Category Archives: Texas

Mark Lieberman: Four Jobs, So Never Between Seasons

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

Writers aren’t the only people who juggle more than one life at a time. Mark Lieberman tells how he combines his part-time football broadcasting jobs with his full-time job at a bank.

Just like many Americans, I have more than one job: one full-time job and three part-time seasonal jobs.

The seasonal jobs start the last weekend in August and last through the week before Christmas. They’re only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I do get paid and sometimes I get free food, but that’s not why I have ’em. I have ’em ’cause I love what I do!

My full-time job is at Chase Bank in the Unclaimed Property department. I work Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

My seasonal jobs revolve around football. I’m a football statistician for high school games (radio and tv) and for University of Texas at San Antonio games. I started doing high school football radio stats in 1997 and TV stats in 2009. I started doing UTSA football stats this year.  Continue reading

Rattlesnake at Nadiana’s door

We have an email chat line in our neighborhood, and news gets around pretty fast. This is what showed up today: a photo of the rattlesnake that tried to get into Nadiana’s house, lying dead on her doormat.

Nadiana’s daughter discovered the snake this morning when she opened the front door and almost stepped on it. Nadiana killed it with a hoe. Shannon lent the hoe and took the photo.

Jacki chimed in that her husband ran over a small rattler with the lawn mower a couple of weeks ago. Never noticed until the next time he walked by, when it was lying there in four pieces. Didn’t last long, though: by the end of the day, the fire ants had eaten every bit.

Other neighbors are complaining that Shannon didn’t save the rattlesnake so they could add it to their chili at our next neighborhood chili cook-off.

The Hill Country is a whole ‘nother place.

Back from Dallas

Drove home from Dallas in four and a half hours. Had a great time at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Writers’ Conference. Learned so much, and now there’s so much to digest, plan and do. Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers, and all the people whose presentations I attended:

James Rollins      Jodi Thomas     Lori Wilde     Fred Campos, Jr.     Rusty Shelton      Candace Havens     Kristen Lamb     Roni Loren

Here’s proof that I was there: @alleypat caught me in a photo. At least, she caught my back. That’s me in the pink sweater.

May started out brutal, but it got better.

Lizards, tea and pantslessness

Nothing extraordinary. Top o’ the world and bottom of a pit, as usual. It’s all movin’ along.

Let’s see, did anything interesting happen? A large lizard with a gray and tan diamond-patterned back now lives in the garden. I found him while watering. He tried to convince me he was a piece of rotted wood that got stuck in one of the tomato plants. Didn’t work.

He’s a much larger version of the lizards that live in my plastic garden box. I store some old newspapers in it and the lizards made themselves speckly gray to match the type.

They’re all welcome to stay since they’re carnivorous, not herbivorous. Something else carnivorous was sighted here a while ago: another mountain lion. Stay in the fenced garden, little lizards, and eat bugs.

I now hear Prudence MacLeod reiterating: “Gods, Sally, you have such an interesting life!” Continue reading

Wheelbarrows have no feet

This morning I mulched the vegetable garden again. That means I lugged four 5-gallon orange paint buckets out the gate, across the concrete path, over the foot-thick live oak limb, under the fig tree, over the stone wall (duck to avoid the branch in the eye), through the rocky gullies where the rain runs down to the creek, past the deer scat, over the limestone shaped like fingermarks dragged through wet clay, around the cactus, and past the twelve-foot spiderweb (which I did not walk into) built by the green and gray spider big as a Cadbury Creme Egg. Finally, I arrived at our waist-high pile of ground-up cedar trees.

After filling the buckets, I carried them back and heaped the cedar bits around the squash and tomatoes and blackberries and mulberries.

On my last trip, muscles taut, gut sucked in, Huck Finn straw hat damp with sweat, a neighbor driving to her retail job number two stopped her car and ran toward me. Continue reading

Standing Shoulder to Shoulder

Live oak on riverbank, 12-30-11The changing of the year was exquisite in our corner of the Hill Country

My husband and I never get tired of walking down to the river. With the variable weather, the rising and falling waters, the freely roaming animals, the constantly changing light and shadow, the wind like ocean surf and our unique neighbors, this is the most alive place we’ve ever been.

Sometimes we’re stunned that we ended up in this place, though moving here was a deliberate decision. We’re also stunned that we–who can go for days without wanting to speak to another human besides ourselves–we’re stunned that we like so many people here. And there are so many worth liking.

It’s not like we’ve been holed up somewhere all our lives. Each of us has lived in other states and traveled extensively. We’re originally from New York, my husband from the City and myself from the Island. But now we become uneasy when we cross the Cibolo River into the moderate congestion of San Antonio. The little town of Blanco, north of us, is as bustling and cosmopolitan a burg as we want to visit.

We’re not withdrawing from life. We’re doing the opposite. We have more positive human interaction than ever before because the people here are different.

Perhaps that’s because this area retains some of its frontier quality. This place was the edge of Comanchería before the 1860’s, and Apachería before that. Settled mostly by mountaineers from Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas, and then by German immigrants just before the Civil War, Texans here count their generations on a single hand. The past is recent. There are fewer people, but more interconnections among people.

On a frontier, it’s vital to know the character of your neighbors. People talk to each other here. People measure each other here. Each person is an asset or a liability. Can your neighbors be trusted? If you help them in an emergency, will they come to your aid when it’s your turn to need help? Will they stand firm? There’s a degree of solidarity, of standing shoulder to shoulder, that seems to be handed down from an earlier time. It’s a strange but wonderful feeling to stand shoulder to shoulder with people you know you can trust.

On a frontier, people’s jobs don’t define them. They define their jobs. They do what they have to do. They make opportunity. Conchay and Mari opened a Mexican restaurant that revived a dying shopping center, then opened a Chinese restaurant next to it. Derek runs a 300-acre ranch and is one of the two fire department captains. Paty sells the best tacos in 50 miles from a tiny trailer on the side of the road. There’s confidence and self-sufficiency here that we’ve never seen in a city or a suburb.

People are more individual. Not that they try to be–they are. Katie, who worked in a factory, has such an original mind that we’ve thought about walking around after her with a pad and pen, writing down what she says. Her husband built an airplane in their living room.

Most amazingly, there’s no propaganda–or, at least, propaganda is recognized for being just that. Only after we left the East and West Coasts did we realize how bombarded the rest of the country is with constant propaganda.

This isn’t Pollyanna-land. There are plenty of problems, including underemployment, poverty, drugs, drought, flood and fire. But we’ve found what feels like normal life. Standing shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors, we mean to hold on to it as long as we can.

By S.J. Driscoll

The Other World (2)

Deja Vu BlogfestThe post below is my contribution to today’s Deja Vu Blogfest, co-hosted by DH Hammon, Katie Mills (Creepy Query Girl), Lydia Kang and Nicole Ducleroir. It first appeared on October 19, 2011.

***

Another world intersects with our city world of work, cars, media, shopping. Our ancestors knew it. Few of us do.

This other world isn’t supernatural. It’s not in another dimension. It’s where we came from. It’s still here, but we left.

So sometimes it comes to visit.

The squirrel steals the figs off our fig tree. The armadillo roots up our newly planted rosebush. The deer eat our young crepe myrtle down to the roots. The feral sow, with her thirty-six piglets, feeds in our garbage can. The coyote pack, which we hear howling at night at the edge of sleep–howling until the neighborhood dogs yelp in envy–the coyotes disappear our cat. The panther, en route from Colorado to Mexico, growls at us out of the brush at the side of the road when we take our evening walk.

They’re just saying hello. They’re saying, we’re here whether or not you acknowledge us.

They’re saying, come out of your house.

A deer trail angles across our front yard. When we first moved here, we were shocked every time the deer passed through. It was as if someone’s herd of cows was roaming free, browsing on our grass. Fawns are born twenty feet from our front door. They and their mothers bed down at night on our side lawn.

Now, when I go into a city, I’m ill at ease. Something’s missing. Everyone’s human. Where are the other beings?

There’s a legend in this area that a herd of bison once escaped through a break in a fence. A whole herd of bison. No one ever found them.

They’re here, though, living down in Devil’s Hollow. If we hide in one of the caves tonight, we’ll see them pass by.

By S.J. Driscoll

Soap? Nope: Looks Like Indie Publishing to Me

Blanco, Texas: Market Day, Nov. 19, 2011

Farmers’ markets–those little local carnivals of fresh bread, brown eggs and dewy lettuce–are surging. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the number of farmers’ markets in the U.S. jumped from more than 6,000 in 2010 to more than 7,000 in 2011. That’s a 17% increase.

A new business model is emerging. People are changing their identity from being primarily employees of others, and primarily consumers of the products that keep the international trade world afloat. They’re reshaping their economic soul to become creators of products.

Have you been to a farmer’s market lately? The variety and creativity of the products are amazing. Like the variety and creativity of the ebook market.

People are trading with each other. Taking matters into their own hands to reach customers directly. Not only setting up on the courthouse lawn, but using personal contacts and the Internet to make a living.

This is also just like what’s happening in publishing.

For example, here’s this “author’s” site:

Try to see it as your indie author’s blog home page or Amazon page. There’s the name. The logline. The URL. An overview of the “books.”

Maybe it’s interesting, so you check it out more closely.

Look at all those “same but different” soaps. This author writes a series.

What’s that on the left?

Two more series. Obviously romantica. Hmm, seems like one series is mini-romantica. YA? How nouveau. Do you think this author is spreading herself too thin?

Jehosophat! What’s she doing? Not just single title soaps and liquid soaps, she’s gone and written hand-dyed wool and silk as well! Not to mention the knitted caps.

For traditional marketing purposes, she’d have to get a second name. Maybe “Yarnmarked.” Do you think anyone would guess she’s the same writer?

It’s a good thing she’s got this indie market.

It’s a good thing for us all.

Thank you, Soapmarked.com!

By S.J. Driscoll

The other world

Another world intersects with our city world of work, cars, media, shopping.

Our ancestors knew it. Few of us do.

This other world isn’t supernatural. It’s not in another dimension.

It’s where we came from. It’s still here, but we left.

So sometimes it comes to visit.

The squirrel steals the figs off our fig tree. The armadillo roots up our newly planted rosebush. The deer eat our young crepe myrtle down to the roots. The feral sow, with her thirty-six piglets, feeds in our garbage can. The coyote pack, which we hear at night howling at the edge of sleep–howling until the neighborhood dogs yelp in envy–the coyotes disappear our cat. The panther, en route from Colorado to Mexico, growls at us out of the brush at the side of the road when we take our evening walk.

They’re just saying hello. They’re saying, we’re here whether or not you acknowledge us.

They’re saying, come out of your house.

A deer trail angles across our front yard. When we first moved here, we were shocked every time the deer passed through. It was as if someone’s herd of cows was roaming free, browsing on our grass. Fawns are born twenty feet from our front door. They and their mothers bed down at night on our side lawn.

Now, when I go into the city, I’m ill at ease. Something’s missing. Everyone’s human. Where are the other beings?

There’s a legend in this area that a herd of bison once escaped through a break in a fence. A whole herd of bison. No one ever found them.

They’re here, though, living down in Devil’s Hollow. If we hide in one of the caves tonight, we’ll see them pass by.

The old oak


This is the view from my desk: the middle of the old live oak. Because of the drought and the devastating fires in Bastrop, two days ago some friends thinned its branches away from our house. It was wrenching to see the old limbs drop, but the rain came and the tree is fine. Now my view includes a tiny triangle of the far ridge.