Sunday, June 26, 2011

Should you listen to the little guy sitting on your shoulder?

Messages from above?

 Yesterday afternoon we were on our way to pick up Syl's car from the dealer after getting some repairs done. I mentioned to her that I had been having apprehensions while driving at four way stops that someone was going to run one and I would get broadsided (my side).

We laughed and kidded that would'nt be a good thing and for me to pay attention and blew it off. We left my van at the dealer to go grab a bite to eat then returned and picked up my van. Sam decided to come ride with me. We made one stop and when we got home Syl was just getting out of the car? I asked why and she said "oh nothing". 

 Later she tells me that on the same street where I had mentioned my apprehension earlier she came to a four way, 1 car was just starting to stop to her left so she started to pull out. She remembered what I had said and looked a second time to the left, from left side of the car that had stopped came a second car about 80 mph blowing the stop sign. She slammed on her brakes and was missed by inches.....

Yes, I do believe. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Man and The Mule, A Lesson in Life

 Early one morning several years ago, I was passing through a small town in the Hill Country of Texas which over the past few decades, has turned into a small craftsman’s village.
   Very few “outsiders” had found their way into town yet that morning, so only the shop owners and a handful of “locals” who made this area part of their normal daily treks were seen or heard there.  They called out to each other by first name and threw to each other open ended questions such as; “how’s the wife?”; “ Hot enough for you?” or,” Seen Joe lately? “  It was obvious these questions were not really important but just a way to let each other know that they each recognized the others presence.
 In the middle of the town shopping area the main street crossed a creek and below the bridge was a small natural park area.  As I crossed the bridge I found myself looking down at a very out of the ordinary sight.
 Twenty yards or so up the creek stood a man, knee deep and about half way across the creek. Wrapped once around his buttocks was one end of a long rope which led to a large haltered mule which was standing at the edge of the creek.  The rope between the two was pulled tight as the man tried to coax the mule into entering the shallow creek.
I couldn’t help but stop to see how this dilemma was going to be resolved.  For several minutes the man continued to adjust his position in the creek, cursing under his breath or at least sending insults toward the animal for its stupidity as he continued to try coaxing the animal into its clear yet shallow water.  Each time, the mule would stand firm, waiting patiently while the man tried to show him who was boss.
Seeing me, he yelled out. “Well, do you have any ideas? I’m trying to train him to crossing the creek for when he’s pulling a wagon I have for Hay rides.” But he’s so dang stubborn.” 
“ Does he know what the water feels like that you are trying to get him into entering?” I asked.  Has he ever stood in water before?
 “No this his first time” came the reply. 
I thought for a second, and then shared with him what I thought may help.

“I think the problem is that he doesn’t know what is ahead of him.  He see’s you out there but without actually knowing what the water feels like for himself, maybe he is afraid of what it will do to him. I would stand beside him and splash water onto his front legs a little at a time so that he can feel comfortable with the feel of the water.  Then, I would try walking him into the water while walking beside him, not out in front of him trying to pull him in. 
“I’m willing to try anything at this point in time.” he said.  I watch as he followed my suggestions and after a few minutes tried to bring the mule into the water with him. 
At first the mule balked, but with a little more coaxing and the man staying calm and reassuring the animal, the mule finally took its first steps into the creek. They worked their way across and out onto the far bank of the creek.
Immediately, the man turned the animal back into the creek for the return trip with the  mule hesitating only slightly before entering the water. The return trip went uneventful and the man finally allowed himself to show a smile as they approached the near bank.
Tying the mule to a fence rail he came over to me and we introduced ourselves.  He asked how I knew what I had offered would work. 
“I’m not one of those Know it All’s, I promise you,  I just remembered that sometimes, you don’t realize that just because something is easy for you to do, it may not be easy for someone else” I said.
 “I can remember when there were times when I was in his place and was lucky enough to have someone show me the way.” 
He smiled then asked me how long I had been watching him working with the mule from the bridge before he had seen me there?
Only a couple of minutes, I replied not wanting to embarrass him. 
Hmmm. Cause if it would have been me.  My question would have surely been “So, which is more stubborn here, the man or the mule?
I hid the smile by turning away to look at the Mule one more time.
 “Naw, I would never have thought that.”  And we walked up the hill to have a nice breakfast, courtesy of my new friend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Texas Cedar Choppers, History of...

Unique Cultures within Our Great United States
One in a Series of the Research Study by John C. Glass regarding little known yet unique cultures that makes up the fabric of our Great Country. 
This article is strictly fictional and is a personal description given regarding the subject matter.  If you the reader were to find a likeness to someone you know within, it is not my fault, nor is this article meant to be demeaning toward any one person or any group of people.
In the Mid to late 1800’s a group of people started offering a much needed product for the cattle ranchers and farmers in the Central Texas area. With the invention of “Barbed Wire” came the need for a post to attach this highly effective tool too.  At first, the ranchers and farmers were able to provide their own post, but with time that resource dwindled. 
 Fortunately, along the Balconies Fault Line which split this Texas territory in half grew what became to be called the Texas Cedars Trees. When cut down, they offered excellent post for the “barbed wire” industry.  The “best” of these trees were located in the foothills of the escarpment which was hard to maneuver in.  The group of people who took on this arduous but very profitable market came to be known as “Cedar Choppers”.

These entrepreneurs learned quickly that it would only be monetarily profitable if they would spend long periods of time collecting large caches of these posts at their hill country base sites, then bring them into Austin and San Antonio periodically on double driven wagons stacked high and heavy. 
By being isolated, and not influenced by “outsiders”, these people over the next few generations taught themselves a diluted mixture of the English language with the already tangy drawl that had become associated with the frontier Texans. These adaptations allowed for a shorter more effective pronunciation of words that seemed to roll off their tongues easier and were very effective in bouncing off the sheer cliffs and ravines that dominates this isolated area of the rugged country side. 

Now, they have had to find ways to co-exist with others who have tired of the Urban Lifestyle  of the bigger citys and are finding and making their homes in these smaller Rural communities nestled deep in this beautiful hill country. 

This mixing of cultures has so far been without serious incident.  The difference in the two dialects of English is still obvious especially when pen is applied to paper by one of the descendants of the true hillcountry backwoods families.

The following is a short example of this amazing, provocative and brain twisting rural language which is a challenge to decipher...

Let's Give it a try....
 Tha Akcidint
 Mrnin Brudder Billy Joe;
Surry hya wrrr sleap winst I cums ta vizitcha, so Is rote ya thsear nott.
Ows dey tretn ya nn thsear fixumup chop?  Shurr surry bout yrr akcidint yestrda.  Ya no, I wsss rit therr winn it happn. Saw the hoe dng ting, I did.  Wisht Ida nownt ya wrrr cumin dwnt dat thrr rowd then I cuda calt ya befur ya gots thrr nnnn I cuda toltcha bout dat thrrr hoe in the rowd and I wooda ifn Ida add yur sel fown nummmer.
Twernt frrr dat I dint half yurrr nummmer ya wooda nownt bout that hoe in da rowd, nnn ya cuda swrvd ta msss it nnn ya wootna hit yrrr brks nd dat der truk bahintcha  dat semta cum owda nowrr nnn it wootna poptcha in urrrear.
Sews, now dat I gotts ya sel nummer, da nxt tim ya git a cul frum me bsur to luk in yurrr rrrrr vuw mrrrrrrrrrrrr ta see ifn a trk is behntcha sows ya dnt hit yurrr brak 2 fsssst. OK?
Bist Witches nnn cum homm sunnn.

1 oh ya bigrrrrr bruddderrrrs

INPUT Please.... What is amazing to me is that out of all my blogs, this one has been the most visited.  Most of them range from a visit rate of usually 50 or so...

This one has been visited by people from all over the world over 1700 times. 

If you don't mind, I need a little feed-back.  Tell me what it is that spiked your interest to read this. 

Don't worry.. Positive Criticism is a good thing and I don't mind, just perplexed on why it has collected so much visitations?

Thank you for your comments...


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Country Christmas Eve.....

                                                     A Country Christmas Eve
     As a young boy our large family met each Christmas Eve at my Grandparent's home. 

 The standing rule was you may miss other annual family events but you DO NOT miss

 Christmas Eve at Grandma' and Granddaddy's.   

 This is the way I remember it.

Grandma’s Living Room packed so tight that you wondered if we could get anymore
 in, but we always did. 
Cousins, each quietly sitting at the feet of each Mom and Dad as the Bible was read, then songs sang, and presents passed out. 
The Sparkler Dance with it’s hooping and hollering while the parents stood up on
 the porch admiring their claims to fame. 
The un-nerving “pop” of the Black Cats and the brilliant colors of the Roman Candles
 bringing out the Oooo’s and Ahhhhhhs of everyone who was present.
 And then of course the Bottle Rocket War.

All of these things rush back to us immediately.

But do you remember the little things?
The pile of coats so deep on the bed in the  extra bedroom
that you could have lost yourself in them.
Granddad, usually standing over in a corner without much to say but always reaching
out to ruffle our hair  as we passed by to wish him a Merry Christmas.
Grandma ‘s warm smile,  greeting everyone,  her eyes sometimes having to
 search for a hint of “who was who’s”  with one of the Aunts close by
to throw a name if needed.
The ”look but don’t touch” admiring of the new addition to 
Grandma’s Plate collection on the dining room wall.
The smells  of  ham, potatoes,  sugar, cedar, cigarettes,  black gun powder on the tips of each boy’s fingers  and Aunt ….’s. perfume, that lingered long past her passing by.
The introducing of the new cousins, or in later years,
Grandma’s and Granddad’s newest Great Grandchildren.
 Babys screaming and crying from unfamiliar arms holding them until they landed in Grandma’s lap where her gently voice and light rocking turned them into nothing but sugar and spice and everything nice,  if but for only a few minutes.
The welcoming of each “new” member or friend to the family, always a smile, always some kind of reassurance to them that there was nothing to worry about, that we were “just family and would take a little getting used to.”  Each of us giggled as we watched her or him being pushed through the crowd with that “Deer in the Headlights Look.”
I know there are many more memories that I did not catch.
So, let’s not forget the little things, the little memories that are just as important t
o share with our new members of the family.

From Our Part of The Family

 To You and Yours

Merry Christmas Eve


Thursday, March 17, 2011

I never thought I would become a father at the age of 46.....

Now I know what you are saying.  Well, 46 is not too old to become a father , but what you have to understand is,  that before I became “father “,  I was ” grandfather”.  Our Grandkids had been part of our life since the day they were born and we did what most Grandparents do which is stand to the side and watch them grow, slipping in to take them for the weekend and spoil them rotten.  
Oh what joy it was to take them into a toy store and let them go wild, picking out whatever they wanted and with the flick of the old credit card, our deed was done.  Who cared about how loud, or big or how many little pieces it had, that’s Mom and Dad’s problems.  Then Sunday afternoon we would deliver them back with a quick kiss and a “Love ya” and scurried away giggling,  betting each other which was going to wear out first the batteries or Mommy and Daddy’s nerves.
Then things changed.  Due to circumstances beyond our control, both parents made the choice to step away from their parental responsibilities.  That’s when Grandma and Grandpa became Mom and Dad.  Never was there a second thought about whether we could or should become parents again.   That’s just what you do.
To keep ours and their sanity, we decided the best way to keep the kids entertained on the weekends and during the summer months were to go on what became known as our “Texas Photo Safaris”.  Of course there was the Alamo, Galveston’s Sea Wall, The Big Bend and numerous County Fairs but the areas that we spent our best times were on the Hill Country and Central Texas back roads.

These early morning hayfields, cactus patches, creek crossings and little four-way stop sign towns. You know the ones, where the folks are sitting on the front porch or the bench in front of the feed mill store, waiting to give you a wave as you pass.  These were the backdrops we loved to see during our little adventures into the Texas Unknown.
Over the next few years I can’t think of a Texas state park, historical sites,    museums or tourist trap that didn’t get a visit by the our camera packing Clan. From a stuffed two headed calf to the giant fake twenty foot long sofa in front of the second hand furniture store we looked, we laughed and we enjoyed being a family.
There was usually no definite route or game plan. It usually started with “I don’t know, we’ll know when we get there.”   And when the elder’s physical  or mental capabilities were exhausted it would be “OK, we’re there, now let’s head back”. Thank God for Digital Cameras and portable DVD players to mellow them out in the backseat on that long ride home.
Now, ours are like most kids in their teenage year, have come to the same common conclusion that no longer does Mom and Dad know anything.  With this, comes the questioning by most parents, where did I go wrong, or who is this child?  This isn’t the same child I raised, where did my little baby go?
 Sometimes these are the days when parents find the urge to just close their eyes, reach over and hit the fast forward.  Unfortunately, some of us do that, some parents just say, OK, I’ve done my best and way too early, they set their kids free. In most cases, this is not a good idea, trust me, they still need you, remember, I’ve been here before.
As for my wife and I, one of these days, sometime in our future we will be able to step back a second time and say.  OK, we’ve done our best, and let them go to enjoy life as an adult. Then, when their kids are picked up by Grandma and Grandpa we will be able to do what Grandparents are suppose to do, whip out the old credit card, spoil’em rotten and drop them off with a “Love ya”.  Then we will turn away in our wheelchairs, riding off into the sunset snickering and wondering which will run out first the batteries or Mommy and Daddy’s’ nerves.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Country Boy Games

  Country Boy Games

        Growing up on a farm and ranch along the Colorado River below Austin in the 50’s and 60’s a young boy can only described it as a true never-never land .  All one had to do was let one’s imagination go and use the many natural resources that a Texas summer offered to keep from getting bored.   There along the banks of the river, in the shadows of the large pecan trees and down the long rows of cotton, maize and corn, it was our farm and ranch itself that offered to keep us entertained.
You have to remember the timeframe.  Back then, there were no, Pc’s, cell phones, quads or even mp3 players. The telephone was a party line where at least 3 other families shared the same line. And television, television consisted of three channels starting at 6am and shutting down with the Star Spangled Banner at midnight.
There were very few store bought games, or plastic guns emitting the rat- tat- tat sounds of those found in the city. Your gun was a stick and the sound effects came from deep within a boy’s throat and his imagination.   We didn’t have sidewalks to ride a skateboard on even if you had made one.   But there were other sports that had been passed down or made up that could be used to keep us happy. 

The Tractor Tire 500;  The object, stuff two,  possibly three boys,  depending on their size, into the innards of a tractor tire at the top of a hill.  Straps consisted of usually everyone’s T shirt or an old sheet that had been snuck out of the house and ripped into strips.
 Now in most cases the “test participants” were usually the youngest kids available but only after being chased down kicking and screaming, while they were stuffed and tied into the tire and sent down the hill before they could escape.  These trips lasted usually less than 30 seconds with the large tire finally wobbling in a large circle and settling on its side in a cloud of dust with the riders scrambling out now screaming to do it again.  In defense for the game, we only hit the barbed wire fence at the bottom of the hill once.
The Hay Barn Tunnel of Terror;   Objective: To design and build a tunnel along a 200 foot long and 20 foot high stack of hay bales. Then dare your friends, cousins and neighbors to try to best your best through the tunnel of total darkness.    Now picture this, completely dark tunnel, trying to complete the timed trip not knowing if there are turns, pitfalls or other “things” in there with you,  which there all were.  
It was only at that first touch of something furry and that banshee scream that you remembered someone mentioning that there had been a skunk found in the tunnel before. I don’t know which was scared more the participant or the cat, which had been dropped into the tunnel ahead of you after you went in.  But we did have one city cousin who never came to spend the summer with us after that.
River Campout: Object, for at least five boys to campout on the banks of the river for no less than one week without outside sources.  This included hunting, fishing and trapping all food supplies. Except of course for any marshmallows, graham crackers, bread and bolgna  and other odd snacks that were found sitting in a box once every other day along the fence line leading into river bottom.  (Thanks Mom). 
Upon completion of the trip, Mom did have certain stipulations regarding being able to return into our house. Step 1; Take bath, using soap, in river within one hour before returning home.  Step 2; Take water hose shower, with soap, prior to entering back door of house.  Step 3; Go directly to bathroom, take indoor shower, again with soap and adding shampooing hair. Step 4;   Report to Mom for inspection with the strong possibility of repeating Step 3.   Years   later we found out that Mom and Dad had their own name for this game which was “Mom and Dad’s Vacation”.
There were many other games such as Night time Jack Rabbit Hunting out of the back of a moving truck, China berry Fights, War, Kick the Can, Playing baseball with a Crocket Ball,  (I will never be the pitcher again and maybe that’s why I am the way I am.)  Aluminum Sled Pulling and 50 gallon drum swimming parties. But, those are all stories in themselves.   
For years these country boy games continued until the hormones started kicking in and the lure for the hunt for girls took their place. Boys grew into teenagers then into men and the games are no longer played, at least not physically. But get my brothers, cousins and old friends together and the games will always continue, only now, sitting in someone’s living room reliving the past.