Friday, June 29, 2007

Trailing Through the Past

Today I spent the morning at the Public Library scanning microfilm of old newspapers. I had firmly believed that my father had written a few columns for the local paper the first year or two we lived in Bastrop and I wanted to get copies. As it turns out, he had written a column for the local paper where we had lived before and not for the paper in Bastrop,which I learned from a front page article that had appeared when we first arrived in town as the new pastor's family.

To be on the safe side, however, I scanned the papers for a 3 year period (it was a weekly at the time, so not that hard to do) and in so doing picked up a couple of obituaries and news items that I did not know existed. And I found myself being amused by the repetitive nature of history. For instance, beside one item I printed for my family archives was an article on the extraordinarily wet period the town was experiencing. Deja vu. Articles about impending road construction. Articles about tension in the State Legislature. Everything old is new again.

The newly expanded Bastrop Public Library is a much nicer environment for the serious researcher these days. In the old days the local history section and microfilm reader were crammed in a little corner not far from the public Internet access and the noise level was horrendous. There was no place to put your belongings except on the floor beside you and no work space at all. Now the local history section is in a glassed in room of its own and I was alone in blissful silence for most of the time I was there. There was a broad work top just beside the microfilm reader and a comfortable chair. It was a very enjoyable 3 hours.

At one point I heard the door open and was suddenly aware that someone was standing and looking over my shoulder. It was a young man, probably about 12, and he was fascinated. I had the machine set to slow scan and was sitting back and letting my eyes drift over the headlines as they passed. When I turned to him, he veered off and started muttering that he was looking for information on the Civil War. I kindly pointed out that he was not likely to find anything in that room since it was all local history. Before he left he drifted back to stand and look over my shoulder for a long moment and watch 35-year-old news drift by. Probably a novelty for someone raised on the Internet and I'm sure he wondered what in the heck I was doing. He just had to come inside the room and check it out.

While not successful in my intended goal, I got enough odds and ends to make the morning profitable. And I had time to poke around the room and discover that someone is doing a good job in building a quality resource for Bastrop researchers. There's nothing like a good small town library. You can always find something that is unique and only available locally. The Internet has come a long way, but it has a long, long way to go. And somewhere tonight there's a young man who is probably still wondering just what in the world was going on.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Flood Tide 2007

So, everybody got their ark in order? Two straight weeks of rain and no end in sight. Yesterday's news items about the flooding along the San Gabriel River reminded me of the first time I saw that particular river out of its banks. The news reports were out of Williamson County and they haven't said much about what is going on in Milam County, which is where we were living at the time. Perhaps my quasi-phobia about water stems from that point in my life.

I was about 4 or 5 years old and we were living in San Gabriel. The river crossing was a few miles down the road and I can remember us driving down to take a look at it. Daddy drove right down to the water's edge and I can remember being terrified that the water would somehow reach out and grab us. I'm sure at that point the river had crested and was on its way down, but I was too young to understand that. All I wanted was to get back in my home where it was dry and I couldn't see that angry water.

Marble Falls had almost 20 inches of rain in an 8 hour period yesterday. That reminded me of the year that Hurricane Beulah came through south Texas and dumped 22 inches of rain in the Smiley area over a period of 2 days. Smiley sat somewhat on a hill and safe from immediate flooding, but we were cut off on 3 sides by rivers out of their banks. Again, Daddy had to drive us right down to the rivers to take a look. At least I knew at this point that he was staying out of danger's reach, but I still didn't like to see that roiling, out of control water taking over the ranch land.

I live within 2 miles of the Colorado River now and when there is flooding upstream, it gets out of its banks here in Bastrop and especially in my subdivision at the point where it curls around and heads toward Smithville. Fortunately most of Bastrop and Tahitian Village sits enough higher that few homes are in danger, but from the vantage point of the east bank it's a really impressive sight. And during flood times most of Bastrop, at some point, shows up behind the Wells Fargo Bank to take a look. Even I'm not immune.

(This is not the current flooding, but from a year or so back. Taken from a vantage point behind the bank.)

I'm grateful I don't live in an area prone to flooding. The only bright spot in this wet season is knowing that the fire danger will be low next week when the fireworks nuts are at work. The sad part is that there won't be much to celebrate in Marble Falls and Granbury.


Saturday, June 23, 2007


My best friends forever, namely Coco and Mojo, nearly got me arrested this evening. We were out on the gravel road, snooping around the new house construction, when I heard a car approaching. So I hurriedly scooped Coco up and then headed for Mojo, who was headed back my way but still a little ways off. Lo and behold, it was the cops making their rounds. They clearly saw me chasing down the little dogs who were not on a leash within the city limits. I decided to bluff and cheerily waved a dog at them, then headed back into my yard. Guess I caught them on a good day, because they waved back and went on their way. Good thing, because not only was I breaking the leash law, but I have not seen fit to register them with the City either. Of course nobody in their right mind would consider my itty bitty dogs as a public menace. The worse they could do would be get between your feet and trip you.

Our afternoon romps in the side yard led to an infrequent bath this week for the wee ones. Coco found something dead and rotting and went into a frenzy of rolling in it and came in stinking to high heaven. She took her bath with good grace, even though it ruined the fine odor she had acquired. Mojo, on the other hand, was in high dudgeon. He let me know in no uncertain terms that HE DIDN'T STINK, I had no business PUTTING SOAP ON HIM and I sure had no right to SCRUB HIS TUMMY and if I didn't quit he WOULD BITE MY HAND OFF AT THE WRIST. He did not seem to think it appropriate that I found that amusing and he didn't appreciate getting fully bathed despite his threats.

They both got their revenge when we went upstairs shortly afterward and they hopped up in the bed and proceeded to wallow their little wet bodies all over where I was going to sleep. It was a dampish night, because I was too tired at that point to deal with changing the bedding.

The cats are being perfect little heathens this week. Not sure what their complaint is, but they shredded a roll of toilet paper this morning and then snuck into my craft room and shredded the roll of paper towels I keep in there. Boo has expressed his intention to have Siamese betta for a late afternoon snack and thumbed his nose at me when I told him what would happen if I caught him up there with the aquarium again. I get no respect.

What do people without pets do for entertainment?


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rainy Days Are Here Again

My two days of vacation were blessed with fair weather and I got to run around a bit. This morning, as I headed back to work, the skies opened up and, as Andy Griffith would say once upon a time, it came a frog-strangler. Between Elgin and Coupland I could barely see the road. It occurred to me for a few minutes that I should just pull into the little drive-in grocery at Coupland and either wait for the rain to let up or turn around and head for home.

However, today was the day scheduled for the annual celebratory lunch for those of us who managed to survive the May work crush. The company picks up the tab at the restaurant of our choice and everyone who has a direct contact with the stress of May mailings is invited to attend. This year there were 13 of us and we had elected to go to the The Salt Grass Steak House. No way was I going to miss a good steak, and when I got to Coupland the rain let up just enough to convince me to keep going.

What I should have done was go on to Taylor before making the turn westward to Hutto. I mistakenly took the country short cut that I've grown to love and the going was pretty rough, with water beginning to slosh across the road in places. But thoughts of steak and very careful driving got me to work instead of landing me in the ditch.

The steak was great, we had a good time, and I managed to eat myself silly. Well worth getting drenched for.

In other news, a good part of my vacation was spent working on a new dollhouse and it's coming right along. Despite the helpful advice being handed out lavishly by the heathen cats.

Bob and Gainsborough are getting along famously and the aquarium is staying clean. Bob is one good little cleaner-upper.

Mojo and Coco are settling into their new positions as joint second in command to the leader of the pack. They think the house has never been so well run as it has been since they took over. Except they haven't figured out how to get Mommy to stop playing with the little pieces of wood.


Monday, June 18, 2007


Hog Eye Cemetery - 1; Me - 0.

Another heretofore unknown cemetery in Bastrop County came to my attention recently. First, because it turns out that some distant Hodge relatives were early settlers in the Hog Eye community and were buried in the Hog Eye Cemetery. Second, because someone last week made a photo request through FindAGrave for a grave in the Hog Eye Cemetery. Today, being that I was on a walkabout (make that driveabout) on a day of vacation, I decided that I would go antiquing in Elgin and make a stop at the little cemetery on the way and grab a few quick photos.

When I looked up the directions on the Bastrop County GenWeb site, I was surprised to find that it was directly behind another cemetery that I visited not too long ago. I had no memory of seeing anything beyond that little cemetery, but at least I knew where I was headed. I drove up to the cemetery gate and looked beyond the fence and could see nothing. I drove down the road that ran alongside the cemetery and saw nothing. I returned to the cemetery gate, got out and walked to the back of the little fenced in area of the McShan Memorial Cemetery and looked out into the deep wooded area beyond. Sure enough, there were graves scattered about beyond the fence.

So I pondered how one was to get out there. I walked around the outside edge of the cemetery fence and studied the situation. There was no impediment to my walking around the backside of the McShan cemetery. That is, unless you count hip-high weeds during snake season. I cautiously made my way alongside the fence, looking carefully at the ground in front of me. I made it to the back edge of the fence and to the first gravestone, which turned out to be unreadable. I looked around and the next gravestone was several yards away and the most promising cluster of stones and broken down iron fencing was a good 20-50 yards farther on and in deeper weeds.

So I chickened out. I decided this was a cemetery visit that was going to have to take place another time, preferrably in the dead of winter when the vegetation is frozen down, and with backup to call 911 if I step on a rattler. Those Hodge kinfolks will just have to bide their time for official recognition in the family annals.

It's not often I am stymied in my cemetery hopping. So, to ease my frustration I went on to Elgin and spent a couple of hours going through the Elgin Antique Mall, eating a really good meal at the little Mexican restaurant next to it, and then taking a drive out to the Pleasant Grove Cemetery where I knew a few more distant Hodge relatives were buried and at least feel some success for the day's outing.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

News From Abroad

The travelers have arrived in Copenhagen safely. Now us folks at home can rest a little easier. Always a little antsy when I know they are in flight. The word from brother:

"We got to Copenhagen (our bags too, yay) about 3pm, which would have been 9am your time. No incidents, everything appears very well organized. Kennedy airport in NY was the worst part but we made it ok.

"Tomorrow we go to the center of the city, some castles, and later Tivoli Gardens. Weather is nice, a little wet. The flight from NY to Madrid was RITZY. I could get used to that treatment. Fully reclining seats with massage and private video screen, hot towels, etc. etc. [Air] Iberia treated us like King and Queen.

"So far it all seems pretty familiar and everyone speaks English. McDonalds and Domino Pizza and Starbucks everywhere. But it looks like Europe for sure...the view from our hotel room is medieval."


Bob's on the Job

Meet Bob the albino cory catfish. He is very small and very hard to photograph, but he arrived Friday afternoon and set to work cleaning up after Gainsborough. It was with some trepidation that I added Bob to the aquarium, but I was assured by the folks at PetSmart that they would probably be able to cohabit peacefully. After a few inquiring nudges, Gainsborough accepted Bob's presence and is pretty much leaving him alone. Bob has been a busy little bee overnight and all the fallen excess food has been hoovered up. Nothing like a good maintenance man on the job. Yessirree, Bob.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Never Learn

I've been holding out on you. Have not, until today, introduced you to the newest member of the family. Awhile back you may recall that I bought a Siamese Betta that I christened Scarlett O'Hara because the fish was brilliant red. Took a lot of ribbing about that, since everyone knows that the pretty Bettas are male. Scarlett lived a little over a year and I told myself not to do that again. I enjoyed having Scarlett around, but it's one more thing to take care of and my plate is pretty well full in that department.

But then one day recently I was cruising around Wal-Mart and happened around the corner where they have the little cups containing Bettas. I knew they were there and I had managed to ignore them fairly well up to that point. But that day, one of them fluttered at me as I passed, looked me straight in the eye, and said "I'm ready to go home now." So, I caved.

Naturally I no longer had any idea where my little fish tank was, so I bought a new one. A gallon sized tank that came with a motor so loud that I could not stand to have the thing in the bedroom with me. And it turned out I couldn't leave it in the family room either, because Boo and Scout decided it would be great fun to tip over the fish tank and see what that fluttery little thing was all about. So the new fish has been residing in the guest room, behind a closed door, and I've been feeling guilty because I keep on forgetting him.

Yes, him. This time I'm naming him appropriately. Meet Gainsborough, named for someone who had a bit to do with a certain Blue Boy.

You may realize from these photos that Gainsborough has a new 2.5 gallon home that he moved into today. It came with a motor that is quiet enough that he can come back into the bedroom and mingle with the family. Also large and heavy enough that I don't think the cats can tip this one over. I'm sure we will find out soon.

Next project is to find him a compatible companion to keep his tank clean. I'm thinking a Mystery Snail might be just the ticket. Maybe name him Moriarity.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Thoughts Philosophical

You can't go home again.

True, for the most part. I attended an all Smiley High School reunion last Saturday night, but not in Smiley. There's no place to have a big gathering in Smiley {in summer heat, anyway}. So we all trouped over to Seguin. We had representatives from almost every class from the early 1950s to the last official graduating class in 1983, before Smiley and Nixon school districts merged. My class of 1972 was well represented, with almost half of us attending. (Sounds impressive until I tell you there were 20 graduates in 1972.)

Some folks I recognized by virtue of the fact that in 35 years they have become their parents. Sort of a Through the Looking Glass effect. It's amazing to me how your mind will sort out details and identify someone you haven't seen in a long, long time. One of my classmates I recognized by the way she was standing, well before she turned around and I could see her face.

The bonds of common memories are strong. With five decades of graduates assembled, when we sang the school song, Alma Mater, we all without hesitation dove into the S-S-S-M-I, L-L-L-E-Y cheer that was the traditional followup. Several alumni spoke about teachers we all had in common. Miss Reba Bundick, who I have written about before, taught 3 generations of Smiley kids and when the question was posed how many there had Miss Reba for a teacher - well, the entire room raised their hands. Some held up two fingers because they had her in the first grade and the fourth grade.

While I knew that a possible reunion was in the works, the actual date and invitations were sent out only a month ago. How glad am I that I was down 30 pounds and looking lean and mean? If you are going to see your old high school flames, it sure is nice not to have to worry about carrying around extra weight. I had several comments on how well I looked. As we lined up for our class photo, I remarked that it had been a long time since I was around so many tall men. Just about every male in my high school class was over 6-feet tall. Just about every male I work with is barely over 5-foot, 9-inches. Sure is a remarkable contrast.

A good time was had by all and we plan to do it again in three years. I'm guessing it won't be in Smiley, but home is where your heart is and where you are with people you love.

Thoughts on a good dog.

The wound of losing Xana is still pretty raw, but time is helping. Playing with my two little ones every afternoon in the side yard is helping, too. I was so preoccupied with nursing Xana and keeping her from over-exerting herself in recent years that my two babies did not know that Mommy could run and rough-house with them. They are beginning to enjoy chasing me, being chased, chasing each other, and rolling and tumbling over in the grass and inviting me to rub their tummies.

Cousin Robert sent me some dog quotes and I share a couple that really spoke to me:

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.-Ben Williams

Ain't it the truth?

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!-Anne Tyler

I got a big kick out of this one. My dogs meet me when I bring in the groceries and they dive to the bottom of the sacks taking inventory and wiggling their little stubs in satisfaction when they smell the new meat supply. They think I'm wonderful.

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.-Ann Landers

What does she know?


Friday, June 08, 2007

Holy Crap

I've been working at home today so that my healthcare worker can have a rare 3-day weekend with her family. The morning was pretty much spent on a conference call with the office and then I had a stack of maintenance work to do that wasn't what I would call mentally challenging. So I switched on the television in my office for some mild distraction. What timing.

A quick surfing around the dial confirmed that there is absolutely nothing worth watching on daytime tv, so I stopped on CNN Headline News. And I was just in time for the Paris Hilton 3-ring circus. For the last two hours or so I've been watching the insanity unfold.

I don't know what is the most appalling factor in the whole mess. The Sheriff's apparent lack of sense in short-circuiting the judge's ruling? The horde of reporters causing such a riotous scene at her house? The arrival of the truck full of party materials for what may have been a celebration party Paris was planning for tonight in honor of her early release? The anchors on FOX news for their chortling delivery of afternoon's events? Geez, Louise. How many people have wasted their time watching this mess? (Yes, I'm guilty. It's been like watching a car wreck. At least I'm getting some work done while I watch.) How many resources of the Los Angeles court system have been used? How many idiot reporters should be sitting alongside Paris in jail for acting like fools outside her house? (Seems like a few arrests on obstruction of justice could have been handed out.) When did garbage like this escape the arena of soap opera and take on the status of news?

Is it too early for a drink?


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I get these amused looks from folks when I say I'm going to get into selling on EBAY one of these days. Like, "You poor sap, you can't make any money doing that!" Nonetheless, while I've been culling my garage and closets for things to take to the thrift store, I tend to put things back in storage that have a chance of turning a profit someday on EBAY.

So, last night I'm reading the daily post of the Yarn Harlot's blog and she happens to mention that a book named Principles of Knitting has gotten so scarce that it is bringing in big bucks and causing knitters to have heart palpitations when they happen across one in yard sales. Guess what? I have a copy that I bought when it was first published. It sits on my bookshelf in pretty much pristine condition. When I read her comments, I figured it was probably worth $75 or so on the EBAY market.

Imagine my surprise to find two copies currently on EBAY, each over $100 at the moment and with days to go. I went over to the Advanced Book Exchange and found 3 dealers offering copies at $322, $450, and $598.

So, there. My pack rat ways have for once been vindicated. The only problem is that until someone points out you have something of value, you may just think you have an old book taking up space on the bookshelf.


Sunday, June 03, 2007


Ok, for years I've been saying that the reason I got into the dollhouse thing as an adult is that I never had a dollhouse when I was a child. Apparently I was mistaken. Today I was scanning some more old slides and came across the evidence.

At first I thought I just had a collection of dollhouse furniture and then I realized that the dollhouse was standing on end in the background. (I am a little disturbed at the dismembered doll parts that appear to be scattered amongst the furniture.)

So now I have a puzzle. Why don't I remember this dollhouse and what on earth happened to it? The photo evidence may suggest that it was played to death, but that doesn't explain why I have no memory of ever being in possession of the typical metal dollhouse of the fifties.

It now seems that I've always had a propensity for dollhouses. Other slides suggest that I've also always had a small dog or cat in my immediate orbit. Some habits start early.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Unusual Things

Boo Cat has demonstrated an unusual talent this week. Over the course of the last week, what with the rain and new house construction going on in the neighboring lot, we've seen a sudden influx of scorpions. The odd thing is, of the 3 that have been observed inside the house, one was barely alive and the other two were pulverized before I got to them. I couldn't figure out what was going on at first.

And then I observed Boo when he encountered a tuft of grass that had been tracked into the house. He approached it cautiously and then slapped it with his paw a couple of times before deciding it was nothing he needed to be concerned with. I've decided the mangled scorpions I've been finding are his handiwork. I knew that cat had to have some redeeming quality.

In other things unusual this week, I discovered another cemetery in Bastrop County that had slipped under my radar. I was sitting at a stoplight in Elgin and noticed some graves in the distance, so naturally had to make an unplanned side trip to scope out this unknown burial ground. It turned out to be the Elgin Latin Cemetery. I was going to take a photo of the sign for Find a Grave and leave, when I noticed an odd structure at the far side of the cemetery. It turned out to be a burial plot with a very elaborate monument.

There are several graves inside the structure. I am impressed with the work of whoever conceived and constructed such an elaborate memorial. In fact, there are several graves in this cemetery that have been decorated in unusual and impressive style. While I have no reason to revisit this cemetery, having no family buried here, I was glad I decided to explore and learn more about another cemetery in Bastrop County.