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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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:
It never ceases to amaze me how something so common and everyday can be so different and special every time we see it.
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.
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.
In 1950, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” which led to the integration of public schools in the United States. In 1959, in Little Rock, Arkansas, nine African American students were the first students to integrate Central High School.
On Thursday evening, at the LBJ Presidential Library, School of Public Affairs, in Austin, Texas, three members of the “Little Rock Nine,” Ernest Green, Carlotta Walls LaNier, and Terrence Roberts, recalled their experiences entering those halls of following that momentous decision.
The students had to be escorted to the door by 101st Airborne Division and once inside the doors, they still had to be escorted to be safe from retaliation from the white students. But even then it wasn’t as safe as it should have been.
With a sense of humor, wisdom and grace they told us the easy things to hear; the more horrific things they kept to themselves. Even though they were assigned lockers, they had to carry their books and papers with them to every class because the lockers would be broken into and its contents destroyed. They had to walk down the hallways with their backs toward the wall or they risked being hit or kicked in the back. And Ms. LaNier herself said that her nemesis made it a point to walk on the back of her heels until they bled.
They endured terrible things just to get an education.
American children of all backgrounds today have absolutely no idea how good they have it. Not only that but they’re squandering it. I’m painting a picture in very broad strokes but here, but all across the spectrum of humanity, no only do we have children who skip school just because but, and this is terrible, others are encouraged to skip by their parents who either want them to do other things or just because:
My Dude works in the transit industry and he has witnessed firsthand African American high school kids who are trying to get to school arguing with their parents who want them to do something else.
I’ve had conversations with someone who personally knows a white parent who wanted their early elementary aged child to stay home from school simply because they missed the child and wanted them around.
I know white parents who take their kids out of school just to take a vacation.
Recently a segment aired on a morning radio talk show about truancy. One area school district employee called in and said that in her school district, when they tracked down truant students, they found a good deal of them at home with a parent. The student was neither sick nor were they absent from school because of a lack of transportation as evidenced by nearby transit or a working vehicle in the driveway.
And the worst: there is a predominantly African American high school in my area that has a chronically terrible record of attendance.
Pardon me, but what the h*** is wrong with this us?
Is this how we teach our young people of the value of education?
This laissez faire not going to school thing? I think that’s a slap in the face to the Little Rock Nine. It’s a slap in the face to Malala Yousafzai and every other girl in Pakistan or Nigeria or anywhere else who is doing everything they can to get an education. It’s a slap in the face to anyone anywhere who is striving to better themselves through education.
But that’s not all. Thursday night I was extremely saddened, distressed and dismayed that amid an audience of nearly 900, I could count on two hands how many African American people came out to listen to the men and women of their culture who, as teens, held their heads high and walked with courage and fortitude through previously unattainable halls so they could better themselves. So all African American students who came after them could better themselves through education.
I can’t help but wonder whether or not they think what the Little Rock Nine did really matters any more.
The Little Rock Nine are a lesson in courage and determination and we all can learn from them. I don’t claim to be an expert in all the reasons why our children do not attend school as much as they should and I admit that certainly at times there are extenuating circumstances. I also believe that our education policies are not the best and there’s always room for improvement. However, education is a growing and learning process and no matter where we are, there are always opportunities out there to take the next step and further ourselves.
But when I look around and see what I see and hear what I hear, I have to ask how much anyone thinks education really matters any more.
The Little Rock Nine® Foundation was created to promote the ideals of justice and equality of opportunity for all. Forged in the crucible of fierce opposition to the educational pursuits of nine young black children, the Foundation is dedicated to the proposition that racist ideology will not dictate educational policies and practices in the 21st Century.
Too many children still do not have access to adequate educational opportunities in the 21st Century. Because of their struggles for a quality education, the Little Rock Nine members, through their Little Rock Nine® Foundation, are committed to assuring that our youth, especially children of color, are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to become future leaders.
The mission of the Little Rock Nine® Foundation is to provide direct financial support and a mentorship program for students to help them reach their educational goals.
Further, it is our mission to encourage young people to take executive responsibility for their education, to step forward boldly and seize any available opportunity to expand awareness and understanding. The Foundation seeks to create a viable link between young learners and those who offer support for their efforts.