Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Posted by Hello

What? You don't know what that is? Its a piece of me that no longer exists. Don't get too impressed - its just a thyroid. Why am I showing you this? Just because I can.

I was driving home last night and had my arm slung over the back of the passenger seat of my truck. I discovered a huge envelope back there. I vaguely remember putting it back there several years ago. It contains pictures of this, that and some other body parts. I don't remember having some of those parts photographed, to be honest, and that's a bit worrisome. However, a person doesn't look nearly as chunky with their skin off. The envelope is filled with X-Rays and sonograms and all sorts of similar nonsense. What should I do with it? It seems wrong to just toss it in the trash.

The envelope ended up in the back of the truck one day when I had taken it to a specialist who was going to determine why I had the best darn disease ever. I would eat and eat and eat and then throw up and I was really skinny. Except for the random vomiting, it was all good! Then they found out it was my thyroid and they killed that sucker dead.

But what do you do with all these lovely diagnostic photos? It somehow seems wrong to throw them away. Last week, while looking for something in the dark recesses of a closet, I found yet another envelope. This one contains more photos. Lovely cat scan renderings of Jackson's guts - most of which no longer exist. He's a bit cancer prone and accident prone and occasionally just prone. There ought to be some use for these tumor portraits. But what?

I am entertaining suggestions. I will be gone this week, so discuss amongst yourselves.

Once upon a little adventure...

One a hot day in the middle of summer I set off in search of cemeteries. I stopped and asked these two old guys for directions.

They were pretty unhelpful in a Two Old Muppet Guys kind of a way. (I don't even think they were guys, to be honest.) Still, they had a lot to say and weren't afraid to talk about you to your face.

This was at the back of their field:

I did find a cemetery. At first I thought it was one of the very few I'd ever been to that didn't include something of interest. But then I found this in a far back corner:
It appears to be a primitive rest stop along an intergalactic back road. Notice the little UFO which has crash landed beside it? This is the first cemetery I've found with public restroom facilities. They were out of toilet paper.

By the way, I scored out as Gonzo on the quiz linked above. Are we surprised?Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Nearly Naked Little Palestinian Man

We teach several alcohol and drug education courses at the probation department. Every two years, those of us who teach the drug offender classes and those who teach repeat DWI offender classes are required to attend a week-long training program. The first year we went, and every year subsequently, it has been held at the San Luis Resort in Galveston, Texas. (Eat your heart out, Jonboy.) We thank God on a regular basis for this because the San Luis is super-way-all magnificent.

You may have gathered from previous posts that the people I work with are, shall we say, interesting. They are for the most part female. They are loud, opinionated, and laugh-till-your-nose-runs funny. Being paid to tell other people what to do with their lives tends to make us a bit bossy.

Four of us, Mindy, M2, E. and myself, drug our small-town selves into the resort the Sunday afternoon before the conference. You know Mindy. M2 is a deceptively mischievous chica who can make grown men twice her size tremble with fear. She also collects stray cats and sings along with Barry Manilow whenever possible. She is short, stubborn, spiky-haired and has a slicing wit.

E. is the oldest of the group. I tell you that only because I tell you this - she looks just like Sophia Loren. She is intelligent and deeply empathetic to the deserving. She is eye-gougingly tough on the undeserving. She is also dingy as hell.

When the four of us drug out bags into the sumptuous lobby, the desk clerk only had eyes for E. Since I am somehow always stuck being The Designated Adult, I was getting us checked in. E. stood beside me, just being herself - gregarious and awe-struck. Poor little Richard the clerk was a bit awe-struck himself. We conducted the entire transaction without him ever actually looking at me. The good thing about all this was that he upgraded all our rooms to the penthouse floor. Score!

Well, yeah, but this is a card-access-only floor. No big deal, right? Richard gave us our cards and explained we just needed to insert them into the elevator control panel and we could access our floor. We lugged the luggage to the elevator, smiled our weary thanks to Richard, inserted the card and pushed the button. The doors closed.

The doors opened. We hadn't gone anywhere.

We laugh - ha, ha, silly us - and try again. Insert card, push button, doors close. Doors open. Richard looks up from the desk. We laugh, we wave, we insert different cardpushbuttondoorsclose.

Doors open. We try to look inconspicuous while we INSERT CARD. And PUSH THE DAMN BUTTON. We wait - and the doors open to the lobby once again. Then M2 says she has had enough of this and is going to ask Richard what is wrong with their elevator. Doors close behind her. Doors stay closed. We are going nowhere. Wonder if we will ever see M2 again, but are glad she left her luggage behind as we plan to rummage inside for snacks.

Doors open. Richard and M2 are standing there - Richard looking a little peeved like he obviously made a poor choice about who to spend a precious few upgrades on. We laugh, nervously, and Richard gets on the elevator and personally escorts us to the floor. He gave us a tutorial on the way, which consisted of "insert card, push button".

The conference was great. The food was incredible. And the classes ended early enough each day to allow for sight-seeing and whatever. One night after dinner, we strolled along the sea wall. It was getting dusky. E. and M2 were in the lead. They stopped and leaned over the edge of the wall. Down below the waves were licking the huge chunks of granite. Suddenly E. straightened up and yelled at Mindy and I - "Y'all - Come look at these rats! They're as big as - as beavers!" Not being too cultured to turn down a good rat sighting, we sprinted over to the wall.

We must have presented quite a picture to the passers-by. Four variously sized posteriors addressing the street as we leaned out over the wall, looking for rats. The debate rages today between the rat-seeing and the non-rat-seeing factions as to whom among us has ever seen a beaver and could a rat possibly be that big?

A couple of days went by and our only complaint was that this sizeable hotel had only one bank of elevators. There was another conference going on in addition to ours. Sometimes the wait for an elevator was pretty long. The hotel also liked to keep the stairs hidden away from view and actual use.

Along about Thursday, someone at the hotel decided to paint the elevators. Not a problem. Except that they couldn't paint a moving elevator. They had to be stopped in the basement for painting. Again, not a bad idea for a graveyard shift project. Except that they decided to do it at 4:00 in the afternoon. This was just the time both conferences let out for the day. This meant at least 250 people were milling about in front of stubbornly closed elevator doors, trying to get to their rooms.

We were at the front of the crowd. There were only two people there in front of us and they obviously weren't attending a conference. There were a small, elderly couple just returning from an afternoon by the pool. The man was wearing his swim trunks and standing at attention by the elevator buttons. After a few moments, you realized there was a woman standing behind him. She was so mousy and withdrawn it took a while to register her presence.

We all waited. And waited. There began to be mumbling. And gnashing of teeth. The cattle were restless. We were bored with waiting. It is not good for E. to be bored. She is generally so hopped up on caffeine and nicotine that she requires constant stimulus. She engaged the robust little man in conversation.

At first we were too busy grumbling, mumbling and gnashing our teeth to pay attention. E. was flashing the man her friendliest smile and inquiring about his vacation. She explained why we were there. She asked the man where he was from. He said "Jerusalem."

"Ohhh!" said E. "You're Jewish!"


The crowd was hushed. The gnashing ceased.

"That is what is wrong with all you Americans," the man practically spit. "You think anyone from the middle east is Jewish!" He then launched into a long tirade about the atrocities committed against his ancestors by these retched Jews. They had taken his land, the land of his ancestors and he had been too much of a coward to fight against them! He'd come to the United States in the 1960's and if he were not too old he would be back in his homeland today fighting the Jewish thugs. The Palestinian bombers were not terrorists - they were freedom fighters, bent on driving out the scourge of the Jews! No more was he a coward! One day he would go back to help his people and to reclaim the land that was rightfully his! His eyes were blazing and he was practically foaming at the mouth.

All during this, his poor pitifull wife slunk deeper and deeper into the tiny space between him and the elevator door. She seemed mortified by the situation, but not surprised. Evidently she'd heard all this before.

E. stood there, open-mouthed, until he said he would help drive out the Jews.

"Wait a minute!" she said. "Don't you know the Jews are God's chosen people?"

250 heads snapped in her direction. Jaws dropped.

She looked him in the eye. "Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal savior?"

250 people collectively drew their breath and took two steps back. In unison. It was like Moses had parted the moat of people that surround E. and the nearly naked angry little Palestinian man. The man had turned a freaky shade of red and looked ready to stroke out.

250 people also apparently all appealed to whatever deity they worshipped because just then, the elevators came back to life and all the doors opened. The small sea of humanity enclosed E. and the man again as we rushed into the cells. We pretty much gang tackled E. and pushed her inside. We managed to get the doors closed before the man could jump inside and proceed to strangle which ever of us he reached first. Insertcardpushbuttonprettydamnfast.

The really amazing thing is E. never really understood why the man was so upset.

Two years later, M2 and I went back to Galveston to attend this same conference in the same hotel. M2 is not a breakfast eater, so I left early each morning with a book in search of a food. One morning I stopped at Whataburger.

I was minding my own business, reading and munching. I heard a voice from a couple of tables over, but didn't pay any attention. But the voice kept getting louder and more strident.

Nah, I said to myself. It can't be.

I lowered my book ever so slightly and peeked over the top. I could see the back of a grey-haird man's head. He gestured wildly as he talked to the man in the next booth. Across from this man sat his wife - quiet and mousy, solemnly eating her breakfast sandwich as she stared at the floor. She sank deeper and deeper into the hard plastic seat.

He was railing against the Jews who had driven him from his homeland. One day the tide would change he said. He would do all that he could to eradicate them from his holy land.

I sat there and stared in amazement. I desperately wished M2 was there because who was going to believe I had seen nearly naked angry little Palestinian man again? Clothed this time.

They finished their breakfast and left. I guess I had been pretty obvious in my eavesdropping because the minute they were out the door Palestinian man's audience of one turned to me.

"Do you know how to make tamales?" he asked.

"Excuse me?!"

"Well, don't let those Mexican women fool you! They try to make it sound hard so they can take all your money! Its not hard. I make them all the time. I always start with the filling first. You take the meat and you shred it up real fine. Did you know some of those Mexican women use cats? That's illegal, but they do it anyway. Well, not me! What I do is..."

Next year we're going back to Galveston again. Should be fun.

The Meme I Forgot to Do

Thanks to Halloweenlover for the tag.

Total number of music files on my computer: 726. I am surprised to know it is that many.

The last CD I bought: The soundtrack for Don Juan DeMarco (because I am finally started to replace all the great music I have on cassettes. I'm a little slow, I know.) and the Lilith Fair album that Reverndmother recommended containing The Water is Wide. (God, I love Amazon!)

Song playing right now: Moment of Passion by Sugar Ray and the Bluetones (Best $2.00 CD I every bought.)

Five songs that I listen to a lot:
1 - Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
2 - Righteous Love - Joan Osborne
3 - Shine - Collective Soul
4 - Pepper - Butthole Surfers
5 - Money Can't Buy It - Annie Lennox

So there it is. Anytakers?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Meme means not having to think of stuff on your own.

My uncle once: paid for my dinner. It was last night. I was happily grazing the chinese buffet and enjoying a good book. He was eating there with friends and picked up my check. Thanks!
High school was: when I got a ton of good reading done. Not as an assignment, but kicked back at my desk waiting for the next class.
I will never forget: my first cell phone number - xxx-9666.
I once met: A nearly naked, angry little Palestinian man.
Once at a bar: I heard a really great jazz combo that I swore I would keep up with because I knew they would be famous one day. You notice I didn't list their name under the "I will never forget" entry.
By noon I'm usually: Hungry, thirsty, and wondering what to draw.
Last night: I had the evening to myself so I naturally spent it productively by playing The Sims2. (One of my Sims had twins. I tried to let one of 'em croak because they were a real pain. I feel a bit bad about that.)
If only I had: the power to fly.
Next time I go to church: Ester and I will be walking to church after work to do what we laughingly call a workout.
When I turn my head left: An Edward Gorey poster.
When I turn my head right: I see a stack of stuff to do. Thankfully it is smaller than it was when I got to work this morning.
You know when I'm lying when: I say "Oh my gosh! That is too too adorable! I just love pink, don't you? Where did you get it? I just won't breathe again until I have one too! Cute, cute, cute!!"
Every day I think about: Methamphetamine.
By this time next year: I will have already harvested tomatoes from my not-so-weed-infested garden.
I have a hard time understanding: The love of NASCAR.
If I ever go back to school I'll: Study art. Or maybe English. Hell, no. Not English. Just art.
You know I like you when: I don't clean up my language around you.
If I won an award the first person I'd thank is: Depends on what I won.
My ideal breakfast is: Bacon, Egg, Cheese and Potato burritos with mucho hot sauce.
A song I love, but do not have is: A really good version of The Water is Wide.
If you visit my hometown, I suggest: Slow the hell down! Or you'll miss it! They took out the stoplight so you really have to be looking for it to find it. Remember City Grocery? Its closed. (Yeah, I know, I know - that automatically makes me old.)
Why won't anyone: learn how to paint some decent graffitti around here? Amateurs, they're all amateurs!
If you spend the night at my house: Don't be skeered! You can use the towel in the guest bathroom that says "Property of the Bates Motel" and the skull and crossbones nightlight will cast an eerie glow that will help you find your way.
I'd stop my wedding for: Johnny Depp and/or Krispy Kremes.
The world could do without: Network television.
I'd rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: tweeze my eyebrows.
Paper clips are more useful than: Geeze, I hate paperclips! They smack of indecision. Either staple it or leave it loose but keep yer clips away from me! And did I mention their breeding habits? Its just gross to imagine what sort of carnality is going on in your desk drawer, even as you read this.
If I do anything well: I owe it all to comic books.
And by the way: I keep losing my pepper spray. If someone tried to attack me I'd be asking them to have a seat while I search my desk. Doesn't matter anyway, because I'm pretty sure I would point it in the wrong direction if I tried to use it. Wonder why they don't give me a gun? What I really need is a bow and arrow. I used to be a good shot with arrows.
The last time I was drunk: Never been drunk! I have enough fun on my own.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

From the little not black book...

We were supposed to go camping last night. You may remember how we cancelled because of the impending apocalyptic weather? Yeah. Nothing. No rain, no wind, no cow-grabbing tornadoes.

So, this morning we packed up and went to the canyon to do some fishing and hiking. Jackson fished, Katie and I hiked. Now Katie is fishing with her dad and I am kicked back by the edge of the lake.

The weather has been weirdly wonderful. It started out foggy and cool. The fog stayed until nearly noon. Now the sun is burning off the clouds and the wind has picked up enough to blow out the humidity.

Jackson and Katie have moved to the other side of the lake in search of fish. The lake has more water in it than I have ever seen. The fishing dock no longer stretches out over dry ground and the grass in the swimming cove is actually covered with water. It almost looks like a real lake and not an oversized puddle.

I guess everyone else heeded the spurious weather warnings as well because I am totally alone. There is a bullfrog hiding in the reeds of the shallow water. He's singing Barry White songs. The cottonwoods are rattling thier leaves - it sounds like distant applause. I think I am going to take a nap in the shade...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Violent Pink Cotton Candy

Posted by Hello

These are storm clouds as seen from my back porch last week. One of the best things about living here is our weather. Like anyone else, we complain about it all the time. We tell the same tired old jokes about our weather that you tell about yours - "Don't like it? Give it a minute, it'll change!"

The sand storms suck. Well - blow, actually. Most farmers are using some modicum of soil conservation techniques these days, so they aren't nearly as bad as they could be.

It's hot, of course. But not nearly as hot as the land down off the caprock and besides, "its a dry heat". Hell yeah, its dry.

But we also have cool, calm mornings, summer nights that last half the year, and incredible sunrise and sunset light shows and the biggest canvass God ever made to view them on. And of course, storms.

This is tornado alley. We love to make fun of the Chicken Little-esq Weathermen and all their goofy gadgets. They interrupt regular programming at will and stay "Live On The Air" until the wee hours in hopes of being the first to find a tornado. There is radar and satellite imagery. There is a small armada of storm chasers who constantly phone in reports, sightings and digital pictures. They are an excitable cadre of boy scouts and you'd better get out of the way if you see them careening down the backroads. They're watching the skies, not the traffic. Its all fun and games until they start talking about your county and how the storm is headed for your house and then you're glad they're there.

Last month we made national news (slow news day) because we had 10 tornadoes in a single evening. Tonight is supposed to be much the same.

We'd planned to go camping this weekend. We were headed to Caprock Canyon tonight. Then we watched the Wednesday night news. The Weatherboy said this was a first - the national weather service issued a warning of a moderate risk of severe storms for Friday night. He'd never seen them issue any kind of a warning three days early. Hmm...could that be a sign?

Also, Jackson and I have concluded there is someone in Silverton, a town not far from the canyon, that just ain't living right. They have gotten their butts kicked by every storm we've had this year. Any cloud that forms any where between here and Albuquerque heads straight down their gullet. Perhaps this is not a good night to be there. In a tent.

So we'll sit around the house, watching the weather dudes and arguing whether or not my motorcycle is under the carport far enough to avoid hail damage. I'll probably mope around the front door considering the viability of throwing myself on the flower beds as a means of saving the plants. But they'll grow back. It won't be boring. And it will always be gorgeous.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Inmate Number 015382

Posted by Hello

It's Opie Capone! (Still time to contribute to the Save Your Dignity Campaign before I dig deeper in the family photo archives.)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Zoom, zoom.

Jackson and I went for a motorcycle ride on Monday. Since I had the day off for Memorial Day, we decided to go find a cemetery or two. I wondered why there were so many people at the cemeteries - who goes to a cemetery on a Monday afternoon? Other than people like me who are looking for interesting stones and stories and possible Christmas card material? Then I remembered why it was Memorial Day and felt like a real dolt.

Back to the motorcycle story. We were about 50 miles from home and stopped in between two sides of a divided highway. Jackson was talking some trash about who knows what and made me laugh. He took off across the highway and when I kicked it into gear and let out the clutch - clunk. My bike died. When I pushed the starter - nothing happened.

If you are surprised by this, don't be. I am a talisman of mechanical doom, an amulet of engine despair, a ravaging grigri of ruination to any sort of two-wheeled motorized vehicle. I'm getting a real complex about it. I can think of maybe two times when I have gone on anything more than a short ride around town that did not end in mechanical failure of some sort.

At first I thought it was just my bike. I started out on a Honda CB9000. It was a perfect bike for me. We fit each other just right. But I seldom ever made it home on this bike. The local rice-burner mechanic developed a close personal relationship with Jackson and probably acquired some vacation property over that bike. I finally gave up and bought an old Yamaha XS1100 Midnight Special. It rides like a tough little dream.

Jackson also has an XS1100. His never broke down. I've ridden home on the back of it a lot. One spring evening a couple of years ago, Jackson had to go teach a class at the prison. He asked if I would take his bike out for a ride to make sure the battery stayed charged as we had been too busy to ride for a while. I got about 15 miles down the road and the bike died. Thankfully I had a cell phone and I called my brother to come pick me up. By this time it was getting dark. I was dressed in black, wearing a black helmet. The bike did not even have power to run the lights. I sat on the side of the two-lane blacktop and waited. No one came.

My brother claims he spent an hour going up and down the road looking for me but could never see me. I don't know how much I believe that. You might think it is quiet on the side of a deserted highway at night. It's not. The pavement cracks from the receeding heat. The crickets do their thing and the coyotes get vocal. At least it wasn't boring. Jackson doesn't let me ride his bike anymore. It never broke down again.

I can't tell you how frustrating this is. I don't ride alone anymore - Jackson has to be there to help push start the bike or to give me a ride back home. Its downright embarassing. Monday he pushed me into oncoming holiday traffic and yelled "Let out the clutch!" Hmm...

We made it back home just fine and he has figured out that the problem is my starter celonoid. (I'm just amazed by this. I was raised by book-worms, which is the cosmic opposite of being raised by wolves. I've not had experience with mechanically-minded folks. I am way impressed by his ability to repair things like cars and dishwashers and lawnmowers and whatever else I break.)

So, as soon as the part comes in the mail, I will be back on the road. Literally. Sitting on the edge of the highway, leaned up against the back tire of my bike, listening to the buzz of the bugs and braiding the long grasses.