Monday, February 26, 2007


Stole this from Reverendmother:

What time do you get up in the morning?5:15ish. My alarm is set for 5:40, but I usually get up earlier and do yoga or something.
Diamonds or pearls? Neither, really. Diamonds if I had to chose one.
What was the last film you saw at the cinema? I can't remember! And that ticks me off, because there is nothing better than movies in the theatre. I gotta work to change that, and today I'm taking Katie to see Bridge to Terabithia. (school holiday today.)
What is your favorite TV show? Dirty Jobs or pretty much anything on food network. I don't cook, but I love to watch people do it on TV!??!
What do you normally have for breakfast? Cereal or a breakfast burrito.
What is your middle name? Lei.
What is your favorite cuisine? Tex-Mex
What food do you most dislike? Institutionally prepared chicken breast.
What is your favorite chip? BBQ potato chips
What is your favorite CD at the moment?
What kind of car do you drive? Ford F150
What is your favorite sandwich? Roast, mashed potatoes and black-eyed peas with lots of mayo. Yeah, I'm a picture of cardio health.
Qualities I despise most in other people are? Giving in to baseless fears.
What are your favorite clothes? jeans and t-shirts
If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be? Europe
What color are your eyes? Hazel. Usually.
What is your favorite brand of clothing? don’t have one
Where would you want to retire? East Texas. Or the mountains. Or maybe Costa Rica.
What is your favorite time of day? Any time that I don't have anything I have to do.
Where were you born? West Texas
What is your favorite sport to watch? Football. I don't like watching any other sport on TV, but enjoy watching them in person. I like watching football in person, but its actually better on TV.
Sock Sock, Shoe Shoe or Sock Shoe, Sock Shoe? Changes from day to day.
Cash, credit card or debit card? Debit Card!!! I love, love, love debit cards.
Pepsi or Coke? Don’t care.
Cats or Dogs? Cats. Although I would like to have a grey hound someday.
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Morning.
Pedicure or manicure? Meh. whatever. or neither.
Do you prefer funny or mushy cards? Funny, of course. I'd like to hit that Helen Rice woman with my car.
Any new and exciting news you’d like to share with everyone? Not yet.
What did you want to be when you were little? FBI Agent
What do you have in your trunk right now? A sack of shoes I need to donate to the
Salvation Army and Jimmy Hoffa.
What is your best childhood memory? I have no idea. Lots of good stuff.
What are some of the different jobs you have had in your life? Fireworks seller, Grocery store flunky, Secretary, Probation Officer.
What is your favorite holiday? Halloween.
What is your favorite dessert? Cobbler with Ice Cream
Where is your favorite get-away? Mountains
Have you ever been to Africa? Nope.
Glasses or contacts? Contacts, especially now that I have double vision when I'm not wearing them. Yes, the eye doctor is running tests to try to figure that out.
Have you ever been toilet papering? Nope. Did plenty of other stuff, though.
Have you ever been in a car accident? Never, ever. (Knock on wood!)
What is your favorite day of the week? Right now its Sunday afternoon. We are trying really hard to have absolutely nothing we have to do on Sunday afternoons.
What is your favorite restaurant? Mi Mexico in Fake Cow County and Johnny Carino's in Big Flat City.
Favorite flower? Calla Lily
Favorite movies? Philadelphia Story, Bringing up Baby, The Maltese Falcon, oh, heck, this list could go on for pages before I even reach the 21st century.
Favorite Pastime? Reading, Painting, Drawing, Gardening
Favorite ice cream? Anything but chocolate, as long as it has something crunchy in it.
Favorite fast food restaurant? Taco Bell, Sonic
How many times did you fail your drivers test? Ouch. I failed it the first time. The dude made me parallel park first thing and that didn't go well. heh.
From whom did you get your last email? From Garrison Keilor. Yeah. We're buds. He emails me every morning. Sends me poetry and stuff. I know y'all are jealous.
Sandals or tennis shoes? tennis shoes
Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
If the speed limit is 60, what is the fastest you normally drive? 65
What is your bedtime? 10:30ish
Last person you went to dinner with? Jackson
What are you listening to right now? A documentary about some woman who bumped off her wealthy husband.
What is your favorite color? Deep, Dark, By God-Purple. And Black
How many tattoos do you have? None. I know what I want, but I can't make up my mind where to put it.
Smooth or crunchy peanut butter? CRUNCHY!
What is your favorite drink? Margarita.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Case of the Dusty Paperback

I started something last night that I haven't done for years.

It may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but I was a weird kid. Yes, I know you find that hard to believe. Last night I started reading from a series of books that I started collecting as a weird kid.

One day when I was about ten years old, I found my dad watching an old black and white TV show. When I asked what he was watching, he explained it was a rerun of one of his mother's favorite TV shows - Perry Mason. That made me curious, so I stuck around to see for myself. By the time Mason used his incisive cross-examination to corner the murderer on the witness stand, I was hooked.

My dad told me the show was based on a series of old books and he just happed to have one in his stash. I devoured it. My little ten-year-old self was totally engorssed in the murders and the style and especially the characters. Did you know that Della Street is actually a speaking part in the books? I added Perry Mason to my list of people I wanted to be when I grew up.

We lived in a tiny town at the time, and when Dad had to make Saturday hospital visits, we'd all go along so we could eat out, watch a movie or maybe spend some time browsing the shelves of a bookstore. After reading that first book, I would collect my allowance and beg to be taken to the used bookstore to buy Perry Mason books. The books had been out of print for about ten years by the time I discovered them. The only place to find them was at used bookstores.

At first I could usually find 8 or 9 books at a time. I'd buy all I could get my hands on, then start reading as soon as I got back in the car. By the time we got home, I'd be halfway through the first book. When I decimated the supply at one store, I'd move on to another. I had the Big Flat Yellow Pages listing for bookstores practically memorized. My parents drove me all over town so I could find more treasure.

Most of the time I could sniff out the Perry Mason novels in a new store in a matter of moments. Since the books are little more than pulp fiction, they were often displayed next to the racks of used porn.

This was before the internet and there was evidently quite a market for used porn. But, I digress...

There are 86 Perry Mason books written by Earle Stanley Gardner. I have 85 of them. (There are also a couple of insipid pastiches written by Thomas Chastain which I also own, but they don't count.) It took me several years to amass my collection. By the time I finished Junior High, I'd pretty much completed it. I looked long and hard for the last book and could never find it. Then one day I just stopped looking. I didn't really want to find it. That would mean I was finished. The collection would be complete, entire, done. I just didn't want to be done with it.

I haven't read a Perry Mason book since my first semester in college. I didn't really read one then. I just skimmed a couple to refresh my vast store of previously useless detecitve story trivia, which I used to write a paper for my freshman comp class on the reasons for the popularity of characters such as Perry Mason and Sherlock Holmes.

I've moved a few times since then and always packed up my 85 Perry Mason books (along with hundreds of other books) and taken them with me. After the last time I moved, I considered getting rid of them. After all, I hadn't read one in nearly two decades. But I couldn't quite part with them.

And now all I would have to do is enter the title on the Amazon website, and within a matter of days I would be the proud owner of the final book. But I'm not sure if I want to do that.

Maybe I'll re-read a few more and then decide.

My favorite haunt for finding the books was at The Book Rack on Slide Road. I was such a regular customer that they gave me all sorts of freebies - mostly bookmarks and really cool padded, leather-looking book covers. I still use the bookcovers.

One Saturday I jangled the bell over the door of the Book Rack and made my way to the back of the store. The books I wanted were on the lower shelves. The store was dim and quiet. I was the only customer.

It was a good day. I found more than a dozen of Gardner's books that I didn't already have. I filled my arms and carried them to the front counter to unload. There was a young man, probably a college student, working the cash register. He scanned my piles of books, checking the prices. Then he looked over the books and down at me.

"You're that kid."

I looked at him quizically.

"You're that kid who buys all the Perry Mason books. I've heard about you," he said as he rang up the sale.

I grinned at him, grabbed my bags and rushed out the door. I hopped in the car and wondered what the clerk meant - was it a good thing or a weird thing to be "that kid"?

Then I opened up the first bag to get started on my reading. I found not one, but two brightly colored, padded, leatherish bookcovers. Score!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bones of the Valentine

I got my valentine early.

And its already decimated.

Mindy's valentine swap resulted in a big ol' box of almond-cherry fudge from Zorra. Oh yeah, its just as good as it sounds. She also sent a really hillarious card. But did I mention the fudge?
'Cause there was fudge.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Here are a couple more photos that I took in Huntsville.
The first one is yet another shot of the statue that I posted last week.
And this is yet another stone in the rainy darkness.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Friday Cemetery Blogging

I was on death row last week.

One of the guys in my class works at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, which is where Texas kills people. There was supposed to be an execution that day, but a stay was granted and the warden had some free time. So, our classmate arranged a tour for us.

I don't know what I think about the death penalty. I am a fence straddler on the issue. Both sides have some valid arguments. And I am completely baffled by the opposition to DNA testing that might exonerate an inmate.

Texas prisons are immaculately clean. You could eat off of most surfaces. They still smell like feet warehouses, but they are clean. But the death chamber and its accompanying cells put the rest of the place to shame. It was laboratory clean.

The warden led us into a short hallway housing the four cells and a shower where the prisoner spends their last day and eats their last meal. On the wall opposite the cells was a table covered in a pristine white cloth. Spanish and English Bibles and other religious books were carefully spaced along its surface. At the far end of the table was also a guest register. There was no information in the book, just signatures of the Warden, the Lieutenants, the chaplain - evidently anyone who came onto the cellblock when a prisoner was present. A silent stream of witnesses to the presence of an unnamed guest.

The death chamber itself was much smaller than I thought. There was room only for the gurney and for us to stand shoulder to shoulder along the walls. The warden dropped his crusty, good ol' boy demeanor while we were there. He explained the very clinical process while my hand was on the dead man's pillow.

Everyone filed out very quietly.

The experience hasn't helped me come to any conclusions or have any great epiphany. But unlike other prison spaces, it was quiet and solemn. And respectful.

I'm still thinking.