"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving glue

I sat in the Santa Fe apartment one Thanksgiving a decade ago, watching out the window as the gray skies turned white with snow obscuring the Sangre de Cristos.
It had been a dark year and I'd retreated to my Uncle Mike's home, where it was warm and friendly, if lonely. I yearned most for phone calls from my far away children, and the conversations, while brief, added to my Thanksgiving for a sanctuary, for hope, for acceptance.
Isn't it strange the images and memories that come to us on Thanksgiving? While I remember few as a child growing up, I have an aquifer of them from the time I began my own family...and most are joyful, though tinged with sorrows and regrets as the years pass.
Each of you have similar memories...I can recite a few, because they run together the more there are. One, in the rolling corn-stubble fields of eastern Iowa, my wife and first born son dined on a pheasant I'd shot that day. It was stringy meat. The decorations in the big two-story farm house and love were wonderful.
Another, the entire family, including in-laws and more, packed up and rented a cabin, kitchen and all,  at Red River New Mexico, splitting the costs, dining while snow fell outside.
For several years my brother, wife, and his children trekked from West Texas to visit and play games and dine. The cousins played and laughed.
When those visits ceased, Thanksgiving lost some of its splendor for me. It would become a day of sadness and thoughts of time passing.
Later, our southern Oklahoma home became the center for gathering around a round oak table, and photos were always taken, a big smiling crowd of all ages. But we didn't take enough, because as some died, we wished we'd taken group photos every year.
I don't know the memories my children have of the gatherings, but I'm sure they are richer than mine, and I cherish what they have. Now their families are making their own memories, of which I'm a small part, as scattered as they are. I also cherish the brief moments I have with them on these holidays, remembering the earlier ones.
Now as I gather in other in-laws' homes, and the family prayer is said, naming people I don't know, I garner new memories of graciousness and joy. And one year, the prayer included petition for my first-born son who was then serving in Iraq.
But I miss my trips to Santa Fe, visiting with my uncle. Now the falling snow will be on his grave in the National Cemetery across from the window where I watched not so long ago.
Thanksgiving and its memories are a glue that holds me together. I am thankful for much, and especially the memories.




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Secession Senility, or if Texas secedes

I'm a Southerner and a Texan and believe in secession. The Constitution doesn't prohibit it. Texas may have a right to secede.
But.
Grant's armies were the answer to secession in the 1800s.
Today, these narrow-minded knee-jerk sore election losers in several states petitioning for secession should be granted their wish...one that they'd immediately regret. Oklahoma and others would benefit.
Suppose Texas--or any other state--were to secede and we let them go?
Take Texas, for instance. The effects there would dwarf the damage to those petty states that don't have its resources.
All US military bases in Texas would be moved to Oklahoma and elsewhere...San Antonio would be one-fourth its size. El Paso would be a suburb of Juarez. The list goes on.
It would also save Social Security and Medicare, because Texans would no longer be citizens of the US, and they'd forfeit their benefits which the rest of us would inherit. It would  streamline the US government by requiring fewer politicians in the House and Senate and the serving bureaucrats.
"There's no telling what would be in that tamale."
 Texas, now without a state income tax, would have to institute an income tax to finance a military and road repairs, schools and subsidies to its farmers, if nothing else.
Texas would no longer be protected by the US military, which means Mexico would invade, beginning at the Juarez suburb of El Paso, and control at least half of the country before the remainder could raise an Army. Texas would be flooded with more drugs than now, because the US Coast Guard would not be in the Gulf.
The airports (DFW, Houston, etc)would have to shut down until Texas developed its own FAA and trained air traffic controllers. Thousands of teachers and hundreds of schools and universities would have to be cut because of the loss of federal aid. The population would shrink because thousands of federal workers would flee the state to keep their jobs.
Sure, Texas has enough oil to finance a government, but before it got the structure in place, roads would crumble, no aircraft could land. Prescription drugs would not be protected until Texas initiated its own FDA. Without the agriculture department, meat and vegetables and other food would not be regulated, so there's no telling what would be in that tamale. And all those bank deposits wouldn't be insured by the FDIC.
And if Texans did figure all this out, what would happen when part of the state decided to secede itself...the right of partition being a part of the current Texas Constitution?
Texans couldn't travel to what remained of the USA until its government issued passports, and the US recognized it as a separate country. If the US didn't recognize it, we'd build a border fence around it, and blow all the bridges across the Red River, setting up security checkpoints, guarded by the US Army.
Without recognition, all college and pro teams would spend the entire seasons playing each other. How many games could Houston and Dallas play each other each year and still keep an audience? Talk about income loss. OU would never lose to Texas again, or the Thunder to the Mavs.
Say, this is starting to sound pretty good.