Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Cemetery Blogging

I thought this was funny when I stumbled on it in a dusty west Texas cemetery. This morning as I am shuddering with relief at having just found my flash drive which contains all my recent cemetery pictures, it doesn't seem so ha-ha hillarious.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Beauty Tips from Beyond
Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not color, but to accept God's final word on where your lips end. - Jerry Seinfeld

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Eight Random Things and a Cemetery Photo

Jackson and Katie are helping me with this list of 8 Random Things. Thanks to reverendmother for the tag. They have come up with some really random stuff, but after three (or is it 4?) years of doing this, I've covered most of the random stuff. Here's what we got:

1. I'm a redhead. Have I told you that before? I can't remember. And it's natural.

2. I can use power tools. And I have all my original digits. (I think Jackson married me for my drill.)

3. I have read only the first Harry Potter book. I liked it. But I haven't read any of the others. This drives Jackson, a confirmed Harry Potter addict, nuts. I've also never read the DaVinci Code. I did read Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. I liked it. But I never read the DaVinci Code. (Mom said Angels and Demons was better than the DaVinci Code, anyway.)

4. I can't dance. (Jackson and Katie both suggested I note that I can't sing, either. Ingrates!)

5. I am a morning person. In the extreme. However, I am a quiet, leave-me-alone-and-let-me-read-or-write-in-peace morning person.

6. I like to garden, but I am a lazy gardener. Thus, I refuse to plant annuals. Perennials only, please. And I seldom weed.

7. I love and adore roadhouse blues.

8. I have three graduate hours towards a Master's Degree. I really enjoyed the class, but turns out they expect you to work outside of class - do term papers and projects and the like. As if!

So, that's it. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A'camping We Did Go

You might remember last week that I mentioned that Jackson and I were going camping for our child-free weekend?
You also might remember that I have remarked several times about the vastly unusual amounts of rain we have gotten so far this spring?
Putting two and two together yet?
Jackson really wanted to go fishing, so I agreed to go Redneck Camping. Redneck Camping is what happens at Buffalo Springs Lake, a former sewer subsidised by Big Flat City. (Ok, it wasn't really a sewer. Not officially.) We hadn't been there in several years. With good reason.
It isn't a state park, which means it is a for profit kind of place. It is also an urban playground, which means all the college kids from We Think We're So Much More Important Than We Really Are University come out there to get drunk and dunked. All the kids who had to work out there doing community service for juvenile probation come back to camp there as well, with all 900 of their closest family members. It. is. crowded. I really hate it. But there are actual fish in the lake, or so Jackson claims.

"Trust me! You'll love it!" he said in with his sleazy used car salesman smile.

This time was better, I must admit. They have done extensive work to the lake. (Did you know there is only one naturally occurring lake in this whole dang state? And we have to share that one with Louisiana.) They dug out tons of cattails and weeds. There are new bridges and a nine whole golf course (kind of) on the edge of the lake. There is a fancy shmancy amphitheatre and lots of improvements to the marina.

Jackson assembles his fishing paraphernalia.

The campsites are still way to damn close together and there are too damn many people there, but I was prepared to change my mind and have a good time. We set up the tent and Jackson got his fishing gear together. He wandered off to fish and I sat in the shade with my book and my camera. Just across the road, right next to the lake, what a mini-stage. The Big Flat Firefighters Association had booked it for the day. Bands played all afternoon while they cooked bbq, drank beer and admired each other's impossibly clean motorcycles. The bands were progressively better as the afternoon wore on and I was having a good time.

Then, of course, I had to answer the call of nature. No worries, there was a restroom within easy walking distance. I headed that way and went through to door to find NOTHING but a huge pile of sledge-hammered porcelain in the middle of the floor. I went back outside and checked the teeny tiny sign that said "Restrooms Closed for Remodeling". In June. How is that a good idea? Why couldn't they have done this in January? But nooooo. Instead, they have demolished the restrooms (probably with the help of some of those juvenile delinquents!) and put a row of port-a-pottys out front.

I have never used a port-a-potty in my. entire. life. I admit it - I am a restroom snob. There are just some things I will. not. do. I would totally rather go out behind a bush somewhere than in one of those plastic poo pods. In fact, I decide that the bush option would be much more preferable at that point in time, but given that the place is freakin' crawling with people, I couldn't do that either.

In the end, I drove to the Marina and made use of their not very much nicer restroom facilities. When I got back, I tramped over to Jackson's fishing spot and enlightened him as to the irony of the whole situation. I may have used phrases such as "kick your ass" and "never again". I don't remember for sure.

I went back to the shady spot and cracked my book and a new bottle of water. The new band that was playing for the drunken firefighters was really good, so I stopped seething.

He continued to fish. At less than 20 miles an hour.

After about an hour, the band stopped in mid-verse. They were playing "Last Dance With Mary Jane" which is one of my all time favorite Tom Petty songs. The lead singer made the following announcement: "Uh, y'all...they just told us there is a big ass storm headed right this way. There's lots of lighting and hail and 70 mile an hour winds. If you're camping out here, you better batten down the hatches. Can anybody come up here and help us pack up this sound equipment? Quick!?"

I looked towards the south and sure enough, heavy dark clouds were rolling in fast. Crap. I met up with Jackson and we proceeded to pack everything away inside the truck or the tent. All the while we debated whether or not to stick it out or go ahead and leave. The rain had started, so we decided it was too late to leave, and we huddled in the tent.

It would have been fun.

Except that no tent, unless maybe it's army surplus, is made to withstand 70 mile an hour winds. We ended up packing our crap in the fastest campsite tear-down on record, in the driving, pouring rain and getting the hell out. We were soaked. Through and through.

We stopped at the marina to check out the weather on their TV. Turns out the storm we were sitting through was headed east and there was an even worse storm about to whack Fake Cow County. We sat around for a while until our storm passed. Then we headed north, planning to stop at the Acuff Steak House for dinner. If you've never eaten there, you have missed out on another Real Life Redneck Experience. Suffice it to say we figured they would never bat an eyelash at us in our completely dishevelled state.

When we got there, they were closed. I forgot they rolled up the sidewalks at 6:30 p.m. there. Everyone else waits until at least 8:00. We headed on up Farm To Market Road 400 to Idalou. We thought we could probably get a meal at what used to be the "Crossroads Restaurant". This week is was Miguel's House of Something or Other. They do wait until 8:00 to roll up the sidewalks in Idalou, but evidently Miguel had big plans for the evening, 'cause his sidewalks were stowed by 7:30. In the end we grabbed a Country Basket at the Idalou Dairy Queen.

Small town Dairy Queens are always prime people watching territory. This one was no exception.

We finally made it home about 10:00 p.m. It rained on us, and all our gear, all the way back from Idalou. The storm we were trailing left water knee deep on both sides of the road. Our ditches were rolling with whitecaps.

I really hate that lake.

But this is what made it all worthwhile? This!?

Friday, June 08, 2007

In which the author comes clean about today's mode of transportation.

When I woke up this morning, my eyes were all crusty and red. My nose was all stuffy and my throat was scratchy. Even my hair was crusty. I got in the shower and thoroughly de-crustified.

When I emerged, rather drippily, a few minutes later, I felt better. However, my ocular orbs totally balked at the idea of wearing contacts today. (I wear hard contacts and sometimes there just ain't no way of getting your eyes to cooperate with that type of intrusion.) I put on some war paint and smacked some gel in my freshly decrustified hair.

Then I threw on some shorts and a t-shirt and had breakfast. I dutifully packed my little backpack full of semi-professional clothing (casual Friday, dontcha know) and trudged out the front door.

That's when I was hit in the face with the wind. It is freakin' June and the wind was coming straight out of the north. It was only about 15 miles an hour - maybe 20 - but I was going to have to ride straight into it. And it was cold. Cold, I tell ya!

My steely resolve melted totally at that point and I turned on my miserable heel and went right back in the house. I changed into my semi-professional clothing and then drove Earl the Truck to work.

I've been sitting at my desk all morning, sneezing and wheezing. I tried whining to Mindy but she gave me some bullshit about suckin' it up and getting to work and how I would feel better and if not she'd just kick my butt or something. I told her to get the hell out of my office. She laughed, (laughed!) and said that is the speech I always give her when she shows up in a whiny mood.

I hate her.

But, I'm still here. My eyes are still crusty and my nose is all runny. I can't go home, 'cause this is a child free weekend and I really want to go out and play tonight. My mom always said if you're too sick to go to school, you're too sick to go out and play. Geeze. So now I have to stay here all damn day so I can go out and play tonight. (Jackson and I are going camping this weekend!!! Yay!)


And now for something completely different:

Here's a photo just for beth. Took this one the same day as the god-forsaken cow/windmill landscape. We do have a few pockets of beauty around here. ha ha!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Friday Cemetery Blogging

So far I have survived a week of bike riding to and from work. I did wimp out yesterday and call Jackson to come pick me up after work. I would've had to ride south into a 45 mile per hour sandstorm.

Today I road into the wind again, but it was only 10-20 miles per hour. It was fine until I crossed the railroad tracks about a mile and half from my house. The wind picked up and I didn't think I would make it. But I made it home, probably within minutes of stroking out on the side of the road.

I stopped at one of the larger intersections on my way home. I was in front, waiting at the stop sign. A car pulled up next to me on the left and we both waited patiently for an opening in the 5:11 to 5:13 p.m. rush hour traffic. All of a sudden, a dinky little car pulled up on my right.

It was a BMW Spider convertible, driven by one of our friendly neighborhood lawyers. He had the top down and was evidently not content to wait for me and the other car to get out of his way. Silly lawyer.

His car is so small, that sitting on my bike, I was looking down on the top of his head. I almost reached over and smacked him on the forehead. I gave him the evil eye, instead. He had the good grace to look a little embarrassed before squeezing through the 6 foot space between me and the curb and zipping on down the road. Silly lawyer.

I also saw little david on his way home. (He's just returned from Kenya.) Then I waved at the truck who I always cross paths with at the exact same spot on South Broadway every morning and every evening.

I've also made a new friend this week. I don't know his name, but he walks to work down Broadway street every morning. I usually pass him between the convenience store and the Baptist Church. Then when I get to work, I generally sit in the gazebo on the courthouse lawn for about 15 minutes and read a book so I can cool off before going into the building. He passes me then and always wonders at how I got that far that quickly. I always tell him it's because of my superfast bike. Every morning we've had this exact same conversation. Maybe next week we'll try throwing in some discussion of the weather.

But that's not what you were interested in, is it?

Last Sunday I took off and did a little cemetery exploring. Didn't find anything terribly exciting, but I did see some gorgeous landscape and had a really peaceful time. The picture I'm posting is not very good, technically speaking, but it was a neat experience.

Have you heard the legends of crows as death messengers? Sent to fortell death or to accompany a soul to the afterlife? Evidently this crow takes her work home with her and is living in the cemetery. She jumped up and flew at me - I guess I got too close to a nest or something. Or maybe I just scared her. Anyway, I managed to snap a photo before she was completely gone.

And this is another photo I took that day, just to show you that we do indeed have some real bovines here in Fake Cow County.

Monday, June 04, 2007

In which the author feels all self-righteous and thin.

Guess what!

I rode my bike to work today.

Do you know how cool that is? Well, it's way cool. That's how cool it is.

We have no public transportation here in Fake Cow County. Not really. There is a government subsidised van service that provides transportation mostly for MHMR clients and disabled vets back and forth to doctor's appointments and part-time jobs. It is technically open to the public, but I've never known of anyone else who's actually used it. Part of the problem is it doesn't have a set route. You have to call 24 hours in advance to schedule your "pick up". The Metro it ain't.

I've always been jealous of bloggers who talk about riding public transportation. It sounds so, well, interesting! Then my stinkin' brother bought a bike and has been riding back and forth to work. That wasn't any big deal because he lives only 4 blocks from his office. So, I wasn't impressed, but I was kind of jealous.

M2 is kicking my butt on the cholesterol contest, so I know I need more exercise. And I could stand to lose 10 or 90 pounds, too. It also cost me $65.00 last time I filled my truck with gas. I really, really wanted to ride a bike to work.

I have a 10 speed bike. You cannot imagine how much I hate it. I hate it a lot. Therefore, I never ride it. In fact, a few weeks ago, when I first thought about this, I checked it out and found the front wheel had been mangled up, evidently by Jackson or I crashing the riding lawnmower into it. I was not sad.

On Memorial Day I borrowed my sister-in-law's bike. She has the girl version of Jonboy's bike. I rode it from my house to my office. When I got back home, Katie said "You're already back? Wow."

Wow, indeed. I loved that bike. So I bought one just like it. It's simple. It has no brakes, really. And no stupid gears. And it's not pink. And you can actually sit mostly upright while riding.

And today I rode it to work and back.

Have I mentioned that I live four miles from my office?

Uphill, both ways.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Cemetery Blogging

It rained again last night. This has been a really wet spring. I love nothing more than rain - the sound, the smell, the taste. Flashes of light and thunder at midnight. It's all good! As a result of all this rain my flower beds look wonderful and I've barely had to water my garden. The weeping willow tree hasn't yet gone into water shock and lost half its leaves, but the grass/weeds have to be mowed more often.

There is a national wildlife refuge not far from here, south of a town called Muleshoe. Jackson and I sometimes stop there in the dark of the night. There is a picnic area at the top of a hill on one side of the draw that runs through the reserve. We like to pull off the highway and park next to the picnic tables. There are no lights for miles. We sit in the back of the truck and listen to the howling coyotes. In the spring you can hear the cries of the baby coyotes. If you have never heard that, you've missed something incredible. You would swear it was a human child screaming somewhere out in the middle of the night. Coyotes are extremely cool.

One day we ended up at the reserve during the daylight. We decided to drive down the long dusty road that lead to the ranger station. I remember wondering what sort of federal sin a ranger had to commit to get banished to such a god-forsaken outpost. The wildlife they are reserving at this place? Rattlesnakes, lizards, jackrabbits, all manner of insidious bugs and the aforementioned coyotes. Nothing cute and fuzzy. Nothing large and impressive. Maybe a ratty old white-tailed deer on a good day.

Sure enough, the ranger turned out to be an old guy about two days out from retirement. He was pretty philosophical about it all and genuinely glad to see other human beings. He showed us around and then set up the interpretive slide show of the reserve for our viewing pleasure.

We viewed it. With pleasure.

There were an awful lot of pictures of beautiful wildflowers in the photos. I've lived around this area all my life and I've never seen anything that looked as well populated, botanically, as these pictures. I mentioned this to the ranger. He just grinned.

He said the slide show had been produced about ten years ago after one of the wettest spring seasons in history. They had wildflowers everywhere, many of which sprouted from seed that had lain dormant for decades. It was the only time before or since that he'd seen anything like that either. The government sent a photographer out from back east to do a slide show for the reserve.

The ranger laughed about how tourists (tourists? here?) occasionally come through the area, see the presentation and then are horribly disappointed by reality. He'd had a group of people from Great Britain just the week before (really? here?) who had been rather shocked by the barren expanse they were expected to explore. (Not much exploring to it - just stand outside the front door and look around. You can see it all from there.)

And what does this all have to do with cemeteries?

Just this - I thought I would post pictures of one of the ugliest cemeteries ever. This place is somewhere between Fake Cow County and Muleshoe. Here is the cemetery sign:

Notice that they recycled a sign from a defunct church and spray painted the cemetery name on it. BULA CEMETERY. This is the lovely view from the gate:

And the only monument:

Evidently, something happened to all the individual stones - I have no idea what. This is the only monument in the vast expanse. It lists all the names of the previously deceased. But what I really wanted to show you was the vast and verdant landscape stretching out behind the monument. If you look closely, you will see, well... nothing.

Do we know how to do wide open spaces around here, or what?