Texas Independence Day

“ I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. it is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feelings that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a high cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section in America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study and the passionate possession of all Texans.” ~John Steinbeck, 1962

Saturday, March 2, was Texas Independence Day. On that date in 1836, the Declaration of Independence from Mexico was signed, officially separating Mexican Texas from Mexican rule, creating The Republic of Texas. Yes, the story Michael told me about Texas being the only state that was once an independent country is really true.

Last Friday, my friend Judi and I attended an author meet and greet at our local library. Judi is from Nebraska and I’m from Iowa so we both know we have a lot to learn when it comes to Texas. We try but it’s a long process. Even after years of living and learning “Texas,” we both experience moments when complete strangers walk up to us, looks us up and down, shake their heads, and makes the loud proclamation, “You ain’t from around here, are ‘ya?”

Time flew by as we listened to the stories shared by W.F. Strong from his book, Stories From Texas. His presentation was a mixture of history class, personal memoir, and stand up comedy. He impressed us both enough we waited in line to get our very own signed copy.

Along with the quote from Mr. Steinbeck, let me share a few others that are Mr. Strong’s favorites:

  • Davy Crockett: “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” Crockett said this angrily after losing his Tennessee bid for U.S. Congress. (I think he said, “Y’all can go to hell,” but grammatical purity likely corrupted the original transcription.)
  • Conrad Hilton: “There’s a vastness here, and I believe that the people who are born here breathe that vastness into their soul. They dream big dreams and think big thoughts, because there is nothing to hem them in.” Hilton launched his empire in Texas with his very first hotel in Cisco in 1919, going on to open Hiltons in Dallas, Abilene, Waco, and El Paso before expanding beyond the state.
  • Larry McMurtry: “What my whole body of work says…is that Texas spent so long getting past the frontier experience because that experience is so overwhelmingly powerful. Imagine yourself as a small hopeful immigrant family, alone in the Staked Plains, with the Comanche and the Kiowa still on the loose. The power of such experience will not sift out of the descendants of that venturer in one generation and produce Middletown. Elements of that primal venturing will surely inform several generations.” McMurtry wrote this in an essay for the Texas Monthly several years ago. In more accessible language, he also famously said: “Only a rank degenerate would drive 1500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken-fried steak.” 
  • George W. Gush, reflecting poignantly on his years in West Texas: “Those were comfortable, carefree years. The word I’d use now is idyllic. On Friday nights, we cheered on the Bulldogs of Midland High. On Sunday mornings, we went to church. Nobody locked their doors. Years later, when I would speak about the American Dream, it was Midland I had in mind.”

Okay, y’all, on that note, I’m fixin’ to head out and pour myself some wine.

I am…

B…simply being.   

~Peace~

 

 

New Old Friends

“There’s not a word yet, for old friends who’ve just met.” 

Jim Henson, Favorite Songs from Jim Henson’s Muppets

The little library in my new home town has some great free programs open to the community. The topics offered have bits of knowledge for everyone. I cannot imagine my life without the opportunities my library gives me.  It saddens me to know public libraries are struggling. Please, if you are fortunate to have one in your area, take the time to visit and support it.

Today’s featured lecturer introduced genealogy research. A long with a lot of free information she shared her experiences building her family tree. From her presentation and the questions asked from the audience, I learned so much in a short amount of time. I was reminded sharing real working knowledge accelerates the learning process–even this extreme book lover appreciates the fact there are some things you cannot learn from reading the book–you need an actual teacher.

The best part of the day was having lunch with my friend, Judi. We are close in age and share the fact we both grew up in the Midwest. I’ve forgiven her for being born in Nebraska and she has forgiven me for being an Iowan–college football season is always interesting.

Being Midwesterners transplanted to Texas comes with some challenges. Yes, it’s true, Texas really is its own country with its set of unspoken traditions often confusing to those from other parts of the country. Our conversation today was all over the place. At times, we did not have to put feelings into words. We had both found a person who had an open mind and an understanding heart.

Thanks, Judi, for my first Texas heart rock. It is not surprising to me it showed up at your house. The Universe knew exactly where it needed to go and how to get it there. Thank you for sharing your stories, for lingering over lunch, and for renewing my soul.

“So when you’re cold

From the inside out

And don’t know what to do,

Remember love and friendship, 

And warmth will come to you.” 

Stephen Cosgrove, Gnome from Nome

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

Triumph

One of the things I like best about living in Texas is the people. Maybe it’s because I have more time to observe them. That’s probably part of it. I think a bigger part of it is that people here practice their faith–they don’t just go to church on Sundays. They support and show their love for each other in their daily lives. They take the time to talk with you when they meet you–something I am still getting used to–they are simply kind.

Yesterday, Michael went to one of the local big box stores to get some supplies for our garden. He was wearing one of his old motorcycle t-shirts. When he went up to pay for his purchase, the woman at the register looked at his shirt and said, “I just LOVE your shirt! I bet you really can triumph over ANYTHING!”

Michael chuckled as he me told the story. He shook his head and said, “She’s obviously not a motorcycle person.”

No, she’s probably not a motorcycle person–but she’s certainly a very sweet and kind one.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, y’all