There is something magical about a young boy's exposure to ranch and rodeo work – a boost to self-esteem, the satisfaction of hard work well done, a development of mind, body and spirit. Perhaps that is also true for young girls but I can't speak authoritatively to their needs since I raised 3 boys. I have seen this dynamic in my own family – and in the work of some of the local folks here in the rural Hempstead area of Texas.

Academia has it right – every now and then we should all take a "sabbatical" from our usual grind (even a grind that we love dearly). Taking a page from their book (no pun intended) I am officially taking a sabbatical from writing – no newspaper column, no short stories, no books, no nothing, nada.  Well . . . maybe an occasional blog . . . or chapters of The Book of Us.

For numerous decades I have thought about the societal changes in my lifetime and the inevitable loss of the nuclear family. Using World War II as a convenient demarcation line, there once was an America where generations of families lived together or near each other and wove in and out of each other's daily existences. Somewhere after the mid-40s, after our soldiers returned, our tribe began to scatter.