How to Love a Mockingbird

Before you get too excited, this is not a post about Harper Lee, her new book, her old book, or anything so noble. This little tidbit is simply about… a mockingbird.

I’m a Texan, and mockingbirds are our state bird. I live out in the country, where the birds are more common. We have one that resides in the field beside our home and keeps us entertained constantly. We have, on occasion, listened to him mimic the bob-white quail that scurry from one mesquite tree to the next. We’ve heard him “mock” the feral kittens in the area, with a tiny mew mew mew. He even trills the song of the frogs after a rainy night. He has quite a large repertoire.

But last week we were shocked at the new song he was singing. My husband and I were leaving for church, early on Sunday morning, and as our garage door finished its obnoxiously squeaky ascent to the open position, we heard the mockingbird’s ballad. Squee-ee-ee-ee-lumma-lumma-ee-ee-lumma-lumma-ee-ee-chirrup. That’s right; it was our annoying garage door noise, reflected back to us in song.

Now my husband is set on WD-40-ing the tracks to eliminate that whine, but I don’t want the bird to stop his serenade.  While I hated the squeal before, and was all in favor of  ridding the world of the din, I now enjoy that our little bird has turned it into something lovely and sweet.

I’m grateful for, and love, our mockingbird.

Twenty Facts About Me

Day two of the June blogging challenge sounded easy. Just needed to make a list of twenty facts about myself. Hmmm… this took a little longer to put together than I expected.

1. One of my favorite things to do is teach Bible class to little kids. I especially like teaching the stories that are a little gross or scary. The expressions on the kids’ faces are priceless.

2. I have lived my whole life in Texas, with the exception of a couple of summers spent in Idaho, when my dad staked mining claims in the early 1970’s.texas

3. I have seen every episode of Gilligan’s Island. Even the TV specials where they got rescued and re-stranded.

4. My favorite aisle at the grocery store is the one with the coffee, chocolate syrup, and peanut butter. The combination of those smells delights me.

5. I read Little Women a dozen times in the third grade. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer.

6. I have the original script to Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope memorized. I’m a complete geek.

7. I enjoy travel. I have a long list of places I’d like to see before I die.

8. I like to study history and geography. I am also a nerd.

9. I adore pirates, spies, Vikings, detectives, and space cowboys– real and fictional.pirates

10. I hate killing off characters in the stories I write. I will agonize and mourn for them for days. I know; it’s a problem.

11. I like birds, but only in pictures. They always poop on me. And no, I don’t believe that’s good luck.

12. I enjoy watching old movies, especially ones with Cary Grant or Audrey Hepburn, or both.

13. I dream in color. Always. Once I even had a dream in cartoon. Really.

14. My favorite authors are Ian Fleming, Rex Stout, and Agatha Christie.

15. I love holding babies.

16. I have an irrational fear of clowns, sharks, and alligators, and a rational fear of spiders, snakes, and scorpions. (I have been stung by scorpions twice.)

17. I am allergic to strawberries. Not the throat-closing-can’t-breathe kind of allergy, but the hives-from-my-nose-to-my-knees kind.


18. I was 38 years old when I finally got my ears pierced.

19. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always respond with “Carol Burnett.” I still do.

20. I can carry entire conversations with movie quotes and song lyrics.

Anything else you’d like to know? Just ask.

The Legend Makes the Story

This week I watched the 2004 film The Alamo, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Dennis Quaid, and Patrick Wilson.

I should begin by saying that I listened intently to Mrs. Walsh’s seventh grade Texas History lessons at David Crockett Junior High School. I remember watching the 1960 movie starring John Wayne, and I’ve visited the ruins of the historic mission in San Antonio, Texas. As a child I even watched Fess Parker’s portrayal of Crockett in the Disney serial.

Like scads of other Texans, our family claims distant relations to the heroes of the great Republic.My mom’s family is somehow kin to Davy Crockett’s wife, I think.

I used to sing along with the Disney theme, “Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee/ Killed him a bear when he was only three.” I had no idea of what a true legend Crockett really was.

You see, Mrs. Walsh did her best to stick to the basics. She told us all about the pantheon of Texas revolutionaries—men with dreams of a new country—but for the most part, she kept to the script of the textbooks.

The tour guides and brass plaques installed at the Alamo give all the same information. Where the defenders were stationed during the onslaught, where the men were from, and their signature weapons. The fact that almost every person within the walls of the besieged mission died at the hands of General Santa Ana leaves a distinct lack of documentation.

There was however, the legend of Davy Crockett, Before he traveled to defend Texas, Crockett was already a living legend. The 2004 feature embraced that fact, and used it to show the celebrity he enjoyed, the fears of the Mexican soldiers, and the tradition that Crockett was the single surviving warrior. The textbook version tells that Crockett was probably one of the first to die, but there is evidence that he lasted to face the Mexican general eye to eye.

While initially dubious about Billy Bob Thornton’s incarnation, in the end I was pleased. Thornton brought complex layers to the role that neither the ruggedly handsome Fess Parker nor the rough and tumble John Wayne portrayed.Thornton showed both the confidence of the hero as well as the doubts and fears of the real man behind the moniker.

Any history lover who understands the tweaking required for film will enjoy The Alamo. I did!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.