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high desert sketches

February 2nd, 2017 under West Texas Talk » West Texas Talk Highlight

The illustrations make the column


Valerie Howard

Valerie Howard

Valerie Howard has assisted me with my column for over a decade. She began illustrating my columns only five years ago when I could no longer do the photo-sketches that gave the column its name, High Desert Sketches. I usually just send her a draft of my proposed column and a suggestion for an illustration. She has always gone far beyond any of my meager suggestions and produced a work of art.

Valerie was born on a hot July day in swampy Houston, Texas where she promptly took up drawing. By day, she is a librarian and graphic designer, by night she illustrates and creates analog collage for various publications and exhibits. She has been illustrating George Covington’s “High Desert Sketches” column since 2012. She has a lucky black cat named Lucius and a husband, David Howard, whom she married in the Ghost Town church of Terlingua, Texas. They recently moved from Alpine to Houston.

Below is a reflection of some of her illustrations.




col covington DeerGangster“Deer Gangster”

November 14th, 2013 – Pulling into parking slot 18 at my apartments, Nancy said, “There’s a deer on the sidewalk in front of us.” I knew in that instant that the deer mafia had put out a contract on me and that we faced a “hit deer.” Luckily, my manly manner in opening the car door caused the cowardly creature to flee for its life. It also could’ve been the fact that the deer recognized Nancy as the petite person who saved Radio Ray Hendryx from the vicious attack by a murderous goat, while she was armed only with a can of pepper spray.






col covington Covington_VHoward_FatCat“Come back Henry Ford, all is forgiven”

February 6th, 2014 – When I was growing up, there were three classes, the rich, the middle class, and the poor. We often made fun of the Fat Cats but these were mostly people who drove big flashy cars, overdressed and bragged about how much they were worth. I have sort of grown to miss the comic nature of the Fat Cat. By the time I reached college there were the rich, the super rich, the upper middle class, the middle class, the lower middle class, the poor, and those who lived in poverty.






col covington JeSuisCrusaderRabbit_Covington_Howard 01 22 2015“Je Suis Charlie, they will never kill all of the Crusader Rabbits”

January 22, 2015 – Irony is often the fuel that powers satire. I found it extremely ironic that my last column, Crusader Rabbit, My Hero for all Seasons, was written four days before the massacre of a dozen satirical writers and cartoonists in Paris. The staff members of Charlie Hebdo were murdered simply because they dared satirize extremists . . . speaking truth to power has always been dangerous but speaking humor to power is even more dangerous. Satirists are the ultimate Crusader Rabbits.






col covington Old George Covington_VHoward_02 04 2015“I ain’t goin’ gentle into any dark night”

February 19, 2015 – For years I had assumed I had mature, silver-grey hair. The first thing I thought was, “I guess I’m getting old!” The powder white hair forced me to look back on my years and wonder when the light brown hair began to change and ponder what comes next. They say we all begin to look back toward the end, but I seldom have and don’t intend to spend much time now . . . few people in my past have truly disliked me and they’re all dead now, and were part of my Washington, D.C, past. You can’t live 20 years in DC and not expect a few enemies. It reached a point in Washington that when someone would say, “You know old so and so died?” My instant response was, “I have an alibi.”





col covington Terlingua astronaut 06 2015“Big Bend’s many states of mind”

May 28, 2015 – A magnet for the chili cook-off crowd, Terlingua tends to attract what might generously be called “free spirits.” Several longtime residents of the town have assured me that their spirits cost more than if they drive to Alpine to do the buying. The rugged landscape of the vicinity is unequaled this side of the moon. As a matter of fact the first moon walkers trained in the area around Terlingua because of the similar landscape. When they returned from the moon they said its terrain was more hospitable, but Terlingua had a better choice of beer.





col covington TrumpKardashian“The Donald, past presidents, and Kim Kardashian”

October 6, 2016 – Donald Trump is the Kim Kardashian of modern politics. Like hers, his fame is based on fame created with shameless self-promotion. The difference between the two is that Ms. Kardashian’s followers know that there is no “there, there” and revel in her mindless vulgarities. Trump’s followers are “true believers.” These creatures all exhibit a selected and self-induced amnesia. They hear their master proclaim his truths on Monday, deny on Tuesday what he said on Monday and by Wednesday the true believers can’t remember Monday.





George A. Covington has worked in the fields of law, education, journalism and disability rights. He considers himself retired from every one of them with the possible exception of journalism. He is a graduate of the University of Texas schools of journalism and law. He moved to West Texas – Alpine – in 1997 after a 20-year career in Washington, D.C. where he once served on the staff of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Democrat) and shortly thereafter served as Special Assistant to the Vice President of the United States (Republican) 1989-93. 

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