Jake LaCaze

A random abandoned RV and car near Terlingua, TX

Landmen have an interesting relationship with history. Some will harken back to the good old days of driving out to a rancher's property and discussing business among prospect maps spread over the hood of a pickup truck and closing deals with handshakes. If you stick around long enough in this field—I'm nearing my thirteenth year—you likely develop at least a passing interest in the history of the land and the minerals underneath. And the history of the owners, sometimes leading to revelations of betrayal and the accompanying family feuds. When researching title, you may become more familiar with other people's family trees than you are of your own. And don't let anyone tell you that wills, probate proceedings, and affidavits can't be exciting—sometimes you find some four-letter words and some spicy accusations in those documents.

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I is artist.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I can think of nothing more American than a whole day dedicated to stuffing your face while surrounded by your favorite people.

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a four-leaf clover among other cloversPhoto credit: Yan Ming on unsplash.com

Luck is a funny thing, if for no other reason than its many forms.

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people sitting around a bonfirePhoto credit: Mike Erskine on unsplash.com

Story is everywhere. Story can be found in the obvious places such as novels, movies, and songs. Story exists on your resume. Your Tinder profile. The clothes you wear. The car you drive.

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black and white foggy cemeteryPhoto credit: Scott Rodgerson on unsplash.com

Every year I say I'm going to participate in the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 2. And every year I forget to prepare. 2020 was no different.

My understanding is that the Day of the Dead is a day of celebration rather than mourning. Anyone can see why people would grieve after a death: Someone they love is gone, and the loss cuts deep. But that pain is usually rooted in the joy that loved ones gave while they were living. Why would we miss someone who brought no joy to our lives? Hopefully we're spending our energy missing somethings worth missing.

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Daniel Tiger was my daughter's first love. Something about that cardigan-wearing feline caught her eye and stole her heart early. My wife approved since Daniel Tiger is an associate of Mr. Rogers and echoes many of the same values.

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There is something to be said for simplifying options, for choosing simplicity.

Lately I’ve been examining the extent to which I have been focusing on simplicity in terms of writing. My writing style has always been simple. Simple language. Simple sentences. Even simple punctuation, at least in regard to my fiction.

Do not use semicolons... All they do is show you've been to college. —Kurt Vonnegut

My focus on simplicity in terms of putting words to the page is obvious, but I’ve been revisiting how I have sought simplicity in the less obvious aspects of my writing—the aspects outside of the words themselves.

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The LaCaze house doesn't get many visitors during the season of the virus. Not that we got many visitors before the pandemic, but the lack is more obvious now. However, for the last week or so, we have had a certain visitor hop on over to our back yard from time to time.

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When I was a kid I looked up to functioning people in the realm of middle age and thought of them as well-adjusted adults who had this whole life thing figured out. Who, other than someone of utmost competence, could juggle and master the varied demands of gainful employment, being a good spouse and parent, and maybe even a hobby or volunteer opportunity here and there?

And now, as I close in on middle age, I am constantly asking whether I gave the adults of my youth too much credit or whether I am negligent in fulfilling my own responsibilities.

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Any company that requires its employees to write out their annual goals likely also requires a mid-year review as well as an end-of-year review. Since June just passed, now is a good time for me to look back at my 2020 goals and see what has stuck and what has gone to the crapper.

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