The One About the Four Girls In The City

Laura and I have something of a nightly ritual of catching a couple of sitcoms in syndication, doing some reading and then going to sleep. For the two years and three months of our marriage, those sitcoms have been “Friends” and “King of the Hill“. But recently, another show has wedged itself in to the schedule and refuses to budge an inch.

Before the past couple of months, I’d probably only seen a combined 35 minutes of “Sex In The City” here and there when I was checking HBO to see if “Mr. Show with Bob and David” was rerunning. From what I’d gathered, it was moreless about four women living sexually promiscuous lives in the Big Apple and gathering to discuss the details over lattes at a trendy cafe while wearing a $400 pair of strappy sandals. Now that channel 33 is showing it in syndication, I can confirm that yes, this is in fact what the show is about – despite Laura’s insisting that it’s about friendships, relationships and finding love. This is one of those times that I really wish I had some good webpoll software to see what you all think.

Moving on, Laura is thick in the planning stage for this year’s gigantic Easter Picnic at the church. Last year was a big success and she’s looking to build upon it. One obstacle she’s facing right now is that the clowns won’t call her back. Now how many occupations have to deal with that problem?

Kristi Leigh and Eric are looking at houses in the Hurst/Euless/Bedford area and we’re stoked at the prospect of their living a bit closer to us! Good luck finding that dream home peeps!

Hangin’ With Mrs. BAR

Our favorite candidate for U.S. Senate came to Fort Worth this afternoon and we were all over it. We got word of her visit through someone at the campaign and weren’t sure what to expect in terms of size, or anything else for that matter. I was just hoping for a handshake, an inspiring stump speech and if possible, a picture with Barbara Ann Radnofsky.

It was a small gathering in the conference room of a Fort Worth legal firm (small, family owned and operated) and we were the first to arrive. We got to chat with the mom and daughter of the firm and they were extremely pleasant and fun to talk to. I think I did a pretty good job of remaining engaged in the conversation, but truth be told, my ears were pointed in the direction of the open front door the entire time, waiting for the first indication that BAR had arrived.

To a lot of people right now, meeting BAR wouldn’t be much different than meeting your neighborhood grocer, but the more I’ve learned about her the more I respect her. Also, it’s kind of nerdy, but I love politics and so anyone who is in the thick of it is a celebrity to me. It was like waiting to meet the lead singer of your favorite band.

After about fifteen minutes, she arrived. I mentioned a couple posts back that I talked to her on the phone a little while back and that I was able to put her in touch with the Legislative Director of the Teacher’s Association that I’m a member of. She was very appreciative on the phone that day and so I was sort of wondering if she would even remember me. We approached her and I introduced myself as “Brian Rhea, I’m the teacher in Carrollton you spoke to a couple weeks ago.” Her face lit up and she gave me a hug of thanks! I think she said something about how helpful I was and maybe even said something to Laura, but the only thing going on in my head was, “Guhh-huh.” It was very exciting!

We spoke briefly (I can recall exactly none of it) and then she schmoozed around for a while before giving an incredibly good speech! I wish I had a transcript or a video because she was outstanding. Laura and I just kept looking at each other and exchanging a look that says, “Wow! She’s amazing!”

So, I had the first two requirements fulfilled, all I needed now was a picture.


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Last weekend, we went with our small group from IBC to Memphis, TN to help clean up Zion Cemetary, the oldest African American cemetary in a city rich with history.

The historical marker at the site reads:
Zion Cemetary, comprising 15 acres, was established in 1876 by the United Sons of Zion Association, a group of former slaves who responded to the need for a respectable burial site for African Americans. It is the final resting place for many outstanding citizens. Including Georgia Patton Washington (1864-1900), who was one of the first female African American physicians, and Thomas F. Cassels (1850-1903), who was Assistant Attorney General of Shelby County and a member of the Tennessee General Assembly.

You’re probably wondering, “Why Memphis and why this cemetary?” Well, one of the couples in our group, Gene and Jill, are good friends with a couple of people who started/planted/founded/whatever you want to call it, Fellowship Bible Church of Memphis. Fellowship, along with other civic groups in Memphis, has been actively involved in recruiting volunteers and groups to help clean up the cemetary. They pitched the idea to Gene, Gene pitched the idea to us and we were in. You should check out the church’s web site. They’ve got a cool vision: racial reconciliation in a city that desperately needs it.

While we were there we also went to Sun Studio and B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street.

Here is a Google Earth satellite image of Zion Cemetary. That big cluster of trees in the middle of the picture is what remains to be cleared. The baseball field to the left gives you an idea of the scale of the project.

More pictures from the trip…

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Big Day Out (pictures)

Today was really good. Sometimes you can predict it. You go to bed knowing great things are afoot or you wake up and sense that there’s something special about this morning you’ve just entered in to. Sometimes, a great day just surprises you; that’s what happened to me today.

It’s Spring Break, so I hit the snooze button until about 9:00, no rush. Rolled out of bed and wandered around the house for a while, going nowhere in particular. Then I thought, “Hey, our local Democratic Party meeting is tomorrow. I should call Barbara Ann Radnofsky’s campaign HQ and see if she’s going to be in Dallas any time soon. If so, I’ll relay that info on to everyone.” So, I hop on her web site (what did people do before the internet?) and find the number. A volunteer answers the phone and I ask my question and she says, “Well, I know that around the 27th we’ll be in Fort Worth at TCU but I can’t really recall the details.”

“Ok, that’s fine. Is that something that you guys will be putting the specifics about up on the web site soon so we can know?”

“Well, this is Barbara. So, I’m trying to rack my brain for those specifics right now.”

*Cue a dumbfounded expression on Brian’s face and a flailing about of arms to get Laura’s attention.*

It was pretty neat. I got to tell her personally that I was going to do whatever I could to help her win the run-off in April and the general in November, and she even gave me a couple of specific things to do right away for her which I was able to help with. So, for me, it was a big thing and I was hyped up for the rest of the morning.

And to top it all off, Starbucks was giving away free coffee between 10 and noon! It was a little wierd approaching the counter. What was I supposed to say? I settled upon a confused sort of, “Sooo…you guys are giving away free coffee?” It worked. Suckers.

At noon, I had an appointment with a chiropractor who is also a friend from IBC, Vince. An aside, Vince is seriously good at basketball. To the point, Vince can crack ya bones. I went in for a general physical and assessment about two weeks ago and we identified some problem areas in my spine. And by we I mean Vince. Today was my actual adjustment. I’ve never been to a chiropractor (pronounced Cairo Prack Tour) before and my vertebrae confirmed the fact with a resounding kkkkkrrrrrkkkkk. I left the place with a brand new neck.

Then, I had lunch with Laura at this great little deli. As a school teacher, the one thing that I never realized I took for granted before is freedom at lunch. During the week, there is no flexibility whatsoever. It occurs at exactly this time, for exactly this long and with exactly these people. That can get a little lame so having lunch like a normal person every now and then is quite the treat.

After a flexibly late, relaxing lunch, I set to work in the backyard. Laura and I broke ground on our family garden! A very exciting and greatly anticipated occasion! I wrote about it at Those Awake a few months ago and we’re looking forward to homegrown spinach, beans and other sorts of vegetables several months from now. We’ll keep you posted. And if you stop by, maybe we can even keep you fed.

And now, having just watched Rick Steves travel through the south of France on KERA, I’m sippping on an amazing margarita that Laura makes while listening to a new musical discovery: (new to us at least) Sacred Harp Gospel Choirs. Good stuff.

In the words of the oft-quoted but completely inappropriate role model Ice Cube, “I gotta say it was a good day.”

Laura measures the plot

Brian tills the soil


Coppell Gothic

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Good News from Home

I was very happy to see that The Paris News (our hometown newspaper) endorsed Barbara Ann Radnofsky for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator. Of the three nominees running, Laura and I liked her the best by far. We voted for her in the primaries on the 7th of March and there will be a run-off election on April 11th.

It is probably going to be very close, so I encourage you all to learn more about her here and to please consider voting for her on the 11th. I don’t want to soapbox everyone, so if you have specific questions, please e-mail me or leave a comment and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

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Sigur Rós & Transcendentalism

Monday night, we saw the Icelandic group Sigur Rós at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Shaun scored front row seats in the pre-sale, so needless to say, we were in a prime position to witness the splendor. (Good job, Shaun.)

Within any art discipline (music, visual, theatre) there are tiers of effect & influence. The lower tiers are purely recreational and entertaining and as you climb the steps, the emotional, mental and spiritual investment increases for both the artist and the audience. The art on any tier can be enjoyable and successful, but the lasting and immediate effects will be very different. So, for example, on the lower tiers you might have “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit” (which is great, but I prefer “Chicken Run”) or “Sandlot” and towards the upper end you’ve got “Crash” or “The Passion of the Christ”. All are excellent, but they’ve each got very different purposes and impacts.

In Hinduism, this idea is described by the belief in seven chakras (pronounced chuckruhs) aligned vertically from the base of the spine to the top of the head. From the bottom up, each chakra is increasingly more concerned with God and increasingly less concerned with matter. So you go from instinct, to emotion, to freedom to be oneself, to love and compassion, to self-expression, to intuition and finally to connection with the divine.

This is all to say that I can think of a band, painting or movie that connects me to each of these areas and the list associated with the seventh chakra, that highest place, is extremely short. Sigur Rós are on it.

Here are some pictures and video that Russ took at the show.

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Isaiah 58:6-12

Lent begins today, which for the past few years has been something simple like, “no Dr. Pepper.” It isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s simple. Not only that, if I’m honest with myself, it’s pretty useless, too. Especially juxtaposed with what Isaiah says below.

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.

“What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The GOD of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, GOD will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, “Here I am.’

“If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down–and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.

“I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places–
firm muscles, strong bones.

“You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
Make the community livable again.”

Isaiah 58:6-12

What if we made a list of those things and tried to do them between now and Easter in Christ’s name? Does that sound too much like “rule-keeping” or is it simply a good goal? What do you think?