Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dealing with Mom...

It's been an interesting few days with my 85 year-old mom. As with most folks her age, she is dealing with some physical issues - one of which is confusion. She now gets flustered when presented with situations which should be routine but are not to her anymore. This has led a conundrum about her driving.

We knew she was starting to have trouble even driving to familiar places when, a few weeks ago, she failed to arrive at her church. She got confused on her turns and ended up driving back home. She remained adamant, however, that she could handle going to the bank, the grocery store, and church. She said that she was familiar enough with those short trips to be trusted not to get lost anymore.

But on last Thursday, Mom went to get a haircut. I had quizzed her about it two days prior and she insisted she knew the way to the shop. Well, she got confused and proceeded to drive for hours...finally pulling into a service station near North Garland High School, a long, long way from home. I had gassed her car two weeks ago, but now the tank was almost empty - an indication of just how long she had been driving around in utter confusion.

God sent an angel to rescue her in the form of a kind lady who noticed that Mom seemed to be confused and flustered. This lady got my sister's cell number from her and called Marybeth. And Marybeth came and led her home. Even a day after this, Mom still insisted on keeping the keys.

My siblings and I knew that intervention was mandatory despite her efforts to retain this last bit of independence. I had decided that if it came down to it, I would simply go get the keys, the title, and the car and remove it her premises. But today, prayers were answered. Mom has decided it really is time. She will allow us to sell the car. I won't have to do that dirty deed after all.

I would hope that should I ever be where Mom is now, I would accede to my children's wishes immediately and hand over the keys. But I've learned that things I decide at the present can change decades later. In the wonderful decade of the '70's, I was young and healthy and able to go on three-hour training runs. I just knew that when I reached my 50's, I would still be fit and able to go on long runs. Well, here I am, practically sedentary because of a bad knee and hip. So I better be careful of issuing strong proclamations about how I'll act when I'm 85.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Man, it didn't take long for me to start sleeping late and staying up late. During the school year, the alarm sounds at 5:15 AM most days and 4:15 AM on Wednesdays. Now, I just roll over when my body tries to wake up at those silly times.

Nothing has changed in my assessment of Hollywood and the garbage the movie studios throw our way. On Christmas Eve, Carole and I took a chance on "P.S. I Love You". I was under the impression that it was PG. After two filthy hours of watching folks endorse adultery, we got home and I looked at the ad a little closer. It was PG-13. You know, "some content may be inappropriate" for pre-teens. Uh, it's content was inappropriate, period. And Hollywood has $16 from my wallet.

Are you keeping up with Mike Huckabee?

It's hard to top an all-male chorus.

Roy Orbison was greatness.

The top three cobblers: apple, cherry, pecan.

Are Hummers really necessary?

I'm really blessed to have a hobby to fiddle with in my approaching old age.

I applaud the poor guys I see in the Grove going from trash can to trash can collecting aluminum least they are trying.

I'm gonna be able to sing like Josh Groban in heaven. Of course, so will a lot of other guys. I hope Carole can pick me out anyway.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yesterday and Today

Interesting photoshoot at DFW yesterday. When I arrived, the temp was 41 and winds were gusting to 38. And you must believe me when I tell you I didn't get cold. I had dressed warmly, of course. Plus, I would come out of my car for only the 20 seconds it took to image an aircraft. Then I would wait inside where it was warm for the next 4 minutes waiting for the next one. I looked up from my cemetery location and saw a massive 747 taxiing for departure; I quickly drove a mile to another location and got the above shot. Too dark to be really much good, but you have to work with what you've got.

Wonderful day today. I was on assignment from Highland Oaks to photograph a very gifted artist named David Broussard. Someone had paid to permanently hang an example of his work in one of the foyers, and now he had been invited to come sell some of his stuff to our members. All of the art work was related to Christ or Christian principals.

Spent the afternoon with Michael, Brooke, and an angel named Audrey. When I hold a tiny baby, I get feelings that are unique and not replicated anywhere else. I gaze at those tiny fingers, as wispy and delicate as drifting snowflakes. And then the faint hint of eyebrows, just barely there but precise and miraculous. Need I continue? It is so cool how they respond to being held and touched...much better than when they aren't. Reminds me of how much better we are when allow our Father to hold and touch us.

So, which picture do you like better?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ah, 'tis the season!

I've ejected the last student from the bus for 2007 and now can settle in for some serious good times. Fortunately, the weather is gonna be perfect for a photography outing at DFW tomorrow. WHAT? (you say) Temperatures dropping through the 40's with winds up to 40 mph? Has someone spiked Tim's eggnog?

About 4 times a year, conditions like this will hit DFW - huge winds out of the northwest or west. Usually get a couple days like this in the spring and a couple during the winter. We had one two Saturdays ago and I skipped the outing due to an impending head cold. I won't miss tomorrow.

Why is this great for photography? As you know, aircraft land into the wind. DFW's runways are configured north/south. But tomorrow's high winds will be counted as "crosswinds" since they are going to northwesterly. This makes landings very problematic on north/south runways. The aircraft are very vulnerable to winds as they slow their speed to land. Crosswinds get up under the wings and try to flip the plane over. That won't happen, of course, because to some extent, pilots can make adjustments. But on very high wind days, there will be many go-arounds (where the landing is aborted and the plane has to circle in for another try). Pilots and airlines hate go-arounds because of the havoc they cause to schedules and the extra fuel they burn.

What DFW will do at some point tomorrow afternoon is to route as much of the incoming traffic to two runways that are configured NW/SE, 31R and 31L. They aren't thrilled with this prospect because those runways are shorter that the others. But the intense headwinds tomorrow, that won't be a factor.

Here's where I come in. There is a little public cemetery near the numbers on 31L. If all of this happens as I think it will, I'll be parked in the cemetery and have fantastics views of incoming aircraft, many of which will still be struggling with the wind. I'll be struggling with the wind myself, trying to hold a camera with a zoom lens steady in the wind. I can't wait. Maybe I'll have pix to share in upcoming blogs. Maybe I'm crazy for standing outside in horrendous conditions. Or maybe I'll get a cover shot.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Reflections on a new life...

Has there ever been a new parent who hasn't looked into that one-day old angelic face and not had a sliver of apprehension about the world that child will experience? Of course, most of what you're thinking is related to the goodness and joy of holding a miracle in your arms. There's nothing that really compares to those few days in your life.

But since you can't help but want the very best of life for the child, you do think about the times in which we live. Audrey's other grandfather and I had lots of time alone together during the past few days and we discussed this very fact. There are two conclusions that we reached: Audrey's world will be fraught with forces of evil the likes of which have never been seen by any society. The rise of Islam and eroding of respect for Christian values don't portend easy and fun times; our other thought was that the first conclusion doesn't really matter when you have God on your side.

Oh, for sure there will be tough times. But tough times allow Christians to solidify the foundation on which they rest. Facing the enemy doesn't reduce us to quivering jello...quite the opposite. It allows the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us into warriors of might and right - people who don't dread what the dark demons can do because we aren't of this world anyway. Our real life is yet to come!

So, little Audrey and her parents (and grandparents and great-grandparents) can rest easy in the security and hope that comes from God and God alone. It's a powerful thought...and one that we desperately need to share with the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Going home Wednesday

Here's Audrey being held by her Uncle Shaun with a head massage courtesy of cousin Andrew. Brooke and Audrey are doing well enough to be allowed to escape the hospital tomorrow and go home, where I'm sure restful, refreshing sleep awaits.

More future aviator pictures

Brooke and Audrey doing great. Michael holding up well. They'll get to go home tomorrow or Thursday. It's been a very blessed last few days in their lives.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Here she is!

It's late on Sunday night as I type this. But it is important that I stay up a bit later to introduce Audrey Grace to you. Born at 6:01 PM, 7 lbs 6 oz., and a little over 20 inches long. A whole lot of hair. Don't worry about that mark on her forehead. It's a bruise. Audrey was "sunny side up" and couldn't be turned over and Brooke pushed for 3 hours to no avail. The bruise is from bumping up against Brooke's pelvic bone. So, about 5:30, they decided to do a C-section.

Brooke, my beautiful and strong daughter, is doing great. She has had practically no sleep since Friday night, but was chipper and smiling at 9 when we left her tonight. What a warrior!

Oh, well. Back to aircraft pix now.


Friday, December 14, 2007


As you can tell, that is not a picture of a baby. Audrey is not cooperating. Looks like Brooke and Michael will be sent home late this aft. Brooke hasn't dilated at all, so the doctor has set up an appointment for 11AM next Tuesday with the idea of putting her back in the hospital Tuesday night and having the baby on Wednesday - by C-section if necessary.

So Brooke and Michael are a bit disappointed, but they know that everything needs to be in Audrey's best interests.

More updates as necessary.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Update on mom-to-be Brooke. After an appointment this afternoon with her doctor, the decision was made to admit her to the hospital at 10 o'clock tonight. If all goes as planned, she and Michael should be proud parents by this time tomorrow.

I remember (vaguely, I guess) the strange feelings I had the night before an addition to our family. It is an almost overwhelming knowledge that in less than 24 hours, our lives would be changed forever. I'm sure Brooke and Michael are thinking about that this evening. They probably will not sleep any tonight, try as they might.

Being a grandparent sure is nice. We will get plenty of sleep tonight.

We covet your prayers for all concerned. For my next blog entry, I will break from my strict custom of posting an aircraft picture. (Isn't that a great one up there?) Hopefully, I'll be able to showcase Audrey Grace Hall in all her glory.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Come on, Audrey

Everyone in the Perkins household is agog this week - awaiting the arrival of Audrey Grace Hall, Brooke and Michael's first and our fifth grandchild. Maybe I'm an old softie, but I find myself not so much in gleeful expectation for another descendent as in apprehension for Brooke. I mean, she's got a lot to go through this week just to get Audrey from Point A to Point B.

I shall never forget a scene in the labor room while awaiting our first grandchild, Zach. Everyone from Zach's daddy to other relatives to the nurses were cracking jokes and having a great ole time...and I looked over at Jenny and could tell that she was absolutely miserable - racked by contractions and totally unable to join in the merriment. I wanted to do a Jesus and the moneychangers routine and just clear the room completely so Jenny could suffer without the insufferables around.

So I'll be wearing my attitude-police garb to the hospital this week. And I'll be pestering the doc to give Brooke an epidural NOW!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wish I Could...

I wish I could tie a cool knot. Today, I saw a guy throw two Christmas trees in the back of a pickup and then go get some twine and a knife. He quickly cut the desired length, looped the cord through the proper eyelets on the truck, lashed the trees securely, and proceeded to do something I never learned how to do: tie a cool slip-knot so that all this entanglement could be undone with a flick of the wrist.

My daddy saw to it that I learned the most important stuff. A stellar public education followed by four years at ACU. I clearly remember when he bought us a set of used encyclopedias. The year was 1960 and the encyclopedias were copyrighted in 1936. Anyway, academic matters were almost as important as spiritual matters.

But Dad wasn't "handy". He didn't work on cars and had very few tools. And he must've not known about knots. Because I've gone 59 years without knowing how to tie stuff down. I'd almost trade my sheepskins for the ability to tighten a rope and quickly fashion a gorgeous knot that could be undone in half a second. And sadly, I've left my sons in a similar condition. You can't pass on a talent that doesn't exist.

Now I know why I was so envious of Boy Scouts.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Things Thought About While Driving a School Bus

My favorite kind of field trip is the one where I drive kids in kindergarten or first grade to some event. They are usually inner city kids and nearly everything that happens to them on the trip is new to them. For some, it may be their first time on a school bus.

This week, I picked up a busload near downtown Dallas and immediately went through the "canyon". It got dark inside the bus and the bright amber lights in the tunnel were whizzing by. I heard sixty little kids say in unison, "Oooooooh"!! The sad thing is, they are so small, their little heads don't stick up high enough to see much while riding the big ole bus. But I love their innocence.

Much more problematic is the task of maintaining order while transporting 60 middle-school boys - something I get to do twice a day. The trip home is always more of a challenge that the morning ride. In the afternoon, all the pent-up energy is just dying to be released. My job becomes trying to delay blastoff until I can get them off the bus. Of course, just as in teaching, it's incredibly important to begin the year off right. Mess that up and you'll never regain discipline. But now it's months into the year and each ride is a ticking time bomb.

I try to establish an atmosphere from the moment the boys start arriving at the bus. I sit at angle in my seat and make eye contact with each one as he gets on the bus. I will speak if I think I need to work on rapport with some kid that may be up to something. I also look for anything that doesn't belong on the bus. In my 25 years of doing this, I've confiscated water balloons, sharpened sticks, a shepherd's staff (got me...the kid said he was Moses), pets, and one bottle of whiskey.

I've also had kids I was scared with such a degree of anger or bitterness that I do everything I can to avoid confrontation. I'll let them get away some stuff that others can't. I can't afford any Phyrric victories while halfway between the school and bus stop. Better to make mental notes and write up the offenders the next day.

The hardest thing I do is to concentrate on driving a large vehicle in traffic while keeping one eye on sixty hormone-engorged adolescent boys. I guess it's inevitable...I've had times when I've looked up at my wide mirror to check out a disturbance on the bus only to look back at the road and see my bus about to rear-end another vehicle that has suddenly stopped directly in front of me. Somehow, I get the bus stopped and 60 boys have to peel their faces off the seatback in front of them. I always begin each trip with a prayer...and God has saved me a few times.

Someday soon, I relate the events of the day when a speeding car hit one of my students as he got off the bus. God was around that day, too.