Saturday, March 31, 2012

Vacation's End

Sudoku Sam.

Entertaining Kent was a breeze, because he could entertain himself with his Sudoku book when we weren't entertaining him.

Kent really enjoyed the beach. He was fascinated by the marine life.

On Thursday we visited the Texas Museum of Marine History. It was quite fascinating. The view from the lighthouse was fabulous, and the wind whistling through the rigging of the sailboats in harbor was enchanting.

I was fascinated by a couple of the displays which many patrons strolled by nonchalantly. First, and near the beginning of the tour was an antique brass binnacle. The feature that astonished me was the Navigator's Balls, or Kelvin's Balls, not that they were there, but that someone (Kelvin, I suppose) was brilliant enough to figure out that the placement of magnetic balls in a certain way could serve to correct magnetic deviations on an ironclad ship.

The second attraction that piqued my curiosity was not astonishing so much as it was puzzling. There was a graphic/pictorial display of riverboat commerce in early Texas history. What caught my eye? The narrative of a side-wheeler which disappeared in 1832, "presumably sunk in the Brazos River." I have crossed the Brazos numerous times, and that fairly near the mouth of the river. It is an important river, but I cannot for the life of me imagine a boat sinking in that stream and no one knowing where. Doesn't seem credible to me.

At any rate, Kent's vacation ends this morning when he boards a plane to travel back to Indiana. We had a great week. Hope he would say the same.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Excursion to Corpus Christi

A short drive, and we were under the bridge and on the beach. We had lunch at Blackbeard's. Since I always have the gumbo, BBBH decided to order it, too. She didn't care for it, so I relished mine and finished hers!

Kent was all excited about the prospect of the tour of the USS Lexington. Since Beautiful and I have done that, we chose instead to go to the Texas State Aquarium while the son toured the ship. Now we have been to the aquarium on two other occasions, but I preferred not to bang my head on the bulkheads, and BBBH did not want the climb up the narrow stairways. Besides, the aquarium is endless entertainment. Well, not quite endless. We were exhausted after three hours or so, but Kent needed "just a bit longer" to finish his excursion.

Here are a few of the pictures Kent took. He is looking forward to showing his collection to his son, Alex.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Young Motherhood

This is the final chapter in the "Little Jo" series. It was originally entitled "Incubator."

The first order of business following the ceremony was to finish school. Well, perhaps that was just one of the first things that had to be done. Jo Ann had no idea how to be a wife. She did not know how to cook, or how to deal with the responsibilities she had assumed. Some good things did happen, though. She and Jep were able to get a small apartment over a storefront, so they had a place of their own. And her new mother-in-law was very kind and patient and more than willing to teach Jo the homemaking skills she lacked.

Some other things did not work out so well. Jep was studying to be a mechanical draftsman, thinking to obtain employment at the car shops. The railroad had forever maintained that facility in town; but just as the young husband was almost ready to step into what he envisioned as a life-long career in his hometown, the shops were closed forever and hundreds of people were thrown out of work.

It was the fall of 1955, and the first of the young couple’s children was born, a beautiful little girl. They cleverly combined Daddy’s middle name with Mama’s middle name and called her Bobbie Jo.

Jep was offered a job in a dry-cleaning establishment in a nearby university town. They made the move, and a few months later their first son was born. Their third child, a girl, was born in 1958. Juggling three tiny children, keeping house and trying to envision herself as a person in her own right more than a wife and child-bearer, Jo Ann found a good bit of frustration. The money was never enough and the routine was stifling. Marriage, she thought, certainly has put my problems behind me. See, there they are in a procession following along as I drag this stupid little red wagon to the grocery store. We don’t even have a car and no prospects of getting one. But children? That’s quite another thing. We get plenty of them. I’m pregnant again.
© 2008 David W. Lacy

This concludes the "Little Jo" series to be presented on this blogsite.
Previous chapters: 1 2 3 4 5

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Port A

Went to the beach at Port Aransas on Monday.
Fantastic day. Some member of the party looks like a pickled beet.

I just wasted half hour trying to upload some images to Blogger. This is the only successful attempt. Maybe the morning will treat me better. Meanwhile, it is now my bed time.

Kent's Here!

Beautiful is ecstatic. Her "baby," her youngest child, Kent is here. She has been looking forward all winter to his visit. Well, so have I. Here they are on the pier at Rockport Beach. Kent was totally fascinated by even the smallest of creatures he espied in and along the water's edge. He nearly, but not quite, fell in when he slipped on a rock attempting to grasp a shell that contained a tiny hermit crab. "Look! he exclaimed as he held the object in front of his mother's face. "See the little leggies?!" She recoiled, and I smiled, for he is his mother's son. Wherever did he hear the word "leggies"? One guess.

Here was a beautiful little jellyfish going about its business. It worked the water around these mossy stones, giving me several opportunities to get a snapshot. This one is the best, even with the patch of bubbles riding over the top of the critter.

Later we all had much too much very good lunch at Jaliscos. It is going to be a great seven days!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Walk, Walk, Walk

My friend, Chester, does not know I snapped this picture because 1) he is a dedicated and intent walker, and 2) I was at my dining table inside, shooting through the screen door.

This gentleman walks around the park daily. He does three and a quarter miles in the morning, three and a quarter in the afternoon. He is more disciplined than I, and probably in better physical condition!

Chester and Elaine are here every winter. We first met them several years ago on our first camping expedition to Texas. The curiosity is that our permanent homes are less than fifty miles apart! Fellow Hoosiers.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rockport Breakwater

On the right you may see the far end of the breakwater on which we are standing. This is a new structure which will form a safe harbor for many more boats. The building visible in center of picture is in the area of the current Rockport harbor, the breakwater for which is to the right and north of the new one.
To the left is the shoreline. There once stood a motel on this land, but it fell into disrepair. This year we find that it has been razed, which is a big improvement.

To the right of the new structure is an older wooden pier which is primarily for the use of guests at the beachfront hotels along the shore. The people on this structure are illustrative of one of the prime attractions to the area. Sport fishing is important to the local economy.

I don't fish. I used to fish. BBBH has no interest in fishing. She simply could not grasp the concept of "catch and release," so, as I said, I don't fish.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

School Years Too Soon Gone

This is the fourth in the "Little Jo" series, repeated here by "popular demand."

Jo Ann really liked school in Mt. Vernon. It was a safe haven from the turmoil of her emotions, since she could get her mind, if but briefly, off the sadness she felt. And from the pressures her Grandmother put on her. “Granny” in her long black dress and black stockings, constantly harping on getting “saved,” dragging the child to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, revival meetings that went on and on forever. Would she ever get away from it all?

But school was interesting. She enjoyed reading and most of the teachers were interesting. The other kids not so much, but that was okay. Jo Ann was now thirteen and in junior high. Her sister, Donna had married at fifteen and already had two kids. A sudden feeling of panic gripped the young girl’s heart. Nadine is sixteen and she is talking about marriage. Am I going to have to get married soon? And why would I want to? And who would marry a plain little knucklehead like me anyway? I don’t even have a boyfriend.

That evening, she talked with Nadine about the thoughts she had been having. “But Jo Ann,” Nadine told her, “you are beautiful. Why would you say such things about yourself?” These were indeed reassuring words, but not unlike what she had been told before. Why must I always need to be told over and over that I am pretty or smart? she asked herself. I wish I could really believe it.
The boy next door. It is a cliché, but that is exactly who many girls marry. And so it was with Jo Ann. Jep lived not literally next door, but a couple of blocks over. Close enough. On a March day in her eighteenth year she stood with Jep in the parlor of the minister’s home and with the preacher’s wife as a witness, committed her life to a young man. The prospects looked bright. Things would have to be better than this life she had lived to this point.

© 2008 David W. Lacy

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Long Way Around

The day for the move from Edinburg to Rockport dawned cloudy and muggy, but hot. We arranged all the accouterments of peripatetic living into their travel-slots and hit the road.
However, since it had been two years since we saw Port Isabel, BBBH wanted to go over to that lovely venue. I told her I had seen on the TV only the night before the crush of traffic trying to get across the causeway, but somehow the message I hoped to deliver did not penetrate her consciousness, at least at the same level as I had received it.

So, shun piking (not literally in the old-fashioned sense, but my term for avoiding the expressways) we traveled several Texas Routes and FMs (Texas talk for "farm to market roads.") It was a very pleasant drive through cane fields and flat lands, probably at no point mounting a rise more than thirty feet above sea level. But when we turned from Laguna Vista onto Texas 100, the import of what I was trying to tell her impinged itself upon Beautiful's consciousness, for sure, because the traffic for the causeway was backed up all the way through Port Isabel and into Laguna Vista. She was the first to say, "Let's turn around and go to Rockport." Which we did. We arrived in Rockport safely after a pleasant drive north on US 77. No seriously frightening incidents, but I did conclude that there are two kinds of drivers on the highways these days that make for an interesting and riveting time behind the wheel. 1) The young, fearless, impatient idiotic drivers, and 2) the old, timidly dangerous idiotic drivers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

America's Favorite Shopping

Reason number 87: Why we love... Arriving in time to spend a mere 15 minutes in wait, I find I have a full forty-five+ minutes in which to...
In an honest effort to avoid living "annoyed," I determined to make an adventure of waiting. An adventure of waiting? you say. Why not? There are tons, literally tons, of people to watch. There are oh-so-comfortable steel benches on which to sit while

Then the camera is usually holstered at belt as it was this day. More fun, tra la.

So the wait is finally over and it is my turn at the register. Understand this script had been called in three days prior. Cashier checks computer. Mutters to self. Returns to customer. I'm sorry, he says, the insurance company will not pay for this script until tomorrow. I can have it ready for you at nine in the morning.

Really? So now the insurance company is managing my health care. But that is another post.

Have I ever told you reason number 1?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Citrus Production

A couple weeks ago we featured the citrus blossom, as the park was permeated with the fragrance of the trees in bloom. Now, as we depart this compartment of paradise, we show you the new fruit, the result of the blossoms and the successful pollination. See the tiny grapefruit! Note that there is mature fruit on the tree as backdrop. We are taking these ripe fruit with us.

We will be going to the beach today. In a day or two we will be northward bound on 77!

This is for those who celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Don't we all?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Of Health and Heroics #T

Grandma was a tiny little thing, barely four foot, eight with her shoes on, with her cotton hose and shoes on. If she ever weighed over a hundred pounds it had to be in 1912 when she was carrying the twins.

Grandma and Grandpa were holiness people, not pentecostal, but saved, sanctified and pressing on to glory. They were modest in attire, truthful to their word, and they would literally give someone in need their last cent, if they had a cent at the time. Grandma bore eight children and raised seven of them to adulthood. Foolishness was not high on the list of approved activities in their household.

This couple and their children were faithful attendees at the little local holiness church, and it is true that virtually never a service was missed. One spring Sunday morning as the minister was reading his selected scripture that would serve as the basis for his message, something skittered up Grandma's left leg, up the hose and under the skirt. Alert of wit and quick of hand, Grandma slapped her left hand on the offending intruder and clenched it in her grasp. Some forty minutes later the preacher concluded his sermon and invited the congregation to stand for the "invitational." Following three verses of "Just As I Am" the minister pronounced the benediction. Grandma released her grip on the critter, and poor mousie dropped to the floor, quite dead of suffocation!

The grandparents, as you might well surmise, were teetotallers, and were known from time to time to inveigh against Demon Rum. Grandma, though, thought it important that she maintain good health. There was one particular elixir that she asserted was vital to good health and of which she partook on a daily basis for years. Just a tablespoon a day, mind you. The product was called "Viti-Ore." The name certainly implies that it contained necessary ingredients, vitamins and minerals. Indeed, it surely did.

Many years after Grandma went on to Glory at the age of ninety-eight, just for fun I thought to research Viti-Ore. I discovered that it was indeed a wonderful pick-me-up for the frazzled housewife of the day. The contents betrayed the fact that it was fifty-proof alcohol.

I loved Grandma and Grandpa and have many wonderful memories. But sufficient unto the day are the snippets related here.

If you have not read Grandma's birthday post, please take a minute to go here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Convoluted Relationships

This is the third in the "Little Jo" series. It first appeared October 5, 2009 on Little Jo's birthday. It is repeated here by popular request, three of my five regular readers, and that's good enough for this old post to be rejuvenated.

Lying in the bed of a broken-down two-wheeled utility trailer one beautiful, but much too hot, summer afternoon a month or so after she had finished sixth grade, Jo Ann got to thinking about her family. Not just her mother, whom she still yearned for but couldn’t figure out, and her father who spent more time and money and concern on Lola and her daughters than he did with Jo Ann. In an epiphany that struck her as she watched a cloud break up after painting an elephant in the sky she realized “Great Honk! My brothers are my sisters’ cousins!”

This is a little convoluted, especially for anyone raised in the proverbial American family with a mother, a father and two and one third kids playing in the yard surrounded with the white picket fence. Jo Ann’s mother and father had both been married to other people before they married each other. Grant, that was Dad, was married to Lois, and they had two boys, Joe and Cam. Lois died at a young age. Orpha, that was Mom, was married to Clem and they had Donna, Brent and Ila before they divorced. Here’s the thing. Lois was Clem’s sister. You figure it out. After they married each other, Orpha and Grant became the parents of Nadine, Jo Ann and Pammy.

“Gracie!” It was Dad calling her. Why can’t he call me Jo Ann? Everyone else does now. “Hey, Girl,” he said as he walked up to the side of the trailer. “Jack and I are going to run the trotlines. Do you wanna tag along?”

“You bet,” she replied as she jumped to the ground. This was a special thing for Jo, not only because it was time with Daddy, but because she knew that there would be plenty crawdads left after the baiting and, with the fish, would be thrown into a big old pot of oil on the fire. Yumm!

They made their way across the field carefully skirting the blackberry thicket where in a week or two there would be plenty of luscious berries for her and Grandma to pick. Dusk was settling as they arrived at river’s edge. Gotta be careful when you fish this way. Step in the wrong spot and a dousing was a certainty. The men worked the lines carefully, taking the catch and rebaiting. The girl watched the procedure with interest, but she wasn’t about to be touching the creepy creatures. She’d be more than happy to eat them later.

Lying near the fire as the pot boiled, Jo Ann watched the crescent moon, listened to the crickets and frogs and thought that this could almost have been a perfect evening, except for the hole in her heart. While they were munching on the crawdads and eating fish and corndodger, Jo Ann said, “Daddy, tell me about your Mom and Dad.”

“Oh,” he replied, “there really isn’t that much to tell. Your Grandma was the oldest of a very large family. I think she had sixteen brothers and sisters. Of course, I never knew them all. They all had the same father, but he had three different wives. Not at the same time, Silly. He just outlived them, that’s all.

"Your Grandfather was an orphan, or so I’ve been told. I think really that his father died and his mother remarried. Perhaps he didn’t get along well with his step-father, so he says he was an orphan. His Dad was a riverboat gambler, you know.”

“What about Mom’s family?”

“That’s a story I don’t know that well. Her parents were singing evangelists. Went around holdin' revival meetings and such stuff. Don’t know what happened, but they divorced and your Grandmother married a dandy from over in St. Louis, I believe.”
© 2008 David W. Lacy

Happy Birthday to Beloved Beautiful Better Half, a.k.a. JoAnn (without whom these tales could not be told).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Committee Flying High

It was a cool afternoon, and we were lying on the bed, books in hand; BBBH reading hers, mine a prop so that one would not immediately conclude that I was dozing. I turned to my right to peer out the window at the stunningly clear, azure sky. And I was stunned, stunned to see dozens of vultures slowly flying toward the southeast.

I called Beautiful's attention to the sight. She laid her book aside and peeked out the window, failing to take in the birds. "You're fibbing," she accused, as though I were in the habit of doing such a thing. "No, no," I said. "Look just there!" I pointed.

We got up and went outside. What a spectacle we beheld as the committee of vultures seemed to expand in size as birds circled in from all directions and joined their peers. "There are hundreds of them!" exclaimed BBBH. "I've never seen anything like it." "Dead horse," I speculated, "over that way." Well, it might have been a cow, or what-have-you. But indeed it was the largest colony, or wake, of vultures we had ever seen.

A flock of vultures is called a "colony of vultures." It may also be referred to as a "committee" or a "wake." Committee strikes my fancy, having chaired entirely too many committees in my time. Wake is clearly appropriate, given the office of these birds.

If you find the photography less than stellar, please cut me some slack. You must realize the camera is a 4X zoom, 4mp point-and-shoot, and it has logged lots of clicks, too.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

La Pesca

We do not make it a habit to do restaurant reviews here at STSTT, primarily, perhaps, because we eat out so seldom. Beautiful is an outstanding cook, and we both like to eat in.

Sometime about two o'clock Sunday afternoon, BBBH and I decided lunch would be in order. We scootered over to 524 W. University here in Edinburg. We have passed this establishment numerous times without so much as a second glance. To have overlooked this place was a big mistake.

We entered the dining room and were greeted pleasantly by the proprietor. We were seated, and immediately the waitress took our drink order and returned with chips and salsa, accompanied by a small glass of the most wonderful concoction, which I can only assume was the stock from the pot in which the goodies had been cooked.

Our host advised us of the "special" which was a fish and shrimp combo, grilled or deep-fried. I chose grilled; BBBH selected fried. We consumed chips and salsa, along with the drink. The salsa was excellent, spicy and fresh. It was hot, but not too hot, for even Beautiful found it appetizing. As the little cup of broth disappeared, the proprietor directed our waitress to bring us another.

The platter came, artistically arranged with a small salad to one side, the rice, in my case, and the french fries for BBBH on the other end with the beautifully done fish lying between them, the shrimp, butterflied, on top. A nice slice of Texas toast accompanied each dish, and the fried fish had with it an additional three hush puppies.

All this food was every bit as tasty as we could have hoped. Our host, Markus Villarreal, sat at the next table and visited with us while we dined. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon experience. Tab for the two of us was $17.30 including Texas State tax.

For a great lunch or dinner choice, we very much recommend la Pesca, open seven days a week. Take a look at their website.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, 99

For the fun you gave us in the Sixties, we thank you.

Barbara Feldon is a very successful character actor who primarily works in live theater. This is commendable, and memorable. But she will probably be most remembered for the work she did on the TV series "Get Smart." And great work it was, too.

Born March 12, 1933.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Distant Thunder

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. --Ecclesiastes 1:6

On the ten o'clock news the weather man reported that our county and the neighboring county were under a severe thunderstorm warning until four ayem.

Then he went on and on (as meteorologists so often do) about how unusual it is for a TSW to be issued in this part of the country; that it is frequent in the Midwest (big news there) but as he said, unusual here.

Went to bed and went to sleep. Just before three as I rolled over to steal a bit of the sheet, I thought I saw a flash of lightning. Several seconds later I heard the rumble of thunder in the distance.

Presently, another flash. One, one thousand, two, one thousand, three, one thousand...
After eight seconds, thunder. This was repeated several times and I determined that at no time was the lightning anywhere nearby.

After while, the patter, patter of raindrops on the roof. Never hard enough to be even remotely close to a deluge, but it was rain. And then the wind turned around and came back on us.

Then I had to put a blanket over the sheet. Then when I arose at seven, I turned on the furnace. And the wind still blows, stirring the drizzle around as it descends.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Wind

A cliched wind howls, or roars, or whines, or whistles, or moans. This is no cliched wind. It is a restless wind. We lie down at night to rest; this wind lay down as darkness settled. But a restless wind it is, and in the wee hours it was up and stirring about, shaking and rocking the house like some giant child playing with blocks in a sandbox.

So a restless night for us and the wind, but morning finally came. And so did more wind. The horse that just flew by was not Pegasus, but the neighboring farmer's Old Dan. That's not right.

The wind doth howl, the wind doth moan, the wind doth have a mind of its own.
The wind doth whistle, the wind doth whine, the wind doth carry sand so fine.
It howls, it roars, it shakes the doors

The wind doth carry horses, slim and fat. It is too much wind, for all of that.
Stop! Thou vicious wind, forsake my door. We don't need you anymore.

© 2012 David W. Lacy

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mexico, Ole!

Wednesday was the perfect day for a foray to the south. Mid-day temperatures in the eighties, wind in the thirties, and either get some work done on a dental appliance or eat mush. One day on an oatmeal diet was quite enough for me, so it took no persuading.

We arrived at Progeso shortly before noon and parked on the States' side of the bridge. The stroll across the bridge, the walk along both sides of the tourist strip and the walk back to the parking place took a toll on these old knees.

The first hustler who accosted me got the business. He led me directly to the dentist for whom he was shilling, and a deal was struck. As a general rule, and I checked this at numerous dental establishments, dental work seems to run about 10% to 20% of the cost of similar services in the old Hometown.* I love my dentist, and I offer him no disrespect, but certain old persons whose income is not going to increase any time soon have to watch the pennies.

Finally about two o'clock we selected a restaurant which was very pleasant, indeed. Air conditioned, courteous waiters, and troubadors, no less, to serenade the ladies. When the tip bucket hit our table top, BBBH of course had to support the musicians. They were enthusiastic, but quite terrible, actually.

Certain aspects of this trip are always heart-wrenching, and one has to rationalize to himself that he cannot solve everyone's problems; nor can he bring well-being to all who ask. The little old abuela sitting on the sidewalk, holding out a styrofoam cup toward passers-by. The eleven or twelve year old boy who should be in a sixth grade classroom somewhere, instead walking up and down the sidewalk extending the acrylic paintings, hoping to capture our eye, or our heart, but mostly our money. He had a fool-proof gig, though. His paintings featured either puppies or Jesus. Appeals to everyone.

The barely-more-than-toddlers holding out their baseball caps.

Then there was the absolutely beautiful baby, and the children all seem to be beautiful, lying peacefully asleep in her box as her mother asked alms. I wanted to offer madre two dollars to take a picture of the child, but in this day and age one is reluctant to make such a proposal. Sad world in which we live.

The saddest aspect of the scene to me is not so much that the day-to-day survival is earned in such a fashion, for the same people seem to be there who were there two years ago, and five years ago, and so on. The saddest aspect is the taking for granted that the perpetuation of this life-style is the norm. Kids who ought to be learning an alphabet in a kindergarten, children who should be learning that there is a world out there in a sixth-grade classroom, I could go on, are being taught that livelihood is dependent upon the generosity of strangers.

The last picture taken from our yard as we are back home in our parking spot. The perfect ending to a near-perfect day.

Sampler of typical dental charges.
Cleaning $20
porcelain crowns $120
metal crowns $90
dentures $140
partials $120
root canal $120
extraction $20
silver filling $20

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Revisiting Chicago

Last Thursday I posted a reprise from "tales to be told." Some of my kind readers requested that the story not end there, so herewith I give you the next in the "Little Jo" series.

Life on the farm in Southern Illinois was little more than a foggy memory of lazy days and playing in the dirt. After all, Grace had been only four years old when the country went to war to fight against the evil people trying to destroy the world. The family moved to Chicago so that Daddy could go to work in the defense plant. Seemed that factory work was really important now and everyone had to do his share.The family, good Lord how many were there, moved into a walk-up apartment just blocks from the stop at 63rd and Halstead. Brent and Joe and Cam were already off to the service. Cam and Brent were in the Navy and Joe was an Army Paratrooper. Cam and Joe had never really lived with the family after Grace was born. Mother, Dad, Ila, Donna, Nadine and Grace. It would be yet another couple of years before Pamela was born. So Grace had three older sisters to lord it over her, and a Mother who hadn’t time nor concern to care one way or the other, so long as nobody bothered her. Dad, when he was home, was too tired to notice anything, unless it was something that annoyed him.

Barely had they gotten settled into their new environment than Grace was enrolled in the parish school. They were not Catholic, but the public schools were torn with so much strife and tension at the time that Mother preferred to have the younger girls in the parochial environment. To say that Grace found the adjustment to this new routine unpalatable would be to do an injustice to the reality. The nuns repeatedly shushed the girl in class and insisted that she must be quiet. “But,” she insisted, “I wanna talk!” Her knuckles got intimately acquainted with the teacher’s ruler. One of the nuns even sewed a wide band of lace to the bottom of her new skirt, which not only upset little Grace, but it annoyed Momma, too. The “Penguins” as she would later designate them, became her arch-nemeses.

Summer days and weekends were more bearable. There were impromptu baseball games on the cinder-covered vacant lot nearby, where Grace was designated "Flash" by her brother. And where a fall or a slide into second was sure to draw blood on severely skinned knees.Young as they were, Nadine and Grace had the run of the city and quickly learned the “El” and how to get around. Vacant lots provided playgrounds, as did the utility tunnels beneath the rails. Excitement was too often on the edge of hair-raising fright. Everyone survived. For quiet times on a rainy afternoon, there were paper dolls and macaroni to be dyed and strung for necklaces.

Then before she finished the third grade, there came the day that Grace was told that Mother and Father were getting a divorce. Pammy, the baby would stay with Mother; but Grace and Nadine would be moving back to Mt. Vernon with their father. The mental turmoil that this sparked in the eight-year old girl was almost too much for her to bear. She could not figure out why Momma loved Pammy enough to keep, but she wouldn't keep her. She was convinced that something had to be wrong with her, else her mother would not want so desperately to get rid of her. Grace clung to Mother's legs with both arms, and with tears flowing profusely, begged to stay. But Mother only said, "Hush. I know what is best for you."

Adults will do what they are gonna do. Momma had other fish to fry.

© 2008 David W. Lacy

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Onward Christian Soldiers

I have been doing a lot of reading lately. Certain Christian books and blogs have attracted my attention. What I am finding saddens me. Are Christians the only group in the world that leaves its wounded on the field of battle? The focus of many of the writers seems to be more on what is wrong with you, professor of Christ, than it is on Christ. Jesus is the focal point of Christianity. Without Christ and him resurrected and living today, the whole thing is a house of cards. But how are we to win the world if our efforts are directed toward condemning our own? They shoot horses, don't they? Yes, and some Christians seem determined to shoot fellow-Christians who have fallen along the way.

I believe Jesus, as he stepped into the boat and had it pushed away from the shore of Gennesseret because of the press of the crowd, addressed this very issue in the parable of the wheat and the tares.

The kingdom of heaven, he said, is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Yes, there are weeds growing within the Church, but Jesus is quite explicit regarding his instructions. Is it not likely that the Master can take care of the harvest? Would he not be able to differentiate between the grain and the weeds?

So why are we out there attacking one another? Your theology isn't sound. Your worship style is wrong. That's why. No, it is because we are not abiding by the commands of the Master. That's why.

Image: Jesus Teaching from a Boat by Annie Vallotton

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Boyhood Chums, and Others

Those of you who have been with STSTT for awhile know that I have revealed things about myself, intentionally or inadvertantly, particularly with regard to my childhood experiences making me Who I Am.

The mind wanders over the plains of nostalgia and climbs the mountains of memory this morning. I am wondering what happened to some of the contemporaries of my childhood.

Tommy. Tommy was two years my junior and he had a brother, Chet, who was my age. Twilight games of Kick the Can or Hide and Seek often included these boys, as well as others. At eight years of age, Tommy was a thumb-sucker. Imagine if you can the merciless teasing and name-calling to which Tommy was subjected because of this habit he seemingly could not, or would not, give up. How did this small facet of his young life affect him in later life? I wonder.

Chet, as I remember him, had no outstanding traits or characteristics. He was a kid, tougher than I, confident in himself, jovial enough, but not particularly noteworthy. I have no idea whatever happened to these boys.

I have mentioned my best friend Wes on occasion. I pretty well had him figured out and I have a clear notion of how his early childhood served to mold his character. We remained close friends until his dying day. But a block north of Wes there lived a "tough kid," a blue-eyed towhead who was in fact a half-year younger than I, but he was a bully. Clifton was physically strong, had a mean streak as wide as the Missouri, and made it a point to ensure that everyone knew he was tough. Reflecting back, I think perhaps I did not like Clifton (not "Cliff." That could get you a bloody nose.) Now, sixty-five years later, I wonder what ever happened to Clifton.

I've not mentioned girls. Well, Daddy cautioned me about girls, just as though he imagined that I would be bold enough to approach any of them. "Girls," he said, "are to be looked at, laughed at, and forgotten." This did not exactly inspire me to confidence in my dealings with the fairer sex.

Then there was Clyde. Have to love the people in the 30s who named their kids Chester, and Clifton, and Clyde. Oh, where are you now, Chappies? And Carl, who once beaned me with a rock. Where are you now?

Image of Derrick and Onion by Ray Billingsly

Friday, March 2, 2012


Surfing the web Monday evening when disaster struck. Suddenly the screen went berserk, and a warning alerted me to the frying of the hard-drive. Yes, it seems to be pretty much gone. What folders are left are empty.

Upset, angry, and disappointed with my fellow-man. Again. Yet to live at peace with myself and with my Maker, I forgive the dolt who perpetrated the wickedness. I forgive him for the act. I cannot forgive him for being an ass, because that is not what he did, it is who he is.

I notified some of my blog friends that I would be "out of business" after the twenty-ninth of February, for that was how deep the queue of posts extended. So how, you might ask, am I dealing with the crisis? Several pals in the blogosphere, Lin, Shelly, Chuck, and Shark, suggested that many communities have public libraries with internet access. True. Before I owned a laptop, one of my first visits in a community where we were encamped was to the public library. I have library cards from several communities in Mississippi and Texas, mostly so I could use the computers.

This town has a fine new library, opened three years ago, and they have a public-use computer room that sports forty-eight computers! It is well-used, too. But it is a four-mile scooter or bicycle ride each way.

So, how did I solve the problem? In addition to the new computer, I tucked the old Toshiba behind the seat and brought it along. I dug it out, updated the protection-ware, and voila! I seem to be in business. I'd cross my fingers, but I find it hard to type in that mode. And I am not superstitious anyway!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Recalling "Little Jo"

Embedded in String Too Short to Tie is a series of short short stories labelled "Tales to Be Told." Today's post is a reprise of the first of these stories.

She was thin, almost scrawny. The little girl shuffled along 25th Street, scuffing her bare feet in the gravel as she walked. The flour sack dress her Grandmother made for her was the ultimate indignity. “No matter what Mother believed about me and even if she didn‘t love me, at least she always bought me pretty clothes,” the girl muttered to herself. “What is wrong with me, that my own Mother gave me away?”

She moved along a few more steps and as she thought these thoughts, a stone about the size of a duck egg caught her eye. It might have had the face of her Mother etched on it, or it might have been her own face she saw. In either case, the thing made a wonderful target for the kick she aimed at it with her right foot. Contact! Suddenly the pain that she was feeling in her heart was forgotten as all her thoughts were focused on the pain in her toe. Hopping clumsily on her left foot, she grasped the injured member in both hands then crumpled to the ground to examine the damage. Seated on the coarse grass at the roadside she inspected the injury. No blood. That was a good thing because the only thing she hated more than worms was the sight of blood.

“Well,” she thought, “I am a mess. Daddy is right I’m clumsy and useless and in everybody’s way. What did he say? Oh, yeah. ‘I’ll never understand why your mother insisted on naming you Grace. You’re about as graceful as that thing they call elephant.’ Yeah, and then he calls me ‘Gracie Allen‘. I hear her on the radio and she may be an adult and everything, but she sure sounds stupid to me. So he thinks I am clumsy AND stupid. Well, I won’t be ‘Grace’ anymore. From now on I am Jo Ann! After all, when autumn begins this year I will be ten years old! I’ll show everyone.”

She got up from the berm and resumed her walk to Grandmother’s house. There was a bit of a limp in her step now, though, but as she forgot about the pain in her foot, the pain in her heart returned.“Why does Daddy have to marry that stupid old Lola? And those ignorant girls of hers are awful. I can’t live with them. I just can’t. I’ll ask Grandma if I can come live with her. But that won’t help much, since those dopes will all be right next door, anyway.”She walked through the door of Grandma’s house and slammed the door behind her.

Grandmother called from the kitchen, “In here right now, Girl! What is it with you and the door slamming? Oh, dear. You’re limping. What happened?”

“Aw,” Jo Ann whined, “I stobbed my toe on a stupid old rock!”

“The rock was stupid?”

"Don’t start in with me about ‘clumsy’. I get enough of that from Daddy.”

“Now, now. It’s all right. I don’t see any swellin‘. Grab that parin’ knife and start in on those taters, Young’n. Oh, wait. Scrub those hands first.”

Jo Ann went to the zink and lathered her hands with the lye soap , all the while muttering indecipherable noises as though she were experiencing glossolalia.

“That’s enough with the grumbling, Girl. Your life certainly seems to be pizzle-sprung. What is it now?"

"It’s that stupid Lola, and Maria and Lolita. Why can’t they just go to, uh, to Golconda and leave me and Daddy alone?”

“I know you are hurtin‘, but they ain’t no call to get all twisted in a knot. Grownups is gonna do what they gonna do.”

“Yeah, grownups.”
After dinner and dishes, Jo Ann read until she was reminded that she needed to get on home to bed. “And turn the latch on that outhouse door when you leave it. I hear your Dad callin’ now.”

As she lay in bed in the dark all the hobgoblins of loneliness, fear of the unknown, and a thousand, maybe a million, other bugaboos haunted the girl. But the worst was the ever-nagging question. Why did my Mother throw me away? Hot tears dampened her pillow; but eventually, recalling snippets from her life in Chicago, she became too exhausted to stay awake any longer and sleep stole her consciousness away.

© 2008 David W. Lacy