Buffets

If Shoney’s was a country backroad, The Golden Corral was a five lane highspeed freeway.

Shoney’s was probably my introduction to buffet restaurants. It was the same idea as the family Barbecues of my childhood; you could eat all you wanted. Instead of barbecue and all the orthodox fixings that go with it (potato salad, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, deviled eggs, etc.) Shoney’s had a little bit of everything. I mainly got fried shrimp. The first few times I ate shrimp I got sick with clockwork accuracy. It was a shellfish or iodine allergy. We were at Shoney’s once with a bunch of people from church when Bro. Oliver Murray prayed for me before we commenced to eating. I haven’t been sick from shrimp or any other shellfish since that night. God knows I’ve had plenty of chances because I still love shrimp.

Shoney’s had a Salad Bar. My siblings and I would make a salad with croutons as a base. Then we’d pile on diced ham, and bacon bits, smother it with ranch dressing and eat it with those club crackers that come in packs of two. Eventually we started adding lettuce to the base, but it took a long time. I still credit the salad bar as my introduction to green leafy vegetables. To this day I am a sucker for a salad bar, but now I prefer blue cheese dressing.

I remember distinctly the first time Mom and Dad took us to The Golden Corral. It made the Shoney’s buffet look like a snack bar. If Shoney’s was a country backroad, The Golden Corral was a five lane highspeed freeway. The very entrance put you in mind of standing in line to ride a roller coaster at Six Flags. There was even one of those people counters that you have to walk through to enter the dining area. I imagine it was hooked up to a bell in the kitchen that alerted the kitchen commander. DING DING DING DING DING “Family of five just came in! Drop some more fried chicken and throw some more rolls in the oven.”

Ahhh! The rolls. Quincy’s had the best rolls. The waiter brought them out to your table hot and with a buttery sheen on them. I could eat two of them right now. I think the rolls were a tactic to get you to eat less food from the buffet. It never worked with me. There aren’t many things that I’m good at, but I am confident in my ability to eat. I was made for buffets. “Clean your plate.” This is how I was raised. My parents only had to tell me a few times because the idea caught on very early. They were training me to become a heavy weight buffet champion. We even had a piece of furniture in the kitchen called a buffet.

Don’t misunderstand me, I like all the buffets. But if I could only choose one it’s probably going to be a Chinese Buffet. Our family used to go to Happy China in Childersburg after church. It was in an old KFC. My Dad would get that Hot and Sour soup that looks like they dumped all the buffet leftovers into the dirty dishwater and served it up by the gallon as soup.

“It’s good.” He would say as he slurped it out of one of those round soup spoons that you only see at restaurants and rich people’s houses. We have one at our house but we only use it for special occasions. Like when all the other spoons are dirty.

Now there are some purists out there that are probably turning their nose up at the very thought of a buffet. They’ll say the quality of food is better when you order it a la carte. Snooty people are always using French phrases like that to make you feel dumb. They’ve got a point. But ordering off the menu is so restrictive, and I’m not good at making decisions in Chinese. The wonderful thing about buffets is you don’t have to choose! You can eat it all! Although I probably won’t eat those whole baby octopuses. But it is nice to be able to poke them with the spoon to help you decide.

The last place I ate before the pandemic lockdown was a Mexican buffet. What a way to go out. Since then I’ve been worried about the future of buffets. Will buffets become like The Piccadilly Cafeteria where someone fixes a plate for you behind a sheet of plexi-glass? Will you just have to hope that they pick right piece of fried chicken? That won’t do. I pray that I’m wrong, but I’m afraid that we may have seen the last of the all-you-can-eat buffet.

The Last Buffet

That is why I feel compelled to write about buffets. My kids and future generations need to know that at one time in America you could walk into a buffet and fix a plate of pizza, brown gravy, macaroni and cheese, fake bacon bits, sweet potato casserole, and gummy bears and no one would say a word to you.

Nice Things

My sister came over to the house the other day to help make zucchini bread, because I planted to much zucchini. We hovered around Sarah’s KitchenAid mixer like little kids at a science experiment.

“Is it going to sling zucchini sludge all over us?” I asked as she fired up the mixer.

“No. This is a nice thing.” She said matter of factly, and with a bit of discovery in her voice, as if we-not having grown up with nice things-had just had our first encounter with one.

My family used to play this game called Scattergories. It’s a trivia game where a letter die is rolled and each participant has to come up with an answer-that begins with whatever letter is rolled-for a list of twelve questions in a set amount of time. If your answer is unique you get a point but you do not get a point for duplicate or blank answers.

I’d like to take a paragraph to point out that I just explained how to play a game in two sentences-albeit they might be considered run on sentences. Even so, Think about the last time somebody tried to explain to you how to play a board game. There were 35 people crammed in a living room. Everybody was talking so loud at once that the music blaring in the background would have been indistinguishable save for the two musicians singing along at the top of their lungs. A kid was tapping you on the knee and the least concise person in the room was giving you instructions on a game you didn’t want to play cause you were more interested in the cocktail weenies on the paper plate that you had to hold because the dumb game was taking up all of the space on the coffee table. But you couldn’t have reached the coffee table from the bar stool you drug from the kitchen anyway. The next time in you’re in a situation like that, I hope you think about me.

Anyway, in Scattergories one of the categories is Items You Save Up Buy. I think this is the best way to describe nice things. You tend to treat things that you save up to buy a little better because they are dearer. I saved up to buy a proper guitar for years. Several times, just when I had enough money set aside, I would decide on a whim to reallocate that money for something else. Like a radiator for a Honda Accord, or tires, or a baby carseat. When I finally had enough money to buy the guitar I was so anxious to make the purchase before there was an emergency that I developed a case of the shivers.

I suppose that there are even nice things that rich people save up to purchase. Yachts and airplanes, that sort of thing.

Most of the people I’ve known that had nice things weren’t necessarily rich, they just didn’t have any kids. Or at least any boys. Boys are much to rough to coexist with nice things. Zach and I broke the heads off all the wooden ducks in the living room while wrestling. That was Mom’s idea of nice things: wooden ducks. She had about five wooden geese and ducks in the living room. Some folks are just born with class.

At least once, every mother has probably said to their children in exasperation over a broken lamp or busted window, “Your Daddy works hard so we can save money and try to have nice things, but y’all are barbarians and we can’t have nice things.”

I remember Zach putting a dent in the top of Dad’s brand new Mazda truck with a softball. Dads can give a completely different “Why can’t we have nice things?” speech. It’s just as passionate as a Mom’s speech, but it is usually the audience and not the orator that is moved to tears.

“When you have three kids that’s about all you have.”

Perry Wells

I’m not saying that you can’t have nice things and kids, I’m just saying that most people can only afford one or the other. It’s a tough choice for many people. Children are expensive. It may even be cheaper to not have kids and just have nice things. Just ask your parents. How many times have you been to someone’s house and sat down in the recliner only to be warned that the recliner doesn’t work because Kid A broke it using it as a diving board, and that they didn’t notice that it was broken until they got back from the emergency room. That’s the funny thing about nice things, people tend to hang on to them after the kids have already broken them.

The fact that my parents didn’t follow through with those threats of death after I had just broken something lets me know that they chose keeping me over having nice things.

Nice things are fleeting. The classiest vehicle on the market will be old and out of fashion when the new model rolls out next year. I quit trying to keep up with the phone innovations back with the iPhone 6. Furthermore, these things are guaranteed to expire.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21

“Children are the only thing that you can take to heaven with you.”

Ultimately nice things are not important. It’s easy to forget that when you’re daydreaming about the next thing you’re saving up to purchase and how happy it will make you. It won’t make you happy. If it does make you happy it won’t last. One day it won’t even matter to you. If you don’t believe me, just visit a thrift store or better yet, the dump. Both of these places are jam packed with junk and trash that someone not to long ago probably saved up to buy.

There are still some nice things I’d still like to have. Perhaps a proper digital camera to take better quality bad pictures for the website store. Maybe I’ll get one some day. I’m not really worried about it. These days I’m more excited about meeting our third child in October.

Rising to the Occasion

Rising to the occasion is doing what needs to be done no matter how hard, uncomfortable, unpopular, or frightening the task at hand may be.

I’m sitting here awake. I just got up from a dream where a few of our kids ( I don’t know who was there, but it felt like church family) were swimming in a river. Somehow, they got on top of a submerged wooden playground that was traveling downstream way too fast. I grabbed a fishing rod and snagged it. It was the most powerful pull that I’ve ever experienced.

I lost the lure when the line snapped. Sarah and some other mothers come to me alarmed about the children. I look down the river and they’re going away fast, almost out of sight.

The unseen playground has picked up speed. I hear the concerned voices raised around me.

Out nowhere, my friend and some other men have grabbed boats to go fetch the kids.

Now my friend jumps into the swift water and rescues Wesley and the other children from the runaway playground.

I catch up with them on the shore about a mile down river past the bridge where my line broke. The hero of the situation walks out of the water straight faced, not expecting any reward. He just did what needed to be done.

Thank God for people like this.

I’m writing this in the middle of the night because I need to remember it. Sometimes you have a dream and you know that you shouldn’t have finished off all of the weekend’s leftovers before you went to sleep, but sometimes you know that there was something more in a dream. I think this was a case of the latter.

I remember being worried about labor when Sarah and I were expecting our first child. It’s like war, no amount of training can prepare you for the real thing. A friend at church laughed at me when I told him I was concerned about not passing out. He said, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll rise to the occasion.”

I suppose that’s what happens a lot in life. We are constantly faced with difficult situations and we either rise to the occasion and win, or we don’t do anything and lose. Even if we don’t lose, inaction rarely brings a desired outcome. Some of us wait for a hero to come and fix everything, and while it is a nice thought, it hardly ever happens.

Rising to the occasion is doing what needs to be done no matter how hard, uncomfortable, unpopular, or frightening the task at hand may be. It doesn’t take much talent to rise to the occasion, just a lot of courage.

I wonder if David felt like this when he showed up at the battlefield with bread and cheese for his brothers only to find a stalemate with men cowering under the taunts of the champion of the Philistines. In spite of the ridicule and belittlement from his own brothers David rose to the occasion and slew Goliath. Not because of any reward-he didn’t receive one-but because he understood that there was a cause.

Most of the things that I am most proud of where the hardest things I’ve ever done. I will not promise you that rising to the occasion will be fun, easy, or even enjoyable, but I firmly believe that you will not regret it.

Gardening Tips: How to Get Rid of Zucchini

“Don’t leave your window down when you go to the Warehouse Discount Grocery. Somebody is liable to put a sack of zucchini in your car.”

As many of you know, I was volunteered to grow a garden this Spring. It’s been doing pretty good. Except my zucchini. They’re out of control. I’d like to share a few of my tips for getting rid of zucchini.

1. Take it to Church.

People at church have a hard time saying no. Even if they don’t like zucchini, they will smile and be nice. This is a good place to get rid of zucchini. Problems can arise though. People will start to notice you bringing in a grocery sack full of zucchini and they may start to avoid you.

2. Covert Charity

Before you start to lose friends at church, I suggest getting rid of zucchini through random acts of kindness. Nothing makes a thing so fun as knowing you’re not supposed to be doing it. Putting a sack of zucchini in someone’s car without getting caught is one of the most thrilling things about gardening.

You can also set a sack of produce on someone’s door step in the middle of the night. The danger in this is they may use a different door and might not discover the zucchini until they have turned bad-the zucchini, not the people. (I could have reworded that sentence to make it more clear, but I’m feeling rebellious today.) That is the paradox of gardening: you grow things you don’t particularly like and you don’t want them to be wasted.

A sack of Zucchini on it’s way to an unsuspecting family’s doorstep.

3. Sell It.

It is possible to sell your vegetables. You can put up a little booth in your front yard with a hand painted sign that may say something like, “Fresh Vegetables For Sale”. The font should be a bit shaky, similar to the “E995” signs you see for people selling cackle-fruits. That way people know you are genuine country folks and are therefore trustworthy. You may get more traffic if you misspell zucchini. The problem with a booth is you have to always be home to make the transaction, and you may end up having a lot more conversations than you are prepared to have. You would probably have to rely on the honor system.

The other option is to sell your vegetables at the Farmer’s Market. You need the right salesman though. No one wants to buy vegetables from a guy in his early thirties. You need an older man in overalls that is prone to falling asleep in his lawn chair as your sales rep. Or a cute little kid.

4. Eat It.

This is a last ditch effort to get rid of zucchini. I’ve listed a few creative ways to serve zucchini because you can only eat so much zucchini bread before needing to go up a pant size. I can provide recipes for the sincerely interested, but I cannot guarantee that the finished product will be edible.

  • Zucchini Au Gratin
  • Zucchini Ice Cream
  • Zucchini Pie
  • Zucchini Pizza Crust
  • Zucchini Ricota turnovers
  • Zucchini Pesto Patato Salad
  • Zucchini Baked Potatoes
  • Zucchini & Sausage Omelettes
  • Zucchini Tacos
  • Zucchini Soup
  • Zucchini Fricassee

Now I made up most of those recipes on the spot. Aside from zucchini ice cream most of those sound pretty appetizing. The key to eating zucchini is using a little creativity. If you have 4o lbs of zucchini you won’t be upset if one or two recipes turn out to be a dud.

Anyway, I hope your garden is growing well. If you don’t have a garden I hope your neighbor’s is doing well. If you don’t have any neighbors…just come to church with me. I’ll bring you some zucchini.

Wrecks of the Week

They happen so fast; wrecks. In the blink of an eye, one careless motion can change someone’s entire life.

I got behind a UPS truck pulling doubles this morning on the way to work. Ordinarily I would have passed him, but after watching him weave back forth into the fast lane and then all the way onto the opposite shoulder a few times I decided it would be prudent to follow a good way behind until the interstate widened to three lanes. These are the kind of drivers that cause accidents. After a while I watched the truck driver run merge into another lane, running a pickup truck off the road and onto the shoulder. I blew the horn because I felt I needed to do something. It could have been a nasty wreck.

They happen so fast; wrecks. In the blink of an eye, one careless motion can change someone’s entire life. In the time it takes to check a text message someone could brake check you and you’ll be checked out for good.

It is rare that I do not see at least one accident per week on my commute. I have spent hours parked on the interstate behind countless accidents, making me late for work, and more importantly late for home. In April of 2019, I was late for work because of a wreck in Birmingham. As we crawled past the scene I snapped a quick picture with my phone, mainly as evidence for being late. When I finally got to work and had a chance to look at it I was struck by how powerful the image was. Since then, I’ve tried to capture a photograph of every wreck I’ve seen. I’ve captured quite a few over the past year, but I don’t even get half of them. Sometimes it just isn’t safe to try take a picture.

My first wreck photograph. I’ve often wondered about that phone conversation.

It is easy to forget that an inconvenience in schedule for thousands may be fatal for one. While someone is furious about being late to a place that they would rather not go, someone else will never get to speak to a loved one again. I try to think about this when I see a wreck.

I share all of the wreck photos on Instagram. They don’t get a ton of likes. I think because people may feel uncomfortable liking such horrible subject matter. Nevertheless, whenever I meet one of my social media friends in person they always bring up the wreck pictures. It is human nature to want to gawk at calamity, that’s why we rubberneck on the highway, even if we don’t smile about it.

I’m not sure how you look at art, but I like to imagine what is going in the picture. These images all tell a story.

I had a flat on the way home from work. I hope that this is the only time I’m ever featured on Wrecks of the Week.

You can find more wrecks of the week on my Instagram account. As always, thank you for your support.

The Art of Ignoring

What’s a slobbering hog to jaybird? What’s a yapping dog to a freight train?

There will always be negative people. They tend to show up to discourage you whenever you’re doing something worthwhile. Like Sanballat and Tobiah did to Nehemiah. The Bible calls these kind of people Sons of Belial (literally sons of a devil). They specialize in running their mouth and not minding their own business.

The paradox of dealing with these people is it seems like you cannot win.

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. Proverbs 26:4-5

Some of the best advice I was ever given came from Pastor Jeff Dillon. He told me of a time that he had been in a difficult situation and people had started to talk. So he called his father-in-law, W.C. Parkey to find out what to do. I think he was hoping for some clear direction on what to tell the sons of Belial but Bro. Parkey simply said, “Rise above it.”

Back when I used to listen to a lot more public radio than I do now, I caught the tail end of an interview with some nameless, faceless celebrity-I think it was a comedian- who told of the first time he got sued. He was pretty disheartened at the news for a few days before he received a phone call from Dr. Phil of all people. He was surprised that Dr. Phil knew who he was, much less had his number.

“Hey buddy, I heard you got sued. Don’t worry about it. You ain’t nobody until somebody sues you.”

I can’t remember the comedian, and I have never watched Dr. Phil, but I have drawn encouragement from that statement.

Anything worthwhile will probably be difficult and is guaranteed to have critics. There are art critics, music critics, and literary critics, but I’ve never heard of a stand alone critic, because they have nothing to offer. They can only criticize what is.

For anyone reading this that is planning on doing something worthwhile-and I hope it is everyone- I want to let you know that there will be someone who has no plans to do anything constructive and will use all their energy to keep you from doing anything constructive.

Don’t listen to them. What’s a slobbering hog to a jaybird? What’s a yapping dog to a freight train? Rise above it.

I’ll leave you with a passage from Nehemiah 6:1-3

Now it came to pass when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breack left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they though to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

Mr. Kelley

The closest I ever came to meeting Mr. Wiltha Kelley in person was delivering hay to his barn a couple of times. By then he had long since retired from teaching agriculture and shop class at Vincent High School. My dad introduced me to Mr. Kelley by recalling his experiences as a student in his class. Even today I feel the influence of Mr. Kelley, a man I only knew by his picture in my parent’s high school yearbook and the power of story telling.

I do not know for sure if Mr. Kelley began his teaching career before or after the integration of the Alabama public school system in the late 60s or early 70s-I think it was around 1970; but I do feel that providence placed Mr. Kelley in the Ag. Shop at Vincent at the right time. He demanded respect from all of his students. The high regard that my dad had for Mr. Kelley is a testament that he not only demanded, but received that respect.

There are only a few accounts that I can recall, but they deserve to remembered. The stories stand for themselves, you can read into them what you may.

Mr. Kelley did not tolerate nonsense.

“My name is W. R. Kelley.” He would introduce himself at the beginning of each school year pronouncing the R as Are-uh. I do hope you know someone that pronounces their R’s in this manner.

There was a student who by description probably had cerebral palsy. His motor skills were undeveloped and he was given to spasms. In the cruelty of humanity, another boy took to poking him with a pin, in Mr. Kelly’s class of all places. The spastic child would react and moan at each offense much to the pleasure of the other kid. Fortunately Mr. Kelly caught the boy in the act.

“Get up here in front of the class.” Mr. Kelley said as he snatched the pin from the hand of the boy. Mr. Kelley poked the bully repeatedly in front of the class.

“Laugh ______! You thought it was funny a minute ago!”

Dad used to tell this story and laugh. I suppose on the surface it is a pretty funny story. But it really happened. I doubt a teacher could get away with such creative disciplinary action today. It seems that Mr. Kelley was not merely interested in imparting the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the requirements of his curriculum, but that they also became good citizens, and more importantly men. I do not merely suppose that a lack of this kind influence in the public school system-and its critical support by the administration and in the home-has been extremely detrimental to society, I am certain of it.

When report cards were issued, Mr. Kelley would require each student to present his report card in front of the class.

“What’s this baby?” Mr. Kelley was well aware that it really messed with some of the boys to be called baby.


“F in English? What language do you speak?” He would ask.

“English.” The failing student would reply.

“Now how you do you plan on communicating if you fail English? You going to learn French?”

“I see you got an A in P.E. Though.” He would reply.

“That’s cause all you know how to do is play. You better start practicing this motion right here.” He would hold out an imaginary spatula and began flipping burgers. “This is what you are training to do.”

Woe to the student caught hugging a girl in the halls between classes. “Have you bought a gallon of milk lately? How much are diapers these days?”

Mr. Wiltha Kelley supervises a student.

My Uncle Jason recalls a time when he was digging a splinter out of his finger with a pocket knife beneath his desk while Mr. Kelley stood at the blackboard teaching.

“Mr. Kelley! Wells has got a knife!” A classmate interrupted the lecture.

Without turning around, Mr. Kelley reached in his pocket and retrieved a pocket knife. “So have I.” He said as he held the knife aloft, a little annoyed at the distraction from the lesson.

When the bell rang Mr. Kelley said to Uncle Jason prvately. “Wells, keep that knife out of sight. Some of these children ain’t used to seeing tools and don’t know understand how to use them.”

My dad was disappointed that Mr. Kelley retired before Zach had a chance to be in his class. “I been looking at the numbers and I’m losing money if I keep on teaching. I’m going to retire. I ain’t putting up with these childrens no more.”

Mr. Gibson ended up replacing Mr. Kelley as the Ag/Shop teacher. Like Mr. Kelley, he was the ad hoc disciplinarian of the school. If you got in trouble you could be sent to Mr. Gibson for punishment. He would make you hold a paint can or a hammer straight out in front of you with your arms parallel with the ground.

Mr. Ted Gibson, a worthy replacement for Mr. Kelley.

It seemed like Mr. Kelley died suddenly. I remember dad being upset. We kept the obituary on the refrigerator for a long time. More than likely it is probably still tucked away in a yearbook somewhere to be discovered by another batch of Wells kids. There are few individuals whose character and integrity cause them to live on from generation to generation in anecdotes and stories. They eventually become legends. Such was, or is, Mr. Wiltha R. Kelley.

Grilled Onions

Nobody ever waded through a crowd of people at the fair because they smelled a snow cone.

You know are an adult when you start ordering grilled onions on your cheeseburger. You may have suffered from alliumphobia as a kid, but sooner or later you’ll grow up. The smell is what gets you. You can trick people into thinking that you’ve been working up a storm in the kitchen by simply putting an onion in the oven. If you’ve ever been at an outdoor festival, it’s the smell of grilled onions at the polish sausage stand that draws you over. Nobody ever waded through a crowd of people at the fair because they smelled a snow cone. It’s the caramelized onions that draw you.

I hated onions as a kid. I am still not the point where I can take a bite out of a raw onion like Ronnie Spates. Perhaps I’ll work up to that someday. Right now I tolerate raw onion and cilantro that they serve at the taco place, and the occasional slice of onion that comes on that turkey sandwich from Costco. I’m still not overly fond of raw onions, but I am talking about it so that is part of the healing process. Onions are ingredients, not stand alone food. People don’t just walk around eating flour or baking soda do you? I do remember people walking around at Smith’s Grocery eating starch out of the package. The kind of starch you iron your clothes with. “It’s great!” They said. “But my doctor tells me not to do it.” I never understood that. Eating raw flour might make more sense. Do you know any starch eaters?

I remember sitting in the buggy and eating raw hamburger meat straight out of the package at Food World. It was before Lindsay was born, so I guess I was under two years old. It seems like I was mesmerized by the shiny shrink wrap around the ground beef. I poked it with my finger. After a while I made a little hole in the shrink wrap and started eating the raw meat one little nibble at a time. It was the cashier who noticed that the package had a hole in it. Mom frowned at this discovery but never suspected me. I told her a couple years ago. And I just told all y’all. If you are wondering I’m fully recovered. Anyway, I was telling you about grilled onions.

It all started in Winchester, VA. There was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant called The Snow White Grill. It had been open since the 30s and they were known for tiny little hamburgers. Imagine Krystal burgers, but good. The burgers are-perhaps were, I haven’t been in a while-made from fresh local beef on a flat top grill. They make about forty patties at a time, and they finish them with grilled onions. They take pride in their grilled onions. There is not an option to have a burger without onions and if you ask for no onions they will look at you like you ate the Lord’s supper.

The Grilled onions on the Snow White Grill cheeseburger is what got me. It was a completely new way to experience a burger. Like seeing your childhood neighborhood in a different city. One with a Chick Fil A. It’s like going from arithmetic to quantum mechanics. Or Perhaps just algebra. I’m not entirely sure what all quantum mechanics entails. Grilled onions on your cheeseburger makes it deluxe. Like the familiar standard model, but way better.

Maybe you already know this and have been putting grilled onion on everything from cheeseburgers to ice cream for years. You probably eat raw onions too. But some of y’all have never tried grilled onions on your cheeseburger, and if you’ve read this far so you might as well go do it. Just be sure it’s at a reputable hamburger place. I recommend Hamburger Heaven or Milo’s. And let met know about it.

Bacon Cheeseburger with Grilled Onions from Hamburger Heaven

Thanks for reading, sharing and supporting.

-Zane Wells

Rabbits

The rabbit was not living up to it’s image on the lawnmower throttle.

Wesley just chased a lethargic rabbit halfway around the garden and up the fence line behind the barn. The rabbit was not living up to it’s image on the lawnmower throttle. He must have doubted Wesley’s accuracy with the bamboo javelin he had poised for throwing. It looked a bit like a Road Runner cartoon in slow motion.

I have seen rabbits run a lot faster. Like the time we were working in the hayfield and had just stopped to get a drink of water to keep from dying from exhaustion in the sweltering heat. Up sprang a little rabbit. My brother jumped up chased him halfway across the hayfield before catching him in dive. He was parallel with the ground, arms stretched out in front of him. The rest of us watched cooly from the shade of the truck and sipped the ice cold water from little dixie cups. Zach panted triumphantly back to the truck and held out a tiny rabbit that was visibly throbbing from adrenaline and fear.

“You boys ain’t tired if you can still catch rabbits.” Pop said as he stirred us back to work, as if I had been out there chasing rabbits along with Zach.

Not surprisingly, the best rabbit story I can offer comes from my Dad. Back during the Reagan administration, my parents and Uncle Tony were setting on the front porch of the house were I was raised. Dad was leaning against the column and drinking a Pepsi from a glass bottle when someone noticed a rabbit out next to the kudzu. That’s about thirty yards away, depending on the last time the grass was cut. Kudzu can grow about a yard a day. Uncle Tony tried to hit the rabbit with a rock, but he missed. Which is not surprising since his glasses are as thick as mine. The rabbit tensed up and sat frozen while Dad took the last swig of his drink. Then he held onto the post with one hand and leaned out into the front yard and casually lobbed the empty glass bottle over a crepe myrtle tree in the general direction of the rabbit. The bottle struck the rabbit square in the head and killed it graveyard dead.

I’ve never intentionally killed a rabbit. Even when I was conned into going hunting in the back yard with Dad and Zach. I don’t remember what exactly we were hunting, but I jumped a rabbit in the sage patch and watched him bounce away while I held my shotgun on my shoulder.

“Hey, there goes a rabbit.” I said proudly.

“Why didn’t you shoot it?” My Dad laughed.

Now that I have a garden, I can relate a lot more to Farmer Brown and Elmer Fudd than Peter Rabbit and Bugs Bunny. I’m almost ready to start intentionally killing rabbits. I’ve taken the first step by giving Wesley a slingshot and a sack of marbles.

Thanks for reading, sharing, and for your continued Support.

Zane Wells

Thoughts on Efficiency

Perhaps I’m lazy, but I like to find the most efficient way to do a thing.

Did you ever listen to Car Talk ? I used to listen every Saturday morning as a teenager. There was one caller that had a question about a car problem and a possible solution. It turned out, that the proposed solution would indeed work but, as Ray said, “It wouldn’t be the cowboy way.” I still laugh about this from time to time, especially when I see someone doing something inefficiently.

Perhaps I’m lazy, but I like to find the most efficient way to do a thing. This, I believe, is a learned trait. I learned it in a roundabout way while working for hire as a second grader. We would do anything from landscaping and construction clean up, to farm work where I learned how to drive. Pop, or his business partner Marion, would give specific instructions about a task-often the grunt work in a larger process-and expect us-Zach and I- to do exactly what they told us, precisely how we were shown, while rarely-if ever-explaining the whole system.

We didn’t complain, after all they hired us to do the simple work, not to understand the whole process. “You get paid from the neck down.” Marion would remind us if we ever “had an idea”. This labor without understanding is the basest type of working. All you need to do is show up and breath. I’m not throwing off on this kind of work, it’s necessary. I also think it is important to learn how to follow instructions. Maybe you know a coworker that has never really learned how to meet the most basic of requirements.

After working at this level for a while you begin to ask yourself questions. Why am I doing this? The first answer is money. I’m working for money. That is usually a good enough answer to keep most people working, until you ask yourself, Why am I doing this this way? This is when you start thinking about efficiency. You’ll start wanting to understand how the whole system works instead of just your task.

From here a stream of questions will begin to flow rapidly, How does this all work? Can it work better? What is important? Are we wasting time doing things that do not matter? How can we streamline this?

I’m not sure what to call it, but I’m pretty sure this is another level of working, understanding the whole process. And making that process or system more efficient is another level I’m sure.

“There is the right way, the wrong way, and the Navy way.”

Everyone I ever met who served in the US Navy

If there has been one thing I’ve learned as an adult in the work force it has been, not everyone wants things to be more efficient and there is always resistance to change. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’ve often heard this response when someone would rather stick with an inefficient process than take the time to learn a more efficient way. Let me be clear, efficiency is not the same as cutting corners.

I remember my Dad dealing with a situation like this when he managed a machine shop. He met resistance while introducing a more efficient system, particularly from one man who had been working there for quite a while. My Dad had a unique way with people.

“What is the best vehicle ever made?” Dad asked the belligerent man.

Without hesitation the man said ” The 1956 Chevrolet pickup truck.

“What did you drive to work this morning?” Dad asked the man.

“A 96′ Chevrolet pickup truck.”

“Why didn’t you drive the 1956 Chevy truck?”

“Well the 1956 gets real bad gas mileage, and the ’96 can has a much larger towing capacity…” He rattled on like car people do until he realized that Dad was making a point about the new process.

A big part of my current job is helping people use the internet. Occasionally someone will walk into the office and smart off to me about not having a computer.

“I ain’t got one and ain’t ever planning to have one. Don’t need one.” It’s a point of pride to them. Well you needed one today or you wouldn’t be here, I think to myself.

“Yeah, I’m sure there were a lot of people that kept on riding horses after the automobile was invented.” This has become my stock response to the nastiest of these customers.

There is a slight part of me that admires someone who can live free of the internet, but on the other hand, we are twenty years into the twenty-first century. Unfortunately, these people are being left behind. I think the key to not being left behind is to remain a student for life.

I understand that some things are unchangeable and cannot be improved upon. In general though, I’m for making a task easier, simpler, and more efficient.

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