’d stay a little more local and go into Brenham. Now that I think about it, I think a lot of times our errands were my mom just wanting to get out of the house. There’s only so much “homemaking” a wife and mom can or wants to do.

I remember so many hours in the car over the years with my mom. Just going places. And we’d talk. She’d talk mostly. I don’t remember what all we’d talk about. And I sure don’t remember what I would’ve said. I remember mom talking. I guess I was an okay conversationalist, otherwise my mom wouldn’t’ve just been talking into a void.

We’d go to Memorial City Mall in Houston. We’d go to Wal-Mart, Kmart, Best, department stores, the nursery. Mom has always had a green thumb. I never really liked going to nurseries but now, looking back on it, I have fond memories. I’d probably wander off amongst the plants while mom looked for whatever it is she wanted. And we’d always go somewhere to eat lunch. We never really went to a sit down kind of places. Usually it was fast food. It was the 1980’s.

I have an affinity for Chick-Fil-A because of those outings with mom. There was a Chick-Fil-A in the food court of Memorial City Mall. That was the mall that was closest to our house when we lived in Houston, and the mall that was closest to us when we moved to Cat Spring an hour away. Again, it was the 80’s (and early 90’s) and people often went to the mall. We always when to Chick-Fil-A when we went to the mall. We both liked it. Me probably more than mom. We’d sit in the food court and people watch, eat fried chicken sandwiches and waffle fries and talk.

We burned up I-10 driving back and forth to Houston running our errands and talking. I remember driving to Brenham with mom too. Driving around in Austin and Washington county was nice because it was rural. I remember the seasons. Especially spring. The country is so green in the spring. The Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes covered the roadsides and pastures.

I got a little older and started establishing my own identity, so I started getting into music. So we would often listen to whatever music I was getting into on the radio during our drives and errand running.

I have so many memories of doing little bits of nothing with my mom. Too many to document here. I like having them nestled in my long-term memory. I think they get fainter and fainter as I get older, but they’re there. And I treasure them. Mom and I always had a close bond. I’m sure there were some heavy conversations on the roads. Some life lessons were taught.

Since it was mom’s 80th birthday this past weekend, we went to visit her. She sold the ranch in Cat Spring two years ago and moved into a little house in Sealy. Elise had to work on Saturday, so Maly, Mara and I packed up after work and drove to mom’s on Friday.

Honestly we didn’t have much planned for an 80th birthday. I kind of thought we’d take mom to a nice lunch or dinner on Sunday after Elise drove up. I couldn’t think of some kind of present to get her because mom doesn’t really need anything and she, like me, isn’t really a fan of “stuff” for the sake of stuff. It just makes for mental inventory.

Mom had made sausage, beans and rice for dinner on Friday night when the girls and I got there. We had dinner together in her little kitchen. After dinner I put myself on kitchen duty. I rinsed the plates and started putting dishes in her dishwasher. Mom stopped me and told me that the dishwasher didn’t work.

So I told mom I’d buy her a dishwasher for her birthday if she wanted it. She liked that idea so we decided we’d go to Katy the next day and pick out a dishwasher for her. We’d burn up I-10 like we did in the old days.

Katy and Houston and practically indistinguishable nowadays. And that sprawl is creeping out into Brookshire and Sealy in recent years. Getting onto I-10 from Sealy is a complicated mess of construction. We had to detour west for a few miles on I-10 in order to go east into Katy. I told mom and the kids that this outing was going to be an adventure.

We made it to Lowe’s on Fry Road to learn that they don’t carry much appliance inventory so we couldn’t just pick out a dishwasher and load it up into the back of the truck. The Lowe’s employee told me that he was showing they had a couple models of the dishwasher mom had picked out in Cinco Ranch. When he told me that, I was coming to the idea that procuring a dishwasher was going to become an all day affair.

We decided to drive across the street to Home Depot. There were learned that they don’t carry appliance inventory at all. We’d have to order what we wanted and have it delivered. I wanted to buy a dishwasher that day and install it for my mom that afternoon.

I reminded the ladies that today was an adventure. It didn’t help that it’s late June in Texas, so it was hot outside. And mom now had a bit of a bad knee, so doing a lot of walking isn’t her favorite thing to do. We were getting a bit hungry at that point, so before the pangs set in, I decided we’d drive down the road and get barbecue and Rudy’s. My treat.

Lunch was good and we were all well-fed. Our adventure couldn’t be over just yet, so we decided to make the trek to the Lowe’s in Cinco Ranch to see if they had dishwashers in stock. Thankfully they did, so that made for short work in our dishwasher-seeking adventure. Maly and I loaded up the dishwasher into the back of mom’s truck and it was time to head home. Instead of heading north to get on I-10 and deal with the backed up traffic from Brookshire to Sealy, we stayed south and took FM 1093 west all the way to 36.

That was a nice drive. There wasn’t frustration from having to drive all over Katy or Houston in search of a dishwasher. Having to stop at three stores wasn’t that bad. And we’d only been out for 3 hours, and that included lunch, so it was the right amount of time to be out on this errand. The girls were fine and behaved, so it was just a nice afternoon. And the drive through Cinco Ranch, Fulshear, and Wallis was nice. It was kind of rural. It was like a mix of those days when mom and I would drive to Houston and Brenham. I don’t know how to describe it. It was just nice. It reminded me of those hours in the car, just mom and me. But this time I had my mom’s granddaughter’s with us.

It took me most of the evening to get the old dishwasher out and the new one in. Elise drove in to mom’s house on Sunday afternoon and we had an early dinner for mom’s birthday. We didn’t do the fancy lunch or dinner outing. In fact, mom made dinner for us on her own birthday. She made a sirloin roast with potatoes and carrots. Elise brought a rich chocolate birthday cake that we ate after dinner.

Six o’clock rolled around and I needed to head back to Austin so I could be at work on Monday morning. The girls stayed back to spend the rest of mom’s birthday and the next day with her. I really wish I didn’t have to come home. I guess I didn’t have to, but I didn’t want to have to wake up extra early and drive the two hours home in the morning. Then I’d have to wake everybody up.

The drive home was nice. It had rained quite a bit between Sealy and Austin during the day, so there were a lot of clouds in the sky. The rain had dried up, but things had cooled off a bit. And the clouds were covering most of the sun in the west, so I wasn’t blinded the whole way home. And the clouds were those nice purple blue clouds that seemed like they had some rain and lightning stored inside of them. Not those Texas summer big cotton ball clouds that hang out high in the sky and don’t move very fast.

The landscape was green because of the unusual amount of rain we’ve had so far this summer. And the sun behind the clouds just kind of painted a nice scene in the landscape high above. It was a pretty drive home. It was hard to leave mom’s. And once I got on the road I got a bit depressed if I’m being honest. I thought about all of those memories mentioned above, and a lot more.

I thought a lot about how the past 45 years have just kind of slipped by. I’ve built up a lot of memories over those years and when I was driving those 120 miles home it seemed like those memories were endless. I’m thankful for those memories and there’s a great level of comfort in having them.

It’s just sad to think that the sources of those memories won’t always be here.

I wish I would’ve thought to take a photo of mom, the girls and me eating lunch at Rudy’s or shopping for dishwashers or combing through the garden section of Lowe’s in search of a plumbago. I guess I wasn’t supposed to. Perhaps this past Saturday was part of a new legacy of memories. Maybe my children will look back on that day with fond memories. And maybe they won’t. But it was a nice day for me.