Monthly Archives: March 2011

Who’s being sensitive?

It’s happened twice in less than a week: This old man has found himself getting choked up. The older I get, the easier it is to become dewy-eyed.

Let me explain:

I delivered a brief eulogy for my father-in-law, Stanley Coppock, in Springer last Thursday. Why me? Why not one of Stanley’s four daughters? Well, to a (wo)man, they emphasized they’d be unable to carry it out — too emotional.

Since I’m not blood, but a son-in-law, and since the daughters had prepared the words I delivered, I was sure I could get through it without shedding a tear. All went fine (and here, I realize, it might even appear that I’m describing a performance instead of paying homage to a man I’ve known for almost 50 years) until I got to the list (neighbor, friend, father, husband, brother, grandfather, etc.). Something about identifying all the things Stanley was, and stood for, made me interrupt my presentation, pause a second, compose myself, think about it, and conclude it.

The same thing happened to my son, who was in fact merely reading a note from his Denmark-residing older brother. But that’s another story. Continue reading

Enough wire to gift-wrap Texas

“There sure wuzzn’t a shortage of baling wire on the farm where you grew up, Trujillo.”

There are many things one can say about this, not the least of which is that, for me, there was no farm to grow up on. I’m a Las Vegas city slicker.

Baling wire? Oh, you mean that two-story pile behind the barn? Those tons of metal wrought by decades of having hay loaded on to the loft in the barn?

Let me explain:

My father-in-law, Stanley Coppock, invented the “Coppock Cobble.” That’s simply any temporary fix that becomes permanent on what we all call Cocklebur Ranch. In this case, spending summers on Stanley’s farm north of Springer in the late ‘60s, I agreed to repair the barbed wire fence around the property, roughly a square mile.

I took a generous supply of baling wire with me, along with gloves and fence pliers. That fence has four strands (almost), and my job was to cut lengths of baling wire to wrap around the fence post and the barbed wire, to hold the wire to the post, as many of the original steeples had fallen off. Continue reading

Can we recover that lost hour?

Did anyone show up an hour late for church on Sunday? There seems to be a correlation between the beginning of Daylight Saving Time and the number of excuses people conjure up for being an hour late.

Possibly the only person on the planet who feels this way, I like DST — for as long as it lasts. It represents a half year of an extra hour of daylight at a time when the days are getting longer anyway. My oldest son, Stan, who lives way in the northern European climes, laments — with some justification — about winter days when the sun rises around 10 a.m., stops and thinks about it for a few hours, and goes back into hiding at 3:30.

And in the summer, just the opposite happens. Continue reading

As easy as falling off a pie

Only a couple of weeks away from spring, we’ve gotten restless, tired of checking the weather reports to discover whether traffic’s stuck in Glorieta Pass. Newcomers to this area are often surprised that there’s actually visibility, sun and clear roads after trudging along, following a million semis crawling on I-25. We’ve stayed home more than we’re accustomed to, due to the weather, and we’ve acquired cabin fever.

There’s a map, published by a firm called MMI, that’s available at a number of local businesses. The map carries details of Las Vegas and San Miguel County. It’s a handy freebie, which has a number of advertisers. These maps have been around for years, frequently updated, and they’re usually available at the locations of those who buy the ads.

My map has a 2009 copyright. Imagine our surprise when we discovered there’s an opportunity to visit a host of new places we didn’t know existed. Let’s start with the forests. Did you know this map shows a Santa National Forest? Now the Santa designation is not to be confused with Santa Fe. This place is apparently a new site, popular in winter. Close by, we have a village named Sapollo, which is reminiscent of and in the same location as the former Sapello. Note that Spanish-speaking politicians, asking voters’ support often ask for “soporte,” when they ought to use “apoyo.” And they sometimes spell it “apollo,” which brings to mind “pollo,” a bird, or an ancient god, Apollo, who might have inspired the MMI map’s spelling of the little community between here and Mora. But let’s not get into fowl trouble. Continue reading

A second helping of third grade

Possibly the biggest fear I experienced in the elementary grades was in doing anything academic from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Before schools began tacking on extra days to the calendar, for “in-service” days, our summers were free.

Now, the school year often starts in early August and stretches into June. Hey, where’d our summers go?
I must have slept through the grammar units at Immaculate Conception School, taught by Sister Maria Nominativa Predicata. Once, when I blew it on my turn to walk that green mile to the board to diagram a sentence — did we ever do anything but diagram sentences in that class? — I tilted the line that signals a prepositional phrase in the wrong direction.

“You look like a good candidate for summer school, Arthur,” the teacher declared. My feelings were mixed: on the one hand, she’d never placed “good” within 10 words of a description of me; on the other hand, I became contrite as I dreaded the loss of Heaven and the pains of summer school. Continue reading