Archive for November, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Along about this time of year, to many years ago to count, Billy Van Horn and I were sitting on our duffel bags, waiting for the train to take us to our next assignment. We were dressed in our Class A uniforms and felt we could whip the world. Being late November our conversation turned to Thanksgiving coming up soon. Billy and I had become fast friends during the grueling basic training the Army had just put us through. Home and Thanksgiving seemed a million miles and years away. We got to talking about the wonderful holiday we were probably going to spend on a troop train.

“Going to miss your girl friend?” Billy asked.
“You, bet; how about you?”
“Sure. And all my family and friends.”

We spoke of other things we were going to miss during this festive holiday. Pumpkin Pie was high on our list of things to be missed. And, Mom’s hot rolls with real home churned butter. The list grew quickly to cover the laden table of our homes. Cranberry sauce, candied sweet potatoes, baked ham with red-eye gravy made our mouths water. Billy quickly added green bean casserole, mashed Irish potatoes and iced tea served in a big goblet. It was obvious we were both avoiding mentioning the main item at Thanksgiving dinner.

At that time the Sergeant blew his whistle and added some choice adjectives. We were on our feet quickly hefting our duffel bags. Billy and I were surprised and sorely disappointed. He was sent east and I was sent west. The world seemed to become covered with leaden clouds. Thanksgiving seemed even further away.

Wars come and thankfully go. Billy and I never saw each other again. Until recently. I was sweating out a session at the whittlers bench in down town Liberty Hill when a stranger stopped. Troy asked the stranger if he could help him.
“I am looking for an old Army buddy from long ago,” he stated. “His name is Hollis Baker.” Troy flashed his famous smile and pointed to me. I looked the man in the face and searched my memory. Slowly, an image of Billy Van Horn came creeping into the present. The uproar lasted until we could get our breath and I introduced him around the august body of whittlers. He said he was here on a mission. “You remember that list of Thanksgiving dinner you and I were making when we last saw each other?” he asked. “Well, all this time I have worried about the one thing not on our list…oven roasted turkey with cornbread stuffing and plenty onions, celery and sage.” Now our world was complete.

I trust this holiday, as you sit at your Thanksgiving dinner you will remember family, friends and the goodies mentioned above, and especially the Turkey with cornbread dressing and plenty of onions, celery, and sage.

Hollis Baker, 18 November 2007

Bird Watching, Revised

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

The hobby of bird watching can be a lot of fun, and, on occasions get a little sticky.
Alice and I have been watching birds for a long time. When we first started the kids were small and did not “get” our new hobby. We would find a new bird and get all excited about finding a different one to add to our list and the kids would sigh, roll their eyes back into their heads and say, “Here we go again.” However they soon learned to live with two “old” folks acting strange. We have marked bird sightings in our little book of about 200 different kinds of birds. From the high west Texas mountains to the swampy bays of southeast Texas there are a multitude of feathered friends. Texas is a great area for spotting birds for we have over 500 kinds of birds all year, or migrate to or from our state during the seasons.

Equipment for the hobby of bird watching is inexpensive and the list is short. “Petersons Field Guide to Birds of Texas” is my favorite book for identifying birds found in the field. There are newer books available and some feel they are better. I am used to “Petersons” and think I will stick with it. The only other “tool” needed is a lightweight pair of binoculars. They don’t need to be fancy or expensive; just light weight. A new item that is fast becoming a necessity is a digital camera. I don’t have one yet, but perhaps some day in the future. Our friend, Wes Griffin, has some neat pictures of birds photographed in his yard posted on the Internet. He has many local ones, but my favorite is the picture of a male painted bunting. This fellow has a bright blue head, a chartreuse back, and a flaming red breast. This must be the brightest bird around the state. I don’t know the kind of camera Wes has, but the pictures are great. Check with him. He will be glad to share that information with you.

As you can see, this hobby is a rather staid, uneventful, safe but interesting one. However L.V. Staton who lives off county road 3405 had a rather sticky “bird watching” encounter recently. I don’t think L.V. was out bird watching. but it sure got his attention. A buzzard made an error in landing on a high voltage line and shorted out the electricity in the that community . They said it fried the buzzard to a crisp. A neighbor called P.E.C. and they promised to repair the problem promptly. She replied, “You better hurry, because I am in the middle of a Ophra show.” Staton told me he called the lady and asked her to save him a leg and thigh for supper. She replied, “You better hurry over; all the white meat is already gone.”

So, you see, the hobby is packed with high adventure, and fun, but little profit. Well, two out of three isn’t bad.