2021

Any Day On a Tractor is a Good Day

I am astride a John Deere tractor, swatting away mosquitoes on a 95-degree afternoon, sweat soaking my long-sleeved shirt and streaming down my face, as I carefully weave my way along a fence line, bush-hogging waist-high weeds. This is great, I thought, and grinned. I haven’t been on a tractor in nearly two decades. It’s good to be back in the saddle. My Beautiful Mystery Companion, her brother and his son, our daughter’s boyfriend, and me have all pitched in to help a new acquaintance clean up some fence rows in the woods behind her home. Being the senior citizen of the crowd, I was tapped...

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Feels So Good Feelin’ Good Again

So I strolled across old Main Street Walked down a flight of stairs Stepped into the hall And saw all my friends were there A neon sign was flashin’, “Welcome, come on in” It feels so good feelin’ good again — Feelin’ Good Again by Robert Earl Keen WACO – We sat outside at the Backyard Grill and Stage, along with a few hundred other folks on a gorgeous spring evening, about to indulge in something that has not been possible for more than 15 months – listening to live music. We had reserved seats at a picnic table with four strangers, who quickly introduced themselves as we waited...

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For the Love of the Game

Last year, when the world shut down because of the pandemic, and professional sports pivoted with cut-out spectators, playing in hubs and other necessary measures, I decided to take the year off from paying any attention. I ignored the baseball standings, didn’t watch any games, and did my best to pretend sports did not exist in 2020. It seemed the healthier approach. It was not a difficult decision. The world was topsy turvy (for too many, it still is), so caring about who led the American League east division, or how the Celtics were doing playing in a “bubble,” did not seem to be something...

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Judging Newspaper Contest After a Pandemic

I spent several hours last week judging entries in a Better Newspaper Contest for another state’s press association. Newspaper associations often “swap” judges for these annual contests. Members of the Texas Press Association agreed to judge the entries for this state, and its members will do the same for TPA. I volunteered to judge a few dozen entries in four categories. Entering these newspaper contests used to be a dreary, time-consuming affair back in prehistoric days. Someone in the newsroom, usually me as editor, had to flip through bound books of back issues, select the stories,...

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Enjoying Life’s Little Pleasures

I have been pondering the little things in life that give me pleasure. Perhaps spending more than a year at home helped foster this introspection. Or maybe it is knowing my remaining number of trips around the sun dwindle inexorably. The days pass too quickly, so I am trying hard to appreciate each day, to enjoy every sandwich. (And I do love sandwiches.) After the fierce winter storm froze our world in mid-February, dozens of mature azalea bushes in our yard looked like goners. Most of their leaves turned brown and fell off. I tried to imagine how our yard would look without these azaleas....

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Back Among the Stacks

For the first time in 14 months, I returned to regularly working in person last Monday at the Estes Library at LeTourneau University. Coincidentally, that was also the first day the university issued new COVID-19 guidelines that ended the mask-wearing requirements and relaxed sanitation standards. I stuck my mask back in my pocket and spent a quiet day at the front counter of the library, filling interlibrary loan article requests and assisting the occasional patron. Very occasional patrons, actually. It is always slow in the summer at the library. Usually, a student worker is at the counter,...

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A Letter To Our Daughter Upon Graduation

Dear Abbie: On Saturday morning, you will walk across the stage at the Belcher Center to receive a bachelor’s of science degree from LeTourneau University. Your mom and I couldn’t be prouder of you. You completed your degree and are graduating with high honors from a university with rigorous standards — with a triple major in English, psychology and theology. It’s a big step, and it inevitably leads to you wondering what comes next. So, here’s some unsolicited advice from your dad. First off, you received a fine education within a wide variety of disciplines. That provides a strong...

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No More ‘Up on the Roof’ for me

The pollen has passed, and spring cleaning has commenced, a process that likely will continue until summer arrives.  Last week, I pulled out the pressure washer to begin the arduous but fulfilling task of cleaning the house, deck and driveway. My Beautiful Mystery Companion asked me the other day if I enjoyed spending hours holding on to a pulsating plastic trigger as an intense stream of water washed away the pollen, with my nostrils streaming nonstop as well — thanks to the pollen. The answer is yes, I do enjoy it. I have always taken satisfaction in cleaning things, whether it’s tidying...

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Please Show You’re Not a Robot

An interesting message pops up from time to time when I am filling interlibrary loan article requests, trying to find such arcane titles (at least to me) as: Facile synthesis of ceramic SiC-based nanocomposites and the superior electrochemical lithiation/delithiation performances A polar stationary phase obtains by surface-initiated polymerization of hyperbranched polyglycerol onto silica Shock train and pseudo-shock phenomena in internal gas flows Predation of Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) by Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) A Nucleation Progenitor Function...

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Sesquicentennial Project Began With a Plate

It started with a plate. Not just any old plate, but the Longview centennial plate hanging in the wet bar in our home. It was produced in 1970 at the behest of the centennial committee. My dad, Brad Borders, was commissioned to create the artwork, which consists of a half-dozen pen-and-ink sketches of historic sites and events from Longview’s first 100 years. As some of you have already read, that plate sparked the idea that became @longviewtx150, a project to celebrate Longview’s sesquicentennial. Two-and-half years ago, I bought O. Rufus Lovett, noted photographer and my brother from another...

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