What Do You Do When Somebody Talks Too Much?

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.”
Robert Frost

Have you ever been around somebody who just eats up all of the oxygen in the room with their incessant chatter? Have you ever been that person? Let’s assume for the “sake of talking” that the person is not you but that it is someone else burning up their lips and gums and damaging your eardrums and vestibulocochlear nerves. What do you do? Below are five possible alternatives for finding relief:

1. Don’t listen. Imagine yourself on a sailboat on a beautiful sunny day in your 20 year old lotioned and tan body (even if you are 50…well, especially if you are 50). All the while, keep moving your head slightly and paying just enough attention to not nod yes when they are complaining about their own mother or their excess weight etc.

2. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. This is good for only the first exit because after that they might start a rumor about your bladder. For the second and third exits, you can use excuses such as, checking the laundry, sprinklers or locked doors. If a fourth exit is required, feign fatigue and reschedule the visit.

3. Inquire about the mole on their arm and suggest that they need to get it checked. If you can’t see one then just assume they have one on their back. If necessary, share the story of your older relative that had a bad experience with a mole. It has to be just subtle enough to not create a whole new conversation while allowing a seed to be planted of personal survivability and worry.

4. “Did you hear that?” always stops the conversation and you achieve a moment of silence, which can help you gain energy for the next chattering onslaught. If you stand and turn around and look, it helps your charade. Ask one more time, “did you hear that?” When they answer “no”, you can ask them to stay quiet for a few more precious seconds and then explain that it must have been the rats that sometimes appear in your house. Add that one time one of them stuck their head out from under the very same couch your friend is sitting in. Assure them that they need not worry because you recently bought a pet snake and allowed it to roam through the house in the daytime and that it had eaten most of the rats. Add a little shrug and laugh and say “now where were we?”

5. As a last resort, you might try to engage the other person in conversation but direct it in a way that has a terminal point…eg… I don’t like funerals…or… my warts have been bothering me…do you mind rubbing them because I can’t reach them?…or… did you hear that continuous talking causes gout?

If none of these ploys work, then hand them your grandbaby and some carrots. He will know what to do. Everyone will be happy…well, what is your friend going to do…give you the baby back? Of course not….that would get all of the neighbors talking!  Ahhh…peace at last!


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There’s Smoking and There’s Mm…Mm…Smokin’!

“When I figured out to work my grill, it was quite a moment. I discovered that summer is a completely different experience when you know how to grill”
Taylor Swift

Well…of course every man is born knowing how to grill. Telling him that he should take a lesson to learn more about it is somehow akin to plucking out his chest hairs one by one.

I have grilled most of my adult life at countless backyard get-togethers. I love it. Recently, I became reacquainted with a high school friend, Jeff Johnston, whom I had not seen in over thirty years. He told me that he had started a business that he has dreamed about and has become a professional grill master including manufacturing his own rub and BBQ sauce (9C Brand). I was so excited for him.


A few weeks went by and my oldest son and family came to visit us in Florida. For some reason, I decided that it was time for me to actually learn how to smoke something on my new smoker/grill combo. I called up Jeff and he was more than anxious to share some insights with me. We met one afternoon and I could not take notes fast enough. He brought items with him that would help me including a couple of bottles of his special sauce. I learned the difference between types of coal. I learned about fruit woods and what a chip and a chunk are. I learned when to spritz the meat with apple juice and when to apply the rubs. I was overwhelmed with all of the information and so glad I was not cooking for a paying customer!


I got prepared and did my shopping and a few days later began the process. I prepared the chicken the night before. Once I lit the coals, I must have referred to my notes thirty times. I had to work to get the temperature correct. It finally started coming together and I was able to put the chicken thighs on the grill.




The result was that I actually smoked some pretty dang good chicken that everyone loved. It was amazing. Next on the agenda is to learn how to smoke ribs and then pork butts and brisket.

It takes a little longer to actually do it correctly but I found that when I took the time to actually learn how to do it, I did not lose a single chest hair in the process. In fact, the 9C sauce may have put a few hairs on my chest! I highly recommend that every guy out there take some time this spring to really learn how to use their grill.

It’s nice to have a smokin’ wife and it’s nice to have a smokin’ truck but when your grill is smokin’, you could wax every chest hair off and still stand tall as a man’s man. Get grilled on how to use your grill and take your weekend BBQs to the next level. Mm…Mm…Smokin’!

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Old Letters…Forever Thoughts

Doc - Apr 4, 2015, 7-006
My father has been gone for almost ten years. As I was cleaning my desk this morning, I found an old letter he wrote to me when I was home from college, almost 40 years ago. The salutation, “Dear Gary Son”, struck an emotional chord. The first line, “It is nice to have you here”, further melted my emotions. It would be nice to have him here with me today.

This Easter season, I am reminded that the possibility exists that we may see each other again and that he may once again tell me that it is nice to have me with him. Mine is a hope and a faith that calms my soul and enriches my life with purpose. I do not have hope and faith because I seek to be calmed or to have my life enriched with purpose. Instead, those feelings are a direct consequence of the quiet testimony that is in my heart that Jesus did live and that his mission was divine.

I believe that one day I will be able to say, “It is nice to be with you too Dad.”

Old letters…forever thoughts…

Happy Easter!

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Country Genius, Country Dummy

“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.”
Elbert Hubbard

IMG_1821aSometimes having a little country in you creates a genius and sometimes it creates a dummy. I recently bought a smoker/grill from Lowes and it was too heavy for me to load into my truck. It took four men to get it loaded and I was not sure how I was going to get it out of my truck but I “figured” (country boy strategic thinking) that I would figure it out once I got home (country boy lazy thinking).

I had my shoulder and both hips replaced last year and a recent hernia operation and I am not supposed to lift more than 50 pounds. Even if I had been my old self, I could not have lifted it. My wife, as strong as she is, was also recovering from surgery and I would have hated to lose her under a several hundred pound grill. I guess I could have asked her 80 plus year old mother that lives next door to give me a hand but.…

But no, having grown up in Kissimmee, I learned that a rope and an oak tree limb can be good for more than just a sack swing.  I rigged a hoist over a huge oak limb but the only thing I had strong enough to pull on it was the truck that the grill was sitting in. So we tied the ropes to the truck and slowly pulled forward sliding the grill as we went until it was hanging in mid air. With only a little effort, I was able to slowly drop the grill to the ground. My wife was amazed it worked and I was a country genius for a brief moment.

Then she asked me how much it cost. Once again I became a country dummy.

I can’t think of everything…but I “figure” (country boy no brain activity) that she shouldn’t be able to either. My mistake.

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I Played In A Rock Band!

“I’m continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you are uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.”
  Ashton Kutcher


I recently met my three college buds for our annual fishing trip in Florida. We have been doing this for more than two decades and are amazed each year when we are able to pull it off. Our wives not only allow this opportunity but encourage it because they know how good we are for each other. We play cards, fish, cook our own meals and talk about life’s challenges. Each of us comes away with a new zest for moving forward in a positive way with the things that are before us.

This year I planned something special. One of our group is an excellent guitarist who played professionally when we were young. I hired a band to come one night and asked them to let him play with them if he wanted to which they agreed. I kept it a surprise and as we prepared to finish fishing on the lake, my friend heard the sound of an electric guitar and said “that’s a live guitar”. I then told them what I had done and the rest of the evening was great. We cooked steaks and gator tail and listened to our own private band.


As the evening drew to a close it came time to get my friend to play with the band. As much as we encouraged him to play, he just wouldn’t do it. In an effort to loosen him up, I put my fears aside and jumped up and joined the band. Soon one of the other buds came up and played the bass and we had the time of our lives. I think that secretly it was something that I had always wanted to do and when the opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t resist.

My moment of glory turned out to be a happy moment for everyone involved. I think everyone enjoyed seeing me step out of my comfort zone and make a fool out of myself. The band played along and helped us and the folks watching stomped their feet and got in to the music. I am quite sure I wouldn’t sell any tickets but it made me feel great and my kids are sure proud of their father for trying something new.


Think of the things that you secretly would like to give a try before this journey is all over and step out of your comfort zone. It will put some rhythm back in your step and your true friends will be proud of you!

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Some Messes Are Better Than Others (A Lesson that Washington D.C. Could Learn)

“No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere, whether it is holding out a hand of friendship, or making clear that you disapprove of something, is the fact that the person sitting  across the table is a human being, so the goal is to always establish common ground.”
Madeleine Albright



Recently my one year old grandson came to visit us in Florida. His mother made a cake for everyone with birthdays in March and, though the cake was delicious, the sweetest part of the evening was watching our grandson discover icing! Without concern for the mess he would leave behind, he just enjoyed his discovery almost as much as we enjoyed watching him discover it!

There is such a thing as a good mess and it is so much more tolerable than a bad mess. When I turn on the news at night it is so disturbing. Can the mass of egos and dogmatic fighting get any messier than what we see in Washington D. C.? Because I know that history has seen many a good man and woman go there to bring reason and common sense back to this country, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to operate in such an environment. Where are the diplomats, where are the servant leaders, where are the peacemakers, where are the grandfathers and grandmothers who know better?

I rode my bike this week listening to my ITunes. When I finished my workout at home and got off my bike there was a song playing that had a great beat. I found myself dancing in my yard. I felt so happy and almost carefree. I looked to see if my wife might be watching but she wasn’t. I would have loved it, if just for 60 seconds, she would have slow danced with me in the yard.

Maybe the good men and women in Washington need to take a breath, let down their hair or toupees and relax. There are pressing and important issues that are nearly impossible to solve, especially if everyone left their common sense and respect for people back in their hometown. If however, we could take the politics out of it and just remember how good it was to be around our friends back when we were young in our old neighborhood before life got so difficult and our opinions got so ingrained…if we could just stand still for a moment and have the grappling hooks of agendas and self righteousness removed from their deep entrenched place in our sagging pectoral muscles…if we could see our adversaries as our friends with just differing opinions…maybe we could have a reasonable discourse that actually solves some of the nearly “impossible to solve” issues facing our country.

I bet that many of our politicians have things in common that they never get to enjoy together because of the tension and partisanship that engulfs Washington. Wouldn’t it be nice if one day during a session of congress they just started playing “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Stairway to Heaven” or maybe had a “bring your grandbaby day”. My guess is if we could get these men and women to back up as far as they had to in order to find common ground, we might be able to access their brilliance in governing in a way that eventually moves us ahead as a country. We need to get them to a spot where they can laugh at themselves when they do a numbskull thing instead of trying to justify or rationalize it. For example, I, without shame, readily admit that it was folly for me to recommend, when I served on my high school student council, that we put cameras in the bathrooms to try and catch those students who were smoking. See…now the whole world can join me at laughing at myself and it didn’t feel so bad.

If we made a mess of things but it was with all of us trying together using common sense and working from common ground, I guarantee that it would be a much more tolerable mess than the one we see the country making now. Remember that whole “Love thine enemies” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” thing? That philosophy actually requires people to make significant personal sacrifices. It requires people to be peacemakers. My definition of a peacemaker is somebody who gives all that is required but more than what is fair and expects no compensation for the difference.

Come on grandpas and grandmas that serve in Washington…you know better. Be the first to reach out to your enemy and make them a friend. Save our grand kids. Save our Country. We can’t have our cake and eat it too but we can dip out of the same bowl of icing and have some fun together and make this country shine again.

bennieHighFive Your Life Principle: Grandpas and Grandmas in Washinton D.C. get together and show the world your wisdom and maturity. Dance a jig and share a salad or burger with your adversary and save the world.

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Cowboy for an Evening…Kowboy Forever

“What people don’t understand is this is something that we only have in America. There is no other country in the world where the ordinary citizen can go out and enjoy hunting and fishing. There’s no other nation in the world where that happens. And it’s very much a part of our heritage.”
Norman Schwarzkopf


I grew up in Kissimmee, Florida home of the Silver Spurs Rodeo. The rodeo was so important to the community that school was canceled for a day and there was a parade down main street. I remember as a youth working the stands hawking cokes. Since it was the biggest arena in the area, it also doubled as the football field for the Osceola High School Kowboys. Each season after the July rodeo, they would reseed the field to try and get it ready for football season which started in September.

At our home games we all knew we were in the rodeo arena. We came in and out of the chutes where the cowboys walked. It was part of our culture and we loved it. In those days, it was not unusual for a pickup truck to come to high school with a rifle in a rack in the back window. Life was simple.

I now live in Tangerine, Florida which is about an hour away from Kissimmee. My 40 year high school reunion is coming up which is hard to believe. When my wife and I received an invitation to go to the rodeo this year and attend a private party it was an instant yes from both of us. Even though we rarely go “out on the town”, we both thought this would be fun. So fun that the day before the event, we went down to the local feed store (and leather shop) to buy some boots. Once I got started, I could not stop myself. I bought everything cowboy I could find. The most fun was that my wife went along with it and let me buy her every cowboy bling thing there was. New belts and pants and boots and shirts and….well, if they would have had chaps and a cap gun I probably would have bought them.

Friday night we loaded up in our jacked up black Ford pickup and drove to Kissimmee. First we texted a picture of us to our grown kids who couldn’t believe that we were actually going out to have some fun. “Smokin!” was the comment made from my kids about the way my wife was dressed and I couldn’t have agreed more. I made sure we didn’t have any tags showing from all of our new clothes.

Since we are both recovering from old age related foot problems, we were able to park in the handicapped area which may have taken a little of our cowboy shine off but we let that go because it was about a half mile closer than where everyone else was parking…and hopefully nobody noticed us struggling to get in and out of our lifted vehicle which was left over from when it used to be driven by the kids several years ago. It would have been easier to get up on one of the horses!

The sight of the line of cars arriving to see the event, the big Ferris wheel at the accompanying fair, the sign of horses and horse trailers everywhere, instantly took me back to the Kissimmee memories of my youth. Once inside the building, we found the party and it was like a high school reunion. Yes… maybe we had over blinged for even Kissimmee but it was so wonderful to be “coming home”.

We had a marvelous evening at the rodeo and enjoyed catching up with so many old friends. The bull riding and calf roping and clowns in barrels brought back so many great memories. The complex is named Osceola Heritage Park and it lived up to its name. The rodeo and the whole agricultural and cattle industry that was so important to this area before tourism took over is still strong and thriving. It is sometimes overshadowed by the bling of the major tourist attractions in the area but it is there and it is a rich heritage that I was reminded, I can call my own.

I bought new leather stuff and was a cowboy for the evening but last night I was reminded that I will be a Kowboy forever. Heritage is a wonderful thing and nice to come home to if you are lucky enough to have that opportunity.

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