On the Road Again – Wildflower Country and Baylor University

It’s springtime here in Central Texas and time for my mom’s annual trek down here to check out the wildflowers.  We got kind of a late start because the entire morning it was raining but we finally left about noon.  This time Mumsie and I went northeast into the heart of wildflower country.

Before we got our first eyeful of nature’s blessings, we saw the devastation from the wildfire that swept through Bastrop Labor Day weekend in 2011.  Every time I go through this area, my heart breaks at the devastation.  I wasn’t able to get much of a picture but here’s one of the debris that has been piled up.  Beyond that you can see the blackened trunks that stand amid the new life that has sprouted.

Wildfire Debris
Wildfire Debris

A little further east and nature rubbed her balm on my soul.

Bastrop Roadway
Bastrop Roadway

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We turned north at Smithville and wound our way through the country looking for fields of flowers, especially the blue bonnets, but mostly what we found were fields of red and yellow and maybe a little white.

And some cattle, lounging and showing off their bling.

Aren't I beautiful?
Ain’t I beautiful?

I always like driving the back country roads because you never know what kind of neat things you get to see.

Train Depot
Let’s have some ice cream while we wait for the train, shall we?

 

In Giddings we oohed and aawed at the Lee County Courthouse. Look at that architecture. Ain’t it beautiful? They sure don’t make stuff like this anymore and that is a terrible shame.

I’m getting a little thirsty. Shall we stop and have a drink?

White Horse Tavern
White Horse Tavern

Finally, finally we came across a good sized field of bluebonnets.  I pulled over and when I got out, oh my word could I smell them.  Bluebonnets by themselves have no scent but when they all get together their scent is a light crispy sweet fragrance that makes me just want to close my eyes and breath deep.

Continuing onward, we found another amazing field full of reds and yellows.

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Soon we arrived in Independence.  Baylor University was originally founded in Independence, Texas by Mumsie’s great, great uncle as a co-ed institution of higher learning.  At some point the sexes were separated and the men were moved to Baylor University on Windmill Hill in Independence.  Later the men’s college was moved to Waco as Baylor University and the women’s college was moved to Belton as the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

The columns in the picture on the left is what’s left of the original three story structure.  The picture on the right is what’s left of Baylor University on Windmill Hill.

Mumsie and I walked around for a good while, looking at everything and breathing in our family history.

All too soon the sun began to go down and it was time to go back home.

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I hope you enjoyed the trip!

Karina

Poem – When the Sun Goes Down

Moon at Night
Courtesy http://www.listofimages.com

 When the Sun Goes Down

When the sun goes down
And the earth breathes
A sigh of relief
And begins to rest,
The veil between the worlds
Begins to thin.

A soft breeze sighs,
Making it flutter apart.
Slowly the Holy One
Slips through its folds
Of time and space
To walk the land
In search of those
Who are awake.

In the midnight garden
The moonflower blooms wide,
Its heady intoxicating scent
Luring the moth.
Other wild things
Arise from their slumber
And celebrate life.

As for me,
I lay in the grass,
Just to unwind and relax,
And soon I feel my body
Fade away
Until it becomes
One with the land.

Under the rising moon
My soul begins to listen
With a depth
I’ve never known before.

A single word,
Spoken so soft that only
My beating heart can hear,
Drifts through the night air —

Come.

© 2014 KL

One night in August of last year, I was driving home and saw the full moon hovering above the horizon and casting its soft light over the dark countryside.  I felt a tugging in my heart to just stop, get out, and simply be.  I couldn’t do so there but when I got home, I went out to my backyard (which is also kinda sorta out in the country) and laid in the grass where in no time at all, I felt my physical existence fade away.  Nothing remained except for my communion with the divine.

Book Stuff, Lent, and the Laziest Cat Ever

Howdy everyone.  Just wanted to pop in and give y’all an update on the novel that’s been dragging its feet and trying to take forever to finish.  I’m finally close to the finish line.  Finally!

Racing to the End!
Racing to the End!

Yep.  That’s right.  Nearly at the 100,000 word mark.  Since I’m writing historical fiction, my goal is to be between 100,000 and 110,000.  Any more than that and I’ll most likely need to cut it back.

Last week, when I realized how close I was to the finish line, I nearly had a panic attack because I still didn’t have a worthy title to this little labor of love.  The working title of GTT (Gone to Texas) is just a placeholder title because I wanted to wait and let the story tell me what I should call it.  Well by god, I’d been waiting and waiting and it just refused to tell me what to call it, hence my near panic attack.

I’m now glad to announce the baby has a name:  For the Sake of Freedom.

This title encompasses many layers of the novel.  My protagonist, Melina Parker, is not only struggling for freedom from the bad guy and his nefarious actions but also from society’s expectations of women.  Her supporting character, Walker Donelson is struggling to be free of his family’s political aspirations, and the anglo rebels of Tejas are struggling to be free from the despotic actions of El Presidente Santa Anna.

Geez, I’ve been calling it GTT for so long that it’s weird having a different name.  Now I have to really work hard in changing how I refer to it.

Which segues into Lent.

Lent is all about struggle and sacrifice and this year I had to take drastic action concerning chocolate. My consumption of it was getting ridiculously out of hand, which in my honest opinion is not really a bad thing because, you know, chocolate is the 5th major food group. You know that pyramid of nutrition? Check it out. That whole bottom layer is nothing but chocolate.

Nutrition Pyramid
My Nutrition Pyramid

Chocolate is the foundation on which all good things rest.

So even though life is fantastically good with chocolate, I’m fasting from chocolate for Lent so I need all sorts of good supporting thoughts from y’all so I can get through these next few weeks of struggle and sacrifice.

Peanut Butter Snickers, my latest fav
Peanut Butter Snickers, my latest fav

Which segues into the hilarity of cats.  Which I need because since I’m fasting from chocolate I need something else to stimulate the pleasure center of my brain.

I was wandering around Facebookland and I came across this video of the LAZIEST cat ever.  I think I’ve watched it a bazillion times already because it’s so freakin’ hilarious.

Take care now and have a piece of chocolate for me will ya?

Karina

From Ancient Cambodia to Computers: There Really Is Nothing New Under The Sun

Just the other day, I was checking out Photochallenge.org.  They have photo challenges every week encouraging their readers to challenge themselves to take their photography to the next level.  This year the theme is macro photography.

Their 2015 Week 5 challenge was titled Computer and one photo caught my eye.

Central Processing Unit, Courtesy Luis Romero via Flikr
Central Processing Unit.  Courtesy Luis Romero via Flikr

This looks suspiciously similar to an ancient temple found in the middle of the Cambodian jungle by Henri Mouhot in 1860.

Angkor Wat, Courtesy Google Maps
Angkor Wat, Cambodia.  Courtesy Google Maps

Nazca Lines – Yesterday and Today

Recently when I was reading a National Geographic magazine I came across an aerial image of Sun City, Arizona which reminded me of the Nazca lines of Peru.  Perchance might this be the modern day version of those Nazca lines of old?

Sun City, Arizona

Modern Nazca Lines Courtesy Google Maps
Sun City Neighborhood, Courtesy Google Maps

Peru

Nazca Lines Hummingbird Courtesy www.LatinAmericanStudies.org
Hummingbird, Courtesy http://www.LatinAmericanStudies.org

 

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

So the middle of January is upon us and the cedar season in Central Texas is in full bloom.  Or should I rather say that it’s the time of year in which the cedar has declared full war on the humans.  Because my Dude is so sensitive to the cedar pollen, we took our annual trek to South Padre Island for the salt air to clean out his sinuses.

We typically get a room that faces the Gulf of Mexico so we can open the balcony door to listen to the surf and let the salt air in the room.  This year, for the first time ever, I was able to watch the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico:

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It never ceases to amaze me how something so common and everyday can be so different and special every time we see it.

Karina

The Forgotten Battle of the Texas Revolution: The Battle of Bexar

Caption: Ben Milam, Courtesy Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/bexar/bexar.html
Caption: Ben Milam, Courtesy Texas State Library and Archives Commission. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/bexar/bexar.html

Every one has heard the story of the Alamo, how about, in March 1836, a group of 150-200 anglo men who were calling themselves Texians held off a Mexican army of thousands for thirteen days before being overran and killed.  But did you know there was a previous battle in Bexar, at the beginning of December 1835, that lasted for five days in which the Texians attacked the Mexican army and prevailed, essentially kicking the only garrison of Mexican soldiers south of the Rio Grande River?

It’s called the Battle of Bexar and because of what happened three months later, it gets buried in the history books.

The Battle of Bexar almost never was.  Prior to this point, the Texians had captured the Mexican garrisons at Goliad and Lipantitlan (outside of modern day Corpus Christi) which cut off the supply lines from Copano Bay (modern day Matagorda Bay) to the Mexican forces in Bexar.  It was easier for the authorities in Mexico City to provide supplies to Tejas through Copano than to haul them 850 miles, by wagon through mountains and flat scrub brush, from Mexico City north to Saltillo, then to Monclova, then to Bexar.

Once the Texians cut off these supply lines at the beginning of November 1835, their spirits were high and they were on a roll so they went to Bexar and conducted a siege of the village “smoke out” the rest of the army.  They almost succeeded.

They were doing such a good job that toward the end of the month, the soldiers took a chance and snuck wagons out of the village to gather grass for their livestock.  On the way back to Bexar, the Texians learned of the wagons and attacked them, thinking they were wagons full of pay for Mexican soldiers.  Imagine their surprise, then anger, then disgust when all they found was grass.

The Grass Fight, in my opinion, cast a poor light on the siegeing forces.  Not only were the Texians so inattentive that they missed a group of wagons leaving the village but there was a lesson here they did not learn.  The soldiers were in a bad way concerning fodder for their horses and livestock, so they took a chance to get feed.  The Texians, after finding the wagons, did not really think it through, which laid the groundwork for their next action.

About a week later, at the beginning of December, the siegeing forces were ordered to withdraw back to their own villages and wait for spring to continue the siege.  Some of the men who lived in Tejas did go home to prepare for the winter but there was a contingent of men who had come to Tejas for a good time and by god they were not going to leave until a fight had been had.  Impatience swept through the camp.  The siege was NOT their idea of a fight, especially after the debacle with the grass, so this group decided to go to Matamoros to see if they could start a fight there by riling up those citizens up against El Presidente Santa Anna.

Enter Benjamin Milam.  Milam had been out on patrol and when he came back to camp, he saw things were happening and men were leaving which infuriated him.  He had a conversation with the commanding officer, Ed Burleson.  Burleson just seemed to shrug his shoulders and say he’s already ordered the camp to break until the spring.  Milam simply told him that “since he gave the order, he can give the undo order.”  Burleson finally agreed.

Map of Siege of Bexar
Map of Siege of Bexar. Courtesy Texas State Library and Archives Commission. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/bexar/bexar-map.html

The Matamoros-bound men stayed.  The Texians split into two divisions and they snuck into the village from the north.  They nearly made it all the way to the army’s headquarters before the alarm was sounded and then the battle was on.  Mexican snipers shot from the trees and there was fighting street to street, house to house and in some cases, room to room.

After five days, Mexican General Cos raised the white flag.  In the capitulation he signed, General Cos agreed to take his forces south of the Rio Grande River and not return.  The soldiers are given their weapons back with some ammunition (for protection as they journey south) and released.  They made it across the river and soon met El Presidente Santa Anna’s army which was on the march northward from Mexico City to take care of this minor, itty bitty “Tejas Problem.”

Take care of the problem he did.  As far as I know, not one man survived the final assault on the Alamo in March 1836.

Little did El Presidente know that this “Tejas Problem” turned out to be a major thorn that began the process of ripping a large chunk of his country away from him.  Texas won her independence from Mexico April 1836.  Nine years later the United States annexed Texas which sparked the anger of the Mexican authorities.  This is what they were afraid of all along because of the United State’s long history of expansionist-minded administrations, and had consistently said during the time of Texas’ sovereignty that any annexation would lead to war.

In less than a year the fighting began.  Two years later, by the end of the US-Mexican War, roughly one-third of Mexico’s territory, area which included modern-day California, Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado, Nevada, and Utah were now part of the United States.

For further reading:

Texian Iliad, A Military History of the Texas Revolution:

Texas State Historical Association:
Ben Milam
Grass Fight
Siege of Bexar
Mexican-American War

The History Channel:  Mexican American War