Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Wrote a Book

It is an ebook and available on Amazon.com for only $1.99. Click HERE for a sample or to purchase. You can read it on your computer, a Kindle, an iPad, or other ebook delivery device. It is a work of fiction. Buy it and help make me rich. I always remember my friends.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It Doesn't Take Much

Dad always appreciated a good thick spread of St. Augustine grass. One of my earliest memories is of Dad carefully digging up neat squares of sod grass from our old place, circa 1958, to transplant to the yard of the ranch house we moved to when I was five years old. More than fifty years later the grass is still there, thriving.

Dad always said it was the water, and our windmill pumped good water -- sweet. To date, it is the finest tasting well water I have ever come across. The water was so soft you could hardly rinse the suds off of your hands when you washed before supper. After a bath your skin felt silky smooth and your hair was as soft as a baby's. That was long ago and Dad is gone now. Sol me quedan los recuerdos.

Dad's parents, a brother and a sister, aunts and uncles, are buried in the Salas Cemetery, a half-acre patch in the heart of what was once a great farming community in the day of my great grandfather. When my father's father was laid to rest there in December of 1957 the cemetery was bordered by farm and pastureland in all directions, but by then, the decline had begun. The farming communities that were the norm of the time, and the area, became fewer and fewer. Today, a vast tangle of mesquite brush has dominion over the land that cotton ruled a half-century ago.

Time marches on. Ours is a different age and a different economy. A good number of the old Salas clan lay underneath that ground. A couple of times a year some of the living will hoe off the weeds and tidy up the place, but our number will to perform that chore is in decline. The graves, like the memory of the people that rest beneath, are being forgotten. It doesn't take much -- just time. Before the present generation passes, the weeds and prairie grasses are going to hide them from sight.

The idea that no one would tend his grave irked Dad. Offhandedly, he let it be known that this was a great concern to him. As dearly as he loved his parents, he declared on more than one occasion that when the time came, he wished his remains to be deposited in Benavides.

"A si me ponen flores y regarán el zacatito mas sequido," was how he worded it.

He got his wish. The flowers that color his grave may be artificial, but they are bright and pretty. The grass is real. It is thick and green. At first I tried getting Bermuda grass to cover the ground there, but it would not take no matter how much effort I made. Sun, no sun, water a lot, water sparingly, aerate the soil, for years I tried. Then I did what the old man would have done. I dug up a good bit of sod grass from my brother's yard in Bruni and put it to work at the cemetery. I watered it religiously and bingo -- the grass took and thrived. Dad just had to have his way. He wanted what he appreciated most, St. Augustine.

Today I mowed it in this hundred degree heat and then gave it a good soaking for a couple of hours. Even during this miserable dry spell, the resting place for his earthly remains is green and shady -- just like he would have wanted it. The old man has been gone since the fall of '95, but I still follow orders. It doesn't take much.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Man on a Horse

From atop his mount the rider motioned down with his head to the three-year-old mare as "un paso fino," referring to the light horse breed, as well  as to how it handled. "See how she moves," he called out as the two cut figure eights between trees, posts and what obstacles could be had. The fluid motion of the pair trotting over the ground made for a graceful sight and a fine image. A bad picture cannot be taken of a man astride a saddled horse.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Easy Come, Easy Go

This short video was recorded a long time ago using an old Magnavox VHS shoulder-mounted camcorder.
Remember those?

Monday, June 6, 2011

D DAY

Sixty-seven Years Ago Today

"Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces:
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
"Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.
"I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.
"Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."
-- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
June 1944

Sunday, June 5, 2011

El Cenizo

A story came to my ears a few weeks ago; a sad one. Some kid at the high school had asked why the school yearbook was called El Cenizo. To add to the insult, another question followed. "What does it mean, cenizo?"

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Dead Fish in the Water

The boy was not bothered in the least by the stench of the dead fish. Small waves from the bay were lapping on the remains at water's edge, preventing him from examining it more closely. He turned and dashed off to find a stick.

It had been a year to the day since the boy had last stood on this narrow strip of coarse sand. The cloudy water was not inviting to him, but the place was interesting. There was that half-rotted fish to examine. He soon returned with a stick of adequate length to prod it with.

He lanced the fish with the stick and brought it up out of the water, holding it high for us to see more closely. He urged us to look. The boy was fascinated with the scales, bones and exposed organs. We declined his invitation. Our just eaten dinner was still digesting in our bellies. It was nauseating to look on it, but the slimy carcass had no effect on the boy. His disappointment in our lack of enthusiasm showed on his face. He could not understand that we had not driven this far for a good meal to come look at a dead fish in the water.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Etiquette

The lives of these proud but tattered banners at the BISD campuses could be doubled if they were only retired at the end of every workday and not left to flap unceremoniously around the clock.



It would require an employee to hoist them daily, then lower and secure them at day's end. In the present work climate, that is not going to happen.

Some would question the need to fuss with the flags at all if a light shined on them throughout the night. However, hanging limp, and bathed in the harshness of a mercury lamp throughout the long night hardly constitutes "a light shining" on them. The colors have earned more respect than that.

Many years ago Mr. Aureliano Garcia, Sr. used to perform the flag duties for the school; mornings and afternoons. Without witness or fanfare, he made certain the flag never touched the ground. Back in those days, proper etiquette was the norm.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Birthday Girl

Over the years I have seen my girl blow out a lot of birthday candles, but there weren't any today. As adults advance in years they begin snuffing out fewer candles, and instead  blow more money. Cold cash is more fun than hot wax.
Feliz Cumplea├▒os, Babe.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Uncomplicated

The long and narrow hallway linked the small brown man with the tourist families crowded into the noisy dining area. He was washing a never-ending march of dishes. Several paces from his back, fathers, wives and kids were chowing down Mexican fare. If any of them cared to pull their faces away from their food long enough, those seated at tables 3, 4 or 5 could look a couple of dozen feet down the hall and see the dishwasher rocking from heal to heal as he plucked dirty plates, glasses and silerware off a tray and ploped them into the stainless steel basin. The water was steaming hot. The collar and shirt sleeve arm pits of the brown man's shirt were damp from the steam and his sweat.

The dishwasher led an uncomplicated existence. That evening, after catching two city buses to his barrio, no one in the house would ask how his day had gone. They knew.