2022

Mollie and Max, Her Unwanted Suitor

I hopped out of bed Saturday morning and stumbled to my closet to grab some clothes. Our master closets each have a window looking out on the front porch and the pasture beyond. This sounds strange but is actually quite a pleasant feature of this house on a hill – a view of stately oak trees, verdant pasture, white cross fence along its edges, the occasional squirrel, birds splashing in the bird bath. A Peeping Tom would have to commit serious trespassing to spy me in my underwear, such as walking onto our front porch from the highway a few hundred yards away. The sight would likely cause an intruder...

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We’re Number 1! In Banning Books

This is Banned Books Week, and the news is dispiriting — especially here in Texas, the nation’s leader in banning books. That is clearly not something of which we should be proud. PEN America, which keeps track of such things, has been defending free expression and the unfettered exchange of ideas for 100 years. In today’s climate, they have their work cut out for them. The non-profit organization, whose members over the past century include many of the nation’s finest writers, both in fiction and nonfiction, just released its annual report on book bans in schools. From July 2021 to June...

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Tractors Just Leak: Little Brother’s Wisdom

Little brother Gregg came over from the Dallas area last weekend to work on the tractor again. It was leaking fluids in two spots, something that never would have been noticed if it were parked outside. But I keep it sheltered in the shop, figuring it will last longer that way. The shop is also home to my woodworking area, a 12x12 foot CrossFit gym, and a bunch of storage boxes. When we bought this place, I figured we would never fill this cavernous building. Now, a little over a year later, it is pretty much full. Someday, we will downsize… The tractor has consistently had small but annoying...

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Newspaper Readers Must Change Their Habits

A friend of mine texted me last Sunday morning: Gary, there’s something wrong about Sunday morning without a newspaper. I replied that I agreed completely. The Longview News-Journal recently dropped its print editions to three times weekly -- on Wednesday, Friday, and a Weekend Edition delivered out where we live on Saturday. There is no newspaper waiting at the ends of our driveways on Sunday morning. When one has spent a lifetime — I’ve been reading newspapers since I learned to read — anticipating that fat Sunday morning paper, it takes some adjustment. To be clear, I completely understand...

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Pancho’s Pond Fills Overnight

The drought appears to have broken, at least here on No-Name Farm, where about 7 inches of rain came down as an early birthday present for yours truly. Not that I can take credit, but I was not accepting blame for the drought in the first place. I was at the library helping with student worker orientation that Sunday evening, when my Beautiful Mystery Companion texted me a photo of Poncho’s Pond. After just an hour or so of rain, it was already halfway filled. Before the rains came, Pancho’s Pond was a large rectangular hole in the ground containing maybe a foot of water. The fellow who built...

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A Magical Night at the Municipal

SHREVEPORT — The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium has somehow escaped my notice all these decades. I drove over from Longview for concerts a few times with high school buddies, but they were held in the spherical but unremarkable Hirsch Coliseum next to Independence Stadium right on I-20. I saw Black Sabbath there, and other bands whose names escape my memory. It is certainly a useful multi-purpose arena, noted, perhaps apocryphally, for being the place where, in 1957, the phrase “Elvis has left the building” was first uttered. The Municipal, on the other hand, is a beautiful example of Art Deco...

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Young Bucks and a Fine Goatweed Crop

Even though until recently it has rarely rained here at No Name Farm — and in nearly all of Texas — for months — the goatweed continues to grow. It sprouted everywhere the land was mulched last fall. Goatweed likes loose, sandy soil of which we have an abundance as a result of the mulching, building a pond and spreading the soil out from the pond to create a nice drainage system when it does actually start raining again. Conditions have not been conducive for planting grass seed, but I hope to disc up the mulched land and plant ryegrass when it cools off. Until then, I pull out the tractor...

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Battling Goatweed at No-Name Farm.

Even though it has rarely rained here at No Name Farm — and in nearly all of Texas — for months — the goatweed continues to grow. It sprouted everywhere the land was mulched last fall. Goatweed likes loose, sandy soil of which we have an abundance as a result of the mulching, building a pond and spreading the soil out from the pond to create a nice drainage system when it does actually start raining again. Conditions have not been conducive for planting grass seed, but I hope to disc up the mulched land and plant ryegrass when it cools off. Until then, I pull out the tractor and bushhog the goatweed...

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The Time It Rarely Rained

It crept up out of Mexico, touching first along the brackish Pecos and spreading then in all directions, a cancerous blight burning a scar upon the land. Just another dry spell, men said at first. Ranchers watched waterholes recede to brown puddles of mud that their livestock would not touch. They watched the rank weeds shrivel as the west wind relentlessly sought them out and smothered them with its hot breath. They watched the grass slowly lose its green, then curl and fire up like dying cornstalks. Farmers watched their cotton make an early bloom in its stunted top, produce a few half-hearted...

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The Invaluable Allen Wrench: Assembly Required

I am looking at an Allen wrench on my desk, placed there because I forgot to take it out of my pocket. It was poking me in the leg as I sat at this computer. On the next trip to the shop, this lowly Allen wrench will join a host of others collected over the years while putting together various pieces of furniture. Once again, July became moving month, except this time it was getting daughter Abbie to Denton, where she begins graduate school at the University of North Texas this month. This involved buying her a bed and couch, selling her old bedroom suite, giving away another bed frame to brother...

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