Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Today is Tuesday I think. Yesterday, Kev and I took a day trip to New York City. I think in retrospect taking a day trip to NYC isn't the best idea. By the time I caught up with the pace and got into the NYC groove, it was time to get the train back to Poughkeepsie. But all in all, it was a pretty fun trip. Got to see Bryce, who has gone completely Manhattan. It suits him to be a New Yorker. Also went to the Algonquin to revisit the scene of our engagement. On the train down I met a nice old lady who talked my ear off about her life and such. When we got off the train, she hugged me. She lives by herself in the Bronx overlooking the East River. She is widowed 3 times and has 6 cats. I didn't get her name. Alas, we did not make it up to 74th street to see Pale Male. Maybe next time.
There is snow here. It is pretty. There are also good dogs who sit on my lap and keep me nice and warm. There is not, however, a quiet spot to sit and read a book, which I badly need. So I have decided to blog instead. I would take a walk, but I can't get to my coat and shoes at the moment. Oh well, in spite of such complaints, it is fun being around Kev's family. And today I learned to play a couple of notes on the clarinet. So, there you go. In a couple of days when I get home, I'll probably be complaining that I am bored.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Just a quick blog as I have a few minutes of calm in an otherwise action-packed vacation. Arrived Monday, flew WITHOUT Xanax! Was very proud indeed, and didn't freak out too much. Snow everywhere and very cold the first two days, now just rain and mild temps. Sort of sad to have missed the rare Texas snow I heard about. Lots of family around. In our house there are 8 grown people, 1 toddler, 4 dogs, and 3 cats. Every morning, a flock of about 16 turkeys make their way down the hill in the woods behind the house, hop over the little stream, and continue through the front yard and across the street to who knows where. It is funny to see a conga line of turkeys parading by each day. Also had a deer in the front yard the first morning. Lots of wildlife. There is a bear in the neighborhood too, but no sightings yet. Turkey photos will be posted upon my return. Going to NYC on Monday to see PaleMale and my friend Bryce. Meeting some other friends for dinner tonight...Italian food in New York is always something to look forward to. Spent the better part of today wrapping gifts. It seems a shame to unwrap them when you know how much work went into the wrapping. Oh well. Having fun, but miss my family of course, and my pillow. Hope you are all well. Have a happy Christmas!
Sunday, December 19, 2004
I will let you all know how Pale Male is doing if I get to see him and Lola during my trip.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
New Yorkers Hear the Call of the Wild
Let's hope the stormy saga of evicted Fifth Avenue hawk Pale Male reminds city and country folk alike of nature's glories Pale Male's New York saga appears to be coming to an end. The Fifth Avenue co-op board that voted to remove the nest of this famous red-tailed hawk from their building appears to have relented in the face of enormous public pressure. It now says it will allow Pale Male and his mate, Lola, to rebuild their digs. I hope it isn't too late. The hawks have been desperately bringing twigs to their cornice ledge for days, only to have the wind blow them away. The building says it will replace the anti-pigeon spikes that anchored the hawks' nest, and add a guardrail around the 12th floor window cornice to prevent rat or bird carcasses from falling to the street. But after raising 23 chicks over 11 years at this fancy address, Pale Male may soon decide to move on to more hospitable climes unless the building moves fast. The saddest part of this whole spectacle is that the owners of these multimillion-dollar apartments still don't get it. They may be Masters ofthe Universe, but they can't see the beauty of the world. Red-tails are fierce, free hunters, with wings that span four feet, tails that blaze in a clear sky, and cries that pierce the air. Like bald eagles, red-tails embody much of the spirit of America. Pale Male's decision to make the cliff-dwellings of the Big Apple his home in 1993 was an awesome complement to New Yorkers. He gave them a chance to observe a slice of raw nature upclose.
CULTURE VULTURES. Many New Yorkers grew to love him. Birders, of course, spotted Pale Male flying over Central Park, hunting for pigeons and other small game. Children loved to line up at the many telescopes trained on the nest to watch Pale Male and his mates raise their families year after year.Watching small fledging hawks take that first jump and fly out of the nest was awe-inspiring to these kids. Yet for every wide-eyed child gaping in wonder at the hawks, many more adults are blind to them. Urban Americans don't get nature. They see it as messy, dirty, alien to them. City dwellers, historically, have been the builders of high culture -- museums, symphony halls, libraries,skyscrapers. They aren't taught very much about the wild in school, and with the exception of summer camps, don't have much real contact with it. But Eastern urbanites aren't alone in their ignorance of and even antagonism toward nature. Go west to Texas and other states that have frontier cultures and you find a similar desire to conquer the wild and replace it with civilization. Westerners just put down ranches and farms rather than put up skyscrapers. You have energy people wanting to drill holes into every mesa, mountain range, and canyon. You have loggers wanting to put roads into every wilderness and cut down every big, old tree in every forest. And everywhere developers are building on deserts or around lakes, on mountaintops andwetlands.
RED, BLUE -- AND GREEN. The weird thing about the West is that, unlikeEastern cities, it's full of hunters and people who love the outdoors. Yet the urge to exploit nature rather than protect and enjoy it dominates today's Western states. You could say that wanting to eradicate the wild is one of the few things that blue- and red-state cultures have in common. Yes, of course, this is an exaggeration. Plenty of birders, hunters, fisherfolks, hikers, skiers, runners, and others understand the majesty of nature. Even in New York. The push-back against the titans of finance and real estate who evicted Pale Male and Lola was surprisingly intense, and perhaps successful. I don't know if Goldman Sachs Chairman Hank Paulson, a birder on the boardof the Peregrine Fund, had a quiet word with Bruce Wasserstein, legendary investment banker and resident of the Fifth Avenue building that took downPale Male's nest. But I hope he did. I do know that actress Mary TylerMoore and her doctor husband fought bravely against the eviction and led the battle to get Pale Male and Lola back.
BIRD BY BIRD. Not much wilderness is left in America, not much of the"wild" left to discover and enjoy. Easterners and Westerners alike are destroying it. Pale Male reminds us all of what we're losing, what we'll soon be missing. The fight for his nest is a battle worth having. I've been birding in Central Park for a long time. I've seen Pale Male hunt for game, court a mate, raise a brood, and dominate the sky on a cloudless day. He is, in his way, a true Master of the Universe, and he should be welcomed as one. - - - - -Bruce Nussbaum is BusinessWeek's editorial page editor .
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
One major highlight of this busy-ness was our trip over to Fort Worth on Monday night to see the GREAT Doc Watson at the Bass Performance Hall. What an amazing show. If any of you guys are feeling a little low, put on some Doc Watson, and that should fix you up real quick. If you don't know who that is, go on over to Amazon.com and listen to some sample tracks, like Shady Grove, or Windy and Warm, and so forth. Doc Watson is 81 years old, blind, and one of the best guitar players you will ever hear. Hurry!
I give the city of Fort Worth, at least the downtown/Sundance Square area a solid A. They have it all decorated and festive, with a giant tree in the middle of the square. I am a big fan of Fort Worth. It is like Dallas-light. I would also like to recommend a restaurant across from Bass Hall called Angeluna, where you can get an appetizer called a Shrimp, lobster, andouille blini tower, or somesuch, which is one of the best things I've ever eaten. The next morning, I had lobster guilt as usual, but I got over it.
So, Yay for Doc Watson, Fort Worth, and blini towers!
Also, as you probably all know by now, the hawks are going to be able to rebuild their nest! So, those of you who signed the petition, your voices were heard, and it worked! It is a shame that there was some apparent harassment of some of the building's tennants. Such behavior was unnecessary. Anyway, way to go Audubon Society! I am excited that I will be able to pay these hawks a visit in a couple of weeks.
I am trying to get sick. Actually my body is trying to get sick, but so far, my mind and my juice/vitamin/salt-water combo is stopping it. I do not have time to get sick until at least January.
Back to work...
Sunday, December 12, 2004
I tried to go south on Skillman, my usual route. Blocked. There was a mini van in front of me blocking an escape route down a side street. There was a lady behind me who must have been a VERY important person, because it was clear she didn't have time to be stuck on Skillman behind me and my blue Buick. She had an ear-piece in her ear and a phone in her hand, and she was waving her be-jeweled fingers frantically trying to get my attention so that I might somehow get the minivan to levitate, thus allowing myself and her access to the side street. I gave her the "just chill" signal with my hands, but she did not chill, and continued her maniacal hand-motions until finally the van pulled up. Maybe she was doing a spell! Anyway, then I had a dilemma...should I cut down the side street so she could escape as well, or just move up and keep blocking? The milk in my grocery bag made the decision for me. I needed to get home too. So I made my way back north to Mockingbird, and west to 75, and south to Henderson. I went under the McCommas bridge which was carrying runners on the east/west route, and thought I was home free! Alas, as I cut east, I ran into the southbound runners at Matilda. Sigh. There was nothing I could do at that point, so I hoofed it home with my milk and tissues ( I left the soups in the car). This was not a long walk, maybe 3/4 of a mile, but I was defeated. My only happy thought was that the rich lady from behind me was probably stuck too, and might miss her manicure or her appointment to buy a vacant lot on my street where she could build yet another giant brick Plano-looking (west plano!) house. (East-side rules!) But that's another issue.
On my walk home, I saw many other frustrated drivers trying to find the way out. They're probably still out there. Next year, I'm having Stay-At-Home day on the second Sunday in December.
On a happier note, negotiations to return Palemale and Lola's nest seem to be going well. Thanks to all who signed the petition.
Also, saw Ocean's 12 last night. Good, but pretty confusing.
Friday, December 10, 2004
This is the second time I've hit a squirrel. The first time, I cried and cried, and it took me about a week to get over it. This time, I was sad, but there were no tears, and I think I can get through today without giving it too much thought. I hope I am not becoming desensitized. I think I feel worse about not feeling worse than I do about hitting the squirrell.
I sentence myself to going outside right now to fill up my bird feeders and throw some nuts around on the ground.
or got to
He's not hurting anything. They just don't like the "unsightly" nest or the poop...solveable problems. I've got news for the people of Manhattan...the birds were there first.
Monday, December 06, 2004
- Japanese Maple
- Other Maple
This morning's walk was a sensory extravaganza. I have found that the repetative motion of walking is very condusive to mindfullness/paying attention. This morning, the temperature was delightfully cool, but not cold. It smelled fresh because of the rain. There were occasional wafts of fireplace-smell. The birds were very vocal, especially the bluejays, who I think are plotting something. It looks like fall outside, just in time for Christmas. The maples put on quite a show this year, and the oaks are trying their hardest to catch up. Our oak's leaves are turning a sort of orangish color that will soon be brown, but it's a good effort anyway. There was also the sound of leaves crunching underfoot as we walked, which is in my top ten favorite sounds (which I will eventually probably list on here). By the way, I welcome reader lists via the "comments." There was a squirrel who I witnessed make a very daring leap from a fence to a telephone pole, and there was a black cat on the very top of a house (this was pointed out by Kev.) Some not-so-pleasantries this moring included siren noise, lawn equipment noise and stepping in poop, but one has to take the good with the bad I suppose.
Anyway, time to get to work.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Today was my annual Christmas Toy Party, which has become our toy party, as Kev is a big part of it these days. This was the ninth toy party, so next year will be the big Tenth Anniversary Toy Party. Pretty amazing it's been going on this long. Anyway, it was really fun, but I have to admit I was a little worried that no one was coming this year. A few staples of the party couldn't make it this year, and not many people RSVPed. But we ended up having a good crowd, and a good mix of people...some old, some new. And most importantly, got quite a haul of toys for the angel tree kiddies. I really made an effort this year to sit down and talk to people during the party. Usually, I am in a sort of frantic hostess mode, and the whole thing is a blur and I feel like a loser for not spending enough time with people. I have a lot of cool friends, and I enjoyed seeing them today. And it put me back into the Christmas spirit. And no-one got locked in the bathroom which is always a plus.
Now, that the party is over, it is time for me to get serious about shopping. I am not even close to being done, and we leave for New York in two weeks. Luckily I feel a post-party groove, which should get me through New Years. Then, all bets are off. I will very likely take a nose-dive into a big post-holiday funk. But maybe knowing it's coming will make it less funky. I hope so. How I hate the funk.
I've just been informed that the Grinch is about to come on TV. Think I'll go spend a little time with the Who's down in Who-ville. By the way, does anyone know the lyrics to the Who's song? What are they saying? It has always bothered me.
Hope you all had a good weekend!
Friday, December 03, 2004
"How can you miss Christmas when everywhere you go, Christmas is thrown in your face?" you ask.
Yeah, I know. It's everywhere. But that commercial stuff is not what I'm talking about. I mean the GOOD stuff about Christmas. And so tonight I decided to take a time out and appreciate it. I spent the last 45 minutes or so sitting in my living room looking at my Christmas tree. It is very pretty, especially at night. This year, we got an artificial tree, since we are going to be out of town for 10 days. Not ideal, but we got a nice one...pretty realistic looking. I know lots of people like multi-colored lights, and some like blinking lights and chasers, but I prefer plain clear lights on my tree. There is something about white lights in a green tree that is just really good. Our ornaments are all over the map. Martha Stewart would hate our tree. We have some really nice ornaments from World Market and Crate and Barrel, mixed in with a bunch of home-made ones from when I had no money. These include Luke Skywalker and Wonder Woman action figures-on-a-string, as well as Old 97s stickers and pictures of Elvis glued to cardboard and hung on the tree. On the top is an angel that we used when I was little. My dad used to pick me up and let me put it on the tree when I was a kid. I like it. It's old school, and I'm sentimental. You can be sure a few tears were shed today as I helped Kev decorate the tree. So that's what I mean about good Christmas stuff. I love remembering Christmas from my childhood.
Anyway, all the crabby shoppers and loud annoying over-played carols were getting me down, so I knew I had to do something to find the Christmas spirit. I am going to now make a list of things that are good about Christmas-time:
- There is generally more soup and pie
- Christmas-tree smell
- I get to shop and buy fun stuff for people I like
- It is not hot outside
- Vince Guaraldi
- Extra time off from work
- Egg nog
- Sometimes it snows
- People visit from out of town
There is more stuff, bet that's a start. I feel better already. Maybe if you are feeling blue and the holidays have got you down, you could make your own list and remember that it isn't ALL crabby shoppers and over-played carols.
Friday, November 26, 2004
Kev made a country song. And it was good, but kinda slow moving, and we couldn't figure out who (meaning which instrument) should play the melody. So, I kept saying that it was the kind of song that needed vocals, but neither of us can sing. Actually, Kev can sing, he just doesn't like to. Meanwhile, Pancho, our backyard 'possum as regular readers will know, had stopped frequenting our yard, and I was getting worried about him. Then one night a couple weeks ago, we saw a 'possum on the side of the road who had, um, gone to be with Jesus. It broke my heart. We of course don't know if it was Pancho, but it definitely could have been, so I was really sad. The next morning, lyrics to Kev's country song were born. So now, "Song for Pancho" had music and lyrics, but no one to sing. So, I called my friends Julie and Rob and invited them to record a little country song about a 'possum, and they both enthusiastically accepted! They came over on Tuesday night, and got the song in very few takes, and it sounds awesome. I want to say right here and now that Rob and Julie are really really cool and fun, and I am so excited that they were part of the PPHPHB this year. It is a goal of the band to have lots of other people participate. So if any of you would like to join in, you are more than welcome.
So anyway, that night I went to bed stuck on the Pancho song, which I had heard over and over that night. At about 3 in the morning, I woke up. There was lots of wind outside, but I began to hear a familiar scratching at the aluminum around our foundation, so I jumped up and ran to the back door, but I didn't see anything. I decided it was just the wind, or the pepperoni pizza playing tricks on my mind. Or maybe it was Pancho's ghost?
Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I want to kick a shout out to my mom who made a great dinner, and my dad who tried to get everyone to play cards even though all everyone seemed to want to do was nap.
When we got home, it was pretty much time for bed, so I went to sleep only to wake up at 2 AM. The scratching sound was back! So again, I jumped up and went to the back door. What a racket! Suddenly, a critter emerged from under our house! I held my breath and waited, and there he was! A giant....raccoon.
You thought it was Pancho, didn't you? (Sigh). So did I.
So I didn't know if I should be disappointed that it wasn't him, or excited about my first raccoon sighting, or what. Was it being disloyal to Pancho if I decided to be excited about the raccoon? I was awake for at least an hour.
Well, as Kev said, even if Pancho is gone, he has been immortalized in song. I welcome the raccoon, and any other woodland creatures that want to live in my back yard. We have had rabbits, 'possoms, raccoons, birds, lizards, and cats and dogs. My parents have an armadillo. Kev's parents have had deer, geese, moose, wild turkeys, and recently a bear. And his sister has bobcats. I think it's good to have wildlife around. It makes me happy.
Anyway, be watching for your copy of the PPHPHB Vol.2, featuring Rob and Julie.
And if anybody wants to read something funny, check out
and make sure you have the volume up on your computer.
Time to go buy a Christmas tree!
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Monday, November 22, 2004
My nice family, Kev, Kev's nice family, Albert, all of my friends, my good house, my front porch with swing, the brief periods of sunshine over the weekend, that the sun is supposed to come out again Wednesday, coffee, my friend Damon is OK, critters of all kinds, PBS, KERA (esp Fresh Air and Diane Rehm and Glen Mitchell), freedom to blog, White Rock Lake, Central Market, the groove, the Christmas spirit, housepants, nice people who don't litter and do take good care of their pets, and ice cream, popcorn, pie and various other treats.
Thanksgiving is a good holiday because it is about food and fellowship instead of gifts. And now that I am a grown-up, I like more of the traditional food items, so I don't have to ask my mom to make extra different stuff or order pizza.
Not-so-fun fact: Domestic turkeys aren't very bright. Many of them die because they don't know how to eat when they are born. Also, they have been know to drown in the rain by looking up.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
This morning, I got up at the crack of dawn to attend my first Sierra Club field trip. I met some others at the carpool location in Plano at 7:00am, and managed to get a ride with some people in a mini-van to our destination, the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area. This is an area behind the dam at Lewisville Lake which is closed to the public, and good birds were promised. I've been interested in birds for over a year now, but this was my first guided excursion, so I was looking forward to having an expert there to point things out. I did end up seeing a few new birds for my list, but I didn't learn very much about them. And I think maybe I missed the excitement of figuring things out for myself. It seems to kinda lose something when someone else is solving the mystery for me. Anyway, here is what I saw today:
- Red-tail hawk
- American Kestrel
- Yellow-bellied sapsucker*
- Song sparrow*
- Turkey Vulture
- Ruby-crowned kinglet
- American goldfinch*
- Rock Wren*
- Savannah Sparrow*
- LeConte's sparrow*
- Downy woodpecker
- Cedar waxwing
- Harrier hawk*
*indicates new bird for list.
I also saw coyote tracks (pictured above), and a family of bobcats, which was really the best part of the trip. And it was my first time to be in the official prairie I think. So that was cool.
Anyway, I was hoping that I might make some new friends, but I don't think it's going to be easy. For one thing, I am shy. And I don't really know if these are the friends I am looking for. They are all very nice, but all much older than me. And they are all VERY serious about birds. These are people who use the word "bird" as a verb without the slightest hint of self-consciousness. "First, we'll bird by the beaver pond, and later we'll be birding in the prairie." They all have high-powered binoculars and some even have telescopes that they carry around. I think they think I am a bird poser. That's OK though. I will still go on field trips sometimes. And I will still go to meetings. And I will still try to make some new friends. I think today my heart just wasn't in it. I am cranky.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Yesterday as I was going down a street around the corner from my house, there were some chickens. I was glad to have my camera. I live in the city, by the way. I showed this picture to one of my students. He said, "Yeah, that one would make a real nice meal." It was disappointing.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Saw an interesting "Frontline" about Wal-Mart last night. This country has problems.
Lazy Russian Horses Show Volunteer Reader Participation Activity courtesy of Carl Pope:
Immediate Action Needed: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Under Attack.The Bush Administration is pushing hard again to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. The Sierra Club is urging members and supporters to sign a petition to Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader-elect, urging him to rally opposition to the Bush Energy Plan and any proposal to allow development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
If that link doesn't work, tryYesterday I got a letter from a congressman about landfills and it was really signed! So, some of them really do pay attention I think.
In spite of last night's defeat, I like what I'm seeing from the Mavericks. I wish Mark Cuban would be more behind-the-scenes though. He is a creepy guy.
Fun Fact: George Jones' nickname is Possom.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Monday, November 15, 2004
This is a picture of my sock monkey. He isn't quite finished. He now actually has one eye, but this picture was taken before I stitched it on. Anyway, he is going to need a name. Please submit your ideas via "Comments." No swear-words or obscenities please.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Yesterday was Topsy's birthday party, and what a production! Ron invited all of his (or Topsy's) friends from the dog park, and in the early afternoon, they all began to gather in his back yard. There was Spike, Junior, Woody, Yogi, Yoda, Draper, Emma, Suzy, Leo, and Mr. Wiggles, just to name a few of the guests. Oh, there were also some people. Kev and I were the only dog-less couple there, so it was a little awkward, but we enjoyed watching the other people's dogs run and fight and play, and they also did a few kinda gross things I won't mention. ( We here at the LRHS like to keep things rated G). And as promised, there were tamales from a place called Luna, which were really good. Ron gave us some of the left-overs. I put them in the freezer, because I have found that tamales are the kind of food you can't go around eating every day. Anyway, back to the dogs. Here's the thing. They were all really cute dogs, but I gotta say, most of them didn't appear to be very bright. I think this may be due to in-breeding. The smartest one there I think was Mr. Wiggles, and he is a mutt. There were some (3) bull-dogs, who were very cute, but had terrible manners and a great deal of difficulty breathing. I once knew a bull dog that belonged to my brother's friend David. My brother was dog-sitting one time, and I went with him to David's apartment. Upon arrival, I was shocked to see the nearly unrecognizable remains of David's couch and a lot of other damage. I don't think I would like to have a bull dog. But, the party was fun, and I'm glad we have a nice neighbor like GNR.
Last night we went to the Son's of Hermann Hall to see what's left of Cowboys and Indians, but that's a story for another day. I'm gonna go sit on my couch and do nothing now. Because it's Sunday.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
- If you want to see a good movie and don't mind some swear-words and nakeds, go to see Sideways. It is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. If you are particularly beaten-down, it might make you feel better about your life, even.
- I was thinking maybe consumers should get together and stop paying movie theater prices for snacks. They suck you in with the popcorn smell. It isn't right.
- If you want a good meal, try Mai's Vietnamese restaurant at Bryan and Fitzhugh. The food is great and cheap, and the people who work there are very nice.
- If you don't have recycling in your neighborhood, you can take your newspapers to the SPCA or other shelters to be shredded and used in the crates for the pets.
- I wish Samurai Jack would come back to Cartoon Network.
- I recently got a mail-order catalog where you can order a life-size giraffe for your yard. Is there really a market for that? The same catalog also had velvet cloaks. They weren't trying to be funny.
- I am worried about Pancho. He hasn't been around lately.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Tomorrow is the Dog party next door. I found out there are going to be lots of dogs there, and I wonder what GNR is going to do if it rains. There will also be tamales.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
I just want to thank you for setting me straight tonight when you laid on your horn for several minutes behind me in the completely stopped traffic. I'm sure the six or seven other drivers in front of me appreciated it too! I don't know what we were thinking, having the audacity to follow traffic rules and exercise caution when entering the Service Road to 75 into fast-moving on-coming cars during rush hour tonight. It was inconsiderate of us to make you late for meeting your crack dealer or whatever it was you were in such a hurry to do. I know it must have been much more important than anything the rest of us were on our way to do. It was very silly of me to think maybe my car was on fire or that I was about to be car-jacked when I heard you honking and honking for no apparent reason. Why, important people like you don't have time to warn other drivers of impending danger! I should have realized you were only trying to encourage us to pull on out into traffic without a care in the world. If you ever catch me being such a rude driver again, please feel free to go ahead and ram my car from behind a few times. That'll teach me!
The Blue Buick
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
But in spite of nerves, I am excited about going to the meeting. I hope they assign me to writing some letters to senators. I recently wrote to a senator about landfills, and he wrote back! It was cool to get mail from a senator, even if it was a fill in the blank type form letter with a rubber-stamp signature. "Thanks for your letter, Tara H., I share your concerns about, landfills."
By the way, in case anyone was wondering, the mushroom lasagna was pretty good. Groove on!
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
So I was working at my parents' house today and feeling all stressed, so I got Albert and went outside. I sat down on the swing and got the dog brush and Albert came over because he loves the dog brush. And suddenly, I was concentrating on the repetative motion of brushing Albert, and the cool breeze, and the singing birds and Albert's happy dog face and it was like BAM! Instant serenity.
Maybe this will be helpful to you if you are stressed and have a pet and a swing.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Our trip to Paris was fun. I got to see Whitney and Bob, and their cute girls and good dogs. Paris Texas has a fake Eiffel Tower with a big red cowboy hat on top. I will post a picture of it if I can figure out how to change a portrait-oriented photo to landscape. The drive up was pretty, with lots of hawks and farm animals to see along the way. We had good barbecue there, but I have forgotten the name of the restaurant. It is on the main loop across from the McDonalds. The service was excellent. I recommend the smoked turkey sandwich. Paris Texas does not have a Target, but it does have a town square.
The Simpsons Halloween show was pretty bad this year. I think maybe the Simpsons should probably stop.
Tonight's meal is Portobello Mushroom Lasagna, which I made this morning before I came to work. I hope it is good, and can help repair the groove damage from the chicken incident of last week.
The PPHPHB is in full swing again, and have almost finished the follow-up to Otra Parte.
Good Neighbor Ron is having a birthday party for his Boston Terrier, Topsy, this weekend. Topsy will be 42. There should be some good dogs there and I am looking forward to it.
No fun fact today. That's all for now.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
I do not like what this election is doing to people, which is why after today there will be no more election talk on the Lazy Russian Horses Show.
My brother actually got HATE-mail from a (supposed) good friend because he opined about the election, and I am getting slammed on other blogs about not voting. Ugh. No more.
On with other things:
Yesterday I had the blues because I think my groove is waning based on a kitchen disaster from the night before involving chicken and parmesan cheese. So in an attempt to cheer me up, Kev suggested going to the lake for a stroll. This was a great idea as the weather was perfect. The usual suspects were there: grackles, starlings, coots, great egrets, mallards, double-crested cormorants. But I added two new birds to my list because there were also ring-billed gulls and a kingfisher. It was exciting. There were also lots of turtles sun-bathing on logs, cool spider webs, and a guy flying a remote-control helicopter which is something you don't see every day. It cheered me up. Then we went to see "Ray" at the studio movie grill. Very good movie with excellent music of course. Jamie Fox was pretty remarkable.
Today I am driving up to Paris Texas with my friend Julie to visit our friend Whitney who just moved back from Tennessee. I have never been to Paris Texas, nor have I seen the movie. It should be fun. I hope the topic of politics doesn't come up.
I am going to go make some French toast now. Have a good weekend!
Thursday, November 04, 2004
I am pretty sure that moving to Canada is not the solution, although that seems to be the knee-jerk solution of many Americans, according to CNN. Now, I like Cananda. It was on my FOR list a couple of blogs ago. I have even gone so far as to wonder aloud what it would be like to live there, as it seems like a nice safe place where one doesn't have to worry about earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, and Texas summer heat. Plus it has moose and eagles and snow. All things I really like. But think about it. Many of the things that cause concern regarding the Bush administration policies are going to affect the whole world, including Canada, so isn't it better to stay here and try to do something about it? I don't know, maybe I'm wrong and we're doomed. But I don't think so.
I am only one person, and I have to accept that I can't change the world, but here are some things I am going to do to at least be proactive. From experience, I know that idle bitterness never really gets me anywhere.
- Learn about Islam and the Middle East
- Pick up trash at the lake and in my neighborhood
- model tolerence to those around me
- go to sierra club meetings and become active in some way
- save up for a hybrid car
- think about education reform possibilities to propose to important people
- try to represent positive American qualities when I am abroad
- and maybe write some protest songs
It's not much, huh? But maybe I can do just a little bit of good and feel better about things. Otherwise, I am just troubled all the time. And it sucks to be troubled all the time.I'd like to end by kicking a shout out to my friend Jamie McLeod who just won a seat on the City Council in Santa Clara, California. Congratulations, Jamie! Do some good stuff for people!
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
I thought I'd have some fun and kill some time by making lists of things I am FOR and things I am AGAINST on this day of voting. These are opinions and I am entitled to them. If you don't like opinions, you can stop reading now, but come back tomorrow for some more stuff about birds and whatnot!
I am FOR: birds, dogs, penguins, owls, whales, opossums, snails, and all animals, garlic, mushrooms, Macaroni Grill, chocolate food, ice-skating, cruises, Jamaica, house-bands, England, Michael Owen, the Dalai Lama, Jesus, Mr Rogers, Japanese maples and other trees, the Old 97's, Nero's Italian restaurant, Christmas, sleep, Target, housepants, sock monkeys, the Artic Wildlife Area, the Galapagos Islands, Alaska, Canada, John Wesley Harding, Elvis Costello, LarryFeathers, blogging, mountains, snow, Steve Martin, roller skates, fun, the Dallas Mavericks, the NY Jets uniforms, orange, green, coffee, Central Market, White Rock Lake, Kev, the Haitian people, and some other stuff.
I am AGAINST: speeding, cell phones in cars and restaurants and movie theaters, littering, smoking in public places, roaches, wind, mustard, pickles, drilling for oil in protected areas, cutting down trees in National Forests, over-testing children, sweetbreads, Elizabeth Newman's agenda, the death penalty, animal cruelty, sand, telemarketing, liars, and more.
Lazy Russian Horses Show Poll of the day:
How many of you have ever heard of "Pliney the Elder?"
Sunday, October 31, 2004
I remember going to watch "'Ken's band" at places that aren't there anymore, like Chumley's, when there were about 8 people in the crowd, and 6 of them were playing pool. Then at Naomi's where the audience started to grow. It was exciting when the CD came out, and there was lots of action at our house. There were always people coming over late at night. There were after-the-gig parties at our house with Ken making breakfast tacos at 3 in the morning. One time, I even threw somebody out (which is a shocking thing if you know me). I think it was because it was 4am and this dude was rooting around our fridge yelling at me because we didn't have any onions or something. It wasn't always an easy tension-free living situation, but I can definitely say I learned from the experience.
So, last night I went to the Granada to see the Old 97s play a special 10th-anniversary-of-the-first-CD show. They played Hitchike to Rhome in its entirety, and it was GREAT. I haven't heard them do many of those songs live in a very long time, but it almost felt like no time had passed since the Chumley's days. A lot of time HAS passed though, and a lot has changed. The big difference is that now most of us from the early days are married, a lot of us have kids, and we have a harder time staying up so late these days; and now there are hundreds of screaming fans singing all the words to all the songs. I can't tell you how weird it is to hear people sqeal at the mention of Ken's name. To me, Ken is just a dude who cleans the lizard cage with the soup ladle and plays video games all day and is a good friend that I could probably count on to bail me out of jail if I happened to ever end up there.
Anyway, Congratulations to the Old 97's on their anniversary and for all their success. The show was lots of fun last night, and it made me very sad-happy.
On top of all that, the Granada is also where I spent a great deal of my very most favorite day ever, as Kev and I had our wedding reception there. Last night was the first time I'd been in there since the wedding, and it brought back many memories of the day I felt like the big rock star, with all the attention and cameras and action. We didn't quite pack 'em in like the Old 97's, but everyone seemed to have a pretty good time. And I got to start being married to Kev that day.
So, last night I had double sad-happy nostalgia. It was nice.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Apparently, Alvin has been spreading the word to the other snails that our porch is the place to go for a quality dining experience. We had two of his friends on the porch last night, and not wanting to disappoint, I brought them each a big leaf of lettuce, which they got to devouring right away. All of the lettuce and the snails were gone this morning, but I bet they'll be back.
These two events, the snails and eclipse, made for an exciting evening, and I said so. To which Kev replied, "If by exciting, you mean slow, then yeah." Well. Better than TV anyway, I think. And not as hard on the thumbs as playing Atari.
My home-made mushroom soup turned out really good. Kev ate three bowls of it, and afterward said, "Well, that was fabulous." He might as well have given me two thousand dollars and said "go buy some shoes and pants," it made me so happy. If anyone wants to make their own mushroom soup, the recipe is on foodtv.com, and is one of Emeril's soup recipes. We'll be having the left-overs tonight.
Today I saw a Lime-Away commercial. I think that's funny.
I hope you all got to see the eclipse.
I'll end with a fun fact: Michael Keaton used to work on the set of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and often played practical jokes on Mr. Rogers during the taping of the show.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
This is not a political statement. I just think they look alike.
By the way, Great News! My rash is almost gone, never having assumed the tell-tale bull's-eye pattern associated with Lyme Disease! Looks like I'm in the clear. And for the record, I never said I had arthritis, and I didn't even know what gout was until a few weeks ago when Bobby Hill had it from too much deli food. But thanks for commenting!
Today's good mood blog is sponsored by the home-made cream of mushroom soup and corn fritters I am going to have for dinner in a couple of hours, and by the time I spent today with Albert the Dog.
Monday, October 25, 2004
After breakfast, we went home and I spent most of the day on the couch making a sock monkey from a kit that Kev gave me for my birthday. It isn't finished, but you can bet I'll post its picture when it is!
So, everything appeared to be going well.
This morning, I got up, and took my walk as usual, and was looking forward to my weekly visit to Central Market. But as I was about to get in the shower, I noticed that the insect bite I had gotten the day before was developing a rash around it. We looked up spider bite rashes on the internet, and after searching and googling around a bit, I have decided that either I have a very harmless weird spider bite, or I have Lyme disease. Well, it's hard to have a good day and keep a positive outlook when you may have Lyme Disease. I decided to see how it looks tomorrow before I call the doctor. I don't think my insurance will pay for me to go in there and have a doctor tell me I have a harmless weird spider bite.
So I went to Central Market and figured this would cheer me up, but today for some reason they were playing Sting and smooth jazz instead of the usual Stan Getz and Sarah Vaughn and such. And they were also out of mushrooms, which is unheard of. "We're waiting for the truck." This would not be a big deal, except that mushroom soup plays a predominant role in my meal plan for the week.
At least they weren't out of coffee, and they had pecan diamond samples at the pastry counter.
Now I am at work, and one of my kids no-showed, so I have been working on my sock monkey's tail and ears. I feel better.
So here is my advise to you:
If you are having a bad Monday and you think you might have Lyme Disease, stuff a sock monkey tail and maybe everything else will work out OK.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
This afternoon, Kev and I went to the annual pumpkin carving party. This year, it was hosted by our friends Rob and Michelle. It was fun, as usual, and we got to see people that we like a lot, but don't get to see very often. This year, there were lots of kids running around, and most of them didn't seem the least bit interested in the carving of the pumpkins which was all being done by the grown-ups. Maybe kids today think such things are boring compared to video games, so they don't have the attention span for the intricate art of pumpkin carving. Or maybe they were distracted by all the fun things to climb on in Rob and Michelle's back yard. I loved pumpkin carving time when I was a kid. My dad always did the generic triangle eyes and nose, and zig-zaggy mouth, but it was great.
This party has been an annual event for several years now. My past pumpkins have included Charlie Brown, Bert from Sesame Street, my cat Archie, Paul Stanley from KISS, and a couple of generic faces with triangle eyes and noses and zig-zaggy mouths. This year, Kev and I decided to do the ladies' and men's restroom symbols. Kinda dorky, but they turned out good. They'll never last until Halloween though. They'll be rotten in no time and go straight to the compost pile, where maybe Pancho the back yard 'Possum will discover them and have a delightful meal.
Rob and Michelle are funny because they have a Bush/Cheney AND a Kerry/Edwards sign in their yard. And I am sure they are just the sort of good citizens who will recycle those signs after the election.
Tomorrow, I have roasted pumpkin seeds to look forward to!
This is Pancho, our back yard 'possum. Every night he tries to get under our house by scratching at the aluminum panel by our foundation. Kev keeps chasing him away, but he always comes back. He is very feisty, and even hissed at Kev. I am not allowed to feed him, but I really want to. I worry about the wildlife in our yard. We would like to find someone who will come to get him and release him into the woods over by the lake, but I am afraid if we call someone, they will exterminate him.
Opossums are marsupials, in fact the only marsupials in North America! They have pouches, like kangaroos. They are mostly nocturnal, and they come out at night to look for fruit, insects, and carrion. They have sharp teeth and claws, and are excellent climbers.
I am also happy to report the discovery of a few Ruby-Crowned Kinglets in our back garden. This was a new bird for my list, which is always cause for a little excitement in the world of Tara. I am hoping they will stay for the winter. They are very small and figity, and very cute.
I thought of another famous Squippie you may know: former President Jimmy Carter. He is a nice good man who cares about people and the world.
Enjoy your weekend...maybe you'll see some wildlife in your own yard if you pay attention for a few minutes!
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
This morning, I didn't really enjoy my walk. Partly because it is once again soupy outside. What happened to fall? It is a real drag to sweat on an October morning. Plus there was trash everywhere. Mostly of the fast food container/wrapper variety. Why can't people hang on the their crap and throw it away when they get home? Is it because they don't want their cars to smell of fast food? I've got news for you: It's going to smell anyway from eating greasy old fries in your car, chief! Stop making my neigborhood your personal dumpster. Plus I am sick of looking at all the political signs that are uglying up all the yards. Some of these signs are HUGE. One house had at least 10 signs in front. What is the point? Do you think I am going to decide who to vote for based on your sign? Hmmm, I think I'll vote for FROST. My neighbors seem to think he/she is OK. Man, oh man. I think people just like to advertise their political leanings. Hey, look at me, I'm a Democrat/Republican/Communist! I have been told that some of these signs are for the sake of name recognition, so when people go to the polls, and there are a bunch of people running for judge, they'll pick someone whose name is familiar. This may work for small local elections, although maybe this is a sign that voters are very uninformed, but then why all the Bush and Kerry signs? If you are picking a president because you saw his name on a sign, then we have serious problems. And what happens to all these signs after the election? I'll bet they don't get recycled. Straight to a landfill is my guess. What an incredible waste and an eye-sore at that. Anyway. maybe one of you out there know of a worthwhile reason for all the signs. If so, I am willing to listen to it. Lay it on me, man.
Then, I came over here to my parents house to work, and was greeted with, "Did you know that a vote for Kerry is a vote for partial-birth abortions?" (Deep, heavy sigh). I am so freaking sick and tired of election. My parents, who by the way have no idea who I would vote for, think I am the evil because I don't think GWB is the greatest guy since Jesus. And there is no point trying to have a rational discussion with them about the pros and cons of BOTH candidates. They won't hear a word of it. It's so frustrating. I heard my mom after I left the room say,"Why does she care so much about the environment" and then something about 'liberals" and then "but when it's your own daughter..." and then I heard my dad say," she'll see the error of her ways" or something like that. (My dad is a low-talker...hard to hear). UGH. Two more weeks of this, and then the aftermath, which will either be gloating or constant lamenting about how the end of the world is nigh upon us, depending on the outcome.
Yesterday I was really down, because I came to the conclusion that I am medium. I am sorta OK at lots of things, like cooking, and music, and my job, etc, but I'm not really good at anything. It was a depressing realization. Kev said I am not a medium wife, and I have to admit it made me feel better even though he HAS to say stuff like that. Then I made a really good dinner and felt even better. And we finished our salsa song and it sounds really good, especially thanks to Mixmaster K, so things aren't all bad. But it's been a tough couple of days.
I am NOT going to let any of this affect my groove. And I promise a more positive blog next time around. Thanks for listening.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
We have definitely one and possibly two opossums living in our back yard, or at least hanging out there at night. The other night our back door flew open in the middle of the night (even though it was locked!), and after I got up to close it, I couldn't go back to sleep, so I came up with lots of theories about doors that open mysteriously in the night. Kev sat up when it happened, but didn't remember it the next morning. So at this point, I could blog about my alien theory, but I was told that people probably already think I am weird for having a snail for a friend, etc., and should maybe not blog about alien theories. Sorry! Anyway, I don't think it was the opossums that opened the door.
Also this weekend, I ambitiously cooked spaghetti and meatballs with toasted goat cheese rounds and a spinach salad with strawberries and pecans. I give the whole meal a B. My sauce was missing something. But it was fun anyway having a nice meal. After dinner we sat on the porch and were visited by a twig boy hippie with a petition about landfills. He was very happy, but melancholy about the landfills, and he clearly hadn't bathed for a while (disqualifying him from being a squippie). We signed his petition. I worry about landfills too. But I am clean while I do it.
Today on our walk, I saw chickadees, mockingbirds, sparrows, blue jays, and a red-bellied woodpecker, and some of the good neighood dogs. This is the best time of the year. I hope you have all been able to spend some time outside.
I will close with a fun fact:
The flesh-like thingy that hangs from a turkey's neck is called a "snood."
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Kev says that one sign of being a squippie is having a snail for a friend. I also belong to KERA, Audubon Dallas, and the Sierra Club. I am a bird-watcher. I love dogs and mountains. I do yoga. I hate it when people speed or break traffic rules. I think smoking is horrible and littering is even worse. I really get going when somebody litters a cigarette butt!
I don't mind being a square. I spent a lot of time before trying to be cool, and it just wasn't my thing. I am much happier this way.
If any of you are squippies, you might be interested to know that I am thinking of making t-shirts with the squippie logo, which is a peace symbol, only instead of a circle, it's - you guessed it! - a square. Let me know if you want one.
PS. I do like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, CSN&Y, etc.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Fun Fact: The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest living thing, and can reach speeds of up to 200mph in a dive.
Also, this year there is a great WWII exhibit at the Hall of State. It is really interesting, and I recommend seeing it if you go to the fair. My only complaint is that there is too much to read in the exhibit, which requires a great deal of time. But if you don't have time to read everything, it is worth going in just to see the memorabilia and especially the photographs, some of which are pretty amazing. One which particularly disturbed me was of a row of dead Jews on the ground, and another dismayed Jewish man praying over them, while behind him stood SMILING Nazi soldiers. The exhibit I think maybe helps younger people like me remember that WWII is not just something depicted in movies, but was a real thing that happened to real people resulting in millions of casualties including my grandpa's 18-year-old brother, Joe Kelly, and probably some people from your families too. I wonder how we will remember the current war half a century from now. Anyway, the exhibit is worth the entrance fee to the fair and the extra dollar to get in the Hall of State. See it if you can.
So, it was a good weekend.
This morning while I was paying attention, I saw three robins and a really fat red-bellied woodpecker. You don't see many robins around here, so it was a nice treat.
Fun Fact: Avagadro's number is 6.022 x 10-to-the-23rd. You can use this if you want to know how many atoms are in your cup of coffee or other things. Avagadro was a smart man with very angular facial features which probably made him look meaner than he really was. You can remember his name because it sounds like avacado.
I know that has nothing to do with birds or WWII, but it is something I learned recently, so thought I'd share.
Time to get back to sitting around my office waiting for kids to show up. Happy Monday!
Sunday, October 10, 2004
This is our friend Alvin. We named him after Alvin Straight from the Straight Story because he is very slow. He is a snail, after all. Kev discovered him on our porch floor on Friday morning. By Friday night, he had traversed the porch and made it half-way up the wall near the front door. On Saturday morning, he had made his way along the top of the wall above the porch railing, and then to the side wall near the porch ceiling by Saturday night. I was beginning to worry about Alvin, because there is no food supply for snails on our porch ceiling. I watched as Alvin went slowly in and out of his shell in his same little spot on the wall. I watched, and I fretted. I figured he was up there to die. So, enter our hero, Kev, who plucked the snail down off the wall and put him on the floor of the porch once again. I immediately went to the fridge for snail food, and came back with a leftover piece of grilled zuchini and a celery stick. Alvin didn't go for the celery, but he was all over the zuch. I'm sure he was wondering what he did to please the snail gods enough to deliver him to such a feast. This morning, I woke up worried about the neighborhood cats finding our new friend, and sure enough when I went outside, Alvin was gone. But I saw no sign of a struggle, so I assumed Alvin had his fill of grilled zuchini and went on his merry way wherever snails may go. I kicked the zuch and celery stick into the flower bed in front of our porch, and went off to the Great State Fair of Texas, which was big fun. When we got home hours later, guess what! There was Alvin on top of that piece of zuchini down in the flower bed! I am so happy that he found his way back to the food. So maybe there is a moral to this story, but I don't know what it is. Maybe it has to do with how paying attention can lead to good stuff. I am just happy to have a new animal friend.