2021

A Real Shot in the Arm

Now, that was a real shot in the arm. We received our second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday out at the Gregg County Fairgrounds as rain clouds began gathering. My Beautiful Mystery Companion’s appointment was a few hours earlier than mine, and she encountered more traffic getting into the site, but nothing serious. My appointment was late morning, and I was able to drive straight to the checkpoints, show my vaccine card, park and go inside. I was sitting in the holding area in less than 10 minutes. As it was for the first dose, the entire operation came off with precision and ease....

Read more...

A Final Trip to the Farm

DOUGLASSVILLE, TX. — We drove to the farm for a final time on a wintry afternoon in mid-February. It is being sold in coming days. The farm, in Cass County about 20 miles north of Linden, belonged to my late father-in-law, H.K. Teel. This was Papa Teel’s retreat, 40 heavily wooded acres, a huge garden spot across the road at the place owned by his late brother, Brad. I called those guys the Secondhand Lions, after the movie. They were a hoot together, constantly fussing at each other like an old married couple. But they grew massive crops of mouth-watering vegetables and fruits: tomatoes,...

Read more...

The Long Strange Trip Continues

As I embarked on a new adventure this month, writing a weekly Capital Highlights column for Texas Press Association that goes out to newspapers statewide, it brought back memories of some of the memorable folks I worked with over the past five decades, most of it spent working at community newspapers. I started on the lowest rung of the ladder in 1968, as a paperboy for the Longview Daily News, the afternoon edition of the local paper. I peddled papers door-to-door throughout downtown and to the car dealerships on Cotton Street and Spur 63. The circulation manager was Charlie Hart, a kindly...

Read more...

Requiem for Sam the Dog

Sam the Dog had a good final day on this planet on Feb. 1. Our 12-year-old poodle/cocker spaniel managed to slip out the back door and make his escape in the mayhem of me trying to corral Mollie the Granddog and her sometimes surly cousin, Rosie, after they all had gone outside to do their business. Our yard is fenced, but Sam rarely failed to find an escape hatch under the deck, despite our best efforts to keep him confined. He could slip through tiny openings, with his stocky body and stubby legs. I went looking for him. He always came back and rarely roamed more than a few houses up our cul-de-sac....

Read more...

Memory and Writing About Clip-On Sunglasses

I called my brother Scott the other day on his birthday. He just turned 63, a few years behind me on that long road to geezerdom. We got to talking about how at this stage of our lives, we can’t remember if something occurred two years ago, four years ago or nine years ago. Spending the last 11 months in lockdown did not help memory matters. I stay busy working from home, writing, researching and reading, but the weeks fly by. Certain events, such as when I talked to someone or completed a task, become cloudy when I try to recall when they happened. I recently saw online a current photo of someone...

Read more...

A Winter of Peril, But Light Beckons

INAUGURATION DAY, 2021 — Just two weeks after insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol and attempted to stage a coup, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in as our 46th president. Democracy has prevailed. The United States continued a tradition of peaceful transition of power that has occurred in this country every four years since 1789 — 232 years. The snow flurries that swirled around as the dignitaries filed into this socially distanced event gave way to sunshine as Biden took office. My eyes filled with tears again and again. Four years ago, when his predecessor was sworn in, I was attending...

Read more...

Surviving the Great East Texas Blizzard of 2021

I went for a walk the morning after the Great East Texas Blizzard of 2021. The temperature hovered a couple of degrees above freezing, and the sun began to peek through the clouds. Snow started dropping off tree branches in our heavily wooded neighborhood, clumps of it bouncing off my hooded head. Birds were flitting about, no doubt looking for food now hidden beneath the 3-4 inches of snow covering the ground. I silently invited them to our house, where feeders abound to provide sustenance. Our neighborhood is rarely this quiet. As I walked, squirrels scampered in the branches above, softly...

Read more...

A Book A Week in 2020: The Reading List

A couple of years ago, Mere, my middle daughter, gave me a ballcap that I wear often while reading outside in the gazebo. The inscription:  Fight Evil. Read Books. It is one of my favorite caps. She also told me about the Goodreads app, which I now use to keep up with books I have read or plan to read. For years, I used to keep a handwritten list in a notebook. That was rather analog. Goodreads is way handier and likely will keep me from buying the same novel twice, a few years apart. I have done that more than once. Now that 2020 is in hindsight, Goodreads kindly provided My Year in Books. So here...

Read more...

It Started With My Dad’s Centennial Plate

Happiness is 2020 in our rearview mirror. — Apologies to Mac Davis |———| This is the first day of a new decade, the end of a year in which time seemed to practically stop. Our darkest season is slowly, but inexorably, fading away. While COVID-19 continues to rage, and we must remain vigilant, it is possible to feel hopeful again. Two vaccines are being distributed with more headed to the final clinical testing stage. Perhaps in a few months — God and science willing — life will feel less restrictive, less fraught with peril. Last January, I was finishing up interviews for a book...

Read more...