A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tougher Than Leather

When the little yearling walks it's almost painful to watch. Her injured back leg gives her a strange rolling gait. We don't know what happened to break the tendons in that leg so that she can't use it. We suspect she got it caught in a fence, a fate too common out here.

She stays by herself now. Most of the deer do this time of year except for the moms and babies. At the feeder when the corn is thrown out in the evening one of the bigger bossy does runs her off. She's learned to make the rounds looking for some supplement to what nature offers. From deer corn feeder to turkey milo feeder to the longhorns' pen looking for leftover feed and alfalfa, she moves in a circle outside the yard.

I've named her Tougher Than Leather after a Willie Nelson song about a gunslinger. Things are dry again out here so it's getting harder to find something to eat. But she perseveres. And when she has to she runs. Unlike her walk, her run is smooth and fluid and she's not diminished by her imperfections.

My brother David is the only sibling older than me. Being the older siblings we were the first ones to drive, the first ones to leave home, the first ones to fall and the first ones to learn to pick ourselves up after that fall.

David joined the Navy after high school. After his discharge he married and raised a family. He worked as a carpenter, moving from doing trim work on houses to working on massive concrete buildings. He spent his spare time working on his home and yard. His vacations were spent at the beach where he and his family joined friends and spent a week each summer. He loved to fish with our dad, brothers, and cousins. Life was good.

And then came the fall. He started having grand mal seizures. He suffered from short term memory loss. He would get in the truck and not remember where he worked or lived. He had to quit working and driving. Eventually he moved in with my parents and lived there for years until our mom went into a nursing home.

Scared but determined to carry on, he then moved into an apartment near his family. We went by to take him to the store, out to eat, bring him things he couldn't go out and get on his own. We took him to visit our Mama and to family fish fries and to the beach.

His ways of coping weren't always conducive to improved health. But we saw the fear and confusion in his eyes as he more and more lost control of his life, of his memory, of his ability to get by without help. But he lived the time he had in the fullest way he was able to and that is all any of us can do.

Gradually his health went from bad to worse. He suffered injuries from falls taken when he had the seizures. Always slim, he became frail and weak. Diagnosed a couple of months ago with bladder cancer he entered the hospital and a couple of weeks ago he went home to his son's house and into hospice care. His daughter returned from overseas with her little son to join her brother and his sons in caring for their father and grandfather.

No one knows what happens to us when we pass from this life. Sure, preachers and others claim to but they don't. All I'm sure of is it isn't like I learned in Sunday School as a child, however comforting that idea may be.

But I'm pretty sure wherever David is now, he has persevered. And his run is smooth and fluid and he's not diminished by his imperfections.

He too is tougher than leather.



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I'll Fly Away

Earlier this year swallows started building a nest above a window on the bunkhouse. Not wanting them there, I hung a piece of shade netting up. This stopped them but they called my bluff and raised me one. They moved to the cabin front porch. I threw in my hand and took the shade net off the bunkhouse so they could move back there. I cut some strips of shade netting about a foot wide and hung it all around the cabin porch. We have some screws along the top there where we hang the Christmas lights so it was easy to just push the netting on. At this point the swallows lost interest in the game and moved on.

A female Scott's Oriole, however, found the netting irresistible! She began weaving a nest in an outside corner, using the netting as her base. I relinquished the porch to her for the duration. Soon she was sitting on eggs and not long afterwards I saw the first tiny beak appear above the edge of the nest.

Both the female and the male Orioles feed their babies while they are in the nest and for a couple of weeks after they fledge. 

There were two babies in the nest but a few days ago I noticed a third tiny head appear. The one born later, the last egg to hatch. 

Yesterday the firstborn stood on the edge of the nest. The immature males and the females look very similar so I'm not sure if these are males or females but I've been calling them all "him", so I'll continue, although I think the two oldest are probably female. He looked very proud and curious standing there, as if to say "I'll be joining you soon, world, so get ready for me! Oh, the places I'll see!"

I've watched them all morning and early afternoon. I started shooting video when I suspected the oldest one might be getting ready to make his move. I walked away for about 15 minutes and I heard some distressful chattering so I went to check. The middle child was crying out because the firstborn had left! As if to say "wait for me, I wasn't ready!"

He fretted and called out for a while then he hopped out of the nest onto the shade netting. Gradually he made his way about a third of the way around the porch. A few times the parents came in to feed him and his younger sibling. 

He almost fell off a couple of times. Not quite ready to let go of his safety net, he flapped his wings and held on, reminding me of when I was a kid learning to swim and didn't want to let go of the side of the pool. Eventually he made the leap! He flew straight to a window screen, held there for a couple of minutes, then took off! It got awful quiet on the porch.

A little bit later I heard the craziest racket outside so I went to go see what everyone was in an uproar about. A squirrel, some titmouses, the Oriole parents, a Scrub Jay, and some cowbirds were all squawking at the top of their lungs, flying in and out toward the cenizo bushes. I went over and they all moved back and got quiet. At least one of the baby birds was in the cenizo.

I wanted to scoop him up and take him back to the nest. Squirrels and jays sometimes kill baby birds. He needed a few more days in the nest. He's so small and the world is so big.

I've watched the little family's progress for weeks and I've got a lot invested in them. How does something so fragile survive in such a big and scary world.

But I don't take him. And I can't kill all the things that might do him harm. I back away and leave him where he is. I have to trust the system even though it fails as often as not. 

It's been several hours now since the two orioles flew off into the world. I went out and checked a couple of times and I don't see any sign of them or their parents. I hope they are safe. I hope the parents don't desert the last baby in trying to keep the older two safe. 

There needs to be a halfway house for baby birds!

Here's a little video of the firstborn. 

The Firstborn and Dad just before he left

"A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange sun's rays
and dares to claim the sky."
Maya Angelou 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Trend That's Not Trending

This old rocking chair belong to Rick's grandfather and grandmother. When he was young he refinished the wooden parts of it and it's been recovered several times. I myself have recovered it at least 3 times and we've had it recovered once or twice.

In the little cabin there is only room for two TV-watching chairs. A Papa Bear chair and a Mama Bear chair. (The Baby Bears have to crash on the bed, the floor, or sit at the island.) Naturally, these two chairs have to be comfy. Neither of them are. 

The seat in the rocker needs to be totally remade and I've talked to an upholsterer about this. He said to get some material and bring it to him (turn at the corner store, go 6 miles, turn right, go 3 miles until you get to the green dumpster, turn left) and he'll fix 'er right up. In my area there doesn't appear to be an upholsterer who handles the material part also; you are on your own for that.

The chair is old, the little cabin is cedar, my ranching county is on the edge of West Texas, and I need to honor all these things in the choice of materials. Plus the chair belongs to Rick and it has to be somewhat manly. I drove into Kerrville today to pick out material from the interior design shop. This seems to be the only place in town with a big choice of material. So big, it's almost overwhelming.

But I've got in mind what I want, at least for the seat. I had recovered it in a vinyl that looks like tooled leather and we like that and you can sit on it if you're a little dusty. I told the young designer that I wanted tooled leather for the seat and a different material for the back. She kind of sighed and went to the closet. She pulled out some fabric with a tooled leather print. I told her that wasn't sturdy enough and asked her if she could order some leather for me. She said no.

She said it's a regional thing and the manufacturers don't carry it. I told her I was sure it was at least a western thing, not just Texas, and it would seem like someone would carry it. 

In Montana and Wyoming and probably Colorado I'm guessing there are some people sitting on tooled leather at this very moment.

She sighed again and began to look through a couple of her books to see what else she had. No leathers, tooled or untooled.

Shaking her head sadly and not wanting to look at me, she said the problem is "it's a trend and it's not trending right now."

With that statement she pretty much summed up the tooled leather, the old rocker, and me. She said I should try to find someone with a cow hide and get someone to tool it for me. I had been dismissed and so I left.

I headed to the feed store where milo and Beefmaker are always trending. The man that waited on me had on a cowboy hat and boots. The kid that loaded the feed had on a gimme cap and boots. Pickup trucks were in the parking lot and the hay barn was full of the smell of fresh coastal bales. 

I took the back roads home, past the RV park where a dozen full size Texas flags fly along the fence line. I passed several working windmills and some pastures with horses and cattle in them. More than one stone house over 100 years old was on my route. The creeks I crossed flowed along limestone eons old. The hills and Spanish Skirt formations that overlooked the road showed no sign of being new to the area.

I figured the last trendy thing my county had seen was when goat wire replaced barbed wire. We are old out here, the land, the rocks, the animals, the people. There is a sense that what you see today someone else saw 100, even 1000 years ago. It's a land that endures. It endures drought, fires, and occasionally a flood along the rivers and creeks. 

We have rodeos and dance halls and we buy our leather purses at the feed store and our Justin boots at Tractor Supply. When we go out to eat we go mostly for Tex-Mex and BBQ. After we finish our work, which is usually done outside, we sit on the porch with a cold beer and think about how lucky we are to be living here. 

We don't do trends.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dancin' In The Moonlight

The old ramshackle building had seen many happy times, good music, and some secrets, I imagine. There was a wood fire in the big fireplace on the front wall and we sat at a table next to it eating chili, glad to be out of the cold wind. Robert Earl was singing about a five pound bass on the jukebox. Old boots and cowboy hats hung from the ceiling and an armadillo held a sign telling you to order at the bar. 

There weren't many customers in the place late on a Sunday morning, just after they opened up. We wanted to get the lay of the land so we could come back and see one of the Texas singers that perform there. Many have come - Willie, Elvis, Merle, Dwight, George, BB, Lyle, Robert Earl, Ernest, Dylan, Patsy, Hank; the list goes on of all the greats, some Texans and some not. If you call yourself a Texan, you need to be sure you get by here before you die.

Rick and I were in a peaceful state of mind. We had just been transferred to San Antonio from Houston. While not quite in the state of mind that Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee must have been in when they left Mordor, it's fair to say we were in our happy place. We didn't think we would get out of Houston before we retired but the opportunity came knocking and we answered. 

We were now only an hour and a half from our little place and could go any time we wanted to check on things. We settled in Boerne for our last few years of working and were looking forward to all that offered. In San Antonio we could walk the River Walk and go to Mi Tierra and get the best cheese enchiladas. We were among the limestone hills and live oaks and cedars we love. There was a sense of having arrived near the end of our journey to get to where we wanted to be. To live out our life in charge of it, not dancing to someone else's tune.

Before two years were up the economy would collapse and we would be called back to Houston. I was to live the last 4 months before I retired in a little stone motel on the main street in Boerne, trying to finish out my job. Two weeks after I got back to Houston my mom entered the hospital, then a nursing home where she lived with Alzheimer's for a year and a half.

But we didn't know any of that at the time and we were happy to be together, eating chili by the fire at Floore's Country Store in Helotes, Texas. Life was good.

A couple of weeks ago Rick and I went to Austin to celebrate our 33rd anniversary a month early. We went to the new Austin City Limits venue downtown to see Raul Malo and The Mavericks. Raul is amazing and he and his fellow musicians put on an exciting, happy show. The floor level attendees were up and dancing on the first song and stayed that way the whole time!

Rick, Sarah, and I had seen Raul at the Backyard in Austin some years ago. Before it moved to another location so there would be room for a shopping center. (What's up with that, Austin?) I've seen lots of musicians over my lifetime, including the Beatles twice, and I can't say anyone surpassed Raul in putting on a great show. I keep Willie, who I've seen 3 times over the years, in a separate class all his own and I never consider him in comparing entertainment value. He's like going to a retreat where you replenish your soul, much as the Beatles going to see the Maharishi.

Well, of course, after the concert, I had to download a couple of Maverick songs I didn't already have. I was listening to Better Off in Texas, with its Tejano beat, and was transported to another place and time. I hope music does that for you sometimes; I think it does for most people. Like the slamming of the screen door, the smell of freshly mowed grass, or an old black and white photo. The song mentions Floore's Country Store in Helotes. 

And right back there I was, smelling the wood fire and chowing down on the chili. The great thing about it was the peaceful happy feeling I had at the time also returned. There is some kind of miracle in that. The mind making things so real you almost need a Pepcid AC for the chili burn.

The night we returned from Austin we went to drink some wine and eat some good food with our neighbors. We sat out on their porch overlooking the hills and valleys; it's a beautiful place they have. The moon was full as we drove home on the Mule, the four wheeled kind, not the four legged kind.

The caliche on the driveway reflected the moonlight back and it was as bright as day. I pulled up Dance in the Moonlight by The Mavericks on my iPhone and Rickie and I danced in the drive. 

" While the whole world is sleeping, we can start anew, I want to dance in the moonlight, only with you......"

I think we'll keep this tradition up, so if you come visit while the moon is full bring your dancin' boots!

John T Floore Country Store

Monday, March 24, 2014

Adjusting to the Drought

A couple of weeks ago as we were sitting on the porch I remarked to Rick that I was tired of dragging the garden hoses around to water the plants in the yard. I had just finished several hours of doing that. We water the yard plants almost exclusively from the cistern where we collect rain water. One hose won't reach so I have two attached. They're heavy and when it's dry, like it seems always to be, I just leave them in the yard instead of putting them back up. It takes so long to water this way that I sometimes take two days to do it. Of course, being a bit OCD, I don't like the hoses all over the yard!

In December we had 6 tenths of an inch of rain total. Since then we have had only half a tenth and yesterday we had another half a tenth. This is all the rain in the last 4 months. I told Rick that day that if we were going to turn into a desert, we might as well look like one. I wanted to move most of the plants we have planted in the yard up near the cabin and use decomposed granite gravel as a mulch for them. I would leave the Thompson's yucca, the Spanish Dagger, and some rosemary plants that are too big to move. These can all go longer than the other plants without water and I don't think they would survive a move anyway. Every thing else would be in one area where I could water it with one hose and also get more pressure from the cistern. 

An added bonus to the gravel is that it makes it harder for a rattlesnake to sneak up on me! 

So I got the pick and shovel out and dug some holes. I ordered a dump truck load of the same gravel we used for the outdoor kitchen area and the walkway to the bunkhouse. I moved the plants, mixing some leaf mulch in with the dirt. I removed most of the rocks that surrounded my planting beds, leaving only a few for accents. 

I moved the 12 yard truck load of gravel with a shovel and wheelbarrow. Rick was here one day and helped that afternoon, but most of it I moved myself. My generous friend and neighbor Scott offered to come down with his tractor, but I hate to impose my never-ending projects on anyone else! I am going to ask him to come down one day and move a really big rock that he moved once before for us. I want to put it on a place to the right of the front steps where I have gravel but no plants. The hose won't easily reach there and I'm sticking with my watering plan.

I had enough of the gravel to cover the area in front of the bunkhouse and to make a walkway on the side of it. I was even able to put a little up under the bunkhouse porch! I also surrounded the yuccas and rosemary plants in the middle of the driveway with the gravel. By the cabin where the plants are I put cardboard under the gravel and it's several inches deep so I shouldn't have a problem with weeds. Under the cardboard I have leaf mulch, hoping this and the cardboard will improve and cool the soil.

The small birds love this little star cut into this stone. I fill it with water when I water the plants and they come take a bath in it, though they barely fit! Every thing loves a bath, especially out here in dry country. I scooped up some native horsemint that was coming up by the steps and put it in the bucket. It's a beautiful wildflower and I hope it grows.

The weather forecast for the upcoming year shows the drought across the western US only continuing. We are off to a bad start here. I'm trying to resign myself to living with that. As we say all the time, "it is what it is." Some day, but not in my lifetime, our country may wake up to the fact that we need more water in the west and less in the east, and devise a method to move it. If we want to continue to grow our own food, both plant and animal, we need to do something. No matter what you think the cause of climate change is, we need to address it and see if we can improve things. 

Over time, nature makes her own adjustments. It may be that all the trees out here, both cedar and oak, need to be killed by drought in order to make the land fit the resources. A hundred years ago that was the case, with trees mostly along the draws, creeks, and rivers. It's not likely that all the landowners will be able to manage land to fit the water. People don't always have the time or money needed, and often not the knowledge. We may one day look like the high desert country around Albuquerque and Santa Fe, without the nearby mountains to provide some relief. 

But for now, I'm just trying to make it easier on myself and at the same time be able to have some flowering plants. If the ones I have now don't flourish I'll have to go to cacti. We made a trip to the nursery this weekend and replaced a couple that didn't look like they had much hope of surviving but the salvias seemed to make the move without a problem. I can't wait to see how it all looks once the weather really warms up and they start growing. I'll post some photos then.

I love how it turned out! And even though the rainfall has been a disappointment this Spring, the birds have not been. We've had so many cardinals, finches, cedar waxwings, titmouses, rufus sparrows, flycatchers, wrens, and a beautiful vermilion flycatcher. The birdhouses have birds going in and out feeding the babies. The turkeys are back and the gobblers are showing off. A few peach blooms have survived, the potatoes are up, and the poppies and larkspurs are growing. 

"We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to." Climate Silence

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Downsizing - Less is not more, it's less!

I decided this weekend to clean out everything I could in the apartment we still have, even though we need to keep it a while longer. The countdown has begun and I was in the mood to get 'er dun!

We've been downsizing since the end of 2007 when we got transferred to the San Antonio area. We gave away a lot of stuff but when we arrived at the apartment we were renting then, we still had way too much! We were tired and discouraged that night; even the movers felt like crying. The house we sold was around 1800 sq feet; not small but not huge. We thought getting rid of what we did would be enough. We could hardly walk in the apartment and even gave a few things to the movers!

A year later when we moved into a house we once again gave furniture away. Some of what we had was not the style we now liked so we gave things away and replaced some of them. The house was a little over 1700 sq feet. It had a good arrangement and seemed spacious.

Less than a year after that move we got transferred again! This was a hard move. Still we were able to take most of what we had at the time. Retirement was close and after the last move, so quickly after we had bought a house, we decided to go the apartment route until we could move to the cabin full time. 

A friend of mine told me one time that three moves is as good as a fire for getting rid of possessions! I know people that have never moved and they still have things from their kids' childhood in the closet and the kids have been gone for years. We aren't those people. We purged with every move. 

The last move was to a smaller apartment. We wanted to get as lean and clean as we could for the last time spent away from the cabin. At this point it was starting to get a bit painful for me, and I'm not one to hang onto a bunch of clutter. But now we were jettisoning things I liked and things that had sentimental value to me. That's when you have to keep your eye on the prize and remember what you are gaining, not what you are losing!

I came back from this trip with 8 boxes of dishes and most of them I have some kind of attachment to. I had held onto part of two sets of dishes I had acquired over the years. My Mamaw had helped me buy some of each set. She loved dishes and I do too! She had a certain dish she used for different things. The ambrosia dish never held anything but ambrosia, the tuna fish salad was always in the tuna fish salad bowl. I have both of those bowls now and they survived the final cut. They are all the more precious because I didn't keep everything. As I told a friend of mine, you don't have to keep all 30 of the vases your mother left you, keep one or two.

I stayed up until 1:30 last night adding some dishes and taking some of the ones I had in the cabin out. One in, one out is the only way you can live in a small house. Out of the 8 boxes, I have 6 boxes of dishes that I am going to donate and I'm giving myself a pat on the back for that! If I didn't love pottery and bowls in particular, I could live with less than I kept. But we have room for what I kept so I didn't have to downsize any further.

Books, dishes, and pictures (both photos and artwork) are the three material things I love the most. The cabin has 464 sq feet and the bunkhouse has 160. With that total we were able to keep a lot of what we really love, helped out by e-books and photo albums instead of framed photos. I had to go back to the bunkhouse and lose one photo and move a mirror so my Willie Nelson concert poster would have a place. Sarah has agreed to give my signed Kinky Friedman for Governor poster a loving home. When I had an office at home it was decorated with Texas music stuff; these posters, a Stevie Ray Vaughan painting a friend did for me, and record albums, one signed by Willie at this concert. I fretted very much over my Texas music stuff! The albums are on the bookcase and I'm going to put the painting somewhere in the bunkhouse.

The Good Morning, Good Night pillow covers I made and embroidered in the German turkey red style, but with blue thread, will have a home here but I had to take out some other pillows to make them fit. I embroidered them on my breaks when I was a substitute at the school district where Sarah went from 5th to 12th grade, so they have memories woven into them.  

None of the furniture in the apartment is coming this way so this is pretty much the end of the downsizing for us! If you are considering a move to a small house and are hesitant because you don't think you can live without your stuff, don't let that stop you! The rewards of living with less outweigh the negatives. Try to find homes for the things you love but can't take; it helps to know someone else can use them and enjoy them. Make some money on them if you can, if not, donate! We gave away most things but we sold the furniture we had bought for the last house. That money paid for the move to the smaller apartment. And it helps to downsize in stages. We never would have gotten down as clean as we are without doing it over time. 

And it helps to occasionally watch George Carlin do his "stuff" routine! 

"The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less." Socrates

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Before the Next Teardrop Falls

Some songs can take you right back to a place and a moment, just as surely as if you had entered a time machine. The world as it is falls away and in its place is a memory come to life. It can stop you in your tracks, and you hold on to it as tight as you can. Like a dream you don't want to wake from. It's your only way to call that loved one back from the grave and you play the memory over and over again until you have to let it go.

The song is Freddy Fender's Before the Next Teardrop Falls. Even though it was recorded 4 years later, I long ago attached this 1970 memory to it, I guess because of his background. A South Texas boy from a poor neighborhood, alcohol addiction, service in the Marines, a working man, a mechanic, many things that make him "my kind of people". And a voice that can make you cry no matter what he's singing.

The song came on as I returned from town today but for me it's Summer, 1970, in Brownsville, Texas.

It's the end of the day, the quiet twilight time, when what's going to be done that day has been done and now all we have is either regret or hope. The cicadas are slowly beginning their music. The little motel is made up of tiny sagging cabins, clustered together around a shady grassy area that hasn't seen a lawnmower in a while. The paint is peeling outside and in, the crowded furniture worn and well used. It's not very bright inside, even with the lights on. Each cabin has a small kitchenette, old pots and pans with uneven bottoms, a sink stained and chipped, the faucet leaking. Cigarette smoke hangs in the air, and there's a moldy stuffy smell. A smell of people that worked and didn't bath, of old beer and old dreams.

There's no swimming pool, no coffee bar with continental breakfast, no gym where guests can workout while they travel. There's no parking lot, just the street off Central Blvd. There are tall skinny palm trees stretching toward the sky, the first ones we've ever seen like that. They sway in the constant breeze and Daddy jokes that they don't give much shade. There's a resaca nearby and the breeze carries the smell of the water and the flowers that grow along its banks. Resaca is a new word for us, this local name for the old channels of the Rio Grande, cut off and no longer flowing to the Gulf. 
My dad was sitting on the steps of one of the units as the darkness settled around him. His worn and dirty cowboy hat was pushed back on his head. His jeans were dirty as were his hands. When you work with your hands for a living they never appear to be clean no matter how many times you wash them, how much GoJo you use. He was a handsome man with a youthful outlook, even at 45. He almost always had an open face; he loved people and he never met a stranger. Most of the time he was singing, little snippets of song that he started and didn't finish. Tonight he wasn't singing.

I had made some spaghetti and came to tell him supper was ready. As I came around the corner I caught him at one of those moments we all have where we think no one is watching us. When we let our face reveal things we don't want anyone else to know. He leaned a little forward with his forearms resting on his knees. One hand held a cookie or cracker that he was eating without noticing. He was staring off into the open area at the ground but he wasn't seeing it.

When he did see me, his face changed and he smiled and said, hey, sweetheart, as he always did. But I knew something was wrong and I knew what it was.

Though most of my family would be there off and on during this Summer, only my dad is there now. I'm with him, as are my boys, so young then; Larry was 2 and 9 month old John took his first steps that Summer. I didn't realize it then, but I was young too. The next to oldest in my family of seven kids, I had left home when I was 17 years old. I turned 21 that Summer.  My family was working as contractors on the building of the Fort Brown Motor Hotel.

My dad had a monkey on his back and that monkey was alcohol. He fought this demon all his life like a survivor in a zombie movie, going 15 years sober at first; then he made 3 trips to the VA for it after I was a teenager. Each trip held it in bay for less than a year. Mama fought it with him and if she could have fought it for him, she would have. He had been sober for almost a year and we had begun to suspect he had started drinking again. But we didn't dare confront him. That would make it real and so far this episode hadn't sent our family into the downward spiral that we knew would come soon enough. Denial was one of the tools in our arsenal of battle and we used it because we had to. 

I used it then. As the night crept in and the sunlight left us once again, I sat down beside Daddy on the steps and leaned my head on his shoulder. We shared a story about the day, something inconsequential that I don't recall. We stayed that way for a while longer, hesitant to break the spell of that South Texas moment, both of us knowing somehow that as long as we stayed there on those steps, we could keep the hard times away. 

Though this sounds like a sad story, it's a happy memory for me. Daddy eventually sent his demons to hell and shut the door on them and I stood up to some of mine too. That Summer I acquired a love of South Texas and the people that live there that has never left me. And today I've returned to those steps with my dad and stayed a little longer. The teardrops fell but I had already turned to the back of the book and I knew it had a happy ending.