Sunday, December 28, 2008

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

I’m sitting in the casino restaurant on Christmas night. I would be sitting in the bar, but for two things. Firstly: Have you ever tried to read in a bar? Not easy. Sometimes not even possible. Secondly and most importantly: The State of New Mexico does not allow package or bar sales of alcohol on Christmas day. They could serve me a margarita with my meal, but no other drinking allowed. I never have more than one anyway, so no harm done.

Jackson is making money hand over fist at the penny slots in the casino. Well, as much as that is possible, what with the payouts being in pennies and all. I won absolutely nothing in the half hour I spent there. Feeding money into little machines and getting nothing in return bores me frightfully, so I have vacated the premises in favor of pen and paper to be followed quickly by the perusal of an as yet unread Dorothy L. Sayers.

We arrived here yesterday afternoon and managed to find our cabin with very little difficulty. We tend to argue vociferously over direction when traveling; each of us equally convinced of our navigational superiority. Sad to say, he appears to have the upper hand in arguments so far, having been right 2 1/3 times. That is enough to drive me to drink in and of itself, but I shan’t give in to such shallow temptation. The time he was 1/3 right he convinced me to drive all the way around the mountains this afternoon – in what I was certain was the wrong direction – instead of going over the mountains in the right direction as I had postulated.

I begrudged him the one third win when his rout was confirmed by a convenience store employee when I stopped to fill up with gas after having made snide remarks about needing to conserve as much fuel as possible for our foray around the entire mountain range. I may have to concede him a full half win and admit that his route, however circuitous and indirect, saved me from driving over the mountains during an afternoon sleet storm.

However, that was not what I intended to write and it appears that I have gone far afield and completely lost my point. Where was I?

Ah, yes. We arrived yesterday. After a late lunch/early supper we went back to the cabin to putter around a bit. Embarrassingly, we were both so tired that by six o’clock, when the sun been down for more than an hour, we were both stretched out on the living room furniture and snuggled under blankets, fast asleep.

We woke around mid-night, thoroughly refreshed. And who wouldn’t be, after a six hour nap? It was by then definitely time to open presents - regardless of whether you belong to the Christmas Eve or Christmas morning camps of present openers.

Jackson’s presents took longer than mine and we were both fascinated about what was in the heavy box with his name on it. I’d totally forgotten what it was, even though it was from me and I’d wrapped it myself only days before. I blame this gift and its capturing of our attention for the remainder of this story.

Jackson really wanted cash for Christmas to use for a specific project he’s working on. Just before we started opening our gifts I slipped a hundred dollar bill into the folds of gift wrap on one of his gifts. That gift. In the heavy box. You can see how I got a bit distracted, can’t you?

I really don’t want to tell you what happened. You can see it all coming, can’t you? You can see that I forgot about the money and never told him it was there. You can imagine how the feisty little bill held fast and never slipped out of the wrapping paper and managed to get bundled up with the rest of the discarded wrappings and carted off to the dumpster, outside. In the cold. Outside to the dumpster where it was deposited amongst the detritus of the neighborhood. Where it would languish until sometime later when a blinding flash of memory sent one of us out to the offensive skiff, faced with the prospect of sorting the trash to retrieve the treasure.

You know that’s what happened, don’t you? And you’re wondering which of us made the dive?

Well, you’d be wrong. Very wrong.

What really happened is that as we finished our holiday plunder party the room began to get a little chilly. That’s because the fire in the fireplace had gone out.

Oh no? Oh, yes.

Jackson bent to gather an armful of wrapping paper to throw on the embers.

”Wait!” I cried. (Admit it – you breathed a sigh of relief here, thinking I’d remembered the $100 just in the nick of time and all was well. If so, you‘re wrong. Again.)

“Don’t just throw the paper on the fire – roll it into a log kind of thingy,” I commanded.

Jackson obeyed. He set the paper log on the fire and soon it was blazing brightly.

We sat back, admiring his fiery handiwork and fiddling with our gifts. It was at least five minutes before realization struck and our domestic tranquility was shattered by me leaping to my feet and attacking the fireplace amidst a hail of repetitive profanity. Reasonably startled, Jackson made use of some profanity of his own as I drug the remnants of the paper log out of the flames and onto the hearth, filling the room with smoke. I frantically peeled back its now smoldering layers in search of cooked currency.

I never found it. Not even a trace. Money burns very well, if you had any doubts about it.

All we could do was sit back and laugh, while I tried not to touch anything until I’d washed the soot off my hands and face.

This will certainly be a memorable Christmas. And if Jackson wins a hundred bucks in the casino tonight, I’m not gong to tell you. You’d never believe me anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Been playing around with Photoshop and layers and textures. So far, so good.

How has your week been? I've had a cold or some sort of flu or something all week long. This afternoon I finally started to feel human again. I'm really glad I'm getting over this before next week. Everyone is going in different directions this year, so Jackson and I are doing something we've always wanted to do at Christmas. We're going spending it in a cabin in the mountains in Ruidoso, NM. Should be fun!

What are you doing for Christmas?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

I don't know where they bury the brides...

This sign is in the same town:

Transubstantiation, anyone?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pilates and Pelvi

Texas, in the fall, is a hard place to breathe. Once corn harvest starts, followed immediately by gin season, our air quality rivals that of Houston and Los Angeles for uncleanliness. We like to think that our pollution is of a more natural nature than theirs. It makes us feel more self-righteous, secure in the knowledge that the spring sandstorms will blast our air achingly clean again.

I was contemplating this during Pilates class this morning. We’re all overcome with rampaging sinus crud. Everyone is snorting and suffering. Several people brought piles of Kleenex that they put on the floor next to their mats. As we hung upside down, suspended like bats from our own pelvi*, the tissues quickly migrated from the new to the used piles.

I could feel my head swell and expand as the stuff that had settled in the back of my head drained to the top while I was upside down. I wondered how big my head would get before the snot started to push my eyeballs out of their sockets.

Then we stood up.

And I almost fell down. The fluid had shifted so completely that I had no equilibrium. I was not alone. We all staggered significantly before being able to stand upright unassisted.

I wiped the sweaty hair out of my mascaraless eyes and surveyed the other, similarly unmade-up, women around me. None of us would set foot out of our houses looking this bad, except under cover of darkness, to go to an exercise class with other equally unkempt people.

God, we’re horrific. Unwashed hair, blemished skin and chapped noses. I wonder if this is why there’s never been a man attend this class for more than one or two sessions?

One Sunday morning at church a total stranger – lovely woman – came up to me and reminded me we’d moved the start time for the Monday morning class from 6:00 a.m. to 5:45 a.m.

I had no idea who she was!

She introduced herself on Monday morning. I knew her then. The fact that she was able to recognize me in real life, clean and coiffed, was a little bit disconcerting. Do I generally look that much like the wretched leviathan that I am before showering? I hope not.

I’m hoping maybe she just recognized my nose.

*I know this is not really a word. But it’s so much more fun to say than pelvises. Bleh. Try it. Pelvi, pelvi, pelvi. Much, much better, don’t you think?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Just some stuff...

We're a little weird about water around here. Yesterday and today I listened to people arguing about it. Yesterday it was strangers in a store.

"Hey y'all! It's snowing out there!" Guy 1 said to the assembled shoppers.
"It is not. That's just rain," scoffed Guy 2
"No way - some of it is flakes," Guy 1 said.
"You're kidding!"
Guy 2 goes out the door and stands in the parking lot.
Guy 2 comes back inside and said: "You're right! It is snowing! Kinda."

Today it was people at work and the conversation was essentially the same.

After I got home, Katie and I had to venture back out into the wintry weather in search of a vacuum cleaner. (I had to buy one now, so I wouldn't get one for Christmas!) Tiny flecks of white had accumulated in the corners of the windshield. There were maybe 10 or 15 flakes on the hood of the truck. Katie eyed them eagerly. "Maybe we won't have to go to school until 10:00 tomorrow!"

Hope springs eternal, but the water has already stopped falling.

I was afraid the lady at Sears was gonna bust a gut when I told her that bit about buying a vacuum to avoid getting one for Christmas. Not a lot of funny stuff happenin' at Sears these days, I'm guessing.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

The Christmas Cards are here! If you would like a tombstone Christmas card, email me your address and I'll send 'em out as long as they last.

If you happen to be in Fake Cow tomorrow night, Rose and I will be doing our once yearly good deed. We'll be ringing bells for the Salvation Army at Wally-World from 5:00 until 8:00. It's supposed to be pretty dang cold, so stop by and keep us company.

Here's a bit of a challenge for you - these two stones represent my all-time favorite TV show. What is it? (It's really pretty easy, but first one to figure it out is my bestest friend for the day.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dog Blogging

Jackson decided Zoe's life was not complete without a playmate. So, this is what's been going on at our house lately:

It's Sinclair! She's a pound-dog. Paroled after serving 5 months of her 7 month existence behind bars.

Sinclair is happy! Zoe is happy! Rachel is surprised.

Sinclair loooves Jackson.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

See that light? That light is the WEEKEND approaching, boys and girls. Happy Weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Random Stuffs of Wednesday Wickedness

* I miss Ester when she's not at work. We get THIRSTY in the afternoons when she's not there to make the Sonic run. Not thirsty enough to get off our collective posterior and go do it ourselves, but thirsty nonetheless.

* The dog shall. not. be. ignored. If you attempt such a dissing, she will bite you on the butt. Nip-ishly. Purposefully.

* I'm actually having a hot drink (chai) at the coffee shop while waiting on Katie to be spewn from the bowels of the youth group tonight. The poor little coffee girl nearly choked on her clove gum. I hate coffee and, to date, have been strictly an Italian soda drinker.

* Weirdest thing I've said today: "I think the word 'gonads' gives it a certain panache." (Side note - I did not say this at work. For once.)

* I'm shopping for T-Shirts online. I seldom buy them, but I love shopping for them. One of my all-time favorites - one that I tried to buy, only to find it had been discontinued - had a picture of a U-Haul truck being loaded at night by stealthy figures. It said: "I pack normally, but I move mysteriously".

* I would really like to be an evil genius, but I lack motivation.

* I've drained the big cup. I'm running out of little bullet-spiders. And still the phone. does. not. ring. Gah! How long does the pre-pubescent Jeezus love-in last??? We adults got our worshipin' done over an hour ago.

* Dang ol' Jackson is sitting at home watching Countdown and IM'ing me all the good bits. I hate him. (He SAID he was going to go home and STUDY.)

* Phone still silent. Considering bashing it on the table in hopes of getting it to do something. Lord Almighty, those choruses are just the same half-finished thought, over and over and over. Cut it off and go the hell home already!

* It's ringing!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Halloween

This Halloween I will be married nine years. Or is it ten? [does the math] Nope, just nine. Jackson and I got married on the last Halloween of the 20th century. Sounds pretty ponderous, doesn't it? I know I've mentioned that before and even posted a picture or two, so that's old news.

What I've never told you was how we ended up getting married. I have no idea why I never talk about it - it's a good story. But I don't think I've ever told anyone the whole thing. Dunno why...

I met Jackson in sex class.


He had been to my office once a few months before this. He was working as a probation officer in Big Flat City. Scarlett, one of our officers, had worked with him there before she came to work with us. Jackson had to testify in court in Cool City so stopped to say hi to Scarlett on his way back home. She introduced us. We said 'hi, how are ya, nice to meet ya' and shook hands. That was that. He went back home and I went back to work. Didn't think anything more about it.

In April of 1999, Jackson ended up at the same three day alcohol and drug symposium that Rose and I were attending. We had to go to an HIV/AIDS seminar and Jackson sat at the same table Rose and I did.

I don't know if you work in a profession that requires annual HIV/AIDS training, but if you do, you know how boring and repetitious that becomes. The information doesn't really change much from year to year. So, the trainers try to spice things up in order to keep you awake and hopefully paying attention. Its a sexually transmitted disease class, so you can imagine how 'spicy' it might get.

It was during this class that Jackson and I learned we shared the same thoroughly juvenile sense of humor when it comes to buckets of free condoms and the various uses for which they were never intended.

We laughed, we snarked, we passed the test at the end of the program. And as we left the class Rose looked at him appraisingly. "I think he can hang with us," she said. High praise, coming from Rose.

At the end of the three day program, Jackson had my phone number. That Friday he came to Fake Cow and we went out to dinner. We had a great time. I learned some things about him that I didn't know. Such as the fact that he wasn't quite divorced.

He called me the next day and wanted to know when we could go out again. I assured him that I'd had a fabulous time and I would love to go out again - as soon as his divorce was final.

Being the good boy that he was/is, he didn't whine or make excuses, but said he completely understood. We exchanged a few more pleasantries and hung up. I was hoping to hear from him in a few months time. That was on Saturday.

He called me on Tuesday.

"Guess what I did today?" were the first words out of his mouth.


"I got divorced."

Turns out his divorce lawyer was one of his buddies. He traipsed down to the guy's office on Monday morning and wanted to know what had to be done to finalize his de-nuptualization. His buddy-lawyer told him there were papers his ex had to sign and then a court appearance to have the judge approve the settlement, followed by having things filed with the clerk of the court. The lawyer said he wasn't too terribly busy and he could probably have it done within a couple of weeks - a month at the very latest.

Jackson said, "Give me the papers."

He took them to his ex-wife's house and insisted that she sign. She agreed. Then he took them to the judge's office. Since he was a probation officer for that county, the judge knew him and agreed to give him a few minutes time on the docket. Jackson explained to the court that all he needed for his divorce to be final was the judge's signature and the papers to be filed. Everything else had already been handled. The judge looked over the decree, agreed that it was all in order and signed the papers. Jackson walked them over to the clerk's office, filed them and gave me a call.

Who was I to say no?

Six months later, on Halloween, we got married.

The End.

(Maybe next year I'll tell you about the Prairie Dog proposal and the Make-Out Church)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

...or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Recession.

Saturday morning I drove into Quitaque.

(It's pronounced "kitty-quay". There's a sign on the edge of town that verifies this for the uninitiated. It's supposed to be an Indian word meaning "end of the trail".)

We were camping again, and the state park is just four miles north of town. My brother and I were hungry, so we decided to cook. I opened up the brand new box of pancake mix proceeded to stir it up. The more I stirred, the more I thought something wasn't right.

"Eew! This stuff is full of weevils!"

Jonboy peered into the bowl. "Either that or this is a rice flour mix."

Ick. So I hopped in the truck and headed for town.

Quitaque has one itty bitty grocery store, which appeared to be deserted. To my surprise, the door was open. It's a grimy little store, not unlike the one I worked in all through high school. The elderly linoleum is peeling away from the floor in huge asbestos-y chunks. The lone freezer case chugs loudly and a "Caution: Wet Floor" sign marks - permanently - the puddle of its lifeblood that they have stopped trying to squeegee away.

I heard some scrumbling at the back and by the time I pushed the creaky basket down the second aisle, I was approached by what I wasn't sure was an employee. He smiled and asked, "How's it going?"

"So far, so good," I lied, not sure if he was someone I could inquire of as to the whereabouts of rice-free pancake mix. However, given the limited number of aisles - four - and my temerity in mercantile exploration - 'It's gotta be around here somewhere' - I knew I could find it one my own.

And I did. Aisle three. I headed towards the meat case in search of more bacon. You always need more bacon. It was there I was assured of my little friend's employment status while I pretended not to notice him leaning into the case and waving away any flies that might have congregated there.

He was a small wiry man, a little shorter than me, and probably in his late 50's. He wore a red bandanna wrapped tightly around his head and a mostly grey handlebar moustache. Pale blue eyes crinkled behind his little square Ben Franklin specs.

Scraggly blond ringlets hung out of the back of the doo-rag, reaching to just below his shoulders. I'd almost guarantee you that he was bald under the doo-rag. He also wore the ubiquitous Harley Davidson t-shirt.

When I got to the front, we both paused while he chose which of the two checker stands to use. I asked him if they sold firewood. He grinned and said "I'll give you the same spiel my boss does." He proceeded to tell me to drive south and find a two-story brick house. Turn east and look for the barn. When I find the barn, I have to go around behind it and find a big pile of junk wood. There is all kinds of wood there - logs, boards, junk of all kinds. After taking whatever I want, I was to return to the store and pay him what I thought it was worth. "My boss has some P.T. Barnum in him," he confessed.

"And I won't get shot?" I asked.

"No," he laughed. "That's just small town living for you."

"I know about small towns. That's why I asked."

He laughed again. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I was a bit culture shocked when I first came out here."

"Where are you from, originally?"

"Big Sur, California."

I put down my grocery bag, knowing I had to ask. "How the hell did you end up out here?"

He dropped his gaze and said sheepishly, "I was a minister. My wife and I came out here with another couple to work with the congregation here." With very little prompting, he told me his story.

Upon arriving in town he was ready to do some hard work to get the local congregation back on track. What he didn't know was that this group had problems that were more deep seated than he'd been led to believe. He said the assembly had been a dynasty.

"Ah," I said knowingly. "A one family show?"

"Yeah, same family had been running it since the congregation was founded in the 1930's." Despite their best efforts, they couldn't help the group and things fell apart. "I traveled 650,000 miles in a three county area over a 10-year period," he said. "I went down every dirt road, every driveway and knocked on every door in these three counties. Needless to say, everybody knows me." His sheepishness returned. "I was a Jehovah's Witness."

I took an involuntary step towards the door.

"But I'm not a minister any more!" he was quick to assure me. "Not after I got divorced."

His wife got fed up and left him. After that, he picked up the guitar that had sat unplayed for the past 18 years. He started playing with bands and making the rounds of the bars and clubs. He did that for three years until he'd worked out all his anger and frustration. The music "probably saved me from killing some people," he said. He grinned again. "The sheriff knew me real well at that time."

After his stint as a honky-tonk maestro, he settled down on his piece of property near Flomont. "I have two acres of land that I paid for by selling the land all around it. I live in an 85 year old wood frame and stucco house with almost non-existent plumbing and a wood stove for heat. I have about 30 cats and there are probably 85 rabbits living around the house. A few years ago I bought a Harley. I still have my guitar and everything I need and now I'm perfectly happy."

"And I bet you couldn't care less about what's happening on Wall Street," I said.

"I pay $11.00 a year in taxes." He smiled even wider, if possible. "A lot of people tell you there's nothing to do in a place like this, but those people could live at Disneyland and still be bored."

Sometimes weevils are not a bad thing. Not bad at all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gator's Meme

I am: in charge here. Muaaaahahahahaaaa! (Probably the only thing I have in common with Alexander Haig.)

I want: world peace. (Wait! This isn't a beauty contest. Hell, I don't even LIKE beauty contests. I want a cheeseburger and some really crispy tator tots.)

I wish: I could find some cool hair sticks. The dog chewed up the last pair I had and now I can't find any that aren't cute. In fact, I totally wish for non-cute hair accessories of any kind!!! Bah! The cuteness - so irritating!

I hate: cute.

I miss: Trailer Park Boys on BBC America. I think I've made this lament before. I love that show. They claim it was fiction, but I know better. Those are the people who darken the door of my office day in and day out.

I fear: other kid's mothers. They scare me a lot. Take Joan Cusack, for instance. I love her! But, dang, her characters really freak me out sometimes. Have you seen Raising Helen? Nine Months? Gah! I have never changed a diaper. Not one. Not in my 37 years of earthly existence. I never even WORE diapers, having been housebroken at birth. (This is a fact which my own mother disputes, but I'm pretty sure she's just talkin' trash.) Katie is cool. I don't mind her. But I should be banned from all inter-parental interactions.

I hear: Tito and Tarantula in my truck on the way to work.

I wonder: whether rawhide causes any sort of intestinal blockage or anything. You can't imagine how much of it my dog ingests on a weekly basis. Rawhide is her puppy-crack.

I regret: that I shall not be buying the black and white Chuck Taylor All Stars with the 4 1/2 inch spike heels. They were too damn cool, but why tempt orthopedic fate? If I wore them, I'd be sure to break my ankle a la some horror movie blonde bimbo.

I am not: terribly graceful.

I dance: like someone who grew up in the movie Footloose and who never dated a guy who liked to dance. Dammit.

I sing: even worse than I dance.

I cry: when something is really, really funny.

I am not always: kind.

I make with my hands: currently - with Mindy's help - I'm making Dead Baby Jars. This particular lunchtime craft project has resulted in a higher than average rate of eye rolling amongst our co-workers. Rose even refuses to sit on the same side of the table as us. She keeps muttering about lightening strikes.

I write: more than you know.

I confuse: Katie

I need: more motivation

I should: start working on my master's degree. Especially since I've decided on what degree to get - English. But I don't feel like taking the time to do it. I've been gnawing on the leg that is stuck in this trap of indecision for months now. I think I've finally decided not to fight my natural slacker tendencies and to be ok with that. I shall remain woefully under-educated for the foreseeable future. Unless...

I start: way too early in the mornings. And therefore want to finish way too early in the afternoon.

I finish: stuff. Eventually. If I had more motivation, I'd finish more stuff sooner.

I tag: any of you who want to give it a try! (I actually like reading people's memes. It's fun to see the different takes that different people have with the same prompts.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

This is another of those photos I like but for no good reason. No bad reason either. I just don't have a reason.

How has your week been? I survived another night of drunk class and now I'm parked in front of the TV watching Stephen King's Rose Red for the umpteenth time. The poor old guy from Emergency is fixin' to bite the big one.

Geeze, I loved Emergency when I was a kid.

Tonight was family night in drunk class. The one thing I was looking forward too was finally meeting Magdalena's husband. Magdalena is the only woman in the class. She's been on my caseload for several years now and she is nuts. Shoebox-full-of-antipsychotics-nuts. You just can't help but love her. She's absolutely kooky.

Ever watched any of the novellas - the soap operas on the Spanish channels? Or am I the only one who watches soaps in languages they don't really understand? Well, if you've seen them, you've seen Magdalena. There's always at least one matriarchal type who wears her hair up, overdoes the rouge and dresses out-outrageously. That's her. You know the over-wrought emotions and the over the top facial expressions? That's Magdalena, too. She's highly entertaining.

For years, her one constant, her only support has been her paramour, Cortez. She always calls him by his last name and she pronounces it with this fabulous novella-esque accent. Cortez. I wish you could hear it.

Last week she came to me in tears. Which is not at all unusual. She was sobbing over the fact that she had no one to bring with her to family night and she knew that meant she would be dumped from drunk class. Her family are all worthless; her kids are drunken freeloaders and troublemakers. Her only hope - her only light - is Cortez.


But he doesn't speak English. Whatever would she do? Much weeping ensued. I knew she'd been looking for over a month for someone to bring with her. Sadly - pathetically, even - she hadn't been able to find anyone. Not anyone, except Cortez.


I finally asked her if Cortez understood English. Her face brightened and the tears quit falling. Of course he understands English. He understands everything she tells him. He just can't speak it.

Ok, I said. If he understands, bring him along. He doesn't have to talk.

Magdalena and Cortez were among the last to arrive. Tonight she was dressed to the nines in black leather and a white cotton blouse. She normally wears her long, curly black hair piled on the top of her head with a couple of long ringlets framing her face that would make any hasidic rabbi deeply jealous. Tonight her hair was pulled up in the front with the rest flowing down over her shoulders and back.

Magdalena is a tall woman. She can pull off an imposing posture when her body is not wracked with gut-wrenching sobs. Tonight she strode purposely into the room, knowing full well that all eyes were on her. She smiled broadly and just a little shyly, then stepped to one side so we could see who she was pulling along behind her.

The fabulous Cortez.

Turns out he's skinny little old man and his first name is Wilbur.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging


I got home from drunk school just in time to catch the last half of the VP debate. I sat on the floor all through that so Jackson could massage my shoulders and those pesky little sinus pockets on the base of your skull that make you horribly dizzy when you stand up. (He's a nice person. Most of the time. )

So, then I managed to regain my feet long enough to make it to my chair.

It was at that point that I realized the external drive with all the pictures is in my bedroom. And that's waaaaay over there. And I'm waaaaaay over here. And my dog doesn't fetch. And Jackson already rubbed my neck for like half an hour without complaint, so I'd feel guilty about asking him to go get it for me.

Is this not the most pathetic post ever?

Its been a busy week and a weird, weird day. First, my desk ripped a big hole in the knee of my pants this afternoon. It ticked me off, but not as much as it would have had I not had a pair of jeans in the truck that I'd planned to change into to teach tonight. Jeans for the afternoon! Yay!

Then Joe Damien, a new wife-beater on my caseload showed up for his appointment. He has long flowing hair and a compact, muscular little body and a Romanesque nose and he thinks he is so very hot. He's doing everything he is supposed to, except for attending the Batterers Intervention program. The little jerk and I had a Come-to-Jeezus meeting last month about this. His first breath this month was spent informing me of his appointment time for the group meetings.

We concluded our business as quickly as possible because the little skeezoid makes my skin crawl. I handed him his next appointment card and motioned him towards the door, even as I turned toward my keyboard, intending to hurry him along.

He stood just inside my door while he stuffed the card into his wallet. As he did so, he said, "Can I ask you a favor?" I didn't even bother to look at him. "What is it?" I growled.

He cocked at finger at me like he was pointing a gun, clucked his tongue and said, "Will you promise me to have a really great day?"

I just stared at him. It was like an encounter with Disco Stu. I still cannot believe he actually did the finger-gun thing. Gah!

The next appointment on my calendar?

Bondage Roger.

Roger's first words on entering my office? I kid you not - he gave me a big goofy grin and said "They're not working you too hard, now, are they?" Geeze. Was the whole disco inferno vibe related to the fluorescent tubes in my ceiling doing a strobe light impression? Maybe so. Maybe no.

I'm goin' to bed.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tag! I'm it!

Baby Gator has tagged me for a meme. I'm doin' it, mostly because I'm worried she might kick my butt if I don't. She used to be such a nice, sweet, young thang. But now she's a total badass.

Six Unremarkable Things About Me:

1. I freak out when it's hot in the bathroom in the mornings while I'm trying to get dressed. Totally freak the hell out. I come stumbling in after yet another masochistic session at the YMCA, only to find that Jackson has decided to take a HOT shower and has steamed the place up. (Just because the man has more hardware in him than Lee Majors ever did, he thinks he's entitled to HOT showers! The nerve!) Steam is so not my friend. I take a not-so-hot shower and still can't get cooled off. Have you ever tried blow drying your hair or applying make-up while you're still actively sweating? It can't be done. I freak out. I curse like a sailor and tend to throw stuff and plot vicious revenge scenarios on our pissant little air conditioner that won't effectively suck the heat or humidity out of the master bedroom end of the house. And then I think about how much I hate Annette. I hate her a lot. She's the one who talked me into this whole YMCA thing. Not only am I torturing myself at an ungodly hour of the morning, I'm also paying for the privelege. And last week we tried to convince the instructor to move the classes up to 5:45 a.m. instead of 6:00. What the hell is wrong with me?

2. Once I have some breakfast, I'm generally fine.

3. My spiritual gift is sarcasm. Joey and I decided in Sunday School yesterday that we both have this gift. Joey is a preacher's kid, too, which makes us experts in this field. We also agreed that little david shares our gift. We are inordinately proud of this gift. There are t-shirts.

4. As long as Amber, the college student with good taste in footwear, keeps coming, I am no longer the youngest person in our Sunday School class. I wonder who the oldest person is? Eh. Who cares?

5. I am painting a picture of a queen with multi-colored hair. When I finish that, I'm starting on an oranged-haired cartoon vampire that I saw on a Myspace ad while I was looking over Katie's shoulder last night. Much eye-rolling ensued when I said "Oh, wait! Go back! I gotta sketch that real fast!"

6. I have become a tea snob. I didn't mean to, it just happened. It started when an email friend in Denmark told me we Americans don't know crap about tea. To prove it, she sent me a box full of 16 different loose teas she picked up at the local tea house. (Wow! A tea house!) I was an immediate convert. I've been ruined. I no longer linger over the vast array of tea bags in the supermarket. I no longer lust over pre-trussed bits of leaf and herb in little baggies, although I admit to still being a sucker for their interesting packaging. Nope, I'm strictly an Upton's loose tea proselyte now. They have this Earl Grey blend that I would rob a bank for. Damn, it's good. Even in the weenie decaf version.

Hmm... I think this is enough memeing for one night. I gotta go boil some water.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How to spend your Saturday morning:

That's how I spent my morning. (Recognize the bookmark,
Midlife Rookie?) Zoe and I made ourselves comfy on the deck. The weather has been incredible all week long. Even though it hasn't rained. It was ever so slightly chilly, which makes the tea feel even better than usual.

Zoe and I stared out at the empty field for a while. They cut the corn next to my house yesterday. Which means I need to buy rat poison today. As soon as the corn is gone, all the little beasties who lived in the field start looking for winter lodgings. Ah, the joys of country living.

After a while we were visited by this little guy. (I
think he's a guy.) He is evidently the one who has attempted to whitewash the deck with bird poo for the last few days. I advised him to see someone about his apparently extensive digestive issues. He just poo-poohed my suggestions.

Dang old, sorry, no-good, Bird Poo Bandit.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Happy Friday!

I've been enjoying your nunsensical comments on the previous post. And Cynthia is exactly right - my nuns are part of a nun chuck set!! As a long-time Archie McPhee fan, I should have realized that myself. (Your Sunday School sounds a lot like my office, Cynthia.)

Anyone doing anything fun this weekend? I plan to spend as much of it as possible in a Benadryl induced haze. Corn harvest is here again. If I survive the snot, I'm hoping to do some painting, too. I need practice.

Last weekend Katie and I hooked up with my parents and the Jonboys. We toured the house/studio of a local artist - Kenneth Wyatt. He's become hugely successful and has a gorgeous home and incredible studio. As we made our way outside, Katie took a final longing look at the exquisite gardens and said "You need to quit your job, Rachel, and just do paintings. That way we can live in a house like this!"

Yeah. Well... Her confidence is endearing, although highly misplaced. But, what the hell - maybe I'll buy a new canvass tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Random Stuffs of Wednesday Wickedness

Do you talk to yourself? I do. All the time. So far though, not out loud. This is one of my favorite jokes, because it fits me:

Two guys are sitting at a bus stop. Neither is speaking but the first guy suddenly bursts out laughing.

"What's so funny?" the second guy asks.

"I was just sitting here telling myself some jokes," the first guy said, wiping tears from his eyes, "and I told myself one I'd never heard before."

There is always a conversation going on in my head and sometimes it is mildly amusing. I was walking down a very quiet hallway this afternoon, not really paying any attention to that conversation when all of a sudden the voice in my head said, "I have no real talent for Catholicism."

A quick rewind of that train of thought took me back to collections. I had been thinking about collections. Do you collect things? I collect movie soundtracks; white, art deco, praying, virgin Mary figures; crappy virgin Marys, all things Wonder Woman, comic books, skulls, gargoyles, Homies, anything with a Gothic arch shape and now nuns.

Nuns fascinate me. Priests too. I know full well why this is - my reading tastes are far too narrow and there are far too many crime-solving Catholic clergy out there. And now I find that I'm slowly amassing a miscellany of nun-ish stuff. My favorites are the three teeny-tiny nun figures that Mindy gave me. They look like they're being held at gun point. We can't figure out why their arms are raised, unless maybe they're freakishly charismatic evangelicals. I dunno. But they're cool. (I'll try to post a picture of them tomorrow.)

Yes, I like little rubber nuns and nuns on plates and sparking, walking nunzillas. Haven't had that much luck with real-life nuns. The only time I've actually spoken to a nun was the time Jackson and I made an agreement with Katie's mother to take her to confirmation classes since she was with us every weekend and her momma wanted her raised Catholic.

We were sort of half-ass attending a very cool little Catholic church at the time. The church used to have a school and a small convent, but financial constraints forced the school to close and there was only one or maybe two nuns in residence. Jackson called the church and asked about getting little miss Katie into confirmation classes. Sister Mary Martha of the Harsh Retribution made an appointment with us to come to the church and meet with her to discuss what needed to be done.

I thought that was cool. Nuns fascinate me, after all. I was excited. Jackson and I scrubbed our faces one Saturday morning and made our way to the Sister's office. (She told us not to bring the kid.)

If I was doing a dissertation in sociology or something, I would totally write about that experience. Silly cradle-Baptist me thought this would be like any other churchy meeting I'd ever been privy to. We'd chat and feel good about everyone and then there would be a schedule to discuss and maybe some food. The meeting would be held after either the Sunday or Wednesday service because we wouldn't want to have to go to church on yet another day during the week. We'd leave with good intentions, a four color brochure and little else.

That Saturday morning, the Sister and welcomed Jackson and I into her office. Actually, welcome is a bit too strong. More like she ordered us into her office and all but whacked the chairs we were to sit in with a riding crop or something. We hadn't even been introduced and already we felt guilty.

She explained that the classes met every week between the two Sunday morning masses and that Katie must be there for each and every class. As she lectured us about our spiritual parental responsibilities, I kept waiting for the pleasantries and maybe some cookies. It was a long wait. There were no pleasantries. None. Only instructions. Very direct instructions.

And no cookies. Not even a stray wafer.

Then, after a few weeks, when we realized the whole Cathist/Batholic thing wasn't really workable and we'd have to chose a religion and stick with it, we quit taking Katie to confirmation classes. If we hadn't been so cowardly, we would've called the Sister, or at least the Father, and told them why we weren't coming back. But, we didn't.

Instead we would cringe when the phone rang every Sunday morning. "Don't pick it up!" we'd yell to each other and then huddle together over the answering machine and tremble at the sound of the Sister's inquiry into where Katie was and why wasn't she in class?

We were a little culture shocked by the whole thing. I, for one, am not used to that particular approach. It never occurred to me that the church might command me to do something and then expect my full and unequivocal cooperation. It was really interesting and if I were less shallow I would spend some time thinking about that and it's possible implications.

I can't think right now, though. Gotta go finish my Father Koesler mystery.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

This photo is another that I took in Dallas. Thanks to Dijea to pointing this shot out to me. I love the colors. (Haven't tweaked 'em. This is straight out of the camera.)

I feel like writing, but the well is dry this evening. I came home from teaching a class of alcoholics about stress relief to find Jackson in the mood for CFFG. (Chick Flicks For Guys) I had to endure the last five minutes of 8 Seconds and the last 45 minutes of Radio.

(Have I mentioned that he also likes those gawd-awful country songs that are saccharinly weepy? Like "Butterfly Kisses" and that sort of ilk? There are some things that we are so not compatible about.)

Anyway, that sort of crap will suck all the good thoughts right out of your head.

I'm goin' to bed!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wearing that shirt again. I guess it must be a Saturday thing.

I am totally incapable of waiting patiently, idly, for anything, anymore.

There are always two - TWO - moleskine notebooks in my bag these days. One for words, one for sketches. That probably qualifies me as Queen of the Nerds. I can't even sit patiently and wait for breakfast to be delivered any more. I have to have something to do.

So I draw. And Jackson plays with the Phone of All Wisdom. In between checking and sending email, he took this picture. I'm not sure that Rickman approves of my artistic endeavor:

Hmm... forgot to wear my rings this morning!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

We just watched Sen. Lindsey Graham's speech at the Republican National Convention. Did anybody notice the really odd video stuff going on in the background? Who thought it was a good idea to put photos of military cemeteries in the background during a speech on military victory? I get what they were trying to do, but why not photos of air craft carriers or square-jawed army rangers or something?

That's an interesting stone, isn't it? I thought it was. Took me a while to figure out what it reminded me of.

I think Scooby would've liked it. Or maybe not.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Downtown Where All The Lights Are Out

I had to buy gas this afternoon in anticipation of an early morning trip to Big Flat City tomorow to purchase a new shower/tub. (Don't even ask!) Earl the Truck's heavy drinking is beginning to take a financial toll, so I took my camera along to give me something to look forward to after the gouging. I wandered around my side of town for a while, taking a few shots that have been niggling at the back of my mind for months as I drive past these places.

These shots are from an abandoned church in the barrio.

I, uh, found one of the two scooters that live here in Fake Cow.

Love this guy's ingenuity. That junked car has been there for at least a year. He just painted the sign a couple of weeks ago.

Fake Cow is a dead and dirty town in a lot of ways. But underneath the disinterest and neglect there is some interesting stuff. When we come home from a trip, we always wonder why we continue to live here. But, truthfully, cities bore me after a while. Trees and mountains are nice, but they give me claustrophobia after about a week.

I like being able to see the weather approaching for at least half a day before it gets here. I like knowing the cars belonging to the people who have business out on the little road where I live and being able to pick out a strange car as soon as it turns off the highway. I like being able to hear the train, but only at 3:00 a.m. because it is a mile away and the sound carries so well at night. I like finding exciting new ways of threading my FM antenna around the bathroom so that I can pick up a scratchy version of Morning Edition while I'm getting dressed.

I like laughing at the unimaginative marquee at Taco Bell which says simply "Jesus". They are attempting to keep up with the Joneses next door at the chicken joint who excel at insipid religious marquee writing. (They had the prayer of Jabez posted on that sign for almost a year. I couldn't figure it out for months. Every time I drove past all I could think was "WTF???" Mindy finally explained it to me.) I like being deeply concerned with whether or not the band will stretch its years of consecutive sweepstakes to 75-ish, even though I don't have a kid in band.

I like the gold of the corn stalks in the late afternoon sun, even though they cause me much grief and snot. I like knowing that no one is having any luck with tomatoes this year and that it's not just me. I like how we tell distance in hours, not miles. (It's an hour to Cool City and 45 minutes to Big Flat City. My parents have moved only a half-hour away. Takes five hours to drive to Dallas. We don't even bother driving to Houston, because when the distance is greater than 8 hours, you just damn well oughta fly.)

I like the way we all cheered at the news that somebody had filed for divorce and her worthless husband was looking for work in Dallas. "Good riddance," we all said. "They'll kick his butt in Dallas." I like that every story is preceded by the complete pedigree of all the major characters. And some of these pedigrees are real doozies!

I think I'll stick around for a while yet.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Jackson and I were on our way back from Dallas when I took this photo. We had failed to make a turn and were up about 30 miles off course when we finally realized what we'd done. We made this discovery just as we came upon a small town cemetery. Of course we stopped.

As usual, we drove slowly through the graveyard before we actually stopped to take any pictures. When we came up on this stone, Jackson stopped the car and we just sat and stared, open-mouthed. Finally one of us said "That doesn't really say that...does it?"

It does.

The stone marks plots belonging to two families. They list both family names on both sides of the stone. Those with the top name are buried behind the stone. The bottom name are in front. I have some misgivings about posting this, because I don't want to offend anyone. But my better judgment seldom, if ever, prevails in these moments, so, here it is:


Way on down the page.

I'm watching the Obama speech. "Eight is enough! Eight is enough!" And what the hell was the deal with MSNBC reading half the damn speech before we got to hear Obama give it? That was just wrong. I really like Keith Olberman, but c'mon! He ain't Barak. Chris Matthews really gets on my nerves, but I love Rachel Maddow.

Oh wait, where was I?

Here it is:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How do you spell Kolachi?

This picture is from last Saturday morning. Jackson was, shall we say, less than thrilled that Katie and I got hungry at the ungodly hour of half past nine and dragged him out of bed and over to Mi Mexico for the Breakfast of the Aztec Gods.

He survived. And Katie got to test the camera on her new cell phone. Notice how Jackson continues my brother's tradition of wearing his place of employment on his chest at every possible opportunity? Unfortunately, you can't really see my shirt, because it's way cool. A close up of Alan Rickman. Bought it at Hot Topic. I know how jealous you all must be.

This Saturday is "something completely different".

Sometime this week Mindy will tell you the story of our newest business in town - an independent coffee shop. The story is damned hysterical and she tells it so well. We're a little behind the curve here when it comes to cultural relevance. But we do try and the results are sometimes hilarious.

Katie is out of town this weekend, and I'm not pushing my luck with Mr. Happy Face two Saturdays in a row, so I'm hanging out here this morning, trying to make do with a steamy cup of earl grey until he drags himself out of bed.

I am having the bestest time.

Fake Cow is not a college town. Even though we have a university which is a major employer and economic powerhouse (well, maybe economic powershed?) this is so not a college town. So, when Starbucks opened a store here on the interstate about two years ago, we all scoffed at their overpriced coffee and knew in our hearts that it was the beginning of the end for that particular franchise. And yes, our Starbucks is on the list for the first round of closures as they try to pull back and salvage some threads of their corporate dignity.

So, this week, when the new coffee house opened, it has been drawing college kids in the evenings like flies to roadkill.

Early Saturday morning is such a different story.

When I first got here, there was a bit of a line. The person in front of me was a professor that Ester and I decided years ago was most likely to be the corpse in a Murder She Wrote episode. Not because he's a bad guy, but because if you were casting a college professor, you couldn't find anyone, anywhere, who fits the stereotype any better.

Within moments there were a few other happy stragglers cuing up for muffins and chai. Saturday mornings bring out the old folks. And me. Which means... Oh, never mind.

Anyway, I'm sitting here, still enjoying the cuppa, when the guy at the bar calls to his wife - "Stace! Get out here!" We all followed his gaze out the huge windows that line the front of the place. The old guy in the booth next to me drawled loudly, "Oh gawd. This is turin' into a biker joint." We all laughed.

A gang of gnarly-lookin', white, middle-aged scooter-riders (Scooter-ers? Scooteristos? Hell's Errand Boys? I don't know what to call them.) were carefully lining up their candy-colored rides in a bad-ass line in front of the old diner.

They have flames on their helmets.

I honestly didn't know there were more than two people in this town who owned scooters. Motorcycles are another story, but scooters? Not s'much. We're on a slippery slope now, it appears. If this keeps up, the gins will stop handing out gimme caps and the John Deere dealership with start selling golf carts.

What's next? Restaurants with salad bars?

Pray for us.