Saving Jane Neal

Well I saved Jane Neal. A little background. When we moved to San Antonio back in 1976 our next door neighbor was Jane Neal. She lived with her daughter and quickly became as close to us as family. Jane had a really special angel wing begonia that she had grown for years. We took some cuttings and between us and Joey, kept the lineage alive ever since. We refer to the plants as “Jane Neal”. We trusted Jane with the boys when I took Nancy to the hospital to have Chris and she gave Joey his first driving lesson – I think he was 13. Jane passed away way too soon back in about 1980 but we all feel like we’re still connected with the Begonia. Unfortunately in the several freezes we had this winter I thought we had lost all the ones we had and was hoping that Joey’s had managed to survive in the slightly warmer weather where he lives. The loss really hurt. I felt terrible because I should have remembered to bring it in or cover it but it had survived freezes in the past and I was just negligent. But this week I was walking in our jungle down by the lake and I spotted the familiar angel wing leaves. No mistaking the shape and color. I carefully cleared away the brush and sure enough, a potted plant with several nice strong shoots popping out. I apologized first then brought it up to the house, gave it a big drink, some new potting soil, and a dose of special fertilizer. Looking good Jane.

I was fishing in the lake out of the poke boat earlier this week. The poke boat is a kayak like craft that is very light, agile, and operates just fine in a few inches of water. I can move along fishing in the stealthiest fashion, usually with pretty good results. There was a slight breeze moving me along so only occasionally did I have to dip the paddle in for a bit of steerage. I was about 30′ from the shoreline and popping my Devil’s horse into every nook and cranny. I glanced up ahead to see what was coming up and noticed something move on a beach area about 100′ ahead of me. It looked about the size of a raccoon, maybe a little bigger, and the coloring wasn’t quite right – too much red. It spotted me when I got to within about 50′ and just loped off into the underbrush. I was almost positive it was a bobcat. About that time I saw a second one another 100′ up the beach. He spotted me a little sooner than the first guy and just as casually moved off into the brush. I can’t tell you how rare it is to see a bobcat but to see a young pair was really exciting.

On that same poke boat adventure, I found a canoe. It must have drifted away from shore on the other side of the lake. Very unusual – it was a 10′ aluminum canoe that had been jerry rigged to sport an electric motor on the rear end and a battery. It was pushed up against some tree and taking on a little water from waves. I was able to drag it out and brought it over to the beach on our property and then start calling around the lake to see if it had an owner. All the people I called are of the wealthy variety so I was pretty sure it didn’t belong to any of them but perhaps one of their farm hands. I told them all that I was pulling it up on the beach to keep it safe but if anybody found the owner, to let them know. It sat there for a few days but was gone today so I’m guessing it’s back home safe and sound.
Bye bye Chrysler! Think about it, Chrysler will be 55% owned by the UAW; 35% by Fiat, the perennial auto basket case of Europe; and 10% by the Fed’s. I get a mental image of a Board of Directors that includes folks from the Dept’s of Energy, Labor, and Transportation; the EPA, OSHA and who knows what other Gov’t organization. I’m guessing 2 years absolute max before Chrysler just evaporates away from America. It’s been in the cards for quite a while but what I hate is that by going totally against the law by nuking secured creditors, the Fed’s have probably sealed the fate of GM as well. I can’t imagine conventional financing sources – commercial paper, bonds etc – will be available to GM. I think it will take a bit longer for GM to close it’s doors because they have plenty of assets – such as foreign owned auto companies – to unload, but eventually they fade away too. To me that says Ford will be the only viable American car company. The big problem for Ford is that they have quite a large debt load and plan to pay it down the old fashioned way – with money. That’s going to make it tougher for them to compete initially for cost structure reasons but in the long run, they’ll have access to more financing. That will enable them to make the tough decisions along the way. I never owned a Chrysler product so have no personal attachments but it’s going to be tough for me in a world without Pontiac.

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