Texas


Discovering Meaning II—Sotol

Mind boggling, the truths archeologists can tease out of an ancient glob. First inhabitants of Seminole Canyon in Texas used bulbs from a yucca-like plant called sotol to cook up portable, storable cakes. Raw sotol bulbs are soapy and painfully gut cleansing. Those problems were overcome by covering them with prickly pear leaves and hot coals to bake, letting them sit for a time before grinding them into meal, adding water and forming them into cakes to be seared on a hot rock. This painstaking process produced a  cake with a dirt/yam fusion flavor. Obviously food options were scarce in the west […]


Crustacean Liberation Cruise 2

“See the lady in the pink shirt? I think she’s from Colorado. She’s got a blog and everything.” I was actually wearing green, so I overheard Emily Ford, the event organizer, pointing a faux me out to her setup team. A retired Water Resources Director and lobbyist from Houston, was also awed that I’d come 1000 miles to the Texas gulf to rescue crabs from derelict traps. Well, excuse me, but Abandoned Lost and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) kills countless sea creatures every year including dolphins, whales, turtles, seals, and yeah, crabs. Why wouldn’t I want to help? An unexpected bonus came in my being assigned […]


Discovering Meaning

Who’d have thought an obscure canyon in west Texas shelters the oldest known writings in the Americas?  These icons were painted about the time the pyramids were going up in Egypt. I’d never fully connected primitive pictures with writing, but these images very likely hold a message. Over time the same basic symbols show a progression from confusingly detailed to simple and more symbolized, a slow tightening to letters. The exhibit’s explanation of that stripping down and stylizing tendency strikes a chord here. It’s what I do with every draft I write: enhance character while stripping out non-essential detail, words, even syllables. Since the meaning […]


Where To Hear Tunes

What city is the live music capital of the US? Austin? Really? How does Austin out croon Nashville, Branson, and Vegas? Willy, Waylon, and the Boys I guess. Luckenbach is right down the road.


South Padre Sign

Can you give me a clue to step two? Jump?  Head between knees?   Fire!?


What’s it Mean?

This flag on South Padre Island, Texas kept me puzzling for some time. I came up with several ideas, none of which were correct. Thanks to the Historical Flags of Our Ancestors website for providing an explanation: “Thin Blue Line Flag…a testament to the valor of police officers across the country. The courage exhibited by officers in the line of duty is represented by the Thin Blue Line in the center of the flag. The solemn black background acts as a memorial to the lives lost while shielding citizens from danger.” I’m glad I asked.


Springtime in West Texas

From a distance it looked like a lilac bush amongst the mesquite, but no, it’s Texas mountain laurel, rumored to smell like grape Kool-Aid.  I wish I could ID the rest of these blossoms–maybe someone out there can help?  I also wish I could have included a picture of cavorting lambs, but Steve scared them away.


Port Galveston’s Got Legs

As we headed across the bridge to visit Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum, Steve speculated about the structures across the bay.  I was too interested in the pelicans to make a good guess as to what they were, but Steve figured it out.  His guess was confirmed at the museum, the ideal place to learn all about those jack-up platforms.  The “towers” in the first picture above are actually legs that are lowered to the seafloor and secured, so the platform can be jacked up out of reach of the waves.  Lots more to see and learn on the Ocean Star, and probably your only chance to explore an off-shore rig inshore.


Galveston’s Rescued Tall Ship

Standing on deck, soaking in the masts, rigging, and other nautical necessities* was extra thrilling after seeing Elissa’s history video.  Built in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1877, she sailed the seas for 90 years and was bound for a scrap yard in Greece when the Galveston Historical Foundation bought her.  It took 4 years just to strengthen her enough to survive the tow ‘home.’  Had the Foundation known how many volunteers, historical craftsmen, and donations her makeover would take, she’d have probably stayed scrap.  Little wonder that Elissa is one of the world’s oldest sailing hulls still in operation. Galveston has to be proud of her as well as their fortitude in seeing the […]


Galveston, Port of Storms

Galveston history makes for a strong role model in challenging times.  The Galveston hurricane of 1900 is still counted the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States.   After a night of battering wind and waves, survivors found much of their thriving city demolished if not washed away.  Islanders had no contact with the mainland, no water, lights, fuel, or water.  Many had no shelter.  Food and clothing were scarce.  The task of disposing of over 6,000 bodies was so gruesome that men had to be forced at gunpoint to take part, and whiskey was allotted to ease their anguish.  After dumping the bulk […]