…about applying for the job of Chief Grilling Officer with Reynolds Wrap.

So I did. Sounds like a sweet gig. I think I’ll probably get it. Here’s my request for employment:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Reynolds,

First of all, let me thank you and congratulate you for what you’ve done with aluminum foil over the years. Truthfully, I didn’t know what aluminum foil was for many years, in our house the only moniker ever used was “Reynolds Wrap”. My mother would never even consider using one of those off-brand foils, consequently, neither do I! I’m really liking the “PITMASTER’S CHOICE”, it’s foil perfection, in my opinion, and perfect for my meat smoking dream dishes.

WARNING: It’s gonna take me a few more than 100 words(but less than 500) to tell you why I’m the perfect candidate for the position of Chief Grilling Officer with your fine Organization, but trust me, I’ll use the same literary gifts in describing the Grilling and BBQ adventures that await us across this wonderful land.

First of all, I’m a ‘meat’ guy. My 82yr old Dad is a butcher, and I started cutting meat when I was about 8yrs old. I grew up behind an old-fashioned service meat counter. I won awards in High School on the Meat Judging Team. I can identify any cut of meat you put in front of me, some with my eyes closed and only feeling the bone. I know meat, which, by the way, is the most critical component of good grilling and BBQ (the Reynolds Wrap is a close second).

Secondly, I grew up in Texas. I have eaten meat grilled over every kind of wood you can imagine – Mesquite, Hickory, Apple, Pecan, you name it! I’ve also been privileged to dine at probably every renowned BBQ joint in the State of Texas and lots of others around the country as well (my job requires significant travel, and I like grilled meat).

Third, I have the unique ability to describe experiences in a way that people find really entertaining. I’m thinking as the CGO of Reynolds Wrap, it might be fun to take a “play by play” approach in describing how a piece of meat goes from hoof to grill to table.

And lastly, let’s be honest, I need the money. Wife says my grilling habit has gotten out of hand, and maybe I should stop spending our retirement savings trying new smoking recipes and then giving the meat away to the neighbors. She says if I can land this gig, I don’t have to go to Smoker’s Anonymous. So please, help a brother out, please!

Seriously, I’m your guy. Delete the rest of the entries, your job is done, I’m waiting for your call, but let it ring a few times, I may be outside at the grill.

Tracy S. Ebarb (325)320-1377  tsebarb@gmail.com

Yeah, pretty sure I’ve got this think Reynolds Wrapped up!  And by the way, it’s a real job. I’ve already gotten an initial response from the Reynolds Wrap people, they said they’d be in touch. Pretty sure I’m their guy…

…about something I wrote a few years ago.

I was driving this past Sunday from Muskogee, OK back home to Keller. It’s been pretty dry around here for the last few months so the fact that I was driving through a very heavy thunderstorm was really kind of nice, I didn’t mind at all. I was hoping to guide the storm to north Texas, sadly, I failed in that attempt. On one stretch of the road, north of McAlester, across the bridges on Lake Eufaula, the highway was reduced to one lane, bordered by those huge concrete barriers on each side(I don’t like those things at all). I was driving about 25-30mph and could barely see 10′ in front of the car when I noticed what appeared to be some very faint flashing orange lights. As I slowed down I was just barely able to read the message on the digital sign that was flashing these words – “Maintain Control” (or at least that’s the part I could make out).  Now in that situation – driving rain, wet roadway, strong winds, thunder and lightning all around – I thought “Yeah, good idea, I’ll do my best”. Simultaneously, I thought “I really hope everyone else on the road does the same.”

The truth is – most of us love to be in control, but maintaining control in many areas of our lives is like trying to catch a greased pig, not easy at all. As I drove along, ‘maintaining control’ as best I could, I remembered the closing thoughts of a message I delivered several years ago at Union Presbyterian Church in Brownwood about trusting God. Took a little while to dig up the file today, but thankfully, I found it. It spoke to me again, maybe you can find some assurance in it as well.

“I’m in control, you are not going to understand what I’m up to a lot of the time, sorry, that’s just the way it is. If you belong to Me and choose to follow me, you’re going to be frustrated with Me on a regular basis, but remember – I’m in control, and I love you plenty enough to overlook your frustration. I understand that you’re going to blame Me and curse me when you don’t get your way sometimes, I can handle it, but do not run away from me, stay close, even when you’re mad, there are much worse things out there than your frustration with Me, trust Me on this. We are going to win, make no mistake, that is going to happen. In the meantime, have some fun, celebrate the good things that happen, even the little ones, for now you’re not living in the place I’ve designed for you, you all messed that up long ago, so hard times and pain are going to occur, get used to it. But again, let me remind you – I AM IN CONTROL.” – God

P.S. I was also reminded that I really should be writing this blog more often than I have lately. I’ll do better.

Tracy

 

…about Junior High Track Meets.

I’ve had the privilege of working High School and Junior High Track Meets since about 1977, over 40 years! I’ve worked meets all over East Texas – Edgewood, Canton, Van, Whitehouse, Quitman, Tyler-Lee, Mt. Pleasant, Pittsburg, Daingerfield, Paris and New London. In Central Texas at Early, Brownwood, Bangs, Brady, Ballinger, Comanche and maybe a couple of other places. I’ve timed races a lot, worked every field event at least a few times, and set plenty of hurdles. A couple of times I’ve helped rebuild tents that were destroyed when thunderstorms blew through!

In the Field Events, probably half of the meets I’ve worked I’ve run off the Pole Vault, which is probably my favorite, and I’ve only done the Triple Jump one or two times. This past Monday I had the privilege of working the Long Jump at the Lindsay, TX Junior High Meet. I think there were 9 schools represented, all 2A, smaller schools, and it was the first meet of the year that these kids had done field events.

The event went well, the kids experienced what it was like to Long Jump into a 30mph north wind (standard for March Track meets), there was plenty of pride and good feelings when a jump went well, along with an appropriate amount of disappointment. Several kids learned what it meant to ‘scratch’, a new concept to many of them.

You know how it is in Junior High – just about every kid runs track!  In Junior High, there’s no shortage of athletes! At least that’s how it is in smaller schools, I hope it still holds true for larger schools as well. At any rate, in most Junior High meets, the rule of having no more than 3 entrants/school/event is kind of over-looked – everybody gets a shot! That’s probably no more evident than in the Long Jump, we had plenty of jumpers, many of them first timers – it was great!

I am a huge fan of Coaches, and I believe they are incredibly important in the formation of the character of students. Junior High Coaches are often some of the best, most kind-hearted, patient and compassionate coaches to be found. One of the things that makes working Junior High meets so great is the opportunity to watch these Coaches, they are incredible.

I hear and see a lot from folks in the teaching profession about how over-worked and underpaid they are. (Truthfully, I don’t know of many folks, regardless of profession, that wouldn’t love to have a lighter workload and more pay, I think it’s universal…)

But I don’t hear that from Coaches.  From what I have observed, I think these men and women would do what they do for less, if need be. One Coach told me years ago that complaining about his salary made about as much sense as complaining about getting wet when you turn on the shower – if you’re surprised, you’re just dumb. He said he knew the pay scale when he took the job, he knew the hours, he knew the demands, and he wanted to do it anyway, because he knew about the potential rewards as well.

So hear’s to the Coaches out there, especially the Track Coaches who will roast and freeze (sometimes on the same day) this Spring. Who will explain the finer points of the execution of the triple-jump over and over again, only to have the student scratch on all three attempts. Who will yell and cheer and congratulate and console virtually every student in her/his charge. Who will drive busses, eat cold sandwiches (if anything at all), risk skin cancer, run roughshod over the raging hormones of teenagers, get home late at night and then go to bed with a smile on their faces.  If no one else tells you, I will – you are appreciated, you are admired, you are very, very important! Thank you!

Tracypexels-photo-618612.jpeg

…about coincidences (and the Ides of March)

I got in my car this morning about 6:15, started the car, turned on the headlights, reached over to turn on the radio, and there on the little screen that shows what song is playing were these words:  The Ides of March.  Coincidence? Okay, now think about this – as I sat there for a couple of seconds smiling (and thinking…) the next word that came on the screen was “Vehicle”. Coincidence?  And with that reminder of when it was, where I was and what I was doing, I shifted into 1st gear and left for work. (and yes, I ‘shifted’, yes, I drive a standard shift car)

I know I’m easily amused but I thought that was pretty cool! Now, to be certain, the song “Vehicle” by the one-hit wonder group from Chicago – The Ides of March, will most likely get more play time today than on any other day of the year, but still, the timing of that occurrence for me this morning was pretty cool!

Dictionary.com defines coincidence like this: (emphasis mine)

co·in·ci·dence 
noun
  1. 1.
    a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.
    “it’s no coincidence that this new burst of innovation has occurred in the free nations”
    synonyms: accidentchanceserendipityfortuityprovidencehappenstancefate;

    a fluke

    How many times in your life have you experienced a “remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent casual connection”? I’ve had a few over the years, and there are probably many that I have forgotten.  The big one that most of us have experienced involved our spouse, really, no matter how you met, it was a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances that created the fertile ground for a relationship to germinate and grow.  You know, come to think of it – I’m a fan of coincidences!

    I realize I’m rambling a bit today, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

    Back to the Ides of March and the ever illusive point of these ramblings – the legend/story says that on his way to the Theatre that fateful day, Julius Caesar saw the soothsayer who had “seen” (predicted) peril for Caesar no later than March 15.  Supposedly, Caesar quipped “the Ides of March have come!”, kind of implying that the seer had been mistaken after all.  As Caesar walked away, the seer replied “Aye, Caesar, but not gone.”  Well, you know the rest of that story. The point I’m laboring to deliver is this:  It is no coincidence that when I’ve been given good advice/counsel, and chosen not to follow or heed it, mistakes are often made. These mistakes are not coincidence, they are not remarkable concurrences of events or circumstances without apparent casual connection. These mistakes are MINE, I own them, and it would serve me well, and all of us really, to embrace that.

    I’ve told all of my children (over and over and over again) that we all make mistakes, we’re ‘bent’ that way, no one is perfect. But the worst mistakes we can make are the intentional ones. The things we do in spite of wise counsel and wisdom, those are the ones that often have devastating results and dire consequences. I call those consequences “the stupidity tax” – a tariff levied on us when we CHOOSE to do the wrong thing.  Sometimes the “stupidity tax” comes in the way of a fine or some other punishment, sometimes in the form of a broken/lost relationship, sometimes in other forms, but the tax is always there, and must always get paid.

    julius-caesar-rome-roman-empire-615344.jpeg

    We’re all guilty, myself included, and when the tax bill is due, and we have to pay up, we’re like Julius Caesar in the Pompey Theatre – “et tu Brute?” we act surprised.  Who knew?  But like Caesar, we were warned, but we went anyway, it’s on us, period.

    So today, on the Ides of March, let’s you and I commit to consciously avoiding intentional mistakes, big and small. Let’s listen to the wisdom and sound advice of those around us and do good things, things that build up, things that we’re proud of.

    “The Ides of March have come”… what are some of your ‘pet’ intentional mistakes?

    Tracy

…about something I saw on the side of the road this morning.

I’m pretty sure it was a snake. Could have been a piece of rubber or something like that, but I’ve got a pretty keen eye, and although it was very dark at 6:30 this morning, I’d bet it was a snake. Now, there are not many snakes out in 34degree weather, makes you wonder what this brave serpent had on the agenda for today, huh? We all know it’s pretty rare for cold-blooded creatures to be out in conditions like that, but after a very warm Saturday, a few probably woke up, this one obviously had places to go. He was most likely looking for whatever warmth was left on the asphalt, hoping to survive till the sun came up. I didn’t run over him, and I hope no one else did, I’d like to think he made his snake-appointment safely, and that I won’t see him again. But you can bet I’ll be watching the side of the road on the way home this evening.

We’ve all seen lots of stuff on the side of the road, or in the middle of the road sometimes. Stuff that’s fallen off or out of a car or truck, or that was tossed out and discarded. Good stuff that you can be sure someone will stop and pick up, and lots of trash. The same is true about the road that each of us take through life. All the places we go and people we meet make up that ‘life’ road, and it’s littered with lots of things – love and heartaches, good memories, faded memories, stark reminders, good times, great people, bad times, not so good people, lessons learned, lessons forgotten, a fair bit of trash that we’ve thrown out the window, some stuff that we didn’t realize we’d lost, even stuff we’ve picked up that others discarded or lost, you get the idea.

Today is the birthday of my late friend Don Mapes. Don passed away about 18 months ago after a pretty long and painful illness. Don was much much more than a friend to me.  He was the Youth Minister at FBC Tyler, TX when I was Youth Minister at FBC Whitehouse, TX. He was about 15 years my senior and served a ‘big’ Church, but somehow we connected and forged a great friendship that lasted a long time. On this day, Don’s birthday, March 13, last year, I was skiing in Santa Fe.  Don and I had skied there on a few occasions over the years and as I sailed down the slopes thinking about him and missing him, I’ll admit – I shed a few tears, not out of sadness really, but out of joy that 33 years before, Don Mapes was traveling down his ‘life’ road, saw me and stopped and asked if I’d like to go along with him, and it was with great joy we traveled together thereafter, not necessarily physically present with each other, but close none-the-less.  It has always been my hope that I might be able to impact other’s lives like Don impacted mine. A line from Jackson Browne’s “For a Dancer” says:

And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive but you’ll never know

As I get older, I’m much more content with not knowing, and maybe more focused on the time I arrived and time I go.  Kinda like this morning’s snake who had places to go and things to do in spite of the weather, I find lot’s of joy, and maybe a little danger and risk in just doing the next thing, in choosing to make the road I’m traveling instead of just coasting along , and regardless of how cold it is or how uncomfortable I may be, I’m realizing more and more that overall, life is really good!

Don’t you think? 

As you drive along today(or whenever) watch the road/be safe, but also take notice of the things along the way, literally and figuratively, and let me know what you’re seeing or have seen.

As an aside, but while on the subject of snakes, I had a snake that lived with me for awhile a few years ago. The snake’s name was Maylene, after the band “Maylene and the Sons of Disaster”, of which I’m a huge fan! (and my wife says I only listen to old music, HA!) Maybe I’ll talk a bit about Maylene someday soon…in the meantime, see if you can think of a better name for rock group than “Maylene and the Sons of Disaster”!

Tracy

…about the stuff we let in.

Yesterday I was thinking about the tragedy of holding back, of not jumping at opportunities to do good, to do extra for those we love, those who love us, and those who just need something done for them.  After all we all have a lot to give, why not give with enthusiasm!

When we do that, however, there are risks. When Django the WonderDog and Sophie the SuperPup have made their escapes in the past, I’m certain they’ve had incredible adventures! And I like to think of what they might have done and seen, and what a great time they’ve had during their ‘excursions’. The truth is though, those adventures have not always ended well, in fact, Django was hit by a car once and suffered a broken leg. Judging by the ‘attitudes’ of other dogs we encounter when I take them to the park, I get the idea that these two pups don’t make friends easily, Django especially. So, as much as I’m sure they enjoy those periods of reckless abandon and freedom from the canine concentration camp that is our home, it does open them up to some things that are really not all that good for them.  But keep in mind, they don’t necessarily go looking for the bad stuff or dangers that escaping might bring into their lives, they don’t let those things in intentionally…like we do.

The following is from Seth Godin’s daily blog, I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing it:

Your kitchen table

You open the door and the vacuum cleaner salesperson comes in, and dumps a bag of trash in your living room.

Or a neighbor sneaks in the back door and uses a knife to put gouges on the kitchen table.

Or, through the window, someone starts spraying acid all over your bookshelf…

Why are you letting these folks into your house?

Your laptop and your phone work the same way. The reviews and the comments and the breaking news and the texts that you read are all coming directly into the place you live. If they’re not making things better, why let them in?

No need to do it to yourself, no need to let others do it either

Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m guilty. Are you?  And you know what? reading and ingesting all that ‘stuff’ affects me, it affects my attitude, my view of others, my countenance, my expectations and host of other things, and not in a good way!  And I allow it, that’s not very wise on my part.

When Seth Godin says “ If they’re not making things better, why let them in?”  maybe he’s  channeling the Apostle Paul’s advice to the Phillipians:  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you”.

It may be time to change what I let in.  Since the time ‘changes’ this weekend, it could be the right moment for other changes as well.

That’s what I was thinking, let me know what you’re thinking.

Tracy

…about the problem of holding things back.

Earlier this morning (about 3am), it occurred to me that my wife and I have something important to discuss. You see, we were presented with a pretty big problem/challenge, and after much discussion and thought, we (actually she) came up with a great solution. I have to say, we were pretty proud of ourselves!

Here’s the deal: we’re building a new home, custom all the way, really cool location and we’re doing it just the way we want, it’s gonna be really great, and we’re excited. The issue came up when we realized that we would need to provide a way for our two pups (Sophie the SuperPup and Django the WonderDog) to have easy access to the back yard. The back door is 7′ tall, almost solid glass and beautiful, not conducive to cutting a hole for a pup portal. The house kinda surrounds an outdoor seating area/covered patio, but to cut a hole in the brick on one of those three walls wouldn’t look good at all. We thought and looked and imagined lots of places to install this very important part of the house and then Jacque had an absolutely brilliant idea – install one pup portal on the side of the garage that backs up to the back yard, then put another pup portal in the door that goes from the garage into the mud room! It was perfect! Not only would the pups have easy access to the outside world, they wouldn’t be tracking in grass/leaves and what have you, directly into the house! Perfect!

Now, if you’re still reading, I’m going to assume you’re interested, so there’s a bit of information I need to share so that the rest of this will make a little more sense.  Our dogs don’t like us. Trust me, they have every reason to love us unconditionally – we provide everything for them, food, shelter, health care, custom grooming, love & attention, treats – even DogTV at $6/month so that they have something to watch while we’re at work, and yet, in spite of the incredible life we provide for them…THEY RUN AWAY EVERY CHANCE THEY GET!!!  They literally look for opportunities when our guard is down to escape out of the front door, the car, or any opening. They patrol the perimeter of the fence daily looking for weaknesses and an opportunity for freedom. And when they escape, they run. They run fast, really fast for little dogs. We have lost them on numerous occasions and have been fortunate to find them, sometimes hurt, always tired, but at least in two pieces (you know, 2 dogs-2 pieces). 

Now, back to the 3am realization: In the new house, we have a garage (that we are actually going to park our cars in!) that will have one of them there new fangled garage door open uppers that’ll open up with he push of a button without us having to get out of the car when we drive up to the house. Keep in mind – there’s a pup portal in the door from the garage into the house…now you see the problem. When we open up that garage door there’s no doubt in my mind that both pups will be waiting to escape, and by the time either of us are able to get out of the car and try and stop them…they’ll be almost to Southlake.

So now, we’ve got to figure out a solution to the new issue of a gaping 20′ invitation to freedom that I have no doubt Sophie and Django will be unable to resist.  They can’t help themselves, they see an opening — they’re gone!  Which brings me to the point of today’s ramblings:

Holding back – now let’s be clear, I’m not advocating that we don’t hold back anything. That we just say whatever pops into our head, appropriate or not. We all know that discretion is the better part of valor. No, I’m talking about what Django the WonderDog and Sophie the SuperPup do – they look for opportunities, constantly! And when the opportunity is there, they go for it with no thought of consequence, safety, or end result. They take off with complete and utter abandon! When is the last time you did anything remotely similar to that?  I’m not talking about stupid stuff that dogs (and humans) do here, I’m talking about opportunities that come up in real “human” life.

I’m talking about the opportunity to do things like:

Kiss your spouse passionately in public

Praise your child for who they are, not something they did

Tell your parents not just THAT you love them, but also WHY you love them

Maybe to clean up a mess that you didn’t make

(feel free to add to the list)

The point is to do things, good things, things that help people, things that people need done, things that you need done, and to do those things without HOLDING BACK! Going all-in! Bolting head-long with no regrets or inhibition!

Tell me what you’re thinking, if you like. Also, I’m open to suggestions on the pup problem.

Tracy