Archive for the 'Texas' Category

Chocolate cake and Unleaven bread

Monday, July 16th, 2007

My preacher is doing a series on communion.  He has also posted about it and you can click here to see that post.

See, in our tradition we take the Lord’s supper each week.  It is awfully easy to lose the meaning of the rite to our own disregard.  So Sunday morning’s sermon was about stopping and giving pause and examining ourselves before we just go through the motions.

This stimulated some deep thought for me.   I started to compare some things in my life.

Many of you will remember an old post of mine where I told you what chocolate cake means to me.  I’m going to reprise a little of that thought to make my point.

My grandparents lived in Brownfield.   I lived in Odessa.  Grandad was a roughneck.  So he made the trek to my house each week so he could work.  Each week he brought a pan covered with foil.  In it was a good old Texas style chocolate sheet cake.  Each week I would hear how she baked it just for me.  She knew it was my favorite.  I always felt like her favorite when he brought it.

I did not deserve this favor.  I was just a scrawny little runt that was adopted into the family.  But she saw me as her own.  To this very day, I look at chocolate cake through the eyes of a happy little grandson.  There is far more there than just flour, eggs and butter.  The memories don’t fade fast.  The expression becomes more vivid as I get older.

Christ prayed over the bread and the wine.  He told his disciples “Do this to remember Me.”  He likened the bread to His body, a holy sacrifice to be shared.  He likened the wine to His blood.  One’s cup symbolized one’s destiny.  They were to share in His life and His destiny.  The tradition lives on among us today.

I do not deserve this favor.  I am still some little runt that was adopted into the family.  But He sees me as His own.  Every time the trays are passed I see my self as a grateful little child of God.  There is far more there than just matzos and wine.  The memory has lasted 2000 years.  The expression becomes more vivid as I get older.

I get to sit at the table of God Almighty.  He has prepared Himself for my consumption.  I don’t deserve this.  I must be loved to be so privileged.

A Strange Phenomenon and a Stranger

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Bob was a young cowhand. So he noticed lots of things that others ignored. As he was driving cattle through the Paisano pass he saw a flicker in the distance. He wondered if it was an Apache campfire. When he asked the locals they told him to ignore it. There were lights in those mountains all the time but nobody ever found a campfire. It is just one of those things that stays a mystery.

It has been almost 125 years since Bob saw the lights in the Chinati mountains. The lights still flicker and there is still no sure answer why.

When I was a boy, my parents pulled over on the road outside of Marfa. We watched the mountains with the crowd and saw little lights flash from time to time. But the real show was the crowd itself.

The Marfa lights attract a wide variety of folks. Some are definitely stranger than others. I saw everyone from the typical American family to UFO kooks that one does not expect to see anywhere but Roswell. Freddy was one of those kooks.

I’m not sure what his name really was. But Freddy is good enough for me. Freddy was the first person I ever saw with a nose ring. It was no nostril stud either. We’re talking full fledged hog ring. I couldn’t tell where his beard ended and hair started. It was all one big fuzzy mess. He wore a ratty old brown Stetson with a hole on top. His hair stuck out through the hole. He scared folks off by exclaiming, “The lights are our friends!” Apparently the lights are caused by tourist from the planet Nardoz. So the Nardozians pull over to the Chinati mountains to watch us watch them.

Being a precocious youngster, I asked Freddy if they had any tasty Nordozian cookies. And if we could introduce them to milk so they might enjoy them more. My mother’s hand covered my mouth and we retreated to the car before Freddy could engage us in any colorful conversation.

I don’t know what ever became of Freddy. But I hope he has a new hat.

Teenage Schadenfreude

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Saturday night was for dates if you were lucky. Friday night, well that was for bachin’. So late Friday night, four blond and one dark head huddled around the small kitchen table.

“So her whole family is out of town all weekend?”

“I saw them all off myself, Dude.”

“The grill has gas?”

“It did this afternoon.”

“When do yall get off work?”

“We both work the morning shift. We can get the groceries before we leave.”

“What kind of tools do we need.”

“I have everything we could possibly need in the pickup right now.”

“Who has dates?”

“Mine has to be home by midnight.”

“Mine too.”

“Where do we meet?”

“We just all park at her house. There is plenty of room and I will have already unlocked the gate.”

“No drinking. No hollering. No talking about it at school.”

“Cool.”

The conspiring was done. The plan was set.

There was a park that got little attention at night. It was outside the city limits. The county had no parks department. One of the parking lots overlooked the duck pond. This particular parking lot seemed to fill up at night on the weekend. Sometimes the deputies would make their rounds making sure ladies were there, “of their own free will” but it was mostly left alone. Just a few cars full of submarine race enthusiast.

Outside of lot was a curve in the road. It basically made room for the parking lot. Just in front of either entry was a road curve sign. This tempted the boys every time they saw the signs.

The boys met up. Two climbed in the cab. Three populated the bed. Ratchets in hand, they proceeded to the signs. Mancini played on the stereo offering the perfect theme music for mischief. They had the signs changed in no time. They went back to patio that overlooked the whole site. The steaks hit the grill and the boys arranged the lawn chairs.

Shortly after the bars let out, the traffic started to move. The first car to enter missed all of the cars but hit a fence post. The ruckus was loud! The acoustics on the patio were perfect! The boys could hear every single word!

The car on one end emptied. Mr. Turner and Mrs. White got out. The car on the other end contained, Mrs. Turner and Mr. Arnold. Misters Turner and Arnold started to fight and Mrs. Turner tried to break it up. Then Mrs. White socked Mrs. Turner in the face.

The uninjured driver stumbled over to one of the other cars and asked for a beer. Some of the cars left. Others stayed to watch the fight.

The second car to enter crashed into Mr. Turner’s sedan. The occupants of the car became very busy throwing away whiskey bottles and baggies of unknown substances.

The deputies arrived to a state of pandemonium. The deputy you all know as “Long Forty Four” shot one into the dirt to get everybody’s attention (imagine that). All of the participants became very agreeable and received their citations or handcuffs with much cooperation.

Meanwhile back on the porch, the five boys watched in amazement and ate their steaks between belly laughs.

This is a work of fiction and all of the events therein are the creations of the little fella in the big white hat. Any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental.

Texas Charm School Lesson 4

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Recently a nameless preacher referred to the land of my birth as bumpkinville.  The wife was a little put off.  I told her, “Bless his heart, he doesn’t know any better.”  Then, the other day, a different fella referred to rural folks as bumpkins.  The country gentleman to his right quickly corrected this uncouth behavior.

These instances have made me realize that a Texas Charm School Lesson is in order.

Texans sometimes use pejoratives as terms of endearment.  This often contributes to the confusion.  But in such cases, those pejoratives are in fact endearing.   But the use of these pejoratives in a demeaning manner can be insulting to people of rural backgrounds.  Therefore using terms like hayseed, bumpkin and redneck should be approached with the same scrutiny given to racial slurs and vulgarities.

Often the insulted individuals will be moved to educate the offender.  The manner of this education grows progressively less pleasant depending on the severity of the offense and the temper of the offended.

Now many offenders will be confused by the nature of the language I have used.  So, let me put this in terms that are easily understood by the pseudo-urbane.  Watch your mouth city boy, or one of us country bumpkins will be forced to teach you some manners.

I’d rather be in Dublin

Friday, June 8th, 2007

Tomorrow there is a big Dr. Pepper birthday party in Dublin Texas. There will be free Dublin Dr. Pepper and much rejoicing.

So you ask, “Zane, didn’t you swear off that stuff. Why do you want to go blow your diet?” Yes, I swore of the stuff. I don’t want to blow my diet but this aint about me.

See, my bride is Dr. Pepper Crazy. I took her to the Old Factory in Waco and she considered it a religious experience. I would love to take her a few miles down the road to Dublin. But that aint going to happen. We can’t do it for multiple circumstances beyond my control. That is a crying shame.

For those who do not know: Dublin Dr. Pepper is not made with Karo syrup (High Fructose Corn Syrup) like Dr. Pepper from other factories. It is still made with cane sugar. That really sets off the flavor. Dublin Dr. Pepper is highly prized and cost as much as premium beer.

Let me add that knowing what Dr. Pepper does to blood sugar I considered a person’s normal work day.  I conclude that the folks who proposed to drink 8oz at 10, 2 and 4 were way ahead of their time from a biochemistry standpoint.  8oz of Dr. Pepper would sure bring a blood sugar plunge back into range.

Enjoying the Ride

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

I had a particularly wonderful childhood.  I was blessed enough to know both sets of Grandparents and three Great Grandmothers.

When I was small we would often drive North on the weekends.  We would go from Odessa up to either Brownfield or Lubbock to see Grandparents.  Either way we covered the same ground.

As we left the pumpjacks on the savannah and moved into the south plains, the landscape became more agrarian.   We moved from oil fields to cotton fields.  The horizons were so flat that they seemed to go on forever.  Most of the rows in the fields were plowed perpendicular to the road.  The car moved fast and the rows seemed to move like a runner’s legs.   I could look out to the window for hours.

Even though I wanted to get to our destination, I always really enjoyed the ride.  I don’t recall ever asking if we were there or how long we would be.  I knew the route.  And I enjoyed the ride.

Now when I travel, it is not always so pleasant.  I wonder just how much good behavior my children have to spend.  I worry too much about the vehicle, the road and the dangerous obstacles that I may encounter.

I miss just enjoying the drive.

Yes, this is a metaphor for the way I live.  I’ve been coping with a lot of work and worry lately.  I miss just enjoying the drive.  It is time to notice the running rows again.

Lord, help me enjoy the ride again.  Put my mind at ease.  Give me peace as I trust You.  Help me notice the little things and the ways that You tell me how much You love me.

The Long Barrel of the Law.

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

I told a story to my boss the other morning.  He liked it so much that  he said, “That is something for you to write about.”

I’m not saying this whether or not this story is truth or fiction but I may have to include it in the Butch book.  I think it is interesting.

It was getting late.  The sun was starting to go down. I knew if I did not get to the store fast, I wouldn’t get to go.  Mom did not want me riding around in the dark.

I peddled as fast as I could to the convenience store.  It is always fun riding in and out of the bar ditch.  I could smell the stench of death where the dog was decaying so I was about halfway there.  I peddled on.

Right when I was about to enter the parking lot, the deputy’s car screeched in ahead of me.  I put on the brakes and went down on one foot.    The cruiser fishtailed sideways and stopped parallel to the store.  The door flew open and the deputy stood up.  He drew out his revolver.

I was amazed at the sight of that pistol.  It was a .44 magnum with a ten inch barrel.  You can watch Dirty Harry all day and not get the experience of seeing that thing actually fly out in front of you.  The report was as loud as a rifle shot.  The muzzle blast was huge.  Even the cylinder gap blast was huge.

As the glass all dropped to the ground, I peddled ahead.  He stood still.  He seemed gigantic to me.  He stood about 6’6”.  He was lanky and dark.  His afro pushed out from under that silverbelly Stetson.  He holstered his pistol and looked down at me.  His face changed from mean to gloomy.  “Look in his hand boy.  I had to do it.”   I looked through the broken window to see the headless gunman.  “You gonna be alright, boy?”  I did not answer.  “You need to go to the store across the street to get your stuff then go back home.  Then you need to talk with your daddy.  I’ll come by talk with your parents later.”

It wasn’t like the movies.  It was ugly.  It was real.