Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Yet another Cemetery fence for your viewing pleasure. Note that Fake Cow County spiders make much less daring and intricate webs than do their East Texas cemetery spider counterparts.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Junior Picaso Club

Last year Jackson was a stay at home dad. He was the world's greatest homeroom mother. This year he is working out of town, so I am the official school-type event attender and transporter.

I am so not good at that, let me tell ya.

A month or so back, we noticed an ad in the newspaper for an after school art class at the university for kids Katie's age. T, who is one of the wackos from work, has kids about Katie's age and they saw the ad too. We worked out a plan whereby we take turns picking up the kids after school each Thursday and dropping them off at the class. That way neither of us has to miss too much work.

The first week, we both had to go so we could register the kids. I picked up Katie from school and we headed to the class where we met T and her kids. The classroom was crowed with rowdy little kids and their mothers.

T and I directed our entourage to park their cheeks in the plastic chairs while we filled out the forms and wrote the checks. We were being all task-orientated and taking care of business. We didn't know we were supposed to ask questions.

We were surrounded by a flurrying gaggle of outfitted mothers who were very concerned that their jewlery matched their capri and cardigan sets. They were also very concerned that their children get the best possible art instruction.

"What sort of mediums will you be working in?"
"How hands on will this be? Allison really prefers to hands on."
"Miss! MISS! Are we just gonna draw in here? Is that all??"
"Brendon wants to know if you will be doing any thing besides drawing. He's not yet sure whether or not he wants to stay."

On and on and on. I wrote my check and tried to back away as quickly as possible. I finally got to the door and made a run for it. I stopped outside the building and sucked in some sunshiny, mother-free air. T was standing beside me. We looked warily back towards the classroom, which was still full of fussy women and bratty kids.

T looked at me and said "I feel so white."

We went back to work and washed the cotillion dust off our hands.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dang it! I don't wanna be Superman!

There's a reason the URL is Mujer Maravilla. Geeze!

You Are Superman
Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
And pretty cute too. No wonder you're the most popular superhero ever!
What Superhero Are You?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why the Seal?

Most of my people are apologetic in one way or another. The few who aren't are the most fun - they are the idiots who pitch a fit at the thought that they might somehow be in the wrong. Its actually pretty easy to deal with those folk. I can normally flame hotter and longer than they can. Its a great way for me to release some stress and frustration.

Those die-hards are definitely in the minority. The majority of my people are passively manipulative and say whatever they think you want to hear. A lot of the time they are genuinely sorry, but they are sorry they got caught, not because they did something wrong. Most people expect that if they say they are sorry, that makes everything ok. Their lives cycle through a process of committing evils of various sorts, getting caught and punished, apologizing and going right back to the same behavior. The apology is a magical incantation that cleanses the karmic record and frees them to start the whole process over again.

Then I have a few contritionists who have truely repented.

In the last thirteen years I have had three sex offenders whom I think fell into this category. I talked to one of them this week, before I made that seal. I'll call him Harry.

Harry committed a sexual assault almost 10 years ago. His victim was an adult and drugs and alcohol played a big part in the offense. He was given probation and he completed it about 9 months ago. He is still on probation for a hit and run that happened a year or two after the sex offense. Harry has been through lots of counseling and made some significant changes in his life.

Harry is married with several teenage and grown kids/stepkids. He has a high school diploma and is fairly personable and articulate. He has some construction skills, but nothing particularly special. He has always worked low paying jobs and struggled to get by.

About six months ago, he got a job as a delivery driver for a high-end furniture company. Within a month he'd been promoted to manager of their warehouse. Harry was making more money than he'd ever made. He worked hard and was noticed and rewarded for it. Customers regularly called and thanked the owners for how well they were treated by the Harry and his drivers. They always went the extra mile. The store owners did the right thing and told the employees how much they appreciated them and paid them more money. Harry has been excited and animated everytime I've seen him in the last few months. He had a real future with the company and he was proud of his job and his progress.

Until someone called the boss.

An anonymous caller alerted the owners that Harry is a registered sex offender, complete with a photo on the state sex offender database website. Before the owners even talked to Harry about it, they consulted their attorney and asked what kind of liability they had in the situation and what could be done to keep Harry.

The attorney's answer was that nothing could be done for Harry and they had to drop him like a hot potato. The boss then called Harry in and apologized profusely before firing him. They gave him a month's severance pay (which is unheard of here) and promised him glowing recommendations for all his future endeavors.

Harry came to see me in tears. He is genuinely repentant about his offenses. He has changed his behavior. He is a different person now. He is sincere and wants to live a better life as a better person.

But he can't escape the consequences.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

English 101

I think I've told you before that I keep a list of what we call probation diseases. There are all sorts of medical terms that our people don't quite get exactly right. We've had people who had "lollipops" in their colon or who were suffering from "amonia". One of my all time favorites is the grandmother who called in one day to say Johnny wouldn't be at community service because he was in the hospital. He'd just had a "peace treaty" put in his heart.

Sometimes they get phrases wrong as well.

Rose told me about a lady who came in to report this week. She is having a tough time dealing with her son. She's at her wits end. He has discovered the temper tantrum and likes to throw himself on the floor and "scream bloody mary".

Sometimes I scream "margarita!"

Friday, September 15, 2006

This was supposed to be an Audioblog...

...Audioblogger will let me record 'till I'm blue in the face, but steadfastly refuses to publish it to my blog. I don't know if that's some sort of editorial comment, or what?

My phone rang yesterday afternoon. When I answered, I heard Larry's voice. I've been working with Larry for a long, long time. Up until about a year ago, I was being pretty well snowed by this guy. Not anymore. Not for a while.

Larry had an appointment to see me yesterday.

He called to tell me that he couldn't make it. He had a job interview and they were going to do a physical and he really thought he had a shot at it and of course, he really needed this job. Nooo problem, Larry. I could certainly reschedule that appointment for such a good reason as this. Why didn't he just plan to come see me Friday afternoon?

He agreed and hung up the phone.

Larry, Larry, Larry... This is the 21st Century! Welcome to the wonderful world of caller ID!

Admittedly, caller ID has made my job harder in a lot of ways. But this time it did me good. I waited a few seconds and redialed the number Larry called from.

"Crossroads," the bartender answered the phone. Crossroads is the new name of the Elbow Bend which is a crummy little bar a couple of blocks from my office. Elbow Bend was a much better name, don't you think?

I gave her my best blonde voice: "Hey, hun. Can I talk to Larry again? This is Rachel."

"Sure, sweetie," she said and hollered for Larry.

When he answered I asked him what the hell he was doing there. He was a bit flustered and said "Uh, where?"

"At the bar, Larry. Why are you at a bar?"

"Uh, who is this?"

When that didn't work, he finally blurted out "I just came in here to use the phone!"

I told Larry he could head straight out the door and walk the two blocks to my office. He was going to have to give me a urine specimen for a drug test. That was at 2:00 p.m. yesterday. As of this morning, Larry hasn't shown up. Evidently he got lost in those two blocks from there to here. I need to get his face on a milk carton, ASAP. Either that or have him arrested.

Guess which one I'm going to do?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sometimes I feel like Marlin Perkins.

I really like my job because we've all been together so long that we all understand each other perfectly. Communication here takes place on every conceivable level at every conceivable speed at all times. Sometimes that makes for a lot of confusion if you don't really know what's going on.

Take, for example, this conversation I heard last week between Rose and ChevyPickup:

CP: Are you bringing that snot-nosed kid in here again? Ever?

Translation: I haven't yet made the acquaintance of your granddaughter. Will I have an opportunity anytime in the near future?

Rose: Well hell, she's been up here TWICE already! Is it my fault you never come to work anymore?

Translation: I'm sorry you missed her on her previous visits. I know you had to be abscent from work quite a bit lately due to your on-going cancer treatment.

CP: Oh yeah? Well at least I have a good excuse! What's your problem?

Translation: Yes, the cancer treatment has been a long process. I'm certainly glad its completed.

Rose: Don't get smart with me, shorty! I can't help it that you don't have any hair!

Translation: I know you must be relieved to have that behind you. You seem to be recovering nicely, and you haven't had any untoward increases in your physical stature.

CP: Bite me!

Translation: Thank you!

Monday, September 11, 2006

I like to call it people watching, but it's really just snooping.

I took Katie and her friend Monique camping this weekend. That's Mo-neek, emphasis on the Mo. It was a lot of fun, as they entertained themselves and I got to sit around and do nothing, which is something I'm rather accomplished at.

While sitting at the picnic table, enjoying the cool breeze and the cloudy weather, I started watching the older couple in the space next to mine. They weren't old, just older. I stared shamelessly through my sunglasses and out from under the brim of my hat.

They were scared.

I noticed them first because of how they were dressed. They left for a walk not long after we arrived. He was wearing slacks and a three-button, short sleeve knit shirt. For camping. Slacks! Trousers! Dress pants. She was similarly and constrictively clothed.

When they returned from their walk, I studied their RV. It was a small motorhome, pulled directly into the space - not backed in. This meant the door and the un-deployed awning all faced away from their campsite. Away from the picnic table and fire ring. Away from the path down to the creek. That's nothing too unusual. I can't back a vehicle very well either. But...

When the got to their door, the man pulled out a jangly key ring and unlocked the door. They went inside and shut both doors behind them. Nothing stirred, not even a mouse, for a long while.

When they finally did open the door and came out, both were carrying covered dishes. Supper had been cooked inside. On a stove. In an oven. Not outside on an open flame or even a gas grill. That's not a big deal, I understand that's one reason people buy RVs - fire cooking isn't for everyone. But...

The man held the door for his wife. She stepped out and walked around to the other side of the RV to get to the picnic table. He tarried a second or two longer. He took out the jangly keyring and locked the door.

They never cautioned a glance in my direction, that I know of. My nosiness was not returned or possibly not even noticed. They walked with their heads down, eyes low. I considered going over and speaking to them. Perhaps it would ease their mind, knowing that the scruffy tent dwellers next door were generally law-abiding and good natured. But...

The can of chili I had opened for supper (Frito Pie!) spewed all over the front of my shirt. My legs and feet were speckled with mud from a short walk down what is usually a dry stream bed. My eyes were bloodshot and watery from wearing my contacts too long. My hair was shooting out from under my hat in every conceivable direction. I decided I wouldn't do much to quiesce their fears at that point. Immediately after supper they entombed themselves again. I didn't see them the rest of the evening.

The next morning I walked past their campsite. There was no sign of human habitation. I guess maybe they deeply subscribe to the "leave only footprints" admonition. The RV was there, but nothing else. No hiking stick, no bag of charcoal, no firewood, no lawn chairs, no hat, not even a string of lights or a dog leash. No dog, either. Nothing.

I kept watching. It was surely as much fun as daytime TV. About 10:00 a.m. the door opened and they emerged with cereal bowls in hand. They scurried over to the picnic table, having first locked their door. They ate in what I suppose was silence, staring at the table, barely noticing their surroundings. A short while later I sat watching as they unplugged the motorhome and drove skittishly away.

I sighed, and got up off of my lounge chair. I grabbed a coke out of the cooler and made sure the kids weren't around. Then I poured the leftover bacon grease on the fire and watched it leap and sputter. Fear is sad. Play with fire instead.

Katie and Monique enjoy (?) some ice cream on the way home.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Here are a couple of photos for your perusal:

They're real purdy, blah, blah, blah. The lesson today, boys and girls, is to take close up photos on cloudy days because the colors are way all spectacularish. Yadda, yadda, yadda, enough of that.

What I really wanted to show you is this:

I've spent the last two days painting my shoes! Aren't they neat?! They started out as $3.50 all-white Wal-Mart crap-shoes. Now they are all better. I'm gonna wear 'em to work on Friday. Do you think anyone will notice?

And speaking of cool stuff, check out the audioblogging meme on little david's site. I'm planning to try it out, too.

Monday, September 04, 2006

It Smells The Same

Annie's comment on my last post started me thinking about names. When it comes to cemeteries, I love names that are common words. Those names keep me in business with the cemetery blogging.

My own last name lends itself to being made sport of. It is a word meaning small. (My grandfather was 6'5" or so. My grandmother was 6'1" and both of my aunts were 6' tall, even though one of them liked to describe herself as "five feet, eleven and one half inches". My dad is 6'7" tall.) I share this name with a famous musician. Remember Tom _____ and the Heartbreakers? And also with a family of Nascar drivers - Richard and Kyle and Adam and... Have you figured it out yet?

Even though I didn't change my name when I got married, there is one time I always use my husband's name. I always use it when I go out to eat. One of my favorite pastimes is eating alone (apologies to Milton) with a good book. I like to go to good restaurants, order a good meal and enjoy my book.

The problem is the hostesses never get my last name right. Or even if they do, the p.a. system garbles it when they announce my table. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in a crowded foyer of a restaurant only to hear "Pity, party of one."

Stick a book under your arm and walk through a crowd alone after that. Ha!

One evening last week, the dinner table conversation turned to names. Katie was curious about where names come from. We told her what little we know about it and that seemed to suffice. Then she asked if we were related to any famous people. Jackson told her what little he knows about his family and I told her what little I know about mine. We reeled off a rather unimpressive list of semi-famous kinfolk. Jackson told her about Sir Roger somebody or other who was a big muckle-de-muck in Wales. I mentioned a few semi-notable folks including my great-grandmother's uncle, James Steven Hogg. (He had a daughter named Ima. Remember them?)

After listening to all that, Katie sat thoughtfully for a few moments then said, "Well, some of my friends are cheerleaders."