Thursday, December 29, 2005

Part 4 - Art.

We received this great note from my cousin Jakob. He is 8. He is my pal because he is cool and likes Samurai Jack and Napolean Dynamite. And he can draw really good elves with sunglasses. I do not know if he got all 16 things he wanted for Christmas.

Part 3 - The Instrument for Me

Traditionally, on the years we stay in Texas for the holidays, Kev and I open our gifts to each other on Christmas Eve, and that was the case this year. We got up and ate breakfast, and began what would become a marathon three days of presents. Some of you may remember back in the spring when I went to see Elvis Costello, and witnessed the melodica-playing genius of the great Steve Nieve. I believe I bogged extensively about the melodica, and how I believed it was the instrument for me. Well, kev got me one for Christmas, and I was proven right! It IS the instrument for me, in fact, it may be the intrument for everyone! It is so fun and easy to play, and it has a pretty good sound too, sort of like an accordian. You can either play it using a mouthpiece on one end (which is the right way), or you can use the melodica tube, as seen in the photo below, so you can hold it on your lap for easier chord-playing or two-handed playing. It is a little hard at first to stop from laughing at how the tube makes you look like you are some kind of hospital patient, or that you are smoking the melodica. But once you stop laughing, it is a lot of fun to play, especially when you can play duets...
...with Kev on his new baritone ukulele (below). So, it was a very housepants Christmas Eve as you can see.
I also got some other nice gifts from Kev, including 50 tulip bulbs which I will be planting in the front yard, and some very cute outfits for the Peanut. I am officially declaring myself the easiest person on the planet to buy gifts for. Mostly because of this blog , I think. People who read it know what I like and what I don't like, and it makes it pretty easy for anyone who happens to be my secret Santa. Last year, it was my brother-in-law Marty, who did a fabulous job of giving me a very Tara pile of gifts. And this year, my other brother-in-law Pat did the same.
If the above photo was a little bigger, you would see that I am dressed completely in Sock Monkey-wear, including slippers. They are very cute and soft and comfortable, and I love them. And you would also see that in my hands I am holding a piece of paper which, when unrolled, informed me that I am the proud adoptive sponsor of my very own Magellanic penguin in the Faulkland Islands. (I cried when I read the paper). On Christmas Day, I received an email from the penguin people, with lots of information about my penguin and others like it. They are in peril, so this adoption is to help them out. I got to then name my penguin. I didn't know if it was male or female, so I emailed the good Dr. Bingham (the penguin guy) and told him to please name it Arturo if it is a male, or Tula if it is a female. He emailed back and said, "Tara, we have called her Tula." So thanks to Pat, I now have a penguin named Tula (which is from a Buena Vista Social Club song). And I will be sent photos and updates and a map to Tula's burrow should I decide to go and visit her. What a perfect gift. Thanks Pat (and Darlene, who probably helped at least a little) for being a great secret Santa.

Part 4 coming soon...more Christmas.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Part 3 - Coming Soon

Stay tuned for tales of trumpets, penguins, baby stuff, the real-life Jetsons, steak, and, at long last, the instrument for me...

Part 2 - Tamales con Amigas

On the Friday before Christmas, I went over to my friend Shannon's mom's house to learn the fine art of tamale-making. Shannon's mom (white shirt) is from Mexico, and was nice enough to spend a whole day teaching me, Shannon (pink shirt), Julie (orange shirt), and Shannon's daughter Collin how to make tamales. It is a long and involved process, which I am happy to report did NOT involve pig-face, or the face of any animal, for that matter. We spent several hours making tamales, and I finally had to stop and say I just can't do this anymore. We probably made at least 150 tamales. Then we ate some. They were good. So, a very special thanks to Mrs. S. for the tamale lessons, and maybe in a few years I will have the desire to make more tamales. Mostly, it was fun hanging out with my friends, which I don't get to do much, especially since Shannon lives out there in Los Angeles. Later that night, I went to see the Family Stone movie with Shannon and her sister. It is a movie that Kev would probably never agree to go see, and he wouldn't have liked it, so that was OK. It was a pretty good movie, but hard to watch because we were sitting on the front row on account of everyone in Garland was at the new AMC that night and it was crowded. It would be good if Shannon came to town more often.

How I Spent My Christmas Break - Part 1

Well, Christmas has come and gone, with nary a moment to blog. This photo is from the day of Kev's already-blogged-about company Christmas party, which is the event that really started off the holiday season. You can see the clean-looking house and neatly stacked gifts under the tree. This environment of serenity was short-lived, and eventually replaced by chaos. But it was a good Christmas, and I will share some of the highlights here, for anyone who happens to be interested.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Birthday!

A very special happy birthday to Kev.

Have a great birthday!

We love you,
T and the Peanut.

PS: Next year, we bowl.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


It appears that the ANWR is safe again for now. Take that, Senator Stevens! Dirty tricks will get you nowhere. Turkey.

Hooray for Larry Feathers!

A very special Happy Birthday to Larry Feathers, who was born on this day in 1972, and was brought home on Christmas Eve, and things have never been the same.

In honor of Larry Featherses birthday, I was gonna post a link to his theme song, but I don't know how, so I will try to get that on here for you later tonight or tomorrow when Kev can help me.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, December 19, 2005

No Tip for You!

Our neighborhood garbage collectors were just here, and as you can see, they took no care in replacing our neighbor's cans on the curb. Rather, they threw them in the general direction of the house, violently knocking down a decorative Christmas lawn candy cane. At least this time, the cans are not in the street or blocking the driveway. As you can also see, our neighbors no longer bother putting lids on their cans, probably because they've been squashed by cars when left in the street. No tip for these turkeys. Booooo!

Company Christmas Party

Yesterday, Kev and I went to his company Christmas Party. It was held at a place called the Allen Heritage Center, which turned out to be a little building that looks like a train depot. It took us a while to find it. So, we figured out where it was, and as we were walking up to the building, we saw a lady sitting in a chair about 20 yards from the door, smoking. As we approached, she greeted us NOT with Merry Christmas, NOT with a hearty Welcome to the Party, but with the very puzzling question, "Do you like snakes?" I was confused by the whole scene. My first thought was that she was a snake sales-lady who thought it would be strategic to sit outside a company Christmas party in hopes of finding a few customers who needed snakes to complete their holiday shopping. Kev thought maybe it was some sort of code or password thing to get into the party. So I said, "Huh?" The lady repeated, "Do you like snakes?" So I said, "Um, they're OK." And then she told us to go inside because they were having a snake demonstration, and that was why she was OUTside. Apparently, she does NOT like snakes, so much so that she would rather sit outside in the cold, far far away from the building, and smoke. So, we went in, and sure enough, there was a room full of engineers and their families, completely captivated by a man dressed in black, who was making lawyer jokes while handling gigantic pythons and boas and so forth. Not your typical Christmas Party entertainment, but I tell you what, he was really great. He did magic tricks and told corny jokes and taught us things about snakes, and everyone loved it. The smoking lady really missed a treat.

After the snake guy finished his show, it was time to get on line for Dicky's Barbecue. Mmm-mmm. It was good eats! Dicky's has a fine sauce, just the right amount of spicy. Plus, there was pie and cookies and brownies and cobbler. It was great. We sat down and who ends us sitting at our table but the president of the company and his wife (of the famous mystery Christmas card incident of last week). It was a little intimidating, but they were really nice and easy to talk to and not at all snooty. I liked them.

Finally, just as people were starting to leave, who appears but this guy Mark, dressed as Santa. He was great. All the little kids got SO excited. This one little girl couldn't stop jumping up and down. Mark/Santa walked around giving them all hugs, then got them to sing a couple of Christmas songs, and passed out some toys and candy. It almost made me cry. It was the best company Christmas party I've ever been to.

Kev worked for the last three years at a different company. They threw very elaborate Christmas parties with expensive dinners and long speeches. One year, they had a casino night. Another year they put us all up in a hotel in Fort Worth. Very impressive, huh? But many, not ALL, but MANY of the people in this company were people of questionable character, and their fabulous parties reflected nothing but their flashiness and insincerity. This party yesterday was family-friendly, down-home, and sincere, and I couldn't be happier that Kev works with good people now.

Ooh, plus there was macaroni and cheese, which I have been craving for a MONTH!

For more info on Daryl Sprout, the snake guy, go to:

Some Good News

Special Shout Out to Darlene and Patrick, who are having a baby 5 weeks after me. A new cousin for little "The Baby Never Officially Known As Ramekin." Yay!

By the way, I may get in trouble for this, but my mom thought a ramekin was a kind of cheap noodle. Heehee.


Well, the underhanded trickery of tacking oil drilling onto a bill which has NOTHING to do with it has worked, as the Defense Spending bill passed the House, opening the way for drilling in the ANWR. This is not unexpected, as very few people are going to vote in a way which seems unsupportive of our troops. (By the way, I am pretty sure Hurricane Relief is also part of this bill, also something people don't want to get caught voting against). Now it has to pass the Senate though, and we are hoping for a fillibuster. Not sure when this is gonna go down, but I will keep you posted.

I just don't understand how they can get away with this kind of random attachment of unrelated things to bills. There should have to be a clear theme. Stupid government turkeys. I need some coffee.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Rant Warning

Sometimes things get me down, but I can say to myself, "just get over it, it doesn't have anything to do with you," and I can move on. Things like the Mavericks losing in the play-offs, or the Rangers trading good players, or good shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm getting stale. It sucks, but oh well. No big deal, really.

But some things get me down, and I can't just blow them off, so I get mad and stay mad and it messes me up. Last night I got a shockingly disturbing email, and I woke up this morning thinking about it, and it blossomed into this whole big laundry list of stuff that makes me mad and I couldn't go back to sleep. I am afraid I am sending bad anger chemicals to the baby, so I thought if I blogged it, I could try to move on and enjoy my recently found groove / Christmas Spirit. So, I'm not trying to start a debate, I am just venting. You don't have to read this if you don't want to. There will be no funny quotes about beans.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know how I feel about Alaska and its wildlife and indiginous people. And you know how happy I was when good brave moderate republican senators did away with trying to sneak drilling in the ANWR into the budget. But the bad sneaky ones are at it again, this time trying to include Arctic Drilling in a bill that funds the troops! How underhanded is that?! The vote goes down today, and I fear the worst, because it is going to take some real bravery to vote against something that will cause people to scream UNPATRIOTIC at them. This is how the government works, I'm afraid. Sneaky, underhanded, and misleading. it is disgusting. And it goes on all the time. I have a close relative who works for the government, and every time I talk to him, I hear stories of mismanaged people, time, and funds. I hear about ridiculous wasteful spending and I hear about various loopholes they find and use to get around acting appropriately. Knowing this stuff kinda makes it hard to believe people who say things like, "Oh no, of course we don't torture." Why should I believe that? I'm sure they've found ways to get around those rules too. Ugh. It just really gets me down, man. Plus, for some reason, the current administration is completely unwilling to listen to the scientists of the world about climate change, and this affects us all. Are conservatives afraid of science? Do they think if they listen to scientists, it is un-Christian? I'll tell you what, I don't think God it too terribly happy about what is happening to the nice planet he created for us. I hate politics. I hate all this conservative/liberal crap and party affiliations that tell you what you have to be for and against. This is why I am an Independent. Me, General Tommy Franks, the next Governer of Texas Kinky Friedman, and Hermey the elf-dentist.

I don't know if I feel any better. I am worried about today's vote. But I am going to try to think happy thoughts and send good chemicals to the baby, and continue with my Christmas groove.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas Tip

Ok, so what's the story with tipping the mail carrier? I mean, if anyone deserves a tip, it's probably the mail carriers of the world. Their job is hard. They have to go out and walk around in the snow and rain, and even worse, the HEAT. And, at least in my neighborhood, they bring the mail all the way up to the porch so we can get our mail with minimal walking. So I wouldn't be opposed to tipping them. But how much? And here's a problem: We have about three or four different carriers that do our route. So I don't know what to do.

And what about the garbage collectors? Do they ever get a holiday tip? Not that I'd tip ours. Ours are terrible. They empty the cans, and then throw the cans all willy-nilly into the yard or the street or wherever they happen to land. People's cans are always getting blown down the street by wind, or run over by cars, all because of these lazy garbage collectors. They take no pride at all in their work. Kev used to want to be a garbage man when he was little. I don't think it was so much about the garbage as it was about the cool big truck. I tell you what, though. If Kev was a garbage man, he'd be about the best garbage man ever. He would take good care of people's cans, and place them back on the curb where he got them. Anyway, if you happen to have good garbage collectors, do you tip them?

Are there others that we are supposed to tip at Christmas?

Do you think Martha Stewart tips her mail carrier?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Feelin' Groove-y

In spite of my recent set-backs, there appears to be evidence that I am getting my groove back.
Consider the following:
  • My Christmas shopping is done except for one easy thing I can get tomorrow.
  • Everything for Kev's family has been wrapped and shipped to NY.
  • Everything for my family is wrapped and under the tree.
  • Kev's gifts, which are hidden in an undisclosed location, will be wrapped by this time tomorrow.
  • I made all of my Christmas cards, and have sent out most of them (the rest require Kev's attention).
  • Last night, I cooked a real meal.

So, either I am getting my groove back, or I am just in Hyper-Holiday Mode brought on by the pressure of deadlines. Either way, I am exhausted, and looking forward to coasting through the rest of the Christmas season.

Well, time to try to find some comfortable enough pants to wear to work. I may break out the Full-Panel maternity pants today. I wish I could declare HousePants Day at the office.


The mystery family in the Chrismas photo belongs to the president of Kev's company, so I will cut them a little slack because the company pres probably SHOULD send cards to all the employees/contractors. The company Christmas party is this weekend, and I am nervous because I haven't met any of the people and I am not very good at meeting new people and I can't remember people's names anymore. But there is going to be BBQ, so that's good. Also, there is going to be entertainment, but we don't know what. Kev thinks it is one of the guys from work doing Neil Diamond karaoke. That's fine by me. I just hope it isn't a clown. By the way, creepiest clown ever: Ronald McDonald. Ugh.

Also, I'm glad I went ahead and cooked the beans. They were tasty, and Kev even said Emeril would be proud. You should have seen the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding that Emeril made last night. I have requested it for my next birthday. Emeril needs to get some new catch phrases. His schtick is getting a little tired. In fact, if you were a frat boy, you could probably make up a pretty successful drinking game out of watching that show. Be that as it may, he has some really great recipes, and he's a pretty good teacher. And he is really nice to kids. So that's something.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Shopping A to Z

Who sang Shopping A to Z? Was it Cyndi Lauper? Toni Basil? Whoever it was, I am pretty sure it was a terrible song. But today, that's just what I did, and I am wiped out. Ready for bed and it isn't even 4:00 yet. And I still have to cook dinner. I would just order out, but my beans have been soaking all day and I reckon they need to be cooked.

Anyway, the Dallas Morning News is always showing pictures of stuff from a shop called Forty-Five Ten in their shopping/lifestyle features. It is usually really cute stuff, and I have always wanted to go in there, but until today I never did. So today, I went up to the door and got a bad vibe, but I went in anyway and I will tell you right now I will never go back to that place. It was totally shishi, with a bunch of super-model clothes and fancy soap and $68.00 candles*, and not one single person who worked in there greeted me or asked if I needed help. They all just ignored me completely as if I wasn't there. I don't think I looked the part. I nearly "boo-ed" loudly on the way out, but I chickened out and boo-ed quietly to myself while vowing to tell the world, or at least the blog, what a snobby crappy store it is. So don't go to Forty-Five Ten. It even has a pretentious name. Booooooo.

*I know how to make candles, and I can assure you that these $68.00 ones only cost about a dollar to make. Where do they get off?

Over the weekend, we went to see Walk the Line, and unless you hate Johnny Cash, you will probably really like this movie. It is very good. I'd give it at least 4 out of 5 penguins in my penguin movie rating system. Plus I got to have a BBQ chicken wrap and sweet potato fries while we were at the Studio Movie Grill.

Last night we watched Willie Wonka (the real one) on ABC family channel, and they cut out the part where they ride on the crazy boat. That's not right. Did anyone see the Johnny Depp one? Was there singing in that one?

Today we got a Christmas card from a family and I have NO IDEA who they are. It is really bugging me. It's one of those photo cards they make at Target or Walmart, and there on the card is this nice family of five all posed for their holiday picture, and on the back is a little description of what the 3 kids are up to these days, and I have never seen nor heard of them before. The only thing I can figure is that it is someone from Kev's work. I'm sort of against sending your personal family photo Christmas card to everyone from the whole office, even if you don't know them. It seems a little weird or insincere or something.

Well, I got a pot of beans awaiting me in the kitchen, and they ain't gonna cook themselves. Louisiana Red Beans and Rice with cornbread is on the meal plan for tonight. I won't even tell you how much I struggled with the meal plan this week. P.A.D.D., I tell you what.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Feelin' 7-Up...

Last night we watched Repo Man which I probably haven't seen for about 15 years. Frankly, it doesn't stand the test of time. This oft-quoted sci-fi punk movie was a staple of my college years. But last night, all the quotes that were so funny at the time, seemed really lame. I still laughed, not because it was funny, but becauses it reminded me of my friends that couldn't go a day without saying, "Let's go get sushi and not pay," or "Hi I'm Kevin, vaccuum sir?," or ,"Rodrigez brothers."
So much of the stuff we thought was great back then, probably really wasn't that great at all. But that's OK.

Question: Do the kids today still go around quoting film dialogue? Do they sit around at Denny's saying lines from "Mean Girls" or that Eminem movie?

Feel free to comment with your favorite movie quote. Please no swear words.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Here it Comes...

Here is the picture they show on the news before weather updates. It is accompanied by dramatic music. Now, I'll give you that it's really cold and it is going to sleet, but come on. The reason we have to make such a big deal out of this is that Texas is completely unprepared for temperatures below 40, and so any winter weather is huge. It's the same every year. "Tonight at 10, we'll tell YOU how to prepare for the WINTER BLAST." Then they show some people in Wal Mart buying a hat and some duraflame logs. "And don't forget the 3 P's: Pets, pipes, and plants!" Or something like that. Then they post newscasters all over town who report, "Yep, it's cold." "I think I saw a flurry." "I just saw an SUV do a 360 here on the overpass. Back to you, Chuck." It's kinda funny. Then again, I cancelled my afternoon clients, so who am I to say anything. Be careful out there.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Brief Window of Opportunity

Our DSL is very flakey lately. It has been down all day, but is working at the moment, so I am taking the opportunity to blog.

Today I went to breakfast with my friend John_Clarke. We went to Mecca, and it was quite a pilgrimage. It took like an hour to get there because some truck spilled a bunch of sand all over Northwest Highway and caused traffic to suck. But the food was good and it was worth the inconvenience.

Channel Five Chief Meteorologist David Finfrock is all a-flutter because we are expecting a possible "wintery mix" tomorrow. I will believe it when I see it, but I'm hoping for snow. All of you readers from the north would be making so much fun of us if you could see the weather reports down here, as if the BIG BLIZZARD is coming. Anyway, it is nice to finally have some cold Christmas-y weather. It was 89 on Saturday. That's practically 90!

Another Christmas toy party has come and gone, and in spite of my P.A.D.D., it went off without a hitch, and seemed to be a success. I had a lot of help from Kev, so thanks to him. He managed to pull off quite a feat himself, by getting the PPHPHB Vol. III CD ready in time for the party. I hope people will like it. It features lots of guests, which makes it more fun. On a related note, I was happy to see that somebody down-loaded "Sock Monkey Man" from Soundclick yesterday, which I feel is one of the more under-appreciated PPHPHB songs. I often wonder whatever became of the Sock Monkey Man, especially after Katrina and all.

Question: Does anyone know the origin of the phrase, "What the Sam Hill...?" Who is Sam Hill? And why do some people say Sam Hill, and others say Sam Hell? I am so sad that I can't ask the great Glenn Mitchell. He would know, I betcha.

Note to Marty: Can we get a field report on the status of Official LRHS Minor League Baseball Player, Tim Rall? Winter Meetings got underway yesterday, but I haven't heard much about the goings-on.

So, I'm gonna publish this now, because I fear a DSL breakdown.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lay It on the Li-eee-ine

If you ask anyone, "Who is your second favorite caterwauling Canadian rock trio?," their answer nine times out of ten will be Triumph. So one time in the 80's I went to see Triumph with a couple of my friends. Now, since it was the 80s, it was cool at the time to wear black rubber "Madonna" bracelets as far up your arms as possible. I reckon about twenty or so on each arm was about average. So there we were at the Triumph show with our Madonna bracelets. The show started and went about like all rock shows: hit, hit, new song, new song, hit, long guitar solo, long drum solo, hit with audience participation part (Now YOU sing!), unexpected cover song, hit, etc. Somewhere near the end, a stage rush is inevitable, and as usual, my friends and I ended up smashed up against the barrier in front of the stage. Then my friends got this wacky idea, and they started shooting Madonna bracelets like rubber bands at Rik Emmet, singer of Triumph. I may or may not have tried to stop them. Rik Emmet did not think this was cool. So next thing I knew, he was bent over us with a very mean look on his face. Then he held up one of his fingers at us while mouthing a swear word that starts with "f" and then he jerked his thumb toward stage left while mouthing the word "off." I was crushed. I didn't want Triumph to dislike me or my friends.
On the way home, we listened to the concert play-back on Q102. They were interviewing Rik Emmet about the show, which he said was great except for the stupid girls throwing stuff at him. I'm not sure, but I don't think Triumph has ever come back to Dallas.
And that is the story about how we got cussed out by the band at the arena rock show in front of thousands of people. Stupid Madonna. I like her now though.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Close Encounters

Thirteen weeks down, more to go than I care to think about. I am now in the second trimester, and just as everyone said, I am starting to get my energy back. The exhaustion has been replaced by what can only be described as pregnancy-induced A.D.D. I cannot seem to concentrate on anything for more than 30 seconds, and this is bad because I have a lot of stuff that needs concentrating on. For example, I am having a party this weekend, but I have not done one thing to prepare for it except buy a bag of Holiday M-n-Ms at Target. I know it's not a party without M-n-Ms, but at the same time, I'm SURE it's not a party with ONLY M-n-Ms. I have also not accomplished much in the way of Christmas shopping, and I'm usually almost done by now. I have get on the ball, because we have to ship a lot of stuff this year since we're staying in Texas. Anyway, I am not going to worry about all this. I'll get everything done. Eventually.

The other night, I was worried about the baby and then I had this dream: I was standing in my house, and a bright light came down from outside. It was a UFO hovering above the house. Apparently, the aliens had come with messages from the baby, which were projected ticker-style across a light fixture on my ceiling. There were several messages, but I only remember these two:

"I am only interested in the truth"


"In the morning, I like shapes. In the afternoon time, I like shapes."

So, I'm not sure what to make of all that. Kev reckons the PPHPHB should write a shape song though, using those lyrics. I am on board with that.

Anyway, I am not worried about the baby anymore. Not because of the aliens, but because I went to the doctor and heard the baby's heartbeat which was good and strong.

I'm thinking about telling a rock and roll story in my next blog.