June 28, 2016

"Texas Is Heaven"

When I was stationed in Southern California in the early '90's and the people there found out I was from Texas, the question that always came up is "Why are Texan's SO dang proud"? It got me to thinking and I wrote down a few reasons. See if y'all can relate to any of this...

                             "TEXAS IS HEAVEN"

West of Louisiana and South of OK City is the place that I call home.
"Bob" wire fences and longhorn cattle is the life I've always known.
After growin' up and Texas and bein a part of this land, there's no way for me to hide
How I feel about the place I was born and the place that I'll surely die.

Folks from other parts just don't understand when I talk about the land I love.
It's more than just her wide open spaces and the clear blue skies above.
It's a locust buzzin' in the top of a mesquite OR a scissor-tail dancin' on the wind.
Or a horny toad scootin' 'cross a caliche road, these are Texas thangs y'all wouldn't understand.

October swelters 'cause of indian summers but there'll soon be a wintry breeze.
So takin' a swim in your best friends tank is just the thang to cool the Lone Star heat.
It's true the weather here can sure be a mystery and most times you just can't tell.
This mornin' the weather man said "No chance of rain", this afternoon, four inches fell.

A coyote yelps in the midnight hour, oh what a lonely sound.
A young 'un is under a China Berry tree diggin' doodle bugs out of the ground.
A pickup bounces down a dusty road carryin' a cowboy home.
He spent the whole day mendin' fences, in case the cows got the urge to roam.

Faded ol' Wranglers and worn out boots is usually what you'll see us wear.
And Saturday night dances in old honky-tonks is how we let down our hair.
Families here still get on their knees and still go to church together.
And cool Friday nights are all about football and it'll prob'ly be that way forever.

It ain't 'cause we're that much different than folks from other parts.
We're just a whole lot prouder than regular folks, 'cause Texas lives in our hearts.
We give thanks each and every day for this land that the good Lord has given,
and we lay down at night with a smile on our face 'cause here on earth
                                                    "Texas is Heaven"....

Stephan Dueboay
(c) 1999

August 28, 2015

Friday Night Lights... again

I stepped out of the front door tonight and headed to my pickup. I had to make a quick trip to town to pick a few things up for the evening. As I neared my truck, I could hear a muffled crowd in the distance let out a yell. I wondered for just a fraction of a second, because that's the exact amount of time I needed to remember... it was Friday Night in Texas and football season had begun. But Friday nights in Texas are much more than just football.
As I drove to town, a sentiment settled over me and my mind returned to the fall of 1975. Our Friday night ritual was to leave home early and to go have a burger at Greg's Bakery or Dairy Queen. Four or five of us would squeeze in to the less than accommodating booths that filled the restaurant and we'd gorge ourselves with burgers, onion rings and gallons of soda or sweet tea. Afterwards we'd pile into our hotrods and head to the stadium where we'd cheer on the home team in hopes of a victory.
Suddenly I was snapped back to my senses as my truck bottomed out in a pot hole the size of my grandmothers 3-ring washtub. Realizing I was almost to the store, I pulled onto the "main drag" in town. As I made my way to the store, I just kept on driving... past the store, past the bank, past the square where the courthouse sat and east out of town. My body was in 2015, but my mind was following somewhere forty years behind me. I slowly drove the "drag" and turned left into the parking lot by the car wash just like I'd done 1,000 times before in my youth.
I headed back to town and as I reached the square, the nights I had spent sitting there with friends talking about cars, school, growing up and girls seemed so recent. Some nights, I'd go up there and sit by myself for hours, silently watching the passersby headed east toward Dallas or west toward the "heart of Texas". I can't recall exactly what I would think about as I sat there all alone, but I'd like to think I pondered life and love and my future as an adult.
I pointed my truck toward the entrance of the square and pulled it right into my "spot" where I had parked that old Pontiac so many times before as a teenager. I sat there and watched the traffic go by for a few minutes, trying to mimic my youth and recapture those old feelings from yesterday.
I turned on the radio and cruised through the radio channels and as I did,  the sounds of the old Friday Nights filled the cab of my truck. Announcers were giving the scores of all the local games and they were fielding calls from disgruntled fans as well as happy fans that had just watched their team pull a win off, on this, the first Friday Night Lights celebration of Texas High School Football, 2015. I'm convinced it was the very same announcers, they just changed their names.
I sat there on the square for another 10 - 15 minutes reliving old times in my mind. In a nostalgic kind of way, I actually felt a twinge of disappointment that none of the "guys" pulled in beside me and rolled their window down and relayed an anxious "what's up"? Just for old times sake, I tuned the radio to a classic rock station and listened to several of the songs that I thought would probably be playing as I cruised up and down and back again, so long ago. It was almost like the deejay knew I'd be out there and he was playing that music just for me at that moment. Back then, "Band On The Run", "Smoke On The Water" and "Black Water" would blare through the speakers as we stood outside of our vehicles spending time and wasting our youth. Man oh man, what good times those were.
It was getting late, so I started up the old truck, backed out of my "spot" and pointed it toward home. I've always been a bit of a romantic and a dreamer and I do have a soft spot in my heart for "the old times". Many friends have reminded me over the years that the past can haunt you and that it may not be a good place to visit too often. But there are times when I hear something, see something or smell something and I'm reminded of a care-free life not so long ago, when times were slower, friends were truer, living was cheaper and boredom wasn't in our vocabulary. And one very important thing I've learned, sometimes going back there isn't a choice we make. 
I pulled into the driveway thinking of the unplanned, but pleasant time I just spent over the last hour or so. I sat there in the driveway for just a minute and allowed my emotions and state of mind to settle in before I opened the truck door. As I headed to the house, from over my shoulder, a sound was riding in and out off of the warm evening breeze. I could just make out the sounds of my high school song beginning to play. I paused for a second, enjoying the moment when it dawned on me, I had made it back home twice in one evening.
 The Impulsive Texan

July 28, 2015

Watch out California, Texas is coming again!

Texas has always been known as a cutting edge, edge of the saddle, cowboy mentality kind of place. It's gotten that way by trying new things, taking chances and well, there's that big ol' pride thing. Yes, we Texans are very proud of where we're from, what we've done and football. And by the way, yes, Dez did catch the ball.

Something relatively new to the Great State of Texas is the presence of the wine drinking crowd, that is until now. A new wine region in America is starting to get noticed world-wide and is coming alive down in the Texas Hill Country area around Fredricksburg, Texas. Fredricksburg is a tiny little hamlet about an hour and a half from either Austin or San Antonio.  Not only there, wineries are beginning to dot the landscape all over the State of Texas. Even in the little town I live in there is a very nice winery that gives the area a whole different feeling than the normal farming, dairy and ranching region that it truly is.

Wine connoisseurs around the world are starting to take notice of the Texas Wine County that some are referring to as the "New Napa". Although it's not likely going to overtake that premier wine region in California, you may just want to keep your eyes open, because no one thought that Texas would become the leader in wind energy just a few short years ago either... it could happen.

The Huffington Post's Travel Canada author and blogger, Ayngelina Brogan, dubbed the "Traveler/Food Hunter", has published a nice article giving reverence to the fastest growing wine region in the county. I've added a link to the story below. It's a nice read and gives you an idea of what's going on down in the "New Napa" of Fredricksburg, Texas.

Thanks for dropping by the Impulsive Texan.

March 28, 2015

The Abilities of Jessica Zeller

As the husband of a woman that has close ties to the Miss Texas Scholarship Foundation Pageant, I've had the privilege of meeting and becoming friends with some very smart, beautiful and inspirational young ladies over the years. Each year there are literally hundreds competing in local pageant events all over the State of Texas, with the dream of "taking home the crown" in the Miss Texas event that is held later on in the year. Winners of this event not only represent The State of Texas at the annual Miss America event, they also win thousands of dollars that can pay for a college education.
These young ladies all come from very diverse backgrounds. They are the daughters of ranchers, teachers, athletes, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement professionals or any of a whole host of other careers. Their drive, vision and ambition are second to none. Although they are all vivacious, outgoing and beautiful, from time to time, one usually crosses your path that just displays a determination that few of us will ever know or will ever realize and she changes your life forever. One such young lady crossed my path recently.
A few weeks ago, my granddaughter competed in one of the local scholarship pageants that was being held in Waco, Texas. The local events are where it's determined who will go on to compete in the annual Miss Texas Scholarship Foundation Pageant. And if they are fortunate enough to win the coveted Miss Texas event or the Miss Texas Outstanding Teen event, they automatically qualify for the granddaddy pageant event of the year, the Miss America Scholarship Pageant.
As my family and I were enjoying breakfast early on that Saturday morning, the hotel restaurant was abuzz with contestants milling around in their interview outfits making new friends, renewing old acquaintances or just spending time making small talk with their families. I noticed a young lady, sitting just a few feet away, speaking with two people that were obviously her family. She had deep, dark eyes that were framed with a pair of glasses in the latest fashion. Her hair was jet black and styled fashionably,  revealing the olive complexion of her face. Just like all of the other young ladies in the room, this young lady was regal, happy and seemed very outgoing. She was also one of the most beautiful young ladies I had ever seen. Her dignity, poise, humbleness, confidence and the way she handled herself in this room filled with the other distinguished young ladies was impressive.
We were finished with our meal and were sitting at our table, taking in the activity in the room when the young lady stood up to leave. I immediately noticed something was amiss. As she made her way out of the room, I couldn't help but notice she had difficulty walking. Later on in the evening and after the show was over, I found out from her dad that she lives with Cerebral Palsy.

From that moment I could not get her out of my mind. My thoughts about her were sporadic and impulsive. I was elated at her obvious drive but simultaneously I wondered about her ability to perform. But mostly, I was sad that such an amazing young lady in the twilight of her youth had to go through each day navigating life with such a hindrance.  It didn't matter to me, I decided at that moment I was rooting for this young lady. If she could do well, it would send a clear message to people, young and old alike, that you could live with physical difficulties and that life is not over, not over by a long shot. Would it be harder? Sure, but don't we all live with our own difficulties, whether physical, psychological or otherwise. And it seems to be harnessed around our neck and make our lives just a bit more difficult too.

As we arrived at the venue we made sure we were close to the front. I wanted to be front and center for my granddaughter, who was competing in the Teen Division of the show and of course for my new-found hero in the Miss Division. At this point, I didn't even know her name. As the show began, each contestant made their way to the front of the stage and introduced themselves. The young lady I had been waiting for made her way to the microphone and proudly exclaimed "Hello, my name is Jessica Zeller"! I was thrilled at her introduction. She sounded very happy and confident.
The show began and continued on for several hours over the course of the evening. In the competition each contestant was required to answer an on-stage question, model a swimsuit and an evening gown and perform a talent. As each segment of the competition was completed, my pride and profound respect for Jessica began to build. Finally it was her turn to perform her talent. She would be singing a selection called "The Prayer". If you know this song, you know the raw emotion it can reign all over you.
Her voice was pure, clear and bright. The emotion she evoked into every note she sang, coupled with her story, became overwhelming to me. Tears came to my eyes as she continued to sing. For those few minutes, the audience was hers. She had us by the soul and for that moment she was an entertainer, singing to her fans and everything was perfect in her world.  Her performance, coupled with the emotions that had been building within me all through the day for this amazing young lady, had my heart flying and tears of joy for her in my eyes. I began to wonder how well she had done. Would it be enough to be considered for the coveted prize? Her entire performance over the course of the evening was emotional. It pulled you in. It grabbed you by the heart and wouldn't let go.  

I was hoping I wasn't the only one in the auditorium that felt that way and I soon found out I wasn't. As she sang the final note, a roar from the crowd rose quickly and a standing ovation ensued. It wasn't because she was "different", they stood because she was good, really good. I was smiling, I was blubbering like a child and I was dealing with emotions I hadn't felt since I was in a similar situation years earlier with a young gentlemen by the name of Colby Bannister that lives with Down Syndrome. I could not take my mind off of Jessica Zeller. I've always been an advocate for the "underdog" and I made a solemn vow to myself right then and there, I was going to meet this dynamic young lady. 

The competition ended and the big moment came. The emcee announced the winners of the fitness, the talent and a few other categories and it finally came down to who was going to represent Waco at the Miss Texas event. The announcer's voice came over the auditorium and she said "First Runner Up"... a short, dramatic pause floated in the air that seemed like forever. The voice suddenly announced "Jessica Zeller"! The crowd was elated. I was elated! But I was also disappointed, because lady to lady, competitor to competior and performance to performance, Jessica gave the winner a good run for her money. But in the end, it wasn't meant for Jessica to take home the Ms. Waco crown. Nonetheless Jessica Zeller had became my new hero that night.

After the show was over, the lights came up and the crowd started to hurriedly go and meet their contestants. I saw the parents of Jessica on the other side of the auditorium, so I told my wife I was going to go over and introduce myself. I had already made my mind up that I was going to write about her. As I approached her and her family, I reached out and placed my hand on her dad's shoulder. The mountain of a man turned and greeted me with a very outgoing and cordial smile. 

I told her father who I was and that I'd like to write a short blog story on Jessica. I suppose the emotion had overcome him, too, because his reply wasn't "sure" or "yes", "no"  or "let's ask her", it was a tear-filled "She's our miracle"! I almost lost it too, seeing this gentle giant so overcome with true, heartfelt emotion for his baby. I composed myself and spoke with him for a minute or two and I asked him if it would be ok to write a story about her. He said she'd be delighted. He gently touched her on the elbow and told her that someone wanted to meet her. I introduced myself and she politely introduced herself. I asked if it would be ok if I wrote a story about her and just as her dad had said, she said she'd be delighted. I told her, "I know you're in high demand right now, so I won't keep you long, but I would love to take a picture with you". She smiled and said "Of course". I traded information with her dad, thanked them for their hospitality and went on to find my family. 

It's been several weeks now and the same emotions I felt for this beautiful and talented young lady on that evening are still very close to the surface. As I write these final words, I still have those feelings stirring around inside me that were so present on that evening.  

I'm going to go ahead and admit it, right here, right now. I'm guilty, yes, guilty. I'm guilty of judging a book by its cover. I'm guilty of trying to determine the outcome of a situation, with a faulty thinking process. A man of my age should know by now that more often than not, making judgmental assumptions based on what I see instead of what I know, normally turns out to be dead wrong. And once again, I was wrong for what I let my mind tell me. When I saw Jessica walk away earlier that morning, I remember thinking "Does she really have a chance in this competition"? In retrospect, I was wrong to ever let that thought enter my mind. Jessica Zeller has a physical difficulty, yes,  but she's far from being "disabled". Jessica Zeller possesses many, many more amazing, God-given abilities and she is a much braver soul than I could ever hope to be. 

It was a profound privilege to meet such an outstanding and inspirational young lady. I'm forever thankful for that night and for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet such a dynamic and driven soul. A soul that has opened my eyes wider than they've been in a long time. It's been said that "people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime". I'm hoping this is a lifetime meeting.

Congratulations on a job well done, Jessica Zeller, you are a model of inspiration and you have a brand new, lifelong fan.

 Me and Jessica Zeller

The Impulsive Texan

 "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it" 

November 19, 2014

FOOD! Gringo Stir Fry...

Hello friends, neighbors, in-laws and outlaws, Texans in Texas, those not in Texas, those about to be in Texas, or those of you that appreciate anything that is the Lone Star State. Today’s topic is one that is near and dear to my heart, oh yeah and to my stomach. It's turning colder and when it's cold, my taste buds start asking for things that are a bit more spicy.
I love to eat and as much as I love to eat, I love sharing the recipes I run across. Today’s is a wonderfully delicious and spicy plate. This is a sort of basic, normal everyday stir-fry, with a bit of a  Southwestern or Texas twist to it. Ok, here we go...
Gringo Stir Fry


1 - large potato, diced into 1/2" cubes
1 - package of your favorite link sausage, cut into 1/4" coins
1 - large onion, cut into 1/4" "fajita" strips
5 - large jalapeno peppers or any chili pepper of your choice, cleaned, deveined and cut into 1/4" "fajita" strips. If you like your food really spicy, leave the veins and seeds
1 - large green bell pepper, cut into 1/4" "fajita" strips
1 - large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4" fajita" strips
1/2 - bunch cilantro, cut into small pieces


- Ensure ingredients are ready to cook and by the stove and ready to go
- Heat a small skillet on medium high, with 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil until oil is hot and almost smoking
- Stir fry the potatoes for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, or until they are halfway done
- Add the onions, all peppers and sausage to the pan, stir fry until the sausage starts getting a dark, almost black crust around the edges
- About 15 - 20 seconds before the dish is done, toss in the cilantro and mix well into the other ingredients- Remove from heat and serve immediately, hot
(This takes about 10 minutes of prep time, once the ingredients are ready to go and will feed one hungry Texan or 3 - 4 regular folks.

 Now, EAT!

Folks, you can use your imagination on this dish and add any additional ingredients that you want. This is just my rendition. Other tasty additions to the dish are fresh squash, black-eyed peas, hominy, whole kernel corn... the sky’s the limit with how you can build this dish!

Enjoy your Gringo Stir Fry and have a super Blessed Thanksgiving Holiday.

Keep eatin' and remember, God Blessed Texas!

The Impulsive Texan

September 27, 2014

A Texas Tornado is closing in!!!

If this doesn't get your feet to tapping, reach down and check your pulse! God Bless Texas Music and God Bless the Texas Tornados!


The Impulsive Texan

September 26, 2014

"Reasons that Texas is Texas"

There are many schools of thought on just what makes Texas, Texas. While some indications are unique in nature and some aren’t, there are many things that Texas has and does and believes, that make it like no other place on earth. There’s a valid point to the advertising slogan “Texas, it’s like a whole other country”. Amen.
After pondering on this very subject for the better part of my life, I’ve come up with a list of things that I feel make the Great State of Texas, the one and only Lone Star that shines like no other. 

1.     Friday Night High School Football – Of all the movies on high school football, Friday Night Lights, defined the essence of the sport of football in the State of Texas, like no other State in America. In Texas, newspapers allow entire sections just for the scores, hightlight’s and stories on the most favorite game in Texas. 

2.     Texas Dry Rub BBQ – Often imitated, but never duplicated, the art of dry rub BBQ is uniquely Texan. The Texas Hill Country is truly, BBQ Mecca. Franklins, Mueller, Coopers, Blacks, City Market and the Salt Lick are shrines to the art of Texas Hill Country BBQ. Copious amounts of salt, pepper, Oak, Mesquite or Pecan smoke, low and slow heat and the magic of time, create a BBQ experience like no other place. No utensils, served on brown butcher paper and sauce on the side, please. 

3.     Small Town Salutation – If you ever get the privilege of driving on the back roads around Small Town, Texas, you’ll see something that might cause you to wonder. I’m guilty of it, my friends are guilty of it, but it’s a guilt that is a pleasure. I’m talking about the courtesy of waving at the vehicles passing you going in the opposite direction. Makes no difference if you know them or not, wave. It’ll do one of two things; make them smile or make them wonder, “Do I know that person?” Doesn’t matter if you do or you don’t, that’s Texas. 

4.     Texas Pride – There is no one school of thought, that I’ve heard, that will explain the extreme level of state pride that Texas has. My own personal opinion is that is goes back to the days of the fight for independence from Mexico. The original founding states of the nation all had each other to back the fight for independence from England. Texas had the settlers that moved there when it was a Mexican state and a 185 rag tag fighters from Tennessee, Virginia and a few other states as their fighting force. The story is told that a request for help in the fight to the United States was sent out and that the request was turned down. So, with a small, unorganized and untrained army, the quickly formed militia waged war against the mighty Mexican General Santa Anna and defeated him, sealing the victory from the country of Mexico… by itself, with no help from any other state in the United States, except for those few, brave volunteers that came to Texas to fight for the idea of Texas. Now that’s just my own opinion, as wrong or right as it may be. But it’s the only explanation that I personally can come up with for our deep, abiding faith, in the Great State of Texas. 

5.     Texas Music – The medium of music in Texas is as far and wide as the distance from Amarillo to Brownsville. From classical music in the metropolitan areas, to the sounds of country in the honky-tonks and dance halls that dot the back roads, Texas music has something for everyone. Pop, Metal, Classical, Country, Folk, Bluegrass, Tejano, Conjunto, Reggae, Jazz, Gospel, Contemporary Christian… well, the list goes on and on. 

6.     Tex-Mex Food – It’s not too often that a state wrangles a style of food and morphs it into their own. But Texas did just that with Tex-Mex. Most of the food in the United States is of the Tex-Mex variety. Nachos, chimichanga’s and fajita’s are all the creation of someone north of the border in Texas. Traditional Mexican faire’ is more of a comfort food, rather than the deep-fried, or sizzling style Texas has created. 

7.     Big, everything – The old saying “Everything’s big in Texas” may be a bit of a stretch, but Texas is known for Big Oil, Big Money, Big Sports and in some cases, Big Mouth’s. Make no mistake, if a Texan dreams it up, the chances are, he’s going to make the effort “Big Time”.

8.     Size means everything – In the continental United States, Texas is the largest with 268,581 square miles of desert, mountains, prairies, plains, hills and pine trees. To put that in prospective, you could put 28 states of Vermont and New Hampshire, almost two New York States and four and one-half Illinois’. Oh, one last comparison. You can locate 163 states of Rhode Island with the borders of Texas. Yep, that puts it into perspective.

9.     Farm and Ranch land Every state in the United States has farm and ranch land and Texas leads the way with 130.2 million acres. It also leads the nation in production of cotton, beef, goats and mohair production. 

So, there you have it mi amigos, some of my top reasons why Texas is Texas. Again, each one of these might be something that each state has or does, but this is a handful of things that makes the Great State of Texas as great as it truly is. 

Blessings on a wonderful day, God bless y’all and God Bless Texas!

The Impulsive Texan

September 20, 2014

"The Fig Tree"

You know, there are so many things can bring joy to your life, whether it be sporting events, spending time with family, camping, cooking, being active in your church or some humanitarian activity. Those are some pretty grand things to bring a smile to your face.
But you know, little things can do the same thing. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a smile from a loved one or sleeping in on a lazy Saturday morning could be just the thing to make your entire day. For me, it's the little things that count the most. 
But my serious weakness, one thing that will always put a big smile on my face and remove the rumble from my gut, is food. Any food, I don't care... fast food, not so fast food, food I cook, food my wife cooks, food someone else cooks, which is the best food of all, spicy food, mild food, not so mild food and pizza. I've had sushi and shrimp and oysters, raw and in a po-boy, shark and rabbit, squid and calamari, I've eaten bear meat, (once... no more for me thank you) I've had alligator and rattlesnake, boiled crawfish and crabs, elk meat and buffalo, pheasant and quail, dove and venison, wild boar and head-on catfish in a Mexican border town, but I did not drink the water. But I have my limitations too. Do not set a dish in front of me that is made from an animal organ. Nope, just.can't.do.it...Gizzards? wretch... Liver? hurl... Gut soup? I need an air bag, please and hurry, thank you... 
My wife is NOT as adventurous with her palate as I am, but overall we are serious amateur foodies and for the most part, we have the same desires in food. We watch every cooking show on television, we try to mimic the recipes they share and we have gone so far as to visit a few of the places that the spike-haired, bleach blonde California celebrity chef on the Cooking Channel has made wildly popular on his weekly show.
But all that aside, from time to time, I crave, seriously crave a nice, ripe, purple fig. Yep, I hate to disappoint you, but I'm not a graduate of Cardamum Blue and if I were in the food industry professionally, I'd prefer not to be called a chef. But yes, figs. Why figs you ask? Well, most of us form our likes and dislikes, habits, beliefs and personality early on in life, and generally between the ages of 9 and 14.
At the age of 12, I developed a love for those nice, ripe, giant, Texas figs. It began innocently enough on my walk after school to my families small engine repair shop. My brother and I would help out there after work and the walk home took us down a sleepy, narrow street. On that street was a massive old fig tree, with a big limb that hanged over the fence and into the street. It seemed as if it reached the sky. That may have been due to my relative close proximity to the ground and the tree's amazing height above the ground. Oh, and age. Have you noticed how things you remember as a child seem so much smaller in adulthood? Each day, my brother and I would stroll leisurely down that shady street, our gait slow because of the knowledge of what awaited us at the dirty, greasy and noisy shop... and figs.
We had been partaking in the sweet, juicy bounty of the figs for the better part of the season with never a problem. We'd only enjoy one or two on the way home after a long and arduous day at school, choosing to leave more of the fruit for the next days visit. The first time I heard her voice, I thought they were shooting a scene of "Attack of the Killer Banshees". "Get away from my figs you young hooligans!" were the first words I ever heard out of her mouth. She scowled those words with a level of anger that I'd never heard from an elderly woman, or man for that matter. The initial introduction scared me beyond belief. I dropped my handful of figs and sprinted down the sidewalk, not stopping until I had reached the safety of the family workshop. But those juicy, sweet orbs, that were just waiting to be devoured always drew me back to the scene of the feast.
After that day, my brother and I had to develop a strategy to get at the figs. She was always using a walking cane and neither of us wanted to be the first to see if she could actually fulfill her threat of "splitting our skull with this walker". Yeah, she had me convinced she could. We tried reasoning with her, saying that we were only taking the fruit that was on the limb that was hanging in the street. But no way was she going to reason. "Those are my figs, no matter where the limbs grow!" She would scream that same warning and message every day while she tried to keep from stepping in the level pile of rotting fruit that lay in her yard, under that tree. She didn't want them but she didn't want anyone else having them either.
So the strategy that my brother and I developed was this; while one of us tried, from a distance of course, to keep her occupied on one end of the block, the other would run down the sidewalk like we were leaving. While she made her way to the one that stayed behind on the other end of the block, absorbing her verbal abuse, the other would sneak back up the sidewalk and grab a double handful of the figs. The strategy worked like a charm. For weeks and weeks of each season, we'd enjoy the bounty that the tree had to offer. It seems like a hundred years away. But childhood, like time, passes way too quickly.
I had totally forgotten about those moments way back in my childhood. But a few weeks ago, neither my wife and I were up for cooking. So I jumped in the truck and headed to the local chicken place. I'm not sure why, but on the way back, I came a totally different way than I normally would have. As I headed West on Grand Street, I passed Cole Street, the street the old fig tree was on. Suddenly, like a flood, memories of the cranky old lady, the heavy-fruited fig tree hanging low over Cole Street, came rushing back to me. I remembered those times vividly... the heat in the air, the smell of the warm, sunny day and the rushing "swoosh" of vehicles and the whine of their tires on the highway, just two blocks away.
I slowed my truck down and moved over to the side of the street, ensuring the street was clear behind me. I made a U-turn, drove back down and took a left on Cole street. The road was more lit up than I remembered in my memory. Most of the low-hanging trees had gotten taller or were gone completely. The road was much narrower than I remembered too. Up ahead on the right, I saw the old, decorative wire fence that separated the cranky old lady from my brother and I as we walked, or ran, down the sidewalk.
But as I pulled up to the fence, I noticed that something was amiss, something wasn't right, something just wasn't normal. Suddenly it hit me. The fig tree, the old, cranky lady and her home, were all gone. An uneasy, melancholy sort of mood settled in over me, sort of like I'd been socked in the gut, or I had just seen the wind drop to calm and leave all traces from a ships sail. An important, yet to a degree unsettling part of my youth, was gone. All traces of it, nothing left but the fence and the sidewalk and the memory of a cranky old lady and a tree that brought so much satisfaction to the hunger of a young boy.
I drove slowly home, running those memories through my mind, over and over and over again. Why was that memory so important to me? Was a dirty old street with a not so special tree and a lady that ruled with iron fist over it, that important? Yes, in a way it was. Then I realized, it wasn't the memory of the tree and the joy it brought, or the old, cranky lady that I made life miserable for, a few minutes a day, during the fig season. The reason it hit me so hard was that I realized, things are here today and gone tomorrow. Just like life. One day someone you love is here and the next they're gone. One day a fig tree is here, the next it's gone.
Looking back, had I made an effort to befriend the old lady, I may have made a friend for life. But now, she and her tree are gone, forever, except for being tucked away neatly in my mind. At the time I thought they were bad memories, the reality is, that was part of making me who I am today.
So take it from me, never, ever look at something like it has no meaning or effect on your life at all. For me, a simple fig tree and the memories it holds, has had a profound effect on me and an indescribable joy that I didn't even realize until that day. As long as I'm blessed to live here on this earth, I will never quite look at a big, old purple Texas fig quite the same, ever again.

May 19, 2014

'Workin' cows"...

Forty years ago, this summer, was the last time I "worked cows". I did it for extra money back in high school, when I thought I was ten foot tall and bulletproof. For those friends and acquaintances of mine that don't quite understand what working cows is, I'll explain.

As you can imagine, sort of like kids, a healthy cattle herd requires daily maintenance of feeding, watering, giving shots, applying medicines and so forth. You get the picture.

So a friend recently asked for my help today in applying tags to a dozen or so new bull and heifer calves. This is where you attach a numbered identification tag to the animals ear... with an industrial strength rivet gun, basically. Keep that in the back of your mind.

I show up, eager to help out a friend in need and needless to say, it went straight down hill from there. First of all there is no horse available to rope the beasts. So we have three grown men, in fairly un-good shape and a strapping young man of about 20, chasing calves around the pen for a half hour. Que the Keystone Cops music.

Someone gets the bright idea to "let Steve have a chance" at roping one of these terrified SCUD missiles on-the-hoof. I reluctantly take the rope and start stalking a calf around the pen... one throw... miss... two throws... not even remotely close... one last try and I actually came close... to roping a fence post.

Ok, next man... he finally gets one...and gives ME the end of the rope. I'm like, "what do I do with this"???. He lets go and just like at Six Flags, the amusement ride begins... immediately. Picture this...a 56 year old man, at full sprint, in boots, behind a furious and terrified 250 pound bull calf, headed toward a steel gate at passing lane speed, with a nylon rope in my hands, and this is where I suddenly remember... I have no gloves.

I am headed straight for a steel pole sticking up out of the ground! Not sure how, but I have the presence of mind to try and wrap the flaming rope around the pole between visions of gruesome injuries, thoughts of funeral plans my wife is about to begin and maintaining some level of dignity while trying not to look like some whimpering sissy with her skirt on fire. It worked! The calf stopped dead in its tracks! The other three wrestled the calf to the ground and applied the tag. One down...

Now I'm not one to whine about helping a friend out, but as we stared at the remaining, much bigger calves that were staring back at us, someone said, "there has to be a better way to do this, and without batting an eye, I said "outsource the job to cowboys"! After an hour and a half and four calves tagged, we were through "working cows" for the day. We fired up the grill and put about ten pounds of one of those calves cousins on the grill in the manner of burgers, sausage and hot dogs. We relaxed under a tree for the rest of the afternoon, sipping water and sweet tea, while reminiscing about all the "work" we'd just done...

So friends, as easy as cowboys make this sort of stuff look on TV, do not be fooled, there's more to being a real ranch hand than riding horses and slowly punchin' dogies and singing trail ride songs as you ride off into the West Texas sunset. "Hey honey, where's the Bengay"???

God bless all y'all and keep it Texas!

The Impulsive Texan