Commentary

Fri
14
Jun
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Faces & Places

“Sometimes a short walk down memory lane is all it takes to appreciate where you are today.” ~Susan Gale

When someone in our family is ill, the word spreads quickly, and people show up empty handed but with lots of opinions. Usually, I end up cooking for a platoon, well maybe not entirely, but a minimum of a dozen. I’m always happy to see everybody, but I also know from past experiences, there are still those who enjoy stirring up trouble by digging up the past. There are also the ones with big, pompous attitudes and bellies who like to wave their personal political flags, and I dreaded that the most. My family is strange and unpredictable, and that’s putting it as nicely as I can.

Fri
14
Jun
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Rising Tides

Essays from West of 98

Last week, I wrote about swimming pools as unifying public spaces. Our rural communities don’t have a large number of spaces that are truly public—open to anyone and everyoneand truly unifying, placing everyone on the same level. But why does that matter?

Whether we like to admit it or not, our communities have divisions and fissures. Sometimes, these divisions are very apparent and raw. They might stem from issues like racial tensions, political decisions by local leaders, controversy at the school, or a significant criminal incident. One community becomes multiple communities, living separately within the same city. Those divisions might heal, but it might take years. Maybe the division was decades ago, but it has never fully healed.

Fri
07
Jun
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Faces & Places

“We’re all flawed heroes. Responsibility is power. Take responsibility for the consequences of your actions, and the world is yours. Everything is a choice.” ~ Tom Hiddleston

If you knew me, you would know that I have zero tolerance for people who are too lazy to work, who stand in the hot sun, and the rain and cold, holding those stupid little signs with overused words like: Homeless. Hungry. Anything helps. God bless. I once saw a man who possessed some creativity and a lot of humor. His sign read, “Ok, what I really want is a damn beer.” As much as I hate to admit it, I have rolled down my window on occasion, and shared the good news with them, that McDonalds and Wal-Mart are hiring and wanted them to apply. Can you believe that not one panhandler has appreciated that bit of information? Shocker!

Fri
07
Jun
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2 Cents Worth ood morning to all

Good morning to all my friends let set awhile and visit. Joe and I got more rain during the night last night. His garden when we got up yesterday morning was flooded once again so he went after we got our of church and broke his dams around the garden. He put them up around it because we never get enough rain and he wanted to hold what we could get. Well this year everything is flooded, the tanks are

full and running around, the lakes are 100% full, isn't that wonderful. Joe and I went to Sweetwater Friday and got the oil changed and when they got through he said, "Let's go see if water is in Billy and Lenora's yard at the Sweetwater lake, so we went. All of the roads are paved to it so we knew we could get to it, and sure enough the water is about 5 foot from their back porch.

Fri
07
Jun
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Good, Clean Fun

Essays from West of 98

It’s no secret that Stamford’s city pool is important to me. I’ve discussed it several times in social media posts. At city council meetings, we have worked on both short-term improvements to the pool as well as a long-term improvement plan. But today, I want to discuss why I find it so important. The city pool is not just a random city service that I have fixated on. City pools, especially in rural communities, stand as something very meaningful.

As we talk about revitalizing rural communities, the conversation inevitably involves “quality of life.” If a community wants to keep its current residents and attract new ones, the community must have amenities that make the community an enjoyable place to live. Moreover, these amenities should provide quality of life for everyone in the community, not just a partial segment.

Fri
31
May
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Faces & Places

“Ultimately, we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.” ~ Marilyn Ferguson

Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. "he is prey to irrational fears." F.E.A.R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. There's no genuine threat of immediate physical danger, no threat of a loss of someone or something dear to us, actually nothing there at all.

Fri
31
May
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Men and Women of Action

On Memorial Day, I think of the war dead. Memorial Day arises out of the ancient custom of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers. A variety of celebrations emerged in the United States, after the American Civil War, to decorate soldiers’ graves and honor the war dead. The details and dates varied, but each of these celebrations centered around remembering those who gave their lives in service to America. These myriad celebrations coalesced in the 20th century into the tradition we know as Memorial Day.

Fri
24
May
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Faces & Places

“We didn’t know we were making memories. We were just having fun.” ~ Winnie the Pooh to Christopher Robin

Is it me or does the rest of the world get out ahead of me, and start forming long lines where I’m going to be? All that is to say, that I am not a very patient person when it comes to standing in a row of people, like lambs being led to the slaughter. If I’m at the grocery store and the chain is unreasonably long, I have been known to park my basket full of groceries and walk out the door.

It always helps if there is a kid around picking their tiny nose and eating the booger or wiping it on their clean clothes. I laugh to myself because my own darlings did that and it drove me crazy.

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Fri
24
May
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Service and Greater Love

Essays from West of 98

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

It would be impossible to write an essay that premieres near Memorial Day, an essay whose general topic is service to community, and not talk about the sacrifice and the service of those who are honored on Memorial Day.

Fri
17
May
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A Trip to the Texas Mountains

TUMBLEWEED SMITH

The Texas Mountain County has had one of its most beautiful blooming seasons. Bluebonnets started showing in January. The ocotillo was bright red. The prickly pear came later but showed off its yellows, pinks and purples. I was there in mid-April, just past the height of the bloom, but pale bluebonnets almost the color of lilac lined the highway from Fort Stockton to Marathon.

I spent Tuesday night in the historic Gage hotel. Before dinner I toured the Gage Gardens, a botanical masterpiece in a dry country. Wednesday morning I saw the whimsical Eve’s Garden, a bed and breakfast. Next I visited with Danny Self, who has the Marathon Motel. A resident astronomer lives there and gives star parties every night, weather permitting.

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