Thursday, June 30, 2005

Don't Mess with Texas

I am concerned about the reputation of this great state of ours. I mean, we killed Kennedy, we are the home of the increasingly unpopular current President, we have more executions than any other state, it's hot here, we have that show Sheer Dallas making us all look like jack-asses, we've got the kids from the Real World down there in Austin getting in fights on 6th street for the world to see, and now we have mad cow disease. Hey tourists, git yer guns and come on down!

I want people to think Texas is cool. Let's all get together and make people like us again.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Quick Trip to my Happy Place before Work...

Back of a loon...we couldn't get close to them. Posted by Hello

Sunset from Vacation Cabin on a Lake in Maine. Posted by Hello

Wheels-off Wednesday

Well, this weather has shot my wheels off completely. My garden needs so much work, and I just can't face it. Just a quick trip outside to water the shrubs about does me in. I'm gonna have to get up at like 5:00 am one day and just deal with it. What a drag.

Last night, as I was enjoying a delicious parfait of seasonal berries, I told Kev that about the only thing that made these heat-index-of-105 days bearable was fruit. I said berries are like a little gift from God to make up for the hot. Then Kev reminded me that people in cool climates also get to enjoy summer fruits. So there goes that. Dangit.

I tell you what. if I end up making a best-selling sock monkey book, I am going to buy Kev a kick-ass guitar, and then I am going to build my dream cabin on one of Maine's many lakes, and I will live there in the summer. Anyone is welcome to come and visit me. You will find me in the yard in my adirondack chair, which by the way I am going to build myself, looking at the loons or reading a book or having some blueberries.

That reminds me of when I worked at TeachSmart between college and grad school when I still didn't know what to do with my life. It was a cool concept...giant teacher super-store, with educational books and toys and art supplies and bulletin-board materials and so forth. Our store manager was a guy named Dennis, who I swear they used as the inspiration for Ned Flanders. When something went wrong, Dennis would say, "Oh, Potato Chips!" instead of dammit or something. The store owner/CEO was a rich guy named Jim, who had a series of toupees that he would change weekly to make it look like his hair was growing. At the end of the month, he'd go back to the short one, so people would think he got a haircut. A clever plan, but no-one was buying it.

Anyway at TeachSmart, we sold a series of soothing-sounds-of-the-environment CDs, and we had to play them in the store so people would hear them and want to buy them. One was called Classical Loon, and as the name implies, it was a CD of classical music, with occasional loon sounds dubbed in over top of it. Oh, I hated Classical Loon. I hated it so much that the other people who worked in the store would play it over and over just to annoy me. Now, I've changed my tune on loons. I think they are probably in my top 5 favorite birds. I'd love to have a copy of Classical Loon now so I could put it on and pretend I am in Maine in my adirondak chair on a cool summer day.

Oh, Potato Chips! Time to face the brutal outdoors and to go to work.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

TV-Watching is a Sport

Tonight I could watch either 1976's The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, starring a young John Travolta, or It Came from Outer Space...1950's sci-fi.

How ever will I decide?


We watched the Sci-Fi, and it was great...campy and silly. I loved it. Plus, Kev said,"I'm not watchin' no Bubble Boy." I did flip over a couple of times to check in on Barbarino in a Bubble, and it was as cheesy as I thougt it would be. At the end, he goes to school wearing basically a space-suit with an air-tank, and he talks through a little screen like Darth Vader, only less cool. Anyway, I recommend It Came from Outer Space if you are in the mood for 90 minutes of low-budget special effects and some sinister theramin music that lets you know when the martian is nearby.

To the Locals

Have any of you ever been to the Stockyards over in Fort Worth? If so, please review. Any ideas for a place that is Texas-y or Western to show our Long Island visitors next month. Something like the Alamo, but closer. Dallas is unfortunately mostly malls. Not very cowboy.

Hit or Miss

Sometimes Sirius First Wave plays a good song that I had forgotten all about. Like today they played Reptile by the Church. I enjoyed it very much. Then they played Men at Work. What a beating.

No, I don't wanna Fanta

But thanks.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Animal Groups

Army of Frogs
Murder of Crows
Gang of Elks
Mob of Emus
Lounge of Lizards
Parliament of Owls
Rhumba of Rattlesnakes

These are some animal group names for your infotainment. Please submit your suggestions for what to call a group of Sock Monkeys...they were not on the internet list I found.

PS I hate made-up word like infotaiment.


During my visit to Indiana, my cousins and I were discussing our roots. My great aunt Mary, who is indeed great (and I'm not just saying that because I heard she reads the blog...she is really cool. She is 80 years old and last year on the cruise, she went parasailing with us. I reckon sky-diving is next), anyway, Mary filled us in on a little family history. As it turns out, my great great grandmother (mom's mom's dad's mom), Stella, was a full-blood Seminole. And not only that, she was the Madame at New Albany's town brothel. Mary is trying to find some photos, and if she does, I'll post them here. The house is long gone now.
I am excited about my native American roots. We figured out that all of us cousins are 1/16 Seminole, actually a little more, because another great-grandfather was part Seminole too. It turns out you have to be at least a quarter to be officially in the tribe, but I am still going to claim my Indian-ness anyway. I knew there must be some reason I disliked Andrew Jackson so much. My cousin Ben said he was going to write to Pres. Jackson's great great grandchildren and ask for compensation, because they are 1/16 responsible for 1/16 of our suffering. I don't want any compensation, but it would've been nice to have gotten some of that good olive skin out of the deal though.
Anyway, I encourage all of you to talk to the people in your families who have been around the longest. They have lots of interesting stories to tell. Thanks, Mary!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Monkey Book

Leisure-Monkey Posted by Hello

I'm glad to hear that people have been enjoying these monkey pictures, and I think the book is a great idea. I was thinking before that I might make a little book for my nephew, but I guess if you guys think I should aim higher, well, what have I got to lose? I was telling Kev this morning I should get a grant from the Children's Book Grant People and do a whole geography series starring Ralph reporting from different exciting locations around the world, starting with Alaska, but Kev said probably no one is going to give me money to circumnavigate the globe with a monkey made of sock. Dangit. Alaska will have to wait. Anyway, thanks for the encouragement, and Marty, I like your combo idea and can't wait to hear Kim's theme song.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Tornado Slide

When I was a kid in New Albany, we used to go spend time at the generically-named Community Park. Community Park had a slide which was unofficially known as the Tornado Slide, and it was the ultimate slide for all New Albany youth. I was surprised on my recent visit to find it was still there. I wanted to slide down it so bad, but the turns were pretty sharp, and I wasn't sure I could fit. So, I sent Ralph instead. These pictures are dedicated to Julie and Kathy because they are fans of the monkey shots. Also thanks to my dad for taking me to the park and participating in silliness.

Tornado Slide Posted by Hello

Going Up Posted by Hello

Ready, Set, Slide Posted by Hello

Woo-hoo Posted by Hello

D'oh Posted by Hello

The monkey works on his tan... Posted by Hello

Friday Frog Fun Facts

  • A group of frogs is called an ARMY
  • Frogs have teeth, toads do not
  • Ranidaphobia is the fear of frogs

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Word about the Turtle Stool

Turtle Stool Posted by Hello

Here is the turtle stool that Kev made me for Christmas a couple years ago and recently blogged a blog about. I love my turtle stool. It helps me reach things I would otherwise have to ask for help with. I use it all the time. I assure you that is a happy place. The reason I sit on it when in despair is exactly that! I still there for comfort when I am distressed. It makes me feel better. Kev is right about one thing, though...I probably DO look pretty forlorn. Sorry Kev.


Just got home and noticed this sign in the empty lot that used to hold the house across the street. If you click on the photo, it will get bigger, and you can read all about the McMansion that is coming soon. I think Kev and I may need to discuss the possibility of moving. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ralph at the Zesto Posted by Hello

I'd like one chocolate malt with extra malt, and two straws. Posted by Hello

The taking of this series of Zesto photos was VERY embarrassing for my grandma. She kept covering her face in case someone she knew was around. The rest of us thought it was funny. Sorry Ma-Maw! Posted by Hello

Farm in Starlight, Indiana in Floyds Knobs. Posted by Hello

Pond in the Knobs Posted by Hello

Apple Tree at Hubers Orchard Posted by Hello

Indiana Goats Posted by Hello

Indiana Turkeys Posted by Hello

Me and my Aunt Kathy having a big time on the farm. Posted by Hello

Floyds Knobs

View from Floyds Knobs Posted by Hello

New Albany, Indiana is located in a valley between the Ohio River and some small hills known as Floyds Knobs. This photo was taken from the Knobs, and in it you can see the river, with the Louisville skyline behind it. As far as I know, these are the only hills called "knobs" but I have done exactly NO research, so I can't confirm that info. The highest elevation in the Knobs is 1006 ft at Hickman's Hill. Other peaks include Bald Knob (874 ft), Lost Knob (905 ft.), and Pickle Pear Knob (860 ft.). No one I have asked knows who Floyd is or why they are called Knobs, but I think it's funny.

In the Knobs, there is a farm, orchard, and winery called Hubers. You can go to Hubers and pick whatever fruits or vegetables are in season. You can tour the winery and do tastings just like in Sideways, only you are in Indiana instead of California. Hubers also has a restaurant and a petting zoo with goats, llamas, cows, rabbits, etc. The restaurant is famous for its fried chicken and fried biscuits. We went to Hubers last Saturday and it was great. The temperature was about 72 degrees and everything was green and peaceful. The strawberries were peaking, and were probably the best strawberries I have ever tasted. We took some to my aunt's house and she made delicious strawberry shortcake. Indiana is good.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Back Home Again, in Indiana

Much like sa_eric, I decided to visit homes of my past during my trip to Indiana. This is the house where I lived when I was born. I don't remeber it, except for seeing some pictures and home movies from when we lived there. There is a Super-8 film of me sitting on a blanket in the front yard. I crawl over to the edge of the blanket and accidentally touch the grass, which causes a very shocked and distressed Tara-face, and then some crying. And so began my lifelong battle with sensory issues. I still won't walk barefoot in grass, unless it is perfect grass like on a golf course green, and that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Maybe Kev will blog a blog about how he always has to write down my score for me when we play darts because I refuse to touch chalk. Anyway, I really like this house. It is cute and has a good front porch and probably a basement. Too bad the new homes they are building don't look more like this one.

This is the third time I have written this blog. It has gotten shorter each time. Every time I try to publish it, I lose connection to the internet. Third time's the charm I hope... Posted by Hello

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Here is Ralph on his first plane trip. He was a little nervous, but he enjoyed the flight to Louisville. So did I, as a matter of fact. I even went into the cockpit upon landing and told the pilots it was the best flight I had ever been on. There was nary a bump! Sadly, the same could not be said for the flight home, but that's another story.Posted by Hello

There's No Place Like Home

Hello, and I am happy to be blogging to you again from Palo Pinto Ave. A very big thanks to Kev for guest-blogging. I hope he will feel free to jump on here now and then...his blogs are good.

My trip was mostly really fun, and I will soon bore you with a few Tales of Midwestern Adventure which will include, among other things, turkeys, the monkey, a brothel, Indians (native american), and Floyd's Knobs.

These stories will have to wait, however. Gotta get caught up at work.

Note to Marty and Kim: If Ocean City happens, I'm there. Kev tells me there is parasailing.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Above the Law

Well, Father's Day is nigh upon us, so congratulations to all the dads in the audience. Give yourselves a round of applause.

Special shout out to my own dad, Floyd. He is a one-of-a-kind original; what you would call larger than life. And I'm not saying that because he is my dad. Its true. He also managed to raise me, which was no easy feat, I tell you what.

So, I thought I'd share a little-known Floyd story with you. One time, when I was about 14, we were headed somewhere in my mom's Plymouth K-car station wagon. He was driving, and I was riding shotgun. Now, my dad is someone who is perpetually late, and is therefore always in a hurry. My mom likes to say that he will be late to his own funeral (a joke which he finds amusing not in the least). He also considers himself to be above the law. But I digress.

As usual we were going warp speed, around 95 mph, which is as fast as a K-car will go on level ground. I caught a glimpse of a state trooper hiding in the bushes. Sure enough, he puts on his lights and starts his pursuit. Damn. I report the situation to my father. "Dad. The Cops".

Now, most standard-issue fathers would look wincingly in the rearview mirror, perhaps curse a bit, and pull over. Not my dad. He glances over at me and says, "You buckled up?". "Sure". "Good" he says. "Hold on".

He then jerks the wheel hard over, veers off onto an exit ramp, still going 95 mind you and in clear view of the patrol car, which is gaining on us fast. All in one smooth motion he bears right into a hotel, pulls up and around to the parking lot in back, turns off the lights, and shuts off the car. Moments later we see the police cruiser flying by on the road below. My heart is racing.

Staring straight ahead, he says "We're not going to tell mom about this one, OK?".

And I never did, until now.

Not long after, while driving this same station wagon and still carrying a learner's permit, I would have what was to be the first of six automotive brushes with death. Although not entirely my fault (I hit the brakes too hard avoiding a deer and had a tire blowout), I did manage to roll the family car. These experiences have taught me to appreciate the frailty of human existence and be a safe driver.

Happy Father's Day, dad.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Still in Texas

Well, my dad goofed. He thought he bought tickets for a 7:36 AM flight, but last night, I happened to notice on the print-out from Travelocity that it is in fact a 7:36 PM flight. It is good I noticed, or we'd have gotten up at around 4 in the morning for nothing. Anyway, I am still here, at my parents house. I spent the night, thinking it would make things easier for such an early flight. Now everyone is cranky and tired and we're not going to get to Indiana until around midnight. I am disappointed because I had big plans to go out with a bunch of my cousins tonight. My consolation will be a midnight swim in my aunt's pool. The Zesto will have to wait until tomorrow.

Got the good news yesterday that Kev and I will be having visitors from Long Island in July. I am not sure they know what they are in for, coming to Texas in mid-summer. But we will have a great time in spite of the heat.

I hope you all have a good weekend. I have asked Kev to be a guest blogger while I'm gone, but I don't know if he will do it.

Stool of Despair this thing on?

Guest blogger K. here. T. is off to Indiana for a few days and has asked me to fill in the dead airspace while she is away.

So...there is this wooden stool that I gave her a few Christmases ago. It has a sea turtle on it that I fashioned out of mosaic tiles. (I am generally not a crafty person but I had a lot of time on my hands that year.) Anyway, the intended purpose was to allow her to reach things up high like the liquor cabinet and other tall-people places.

While it does get used for reaching, the turtle stool has mainly become a place for her to sit in times of dire stress (which is about two or three times per week). She has this particularly forlorn way of squatting on it with her head in her hands. I have tried to tell her that the turtle stool is a happy place, but to no avail. It has become the Stool of Despair.

And now for some good news. Marty and ChickPChick are coming to town in July! Three cheers for Marty and the Chick!


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hey Long Island!

Can we get a baby Eastern Screech Owl update?

It's Triple-Shot Thursday on LRHS

  1. A tree branch was broken by construction men yesterday in spite of my vigilance.
  2. Last night Kev spotted a 'possum in the back yard! Could it be?
  3. Predicted weekend high temperatures in Dallas are 95-99. Predicted weekend high temperatures in New Albany, Indiana are 78-84.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Look Abner!

I have turned into Mrs. Kravitz. I can't turn away from my window. This morning, I have already had to go outside and ask the construction guy to kindly move his truck off my grass. I watched while one of the workers crossed two lawns and stomped all over someone's garden in order to turn on their garden hose to wet one of those blue industrial paper towels, then tromp back through their garden and the two lawns to wipe the mirror on the truck with the paper towel WITHOUT ASKING - OR EVEN ATTEMPTING TO ASK - THE NEIGHBOR FOR USE OF THE HOSE. I know those people would be really ticked off...they work really hard on their flowers.

They've barely made a dent in the debris pile.

In a way, I sorta feel sorry for those guys. It's only 9:00, and it's already really hot out. And if that's not bad enough, today we have a red level (or "unhealthy") air quailty warning, which advises people not to go outside at all. You'd think it was Los Angeles, as gross as it is outside.

Still. Hot or no hot. Pollution or no pollution. You don't need to go around parking in people's grass, stepping on their flowers, or using their hoses without permission. I'll be watching you, you turkeys.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Daisies and Butterflies

When I was a senior in high school, I was in the work program, which was cool because it meant I got to leave school at about 11:30 every day with my friends Whitney and Carla. We all had jobs at a place I will call Wood-Ridge Private School, and we got school credit for working there. Looking back, it was an absolute educational waste of time, and I should have been learning some math or at least some kind of life skill like managing bank accounts or the dangers of credit cards for college freshman or how to change a tire or something. But at the time, it was cool, because if there was one thing I hated, it was being at my high school.
We didn't have to be at work until about 3:00, so when we left school, we usually went to Carla's house for snacks and soap operas. There were always industrial sized jars of salsa at Carla's house. When Another World was over, it was time to go to work. I was the teacher in the 4 year old class, otherwise known as the Butterflies. Carla had the Daisies, who were five. I think Whitney floated between classes. She was sometimes with the really little Bluebird kids, but she was usually with me and Carla, who put our classes together at around 3:30. Most of the time we went outside to the playground, where we would sit and gossip while the kids ran all around. Once, one of the little boys went to the bathroom on the playground. This was a big no-no at Wood-Ridge. The mean lady who ran the place, let's call her Mrs. O'Flynn, promptly took him to the kitchen, showed him a giant knife, and told him "Next time you take that out on the playground, it's coming off." Mrs. O'Flynn was a horrible person. She had giant pig's feet, which she would squeeze into tiny little shoes. Her feet would swell and flow out over the sides of the shoes. She always scowled.
When it was hot or raining, we put the daisies and butterflies on the floor in front of the TV, where they would watch the same three or four Disney movies, or endless episodes of Inspector Gadget. Sometimes the kids would understandably get tired of sitting in front of the TV and so they'd start talking or wiggling. Also a no-no. Mrs. O'Flynn would fly into the room, hit her ruler on a table to get their attention, and start screaming at them to get quiet. I especially hated this, as it usually woke me up from my afternoon nap.
One time, a little boy named Albert wet his pants. Then he wet his back-up pants. Since he had no more pants, Mrs. O'Flynn put him in a chair in the middle of the playground and told him to sit there until the sun dried him.
The only time she ever smiled was when the people from welfare would come to inspect. Her smile was forced and evil and scary. We should have reported her, but we didn't really know what to do. We needed the job to graduate anyway.

I love/hated that job. Some of the kids were really great and funny. By now, they are probably all in college, or even finished with college. Anyway, be very wary of putting your kids in day-cares run by high school students and mean old ladies. And when in doubt, pack them three pairs of pants.

Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Trucks

My morning coffee/blog-reading time was just interrupted by the desparate and loud knocking on my door of a grammar-challenged teenage boy, who, when I opened it, said, "Is it aw-right if y'all move ya'll vehicle." I looked behind me to see who else he was talking to, but it was just me. Anyway, he gestured to a giant semi which appears to serve the function of hauling away the remains of the house across the street, and which was having trouble getting itself into the front yard. Once I'all moved my'all vehicle, it took the truck at least 6 or 7 tries to maneuver its way onto what used to be the front lawn. I watched from the porch with my arms folded, fearing a repeat of the tree incident of 2003, and the subsequent anger of Kev. You don't want to mess with Kev's trees. Fortunately, no harm was done, but it's early, and I reckon it'll take more than one truck to haul away the whole pile.

I wonder what they would have done if I had refused to move my car from the street.

It is a sad day on Palo Pinto Ave.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Welcome to My Nightmare

This morning when I left for work, this pile of rubbish was the house across the street. It's gonna be a long noisy summer. Posted by Hello

New Albany Landmark...Gonna get me a chili dog / chocolate malt combo! Posted by Hello