Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

Monthly Archives: June 2018

Best food truck I’ve had in OKC so far: MOB Grill

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One of many cool things about working for Griffin Communications is “food truck Wednesday.” A local eatery on wheels stops by, and we don’t have to venture out for lunch.

First thing I do is snap photos.

I’ve not been diligent about posting my reviews or thoughts after the fact. Most of the trucks have been good.

Today’s was great.

Also: Check our my YouTube channel!

MOB Grill serves burgers and sandwiches, and they serve fries and cheese fries. Super simple menu, and I like that. Most restaurant menus are far too complex.

Too much stuff. Chaos.

I opted for The SQUEALER and MOB fries. Got me for $10, and it was plenty of food. Purposely, I didn’t put a ton of sauce on it. I wanted to see how the meat stood up on its own.

As always, I grabbed more than my share of ketchup.

They were super generous with the meat, as if they knew they had a great product and weren’t afraid to flaunt it. Brutha, this was the juiciest meat I’ve eaten in a while.

Note: if I haven’t written about Rustler’s BBQ in Henryetta, I’ll have to soon. Them and MOB Grill have the best meat I’ve eaten in the Sooner State.

The fries were just like I like ’em: tasty and salty.

And when I posted my photo mosaic to Instagram, they responded in less than five minutes. As a social media manager, that warmed my heart and earned an angel its wings.

Kidding aside, for me, the MOB Grill food truck is an instant yes any time I see it. Really, really strong.

Songwriter’s notebook: Perfection is the enemy of good

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Perfection is the enemy of good. Perfection is the enemy of good. Repeat it and repeat it.

It’s not that creatives don’t strive for greatness; it’s just that many of us nitpick our own work to the point that our quantity of production is minimal with no tangible improvement in quality. Some of the time, production for the sake of production is tantamount to a repetition that gets us closer to the significant improvement we desire.

As a songwriter, I try to be prolific. I try to churn out the tunes.

Sometimes, I go about a song as if it were a long-term project. Heck, I have one song that I’ve dummy-titled “Joy” that I’ve been sitting on musically for five or six years, waiting for the perfectly open day when I could devote all of it to its lyrics.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time, for anything, you’ll be waiting forever.

Trust.

Sometimes, I knock it out super fast, knowing that the music and subject matter isn’t so much “throw away” but that it’s not in the realm of something I consider seriously to be good. Truth be told, some of the times, however, I end up with my best work when I don’t think about it so much.

Take last Saturday when I decided I was going to conceive both the music for a new song and its lyrics in a three-hour window, whatever it took to accomplish. That type of setup can be too much pressure on some days, and I end up on the couch watching baseball or surfing the interwebs.

What I do is start pounding the keys. I typically start with something funky and see if a brave new c-jazz or Steely Dan-esque progression emerges. Barring that, I find myself rerouted toward something that’s more yacht rock or 80s pop. I’ll go back and forth and forth and back until a riff and a melody emerges.

If one doesn’t after 20-30 minutes, I get up from the bench and do something. Sit on the porch. Read a book. Mow the yard. Run a mile. Eat. Maybe not eat; I don’t like to be all belchy before I record.

Periodically, I force myself to go basic on the progressions and focus on 1-4-5 type of songs. Keeping things to three chords can force a meandering brain like mine to keep things simple enough that I can focus on developing a melody.

That’s what I did this weekend with my new song, “Wandering, Wandering Me (The Container Store Song).”

Although it’s not technically 1-4-5 (it’s 1-6-4-5, I believe — F to Dm to Bb to C in the verse), it’s still super simple. In terms of inspiration, I was trying to channel a little bit of Glen Campbell or Jerry Jeff Walker, especially in the chorus. It might not surprise you to know that I loved Glen Campbell, but it might shock you to know how much I love Jerry Jeff Walker, especially this song, which lyrically was kind of an inspiration for this song.

Musically, it’s quite different.

The title for the tune just started coming to me, “Wandering, Wandering Me.” I don’t know where it came from. I think I was THINKING about Warren Zevon and “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me” when I was riffing with the chords. However, I liked the title, and as my process goes, I rolled with it.

And then I get to writing lyrics.

I had an afternoon appointment to make, so I needed to boogie and get words to paper. My process is pretty simple. I start rhyming and see how the story develops. It’s as if I don’t even know what I’m going to write when I do, searching instead for interesting phrasing or well-crafted rhymes.

Once I get a verse, I immediately get to a chorus, even foregoing a pre-chorus until a second- or third-take.

At this point, you know kind of what the story is about, and if you’re feeling traditional, you try to develop that story. Advance the story is what my far-more-experienced songwriter friends call it.

However, I don’t let curve balls or crazy ideas throw me. In this case, I was writing about the week after Mom had died and the trips I took back-and-forth to Henryetta. There was no Texas. It was a metaphor (or just an excuse to mention the great Lone Star State). In the third verse, I talked about wanting to settle down, which I’m presently doing (details soon), while at once maintaining my freedom.

In my case, that mostly means freedom to create (content creation, songwriting) and freedom to “Ryan.” Ryaning is the name I give to the process of me taking a whole day to work on projects of interest to me, which typically includes household errands, cleaning and organization. So, I wrote my truth and then faced a conundrum.

How do I explain, “How to write some songs and organize?”

Does he mean organize such as in a union or as in a community organizer? Is he an activist?

That’s where I threw in the line about The Container Store.

And just like that, I’ve explained what was an extraordinarily satisfying afternoon of songwriting, fighting the urge to review and edit and take months to produce a piece of content. Truly, if somebody came along and said, “Great concept. Would you mind hooking up with a co-writer for some collaboration?” then I’d do that in a heartbeat.

Yet the sooner that you finish one song, you can get to the next.

I don’t necessarily apply this to all pursuits, and it’s definitely not an excuse for sloppiness. But I find that striving for perfection is just a recipe to quash production.

Strive for good. There is no perfect. Check out my new song, “Wandering, Wandering Me” and read the lyrics, below. You can find more from me at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic


“Wandering, Wandering Me”
Copyright 2018, Ryan Welton

Verse:
I have a hard time trying to stay in one place
One day I’m here then I’m gone with no trace
Though it might be hard to swallow
I do not want to be followed
It’s just wandering, wandering me

I like to take the back roads Into small country towns
One minute I’m your neighbor then I’m never around
If you think it’s cause I’m flaky
You can take me at my word
It’s just wandering wandering me

Chorus:
Baby, I remember Tulsa, Oklahoma
Summer nights of harmless fun
Then I packed my bags and drove to Texas
With the sun
Put a lot of miles on
Never took a day off
Saddle up, and there I’d go
And there’s not a single minute
Hardly even seconds
I’m not missing you so

Verse:
It’s mostly human nature as I know it to be
I wanna settle down, but I want to be free
Free to write some songs and organize
But end my day deep in your eyes
It’s wandering wandering me

 

What do you like to put in your smoothies?

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I’m on kind of a health kick in the days after mom’s passing, not because I recognize my own mortality but because I recognize my own frailty. I just need to shed a few pounds and be more purposeful about what I put into my body.

It’s a daily, hourly struggle.

So, I’m on a smoothie kick.

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However, I’m a novice and would totally love your input as to ingredients and recipes that would work with a simple Magic Bullet appliance. My go-to recipe is pretty easy, actually:

  • Spinach
  • Banana
  • Cherries
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Greek yogurt
  • Milk
  • Honey

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I’m looking to maximize my satiety throughout the day and the health benefit of anything I eat first thing in the morning. I’m also trying to get good at the process of making the smoothie, which can take more time than you’d expect if you don’t mix the ingredients just right.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share my favorite combos — and an update on how much weight I’m shedding due to some simple changes in diet.

I always remind myself: You can’t outwork your mouth.

Diet first. Exercise second.

Why voice-activated customer service sucks, a.k.a. Suddenlink is the worst

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It might be hard to write this without coming off as self-righteous because just as there is bad customer service, there are bad customers. But, man, does customer service suck these days. It’s worse than ever, and we just put up with it.

One example came to light days after Mom’s death, when I had the task of getting her utilities put into my name while we sold her house and/or shutting off other utilities. It meant that I had to call a call center.

There are few hells quite like calling a call center.

And that brings me to the ultimate premise of my post: why is that the government doesn’t regulate voice-activated customer service systems? Shouldn’t public companies be forced to give you a “Press 0 to speak with a customer service representative” up front?

I think they should.

We know why companies don’t do it. It’s because they don’t want you talking to a person who costs them money. I don’t extend that so far as to say it’s because the company doesn’t care about its customers. On the contrary, companies try to keep labor costs down to keep prices down, which ultimately benefits the greatest number of people. It’s why only three checkout lanes are ever open at any given WalMart.

Long story short, I had to make contact with three companies initially: AEP (which owns Public Service of Oklahoma), Oklahoma Natural Gas and Suddenlink Communications. I needed to let them know my mother had died and that the bill needed to be sent to me for the foreseeable future. In the case of Suddenlink, I needed to shut off internet and cable service.

I’ll start with the good, actually great. AEP’s voice system gives its customers a “speak with a customer service” option pretty close to the top. And they were empathetic, friendly and efficient. Loved them.

Next came ONG, Oklahoma’s natural gas provider. They weren’t bad, but it took awhile to get to a human. Once I did, they were empathetic and efficient.

However, my experience with Suddenlink Communications might rank as an all-time worst. First, they have no “speak to a human option” in their voice-activated menu. To me, this is extra bad when you consider that municipal governments contract with these vendors. Cities should hold these businesses to a higher standard, and citizens should hold their representatives to account.

I had to trick the system into getting me a human.

And when I reached Charisma (ironic), I explained my situation. She started asking me for pin numbers and or a SSN, identification marks of some sort, and I get it. However, I reminded her that ultimately there would be no privacy complaint because their customer was dead.

Mind you, this is after 15 to 20 minutes (no exaggeration) of sitting on the other end of a phone, time completely wasted.

Charisma proceeded to explain that I’d need to drive the equipment an hour to their Muskogee office, an hour from Mom’s residence of Henryetta because that Suddenlink office had been closed. I was later told by a Suddenlink employee that they had brought in a manager to run the Henryetta office only to close it two months later.

My other options to return the equipment were to mail it in at my expense or toss it all in the Arkansas River and pay a fine. I’m only sort of kidding about that last option.

Where I have a beef is in comparing this experience to my delightful experience with DirecTV. When I abandoned them for Cox Communications a few months ago, I was able to take the equipment to a UPS Store and have a UPS employee take care of it from there. It’s a brilliant arrangement they have, great customer service that I’ve seen repeated by UPS especially over the years.

So, my brother and I drive to Muskogee to return all of their cable equipment.

After some cordial conversation and the junior employees lamenting their own company by telling us the story of why they didn’t have a Henryetta office, I wrote a check, explaining to them that we only had temporaries as we could not write a check from Mom’s account and had to create a new one — and, yes, I know I could have just paid myself and had my brothers Venmo me their share.

At this point, I kind of hated them and wasn’t going to budge.

But they were cool with a temporary check until it was written and a manager stepped onto the floor and said she wouldn’t take it.

I assured them it was good and that we didn’t plan to be continuing customers.

She said she wouldn’t take it.

And I told her she would or not get paid, and added, “It’s done,” walking away in disgust.

The experience was bad from the start because Suddenlink Communications didn’t even pretend in its voice-activated customer service system to be interested in connecting one person to another, and a conversation in this instance could have soothed everything.

The free market types will be saying, “More regulation? No way.” Why burden companies with having to hire more customer service representatives when customers can take care of basic tasks themselves.

The problem is that many tasks are not basic, and the customer shouldn’t bear the burden of fighting through corporate frugality to get some help. Online chat helps somewhat for some companies, but not everybody is digital. Not everybody can see. Not everybody can hear. Not everybody can walk or talk, and yet there have been strides made over the years to give people equal access under the law.

This wouldn’t be as socially important as that, not by any means. However, being able to talk to a customer service representative for any publicly traded company should be part of a customer’s bill of rights, a simple Federal Trade Commission protection that big government can give the little people.

As for Suddenlink Communications, in a moment when a little empathy would have gone a long way, they made every effort to come off as massive butt-heads. They’re the worst.

‘This Is A Beautiful Life:’ Clean House, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

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We are selling this house for $74,900 in honor of our mother. The home was owned by two families in 80 years, both of which kept the house immaculately. We’re open to any offer, but frankly, it’s a steal as-is. Three bedrooms, one bath. New HVAC. Great roof.

Terrific, safe neighborhood. Henryetta schools. Centrally located.

You can call me directly at 405-996-0586.

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Even if you expect the death of a loved one, one can’t quite know how you’ll react the moment you get the news.

With my dad in 2003, I was home at my apartment in Dallas at 1:30 on a Sunday morning when I got the call from Mom. I let it roll to my answering machine, but I knew what it was, and I could hear the pain in her delivery.

Mom’s pain and struggles are no more. She passed away on June 5 at 12:28 p.m.

I was in the parking lot of my employer, KWTV News 9 in Oklahoma City, on the return side of a trip to Panera, where I got my lunch usual: a Greek quinoa salad with broccoli cheddar soup. My brother, John, who is a fantastic nurse with hospice expertise, texted our group that “she passed peacefully,” and a second time to reiterate, “Just to let you know: mom has passed away.”

While I expected it, it was still a shock.

The immediate wave of emotion was pretty intense, but it didn’t last long and subsided into a mopey sadness, at least for the rest of the day. I went home and ate my sad little Panera lunch, shot some hoops and mowed the yard, simple distractions from the tasks at hand.

Task 1: Meet up at Integrity Funeral Service at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Task 2: Do everything Mom wanted us to do, things we had discussed for the past two years at the very least.

We were prepared.

Mom had been super specific about her wishes. No funeral. No newspaper obit. Hell, she didn’t want us parading her photos on Facebook either, a one-way ticket, she said, to her haunting us for eternity. I will test that one eventually, which wouldn’t come as a surprise to Mom, although the focus will be on the early years and the mom I remember growing up.

But she didn’t really want us posting the news or announcing it to the world until we got some things in order, to make sure her will was executed precisely as she wanted. She had a distaste for people wearing their emotions on their sleeve publicly, and she was a big fan of people who led their lives privately with quiet and dignity. I remember when David Bowie died that Mom really liked how private he had been about his cancer and how, poof, he was just gone.

“Classy,” she’d say.

“Death, a necessary end, will come when it will come,” William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Our mom was 79, the youngest of seven children born to Ava Caldwell of Marysville, Ohio. However, she had lived in Oklahoma since the mid-1960s when she married our dad. After he passed 15 years ago, we kids vowed to help mom wherever we could, and we did.

She didn’t drive of her own choosing, so for the past 15 years we drove her to Walmart and to Tulsa and to wherever she wanted. My brother Charles did that for years before his move to St. Louis, and I took the baton about midway through. And then there was my brother John, the nurse. If you don’t have a great nurse in the family, get one. I know that nurses make good money, but I’m not sure that they aren’t still underpaid.

Good nurses, that is.

I talked to Mom every day on my drive home from work, even up to the week before her death, which made her sudden demise a tad odd. She had suffered from COPD for years, and while she would from time to time suffer dips in health and had lost weight gradually over time, she had really lost a lot of weight in the month before her passing. However, we had texted as recently as May 29 and had FaceTimed each other on May 30.

Her final text to me came on May 29:
feel better today!! Going back to bed this afternoon!

We called the past two years “bonus time” after an exacerbation almost killed her in 2016. Mom got super serious about her will, her wishes and her care. At the time, there was some talk about hospice, but Mom insisted that she wanted to fight through it — and she did for two more years. During that time, we had many more trips to Tulsa, to Walmart, to lunch and dinner and a lot of laughs and discussions about the day’s news.

She squeezed the ever-loving most out of life, and we squeezed back.

At Mom’s request, we hired an estate attorney, and we got her wishes codified. If I could offer one piece of advice to any of my peeps between 20-50, encourage your folks to make a will and to keep their estate out of probate. It’s been a godsend. Heck, lots of folks are disbursing their estates before they pass, putting homes into the names of their heirs and distributing money. You don’t need the extra headaches after a loved one passes.

I called attorney Michelle Nelson, from Tulsa, the week before Mom’s passing, to let her know we didn’t think Mom would make it this time. The night before, I had started getting LifeAlert calls (with a Los Angeles area code) at 11:30 p.m. While John headed south to be at Mom’s, I navigated the discussions with the LifeAlert operator.

It was clear that the time had come for hospice and a focus on continuous, palliative care. Sometime I’ll blog about COPD and how it progresses and how to manage it, but I’ll also write about the reality of a lung capacity that shrinks to zero and how life-extending devices such as a BiPAP eventually lose their effectiveness.

She stopped wearing the BiPAP a couple of weeks prior, a proverbial white flag to what is a devastating condition. Besides, it made the inside of her nose really, really, really sore. I don’t blame her for not wanting to wear it.

She didn’t verbalize it, but her actions spoke it:

“Enough,” she said.

There is a lot of stress associated with caring for a loved one, in whatever capacity you do so. I internalize stress, but a lesson I learned from Dad’s death is that a grieving person needs to give themselves a whole lot of slack, for weeks and months even.

Be good to yourself, I’d tell other people in the same situation.

Kristi and I visited Mom over the weekend of June 2-3, and it did not look good. I did what I do: I mowed her yard. In the world of love languages, that’s how I show affection: I do stuff for you. Labor.

John and Tammy and Charles and Rebecca were with Mom continuously, and a hospice nurse named Candace helped immensely. Truth be told, there are dozens of nurses who helped Mom over the years, and they were all excellent…and interesting. Mom told me about all of them.

While Mom’s end was ultimately fairly sudden in terms of actual demise, COPD is a condition that had progressed for 21 years. Heck, it really started with a severe asthma attack she suffered back in 1985. For the past several years, I had gone about my daily life mildly worried about getting that text or that call that something had happened or that Mom has being taken back to the hospital.

It was mild stress, worried mostly that she might be suffering at any given moment.

For the record, I never minded the hospitals part of it. In fact, I like ’em, St. John’s in Tulsa, especially. Mom did, too, and that’s why she wanted to be taken there. We both detested Hillcrest, which we unaffectionately called Killcrest after Dad passed from sepsis in March 2003. But St. John’s is in a beautiful part of the city, near Utica Square, and their cafeteria was pretty sweet. Good pie. We’d often sneak snacks up to Mom.

And then when Mom would get released, we’d go eat at Olive Garden across the street.

St. John’s is also where I was born 47 years ago.

Alas, the realization set in pretty quickly last week that there’d be no more hospital visits, no more weekend grocery trips or afternoon conversations. That part makes me sad. However, the realization also set in that Mom and I actively stayed engaged via FaceTime and texting practically every day, at least 30 minutes to an hour every day for the past five years. Initially, we started that routine as a way for her to help me from dozing off in traffic along Interstate 235.

I quickly figured out that we had birthed a ritual that would ultimately comfort me for the rest of my life.

Mom also got to know my Kristi, as she knew Rebecca and Tammy, my brothers’ wives. A mother’s stamp of approval is a big deal.

Of course, Mom loved her grand kids and extended grand kids as well. Immensely.

Mom had a great friend in a local woman named Betty, a friend of the quality Mom hadn’t had since Edith Heathcock passed away suddenly in 1981. Betty took Mom to the store and to wherever she needed for during-the-week errands. Mom also had an extended family thanks to the Maddux crew out of Tulsa, relatives of my brother John’s wife.

They are part of my family from here forward as well.

There are many people who regret not being there for a loved one in their time of need or at the end of their life. That is not us whatsoever. And I think if you asked Mom, she would echo the no regrets, aside from not ever taking the time to travel to England before her COPD kicked in. I’ve got two vials of ashes, one to spread in San Francisco and one to spread in London, the two places she wanted to visit most.

The meeting with the funeral home was pretty straight forward. We had worked with Jimmy Spurlock’s crew previously in 2003 when Dad passed, and I joked that we might ought to get a volume discount. I always appreciated how willing Jimmy and his team were willing to comfort by reflecting the personality of their customers.

In our case, it’s through humor, often a dark, morbid humor.

And telling stories.

I plan to tell several of them via my blog over the next few months and years, as writing and content creation is genuinely therapeutic for me. However, we also discovered a gold mine of content from Mom’s collection of letters over the years: notes from her mother, Ava, and letters from our very serious grandfather, The Rev. W. Roy Welton, of McAlester. He was very fire-and-brimstone. All written in the 1960s and 1970s, these letters paint a picture of a world much simpler than ours, slices of Americana during an era when a handwritten letter was the equivalent of a Facebook Message or iMessage.

I have hundreds of family photos to get digitized for my brothers and me.

I have some videos of Dad from back in the day that I need to get digitized.

And so much more work to do, including helping Mom and Dad find their final resting place, which has been a tale unto itself. Folks are apt to say to the grieving, “She’s in a better place now,” but I would tell them that she’s actually in my car, at least until I can get her to my house in Norman, awaiting hers and Dad’s final destination at the cemetery in McAlester across from Tandy Town.

Mom loved McAlester. We used to go to The Meeting Place on Choctaw two or three times a year on Sundays.

And she would have found that “she’s actually in my car” joke damned funny.

But back to the task at hand: Aside from financial dealings and all sorts of communications that have to happen when a loved one passes, we needed to get Mom’s house in order, get it emptied and get it on the market. With the help of Tammy, Rebecca and Kristi, my brothers and I were able to get it done in a week.

We spent the first couple of days going through papers and documents and photos and gadgets, doohickeys and thingamabobs. John had a pile of things he wanted to keep. Charles did, too, and I as well. We also had a pile of things to give to Goodwill, and Kristi got us set up on Facebook to sell bigger items. Before Mom died, I had thought we might need to hold an estate sale, and I fully realize now that in 2018, you just need an active, local Facebook group.

For the first two or three days, we toiled for 7-8 hours and then had dinner together. This week, it was more like 10-hour days and upward of 2,000-3,000 miles on my new Subaru. We stayed the night in Tulsa a couple of nights, but much of the week, we just commuted — my brothers to the Tulsa area and Kristi and I to Oklahoma City. To say that the effort of the past week was a bonding experience, I believe, is an understatement although we were already pretty well bonded.

We recommitted however to get together more as a group and have Christmas together, rotating homes each year.

It felt like the movie “The Big Chill” minus the scene where an old college friend of Alex plays “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on the organ at his funeral. Mom didn’t want a funeral because she didn’t want a random preacher who never knew her eulogizing her impersonally. She also never wanted to inconvenience people, making them feel obligated to come in from out of town.

Along the way this week, I inherited Dad’s 1964 Baldwin Acrosonic spinet piano, a model I learned might have been featured in a 1980s sitcom, perhaps “The Cosby Show,” I was told. When it’s tuned, it sounds terrific.

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We also discovered that Dad’s 1987 Buick Century had stayed in Mom’s garage since 2003, and so we recorded some video of us trying to revive it. Side note: There’s more video than just this clip. Need some editing time.

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Speaking of that garage, we cleaned it out, and that was a feat unto itself.

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As I’m apt to do, I documented the entire experience. Tons of pictures ahead, today and tomorrow and the weeks ahead.

Mom mostly wanted to make sure we carried memories with us, executed her will and got her house clean before we put it on the market. She was immensely proud of having a clean house, and we weren’t even allowed to eat or drink anywhere besides the kitchen, a rule we struggled with in the first days after her passing.

So many more stories to be told, but the first one ends like this: Mission accomplished, at least on the primary fronts. Each of us took home multiple loads of stuff, memories and gadgets, furniture and more. We carried out her will to a T, thanks to Michelle’s legal work and the guidance of Danyiel Green at American Exchange Bank. And we got the house cleaned with a lot of Welton hustle and on the market thanks to our new friend, Jill Francis.

I could not have done that without the support of my boss and fellow managers and colleagues at Griffin Communications, who granted me the latitude to take care of Mom’s business.

This house was full as of June 5.

John, Charles and I along with Tammy, Rebecca and Kristi put in long hours to get this place in order. I’m really proud that we were able to come together and get this done so efficiently.

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People grieve differently, and I grieved as much during the last two years after the exacerbation of 2016 as I have this past week. One was long and anticipatory, and the other a finality. Heck, wherever Mom is, she’s likely celebrating that she went first as she was always afraid I’d die in a mass shooting or drop dead of a heart attack while running. She really was. At the end of our daily conversations, we went through an odd, comedic routine that included her advising me to “watch my back.”

However, she was also fond of saying, “Kid, I’m the best friend you’ve got,” and “This is a beautiful life.” Even in the face of worsening health, she’d say that.

The latter is a sentiment I also hold. This is indeed a beautiful life. We’ve won the lottery insomuch as we’re human and alive, at least right as of this moment. There are very few circumstances that aren’t extraordinarily fortunate, especially if you live in America. I’m not closed to the idea that one could also replace ‘America’ with many countries around the world, too.

The point is: Gratitude is everything.

Anyway…

We still have some work to do, ultimately, to carry out Mom’s wishes.

I need to get with Zeke down at Oak Hill Cemetery in McAlester and contact his monument guy to get a headstone done for her and Dad. And then I’ll need to schedule a burial. It took us a little bit to even figure out where Roy and Beulah Welton were buried. Long story short, we had to establish that before moving forward on the other.

Mom’s house will sell quickly. It’s an 88-year-old house that has had two owners, and it’s in mint condition. But I’ll have to go back to mow the yard a few times and be there for closing when it sells.

And then we need to go see the world.

And turn up the music, especially Raul Malo, Chris Botti, Sting, Michael Jackson, Bee Gees and George Michael, and many more. Beyond any of these, Mom especially loved Chris Botti and George Michael.

We need to work hard, be kind and stick together.

Because this is indeed a beautiful life.

 

 

Running trail between Alexandria and Mount Vernon is fantastic

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Before I visited Lake Anna and the swamps of north-central Virginia over the Memorial Day weekend in 2018, I visited Old Dominion in March 2017 when it was considerably colder.

As long as wind isn’t involved, I’ll take colder over hotter any time.

The reason I’m posting this blog is because in my previous blog about Lake Anna, I referred to an awesome running trail in the Alexandria area. It brings to mind something that was announced in my home metro of Oklahoma City. Leaders recently announced that they would connect the entire city via bicycle and pedestrian trail, which I think is highly commendable.

Oklahoma City is improving, step by step and day by day. Underrated li’l city we have.

But Alexandria is an incredible area. It’s where affluent D.C. pros live. There are lots of government careerists, military lifers, politicians and communicators alike and the people who love and support them. To me, it feels like a city of high achievers.

Slackers not wanted.

And near the house where we planned to stay but eventually didn’t because a kiddo had the flu, there was a trail. It was a paved trail that went for miles and miles between Alexandria and Mount Vernon. I don’t know how many miles it went, but I ran four miles worth — and as usual, I took photos.

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And recorded a couple videos.

It was 39-40 degrees that day, which at that point was the coldest weather in which I had ever run. I really, really enjoyed this run, and it makes me look forward to what OKC is doing relative to pedestrian trails. It’s a big deal, and it should be a priority. It encourages exercise and wellness, and it could lessen our dependence on cars and ultimately reduce health care costs as we get older.

Total win-win, even if it costs us a few dollars in taxes.

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