Show A Little Kindness And Respect

Last Saturday, before Memorial Day, my wife MoMo and I stopped at one of our local McDonalds for a sausage McMuffin and a Coke. Breakfast for two for under six bucks. We were on our way to Fort Worth for some items I can’t recall at this moment, but we often make the trip because our hometown, Granbury, Texas, is small, and the only place to buy things is Walmart and H.E.B. for food. I would as soon take a licking from a Cocaine Bear than shop at Walmart, but I give in, and we do; everyone in town eventually has to.

Sitting and eating our meager breakfast sandwich and sharing a Coke, I noticed an old man sitting alone at a corner table. I’m now officially an old man, but this fellow looked to be in his nineties. He wore a black ball cap that read; “Korean War Veteran” and a tee shirt with the American flag on the front; a walking Kane rested on the seat next to him. He wasn’t eating, although a sandwich and a cup of coffee were on his tray. The old fellow was unkempt and needed a shave, and his clothes showed signs that he likely lived alone and felt no need to spiff himself up for a trip to Mcdonald’s.

My wife says I say things that will one day get me maimed, shot, or worse, and yes, she is right. Outspokenness is a trait I tote in my back pocket, and it doe’s get me in hot water with friends and relatives.

I got up, walking stick in hand, hobbled over to the old fellow, and asked if the folks in the kitchen got his order wrong? He replied that they had given him a more expensive sandwich and charged him more than he could afford, and he couldn’t eat eggs anymore, but it was okay; he would just drink his coffee and leave. Disrespect for our veterans, especially our older ones that will soon be nothing but an old photograph on someone’s mantel, runs deep in our society. The younger people have no idea the sacrifices these men and women made so they could drive their Teslas and keep their faces in an iPhone all day. This was one of the moments my wife MoMo frequently warns me of.

I asked to speak to the manager, a young Hispanic woman, maybe mid-twenties. I wasn’t looking for a fight or to berate anyone, but only to remind this business to treat our veterans with the respect they have earned and deserve. I wasn’t rude but direct, and I shamed her for overcharging him, and they should refund his money and apologize. She was shocked that one of her employees had committed this sin. She said she would make it right by him, but by then, he had emptied his tray into the trash can and walked out. If I ever cross paths with him again, I will buy him a big breakfast and maybe visit for a while; I bet he has some great stories to tell.

“As The Cactus Patch Turns,”June 3rd, 2023

A Birthday For The Ages

It seems my oldest granddaughter, my only one, has obtained her driver’s license and is now eager to “Take to the highway, won’t you lend me your name, my way and your way seem to be one and the same.” ( James Taylor) For her birthday, which is today, we gifted her our 2008 Honda CRV. It’s a mighty little chariot with 167K miles and can hold its own against any new cars. She’s a bit fastidious, so I know she will care for her car and herself. Happy Birthday, sweet Madalyn. The only thing that would make a better day would be for your father to celebrate with us. I’m certain he is at Heaven’s portal watching you; don’t speed or run a stop sign, and don’t smoke cigarettes.

Planting For Dollars, Slave Labor, and Chicken Poop Fertilizer

When I started landscaping our property four years ago, I promised myself the foliage would be drought-tolerant and sparse, with more gravel and rocks than plants. Somewhere along the journey, my artistic genes kicked in, and the property became more of a canvas than a plot of soil. I have now done myself in, backed into a flora corner with no escape. The plants know me by name, call to me in my dreams and watch me as I meander around. It’s akin to “The Little Shop Of Horrors,” Feed me they scream as I beat them off my leg. One Chaste bush dared to grab my arm with a firm grip, demanding more fertilizer. My wife has no pity for me. I’m a doomed man. I have discovered natural chicken poop fertilizers, which is mildly repugnant, but the plants adore it.

Looking At Politics In My Rear View Mirror

In the past few days, I realized that I am done with politics. Both sides of our republic are equally to blame and are equally criminal. Our founding fathers, much less flawed than our current crop of grifters, had the forethought to see the future and what it might become; thus, the constitution and our laws that no one in the tidal basin seems to know, the first thing about. Payola, quid-pro-quo, back-scratching, good-ole-boy, kiss-ass, grab-ass, and insider trading is the rule of the day. Thanks to social media, our world is not a better place. Life before cell phones and the internet was manageable and somewhat more peaceful. I’m thinking limiting my television time to re-runs of “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and possibly ” Leave It To Beaver” would be beneficial to my health.

Read a Good Book And Improve Your Mind, Or Read a Bad One And Ruin It…

I’m halfway through a Biography of the great newsman Walter Cronkite. Watching him on television in my formative years gave me the lust for news, which I now find a curse. Uncle Walt, Grandfather Walt, whatever we chose to call him, was the real deal and gave it to us straight up with no BS. I am also trying to read a novel by Tom Hanks and I realize that Tom needs to stick to acting and reciting lines written by young hipsters; he is fooling himself if he believes he is an author. He ain’t Mark Twain or Truman Capote. I don’t see myself finishing the book and will likely sell it back to Half Price Books for almost nothing. ” The Killers of The Flower Moon,” a soon-to-be motion picture with Leonardo DiCraprio and Robert De’Craprio is the true account of how a group of greedy land and oil barrons stole the oil-rich land in Oklahoma from the Native Americans. Since I am of that heritage, I will enjoy this one. I also found my original “Roy Rogers” book from when I was five, so I may give that a re-visit, as well as “To Kill A Mockingbird.” I wrote a letter to the once great magazine, “Texas Monthly,” which my wife gave me a three-year subscription to, informing them that they are no longer the center of the universe and Austin is no longer a part of Texas. I miss Gary Cartwright, Stephen Harrigan, and Dan Jenkins; I also miss Bob Wills and Cindy Walker, as well as Billy Joe Shaver.

Spotify Has Liquified My Brain

My granddaughter introduced me to the popular streaming music service, Spotify. I am addicted. All the songs I love from my teen years are there, and the classic country music is endless. Patsy Cline, Haggard, Waylon and Willie and the boys. I’ve recently re-discoverd the beloved and talented, John Prine. What a loss to the world of music when he passed. “Angel From Montgomery” and “Clay Pigeons” are two of his great ones. Now, If I can figure out how to block anything by Taylor Swift and Beyonce, It will be a perfect companion.

Time To Hand A Few Things Off

It’s an oldie but a goody.

As I approach age 74, realizations come to me at the oddest moments. Most are in dreams, but sometimes during meals, showering, plant pruning, or enjoying a sip of Irish Whiskey on my patio. My bum right foot won’t cooperate, thanks to botched back surgery, and sometimes it trips me up, which instantly reminds me that I need to use my walking stick and that at my age, any fall could be fatal or at least require a hospital visit, and that would bring relatives with grocery store flowers in hand to pay their condolences, and need my wife to sit by my bedside for days, or until I expire with tubes and machines hooked up to my bodily unit. It’s an unpleasant thought. Age tells you there are things you used to do that are not doable now.

I used to drive a trusty 2008 Honda CRV that has been a dependable ride since we purchased it new. But, back to the foot thing, I can’t drive a car now, even though I tell my wife MoMo that I can work the accelerator with my cane and break with my left foot. Nope, she won’t buy it, and I did try to drive a few weeks ago, and it was a disaster, so I have embraced her nurse-trained logic. It ain’t happening, dearhearts. So what to do with my small white buddy that’s been sitting in our driveway since last August of 2022?

My granddaughter, Maddie, lives in Tulsa and got her driver’s license this morning. So yesterday, MoMo drove our other Honda car, and my neighbor John and me ( John drove, of course) piloted the 2008 Honda to DFW airport to meet up with Maddy and her older sister Lillian and her wee-one at American Airlines Terminal D, so I could hand Maddy the keys and title to my Honda, which is now her Honda.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept, but old folks must do the right thing and hand the keys to the car and the future to the young ones.

As The Crow Flies

Photo by Alfred Hitchcock

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”
Edger Allan Poe

The bird population around the Cactus Patch has been growing by leaps and bounds. Our bird seed expenditure has doubled in the last month. Doves, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Titmouse, Chickadees, House Finches, Bluejays, Blackbirds, Buntings, a squirrel, and now we have a family of Crows. They live in a large Cottonwood tree a few hundred yards towards Comanche Peak, our local mountain. I counted fifteen or so in their flock, which is also their family. Crows tend to stay close to cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and children. Our friends warn us when a Crow shows up it means a pending death in the family or at least bad ju-ju for our household. So far, everyone is intact, and as far as the bad luck, well we have had a few instances. I can’t make myself blame the Crows for bad manufacturing.

Two weeks ago, our over-the-range microwave bid us adieu, the oven signed out a few days later, then our hot tub died. Our neighbor said it was the Crows that caused our appliance meltdown. I refuse to believe it. Edger Allan Poe was a writer of weird stories and a few runs of bad luck. He also drank Abstinith and used opium, so, of course, he had conversations with a Raven, who wouldn’t. Poe gave the Crow, or the Raven a bad rap; it became a part of our American vernacular.

Crows are large bluish-black birds that eat bugs, my birdseed, and peanuts. The Squirrel and a Crow had a stare-down yesterday, and the Crow won the game. The nut breath exited without his usual peanuts. They are birds and don’t cook a witches’ brew back at their nest or make voodoo dolls out of garbage. They are quite a beautiful avian, and smarter than many people I know. I left a quarter on the fence by one of the bird feeders, the crow took it and returned a dime to the same spot. Who knows what he spent the fifteen cents on. I put a few more shiny trinkets near the feeder and the Crows took those; I’m waiting to see what they return. I could use a new pair of garden pruners.

Memorial Weekend News From The Cactus Patch And Other Worthless Information 5/27/2023

Hey Folks, It Was More Fun Being A Kid Back In The Day….

Back in the 1950s, also referred to as ” Back In the Day,” we played with toys that should have either maimed or killed us. Cherry Bombs, a firecracker equal to a 1/4 stick of dynamite, yet our parents let us blow up things with these lethal fireworks. My ingenious cousin, Jok, decided to put a Cherry Bomb on top of the front tire of his older brother’s new imported MG. It was a swell blast, and after the smoke cleared, the metal fender had a huge pooch-out dent. He got his little ass paddled by every adult at the July 4th gathering. I got it too, just for being present at the scene of the crime. We also played with things like the picture below. We weren’t satisfied with letting them hit the sidewalk and pop the cap, we threw them at each other hoping that the pin would connect with one of our buddy’s heads. It was a great time to be a kid.

Give a kid a lethal weapon to play with and you can bet they will find a way to hurt someone. I know from experience these things hurt when they connect with your noggin.

Reading Keeps The Young Mind From Wandering Into Reality

“Fun with Dick and Jane” was the best book for us kids. Two parents, two kids, a boy, and a girl, and a Cocker Spaniel that bit everyone in the neighborhood. The all-American family long before the Cleavers came to television. This particular book was one of my favorites until I started reading Micky Spillane’s noir paperbacks.

This was our waiter at the lakeside restaurant here in Granbury. I intended to order a fat juicy burger, but after looking at this walking tackle box, I ordered the catfish. I asked him if the fish was frozen or fresh. He said, ” I jump in the lake every morning and walk out with enough fish for the day.” Wow, I was impressed.

This is a picture I drew of my bluegrass band back in the late 70s. We called ourselves the “Trinity River Band,” after the infamous stinky river that runs through Dallas. It seems the Trinity also runs through Fort Worth and is a clean and swimmable body of water until it reaches Dallas. I can’t remember who in the band wanted that name, and how in the hell did the rest of us agree to it? That would be me on the banjo.

MoMo and I wish you a safe and pleasant Memorial Day. Remember what the day is about. It’s not about sales at Lowes and Home Depot, or Amazon. It’s a day to honor the men and women who gave their lives and or served in our military to protect our country, and most of the world from evil. Today, in this time, we need them more than ever. Evil is on the move and we are the only nation willing to face it.

More Worthless News and Folklore From The Texas Cactus Patch 5-26-2023

I don’t have a current picture of myself, but this resembles my classic Wild Bill Cody look these days, only my hair is much longer and whiter, my teeth sparkle like a jewel, and I walk with a cane thanks to botched back surgery. At times, I carry a sidearm Colt 44, just in case things go south, as they often do here in Texas. It’s too hot to wear buckskin, so shorts and Tee Shirts make up my Western clothes.

So much for boycotts generated by the LGBQRSTUVWXYZ clothing. We Drove by Walmart this morning at 8:30 AM; the parking lot was full. Same driving by a Target in Fort Worth a few days ago, and full lot. I guess we Texans ain’t as tough as we put on to be. I did read that a father went berserk in a local Target and tore down the display and its sign, scattering those cute little grooming duds all over the aisle. He’ll likely get six or more years in the same prison the J-6th killers are housed in. The local Walmart is having its tax-free weekend and they are running a special; any gang of looters with 8 or more in the group gets to steal an additional 30 percent of goods; while supplies last. Just for giggles, the greeter may or may not be armed with a hidden 44 magnum. Could be a Dirty Harry moment.

This weekend is Tax-free shopping and free looting for gangs of 8 or more

I’ve found that grocery shopping at 8 AM is the way I prefer. There are no old ladies to bump you with their carts, very few shoppers and everyone is nice at that time of the day. I do miss not being able to whack people with my walking cane when they bump me, but hey, I can adjust. If you have never shopped at H.E.B. you are missing out on a great store. You might want to consider relocating to Texas so you can save money on your food and gasoline.

Ensure goes well with wine

Two weeks ago, our 4-year-old Whirlpool microwave bit the dust. Then a few days later, the 4-year-old Whirlpool oven did the same, then the 4-year-old Hot Tub took a dump. We replaced the microwave with a nice hood and purchased a small microwave that rest on the counter. The hood is a beast that has enough CFM to suck a Tomcat to the grill. Now we are buying a new oven and the hot tub repair is scheduled for June 6th. I’m praying the television or the fridge doesn’t go to La-La land. Oh yeah, all the appliances were made in America, so that has me worried that we are going backward with our manufacturing and China is leaving us in the dust. Wait a minute! Isn’t that what our past president said? Condolences and best wishes from Texas, and God Bless The Alamo.

Was it something I cooked?

Breaking News From The Texas Cactus Patch 5/24/2023

Arnold Ziffle Jr.

The Canadians are sending us new immigrants. It’s a “super pig,” and it’s crossing the border unchallenged and in the dark of night. The experts in these creatures say it eats everything in their path; ducks, deer, dogs, foxes, tiny humans, and so on. They travel in packs and are smart enough to avoid hunters with rifles and bows. One older experienced hunter said, “It’s like I am back in the Nam, these critters hide in holes and wrap foilage around themselves to blend in with the forest, it’s PigNam.” One report had one super pig using a laptop left on a picnic table, so these things are bright. The Biden administration is researching our laws to see if these critters can obtain voting rights. Look at those cute eyes, that mischievous twinkle and adorable smile. How could we not love the thousand-pound porker?

The border is still closed per our government, but yet 14,500 illegals per day somehow crawl through razor wire and make it past armed National Guard troops. They must be using a “Harry Potter invisible cloak” handed out by our Red Cross. Send a Cub Scout troop with Daisy air rifles to the border and let them pepper the invaders with copper BBs. I know from experience those BBs hurt. The phrase; “Remember The Alamo” comes to mind.

Miller Lite and Ford are the two latest companies to go woke. It appears that Miller has an all-female activist marketing group and intends to exterminate the Miller Lite good-ole-boys from its ranks, replacing them with trans women dressed like frat boys and construction workers. Ford, well, they are just a bunch of Detroit pansy asses. Rainbow-painted F-150 trucks. Who in the hell is going to drive one of those? Not in Texas or Oklahoma.

Target, that fun-loving department store with the big red circle and cute commercials, now carries a line of women’s swimwear for transgenders. It has extra material in the crotch for the sweet things little package. They also have a line of children’s playwear featuring trans slogans, fairies and Unicorns, and Winnie The Pooh, for Pete’s sake. Look to see Target biting the dust at a city near you. UPDATE..from the Dead South News Service: Target now has moved the Pride and LBJQRST clothing to the rear of their stores so shoppers without mental problems will not be exposed to the clothing.

The scammers are ramping up their attacks on us senior Texans. Somewhere, a list with my cell phone number was sold to a group of guys in India. All the callers have an East Indian accent and want to sign me up for additional Medicare benefits and pain meds; all they need is my personal information and credit card number. I keep telling them I died, but they keep calling back. I plan a trip to India soon to track down every one of the little shits and beat them with my Walmart walking cane. They don’t know that we all carry firearms in Texas and are pissed off most of the time, so that’s not a good combination for a scammer. Below is a picture of my latest scammer that he sent me. I asked for his cell number to call him in the middle of the night. He hung up.

” I am here to help you with your pain, all needed is your personal information, social security number, and a credit card with at least a $5K limit. Medicare is your friendly friend.”

I’m gifting my 2008 Honda CR-V to my 16-year-old granddaughter on Memorial Day. She needs a car to obtain a part-time job and get to school and home. I can’t drive a car due to the drop-foot caused by my back surgery, so I’m content to let MoMo drive me around in our 2018 Honda. The car is old and wise but doesn’t have streaming capabilities to the radio, so I’m not sure how she will listen to her Spotify music. Life is tough for the youngsters.

The Night The Music Died in Frisco, Texas

It’s official as of last night, country music, as we know it, is dead on the spot. So happens that the spot of demise was the home of the half-baked football team, The Dallas Cowboys, and how appropriate is that? Jerry Jones curses things at the oddest moments. I believe the genre known as country music self-imploded in his practice facility as thousands of big-haired, boot-wearing cowgirls in the audience jumped and jiggled so much their cleavage had to take a day off work today.

Old Garth was up there doing his usual fake tear-jerk schtick about loving America, apple pie, and his wife’s high-calorie southern cooking while dear old Dolly, the most talented person in the building and more country than all of them put together, cracked jokes about herself and put on a great show. She may have saved the entire broadcast just by being Dolly.

Is Keith Urban trying to remain a twenty-year-old Telecaster playing dude with a bad haircut for the rest of his life? Why was he wearing those weird Vans sneakers instead of a pair of Justin boots? And who is this Jelly-Roll dude with all the prison tats on his face? The four gals with enough tattoos to fill up Deep Ellum, calling themselves “Bonfire At Tina’s,” what the hell does that mean? They were definitely a bonfire, and no stagehands could find an extinguisher to put them out. Who and what is this Lainy Wilson gal that screams into the microphone, jiggles her big butt around in second-skin pants, and earns four awards? How did Amazon broadcast this show instead of the usual three networks? I expected a salute to Jimi Hendrix at any moment; it seems most of the guitar players have stolen his classic rock licks; I saw more Marshall Amps than Fenders. Just because you add a fiddle doesn’t make your country. They need some picking lessons from Vince Gill and Ricky Scaggs.

Perhaps the likes of Chris Stapelton and a handful of other purists can save the country music industry from their own wokisms. But it’s going to be a tough battle.

I was expecting, at any moment, the ghost of Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, and George Jones to drop down from the jumbotron and start kicking asses; now, that would have been an entertaining evening.

Making The Best Of A “Bud Situation”

Mrs MoMo was driving me to Fort Worth a few days ago for some reason I can’t remember now. When passing through Whiskey Flats, a small strip of Liquor stores along Highway 377, I saw my old buddy Mooch loading his pickup with cases of beer. He and a young man were rolling out cases of hooch from the liquor store called “The Beer Church.”

I implored MoMo to turn around and take me back to the “Beer Church.” She spun her mighty white Honda around, and we did a Dukes of Hazzard side-slide into the gravel parking lot. As I approached Mooch, I could see that his pickup bed was full of cases of Bud Light with that transgender mutt on the can.

I asked Mooch why he was buying that beer and did he understand that he was about to lose all his buddies in his “Plowboys” militia, and me, to boot.

He hung his head, shuffled his feet a few times, and said, ” I couldn’t help it, lil buddy, they are selling me this Fairy Piss for two bucks a case just to get it out of their store, but I have a plan. First, I will put on real dark sun-glasses so I can’t see the can too good, then I will spray all the cans with black paint, then put them in some cardboard Home Depot moving boxes and stack them in my garage. No one will know it’s a Busch beer. Then, I will take my Lone Star long necks and a funnel, mix the two beers together, put a new cap on the bottle, and store them in my ice-box in the garage. Since Lone Star is a real mans Texas beer, it won’t be Bud Light Fairy Piss anymore; it’ll be one of those new Texas crafty beers. Then it’s safe to drink it without the risk becoming a transgender mutt or getting my ass kicked, and I’m saving a butt-load of money.”

I must admit, there was nothing wrong with his plan. Sound reasoning and economics and it will probably be a drinkable craft beer.

As MoMo pulled our car out of the lot, I told her, ” Mooch is bringing me a few cases of Lone Star Craft Beer on Saturday.”

I’ve Got A Case Of The Covid Guilt

It’s a good feeling to know that our government and medical community really..really likes MoMo and me. Last week we received 4 Covid home tests; yesterday, we received 4 more, and a month ago, we received 4. Our mail carrier must think we are hypochondriacs or we are terminal with the pesky little virus.

I now feel guilty for not having the disease. I may take a test later today just to feel better about it. All this work by the medical company and the US mail; it takes effort to get these little boxes to us, not to mention the cost. Instead of the test, they could send us a gift card or a 40 percent off coupon for Hobby Lobby.

I guess we could go to Walmart and lick the handles on the baskets or the restroom door handles or kiss a coughing old lady, and we might contract the Covid, although it’s not guaranteed.

Looks like some of our friends will be getting the Covid test for Christmas.

Prayers, Repentance, Wishes and Begging

Once, many years ago, I remember being in a San Antonio hotel bar and conversing with an older man who claimed to be beholden of holy powers, extraordinary visions, and able to see the future and to change the present.

I was in town for business for one day and night, then back to Dallas. My project was in Eagle Pass, Texas, a forgetful border town full of crime and drug cartels. My superintendent carried a sidearm and counted the minutes until the Lowes store was completed.

I was drinking an almost flat beer, and the fellow seated next to me was somewhere around his second or fourth round of expensive neat scotch. The bartender had removed it from the top shelf with a stool and a set of tongs and dusted the bottle before she poured it; it was obviously an expensive vintage from merry old Scotland. She gave him less than a full shot, but he didn’t notice, maybe didn’t care. Four drinks of scotch would significantly affect my speaking ability, but not his. Without introduction, he started a conversation.

He was a credible orator with a mellifluous voice like a hypnotist, an NPR radio host, or a con man might use. He was the main speaker of a soiree that would gather in the hotel’s small ballroom within the hour and was well on his way to being a drunken hot mess, but who am I to warn him off. This could be his method before speaking; fire water gives the weak courage to make a fool of themselves.

In our conversation, the words preacher and minister came up a few times, as did divinity school and exorcisms. Billy Graham was a fishing buddy; he had lunch with the Pope and was a regular guest on late-night radio shows. I assumed he was a man of God, but with the amount of alcohol he had consumed, it was questionable. Jesus and his disciples drank wine, but this guy was a certified sot.

Middle-aged men in lightweight suits and women in colorful summer dresses floated through the bar on their way to the ballroom. A few stopped to pick up a white wine or a cocktail. I was his captive for a while longer; being the only empty seat at the bar, I had claimed it as mine. The man and his story came with the territory.

This balding, pudgy, bespectacled fellow reminded me of Mr. Toad of the children’s books. I christened him “Toady.” He was convinced and said to be believed by thousands that if you think about a situation hard enough and long, you can change the physical nature of that situation to your advantage by creating an ectoplasmic event, changing the outcome of nature or God’s will. I asked him if that meant returning the deceased or healing the lame and sick? He had yet produced no one from their final rest, but he and his believers had cured a few people of minor illnesses. They were so close to returning the departed; it could happen any day now. I listened for a while longer, bought him another round of house scotch, and formed an opinion that his belief was the spoutings of a mad-hatter conferee, a half-assed self-educated preacher that believed his own self-absorbed rantings. He wouldn’t admit to being a Believer or even a papered man of God, but he knew how to captivate and emulate as one did. He was a beggar of alms from the poor fools who believed in him. He didn’t possess the stature or the hair to be a TV preacher, so this was his gig. He was good at his trade. As I unseated to leave, “Toady” grabbed my arm and said,

” I beg of you to try my method; believe in the power of the mind.”

“No thanks,” I replied, ” I only believe in the power of God and the Holy Spirit; anything more than that is new-age crap.”

That said, I moved on to a table to eat supper and left him to his fifth scotch and his followers awaiting in the ballroom.

I have been watching videos of Pastor Greg Laurie, the now older man who played a significant part in the Jesus Revolution in the late sixties. One particular video addressed the right and wrong way to pray and repentance. Watching the video reminded me of the encounter with a fellow in the hotel bar.

I can stare at the cedar trees in my backyard for twenty-four hours straight without blinking and drink Irish Whiskey until I see holy visions, but my prayers, repentance, wishes, and yes, some begging will not bring my son back to this earth, death is final, and there is no return.

I’m Bored. I Think I’ll become a Beatnik !

My Journey to Become a Hep Cat.


I am bored and uninspired. Writers’ block has crippled my creativity, and painting a picture on canvas no longer holds my interest. My guitar rest in a closet, untouched for over two years. It calls me, but I refuse to hear. My tubes of paint have dried and died. My hair hasn’t been cut in four months, and my facial hair speaks of radicalism, so the time is right for a change. My wife says I look like Kenny Rogers; I see myself as Buffalo Bill, but minus the buckskin and rifle.

Consistently pissed off about everything is my nature at this time in life. Restlessness on the pillow takes its toll. Two major surgeries have left me with a gait like Frankenstein; the waltz of the monster mash. Children recoil in fear when I stumble in their direction. Old ladies in the grocery store give me the evil eye and cross themselves. I view my titanium cane as a weapon instead of an aid and have used it as such. Either I change, or the world changes to meet my demands, and that will not happen, so I will accommodate myself.

I will splatter my canvas with vibrant colors, the ones you see in dreams. Your art is the Holy Ghost blowing through your soul. I will marry my novels and have little short stories for adults who see themselves as children. A raconteur of genial ditties that will keep them amused or disturbed.

No, my dear, this will be different and life-changing. “This coming Monday,” I say, “around 9 AM CST, I will no longer be a grumpy old dude, but instead, will become a finger-snapping, beret wearing, caffein guzzling, poetry writing, deep thinking Hep Cat, a Beatnik or a Bohemien Pontificator, and a Deranged Poet”

She touched my whiskery cheek and said, ” now won’t that be fun.” She thinks I am not serious this time, but she can hide and watch.

I didn’t realize a change was afoot six months ago. This transformation has been deadly silent and gradual. It’s as if Tinker Bell, or the Beat Fairy, has visited every night and sprinkled pixie dust on my pillow.

Last night, after a few cocktails and after watching Wheel Of Fortune, during our supper, I announced to my wife, MoMo, that I have decided to become a Beatnik. Without looking up from her plate of manna, she asked, “So it will be like time when you decided to become a Hare Krishna and move to India to become that Beatle guy and play the sitar and hang out with Yogis.” Ouch, that stung. She knows me too well.

A month back, out of boredom, I re-visited “On The Road” by the great beat author Jack Kerouac. It’s a challenging read, but I made it through for a second time. The free and rebellious nature of the characters piqued my imagination. If I can capture their “cool factor,” it might add a few more years to my punch card. Dreams of change have no age limit or shelf life.

Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?

Caught In A Landslide, No Escape From Reality

Perhaps Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty had it, right? Drive a beat-up car across the country, searching for the real America; find that touchable and believable reality. The young Marylou is along for the ride; she adds the angst to their search. A real woman, one to drive the two of them mad. Three is a tangled mess. Two recovering Catholic boys question their upbringing. Harsh realisms, self-flagellating, pot smoking, cheap liquor guzzling, teetering on becoming a criminal or a saint.

Roughians, hooligans, hipsters, Bohemians, and rapscallions. These were the self-educated beast shaped by the great depression that taught us that America isn’t perfect and never can be as long as flawed and greedy people make decisions for the masses. Lords and Cerfs; Alms for the poor, sir?

The late 1940s was a time of realism. Fantasy was for the dreams of children. The recent brutal world war ended the tragic depression years, and sacrifices and loss of human life in far-off lands all played out in real-time, not on a roll of film. There was no “escape from reality.”

The coterie of Bohemian writers and artists was forming. Jackson Pollock was dripping paint, Picasso was mutilating women on canvas, and Papa Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Alan Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac sat around small tables in dingy cafes and bars slamming down hooch, and writing the real stuff that made us cry or recoil in disgust. They took the American reality from the 1930s and 1940s and gave it to us with a backhanded slap to the face. It awakened some of us, the ones that paid attention.

Jack Kerouac and the rest of his group weren’t meant for literary sainthood; they were too stained, too fallible, and over-baptized. America was real; life was not always the astringed family of mom and pop, two kids, and a cocker spaniel. Sometimes it hurt. More often than not, it was damned good. Men were riddled with imperfections but still knew how to be male, and women were as perfect as they were created to be.

Somewhere on this trip, along the road, America lost its reality, and people turned to fantasy. Now, we are lost in a landslide, with no escape from a warped reality. The road goes on.

Scammer Jammer’s And Spamer’s

Don’t Pick Up That Cell Phone…Fool!

I got five spam calls this morning with my local 817 area code. Thank you, iPhone, for identifying the little pest. I did, just for shits and giggles, answer one. The girl on the line talked fast and had such a heavy accent I couldn’t understand a word she said, except for medical, and she gave me my correct address, which worried me. How did she obtain that?

I gave her some reign and let her sputter on for a few minutes, letting her think she had a perch on the line; then I asked her this; ” where are you calling from?” she said the company name, “No, what country are you calling from because it’s not from Fort Worth Texas.” Click, end of the call. These calls are called “spoof” or “spook” calls. The scammers use a local area code and number without the owner of that number knowing it. Then, from a call center, likely in India or another Asian country, they attempt to get your information. Thank you, Artificial Intelligence, the company that sold your number and Medicare, that makes your information public.

The Neighborhood Wizard Strikes Again!

I wrote this story a while back, but in acknowledgment of the coming Colonial Golf Tournament, I find it appropriate to republish it. Some, or most of my readers, think the Misters are a fictitious couple; I can assure you they were neighbors and as crazy as I portray them in writing. Most everyone recalled has passed, so I’m sure they won’t mind the praise.

Mister Mower 5000

I have written about my childhood neighbor and his wife before. Mr. Mister and Mrs. Mister of Ryan Ave, Fort Worth, Texas. Every kid should be so lucky to have known the original mad scientist.

Pictured above is Mr. Mister’s early prototype of “The Mister Mower 5000,” a self-propelled riding reel mower suitable for golf courses and yard snobs. This baby was something else.

Constructed from junk jet aircraft parts he pilfered from Carswell Air Force Base, his employer, this little hummer would reach a top speed of 20 miles per hour and cut the grass so low it would give an ant a flat top haircut. It was the first riding mower with a zero-turning radius, a drink holder, an ashtray, and an under-dash air conditioner taken from a wrecked Chevy Corvette. The fathers in our neighborhood would gather and watch when Mr. or Mrs. Mister would mow their front lawn. Mrs. Mister was a Hollywood starlet type, so she usually garnered the most significant crowd because she always wore a bikini bathing suit for maximum tanning effect.

In 1956, sales for “Toro” lawnmowers were sagging. After learning of Mr. Misters’ new invention, the executives arranged a demonstration at the Colonial Country of Fort Worth, home to the prestigious “Colonial Golf Tournament.” Mr. Mister was ecstatic.

The demonstration was the day before the big golf tournament, so the Fort Worth bigwigs could attend and be handy for photo-ops. The Misters arrived with the “5000” strapped to its custom-made trailer towed behind their menstrual red Alfa Romeo sports car. Fred and Ginger, their poodles, were strapped into their car seats, wearing head scarfs and sunglasses like Mrs. Mister. Ben Hogan was almost as impressed with the invention as with Mrs. Mister, so he asked if he could be the first to drive the contraption. Of course, Mr. Mister, a vast Hogan fan, agreed and instructed Mr. Ben to operate the mower. Remember, this machine was experimental and subject to total failure at any moment.

The mower was rolled into place on the 18th green, which was a bit shaggy and needed a buzz. Ben Hogan seated himself on the machine with his ever-present cigarette in his mouth. Mr. Mister set the required mowing height and gave Ben a few final instructions, but Mrs. Mister was standing next to Ben, who was transfixed on her copious boobs and didn’t hear a word of instruction.

Now, Ben Hogan was the world’s best golfer then, but he didn’t know Jack-squat about driving or operating machinery. So Ben put the mower in gear and started around the green. “Ooohs and Ahhhs” from the crowd gave him a bit of encouragement; the newsboys were snapping some great shots, and folks were clapping and whistling, so he upped the speed a bit and pulled a lever underneath the seat, hoping to increase the efficiency of the “5000.”

At that moment, Mr. Mister realized that he had failed to warn Ben about that one lever that was hands-off. Too late. Ben engaged the “Scalp” mode, which increased the power and lowered the blades to the “Eve of Destruction” setting. At twenty-five miles per hour, the “5000” and Ben Hogan holding on for his life, dug up the 18th green deep enough to plant summer squash and Indian corn. Dirt and dwarf Bermuda was flying like a Texas twister. The Leonard Brothers, part owners of the club, fainted in unison. Mrs. Mister, a track star in her early years at Berkley and still in great shape, sprinted to the runaway mower and leaped onto Ben’s back, hoping to reach the kill switch, another part Mr. Mister had failed to show Ben.

Mrs. Mister

Mrs. Mister finally attempted to reach the switch by climbing over Mr. Hogan’s head and wrapping her track star legs around his neck. Finally, on her last effort, she got the toggle, and the mower abruptly stopped, throwing her and Mr. Ben off the machine and into the beautiful pond adjacent to the green.

Ben waded out first, bummed, lit a Camel, and strode across the destroyed green to the bar, where he ordered two double Scotches. Mrs. Mister, wearing a promotional white tee shirt with ” The Mister Mower 5000″ printed on the front, waded out of the pond to a round of applause. The news photographers were popping flashbulbs like firecrackers.

Of course, Toro passed on the mower, and Mr. Mister was distraught until he started his next invention, the 18th green was re-sodded in a few hours, Ben Hogan won the Colonial Tournament, and Mrs. Mister inaugurated the first Wet Tee Shirt Contest in Texas.

Living The Mongrel Life

I am in the process of writing my families history in the form of a story, that may turn into a Hemingway or Steinbeck inspired novel. I must be careful not to plagiarize either of my literary icons, but since they wrote much of what my family endured in the early part of the century and the 1930s, it may be impossible to slip here and there. Then, I remind myself that they have passed on, so if I do slip up a bit, I doubt they will be knocking at my door.

“Family Search” which is operated by the Mormon Church seems to be the most accurate for genealogy research. I tried “Ancestry,” the site that is considered the go-to library for family history, but the site gave me a headache.

My sister gave me a membership to the 22 something DNA site for my birthday. I had a few drinks of Irish Whiskey, spat into a vile and mailed it. It came back European, mostly Scottish and English with a trace of Asian Hun and a bit of Viking. The Irish Whiskey may have altered the DNA evidence.

I checked my lineage on “Ancestry” and it came back European, mostly England and Scotland. I know this is false because my grandmother was a Cherokee and was born and grew up on the Indian Nation in Oklahoma. How she met and married my blue eyed Irish grandfather is a mystery. A horse trade, or a debt may figure in there somewhere. My Granny knew and spent time with the famous Cherokee Chief, Quanah Parker, and from what I heard from my mother, she may have known him a bit too well; holding hands on the banks of lake under the moonlight and all that lore.

My mother looked like “Sacagawea” the famous Shoshone Indian girl that aided Lewis and Clark in their 1804 exploration of the America’s west of the Mississippi; all she needed was a buckskin dress and moccasins. She figured herself to be a little less than half Cherokee, which would make me chock-full of Indian DNA. My sister swears that DNA doesn’t lie. But doe’s it? Look at OJ, his DNA lied like the floor mats in his Ford Bronco.

Around the third week of research, I found in Family Search that the Cherokee Indian Nation does not release information to the “white eye,” meaning the white folks; Custer and all his hooligans. Who could blame them, distrust last a lifetime. So, I am convinced that I am Cherokee. My hair is almost long enough for a pony tail, I like sharp knives and if I drink too much “fire water” I am apt to do strange things. I also can ride bareback on a horse and shoot a bow and arrow, as long as my wife keeps adding the quarters to the slot attached to the child sized mechanized pony ride in front of the grocery store.

I contacted Ancestry via email and the nice lady replied with one; “I could go on acting like an Indian if it made me feel good about myself.” Well, bless her little wokie heart, it does make me feel better. Now Family Search says I am related to President George Washington and Elvis Presley. I am officially living the life of a mongrel humanoid.

The Day After Easter

And Nothing Has Changed?

I don’t expect much these days. My childlike visions have long since faded into the past. Reality is a daily awakening that greats you with your morning cup of coffee and the news. I didn’t expect the world to be a better place this morning, but I held hope that it would be. My coffee tasted the same, the birds ate their seeds, and I was once again disappointed in the failures of humanity. There should be a religious name for the day after Easter Sunday. Any ideas?

A Few Final Thoughts Of Easter Weekend

Another Easter weekend is fading into the last hours, as I am.

I remember, as a small child going to the Poly Baptist Church and being told I was a sinner and going to hell for two hours. I was six, so sin wasn’t on my radar, and the preacher told us hell was right below our seats, so I kept my legs up most of the time. I was an easy target to be pulled through the wooden floor.

After Easter service, it was home or to relatives for food, easter egg hunts, and enough sugar to keep me humming for days. I didn’t quite connect between what Easter Sunday was and what it had to do with a rabbit delivering eggs hidden in odd places for us to find and put in a basket. Christianity and Paganism clashed at that point. I know in church, I was miserable in my white shirt and clip-on tie but was happy as a town dog hunting for candy eggs in a backyard. I never saw the rabbit, and after a few years, believed it to be BS. I caught my father hiding the darned eggs so that “jig” was up ( oops..a bad word, I’m canceled, I guess). For the love of Davy Crockett, it was the 1950s, so get over it.

We have the German immigrants that arrived in the late 1700s to thank for the pagan rabbit-egg dealing thing. Those hearty saurkraut-cooking farmers brought it to us. Makes you wonder if little Adolf liked to hunt eggs too? I can’t imagine a tradition and stories of a German Hare making a deal with a German hen to purchase eggs so he can deliver them to children; that’s about as senseless as banning “Matilda” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” from public school libraries. Fortunately, our small town bookstore in Granbury carries those books on the banned list, and our local H-E-B had an abundance of plastic eggs, marshmallow, and chocolate Bunnies this year. MoMo’s grandchildren are likely still awake from all the candy they ate.

I listened to Glenn Beck’s interview with Pastor Gregg Laurie this morning on YouTube. Greg, now an older man, is the young man portrayed in the movie “The Jesus Revolution” that came to Jesus as a seventeen-year-old and became the senior pastor of the Calvary Church along with the help of Lonnie Frisbee, a hippie Jesus freak turned into a powerful preacher, and Pastor Chuck Smith of the Calvery Church in Southern California. It was an hour of enlightenment and awe. Pastor Laurie truly believes that as it happened in the late sixties and early seventies, another Jesus Revolution is taking place among our young and old if we live long enough. This started in Asbury, Kentucky, a few months back and has grown into a nationwide movement, just as it did in 1969 through 1972.

All the same, signs are there; the disillusionment with our government, the decadent lifestyles being pushed on our young via Hollywood and special interest groups, the drug culture that is killing our teens, the threat of a World War, the works of their parents and their schools. It’s the same formula that birthed it in the late sixties, only now the world is a more vile place than it was then. The Hippie movement was never the answer to anything. It was a pipe dream, an experiment, a cop-out. Nothing good could have come from it, except some very good music, but the rest of it was bullshit, and I know I was one of those long-haired freaks that smoked dope and played rock music. Lived it and done it, and so was my wife. We both knew Jesus then but were floundering in our faith. She rediscovered hers before I did. It took me a while longer, but it happened, and now it’s happening again, and it may again before I depart this earth.

Have a blessed Easter weekend, and remember that nothing has changed when you awaken tomorrow morning. God still loves you and to be the person he expects you to be.

Back When Beer Was For Real Men And Real Women

“I may not always drink beer, but when I do, it won’t be an Annhiser Busch product.” You can bet your sweet Bippy on that one. The country musician boys are banning Busch products from their shows, and Kid Rock will be touring the country, shooting up 12 packs of Busch beer to cheering crowds of rednecks all through the southland. Let’s hear old Neal sing about this one. This shit is about to get serious, stat, and pronto.

Bring back the bull terrier dog with the spot on his eye, the dude with the beard and the European accent, and the happy young folks on the beach around a roaring campfire. Hell, even Hank Hill and his buddies standing in their alley sipping on a cold Alamo can of beer, anything but this transgendered mutt, Dylan Mulvaney, or whatever its name is. If you have a pecker, you ain’t a girl because you don’t have a babushka and never will. Beer is not a social statement vehicle; it’s a brew to be enjoyed with Mexican food, hamburgers, and hotdogs at the ballpark, not at a drag queen children’s indoctrination show. It’s a sacred piece of Americana, Texana, and Rosanna-Rosanna-Dana; she was a beer drinker too, as is my wife MoMo.

If he were still with us, my grandfather would be having a conniption fit over this latest bow to wokeness. He drank his beer with a few shakes of salt to give it effervescence and increase the foamy head. He drank his brew like a real man, the one that killed German soldiers with his bare hands in the muddy battlefields of France in 1917. There was no room for pansy-assed young folks printed on his beer bottle or in his life. The Busch family might want to reconsider their blunder before their American beer drinkers switch to Irish Whiskey like this old guy has done.

An Odd Duck In A Crowded Pond

Don’t Believe What You Hear…It’s All Bull, And Then Some…

From the time I was a child, I was a bit skeptical of life in general. Blissfully ignorant with a tendency to play with the dust particles in the light of the window. My mother, bless her soul, thought me to be a bit touched, maybe from the Scarlet Fever I contracted at six years old to the concussion I suffered from falling on an iced sidewalk that same year. No matter the affliction, I was a feral child; the neighborhood was my jungle.

My little sister, five years younger, was spared the affliction, leading to a childhood of normalcy. I suspected I was the doomed child, the voodoo Chile, way before Jimi Hendrix wrote the tune. Not quite the walking brain-feasting zombie, but somewhere in between, I lived an existence in the Twilight Zone, not knowing what the next day would bring. Rod Serling could have been my Godfather. Captain Kangaroo scared me shitless, as well as his pal Mister Greenjeans. I thought Howdy Doody was a real kid with strings attached to his limp limbs. Icky Twerp was my hero. I was a good kid with streaks of inconsolable incorrigible rebellion that possessed me like a demon from hell. My paternal grandmother refused to be in the same room with me for many years, and then it was only to prepare me Campbell’s Bean Soup, which she was convinced was the favorite of young demonic possessed children. I was baptized so many times my skin was permanently shriveled. I had no idea of my afflictions. Having spent every Sunday in the hard wooden pews of the Poly Baptist Church, I was guaranteed a seat in Heaven, or so I believed.

Age and height rectified most of the imagined curse, but still, I suffered from a contrived family affliction. My Aunt Norma, a kindly bookish woman who loved Wejie Boards, Tarot Cards, and howling at the full moon at two in the morning, thought that she gave me a kindred spirit, of which I was not. I was a kid that liked to write stupid stories in a Big Chief Tablet and mail them to the Fort Worth Press Newspaper. Years went by with no response. It was as if I never existed as a writer, but then, those were the years that I believed myself to be the next Mark Twain, and that belief was unshakeable. If I couldn’t become Mark Twain, at least I was destined to be the next John Steinbeck, even though he was still alive and kicking and was working on his Homeric tribute to his dog and America, “Travels With Charley.” I could have written that book; it was there in my oatmeal mush brain, but the puzzle pieces were missing.

To most of us, childhood was a mystery that disappoints us, then we grow up and realize it was the best time of our lives.

Remembering Late Night Television of the 1960s

Mark Twain’s Visits With Johnny Carson On The Tonight Show

Of Course it didn’t happen, but let’s assume it did.

Johnny Carson was as big as entertainers get in the 1960s and 1970s. I watched his show with my father many times a week, staying up past my bedtime, but hey, I was in high school, so it was allowed. He picked the best comedians as a guest and gave many their boot to fame by allowing them a few minutes on his revered stage. Just for fun, let’s assume he invited Mark Twain back from the dead as a guest. No, I haven’t been smoking hand-rolled ciggies, but wouldn’t it have been eye-opening.

Carson; “Please welcome to the show, Mr. Mark Twain.” Twain, wearing his trademark white Panama suit, enters from behind the multi-colored curtain with a lit cigar in his mouth, makes his way to the stage, shakes hands with Johnny and Ed, and then sits his lanky frame on the holy sofa.

Carson; ” So Mark, just how hard was it to get a pass to visit the earth and be a guest on my show? I assume you came from above and not from that other place?

Twian; ” Not hard at all Mr. Carson; Father God enjoys your humor and likes Doc and his band. I never watched your program until Clarence the Angel told me I was coming down for a night to guest on your stage. Is this in color or black and white? We don’t have many of these new televisions in Heaven, and I refuse to own one because they are too much of a distraction from my work. Did I mention I am writing another fifty novels, all in longhand, can’t stand those new-fangled typewriters. Huck and Tom are all grown up now and doing quite well in the riverboat business, so I am continuing their life’s story. We have rivers up there too, so pilots are in short demand. We don’t have many comedians. There’s this Lenny Bruce feller, he’s a hoot but a bit blue with his language, and he’s always in trouble with the council.”

Carson; ” So back when you were on earth, all those years ago, you were quite dour when it came to politics and outspoken about the men that ran the country, do you still hold those views?”

Twain; ” Hell, yes, I do. You show me a politician, and I’ll show you a scoundrel, a thief, and a liar. So, who is this Lyndon Johnson moron? Why are we over in Viet Nam helping folks who don’t like us? I see a lot of our young soldier boys in Heaven. They’re as confused as I am, and not happy to be dead. We got no dog in that hunt, and you all are pissing away good money and destroying our countries morals with all these Hippie people running around smoking plants and marching around carrying signs. I can’t pretend to understand you folks down here on earth.”

Carson: “Well, Mark, you certainly don’t hold back; why don’t you tell us how you really feel. (audience laughs), Ed looks uncomfortable, and Carson plays with his pencil.

Twain; ” I gotta go now, but let me give you some parting advice, in 2022, which is a good bit away, you idiots down here are going to be right back in a Viet Nam situation, but it’s going to be in a country called Ukraine, and you will be fighting Russia and the Chinese, it it ain’t going to be a pretty show. How do I know this? Well, fellas, God tells me everything when we play our chess game every Thursday over cigars and brandy. Oh yeah, Johnny, you’re going to get divorced real soon, and that gal is going to pick your bones clean as a whistle.” Twain blows a smoke ring with his Havana cigar and exits the stage. Doc and the band play “Dixie.”

Palm Sunday Service In The Cactus Patch

Reverend “Chicken Little” conducted a rousing Palm Sunday service in our backyard this past Sunday. His Peeps, though fewer in attendance from last year, were attentive and behaved themselves, even though a Blue Jay carried a few of them away to an unknown fate. Also, a severe attack of fire ants cut the sermon short before Sister Bunny and her choir could provide the hymns.

“Dreams Will Keep You In Line.” Recollections From A Scared Baptist Kid

This morning I shuffled into the kitchen at 4 am, chastising myself for not getting enough sleep, for which I will pay later in the day. I figure a nap will take me down around noon. But, when my country and our laws are under assault from evil men, I take it seriously, even though there is little I can do except pray for divine intervention or a selective lightning bolt from Heaven. My dreams were filled with political discourse, and sleep was fitful at best. I awakened sweaty and fearful of what lay ahead. “Our ship is foundering in seas of discontent, and the ominus rocks are within sight. The sails are in tatters, our rigging is failing, and we are destined to be dashed to pieces on the jagged rocks of an unknown land.” I paraphrase that description; it came from someone important, maybe Mark Twain or Confusious.

Last night Mrs. MoMo and I watched the final seasonal episode of “The Chosen,” the story of Jesus and his disciples. The program is filmed in North Texas and Montana, and the cast is exceptional, as well as the writing, which takes the scripture and uses it as real folks would have heard, and spoken it in those times, making it realistic and not words printed in the Holy Bible. We are fans. It’s as if I am attending a church service without the peripheral distractions of bad music, wailing children, and a misinformed preacher that strives to please everyone, everywhere, all the time. I prefer the television show. I assure MoMo that I am not a heathen knuckle-dragging neanderthal chewing on a Brontisaures leg bone, but a bonafide Christian that seeks Biblical truths and inspirations in a different way. She understands.

I spent too many hours on the hard wooden pulpits the Baptists prefer to be anything else. I knew that just below my pew, Hell awaited, and raging demons could pull me down through the wooden floorboards by my small legs if I faltered in faith. I equated faith with fear. Folks today are not fearful of God. Doing good deeds is commendable, but they won’t buy you a stairway to Heaven. Maybe Led Zepplin was onto something?

My zealous preacher resembling a frothing-mouthed Bulldog pacing the stage, arms waving, and holding a large silver microphone to his dripping lips, advanced the service to a dramatic interpretation featuring hysterical heights that made the congregation swoon with the vapors. He reminded me of Brother Dave Gardner, the preacher turned comedian. I heard a few soft chuckles from my father from time to time; he was a fan of Brother Dave. Lofty condemnations, browbeating, and blanket accusations kept the flock in line; Amens were as plentiful as the women’s Beehive hair du’s, and the basket, when passed, was always overflowing with dollar bills and personal bank checks. I proudly gave my dime, which my mother pressed into my hand at the last moment. I was a kid and had no currency of my own to tithe. The little money I got from selling soda pop bottles went to candy bars, comic books, and Dr Peppers, the staples of child sustenance. Those unsettling experiences are burned into my conscience and come to me in dreams when I least expect them. Perhaps our country needs some of that “old time religion” to scare the hell out of us.

“The Show Must Go On” In The Cactus Patch

Things are a bit shaky in the Cactus Patch this week. Spring is here, but holding off a bit, giving us cool and cruel weather. I have a worrisome cough. I am never ill, except for the Cancer that I beat off with a stick a few years back. I should be a petri dish of diseases at my age, but my bride, an RN, keeps me going. I keep checking my arm for a bar code and an expiration date. My iPhone is able to read codes, so when one does appear, I will scan myself.

Mrs. MoMo and I are going to the legendary and beautiful Granbury Opera House on Friday evening to see “The Liverpool Legends,” a group of hand-picked ( by George Harrison’s sister) musicians that believe themselves to be The Beatles. They put on a great show, so I am stoked and a bit jiggy about the evening. We are meeting two more couples of our old friends for supper, adult beverages, and sharing the event. Danny, Jordan, and I played in a rock band for 19 years, The American Classics, to be exact. We played many Beatles tunes, so revisiting live music should give us a proper fix for a while. It would be the perfect event if our lead guitar player, John, was still with us, but he is playing with better musicians in Heaven and can’t make it. We can reform the band at a later date.

My wife, MoMo, has gone full Hippie Chic on me. She turned a pair of jeans into bell bottoms by adding a 60s-style fabric to create the bell effect. She didn’t stop there. Next, she made a genuine cow leather vest complete with fringe and other adornments dangling. The gal was a bit of a hippie wild-ass back in the day, so she knows that clothing makes the person and produces the proper vibe. She is so excited the concert has taken a back seat to the wardrobe. I look for her to grind her own wheat for homemade bread and stop shaving her legs and armpits; she may change her name to Sunshine or Saffron before Friday. I will remain the same grumpy codger but will sport my leather jacket with cow-fur trimmings and Larry Mahan Ostrich boots. My hair is not long enough for a pony-tail, but if I drink enough Chi-Tea, it may grow enough by then.

Our bird feeders have turned into a Shakespearean performance stage. It seems the small Avians have formed their own theater company and take great pleasure in giving us a good show every morning. Two Crows have joined the cast, and a pesky Squirrel hogs the Sunflower seed but does a formidable tap dance, so he is welcome. The Doves have joined forces and now number in the dozens, making a solid ensemble. They tend to deplete the seed in a manner of minutes, but we are well-trained and keep the critters well-fed. We have a wild Turkey that walks with a nice strut and an educated Road Runner that visits, but so far, no Coyote.

God Bless Davy Crockett, and remember the Alamo. Adios for now.

The Truth won’t Set You Free, But It Will Offend Almost Everyone And Send Your Friends And Family Running For Your Door

I made a pledge to myself a while back that I would step away from expressing my political and religious beliefs, and for the most part, I have upheld my own self-imposed exile. However, the last two days have blown that apart, and I have to speak my mind; as juvenile and impetuous as it may seem, it is full of unpleasant truths that will likely offend many. I don’t apologize for the facts as I read or see them.

If the shooting at the Nashville church school isn’t horrific enough, our president, in a news conference to speak of this tragedy, tells jokes about chocolate ice cream and calls out the cute little girls in the back of the room, chuckling and yukking it up, then says a few mumbling words about the shooting; ban guns, ban Christians, put everyone in prison that isn’t a liberal Democrat, you know, the usual vomitous. Where is the national outrage over this behavior? There will be none…nada…zip. One of the clear signs of advanced dementia is the use of unpleasant, inappropriate speech. Notice anything inappropriate about that speech, “Dear Hearts?”

This weekend, one of the days will be declared a “National Day of Transgender Violence, or Vengence” it could change to something else by then. A group of sick individuals pushing this agenda have created another movement to captivate the masses. Just when the nation was getting over BLM, Antifa, and Hollywood. How will this be handled by the FBI and the DOJ without hurting their delicate feelings? Will they turn to the Kardashian women or The Oprah to soften the blow? How about us folks answering with a national day of American Christians against transgendered violence. I know…..I know, we are supposed to “turn the other cheek,” would that be the face one or the ass-one? I will turn neither and will give no quarter to these fanatical, confused, and now dangerous humans. The Ulvade police should watch the video of the Nashville policemen who ran to the shooter and took her, yes, a real woman, down within minutes of arriving on the scene. I once thought Texas had the best cops and Rangers in the country, but now I’m sure we don’t, just a bunch of wokie, pansy-assed-gun-toting-donut-eating good ole boys. I know a few cops who aren’t that, but I can’t vouch for the boys in Ulvade.

Where are the conservative voices in Washington? You know, the ones that were supposed to right all the wrongs in record time? Spiky Haired McCarthy, Turtle McConnel, WWF Jordan, and the others. The absence of Christian leaders speaking out? Franklin Graham, where in the world are you? Where is the swamp? Pelosi? AOC? all the other rats living in the tidal basin? They do not wish to offend the small percentage of freaks in the sideshow that might, through social media, influence their demise at the polls; that’s why no one is speaking out. We are in bondage to the gods of social media; Facebook, Instagram, Chinese Tik Tok, Rat Bastard platforms on iPhones, Google Chrome Notebooks, and every device that we carry.

In the words of the lunatic newsman from the classic movie Network, ” I’m mad as hell and am not going to take it anymore.” Did I say too much? Probably.

When Evil Grabs A Gun

Another act of evil upon our young. Guns kill things, animals, humans, and everything in between; it matters not but the person who chooses to use them for evil. Children are lost to the devil that possesses humans. Now we learn the shooter is a woman but identifies as a man; could this be a factor? Confused identity or mental illness, is it one and the same? I’m a big boy and old, so come at me as you will. Words will not harm me; I am beyond that weakness.

This is a question we must ask ourselves, our loved ones, or the politicians that supposedly represent us. ” Is there a war on Christianity? I don’t wish to believe there is, but the attacks on churches and schools, and now on innocent young children attending a church school. There is a disconnect in our society. Every malcontent and sociopath has a movement against our nation’s treasured values that I remember well from the 1950s. Those years were not perfect, but they were Homeric compared to our now weekend society.

Our news media will not speak the truth on this act, any more than they do of anything of importance. In his expensive suits, Old NBC Lester Holt spits out the bullshit he is told; he has no balls or guts to speak the words the country begs to hear; he is a puppet, as our president is. If one is bullied, pushed, slighted, or looked upon hard, that is the reason to kill everyone that you feel has done you wrong. It is the new American way of repentance and evening the playing field. The perpetrators must pay with their lives. It’s fairness from the middle ages. An eye for a word.

In my youth, a lifetime ago, we threw a few punches, a wrestle or two in the dirt of the playground, shook hands, still remained friends, and moved on with our childhood and our lives. What changed, and when did it? I’m old, and now more confused than I was as a child.

The Call Of The Wild

A few days ago, in the waning moments of the afternoon light, MoMo and I were sitting on our patio having a cocktail, as we often do these days. We both heard the sound at the same time. “What was that she asked?” I replied, ” that, my dear is a Thomas Turkey calling for his flock.” Gobble..gobble…gobble. What the hell? We have lived in our rural community for four years and have never heard of or seen a wild Turkey, so this was a shocker. This was turning out to be a week of discovery. That morning, a squirrel attacked the bird feeder and dispersed the pushy Doves away. He or she was a welcomed site since we have not seen a wee nut breath since we built our home here. I love the little bandits and had one as a pet some years ago; she bit me only once and never again after I gave her a goodly chastising. Daisy was her given name. Now we have a Wild Turkey and perhaps a flock of hens and youthlings. I am happy that nature has returned to our semi-wild community. This morning, MoMo stepped onto the patio, and the large brazen Turkey flew from our backyard, barely clearing the fence and onto the wilds of the woods across the street. She thought it to be a giant Vulture, or perhaps Mothra, or Birdzilla, but it was the Tom Turkey we heard the night before. Thank Davy Crockett, it’s not a cocaine Bear.

As The Bird Feeder Goes, So Does The Country

My sixteen-year-old granddaughter visited us last week for her spring break. She flew in on a steel silver bird from Tulsa on Monday, and we met her at DFW. I hadn’t seen her in a few years, except in pictures on Facebook and text, but there she was, pulling her rolling suitcase, wearing the obligatory backpack, holding her iPhone, and wearing a pair of Doc Marten boots. She was quite a beautiful sight to behold. I ask my wife to tell me that a sixteen-year-old would rather spend a week with their grandfather than go to South Padre or Corpus and whoop it up on the beach? She assures me she is not a mirage, and some grandchildren are geared that way. I must be a lucky old guy to garner such love and respect from one so young.

Her brother, my oldest grandson, came over from that fancy eastern city, Dallas, and had Mexican food with us. Once back at home, we played loud rock guitars for a while, and I was shocked that he might be the next young Eric Clapton or at least Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page. His sister plays a different guitar style and declines to join the loud fracas; Joni Mitchell and classical finger-picking are more to her styling. As loud as it was, having my two oldest grandchildren together for a while was an unexpected joy. I’ve learned, at my age, to take moments as they unfold. The loud music from my Fender amp loosened a dental filling or two, but I survived it without more hearing loss than usual. I will ask my grandson If I might accompany him on his first tour as a roadie or guitar tuner. If CDs or vinyl albums are there, I can sell them at a table near the venue entrance.

They both lead busy lives, as all young folks do these days. Their social life on the cell phone takes up much of their time, but that is the norm now. I told the two that I would be a better person and much more relaxed if I didn’t own one of the foul little machines. How ancient I must seem to them; going to bed at 9 PM and arising at 6 AM, unheard of in their universe.

Retiring requires searching for tasks to keep your mind sharp and your body supple. My wife and I have a shared morning routine, feeding our visiting hordes of wild birds each morning after our cup of java. We have three feeders and a bird bath, and it didn’t take long for the word to get out that our side yard is the happening place in our rural community. Starting with one feeder last year and a bag of seed every month, we are now up to two bags a week and sometimes more. I feel that there is a sign written in bird language somewhere in a tree that gives directions to our yard. I fear the little invaders have trained us well.

My granddaughter was amused by the antics of the little Avians. Their busy stage is close to our bay window, so we have front-row seats all day. She pointed out that the drama around the feeders is akin to the survival programs on television, or perhaps like our government dimwits in Washington. Big birds always win out over the little birds; it’s the natural pecking order in their world; and ours. I think she is onto something, and how weird that a teenager should recognize the similarities. Still, she is bordering on Oppenheimer’s intelligence and is into more things at school than I can remember. Ahhhh- to be young again, and not in the ancient 1960s.

Brown and black Sparrows are the small fries, so they get to the feeders early before the chaos ensues; Finches, Buntings, Juncos, and Titmouse come in next, then the pushy Cardinals arrive and start throwing their weight around. The Wood Pecker and Blue jays sneak in for a peanut, then depart. The few White Wing Dove that came last year has now grown into a flock of twenty or more, and they move in and take over the show. Feathers and seed fly, and the little birds retreat to the ground to grab what they can. It’s pretty chaotic. A feral cat or two tried to move in for a few easy kills, but my accurate rock-chunking abilities dispersed them in a few days. No cats were harmed, but the small stones gave their buttocks an ouchy or two just to let them know they were not welcome to kill my small feathered friends. These days, the escalating war between the birds is becoming worrisome. Perhaps I can draw on my inner Henry Kissinger spirit and negotiate a truce, but I doubt any of the small Avians will be interested in listening to my gobbly-goop. So be it; let the battles continue.

I sat down to my coffee a few mornings after she arrived, and my perch is also by the bay window where the bird’s antics occur. I found a note from my granddaughter written on post-it paper that summed it up quite well. It read, “The Doves are the supreme consumer of the seed. Much like the British and tea, the Doves do not play. Birds are under Dove dictatorship.”

That sums it up quite nicely. Unfortunately, as the bird feeder goes, so does the country.

Weekends Are Meant To Be Relaxing. Right?

Weekends are made for chilling out, napping, reading, yard work, gardening, listening to vinyl records, and other mundane pursuits. To start off a lovely sunny Saturday, I find banks are failing in California and other branches across the US and Europe.

Tech upstarts and shady banking boardroom skullduggery are the culprits, and they remind me of the classic movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The banking boys in California are like the greedy Mr. Potter and his henchmen. After the run on the banks, George Baily’s Building and Loan may still be open for business, but that one dollar in his safe will not save him. Potter will, in the end, own Bedford Falls, even though the movie doesn’t show that. There should have been a sequel, but Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewert weren’t up to it. Finding out how Clarence the Angel made out after he received his wings would have been nice.

Is my IRA and retirement safe? Not in the least. Our current administration wants to add a higher tax, steal more from Social Security, and in general, cause the economy to implode and make life miserable for us seniors. I don’t care to live on the streets in a tent under a bridge, smoking crack and pissing on the sidewalk. Seniors now were the 60s generation of protesters, so why can’t we organize, protest in DC and facilitate change to save our own butts and those of our children and grandchildren. I, for one, would be willing to risk a bit of teargas and hard rubber bullets. I would use my sturdy aluminum Walmart cane as my weapon of dissent, burn my Cigna Plan D prescription card on the steps of the White House and chain myself and my personal scooter to a light pole. I can recruit my friend Mooch and his pals, the Granbury “Plowboy’s,” to come along. They’re continually pissed off at everything, so this would be a nice excursion for them, as long as a Waffle House is within walking distance of the march.

I read this morning that the American Red Cross organization, the ones that are there when tornadoes and floods hit the south, is distributing leaflets, maps, cash, credit cards, and investment advice to illegal immigrants in Central America and Mexico, showing how to cross the border in style and obtain free services once they break into our country. Come on in, free stuff for everyone, except American senior citizens, and our homeless. You might as well put Biden on the international bridge with a bullhorn shouting directions and other demented nonsense. No more donations from me and the missus to this traitorous group of wokies. I would say they are now more “Red” than “Cross.”

I am considering withdrawing and depositing my legal tender in the Bank Of Sterns and Foster.

“Influence-inza,” Making Folks Sick, One Video At A Time

I am not easily influenced by anyone or anything. Putting a pretty gal with Kardashian eyebrows, trout lips, and a big butt on social media is not going to make me buy any product or service she is pushing. I am immune to such nonsense. Please excuse the first word in the title; I made that up and happen to think it’s appropriate.

Apparently, the younger folks latch onto these women known as “influencers” like they are their long-lost-fairy godmothers. How can a young woman, or someone pretending to be a woman, it’s difficult to tell these days, tell anyone to stick their head in a freezer for an hour, and it will take away their facial wrinkles? Oh my, but it may also give you frostbite, and you might lose your nose, ear, or even eyesight. Who are you gonna call ( my apology to Ghostbusters), the “influencer” chick or 911?

“Like wow Doc, like I tried really-really hard to call the influencer girl to help me, but her Tik Tok number is not listed, I can’t find my phone…have you seen my phone….oh no…I’m going into withdrawl.” says the dumbass teenager to the emergency room doctor.

Who are these people on social media, Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube, and all the other platforms? Has our society gone so low as to believe what a “faked-out” extraterrestrial-looking person/thing says or, worse yet, instructs you to do? I have read articles from good and reasonable professional sources that the majority of these young women/things are as stupid as pasta noodles but not so stupid as to make millions of dollars in the process. Who watches this drool? Would you believe our children, pre-teens, and teenagers, even college-educated, supposedly intelligent twenty-somethings, with or without a paying job? That is their core audience. I’ve watched a few of them on Youtube to see what the fuss is about. There is no fuss, only stupidity, narcissism, and worshiping at the “church of social media,” Pastor Zuckerberg officiating and leading the service.

It came to me in the middle of the night. The Kardashian women are responsible for this scourge on society. They have turned American teens into a warped, weird version of themselves while making gazillions in cash and influencing our young. Look at the women on television. Our local news outlets have female presenters who look strangely like a Kardashian; big butts, swollen lips, and large, clownish eyebrows. I can’t get through the five-o’clock newscast without turning my television off. It makes me yearn for the 1980s newscasters, as bad as that was.

Ramble On

Remember the “good old days?” I do, and they weren’t all that good. Like most folks in Fort Worth in 1956, no one had air conditioning in their homes. At best, a few folks had a “swamp cooler” that might fill a room with coolish-wet air. It was a miserable existence, but everyone was miserable, so we didn’t know of anything better.

From May until October, I can’t remember sleeping under anything but a sheet, if that. It was too darn hot. My mother would spray water on me with a squirt bottle, but that didn’t put a dent in my suffering. Bless its heart, the old attic fan pulled in what air it could through the open windows, but there was little more than a slight breeze flowing over me. Like most in our neighborhood, our family accepted that we would be hot for five months of the year. That all changed in June of 1956.

I bicycled home from a day of playing pick-up baseball at the Forest Park diamonds and found a grey, pink, and white Nash Rambler station wagon in our driveway. My father, the professional skinflint, had finally had enough of used cars and repair bills and bought the family a “brand new car.”

He was the proud Papa and eagerly gave us a tour of our newest member of the family. He spoke as if the machine was birthed that morning and possessed human characteristics. At any moment, I thought he was going to pass out cigars. He referred to it as “she.” My mother said it looked more like a “Mr. Fred” to her and didn’t care much for the tri-tone paint, which was Dove grey with pink sides and a white top sporting a massive chrome luggage rack. Mother overlooked the colors because “Fred” had factory “air conditioning” and a fold-down back seat that turned into a bed, perfect for my sister and me for traveling. A large metal dashboard, with numerous instruments, a radio, and a clock, was guaranteed to smash your face flat and remove your teeth if a sudden stop was required, and not a seat belt one. The automatic transmission, roll-down back window, and genuine imported naugahyde upholstery gave it that touch of elegance and convenience everyone in the 50s wished for. I soon found out that summer sun-heated naugahyde could easily burn, blister and remove the skin from my legs and butt.

I must admit, it was a pleasure riding around town in an air-conditioned car. Regular folks, baking to a crisp in their Chevy or Ford, would stare at us as if we were royalty. The car windows rolled up, ice-cold air blowing our hair and swirling the heavy cloud of cigarette smoke through the car; it was heaven. At that point, I was impressed with my station in life, all because of air-conditioning.

On a hot July night designed by the devil, my father woke the family, and we all marched to “Mr. Fred.” The engine was running, the backseat bed was made up, and the car was like a meat locker inside. My parents slept in the fold-back front seat, and my sister and I were in the back. We all slept like a dream, and for many nights thereafter, if the heat was unbearable, we took cooling refuge in that Nash Rambler. Life was good, all because of an air-conditioned car.

The Easter Chickens of Brown County

“Western history is bizarre because of the nature of what it has got. Historians and other writers do what men have always done in the desert. They make the best of what little they do have. Westerners have developed a talent for taking something small and blowing it up to a giant size like a photographer blows up a photograph. They write of cowboys as if they were noble knights and cowmen, kings. They do biographies of bad men, Billy the Kid, The Plummer gang, and Sam Bass, of bad women like Calamity Jane, of gunmen like Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickock. They blow the abandoned saloon up into an art museum and Boot Hill into a shrine for pilgrims. In Montana, Charlie Russel is better than Titian, and in the Black Hills, Fredrick Remington is greater than Michelangelo. Custer, who blundered to his death and took better men with him, found a place in every saloon not already preempted to that travesty on decency and justice, Judge Roy Bean.”  As quoted by J. Frank Dobie, Texas Author, and Historian

I have no qualms or embarrassment about growing up in Texas. I am a native son and proud of it. If the Alamo needed defending again, I would fight the attackers on top of its wall with a yard hoe and my typewriter as weapons. At times, my unchecked pride borders on braggart, but I don’t interact with many folks that are not Texans, so it’s a moot point.

 Storytelling and tall tales run in my family. Uncles, grandfathers, and sometimes grandmothers filled my head with tales I remember today. I’m writing as fast as I can before I forget them. My son and grandchildren will be better educated once they have them in print. No one in my family wrote down what was told around the supper table or the front porch. I can assume that they figured the spoken version was good enough, and for decades, it has been, but now it’s my quest to put them to paper and pass them on. It doesn’t matter that many of them are about half true and could be considered a “tall tale.”  

The revered Texas author, historian, and master of tales, J. Frank Dobie understood the flow of Texas and its people. He told of the hardscrabble farming of the hill country, horse and cow trading, lost gold mines and Indian fighting, and of the Texas Rangers and their heroic and often ghastly behavior because he had lived and seen it as a child and young man and procured the tales, though many tall by nature, from cowboys and characters around campfires or leaning on the bar-rail of a saloon. He himself was considered a character, but with a top-notch university education. Spoken tales, true or not, are as much a part of Texas as our majestic bovine, the Longhorn.  

From my two late uncles, who were brothers Bill and Jay Manley, I heard stories that, on some nights, made sleep impossible, either from fear or captivation. They were the two best liars and storytellers I have met. Often, there would be a discussion and a following challenge to witness something they had heard about at the feed store or domino hall. They thirsted for the unordinary and would drive fifty miles or more to view a three-legged chicken or a pig that saved a farmer’s family from a house fire; things that sane and educated people would pshaw. My cousin Jerry and I were backseat passengers on many of these excursions.

Their preferred stage was summer nights on the farmhouse front porch. My grandparents had no air conditioning or television, and the radio only sometimes worked, so listening to their stories and trying to catch a cooling breeze was the only entertainment. The occasional yip of the Coyote added flavor to the moment. A Coleman cooler of iced Pearl Beer sat between the two orators, and the cold beverage allowed the tales to spill from them, most times like Will Rogers, other times like Saturday nights inebriated cowboy. I am a lucky man to have retained them for all these years. I credit my grandfathers’ advice to “keep your mouth shut and listen.” I was a good listener when I wasn’t yammering on to hear myself talk.

In the summer of 1957, my cousin Jerry and me were sitting with some of the family on the front porch of my grandparent’s farmhouse when my two uncles argued about something they had heard at the domino hall. A lady in Bangs, a small village about eleven miles away, is said to have a flock of hens that lays colored eggs. She calls them her “Easter Chickens.” Uncle Bill, ever the pragmatic questioner but still a believer in the oddities and unexplained, stated that “it was impossible for chickens to lay colored eggs” Jay, his brother, heard from three farmers playing dominos that it is the by-God truth. The argument concluded with the promise of a trip to Bangs in the morning to investigate. As usual in these challenges, a wager of five dollars was attached.

After directions from the local feed store, the source of all directions in Texas, our party proceeded to our destination. Detailed directions said to go five miles on the second dirt road out of town, turn left at the “Jesus Saves” sign on the tree trunk, and go about a hundred yards or so, and you’ll see the farm, a white house with red shutters, and lots of Holstein cows wandering around.

The lady that answered the door, Thalia McMurtry, figured we were there to purchase her “Easter Chicken” eggs. She wasn’t amused that all my uncles wanted to do was confirm if it were true; still, she led them back to the hen house. Her husband, Sonny, joined us. Around a dozen speckled hens were inside a cute little hen house, sitting on their box nest. Thalia stepped inside and retrieved a few eggs, placing them in her apron pocket. Two were bright red, one yellow, and one a deep blue. Uncle Bill sighed; he knew he had lost the wager. The eggs were beautiful; it was as if she had dropped them into a boiling stove pot of egg dye. She told Jerry and me, “go ahead and peel one; they’re ready to eat just as they are, already hard-boiled and everything.” Uncle Bill called BS; no chicken in this world lays hard-boiled eggs, and he accused Thalia and Sonny McMurtry of fakery to the highest degree and to explain how they did it.

Thalia, not a bit rebuffed, said, “I started mixing my own mash feed using different stuff from the kitchen cabinet with the regular store-bought mash, and the hens started laying yellow eggs, so I tinkered around a little more, and they started laying blue eggs, then a bit more, and red ones appeared. We’re not sure why they are hard-boiled, but maybe it’s caused by the heat lamps we use to keep my little beauties warm has something to do with it.” My two uncles, feeling like the village idiots, purchased a few dozen mixed colors and took them back to the farm. My grandmother, faking surprise at their discovery, had eaten a few of them some months back, given to her by a friend, but she didn’t tell her sons. Once again, another adventure of the absurd to remember.

Years later, I read a blurb in the Texas Farm Almanac about a lady in Bangs, Texas, who ran a farm called “Easter Chicken Acres.” Her hens laid hard-boiled multi-colored eggs just in time for Easter. She was also mentioned in the famous book “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” and made Bangs a place to visit. They came really close to putting the Easter Bunny out of business.

Thoughts On Being A Texas Writer

In the past, I have considered myself a writer…not an accomplished one, but a pearl in the making. I’ve been at it since I was ten, using No. 2 pencils and a Big Chief tablet. At that time, I seriously considered becoming the next Mark Twain if I could somehow channel his spirit and process his talent.

I soon gave up on that dream and changed course to become the next John Steinbeck, although he was still alive and writing at that time. I read his novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” which was a daunting feat at the age of ten, but I made it through the book in a few months, understanding about a third of it, and when finished, considered myself a literary genius. My mother politely busted my bubble, reminding me I was still a kid with a Big Chief tablet that was a pretty good reader that wrote cute little stories about my friends and animals. I did send a rousing story about our neighborhood idiot to our local newspaper, the Fort Worth Press, but never received a return comment. I watched the paper daily for months, expecting my story, written on tablet paper, to be published. I likely offended someone in the guest editorial section.   

     My late aunt Norma introduced me to the alien world of books. She and my mother taught me to read at six years old. Until then, my childhood was watching cartoons, producing elaborate play battles of World War 2 and the Alamo with my neighborhood friends, and dealing with the bad boys across the tracks, “the hard guys.” My next-door neighbor, Mr. Mister, an Air Force veteran and an aircraft designer at Chance Vaught, was our neighborhood mentor…his wife, Mrs. Mister, was our second-in-command mentor. She was also a rabid reader of books and a devoted disciple of American literature. Although from California, she loved our revered Texas authors, J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb. Larry McMurtry hadn’t come along yet, or she would have followed him to his Archer City home and camped on his porch.

     The reality of my situation is such that I may never get a book written and published. I have started on one but am stuck and can only go as far as the few chapters I have produced; I’m not sure if the world is ready for a Horned Lizard ( a Texas Horney Toad ) that turns the tide in the battle of the Alamo. It’s a tale for children, but some adults might find it amusing after a few drinks. My wife believes I still have it in me, and she may be right. There are days when I feel the spirit and will churn out a short story about my childhood experiences or what happens in my small town and the state of Texas. Sometimes I write about politics, which I shouldn’t do, as anyone wanting to write serious stories, poisons himself when he enters that gladiator’s arena.

     Recently finishing one of J. Frank Dobies books, and in the middle of another, and once again, I feel the spirit and yearn to write again. Short stories, anecdotes, and tall tales are well and good, and I grew up reading and listening to them as told by my uncles and grandfather, but my gut tells me to write “the book.”

     Below is a quote from one of our famous Texas authors, Walter Prescott Webb. His quotes and campfire tales alone are enough for their own book. He is right, of course, about writers and authors, himself being one. I am guilty of all the below.  

A quote from Walter Prescott Webb, a famous Texas writer, and historian.

           ” It takes a good deal of ego to write a book. All authors have an ego; most try to conceal it under a cloak of assumed modesty which they put on with unbecoming immodesty. This ego manifests in the following ways: 1. The author believes he has something to say. 2. He believes it is worth saying. 3. He believes he can say it better than anyone else. If he stops doubting any of these three beliefs, he immediately loses that self-confidence and self-deception. That ego, if you please, is so essential to authorship. In effect, the author to write a book spins out of his own mind a cocoon, goes mentally into it, seals it up, and only comes out once the job is done. That explains why authors hide out, hole up in hotel rooms, and neglect their friends, family, and creditors….they may even neglect their students. They neglect everything that may tend to destroy their grand illusion.”

OCD, OCD, Life Goes On, Brah, La, La, How The Life Goes On

At my age, I admit that a tidy home is a pleasure. I grew up in one, and can’t imagine having to live in a house that is only cleaned once a week.

My mother was a fanatic when it came to keeping things in their proper place. Her kitchen was a work of wonder; disinfected floors and counters, dishes aligned perfectly, glasses were arranged in order by size and color, and food items were alphabetized and stacked perfectly in the cabinets. We had more Tupperware than the stockyards had cattle. The rest of our home was as clean as her kitchen. I didn’t appreciate her obsession then; I was six years old and didn’t know an obsessed person from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Everything was fine until she started messing with the few toys I owned. My plastic army men were off-limits to everyone.

Attempting to recreate the Battle of the Bulge, pitting the US Army against the Nazis, I had spent hours arranging my tiny army on my bedroom floor. Plastic soldiers with carbines, tanks, half-tracks, and jeeps were all in place, awaiting my signal to begin the battle. I needed a bathroom break, so off I went. I wasn’t gone more than three minutes, tops, and when I returned to my bedroom, the battlefield was gone. Both armies were packed into their box and placed on my twin bed. My mother was there running the vacuum over the former field of honor.

“Oh, I thought you were done, so I picked everything up for you,” she said.

Hours of work, kaput. That was my first real experience with what we now know as OCD, “Obsessive Cleaning Disorder.” This was the mid-1950s, so new disorders and mental conditions were discovered daily. Housewives seemed to suffer from almost all of them. Family physicians were prescribing pills like candy.

My father got it; he would leave a sock on the dining room floor or move a few books around, and on one occasion, he re-arranged the plates and saucers. My mother came close to a nervous breakdown, so he backed off a bit. I admit that my sister and I got a small dose of her affliction because it appears to be transferred through genetics. There is no escape. My poor friends had to live in their “pig-pen” of a home while my sister and I lounged in our sanitized and orderly dwelling.

I have accurately diagnosed my wife MoMo with a version of the OCD. No doctor was consulted or needed; I have, as a child, suffered through years of the affliction. I know it well. MoMo has a whopper of a case of it. There are no germs in our home. She seeks them out and destroys them by the millions. Vaccumes, mops, sprays, and dust collecters are her armaments. The 2-second rule is not needed in our kitchen. I can drop a sandwich or a pork rib on the floor and place it back on my plate, knowing that it is germ-free and delightfully edible. When it comes to germs and filth, she is a downright serial killer.

I hate to end this story, but I need to re-wash my hands and roll a lint collector on my black tee-shirt.

Rantings and Observations From The Cactus Patch

Our illustrious president, ‘ol’e shuffling Joe,’ made a surprise secret squirrel visit to Ukraine by plane, first in the dead of night, then taking the Orient Express to Kyiv. It’s unknown why he chose to visit the war- engulfed country. Political speculators on both sides of the aisle of crooks suspect he will ship another C130 cargo plane full of taxpayer dollar bills to rebuild every demolished structure in the country. Zelensky is so excited he is dancing the Ukranian “spring maiden shuffle” as he saunters alongside our demented leader. Back in Moscow, Puti-Putte is getting ready to ramp things up; maybe send in a missile or two to scare ol’e Joe and Ukrains favorite funny man, Zelensky.

Meanwhile, back home in “our country,” Mayor Butterboy and his crew have yet to make it to East Palestine, Ohio, to witness the eco-tragedy caused by the derailing of multiple freight cars full of toxic chemicals. FEMA and the “suddenly uninterested” EPA, the guys that think every puddle of rainwater and stock tank belongs to them, says the town is “on your own; We must in all haste now go to Africa for a 7-day conference on why the constantly poor Africans have no food, water, or money.” A good rock to look under for spiders and snakes would be those countries’ leaders who take the money the US gives them and live like king Faruk or a Saudi Prince. We can assume that as soon as Mayor Butterboy pumps enough breast milk for his kids to survive for a few days, he will do a “drive-by” on his new mountain bike and then release his standard word salad statement full of wilted contents and no meat. Wildlife and domestic animals are dying, creeks and soil are ruined, groundwater will be affected, and humans are getting sick. “Nothing to see here, folks; move along, please.” Why isn’t good old NBC Lester Holt reporting from the scene with his sleeves rolled up and a shovel in his hand; wrong kind of tragedy, the wrong state, a conservative town, and low-income country folk; not his bag. He’s also sure that no soul in that town watches his newscast. Former President Trump will visit the town on Wednesday. Not certain what he can or will do, but at least the man is doing what a president should in a crisis.

Those pesky young liberal college and high school students in Austin are at it again. Street racing, rioting in a mass gathering of youngsters throwing things that explode at Police cars, and breaking into and destroying a private home for a ‘mansion party. Fellow Texans, these are young high school, mostly white kids doing this, not Black Lives Matter hoodlums running through the streets of Portland. We should ask ourselves, “what in the hell has happened to the young people of our country?” Social Media, bad parenting, and liberal schooling take a large piece of this society’s poison pie. The “everybody gets a trophy” generation grew up and became these little devils. I never cared much for Austin, not even in my long-haired fake hippie days. Since my once favorite magazine, Texas Monthly, has gone to hell in a wokie handbasket,’ I don’t see myself ever visiting that crime-ridden forsaken city again. I know folks that live there and wonder why they stay? It’s not the Austin I knew in the 70s. Maybe because they can swim topless in Barton Springs during the summer or attend the SXSW music festival and smoke a lot of righteous weed.

Did I say too much? Probably so.

Nothing To See Here..Next Question?

Where are Mayor Buttercup, President Biden, Speaker McCarthy, Jim Jordon, AOC, Crosby Stills and Nash and Young ( the song Ohio), Madonna, and all the other mouthpieces for environmental warfare? Ohio has a major environmental disaster ongoing, and the mainstream media and the administration are silent. Where are the dozens of environmental groups that rag-ass every industry in our country to the point of extremism? This disaster in Ohio is akin to a nuke set off in a small town of 5000 residents. Animals are dying as far as ten miles from the town, and who knows what future effects it will have on humans. East Palestine, Ohio, is now a toxic wasteland that may or may not be habitable.

From ABC News; State health officials were initially concerned about the presence of vinyl chloride, a highly volatile colorless gas produced for commercial uses, which spilled after about 50 cars on a Norfolk Southern Railroad train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3 while traveling from Illinois to Pennsylvania. Other toxins, like phosgene and hydrogen chloride, were emitted in large plumes of smoke during a controlled release and burn, prompting officials to issue mandatory evacuation orders in a one-mile radius of the crash site.

Butterboy sits in Washington doing and saying nothing. Where are the Republicans on this? Everyone is quiet. They would rather concentrate on Chinese spy balloons and UFOs, which our government has denied existed for years. Now ET will be pissed, and who knows what will happen. He definitely will be phoning home for reinforcements.

Maya Sharona, head reporter for NPR News, says that Mayor Pete and a small contingent plan to ride their new mountain bikes to Ohio to review the disaster. Now that should make everyone feel better.

Take Me To Your Leader?…Well maybe Not

As usual, once confronted and exposed, our government overreacts. Shooting down balloons is easy-peasy; send in a jet or two, a troop of Cub Scouts with Daisy BB guns, or a redneck hunter with a 50-caliber rifle, and it’s not a big deal.

Now we have to worry about next Thanksgiving’s Macy Parade? Can you imagine a Cruise Missle or two screaming through the skyscrapers and taking out Tiki-Mon, My Kitty, Micky Mouse, or maybe even Snoopy? Good Lord, not even children’s birthday balloons are safe. It’s going to happen; hide and watch.

So what are the UFOs we have shot down? If it’s Aliens, then we are in deep trouble. Many times, I’ve been to Roswell, NM, and “I do believe.” Little Aliens are walking around the town, hanging out at Mcdonald’s and the UFO museum, signing autographs, and taking cell phone pictures with tourists. Have you seen the movie “Independence Day?” Those creatures have serious weapons and could turn New York and Washington DC into a crisp piece of bacon fat, which would take care of many, if not all, of our problems.

It’s A Philly Thing

“The thing is, win or lose… philly still gonna be philly bc ITS A PHILLY THING,” Twitter user @Annie_Wu_22 wrote, sharing footage of a crowd yelling, “F— the Chiefs.” Words of wisdom from the city of brotherly love and high-cholesterol steak and cheese sandwiches. Ben Franklin is begging God to send him back down to earth, like Clarence the Angel, so old Ben can kick some ass, ring a bell and get his wings. While here, he should spray a large can of kick-ass on that devil dog-worshiping Illuminati princes Rihanna and her little demon children. Up there on stage, strutting around in her rubber red devil attire, surrounded by dancers in hazmat suits. It’s a wonder she didn’t go into labor on live television; it would have increased the ratings.

What’s so special about the Super Bowl? Why is the winner called world champions when the United States is the only country in the league, and they compete against themselves? The rest of the civilized and uncivilized parts of the globe play “football,” also known as soccer. I am unimpressed with the “big game” and have been for decades. But that’s only my opinion, which doesn’t count for Jack Shit, who I met back in the 70s. Come to think of it, no opinions from senior citizens count for anything. All we are good for is keeping big pharma in business. I take so many pills I forget what they are for.

I used to be a Dallas Cowboys fan, but I overcame that communicable disease a few years back. My son had it bad, but he’s slowly recovering, like a Catholic that escaped from the church but can’t stop eating fish sticks on Friday. It’s a slow process. Now, it’s 28 years since a super bowl appearance, and if Jerry Jones doesn’t check out soon, it will be 30-plus years. Please, Elon Musk, make Jones an offer he can’t refuse; we saw you on the television, sitting there in your expensive seat drinking a can of beer, so we know you like American football. Sir Paul McCartney was also in attendance and could afford to buy the team, but he would have to play every half-time show, and he’s about done with music because he sounds like Carol Channing when he sings. Lennon and Harrison are up in the clouds looking down and saying, ” hey mate, give it up and come for a visit?” Of course, the downside of a celebrity buying a team like the Cowboys would be if Adele purchased the franchise. She is caught in a continuous state of mental breakdowns, and her auto-tune machine is unrepairable. Besides, she cries too much.

I likely said too much because my filters are gone, and my opinions don’t count.

Buying Ammunition at The Walmart

I detest shopping at Walmart. It’s not that I feel I’m better than the folks that go there; it’s more of a sadness that washes over me when I enter the door and am greeted by an elderly person who is drawing social security and can’t make ends meet and has to stand and speak to strangers the entire day. Most of the strangers don’t reply when the greeter says,” hi there, welcome to Walmart.” It makes me want to cry at times-being old. I sympathize with the elderly, and even though I don’t consider myself in their league, people say I am elderly. At times, it’s tough to accept, but I knew it would eventually happen, and most of it would not be pretty and wrapped with a red ribbon and constant travel like the pharmaceutical commercials promise.

Another thing that bothers me about Walmart is the trickery pulled on the shoppers. I can go to the H.E.B. and get more food for my money than at Walmart. It’s all a marketing ploy pulled on the folks that can least afford it. I don’t blame Sam Walton for any of the shenanigans in his formally buy American store. His family and their families and cousins and uncles and such have turned the place into a shrine for Chinese marketing. I tried once to find anything made in America. I walked the isles for hours, picking up random objects; made in China, Taiwan, Mexico, Philipines, and on and on, but most of it was from China. The only items found to be made in the US are the produce. If the Chinese grow celery, tomatoes, and lettuce, they must keep them for themselves.

Walmart used to sell guns. They still have a few shotguns locked in cases, and you can buy a nice Daisy Red Ryder BB gun or a pellet rifle, but no rifles or pistola’s, only limited ammo for such armaments. That’s where I ran into my old buddy Mooch.

It was yesterday, and MoMo and I were at Walmart picking up our medicinal prescriptions since our Medicare plan says we must use Walmart Pharmacy and no other. I saw him turning the corner from the garden section, which was now full of Valentine’s and Easter crap. I caught up with him in the sporting goods, standing at the ammo counter in deep conversation with a young man with wooden blocks in his ear lobes and piercings in his nose. Besides those additions, he looked like a normal Walmart employee; his nametag read Edwin B. He and Mooch were discussing ammunition.

I sided up to Mooch and cleared my throat. He acknowledged my presence but kept his rapport with the pierced boy.

” You’re sure these 50 caliber bullets will go at least 40 thousand feet and will bring down what I’m going to shoot at ?” The pierced boy said, “yep.”

The box of shells was as big as a loaf of Mrs. Bairds bread, and the price tag said they cost $300 dollars. I think Mooch will kill a Dinosaur or Bigfoot with ammo like that. He paid the boy with his debit card, and we walked away.

I’ve known Mooch for twenty-plus years, and it’s sometimes better not to know his plans. The suspense was killing me, so I broke my own rule and inquired, “Mooch, what are you going to shoot that would take a 50-caliber armor-piercing bullet?”

Without missing a step or turning his head, he said, “Me and the wife are leaving for Montana in the morning, going to shoot down some of them Chinese balloons and take the solar panels and all that spy stuff back home.” I wished him a safe trip and good hunting; wasn’t much more I could add to that.

The Days of The Big-Haired Gals

Folks in the southeastern part of the states don’t consider Texas part of the south; it’s too far west, too close to New Mexico and Mexico, and too many cowboy types. Well, we tended to ride horses to work and school and live on ranches, but somebody had to do it.

The southeastern folks are dead wrong about this south thing; Texas is as much the south as Mississippi and Louisiana. We have deserts, mountains, miles of cactus, and even the Gulf of Mexico, but we don’t drink mint juleps for every meal and have black gardeners and maids. Our claim to fame is we were the first state to have what the southeast loves; big-ass hair. The bigger and taller, the better.

My uncle Jay was a hairdresser in Fort Worth; that’s what we called them back in the 1950s. He was a World War 2 veteran that shot down Jap planes from the deck of a destroyer and loved every second of it. Yet, he was an artist when it came to teasing, combing, and coaxing women’s hair into things of beauty. There wasn’t a fairy bone in his body, and he could have killed you with one hand and no weapon when he was drinking. He was a by-god legend because he was the man who invented “big hair.” It was purely accidental, but it made him as famous as Rock Hudson’s wedding album.

Up until 1956 or so, women in Texas wore their hair down straight, rolled a bit on spools, or a flippy-do at the ends.

Jay was working hard on an old lady who didn’t have much hair left on top, and she was ragging his butt about why he couldn’t do something about it. He started combing, teasing, spraying, and sculpting until she had a bubble of hair a foot high sitting on top of her head. He didn’t know it, but a monster had been birthed.

Women came to his shop wanting their hair styled in “one of them big bubbles.” The word was out. the cutting and curling days were gone; now, everyone wanted their hair puffed out like a cotton ball or a fluffy poodle and piled as high as the sky on top of their head. He would use two cans of hair spray on every hair-du. The gals couldn’t replicate the hairstyle themselves, so they had to return to the shop, which caused him to work more hours, but make more money too. He was soon driving a new Caddy convertible and wearing Brooks Brothers shirts. My grandmother said he was “shittin’ in high cotton,” and she knew all about cotton.

I came home from school one day, and this giant mass of hair with a small framed woman underneath was standing in the kitchen; it was my mother. She had gone to the dark side and got her brother to give her the full treatment. She dared not stand too close to the gas stove burner in fear of igniting the Spray-Net that held the mess together, but she cooked supper without burning up or falling over. I have no idea how she slept on a pillow with that mass of hair attached to her small head. My father didn’t have enough room in the bed, so he moved onto the couch.

At about the same time, women in Texas started talking strangely. The accent was still there, but the big hair made them articulate differently.

I was with my mother at the Piggly Wiggly on Berry Street. Most of the women in the store had the now obligatory “big hair.” One of her friends she hadn’t seen in a while came up to her and said, ” well lookit yeeeew, is that a new dresses? hows your momma and them? I just love your hair-du.” It sounded like Martian to me. My mother returned the greeting in the same manner. A new language had been born because of the big hair. Pretty soon, all the aunts and neighborhood ladies were talking that way. It was as if Texas had been styled out of us with a can of hair spray and a teasing comb. My uncle Jay didn’t seem to notice the cultural shift he had caused. He was making more money than he could spend, and man, could he spend it like a big boy. The trend spread to Houston, Lake Charles, New Orleans, and on east until it hit Florida and then up the east coast.

In the mid-sixties, thanks to the hippie chic movement, the young girls went back to wearing it long and straight, and so did their mothers, and the bubble head died out. Uncle Jay made a nice chunk of change from his invention, and to this day, in parts of the south, you can see old women with that “big hair” piled on top of their heads.

My Big Day At The Fort Worth Fat Stock Show

The legendary Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo ended today. Once again, we didn’t make it to the grand celebration of Texas. Dallas, that eastern wannabe city, has the State Fair, but we have the stock show and the best damn rodeo in the nation. I’ve been going there since I was a small child, and my sister did the same. Since it’s always been in February, we never knew what the weather would be; sunny and warm or an ice storm like last week here in Texas.

Back in the 1950s, the western swing band, my father played fiddle with opened the Stock Show every year with a breakfast concert in one of the exposition barns. The famous Light Crust Doughboys were about to be on the air. They were and are a legend in Texas and country music. I was just a kid along for the ride and didn’t realize how good that ride was.

My father had bought me a fringed leather jacket, a pearl Roy Rogers cowboy hat, and a new pair of Justin boots from the outlet store next door to the Dickies factory. These new duds were just for the show that year. I think it was 1955 or 56, and I was as puffed up as a poisoned pup, and everything on me shined like a new dime. I wore my grandfather’s Bollo string tie with the silver state of Texas clasp and saw my smiling reflection in my polished boots. I was a kid to be reckoned with.

The band was set up on a low stage with a small split rail fence separating them from the onlookers. The local television station, WBAP, was there for a live broadcast that morning. They always put on a big deal for the first day. The news lady thought I looked like a little buckaroo and asked my father if I could sit on the fence next to her while she did her opening broadcast, which would be shown all over Fort Worth, Dallas, and points west and east. In those days, it was a big deal to be on television, and here I was, a kid getting ready to be famous. I knew some of my classmates would recognize me. My head growing too fat for my hat by the minute.

The nice TV lady helped me climb onto the fence, scootched me over a bit closer to her, and the broadcast started. It was my first brush with fame and live television, and I stared at the camera like a deer in headlights. She asked me a few questions, which I don’t remember, and I answered with a croak and a whimper, then fell backward from the fence onto the dirt floor. I got up, all covered in a mixture of fifty-year-old dirt and manure. The new cowboy hat was all bent in, and my fringed jacket was all whacky and filthy, so I dejectedly walked over behind the bandstand and started to cry. I had ruined my one chance at being a television personality. Mortified would be a good description, then maybe add humiliation to that, and you would have the gest of it.

After the Doughboys started playing, the nice TV lady came over with a coke and a hot dog, gave me a mother-type hug, and said I did just fine. That made it all better.

“The Legend of The Mountain Boomers of Santa Anna Texas”

My childhood vision of a Mountain Boomer

Every so often, I feel a story or a rousing recount should get a second visit and be shared again. I wrote this one a few years ago because it made it’s way back to me in a dream. I watched one of the Jurassic movies earlier in the week. I had a squirmy nightmare for a few nights in a row, which usually results in me making a hot cup of Ovaltine in the microwave and reading for an hour or so to quieten my brain a bit. The problem was, it wasn’t a nightmare; it was a true account from my childhood. I swear on a stack of good books, not the Bible, of course, but maybe a few by Hemingway and Steinbeck. My two long-deceased and loveable uncles were the best storytellers, beer drinkers, and liars I have known. I never knew where the realism ended, and the bullcrap started, but they both swore, in between gulps of cold Pearl beer, sitting there on top of their Coleman coolers out on my grandparent’s front porch, that this one was as real as a bad case of chickenpox.

At seven years old, I learned of my first, but far from the last Texas legend. One of the best storytellers and liars I ever knew, my uncle Bill told my cousins and me about Santa Anna’s “Mountain Boomers.”

Supposedly, man-size lizards that ran on two legs came down from the Santa Anna mountain searching for food. Anything would do, but they were partial to goats, chickens, and tiny humans. If you were caught outside in the wee morning hours, it was a sure bet a Mountain Boomer would get you. Us kids were scared shitless of even going out after dark.

With no air conditioning in the farmhouse, we were forced to sleep with the windows open and would lay in our beds shaking all night, waiting for the monsters to break through the window screen and carry us away. Our Granny was no help; her standard goodnight to us was ” sleep tight and don’t let the Mountain Boomers bite.”

Summer evenings on the farm were made for sitting on my grandparent’s covered porch, watching lightning bugs dance, listening to the crickets chirp, and catching the far away howels of an occasional Coyote pack running the pastures.

The sky was black as pitch, the Milky Way as white as talcum powder, and heat lighting in the West added to the drama of the evening. We kids were ripe for a big one, and my uncles never disappointed. First, homemade ice cream was eaten, then the cooler of Pearl Beer came out, and the stories commenced.

Already that June, my cousin Jerry and me had been to see the hero pig and the three-legged chickens, so we needed a new adventure. But, unfortunately, the hobos had left the railroad bridge down the road, and our summer was losing air like a punctured tire.

“Did you kids see that over there in the trees? I think that might have been one of them Mountain Boomers,” says uncle Bill, in between swigs of Pearl. Then, of course, we strained our eyes to see what he said he saw, but nothing. Then a few moments later, ” there it goes again, I tell you kids, that was one of them sumbitches running on two legs carrying a goat.”

He had us hooked and scared. Then he starts in on the story.

Uncle Bill took a swig of Pearl and says, ” Right down this road here, about twenty-years ago, a families car broke down. The daddy, a man I knew well, walked into town to find some help. He left his wife and small son in the car. It was late at night, so he figured they would sleep until he returned. The little boy, got out of the car to pee along side the road. His Momma heard him scream and came out of the car in a hurry, there was a 7 foot Mountain Boomer standing there with the little kid in it’s mouth. The poor boy was almost chewed in half already. His guts were hanging out and dragging on the ground. The big lizard took off running with the Momma chasing it. Another of them Boomers was hiding in the scrub brush and got her too. A few days later, the sheriff found their bloody remains up on the mountain. They knew a Mountain Boomer had got em because they found their tracks. That’s why we never go outside after midnight around here.” Jerry and I were almost pissing our pants.

When we stayed at the farm, I don’t believe either of us ever slept well again after that night. But, even after we were adults, my Uncle Bill swore the legend and the story was true. I still dream of them.

Blueboy The Pigeon

My grandmother loved her critters. She shepherded about five-hundred chickens on her farm in Santa Anna, Texas. A scroungy stray cat or dog would show up, and she would feed it and give it a place in the smokehouse to stay. They usually were soon gone, thanks to Coyotes and Bobcats, but she wouldn’t let them go hungry.

She couldn’t place the day, month, or year the pigeon showed up. It flew down from a bright blue sky and commenced pecking at the chicken feed my granny had thrown on the ground for her hens. It was a beautiful bird, blue-grey with white markings; she called it Blueboy, not knowing if it was male or female, so to her, it was a boy pigeon.

Blueboy took a liking to granny and followed her around the farm while she did her daily chores. He would walk a few feet behind her, even when she was in the barn or the smokehouse. He would perch on the front porch railing if she was sitting outside. He became her pet. After a while, she could reach down and pick him up, which for a wild pigeon, was something to see. She carried him around like a pet chicken and would feed him in his own dish by the giant oak tree that shaded their farmhouse. Blueboy slept in that tree most nights, but in the cold winter, she would crack the smokehouse door, so he could roost inside out of the weather. She and that pigeon understood each other. Farm people know critters and how to communicate with them. It’s a natural talent you are born with. The bird thought he was a dog, and she treated him as such.

Blueboy started following the cousins and me around the farm. Always a ways behind us, curious about what we were up to. We could never touch him or get too close; only granny had that honor. He was always there for years when I visited the farm in the summer and at Christmas or Easter. I guess that pigeon was a big part of the family as the grandchildren.

Just as he had shown up one day, he was gone. Granny figured he or she had met another pigeon and started a family, or at least that is what she told us. Years later, she said she found some of his feathers by the barn. Probably a Bobcat got him while he was strutting around instead of sitting in his tree. She never got over losing Blueboy and talked about him often in her old age. I saw a pigeon a few days ago, and it took me back there.

Up Up And Away In My Beautiful Balloon

So now we have Chinese Spy balloons floating over the US. What the hell? The Japanese Imperial Army tried this in World War 2, sending weather balloons with bombs attached. Is this the best these guys can do? And they warn us not to shoot them down with planes, drones or rockets. Get a Cub Scout Troop armed with Winchester 22 rifles. Problem solved.

This is not my usual Tall Tale, folks; you can’t make this crap up. My apologies to The Fifth Dimension.

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

Pictured above for your drooling pleasure ( if you are a musician ) is my “go-too” guitar, a 1980 Epiphone Casino with original P90 pickups, which I combine with a Fender Blues 1×12 tweed 100-watt amp. Years ago, when our band was going through our British invasion phase, we all tried Vox amps, but we couldn’t master the accent required to use them correctly. This is the same guitar the Beatles used for so many years because of its versatility and sound. It’s the Epiphone cousin to the Gibson 335, but much lighter and with a smoother playing neck. I played this baby for over 20 years in a few hundred gigs, and it never once let me down. My grandson has the blonde model of the same guitar, only a newer edition. And yes, Yoko did break up the band.

Before They Was Fab

This post is for my musical buds, Max and Dave.

I own two of these sacred gems, released in July of 1963. The one pictured leaning against my laptop is in the best condition, and it appears the album photo was taken at a London Sears portrait studio or by Brian Epstein with his Brownie Box camera. I believe it has only been spun a few times by a little hippie grandma on Saturday nights after consuming a few glasses of French Chardonnay since English wines are notoriously inferior. The other disc is missing the album cover and has minor scratches, but it still plays well. This captures the boys as they may have sounded at the Cavern club. Raw, gritty, and bursting with talent.

The American version was released 10 days later on Capitol Records titled “Meet The Beatles.” I also have that one.

Life At 33 1/3 RPM

Since my teenage years in the sixties, I have been a vinyl album collector. It was out of necessity; we didn’t have CDs, flash drives, and such, but we did have 8 track tapes, which I despised. I was a rock musician in those years, so I bought all the most popular records. I’ve long lost many to thievery, unreturned loans, and negligence. At last count, I still have about 125 albums, most in good to perfect condition. I lost a box of my most treasured ones when a moving company absconded with them during a move. It was clearly marked ” favorite 60s albums.” The culprit also relieved me of my coveted ” Ray Ban” classic sunglasses. I curse the man daily, although I shouldn’t carry a grudge. I hope his turntable broke.

Last week I made the plunge, purchasing a new Sony receiver, an Audio Technica turntable, and two Klipsch speakers. Now my wife and I can listen to our eclectic collection of albums by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Crosby Stills and Nash, Chicago, Buffalo Springfield, Hank Williams Jr., Billy Joe Shaver, Jerry Jeff Walker, and of course, the Beatles and everything in between. I even have a greatest hits album by Sonny and Cher, if you can picture that. I own two coveted albums of “Meet The Beatles,” on VeeJay records, the one released in the UK, not the states in 1963.

I have a nice collection of CDs, but they don’t count since everything is digitized and sanitized, and I own a nice collection of music on my computer.

Thanks to Apple, I lost around 350 songs off of my iPod Nano while trying to download them to my laptop. Steve Jobs be damned.

There is something magical and soothing about that slight hiss and skips of a classic vinyl disk recorded on analog equipment with a 4 track machine. I can picture Sir George Martin sitting in the control booth pushing knobs while the Fabs struggle to produce the perfect tune on ancient equipment. I am deaf in my left ear, thanks to standing in front of large amplifiers playing at level 11 for many years, so my right ear is my musical one. Like the RCA dog, I can trick myself into hearing stereo high-fidelity if I turn my head just so.

No need for that flat-screen television anymore. We plan to live our life at 33-1/3.

Ice Storms and The Alamo

Texas is in the midst of a nasty ice storm. It started with sleet, then freezing rain, a dusting of snow, and now more freezing rain mixed with thunder, sleet, and lightning snow. I envy the folks up north; they get plain old snow. it may be five feet deep, but it’s not ice.

Ice storms are part of our history. Our great authors, Larry McMurtry and J. Frank Dobie often wrote of them in their novels. Hondo Crouch, the lord of Luckenbach, Texas, commented, “there is nothing as lovely as a good ice storm to make you stay inside to ponder and piddle.”

In 1836, when General Santa Anna marched his troops from Mexico to San Antonio to dispose of those pesky Texians who were having a barbeque cookout at the Alamo, his men were pelted with ice and sleet storms. Most of his soldiers came from warmer parts of Mexico and died in the scrub brush of south Texas, frozen solid while standing upright or in mid-stride. Santa Anna lost his personal wagon full of Tequila; the bottles froze.

Here in Granbury, the most historical small Town in Texas, the day before “Icemegedon” hit, my wife and I went to our local H.E.B. for a few items. We know how to “hunker down,” so we don’t require much.

Good God, it was as if the world was ending. Masses of shoppers grabbed everything they could from the almost bare shelves. One lady had a basket full of Mrs. Baird’s bread and twenty-six packs of Dr. Pepper and Big Red. I ran into Mooch and Mrs. Mooch, and he had a basket full of Red Baron Pizzas and Pork Rinds, which is actually survival food here in Texas. I saw two older women in a tug-of-war over the last pack of pork ribs, and the bakery ladies were smacking shoppers with loaves of French bread as they came over the counter. It was pandemonium at its finest. The wine shelves were empty, as well as the beer coolers. If you have enough booze, food is not required to sustain life.

Back to the Alamo, if I may. It’s a good comparison to the state of our country today, and we are fighting a similar battle, destined to lose. The defenders, which would be the citizens of Texas, are sheltered in the mission and are attempting to hold off the invading hordes, which would be Mexico and the rest of South America. By letter, Travis, now Governor Abbot, begged for reinforcements, which never came. Thus, the mission was breached, and the defenders slaughtered. President Biden is now playing the part of General Santa Anna, and Senorita Kamala is his muse.

All of this happened because of an ice storm. I think Hondo was right. It’s a good day to ponder and piddle.

“Down On The Corner, Out In The Street”

At 73 years of age, I still have all my hair. Not only is it all in place, but it’s also solid white, luxurious, and flowing. I use a secret shampoo from ” Dr. Squatch,” a medicinal shaman that lives in a remote mountain cabin above Colorado Springs. I have men, women, and barbers stop me on the street and comment on my massive amount of follicles. My wife says I have ” TV Preacher Hiar,” which brings me to this idea.

Since my rock band disbanded in 2019, I have missed playing music. A few nights ago, at a birthday party for our former drummer, Jordan, who turned 75, I approached the idea of making music again with him and our former bass player and singer, Danny, who is 77. Our good friend and guitar player, John, passed away a few years ago, but I’m confident he would be all in if he were with us.

They were mildly interested until I told them my idea involved playing on the sidewalks around our historic Granbury town square. The proper English term is “Busking,” which consists in playing and singing for money thrown into a jar, a bucket, or an open guitar case. They looked at me as if a third eye was growing in my forehead. I then dropped the bomb on them; I am becoming a man of the cloth, a pastor, a preacher, a sidewalk hawker for the almighty. It’s so easy; I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before. My quirky sense of humor, skill as an orator, and perfect hair assure success in this endeavor.

Go online, send in your nominal fee, and receive a certified, stamped, and legal document, suitable for framing, that says you can perform weddings, funerals, and divorces, bless barroom fights, bless meals for family and strangers in restaurants, give pastorly advice, and heal people’s medical maladies. I am awaiting my credentials which should arrive any day now. My two friends and former bandmates have not returned my calls, but then at their age, they may have forgotten the conversation. I will send them a text and an email as a reminder.

Combine my TV preacher hair and my pastorly presence with our three-piece musical trio, and we should be able to draw a sizable crowd and make some nice donations for my mobile church, which I plan to christen; “The Church of The What’s Happening Now.” All proceeds will go to the “Mission Granbury” food bank and “Friends of Animals.”

Being a Christian, which I am, is advisable. But, if you’re going to spread the word of God, you had better believe what you are spouting. Atheists, Agnostics, and liberals would never make a good street preacher; they would be struck by a bolt of lightning from above and charred to a crisp right there on the sidewalk. God doesn’t watch CNN or The View.

I have better hair than any of those preachers on the TV set, so I should do quite well if my wife lets me out of the house and I can find my car keys and guitar, which I suspect she has hidden with relatives.

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