48 years of Music and Memories

My 30 year high school reunion is coming up. Its odd because just yesterday I was six and me and my sister were at my Aunt Rose’s house listening to Muskrat Love by Captain and Tennille. Wow! that was a terrible album…But, I own it because it reminds me of my Aunt Rose. She exposed me and my sister to some absolutely terrible music but at the same time, she had some greats like Barry Manilow and who doesn’t know who Lola the showgirl is and where Barry fell in love with her. Admit it, even as a straight male, you’re singing that song in your head. You can’t help it. I still flip through records and remember people and places and things. I don’t have as much time as I’d like to do it but when I get the chance and I’m not completely annoying my family members, I put on those old records and they immediately take me back. They take me back to my uncle Bob’s room at my grandmothers house where he had these gigantic speakers and he was listening to Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers.  Even though Donald Fagen only had one good album (The Nightfly), I owe my appreciation for his and the smooth voice of Michael McDonald to my Uncle Bob.

I think more than anything I am thinking of my son, who is off at basic training in S. Carolina right now. He’s a true music fan and Simon and Garfunkel and Johnny Cash and Al Green are some of his favorites. When he was younger, we would listen to music together and as his tastes developed in different directions, I stuck to the 70s and 80s mostly, still enjoying various artists and genres but sticking close to home and the memories attached to the songs I love. There were those times as a small child that I listened to The Imperials and I closed my eyes and in my mind, I stood and watched an eagle fly, spread his wings and soar across the sky, how gracefully he flew. There was the time, me and Jerry Lamb listened to the 45 record in his room, Convoy, over and over. I bet his mother was about to flip out if she heard “10-4 rubber ducky” one more time and there we were, both of us listening to Convoy and I know, secretly just there, hoping that Sandra Wilson would come outside her front door so that we could go out there and compete for her attention.

I remember hearing Stanley Clarke’s Album “Let Me Know You” on a trip to Monterrey Mexico at my Uncle Beto’s house and actually realizing how much I enjoyed jazz. Gino Vanelli and his Brother to Brother album, every song is gold on that album. Every song on albums like Def Leppards’ Pyromania, Bryan Adams’ Reckless, Prince’s Purple Rain.  I could go on and on from popular music to the classics from Journey that now stop people in their tracks to sing along and reminisce.

I’ll do my best to remember and I know that after I save this, more will come to me. I remember my brother, Robert, coming home with Boston’s Third Stage. The insert in the cassette cover was so cool! and every song was awesome. We played it on his little jam box that he had unscrewed the back from and cut the speaker wires and run wires into my dad’s old Radio Shack, wooden Realistic Speakers. Those speakers sounded amazing! I adopted much of my brothers musical tastes as well. I have just about every Pat Metheny album because of my brother bringing home First Circle. He was a Rush fan too and over the years, I’ve picked up every Rush album for my son, even the bad ones. Wait, are there any bad ones? Maybe, I don’t know. It’s not about the music, Its about the art.

Back then, we listened to Friday Night Videos. MTV hadn’t come on the scene and the only time to watch videos was on Friday and Saturday nights and if you were a headbanger, you had to stay up extra late to watch Headbanger’s Ball…but, if you were a headbanger, that wouldn’t necessarily be a problem because you were, of course, a natural rebel. After MTV, VH1 came along and I started to appreciate Lionel Ritchie as a solo artist a little more and smooth jazz became part of my repertoire when picking up the ladies. I can’t even begin to count how many times, I popped in the cassette Collaboration by Earl Klugh and George Benson, doing my absolute best to get the girls swooning. I will admit, Collaboration worked a little better than Larry Carlton (one of Mark Bairrington’s favorites). I hear a Larry Carlton song and I think about you Mark. Good stuff. One of my favorite Commodores albums, “All the Great Hits” has the song Painted Picture on it and Man!!! that’s a great song.

When I would visit family in Corpus Christi, I acquired musical taste for Sade from my cousin Velma and in the 80’s, of course, spending time with my cousin Pam, we couldn’t go without listening to Don’t Disturb this Groove. I actually now have The System on vinyl because, of course, its another memory I need to make sure I don’t lose track of. my cousin Ronnie would allow me to go with her on her occasional trek to Craig’s Record Factory and it was like Heaven in that place! The music that came about in the late 80s and early 90s was deeply appreciated. I can’t even think of most of it because I was in a bit of a fog most of the time. I do remember, cruising around in Manny Chapa’s lowered Toyota truck, with some sort of short in the radio that buzzed louder when he hit the accelerator. It didn’t effect our ability to thoroughly enjoy The Cult’s Fire Woman, She Sells Sanctuary. I’m telling you, if you haven’t listened to those songs and music from Poison or Motley Crue in a small cab on full blast, you just haven’t appreciated the music to it’s fullest. Of course, you have to be enroute to Elizabeth’s By The Sea, Vernon’s or Bobarubas or just cruising around the Dallas/Rio parking lot because you’re not quite old enough to get into the clubs.

I could also go on and on about the memories attached to the music. Like how whenever I hear Summer of 69, I remember Bryan Stewart driving like a maniac, or how absolutely spotless Rod Bryans car was and how he was meticulous in keeping his music just so when we listened to Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” in his back room, or listening to The Outfield’s Play Deep with Mark Willmann. How can I ever forget listening to shock heavy metal with Boozer Pennington when he first came home with a cassette by a band called W.A.S.P. Talk about rebellion. I guess it wasn’t a far stretch from listening to AC/DC’s Back in Black with Scott Brewer in his little jacked up Toyota, so completely hammered that he had to dump me off at the back of my house and my throat was scratchy the next day because I actually became Brian Johnson in the front seat of the truck.

Riding around in cars, blaring music, being completely irresponsible with alcohol, that’s just what we did in small town West Texas in the 80s. Am I proud of it? Of course not. Did it happen? Hell yeah it happened and it was the best time of my life. I remember the first time I heard Crazy Train at Larry Abney’s house. Man! that rocked. We also listened to Quiet Riot that day. Honorable mention goes out to Keric Clanahan and Erik Wilson for letting me experience a group called The Meatmen and a song called Tooling for Anus. What the hell was that about???? Oh yeah, one more, Shawn Holliday, Chad Redwine, and myself and I would say maybe a few hundred other people can’t go through life without hearing a Duran Duran song and thinking of Mindy Kniffen. Mindy…from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for Shawn when he threw your Duran Duran cassette out of the back of the bus window. I can’t fail to mention, Patrick Guzman. We were all in his front yard, he was washing his car and me and Victor and I think Patty was there too and he had Pass the Dutchie playing at full volume on his car stereo. I remember cruising around with Shawn Holliday in his Camaro and listening to Til Tuesday. A couple years back, I had to pick up the CD “Voices Carry” and wondered, “why did this sound so good back then in that car and now…not so much?” The answer…because I was hanging with friends and family and people I cared about. That’s it. The music was background noise. Whether it was Russ Taff, Keith Whitley or Aerosmith or Def Leppard or Chris Botti or ZZ top or Ozzy, We were building memories. I figure I better enjoy those memories now because with all the spray aerosol deodorant I’ve used over the years and all the Sweet-N-Low that I put in my tea every day, who knows how long my mind will stay sharp.


My Angel is a Soldier

When I saw this picture today, my heart swelled up with pride and my eyes swelled up with tears. My daughter Sarah is a Soldier the U.S. Army. She’s a platoon leader and before she left I told her that she was a leader, not a follower. I’ve always been proud of her but seeing her in this picture, in army fatigues, and with the flag of the United States on her shoulder just put me in awe of her. The other kids in that picture are not mine but I’m proud of them too. I can’t speak for those other kids (adults really but they’re so young) but I know what my Sarah is made of. She’s fearless and brave. She’s a defender of others and she always has been. She has a heart of gold and it’s filled with fire when she sees a goal in front of her. She’s a fighter and nothing will defeat her when she sets her mind to something. 

I sat in my car for a little while and sent that picture to several family members. I was about to go on my evening walk at the bayfront and the feeling of pride was overwhelming. As i walked along the waters edge i asked a man that was fishing if he had had any luck, “just little bites” he told me. I talked with him for a brief moment and he asked how my day was going. I told him, “it couldn’t be better.” He said, “that’s good” and I couldn’t resist but to show him the picture and tell my daughter is in the army and I got this picture today. He smiled and said, “God bless her. I know you’re a proud daddy.” I told him I sure was and I wished him luck and I was on my way. I feel so grateful that Sarah was given to me as a daughter and no matter what difficulties I’ve faced in life, I’ve been able to feel that feeling of being proud of not only Sarah but my other kids, Allie and Isaiah, as well . They’re the best kids and I know they will all be successful. 

They will all have their shining moments and I know that although Sarah may not realize how I felt about her today, today is the day I felt I was going to burst with pride for her. My heart aches a little because I miss her so much. My Angel is a soldier. I love you Lulu. 

A Wonderful Day

I worked last night and got home about 7:30 am. I was exhausted. It was about 55 degrees outside (which is pretty cold for a South Texas winter) and my room was cold and dark and the sheets in my bed were especially cold, just the way I like them. I crawled into bed and sank into a deep sleep. I woke up to the regular sounds of my three teenaged children milling about the house and to the sounds of two dogs barking at each other. This is pretty much my regular alarm clock on a weekend day and although its a Wednesday and my two youngest are in high school, they’re all on Thanksgiving break and everyone was home. My regular ritual is to watch an episode or two of The Office with my son, heat up some leftovers from whatever was leftover from dinner the night before and after to figure out what I want to do with the few free hours I have before I go back to work. Fortunately, today….I’m off so I have about 30 hours before I have to be at work again.

Sarah is my middle daughter. I’ve written about her before. She’s my artist. She’s the typical middle child and keeps us on our toes. She’s the world traveler and the one child that I have that has an extremely difficult time taking “No” for an answer. When she gets something in her mind. She does whatever possible to make that thing come to fruition. As I was figuring out what to wear for the afternoon, (which is typically a pair of khakis covered in paint, polyurethane, and wood glue) Sarah comes to my room and says, “Dad, is it okay if I take Nova to the beach? Mom said to ask you.” Nova is Sarah’s Weimeraner puppy. I say puppy but she’s going to be a big dog so she doesn’t seem much like a pup. Sarah’s always loved dogs….even when we didn’t have room for one, she always tried her hardest to convince us that a dog was a good idea.



There’s a few things I have learned over the years with Sarah. If she says, “mom said to ask you” what that means is that her mother said “no” and Sarah wouldn’t let up and my wife finally said, “WHATEVER!! I SAID NO! ASK YOUR FATHER!” That basically means that I should be reading my wife’s mind and should automatically say “no.” The mistake I have made in the past is that I have given in to my daughter’s desires. I have a tendency to see no harm in what she wants to do and then later realize that although my wife did say “ask your father”, I should have known to say “no” and I reaped the whirlwind when she finds out that Sarah did exactly what she was told not to do by her mother. I’ve become the expert after several negative experiences and I told Sarah, “Let me call your mother.” I automatically knew that she had been told “no” by the look on Sarah’s face as if I had just taken the wind out of her sails. I called my wife and sure enough…. she had said “no” and strictly for safety reasons. She didn’t want Sarah taking the dog to the beach by herself in the event that there was one of the thousands of un-caught serial killers at the beach, searching for seashells or surfing or fishing (things serial killers typically have as their hobbies).

When I saw how discouraged Sarah looked, I decided to go ahead and forego my daily rituals or plans for the day (which had not yet been made) and I told her, “Let’s go Lu. I’ll go with you.”

When my children were little and I was a returning college student I had very little money. I had lost my job and me and my family were living in an efficiency apartment. We weren’t shopping for fun, going to the movies, traveling, etc. We didn’t have the funds to do these things. We would take the kids to the beach. I would take them on nature walks. At one point, we would go around and collect aluminum cans and at the end of the week, we would turn them in and I would take the kids to dollar movie and to Wendy’s for burgers and frostees. When I would take the kids on walks, Sarah always wanted to take a ziploc baggie. She wanted to collect leaves and sticks, and any other interesting items that she could find. On occasion, she would find a lady bug and this was definitely the highlight of the week.


When we got to the beach all of those memories of Sarah picking up every little cool item she could find came rushing back. She ran and played with her dog and as we walked down the beach, she started picking up starfish that were still alive and throwing them back into the water. She said she would like to find a dead starfish with all the arms intact. Then she said that she knows that the stores that sell the whole starfish get them when they are alive and so she feels terrible because she knows that they kill them. She’s a good hearted kid to think this way. We continued on our walk and I took several pictures and we collected shells for her to make hair clips and I picked up crab shells to make an art piece later while Nova picked up every disgusting thing she could find with her mouth. I guess dogs just tend to do that and we tend to forget because as we drove home, we let her give us dog kisses and didn’t think twice about it.


I pulled up to the house and told Sarah, “I’m glad I went Sarah.” She said, “it was a perfect day to go to the beach.” I agreed and said, “it was a perfect day.” She got out and took Nova out of the truck and headed toward the back yard. What I meant to say was “It was a perfect day because I got to spend time with my daughter. I’ll never forget days like today. I love you Angel.”



Here’s to You 17E23


I saw on my Facebook tonight that a few friends have posted regarding the upcoming execution of Edgar Tamayo on 01/22/14. This is 20 years after he killed my friend Guy Gaddis. Dave Bush and I were riding the unit 17E14 that night. I later went on to ride with Craig Hensarling on 17E10 for a little over a year but I stayed in that beat because I loved the officers I worked with. 17 district was broken up into 4 beats; 10’s, 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s….hence 17 E (identifying Beechnut substation) and whatever beat, early side or late side. Early side units were even numbers and odd numbers were late side.

Guy Gaddis was one of the hardest working officers I ever knew. Just like the rest of us, at the end of every shift, his boots had mud on them and his uniform that had been clean at 11pm looked like he’d rolled around on the ground a couple times. I haven’t been a police officer since 1998 and even though it’s been 15 years, I have the fondest memories of my fellow officers from the time I spent chasing crooks in 17 district with Dave Bush, Craig Hensarling, Mike Flores, Garri Solano, Sid Veliz, Eddie Parodi, Chris Slyman, and Guy Gaddis. There were a ton of other officers I looked up to also, guys that had been on the street a while longer than the rest of us, Rayne, Rypien, Falhaber, Overstreet, May, Manriquez, Hubbard, Harbison, and all of Rico Garcia’s tac team guys that we wanted to be like and the list goes on and on. All of us worked in 10’s beat except for Guy and I remember always telling him that he was poaching in 10’s beat because he knew all the hard working officers were there and that’s where he belonged. Of course, we were all rookies and between running calls, we were walking through apartment complexes, sitting up on stolen cars, hoping and praying for a herd of bald headed little gangsters would pull out onto the street in one of them.

The night we lost Guy, I remember Dave Bush and I had pulled out of The Topaz parking lot right after we told Guy we’d meet up with him at Denny’s on 59 later that night. We knew it was going to take him a while to process these two turds that he had just picked up. There were several of us in that parking lot and every one of the officers there were close. We pulled a drunk over as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot. He was headed North on Chimneyrock and didn’t have his headlights on. As we were filling out the tow slip, we heard Bellaire PD come on the air to let us know that one of our units had just crashed into a  home in Bellaire on Chimneyrock. We jumped in our shop and headed that way immediately. Our gut feeling told us it was Guy. We all thought we were tough….. I thought I was tough. That feeling changed in that front yard looking at my friend. We were all in our early 20’s and in every situation, we were in control. It was a different feeling that night. It felt like no one was in control and the chaos that was in the air was permeated with the overwhelming sadness of about 20 or more officers that were on that scene.

We were blocking off Chimneyrock and making room for the helicopter that was going to come take Guy (although we had already lost him) and at one point, I stopped and couldn’t bare my emotions any longer and I went to the back seat of a patrol car that had the back door open. I sat down and without permission, the tears just started flowing. I don’t remember his first name but I think he was a 16 district officer. His last name was Poe. We always called each other by our last names. Poe pulled up close to the car I was sitting in and rolled his window down and said, “You alright Barrera?” It was a simple question. I said, “yeah, i’m alright.” I pulled myself together and stepped out of the back seat. I wasn’t alright but I appreciated him at that brief moment.

The following week, Dave Bush and I went to inquire about a headstone for a monument that we wanted to put on Chimneyrock where the tragedy happened. The owner of the headstone business only charged us for the stone and he put the wording on it for free. We put the cross in the Beechnut substation with an envelope and within a couple days, the officers of the station had paid for the cross. The upsetting part about it was that there was a group of us from 17 district that wanted to put the cross out on Chimneyrock but the chief at the time, Sam Nuchia took it upon himself to take a moment to shine with the media and made a big “to do” on TV. After coming back to Houston from a visit to Corpus Christi, Dave and I noticed that the cross was gone and we realized that the time and energy we spent to get this thing together for our close friend, had been done without us. Regardless, I’m glad the cross is still there.

My hat goes off to the men and women working in law enforcement. In that line of work, you develop relationships that are closer than the regular co-worker relationships and when something tragic happens, it cuts just a little deeper than normal. Guy was definitely one of the good guys. I’m sure there are some people, family, friends, that can describe him better than I can in the brief time that I knew him. He was kind. He knew how to talk to kids on different scenes. He was funny. He got an alarm call at the Toys-R-Us on 59 and he put a foot chase out on the air and he was chasing a 9 foot subject named Geoffrey. He was professional. He was brave. I remember the night he saved a girl from getting raped by two guys (and probably worse) behind a empty building on Bissonnet. Everyone that knew him, instantly liked him. As they say…he was “good people” and we were all fortunate for knowing him and working with him.  You’ll never be forgotten 17E23.

To the Residents of 1103 NW 12th St.

I heard a song earlier today, The House that Built Me, and it desperately made me want to visit my childhood home. I thought that the least I could do was ask so I wrote this letter to the current resident of the home I grew up in. I also had this idea that it would be so cool to hear about other people’s experiences that did the same thing. I was fortunate that my childhood home was full of love and attention. Sometimes the attention came in the form of discipline I thought I could have lived without but it was good for me and shaped me into who I am today. If you haven’t visited your childhood home and this entry leads you to ask to do it, please, let me know how it went. i’ll keep you updated if I hear a response. Here is the letter I wrote to the people living in the House that Built Me.

Dear residents of 1103 NW 12th St.,

This may be the most bizarre letter you have ever received at your home. My name is David Barrera. I was born and raised in Andrews, TX. In fact, I was brought home from the hospital to your home and lived there until I left home after my graduation from high school. Like most 17-year-old kids from Andrews, TX, I couldn’t wait to spread my wings and fly and get away from that small town. I literally left Andrews, TX the morning after my high school graduation and moved to Corpus Christi. That was in 1988. I drove away and saw my parents standing in the front yard near the three trees that they had planted for each one of us; my mother in tears and my father with a somber look on his face. I didn’t realize how difficult this was for them until I became a parent. I have three children now.

My parents sold the house in 1991 and moved to Corpus Christi. Shortly after my parents moved to Corpus Christi, I moved to Houston. I remember when my parents got to Corpus Christi, my mother was very depressed. She cried for several days because she missed the home that she had raised me and my two older siblings in. I know the house has changed but I remember my brother and I helping my dad as he built on to the back of the house. As a child, my brother and shared the bedroom at the end and to the left of the hallway. My parents bedroom was right across the hallway, the one with the bathroom in it. My sister’s bedroom was right across from the hallway bathroom, close to the living room. The layout of the house may be very different now, I don’t know. As we got older, my father built a playroom at the back of the house. He had a small study attached to the playroom and there was a small bedroom at the very back of the house with a door that led to the back yard. That little room with the bathroom in it became my brothers room and later, that playroom became my parents master bedroom and my brothers little room became their walk in closet/bathroom. I could go on and on describing the house the way it was back then.

I did not go back to Andrews until July 2010. I still have some friends there that I connected with on Facebook and I went to see them and to see the little town that I had left behind back in 1988. I walked through the neighborhood, stopped and visited Mrs. Clark, next door to your house, and Billie Jones, catty-corner from your house. While I was at Billie Jones’ house, I told her that I would have loved to see the house but I didn’t have the nerve to ask to walk through. I thought it would have been inappropriate.

I’m a therapist in Corpus Christi now. After I left Houston, I moved back to Corpus Christi with my wife and children. Today, I was driving back to Corpus Christi from visiting two families in Laredo. I do assessments of people’s homes that are adopting children. As I was driving a song came on the radio called “The House that Built Me.” I got emotional when I heard this song and I remembered standing in front of your house, taking a picture, and remembering playing in the front yard. I so wanted to knock on the door and ask to see the house but I kept walking. Here is the picture I took.


I was sad to see that the big mulberry tree in the back was gone but I was happy to see that the house was kept up. It looks like a really nice house and I’m thinking that if the walls could talk, they’d say that a happy family was raised in this house and that there are many happy memories stored in those walls. The hallway in your house has heard hours upon hours of children’s laughter when me and my siblings would pile pillows on top of each other and take a running leap to plunge down on each other. For some weird reason, we called this game, “Mr. Bambino”. That hallway also was our entry way to the dining room whenever we came out with our hair messed up or pillows stuffed up our shirts as we surprised our parents and their friends/relatives at the dinner table with whatever comedic acts we had planned. The living room is full of memories of Christmas gifts being opened with surprised faces seeing toys or disappointed faces seeing shirts and socks.

christmas andrews 2

We spent tons of time in the playroom, challenging friends to ping pong and my father used to have his orchestra concerts in the back yard. He was the orchestra teacher for all the schools. My mother spent much of her time in her sewing room that was just behind the den and I remember peaking in on my dad having his bible studies in his office by the playroom. We were a dog family and my dad had two weimeraners when we were growing up. Maggie and Fonzie. We later got two muts; Sylvester and Stallone. Those dogs would get out and we’d be walking up and down the street, yelling, “SYLVESTER!!! STALLONEY!!!”. I’m sure people thought we were crazy at first. We spent a lot of time on your front porch, waiting for the rain to stop so we could continue playing. My sister played jacks on your front porch and I played with hotwheels there and dug up doodle-bugs under the shrubs just to the left of the front door.

It was a wonderful place to grow up. It was a good neighborhood and it looks like it still is. We were constantly outside with all of the neighborhood kids and we played in the neighbors yards as much as played in our own.

martha david snowmen

I have my 25th reunion coming up in xxxx. I would like to ask you a favor. I apologize because I know it may be overstepping some boundaries but I have to ask. It would be So greatly appreciated if I can come and see the house that I grew up in. I’m 43 years old now. I have been shaped by my childhood experiences in your house. I now know what my mother went through back in 1991. My family has so many good memories in your house. A marriage got stronger and three children learned life’s important lessons from parents that loved them in your house. My father is 80 now. My mother is 76. They are still going strong. I completely understand if you don’t feel comfortable allowing a total stranger into your house. My wife and I will be coming to Andrews in xxxx and it would mean a great deal to me if I could spend 5 or 10 minutes walking through your home. It was the House that Built Me….and my brother and sister.

3 kids front of house

Please feel free to ignore this letter if you don’t feel comfortable with this request. If you do feel comfortable, I will be coming into town on xx/xx and will be leaving on xx/xx. My phone number is 361-xxx-xxxx. My email is xxxxxxx@hotmail.com. If you feel comfortable allowing me and my wife into your home for a brief time, it would mean the world to me. Thanks and God Bless.

Morgan’s Purse

I lost my dog Morgan about a month and a half ago. He was a homeless puppy when I first found him at the parking lot of the hospital where I work. He was dirty and afraid and I couldn’t believe that someone had left him to fend for himself. I took him home and he immediately became a part of the family. He woke me up every morning, wanting to play. When I got home from work, he wanted to play. He was awesome. I loved him. He had Parvo and I refused to let him suffer so I took him to the vet and put him to sleep. As I petted him and kissed his head and said my goodbye to him, I thought to myself how I would like to hospitalize him, hook him up to IV fluids, and pay whoever – however much it cost to make sure he came out of this but that just wasn’t reality.



Not too long after Morgan’s passing, I went to see a client in a pretty crappy part of town. I went to the front door and knocked and no one answered. I knocked several more times and decided to wait 10 or 15 minutes. I was there to do a substance abuse assessment and I figured the client needed about 15 minutes to stir from her heroin induced slumber or possibly she had been doing meth for 3 days and was really, really, really sleepy now and had crashed and needed a few more minutes than the average person to put herself together. Either way, I waited. As I waited, I looked down at the end of the street and I noticed a medium sized, black, mangy dog. Normally, I would have not paid much attention to this dog but at that moment, I found myself just watching this dog. I noticed that it must have just had puppies and it was walking around all of the trash bins. When it came to a trash bin that was slightly open, it jumped up and using her nose, she pushed the lid the rest of the way open and started dragging trash out of this bin. She’d pull some trash out and start using her paws and nose to go through the trash and a couple times, she’d lick at a paper plate or a food wrapper. She kept going up and pulling out trash and going through these motions.

The other thing I noticed was that cars were just driving by, much like what I would have done. They weren’t paying attention to this animal and I thought to myself, “If the owner of this house comes out, they’re gonna really be pissed that there’s trash all over the front of their house and who knows what he’ll do to this poor starving dog.” I knew the dog had puppies somewhere and needed nourishment to continue feeding her pups. I found myself upset at this neighborhood. I decided to not wait on the drug addict that I had planned on seeing and drove closer to this dog. The closer I got, the more I could see her ribs. She really was starving and I decided at that moment that I wasn’t going to watch this dog starve and scrounge for something to eat. I drove to the dollar store about 3 blocks away and purchased a bag of dog food. I went back and on one of the paper plates that the dog had been licking on, I poured a massive helping of dog food. I wished at that moment that I had a bowl for water but I didn’t. The dog watched me intently from a distance and as I drove away slowly, I noticed her walking up to the food and then starting to eat. I couldn’t take her home but I felt confident that she would have what she needed for the day.

I now keep a bag of dog food in both of my vehicles and over the last two weeks, I’ve fed 4 hungry dogs. I encourage everyone who reads this to stop at your local dollar store, spend a few bucks and throw some dog food into your trunk. If you’re like me, you can’t take that dog home but when you see a hungry dog, searching for food, you’ll remember that the food is there and you’ll stop and take care of that dog, at that moment. This is Morgan’s legacy.

dog at HEB kostoryz

dog at memorial

To my Heroes at The Hot Pepper

I recently started a new hobby of growing hot peppers. Now, when I say hot, initially, I thought, Habaneros and Serranos had some heat. I’ve always enjoyed spicy food. When I go to a barbecue joint, I reach for the spicy sauce. When I go to a Thai place and the waitress says, “one through five,” I boastingly say, “make mine a six.” So, to try out my hand at growing peppers, I began with the basics; jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, and some thai chili. About a month into my new hobby, I stumbled across a website called “The Hot Pepper.” I thought it was amazing to see all these people who were almost fanatical about their hobby. They really know their stuff. Every bit of information you could possibly want is on this web site. The peppers are works of art. The knowledge runs so deep with the people on this site that they should be teaching at Universities! I was amazed. They have the best recipes for hot sauce. The forums are always interesting. I could go on an on.

Well, after a few weeks, I ventured off into the realm of making my own hot sauce. I did pretty good. I made dozens of batches. People were asking me for more of my sauce. My neighbors loved it. I was making everything with Habaneros; mango habanero, peach habanero, pineapple habanero, pineapple mango habanero, pineapple coconut habanero. You have probably guessed that I like the heat of the habanero and I like fruit flavored hot sauces.

I decided that the next step is to try my hand at growing some of what the aficionados call “super hots.” These peppers have names like “devil’s tongue”, “Yellow 7 Pot”, “Trinidad scorpion”, “bhut jolokia” (more commonly known as the ghost pepper). The names go on and on. I started watching the Youtube videos of these people sampling these super hot peppers and wondered, “I wonder if I could do that?” Needless to say, I made contact with a “THP” member and bought some of these peppers with the intention of getting the seeds, trying to grow some, and to make some hot sauce. Many people have asked me for something hotter than what I had already so I figured, “what the hell, I’ll make some super hot sauce with some of these super hot peppers.”

I followed the lead of some of the pros on the website and got out my surgical gloves. I got all my ingredients together and me and my 13 year old son jumped right in. Halfway through the process, my son put a cut pepper up to his nose and next thing I know, He’s bent over the sink, coughing, hacking up a lung, yelling and telling me, “I DIDN’T EVEN TASTE IT BUT IT GOT ON MY LIP AND IN MY NOSE!!!” For the next couple minutes, I attended to him and he downed a few glasses of milk and ice water and eventually, he was able to pull himself away from the ice machine. I put all the cut up peppers in a foil and put them over the burner. They were going to get a little roast on them and then go into the blender. Before I knew it, both me and my son were coughing and gagging. It was like a dozen police officers had come into my home and pepper sprayed both of us!




“OPEN THE DOOR SON!!” I yelled to him. He made his way through the haze and opened the back door.  We had come too far. We had to push on. We had to complete this mission of making this super hot sauce. I wouldn’t allow the peppers to beat me. I have been watching young girls eating these peppers on Youtube and I thought, “If they can do that, I can do this!” As I dumped everything into the blender, the fumes hit me in the face and almost knocked me into the cabinets on the other side of the kitchen. At this point, I started asking myself, “Are these people Super Human???? How the HELL do they do this!!!??” I pushed on. My son had made his way into the backyard and avoided the cloud of fumes that had overcome my kitchen. My two dogs that are typically waiting at my feet for any bit of morsel to drop, had already headed out the doggie door and were at the back fence. I blended this deadly mixture to a consistency that I thought was suitable for the mutant that would be able to put this stuff on a taco and took the blender into the back yard and told my son, “When I tell you, run into the kitchen and get the jars out of the hot water and bring them out to me.”

My son quickly replied, “I’m not going back in there!” as he held an ice pack to his nose and mouth area. I put the blender down on the outside table and took a deep breath and ran back into the house to get the jars. As I hit the threshold of the open back door, I felt like Nicolas Cage in “The Rock” running into a cloud of poisonous nerve gas and all I could think about was that I might go into a seizure if I took a deep enough breath. Needless to say, I completed my mission and I filled up four jars of this nuclear waste that I was going to call Super Hot Mango Hot Sauce. The reality is that if you put this stuff on any food you plan to eat, it will eat right through it and then burn through the glass plate and the wooden table underneath. It will probably look like a clip from the movie Alien Vs. Predator when the aliens get cut and their acid like blood splashes onto the people and burns right through to their bone marrow.

I want to close by saying one thing. “You people at The Hot Pepper that eat this stuff have stomachs made of Unobtainium and my hat goes off to you!”