My neighbor, Phil, retired yesterday from the City of Garland after 25 years of service.
I can’t imagine what that is like.
I haven’t done anything besides live for 25+ years straight. I still have a few years to go before I can say I’ve been a mom for 25 years and I can wait on that one.
Phil is a tinkerer when he’s not working.
He spends most of his time in his garage, driveway, and backyard with various projects. He has rebuilt numerous cars and engines, is always customizing his wife’s current ride, a 280 Z (I’m not sure about the year) with a Corvette engine that’s been restored to a bright yellow, and there’s always some house repair/upkeep to keep him busy.
But his projects aren’t always so mainstream.
I’ll never forget looking out my kitchen window early one Saturday morning to see a structure much like an oil derrick rising into the air from Phil and Margie’s backyard.
It was a West Texas windmill.
Phil had grown up somewhere on the western side of Texas and had a hankering for a windmill. However, in the five and a half years since he erected the structure he has never attached the windmill blades.
Can’t find the right size blades he says. He did, however, hang a light from the top of it during the holidays to illuminate his backyard, and has a couple of blades stuck in the lower latticework.
I have to admit I was a bit annoyed that morning by the clatter created by its planting and the permanent change in view from my kitchen window, but now I can’t imagine looking outside and not seeing it.
There have been other uniquely Phil projects over the years.
There was the canoe trailer built with and for his friend Eddie that doubled as a picnic table (pictured below), and the wagon he built especially for his outings to the flea markets. It was impressive. He welded two wagons together for extra length and attached wheels on the front and back that turned a special way so as to shorten the turning radius.
But hands down my favorite Phil project because I’ve benefited from it over the years is his smoker.
I had noticed two old bathtubs sitting in Phil’s driveway and I chuckled when he explained what he was going to do with them – build a smoker. One would be the lid; the other would be the body.
I’m not sure if anyone else would have seen a smoker (pictured below) in those two old pieces of iron, but Phil did. Had I been able to foresee the results I would have kept my chuckling to myself and offered to help him finish the project sooner.
Phil’s smoked brisket is divine and every Christmas since the birth of the smoker I’ve been the recipient of a succulent smoked turkey. It makes my mouth water to just to write about it.
He makes his own rub and gave me a jar of it so I could give a try at smoking a brisket on my own. I have yet to do this and hope I have some rub left when I have time for this experiment as I take a little taste of it every now and then when the mood strikes. I might save myself from nibbling it away if I stashed the bottle at the back of the cabinet somewhere.
Phil (pictured above) is in charge of smoking all the meat for our yearly neighborhood block party. He stays up all night to accomplish this task and is exhausted by the end of the evening. That’s ok because with the help of a couple of beers (and maybe a couple of extra) no one’s seen a 50-something-year-old man dance quite like that.
I’m sure Phil did some dancing last night after his official retirement and he’ll be dancing from here on out. I asked him what he thought this next Monday morning was going to feel like and he said he wasn’t sure. I think I’m in shock, he said.
I have a good view of Phil’s driveway from my home office window. I don’t think he’ll break out into dance without a party, but I will be keeping an eye out for his next project.
With more time on his hands than he’s ever had I may see blades on that windmill yet.
Victory Media Network Unveiling: Friday night, January 19, benefiting Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $100 each.
According to the Victory Media Network website, "The Victory Media Network® will be the first large-scale, outdoor digital arts gallery in the world ... Incorporated within the striking architecture of Victory Plaza will be eleven large, high-resolution LED screens. Eight of these screens -- four on each side of the Plaza -- will move along horizontal tracks to allow for a myriad of configurations and motion possibilities. These screens can also be combined in sets of four to create 31' x 53' "super screens" with HD resolution. High fidelity sound and an extensive theatrical lighting system will heighten the experience to an immersive level." Here are some images from the website.
Last summer they ran a contest for artists to submit photos and other artworks to display on the giant screens. Some of the selections are displayed on the Victory website at the above link. Be sure to click on "Watch the VMN trailer" to get a better idea of what the area will look like.
The party will be tented and there is also outdoor access, DJs spinning tunes and so much more. Socialwhirl.com will be there with photographer taking party pics, along with most of the media in town.
"Think masks, crowns, hats, boas and feathers," says JB Hayes, chairman. "The attire is Mardi Gras masquerade cocktail, so masks are a must!"
The party features the very cool D VIP Lounge for underwriters sponsored by D Home and D magazine. Surrounding the band's stage and huge dance floor will be tables with seating for guests, gambling, tarot card reader, bartenders pouring champagne, wines and everything else.
The Belo Mansion will rock away to the powerful blues tunes from Dallas' own Edwin Holt and his 12-piece Conspiracy Band. The stage will be a very happening place. This is the perfect event for parents to enjoy with their adult children, friends and couples to make a fun night of complete partying: food, dancing, great silent auction items and the people watching is its own party. The food is served buffet-style at stations all over the Belo Mansion Pavilion, so there is no fancy sit-down dinner. So you and your friends party and dance until midnight!
And for the lunch bunch, Tom E. Garcia, Managing Director, The Adolphus presents Authors at The Adolphus, Thursday, January 25. luncheon and book signing with Mireille Guiliano, author of "French Women Don't Get Fat" presenting "French Women for All Seasons ... A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure." 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Valet parking included. $59 per person. Reservations required. Contact: Samual M. Leonard at
You can help now. Even $20 helps someone. I like knowing that spending $100 on charity, giving even $20 to five different families in need, may help. If we all gave something, think of the impact.
An example: A Dallas police officer who was shot on duty and is still in severe pain. Can't get a job. He is looking for a home for his cat because he is going to be evicted and homeless. Link to his story:
Business Executive Vows to Lose Weight and Run Mile in 6.5 minutes for a Good Cause
or Why Don Kelly’s golfing buddies at Gleneagles Country Club signed up to bet against him and support a good cause at the same time
Don Kelly is a charitable gentleman, a dad whose son is getting married soon and a guy who, frankly, needs to lose some weight. So, when his golfing buddies challenged him to get in good enough shape to run a mile in 6.5 minutes by December 2nd, he made their challenge even sweeter by convincing them to put down their own money and offered to match the funds, all to benefit charity.
“I am somewhat overwhelmed by all of this,” Kelly said. This bet made by two friends has turned into an event supported by over 100 golfers and friends. There is even a poster of him in the bar and a sign up sheet. And they’re all betting against him.
So far, over $8,000 has been pledged, which Kelly will match, equaling at least $16,000 to be donated to Special Care & Career Services, a non profit organization they all support.
Kelly is 6’ 2” and weighs about 265 pounds. His goal is to reach 225 pounds.
“I’m happy at that weight and have already lost 20 pounds in three and a half weeks,” he replied. “I’ll give it my best shot.” But losing weight isn’t the bet. It’s running the mile in 6.5 minutes and he doesn’t know how that will turn out.
Mickey Wszolek, general manager of Gleneagles Country Club, along with the golf director, have not only pledged their personal funds, but have committed the club to the cause. A portion of one of the club’s golf courses will be shut down on the afternoon of Saturday, December 2nd.
The crowd will gather around 3:00 and Don will take to the path that runs from hole numbers 12, 2, 17 and 18. “Oh, they’ll all be there in their golf carts,” he replied. “These guys have all stepped up to the plate. It’s just wonderful.”
“This is an incredibly fun and creative spin on fundraising,” said Cathy Packard, executive director, Special Care & Career Services. “Although it’s not at all surprising that the instigators are our Board members, Geoff Miller and Chris Griffith. They sent a joint letter to Don for our Friends and Family Fundraising campaign that inspired his turning losing weight into an event and they’ve raised about $16,000 and the pot continues to grow. All of SCCS has gotten hooked on tracking this event, it’s brightened up our Board meetings and our staff has entered into the game with their contributions! We especially offer our heartfelt thanks to Don Kelly, his friends and everyone who has pledged to contribute and look forward to seeing everyone on December 2nd!”
Special Care & Career Services has always been on the forefront in developing programs that promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of the community – where we live, work & play. Since 1963 Special Care & Career Services has assisted thousands of children and adults with developmental disabilities lead independent lives. In 2006, the organization's two exemplary programs impacted more than 1200 individuals with disabilities: Early Childhood Intervention and Supported Employment Services.
Special Care & Career Services mission is providing services to children and adults with developmental disabilities so they can lead fulfilling lives in their communities. To that end they provide education, therapy and training to help their clients reach their full potential. Chartered in 1963, the services include Early Childhood Intervention for children birth to 3 years old and Supported Employment Services for adults. Both are regarded as model programs by the community. The ECI program is recognized as a “Best Practices” study site by the Early Childhood Intervention Services Division of the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.