Forgetting Galveston – Uncharted Waters

Those of you who’ve followed Fork for a while know that life is a song for me – literally. Nearly every minute of every day, something, someone or just a random word or phrase sets a song a playin’ in my head. Y’all can just imagine what last week was like. Night and day, day and night it was:

Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea winds blowin’.

Glen Campbell’s hit, Galveston, was released in 1969. I was 12. Because of the era, many thought the song was about the Vietnam War, but according to song writer Jimmy Webb, he was picturing a battle during The Spanish-American War, with the cannons blazing in Galveston.

Music wasn’t the only thing on my mind as Galveston got stuck on repeat. I also thought about the artist and his decision to tour with his family one last time, before Alzheimer’s claims his ability to perform. In a recent interview, Campbell discussed the diagnosis he received earlier this year.

“I’m fine,” the 75-year-old singer and guitarist said during a chat in the kitchen of his home in Malibu. “It’s just sometimes days are better than other ones. But that’s going on your whole life.  Well, not your whole life.” Then he pulled out a quip: “One guy asks another, ‘You lived around here your whole life?’ The other guy says, ‘Not yet!’ ” ~ The New York Times

I can’t overstate my admiration for people like Campbell and Tennessee Vols coach Pat Summitt, for sharing their journey into the unthinkable unknown.

If you’re not familiar with Pat Summitt, she’s the all-time winningest coach (men’s or women’s in any division), in NCCA basketball history. I saw her interview with Robin Roberts on 20/20. She’s quite a lady. She was diagnosed with early-onset dementia last summer at age 59.


My heart and prayers are with my friend, Debby, who is flying from Florida to the West coast next week to visit her Mama who no longer remembers that she has a daughter. Debby can’t even call her Mama because it confuses and upsets her. I can’t imagine the heartache.

Oh, love. If you can’t accept a few grey clouds in your own heart, you’d never understand the centuries of midnight in mine. ~ Elizabeth Butler, Surrender

For those of you who’ve been asking, we’re fine. We don’t have a job yet. We’re waiting to join a rig that’s moving in a week. When I have moments that I’m tempted to get discouraged about finances, or any minor inconvenience, my thoughts turn to people like Glen and Pat and Debby and her Mama who are bravely navigating uncharted waters. My life is so easy.



Galveston, oh Galveston, I am so afraid of dying
Before I dry the tears she’s crying
Before I watch your sea birds flying in the sun
At Galveston, at Galveston

Some Explanation Required

1. towel rack stuck in slide,  jamming it completely so it wouldn’t open or close

2. dropped the 5th wheel in the truck bed (UNHOOKING!)

3. couldn’t find a station that sold diesel and ran out of gas

4. hit an orange construction cone

5. back flushed the septic system in my face

6. can’t light the oven

7. had my credit card denied

8. didn’t get a ticket or have an accident, but still have 450 miles to go…

8. too tired to proof read, done for and done in

9. more to come

Heat fatigue





Heat Fatigue – A factor that predisposes an individual to heat fatigue is lack of acclimatization. The use of a program of acclimatization and training for work in hot environments is advisable. The signs and symptoms of heat fatigue include impaired performance of skilled sensorimotor, mental, or vigilance jobs. There is no treatment for heat fatigue except to remove the heat stress before a more serious heat-related condition develops.

A New Blog by Debbie

It’s June 1st! The beginning of a new month and the beginning of a new blog for me. I’ve decided my quandary about which direction to go with Fork is best answered by launching a second blog. Well  not launching really, more like quietly beginning a different type of journey.

I’ll continue to write  here at Fork. I’ve tried, sometimes harder than others, to keep Fork a pretty politically correct place. You’ve let me know when I’ve crossed that invisible line. I’m guessing from the comments, many of you who read regularly, read Fork because you’re interested in gate guarding or full-time RV Living.

After 5 months of writing about oil rigs, Texas and the weather, I find myself veering off in other directions. I’ve tried to keep Fork true to its roots, but there are things I’d love to write about that just don’t fit here. And I’ve noticed, there’s not a whole lot of me here.

Today, I’m adding yet another road less traveled. The new blog is called Grace in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1  If you like Fork, you may like this, too, but not necessarily. It’s entirely different as you can probably guess from the name.

And yes, I know, I should have called it Good Night Moon. Tomorrow or the next day, it will  be Fork as usual here. As always, thanks for reading! dlb

You can check out this link if you’re interested. Or you can come back here in a day or two and read about how the grass really is always greener…

Grace in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1

Leave the Drama to TNT

Drama is like life with the dull bits cut out. ~ Alfred Hitchcock

I’ve only had a DVR since January. A DVR for a person who works nights at a gate on an oil rig is akin to the advent of Tupperware for the 60’s housewife. It’s almost calls for a party!

It’s usually around 3 am when I shut down the computer. By this time the trucks have slowed to an occasional rumble, the tarantulas have ceased their bouncing and the calves have gotten tired of licking the lawn chair.

I have about 2 hours where I read or watch TV. With my limited Direct TV package, I still get quiet a number of channels, and most are in English. Several sell knives and diamonds for hours and hours. I find this to be remarkable, but there must be an audience because every night, if I turn the TV on at 3 am, there they are, selling more rings and cutlery.

When I choose to watch TV, I often choose drama. If you want drama, what better place to go than to TNT.

TNT KNOWS DRAMA! Each episode starts out: The Drama of: Bones, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Law and Order continues next on TNT!

That’s exactly where I like my drama – on TNT, on TV, where I can shut it off anytime. An added plus is that, while these are real people I’m watching, they’re actors and the story is pretend.

It’s a lot like real life drama: real people, acting out. Every small thing gains traction with each retelling. The great basketball coach, Dean Smith once said: If you’re going to make every game a matter of life or death, you’re going to have a lot of problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot. Point taken.

I have a propensity towards the excessive use of adjectives, superlatives, and maybe even adverbs. I can say less in more words than almost anybody. But, I’m not given to drama. I don’t get the appeal, but that’s just me. People proudly proclaim their status as a Drama Queen (or King). I find this degree of neediness a little alarming, and exhausting.  Seriously, sometimes don’t you just want to say: Cut! or That’s a Wrap! and shut down the set?

I can’t count how many times, just this week, I’ve heard (or read on FB or in emails) I’m so tired of all the drama. Drama is the new neurosis of the bored and restless.

A friend of a friend said: My day doesn’t really get started until I’ve had at least one good argument. Notice I said a friend of a friend. This may indeed be a lovely person but we don’t have friendship potential; way too much drama for me. I don’t understand the draw but there’s a lot I don’t understand, like ordering knives on TV.

I hear regularly from people who are considering leaving the corporate world and living full-time in an RV or even taking a run at gate guarding. I don’t want to be misleading.

There is drama here, too. Last night, two calves confused me for a salt lick (it was hot and I was wearing a white t-shirt, but still…) and this morning a wren decided to nest inside the RV.

That much drama, I can handle. The rest I’ll leave to TNT.

What Not to Say When Someone is Grieving

In the world of grief, I’m still an apprentice. I think most people sincerely want to bring comfort to the grieving but just don’t know how. I had a conversation after yesterday’s post with someone who thinks I was being a bit too critical. Their position is that it’s the intent, not the words, that matter.

That’s caused me to  rethink what I write tonight. Instead of being philosophical, I’m just going to list some things that were said to me that, however well intended, hurt more than helped. In italics, I’m including my reactions. I didn’t say any of these things. I didn’t say much at all. I’m not proud of everything I thought, but I wanted to honestly offer a glimpse of the inside of a hurting heart.

When I miscarried near the end of my second trimester:

At least you already have a girl and a boy   I love them more than life. How does that, or gender have anything to do with this baby
This is just God’s way of taking care of His mistake   God is taking care of HIS mistake, I don’t think so
God needed another angel   God doesn’t need anything and He certainly wouldn’t change His mind, halfway through
It wasn’t a real person anyway  Yes he was and I already was in love with him
Remember, God is in control  I never doubt that, although I have no idea what you mean when you say it
You should have taken better care of yourself   I didn’t even take an aspirin or drink a cup of coffee
It’s been a month, you need to get over it   Is there a secret grief time-table
I had a miscarriage 20 years ago and it ruined my life   Well, that was encouraging
It was your fault: you shouldn’t have gone on vacation, played tennis etc…  Believe me, I wonder every moment if I did something to cause this or could have done something to prevent it
I was 28, heart-broken and already an expert in guilt. I never brought the topic up, but I got to the point of cringing when someone new would approached me. Most people were very kind. There were many wonderful people who hugged me, or said how sorry they were or who reassured me of their love and prayers. But I’m highlighting these comments to try to illustrate that, yes, the words do matter.

Twenty years later, when my parents died 11 months a part, I was less vulnerable to the effects of other people’s opinions and remarks, but I was rather stunned by these comments; most said in the visitation line at the funeral home:

I’ve never watched anyone die. What was it like?  Are you really asking me to describe the 18 hr death rattle, or how it felt to watch them tie my father’s jaw shut? Or are you asking what it was like let go of my mother’s hand for the last time
You had her for 50 years. You shouldn’t be sad. My Mom died when I was 23   Imagine how huge a hole 50 years leaves
She’s an angel now   Actually, angels and humans are different creations, you don’t die and turn into an angel
Think of the example you’re setting for your children when you cry  My ‘children’ are in their 20’s, they’re all grown up,and I promise, they’ve seen me cry before
At least you won’t have to take care of them anymore  Taking care of them was an honor, not a burden
They’re looking down on you, watching everything you do  OK, that is just creepy
You need to… I quit listening as soon as you started giving me advice
• When my dog died, I didn’t think I would ever recover  I quit listening as soon as you said dog
I know just how you feel  You have no idea how I feel
Time is the great healer  Time isn’t some mystical, magical thing  Time alters grief, it doesn’t heal it
You’re Mom and Dad wouldn’t want you to be sad   My Mom and Dad would find my sorrow honoring, not embarrassing
Every cloud has a silver lining  In addition to being trite, I have no idea what that has to do with this moment
I know what you’re going through, I…  I quit listening when you started telling your story
Your Mom wouldn’t want you to cry  If you really believe that, you don’t know the first thing about my Mom
This isn’t about you, it’s about them You couldn’t be more wrong. They’re gone, I’m here. This is absolutely about me
They’re in a better place  Of course they are. I’m not grieving for them, I’m grieving for me, here, without them

I believe it does matter what you say if you don’t want to hurt the hurting.

Don’t say: I know how you feel; Don’t use clichés and platitudes; Don’t try to help the grieving person gain perspective; Don’t minimize the pain; Don’t speak for God (He can speak for Himself); Don’t speak for dead people; Don’t blame the grieving person; Don’t decide how long or in what fashion they can grieve; Don’t use this as a teaching/preaching moment; Don’t try to fix it

Do say: I’m so sorry; I love you; I miss them, too; I have such special memories of when we… Give a hug; Send a card that just says ‘I’m grieving with you’; Send a gift certificate for pizza or carry out; Say a prayer

Today would have been my Mom and Dad’s 67th anniversary. I’d like to leave this topic with a song by Andrew Peterson. It’s only 3 minutes long. There is More.

What Do You Say to a Heart That’s Breaking?

What do you say to a heart that’s breaking? Not a whole lot.

Yesterday I mentioned my qualms about saying: I’m sorry for your loss.  This reminds me of the e cards where they ask: Don’t know what to say? Pick one of our suggested messages. But the truth is, we often don’t know what to say when someone is grieving.

I think the first thing to let go of is the need to make things better.

1.There is nothing I can say that will change the circumstances of another’s suffering.

2.There is nothing I should say to try to change the perspective of the person in pain.

How often have people tried to help you by trying to talk you out of your pain? As I talk about grief, it’s without qualifying it or ranking it on my arbitrary scale. Grief is grief. It’s terribly unfair to say one person’s is worse than another’s. If someone is grieving, their pain is large. If you feel they brought in on themselves or that they’re over reacting, walk away. This is not a teaching moment.

I believe what helps a heart that’s breaking is patient, gentle, loving support, offered in the way the hurting person prefers to receive it, not necessarily in the way I prefer to give it. So I have to begin by asking myself, am I invited? Are we close enough that I’m a safe sanctuary for your broken heart, or do I just want you to know that I care?

If we’re not close, I’m not likely to be the person that can offer true comfort. I can bring a meal, wash the dishes, tell you how terribly sorry I am. I can pray and I can remain available. I may even be able to take your hand for a few moments or sit quietly in the same room. But sharing in the sorrow and anger and fear of your grief is something I earn through relationship, not something that I can force in the midst of crisis.

If we are close, and your heart is grieving, it’s my job to let you chose when and if you want to talk. Sometimes, you may say let’s talk about the weather or let’s just take a walk or you may want to hear some trivial tale, a temporary diversion, unrelated to your struggle. It’s a time to restrain the instinct to prod and probe. It’s your story so it’s up to you to decide how much, how often and how deeply to share it.

There have been times when my heart was breaking and I’ve said, I don’t want to talk about this anymore, it hurts too much. The topic is changed but my heart is so consumed that in a few moments, I’m the one, once again, bringing up bits and pieces of the pain. Sometimes I’ve wanted solitude. Solitude has been five minutes of wailing in the bathroom with the fan on and the water running. And solitude has been hours of staring off into a world of memories.

Which leads to the next suggestion: Don’t expect the hurting heart to know what it wants. Be steadfast, patient and freely extend grace. That may sound easy, but riding in the emotional surf of grief with someone can be bewildering. One moment you may be pulled in close and the next, pushed away. It feels personal. If you’re unacquainted with grief yourself, staying gentle and steady will be even more of a struggle.

Possibly the greatest mistake I can make is thinking that I know what you need by putting myself in your place. That would be figuring out what I imagine I would need. It wouldn’t be listening to your hurting heart and answering in the ways that are the most comforting for you. It isn’t something that has to be, or even can done perfectly. But I don’t believe that sincerity alone is enough.

So much damage is done when we grieve the grieving. If we’re invited into someone’s heart at such a fragile time, then I think we’re responsible to enter thoughtfully and with a willingness to step outside of our own experience. It’s a time for grace.

Tomorrow I’d like to look at what not to say to the heart that’s breaking. Once again, I value your perspective.

She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.  ~George Eliot

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word by Elton John was huge a hit  in 1976. I’m wondering if the word sorry is still a hard word to say today? It can be a balm, or a bane.

Growing up, saying I’m sorry was serious business in my family. I don’t remember needing to be prompted. I’m more of the over-apologizing type. Occasionally, I was mostly sorry because of the consequences. Usually, I was truly sorry when my behavior had an adverse affect on someone else. Sometimes both came into play, like the one-and-only time I ever stuck my tongue out at my Mom. It had an adverse affect on her heart and on my bottom.

Like Love and Hate, Sorry used to be a strong word. It was difficult to say because it meant something. Sorry from a sincere heart or choked out through tears is a balm. Sorry said with a raised eyebrow, or a hint of a smile is a bane.

Bane first: Oh, I took your parking spot. Sorry. I spilled my latte on your jacket. Sorry. I dinged your car door. Sorry about that. You lost your job. Sorry to hear it. I hurt you. I’m sorry you feel that way. (implied: you’re so thin-skinned)

Often, somewhere hidden in I’m sorry is a lack of compassion tainted with the innuendo of guilt. You brought it on yourself; other people have it so much worse; get a life; get over yourself; or any of many other less than genuine expressions of care and concern. When used that way, sorry is the social band-aid that doesn’t heal what ails us.

The real sorry:


–adjective, -ri·er, -ri·est.

1. feeling regret, compunction, sympathy, pity, etc.: to be sorry for a remark; to be sorry for someone in trouble.
2. regrettable or deplorable; unfortunate; tragic: a sorry situation; to come to a sorry end.
3. sorrowful, grieved, or sad
When we’re truly sorry, in any of the ways described above, sorry is a kind and tender word.
Over the course of the next few nights, I’d like to begin a dialogue with you. To start with, I keep hearing a phrase over and over that really bothers me. I’m not questioning the intent, only the value:
I’m sorry for your loss.

What does that mean? I hear it in conversations and on TV in everything from Criminal Minds to Reality TV to commercials. This week I’ve heard it applied to: the death of a loved one; lost car keys; the end of a relationship; the death of a pet; a disappointing outcome; a poker game; the stock market and a car repo.
It’s become the thing to say when we don’t know what to say, or in some cases, just don’t want to bother.
It feels insipid and trite to me. Wouldn’t it be better to stop with a simple I’m so sorry or to add something substantial when there’s more to say? How do you shrink the death of a spouse or a parent or a child into something as small as a loss?
For the next few nights, I’d like to look at the things we say when someone is hurting: not as an academic discussion but because right now, so many people I love are in a world of hurt. If you’re not comfortable with that, this would be a good week to read something else.
If you’re willing to share your thoughts and feelings, I’d be honored.
Tomorrow’s topic: What do you say to a heart that’s breaking? I’d love your input.

Goodnight Moon

Tonight is the night everyone’s talking about the ‘supermoon’.  I’m sure it’s indeed brilliant and beautiful. I took pictures last night. Tonight is just overcast enough to hide it. The moon doesn’t have to appear 14% larger or 30% brighter to impress me. I’ve loved the moon since I was 3. It all began in that great green room…

“In the great green room
there was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of–

The cow jumping over the moon

and there were three little bears, sitting on chairs

and two little kittens and a pair of mittens

and a little toy house and a young mouse

and a comb and a brush and bowl full of mush

and a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”

Goodnight room

goodnight moon

goodnight cow jumping over the moon

goodnight light and the red balloon

goodnight bears goodnight chairs

goodnight kittens goodnight mittens

goodnight clocks and goodnight socks

goodnight little house and goodnight mouse

goodnight comb and goodnight brush

goodnight nobody goodnight mush

and goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush”

goodnight stars, goodnight air

goodnight noises everywhere.”

~Margaret Wise Brown

Thank you, Margaret. Goodnight moon…