Half Fast Shorts

Even a pansy can look scary.
Even a pansy can be scary depending upon how one looks at it.


Life has been anything but “half fast” over the past couple of weeks. Since it hasn’t slowed down yet, I’ll try to catch you up in short order on what’s happening with us these days.

In addition to helping extended family members with their medical situations, we’ve been dealing with one of our own. Last week we were less than thrilled to view the ultrasound image of the Baby Huey of kidney stones. He wasn’t bouncing, either, which could make his birth somewhat difficult. Please keep Timberley in mind this week as she undergoes whatever procedure is necessary to remove the stone and relieve the pain she has been experiencing.

My two-page response from Rep. Foxx
My two-page response from Rep. Foxx

I finally received U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx’s response to the letter I mailed to her on January 23rd, the Monday after President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration. Though her letter was dated March 8th, I didn’t receive it until the last week of the month. I had expressed concern over growing support for charter schools at the expense of public schools since Mrs. Foxx is, in fact, chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. I had also stated my concern about Mr. Trump’s ill treatment of the news media and about his dishonesty, as I encouraged Mrs. Foxx to support our First Amendment freedom of the press, and “to hold Mr. Trump and his staff to the truth, and to demand that he stop lying to the American people.”

Rep. Foxx's office responded with a personal letter.
Rep. Foxx’s office responded with a personal letter.

To her credit as a public servant, Mrs. Foxx sent me what appears to be a personal letter that addresses in sufficient detail every concern I expressed. Her two-page response is much more substantive than what I received a month ago from Sen. Thom Tillis. I still haven’t heard from Sen. Richard Burr, who presumably is busy investigating the president’s Russian connections, nor from Mr. Trump himself, who undoubtedly is playing golf at one of his luxury resorts. Perhaps Mrs. Foxx’s greatest assurance to me was that “as a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I will continue to monitor President Trump’s actions and will keep your concerns in mind.” She can rest assured that we, too, will be keeping track of all her future votes in Congress and that we’ll keep them in mind during the mid-term election next year.

Busy bees are everywhere, even at Lowe's.
Busy bees are everywhere, even at Lowe’s.

Some of you might have noticed that I deactivated my Facebook account about two weeks ago. No, eschewing social media isn’t part of my Lenten observance this year. I’m still using Twitter to keep up with the Braves, Yankees, Crawdads, MerleFest, James Taylor, Steve Forbert, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, local weather and road conditions, and Downtown Morganton events, among other generally non-controversial subjects. And, no, leaving Facebook wasn’t about you; it was about me. I found that I was spending too much time reading impersonal Facebook posts and strangers’ hateful comments, and that I was feeling worse about life after reading all that negativity, whether I agreed with the gist of it or not. It might not have turned me into an Internet troll myself, but I was starting to feel like one in real life. That’s not to say I won’t ever reactivate my Facebook account. I just need a break, though I do miss posting a daily nature photo. I posted a few additional pictures on Twitter, then stopped at a nice round 60/60 instead of going for a full year’s worth.

Singer/Songwriter Night at Brown Mountain Bottleworks
Singing an original song at Brown Mountain Bottleworks

In addition to writing some new songs and playing them at Singer/Songwriter Nights at Brown Mountain Bottleworks in downtown Morganton, I’m also preparing to write a new novel manuscript, something I wasn’t sure I’d ever do again after finishing my last unpublished effort six years ago. This would be my twelfth novel and the fifth that Timberley and I have co-authored. Only one of our novelsNight Lights; or, Golf, the Blues and the Brown Mountain Light (2004)—has been published, and it’s now out of print. Timberley and I have been discussing and researching this new novel for a couple of months now, and we’re excited about the story as well as about the entire project. So if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I think I’m about ready to start doing the actual writing with Timberley’s input and illustrations.

The closest thing to Shallotte Point legend Junior Hughes's "puck-muck'em" we could find
The closest thing to Shallotte Point legend Junior Hughes’s “puck-muck’em” we could find

As I’m writing this on Monday morning, we have much to be thankful for right now. Timberley is feeling better today as the doctor’s prescriptions have relieved some of her discomfort. The Atlanta Braves—the baseball team I’ve followed since the sixth grade—haven’t lost a single game yet … since their first game of the new season is this afternoon against the New York Mets. Caldwell County’s favorite son, San Francisco Giants pitching ace Madison Bumgarner, is the MLB home run leader after his two dingers in yesterday’s Opening Day game. And tonight the UNC Tar Heels, the sports team I’ve followed longer than any other—since the fourth grade when my first sports hero Charles Scott was an all-American—plays for the NCAA basketball championship against the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Though they got the top seed in the South Region, I’ve been surprised that Carolina—North Carolina, that is—made the Final Four and tonight has a chance to win the national title. I didn’t think they could play consistently enough—and make their dad-gum free throws—to advance very far in the NCAA tournament. I figured they’d go down about the way Duke did, even though a UNC-Duke national championship game would have given “Blue Heaven” new meaning. Somewhat superstitious, Timberley and I have respected the streak, however, and have grilled chicken with Heinz Carolina vinegar-based BBQ sauce on game days lately. That practice started before the UNC-Kentucky game when we noticed that Heinz also carries Kentucky Bourbon BBQ sauce as well as a mustard-based (South) Carolina BBQ sauce with a maroon label. If UNC were facing USC tonight, we’d be hard-pressed to know which Carolina sauce to use on the chicken. But I don’t think the Food Lion meat counter carries gamecock, anyway.

You’ll forgive me if I close out this column now. We have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. And we need to stop by the grocery store for more chicken and light blue label Carolina sauce. Until next time, take care. And, please, do UNC a favor and don’t buy any Zagnut bars to eat before tonight’s game. I have a feeling that our Heels need all the help they can get.