Monthly Archives: March 2010

This is just wrong: Losing the Alamo

I grew up in Texas in the 1950s, learning what every young man learned then – that football is proof of God’s grace and that only white people defended the Alamo.

Rarely was it put that baldly. But in movies and TV shows about the Alamo, as well has commentary from adults, the 180 heroic Texan defenders were white and the enemy, who died in well-deserved droves, were Mexican. When kids played Alamo, nobody, not even the Latino kids, wanted to be the Mexicans army.

To my shame, I did not know until I returned to Texas after five years exile in Oklahoma that native-born tejanos were instigators and actively engaged in the revolt against Mexico and that ninedied in the Alamo March 6, 1836.

Now comes a report in the Dallas Morning News that we can forget that part of the Alamo.

Seems the Texas Board of Education (oh, the irony of that name) decided that Texas school history books will not include the tejanos’ sacrifice. This, of course, is the same board that ruled Thomas Jefferson would also be jettisoned from statewide texts, while adding such conservative  heroes as Phyllis Schafly and Newt Gingrich.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, official custodians of the Alamo,  have caught righteous hell for decades for their adherence to an Alamo myth that fed belief in Anglo supremacy. The focus on honor and sacrifice of the defenders of Anglo-Saxon heritage spoke to the tenor of the times and the ancestry of the Daughters.

Time finally caught up with the Daughters. After decades of resistance to acknowledge the contributions and blood sacrifice of tejano defenders, the Daughters energetically opened up the historical and cultural reality of the Alamo. They hired a historian and expanded on the Alamo story to include its beginnings as a Spanish mission and the native Indian tribes who helped build it. And gave some prominence to the seven tejanos who died there.

The names Juan Abamillo, Juan A. Badillo, Carlos Espalier, Gregorio Esparza, Antonio Fuentes, Toribio Losoya, and Andrés Nava are proudly inscribed in the list of defenders displayed on the Alamo’s website.

You just won’t find those names in future Texas school books.

And that is just wrong. The Alamo became a symbol for the cost of duty and honor even as the smoke cleared from the battle.  Newspapers in New  York and London reported the battle. Poems were written and the meaning of the symbol evolved over time. But the story is bigger than Texas and bigger than the feverish reactionaries on the State Board of Education.

If we loose the full story, the richer story, than all of  us are poorer for it. And shame on Texans for letting it stand.



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It’s Spring, and a young man’s thoughts turn toward tomatoes. And peppers.

It was a beautiful San Antonio day, so of course we got hot and sweaty planting tomatoes and peppers. Or as we call it, “Setting out the caterpillar banquet.”

We also set out some blue phlox and a couple of plants I have no idea what they are. I knew it was tomatoes & peppers because I’ve planted them before. And phlox because Ginny told me. My horticultural knowledge base is limited.

Anyway, first we had to build the fence-like objects hovering over the little plants. Usually we use the wire cages like normal people. But Ginny saw plans for wooden objects that are ‘really pretty and should be easy to build.’ Her faith in my handyman skills are charming. And I’ve come to  hate the phrase, ‘should be easy to build.’

Two days, 48 screws two failed attempts to put the damn things together, we had two whatever they’re called that would actually stand up almost straight. Today, we prepared the bed, planted the plants, laid out bags of mulch (only to discover we need at least two more) and watered the little darlings.

Now, all we have to do is fight the weeds, water them like mad and wait for the bounty of tomatoes right off the vine. And the grateful thanks of Caterpillar Nation.

PS: It’s not all food crops for us. No sirree. Here’s the Spanish lavender we planted last  year. It survived a miserable summer, two hard freezes and my total lack of interest. Only the fit survive.

Happy gardening!

UPDATE: It has been noted by persons living in my house that ‘young man’ in the title is misleading. Some people in this house have no understanding of literary license.


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With afternoons free, John McCain likes to read his press clippings.

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Return of Cat Post, Chapter IV

Cat at Rest

This is an uncharacteristic pose. Usually, O’Malley’s head is down and he’s snoring.

It has come to my attention some of you love the cat posts. And by ‘some of you’ I mean two of you. In a transparent and shoddy attempt to boost blog readership, I will continue with such posts.

You have been warned.


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GOP finds its anti-health care strategy needs tweaking

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The Definition of Pathetic: Blogging About Crab Grass.

It was done in a pathetic attempt to get attention.

I forgot the Prime Directive: Nobody blogs about crab grass.

Mea maxima culpa, y’all.

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Learning to love/hate crab grass

I’m not one who lives to dig, weed and replant, to see Nature’s bounty spring to life each Spring from my sweat and toil. I’d rather read a book.

I once lived a happier life. I’ve interviewed presidential candidates, Death Row inmates and drug lords. I’ve walked through the jungles of  Guatemala and sipped wine in Paris. I have a perfectly fine unpublished novel I should be hawking to someone.  Now, my life centers on crab grass.

What is wrong with this picture?

On the rarity of a spring day in South Texas, when the sky is achingly blue and the air is like champagne, I now find myself on hands and knees, digging into soil thick as Gumby and cursing/pleading with this awful looking weed that grows  better than anything I plant.


I hate to mow & trim. That’s why we ripped out most of the grass, planted lovely rows of drought-resistant native plants & flowers and landscaped the front yard for l0w-maintenance beauty. It was lovely. The seasons changed, the winds grew cold and we settled inside with hot drinks and waited for spring’s renewal blah blah blah.

Only to fine that crab grass has insinuated itself into our little Eden like oafish cousins from Oklahoma.  And I must rip them out by the roots, one by one.

I swear to God I can hear them snicker.

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