Saturday, February 13, 2016

A New Opportunity

            When my boss sent a memo asking me to start writing blogs I thought, “Sure. Why not?”

            Seemed like it would be fun! I tend to have a slightly skewed perspective and a strange sense of humor, but I knew I was surrounded by good solid folks who wouldn’t let me go too far into left field.

            I may have slipped one or two by them, but so far no one has complained.
So I started researching the proper way to blog over the Christmas break.

            You see, here at South Texas Tack we take what we do really seriously. All of us are looking to expand our knowledge base and we are always going to some kind of training or another.

            It’s a good day for us when a customer comes in looking for a D ring snaffle bit and we can direct them to where they are in the store. When that customer goes home happy, that’s a good day.

            But it’s a great day when a customer comes in cause the bit they’re using isn’t quite getting the job done and we get to spend a little time talking about what’s going on and what they’re trying to accomplish. Finding solutions and helping riders get to the next level in their given discipline. That’s a great day!

            So we study. We ride. We keep an ear to the ground.

            Blogging about life at South Texas Tack has felt really natural.  Being honest and talking about what it is we do here, that’s my default setting anyway.

            I’m as tech savvy as the next person, when it comes to working with a computer. Bless my college guidance counselor for talking me into taking those computer application classes.

            But computer code and network security…it might as well have all been written in Greek.

            HTML just reminds me of a really bad Scrabble hand.

            It would be really easy to let it slide and just focus on the actual writing. But, that’s not how we do things at South Texas Tack.

            So it’s time to take a step back and a deep breath. Maybe I would prefer be at the barn over sitting in front of a 
computer screen. But, I pay for my time at the barn by sitting in front of a computer screen.

            So nose to the grind stone it will be.

            Cause, as someone much smarter than me once said, “Hard is not the same thing as impossible.” 

Written by L.H. 
A cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Until the New Year

           South Texas Tack is almost always closed on Sundays. That’s how it’s been since the beginning and that’s how it’s gonna stay.

           This store is owned and operated by a local family; family being the operative word. The decision was made early on that this store needed to reflect their values. Sunday is for family. So Sunday we are closed.

           The same holds true for Christmas.

           Between Christmas and New Years we are closed. This year we aren’t opening back up till Monday, January the 4th.


           Because of family.

           The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can stress even the jolliest among us. There’s a lot to do and a finite time to do it.

           But when the halls are decked and the presents are wrapped it’s time to immerse ourselves in family, and as you know that doesn’t just mean blood.

           I met this little girl at a Christmas party this year. She’s the daughter of a friend of a friend and currently in the 8th grade. She’s hyper like I am so, of course, we found ourselves geeking out and talking too fast about the meaning of life and the shape of reality. It’s hard not to be impressed by the generation coming up behind us. They have access to information and experiences that didn’t exist in the pre internet days of my childhood.

           Sometimes it worries me. What if it’s too much too fast? But this child didn’t seem to be suffering from information overload. In fact, she seemed to be thriving on it.

           Maybe this internet thing is gonna work out after all.

           There was a bit of talk about social pressure. It’s hard for us old folk not to go there. That’s when she told me about her grandparent’s ranch. The place she goes to just be herself; to unplug.

           Which brings me back to the South Texas Tack Christmas hours.

           People around these parts don’t know the meaning of the word quit. There is no giving up. There is no too hard. We go and we push and we work ‘til the job is done.
But when the job, is done we take the time to reconnect… with ourselves and with each other.

           South Texas Tack could make money during the holidays if we stayed open. But money is not a good enough reason to ignore our values. We use this time to rest, recharge, connect, and reflect. Spending time with those who feed our souls.

           Like years past, I will be using this time to assess. What went well this year? What could have been better? My brother will generously listen to me go on and on. I’m a talker thinker and he’s an introvert… either a very good listener or a very put upon sibling. I’m not actually sure.

           Whichever side of the coin he actually falls on, I’m grateful. Grateful for my family. Grateful for my friends. Grateful for my work. Grateful for my wonderful coworkers and grateful for our amazing customers. It’s a joy to spend my days with other horse lovers and equestrians. It’s a joy to do something so close to my heart.

           Being asked to blog about it has been a bit of a shock, but I hope to adapt… at some point.

           My brother will get an earful about it.

           And, hopefully I will come back ready for whatever 2016 has to throw at us. 

Written by L.H. 
A cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Santa Claus Came to Town…

           Santa came all the way down from the North Pole to visit us here at South Texas Tack… and I missed it.

           It all started at Thanksgiving.

           I only had the one day off, so my little family came to me and we celebrated with some friends who are as close to us as blood. Fifteen of us got together to eat too much and carefully avoid all things political. The little buckaroos ran around burning off their sugar rush while the babies made mash potato art on their highchairs and the adults caught up with each other while eyeing the last of the pie.

           The tamales were a huge hit, but nothing beats four kinds of pie.

           My little sister ‘from another mister’ spends her days wrangling a room full of four year olds.  She has been teaching for a few years now and her immune system has become almost bullet proof.

           Unfortunately, she is still a carrier… and that’s when it started.

           Looking back, I can see that I have been exposed to five colds and one case of strep throat since Thanksgiving.

           And after weeks of gutting through at half steam… I went down like a felled Christmas tree.

           Missing Santa Claus. 

           He was here to take pet pictures last Friday… and I missed it.

           He stayed to have dinner with us and the Chappell Hill Historical Society… and I missed it.

           He came back Monday to help us spread a little Christmas cheer with some local kids who haven’t been feeling too well…and I missed it.

           Today is my first day back. Unfortunately, Santa has other obligations and couldn’t stick around.

           Still feeling about as steady on my boots as a newborn foal, but I’m here. Now, to make up for lost time on my Christmas shopping.

           South Texas Tack gift cards, hats, and t-shirts for everyone on my list. 

Written by L.H. 
A cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The World at our Fingertips

           My Grandmother was born in 1911. To say we had a generational gap is an understatement.
           She was a second Mother to me. Couldn’t cook worth a darn, something very unusual for her generation, but she was full of life and always a part of the important milestones.
           Even if the birthday cakes were store bought.
           She had a handful of quirks and did a few things that drove me crazy. For example, she would not talk to me about the Great Depression. It used to make me so mad. I wanted to know more than I was reading in my history books and here she was, having lived it.
           Every time she gave me the same answer: “It was depressing.”
           So not funny.
           We also had one running argument. She thought the world was going to heck in a hand basket and I thought the world seemed worse as a result of the twenty-four hour news cycle.
           The little country newspaper she grew up with mostly reported on local events. News stories from around the world and anything written in a language other than English wouldn’t have made the cut.
           We’d cover the same ground as she proclaimed “Things like this didn’t used to go on” and I’d reply “You didn’t know they were going on, but they probably were.”
           We never got much farther than that.
           She’s passed on now, but this week I haven’t been able to get those conversations to be quiet.
           Bombings in Beirut, France, and Nigeria; Student protests over race and inclusion; Young girls and women being harassed and assaulted on social media and in real life; where to begin?
           Where to end?
           I am an average citizen lucky enough to be from an extraordinary place.  I go to work, visit with friends and family, have a hobby or two, geek out with alarming regularity, and generally enjoy an unremarkable life.
           It works for me.
           But the world is always at my fingertips. We live in an ever interconnected world and what happens “there” affects us “here”. It affects us everywhere. 
Last week I was riding high. I want to find a way to give back to my amazing community.
           This week I’m feeling overwhelmed.
           It’s time for a little perspective.  
           So, last night I went out with some friends, after a stop at their barn. Both for medicinal purposes. Works every time.  And, like the geek that I am, I have gone back to the lessons learned over a lifetime from people much smarter than me.
           “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”-Gandhi
           Do what I can where I am, starting with me. No pointing fingers at somebody else. It’s easy enough for me to cuss and get twisted up about things I have absolutely no control over.
           Done plenty of that this week.
           But it doesn’t really help.
           As was so eloquently put by a British author “Continuing with your daily routine, living your life in the West, supporting freedom, liberty and democracy is battling Isis.” We could replace the name of one terrorist organization for any number of horrors. Same sentiment applies.
           I’m not an important person. I don’t have clout. But I can live my life in a way that honors the traditions of Texas. I can’t change the world, but I can attempt to improve myself and treat the people in my neck of the woods with just a little bit more compassion.   
           I say all that like it’s a done deal. Like I won’t find myself cussing over my news feed tomorrow at the breakfast table. I’m sure it will ebb and flow.
           I still laugh at the videos of people eating dirt. I’m not in any danger of becoming saintly.
           Sanctimonious maybe, but not saintly.
           But today I am celebrating my small victories. The little victory over my grief and rage. Dare I say, I’m even feeling pretty good about the odds for humanity?
           Then, another article…
           The Islamic Center of Pflugerville, Texas was vandalized. Why is there always someone trying to mess it up for the rest of us?
           Then, the story takes a turn. The kind of turn I am trying to inspire in myself.  
           Jack Swanson, age 7, donated his whole piggy bank to help pay for repairs.
           His whole piggy bank.

           Oh man, something’s in my eye… 

Written by L.H. 
A cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.

 "Boy donates piggy bank to vandalized mosque"  Author: Jeff Tavss,              
"As an ordinary British Muslim, here's what I plan to do to tackle Isis"   Author: Shehab Khan                     

Friday, November 13, 2015

Being Grateful, Thankful,

and Stepping Up to the Challenge

           Turkey Day is just around the corner. My job this year is to acquire the tamales. Thanksgiving without tamales could get me disowned, so the pressure is on.

          Veterans Day is the beginning of my holiday reflection. I know a lot of people wait for New Years, but I find that fall is the time when I start to reassess.

          So between the tamales and the self-assessment, my stress level is steadily rising.

           Which doesn’t really make any sense. This is the part of the holiday canon that is supposed to be relatively stress free.

           Our job in November is to be thankful.

           To be thankful for those who dared to take up the challenge and who walk in honor in our armed forces. To be thankful for the people who make our everyday life richer just by being near.

          But, sometimes it’s not that simple. Maybe it’s just because I’m wound a little too tight.

           Alright… a lot too tight.

           Lucky for me I found an article yesterday. Some sharp writer went out and asked armed forces personnel, past and present, how they would like to be thanked. It’s a conundrum for me every year. How do you thank someone for something so huge?

           The article had so many great suggestions, but one really stood out for me.

           Volunteer. The gist of this particular serviceman’s suggestion was to serve your country wherever you are.

           After I got whatever that was out of my eye (ahem), I realized I tend to give money but I rarely give my time. I always feel like those opportunities should go to someone with a broader skill base or someone with a better education. I feel inadequate to the task of really making a difference. Afraid I’ll make a mistake in an important situation.

           It’s the same reason I eat dirt so often when I get to ride. I’m wound too tight… and horsemanship follows character.
           So, in honor of the season’s introspection and in an attempt to say ‘Thank You’ to the men and women who serve with distinction, I am going to try. Try to get over my self-imposed restrictions and do something outside of my comfort zone.

           And true to my ‘geek-dom’, I have started to gather research on the subject. There are a lot of great organizations right here in my own backyard, and I bet if you look around your neck of the woods, you’ll find the same thing.

           So, I have a favor to ask.

           In an attempt not to get bogged down in analysis paralysis, I would like to hear your suggestions. I’d also like to hear about the organizations y’all volunteer with.

           They can be local to you or international in scope. Doesn’t matter. It would be great for everyone to see how small actions can make a big impact.

           And give us all one more thing to be thankful for.

       Then all I’ll be missing is the tamales.

Written by L.H. 
A cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.

That article I was talking about : "Here's How To Really Thank Vets For Their Military Service"

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bobbing for Boots and Another Lesson Learned

           I forgot towels.

           We were running a contest called ‘Bobbing for Boots’ and I forgot the towels. It should have been the first thing I thought of. Little buckaroos and the lil’ buckaroos at heart; all with their faces in giant muck tubs full of water and floating apples.

           Not everyone read “The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy” when they were kids. Maybe you saw the movie that came out a few years ago. One of the first rules of interplanetary hitchhiking is to always carry a towel.

           Those books are something I actually read. And yet, towels never crossed my mind.

           Regardless, not a complaint was heard, beyond the occasional “It’s cold!”. We handed our valiant competitors paper towels and dry t-shirts, and got nothing  but smiles in return.

           We made the four yard play, sans proper towels.

           Still, I’m kickin’ myself over not thinking about it.

           For those of you just tuning in, our last post highlighted the similarities between ‘grind it out’ football and our search for a breast cancer cure. We may not always make huge plays, but four yards at a time still gets the first down.

           And Halloween day we made a solid four yards, with an apple bobbing contest.

           We managed to raise over $850 dollars for MD Anderson cancer center.

           Now, before it gets to soundin’ like I’m tooting my own horn, I know that’s not a huge sum of money. We did not give cancer the boot by bobbing for boots.

           But it was another four yards, and I for one am proud of this community for coming together for this event.

           Like I said before, “It’s every bracelet. Every entry for boot bobbing. Every t-shirt. Every dollar donated online….working our way to the end zone.”

           Breast cancer awareness month is officially over, but that doesn’t mean we should let it slide. Let’s make sure the Cowgirl’s we love are taking care of themselves and talking to their doctors.

          That goes for our Cowboys too. They’ve got to see the Doc regular. Won’t be any easier than telling a Cowgirl what to do, but we have to try.

           Cause cancer comes in all shapes and sizes.

           And now there’s $850 more dollars in the pot the Doc’s reach into in their quest to give cancer the boot.

           Little successes add up, four yards at a time.

           Now, y’all know we didn’t have 85 people bobbing for boots. But, organically, almost everyone who came through the South Texas Tack doors last Saturday chipped in.

           Then, out came a cool $100 dollar bill. Someone in the crowd decided they wanted to see four upstanding members of the community bobbing against one another.

           And it happened.

           Dignity is overrated. Especially when pride is on the line. Did I mention the lil’ buckaroos at heart?

           But the big lesson from last Saturday is one I should have learned when I was younger and read the aforementioned books.

           You really should always carry a towel. It’s surprising how useful it can be. 

Written by L.H. 
A cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bobbing for Boots, Iron Man Football, 

and Giving Breast Cancer the Boot

           October is breast cancer awareness month. Around these parts everybody is wearing pink. Guys, gals, horses, and even dogs are all gussied up in their fighting pink.

           It’s got me thinking about my dad.

           He passed a while back but he had the kind of personality that people still talk about at parties and BBQ’s. Every time we get together a story gets told. Laughter always follows.

           It was cancer that finally took him from us, so anytime anyone wears a pink ribbon, bracelet, or t-shirt, I think of my dad.

           And here’s why.

           My Mom bought my dad a pink dress shirt to update his work wardrobe. He looked great in pink. It really suited his skin tone.

           That shirt never left the house.

           Not for love, money, or pride was he gonna get caught in a pink shirt. Not even on a dare.

           He was a baby boomer, Navy brat, and an old high school football player. Iron man of course. Twelve guys playing offence and defense. Making four yard plays looking for that first down. Oh, and then he joined the Marines.

           Sounds like a recipe for strict gender rules, but he was rather evolved. In touch with his emotions even.

           Which is why you could have knocked us over with a feather when he refused to wear his pink shirt.  It caught us completely by surprise.

           My dad wore a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon, but the dress shirt was just a step too far.

           Which brings me back to iron man football.

           Twelve guys making four yard plays over and over and over again.

           On Halloween day, we are having a contest at South Texas Tack called ‘Bobbing for boots’. The entry fee is $10.00 and that money is going to MD Anderson Cancer Center.

           Now, we live in a small town. Brenham Texas boasts a population somewhere around the thirty thousand mark. We will not be raising millions upon millions of dollars.

           Instead, we will be making one more four yard play.

           It’s every bracelet. Every entry for boot bobbing. Every t-shirt. Every dollar donated online.

           Four yards at a time, working our way to the end zone.

           One way or another we are going to give breast cancer the boot. Getting every guy in town to wear pink is probably just a bonus.

Written by L.H. 
A cubicle denizen we keep in the way back, back, back of South Texas Tack in Brenham, Texas.