Wednesday, March 21, 2012


     Woweeeeeeee. An empty nest! We have finally arrived, I told myself one day. It had been three months. All three kids were on their own. Well, at least they were out of the house. I didn't have stinking tennis shoes laying around, beds unmade, tons of laundry, and dirty dishes everywhere. I recently finished my graduate studies, as far as I decided to go, with my Masters of Arts Degree. And I was waiting employment in a new college prep, private high school that was being built up the road, in Barton Creek Estates. I interviewed first, was hired by the new principal and was able to help lay the ground work and get it organized. It was an exciting time for me.
     In my recent studies at U.T. we read about the empty nest syndrome in the Marriage and Family Class. At the time the popular myth was that women often had depressions or nervous breakdowns when their last child left home. Supposedly, women with no children at home to care for felt worthless, lonely, and unneeded for the maternal life they felt they were totally created  for. Poof! In our sociology studies we found that the majority of women were quite satisfied, if not downright happy to finally be on their own with only their husbands to seek comfort with. Some found this time to start a new life and career.  In our studies we also found that women often were at their peek, for intimacy and affection when this time arrived. So, how could my husband and I celebrate our new discovered time together?
     I know, I said one day, "The Green Garden Patio Shop is having a sale on hot tubs. We can cut a hole in our deck and drop it in, right out of our patio door from our bedroom." I pictured the moonlight nights in our quiet time, snuggled up together, whipped around by swirling water  in our whirlpool tub.
     Husband said, "That will cost several thousands dollars."
     "But Honey, think about the sore back you have when you come in from work. You'll get physical therapy from the water and it will help relieve your pain." Finally, I hit a sensitive nerve that he related to.
     With a smile on his face he said, "I'll look into getting a remodeling house loan. We need to fix up the house some with paint, new carpet, and our air conditioning needs to be replaced, so we can throw in a hot tub, as well."
     "Yea, I said. My bones seem to ache more and I think it will be good for both of us. I've heard some people say you can get your doctor to write a prescription for a hot tub for physical therapy and you won't need to pay taxes on it."
     "Well, I don't know about that. But we'll look into it."
     Three weeks later the hot tub arrived. The delivery men dropped it in the deck and it sat right outside the bedroom's sliding glass door. Neato. We turned it on, jumped into our swimming suits and slid into the tub.
     "Ouchee," I said. "This is too hot."
     "Nonsense", my husband replied, "This is perfect". With a smile on his face, he leaned back, closed his eyes and disappeared in a dreaming trance and a look of delight on his face. I knew right away this was his idea of having a good time.
     "I can't stand this heat," I shot back at him.
      I had to admit to myself that lately I had sudden bursts of heating spells and this didn't feel good at all. And I possibly was having one then. It just wasn't what I imagined. My body temperature had been changing lately. Someone said it could be peri something.  But I thought it was stress from the guilt that I felt for not missing all my children in their nest.
     Husband said, "You'll get use to it. I'll turn down the thermostat or for that matter, I'll turn off the heat and it will stay hot for awhile and then cool down for you."
     "Good, that will work," I answered. We had learned to compromise over the years. And it made for a happier marriage.I began to again visualize romantic evenings with just us.
     The telephone rang and it was Dwayne. He told us he had received a new bottle of wine and wanted to bring his wife and come test our hot tub.
     "I've heard that people have hot tub parties," I said, after I hung up.
     "I'm not up to that kind of partying. But I know Dwayne and his wife are clean and I don't have a problem with them. I don't mind if they join us." hubby answered.
     Thirty minutes later our friends joined us in the tub. We laughed and finished the bottle of wine and started in on the second. I turned up the stereo in the living room and opened the door. The phone rang. Junior was in the neighborhood and he wanted to stop by with his new girlfriend and see our new hot tub.
     A few minutes later Walter Jr. came  in with Caty. She was a well dressed French student who was studying at St. Edwards.
     Walter Junior says, "Caty, have you ever been in a hot tub?"
     And she answered negatively.
     "Oh good," Walter said, "We'll be over tomorrow evening after school and try it out."
     As our guests were leaving, the phone rang. It was Susi, our oldest child. She said she lost her job and asked if she and Ashley, her dog could come stay in our extra bedroom until she found another job. 
     Suddenly, I sobered up after my three glasses of wine and realized that my "empty nest" was not going to stay empty long. I could see days ahead when I would be entertaining visitors more often. And more than likely it would be family, as well as friends.
     At the end of the evening my husband said, "I thought I would drain the tub and refill it in the morning, but now I've decided to wait until after the kids use the tub tomorrow night."
     "Good idea," I said.
      I wondered then and wondered many times later if mothers ever have "empty nests." But I knew for certain that they eventually have hot flashes and if they are lucky they have a hot tub to retreat to and they can always turn off the heater.

Friday, March 16, 2012


One of the most popular people in south Texas when I was a teenager was our county sheriff. He was a friend to teenagers and watched  over them and their parents. As I discovered later,  the disadvantaged in the community were thankful for his protection, as well.  His deeds often went untold until years later when his name came up and people told their stories about him. Here is one of the stories, I would like to tell you about Sheriff Big Ray, in my poetic version. 

He was six foot two from his boots to his eyes of baby blue. Or six foot five and weighed a hundred  and ninety five. In his high brim hat and tall heeled western boots he looked eight foot tall. He postured high over everyone in a room and wielded heavy strength with his favorite weapons, his four and a half foot arms. He grabbed outlaws and trouble makers by their necks and stretched them away from his body while they kicked and thrashed, but never reached him. Their resistance halted when their faces turned blue. Seldom did he use his 45 caliber six shooter he carried close to his waist. Despite his stature, he was a true gentle giant and avoided confrontation.

Ladies loved Big Ray and fell under his charms. He tilted his hat and opened car doors, pulled out their chairs and kissed their cheeks. He wore a constant smile and told funny jokes. He trusted women, as he did most men.

 He accompanied  men home, when they were in no shape to drive or found in naughty places. Never telling on them when there weren't any traces. Sheriff Ray empathized with the underprivileged and race played no role. He testified for black and brown men alike, when he knew they were innocent.

He disliked lying faces and didn't frequent churches. The hypocrites, he recognized with little patience. He heard the Amens, they shouted, with their phony voices. He was not one of them.

Mr. Sanches told the story of when he was a teenager and worked in a local diner one summer and Sheriff Ray helped him collect unpaid wages that were due him. He worked for the cranky Mr. Jansen, who owned Pap's Place. The owner's reputation was also one that was on the stingy side. On plate lunches he served only one slice of bread and one better not ask for another or he/she might raise the wrath of the grumpy owner. When kids got too loud and made noise, it was just like him to yell at them to leave.

At the end of the summer when it was time for school to begin, the young Mr. Sanches had to leave his job at the diner and return to Cuero High School. The owner of the diner would not pay him for his last week of wages. Sanches  was counting on that money to help him prepare for his school needs.

One day, the young man approached Sheriff Ray and told him his dilemma. Sheriff Ray said, "Okay, lets go see him and pay him a visit."

The two of them got into the Sheriff's car, drove down Main street and pulled up in front of the diner and walked in. Sheriff Ray confronted the diner owner about his refusal to pay the young man. When the diner owner did not seem to be cooperating, the Sheriff slammed his fist on the counter and shouted, "I  told you to pay this young man his wages."

At that point, the stubborn owner went to the cash register, pulled out the cash and threw it on the floor and said, "Here."

Sheriff Ray screamed at Jansen and said, "Pick it up."

Sanches said he picked it up himself, and ran out of the diner as fast as could before the altercation escalated any further.

"He was some Sheriff'', said Sanches.

And I agree he was some sheriff and I was proud that I knew him.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A NEW BEGINNING": 

Janine, I love your blog. They are most interesting and it is wonderful to know these stories. Thank you for writing them. 


     My father sometimes talked about his World War II experiences. We kids were young and didn’t pay much attention. When he was in the hospital years later, with lung cancer, I realized he had important stories to tell and there wasn’t much time. I told my 13 year old I wish he could be there so he could hear his grandfather’s stories one last time. In those years no children under 16 could visit patients. So, young Walter sneaked up the fire escape stairs of the hospital and found his way quietly into the room.
He sat there while his grandfather lay naked with tubes running in and out of his body. My father told the young boy that when his ship reached the shores of France, all the soldiers were ordered off the ship without any weapons. They were told to pick up the guns from any soldiers lying on the beach. He was hit by shrapnel that tore off most of his left lung. And then later he was sent to an English hospital where he stayed for months in recovery.
Later I wrote a letter for mom asking the VA for 100% disability for my father’s injury, that she and my father had no success in doing. The VA insisted that the cancer in his right lung had nothing to do with his left lung that was injured during the War. In a few words, I stated simply that had my father not given his left lung for the defense of his country, he would still have a lung to resort to when his right lung became diseased with cancer. With that, the VA finally granted their appeal.
I always thought that this was the most important few words that I ever wrote so that I was able to help my parents in their time of need.

(Time is so precious. We need to capture every moment with our older generation. What
do you think? Please comment below.)  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012



     My  first girl friend, my first best friend, I  remember, was Phyllis Jean. She
and I walked to school together every day when I was in the second grade in
Clinton. She lived across the  street from the six story brick hotel where I was
 living with my family.
     She and her mother lived in a cheap, frame motel across the street that was
convenient to her mother's work. Her  mother was a waitress at the hotel and our
mothers met shortly after we moved to our temporary home in the hotel.
     Phyllis Jean's mother invited me to their little one room efficiency living
quarters to play after she got home from work. Mother invited Phyllis to
visit me at the hotel. Sometimes we walked up town a few blocks to the
picture show.
      Since she and I both had constrained living quarters our play was somewhat
 limited to our choice of activities. But we did choose to role play, which is
an important step in child development, according to both psychology and
     Whom did we choose to emulate? We chose  secretaries. My mother was
 not a secretary nor was phyllis's mother. However, In the 1940's women's roles
were somewhat limited and secretaries were glamorized in the movies. Outside
 of being housewives,  waitresses,  nurses and maybe teachers, women had
few careers to choose from.
     Phyllis and I set up tables for make-believe desks and found hotel stationary
and pencils to write with at the hotel.  We took turns taking notes, as the other was
 the boss.
     One day after school I walked across the street to play with Phyllis Jean. Her
mother was already home from work. Her mother's girlfriend was visiting her. We
were gong to  play office, but  realized that we wouldn't have much space.
Shortly after I arrived, two sailor guys paid a visit too. By then the room was
 really getting crowded.
     They were so happy to see Phyllis's mother and her friend, because they  gave
them a lot of kisses.They had worked all day and I think they were tired because
 they laid on the bed and exchanged more hugs and kisses. One of the sailor guys
 reached in his pocket and pulled out a hand- full of change and gave it to us and
 told us to walk up the street to the dime store and buy whatever we wanted and
we could take as much time as we wanted.Boy did that make us happy because
now we could buy some real office supplies to play office with.
     When we got to the dime store we took our time finding what we wanted
 to buy. We bought receipt pads, tablets, pencils, erasers, and whatever struck
our fancy. And  we walked up and down the aisles, making sure we hadn't
missed anything. It was a great way to spend the afternoon, an opportunity
we never had before.
     When we got back to Phyllis's her mother's guests were gone and her mother
was asleep.
     I went back to my home at the hotel, across the street. When mother saw me,
she wanted to know what Phyllis Jean and I did. I told her we just played around.
I never did tell mother what actually happened. Mother had told me earlier that
some people at the hotel said ugly things about Phyllis's mother, but she never
believed them. For some reason, I was afraid she might not like what we did
and saw that day.
     I loved Phyllis Jean. She was my best friend. In fact, she was my only friend
and I didn't want anything to happen to our friendship.

Saturday, March 3, 2012