Welcome Home

It’s been a very busy summer and my son Max had just arrived back in town from camp with his cousins. My mom brought him to church in the middle of the service and he came down front to where I was at the piano. He gave me a big hug and I invited him to play a duet with me at the piano for the offertory music. I gave him an ostinato fifth to play on the upper half of the keyboard whilst I improvised underneath. The resulting audio below captures the feelings I had seeing my boy after several days of missing him.

Welcome home, Son.

Max on our annual end of school camping trip.

Out of Time – Archive Recordings

Mary's Headshot for West Side Story 1999

In March of 2002 I recorded an EP with my wife and some great friends of mine under the band name “Out of Time”.  I found a CD of it floating around and decided I should plop the mp3’s out there on the net so people could hear what an amazing singer my wife is.  And this was almost ten years ago!

Wes Griffin

The bass player is the amazing Randy Hayes and percussion is Wes Griffin.  I’ve spent the afternoon reminiscing about how fun this recording was and what a shame I don’t get to play with these guys anymore.  Randy, if you’re out there – I’ve totally lost your number!  and Wes – I’m not sure what our excuse is.


Daughter Rose Sings

Rose at the church Christmas Pageant

Sunday afternoons are perfect for naps, but today my daughter and I sat down at the piano to sing music from her favorite movie – Tangled.  She let me record her and I am super proud.  I’m hoping we can make a legit recording sometime after we’ve worked on it for a while, but its so sweet hearing her little 4 year old voice singing – I can’t help but share with my family.


Frozen Lake


“Bulletin – calling all adventures! The search for the frozen lake will commence immediately. Please return to base.” My text to son Max retrieved him from a friends house immediately. 

Sunshine Lake (Cartwright Park, Weatherford)

It has been freezing at night here for about a week and not much warmer in the day time, so I thought maybe just maybe a pond in nearby Weatherford might have iced over a little bit. So I piled my three in the car to head out to see. Two more kids from the neighborhood asked to come along so I quickly had a car load of excited


kids awaiting the view of a beautiful frozen lake. As we pulled up it was quickly apparent that the lake was far from frozen, however about a hundred fowl charged the car honking and quacking and the sun was setting on the not frozen pond and my error was completely forgiven. 

The kids chased the ducks around and then we all went out for some frozen yogurt. Turned out Max had just had a lesson from the Fort Worth Museum of Science and Natural History about liquids, solids and gases, so it was an educational trip too. 

We all had a great time!

Big Bend Inspired Piano Improv

The Lost Mine Trail - Big Bend National Park

The Sunday after my trip to Big Bend – I was playing in church (as I do every Sunday) and I had to improvise something to cover the time for communion.  This is a recording of that improvisation.

I’m not saying the whole 6 minutes is riveting – it’s not, but there are parts of it I actually like a lot.  It is always amazing to me how much more free my creativity is when I return from a trip.

[mp3-jplayer play=”true” dload=”true” pos=”rel-L”]

The Petroleum Museum

January 7 journal

12:10 -The Petroleum Museum, – Midland, tx

Looked at 6 different oil and gas ‘traps’.  The traps are classified according to the geological processes which form them.

Anticline, fault, lens, pinch-out, reef, and truncation traps

The first time geology was used to help locate oil sites was looking for lifting of the crust of the earth which indicated a possible anticline trap.  Then geologists started mapping depths

In 1924 oil prospectors starting using a torsion balance to map minute gravitational differences due to rock density below.

Then they started using a magnetometer to measures variants in the magnetic fields caused by different kinds of rocks

The most powerful tool used today is the use of compression shocks and geophones to  map the subsurface.  Strings of geophones are plugged into a truck which records the return of the shock waves from the compression shock to produce detailed maps of density of the rock formations below.

Side note : Geophones are also used in border patrol efforts allowing border patrol to listen in on the activities of geographic areas. (neat to note the crossover uses of technologies)

The reef exhibit is probably the most impressive artistic reproduction I’ve ever seen. It’s real really well done.

The air patrol exhibit highlighted a job previously invisible to me.  Somebody has to fly up and down the oil pipeline and look for leaks.  There’s a job I could get into!  (step one – become pilot)

1:45 – One of the school vans backed into a car in the parking lot here at the museum in Midland.  Looks like we’ll be getting in a bit later today.

The People

The diversity of personalities on this trip is ridiculously AMAZING.

I won’t name names so I don’t violate confidences, but here is a sampling of the characters I’ve come to know over the past week.

One guy who left a six-figure job and a family business to become a law enforcement professional.

A mother of two who worked in a strip club starting at age fourteen, beat cancer and is now finally able to finish her education at the age of thirty-six.

A recent high school graduate whose family fled Lebanon when she was fourteen and Israel bombed her town.  She speaks four languages and is capable of doing much more than she realizes.  We all hope she comes to know how much she is capable of.

An oil-rig worker trained in chemical agent deployment with a tattoo parlor and ten person jacuzzi in his house right next to his tiki bar.

A cruise ship musician that lost 140 pounds in about a year with more stamps in his passport than I will ever have.

A seventeen year old girl who lives alone with five dogs and a cat in a trailer, but has an amazing cable package and beautiful mind.

A waiter at Stevenville’s Hard-8 who says the artist Jewel comes in once a month and always gets brisket. (It is my secret goal to play piano in her band some day.)

A fashion major and an education major who out dressed us all with their sleak fleecy cuteness.

A six foot tall girl from a small town who in the fourth grade had to deal with the fallout from her mom divorcing her dad for another woman in the town.  She says the town was full of beauty shops and churches and neither one would let her set foot in them again.  (This one made me very angry and sad. And I think she should get the heck out of that town.). She loves to dance – even without music playing.

A former illegal alien who swam the river from Mexico at the age of eleven who recently obtained his US citizenship.

A star of the high school drama department with the biggest hair I’ve ever seen and a beautifully Disneyified young perspective. She’s not naive, she just chooses to seek the good and bright in life rather than negative pessimism.

A self proclaimed pothead miffed at the police officer that arrested him for impounding his dog too.  (He was only trying to get to his farm with that weed – and it wasn’t even his)

Two madly in love twenty-somethings celebrating their third month of dating by breaking rocks with a bunch of total strangers.  He’s a member of Best Buy’s geek squad who also happens to be a talented church musician, she’s a future sex therapist.

A former small town police chief turned geologist discovering mind and mood altering effects of metoprednisolone.

A small town girl from the wrong side of the tracks that proved everyone in he small town wrong by becoming a respected and loved mentor and teacher.

A lab tech that can out hike most of us to spite the color of her hair.

There are some other hilarious people on this trip that I didn’t get to know well enough, but who certainly made me laugh – particularly this last night in the bunk house.

I am truly thankful for this time getting to know these people. They are truly a wonderful collection of human beings.

Banditos, flash flooding and the Closed Canyon

The next stop on our itenerary was the Barton Warnock nature center.  However, we discovered it was closed. (As Gomer Pile would say, Surprise, surprise, surprise)

We proceeded to try Ken Burns again – nope. – out sick!

So we drove to what turned out to be one of my favorite hikes so far – the Closed Canyon Trail.  A fitting name given our difficulties in attractions being open.  However, luckily for us the name was closed, but the trail was open.

The sun was setting fast.  We were given vague instructions not to talk to any one we might meet along the way.  This gave the descent a small eerie twinge, but didn’t slow us down much.  Close canyon is a trail within Big Bend State Park.  We reached the entrance to the canyon quickly and began exploring deeper and deeper within.

The sun rapidly disappearing and there was a very cool breeze blowing through the narrow canyon walls. It was obvious that this canyon had been cut through 1000 feet of rock by a super strong water force. This water wasnt on the surface today, but the thought of a flash flood added to the excitement of the hike.  A flash flood would easily have carried a group of 20 geology students out of e canyon much quicker than we could ever run.

We continued on further and further until someone shouted that we had to turn back. I really didn’t want to stop exploring, but it was getting darker and with flash floods and banditos fresh in mind – I heeded the call.