2015

Christmas Brings Mixed Emotions

And suddenly it is Christmas. It is likely to be raining and in the 70s. Three years ago it snowed on Christmas Day, the first white Christmas here in many decades. This year, we will be wearing T-shirts and shorts. You never know what an East Texas winter will bring. This can be a melancholy season. Many of us more or less equate the Christmas season with tragedy and loss. We push through it and prevail. Everything usually turns out OK as families gather, a few empty seats at the table. But there is a tear in the fabric of our lives that cannot be mended. My Beautiful Mystery Companion attended...

Read more...

Fine Dining in Baltimore’s Little Italy

BALTIMORE — Da Mimmo is a family owned restaurant in this city’s Little Italy, about eight square blocks packed with restaurants. My lunch partner chose it and ranks it at the top of Little Italy, with perhaps one other establishment vying for the title. This elegant restaurant, with linen tablecloths and fine china, is named for our waiter, Mimmo Cricchio, the son of owner Mary Ann Cricchio. Da Mimmo marks 32 years in business next month. It has won many awards, from being named one of the top Italian restaurants by Zagat, to “Best Veal Chop” in Baltimore. That is what my partner ordered....

Read more...

Critters Abound in the Neighborhood

’Twas a few weeks before Christmas, and creatures were stirring throughout the neighborhood. This includes a mouse that seems to have taken up residence in the covered area that houses our HVAC units. My Beautiful Mystery Companion was enjoying a sunny afternoon when the little fellow stuck her head out between the bricks, which have a checkerboard design — bricks and small square holes that are mouse-sized. Luckily, they are not squirrel-sized holes. We appear to be especially overrun with those large rodents this autumn, likely because of a heavy harvest of acorns. I’m not worried about...

Read more...

Planing and Patience

We ran the black walnut through the planer in the vacant parking lot of the non-profit where I work. It was Thanksgiving week. School was out, so the elementary campus across the street was empty. The likelihood of us receiving a noise complaint was considerably less than if we planed in my backyard, as I did a few years ago. That was a mistake, though I timed it for an early weekday afternoon in hopes nobody was home. Nobody called the cops, but I sensed a distinct chill when I passed one of my neighbors. From now on, I find a spot away from civilization, even if I have to drive out to my brother-in-law’s...

Read more...

The Sweet Sound of Saying ‘Checkmate’

My nephew Connor reminded me of an obscure chess move I doubtless once knew but forgot in the passage of time. Connor, who is 10, learned to play chess recently and took to it so well that he took first place in a recent UIL contest among several rural East Texas schools. The move is called en passant, which means in passing. It occurs rarely, but can be an effective offensive maneuver. Here’s how it works, thanks to Connor, who provided what he called the “simple explanation.” For non-chess players, please bear with me. In chess if a pawn has not yet moved, it can be moved straight ahead...

Read more...

‘You Are My Sunshine:’ Not So Sunny

I decided to add “You Are My Sunshine” to the repertoire of songs I can mangle on the guitar. So I found it with the OnSong app, uploaded and opened it. Most everybody knows the chorus to this tune, popularly believed to have been written by Jimmie Davis, who rode his fame singing that song all the way to the Louisiana governor’s mansion in 1944. Term limits kept him from running for re-election, but a decade or so later, Davis reprised the song and won another four-year term as governor. Actually, Davis did not write “You Are My Sunshine.” He purchased the song from Charles Mitchell...

Read more...

Hanging out at The Grove in Oxford

OXFORD, MISS. — The earnest young man at the admissions office of the University of Mississippi — Ole Miss —explained the origin of the town’s name. Oxford, named after the British university, was created in 1837 in order to persuade the Legislature to fund building a public university there. The boosters hoped the name would help. It took 11 years, but in 1848, Ole Miss accepted its first students. Today, Oxford remains a small town of roughly 21,000 residents. Ole Miss is modest in size as well, with about 18,000 students. We came here because our daughter Abbie is considering attending...

Read more...

Working Up a Sweat Hauling Firewood

Autumn is taking its sweet time getting here. That did not stop me from making a pilgrimage to procure a load of firewood from my brother-in-law’s farm near Jefferson. Besides, I needed to get some lumber for a future woodworking project with a friend. That is where it is stored, inside a rustic horse stable. It was a lovely day, cool enough to drive our 1965 Ford truck and fill the bed with well-seasoned red oak. The truck doesn’t have air-conditioning, and this was the first chance to drive it without rivulets of sweat obscuring my vision. My friend accompanied me. We drove through the Northeast...

Read more...

My Hound Dog Guitar Scares the Dogs

I bought a new guitar four months ago. It’s my second resonator, with the shiny cone, the kind made famous in Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” Mississippi Delta was shining like a National Guitar… This one is made by Gibson and is called a Dobro Hound Dog. It is made from maple and has a sweet burl finish. The Hound Dog contains an inner pickup so it can be plugged into an amplifier. I do not play well enough yet to amplify the missed strings and mangled chords that emanate from this sweet instrument. Just ask my dogs. OK, Sam and Rosie are not great communicators. They limit their...

Read more...

Searching for Robert Caro at the LBJ Library

LBJ LIBRARY, AUSTIN — In the Great Hall of this 10-story structure on the east side of the University of Texas campus, four floors of glass walls dominate. Encased in those four floors, in red file boxes with a gold presidential seal, are the papers of Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ while serving as president, vice-president, Senate majority leader and congressman pushed through more landmark legislation than any 20th-century president, with the arguable exception of Franklin Roosevelt. Among those achievements: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Medicare and Medicaid, the Higher Education Act, Head Start,...

Read more...
Shopping Cart (0 Items)
Your cart is empty!


Subtotal: $0.00 USD
Total: $0.00 USD