Posts Tagged 'Texas'

The Pause that Refreshes

If you remember that ad slogan, too, we are too damn old!

Yesterday was the 1st anniversary of the finalization of my divorce.  Since then, “Independence Day” has taken on a whole new and wonderful meaning for me.  It apparently is becoming a personal tradition to celebrate in a big way by doing a big adventure.  Last year, I spent July 4 weekend in the Oklahoma City area, indulging with some shooty goodness with my good friends Michael and Jenni.  This year, I took off on the 2nd with my friend from work Leslie, her husband Robert, their friend Kim, my boys and two friends of my youngest to go tubing down the Guadalupe river in Gruene, (pronounced “Green”) Texas.  We were later joined by two of Robert’s coworkers, and off we went.

I learned quite a lot on this trip.

1.  Six hours floating on a tube, no matter how pleasant, is Too.  Damn.  Long.

2.  Plan ahead with the car keys.  The tubing rental keeps your keys as collateral.  One, it makes sure they get their tube back.  Two, it makes sure you don’t lose your keys in the river or get them wet (which, in the modern era of automobiling, makes them useless).  If I had realized it, I’d have given my valet key (which can get wet) to my son, and turned in my high-tech set to the attendant.  This would have lessened the impact of #3.

3.  Make sure EVERYONE is clear on the game plan.  We’d all agreed on the 6-hour float.  My youngest and his friends got off at the 3-hour point, which left them stranded at the car (the agreed-upon meeting place) for 4 hours (the 2nd half of the river was so slow that at a couple of times, I was actually going BACKWARDS!) without food, water, or a t-shirt to cover up.

4.  I don’t care if you never burn.  Use sunscreen.  If only I would listen to my own advice.

5.  If you don’t heed #4, vinegar does help to alleviate the pain.  Thanks, Butch and Dorie!  Just remember to keep the vinegar away from the rubber rash.  OUCH!

6.  When you think you have enough beer in your cooler, add more.  You don’t.

7.  If you are a female and tubing alone (I’d gotten separated from the rest of the group shortly after the 3-hour point), you will not suffer for company, especially if you have a floating cooler that looks like a giant fishing bobber.  I got a couple of nibbles along the way, and could’ve snagged a big, loud, drunk Aggie if I’d wanted to.  Yesterday was strictly catch-and-release, though.

I have to admit, though, that my brief encounter with that big, loud, drunk Aggie was what got me to thinking along the remainder of my tubing expedition.  In the conversation, he’d mentioned the last time he was on the Guad, exactly two years earlier.  It got me to thinking of how different my activity was exactly one year earlier, when I was on very dry land, bruising the daylights out of my arm with my .303 Lee Enfield.

It also got me to thinking about how far I’ve come in my life since the divorce.  I’ve bought a house for my parents and me to live in, right on the other side of the Interstate from my son’s school.  He walks there sometimes (via the underpass).  My daughter and granddaughter moved in briefly, then moved back with my son-in-law and seem very happy now.  I’m glad for them, and glad I was in a position to help when times got uncertain.

My eldest is with me now.  He is still adrift, and it pains me greatly to see him without direction.  In a perfect world, I would send him to stay with a good mutual friend a couple of states away whom I think could set him on a solid path.  My friend and his wife just had a baby, though, and I couldn’t make that imposition on them.  Not now.

Most of all, though, the encounter with the drunk Aggie got me to thinking about relationships.  As I said before, I could’ve snagged him if I’d really wanted to.  I’d have had to be stone deaf not to hear and blind not to see the come-on.  The thing was, I didn’t want to.  Y’see, I have a good man in my life now.  A wonderful, giving man.  One I haven’t seen much of the last couple of weeks because he is so giving.  It was beginning to allow room for the demons of self-doubt to creep in and do their undoing.   How many of my readers (both of them) have heard the whispers in your psyche before:  “You can’t keep him.  You’re not good enough.  It won’t last; why do you hang on?”

Then I got to thinking.  He IS a good man.  He is generous to a fault and sweet.  He tells me how much he appreciates what I do.  When I met him, he mentioned that the two major relationships in his life–his marriage and a long-term relationship–were both ended by the other party.  My response then was “I don’t understand how any woman (much less two) could leave you.  Four months later, I still don’t.  In fact, I understand that aspect even less.  I flat-out refuse to go down that path.  It’s not up to me to say what the future holds, but this much I know.  If it does end, it won’t be because of me.  For that, I will be grateful to the loud, drunk Aggie for making me realize what I want in my life…and whom.

A Little Cheese to Go with the Longhorns’ Whine

In the “Definition of Chutzpah” department, University of Texas coach Mack Brown fired the first salvo in the Longhorns’ bid to be voted the AP Coaches’ Poll National Champion after UT’s pitiful performance in last night’s Fiesta Bowl.  In todays’ Austin American-Statesman, Brown (who does, by the way, gets a vote) said:

I wasn’t sure before, but on Friday, I’ll vote Texas No. 1 because I believe this is the best team in the country.

Get real, Mack.  The way you’re dancing to the tune played by the Texas Ex’s (their Alumni Association) is more in line with a head coach at Texas A&M than UT.  It’s especially embarrassing in light of the fact that the Aggies haven’t won a piece of a National Championship in football since 1939–and never won one outright.

Last night, for 59 of the Fiesta Bowl’s 60 minutes, Texas produced their most lackluster performance of the season.  The Keystone Cops were better organized than the Longhorns’ offensive line.  Don’t believe me?  Look here.

OK, so Colt McCoy made a (literally) last-minute drive to save some semblance of the season.  Big deal.  For 59 minutes and 43 seconds, the Longhorns could not obtain a lead over the most over-rated team in the NCAA.  Ohio State lost its last two bowl games by a total of 30 points.  The Longhorns barely managed to beat the Buckeyes by three.

I know I am not making any friends in my adopted home here in Austin, but the truth hurts.  That’s the good thing about being a die-hard disciple of the Southeastern Conference in the land of what I call “The Big Two (and all those other guys).”  Objectivity.

That is, to a point.  I will be hollerin’ “Boomer Sooner” Thursday night while huddled over the download to my laptop hoping for a massive Oklahoma win. (Do we eschew cable/satellite because Hubby’s a techno-geek or because we’re just too dadgum cheap?  Inquiring minds want to know.)  I’m not backing OU just to shut up the whiners once and for all.  I’m doing it because I’m Bulldawg born and Bulldawg bred and I wouldn’t root for Florida with three engines out on the team plane.  The thought of the Phlorida Philistines with more bragging rights just curdles my stomach.

Besides, I live for those shots of Urban Meyer hiking up his britches after a play goes south.  You’ve never noticed he does that?  To resurrect a popular catchphrase from the recent Presidential campaign, “You betcha! *wink*”  It’s just as much fun as watching Steve Spurrier throwing down his headphones, his visor and (FTW!) his clipboard.

If there is any justice in this world, on Thursday night Urban Meyer will walk off with a permanent wedgie.

Then again, we are talking about the BCS.  “Justice” doesn’t exist.

The Big 12 and the BCS

The lack of time for blogging caused by my acquisition of gainful employment is forcing me to be alarmingly brief, but concise when it comes to the debacle of Oklahoma representing the Big 12 South after losing to Texas 45-35 at a neutral site (the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, perpetual home of the Red River Shootout).  Since my Okie friends aren’t football fans, I am plunging headlong into this fight that (as a die-hard SEC devotee) really isn’t mine.  All I have to say about this mess is the following:

DROP THE MIDDLE “C” FROM THE ACRONYM AND CALL IT WHAT IT REALLY IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!

‘Nuff said.

I Finally Finished It!

How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence - and Changed America Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence – and Changed America by H.W. Brands


My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really, really wanted to give it five stars, but had to ding it a little for the amount of effort it took for me to finish this book. It took three attempts over three years to get through it (although, admittedly, the second attempt was aborted when Hubby took the book with him when he relocated for his new job and I stayed behind for 8 months to finish my teaching contract), but the effort was well worth it.

This book is THE definitive history of Texas from the first steps of Europeans on her fertile soil to the death of Sam Houston in 1863. There is a wealth of information you never hear in History classes, even though Texas history is taught all year in both 4th and 7th grades.

H.W. Brands pulls no punches when recounting the history of principal players in the struggle for Texas independence (even secondary players, such as Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams get extensive coverage). The admirable qualities (and, believe it or not, there are some) of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna are not overlooked. Still, and refreshingly so, Brands does not fall into the trap of post-modern revisionism.

Writing this book was obviously a labor of love, as was reading it. God Bless Texas!

View all my reviews.


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