February 14, 2011

Spring is coming

I had a visit from an old friend this weekend. As I went about my activities, I felt the leading edge of my old buddy, Spring, move by me. It brought a joy to my soul because just last week, Old Man Winter had a firm hold on North Texas. But as with most winter weather patterns in Texas, he lost his grip and flee'd back north to colder regions.

It seems overnight the Bradford Pear trees at La Puerta del Cielo, have moved to the cusp of bloom. The buds are swollen and straining against the will of the leaves just below. As the wind blew through, gone was the frosty nip it held just days before. Its touch seemed to whisper "Spring is coming". The skies did not have that dismal winter hue, instead the blue was the classic Texas Spring Blue. A shade that most here in the Lone Star State dream of seeing in December, January and February.

Many years have passed since I've come to grips with my "aging". But even so, hot, muggy, summer days have never bothered me. Even now, I prefer stifiling heat to numbing cold. But this winter season was the first in my short fifty-two years that had me leafing desperately through the calendar, counting the days until March. I can't remember a time in my life that I have been colder than this year. The Northeastern Blizzard I was caught up in back in 1979 couldn't compare to the pain that the cold wracked me with this year. Usually as people "mature" they complain more of the heat than the cold. But here I go, being different again. Give me eternal summer and I'll be ecstatic. The weatherman has even hinted to an eighty degree day or two in the coming forecast. I'm all smiles these days. Almost the entire week in the seventies. To me, that's paradise for sure.

As we revel here in Texas at the balmy weather ahead, let's remember our friends, family and neighbors to the North. This year has been a record year for snowfall, cold and dismal weather for the Northeast. Realizing how I feel about cold weather, I sometimes feel bad for those poor souls that have to endure the inconvenient and sometimes intolerable periods they suffer through. But after a while, I begin to think clearly and tell myself, "Geez, how crazy to live like that. Do they honestly, sincerely like living in that environment?" But I will think of them in the coming weeks as we soak up the sun and balmy weather that Old Man Winter has had to relegate authority to.

So to all of my friends, family and those that spend time with me here at The Impulsive Texan, I happily whisper... hang on, spring is coming!

The Impulsive Texan

February 11, 2011

Texas, Off the Beaten Path

I have driven by this spot on US Hwy 67 between Alvarado, Texas and Venus, Texas, for nearly ten years now. It has been used for growing hay during that entire time. No fences, no cattle, nothing. Then a few years ago, this sign popped up at the edge of the highway and since that time, it has always made me wonder. Is the feed company owner proud of their heritage? Was it a hasty decision on a company name? Or did they hire a really bad public relations and advertising firm? One of those things that make you go, hmmmmmm????

February 9, 2011

A new segment on the Impulsive Texan...

I'm going to start a new segment here at the Impulsive Texan. It will be called "Texas, Off The Beaten Path". I'm going to periodically post interesting, unusual, strange and just down right weird places, people and things for all to see and enjoy. These stories and pics won't be of everything we know in Texas already, they will be off the cuff, out of the way and unknown.

I will be happy to post items that all of you send to me if you know of anything that will fit in. All I ask is that you send, via email, one picture in .jpeg format and a short description or story of the item you want to share. Please make it "Texas specific" in nature.

Please, NO suggestive material or pictures. Also, these pics should be taken by you or a family member. Please do not submit copywritten material. You can submit your requests and pics, via email, to the following email address:


I look forward to receiving all of your submissions and to this new segment!

The Impulsive Texan

February 8, 2011

Snow, snow, snow...

Although I'm not a fan of cold weather, snow is one of God's most beautiful events. I've added a couple of pics of the snow at my place, La Puerta del Cielo, in Egan, Texas. This particular snow is gone, but it sure
was beautiful while it lasted

As you can see, the pond is totally frozen over and the ice and bad weather have wreaked havoc on the dock, but under a fresh blanket of snow, it's a gorgeous site. They say we're getting more snow tomorrow, so maybe I can find some other sites that are just as beautiful.

February 7, 2011

Hurry, August

After last week, I don’t feel bad at all when I proclaim my disdain for winter. I’d rather be sweating like a nun in Nairobi than being moments away from losing a toe or other digit from exposure to 10 degree weather. I know everyone doesn’t share this same sentiment, but it is the view of several million southerners and myself and on the other end of the matter, I don’t hold ill will against anyone who does in fact enjoy winter or in my opinion, inhumane weather.

My reasons for despising miserably cold winter weather pretty much lie in my comfort or lack there of during the activities I enjoy. I am an outdoorsman. I love to be outside hunting, fishing, camping or whatever else I can do out of doors. But once the dry, cool air comes to North Texas, for me, the countdown is on until I can bid adieu to Old Man Winter. I know, I know, loving hunting and the outdoor lifestyle seems sort of contradictory with me not liking cold weather. Point taken...

The first drafts of winter bring dry weather and my old nemesis, static electricity. I know that sounds trivial, but those small, blue, arcing milli-volts of winter surprise catch me off guard every single year. I’m sure if I had enough hair to stand up, I just know in that instant that I become a human lightning rod, I would resemble a child rubbing a balloon on his head for a few minutes in order to get maximum hair air. And I can only imagine what runs through people’s minds as I go about my day, smacking the the handle of my pickup, giving high-fives to filing cabinets and metal doors and thumping toilet handles to discharge myself. It eventually becomes a built in reaction and I find myself whacking metal objects well into May.

My entire life I have been fortunate or unfortunate, depending on your point of view, to have oily skin. The dermatologist I used to frequent as a teen used to tell me that when I turned 50, I’d be thankful for the oily skin. Well, that was easy for him to say as he looked down on skin that more closely resembled a supreme pizza than the clear, blemish free skin I live in today. I wasn’t sure until the last few years why he said I’d be happy with oily skin as a kid. Well, I have turned fifty and it seems oily skin has the unique ability to help keep wrinkles at bay, so yes, I’m thankful. But the point of talking about my skin is what happens to it during the winter. At the first hint of cooler weather, my skin turns into cheap, 100 grit sandpaper. Not only is it rough and dry, it also brings along its cousin, Unending Itch.

Every year from mid December until early March, I frequently resemble Chief Jumpnscratch, Tribal Medicine Man, as I jerk and sway around the house, trying to get to that one spot in the middle of my back that I can’t reach. During the itchy season anything, and I do mean anything, becomes a back scratcher. It could be a door, bed posts, sharp cabinet edges, straightened wire hangers, a hair brush, irons or anything else in reach that will quell the itch. I promise you I ain’t proud and I figure I can always take a shower after I get relief so I grab what's closest. I suppose God feels bad for me and has been "watching my back", because luckily, there has never been a butcher knife within reach during one of my “itch fits”.

The middle of the night is the worst time though. I toss and turn, scratch, moan and get up saying words I shouldn’t and then usually end up using the edge of the bathroom door in order to get some relief. Doors are great, because they have hinges and I can back up to the door and reach behind and swing the door to and fro and lean that portion of my body that’s making me crazy into the swinging door.

Static electricity and dry skin are two instances that have me praying out loud for the first signs of summer. But there is one thing that is worse. In the winter I dread having to visit the john. I make sure I watch the weather and try to time my nature calls in accordance with the warmer days. My wife and I sit each morning drinking coffee and watching the news and weather because that’s the only time we both get to be together, alone, enjoying the quiet. As we watch the weather, I’m making mental notes of the upcoming warm spells. “Hmmm, it’s gonna be 31 tonight, don’t guess I can schedule it then. But, it’s gonna be in the low 60’s tomorrow, so yep, tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. the day will be its warmest. Appointment made”.

You know you’ve all done this. You wake up in the middle of the night, half asleep and the call from Mother Nature comes in and uhhhm, guess what, there’s no compromise, you have to accept the call, period. Getting up frequently at night isn’t an issue with me since I have an overactive, fifty two year old prostate with a sense of humor that enjoys prodding my bladder over and over during the night. My problem lies with the visit in the middle of the night, during those long winter nights in the low 20’s, that requires me to sit.

I psyche myself up and try to be ready for the initial shock as I head toward the throne. But no matter what I do, I can never be fully prepared for the initial jolt of the icy reception. The sudden change in temperature below the equator causes my lungs to reflex wildly and suck everything above them down a full inch…trachea, saliva, nasal contents, you name it, they make a hasty retreat south. Any hope for activity at that point is temporarily put on hold as the muscles required to perform such activity are suddenly atrophied from the frigid toilet seat. And soon the cold creeps up to the top of my waist and down in to the back of my legs, so guess what, fifteen minutes gets added to the job while I wait for the thaw. Eventually the paralysis subsides and I can finally feel my legs enough to stand up and make my way back to the bed and the warm covers.

As I’m lying there, shivering and trying to find that one little spot that will bring the heat, that naughty little guy that sits on one shoulder thinks it would probably be pretty funny to place my frozen toes in the middle of my wifes bare legs. It has always amazed me at how painful the reactive kick from a 5’ 1”, 106 pound tiger can be as it lands in the meatiest part of my calf. Guess I deserved that one.

Happy winter season everyone, but hurry August!!!

The Impulsive Texan

February 3, 2011

The Gray Fedora

I first remember seeing him in the mid to late ‘60’s as he shuffled carefully down the hallways of school. He was an odd looking man that moved slowly because of an obvious debilitation. His right arm was withered and useless and was drawn up to his side. It twitched and shook uncontrollably and constantly. The fingers on that hand were bent and shaped at an odd angle as if they all had been broken at the same time and healed in that twisted, mangled manner. His walk wasn’t necessarily a limp, but when he took a step, he would drag his right leg up to complete his slow and troubled stride. At ten years old, to me, he was a giant of a man and thank God I came to know him, because at first glance, he was scary and intimidating.

There are many things that I remember of the man. He always had a smile on his face and he spoke with a very slow, slurred and thick Texas brogue. He wore the big, cumbersome glasses that were in style in the ‘60’s and those brown, matching uniformed shirts and pants that he wore cinched high above his waist. But what I remember the most and what became the icon of the man in my memory was the gray fedora that was always perched carefully on his head.

He kept the brim straight and level and that old hat was stained and dirty from years of work and wear. On a hot Texas day, he would push it back to wipe away the sweat and it would reveal the white on his upper forehead that likely hadn’t seen a ray of sunshine in forty years. He would shuffle down the hallway at school carefully guiding the same janitor’s cart that he had pushed for generations before. And he always took the time to say hi to each and every child and call out their name, without exception.

On the outside he looked like a weak and sickly man and those that didn’t know him, rarely acknowledged his presence. Heartless kids would mock him and make fun of his unfortunate situation. But once you came to know this kind and gentle being, you looked past all the disfiguring traits his old body had. And the reason you looked past them is because, well, he did too. Not once in my entire school career did I ever notice him show a sign of weakness or pity for himself. He didn’t have time for that, he was busy making friends and changing lives.

Although my given name was Stephan and everyone had called me Steve from birth, he began calling me “Stevie”. It never bothered me but I always wondered why he called me by that name. I came to realize many years later that his purpose in life was to ensure his “kids” felt special. To him, each child in that school was his, and special and he went out of his way to ensure they knew it when he crossed their paths. My entire life I was called Steve, but he called me Stevie and yes, that made me feel very special.

I always took the time to say hi and acknowledge his presence, because there was something in him that drew you his way. It was almost magnetic. It may have been his kindness or the fact that he really and truly cared about you and what was going on in your life. He asked me once what I was going to do with my life after school and at that age, I had no idea. His response was brilliant and timeless as he simply told me to just do whatever I did with passion and pride. No matter what it was, just own it, be proud of it and give it everything I had.

Another trait I would learn of over the years was his incredible and accurate memory. I graduated from high school in 1976 and had been gone from home for many years and had come back to town on leave. I was walking the downtown square when out of the door of the barber shop, I recognized the bent and gray-haired man I had not seen in many years. He slowly shuffled outside, closed the door gently behind him and as he turned toward me to make his way down the sidewalk, a big, broad grin came over his face as he excitedly called out, “Stevie”! His right arm began to twitch violently up and down as it always did when he became excited. If one had witnessed this for the first time, they might think that he was going into some sort of seizure. In a sense he was, because in happy moments like this, he was overcome with joy and happiness to see another one of his “kids”. Even after all of the years that had passed and the hundreds of other kids he had met and befriended, he not only remembered me, he remembered me by the special name he bestowed on me nearly twenty years earlier.

We spoke for nearly fifteen minutes on that day and he asked how my mom, my brothers and my little sister were doing and how my career was going with the Navy. That question took me aback, because I never told him that I had joined the Navy. How he knew that I had joined the Navy always puzzled me. He either heard chatter in school about my career choice, or he took the time to find out. Somehow I think it was the latter because he honestly, truly and passionately cared for all of the kids in the school system. I should have known the answer, considering who it was I was speaking with.

That hot, muggy, August day, was the last time I ever saw him and I remember those few moments like they were just yesterday. He served the community and the school in my home town faithfully for the rest of his life. He was loved and admired by all who met and came to know him and I’ll go to my grave believing he never had an enemy or a cross word with anyone. His heart was grand and giving and to know the man was to know a true earth-bound angel.

In an earlier blog this year, I said I wasn’t going to spend my year trying to keep useless resolutions, because just like most everyone else, I would probably end up breaking them anyway. I wanted to spend 2011 thanking people that made a difference in my life and he was certainly one of those that did. He showed me nothing but kindness and that’s something that I believe the entire world could use an overdose of. For the kindness you showed, the smiles you passed along and the passion you showed for your “kids”, I thank you sir. I pray that I become half the man that you were.

The older I get the more I remember of him… his smile, his heart and his grand presence. But the one thing I will always remember and that will define him forever, is that old, gray fedora. It sat on his head like a crown and that was more than fitting, because in my eyes, Emmet Batton was a king among ordinary men.