The harem’s full, but I don’t mind.

The Mister with his turquoise tart, photo courtesy of the San Antonio Blues Society, www.sanantonioblues.com
The Mister with his turquoise tart, photo courtesy of the San Antonio Blues Society, http://www.sanantonioblues.com

Wonder what the older girls think when the Mister introduces a new one into the harem, watching as he lovingly caresses the curves of the latest arrival.

Not one of them has been a part of his life for more than 20 years, except for one with such a wimpy, wispy voice he rarely touches her. No electric sparks fly through her veins.

The flaming red-haired Gibson girl always thought she was his favorite, even after he brought in the skinny, slender-hipped, bleached-blonde.

But then came the gaudy one from Austin with a gypsy-sounding name wearing all that turquoise.

The Gibson girl was confident she could triumph over the tackily clad Mother-of-Toilet-Seat one who likes to lazily lay across his lap, but that turquoise tart?

The gypsy thought she won his heart, but his love was fleeting.

The room is so crowded; yet he found a way to squeeze in one more.

This one, like the gypsy, is young. The child of guitar-maker Chuck Thornton belonged to Jay Wright, who broke her in, then struggled to part with her.

Wright loved her so much, he almost made her a cover girl before letting her go. When the Mister snapped her up on eBay, Wright wrote to him gushing about her attributes and telling him how lucky he was to have her.

gasWright also sent the Mister the book he published about living with “G.A.S.,” or “Guitar Acquisition Syndrome,” an addictive affliction affecting many men who obsessively keep adding to their harems.

The book, featuring the Mister’s newest acquisition on the page just before its table of contents, is a manual. A tongue-in-cheek primer not for curing the addiction, but for justifying it. It’s filled with how-to hints for hiding the disease’s symptoms from your significant other. A litany of excuses and ruses, such as this one:

Display your guitars in different rooms. Spread them out – to a bedroom corner for one, beside a TV or piece of furniture in another room, in a closet, or under a bed. A herd never looks as large dispersed as it does clustered together in one room.

Wright's former mistress now belongs to the Mister
Wright’s former mistress now belongs to the Mister

The Mister needs no excuses. Someone married to a writer needs a major outlet of their own.

So how do I feel when the Mister’s in his lair and I overhear him making one of his girls sing, even scream, loudly?

Hey, I’m upstairs tapping away on my keyboard humming along.

I say keep playing those blues, bearing in my mind what he said before one of those significant birthdays:

Some men get new wives when they turn 40; all I want is an electric guitar.

Okay, that was an understatement. He wanted more than that first redhead.

But no need to hide or thin out the herd.

Surely the space in that music room is maxed out by now….

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Holy Cards No. 2, “She said no man of hers was going to sell his soul to the devil: Santa Cecilia at the Crossroads?,” digital collage by Gayle Brennan Spencer, http://www.postcardssanantonio.com/holy-cards.html

And, if I did object?

I think I might hear a loud chorus of “I’m gonna sell the bitch’s car and buy myself a cool guitar.”

And visit the After Midnight Blues Band at www.bluesinsanantonio.net.

Visit those quiet little missions before the reenactors remember the Battle of Espada

One of the nicest features of the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River Improvements Project is that it invites you to visit the missions strung along the banks of the San Antonio River.

And not just the first two you normally take visitors from out of town to see before you get missioned-out and head for margaritas.

But the oft-overlooked San Juan Capistrano and San Francisco de la Espada, which, true confession, the Mister and I had not seen for at least two decades (but, true confession, not as long as it’s been since my last confession). Their histories easily can be found online, so I will not attempt to rewrite. This post is simply meant to entice you through pictures to rediscover what we tend to forget on the south side of town.

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Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1716, with much of the mission compound not completed until 1756. San Juan himself must of have been incredibly pious because he was governor of Perugia, the chocolate capital of Italy, before becoming a Franciscan. However, since chocolate came from the New World, maybe lording over Perugia around the year 1400 was not as flavorful as it would be today.

When the Mister and I made a mid-morning stop at the mission, the information center was staffed by a volunteer from the parish. What was wonderful was that he peopled the mission for us with his own ancestors, photographs of ancestors he did not realize had lived within the protective mission walls until seven years ago. Plus, he told us how a window at each of the missions is positioned to let illuminating rays of light shine on the statues of each one’s patron saint on the appropriate feast day. Clever calculations by the priests; miracles to the Native Americans they were converting.

The National Park Service seems proving a good steward of the grounds, and Father David has been applying the funds he has raised successfully through the nonprofit Old Spanish Missions to re-stucco the church for the first time in about 250 years. The church now gleams against the blue Texas sky. Unfortunately, the priest does not keep the same hours as the park, so we did not view the interior. Probably the most reliable time to view the interior is during a scheduled Mass, but I’ll probably stick with more random attempts.

Visiting Mission San Francisco de la Espada should become a more fashionable pilgrimage now with the popular Pope Francis in charge at the Vatican. More attention undoubtedly will be focused on Saint Francis, about whom I have written before in this blog. It would help if San Antonians, including myself, would incorporate the Francisco instead of shortening the name to Mission Espada.

Of course, if the National Park Service really wanted to market Espada to Texans, maybe the thrust of the story should change away from the agrarian and vocational skills the friars taught the inhabitants.

I mean, look at the Alamo. If you make it about guns, they will come, as Land Commissioner Patterson recently showed us.

If more people were aware of the battle fought there in October 1835, Espada would soon be mobbed.

The following is from a report submitted to General Austin by James Bowie and James Fannin following the battle, according to Wallace McKeehan on the Sons of Dewitt Colony Texas website:

Mission of Espadas, Saturday morning 7. oclk AM 24th octr 1835 Genl S F Austin Half an hour since we were attacked by the enmy, who were repulsed, after a few fires being exchanged Only a few men were seen-say about fifty-tho, from the dust etc. it is believed 200 or more, were in the company-Dr Archer says that Col. Ugartichea was the commandant, as he plainly saw him, and recognised him-The place is in a good condition, or can be made so in an hour, for defence, and until we know, of the advance of some aid, or what was intended by this feint, we will continue to occupy this station, where we have provisions enough for the army provided means are supplied to purchase….

If the Alamo attracts millions of visitors to a site where virtually all the Texians were slaughtered, wouldn’t people love to visit the spot where Bowie and Fannin were victorious?

Espada is the spot.

Visit it now. Before the word gets out. While it is still a peaceful place at the end of the Mission Reach.

A place to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Francis on October 4, perhaps even witnessing the rays of light illuminating his statue.

And well before reenactors decide they need to start shooting off noisy guns at 6:30 a.m. every October 24.

Update Added on August 12, 2014: As August 15th brings a solar illumination to Mission Conception in time for the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, an article in Today’s Catholic by Carol Baass Sowa sheds light on the phenomenon that would amaze Native Americans:

It was the Franciscan missionaries’ knowledge of astronomy, he related, that was responsible for the incorporation of solar illuminations in a number of their churches. They served to symbolically communicate the friars’ Catholic faith to the Native Americans, much as medieval churches used stained glass windows to tell the story of Christ and Gothic arches pointed upwards towards highly decorated ceilings to symbolize the heaven men should strive to attain.

Arriving in what was a wilderness, the Franciscan founders of Concepcion had little to work with, Father (David) Garcia explained, so they built into the church the symbols and signs that would tell the indigenous people about God and Christ. “They had a ray of sunshine come in and illuminate the sanctuary,” he said. It was a way to tell the native people “God is moving among us…..”

The friars were highly educated men, (George) Dawson explained, and the Catholic Church used churches as solar observatories since the 15th century as a means to figure out such things as when Easter fell. Also leading credence to the case for the Franciscans is research on the California missions, which has shown one or two Franciscan priests were in charge of construction for several of the missions there which feature the majority of the solar illuminations….

Mission Espada also has an illumination, he related. On the morning of Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, (the Franciscans’ founder), light from the rectangular window on the eastern wall bathes the statue of St. Francis on the altar in a golden glow. Again, there is a duplicate display on March 9, which happens to be the feast day of St. Frances, a woman mystic who died in the 1400s.

Please come and take them away from downtown San Antonio

You spent a year planning your wedding. Your ceremony will be Saturday in the church whose bell Sam Maverick had forged from cannon from the Alamo. Your attendants will line the sidewalk leading from St. Mark’s under the canopy of trees in Travis Park, showering guests with rose petals as they walk to the reception in the historic St. Anthony Hotel.

Whoops. Sorry you didn’t get the word.

Travis Park will be filled with approximately 1,000 armed men on Saturday afternoon.

But don’t worry. Your guests should feel really safe because these men with shotguns and rifles are really responsible. I mean, out of 1,000, what are the odds one would be a little mentally imbalanced or trigger-happy?

Of course, part of their plan is to try to antagonize the San Antonio Police Department by skirting or outright violating city ordinances and daring the police to arrest someone.

This is a goal because then they can howl all over the internet and sue the city. They want to show everyone San Antonio police are unreasonable in their attempts to make the rest of us unarmed people feel safe, those of us who might fear the one out of 1,000.

Alamo Plaza is such a small area of San Antonio in which to stage a protest – Come and Take It, the newest event added to San Antonio’s festival schedule. Yes, there will be great photo ops in front of the Alamo, but staying put in one place might not make the police nervous enough to arrest someone for carrying a weapon in a threatening manner.

Yes, the demonstrators will maintain an armed presence in Alamo Plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but a large contingent of these law-abiding citizens will break away for Travis Park at 12:30 p.m., according to Murdoch Pizgatti of Don’t Comply.

There they will have stump speeches, revving up the crowd against the tyranny of police who would respond to a 911-call by some citizen who found it alarming when one of the Come-and-Take-It crowd walked into a Starbucks with a rifle or came and sat down with a trusty shotgun in a crowded movie theatre. Right there, in Travis Park, under what Murdoch calls “the statue.” You know the one. The Confederate monument.

If no one has been arrested yet, the group will then head for a little downtown “tour” out front of one of the police stations. And then back around through downtown to wind up the whole family friendly event in front of the Alamo.

Not content to be able to take their guns hunting, to keep them bedside to guard against intruders or in hand on a ranch in case of rattlesnakes, they want to brandish them downtown. They feel insecure unarmed, like Linus without his blanket. Because for these men “the front line is everywhere.”

In my mind, the Come and Take It guys have stolen downtown from me and thousands of others Saturday.

Use your guns to hunt and protect your own property; don’t bring them into our shared public spaces – you know, parks and such maintained by tax dollars many of you view as money stolen from you.

Personally, I want to thank all the members of the San Antonio Police Department who put their lives on the lines for us everyday, to make sure the rest of us can work and play downtown. You should not be harassed the way you will be tomorrow, and particularly not by the Land Commissioner of Texas. the self-proclaimed “#1 gun guy in Texas” who longs for a time when kids are free to take antique guns to school for show and tell.

“They say Sam Maverick forged the bell for St. Mark’s from a cannon used during the Battle of the Alamo. If only the concept proved contagious….” Postcards from San Antonio – No. 12, “Peace be with you.”