Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Spy With Good Intentions: More

Walking again. Always walking.

I own a car but I never use it. The last time I parked it, down in front of my building, I did the best damn job of parallel parking humanly possible. In tight – right next to the curb. Perfectly spaced between the other two cars, fore and aft. I’ll never be able to duplicate it, so I’ve not moved the car since then. That was in 1998. Sometime in September.

The night air feels sharp against the exposed skin of my face as I meander down the midnight sidewalk. I suppose it doesn’t really feel sharp. Mostly it smells sharp. Like bad cheese. It’s as if we’ve been slathered with a great cosmic goop of rancid nacho sauce. Sans jalapenos. It’s a smell you never get used to – an underbelly kind of a smell and I’m smellin’ it now.

I walk alone.

In the night.

I scamper occasionally, from street light to street light. I’m not a daylight scamperer – by no means. But sometimes at night it’s ok. I’d rather slither, but I don’t have the hips for it. Spies really should be able to slither, but I’ve never mastered the skill. That’s not to say there aren’t skills that I excel with. There are. Lots of them.

I can kill you with a croissant. Kill you dead. With a croissant and a knife, to be perfectly truthful, but the fact remains that buttery, flakey, French pastry equals you dead and bleeding if you’re not careful. It’s one of my skills. There are others.

Like the fact that I can talk to animals. Did you know that? I can totally converse with the entire catalogue of earthen fauna. I plan to start working on the flora next week. The animals never talk back though. Quiet people, these animals. Not a lot to say. But I can talk to them. Oh yeah, I got lots to say to them.

Tim the Elevator Operator is kind of like that. I talk to him all the time. He can never think of anything to say in reply. Poor Tim.

It must be really hard to have such a boxed-in existence like Tim’s. Up. Down. Up. All day long. Well, maybe not all day long, because I know for a fact he works all night long and if he worked days, too, he’d never sleep and let me tell ya, lack of sleep does things to a person. Weird things. So yeah, Tim probably sleeps during the day. I wonder if he’s a vampire? A vampire elevator operator.

Vampire slaying is another of my skills. Tim better be careful. I have a cache of tooth picks that I keep in my jacket pocket. I like to kill ‘em slow.

Slow. Slow steps on the sidewalk. Stepping down towards the corner. Three-Finger Monte will be there. That’s what I call him. Because he’s got three fingers. Well, there are ten, total. But he’s only got three on that one hand. Not counting the pinkie.

Three-Finger Monte is my contact. My connection. My window to the underworld. He keeps me apprised of whatever is going on that needs handling. I’m a handler. First class. Not like the mail, but more like the dinning experience. That kind of first class.

What’s up? That’s what I say. He will say something like ‘things lookin’ hot over at the warehouse’ or ‘shipment coming in. The docks are your best bet.’ We don’t need details. We’re idea people. Facts are for sissies. Facts are for people who are afraid of reality.

Once I get the take on things from T-FM, I’ll probably saunter over to the other side of the street. I’m really more of a saunterer than a scamperer. Saunter is the poor man’s slither. I have to work on the slither. I need some roller skates. The kind with the key. The ones that will fit over my high-heeled black leather spy boots.

The other side of the street holds it’s own possibilities. Things look different over there. More shadowy. Deeper. Shadows don’t scare me. I pretty much am a shadow. Except for that pesky third dimension of mine. But I can flit around just like a shadow. I hang out in the dark but I need the light to function.

Not a lot of light. Just enough.

The Spy With Good Intentions: More

Walking again. Always walking.

I own a car but I never use it. The last time I parked it, down in front of my building, I did the best damn job of parallel parking humanly possible. In tight – right next to the curb. Perfectly spaced between the other two cars, fore and aft. I’ll never be able to duplicate it, so I’ve not moved the car since then. That was in 1998. Sometime in September.

The night air feels sharp against the exposed skin of my face as I meander down the midnight sidewalk. I suppose it doesn’t really feel sharp. Mostly it smells sharp. Like bad cheese. It’s as if we’ve been slathered with a great cosmic goop of rancid nacho sauce. Sans jalapenos. It’s a smell you never get used to – an underbelly kind of a smell and I’m smellin’ it now.

I walk alone.

In the night.

I scamper occasionally, from street light to street light. I’m not a daylight scamperer – by no means. But sometimes at night it’s ok. I’d rather slither, but I don’t have the hips for it. Spies really should be able to slither, but I’ve never mastered the skill. That’s not to say there aren’t skills that I excel with. There are. Lots of them.

I can kill you with a croissant. Kill you dead. With a croissant and a knife, to be perfectly truthful, but the fact remains that buttery, flakey, French pastry equals you dead and bleeding if you’re not careful. It’s one of my skills. There are others.

Like the fact that I can talk to animals. Did you know that? I can totally converse with the entire catalogue of earthen fauna. I plan to start working on the flora next week. The animals never talk back though. Quiet people, these animals. Not a lot to say. But I can talk to them. Oh yeah, I got lots to say to them.

Tim the Elevator Operator is kind of like that. I talk to him all the time. He can never think of anything to say in reply. Poor Tim.

It must be really hard to have such a boxed-in existence like Tim’s. Up. Down. Up. All day long. Well, maybe not all day long, because I know for a fact he works all night long and if he worked days, too, he’d never sleep and let me tell ya, lack of sleep does things to a person. Weird things. So yeah, Tim probably sleeps during the day. I wonder if he’s a vampire? A vampire elevator operator.

Vampire slaying is another of my skills. Tim better be careful. I have a cache of tooth picks that I keep in my jacket pocket. I like to kill ‘em slow.

Slow. Slow steps on the sidewalk. Stepping down towards the corner. Three-Finger Monte will be there. That’s what I call him. Because he’s got three fingers. Well, there are ten, total. But he’s only got three on that one hand. Not counting the pinkie.

Three-Finger Monte is my contact. My connection. My window to the underworld. He keeps me apprised of whatever is going on that needs handling. I’m a handler. First class. Not like the mail, but more like the dinning experience. That kind of first class.

What’s up? That’s what I say. He will say something like ‘things lookin’ hot over at the warehouse’ or ‘shipment coming in. The docks are your best bet.’ We don’t need details. We’re idea people. Facts are for sissies. Facts are for people who are afraid of reality.

Once I get the take on things from T-FM, I’ll probably saunter over to the other side of the street. I’m really more of a saunterer than a scamperer. Saunter is the poor man’s slither. I have to work on the slither. I need some roller skates. The kind with the key. The ones that will fit over my high-heeled black leather spy boots.

The other side of the street holds it’s own possibilities. Things look different over there. More shadowy. Deeper. Shadows don’t scare me. I pretty much am a shadow. Except for that pesky third dimension of mine. But I can flit around just like a shadow. I hang out in the dark but I need the light to function.

Not a lot of light. Just enough.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Spy With Good Intentions

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I was thwarted again. This time by an accidental circus.

The circus is never accidental, you might say, but you’d be wrong. This circus was an impromptu compilation of the sublime and the absurd; the kind of thing that happens every night in the spy world. And I should know. I’m a spy. A spy with good intentions.

What exactly are my intentions?

Well, I’ve never really been sure. But they are good. Altruistic even. I’m not one of the bad guys. They are always so poorly lit. I have no problem with noir lighting, but the good guy always gets the better end of that deal. Also, I have a better hat. The bad guy fedora is always sort of slouchy and malformed. Mine is crisp and well creased. And purple.

I only wear it at night.

It’s night now.

The sun hadn’t quite set when I left my apartment. I live high in the sky, but Tim the Elevator Operator always brings me back down to earth. Tim never asks questions. Hell, he never even makes eye contact. But I’m pretty sure he’s curious. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s one of those peripheral characters that could go either way. I smile at him – a smile that I feel certain conveys more mystery than Tim can handle. He wants to know – I can feel it. But I’ll never tell.

Tim will be one of those that they’ll interview in the aftermath.

“Yes, this is where she lives,” he’ll say. (Maybe catching his breath and then correcting himself: “lived.” Maybe not.) “I always knew there was something different, something mysterious, about her. But I had no idea that she was a spy.”

Yeah, that’ll be Tim. I’ll laugh at the TV when I see the interview on the television over the bar where I’m drinking a Tom Collins. The bartender will eye me with that same sort of curiosity that Tim has. Maybe I’ll wink at him over the rim of my glass. A knowing wink. A wink steeped in mystery.

Maybe not.

Once I hit the street, I tuck the collar of my trench coat a little tighter around my neck. The wind is cold and the rain sheeting its way to the sidewalk, washing it clean of the detritus of urban existence.

Well, that’s not really true. I’m wearing a trench coat, sure, but it’s May and one hardly needs it now. The wind is blowing but there are no clouds, no rain. There should be rain, but there seldom is. Probably an international cabal of monomaniacal meteorologists has commandeered the city’s rain and is holding it hostage. No more rain, drizzle or fog until we meet their demands. Funny that we’ve not been notified of the demands yet. What are they waiting for?

I made my way down the avenue, headed for my favorite all night diner. We don’t have those in the Southwest – back where I came from. All your eating has to be done by sundown or it’s just too damn bad. But in the city, hunger never sleeps. Burgers and fries available around the clock. I still feel guilty about it – eating after midnight. I do it sometimes, but just because I am edgy and live by my own rules. I step to my own drum. I don’t need your empty conventions.

The diner is empty. For the moment. I take a seat in the back, where I can watch the door. No tellin’ who’ll be coming in or what they’ll be looking for. Whatever it is, I’m prepared. That’s my job – being prepared.

I’m prepared for earthquakes, robbery, and 382 different forms of pestilence. I am all set if we have bombings, extra thick fog or rampaging rapists. I can handle it. I know the zig-zag run. I cannot be stopped.

A gun? No. Don’t need it. I live by my wits – my own special brand of chuptzpah. I can’t spell it, but I can sure as hell live by it.

The waitress is asking for my order. I know she’s curious about what I’m wearing underneath the trench coat. Wouldn’t she be surprised? She’d never suspect my crimson velour jogging suit – the color of dried blood and the texture of short, soft fur. Too bad sister. It’s mine and I’m not likely to share. The pants are a little bit hot where I have them stuffed into the tops of my knee high, high heeled leather boots. I can feel sweat run down the back of my knee.

I order. Frito pie.

Then I call her back and change my order. This is the city. The coast. The not my home. Their chili will have beans.

Blasphemers.

I get a cheeseburger instead. With tator tots.

It’s gonna be a long night. The city never sleeps. I’ll need my strength.

Don’t be afraid.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Drive Friendly

My parent’s dog, OB (Other Brother), had been giving me the sad puppy dog eyes for the past two days.  I’d tried to explain that 106 degrees at 5:00 p.m. meant there was no way I was going to take him for a walk.  However, one of the best things about our weather here, other than the fact that “it’s a dry heat”, is that it cools off completely once the sun goes down.  One hundred and six by day, a gorgeous moon-drenched sixty-eight degrees in the dark of the night. 

So, as soon as we had breakfast this morning, I gathered up the leash and we went for a walk. 

One of the other nice features about this part of the world is the general aura of friendliness that is characteristic of small-town society.  We all know that anytime you pass a pick-up on the road, the driver will give you the one-finger-wave.  And it’s not even that finger.  When you’re in line at Wal-Mart with only two or three items and the lady in front of you has two carts full of groceries that will feed her family for the a couple of weeks until the next payday, nine times out of ten, she’ll tell you to go on ahead of her.  People are just nice to each other, most of the time. 

As the dog and I made our way down the street, we came within a half-block of a group of snarly-looking bandit wannabes sauntering down the street.  I was kind of surprised to see them out and about at 9:00 a.m.  They seemed the type who’d still be sleeping it off at that hour.  As we approached they began to swagger and holler, “Buenos dias, chica!”

Good morning, girl?  Spare my blushes.

I don’t mean to imply that we don’t have our fair share of really worthless individuals out here.  Just yesterday, at the office, we were discussing one of those people.  He’s on probation for trying to force his mother to give him a blow job.  He claims it never happened and his mother is lying.  She claims this wasn’t the first time, it was just the first time she had to courage to actually report it to the authorities. 

The general consensus was that your momma may hate your guts -- she may throw away your comic book collection, burn you with cigarettes, try to starve you, call up your ex-wife and ask her to move into your old bedroom or just plain beat the crap out of you.  But no momma, no where, is gonna lie about her son trying to force her to do that. 

There are some really awful people here. 

But thankfully they’re not the norm.  I’ve lived in west Texas all my life, so I never realized how unusual our culture of amiability was until I was teaching drunk class one day.  One of the “students” was a guy recently arrived from Los Angeles.  One night he observed how friendly everyone was here.

“Even your punks are polite!” he said.  “I took my mother to the grocery store and a group of gang-bangers were coming in as we were leaving.  They were thugs, just like you’d see in L.A.  But they held the door for my mom and called her ‘Ma’am’!”

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging Would Be A Deceptive Title

Wow. A big blank computer screen is possibly even more daunting than a blank sheet of paper. But, I’ve been keeping up with my 30 minutes worth of writing each night so far this week, so here goes.

I’m staying with my mom for two weeks. She lives in the suburbs, about 30 miles from Fake Cow. My brother will take over as temporary care-taker when I am done and stay with mom for another two weeks while Dad spends four weeks at SMU for his job. Can I take a moment to grouse to those of you who work in Methodism? Online education, people! C’mon! Four weeks worth of onsite training for the Course of Study? Dang. My husband is working on a PhD and he doesn’t have to do that much in-person class work. Four weeks a year? Four?

~shoves soap box back underneath the couch~

Anyway, I left my external drive that has my cemetery pictures on it at home, so no cemetery blogging this week. Hopefully I’ll get going with that again next week. I’m having to dig through old material to see what I can find because my camera is in the hospital. It’s been there since May 15th. It will be there for at least another month.

All to fix a broken flash.

Can I get a kleenex?

We’ve taken a vote at work and decided this has been a weird damn week. Every one of us has pitched at least one screaming fit at someone and there has been a profusion of mothers that we’ve had to deal with this week. The mother thing is mostly Mindy’s fault. She’s got two or three of ‘em calling her and me and anyone else they can get in touch with and complaining that someone has mistreated their poor, darling baby boys. I usually just remind them that it’s called adult probation for a reason. They never really get it and our conversations usually end with me telling them we have no obligation to give them any information and that we will not accept any further communication from them. Then they say, “Yes, but –.” That’s when I hang up the phone.

I hate mothers.

Not mine. And probably not yours. But mothers in general.

I would retire early and open up a photography studio, if it weren’t for mothers. Weddings are bread and butter for most photographers. I have no problem taking wedding photos, but I refuse to be in the same building with the mothers. I think my Mutha-Free Wedding Photo Policy is probably going to be a real hindrance to me earning a living at my chosen second profession. So, I’ll stick with what I’m doing retire somewhere around the ripe old age of forty-eight and maybe then I can afford to open up Skewed View Photography – 100% Mutha-Free.

(The first time I ever took wedding photos, I was still in college. It was a home wedding, on the back deck of the double-wide. I trailed along behind the minister (yes, there was one) most of the time, shooting whatever they told me to. The minister finally got the mother of the bride to sit still long enough to help him fill out the marriage license. It took a while because she was having difficulty recalling her daughter’s current last name.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I Swear It’s True. But you knew that…

My friend C is a church secretary.  That means she sees some of the same people I do on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, she has the added burden of being diplomatic  in her dealings with them.  She sent me an email today that made me laugh so hard I cried.  Cried, I tells ya!  Here is the story:

This morning C and her co-conspirators were buzzing around the office doing churchy things.  Their offices are at the top of a little flight of stairs that bottoms out at a street door.   A gawd-awful buzzer attached to that door blasts like a chainsaw with a chest cold every time it’s opened.  It’s just like going to visit the inmates at the prison.  (If this were a prison, C would be in charge of “the picket”.  And she would be wearing a seriously unattractive uniform which would match the seriously unattractive personality adopted by your average prison guard.  Thankfully, this is a church not a prison and C has a great personality to match her outfits.)

Anyway, late this morning, the buzzer went off and annoyingly heralded the arrival of a visitor.  The visitor was a woman who requested help with gas money.  The request was passed on to one of the ministers, Rick.  I’m sure those of you in the ecumenical industry all have your policies for dealing with these requests and I’m betting very few of you hand over cash.  This church doesn’t either.  So Rick told the woman that he would meet her at the convenience store a couple of blocks away and see that her car was filled with fuel. 

As he left, he had the strangest feeling that he was not alone. 

The woman drove along behind him in her car.  Behind her was a long line of cars, all seemingly following their every move.  It was decidedly odd. 

They made the short trip to the gas pumps.  It was there that Rick noticed the hearse and a police car waiting at the intersection.  The funeral director was “pitching a fit” and the police officer was pacing the intersection, shaking his head. 

Rick took another look at the line of cars. 

The woman who needed gas turned out to be the first car following the hearse in a funeral procession.  They had been on the way out of town to a cemetery 15 miles down the road when she evidently rethought the fuel efficiency versus length of trip and decided she needed gas money.  She made a quick and admittedly resourceful detour and managed to drag the rest of the mourners along with her. 

Rick got the car gassed up and sent them on their way, all the while convinced he was being punk’d and no doubt scanning the surroundings for Alan Funt or Ashton Kutcher.

I think C is still laughing.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Still Here!

I'm still around, but I've been out of the writing mood for a while. Still plenty of fun stuff going on in my world, but writing it down has been a bit of a chore lately. Therefore I'm going to try something different.

For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to write something - anything - for at least a half-hour a day. We'll see what happens. May post some of it, may not. Just have to wait and see. In the meantime, if you're interested in seeing what else is going on in my spooky world, feel free to follow me on twitter or facebook. Just search for spookyrach. (Please add a note with any friend requests, letting me know that you're a blog reader. Unless you are some sort of psychopathic probationer or under-achieving stalker trying to get information about my oh-so-boring personal life. In that case, please include a death threat or something similar along with the friend request.)

So, here goes for tonight…

I’ve fallen down on the unicycle practice for the past couple of weeks. No pun intended.  However, last Thursday a member of the local constabulary stopped by the office to collect some information on a guy they are looking for.  When he saw the unicycle resting against the hallway wall, he mentioned that his ex-wife is an accomplished unicyclist.  He admits the fact that she mastered the skill and he could never learn royally pissed him off.  After inquiring about my progress he suggested a different learning approach.  Instead using my hang on to the door frame until working up the courage to let go and start pedaling plan, he suggested I get two sticks and use them like ski poles to balance until I get the hang of it. 

This sounds like a really good idea.

Granted, it came from a man who was never able master the single-wheeled peregrination.  

But, consider this!  A pair of crutches would be the ideal height for this purpose.  And, if I’m not particularly successful – as may well be the case – I’d be properly equipped for recovery.  Someone suggested I make a run over to the Salvation Army Thrift Store and secure a pair from their Lourdes-like wall of discarded medical paraphernalia. 

No need for that, though.  Jackson’s got plenty of them that I can use.  (Have I mentioned he used to play football?  Lots and lots of football?  Followed by years of orthopedic surgery?)

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Provided they have wifi at the hospital.

Monday, June 08, 2009

NOT a Bucket List:

There are some things I’d like to learn.  I’ve kept a list of these semi-essential skills for years.  So far, it consists of:

Eating with chopsticks – Learned!

Karate – Learned!  (With somewhat mixed results.)

Fencing -

Riding a Unicycle  -

And this week I’ve added something new:  Reading Tea Leaves.  I mean, they’re there – why not do something with them?  And they do sorta look like they would know stuff.  

So.  I’ve known Ester for SIXTEEN years.  Sixteen years! Longer than I’ve known Jackson, the kid or most of you.  I thought I knew her well.  But it turns out she’s been keeping a dark secret from me. 

Well, not necessarily a dark secret, but a secret nonetheless. 

Ester owns a unicycle!

Can you believe it?  And can you believe that she never, ever mentioned this in casual conversation?  We have some odd conversations, y’all – you’d think it would have come up.  For example, at lunch today we had a communal recital of the lyric poem “Copacabana” by B. Manilow.  It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary and no one batted an eyelash.  You’d think that in this sort of environment there would have been a point in the last sixteen years that the phrase “I have a unicycle” would have been the perfect segue.  But no.  Not until now. 

She’s letting me borrow it!

I told Jackson and Katie I was going to learn the unicycle.  There reply, in unison, was “"NOOOOO!”  Katie said “You’re so going to end up in the hospital, Rachel!”  Jackson said he would be glad to take me to the emergency room because he wants to the see the look on the doctor’s face when I tell him that all my broken bones are due to “a unicycle accident”. 

Unbelievers!

I looked it up on the internet – googled “how to ride a unicycle”.  All the sites seem to encourage “recruiting a couple of friends” for help.  I told Ester and Mindy they were elected.  They have agreed, but say their involvement will be limited to dialing 9-1-1.  They fully expect me to be unable to operate a cell phone following my first riding attempt. 

Doubting Thomases!

Ester’s son brought the unicycle to work today.  HE didn’t make any wise cracks.  I’ve always liked that kid.

Rose and M2 just rolled their eyes and refused to have any part of the coming apocalypse.

The boss kept walking down the hallway and laughing uncontrollably whenever he passed the unicycle. 

Bebo stopped by the office to see Mindy while I was in court.  Rumor has it that he pointed at his mother and said “YOU are gonna get hurt,” then pointed at Ester “and YOU are gonna get hurt and SOMEONE is going to be mad!” 

I have no idea what he’s talking about. 

I’ve decided to that the office hallway is the best spot for my initial unicycling lesson - which will commence tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.  (Mindy claims she’s bringing her camera.)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Browning Quote

 

Last week I discovered that more than a few people get kind of antsy when I forget to post a cemetery picture.  Sorry about that!  How’s life for you?  Things are busy here and I’ve been spending my free time doing a lot of drawing.  And watching thunderstorms.  This is our “rainy season”, such as it is.  Thunderstorms almost every night for the last couple of weeks – very cool.  In fact, it’s thundering right now…

Monday, May 18, 2009

In which "The Look" rears it's ugly head:

Katie is starting the last two weeks of school. I've been really impressed with her school this year. The principal has done a great job and puts a lot of emphasis on making a positive difference in the community. The teachers have been drama-free and have done a fantastic job of motivating the kids. Well, at least one kid, anyway.

Katie wanted to get to school early this morning to see one of her friends, so I took her with me. As we careened down Date Street, she was lamenting the fact that she has six semester tests coming up next week. It could have been worse - last semester she had seven of them. However, she doesn't think they will have a test in Service Learning - a community service class she's been in this semester.


"What? No test?! Couldn't they test you on recycling or something?" I asked.

"No! We didn't study recycling in that class. We studied it in science. We had to learn the three R's of recycling," she told me.

"OH! I know those! Reduce, Reuse, Reanimate!"

"No! It's Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. What's reanimate?"

"It's like when you take a dead body and bring it back to life. Sort of. You re-purpose it into a zombie."

It was at this point that I got 'the look'.

"Rachel! You are really kinda weird."

I grinned.

"No, let me rephrase that. You are REALLY REALLY WEIRD!"

"Zombies are a valid form of recycling," I grumbled.

"Zombies DON'T EXIST!"

"You say that now," I said. "But just wait until one is gnawing on your thigh bone and see what you have to say then!" I looked over at her. "Brains! Brains! Brains!"



If she keeps rolling her eyes like that, one of these days they're gonna get stuck up inside her head.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

 

I took this photo while I was in San Antonio a few weeks ago.  I was wandering around a tiny little urban cemetery, lamenting the plight of the dead in tiny little urban cemeteries.  Since they don’t breathe, mabye the dead don’t mind the exhaust fumes gathering at the stop light.  And since the don’t hear, maybe they don’t notice the heavy machinery about thirty-six inches away as it excavates for an office building or a gas station or something.  

Any way, I really didn’t see much of interest, but I took a few half-hearted shots.  This was one of the last stones I photographed and I took this shot because of the unconventional inscription that listed both husbands.  I snapped the pic, then went on my way. 

But I never read the small print.  Not until a week later, after I’d returned home.  Turns out this is one of the most incredible tombstones I’ve ever photographed. 

 

 

 

Died Alone

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Got a Little Something New…

…on the other blog.

 

Email me if you want access to read it.  Still have some space left!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Don’t Look Ethel!

Suppose you had a friend who really, really hates bugs.  And that friend has hired you to kill the bugs in her ofice for years and years.  Suppose your friend yells “Raaaaachel!”, every time there’s a bug.  And you go kill it.  And remove it from the premises.

And suppose one day your friend was at home with sick kid while waiting on a plumber to arrive.  While she’s at home, you have a sudden need to borrow the bottle of alcohol she keeps in the bottom left hand drawer of her desk.  (The rubbing kind, not the drinking kind.)  And just suppose that, as you were leaving the office after replacing the bottle, you notice movement next to the wall.  You look closer and It turns out to be two bugs.  Copulating.  Two big, shiny, bugs with crunchy black shells.  Goin’ at it. 

Would you just turn out the light and leave and hope your friend never reads this blog post?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!

Katie got her report card today.  Weird kid. 

She likes both math and reading, the little show off.  At the end of the six weeks, the school does a short honors program for the honor roll kids.  Thirty minutes of kool-aid, lunchroom cookies and an inspiring speaker.  Well, sort of inspiring.  Katie’s had straight As all year, but we’ve missed the last couple of programs because she can’t remember to bring the note home with the time and date and we can’t remember to call the school and inquire as to the time and date.

Today, however, she remembered the note.  I told her I would be there this time.  “With grades like these, I don’t mind admitting to the other parents that I know you,” I told her. 

She hit me. 

A couple of weeks ago, she was talking to me about some seventh grade drama and I was giving her the benefit of some sort of bizarro advice, probably.  Eventually she sighed and said “My friends all talk about how their parents give them ‘that look’ when they’re in trouble or they do something stupid.”

“Yeah, I remember that look.  What about it?”

“In our family, I’m the one that has ‘that look’ and I have to give it to you all the time!”

 

Katie Look

Monday, April 13, 2009

And now for something not entirely different:

I've been in a bit of a slump.

You've noticed? Yeah. Haven't written anything worthwhile since before the first of the year. Life is not bad, just busy. Every day something happens and I think "I should blog that!" But by the time I sit down in front of the computer to do so, my muse is on snooze break and I end up playing word games on Facebook instead.

Additionally, it was time for some changes.

That sounds ominous, doesn't it? Like the precursor to the "It's been fun, but all good things must come to an end" speech.

Nah. Nothing like that. I've started a second blog to house my work-related writing. All my probationer stories have been moved from this site to the new one. The new blog will be a little more secure, so you'll need an invite to be able to read it. I'm not being stingy with the invites - fire off an email to the address in the sidebar and send a request and I'll shoot you back a permission.

Given the interconnectedness of teh internets (who wouldda thought?) it's just time to make this more secure. I only have 100 invites available to the new site. In the wacky and unlikely event that turns out to be too few (eternally optomistic!) then I may have to consider switching to a paid service like Typepad. (Take a hint, Blogger!!)

So, send me an email and you can read a new probation story. It's short, buy hey - it's way better than nothing!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Pulpit Church

This is a chapel in the middle of a cemetery.  Nice and neat.  Obviously seldom used.  Windows are made with frosted glass – can’t see inside.

But one of the windows had a broken pane…

 

Pulpit

Pains, Trains and Audio deficiency

It’s been more than two months, and still I haven’t seen the railroad crossing arms near my house move.  Not one time.  Are they for real?  And what happened to the trains?

Yesterday I took a day off from work and took Katie to the doctor.  As I pulled out of the driveway, I got in behind two other vehicles.  Traffic! Wow!  We all proceeded in turn down the road towards town. Our road has a pseudo paving that was made from the recycled asphalt pulled off the Farm to Market Road a half a mile away in the opposite direction.  They dumped the pieces on the dirt road and ran over it a few times with the steam roller.  It was a cool use of the waste material and a whole lot better than the washboarded caliche that we’d been driving on. 

Our three vehicles formed a sort of Conga line down the road.  We’d all danced on this floor before.  The asphalt peels away in huge chunks no matter how often it’s repaired.  Like all dirt roads (even when paved) this one is about a 1 and 2/3 lanes wide.  We all followed a snaky path down the street – first driving on the right, then the left, then the middle with a sharp swerve to the left and then back to the right.  Three cars in a train, running on a set of winding gravel rails. 

That’s not what this post is about, though.

Remember Katie?  She went to the doctor.  Ear trouble. 

She’d had tubes as a kid.  This year when she had her compulsory health testing at school, we got one of those “You’re a Bad Parent and Your Kid Has Lice” letters.  Only instead of lice, she had significant hearing loss on the right side. 

We hadn’t noticed.  She might have mentioned it, but if – IF – she did, we’d handled it in the usual way:  “Suck it up.  It builds character.”   Apparently our tried and true parenting approach didn’t work, so this was her third visit to the ear, nose and throat guy.  He took one look at her ear and pronounced his prior treatments ineffective.  She would have to have a tube.  He gave her the steely-eyed once over and said if she were older, he’d insert the tube as an in-office procedure.  If she were younger, he’d insist on doing it under general anesthesia in the hospital.  But, with her age, he just wasn’t sure. 

This is one of those situations where I really wish I had a sign to hold up that says “Not Really A Parent”.  I had no idea what to do.  Katie was stuck in between us, not sure if she should look scared or put on a brave face.  I finally said “Hell, it can’t be any worse than the dentist and you survived that!” 

After a swift negotiation we agreed that if she survived having the procedure done in the office, then I would let her decide whether or not she wanted to stay home from school for the rest of the day and I’d take her to the bookstore and buy her a book. 

You gotta love a kid that can be bribed with a trip to the bookstore.

(I couldn’t believe it, but she actually chose to go BACK to school!  They like her there.  And I think they’re much more sympathetic.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Trying Something New

Me and Barbie

 

Kate was going to throw away the disembodied Barbie head. Normally that is a decision I would fully support. But after watching Jackson use it to play tug-of-war with the dogs, I realized there was a whole realm of possible uses for the loathsome thing.

Suggestions, anyone?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

West Quote

 

“And now, will y'all stand and be recognized?”


- Gib Lewis, Texas Speaker of the House, to a group of people in wheelchairs in the gallery of the House Chamber, observing voting on disability legislation.

 

George W. Bush had nothing on Gib Lewis.  Lewis did it first.  Lewis did it best. 

Lewis may have even done it more often.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Quote of the Day:

"It's not how you pick your nose, it's where you put that booger that counts."

- Tre Cool



booger

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Random Stuffs of Wednesday Madness

Hey, y'all! I have been in the mood to write, but I've got no ideas. Zip. None. Any suggestions?

I just finished reading "Sanditon" by Jane Austen and Another Lady. Oh my lord. It was hilariously bad. No wonder the "Another Lady" didn't put her name on it. It's like she was writing a parody of Austen, rather than trying to finish her work.

Unfortunately, I'm a slow learner at times. As soon as I get my hands on it, I plan to read the posthumously completed Dorothly L. Sayers Wimsey/Vane novel. Here's hoping the second author on this one does a better job.

Speaking of posthumous, my current favorite music group is E.S. Posthumous. I can't get enough.

I skipped my Masochism Catechism class at the YMCA two weeks in a row. I only do that class once a week and the couple of days I do Pilates. Monday I dragged myself back to the M.C. class. I did ok. Until the next day. Holy Moly! I thought I was gonna die. Still not sure if I will live. Even my armpits are sore. My big toe is sore. Everything in between is in pain.

Don't you love the super-creepy Verizon "dead zone" commericals? "The towels are kinda scratchy!" Haaa!

I'm thinking I would enjoy hanging out with Nicolas Cage. I like his taste in movies. And he named his kid after Superman. What's not to like?

My live-in model deserted me this week. Dang kid. Decided to spend her spring break on some sort of mission-trip thing. Geeze. I had to resort to using the tripod on Saturday to take pictures in the snow.

Tree V

See? See the snow? No, really, it's there. Look again! (Hi, Mom!)

Jackson has not been living right. That's the only reason I can think of for our last few months of homeowner hell. The heater is working again (just in time for spring). We have a new dishwasher and a new washing machine. I'm about to pay off the plumber and a couple of local small business ventures are being kept afloat by ongoing repairs at our place. And now I have to take Earl the Truck in to the truck doctor. Argh! I really hope Jackson turns over a new leaf soon.

At least we're doing our part to keep the economy afloat.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The PTA is probably not going to call on me for guest speaker anytime soon.

Kate flipped through the pages of her science book as I drove her to school Friday morning.   She opened it to a chapter somewhere close to the middle and let out a sigh. 

"We have to do this chapter next week."

I glanced over at a two page spread on the reproductive system.  Sort of an educational centerfold.  I made some sort of non-committal noise. 

"That's why y'all had to sign that paper a couple of weeks ago."

"Ah.  Well, lucky you.  Looks like it should be fun."  She grimaced.  "I'm going to ask you lots of questions about what you learned when you get finished," I said, evilly.

"No, you're NOT!"

"Yes, I am!" I said, mostly because I'm really mature like that. 

"You know what I really hate?  When we have to go pick up trash around the school, there's all these used condoms everywhere."

"Ugh," I said, cause I'm full of really helpful commentary like that.  I wracked my brain for some sort of intelligent response.  "Well, if people are going to be so stupid as to have sex in junior high, at least they're using birth control."

"It's just gross," she said.  I couldn't argue with that. 

Then she told me about one of the girls in her class that's had a baby.  And another girl who's bragged about having sex.  That girl's aunt has told her she's putting her on birth control.  "Can you believe that?" Katie asked.  "We're in junior high and they're putting her on birth control!"

"I can't blame them.  If she's going to be that irresponsible, at least maybe they can prevent her from getting pregnant.  If she gets pregnant as a teenager, she'll end up ruining more lives than just her own." 

"Yeah, I guess," Kate said.

"If your friend keeps having sex, that's all she's going to know.  She'll never learn how to have a real relationship with anyone.  She won't learn how to talk to and connect with guys she's really interested in.  She won't know how to find someone that shares her interests.  That's the best part of hooking up with another person.  All she'll know how to do is screw.  Hell, dogs can screw!  People should be able to do better than that."

Kate looked at me sort of open-mouthed for a moment, then reclined her seat back as far as it would go.  "I'm gonna take a nap."

"We're six blocks from school!"

"I don't care."

"You just don't want me asking you any questions about sex ed," I accused.

She grinned and kept her eyes shut tight.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Tombstone Theology:

God Loves DIe Young 3

"Those whom God loves die young."

Those who live to a ripe old age are not nearly so well liked by their creator. Evidently.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Loner fence 2

Well, dang. It feels like weeks since I've sat down to write anything. I guess maybe that's because it HAS been weeks since I've written.

I blame the railroad.

Up until just a month or so ago, I lived in a constant state of danger. Facing one's mortality at every turn stimulates the mind and force feeds creativity. I was on the edge. And living there made every breath more stimulating, everything was brighter, stronger, more pungent.

But now the danger is gone.

Blasted railroad.

Here's the deal. At the end of one of the roads leading away from my house, there is a railroad crossing. I've lived in this house for almost ten years, and I lived every day with the knowledge that the train was going to kill me. For years I've told my friends and family, when the train finally gets me, it will be my own fault. I forget to look both ways before sailing over the tracks. So don't sue the railroad.

Anytime Katie was riding with me and we encountered the train, I told her I could jump it with my truck. The tracks are five or six feet higher than the road. You approach them on a dirt ramp sort of thing. Perfect setup for launching the truck right over the top of the moving train. I watched the Dukes of Hazzard all the time as a kid, so I knew I could do it - no problem.

Kate wasn't so sure.

So, to keep from offending her delicate sensibilities, I'd have to come up with a new excuse for not attempting the jump each time we ended up there at the same time as the train. Sometimes it was my own fault - I'd not been paying enough attention and hadn't built up enough speed on the dirt road leading up to the ramp. The price of jet fuel was prohibitive on several occasions and I wasn't sure if I could reach launch velocity on the cheap low-octane stuff I was using. Every once in a while the angle of the sun interfered. Occasionally she was in the truck with me right after I'd completed a successful jump and to do it again, so soon, was to run the risk of showboating and I'd never want to be accused of that.

I was running short of Shinola. But then the railroad solved the problem. They came along last month and put in lights and those arm thingies. Now I have to stop -- I can't jump the train.

It's the law.

Thank God!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Phallacy

Phallacy2



The Bureaucratic Paper Fairy has dumped on me mightily this week. Have you noticed how that kind of thing will completely zap your creativity? This frumpy little freak sneaks into your office and litters your desk with page after page after page of useless muck. Then just when you think she's done, and you can get started on dealing with the mess, she backs a truck up to the door and dumps the whole load.

I hate her.

If I ever get my hands on her grey polyester skirt suit (you know the one I mean - and she always wears a plain white blouse with one of those floophy 'lady' bow tie things at the neck.) I'm gonna strangle her with the mouse cord. I'm gonna sharpen some pencils and stick 'em as far up her nose as they will go. I'm gonna wad up all those papers and stuff them down her throat, one by one. Then I'll beat her about the head and shoulders with my phone. After that, I will run over the dang phone with my truck. Repeatedly.

And after that?

After that I'm gonna get really creative. You got any suggestions?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Domestic Felicity Day

Valentine Cards

Guess which two people found the perfect Valentine's Day card for each other this year?

 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Not So Much, Anymore.




I wish

...that I understood French. All the naughty bits in the book I'm currently reading are in French. Hard to enjoy peaceful perusal of mysterious tomes when the laptop is propped open on one knee so I can look up the translations. (It's a British mystery written in the 1930's; therefor the naughty bits consist of lines such as "You intoxicate me" and "I wish I were in his shoes" and "now is the time for him to learn the difference between kissing and embracing" and the like.)


...Sinclair would stop eating the trees and digging up the yard. Other than that she's the perfect dog. She's so mellow. And she's rubbing off on Zoe just a bit. Zoe is ever so slightly less bouncy now that Sinclair is here.

...it were possible to fast forward to the end of this week. The stress! Argh! (But I am taking a few hours off on Friday the afternoon in honor of the thirteenth.)

...y'all could've seen the guy's face stopped next to me at the red light this morning. (Notice how it's "the" red light. 'Cause there's only one. Ha!) I like to listen to my music LOUD. So did the kid in the little Toyota. His hip hop was no match for my Puccini.

(I'm not an opera connoisseur as a general rule. This was just a fragment from Turandot - Nessun Dorma - that was included in the movie soundtrack that I was listening to.)

...someone could explain to me why the movie "My Bloody Valentine - In 3-D!" came out in the middle of JANUARY??? And now it's gone, gone, gone. Guess we'll have to see the new Friday the 13th movie, instead. Darn it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

So far this morning...

...everyone who's come in the door has stopped and taken just one more deep breath. Then they turn to the rest of us and say "It smells soooo good."

Moisture. Actual humid-type stuff. In. Our. Air.

Not a cloud in the sky, but we can still smell the rain.

Monday, February 02, 2009

...and now I'm goin' to bed!

I started teaching another drug class today.  On a Monday of Mammoth Misery, Mishap and Misfortune.

I didn't know it was such a Monday when I left home this morning.  In fact, I didn't realize it until I got to the office.  Once I arrived and popped my oh-so-healthy sausage biscuits into the microwave, I went to the water cooler to fill my cup.  It was then that I looked down at my feet.  It took me a few minutes to realize what was wrong, but I finally figured out that I was wearing one black boot and one brown boot. 

That was the start.  Things went downhill from there.

I haven't had my blood pressure medicine since Friday.  Ran out and have no refills.  I spent the morning trying to call my doctor's office every time I had a moment.  Took me half the morning before I got anything other than a busy signal. 

I was in such a hurry to make it to work this morning following my masochism catechism class at the YMCA, that I forgot my rings.  That was one of the few happy accidents of the day, because no doubt they wouldn't have fit on my swollen fingers.  Did I mention I ran out of blood pressure medication?

At the end of the day, I rushed out of the office to go pick up aforementioned medication and a sleazy burger that I could gulp down before class started.  I careened into the oddly angled CVS drive-thru and screeched to a halt inches from the pharmaceutical window, where I demanded my drugs.  The nice little chemist tried to hand me one package. 

"There should be two," I said - somewhat panicky.  "One I called in Saturday and one the doctor's office called in today."

"They did call one in, but it's the same one you called in."

They called in the wrong prescription!  I was briefly incensed until the whole thing became tragically moot when I realized that I had no money.  I lost my debit card holder thing-y.  Couldn't find it anywhere.  Had no cash and no checks.  I never have cash or checks because I live and die by the debit card.  Which I had lost.

Furious, I peeled out of the drive-thru and headed for my house, trying to remember the last time I had it.  I found it in the pocket of a recently worn jacket.  Managed to make it back to town in time to grab the burger, snarf it successfully and get the class set up.

In all my above whining, did I mention my back has been nagging at me for the last couple of weeks?  No?  Well, it has.  And tonight, two hours into the class, I dropped my dry erase marker.  I didn't really have a pressing need for the dry erase marker.  But they won't allow me to carry a security blanket a la Linus Van Pelt - well, maybe they would, I haven't asked - so I always make do with carrying a dry erase marker while I teach.  I needed it.  And it was way down on the floor. 

I knew I couldn't bend my knees to pick it up.  I can't actually bend my knees for the first two days after M. C. class.  So, I bent from the waist and swooped down to grab it up off the floor.  I'd like to point out that thanks to my snazzily well stretched hamstrings - thank you pilates - this was not a problem and I had the magical marker back in my hand in the blink of an eye.

But I couldn't straighten up.  My back was stuck. 

I grabbed the edge of the podium and finally pulled myself back up to a standing position and managed to stymie the rasping gasp that tried to leak out of the sides of my mouth.  Thankfully, the class didn't last much longer.  I'd already decided it was time to wrap it up and get the hell out of Dodge.

Why, you ask?

Because, at the point when we were discussing the history of drug use, and I was supposed to talk about the rise of designer drugs in the 1980s, I was going to make a point about the drugs crack and ice. 

I said "crack and ass".

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Angel Wings 3

How 'bout them wings?

This was an interesting statue. Beautiful from a distance, but the closer I got, the less I liked it. It has no detail up close. It's like someone sort of erased bits of it. But it was still pretty cool.

Had a great time in Athens, which is where, more or less, this photo was taken.

(C. Wright - tell G that I got my book back!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Among Tombs 

                                    Well, uh, yeah.  I am.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

"Blue skies
Smiling at me.
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see."

Irving Berlin

Gray Long

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Trying Something New

Tracks and Elevator

 

I'm trying out a new program.  It's called Windows Live Writer and it's a free download.  It allows you to type blog posts and then posts them for you.   The reason I'm using it is that I've heard it makes the gawd-awful blogger photo uploads a thing of the past. 

So far, so good. 

Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday Cemetery Blogging

Can you believe I forgot it was Friday? Even after griping all day yesterday about how I had to work today? Oops.

I took the top photo in a cemetery in White Oaks, New Mexico last week. I've written about this place before. It is one of the unintentionally spookiest places I've ever been. It is becoming more of an artist's colony type of place, which is zapping some of the spooky out of the atmosphere, but it's still cool. The next picture is one of the houses there. I've never seen anyone in or around this house - although it's obviously inhabited - but you can feel the eyes behind the curtains watching your every move as you make your way around town.