Commentary

Wed
21
Oct

On stage, seeing life through beer goggles

By Richard Zowie

 

Art Carney, perhaps most famous for playing sewer worker Ed Norton in the 1950s sitcom “The Honeymooners,” once said this about his iconic character: “I love Ed Norton and what he did for my career. But the truth is that we couldn’t have been more different. Norton was the total extrovert, there was no way you could put down his infectious good humor. Me? I’m a loner and a worrier.”

I’m not Carney, and I doubt I’ll ever win an Emmy, Golden Globe or Academy Award, as Carney did, but I enjoy my hobby in community theater as I pretend to be other people.

My latest venture has been as Simon Stimson in “Our Town” at the Fredericksburg Theater Company.

In this play, Stimson is a choir director, organ player and chronic alcoholic. He’s not a happy drunk, but one who frequently seems angry and disgusted.

Wed
14
Oct

Get involved

Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find a photograph about Fredericksburg Rotary Club awarding a Community Service Award to Barbara Heinen, who is an excellent example of one who serves others.

The award was named after the late Hans Hannemann, who was instrumental in developing our airport, helped with the volunteer fire department, assisted in developing our youth through the scouting organization, and was involved in many other town-focused issues, selflessly volunteering his time toward so many good causes.

While we know everyone is busy these days, we implore all to get involved with groups that work to make this community stronger.

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story about Angelenos’ community involvement with charity or volunteer work.

The answers in that urban core for not getting involved sound much the same as in our rural areas (The poll allowed for more than one choice.):

Wed
14
Oct

Monarch deaths a huge concern

Wildseed Farms’ annual Monarch Celebration was a big hit with nature lovers and those who partook in the run for their health.

    But what’s happening to these butterflies is a potential signal of the poor health of our world.

    In the past two decades, numbers for Monarch butterflies have dropped from one billion to as low as 30 million today. That equates to having lost as much as 97 percent of the population. That is an extremely rapid decline and it should cause concern that we could lose this species altogether.

    Scientists have linked habitat destruction in Mexico and the widespread use of herbicides (specifically, Roundup produced by Monsanto) here in the United States to the species’ huge loss in numbers. Mexico has taken steps to preserve the critical mountain habitat for the Monarchs. 

 

Wed
14
Oct

Weather can't make up its mind about autumn

By Sherrie Y. Geistweidt

 

With the arrival of autumn three weeks ago, I was sure the days of near-100-degree heat were over.

But, I was wrong.

The past week or so, it’s been nearly unbearable to do outside chores in the afternoon as the temperatures hover in the upper-nineties.

Sunday afternoon, the reading about 4:30 was a toasty 94 degrees, and the weatherman said Monday’s high in Austin rose to 99 at one spot, and I’m sure it was that high in the Hill Country.

But yesterday morning when I stepped outside, it was downright chilly as a “cool front” blue in late Monday evening to cool things off a bit. It was only 10 degrees, but that little bit put everyone in a better mood yesterday.

One evening the other week when the last “cool front” arrived, I noticed a handful of Monarch butterflies floating through the air in the Doss valley.

Wed
07
Oct

No-tell motels, indeed!

I guess you could say I’ve always had a fascination with motels — even as a young person. I’ve always thought of them as paradises amid the burning sands of the deserts we call the open highway.

As a child, I looked at motels as something like castles; stately manors that were to be awed.

I suppose this affinity began in those tender years because of the Howard Johnson coin banks my parents bought for my brother and me while visiting Florida. These small plastic replicas of the famous motel chain — complete with the recognizable white-and-orange motif — were, in a word, “nifty!”

But later in life, as an adult, I looked for other things in my motel stays, other things such as a cheap rate. I think this is when my attractions to motels began to wane.

Wed
07
Oct

Balancing quality of life with growth our charge

Gillespie County is getting a lot of attention for its burgeoning wine industry. Wine Spectator magazine in 2014 named the area as one of the top 10 wine regions in the world.

This area has come from a quiet county where sheep and peaches were the economic cornerstones to one where tourists flock by the hundreds of thousands to sip wine. That’s caused heartburn for some longtime residents who were used to a slower pace, yet it’s been a boon for developers, entrepreneurs and outsiders who retire here for their own “piece of heaven.”

The Hill Country Alliance’s recent Leadership Summit, held at the Admiral Nimitz Museum Ballroom, addressed such topics with speakers giving everything from warnings about runaway growth to preserving native species so land can thrive.

 

Growth coming

Wed
30
Sep

Pope teaches us that respect is really simple

I like this Francis.

Who is this man who speaks truth to power and walks humbly? Who is the white-smocked leader who kisses babies, just like our political leaders, yet also dines with the homeless and admonishes us to follow the Golden Rule?

Yes, I like this Francis.

Raised a Protestant, I still have great respect for the Catholic Church, its customs, its history and its liturgy. Every church and every denomination has had its “issues” – and certainly throughout history the Catholic Church has shouldered its share. But I believe the “the church,” in the macro, Christian church sense, and all of its members have done far more good than harm in the world.

And I am glad Catholics have a leader who is challenging followers both in and out of the faith to be stewards of the globe and to simply be kind to one another.

Wed
30
Sep

Oktoberfest more than just a big German party

Enjoy the oompah, the German food and, of course, the beer. But know that proceeds from what has grown to be Fredericksburg’s largest event go to support the arts in this community.

In 1981, when Fredericksburg was a much sleepier small hamlet, organizers put together an event to celebrate this town’s German heritage and history, with roots reaching back to the 1840s.

Since that first small celebration, Oktoberfest has grown to host an estimated 30,000 people. Visitors and locals alike love the tuba-led bands, the Chicken Dance, the bratwurst and potato pancakes, polkas and waltzes, bands from all corners of Marktplatz and beers on tap from local and German producers.

With all the games and additions over the years, it is truly a family fun celebration.

Wed
23
Sep

Workforce group eyes labor market needs

A story last week and a column by the Chamber of Commerce president focused on a meeting today from 2-4 p.m. at Hill Country University Center spearheaded by the Jobs Task Force. The meeting is free and will focus on marketing Fredericksburg’s job openings to key demographic areas.

These demographic groups were found through a formula of “targeted lifestyle personas,” or those people who might be most likely to move here to work. The research was done by Darren Drewitz and his company, MindEcology.

The company helped the local task force find out where pools of potential workers lived, showed how to reach them and market to them in a way that convinces them to consider moving to Fredericksburg. That includes selling the area as a lifestyle destination as well as simply a place that has job openings.

Wed
23
Sep

'Doing without' was typical in war time

People who live in the country and not down the street from the grocery store learn to make do with what they have. And if that’s not possible, many times they have to postpone a project until the next trip to town.

Such was the case one Sunday afternoon several weeks ago when I was trying to get dessert baking done for the annual Doss Volunteer Fire Department fish fry.

I studied and scanned the stack of cookbooks, trying to decide which recipe to try and discerning which ingredients were in abundance in the pantry.

Things were running smoothly that afternoon. I had mixed up and baked three cakes and each one plopped neatly out of the Bundt pan to which I breathed a sigh of relief.

So, it was on to the fourth cake. I had softened the butter, cracked the correct number of eggs, pre-sifted the flour and  baking powder … and was about to measure out two cups of sugar when … What? Is that all of the sugar?

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