TSRHC: Treasure Street

Tonight was our annual trip to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children where the hospital’s biggest fundraiser of the year takes place.  Treasure Street is a collection of food vendors, hospital supporters, volunteer staff, silent auction items, live auction items, a band or two, and lots of well-dressed rich people.  It’s a hoot of a time, in my opinion; I’ve been going for many years and now, with Jess by my side, I feel like a real supporter of the hospital.

As you leave your car with the valet (always tip when they take your car instead of when they bring it around; it makes valets less likely to peruse your personal effects when they drive off initially), you walk through the outdoor playground area in a long, meandering line.  Photographers stop you on the pathway to take your picture as you make your way to the white reception tents.  There you get your bid card and your auction number.  From there, I usually start by hitting the bar and then rummaging through the silent auction items.  There are iPads everywhere for you to constantly check your silent auction bid items throughout the night.  This year, I had my eyes on a bronze statute of a cowboy, a painting from one of the patients, and a few sundries.  But alas, the well-dressed rich people beat us and we didn’t win a thing.

More important this year than previous years was getting Jess some food first.  I’ve come to find out that pregnant girls don’t like to wait to eat.  So we found the Kent Rathburn tables placed strategically throughout the affair and selected various delectables for our enjoyment.  My favorite was the fried chicken and potato dish.  And the wine.  Jess enjoyed the street tacos and desserts.  And the water.   Poor girl.

We ran into our old friends Jamie & Courtney, John & Sylvia, Trip & Ashley, J.J. & his wife (whose name unfortunately escapes me now), and a slew of volunteers I used to work with on Wednesdays.  It was a great night of food, friends, and fun to wrap it up in a cliche.

The most important part of the night, however, was the giving.  I haven’t seen statistics on how much money the hospital raises from this event but it has to be significant.  Though if you think about how many free services they give to children with orthopedic conditions, the hospital deserves every dime we can afford to provide.

A Date for Four: Dracula Untold

When I lived in Lubbock, I always used to take my Sunday afternoons to treat my Mom to a date day.  We’d pick whatever scary movie happened to be out that week and go see it.  It was kind of a Judith and Lee tradition.  The most memorable of the past dates, though, happened to be when there was a third wheel, Zane Perry.  I don’t recall what we were seeing that day.  In fact, the only thing I recall was opening the door to the stairs leading up to the stadium seating for the first time and hearing an audible, “Oh my!” from my Mom in the impending climb up to Mount Ebert.

IMG_3508

Well we finally rekindled the tradition on Sunday.  Somehow, I convinced my Mom to get out of the house again (second time that day even!) to go to a movie.  We decided Dracula Untold over Annabelle.  And, as you can see from the stubs above, we had another third wheel who was sneaking in a fourth wheel, our little Emerson.  The excitement of the smell of popcorn, the promise of the movie trailers, the mixed flavored Icee; the movies still have a magical power over me.  Sharing this moment with Jess meant more than she’d ever know.  My plus one on this date was my plus one in life.  Yeah, crazy cheesy statement, but I’d rather say it’s extra buttery.  Movie pun win.

The West Texas Run & Shoot

Jessica and I started our weekend out early.  Friday was a day off, which is always much appreciated.  Thanks, Work!  So anyhow, we loaded up the Buick Enclave and headed out to San Angelo, TX.  Not quite the F-150 4×4 that we should have brought out there, but this is the family car.  This weekend would mark the 6th or 7th time I’ve attended the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children’s San Angelo Clay Shoot.  My first shoot ever happen at the San Angelo Claybird Association course in 2007, if I remember correctly. It was the first time I fell in love with the hospital.  That early morning, especially as a mid 20’s man, was foggy.  A late night of drinking, an early morning of cleaning my shotgun and the boss’s shotgun, as that’s what analysts are for after all, lead to a tired shoot.  But, for some reason, I found that shooting clays in a known flight path was kind of easy.  That morning I knew I’d keep shooting clays.  But it wasn’t until that afternoon, after another young man got up and shared his story of the hospital, that I knew I’d stay involved with the hospital too.

Imagine, for a second, a young man who was born without legs.  Whose family couldn’t afford the care he needed to fit him with prosthetics to give him the mobility most, no all, of us take for granted.  Imagine that impact hearing him talk about his triumphs but also never speaking of them as a “disability” but more as a challenge that was conquered.  It would take me years to realize that this young man wasn’t the exception, he was the norm.  The Scottish Rite Hospital is a place of acceptance, hope, success and an energy that can’t be explained unless you’re immersed in it.  And I will always be involved just as I said I would that day hearing that young man tell complete strangers how the hospital gave him free care, free prosthetics and free hope.

After that year, I told my Dad about the shoot.  I asked him to come to the San Antonio shoot that next year.  At that time, the hospital had 3 shoots a year.  San Antonio, Dallas then San Angelo.  My Dad came to all of them that year and saw the same thing I did.  He was sold. Every year, every shoot. We went if we could.  We got to the point that we would even coordinate our shirts.  I have pictures to prove it.  And I’ll say that every day I pick out a shirt for the shoots for here on out, I’ll always wonder what he’s wearing too.

So that’s my plug for the hospital.  But that’s not the reason for the post.  We left Dallas for San Angelo on Friday morning, as I mentioned.  And the post is about the day.  We got to the hotel in time to check in and then headed to the Friends of the Hospital dinner.  There we sat with friends, Ashely and Trip, and new friends too.  Miss Hattie’s Cafe & Saloon.  We both had the chicken fried steak.  Eat this.  So good.  I’m still full.

IMG_2207

The morning came early.  We faced cold and windy conditions.  But coffee.  So we (well decaf for her) could face anything with a little hot coffee.  It would end up being a tough course all in all.  Though I’ll say we were blessed on the course to be with people that care about us as much as we care about them.  “Friends” can mean a lot of things.  These types of friends are people that give without ever asking for anything.  Want proof?  Go back to our wedding photos and find John and Jamie in the background after miles of travel helping us celebrate our nuptials.  They remind me of a philosophy I adopted in college thanks to the Jim Carrey movie “Yes Man“, which is to always be willing to say yes to new experiences.

So we shot some stuff.  And had fun.  None of us won the raffle ticket shotguns that I’d hoped, but we did drink a free beer or two.  And that was enough.  Again, it’s all for the kids.

The next morning we awoke to wind, wind and more wind.  It was time to head to Lubbock up the scenic Highway 87.  As we ran up the road, we stopped several times to take in the scenery.  There were cotton fields, sunflower fields, and oil fields.  It’s really a beautiful drive when you look at it through another’s eyes.  Being married to a girl from Louisiana, you see the prairie lands a little different.

IMG_2218

We made it to Lubbock around 1 PM and hit the Crafthouse Gastropub where we ran into Erica Perry, Presley Perry, Darrin Kaucher, Abby Kaucher, and Miles Kaucher.  Of course we knew they’d be there since we’d talked to Zane Perry earlier, but it was a pleasant surprise.  We had some absolutely amazing brunch there.  Soon after, we headed off to my Mom’s house to pick her up for Jaden’s football game.  Jaden is my nephew; did I tell you that yet?  Well let me tell you.

IMG_2267

We snatched up Judith, my Mom, and took her to Monterey High School to watch his YFL game. They lost, though it was fun to watch him compete nonetheless.  After the game, we headed on home and the next part is for another post.

A Fall Saturday

Was it the day before Tyler’s birthday or just a random Saturday, October 4th?  Well both.  So Jess and I celebrated either way.  We woke up early to head to the pumpkin patch.  Though it was not an actual patch; we live in the city.  Previously, we talked about Walton’s as our preferred nursery, but we prefer Ruibal’s when it comes to buying pumpkins.  Equally as close, Ruibal’s is a really neat place.  They have giant pumpkins, small pumpkins, white pumpkins, green pumpkins, multicolored pumpkins… if you’re getting the reference to a Robert Rodriguez movie, sorry.  I love this time of year.  Particularly because it’s almost Halloween.  But fall is an amazing time of year.  I enjoy it almost as much as Jess.  And there’s an important piece to this pumpkin-themed acquisition.  Color.  We bought these crazy fire-colored plants called crotons.  See two types on the porch.

IMG_2160

Now you’re asking yourself… “Wow, that’s a giant pumpkin!  Lee must be really strong!”  You’re correct.  And my back hurts now.  It was really just a punishment for the massive amount of money we spent on buying me four new suits that morning.

But still focus on the overall picture above.  Don’t think about the fine fabric I will be dawning in two weeks.  That’s a heck of a fall outfit on our house, huh?  Well it continues to the kitchen.  We bought a three-tiered hors d’oeuvre stand.  And the second tier is now decorated. DO NOT EAT. Or try, but don’t complain to me.

IMG_2170

All this work got us hungry.  After our Son of a Butcher hot dogs, we decided to try to make our own.  I started the grill with a massive amount of lighter fluid. I’m a man.  It’s kind of important.  Well as I’m burning the midday oil, we found our little kittems under the bushes.  Georgia was doing her best Blue Steel look.

IMG_2178

Then we found Mille in her lioness pose.  We have such models.

IMG_2174_2

Speaking of a modelesque look… check out this guy. I’ll explain it to you since you can’t see what it’s called. The Ballast Point IPA I’m imbibing in this photo is called a Big Eye.  And now the light bulb above your cranium clicks.

IMG_2180

So the day dusked into evening and we were us again.  Just a happy couple enjoying a day together.  Laughing, swatting mosquitos, yelling at orange kitties invading our backyard, and smiling at each other.  Ready for what’s next and thankful for the day as it was.  Nothing more and nothing less. Be thankful for the days, the mornings, the evenings, and every moment in between.  I am.  Oh… so the result.  Yeah, we made some hot dogs.

IMG_2183

In retrospect, I’d say they needed to be on a hotdog bun instead of a baguette.  Maybe a little more stoneground mustard and some more spice.  But the day made up for all of it.  A wonderful, beautiful day.

The First Flutter

Last night as we were watching Bones, Jessica grabbed my hand and put it on her stomach.  I felt little Emerson flop around.  Not like she’s a fish on land or anything.  Maybe a better choice of words would be a flutter, a wiggle or a jostle.  Hey, is that where the name Jocelyn came from?  A really dance-happy baby?  Good thing we already have her name.  Anyhow, I digress.

Kind of a cool moment.  Thought I’d share.  Many to come, no doubt.

Dreams, Thoughts and Regrets

I’m trying so very hard not to make the early posts on this blog solely about the loss of my Dad and more about the hope we have moving forward as a family.  I want Emerson to read this blog one day and know that everything I’ve done has been for her.  She’ll already know that her mother loves her, cherishes her and makes so many sacrifices for her.  But I want Emerson to also know that her dad took “Honor thy Father” from Exodus 20:12 to heart. It means more to me than just a few words in the Bible.  It is real to me, but was real to me only because my father deserved it.  I want Emerson to think I deserve that too.

But I need to talk about my Dad now.  Or at least the memory of my Dad.  Emerson will never know him and that’s the one thing I can’t change other than to be the man that he taught me to be.

So where do you start with such an incredible task?  You don’t.  You build  You remember.  You remember the times he taught you patience in a deer blind.  You remember the time he cared enough to help you build a wind tunnel science project.  You remember the time he taught you the meaning of right and wrong by letting you do wrong and just watching you learn from it.  You remember him laughing at you getting a Ford Mustang stuck in the mud, but helping you out of it.  You remember a good man.  A great man.  A man that meant so much to your life and who you are.  And as you grow as a man you see just how similar you are to him.  And you’re proud to be a carbon copy of him.  To share his name.  To honor him through your actions.

His funeral was a beautiful tribute to the man he was.  Hearing his willingness to stop on the highway and help a strander traveler.  His love of all these children who weren’t his progeny.  And, to me, that was his greatest triumph.  My father loved my sister, who wasn’t his own.  Loved her to the point that I often felt he was more proud of her conversion from teen to adult than anything I ever did.  And, honestly, I loved that.  My sister’s friends had a father, often for the first times in their lives, because of my dad.  He was everything I want to be.

I have a dream every week about Lee Horn, Sr.  Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they don’t make sense, and sometimes I wake up crying.  I don’t mind those mornings either.  At least I had another moment with him.  I welcome those dreams.

So that’s dreams, thoughts but what about regrets?  My regrets are easy.  Simply not spending enough time with him.  I didn’t know he’d be gone when I was 33.  I didn’t know he’d lose a battle to a cancer that had a 90% survival rate at 63.  I simply didn’t know I should’ve spent more time with him.  And I absolutely regret that.

This morning I heard his voice again, like I do many days, on my voicemail.  I saved 3 messages from him over a 4 month period in 2013 when I thought things were turning worse.  And his voice is like it never left.  A harbor for me when my mind is adrift.

I don’t know how to end this post.  Not sure I’ll even post it.  But I had to write it, cry trying to say enough to honor him as he deserved, and ultimately feeling like no one will ever know him like I did.  But that’s exactly what I said to him as I held his hand during his final breaths.  I told him that he did everything he could to make me the man I am today. I am so very thankful my wife stood strong over my shoulder as I poured my heart out to my Dad telling him it was okay.  I told him that I could handle it as he let go from this world to watch over us in Heaven.  It wasn’t easy for him, I assure you.  It was a vision I’ll never forget.  The first time he opened his eyes in days.  To look at his son who was telling him that it was okay to leave us here.  That we had it from here.  That he’d better serve us, as he always served his fellow human, from Heaven now instead of in this mortal body.

But, Dad.  I have to say this here.  I miss you dearly.  I lay in bed missing you at night just to hear your advice.  It’s not fair.  I lay silently spilling tears onto my pillow so I don’t upset my wife, just like you taught me.  I find myself wishing I could just talk to you in person again, not just find you in prayer.  I find solace in prayer, in church.  Knowing you’re hearing me.  Thinking that in just a few moments in your timeline, we’ll all be up there celebrating with you. But on this mortal Earth, I miss you.  I miss you every day and I want you to hear that.  I love you.

Sunday Landscapes

Sundays are typically busy days for the soon-to-be parents called the Horns.  We wake up early to cats in the blinds (sounds like an Always Sunny reference) and eat breakfast before church.   Then we do some churching and start our weekly errands.  Mostly grocery shopping at two different places because we’re in Dallas and that’s just how it goes.  And occasionally we’ll do a little home improving.  This Sunday would be that.  A lot.  Jessica took our sweet garden sheers and got to hacking away at the holly bushes or whatever bush the 60’s houses all seemed to demand.  This picture is what we started with.  Then we made our way to our local nursery, Walton’s Garden Center.  Jess had drawn out the plans, measured the space and had her vision.  I’m the laborer in this story.  You’ll see that as a common theme.

IMG_3483

Look at that.  Just an empty landscape waiting for da Vinci’s touch. Come and get me, Lee.  And I did.  Digging up them little sonsawitches isn’t easy.  It takes an axe, a shovel, beer and patience.  Luckily, I had all of those things.  Boom.

IMG_2141

Are you seeing the irony of my shirt?  And if you’re curious what victory tastes like… it’s equal parts Sam Adams Rebel IPA, sweat, dirt, blood and awesomeness.  So I keep going.  I think that was the first of the four Medusa heads I extracted from the earth.  Jess helped too, I guess.  Oh and Millie helped…

IMG_2148

You’ll see the lawn taking a little shape now with that little plant to the right of Millie.  Don’t ask me what it’s called because I don’t know.  All I know is that I suffered many a mosquito bite trying to pick them out and then digging in the yard.  They’re still everywhere. It’s almost October.  Go away and watch playoff baseball or whatever it is you do, little bloodsuckers.  Anyhow, I was on a mission to finish this yard crash.  Determined to own this curb appeal.  Other clever references to landscaping shows on TV.

IMG_2152

And thusly it’s complete.  In total, I think it took us around 3.5 hours.  Enough time to finish and watch the Cowboys game though.  But I was out of beer and energy.  Still though, that’s looking pretty good.  Way to go, wife.  You rock.

White Rock Farmers Market

IMG_3468

Son of a Butcher hot dog at the White Rock Farmers Market.

I woke up on Saturday morning realizing I’d spent Thursday night watching my Red Raiders get destroyed at a friend’s house and then Friday night with some new friends out and about in Uptown.  Clearly, I hadn’t spent enough time with my wife.  Well I wanted to fix that.  I mean she’s like 22 weeks pregnant after all. So I thought about The League and maybe it should be Terrific Lady Day.  We were heading to A Pea in the Pod first and then to Athleta.  Pants are apparently tough on pregnant ladies.

So the plan of the day was to start around 11:30 AM or 12:00 PM and head straight to the store, but the farmer’s market caught our eyes and we had to stop.  Good thing we did.  We ended up with some Thai chilies, a new spice from Chef Milton and a jar of spicy pickles from In a Pickle.  Basically a successful hour and a half and a very good reason I find it hard to want to move to the ‘burbs.

My motivation for getting all of this done early was to get home and watch the LA Tech game against Auburn.  And I kind of wish I hadn’t seen it.  Not that I had great hopes or anything but damn.

The night ended with some episodes of Bones on Netflix Instant and then a bourbon chilled by a giant ice cube.  So I’ll wrap it up like this.  Delicious hot dog, football, bourbon.  Win.

Pre-Church Meal: Love Goes First

IMG_3456

This morning we actually woke up on time, no thanks to Georgia and Millie for waking us up at 3, 4 and 5 AM just in case.  “On time” means “treat time” to me.  So we ventured over to Village Baking Co. on University by US-75 as we used to do when we attended a different church with the same moniker.  Nowadays, we are Munger Place returning visitors.  Jess and I haven’t taken the plunge into full-blown membership quite yet, but that’s coming.

Today, as we sat in the church parking lot stuffing faces with delicious pastries such as the one pictured above known as the plain (though it’s anything but) something or other in French, we didn’t know what the third part of the Come Home series at church was going to be.  It was all about putting fears aside and love going first.

Jess and I have been reading a verse a night from the Good Book over dinner, attending church on Sundays, and really starting our home down a path that will, God-willing, put Emerson in a place to know God before we both did in our individual lives.  Jess is much better at all of this than I am as she’s in a regular Bible study on Mondays too, but as a man, I’m supposed to be the leader of the family.  A  challenge to come, but one I’m willing to fight for.

Something important I would say to Emerson today if I knew she could hear me – Love God first.  Love yourself and then love your family.  Those dominoes should always fall in that order.  Always be true to yourself and love who you are even if that’s a little different.

Also, go clean your room.

20 Years & 18 Weeks Before Emerson Gets to Read This Post

Another weekend in the books.  Well, not technically, but we have 18 weeks before we meet Ms. Emerson.  Yes, I’ve converted to the Louisiana colloquialisms of saying a title and then a first name instead of a last, like I was raised.  Sue me.

But really the weekend is still in the works; I’m just counting down weeks either ending or starting on Fridays because of this What to Expect App on Jess’s phone.

Anyhow, we left our lovely home in Dallas and took the 3.5 jaunt to Grand Cane, LA to see Jess’s parents on Thursday night after work.  Our mission was secret.  Clandestine lunches in Bossier City.  Danger at Silver Star Smokehouse.

The weekend was great.  As it always seems to be when around family.  But my biggest complaint was two-fold.  One, we never got a delicious daiquiri from the convenient stores like only LA can provide.  Two, we never picked up a 12 pack of Bud Light for Mr. Moore.  What kind of son-in-law am I?  Seriously.  I’m surprised Ronny hasn’t hurt me yet.

We left Saturday morning after a lovely breakfast prepared by my wonderful wife and her mother, Charlene.  Off to Dallas.  And on our way, I picked up some local brews from the only craft brewery in Shreveport, LA. It’s called Great Raft Brewing Co. and I bought two sixers being the Southern Drawl and the Commotion APA.

IMG_2090

So the first thing you’ll probably notice is all the fall decor instead of the cans of beer.  As penance for my purchases, I was forced to stop the Enclave in Canton, TX, a mere 50 miles from our domicile.  There, the fine salespeople of Paul Michael Co. sold us a plethora of fall festive foam leaves and other such items.  I think there are now 5 decorative pumpkins and a duck, which I’m kind of partial too, if I’m to be honest.

Oh the beer.  So Commotion APA is like a light IPA, as by definition.  I enjoy.  The Southern Drawl is like a light Heineken, which is just odd but drinkable.  I’m a hoppy kind of guy, so I’ll always go with the IPA.

The Fleeg and The Stace are inbound and thusly I’m outbound to not dress exactly like him for once.  Stampede 66 for dinner in about an hour.  Have an enjoyable evening as well.