Archive for April, 2014

Jury Duty
April 24, 2014

 

Jury-Duty

We operate under a jury system in this country, and as much as we complain about it, we have to admit that we know of no better system, except possibly flipping a coin. ~ Dave Barry

Is there anybody out there who actually likes serving on a jury panel? When you see the summons in the mail, do you look forward to going downtown and hope you will be selected?

I know no one like this. Certainly I’m not. They call it “duty” for a reason, and, of course, when duty calls, we must respond, however reluctantly.

This particular summons was for a Wednesday in February. Looking back, I can’t see a particular reason why I postponed it until April, but my calendar was pretty busy, and I guess I just didn’t want to take a chance that I would be selected for a drawn out case.

There the summons sat on my desk, filling me with dread (silly, I know). Part of it was the fact that the jury assembly room had moved to a new location, and I wasn’t exactly sure of where to park, etc. Yes, there was a map, but whenever I’m faced with driving myself to a new place, I always have a twinge of anxiety.

The other part of my dread was the above mentioned unknown of which courtroom I’d be assigned to. I intentionally left my calendar open for the next week, just in case! I like having a schedule, and I don’t like surprises.

Then there’s the getting up at the crack of dawn to take care of Tucker, dress up and drive with the masses to town in rush hour traffic. I honestly don’t mind traffic if I’m not in a hurry, so I got up extra early and gave myself an hour to get there, figure out where to park and find the new assembly room.

So far, so good. I was impressed with the new space, a VAST improvement over the old, cramped room. This one has tunnel access to all the courthouses, precluding group walks across busy streets in all kinds of weather.

Part of me hoped that my number wouldn’t be called at all, and I’d just get to go home. That happened once, and I donated my fee back. No such luck this time, however. My number was called for the first group out of the chute, a pool of 65 people. So I consoled myself that since we were starting earlier, we’d get finished earlier (with the hope that I wouldn’t get picked for the panel).

Off we went to get ourselves organized. From a pool of 65 people, they were going to select a jury of 12 with 1 alternate. I was assigned to be juror #43. That was a good sign; the higher your number is, the less likely it is that you’ll be selected.

In the courtroom on the 18th floor, I discovered that this was a felony murder case, and the judge spoke to us for over an HOUR about what we could expect, making sure we all understood the legal terms that the lawyers would be using. Actually, she was quite good, and I learned a great deal. It helped that she was self-deprecating and even made us laugh more than once.

Then it was time for the lawyers to speak, beginning with the prosecutor and finishing up with the defense attorney. Again, both were thorough, and I felt comfortable with the task that the selected jurors would be faced with.

But I still didn’t want to get picked. The judge said the case would likely take 4 days to try, beginning on Monday. I told myself I could probably manage, except for the fact that we have houseguests all next week. In a way, that would probably be a plus, because they could let Tucker in and out.

But, despite that, I STILL didn’t want to get picked. My fellow juror panel member #42 and I talked during a break, and we were both of the same opinion. Finally, the attorneys made their decisions, and they began calling out the numbers for the selected jurors.

#1, #3, #6… Yes, it seemed true that the folks with the lower numbers were more likely to be picked. But then they jumped to #25, #33, #39, #41… Yikes! There were still a few more positions to fill!

#42 and I looked at each other expectantly, and the next number called was #47. WHEW!!! I grabbed his arm, and we both exhaled.

By the time I exited the courthouse and walked to the parking garage, it was about 2:00. I hadn’t even thought about lunch, but all of a sudden, I was ravenous. But I went on home to rescue Tucker and eat my usual lunch there.

And then I stretched out on the sofa and dozed for a good long while. Since I had cleared this day (and the rest of the week!), I had nothing pressing to do for once. What a happy outcome!

One of these days, I know my luck will run out, and I’ll get picked. But for now, I’m celebrating my liberty and freedom (unlike the poor defendant whose fate will be determined next week without any input from me).

Whatever fee I receive for my service, I plan to do something nice with it, likely for some of my favorite people whom I deal with on a weekly basis. And that, my friends, will be another happy outcome to which I happily look forward!

 

(Note: pewperson is currently experiencing technical difficulties and will be getting a new computer. Likely her next post will be in three weeks, May 16)

 

 

 

In the Garden
April 11, 2014

daisies april

I come to the garden alone  While the dew is still on the roses  And the voice I hear falling on my ear  The Son of God discloses. ~ C. Austin Miles

This week’s post takes a look back over the past year in my garden.

Last year’s spring abundance. It was a banner year for the perennials after the mild winter of 2012-2013:

june 18

It was SO abundant, it required a fall purge:

sept 10 2

and

september 10

Then came the polar vortex in January. Oh dear:

feb before

What was left after whacking it all back:

feb after

and

feb after 2

Then came the weed/mulch/divide/transplant phase:

april 4

and

april 4 2

And now comes the fun part, watching the flowers bloom again! Sure, I’ll be filling in with some new plants over the coming months and will update accordingly.

note:pewperson will return on April 25. Happy Easter from the Easter tortoise!

turtle april

Kinfolk
April 3, 2014

cowboy

Oh! Where have gone those happy cowboy days?~ Adolphe Huffmeyer 

Two years ago this very week, I wrote about my great grandfather Adolphe Huffmeyer’s 19th century cattle driving tales in a blog post:

https://pewperson.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/texas-our-texas/

As it turns out, one of the people that read it turned out to be a distant cousin, and actually contacted me!

Our great grandfathers were brothers. Their children (our grandmother Minna and his grandfather) were first cousins. Their children were second cousins (our dad and his dad). So we are third cousins.

Isn’t it interesting to discover new kin? Think about all the people, strangers, really, to whom you are related. Once the generations unfold, there are cousins galore!

The last story my great grandfather wrote was published in the July 1945 “Frontier Times”. He died on May 19, but had sent the article in 10 days before he died. They put his picture on the cover as a tribute to him.

frontier times

(a personal note: I love it that he was a published writer; it must run in the family!)

Adolphe Huffmeyer was born in Castroville, TX on November 25, 1855 and at the time of his death, he was 89 years, 5 months and 25 days old.

Here’s the final story from my great grandfather (his memories from 1878):

Adolphe had been given a tip from the Wufter brothers who lived three miles south of his Uncle Louis Oge’s ranch. The brothers would regularly go to Mexico to buy horses, and they suggested that he go to Mexico and buy cattle there at a discount to add to the herds they drove up north and sell for a profit. They told him about an old Mexican general named Escobedo, and they gave him a letter of recommendation.

Adolphe took a risk and signed a note for $1500 bearing 10% interest to finance his purchase. That was a LOT of money back then.

Here’s what happened next:

“After buying the best horse I could find for the trip, I started over into Mexico and landed at General Escobedo’s hacienda. When I handed him my credentials, he looked at them and said, ‘That’s all Dutch to me,’ and then he called over one of his grown daughters who had been educated at the Ursuline Academy in San Antonio. As soon as she translated the item for him, he said, ‘Everything is OK, and you can count on me as your friend.’ He invited me to make myself at home there, which I certainly did, and I was treated most royally as long as I remained there.”

mexican cattle

To shorten a long story, it took him 16 days to purchase 260 “beeves”. He had been warned by the Wufter brothers to not insult the General by offering to pay for all the courtesies he extended.

On the morning Adolphe was ready to head home, the General said to him, “Would you do me a great favor?” Adolphe replied, “I would certainly be the dirtiest ingrate living to refuse, after all the favors bestowed on me at your hands. Please state your wants.”

So the General said, “I have too much business on my shoulders (he was in his 70’s) and wish to unload it on some younger man. Won’t you consider coming back next year after your trail trip and marry one of my daughters, and take charge of my entire business? My daughters and I have taken a great liking to you and think you would fit the bill to a ‘tytie.'”

Adolphe said that he was so surprised at this request that he couldn’t utter a word at first, but then he asked, “Which of your daughters can I have?” He mentioned that there were vast differences in them, but the General said, “You can take your choice.”

Adolphe had to think about that for awhile, but ultimately decided that “life would be too short to spend in a wilderness in Mexico, even though I was rejecting an independent offer of becoming a millionaire…”

He wrote the General a letter of deep regrets upon his return from Ogalalla, Nebraska and again thanked him for his many kind courtesies. He said that was the last he ever heard of him.

After he sold the Mexican cattle, Adolphe paid off his note to the Wufter brothers and had $3500 left to go into the general mercantile business in Bandera with his brother, Emil. He wrote that his business started off fine and kept up well.

In 1880, he was happily married to Miss Mattie Rugh (my great grandmother) in Bandera, and I for one, am very glad that he didn’t marry one of General Escobedo’s daughters!