Thursday, July 26, 2012


I believe in the power of prayer, and most appropriately, in the most dire of circumstances. As they say, there are no atheists in foxholes.

As Zach has mentioned on his site, tragedy doesn't take a holiday for the summer. He's asked for prayers for his neighbor, a 17 year old fighting a tough fight against her own body, and also lost a brother-in-law recently.

Likewise, at the Fishing Musician household, I lost an aunt last month and my father-in-law unexpectedly passed a few days later. Today, I received news from a good Houston lawyer friend of mine that one of our collegues, now a judge himself, who we call Homer (after Homer Simpson), underwent surgery for a brain tumor at M.D. Anderson in Houston today. A shocker.

Another much older judge passed on earlier this week, dying of a heart attack at the ripe old age of 83. He was an early role model to me and I spent quite some time in his court as a young prosecutor learning to try cases. I tried a bunch a bunch a bunch of cases in that court, some against some pretty famous (as well as infamous) Houston lawyers. He mentored me, and tens if not hundreds of young prosecutors and defense attorneys in his more than 20 years on the bench, and all this after a long career as a private practice attorney and the mayor of a then-small city.

We just called him The Judge. The Judge had served in Germany at some point after WWII, freshly discharged from college and an officer for I believe the Army. His mission was supervising a team of bomb demo and dismantling specialists, and it's easy to see why he was such a calm guy later in life. Nothing like a little HIGH STRESS HIGH DANGER military work as a young man to put things in perspective for the rest of your life.

He took an interest in me early on in my career, and when not in trial or around too many other people, would address me by my first and middle name. When growing up, my mother would address me by my first and middle name, but only when I was in trouble. When The Judge said my name, it rolled off his tongue with a joyful lilt, that made me smile before we went any further.

The Judge was one of the most honest men I ever knew, alongside my father. I went through several situations with him where "ex parte" contact was attempted by "powerful" political people who had kin in big trouble in his court and were seeking to smooze with The Judge and work out some secret deal.

It didn't happen, because as soon as these high powered politicos started talking about the kinfolks case,

The Judge figured out their improper motive, told them off and immediately came to my office and reported it to me. I was impressed. Some judges I know would do the right thing as he did, but others are too political and would just try to keep the whole thing quiet. After all, who other than the judge in question would know but the politicos and they wouldn't be telling anyone about being spurned.

The Judge read the law, as some of us lawyers actually do, and many a day I encountered him in our law library reading case law. He was always threatening to take me up to his family place near Brenham to fish in his pond there, and I knew from talking to his kids who are my age that the fishing was good up there. We never got around to running up there one Saturday, and if I have one regret about my relationship with him, it was that I never made the time for that fishing trip. I'm trying to keep from making that same mistake with others these days, so I did learn a lesson.

So I'll miss The Judge greatly.

The other friend, known as Homer, not because he is a dullard like Homer Simpson but because he kinda looks like old Homer. Our families have known each other since before he and I were born. I never knew him as a kid, and we didn't actually meet until our young thirties, both working as prosecutors in the same office.

My uncle, another Houston attorney, was big buddies with Homer's late dad for many years, and by virtue of that, my parents knew his parents. Houston was a much smaller town socially back in the 60's and 70's. In fact, as a teen, Homer used to mow my Uncle's yard in Memorial in Houston. I might have seen him once then when visiting my Uncle's home. When we finally did meet, we found we both had a rabid interest in fishing farm ponds and small lakes. He had a small 12 footer boat with an electric motor and for several years we spent many an early Saturday morning out on various lakes in Houston and surrounding counties, and we were pretty much the kings of the 2 to 3 pound farm pound largemouth bass.

It was funny the first time we went fishing, we had some of the same gear. Same reels (Garcia, Abu and Mitchell reels from the 70's) and many of the same lures common to Texas Coastal Plains and Piney Woods bass fishing. A ton of the same lures. Topwater and diving plugs. Extensive plastic worm setups. Same colors. Spinnerbaits. Plastic weedless lures. We had mostly all the same stuff in our tackle boxes. We did pretty good fishing together, and as apart from some of my other frequent fishing friends, I can't remember a time out of 20 or 30 trips where we didn't catch at least one largemouth bass each.

Like me, he was into fly fishing, but so many of our trips where when it was HOT HOT HOT and HUMID as a SAUNA that we were usually not fishing topwater but deeper down around structure and such. I remember one fishing expedition our host insisted on driving us around his 5 acre lake in an RV in very bad shape. So bad of a shape that the ceiling was collapsing on top of us in small pieces with every bump.

And there were many bumps. It was an endless rain of who knows what kind of toxic materials used in those ceiling panel deals. The whole thing featured way stinkin' shag carpeting and the mechanical condition of the RV was no better than the interior. Bad shocks, bad tires, a messed up transmission, and engine that needed a ring job and some of that burning oil smell leaked into the passenger cabin so that all the windows had to be open. The AC was not working, and it didn't matter because he had to run the heater to keep the engine from overheating.

And of course, the "trail", and I use that term loosely, that surrounded the lake had not been graded in decades. Huge holes threatened to swallow the axles of the RV, and several times it sounded like parts were being torn off as he powered through the bad parts as fast as his slipping auto trans would let him.

You get the idea.

So there we were, trapped for a 30 minute tour in this horrid excuse for an RV. We looked like we had been through an earthquake when we exited this fine ride, which our host told us he was in the process of "fixing up", as we were covered from head to toe in dust and ceiling particles of unknown manmade composition.

Another time we headed out to another real big farm lake of about 5 acres that had not been fished in decades. It had once been stocked with Florida Bass. They were still there, and much bigger. We got some four and five pounders out of there, knowing  there were some bigger ones there. It was just one of those days when fish were jumping into the boat, no matter what lure or technique was used and no matter whether fly or spinning or baitcasting was the method, them there bass were a biting. They were obviously bored as hell with years of solitude and went after these seemingly new food sources we call lures with a vengence, hitting hard hard hard. It was a day of days.

So when I heard that Homer had surgery today, I figure I'll run down to Houston this weekend or next and go see him when he's up to visitors. Our mutual friend the legal magnate Mikey Ray  II (not to be confused with the guitar playing Mikey Ray who is a different Mikey Ray altogether)  called to inform me of all this bad news about The Judge and Homer. We don't know many details, other than that a large mass was removed from a lobe of his brain and that they are planning chemo and radiation as follow up to surgery. Regardless of the specifics, he and his family need your prayers, like the freinds and relatives of Zach, not forgetting Zach and I and our families.

And I know the Judge is doing quite well in Heaven right now, getting fitted no doubt for Angel's Wings  and keeping an eye on earthly loved ones. I know his children and wife need our prayers to help get them through this rough time.

So yeah, like the song says (not to minimize the nature of these horrid events), it's been a cold cruel summer so far.

El Fisho Jr. just finished a daily seven week strength and workout camp for his sports next year. We're both overworked and been working hard at our regular gigs plus this whole remodeing thing we've been doing fairly full force since May. Mrs. El Fisho just jet setted to the West Coast, where I enviously report that it's much cooler and much less humid than here in Texas.

So El Fisho Jr. and I will have to head to the Hill Country to some sparkling cool spring water to get some relaxation. At least when you get hot hot hot fishing in the Llano or the James or the Guadalupe or any other numbers of rivers or creeks you can plunge yourself down in the crystal clear water and enjoy it's cool, springfed nature.

Let the waters wash away the blues.

El Fisho Jr. and I are going out tomorow and do some outdoors fishing and shooting with his good friend and good friend's dad. I might be able to talk old friend Billy Ray into hooking up with us in the Hill Country, up past Johnson City, where our friend's families place is.  Out to their deer lease with some fishing holes in tanks and ponds and an air-conditioned vehicle to hide in when the heat gets too much. I'd like to stay the evening over in Kerrville or Fredericksburg and get some fishing in on that part of the Guadalupe starting befroe sunrise before heading home Sunday.  It's gotten so dang hot that you have to go hide in the shade by 10 a.m. Besides, that's a good time to hit one of the good German restaurants in those cities before heading back home.

We'll celebreate the life of The Judge with a good meal, and pray for our good friend Homer. Mikey Ray and I are organizing a fishing trip for him when he recovers enough from surgery and if he doesn't start chemo or radiation right away. Homer and  I have a great mutual lawyer friend who has a swankienda horse ranch in Central Texas, replete with about a 2 acre lake brimming with HUGE channel cats and the afore-mentioned 2-3   pound bass.

Brimming I say.

 It's one of those places I never strike out. Even Billy Ray caught a fish there years ago, and El Fisho jr caught his first fish, a channel cat about 40" long there, which was taller than he was at his then age of 4 years old.

So maybe we can take Homer out for a day to hopefully have some fun and forget the present. That particular lake has a nice boathouse and partly covered pier with boat slips adjacent to it, and it would be easy to throw a spare window unit ac in the truck and take over there to cool that building down so Homer wouldn't get overheated. We could fish all day and night on the lighted pier if we were so inclined, with several houses and abodes on the property just a few feet away to crash in once we get tired.

Good luck to all and to all a good night.

1 comment:

  1. I still have prayers to share for The Judge, Homer, and their family and friends. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts.

    It has been such a tough time for so many.

    Sad times may dominate the present but there are always the good memories of days gone by.