A picture tells a tale which memories enhance

Kind of a cool dreary Southeast Texas winter day lingers outside. If one had a reason to go outdoors a windbreaker or T-shirt and shirtsleeves would likely be comfortable until the dark of the day begins to appear when a more noticeable chill arrives. Inside, my thoughts turn to the countryside. In actuality I am thinking about the follow up picture to the one on the header of this blog.

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It is the one pictured here in the text. Say hello to “Casa del Loco!”

I have no idea exactly who came up with the name. It was likely Bruce. It could’ve been Suzie or Waldo. It might have been me. Whether it was named, imperfect or not, the Spanish translation will come out as “Home of the Madman,” “Home of the Crazy” or “Crazy House.” At certain times when I lived there and even when I didn’t, the translations fit.

The photograph isn’t the best. I took it with my point and shoot digital the closest I could behind the fence. Although a car appears to adorn the “front yard” as well as some furniture — that couldn’t be better but later on that matter — the house appears vacant.

I won’t go into the history of the place, other than that relating to my living there. My friend, Waldo, lived there for about eight months before he moved to Dallas. If we all knew that he would live only 16 more years before being felled by cancer, we probably would have partied a bit harder had that been humanly possible. I was still in that dual life as full-time fireman and full-time college student when I moved into the place in 1982. I would leave the place about to graduate and take another job about two years later. For a variety of reasons I left that “post-graduate” position, working for a regional council of governments in northeastern Texas, about a year later and would move back to this little house in the East Texas Pineywoods region. That is to say I only lived in the little house for some three years total. It seemed, though, like many more years than that.

This was the place where I honed my passion for solitude. Don’t get me wrong. The place would sometimes see around 200, mostly college students, out in the yard sucking up three kegs of beer simultaneously. Oh, and the furniture I mentioned: We burned it on bonfires. ┬áThat is why the yard as it appears today — still likely just a patch of occasionally mowed grass meeting unimproved pasture — would have been just right for the old days at Casa del Loco.

But some of my most favorite days were spent there with only three or four people, and mostly by myself. Oh, and two different dogs and a cat at different times of my occupancy. The white cat just appeared while Waldo lived there and I inherited it, as did I (re)inherit my small black dog Pedro. The funny little, supposed, black Lab and Irish setter mix eventually just went away and never came back. Same with Man, the cat. When I moved back there in 1985, I took in a much larger, half great Dane, half Doberman, named Cochise. This dog two would later be passed in custody to my friends who eventually moved to the Casa. Cochise would also do that “old Houdini” though from a different residence. He was a handful but like the other animals who shared my place, was a great companion.

I have written about the dogs and the parties and all the fun we had out there on the 200-acres “farm.” Really, it was mostly pasture for my landlord’s herd of cattle. Once a year, a passel of “cowboys” would appear on horses with dogs and herd the cattle all over the place, even next to my house. Then they would load up the ones they needed to and away they went. The cows were never pets for me although I spent a great amount of time watching them. There were the times that the cows would be right up to the yard chomping away on God-knows-what kind of flora with an egret or two perched somewhere on the unbothered bovine.

The days of solitude varied, my mind concerned with thoughts of my humanly connections: Loves lost, the deaths of my parents, money woes, joy, accomplishment. It seems the great outdoors provides one with a wide bulletin board with which to pin your pros, cons and otherwise.

Sometimes, though, I would just marvel on what was before me. A little spring not a long distance from the house had already eroded a Grand Canyon in the miniature. And I wondered how long it would take before that red clay to displace more of the farm before the landlord took some action toward this erosion. Knowing him, he probably never did.

Things like the toothache tree next to the house, or waking up to a rumble between someone’s dog and a doe deer in the pond were among the many natural puzzles for my mind to work when sitting around in the quiet. Though we didn’t see it, my friend Rick — who just visited on Christmas Day — and I were once drinking beer on the porch when some guy in some kind of auto failed to negotiate a curve on the nearby road. It turned out the driver had also been drinking beer. Maybe that’s what saved the guy from injury or death.

Were there a good reason for it, I think I might could become a pretty decent hermit. Life on the farm, while kind of laid back, was also a place where one might be alone and not worry what the world thinks about it. I have come to miss the country life. After all the years without it makes me wonder if it is something I should strive for again. Age and the situation one find themselves in all are characteristics of what guides your life at a certain period of time. We shall see what happens. Meanwhile, memories can be pretty sweet.