HOGS AND HOT AIR BALLOONS


 BATHROOMS, BUDGETS AND  BALLOONS

My relief came  when the 85th Texas Legislature failed to pass a useless bathroom  ban bill that would make Texas less friendly to transgenders and their families.  Gov. Abbott, who had failed to get support for this and faced opposition from many sides, was so determined to get something on the books that he has called the Legislature back into  special session July 18.  Well, to be honest, he said they did not finish their work in their allotted 140 days so a special session needed, but obviously he would not mind it being brought up again.   On May 2 of last year I wrote about my concerns in a post,  “Monday Madness: Writing on the Bathroom Wall,” and still oppose such legislation.  For now I will focus on the lighter and more positive side of Texas politics.

Kudos to the 85 Legislature for getting  essential bills passed in the regular session with apparent bipartisan support!  I had tried to keep up with what the Texas politicians were doing with the budget and bathroom issues, but did not know about the hog issue until I read a post by blogger Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge titled, “No Lard, if by Land.”  Only in Texas!

It seems the Gov. signed  HB3535 into law that will allow “taking certain feral hogs and coyotes using a hot air balloon” that will be effective September 1, 2017.  Parks and Wildlife will apparently be charged with working out the details of how it will be implemented and which “qualified landowners or landowners’ agent…may contract as a hunter or observer…to take depredating feral hogs or coyotes.”Granted, wild hog population has increased and a pack of hogs can do a lot of damage to crops and the environment and create havoc for even some deer hunting. They breed readily and have no natural predator.  It is a serious problem to farmers and ranchers.   In the last few months a form of warfarin, basically rat poison and used as a blood thinner for humans, was considered as a way to get rid of them but it seemed it was a slow and inhumane  death as well as having other concerns about the viability of the idea. Feral hogs can already be legally hunted by helicopter, but that seems more like brutal warfare with visions of hunters hanging out the side of a noisy chopper.  The hot air balloon approach seems more sporting somehow, but I do wonder how it might work out.

Will it catch on as a romantic flight as the balloon drifts over the unsuspecting hogs?  Will hunters prefer guns or bow and arrow?  What about the pictures hunters seem to favor posed by their kill?  Will there be wine, cheese, crackers and pate available in a wicker basket?  What should one wear?

Silly me to want details but I can’t help but think of the possibilities to add a new dimension to hunting while helping to get rid of animals that are a nuisance and help the environment .  I envision camouflage balloons.  What else!  And maybe pink camouflage balloons for the lady hunters!

I really liked Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge’s post  (especially the title), but I could not resist writing about it also.  Check that post out; it contains some good links.

With all sincerity I hope this new approach works and look forward to seeing those camo balloons gliding in the blue skies of Texas!  For those who think we are making this up, here is a link to HB3535 signed into law June 12, 2017.

Learn more about feral hogs from the Texas Parks & Wildlife.

MR. COTTON EYED JOE


Al Dean (born Albert Dean Callaway) was known as Mr. Cotton Eyed Joe.  He died in 2016 at the age of 85.

Early days

Al Dean grew up deep in South Texas near the small town of Freer where most people called him Dean.  He started  his country western band, Al Dean and the All Stars, but kept his day job with an oil field supply company for several more years.  The group played for dances all over South Texas and beyond in dance halls and honky-tonks great and small.

At the request of a man who asked if he knew “Cotton Eyed-Joe,” he and his band started playing it at dances.  In 1967 he recorded it as a single on KIK-R Records.  From then on it became his and the band’s signature song even though several other artists have recorded it.  The dance was sort of precursor to the line dancing of today with a skip, kick and a whoop.  The song was featured in the “Urban Cowboy” mechanical bull scene. which premiered June 5, 1980 in Houston, Texas.  Their Galen said his parents attended the premier.

A writer of one of his obituaries described it this way:

…Dean began recording in the late 1950’s including some rockabilly singles.

In 1967, he hit paydirt with an old fiddle tune titled “Cotton Eyed Joe” for KIKR Records. The song dated back many generations and had been recorded in 1941 by both Adolph Hofner and Bob Wills.

“It was a song that I heard as a kid,” Al said. “No one had ever heard of the song. It had died. I had a cowboy from South Texas come up to me and ask if I knew ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’ I said I did, but I had not sung it in years. We sat down and taught the guys in my band, note for note, how I remembered the ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’”

The “Cotton Eyed Joe” inspired a new round dance polka for couples. This dance was adapted into a simplified version as a nonpartner waist-hold, spoke line routine. Heel and toe polka steps were replaced with a cross-lift followed by a kick with two-steps. The lift and kick are sometimes accompanied by shouts of “whoops, whoops,” or the barn yard term “bull shit”, mimicking the act of kicking off barnyard muck. .

“This guy found a girl to dance with every time that we would play ‘Cotton Eyed Joe,'” Dean recalled. “He started kicking around on the dance floor and the poor girl walked off in the middle of the dance. Every time we had a show he would ask us to play the song and he would drag a poor girl out on the dance floor and every time she would walk off. It started to spread from there and now everyone does the ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.'”

The song would become a standard in bars, clubs and dance halls all over the United States and make Al Dean and the Allstars a much sought after commodity on the music circuit.

Eventually it became a family affair with wife, Maxine, and sons, Galen and Gary joining the band.  In the early days, Maxine’s two brothers, Julius Ray Whitley and Albert Whitley were part of the band.  In South Texas if you needed something to do on a Saturday night, you would ask, “Where is Dean playing?”

Maxine played drums.  In this early photo her brothers, Albert Whitley and Julius Ray Whitley were to the right of Al Dean.

In this later photo sons have joined their parents.  Left to right, Gary Callaway, Al Dean and Galen Callaway.

The South Texas Music Walk of Fame honors music and music professionals with local ties.  On June 3, 2017 he and his band, Al Dean and the All Stars,  were inducted into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame along with five other inductees in Corpus Christi, Texas.  The other were:  Chris Perez, the Texas Jazz Festival, Andrew Moore, Beto y Los Fairlanes and Wanda Gregory.  Past inductees include Kris Kristofferson (from Brownsville, Texas),  George Strait and Selena.  

Marker at Water Street Market

The ribbon cutting begins!

Son Gary Callaway cutting the ribbon on the star assisted by former band member, Allen Pollard.  In back from left to right, Maxine, Rick Maguglin, former band member, and son Galen Callaway

His career spanned over fifty years as he continued to perform into his eighties; his last professional appearance was in June of 2016.  He died in October of that year.   A portion of State Highway 16 north of his hometown of Freer will be dedicated as “Al Dean Memorial Highway.”  Over the years about forty musicians were part of the All Stars.  This star was for Al Dean and all the All Stars who ever played in the band.

Al Dean in his later years.  Left to right Al Dean, Maxine, sons Galen and Gary Callaway

He was my first cousin.

ODDS AND ENDS


Hello!  I had taken time off from blogging since I was volunteering four mornings a week through United Way of the Coastal Bend for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.  My last day was April 18 (deadline for filing income taxes!) so I have stretched my hiatus a bit and just enjoyed reading other blogs without pressure to post something.  This first post is a rather jumbled collection of thoughts.

MANCHESTER ARENA
Sadly, another vile act unites us against the ineffable evilness of hate that inflicts death and harm upon the innocent.  Our hearts go out to those killed, injured and those left with the memory of a happy experience that turned dark.  In March of this year my son attended an Ariana Grande concert in California; a few years ago he attended a concert in Manchester.  Somehow it seemed very close to home as if it could happen to any of us.  Queen Elizabeth visited survivors in a hospital.  Click for a photo.

VITA EXPERIENCE
It was a rewarding experience to assist people of varied backgrounds – elderly, first time tax filers, couples, individuals, students and retirees.  We all have taxes in common as citizens.  Volunteer recognition was held at a local baseball game at Whataburger Field.

VOLUNTEERS FROM THE DIFFERENT VITA SITES WITH THE MASCOT OF THE HOOKS, THE LOCAL BASEBALL TEAM

BOOKS
Current book I am reading:
“Thunderstruck” by Erick Larson 

Last three books I have read:
“Catherine the Great” by Robert K. Massie 
“MY GRL” by John W. Howell   
“Just What I Always Wanted” by Nancy Roman 

Books on my list to read:
“Just Women Getting  By” by Linda Swain Bethea 
“A Cry from the Deep” by Diana Stevan 
Ice Ghosts” by Paul Watson 

FUTURE POSTS
My blog has never had a set schedule of posts but I did try for a time.  Perhaps if I imposed a schedule and deadlines on myself I would be more disinclined.  However, I do want to continue with a writing project so I will just see where it leads me.  Thanks to all of my readers and fellow bloggers for encouragement and support!

Below is a gargoyle with laptop that sits on a bookcase by my desk.  Perhaps he will serve as a muse.

CHECKING IN WITH RANDOM THOUGHTS…


2016-11-25-caller-times-mural-3

MURAL ON A WALL OF THE CORPUS CHRISTI CALLER-TIMES BUILDING

CHECKING IN

It would be nice to report that I have been not posting recently because I have been on a winter cruise to Cuba (we did consider it!) or that I have been working on the final draft of a new novel (I  am thinking about it!).  I regret that I have missed reading many of the entertaining blogs that I follow!

The main reason for neglecting my blog and other blogs is that I am volunteering four mornings a week through United Way of the Coastal Bend with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.  I will be volunteering through April 17.

RANDOM THOUGHTS BRIEFLY INTO 2017

Our winter came compressed into two days in the early part of January when we had temperatures just below freezing for two nights.  I lost several of my herbs and will be ready to replace them soon, especially my basil.  Now the temperatures are hitting the high eighties so spring is here early as the mesquites are putting out and the live oaks are losing their leaves.

basil1

The last of my basil was used in December to make a small experimental batch of cellobasil, a liqueur, made with pure grain alcohol.  The basil leaves were soaked in the whisky for a few weeks, then the leaves were strained and a mixture of sugar and water were added.  It aged in a dark cabinet for a few more weeks before it was ready.  It turned out better than I expected but it is potent and needs to be sipped slowly.  It is green with a hint of basil and reminds me of absinthe.

The Flag

Trump has begun his administration and has not disappointed his supporters as becoming President has not changed him at all.  He tweets daily about international policy, those who dare disagree with him, Saturday Night Live, domestic policy, judges, theater and various trivia.  I never felt so close to a POTUS before!  He really wants to communicate with me on a personal level!  Seriously, I am appalled that he continues to put the media down and calls all news that does not flatter him fake news.  Scrutiny comes with the job.  He seems to want Americans to believe only what he tells them and cut out the free press and the First Amendment.  And that is a dangerous thing!

uncle-sam-taxes

Volunteering with the VITA program is a way for me to combat the negative effects of what is going on with the wide political division in my country.  I can treat each person with respect no matter their status, appearance or attitude and spread tolerance and kindness. The college student volunteers, some international, give me hope for the future.  And paying our taxes unites us all!

Husband and I have been looking at condos on North Beach located in Corpus Christi and near the Harbor Bridge.  Sometimes we think we want to downsize a bit to a life on the beach without the worry of keeping up a yard.  Could we adjust to happy hour on the balcony looking out over the bay and watching the ships come in and out and the dolphins at play?  Maybe…maybe not.   We will see if we are brave enough for change!

dolphin-clip-art-dolphins

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember that every day is a gift and we all depend on each other and this Earth we all call home.

A WEDDING ANNIVERSARY TOAST TO MY HUSBAND


40-yrs077November 1976

                                                
FORTY YEARS

We started as strangers with a dance one night,
although neither really liked to dance.
Yet we found magic as we twirled and swayed
to our own version of a country western two-step.
Now we have traveled around the sun forty times
as we flow from season to season together.
Love, laughter, dark moments, loss, joy,
surprises, fear, triumphs,
disappointments, sunshine, magic and music,
wine, travel, cats and kids.
I love you madly still!
May we embrace all the seasons of life
for every day we share.
Happy 40th anniversary!
11/26/
2016

 
2010-10-23-houston-1October 2016

anniversary-toast070CHEERS!