Country Folks Can Survive

Well, COVID-19 has officially hit Guadalupe County. Whatever we may think of the social distancing measures being put into place by businesses and governing officials in our area, they are here now, a reality to be dealt with. Of course we want to be prudent, and do what we can to help the elderly and the immunocompromised among us. Amid the uncertainty and the bleak goings-on that we’re all well aware of, there is much to be thankful for. The H-E-B where I usually shop may be running low on some items I’d like to buy, but they appear to be working hard to restock. The available pickup dates for Curbside service are a few days out from when I order, but Curbside is still being offered, and encouraged, with the usual $4.95 fee being waived. The husband’s business has slowed down, but that gives him a chance to catch up on some work around the house. Last week he went out and got some baby chicks from the feed store. The chicken coop is mostly built, and a real beauty it is, too; all it needs is some decking on the porch and a little ramp for the chickens to run up. In the meantime, the chicks are residing in a high-sided watering trough in a corner of our living room, with a lovely brass lamp for warmth and ambiance. A few weeks back, the husband planted two persimmon […]

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Imaginary Conversations

I was in a seafood restaurant on North Padre when “Rocket Man” started playing, and right away a whole train of associations started in my mind. “Rocket Man” made me think of “Space Oddity”—David Bowie’s “ground control to Major Tom” song. And Major Tom made me think of Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I’ve watched this movie at least ten times. I truly love it, and its hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. I could (and might) write a whole piece on it, but for now I’ll focus on just a couple of scenes. Initially the Bowie song’s significance in the story is a negative one. Ted Hendricks, the jerk character tasked with overseeing the downsizing involved with LIFE Magazine’s transition from print to digital (Adam Scott in an unsympathetic role, with aggressively overgroomed hair and beard), taunts zoned-out employee Walter: “Ground control to Major Tom! Can you hear me, Major Tom?” before flicking a paper clip at him. It’s a pretty low point for Walter, witnessed by his love interest, Cheryl (Kristin Wiig in a not-particularly-comedic role). Up to this point in the story, all we know about Cheryl is that Walter is attracted to her and that she seems nice enough. We like Walter, and therefore we want him to succeed with Cheryl. Not much has gone his way so far. But then something happens that turns Cheryl into a character we like for herself, not just someone […]

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Horses, Dogs, and Grammar

The horses have the run of the acreage, and every so often they mosey up to the house to check in. The boss horse is Monte. He is a big boy, supposedly of mixed Quarter Horse and Belgian Draft lineage, though he has neither confirmed nor denied this, and of a confident and nosy disposition. We’ve been told that he used to work as a rodeo pickup horse–the kind whose riders pick up competitors after they’ve been tossed off the backs of broncs or bulls–but he hasn’t confirmed or denied this either. He’s kind of a reticent horse. Chevy is the latest addition to our horse community. I don’t know his lineage, and he doesn’t have a former career because he’s never been ridden, but he’s a good-looking horse who likes being with the other horses. This morning as my daughter was leaving for work, Monte placed himself slightly behind her car. She honked; he maintained a glacial calm. She started backing slowly; he didn’t move. She nudged him ever so slightly with her taillight; he shifted a greater portion of his bulk into the car’s path. At this point, Chevy decided to join him behind the car. Meanwhile, Feather, a curly black dog of unknown lineage (probably border collie and springer spaniel, but she hasn’t confirmed or denied either), was taking an interest, barking at the horses from inside the yard fence. Inspired, I opened the gate and told […]

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Another Harbinger of a Texas Fall

Welp, it’s finally happened. After weeks of hopeful peeks at my phone, the final day on my six-day forecast shows an expected high that is below 90 degrees. If all goes according to plan, next Monday, the seventh of October, the temperature here in our portion of South Central Texas will not exceed 88 on the good old American Fahrenheit scale. Bonus: the low that night will dip all the way down to 63, punching through the 90-degree-high and the 70-degree-low barriers all in the same 24-hour-period. Break out the hoodies and yule logs! This is as exciting as the First Toad of Spring. Next harbinger of fall: an actual cold front.

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How Hot Is It?

This is the time of year when Texans yearn for the First Cold Front of Fall. Oh, we all know the actual first day of fall most likely won’t amount to much. We’ll go on having 100+ degree days through October. But a cold front will be at least a possibility, and sooner or later, it’ll happen. We’ll get little respites from the heat—brisk, refreshing mornings that make the horses frisk about in the pasture and the cats on the porch sit up and take notice. The heat’ll be back with a vengeance within a day or two, but it will have lost its grip. The cool spells will get longer and cooler. Leaves will turn yellow and drop off the trees, and it’ll be something other than drought stress making them do it. The lush, waist-high weeds that crowd around me during my trips to the compost pile will wither into the spare stalks that always make me want to get out my sketchbook. We’re still a ways off from all that as of yet. Right now, it’s so hot that the cats have been seen panting in the shade of the wraparound porch. The dogs make wallows in the cool(er) dirt in the crawlspace under the house, picking up plenty of grit in their coats to be deposited later indoors. The herbage in the goat paddock is so high and robust that the goats can’t see each other […]

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