24) Of Jaguarundi & Heparin

June 29, 2006

Morning: I’m in Laredo, waking up in my room at the La Quinta, and wondering if any of the import places on San Bernardo are gonna be open before I leave for Austin. I check out and turn south on San Bernardo and within a few blocks I find a place that has tons of wrought iron stuff, but not exactly what I want. They have what I don’t want for $13, so I know that if they had what I want, it would be the right price. The shops on San Bernardo continue to be a good deal for us who don’t want the hassle of cro
ssing the border. So, I pull out, heading north, and pass about four more shops that aren’t open this early. Soon I’m up to highway speed north of town, cruising through the low scrub brush of South Texas. I put a Bob Wills CD* on and pretend I’m driving a ’55 Olds 88, gliding along with that boaty feeling through the morning heat at 80 miles an hour. The road is mostly straight and its already shimmering out where it meets the horizon. As I cruise along listening to Johnny Gimble’s mandolin plinks on one of the songs, I think about jaguarundi and ocelots. Both were once native to south Texas, although sightings of jaguarondi are few and far between.** For years, while driving through South Texas, I’ve kept watch in the low brush and cactus along the roadways, hoping to catch sight of one of these cats. Now, I remind myself of Peter Matthiessen’s trip to the Himalayas to search for the elusive snow leopard, and then writing about it in a 300 page book that beautifully describes not finding that snow leopard. Maybe the jaguarondi is my snow leopard. And maybe they’re just too difficult to spot when I’m zippin down the road at 80 mph.

I’m writing in a particularly writerly fashion today, probably for Alex. Alex, an almost too serious teen, is my Laredo friend Luis’ son. He met us for dinner last night, along with his dad and his girlfriend (fiancé? I can’t tell which). At some point Luis mentioned that Alex wants to “be a writer” so we talked a bit about writing. I shared the only bit of wisdom I can remember from my creative writing teacher, John Manchip White: “If you want to be a writer, you must write!”. And maybe this wasn’t ever said by White; it may just be my own quote from my visual memory of Mr. White standing properly and somewhat stodgily in front of the class (in 1969?). Sounds like something he’d say, so in my mind it is something he said.

Now as I swing down that last hill into San Antonio, Bob is singing “San Antonio Rose” and I’m not surprised. It’s time to switch over to public radio, and I remember that famous Cindy Walker line as I switch; “When you leave Amarillo; …turn out the lights.”

El Milagro: Herman is cannulating me regularly now; and I like that. He is funny, smart, and very gentle in his sticking behavior. Today, again, staff read out my name on my dialyzer before I even sat down. Today it was Phyllis who read my name to me. I mentioned to Phyllis that I was in Laredo last night, and she said, “that’s why you added so much weight.”, but it was just 2.4 Kg. (5 lbs.). I replied that I had a big steak and lots of water all day while I was presenting to two different groups. Today as I sat there writing on this post, I watched staff as they went about their work with the people being dialysized. They really are very conscientious about their work (I know I’ve said this before) and it is reassuring to notice that they are attentive and careful. They must use hundreds of pairs of latex gloves a day. Even if they leave a patient, pull off their gloves, and then return to the same patient, they put on a new pair. Today, Herman dropped my injection of heparin (a blood thinner because blood tends to clot in the plastic tubing) as he was getting ready to attach it to the tubing. The syringe even had the protective plastic cover over the needle, yet he kicked it away and got a new one. I said, “You could’ve used that one you dropped” and he replied, “Nope. We drop it and it’s history. Don’t want to take any chances.”.

The session was relaxing this afternoon, and I even snoozed a bit. My son, John, picked me up afterwards and we went home to a great fajita dinner with the family. All is well.

Notes: In at 73.1 and out at 70.1
* For the Last Time (1974) Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, United Artists previewed on AMG online at
** Davis, W.B. (2000) Cats of Texas. A Texas Parks and Wildlife Publication, available online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_lf_w7000_0150.pdf

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