Friday, August 27, 2010

Speed racers

Pattie's cookies were a hit!!

Perfect dad?

Is there such a thing as the perfect dad? When I was little I thought so. When I was little I adored my dad.

I loved that my dad worked in construction. I still love and smile every single time I pass by a construction site. I loved that he took me to work often when I wasn't in school and when I could drive I could go up there and eat lunch with dad anytime I wanted. Dad wore jeans to work and so could I. I loved that my dad would pick take me to the Post Office with him before work and we got to go to the P.O. Box and get all the mail for the office (which was called Lions Country which I also loved that it was called that). Then when we got there dad would let me go around with him to all the offices and hand out the mail. I am sure dad could have gotten someone else to do that for him but I think he loved going around and talking to all the people as much as I did. I still remember a lot of the people he worked with like his best friend Pete and Bozelle and the guy that took me to get a McDonald's sundae every time I went in to visit.

I loved that my dad encourage me in sports and made a commitment to go to every single game I ever had ever. From the time I was 5 and he made me play on the boys basketball team (b/c the girls basketball team was shooting underhand) until I graduated high school varsity. Maybe I could have gone to a school other than UT to play basketball but as discussed yesterday that wasn't an option and that I just wasn't good enough to be a Lady Longhorn though thanks to my dad that had been a childhood dream. I went to Lady Longhorn basketball camp every summer and my dad took me. He came to every volleyball game, every track meet. He was there. He might have been yelling and screaming at me, the ref, and Kelly from the rival team to "get off her back!!!". But he was there. Except for soccer. He hated soccer as do most Americans and since later soccer tore my ACL I have to now agree with him on that one.

I loved that every Sunday my dad made Daddy Breakfast. Daddy breakfast consisted of and entire package of bacon, a giant plate of scrambled eggs (cooked in the bacon grease) complete with chopped chives fresh from our garden, homemade hash browns these were potatoes that he would bake first and then chop and fry up with onions, bell peppers and garlic and then a stacked high half a loaf of buttered white bread with jelly. Dad would dip his jelly toast in his coffee, we thought that was sooo gross.

I loved that my dad loved UT so much and loved to collect stray animals and then give them all baths all the time (or throw them int he pool to see if they could swim - the best swimmer was the snake!). I loved that my dad loved practical jokes and April Fool's. I love now (not then) that my dad loved to embarrass me - for example if I asked my mom to drop me off a block from school she did it - if I asked my dad he would DRIVE UP ONTO THE CURB of school honking wildly and screaming "good bye heather I love you!!!".

I love that my dad loved his records so much and shred them all with me, he used to make us listen to them all the time and he cultivated my love for 'The Beatles', 'Phil Ochs', 'Simon and Garfunkle', 'Janis Joplin', 'Jimmi Hendrix', and hundreds more. I have them all now and make my kids listen to them.

I love that he loved M*A*S*H and watched every episode multiple times and he made me watch them multiple times!

I love that my dad called me every single solitary day of my life up until the day he died. Usually multiple times a day and usually just to tell me something funny that had just happened or he had just seen. Even if I had talked to mom that didn't count as talking to him. This happened from the day I left for college until the day before he died. I tried to call him the day he died and tell him that Willie Nelson was on Howard Stern "two of his favorite people" and he wasn't able to talk to me, that was when I knew things were not going to be OK.

As I got older I stopped adoring my dad so much and started seeing all of his faults. No he wasn't perfect, there are a lot of stories untold that I will never tell that don't need to be told. I went through a period of time where I didn't talk to dad and I was angry about this that or the other. I envied people as I went to their weddings that seemed to have "perfect dads" who would get up and say the "perfect thing" at the wedding and dance the "perfect dance".

I finally came to realize however that my dad was the "perfect dad" for me. He did the best he could with what he had and what he knew and where he came from. He wasn't fancy and now I love him even more for that! I love that he had the time of his life at my wedding because he loved me and he loved Erich so much. We were married in Japanese Gardens and dad was smoking a cigar and dancing the entire time. (You think it was legal to smoke that cigar in the middle of the wood platforms at the Japanese Gardens in Fort Worth...hmmmm...) I love that my dad's wedding speech was the following spoken with a bottle of Bud Light in his hand - not a champagne glass - "She's done a lot of things wrong, but she got it right this time". I love that we danced our daddy/daughter dance to "My Girl" and that we were goofy and doing the Twist. Who cares about all the other stuff, I don't anymore - he did a lot of things wrong but he got it right most of the time.

Love you dad and miss you more that you will ever know and you may not have been the "perfect" dad but you were the perfect dad for me.

There are lots more funny stories about my dad but I will save those for another time....

Moms and daughters

Lunch date

Daddies and their daughters

Yay! Sofe did great!!!


Waiting for Sofie's recital

Blueberry muffin

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thanks gamma!!!!!!!!!


I think it could safely be said that my father's all time favorite holiday was April Fools. He LOVED April Fools. Many of you out there have been hit by my father's April Fool's jokes I am sure. I knew every year when April Fool's was coming - and yet every year he somehow managed to get me. Every year I would plan out my jokes weeks in advance and somehow I never was able to get him he was always ready for me.

Some all time favorites that I remember....warning to the fait of hear these my seem mean but for me and my memory they are hilarious :).

The first one I remember happened when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I received my first Cabbage Patch doll for my birthday in March. This was obviously before I knew my father's voice. He called me from work and pretended to be someone from the Cabbage Patch Factory and said that I had bought the 100th Cabbage Patch and had won a free trip to the Cabbage Patch Factory. I was SOOOOOOO excited I ran and told my mom. She told me it was an April Fools joke but I did NOT believe her. I waited for dad to get home only to get the patented John Pickens point and laugh.

In was a senior in high school. I had been accepted into University of Texas business school my junior year of high school so for my senior year I was just relaxing and having fun knowing I where I was headed next. April Fools Day (YES I KNEW IT WAS APRIL FOOLS I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PREPARED!!!!) of my senior year I received a phone call from a woman who told me that I was caught cheating on a test on camera and that I would not be graduating with my class or going to UT. I began bawling and saying "it wasn't me it wasn't me" Then I hear the woman on the other end say "John I can't do this anymore she's crying!" ARGH!

I remember some he pulled on other people too -

I remember he called my cousin Kari when her and her husband were in process of building their first house. He left a message on their answering machine and pretended that he was a fireman and said that their new house (still in process of being built) had burned down. Kari said she was sure it was my dad but she felt she had to check on it anyway and they got in the car drove by and of course it was fine. :)

He told the people at the restaurant we were at with his co workers that one of the ladies at the table stole silver wear and to check her purse. The restaurant instantly got in on the joke and harassed the poor lady!

When I finally got pregnant with my first child, Sofie it was after dad had passed. They told me my due date was April 1 and I had no choice but to take that as a sign from the beyond that everything was great! She didn't end up being born on that day but that was her original due date. She is my dads girl too - she has his sense of humor and spirit of mischief I think they would have been two peas in a pod.

Dad loved practical jokes all year round too. In the picture attached to this blog he surprised my mom with a party and the Grim Reaper on her 50th birthday.

That's all I can remember right now but I know that there are TONS more out there - feel free to add your own!


Good looking lunch date


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Women be shoppin. 529 kids consign

Harmonica 2 man band

The John Pickens story continues - University of TEXAS

or THE University as my dad liked to call it. There are fans and then there are fans. My dad was a fan - a serious fan. He loved all things UT. He loved the school, he loved the academics, he loved the coaches, he loved the teachers, he loved people who loved UT, he loved the sports.

My mom and dad met at UT. Half of my family went to UT - I had no choice of where to go to school BUT to go to UT. That included my friends and if they did not got to UT then they were subjected to a lifelong ridicule of the school they chose, especially if that school was A&M. (right Shannon?) Dad was active and read all blogs, magazines and books related to UT.

When I say dad loved the academics, I mean that he loved to tell me where Texas ranked with every single school and class. When I was accepted into Harvard for college my father who had it in his head that I would attend business school just said "no - why would I pay to send you to Harvard with UT has the top 5 business school in the nation" When I expressed any interest in going into a profession where UT was not the top ranked, such as Veterinarian school (which would have made me an Aggie if I stayed in state) my father blew off the school and profession as unworthy. "why would you want to be a vet? you would have to go to A&M to be vet"

When I say he loved people who loved UT that means you didn't have to even go to UT just love it as much as he did. He loved to tell me all of the movie stars, politicians, writers and inventors who went to UT or were honorary members of UT and his best friend was Stewart who also wore a UT shirt every day and named his photography company after UT.

When I say he loved Texas sports I mean he loved ALLLLLLLLLLL the sports. Not just UT Football, but basketball, women's basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, fencing, underwater basket weaving - anything and every thing. He knew all the players and all the ranks of all of the teams.

Yes he was mostly obsessed with UT football. He knew all of the high school football players who were being recruited by UT, he knew all of the players on the team even the ones on the bench and he "watched" every single game ever played ever. When I say "watched" I put it in quotes because he was not actually ever able to watch a single game from start to finish. He could basically watch as long as they were winning and doing well. As soon as one thing went wrong he either turned the channel of the TV or radio or turned it off or if we were at the game he would walk out of the stadium. If they were losing then forget it we wouldn't even stay to the end of the game we would just leave.

I remember more than once as a kid being forced to leave a game under protest from the entire family because Texas was losing. The worst offense was New Years Eve of 1999 when Texas played Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. ON BOURBON STREET! Texas lost that game and it was obvious after halftime that they were not going to recover. My father made us LEAVE BOURBON STREET on NEW YEARS EVE!!!!! I was 20 years old! I wanted nothing more than to party on Bourbon street but my father marched us all to the car against all protests and DROVE us back home to Texas. My mother around 11:30 PM yelled at my father and said "I AM NOT SPENDING NEW YEARS IN THIS CAR!" so my father yelled "FINE" and pulled over to a SHONEY'S, yes SHONEY'S in the middle of nowhere and that is where we spent New Years Eve of 1999 in a Shoney's in the middle of nowhere eating all you can eat bacon all because the Horns lost the Sugar Bowl.

I know the name of every head coach that has coached football at the University of Texas because my dad would burn his name into my brain. Darryl K. Royal was the coach and God to my father. That who coached when my dad was there and took Texas to two consecutive national championships. Fred Acres is the coach who followed Darryl and my childhood memories are filled the screams of "G-- DAMN THAT FRED ACRES!!!!!" because he led them on a losing streak that would last until the end of my dad's life. I will always remember Mac Brown because he came after Fred Acres and dad called him the "orange Jesus" because he was sure that this was the man to lead Texas to Victory.

My dad died on August 27th. About a week before Texas was to play their first game of the season. Before my dad died we had plans to attend that game with him - so although only a week had passed since his death we knew he would have wanted us to be there. So yes we went to that game and Texas WON! Not only did they win that game but they would go on to win every game that year and go undefeated and win the National Championship in California. Yes we went to the National Championship too. I couldn't believe that Texas finally won after so many years without a National Championship. I had to believe dad had something to do with it though and God bless Mac Brown for making it happen!

Dad wore a University of Texas emblem somewhere on his clothes every single day of his adult life. Every single day. He had plenty of T-Shirts with Texas on them but he also had a plethora (my dad's favorite word) of polo shirts with the Texas symbol and button down shirts with the Texas symbol. When he got sick he wore a UT sweatsuit every single day. So when we died and they asked us what we though he wanted to be buried in we had to give them a UT sweatsuit. His coffin was draped with the American Flag and the University of Texas flag right next it to it (dad loved to tell everyone how the Texas State flag is the only flag in the US allowed to fly at the same height has the American Flag) and mom ordered all orange and white flowers for his funeral. Willie Nelson sang his version of "Amazing Grace". He didn't want a funeral but as mom said funerals are for the living and if he had to design one I am sure that would have been exactly what he wanted.

Hook 'Em Horns


Park friends

Ellie swings

Monkey boy

Ellie's second wagon date of the week

Ready for camp

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The John Pickens Travel Plan

My father loved to travel. In fact before my 18th birthday we had driven over most of the United States. Yes - that's right we drove. We drove everywhere. From the middle of Texas, we drove. We drove to the Red Wood forest in northern California. We drove to Washington DC. We drove to the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore. We drove to the Grand Canyon. We drove to Disneyland. We drove to Disney World. We drove and drove and drove. And we hit every single Corn Palace, Booger Burger, historical marker, cavern and cave along the way. We have probably been to 90% of the caves, caverns and historical markers in the United States. Dad would drive 2 hours out of his way if there was even the HINT of a historical marker.

Looking back on it those trips were the best and HILARIOUS. But maybe they weren't so funny at the time. I mean while other kids got to eat at McDonalds on their roadtrips, my dad packed a cooler. The cooler contained ice, white bread, mustard, tomatoes, turkey and diet coke. And that's what you were eating. Your sandwich even had to have mustard and tomato on it even if you didn't want it that way. The bread would get all soggy from the ice - UGH! I still hate sandwiches to this day!!!

If we did get to go to restaurant then we were not allowed to order whatever we wanted, we had to order whatever was local. I HATED this as a kid but have fully adopted and endorsed this policy as an adult.

We also were not allowed to listen to head phones because we had to interact and play games like "SPY" and "ABC" and if you were asleep while passing by a "Now entering xyx State" sign you were shaken awake and yelled at to look at the signs!!

My father would not stay in any place other than a Motel 6. I mean really only a Motel 6. Not La Quina, not Comfort Inn - Motel 6. We had the Motel 6 map and if it was 10pm and there was another Motel 6 just 30 mins away according to the Motel 6 map, my dad would push on. ESPECIALLY If there was no vacancy then we were not going to stop until we got to that next Motel 6 that had a vacancy.

The John Pickens travel plan also had very specific ideas about when one should be up and how many things you should see. Up at 6am out and on the road by 7am (no time for breakfast or just get it on the road) and then see AS MANY things as you can see until bedtime which really if my dad had his way would be 11pm or midnight.

We finally got to fly when I turned 18 and he took us all to London for my 18th birthday. London was more of the same, although no Motel 6 it was up at 6am pack in as many sites as we could see until they were closed then dinner then all the walking tours that ran late and then pubs til midnight. He was relentless but we never missed a thing!!

Every single one of these trips have been documented with endless photographs and video. Purposeful videos of landscapes going by and accidental videos of the whole family fighting because dad put the lens cap back on but forgot to turn the video off. All of those moments are priceless and hilarious. And to dad's credit he carried that video camera every where. Every hike, monument and cave. This is no small feat as the video camera was the size of the professional ones now and had to be carried in a suit case - it must have weighed about 50 lbs.

I have to credit my love of travel, local food and my obsession with documenting to my dad as well as my hatred of sandwiches and Motel 6. But I love every moment of those memories. My one regret is I never got to take dad to the Pyramids, Greece or China all of which were on his bucket list. I plan to take my family there though and I am sure he will be with us in spirit even if we avoid the Motel 6.


Angelina's baby sister