Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Flying Pig

Without regard to the fact that I put bird seed out for my feathered friends, the sparrows prefer to swoop down on the dog's dish and make off with some Purina. I have doves, pigeons, cardinals, and red-headed woodpeckers and they all relish the wildbird seed, but not the sparrows.

Today I found a baby sparrow in the dog's dish. There was no dog food, just a baby bird that looked like it had eaten so much it couldn't fly. I gave him some water in a saucer and he drank it right up. Then I sat him aside and filled the dog's dish back up with Purina Dog Chow but he hopped over and began to help himself. Again.

Eventually, I picked him up and put him in a tree, as far away from the dog's dish as I could get and still be in my yard. He was quickly joined by a bird which I would guess was his mother. She had a piece of my Purina dog chow in her beak which she offered to the little pig and which he quickly ate!

I've heard people say "that will happen when pigs fly." Well, there is at least one flying pig. He lives in a live oak tree in my back yard.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Big Kahuna

I've got a large extended family. It takes some effort to maintain contact with so many scattered over several states but I've managed to keep the lines of communication open with aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins. It takes some work to pull it off, but it's worth the effort. It's about family.

I don't have any grandchildren yet, but I know someday they'll be along. I can even picture what the first two will look like - a chubby faced little boy with reddish, strawberry blond hair and a big grin and a little girl with long blonde hair, big eyes and hugs for everybody. They'll be first cousins but be as close to each other as brothers and sisters.

They'll spend lots of time with me and their grandmother. We'll take them to movies, to the circus and to hockey games where I'll teach them to holler "he shoots, he scores, you suck" everytime the home team scores a goal. I'll also teach them to tell their mothers that they learned that from somebody other than me. We'll give them just about anything they want and spoil them so bad they'll think they're royalty. Their parents can straighten them out later.

I'll ask them "who's the handsomest, smartest guy in the whole world?" and "who's the Big Kahuna?" They'll say "you are Grandpa", because that's what I'm going to teach them to say. I'll also teach them to say "badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges" and "what we have here is a failure to communicate" because I think it's cute.

They'll spend week-ends with us at the Cheapspread Ranch and cry when the week-end is over and they have to go home.

I'll try to teach them some of life's lessons, including the fact that we're not perfect - just humans who can know right from wrong and still mess up once in awhile. Forgive yourself and forgive others who may fuss at you for teaching their children to say things like suck and showing them how to do the Italian salute.

I'll try to teach them humility, generosity and kindness without getting in the way of their parents. Most of all, I'll try to teach them that life is meant to be good - and usually is.

And that's the truth.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Happy Birthday Ala!

Be sure and pop over to The Rowhouse and read Rose's Birthday Tribute to the Sagacious Blonde!

Love and kisses to my girls from Philly!

And Rose....make sure Ala gets a Buttery Nipple shot or two or four! *grin*

Eight Years? Is That All?

We have what's called a bifurcated system in Texas for criminal cases, in effect, two different trials. The first one is all about whether the state has proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury agrees that the state has met it's burden of proof, then the second trial, regarding appropriate punishment begins.

As you know by now, assuming you've read the previous post, Delmy Ruiz, the famous Salvadoran tallywacker whacker was found guilty of aggravated assault on her boyfriend for severing his penis.

Yesterday, she was sentenced to eight years in prison. With good behavior, she'll be eligible for parole in three - rather a short sentence. Her ex-boyfriend was overheard to remark that her sentence was not the only thing that was a little short these days.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Another Bobittectomy

A trial ended in Houston today with a guilty finding of aggravated assault in a case in which Delmy Ruiz has followed in the footsteps of the infamous Lorena Bobbitt and severed her husband/boyfriend Rene Nunez's penis. I would think that Rene would be awful aggravated alright.

Delmy, like Lorena, claims to have been abused so she whacked off his wee wee when he went night-night. This is almost too gross, and I'm sorry to have to mention this, but before it could be recovered for possible re-attachment, the dog ran off with it. Nobody said what breed the dog was but I'm betting it was a Dachshund - that's right, a wiener dog.

First, we in Houston had the famous death by Mercedes case in which a local dentist caught her cheating husband, also a dentist, shacked up with his secretary at a local no tell motel and proceeded to "accidently" run over him with her car - three times. Now this.

Ladies! Calm down, for God sakes. If this keeps up, every man in Houston will be trying to scrub the tire tracks off his back and insisting that the other guys remember to put the toilet seat down.

Like Lorena Bobbitt, the latest whacker of male ethos is from El Salvador. Is this activity that common down there? Are there hundreds, no thousands of poor souls in El Salvador who are penisless? Is El Salvador filled with poor, humiliated men who are now sitters instead of pointers and whose lives are completely pointless? Has their macho gone whacko? Are we letting any more women from that country across the border?

This penis whacking stuff is so common in El Salvadore that some women have complained that an ordinary kitchen knife is not the greatest tool re-tooling tool in the world. With typical American ingenuity and in the capitalistic spirit, Black and Decker has developed and patented a battery operated device that will get the job done with a minimum of effort and carry a one year waranty. They're calling it the Black and Decker Pecker Wrecker.

And that's the truth.

Word Power, Part 2

And speaking of word power, how about these words - purportedly written by Sullivan Bellew while serving as an Union officer during the Civil War. On July 14, 1861, he wrote home to his wife:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps tomorrow and lest I shall not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I am no more.

I have no misgivings about or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how American civilization now leans upon the triumph of the government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing, perfectly willing to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this government and to pay that debt.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but omnipotence can break. And yet my love of country comes over me like a strong wind that binds me irresistibly with all those cables to the battlefield.

The memory of all the blissful moments I have enjoyed with you come crowding over me and I feel most deeply grateful to God, and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And how hard it is to give them up and burn to ashes the future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our boys grow up to honorable man-hood around us.

If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you, nor when my last breath escapes me it will whisper your name. Forgive me my many faults and the many pains I have caused you, how thoughtless, how foolish I have sometimes been.

But, oh Sarah, if the dead can come back and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be with you on the brightest day and the darkest night. Always. ALWAYS.

And when the soft breeze fans your cheek it shall be my breath. Or the cool air your throbbing temple, it shall be my sprit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead. Think I am gone and wait for me. For we shall meet again.

According to Ken Burns' PBS documentary, The Civil War, Sullivan Bellew was killed one week later on July 21, 1861 at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Word Power

Words matter. The words we choose can motivate and encourage or they can deflate and discourage. They can be quickly forgotten or have a lasting effect that transcends time and be quoted long after the speaker of those words has died. Words can excite, inspire, anger and cause both joy and sadness. They have power.

In the past year of being involved with this phenomenom known as blogging, the words I've read on various blogs have effected me in many of the ways listed above. I've been motivated and encouraged by the words of my friend, political pundit extraordinaire Ala at Blonde Sagacity. I've been caught up in the extraordinary ability of my friend Rose of Anonymous Rowhouse to paint a verbal picture that can bring both joy and sadness to the reader. I've been surprised by the extent of hate and anger expressed by some politically left leaning bloggers towards President Bush and conservatives in general. The feelings such hate-filled speech generate are non-productive so I choose not to visit them as often as I did prior to the last election.

The words of my friend Allie at Desultory Butterfly give me faith and pride in a younger generation. I look forward to comments by Riceburner, Bonnie, Jenson, Jason, 92alpha, Scarlotta, Maidink, Alix, AFsister, my copious smiley face buddy Ben in Kansas City and many others. I'm continually inspired and gratified by the words of my own children, Jen and Doug plus those of various cousins, nephews and nieces who stop by once in awhile.

The blogging experience has been like that Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - some of everything. But thanks to the good people I've met and the friends I've made while involved with blogging, it's been mostly good.

I remain awed by the power of words.

Monday, July 18, 2005

88 Years Old and Lost as a Goose

I was gasing up at the local Pump and Rob when I noticed a little old lady struggling to place the nozzle back on the pump next to me. She couldn't have been more than 5 feet tall and weighed maybe 90 pounds.

I smiled at her and said "I'll help you with that", took the nozzle from her and returned it to its' rightful place. She said, "I'm 88 years old and still drive every day." I said, "well good for you ma'm. Have a nice day."

I sensed that she was one of those old folks who is lonely and would want to talk and tell a total stranger her life story. But I was in a hurry. Maybe some other time. Before I could make my escape she said, "do you know where the Social Security office is in Pasadena?" "No ma'm, I don't. Is that where you're going?"

She explained that she went there every month from her home in Deer Park but she must have taken a wrong turn. No doubt she had. She was 20 miles in the opposite direction of where she should have been.

I asked her for the phone number for the Social Security office so I could call them to find their location. She handed me her purse and said, "it's in there somewhere." I politely declined and said, "you really shouldn't let total strangers go through your purse. I'll just wait until you find it." She did and I recognized the street but it was a lost cause in trying to explain to her how to get there. In a moment of weakness I said, "I'll drive there. Just follow me."

She didn't follow me well. Several times she just veered off on a side street for no apparent reason. She'd be right behind me then take off in another direction, running red lights and stop signs with abandon. It looked like an out of control driverless car but if you looked closely you could see a clump of grey hair and a pair of tri-focals just below the streering wheel.

I did several U turns to catch up with her. Each time I caught up and motioned her over she'd say something like, "young man you're driving so fast I can barely keep up". "Yes Ma'm, I'll try to do better."

We finally got there, about an hour later. I walked in with her and every body there seemed to know her. After we said our goodbyes, I told the lady at the front desk about our little adventure and that I was worried about how my little old lady friend was going to get back home to Deer Park.

She said, "don't worry about it. She'll get home the same way she always does. She'll stop at a gas station and pretend to pump gas. Then she'll pick some customer out who she can con into showing her how to get home. She'll say, 'I'm 88 years old and still drive every day' and they fall for it every time."

And so they do.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Parkay Ranch and Timber Buyers

East Texas timber buyers haven't changed in over a hundred years. They discovered the dense pine forests and the majestic hardwoods of the river and creek bottoms in the 1920s and pounced on it with a vengeance. They're still at it.

To farmers and ranchers, the trees had little value. If someone offered them money for the trees, even though it wasn't much, they jumped at it.

In 1919 a timber buyer named Gilmer built a sawmill about three miles from my grandfather's land and named the town that sprang up around it Remlig - his name spelled backwards. By the mid 1920s the town of Remlig had a population of around 2500. There were churchs, grocery stores and even a movie theater. By 1928 it was all gone. They had cut all the marketable timber they could find and moved on. There's nothing left of Remlig now except the mill pond which is home to several hundred ducks during the winter and five or six full time resident otters.

While the timber buyers haven't changed much, the land owners have. They're more sophisticated and knowlegeable. For the most part, they no longer live on the land full time but have week-end or vacation homes there. They're not farmers.

The land has changed too. There are thick pine forests again and the hardwood trees like like beech, water oak and magnolias are back. There are huge freshwater impoundments which cover hundreds of square miles where small towns, farms and forests used to be. Five miles to the west on the Neches River is now the largest lake completely within the state of Texas, Lake Sam Rayburn, with a shoreline of over 500 miles. Fifteen miles to the east on the Sabine River is Lake Toledo Bend which spills over into Louisiana is even bigger than Rayburn.

I own some land in the area that used to belong to my grandfather. I call it the Parkay Ranch. (because it's one of the cheapest spreads around) The area has a large whitetail deer population, plus turkeys, ducks, armadillos, raccoons and coyotes. At night you can see more stars than you thought existed. One of my favorite things to do is to watch the show put on in the heavens at night by shooting stars and soundless, blinking sattelites that pass hundreds of miles overhead.

I'm building a swimming/fishing/kayaking lake on a small seasonal stream - not exactly the Neches or the Sabine. I have to remove about 200 pines trees to build it. Why not sell them to a timber buyer? I met with a buyer last week, which is how I know that timber buyers haven't changed since the town of Remlig became a ghost town. He offered me about 10% of the market value for the trees. He argued that the market is flooded with trees and supply has outpaced demand. I'll keep talking until I get a fair price but most of the land owners in that area will still get taken by the timber buyers.

Some things never change.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Pink Toenails

Jen was 3 or 4 years old and just been indoctrinated into the world of feminine self adornment - she was the proud possessor of a pestiferously pink painted pedicure. (Say that 10 times as fast as you can)

I made the mistake of admiring her work. I said, "your toes are beautiful and you did such a good job". By the proud look on her face I knew what was coming next but she was too quick for me. Before I could weasel my way out of the box I was about to get in she said, "Daddy I can paint your toes just like mine." She was already going for the nail polish. I tried to think fast.

I told her that men didn't paint their toenails. I told her that even if men did paint their toe nails that I was in a big hurry to water the new tree I'd just planted before it got dark.

It was no use. Those big eyes welled with tears. The bottom lip poked out. "OK Daddy, if you don't like my toe nails I'll just go in my room and I won't bother you." I was toast. How do little girls learn such techniques for getting their way at such a young age?

I gave in. I don't go around bare-footed anyway. Who's going to know? I wiggled my toes as she giggled and painted with abandon.

It wasn't a bad job as far as having hot pink polish applied to your toes by a 3 year old goes. I rushed out to water my tree while there was still some daylight while my toe nails were still drying.

My neighbor across the street came over to visit when he saw me outside - something he always did. In mid sentence he glanced down, noticed my toes and headed back across the street as fast as his little short legs could carry him. He was never quite as friendly after that.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Anniversary!

Holy cow! I missed the one year anniversary date of the blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Chicken Hawk's Revenge

My dad and uncles told me many stories about growing up on a farm and ranch in East Texas during The Great Depression. Many were true. Undountedly, others were a mixture of truths, half-truths and downright made up stories, created for the purpose of entertaining those five little boys who grew up to become master story tellers.

One of my favorites involved the capture of a chicken hawk. There were other predators in East Texas during the 1920's like bobcats, red wolves and coyotes that made it hard on farm families. There were even some black bears down in the river bottoms. But none could be as threatening as chicken hawks when it came to a pioneer family's very survival.

If you had chickens, and everybody did, chicken hawks could systematically kill and eat every one of the baby chickens. The older ones were experienced enough to run for cover when a hawk hovered over-head. The "bitties" were not. Over a period of time if somethng wasn't done to stop the carnage, there would be no more eggs to gather and no more Sunday dinners of chicken and dumplings.

My grandfather ordered that the hawks be shot on sight but they were too smart for that. They would fly high enough to stay out of range until the shooter gave up, then swoop down and be gone with a baby chick before the boys could scurry out with shotguns in hand.

One of the boys had an idea to set a live trap and to their surprise, they caught the king of all chicken hawks the first day. The oldest boy reached in the trap and grabbed the hawk with both hands as it bit a chunk out of his finger, leaving him in pain and more determined than ever to complete his mission as defender of baby chicks.

Now all they had to do was decide what to do with with a very bad and unruly killer of baby chickens and biters of little boys fingers. Whatever it was they decided on, for their own sake, had to involve the death penalty.

My Uncle Landon got blamed for coming up with the solution they settled on by majority vote. Grandpa kept dynamite in the barn to blow stubborn tree stumps out of the ground when he needed to clear more land. Why not get a stick of dynamite, tie it to the hawk's leg, light it and turn him loose? He'd fly off, maybe a quarter of a mile high and then be blown to kingdom come. They could sit back and watch the show and not have to worry about any more bitten fingers while dispatching mister hawk.

It worked perfectly - almost. The hawk took off like he had a lighted stick of dynamite tied to his leg - which he did. He circled once, then landed - on the barn.

It took a week to rebuild the barn. The boys told their father it must have been lightening. Grandma chastised Grandpa about keeping dynamite in the barn and blamed it all on him. Five little boys kept very, very quiet.

Friday, July 08, 2005

You've Had It Now

The leaders of Islam, including the mullahs throughout the world should declare immediately that they uncategorically condemn such barbaric, inhumane terrorist attacks as happened in London on 7/7.

I give them one week to do it. If they haven't done it by 7/14, and I mean convincingly - no winks or crossed fingers - then I'm declaring a jihad plus a double fatwah on all of them. I'll also be sending them a genuine french quarter curse, a double whammy,the evil eye and will get my mojo working. Plus I might sue them all. They shouldn't have pissed me off. Again.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Me Lost? Never!

So you took a wrong turn in a strange city. Are you lost? Maybe, but not me. I've driven in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, New York and London and never been lost. I took one wrong turn outside of Heathrow Airport in London, but that was because the Brits are still driving on the wrong side of the road. I ended up in a ghetto in East LA but managed a U turn on a one way street and lived to tell about it. I honked my horn with the best honkers in Philly and kept right on trucking. New York was a challenge but I managed to get where I was going on time by leaping a highway interchange barrier and walking down the on ramp to get to the rental cars at the airport. I wasn't lost. I just wasn't conventional.

If you get scared, upset or confused - yep- you're lost, but only because you allowed yourself to feel like some Hansel and Gretel who forgot to put out bread crumbs.

If all else fails, just remember this: you can't be lost if you don't care where you are.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Et Tu or Three Crows Jacques?

How many bottles of English ale will you be having to wash that crow down, Mr. swarthy little French weenie man? Just last week Jacques Chirac was full of confidence that Paris would be awarded the 2012 Olympic Games. He exceeded the usual French penchant for rudeness by predicting a French victory, with Paris being awarded the games over England and Russia. He then complained loudly about the unpalatibility of English food and claimed that the only English contribution to agrculture was Mad Cow Disease. Jacques, your mother-in-law may not be a good cook either and she may have an unmentionable medical condition but it's impolite to shout it out to the world at the G8 conference.

The big day arrived today when the winner was announced. Moscow was eliminated and the French cheered. London, NOT PARIS, was announced as the winner and the French went into a colossal pout and immediately tried to surrender to a family of German tourists.

There is a God. He's not French.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Declaration of Political Incorrectness

The Declaration of Independance is a document that we Americans should read again periodically, lest we forget our heritage and the significance of King George's tyranical system of government without representation . July 4 seems to be an appropriate time of the year to pause during a lull of exploding fireworks and do just that.

Among the complants about King George inumerated by Jefferson, the one that leaves the biggest impression on me is "he has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance". Sounds a bit like today's local, state and national government doesn't it? Ever run your own business? Did you take note of the "swarms of officers" from the IRS, local taxing authorities, Eminent Domain opportunists and code inspectors among others whose main function appeared to be to "eat out their substance"?

Of note also is the complaint about King George's use of Indians against the Colonists. Jefferson didn't refer to them as Native Americans. He called them "merciless Indian savages". How politically incorrect, TJ.

Political incorrectness runs rampart throughout. Jefferson certainly didn't consider it offensive when he said "...the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them..." Nor did he flinch from saying "...they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..." Such statements, if made by a Supreme Court nominee while being questioned during confirmation hearings by Senators like democrats Biden, Leahy, Reid or Kennedy would draw an immediate rebuke followed by the customary NARAL/ACLU smear job. Clarence Thomas's belief in "Natural Law" was the primary focus of the attack on him during his confirmation hearing before the democrats settled on sexual harassment and Anita Hill as their best shot at derailing his nomination.

The last sentence is my favorite. It inspires and invigorates me. It stirs my feelings of love for my country and undying respect for the signers of The Declaration of Independance: "And for the support of this Declartion, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortures and our sacred honor". And so they did.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Kenny Rogers Gets Fined and Suspended

This week, Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers was fined $50,000 and suspended for 20 games by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for roughing up two protographers and damaging their equipment. Personally, I think he got off light. He should have been fined years ago for all those bad "The Gambler" movies he made and for pretending that he could act. The guy couldn't act bored at a YoYo Ma concert. And his music hasn't been so hot either since Dottie West died.

He might even be roughed up a little for continuing to call himself Kenny after he got out of kindergarten. In Texas, some little boys are nicknamed Kenny but when they grow up they switch to Ken or Kenneth before somebody beats the crap out of them.

By the way, Kenny just got selected to play in this year's All Star Game. He gets a bonus for being selected - $50,000.

And that's the truth.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Dada, dada, dada, daaaada - It's Your Birthday!

We were young and she was our first. We were confidant, yet a bit nervous about this parent-hood thing. OK, I confess. I was scared to death.

I'd never had to take care of anybody but myself, then came the responsibility of marriage. That was not a problem because I got lucky and married "up". But this baby thing. What have we done?

Adding to the roller coaster of emotion that comes with expecting a baby came a shocker during the last weeks before she was due to arrive. The doctor made a mis-diagnosis. He said we wouldn't be having a healthy baby afterall - that something had happened and the unborn child would "dissolve" (still a horible sounding word), resulting in a miscarriage.

He was wrong. She was the most perfect, healthy, beautiful baby girl you could imagine. She was the kind of little girl that caused total strangers in public places to stop what they were doing and stare - a big eyed blonde with a permanent happy face.

She and I invented six characters in the form of kittens who were the subjects of bed-time stories. I'd set the plot for a story and she'd add her own version of what would happen next to Inky, Dinky, Blinky, Hot Dog, Playdough and Mavern. We'd both end up giggling until an adult (her Mother, the BW) intervened and restored order by making us both go to bed. She's still just as giggly as she ever was.

After she was born we'd sometimes go in her room at night while she was sleeping and just watch. She was our miracle. She still is.

Happy Birthday Jen.