Friday, December 31, 2004


Posted by Hello

And finally - this year's card! Hope you like it. Have a Happy New Year and hopefully you will be blissfully bereft of boozers.

As near as I and Janet the Archivist can tell, this is the entire collection of cards. (Except for that one with the spider who caught a man in her web which was so dreadfully below par that none of us even saved it. But we won't mention that here.) Just like every year I am resolved to find my card photo early and avoid the holiday rush. And just like every year I will probably be skulking the cemeteries sometime around December 15th with a harried and desperate look about my person that many a caretaker has mistaken for the grief of facing the holidays without Aunt Whomever.


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The year 2000 was a bit of a ho-hum card year. I do kind of like the vague, twilight feel of this photo, however.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Still laughing...

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Last year I was in a rush. (As usual.) Down to two weeks before Christmas and no card photo. (Nothing new.) I took the afternoon off from work and made a quick trip to Amarillo. Just after passing through the cemetery gates, I turned a bend and tuh-duh! The Hallmark Card is one of my all time favorites.


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This one is not one of my favorites, but I was hard up this year. Don't know when this was, probably 1996 or 1997. The scan doesn't let you read the inscription which says: "Pals" and lists the names of William H. Bonney, Charlie Bowdre and Tom O'Folliard. This is one of the gravesites of Billy the Kid. Notice The Kid is still in jail. This is in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

Howdy Folks! Y'all looking for something nice in a used stone?

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I am assuming (hoping?) this was a mock stone to illustrate the quality of the cemetery superstore's machine made tombstones. The blue sign says "This monument is available for sale. To be moved to selected lots." However, it had nothing setting it apart from the stones surrounding it, except for the terse little blue sign. Well, that and the insipid "Her hugs were the best" inscription. But who knows? Maybe they were the best.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Keep The Home Fires Burning

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This card is my favorite so far, although there are a couple of others that come close. I took this photo while visiting my brother who was the newspaper editor for a small town in the Kiamichi Mountains of Oklahoma. One evening he got a call that the antiques store, in an impressive three story Victorian gingerbread house, was on fire. He rushed out to take photos of the inferno and I grabbed my camera and tagged along. Look closely at the middle and you will see an antique sewing machine silhouetted in the flame. This was in 1995 or 1996.

Queen of the Single Wide...

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I took this photo on my honeymoon and sent it out for Christmas 1999. It is on the side of a God-forsaken stretch of road between Los Alamos, New Mexico and Juarez, Mexico. This charming fixer-upper was the only structure visible for miles and miles...and miles...

Slaughter - The First Card

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This card was the first - 1994. I was on vacation in Saint Jo, Texas. (Don't laugh - it was really interesting and I had a great time.) While in the local cemetery, skulking around, I turned to take a look at this field of stones, all facing the other direction. The only inscription showing was on the large stone in the back. It says "Slaughter". That was the inspiration and the beginning.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Last Noel

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This is a card I sent out in 1997 or 1998. Maybe '96? Who knows?
I should have been keeping better records of this. So, for the next few weeks, as time allows, I plan on posting my last 10 years of Christmas cards. If I am guessing right, 2004 is the 10 year anniversary of Skewed View Christmas Cards.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Head Swells, Then Bursts

I am a superhero. I can do anything. Yes - Its true. Just ask my niece. Whenever I say "Who is Ray-Ray?" she knows to say "Ray-Ray is Wonder Woman".

My powers, which are far beyond those of mortal men, were put to the test this weekend. Jackson was in the hospital with a gaping, toothless, mouth-shaped wound in his gut. (Not to fear - it was supposed to be there.) The wound has to be packed so it can heal from the inside out.

We were about to leave to go home on Sunday when the nurse, a very nice Asian lady with a heavy accent, came in to change the dressing.

"Stand back," I said, adopting my best superhero pose. "I will have to do this at home, so let me try it out now."

The nurse gave me the packing material (unfortunately not bubble wrap) and some long, wooden-handled Q-tippy things to poke it in with. I went to work and was doing what I thought was a damn good job - not feeling woozy or nuthin.

Then, just as I finished -- BLAM! The wooden Q-tip handle thing snapped in two! ZING - half of it flew across the room!

"Ahh..." said the nurse. "You a little tense, no?"

Heh. Heh. Maybe just a little. Heh.
Check out the lizard... Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Let's Go to a Cafeteria for Supper Tonight!

I took a huge and probably irrevokable step towards looming, hulking, stale-smelling adulthood this week. We purchased matching recliners.

Not only that, when we got them home, I discovered the only way to satisfactorily place them in the house is to use the Grandma design schema. You know - two chairs next to each other seperated by a small table on which to pile the remote, your glasses, and whatever you are attempting read during the commercials.

That is bad enough. But... then I realized there is a perfect space between the chairs and slightly under the table for the wastebasket. At first I was excited about this - the elegant efficiency of the whole arrangement. But then I took a step back and realized I had achieved an almost perfect replica of my grandmother's living room.

Its soooo ordinary. Like mashed potatoes...

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Damn, That Really Hurts...

You Are Mashed Potatoes

Oridnary, comforting, and more than a little predictable
You're the glue that holds everyone together.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sorry Cat Walks on Scanner

I have this year's Christmas card photo. Now I just have to come up with a caption. Don't get excited - it ain't that great. Sort of like this one from 2002 - does anybody even remember it? Not me! I just found it in my desk! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

So, to make a short story long...

I had to buy a new bible. Mine broke. It didn't wear out (no object lesson there!) and I didn't need a different translation - it just broke. Right in the middle of Sunday School, it pretty much exploded. That may well be some sort of an object lesson, but it shan't be explored here today.

So. Being the good little secular, liberal, somewhat Gnostic Christian that I am, I went to Barnes and Noble to purchase a new tome de sacredness. While they had many bibles, nothing was really cool enough to justify the expense. I gave up, promptly set aside my oft espoused principles and proceeded to Mardell's - a place I had religiously avoided in the past. It is a way too scary right-wing Wal-Mart of a bible store in Lubbock. Ugh. Spit.

I had to trek through a plethora of Republican-inspired office decor items to get to the Wall-O'-Bibles. You know the type of stuff I mean - how many different eagles in flight can you fit into your cubicle? All of them replete with quotes about how God loves America. God may visit your backwater country on occasion - sort of a working vacation, perhaps - but everyone knows he lives in America, right? And if you live in America you need to be sure you wear your colors and have your eagles and maybe a yellow ribbon in plain view on anything and everything you own. After all, how will the Fuhrer know how deeply you support the Fatherland unless you display the correct insignia... oops. I digress. Anyway, I found a nifty little green and cream colored leather NIV bible that I thought was way worth the money. I was grudgingly happy.

After snagging my fairly cool bible, I decided to look for a particular C.S. Lewis book. I looked and I looked, but no C.S. Lewis. Ah-ha! This bore out my long-held belief that this was nothing more than a right-wing, goose-stepping, fundamentalist, censorship-loving sham of a bookstore - no C.S. Lewis here! Ha! I began to spout about this and rail against the closed-mindedness of it all until I walked past an entire row of Lord of the Rings books. Hmm...

Admittedly I was surprised by the fact that they sold Lord of the Rings at the right-wing store. We all know that C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien were big buddies and free thinkers and etc. etc., right? I began to lose a little steam and then one of the employees came along and showed us an entire section devoted to C.S. Lewis.

Well, crap. So maybe I was wrong. I began to feel a little closed-minded. Felt a little guilty about jumping to conclusions. Just a little.

But then, Jackson pointed out to me that no one we had spoken with so far had spoken to me. They directed all their comments to him - Mr. Appointed-by-God-Almighty-as-Head-of-the-Household. I was again righteously incensed. However, I must admit maybe they just thought I was nuts and they were trying to avoid direct eye contact with me.

Finally, I took my way cool bible purchase to the front, having decided against their cheap-ass version of Mere Christianity because it was sadly packaged in a ugly cover and a book like that just deserves better, (although this mass produced version was handily priced and affordable to practically everyone, regardless of social class - but I preferred to ignore that point and proceed with the leftist harping). The squeaky-clean, closely-shorn, checker-outter boy asked did I wish to have the bible engraved?

Ah-ha! Once again the greed-serpent of morality marketing had appeared! I am afraid my exact works were something along the lines of "Hell no - not unless you want to do it for free!" Yep. Thass what I said. Feelin' all self-righteous. Yessiree.

Checker-outter boy looked a bit frightened and said sheepishly that, well, yes it IS free and they could do it right then while I waited. My balloon burst, yet again. On my way over to the engraving counter, I broached the idea of having SpookyRach engraved on the bible, but had to agree with Jackson that at this point I would be risking hellfire if I did that. Nor for having that name put on my bible, you understand, but just for being a pain in the ass with nothing but my own generally mistaken assumptions backing me up. Damn.

Oh well. Most of 'em still wouldn't talk directly to me and I can be righteously pissed about that. A little. Maybe...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Vote Early, Vote Often

Texas has a great early voting policy. I love to vote early and I was going to the doctor with Jackson so we decided to stop at the courthouse and do our civic duty on the way. Early voting is a simple and easy thing to do. In most cases. In some places.

Being an election official carries some sort of vicarious prestige, I guess. I know it does for the guy who is always in charge of it here. It seems each time I vote, I come back armed with yet another chapter in the on-going saga of "how does that racist, elitist, fundamentalist, dunder-headed Nazi get the idea that I like him and want to talk to him?!"

I knew exactly where our voter registration cards were. Jackson's was on the kitchen counter and my was in my desk at work. Since I had taken the day off work, I didn't feel like going in to get my card. We just took Jackson's. This should not be a big deal. There is a huge 3-ring binder right at the desk where you pick up your ballots. It has the alphabetized names of each registered voter and the corresponding precinct numbers. I know I live in precinct one. I just didn't know if it was 101, 102, 104, or 112. Did I mention Jackson brought his card? He did. But we lost it in the truck on the way over. It is a little truck. We searched it well. Couldn't find that bastard.

So, we go in to vote, driver's licenses in hand. For the first time in a long time, Mr. Jones, my aforementioned nemesis, was not the one I dealt with. He was busy telling the nice people behind me how he humiliated and embarrassed a voter who was Hispanic and how he was offended by this Hispanic person's over-reaction to his overtly racist comments. Nope, didn't have to deal with him. (It seems that there is some sort of rule around here that if you use the word Hispanic instead of Mexican, it somehow white-washes your racist intent. So to speak.)

I dealt with Mr. and Mrs. Senior-Citizen-Volunteer. They are very nice people. But damn, they are concrete thinkers. No abstraction for them.

You don't have your cards?
Well, do you know your precinct?
Well, what part of precinct one?

All very valid questions. But then, when they realized they were going to have to open the Book Of Names Of People Who Can Vote, they went into a tailspin. They took Jackson's license first to find him in the book. If he was not there, I think I would have been barred from voting. They found him. I gave them my license and name. It is different from Jackson's last name. I didn't see any need to change it just because I acquired a permanent roommate. (He didn't see any need to change his name either, so it has worked out well for the both of us.)

I could not make the nice man understand that my name was different. I said it LOUDLY and s l o w l y. I spelled it. I pointed to it on my driver's license. He continued to look for me under Jackson's name. Finally his wife caught on.

"Are you Alvin's daughter?" She asked out of the blue. Yes. Yes I am. (Its a small town.)
"Well! You will find it is just much easier if you take his name." She indicated Jackson with a haughty wave of her hand.

Jackson felt the need to intervene at this point, probably in hopes of preventing a nasty scene.

"Oh, I don't want her to have my name. Its easier to deny knowing her that way." He joked. Mrs. Senior-Citizen-Volunteer does. not. joke.

"Well, I know Alvin - he's a Baptist minister - and I know he didn't teach you that." Much haughty eye-rolling.

"Oh he's taught me a lot worse than that," Jackson snapped. At this point she obviously consigned both of us to the fires of hell as she had done all she could to prevent our careening down the slippery slope to eternal damnation, and told her husband loudly "She has a different last name."

He looked up from the bowels of the book. "Oh! Do ya'll live close to each other or something?"


The civil rights movement still has a ways to go out here.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

And give me $10 on pump #3...

I went into a convenience store this morning. Had to get a gut-grenade breakfast burrito. Felt like taking some risks with my cardio-vascular future. Anybody familiar with Allsups? I am not a cook - that's Jackson's job - and I am not nearly as discriminating as I should be with my nutritional choices. But even I normally steer very clear of the Allsup's fried burritos. But sometimes...

Everybody does it. Sometimes. When a group of friends gets together and start sharing secrets, certain things always happen. Somebody will always eventually bring up the burritos. (Although if you've recently imbibed, the burritos will come up on their own.) At first, you'll deny it, but you won't be able to meet anyone's eyes. Then you will come clean as you pick at the taco sauce stain on your jacket. You will admit that you too sometimes hear the siren song of the belly bomb. And then someone else will sit up a little straighter, get some backbone in their voice and inform the group that this week you can get two burritos and a tallsup for a buck-ninety-nine. And you know then what you're having for lunch. Yeah.

So, anyway, today I went in search of a sausage and egg burrito. Fried. With extra taco sauce. As I perused the lineup in the hellish heat-lamp diorama, I saw a small sign in the bottom right-hand corner: "Allsup's catfish - cooked on request."


Perhaps I need to rethink my life insurance coverage.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A spider on the cemetery gate... Posted by Hello

Waiting for Janet

Its a little like waiting for Godot.

Well, that's a lie. Its not at all like waiting for Godot. Except, maybe, for the weirdness. Janet is weird. I am weird. And I am waiting for Janet.

Since the start of this blog, I have expected her to find me. Eventually she will. Its all a game.

I left a clue for you yesterday, out on the web. It won't be long now.

When Jackson and I spent the weekend with you in Athens we spoke about how we have a shared addiction, for no good reason, to The Main Point. I started to tell you then. But that would have ruined the game. I know you will find this on your own. So when you do - Howdy! Been waitin' for ya!

An aside - please don't misunderstand me. There are thousands of good reasons to be addicted to Michael Main. Its just that we aren't addicted for any of those good reasons. Go read him yourself and you'll find plenty of good reason to read more.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Am I getting old? Already?

Lord Almighty. I am in pain.

This is the third day of wallpapering. I didn't think it would be such a big deal. I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Every muscle in my body hurts. The insides of my elbows hurt. My toes hurt from gripping the edge of the rickety step ladder rung. Typing sends dull throbbing pain up my forearms> (So why am I doing it?)

It better look reeaaallly good when its all finished. Even if it looks horrible, we are going to have to live with it for the next five years while I try to recover.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Fair Queen - Part 3

Sadly, the story doesn’t end there. The next night after surviving the parade, we donned boots and jeans - no doubt in an effort to look like we might have a horse and it was just taken ill, leaving us unable to ride and participate in the real pageant – and assembled at the back of the rodeo grounds. There we were pinned with the sashes bearing the names of our various sponsors – Miss Co-op, Miss Silver Star CafĂ©, etc. One of my good friends, Maria, had also been suckered into participating. Maria was in a wheelchair. This became significant.

After a few minutes of milling around, not unlike cattle in a pen, a truck arrived, pulling a large stock trailer with the sides removed. “Oh no!” you say.

Oh yes. We were herded onto the trailer. The rodeo queen contestants all ride around the arena and are presented to an adoring crowd. We, the poor unfortunates, were not to be denied the same opportunity. The rodeo queen contestants rode horses. We vied for the honor of being Fair Queen. That rates a ride around the arena in a stock trailer.

You wouldn’t think it possible, but the irony of this seemed lost on everyone at the time. Everyone, perhaps, except Maria and I. Have you ever tried to wheel a chair into a stock trailer? There is no ADA requirement there. Someone provided a couple of 2 x 4’s and I managed to help wheel her aboard. She locked her wheels and I clung to the chair’s handles in an attempt to remain upright for the ride. Rodeo arenas are meant to be traversed by four-hooved animals, not pickups.

It turned out, much to our expectance, that neither Maria nor I were destined for Fair Queendom. I don’t know about Maria, but I couldn’t hope but feel that was a good thing.

The next year brought big changes to town. I left to go to college and Lizzy Johnson even moved on herself, down the road a few miles to the brighter economic prospects of prison guard employment in a neighboring town. I don’t know what happened to the Fair Queen. I don’t even really remember who became Fair Queen. But Lizzy’s well meaning lapse into social equality has served me well over the years. It seems each time I begin to feel too “big for my britches” I’ll come across a box in the back closet. I can’t help but open it. And there, on the top, every time, is that sash – Miss City Grocery and Deli.

Its good to remember where you came from. Especially if you are headed in the opposite direction.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Fair Queen - Part 2

A few weeks later there was a meeting of the “contestants”, i.e. the poor, unfortunate, horseless girls, at which time they explained the intricacies of the pageant. Since we were in fact cursed with no horse, we would be cursed with a fashion show. So, on a hot, sticky Sunday afternoon our parents all crowded into the school auditorium – little more than an oversized classroom with a stage – while we paraded forth in casual wear and “dressy wear”. Luckily, being a conservative west Texas town, we stayed away from the evils of swimwear.

I have never been graceful and the mechanics of the step-turn were lost on me. There was no interview (which would have been small comfort at best, but I could talk better than I could walk) so needless to say I muddled through in a truly unremarkable fashion.

Later in the week the festivities began to reach a fever pitch. Wednesday was the day of the Rodeo Parade. Normally I enjoyed the parade from the middle of the 19 member
marching band. We could all march, each of us to our own private drummer. It was more of a collection of individual performance artists than any sort of a cohesive band. Somewhere, I’m sure, we could have been a hit in a small, off-off-off little avant-garde theatre, but mostly we were just out of step.

This time, I was fated to enjoy the parade in a whole new way. The sponsor was saddled with the responsibility of making a float for the lovelies to ride on, in lieu of riding a horse. Aubrey Nell had not spent a lot of time in life learning the finer points of float design, what with running a business, a farm and a household. Such a waste. My job was to find a suitable prom gown in which to be ogled upon our float. I ended up in a fluffy mass of what would probably be labeled “sea-foam green” tule and taffeta. My chariot arrived.

Turned out they had decided I could ride on – on, not in – their big chunk of a cherry-red
1987 Chevy Suburban. And not on the hood – the roof. To this day I have not idea how I hauled myself and that huge dress to the roof of the vehicle or how I got down. It was evidently traumatic enough to block it from my memory, but somehow I survived to ride through town – green dress, red suburban and a poster board sign proclaiming I was the proud bearer of the title “Miss City Grocery and Deli”.

Part 3 - coming soon!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Fair Queen Pageant, Part 1

Meanwhile, back in Roby, Lizzy Johnson gained a social conscience, to the detriment of all.

Lizzy had a cute little cowgirl daughter who was a regular entrant into the annual Rodeo Queen Pageant. Big doin’s for a little town. This particular year, she was just about a shoe-in to win. Well, it occurred to Lizzy in a blinding flash of social awareness and well meaning benevolent effusion that not all the lovely young ladies of the town had horses and were thus precluded from entering the oh-so-prestigious Rodeo Queen Pageant.

This would not do, Lizzy decided and took it upon herself to correct this injustice. The result of her endeavor was the Fisher County Fair Queen Pageant. Yee-ha, so to speak. At the time I was a senior in high school and continuing my career as all-around-general-flunkie at City Grocery and Deli.

City Grocery, all four aisles of it, was owned by Kiefer and Aubrey Nell Mauldin. Aubrey Nell was the day-to-day manager. She possessed a really quality soft southern drawl and the biggest, brownest, puppy-dog eyes you ever saw.

One day, not long after her conversion to social activism, Lizzy stormed through the double doors of the store with her frizzy red hair in a big cloud trailing out behind her. She managed to convince Aubrey Nell that it was her civic duty to sponsor a contestant in the pageant, so as to give some poor, unfortunate horse-less girl a chance at Small Town Stardom.

So, when I went in to work that afternoon and punched the time clock outside Aubrey Nell’s office door, I heard her plaintive “Raay-chel?” from inside. (In actuality, she always streched my name into three syllables, but I don't know how to spell it that way.) I stuck my head in to inquire. She explained that she had to come up with someone to be in this contest so she could fulfill her duty as a sponsor and would I please, pleh-eease consider it?

What could I do? There is just no way to say no to Aubrey Nell once those puppy-dog eyes connect with yours and turn your willpower into mashed potatoes. I became the first ever Miss City Grocery and Deli. Yee-ha and amen.

Part 2 to follow...
We have an abundance of sky. Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 02, 2004

In Which I Demonstrate Mangerial Prowess

Marty: "He thinks this guy is some kind of a victim!"
Me: "Um-hum."
Marty: "He even has him listed in the computer as a widower!"
Me: "Hmmm."
Marty: "You can't divorce your wife, then kill her and call yourself a widower!"
Me: "Well, that's a good point."
Marty: "I'm just going to change it!" She stomps off, bristling with corrective righteousness.
Me: "Ok."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Boxing Bill

After a long morning in meetings and interviews several of my friends were ready to let off some steam and we went out for lunch. One of the guys told mother-in-law stories about how she wants to have her cats cremated. That reminded another friend, Elyse, of a story.
Elyse married at age 20, for the first time. She married Bill. They had a son together - Eric.

The good times didn't last and he eventually became very physically abusive. After a long time, Elyse got it together and left Bill. Time passed and Eric grew up. He finally reconciled with his father, following his own marriage. Not long afterwards, Bill was diagnosed with cancer. He soon died, was cremated and Eric came to be in possession of the ashes.

Eric and his wife began having problems of their own, so Eric moved back home for a few weeks. He brought Bill with him. Bill owned property on a lake near Dallas, and Eric had planned to scatter Bill's ashes there. Before long, Eric made up with his wife and packed his bags to head back home. He came to the box. The Box O' Bill.

"Mom... can you please keep Dad for me until I can get back?"

"Oh no! Not me! No way!"

Before long, Eric left and Elyse was official caretaker of the box. She agreed to hold it until Eric could return and take it to the lake. Elyse's mother is a staunch catholic of the old school variety. She was most shaken by Bills earthly remains and would not sit in the room with him. She crossed her self furiously each time she had to walk past the box and begged Elyse to get rid of the candles and palm fronds surrounding the box. Elyse said she'd never had a dead guy in the living room before and thought the candles were a nice touch. She muttered something about expecting he would feel at home, surrounded by flames.

We all thought there was more to the story and waited expectantly. There was not. That was it. Bill's earthly remains were incorporated into the living room decor, patiently awaiting a final trip to the lake.

After a moment's silence, everyone at the table burst out laughing.

Are you trying to get Bill to Dallas without buying a plane ticket? Dad's a carry-on! Or is it carrion? Box o' Dad! Goin' round and round the conveyor belt. What if they lost your luggage? Think outside the box - that's what Bill's doing? Dad, squared! And finally, when the laughter lulled just a little, the quietest voice at the table chimed in. "This brings whole new meaning to the bumper sticker "Ex-Husband in Trunk"!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Clockwork Plaid

I work with an exotic collection of abnormals operating under an opaque veneer of sanity. That doesn't include the criminals. Sometimes there are cracks in the veneer and sometimes they lift it off entirely for a rush of fresh air.

It was quiet and I was in my office, working diligently. Its the end of the month, so we are all confined to desks, cleaning up paperwork spew. I heard a voice. It was't God, it was Mindy. She has the office next door.

"Can you stab someone with one of our letter openers?" she asked the thin air.

I waited a moment for the air to answer and decided she must be talking to me.

"Can I or would I?" I asked.

"Can you?"

"Sure, no problem. Why?"

"No reason. Its just a comfort."

Conversation ceased and we went back to work. Later I realized that no one in the vicinity had raised an eyebrow, much less come to question this exchange. They didn't find it particularly odd.

I think I fit in well here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Powers far beyond those of mortal men...

Bob is my truck. We have been together for 8 years. Longer than any other relationship I've had. Everyone in town knows Bob. And everyone calls him by name - Bob T. Truck. Last week, Bob took a break.

I stopped at Sonic on the way home. Jackson was teaching that night, so he wouldn't be home with supper waiting on me. Far be it from me to eat anything I might possibly cook, so it was Sonic night. All was well until I started to leave. Bob would not start. No amount of cajolling, name-calling or sweet-talking would get him to budge. He's been pissy like this once or twice before and in the past all it took was a kind word and a five minute break and he was ready to go. Not this time. Not even sitting there long enough to read two articles in the two year old fishing and hunting regulation guide I found under the seat helped.

At last I gave in and called for help. My sister-in-law and niece came to pick me up, along with my bag-o-burger-heaven, which was much less heavenly than originally planned. My niece was ecstatic to be coming to my rescue and explained how she and her mother were Power Puff girls who had come to save Wonder Woman (Me, of course. I have trained her well.) from the evil Sonic/MoJo-JoJo.

When Jackson got home, we went back to Sonic to rescue Bob. Bob still would not start. Jackson pushed him out of the stall. When we got him into the open, Jackson told me to pop the hood. I couldn't think what good that would do at this point, but I did it anyway. He stuck his head under there and yelled for me to try to start the engine.

Started right up.

Jackson slammed the hood and came around to my window with a big smile on his face. "Wow! What did you do?" I was unabashedly impressed.

"I didn't do anything, I just looked at it." he grinned. He pointed back to the big Sonic windows crammed with car hops watching the scene. "But all those people in there think I am one hell of a mechanic!"

Friday, August 20, 2004

Milk Break

Do you remember afternoon milk break? I do. It was one of those myriad elementary school honors to be chosen as the milk bearer for the week. After a hard day of work and play – both of which were equally important – things slowed down in the hot afternoon. Milk break effused into the afternoon ebb.

Each grade took break at a slightly different time, so as milk-bearer you sauntered out into the big, empty hallway alone – courageous in your freedom to roam the hallway unsupervised - powerful yet trepidatious, still, lest you make too much noise passing Mrs. Floyd’s classroom. The cafeteria was at the end of the hallway. By this time in the afternoon, the workers had washed and stacked the trays, turned out the lights, and gone home.

As you open one of those big double doors just wide enough to slip through, you sense the quiet, venerated atmosphere of a cathedral at rest. The light is dim, cool, calming. The overhead fluorescents have been silenced and only the muted light from the frosted windows stretches across the linoleum. You try to walk confidently to the big reach-in cooler at the back – after all, you are a Milk-Bearer. You have position and the authority to be here. But an over-riding sense of quiet pervades your very soul. Each step seems to echo and compete with the hum of refrigeration. The hum is always there, yet at this time of day it is all-powerful, all-knowing, the personification of a lunchroom deity.

The milk cart is parked inside the kitchen door. It clatters irreverently as you move it in front of the cooler. You carefully count the milk. The teacher has given you the list. 17 chocolate. 2 white. The two white don’t make a lot of sense. Who really drinks white, anyway, when there is chocolate to be had? One goes to the blonde whose older sister just entered junior high, the other to her best friend. The blonde’s older sister has blamed the insults of pubescent complexion on chocolate. So younger sister and her best friend are on a chocolate fast in preparation of impending adulthood. Or fourth grade. Whichever comes first.

Carefully, respectfully, you wheel the cart back to the cafeteria doors and maneuver it through. You feel the need to somehow apologize to the hum for the disturbance. The sun-streaks on the linoleum seem undisturbed. You scoot through the doors as quickly and quietly as possible.

Now you are on the way back. Mission almost completed. The lanky cart makes rhythmic squeaks all down the hall, but you don’t care. You are a Milk-Bearer. Mrs. Floyd’s room be damned – you have a job to do! Outside the door to your classroom you glance back down the long hall. Look back to the darkened lunchroom that lies behind the big double doors. A cathedral at rest, the room seems to grant you some of its respect. If not for you, at least for the job you have done. And you’ll be back. Its only Wednesday.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Samuel Puzo

Have you read the Godfather lately? Or seen the movie? I watched the movie again just before Brando died and followed that up with a trip to church Sunday morning. We studied II Samuel. Lack of sleep began to kick in. The two stories started to merge.

David, of course, is Don Corellone. A man of humble beginnings who uses his talent and abilities to rise to the top and lead the “family” of Israel. A king. A killer. A very respected man who loves his children very much. But he devotes his time and efforts to the success of the "family" rather than rasing his children. Solomon is Michael. Not the first born son, but the wisest by far. He is thoughtful and contemplative and married more than once. Solomon/Michael is destined to lead in place of his older brother. Absolom – the oldest son. A hotheaded, passionate, beast of a man. He lives for action – not contemplation. When Absolom sets out to avenge the honor of Tamar, his sister. He dies a violent death. Sonny, naturally. Tamar is Connie – a one dimensional character at best. She does not contribute much to the family other than to incite her brother to violence. Amnon is Freddy. Freddy is just a little iffy in a lot of ways. Amnon definitely has some of the same kinds of problems. Joab is the fierce and loyal general. The Cappo Clemenza. Nathan the prophet is a friend and confidant to David. Yet he is able to speak freely to the king. To give counsel, wanted or not. Tom Hagen, the consigliore.

Solomon leaves his father’s house behind and shifts the focus of the “family” to build a huge palace and more importantly the temple. Times are changing. David was the monarch of a small, isolated familial society. Solomon finds himself faced with a changing, more business-like “family”. Solomon’s people are more interact and cooperate with the other “families” surrounding them. Solomon built the temple - where the people spent their weekends, praying and making sacrifices. Michael went to Las Vegas. The "family" changed. Instead of heading a small, isolated familial society, he must connect with other “families” for expansion and profit. The “family” became more business-like. Michael built casinos - where people spend their weekends, praying and making sacrifices.

Friday, August 13, 2004