2010

A True Memorial Day Memory

Sixty years ago today, my parents were married in Concord, N.H. The ceremony was held on Memorial Day — back when that solemn holiday was celebrated on May 30 and not bounced around the fourth Monday in May to create a three-day weekend. My father was dressed in Navy blues; he met my mother while his destroyer, the U.S.S. Norris was docked at the Boston shipyard for repairs. She was a nursing student at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. They met on a blind date. My mother wore a traditional white wedding gown with a waist-length veil anchored by a lace headband. In a wedding photo...

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Killer Bees Attack Our House!

As spring commenced and the azaleas blossomed, my Beautiful Mystery Companion and I remarked on how the blooms attracted a bounty of bumblebees. They hovered around the blooms and then flew upward and buzzed about the balconies that jut out from our upstairs bedrooms. We both noticed a bit of sawdust on the deck below. She remarked that she had heard bees can bore holes in wood. I didn’t notice any damage so thought little about it, figuring the bees were having a bit of fun in places that did no harm. Then one morning I heard a loud knocking at the side of the house. It stopped when I opened...

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A Barbecue Crossroads

TAYLOR — It’s quiet on a weekday morning in downtown Taylor. I finished my research in the library an hour earlier than expected, so I’m walking around, killing time before my lunch appointment at the Taylor Cafe. The sky is overcast with faint rumblings of thunder and a few fat raindrops. A welcomed storm came through the night before, awakening me in my friend’s guest bedroom. All rainstorms are invited guests in Central Texas, large or small. I peruse an antique/used bookstore to kill time. An old fellow is rocked back in an old chair on the sidewalk, surrounded by various merchandise....

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Avoiding That Three-Leafed Noxious Weed

I was weed-whacking in the back of our yard the other day when I noticed a familiar foe had reappeared amongst the azaleas and the pine straw, a three-leafed plant that has been the bane of my outdoor life since I was barely able to walk. Despite my best efforts last year to kill the crop, poison ivy had returned to the back boundary of our yard. We avoid using pesticides, herbicides, etc. as much as we can. We buy organic vegetables, hoping the grocery stores are telling the truth. We don’t spray our own vegetable plants or flowers willy-nilly with chemicals, though sometimes we are forced...

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The Last of the Projectionists

NPR recently ran a piece about how Hollywood is converting to all-digital and will no longer distribute new movies in 35-millimeter film form. That means the end of the line for most old-time movie projectionists — folks like Andy Holyoke, who was the projectionist for the Little Art Theatre in Yellow Springs Ohio for 35 years. The theater will close for several months to convert to digital, as most movie houses have already done. Like slide-rule manufacturers, typewriter salesmen, sign painters (my dad’s craft) and switchboard operators, the movie projectionist is going the way of the dodo...

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I Admit It: We Are ‘Duck Dynasty’ Fans

I watch very little television most nights. Sometimes I catch Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” if I can stay awake long enough. I do watch Monday Night Football or the occasional Red Sox game I catch televised down here in the South. But even then I keep the sound off and a book in my lap. But over the past year or so, our family has developed a guilty pleasure for a show filmed not far from East Texas. I’m talking about “Duck Dynasty,” of course, which features the Robertson family of West Monroe, Louisiana. The A&E network just concluded its third season following this family...

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Huddling Inside As A Spring Storm Passes

The view outside my study window is once again a canopy of green that nearly blots out the sky. My time spent in this study, enjoying this view, has come full circle through the seasons. On this morning a cold front is beginning to push through, promising to push temperatures down 20 degrees in a few hours. A thunderstorm is brewing. The rumbles send the dogs scurrying so close to my chair that when I roll back from the desk I risk running over one or the other of their tails. They don’t like thunder and seem to blame it on me. Both Sam and Rosie cast baleful looks my way, as if to say, “Make...

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Stand Up and Cheer

When our daughter decided out of nowhere to try out for cheerleader, I was silently skeptical. She had little gymnastics experience and admittedly couldn’t tumble worth a flip. All she possessed was great desire and enough athletic ability to have landed her on the Longview Lobo freshman volleyball team. Now she wanted to change course and try cheer. OK by us, but failure might be an option. Not in her head, I quickly learned. She started taking weekly private lessons about three months before tryouts. Soon, in addition to hearing a volleyball bouncing off the wall of her second-story bedroom,...

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I Was For The Bill Before I Was Against It

AUSTIN — It is strictly coincidence that I ended up testifying before a House committee of the Texas Legislature on April Fool’s Day. That august body, which meets for 140 days every two years, is in full warp speed with the session more than halfway over. I volunteer for a group that fights for freedom of information, open records and open meetings. That usually means battling a whole slew of bills each session against lawmakers trying to add more loopholes to make public records private. We win some, we lose some. Sometimes the measure is well intentioned but misinformed, at least from...

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Riding Shotgun Through the Pastures

Pecan Grove San Gabriel (Click on the link to the left to see a photo from the ranch.) SOUTH OF THE SAN GABRIEL RIVER — It is a glorious spring morning for a ride through the pastures, two dogs flanking the pickup as my acquaintance drives slowly down the dry ruts to show me the place that her father bought in the mid-1940s, just under 200 acres as I recall. The wind seems to blow constantly this time of year in Central Texas. Wildfires are a constant danger as the drought continues. There is plenty of grass left on this farm, because she sold off all but nine of her cows after the brutal...

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