Thursday, April 30, 2009

5 Pounds of Dirt

Five of the ten pounds gained around the girth of my stunted little frame since the turn of the new year have come from dust I breathe. The stuff is everywhere -- carried by this incessant wind. It is in ample supply due to the drought. I feel like one of the thousands of extras used in the filming of Lawrence of Arabia. Stand too long outside and the tongue slides across teeth peppered with grit. It's best to be a listener rather than a talker these days.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Then and Now

Above, my workplace one year ago.
Below, my workplace today.
There IS a God in heaven.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Since returning from Japan last December I have not read one page of a book. There is no explanation and I do not understand the cause for the lapse. This weekend I made a decision to begin reading again. It should not be difficult. Prior to returning to the States I had read daily and voraciously all my adult life. I used to mentally carve notches in my memory to mark the number of books I read -- sort of like Casanova carving notches on his headboard to keep track of his conquests. So I bought a book Saturday at Barns & Noble. It is Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses. I have read him before.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stand by Me

"Stand by Me" was written by Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller way back in 1961.

Illegals, Drugs... now Flu

What's it going to take before our borders are secured? God only knows what diseases illegals are bringing into the land of the free and the home of the brave. Third world countries are doing a better job of securing their borders than is Uncle Sam.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Weekdays my wife and I supper together -- always have. On weekends we take every meal as a couple, but suppertime this evening got me to thinking about family meals from my childhood. If there is one thing I miss about my childhood years it is the ritual of suppertime. It no longer exists as we practiced growing up in my household. We did not "graze" like cattle all day, nibbling on snacks. We observed set meal times and supper was the best. Of course, Mom would be busy in the kitchen. I still remember the glazed navy blue platter she served her delicious tortillas on. She would stack them up high and cover them with a cloth. Sometimes she would bury a small coaster-sized tortilla in the middle of the stack. It was made from the last of the tortilla dough. As the stack of tasty tortillas was depleted, revealing the little tortillita, I experienced the same sensation as when the Cracker Jack prize spilled out of the box.

We were permitted to take our places at the dinner table, but out of deference to the man-of-the-house, we did not reach for any food until Dad had washed, been seated and served himself. Then it was every one for himself. Dad's place was at the head of the table, and as was the custom, Mom ate last. Supper was a good time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Perfect World

Had I been raised in a perfect world all those many years ago God Himself would have commanded the sandy loam on the dirt road in front of our ranch house to erupt into the air in a whirlwind and fall back to the earth reconstituting itself into a Barnes & Noble. That did not happen, but the less-than-perfect world I grew up in did not prevent a love of books and reading to take root. An appreciation of reading is as important in human development as a nutritional diet, and to that end my wife and I treated my little friend Evan to a trip to Barnes & Noble in Corpus Christi. He was not bored in the least. There is fertile soil in that little brain for the literary seed we helped plant. We believe the root is well established. We'll keep watering and let nature take its course.

Friday, April 24, 2009

End of the Work Week

¡Que lindo trabajo! When the clock strikes five this boy simply pushes away from his desk and begins the weekend. At eight in the morning on Monday he sits behind the keyboard and picks up where he left off. ¡Que lindo trabajo!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I See Dead Places

In the 1999 the Oscar-nominated picture "The Sixth Sense" the 9-year old Cole Sear tells child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe, "I see dead people." That was just a movie, and a very entertaining one.

These days I find myself seeing dead places. Driving around town I look on the boarded up store fronts of long-closed businesses and the empty shells of old buildings that once knew better days and with a grain of imagination I can conjure up what thrived there many years ago. It's like walking amongst the graves topped with gray and white tombstones in the town's cemetery. In the present only the grass and weeds cover the ground, but in my mind's eye I remember some the people; some old, some young. And just like the departed who are no longer with us, the old places in town exist only as phantoms. I see them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lunch Treat

The BOSS treated a good number of us from the company to lunch. Thanks, BOSS.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It's been a long time since I had rabbit. Today's was bagged at work. It was pink and very tasty. You would think that the person who conjured up this pretty little thing would want it preserved for the ages -- admired and appreciated for the talent that went into making it. Instead, we hold it up for a second or two to delight in what at first is a visual treat... and then we eat it -- destroying a small work of art. It is odd.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The 2nd Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

There was a time if a wetback came on the property all they wanted was a bit of food. Most were willing to work for it. Like a covey of quail a handful of them would be huddled some distance from the ranch house while one would approach the back door, mindful that one or more dogs may be lying in wait. He would know that it is the ones that do not bark that would be on him before he knew it -- at best taking a nip out of his pant leg or ripping into the calve at worst. Mom would ask through the screen door how many were in the party. The wetback "scout" would offer a number then Mom would fix up a platter of sandwiches and some Kool-Aid to wash them down with. Soon they would be on their single-file march north, leaving their thanks and trash behind.

Those days are gone. There is too much of a criminal element coming across the border these days. Wetbacks used to be desperate men sneaking North in search of work. No more. Mom keeps the doors locked and she no longer prepares sandwiches of cold meats for wetbacks. After today's event she said she ought to keep a handgun close by. This was coming from a woman who abhors any kind of firearm. Ranch living isn't what it used to be when I was a boy.

This afternoon, five minutes before quitting time my cell phone rings. It's Mom. She never calls during office hours unless it is important. It seems that a truck running a load of illegals had torn through a barbed wire fence a few miles south of the ranch house. Evidently they were being pursued by sheriff's deputies when they decided to leave the highway and cut through the brush. It's worked before, only not this time. Discouraged by too much brush and too few roads the coyotes were forced to abandon their stolen vehicle and scatter -- every wetback for himself.

Now there are a dozen or more of them in the brush, probably headed north toward town. Normally, that would not be to much of a concern for me, but at about the same time Mom is sitting comfortably in her cozy bedroom working on her crossword puzzles -- and her place is between the wetbacks and town. The ranch owner calls and advises her to be watchful and a couple of minutes before she called me at the office she was watching one of them outside her front door. I was pulling up to her house ten minutes after she called -- wishing I had a sidearm. Instead, an old grubbing hoe handle I happened to have in the back of my pickup and a silent prayer were all I had for defense. There was no sign of the wetback. If there is a next time I am going to have something more substantial for defense. It won't be an old grubbing hoe handle.

The Hand of God

Last evening my little friend Evan was paying more attention to the fading sky than I was. Pointing to the west he says, "Look! The sky looks like a hand."

Studying the canopy of blues and pinks over our heads for a couple of seconds I looked down at him and said, "It's God pulling the night over Benavides." He just looked up at me, not understanding what it was I said.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

NRA Safety Rules

1. Keep the rifle pointed in a safe direction.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3. Keep the rifle unloaded until ready to use.
4. Know your target and what is beyond.
5. Know how to use the rifle safely.
6. Be sure the rifle is safe to operate.
7. Use only the correct ammunition for your rifle.
8. Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.
9. Certain types of rifles require safety precautions.
10. Keep rifle clean.

It is incredible to watch the feats of precision a trained individual can perform with an automatic rifle.


(I wish I had written this, but someone beat me to it.)

And it came to pass in the Age of Insanity that the people of the land called America, having lost their morals, their initiative, and their will to defend their liberties, chose as their Supreme Leader that person known as The One. He emerged from the vapors with a message that had no meaning; but He hypnotized the people telling them, "I am sent to save you. My lack of experience, my questionable ethics, my monstrous ego, and my association with evil doers are of no consequence. For I shall save you with Hope and Change. Go, therefore, and proclaim throughout the land that he who preceded me is evil, that he has defiled the nation, and that all he has built must be destroyed."

And the people rejoiced. For even though they knew not what The One would do, He had promised that it was good; and they believed..

And The One said "We live in the greatest country in the world. Help me change everything about it!"

And the people said, "Hallelujah!! Change is good!"

Then He said, "We are going to tax the rich fat cats,"----

And the people said "Sock it to them!"

Then He said "---- and redistribute their wealth."

And the people said, "Show us the money!"

And then He said, "Redistribution of wealth is good for everybody."

And Joe the plumber asked, "Are you kidding me? You're going to steal my money and give it to the deadbeats??"

And The One ridiculed and taunted him, and Joe's personal records were hacked and publicized.

One lone reporter asked, "Isn't that Marxist policy?"

And she was banished from the kingdom!

Then a citizen asked, "With no foreign relations experience and having zero military experience or knowledge, how will you deal with radical terrorists?"

And The One said, "Simple. I shall sit with them and talk with them and show them how nice we really are; and they will forget that they ever wanted to kill us all!"
And the people said, "Hallelujah!! We are safe at last, and we can beat our weapons into free cars for the people!"

Then The One said, "I shall give 95% of you lower taxes."

And one, lone voice said, "But 40% of us don't pay ANY taxes."

So The One said, "Then I shall give you some of the taxes the fat-cats pay!"

And the people said, "Hallelujah!! Show us the money!"

Then The One said, "I shall tax your Capital Gains when you sell your homes!"

And the people yawned and the slumping housing market collapsed.

And He said, "I shall mandate employer- funded health care for EVERY worker and raise the minimum wage. And I shall give every person unlimited healthcare and medicine and transportation to the clinics."

And the people said, "Gim'me some of that!"

Then he said, "I shall penalize employers who ship jobs overseas."

And the people said, "Where's my rebate check?"

Then The One said, "I shall bankrupt the coal industry and electricity rates will skyrocket!"

And the people said, "Coal is dirty, coal is evil, no more coal! But we don't care for that part about higher electric rates."

So The One said, "Not to worry. If your rebate isn't enough to cover your expenses, we shall bail you out. Just sign up with ACORN and your troubles are over!"

Then He said, "Illegal immigrants feel scorned and slighted. Let's grant them amnesty, Social Security, free education, free lunches, free medical care, bilingual signs and guaranteed housing..."

And the people said, "Hallelujah!!" And they made him King!

And so it came to pass that employers, facing spiraling costs and ever-higher taxes, raised their prices and laid off workers. Others simply gave up and went out of business and the economy sank like unto a rock dropped from a cliff. The banking industry was destroyed. Manufacturing slowed to a crawl. And more of the people were without a means of support.

Then The One said, "I am the The One - The Messiah - and I'm here to save you! We shall just print more money so everyone will have enough!"

But our foreign trading partners said unto Him, "Wait a minute. Your dollar is not worth a pile of camel dung! You will have to pay more..."

And the people said, "Wait a minute. That is unfair!!"

And the world said, "Neither are these other idiotic programs you have embraced. Lo, you have become a Socialist state and a second-rate power. Now you shall play by our rules!"

And the people cried out, "Alas, alas!! What have we done?"

But yea verily, it was too late. The people set upon The One and spat upon him and stoned him, and his name was dung. And the once mighty nation was no more; and the once proud people were without sustenance or shelter or hope. And the Change The One had given them was as like unto a poison that had destroyed them and like a whirlwind that consumed all that they had built.

And the people beat their chests in despair and cried out in anguish, "Give us back our nation and our pride and our hope!!"

But it was too late, and their homeland was no more.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Un Chiste

At a small town trial the prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand, an elderly woman. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

"Why, yes. I know you. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you will never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?

"Why yes. I've known him since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women and one of them was your wife. Yes, I know him."

The defence lawyer almost died.

The judge told both attorneys to approach the bench and in a very quiet voice said, "If either of you SOBs asks that old hag if she knows me, I'll throw your sorry asses in jail for contempt."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hasta Que Llovió

Rain finally fell from the heavens this afternoon and in enough quantity to make puddles. This is both good and bad. With scattered showers forecast for tomorrow I will have to rely on memory to avoid the pot holes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Will Be New

I unbutton my shirt and lie on my back, feeling the warmth ebb from the concrete. The sun feels good on my face. Waves lap the sand only a few feet away, lulling me into a half sleep. Sea air fills my lungs like a narcotic coursing through a vein. Every muscle is relaxed. I feel good. The breeze sighs in the palms overhead and in the distance the laugh of gulls accents the air. The troubled mind bleeds off its toxins and begins its rest, its recovery.

I often wonder why this place is so comforting and I always draw the same conclusion. No evil exits here. All is well. Every breath I draw is an elixir bringing healing to my soul. I will just sleep for a while and when I open my eyes I will be new.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


A story from a credible source came to me this morning about a local man who has a pair -- a real badass. His acts of manhood are true -- inspiring, really. I just have to figure a way to write this tale in a way that protects the few innocent parties touched by his exploits. I'll do like Hollywood and change names, compress time, and combine characters. Embellishment will not be necessary. Today's post will be a work in progress. I hope I can pull it off.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Los Muertos

Too bad the dead cannot talk to us, the living. We have so many questions only they could answer. There is an old cattle branding iron hanging from a rusty nail in the garage at the Ranch that likely belonged to my grandfather or one of his brothers. None of us, the living, can say. Not even dear old dad could identify its origin with much certainty. On Easter Sunday, sitting around talking, some of us wished our old man could have pulled up a chair and sat with us, the living, so we could pick his brain. The problem is that Dad's been gone over thirteen years. No help to us, the living. The branding iron sparked more conversation that elicited even more questions that only the dead could answer. It was frustrating. We, the living, could guess, speculate and suppose, but no one could establish fact.

Too bad the dead cannot talk to us, the living, because the living don't know $#!+.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hard Times

Ours was a dry Easter Sunday in this part of the country... and I don't mean a prohibition on alcohol, thank God. The only green to be seen was on the wispy leaves of mesquites and the hardy South Texas brush. The countryside looks triste, as my mother would say. It was particularly difficult to hide the bunny's eggs with so little grass. The treats falling from the battered and busted piñata fell on ground, baked hard by the sun. The kids had to watch not to bruise their knees. People don't even want to talk about the chances for rain -- afraid they might spook it or they've just plain worn out the topic.

These days Highway 339 is host to a parade of trailers. In one direction you have cattle trailers filled with bony stock being shipped off to market and in the other are flatbeds piled high with pricey round bales. Some ranchers are more optimistic than others. Their troubles with the drought watered the root of short story.
Another Hard Year

Nobody had to tell Carl he was going to have to thin his herd. These were hard times. The parched earth was sign enough. The drought was turning his range land to dust with some help from the burning winds. If he didn't get a good rain this spring it would just about drive the last nail in the coffin for his ranching operation, and not just him, but for the better part of cattlemen in Pamoranas County. Their operations were not big enough to survive much more of this. Some of his neighbors were already downsizing. And still there were some hopefuls taking a gamble that they could get enough grass with a good 6-inch rain, if and when it came. Carl was not optimistic.

For ranchers, raising cattle had become something of a juggling act: supplemental feeding, moving cattle around to where grass was more plentiful, and paying more than two-hundred dollars for a ton of hay, which was in short supply this year because most of it was grown down in the Valley, and they were having their own water troubles down there. The last time it had got this bad Carl had sold off about a third of his stock. A handful of ranchers had already trucked some of their stock up north where grass was more plentiful, but like most everyone, he would rather keep his cows at home because trucking them was expensive.

Carl had already let some of the help go. You couldn't very well pay men to watch the land burn up. At times like this he wished his boys were around. They could be some help to him, but they'd turned their back on ranching long ago. Carl Jr. was up at school in Austin. He wanted to be a banker and that was fine with Carl. Ranching was hard, always had been, and he couldn't blame the boy for pursuing a more lucrative line of work that didn't require you stepping in cow shit every day or bloodying yourself up trying to pull a breach calf out of a heifer. The boy was practical-minded in Carl's estimation.

On the other hand, his youngest, Clayton, was a different story. The Dreamer is what he used to call him. He regretted that now. Clayton had always been fond of reading, book learning, and writing stories. After only a year of college he decided that neither school nor Texas suited him. He'd taken off for Los Angeles, said he wanted to be a screenwriter. He might have stayed closer to home if his mother, Norma, had been around, but she wasn't. The cancer had seen to that. The boys never did develop an affinity for the land, not like Carl had, or his father before him. The boys were more like their mother in that respect. Norma hadn't much cared for the ranch life, but she'd stuck by him all those years. God rest her soul. Maybe if he hadn't ventured into fatherhood so late in life he might have had a better chance with the boys. Communication had never been one of his strong suits. Carl had never seen much sense in tossing a baseball back and forth with his boys when there was always the ranch to attend to.

Carl took one last look at the stream of water the windmill was pumping out to the tank. It was discouraging -- only two fingers. A couple of years ago the stream had been four. The water table had been dropping. In mild disgust he worked up a wad of spit and let it fly in the direction of the tank. It disappeared into the dry earth leaving no trace. Things were shaping up to be another hard year.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Who Is Reading?

There is a counter on this blog that clicks off how many times the site is visited. Some days it is 10 or 15. Other times it can jump from 50 to 60 a day. Then there are long stretches when I can count the visitors on the fingers of one hand. There is no pattern to it and it really is not important. I post to this blog just like a kid scrawling on wet cement. It is just to leave a mark that says I passed this way, I was here. Today at the Easter Sunday gathering at the Ranch I learned that Michael Miller came across the blog by accident. He reads it on occasion. What I scribble on this thing matters little to me if strangers read it, but if someone who knows me stumbles on this blog..... well..., that got me to thinking. I ought to do a better job.

Michael is the grandson of my dad's longtime boss. They knew each other from 1946 to 1987. Both gentlemen have gone on to their reward. They both left their mark, too.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Flamethrower

This guy could probably find work in a circus if his day job ever fizzled out. He is my nephew -- practically fearless. The trick he learned with fire he picked up from his dad. Do not think this mini-flamethrower technique is for fun and games. It has a practical application. He uses it to roast wasps alive in their nest. He does not have anything against wasps. The kid isn't mean. My nephew is a nature-loving-dude, but wasps can become very bothersome when there is a sizable Easter Sunday crowd at the Ranch. The noise and commotion can agitate them. That only encourages them to employ their stinger at the nearest target, usually some kid running around with a cascarone in one hand. If one of those kids gets stung they'll be bawling for an hour and that is never any fun. It takes an hour to shut one of those screaming sirens off if they get stung in just the right place. It is always above an eye or on an ear. That hurts.

Is using an aerosol can filled with flammable liquid as a flamethrower dangerous? Maybe, but in the right hands it can be a very useful tool... or weapon, as it were. You just have to be careful, but also quick. You cannot give the wasps time to react. Just pretend you are a pistolero who is faster on the draw than the wasps. They are looking at you at the same time you are looking at them, only they have more eyes to observe with than you do. This wasp eradication method has been used to good effect for many years around here, but only by a handful of "experts."

The operator of the "flamethrower" has to be absolutely calm, cool and collected. But above all... stand your ground until the job is done.
CAUTION: Kids, don't try this at home. Call an expert. Call my nephew.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dog Want To Play

Dog want to play. If Dog am not sleep, Dog want to play. Dog like water. Water feel good. Water feel cool. Day hot. Water cool. Dog play in water.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Man and a Machine

Cell phone text "conversation".

March 17... "Danny, can you dig us the mother of all pits?""
Danny... "Yes I CAN AND I WILL."
April 7... The man delivers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Karl Marx Anyone?

On an international stage Obama declares that the United States is not a nation founded on Judeo/Christian principles. For generations millions of Americans have espoused the role faith has played in shaping our country, so where is this character coming from? He implies that our nation's roots, values, and cornerstone of ethics are secular in origin. How then does he explain the words in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." --from the Declaration of Independence

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." --from the Constitution of the United States of America

What country on this good earth is this guy from? Houston, we have a problem.

I Saw A Chopper

I saw this truck pulling a trailer pass across my field of vision this morning as I approached the intersection of 339 and 359. I needed to take a left down the highway to work. The truck was hauling one of those tiny helicopters used for herding cattle. The whole package was real pro looking; shiny black pickup, trailer and chopper. Something told me the driver would be turning north on 359 toward Freer so up sped up to get on his tail. I wanted a picture. Reaching into the door pocket I pulled out my camera - switching it on - ready to snap. Considering my vantage point the best angle manageable would have to be a three-quarter shot. In the few seconds I had there would be no time to rig the camera for rapid-fire shooting. I would only get one shot. Sure enough, his turn signal began flashing for a right turn. I checked traffic, my mirrors and the position of my finger on the shutter button. There would be a short delay between the press of the button and the actual snap of the camera shutter, so I pointed the camera up like a shotgun leading a dove in flight.

POW! I nailed it.

Getting the picture may not mean a hill of beans to anyone except me, but I got it. I just love gasoline-powered machines that fly low in the sky.

The helicopter is a Robinson R22; a two-seater. It weights a little over 1300 pounds, holds 19 gallons of fuel, and can carry a 400 pound load. The machine can cruise at 110 mph and has a range of about 200 miles. The chopper consumes between 8 to 10 gallons per hour. Cost? Way too much for my budget. I realize no one gives a $#!+, but ask me if I care.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Looks Familiar

There is little to catch the eye of motorists as they zip through Benavides to points east or west, but on the corner of Depot Street and Highway 359 sits a blast of color that will cause anyone who is not color blind to take notice. At first the mustard yellow and ketchup red brought to mind the Oscar-Mayer logo, but then something about the corner location triggered another picture in my mind's eye. Now where had I seen these colors before?

Oh God in Heaven, if this were only the reality. I would be so much heavier, but oh so much more content gastronomically.

The Bunny

Whether you are six or sixty you cannot escape the charm of the Easter Bunny. This one came by the offices today and it is amazing how a six-foot piñata can draw people away from their desks to go outside and have a closer look. More amazing still is how adults will group around it to pose for a picture as if it were a celebrity. No matter how the pressures of daily existence try us adults we are all really just kids at heart and anxious to take advantage of any opportunity to be happy.

It is a relief to know I will not be the one to stuff this Easter piñata with candies. It would break my wallet.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Saw A Man

I saw a man early this morning in his company truck. At the traffic signal he turned east into the glare of a rising sun. I turned west toward my office only two minutes away. We were both on our way to work. The man was my nephew. He is 23; a product of good genes, good parenting and a good God. He has developed into a fine son for my brother. Le doy el credito, as my father used to say. My age group often looks with dismay at the up-and-coming generation, but my nephew renews my hope in the future. He is a 23-year-old man and not a 23-year-old adolescent. And as Dad would say, "y puro hombre."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cactus Blossoms

My friend Ronda is into the 21st month of her family's sojourn in Japan. The distance and separation from family and friends has been nothing short of sacrificial, but thus far their time in that most wonderful of places has been a family adventure of a lifetime. They spent last weekend in the heart of Tokyo enjoying its wonderful sights and on Sunday Ronda was good enough to post in her blog (Saenz Adventure) ... some wonderful pictures and the following observation.

"The Cherry Blossoms are in full season here in Japan. As you travel throughout Japan, the cherry trees can be seen in every direction. They are abundant on the grounds of many parks."
Twelve hours behind Ronda on the opposite side of the world I find myself into the 4th month of my layover in Benavides, Texas and spring has also visited this little corner of the world. Here is my retort to Ronda's post, but with a flair à la Benavides.

"The cactus blossoms are in full season here in Benavides. As you travel throughout town the nopalera can be seen in every direction. They are abundant in many of the abandoned and unkempt lots."

In the Same Boat

Evan sits on the dock; content with the world as he knows it. His backdrop is a scene brushed with a pallet of vivid blues and greens. His little blue denim jeans and bright red polo shirt accent this panorama like a bright jeweled tie pin, but unseen in this picturesque locale is the surrounding South Texas landscape scorched by months of unrelenting drought.

There is a small lake on the Ranch. It is not much to speak about - a large pond actually. But in the heart of this parched land any body of water, regardless of size or depth, offers a cool green oasis of comfort. For the struggling wildlife it is a lifesaver. For us, the kids-at-heart, it is a Boy Scout adventure. My little friend Evan had never been in a small boat on a lake. A couple of weeks ago I had promised I would take him out on the water. This afternoon I did, and on the same boat that my brothers and I used to paddle around in so many years ago. That little flat-bottom boat has rested on the lake's soggy shore since I was Evan's age. That speaks well for the quality of workmanship and aluminum that went into its construction.

Pictured on a March afternoon way back in 1962 are my older brother Humberto, a high school sophomore, good old Dad at 39 years of age, my little three-and-three-quarter-years-old brother Ricky, and my older sister Gloria, a junior high eighth grader at the time. Same lake... same boat... same pleasure.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I dedicate this clip to all the miserable drivers; men and women, boys and girls, and those in between who behave as if they are the only ones driving on the road. They operate their vehicles as if they were constructed of paper-mâché and not the three to four thousand pounds of heavy metal that they are. It does not seem to sink into their heads that they are behind the wheel of a moving projectile that can kill at only 1o miles per hour. I do not wish to entertain in my mind what danger these fools pose at 30, 40, 50... You get the picture. These imbeciles are a danger to life and limb.

God pity them if they hurt themselves, but I do not want to have one of these cretins bring hurt or grief to someone I know or love. Be grateful that I am not God, vengeful or otherwise, because I would do more to you than call you names.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Water Trough

The cold water was clearer than any he could remember seeing. Evan could see all the way to the bottom. The water looked so clean and inviting he was tempted to dip his little hand in and scoop some into his mouth. He would not. This was where the cows drank and he knew better than to taste it. The cows had very dirty looking mouths when he saw them drinking here. For now, he had the big low tank of water all to himself. He only had to be careful not to step on any cow poo.

That last time he was at the trough he remembered the frog that had swam along the bottom. It was a good swimmer. It had long green legs that it used to kick through the water. It moved fast. There had been tadpoles, too. He had tried to catch them, reaching quickly into the water with his arm, but they were too fast. It was fun to try to catch them. Evan knew they had a slimy slippery feel. He had once found one floating on the water, dead. He had scooped it up.

Then, as now, the water had a funny smell. It was not a bad smell. It was a different kind of smell, a good smell. It was a smell that made him remember to come to the corral first, every time he visited the ranch.

When he lost interest in the frog he turned his attention to the rocks. He liked to look for rocks in the corral and throw them into the water. He liked to hear the big plop sound that the rocks made when they hit the water just right. Floating sticks on the water was fun too. He would imagine them to be boats. Pushing the water with the palm of his hand made the surface bob up and down. This made the sticks move funny on the bouncy water. When he did that the frog would dig into the mud at the bottom and hide.

"Watch out for snakes, Evan" He could hear his friend, Atilano, calling. Every time they came to the ranch he always told him that. "Watch out for snakes!"

He knew what a snake looked like and he knew they were bad, but he had never seen one in the corral. When the water would calm down it looked like glass and he could see the blue sky and the white clouds reflected on it. He could see himself, too. Every thing looked wavy.

"Watch out for snakes, Evan!" He could hear Atilano calling out again. He knew his grownup friend loved him and he felt save when he was near.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Drive-Thru

Who came up with the concept of the drive-thru? Certainly, it was developed for the person too lazy to walk from the parking lot to the counter, yours truly included.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Peace in the World

A former student of mine, a man now, came by the office to show off his beautiful baby daughter. The baby's eyes locked with mine for just a second and at that moment she won my heart. In that instant, for me at least, there was peace in the world and all was well on the good earth.