Thursday, October 29, 2015

To The Best Of My Recollections

Be it known that my writings regarding events from my childhood are based on MY memory...

It has been brought to my attention that my "memory" which may not be totally accurate or at the best of times have "lapses" reaching out past what would/could be considered by many as "out of the ordinary or "hard to believe", but they are shared with hopeful understanding that they are not meant to be totally accurate nor factual but a story meant to be entertaining.  That is what in many regions as a "Storyteller".

Now if you know Texans, it's a pretty well known that "facts" are based on what the storyteller is trying to get across to the reader...   Very little is "Set In Stone" or "Hard as Concrete" A Texas Storytellers "facts" are kind of like "Texas Caliche" a type of ground surface found throughout the region which sometimes, when it is wet, kind of gets a little slippery...

Thus the same as the "facts" of a Texas Storyteller..

With that in mind my disclaimer is that my stories are besed on "To The Best Of My Recollections" or other wise know as T.T.B.O.M.R.

Thanks for trying to understand me....



That Ain't Funny

As a boy on the ranch there were certain talents that you needed to survive. We were lucky enough to have a very long stretch of the Colorado River that bordered the land that we lived on. So that meant that of course you needed to know how to fish.

Now there are different ways to fish. You can sit on the bank of the river with a single pole, attach a grasshopper, or a worm recently un-earth from behind the pig pen (best place around the house to find the biggest worms) and hurl the bait out into the deep waters of the river and wait for whatever type of fish decides to come along and nibble on the bait and with a good tug at just the right moment the fight would be on.

My mother enjoyed this way of fishing. She could sit and set a line or two out, not to far away from each other. Then she would watch them while smoking her cigarette and make small talk about what ever seemed appropriate at the time. Now, there was one main rule that Mom had if you choose to go fishing with her. That was, that once your bait entered the water, and by the time its ripples could not longer be distinguished, you could not speak above a whisper. Because..... the fish may hear you....

As for me... that wasn't fishing.... I found it very hard to just sit and watch the end of a rod to see it twitch as the tale-tale sign that something had come my way. It seemed to me that tempting the fish with a glob of worms or drowning a grasshopper just didn't seem sporting. That and it drove me crazy to sit still for that long. Years later, society came up with a name for boys like me. It was called A.D.D , Attention Deficit Disorder. My Mom had another name, she called it H.G.A.I.H.P. "He's Got Ants In His Pants", because I just couldn't sit still.

I felt that a fish needed to be hunted... Sneak up on them with a lure and fool them into attacking the object. I would travel up and down the banks of the river looking, thinking, and figuring out where I thought the fish would be lying in wait watching for something to come within its range. In my mind, that gave the fish a standing chance, and gave me a good reason to keep moving.

I felt also that for a boy to get the advantage over a 'smart' fish I had to practice my casting abilities to be able to place a lure in just the right place in front of the fish to fool him/her into believing that it was something real that had made the mistake of passing it's way. You may ask how I determined which fish were 'smart'? Well that to me was obvious. The smarter the fish, the longer they lived, the longer they lived... the bigger they got... result, a Smart Fish. So when I caught a large fish,well that only meant I was becoming a better fisherman, which in a young boys world, was a claim to fame. Follow me? But of course.

Now, I could not stay all day on the river practicing my casting styles, I also had chores to do and games to play back at home. So in the evenings, when everything else was done, I would venture out into our back yard with my rod and reel and practice casting a small plastic frog with the barb of it's hook embedded deep with it's body. The target was usually a piece of loose leaf paper, no.. not my homework, so that the wind would catch it and move it to another distance from me, thus giving me several angles to practice my casting.

Well, one afternoon the wind was dead still so after a few casts at the paper I became bored, remember, ADD. Looking around the back yard I made up the idea of using the corner of the house to represent a big brush pile along the riverbank. I prepared to cast just past the "brush pile" so that with a couple of tugs on the rod the frog would come hopping past the target and land in the would be fishes domain..

With the first cast. the fake frog landed about six feet past the corner of the house. With one tug it hopped about three feet. I smiled, and though to myself, "dang I'm good" and again popped the tip of the rod slightly bringing the frog right to the corner of the house just as I wanted it to.
That was when I smiled and was about to "mentally" pat myself on the back when Mom's favorite Tomcat which claimed the backyard his domain, came flying (I swear it was two feet in the air) and pounced on the FAKE rubber frog.

Now.... I, being the talented fisherman that I was did and what just about any other fisherman would have done in that scenario, SET THE HOOK... on my now.. CAT fish. For a brief second.. I found this highly funny until I realized that he was headed back around the corner of the house to the opening to the crawlspace that allowed us to go under the house.
For the next twenty to thirty minutes my brothers and I crawled and searched for the CAT fish under the house finally catching him ( he wasn't in the best of moods by that time), nor was my Mother who had heard the commotion and came out of the house and found out what I had done.

Finally with Cat, Frog and boys out from under the house safe... Mom proceeded to tell me that Dad was going to hear about this when he got home and I knew what I could expect...

That was when I decided that.... That Ain't Funny....

Side Note: The cat lived a full life with just a small "hair lip" but did seem to disappear every time I came out the backdoor with my rod and reel ever since....

Boys... will be Boys.... What can I say.... Raised Country, Raised Right

Onward Thru The Fog...


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

If Something Doesn't Taste Right.. Change the Ingredients...

 Long ago....  I can remember my Mom tasting one of her meals and saying... "Well,  I'm sorry,  that just doesn't taste right... I'll have to "adjust" that recipe and she would until she got it right. 

My Dad would say "If you have time to do it twice.. you had time to it right the first time".

But today... I hear the favorite phrase of the generation "Opps, My Bad" with a kind of half-smile. But I then see them do the same thing again and their response is "Opps.. My Bad."  That phrase has become a way of saying..'OK.. you caught me but...well that's me... and I'm not going to change.' 

The effects of these actions are here to see and feel. Feelings are hurt, others have to do what the person is suppose to do, allowances are given, excuses are made, or we feel the need to adjust OUR lives to allow the person to continue to make the mistakes over again with, in many cases, expecting to be allowed to be "overlooked" while choosing to make even more mistakes.

We were given a brain to not only keep our body functioning correctly and running smoothly but also to understand that we are capable of making mistakes and figuring out how to not make the same mistake again. 

What many of us have done is forgotten that "mistakes" means something needs to be done to ensure it doesn't happen again if possible,  or has our society come to the conclusion that each of our actions, no matter what it is, should be "acceptable" by others?

What happened to our Social Standards?  Where and when did our society reach the top of the hill and start going down the other side?   What many of us do not understand that, just like in the real world, very seldom is each side of the "hill" the same height nor angle.  In some cases, the "other side of the hill" slopes a lot faster, is longer and due to that,  our "speed" increases.  Hopefully, we have the foresight to see what is happening... And we start applying the brakes...

Before we are out of control..

When are we going to admit that Something Just Doesn't Taste Right and start checking to see what ingredients and spices will make it right again...

Onward Thru The Fog....



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Not If My Life Depended On It....

They say, that there are a few jobs that you wouldn't do for all the money in the world.  I have done one of those and lived to talk about it.  I am not the only one that has shared the experiences of this job, but would like to think that I have come out a better man from it's experiences.

You will find them all over the world fulfilling the expectations of just about each and everyone one of us at one time or another.  We pass by them everyday and without a second thought continue on our way, blotting out what THEY must be going through to achieve the goals set by us as a community. and I must agree when looking back, I'm not sure if I would do it again. 

The job consist of several demands that are out of the ordinary. They rise usually about 4 a.m. to prepared for the day.  In many cases, only after preparing their family for the day ahead do they prepare themselves for what is ahead of them.  Once those duties are done. they leave home in the dark and make their way to their place of business.  Once there and only after helping to UP the moral and spirits of the others who share this job do they face the first duty of the day and that is to ensure the equipment needed for their task is also ready for it's day.

 In many cases this is done in weather that most of us wouldn't ever consider going out into.  It may range from temperatures ranging from below zero up to scalding heat not any less then those found in the worst deserts on earth.  Driving wind and rain are only a part of what they may find facing them as well as the dark of night. Their tool of trade most of us wouldn't dare consider using, yet we as a society expect them to use it at a expert level each and everyday. On average it is about 37 feet long and 9 feet wide. It stands usually about 11 feet high and will hold safely up to 71 passengers. 

Ahhh... I think your getting the picture... Yes it's usually bright yellow, in fact it's color has become a standard for this shade of color.  Yes, that's right SCHOOL  BUS YELLOW... Welcome to the world of the School Bus Driver and for some. who lucky, their Assistants.

I know these people. I have been one of them, trained many of them and helped so they can make the ride for your children as safe as humanly possible.  So lets look at when these amazing people do each and every morning for us and  our children.

At usually about 6 a.m. they place themselves out on our public roads to take on and endure the wrath of that which is before them. The sun is not yet up no are many of us.  But their there,  driving the highways, city streets and country roads to pick up and deliver your children to and from school each day.

Now add to this the increasing amount of traffic that is slowly growing as the minutes into their morning routes continues. They are there for you, taking your kids to school for those who don't want to be on the road or going to work with a sense of "get out of my way".  Or our minds are not on our driving, it's on what our day ahead of us has to offer us.  Most School Bus Drivers will agree that their passengers are not the problems in the morning.  It's dodging the other drivers on the road.  The kids are not yet totally awake yet and step on the bus with a mumble and dragging their backpacks behind them.

 The danger is the lady in the mini-van in front of your bus applying the makeup, talking on the phone and trying to dress the 3 year old that is in the backseat while driving. Yes, I have personally seen it.  Or the man who is shaving, texting and already 30 minutes into his day at the office through the phone while he is still 30 miles away from work.  Lets not forget the guy who is constantly 15 minutes late for work and expects everyone, especially that school bus to get out of his way. 

Ahhh.... but about half way through the route the kids have now woken up and have decided that its time to make their presence known.  Keep in mind, that in most cases the ages ranges from 5 years old to 16 year old "I know everything" teenagers who have not found a friend or got a car that can get them of this "Stupid Bus".

Bobby took Helen's chocolate milk, which wasn't suppose to be opened on the bus in the first place, then threw the dripping, half filled box at Herbert just because Herbert looked at him wrong yesterday afternoon.  Half of them are no longer staying in their seats and Scarlet is letting her long beautiful blonde hair hang out of the very last window in the back and they are coming up to that tree that sometimes brushes against that side of the bus right when that crazy lady with the eye liner pencil is pulling up beside the bus on the other side.

So..... If by chance you see a School Bus Driver who has just finished her/his morning route, do like we do the Veterans and thank them for what they do for us....

Then....  tell them good luck on their afternoon run....

Later.... We will talk about the life of being the General Manager of the School Bus Drivers.

Oh.... the stories I could tell....

Onward Thru The Fog...



Friday, October 9, 2015

Cousin James' Roping Pen

I can remember, as a young boy, going to our Cousin James' roping pen on the week-ends evenings for my Dad to practice his roping. It sat high on a hill overlooking the river valley that we called home just southeast of Austin.

It was a summer outing where many of the ranchers in our area gathered to share quality time. It was where stories of what had happened during the week and updates on what was going on in our own little corner of Texas.

My mom and the other woman gathered along the fence line in their folding chairs to catch up on the local gossip or stories of what the "kids" had surprised them with during the week. A good recipe was always shared if anyone had one or maybe a update on how the canning was coming on the summer gardens.

The men would pull their horses from the trailers, saddle them and lead them into the arena to exercise them. They started with first a walk, then a trot and ending up with a full gallop around the oval shaped arena. I can remember Dad tipping his hat as he went by the ladies and my Mom wishing him Good Luck. then they would tie the horses along the far fence line to wait the start of the roping. I can remember my father walking among his friends with his hand always out for a handshake and a smile.

Before the sun dropped under the hillside, I and my brothers and friends would play games of Hide and Seek among the cars. Sometime the last of the evening light was used to catch grasshoppers and stuffed into a Dr. Pepper bottle with the hopes of going fishing the next day. As darkness took over the hilltop the fireflies floated in the pasture and dirt parking lot and we scattered to catch them.. Then we would bring both of our captures to our mother and show off our "catching" talents.

By the time the lights came on over the arena the calves had been brought from the far end of the pens and the men were loosening up their ropes while stretching their horses legs with quick bursts out of the chute.

Each man took their turn backing their horse into the small enclosure next to the chute. It was then that everything went quite and everyone's focus settled on the man and his horse.
When he was ready, the cowboy would give a nod of his head and the chute gate flew open. The calf would burst out and down the arena with our fathers close behind. With two swings of the rope the loop would fly and hopefully find itself around the calf's neck and the horse would slide to a stop with its back legs set in the dirt to prepare for the snap of the rope bringing
the calf to a wrenching stop. The man would already be off his horse and within a few seconds would have the calf down and with two quick loops and a cinch of his pegging rope have the animal secured.

The older "boys" got their chance at roping when the goats were brought out. Goats were what you learned to rope on... Graduating up to the smaller calves then to the heavy heifers that came with the coming of manhood. It was one of the ways we and the community knew when a boy became a man when he was no longer playing kick the can with his little brothers and friends but standing beside his Dad on his own horse waiting his turn in line to rope.

Finally, with tired horses, worn out kids, and mosquitos taking over the night, the horses were put back in their trailers, hugs were given and with a wave or honk of the truck horn we all headed home down the hill.

I can remember always looking back and watched trying to catch the moment the arena lights went out marking the end of a great night with our family and friends.

We left the ranch before I had the chance to join my Father and his friends in this tradition of this part of ranching. But I still to this day catch the sound of the grasshoppers in the weeds as they start their nightly songs and think back of those good times. Now with camera in hand, I go to visit the local men and their families in a near- by arena.   I sit high in the bleachers and watch them live and enjoy a lifestyle that I hope will never end.

That's part of being Raised Country


Thursday, October 8, 2015

My Fears and One Hope

I know that with the coming of age there comes new fear in one's life.

I understand that old age is part of life and each of us have a limited time to be here on earth.

What I fear is what may happen to me in my coming years.

These are my fears;

That my daughter will grow up and ask me to let her go....

Others will think bad of me and shut me out...

I will fail to teach others the importance of believing in God.

I will not be kind enough to others....

I will forget what my Father and Mother taught me....

I will not be there for someone when they needed me....

And then there is my one and only hope.

It is that I will be allowed to remember how fortunate I have been to have lived such a wonderful life.

 I have worked hard for my memory's, my only hope is that I be allowed to enjoy them.

Please help us all by contributing to the fight to find a cure to Alzheimer's Disease.


It didn't hit me until three days after taking this photo that I realized the connection it and I have.

 I come from a family of  6 Men who were raised to individually stand on our own merits, but with the reassurance that the others are not far away if needed.

As a family we are known by most as "The Glass Boys" and I would have it no other way.   

I am #5.

Childhood Friends

It's amazing how you were so close to your childhood friends but now you think back and wonder, "where are they now?".

I tried to explain it to my daughter once after we moved from one state to another.

She was missing her friends and feeling down.  I asked her to close her eyes and think of one of her friends.

As she did, she smiled and I told her "You see,  their still your friend because when you think of her, you smile".

Friendships can last forever.