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I would give just about anything to have seen Texas before it was settled. All the same, I would never last long anywhere I could not stand in a cold water shower on a hot, humid afternoon. Afterwards, the feeling I have as I just sit, semi-paralyzed, and watch my feet, knowing I need to get them shoed, but completely unable to call my mind back from wherever it has wandered off to, reminds me of another activity participated in by those younger than me.

Eventually my mind did show up, hand-eye coordination returned, and I got my shoes on. I had to bribe me with a chicken-fried steak to get me up yesterday.

I arrived at Stonewalls around 2:30 pm. Things were slowing down. I like one table or booth between me and other patrons. Otherwise they are constantly and rudely interupting my daydreams, usually with the most banal discussions. I got a booth with a lovely view of downtown Llano's main intersection. Got to watch all three cops, the ambulance, and the firetruck run red lights going to aid the imperiled.

Stonewall's has a new waitress. She gets it. She has some interest in her customers and some mental nimbleness. I am sure the other waitresses are nice people and I always leave an appropriate tip, but I feel like I am being waited on by automatons.

The ambulance and firetruck soon returned quietly and slowly. They reminded me of dogs slinking back who had taken after a rabbit with great fanfare but were acting like it never happened while hoping that nobody asked if they caught anything.

Stonewall's won the 2007 best chicken-fried steak award, but yesterday the CFS had too much crust and the Texas toast was too dry. Nonetheless, it was tolerable and I showed my goodwill by eating most of it.

I paid and began to open Stonewall's hundred plus year old door when I noticed two teenage girls making their way to the door. Behind them was a fellow older than me. I guessed that he was their grandfather. He paused briefly and turned to look at me as he walked by.

When I walked out behind them, the old pheart turned back and faced me. He was dressed in jeans and a western shirt. He looked me in the eye and was trying to say something. I figured this was similar to a person who stutters. You just try to convey with your eyes, "Hey, take as much time as you need, I'm interested in what you have to say."

The old pheart looked down at his boots. Then he looked me again in the eyes. I noticed he had some kind of white medication all over his scalp. Finally he said, "I don't think anyone ever opened a door for me before." The only thing I could think of was, "Well, it's about time then." We both felt awkward. We wished each other a good day and went on our way.

I'm glad my father insisted that I open doors for others when I was growing up. I would hope that parents of boys are able to convey to their sons that opening doors is not something you have to do, it is something you get to do.

I then went over to Tow Valley to get some minnows for my remodeled pond. Tow Valley is on the nortwest part of Lake Buchanan. It is a very beautiful and fertile area.

Stopped by the Tow Cemetery. I enjoy country cemeteris almost as much as chicken-fried steaks. The cemetery is very well maintained. The crepe myrtles are pretty and the oak trees are strong and friendly. Listened to a CD with an instrumental version of "Peace in the Valley."

Margaret Thorpe was the first person to be buried there. Margaret died in 1850 at the age of eight. They say she was bitten by a snake. It breaks your heart some when you think about how painful and terrifying the end of her life was. Guess Heaven just wouldn't be heaven without eight year old girls. Sure hope Margaret wasn't disappointed much. It is comforting to think that just maybe everyone that Margaret loved is with her now.

This afternoon I worked on getting the ruts in my lane filled with gravel. We are suppose to have more heavy rains mid-week.

Today was humid, but more like our real summers. Late afternoon I cleaned up cause I need to go to Marble Falls to get some things at HEB and Walmart.

I stopped at Storm's in Kingsland for a Storm's Special (three hamburger patties and fries). Storm's is on FM 1431 just east of where the Colorado River becomes Lake LBJ. It is on an inlet and has a dock for customers arriving on boats. I ate outside. There are homes around the inlet. Beyond is a big hill covered in army green cedar trees. FM 1431 cuts into this hill while skirting the edge of Lake LBJ. I watched the traffic climbing up and sliding down from the Kingsland Overlook. Off to the southeast was a summer thunderstorm. Other than that, the sky was clear and blue.

When I finished in Marble Falls and got back to the Kingsland Overlook there was one lone boat on the silver-blue Lake LBJ. The valley was quiet and still. The new moon was low in the west. It was a good day to return LadyBird Johnson to the earth that she so loved.

Ladybird had to be the most revered Texan among native Texans, although not all native Texans revered her. Too many gave her their contempt to show somehow that they dispised Lyndon for the mire we were in, in Vietnam. Some had contempt for her because of Lyndon's escalation of welfare. Others showed contempt for Ladybird for the strides made in civil rights. Lyndon gave substance to opportunties for African-Americans that had only been dreamed of before. And no doubt LadyBird at least gave encouragement to the latter two happenings.

LadyBird was revered by most native Texans because she had character. To most native Texans, character trumps everything. LadyBird was not always right, but she was always right intentioned. They say LadyBird never returned the anger and contempt that was directed towards her. They say that to her, everyone was always special and always important. Just as some of us might see the worst in others, they say LadyBird was able to see the best in others and love them for that. They say that LadyBird was always friendly, kind and caring towards everyone she met.

Perhaps much of what LadyBird gave others came from she never had herself. Ladybird never knew her mother. Her father, a rich businessman, seems to have loved her from a distance. Her African-Amercian nannies no doubt never realized what the pay-off would be for the love they gave a motherless child.

It is always amazing to me that the world always is blessed by those who have received so little of what they give so much of to others. I can't tell you how many people in my family are exceedingly grateful that my Aunt Dot never got much for Christmas. There's nothing wrong with giving others what you desire or need. It is indeed noble. It is like walking in the footsteps of Christ.

George W. Bush becomes interesting to me now more than ever. As some may know, I was not exactly an ardent supporter. Even on occasion questioning the wisdom of those who argued in his behalf. But now the most identifying feature of Dubya's presidency is coming unraveled in his own party. Yet, to this point, he stands up for what he beleives in, and against a majority he once led. If he is not in denial and truly believes the war should continue, then he should remain true to his conviction. I wonder if people in both parties are postioning their personal interests in light of public dissatisfaction with the war. To stand against the majority, without being petty and mean, for what you believe, requires character. And charcter trumps everything. To constantly go with popular sentiment is a lack of character.

If we win the war, but are not a nation of character, we are ultimately doomed. If we lose the war, but possess character, we ultimately will succeed. Mistakes don't doomed a people nearly so much as lack of character. Character overcomes mistakes.

So people who have character are vital. Not just people like George Washington, who may be the greatest American and who got his command nearly wiped out in the French-Indian War, but people like LadyBird Johnson who emphasize beauty and respect of individuals. But not all individuals whose personal character is vital to the lives of others are of such reknown. Some are more ordinary, only distinguishable for their unusual character. That and perhaps the friendliness, the kindness and the caring that they always seem to have time to share with whoever might need such, even with the misfit or the stray.

Now people with unusual character might never think of themselves as such. My paternal grandmother never did. She didn't graduate from from high school and always saw her shortcomings instead of her strengths. But two hands are certainly plenty to count all the people I've met in sixty years who had her character. We should always acknowledge people's good character more than we do. Still, I not sure that the self-image of those with exceedingly high character allows them to see what everyone else sees. They are like snow-capped super mountains on the human horizon. People turn to them for a sense of stability and strength. People turn in their direction to find beauty and encouragement. And people turn back to their lives with a little more hope and determination to not only succeed with their own endeavors but to encourage others to succeed.

Thank you for being you.

918 Posts
Your shared observations sometimes make me feel good, often make me think, and never fail to make me feel right at home in Texas. Please keep it up...Glen

167 Posts
...memories of Ladybird Johnson coming to visit our town....enjoying the beautiful wildflowers planted under Ladybird's guidance along Texas highways....driving by the LBJ ranch....driving up to the hillcountry to get peaches to freeze and make preserves with (boy do I miss those peaches!)...spending time on Lake Buchanan.

Thank you for your wonderful essay! I'm feeling very nostaligic and a little homesick right now.

a displaced Texan
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