Tuesday, October 16, 2018

True Story: Not Yolking

The other day my wife stopped by the local feed store and bought some eggs from a nearby yardbird farm. As far as eggs go, these seemed rather huge, like maybe they'd been laid by a pterodactyl or something. Then, when Martina started cracking them open, three in a row had two yolks. That, my friends, raised the peculiarity quotient a couple of standard deviations, so I hopped on the internet to learn more about eggs with two yolks.

It turns out that young pullets new to laying eggs sometimes lay double yolkers and that Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, and Sussex hens have a propensity to lay such eggs. Cracking open three double-yolked eggs in a row seemed like the barnyard equivalent to the royal flush, so I felt the need to share this natural wonder with y'all.

Just for grins, here's Hayes Carll singing about chickens in the front yard.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Reflection on the Words of an Honorary Texan

Yesterday morning after breakfast I finished reading Sam Shepard's Spy of the First Person, written in the months before he died from complications of Lou Gehrig's Disease in July of 2017. Shepard, who was hailed as "the coolest honorary Texan of all time" by Austin360, was able to complete this book of fiction with the assistance of loved ones who helped get his words to the printed page.

One sentence that particularly struck me was the following: "Although internally something must change, externally it remains fairly constant." When I read that aphoristic line, I thought of some of my own short stories, where characters are alone or virtually alone in a desolate setting. The world around them does not change significantly, it "remains fairly constant," but the characters themselves change in some way internally, even if, to the outside observer, nothing would appear different. And I thought about the great writer's final days, the lack of mobility, the unchanging quality of the room around him, and I am very grateful that he chose to record his final thoughts for posterity to ponder.

Image result for sam shepard

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Krasna Lipa: What's in a Name?

My short story, "Ink Upon the Furrows," which was recently released by the Texas Observer, is set in the fictional town of Krasna Lipa. "Krasna Lipa" literally means "Beautiful Lime," and I chose this name because the lime tree is a symbol of the Czech people. 

The lime tree, it must be noted, does not bear citrus fruit. It is what is known as the linden tree in Germany, and in Texas I tend to hear it called the basswood tree. When my wife, Martina, flew back to Texas recently, she came with Lipový čaj, lime tea, in her suitcase, which is a folk remedy for the common cold. I have included a picture below.

Here is a link to "Ink Upon the Furrows," the winner of the 2018 Texas Observer Short Story Contest:

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Texas Pecan: National Coffee of Texas

Today is National Coffee Day, so I reckon I'll celebrate what I consider the National
Coffee of Texas. Yes, indeed, it is a fine day to celebrate Texas pecan coffee, which I sometimes drink by the bucketload. My wife, Martina, is also a fan of Texas pecan, and when she goes back to Europe, she always takes packages to give to family and friends. Considering the rarity of this Lone Star specialty in Bohemia, the coffee is always a smash hit.

And just for kicks, here is an article that includes the coffee-related lyrics found in ten songs by Texas native Lyle Lovett.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Collector of Songs

Folklorist John Avery Lomax was born on this day in 1867 in Goodman, Mississippi, though his family moved to Texas before his second birthday. In Texas, Lomax lived near the Old Chisholm Trail and after hearing the old cowboy songs while growing up decided to write down the words to the songs. This early interest transformed into an occupation, and Lomax traveled the nation collecting folk songs, with his Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads being published in 1910. Lomax, who was among the founders of the Texas Folklore Society, is also known for introducing the nation to the music of Lead Belly, whom he met at Angola in Louisiana. The folklorist died in Mississippi in 1948.

Here is a Lomax recording of Doris McMurray singing "This Little Light o' Mine." The recording was made near Huntsville, Texas, in 1939. 

To learn more about John Avery Lomax, please follow the link to the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) article, which is the source from which the majority of the information in this blog post originated.


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Austin Bound

"Ink Upon the Furrows," a new story set in Waylon County, was named the winner of the 2018 Texas Observer Short Story Contest last Thursday. I am thankful to Judge Natalia Sylvester and the Texas Observer for this dream come true; and I am grateful to the people, both living and departed, whose influence made this story possible, including my late stepfather, Randy Kunze, who, when I told him I had been offered a job in Northern Bohemia, handed me a Czech phrasebook and encouraged me to do what he had always dreamed of doing, move to Europe.

At this time I would like to announce that I will be joining the other Texas Observer Short Story Contest finalists for a reading at a Texas Book Festival Lit Crawl event in Austin on October 27 at Gelateria Gemelli, 1009 E. 6th Street. The event will start at 9:30 pm. If you live in Austin, will be in Austin, or would like to be in Austin for the Bookfest, please mark your calendar. Thanks again to all of my friends and family for your unflagging support. I couldn't make it without you.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Wedding Kolaches

My wife, Martina, arrived back in Texas last night after visiting her mother in the Czech Republic. When she opened her suitcase, she smiled and showed me the fresh wedding kolaches she had ordered from a bakery in her little town in Northern Bohemia.

Traditionally, wedding kolaches are served at nuptial events as well as given away to coworkers and neighbors. We, of course, are already happily married, but Martina liked the idea of bringing little bite-sized kolaches back for folks to sample.

Cream, poppy seed, and hazelnut wedding kolaches