Saturday, September 24, 2016

While you were away...

The first fiery leaves of autumn fell to the ground,
and the forest was cleared along the west side of the road.

They left the sunsets though, and a view of Venus
burning through dusk like a diamond.

At Thanksgiving, we played your song for the kids,
and they sang the words along with you.

Your roses bloomed in December, and the cardinal
returned to roost in the eves.

One day in the spring, we stowed our fishing gear
and watched a rainbow sail into the bay on the rain.

Your ring sparkled on your granddaughter's hand
as she accepted her diploma from your alma mater.

In so many dreams you were young and healthy again.
We heard your laughter, and your silence,

And we made another journey around the sun with you,
but for the first time without you.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


It's been 14 months since my mother passed away, and I finally signed off on the design of her headstone. I've read that it's best if you wait at least a year after a burial before choosing a memorial, to allow yourself time to grieve, and to make the choice in a somewhat more healed and healthy frame of mind; so that's what I did, although it felt like procrastination. I was a couple of months overdue, and family were starting to ask when they could place flowers in polished granite vases instead of the soil.

My mom's first name was Betty, and she was named after my great-grandmother Sallie Betty Evans who is buried in Damascus Cemetery in Lindale, TX. Sallie and my great-grandfather Mack Daniel settled there to build a family after a long journey from North Carolina via horse and carriage. Life was hard for them, and they buried both a stillborn son and daughter who are my great-uncle and great-aunt. I know them only as “Infant Son” and “Infant Dau” from their headstones.

Next to her husband's white marble monument, which depicts sunrays shining through clouds onto the opened gates of Heaven, Sallie Betty's headstone is diminutive and plain: forget-me-nots and leaves shape-carved onto a small, gray unpolished upright that looks to be a few notches above cinder block in quality. Lichens give it some color variation, along with water streaks from thousands of storms that have thundered over the cemetery across the decades since her burial.

But her design is pretty and unpretentious, and when I recalled it, the choice for my mother's stone became clear. Since they share a name, I would have the artwork on Sallie Betty's headstone reproduced and adapted to a wider stone, in a similarly-colored granite called Premium Gray. In this way, I sought to create an additional link between them, although Mom is buried 22 miles away in Bascom Cemetery.

The monument salesman told me that some people raise an eyebrow when they hear that Premium Gray granite is from China, but he's quick to point out: "That's where the Lord put it."

On a sunny day in April, I drove north to Damascus Cemetery and took several front-on photos of my great-grandmother’s headstone for the reproduction. The first draft needed a lot of cleanup, and I discovered that the design did not truly fit either the original stone shape or the new one. After an iterative process over several months, including a lengthy round trip to meet with the CAD artist, we arrived at a final draft with every tweak and adjustment I could possibly think of to perfect the artwork.

It dawned on me later that I wasn’t obsessing over line-widths and curvatures for the sake of art. In the two years before my mother’s death from complications after chemo, I was her caregiver. After she died, there were no more doctor appointments to drive her to; no more medicines to give, or conversations injected with her wit, wisdom, and occasional dementia; no more cheerful visits from the nurses that brightened her day. Her financial affairs were long settled, and she was gone, along with all the daily routines that helped sustain her to 2 years short of 80- an age we had hoped she would reach.

There was only the design on a shiny slab of granite from China ("where the Lord put it") to fuss over.

Looking back, I wonder if I could have fussed over her more when she was alive, and been a squeakier wheel when she needed me to be. Perhaps I could have given her a few more hours or days by making one healthcare choice over another. Did I miss some small detail that might have given my family and I another Thanksgiving, birthday, or Christmas with her? I don’t know.

Is there something in the artwork of her memorial that could still be improved before it becomes permanently engraved? Probably, but it’s too late. The artisans are at work, cutting the stencils, frosting and sandblasting, painting the lines and shape-carving the leaves and flowers, I trust, with precision and care.

When the headstone is placed in the cemetery, I will be there to ensure that it is level, and that the vases are precisely positioned, ready to accept flowers for the grand-daughter of Sallie Betty Graham Evans: my mother, Betty Yvonne Evans Pruitt. Then there will be nothing left to do except visit often, or at least enough. Too late in life, I've learned that is the one detail that matters most to a mom.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Been a while

I had an amazing time in Colorado in late August, and spent several days camping and hiking at Rocky Mountain National Park. So gorgeous during the day, and also at night with far less light pollution than I'm used to. Even saw a bear on the Fern Lake trail, and managed to live to blog about it...I think.

Played some $1/$2 at Ameristar in Black Hawk, and a $300 bounty tourney at the Colorado Championship of Poker at Golden Gates Casino. Had a really good start, and called a big bluff with tptk for 10k in tournament chips. But I got cocky later after dinner break and decided to bluff off half my stack to the chipleader. Despite not hitting the money, I did bust two players for $100 in bounties and a discount.

Switching gears now to a 5NL grind on Bovada, 4-tabling, using Table Tamer. Going pretty well so far, as these players love to shove silly stuff and call when they're beat.

Had a sick quads over quads hand for a triple this week, after I raised pre with JJ and flopped the other JJ and a 6. It checked around on the flop, then I check-called .25 on the turn. Shoved the river with the board at JJ666 and got a call from KK which slowplayed pre, and Q6o of all things on the button. That might had triggered a nice five-figure jackpot in some live casinos, but no luck online. NH though.

Turned a straight flush tonight and shoved the river hoping the other guy had the A or K of clubs. No dice, but nice to see a killer hand like that.

Below is my 5NL graph:

My bankroll on Bovada had dropped from $376 to $250 or so after a string of tournament losses, so it's nice to be grinding it back up. Plus cash games are something I've avoided in favor of tourneys, and it's time to get the experience that my game needs. Love the hand review features in PT4!

Hopefully I can build this into a solid bankroll and be my own boss. We'll see. A tourney bink would be nice...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Turbo DS Cash

Meh...called a shove with A9s vs K4o in the SB. Flopped a 9 but he turned a K. Had to call all in with 45o after and I was toast. Still in the $11 with about 20BB, close to the bubble.

Random Bink and catching up.

So the World Poker Tour is at Choctaw and I drove up and played flights A-C of the $200k GTD for $120 each. Didn't get anywhere, because I seem to have forgotten the fine art of folding when obviously beat. Had a great time though and enjoyed a cash game table I was at, where guys were just giving away money chasing draws and calling with top pair\bad kicker. Fun table too, everyone seemed to be in a good mood to lose, lol.

Strange thing is in 3 tourneys I never saw AA, but saw it twice within 30 mins at this table, and lots of AK, plus other big pairs. Couldn't hit a set to save my life though. I was up $85 at best, and cashed out up $40. Hey, gas money.

Due to a sad and unfortunate loss in my family that I'll discuss later, I have too much time on my hands and no income; so now is as good a time as any to try to cover my monthly expenses playing online poker and select live events that are good values, like Monster Stack tourneys. In fact, I'm going back to Choctaw this weekend to play the $350 Monster (4 flights, $500k gtd prize pool). I'll play just one flight, then spend time at the cash tables afterward to try and earn my buyins back.

After that, I'm off to Colorado to visit two sets of friends there, and to climb my nemesis, Mt. Elbert. :-) I may also do the Hanging Lake hike again, or head up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a nice hike. I won $100 in a contest put on by on FB, so I bought another pair of Merrell MOAB Ventilator hiking shoes, which are so comfortable. Can't wait to try them out! Also joined Planet Fitness and have been doing lots of cardio to get in shape.

Hope to make it to Blackhawk and play some poker.

Anyway, that's it for now. Happy for the totally random bink. Turbos aren't my thing, but I wanted to play something that would force me to gamble a lot and open up my shoving range. Worked out well! The key hand headsup was when the villain shoved 99 and I call with KQ and rivered a Broadway straight. We were almost even, so that left him severely crippled. Shoved JTo next hand (cards didn't matter) and won with 2 pair.

I get excited about the game even after a small win like that. For me it's all about how much you multiply the buyin. Fun stuff. If I could turn $3 in to $206 every day, I'd be set for life.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Poem for Betty

I saw a cardinal fly today
and thought of you again...
the way you loved to hear its song
spring forth upon the wind.

I miss the times you sang for us
before your soul took flight
and left us with an emptiness;
a longing for your light.

I hope we'll reunite one day
if even for a while,
in dreams or some place heavenly
where I can see you smile.

Until that day, I'll look for you
in every bird that sings
and soars up where the angels fly
with you upon their wings.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

It was a Dead Cat Bounce

Lesson Learned: fools rush in

Fearing that I might miss the run up in energy stocks, I rushed in February, oil prices fell off in March, and I missed some meaningful profit. :( All is not lost though, because I'm still up a meaningful amount. However, a little patience would have allowed me to buy everything cheaper. Bottom line, market timing is a fool's game, especially if the fool makes fear-based investing decisions.

We'll see how things go this summer.

Missed opportunity: Refining company stocks like Valero, Tesoro, HollyFrontier. I will check more into HollyFrontier and may invest.

In the meantime, I made a lousy play in the "budding" medical marijuana space, and quickly got out of it the next for a loss of around $30 including trading fees. Lesson Learned: Do your due diligence BEFORE you invest. The company sells a promising legit dispensary product, and runs a slick website, but the CEO is a criminal. Oh and it was not a penny stock when I invested, but it became one in the months after I jumped out. Instead of losing around $450, I only lost $30 for a 6% loss. Thankful for that.

Now for the good news. The only penny stock I've ever invested in netted me some impressive gains, percentage-wise anyway. Between my IRA and a taxable acount, I bought 5400 shares of it for an average of .30 per share. This stock never dips below .20 so getting it for an average of .30 is usually good. I sold for an average of .76 per share and netted roughly $2400 after commissions and surcharges, and $3200 total since I've been trading this penny stock. Not bad, and I'll be looking for other opportunities, and doing some serious due diligence to avoid any pos companies.

Going to pick up a couple of investing books: The Intelligent Investor (which probably says to avoid penny stocks lol), and One up on Wall Street.

Also watched The Wolf of Wall Street. Entertaining and interesting.

And read this article: