Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wilson County

I am getting to like Wilson County. --- First, a little business. If you read this blog and wish to receive the Frog Hospital newsletter, then send me an email at

Back to Wilson County. I drove out Schneider's Store, ten miles south and east from Floresville, going further out into the country. It's just a wide spot in the road.

Helen Schneider ran it for 60 years. She sold it to Alene Pawelek in 1996, but Alene kept the name.

I went there after work and had a Bud Lite. I gotta say something. Bud Lite is really popular in Texas -- why? because I don't think it's very good beer. But anyway, when in Rome ... I picked the right place to go for a beer after work, because Leo, whom I just met bought it for me. I only had one, and some fritos, and then I drove back to Floresville, to my apartment.

And -- not trying to be eclectic, but just being my natural self -- while I drove I listened to a Shostakovitch String Quartet.

Now I'm listening to Tom Waits sing, "I hope I don't fall in love again."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

We sometimes wonder

I still have her letters. She lived in Minneapolis and I was in Chicago -- 400 miles apart -- in the summer of 1965. I drove up there one night, all night, a two lane highway. I remember the blinding lights of the trucks coming the other way. I remember coming into Eau Claire, Wisconsin, staggering tired at 3:30 a.m., to get some coffee. I was driving a 1960 Ford -- My Dad's. I just took it. I had to see her.

I got to their house shortly after sunrise. They laughed -- her parents -- and they let me in and I slept on the couch. I got to stay for a few days and we made love when her parents weren't looking and they were nice about it.

We broke up the next year. She couldn't come back to college anyway, she had to go someplace else. Then she married John Cronin, some kind of insurance guy. He was good, normal, tall, good-looking.

Years later they moved out to Seattle and I saw her again. I still loved her. She had two teenage children. Her older son committed suicide when he was 18. That was in 1989. He went out to the garage, closed the doors, turned on the car, and asphyxiated himself.

I went to the funeral. They buried the boy in the cemetary on Capitol Hill -- the same cemetary that Bruce Lee, the karate star, is buried in. It was most awful funeral I ever expect to attend. It hurt so bad.

She died seven years later -- of grief and anger. She was an incredibly passionate woman. Many times I thought that she should have run wild with me -- because she would still be alive. Instead it was all locked up in her violent, flashing eyes.

Sometimes I think I will look up John Cronin and see how he is doing. He always knew that I loved her and he didn't mind.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Always will always be always. I dreamed about her again last night. I woke up wondering -- could I ever love anyone again?

Even to hold her hand, it was electric. When we made love, it was the world. When we talked -- no matter how fast I skipped from one thing to another, so that there was no micro-second of difference between what I thought and what I said, but I was just talking like a jazz singer. No matter how fast, but she was always there, right there, even before I got there, like silver lightning, just to hear me. She always understood everything I said.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

something different

Once again we turn to Aurielle's blog for an interesting sotry about her batty next door neighbor. Read on:

At the new house the plot of land is small. I'm close enough to my neighbor to see in her window. I imagine she can see in mine as well. I live next door to a little red house with an arched driveway which has never been paved. There's an outdoor shower with a caddy and plastic shower curtain rings but the curtain has long disappeared. (I am praying that she will not employ this shower when the weather warms.)

When I first moved in, I noticed her from time to time peering out her kitchen window at me. I believed that she must be very short, but it turns out her spine is rather curled and if she could straighten out she would be taller than I am.

I would have liked a sweet old lady to bring a loaf of bread to once in a while. Maybe she has quaint old stories, I imagined as I waved cheerily.

I introduced myself after a few days.

"I know your name," she said, "I called." She then warned me about the rest of the residents of our little street, "this one is cold," and, "the one on the corner says the girl who lives with him is an au pair, but I'm not one to judge. They seem pretty close if you know what I mean." "The person on the corner doesn't plow," and "the man at the end claims to be a lawyer, but I think he's shady shady." She proceeded to tell me that one neighbor's baby looks nothing like the father and another one has been recently left left left by her husband. I wondered what she would say about me, and I hoped it was juicy.

"I noticed you don't have a man sleeping over."

"I am just divorced"

"I'm not one to judge."

The next day she yelled at me from her stoop. I walked over, being unable to tell what she was saying. "When I flash my light at you, it means I need something. I've been flashing it two nights in a row, haven't you noticed?"


"You should be more attentive."

"Come over tomorrow after you take the children to school."

"I have an appointment." (It should be noted that I had to say everything three times before she heard me.)

"After the appointment. Eleven. Be here at eleven."

Eleven O clock the next day I had forgotten and was home. My phone rang. The agent who rented me the house had given her my number. (Thanks.) I hid. But my car was in the driveway. I gathered myself and walked over, knocking quietly hoping that her aging ears would fail her.

"Come in." I stepped over the threshold. "Hurry, it's cold!"

She gave me her children's phone numbers in case she dies or becomes ill. She gave me her doctor's number. She had a bag of bags under her chair which she tried to hand me, she hoped I would get her mail and tie it to her door, but not knock lest I disturb her nap.

She wanted groceries fetched and prescriptions claims and I shouldn't get any ideas because she will not sell her house to me. It's been in her family for years and she is leaving it for her children even though it has two bathrooms and mine has only one.

It's filthy. She wanted the number of my cleaning lady. (I clean my own house, but had dear Nubia before. I could never do that to poor Nubia. I made feeble excuses for her.) It's so dirty, I can't imagine it is safe to eat there, or to walk.

She asked why I am not married anymore. She wanted my ex husband's number, "just in case". She asked what doctor I see in town and wanted his number as well. "You never know," she said, "there are a lot of deer around." I looked puzzled thinking if I developed lyme I could phone my own doctor. But then she added, "they bite, you know. If they are hungry enough, they will chase you and the children and bite you." Deer?

"I saw your new husband on Saturday."

"I don't have a new husband, just the old one."

"So who was here?"

"Um, the old one came for the children."

"I see."

She then told me which type of lettuce she prefers (Bibb or Boston) and not field greens, never iceberg, in case I go to the store for her. She reminded me again of the flashing light.

"When is your boyfriend coming?"


"I won't tell anyone."

I'm sorry, there's nothing to tell."

"I'm not one to judge." (Clearly.)

I changed the topic again looking at my cell phone and telling her I had to pick up Conrad from school (in an hour). She tried to offer me a drink of water from a glass that might have once been transparent. I reminded her of my son's preschool and tried to think where I might spend the next hour as I would no longer be able to stay home. I made it as far as the door.

"I hope that I didn't embarrass you by suggesting that you have a new lover. It's just that men don't leave wives unless they have other men. They just can't take it. Ego. He must have found you."

I raised my eyes. "No."

"Well, then there must be something else wrong. But I doubt it. Well not to worry. You'll find a new husband soon. You're still pretty. You should hurry though. Don't be sitting around thinking too much."

I wouldn't do that, would I?

I've since been sure not to look at the direction of her house.

She called last night. Her daughter is in town for the weekend from Boston. (Hopefully to pack her up and take her to an assisted living facility.) She wanted me to come over on Saturday night. "I have plans," I said.

"I thought you said you didn't have a lover."

Thursday, March 09, 2006


The world is coming to an end. Giant black frogs swarm the land. The apocalypse of yellow festering pools. Death. All death.

I started seeing this yesterday. Pestilence. Mass psychosis. No remembrance, no grace, no tradition.

I saw this years ago, when I was young. 1969. Everday I saw the brown cloud consuming the city, and I knew we were all lost.

Since then, I have tried to overcome this vision of horror -- saying "It doesn't have to be true."

But the hot wind was blowing today, blowing red sand and dust, sucking the moisture out of the land. Wild grass fires filled the air with smoke. This is the end.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Going to hell

I'm going to hell -- but first a message from a great poet.

Sube a nacer conmigo, hermano.

Rise up and be born with me, brother -- That is the first line of Pablo Neruda's poem, called Macchu Picchu. I find his poems in English and in Spanish at

Okay, back to my life. I talked with Willie Sekula out on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. He works a chemist in San Antonio. He lives in the country near Falls City, which only has 600 people. Willie is one of the best birdwatchers in Texas. He told me scary things about the changing climate. Like the green jay, a pretty bird, commonly found in the Rio Grande Valley, but now nesting up here in Wilson Count, 250 miles farther north. Then he listed numerous species that have been migrating farther north because of climate change.

This may be true, but it's so gloomy. One alternative is Christianity, which around here, might mean the wrath of God striking us wicked souls and come judgment day it all ends with some going to heaven and some going to hell.

Oh, I didn't like that at all -- even worse than the scientists gloomy climate change scenario. I decided, then and there, that if God is so vengeful as to destroy the earth and to send the wicked to hell, then I want to go to hell too, because I don't want to be in heaven with God, if God is like that.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Too tired to sleep

Another Day!

This afternoon I wrote a story about feral hogs -- these are pigs that have gone weild and just live out in the woods. It has become a real problem in Texas -- more than 2 million feral hogs inhabit and pestiferate.

I interviewed two old ranchers about the wild pigs on their places. They dig up big holes when they come out to feed at night.The ranchers shoot them as they are able.

At 6 p.m. I went to the baseball game between Falls City High School and Stockdale High School. These are two very small schools. Stockdale has a good team and they were whuppin' Falls City pretty good. It got to 8 to 0 in the fourth inning -- that's when I left. But I did get some good photos.

I drove the 18 miles from Stockdale back to Floresville listening to the highlights of Mozart's opera, The Marriage of Figaro.

At 8 p.m., I stopped at the Coffee & Creamery where the Republicans were hanging out waiting election results from our primary.

I saw with LaJuana and Norman and enjoyed myself.

After one hour, I drove over to the Courthouse, where they are still counting votes. I sat with Marvin Quinney, the County Judge. Marvin is my main man.

By ten p.m., I got very tired. I ate some banana cream pie, and then went home.

They are still counting votes. I expect Marvin will be there until midnight, along with many of the others.

Not me, I'm having a glass of red wine and then I'm hitting the sack.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Burning Children

I covered a fire with three fatalities on Saturday. A mother, age 32, and two of her boys. Jonathan was 8, and Nicholas was 2. They were all found together after the fire was put out.

It happened late at night, around 4 a.m. in their single wide trailer, a way out of town in a rural slum, in a multi-family compound with lots of junk everywhere. They were all related. They all had the same last name.

The flames engulfed the trailer. The fire chief told me later how a trailer can explode like that -- how that hot fire can begin from an electric short, and creep around through the walls and up through the ceiling, spreading and spreading, until it breaks through into the air, and a sudden rush of oxygen feeds the fire into a torrent of flame -- the people inside were sound asleep and they didn't have a chance.

Alex, the 10 year-old boy, awoke to flames. He got to his father. His father sent him down the road to his auntie to call the fire department. The father tried to get into the room where the mother and the two kids were trapped -- but he collapsed from smoke inhalation.

The firemen came. They said they could do nothing -- it was all over.

I got there at noon -- eight hours later. It was very calm. I talked to the sheriff for a while. Then I talked to the relatives -- sisters and brothers and uncles, all with the same last name, all living in this compound out in the brush. They hadn't begun to cry.

It wasn't until Monday that emotions began to break. I called the uncle. I said I needed a photo of the family for the newspaper, so he brought one in -- a picture of the three boys, the two younger ones who died, and the older one who suffered some burns, but not seriously.

Then I began to feel tears, looking at the photo. I showed it around the office. We agreed that we could not use the photo in the newspaper. It was just too strong. It was hard enough to make the headline, "Mother, two children die in home fire" over a black and white photo of the ruins of their trailer home.

The photo of the children might be used next week in the formal obituary.

It was the firemen who suffered the most, outside of the family. The ones who came at 4 a.m. and watched helplessly, knowing that the woman and children had died inside. The firemen were volunteers -- they were friends with the family.

The toughest hardest thing was for Ed, the fire chief. It was he and the funeral director who removed the bodies -- not old bodies, naturally dead. I have done that, cleaned up granma in the hospital when she died, washed her, combed her hair, straightened her out, tucked in the blankets nicely, and put the sheet over her head. That is a simple act of respect.

No, this was different.This was very hard for Ed. He is the chief, and he has to do the hardest job -- even for the funeral director it was hard -- to find these burned children and their mother and to carry them out.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I may be tired

I may be tired of women who create drama in their lives to get attention, unless they are tired of it too.

If you are good at creating drama -- I am -- then it can go on for years, all by itself, some little masterpiece of theater that you cooked up -- it just runs on and on. A good five years or more.

The drama in my life has been running down, and almost stopped. Now I'm doing what people do after that.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ya no quiero nada

Estoy en un rinconcillo de cielo y ya no quiero nada.

I'm in my little corner of heaven and I don't want anything -- or it could be that I don't love anybody -- it depends on how you translate it, but it don't mean the same in English anyway.

I make these words in Spanish. I get this word from here, and another word from there, and I put them together -- from songs I hear on the Tejano radio station when I'm driving my car.

The trouble with speaking Spanish in south Texas is that it is highly political -- when people hear me say something in Spanish they think I am supporting some agenda, they think I am coming down on one side of an issue, they think I'm trying to be somebody's friend.

That's the trouble with speaking Spanish in south Texas. What about me? I don't care anything about these issues. I do not support la cultura. I don't want to be part of la raza. I just like the language. I like the sound of the words. That's all.