Monday, March 31, 2008

Imelda and Me

Two people live here.

Apparently, one of them is Imelda Marcos.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Great Feet

I've always been partial to Adidas.

Eons ago a friend of mine showed up at class one day wearing a great pair of shoes. Bright white with three diagonal black stripes, they were quite striking.

"Cool shoes!" I said.

"They're Adidas," he replied.

"A dee what?" I must have said.

The word was unfamiliar. Adidas. What kind of word was that?

"Kangaroo skin," he said, "check it out."

I did and was amazed. I guess you could jump higher wearing kangaroo skin shoes. Briefly, I thought about cute little kangaroos being cut up into shoes and put the image out of my mind. Poor Skippy!

The next thought that quickly followed was this:

Must. Have. Shoes.

A few weeks later I was at the mall, came across a shoe store (like about a zillion) and there they were in the window. Adidas white kangaroo skin shoes. Twenty-one bucks.

What? Holy shamoly! Back in the time "sneakers," "tennis shoes" or "trainers" ran about nine bucks. Twenty-one was a fortune. But, I was hooked. In I went and out I came with my own pair of Adidas.

Now, when Adidas first came on the market they were very rare. The sight of bright white leather "tennis shoes" was a novelty and I took great pains to tell people they were made out of kangaroo parts.


"Kangaroo skin!"

"Genuine kangaroo hide."

"Yep, made outta kangaroo. Pretty cool, huh?"

And so it went.

Me and Adidas, we're like that. I had those shoes for years and literally wore them out, tops and bottoms. They were in shreds when I bought a new pair. Eventually, though Adidas moved on as did we all and adopted other materials.

Now, I have a collection of Adidas Oddities. The Oddities are an interesting shoe. Playful but comfortable. The hardest decision I have to make in the morning is which pair I'll wear.

Today I made an astounding discovery. Since all the Adidas I own are the same size, why not mix and match. Or just mix?

The result is happy feet and the occasional explanation.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lord of the Flies

My son brought home his biology experiment this weekend. He thought I'd be fascinated by it.

I was. Totally. Until they escaped.

I was led to believe that he was cloning Girls Gone Wild, but, alas, he was only growing fruit flies. Those little critters sure breed quickly, the flies that is.

Fruit flies are fascinating creatures. They fly but cannot swim. They are attracted to fruity things like fruit and wine, but they cannot swim. They'll land on anything fruity smelling, like fruit or wine, but they cannot swim.

When they land in a wine glass I think they try to swim, although the best they manage is to float.

They've set up shop in my kitchen and my only hope is for a hard freeze to wipe them out.

Hard freeze. In Houston. In March.

It could be a long summer. As they say, time files like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana.

Yes, they actually say that.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Back to Back

“Reverse engines one-quarter, Mr. Sulu. Back us out.”

“Aye, Captain, reverse one-quarter impulse.”

I’m always in command of the USS Enterprise when backing out of a parking slot.

So much more exciting than being the driver of the Ford Explorer when backing out of a parking slot.

Imagine Sulu putting the Enterprise into “R” then craning around to see if it was clear to reverse, scanning for hazards. No, that would be Spock’s job.

“Sensors read an unidentified vessel approaching astern,” Spock interrupted, “ramming speed!”


“Exact configuration unknown, Captain, but it appears to be a late model BMW of the 741 class.”

“BMW 741? They have no regard for human life. We’d best avoid. Mr. Sulu, forward one-half impulse. We’ll wait in space dock for the threat to pass.”

“Mr. Spock, do you think the BMW 741 has seen us?”

“Negative, Captain, the pilot seems to be totally oblivious.”

“Totally oblivious. That’s good. Park us in space dock, Mr. Sulu.”

“Aye, Captain, forward one-half. Easing into space dock.”

“All stop.”

“Aye, Captain, all stop.”

“Spock, report!”

“Captain, the BMW 741 is moving off. We are clear.”

“Good, that was too close for comfort. Mr. Sulu, take us out, AGAIN, at one-quarter impulse.”

“Aye, one-quarter impulse. We are clear of space dock.”

“And if there are no objections gentlemen, and lady, take ‘er home. Warp factor 5.”

“Course laid in, Captain, warp 5.”

Captain’s log, star date 20032008, memo to self. Repair aft phasers at earliest opportunity.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Keep the Chang

I went to our local Asian market to pick up some things for dinner:

Chili paste
Rice sticks
Snow peas
Brown mushrooms
Bean sprouts
Spicy soy sauce
Lime leaves (they never have them)
Pot stickers
Au Pair
Firm tofu

I managed to get most things on the list.

As I was checking out the cashier was in a good mood and quite chatty. The cashier and I are friends of sorts. She’s Mrs. Chang and I’m Mr. Bill.

“Looks like you’re going to cook a feast tonight, Mr. Bill,” Mrs. Chang observed as she scanned my purchases.

“Yep, I’m doing Chicken Pad Thai using leftover roast chicken and all this other stuff. I’m making shrimp tom yum soup, too.”

“What are you going to do with this?” Mrs. Chang held up the firm tofu.

“Well, I’m going to soak it in spicy soy sauce, then stir fry it in the wok and fold it in with the rice stick noodles at the end for the pad thai.”

“You eat tofu?” Mrs. Chang asked, cocking an eye.

“Yeah, it’s OK,” I replied with my Bat Sense on full alert.

Holy Soy Bean, Batman, what is this woman on about?

Calm down, Robin, I’m sure she’s harmless, unless...unless...


Too late.

Mrs. Chang told me all about tofu. “Nasty stuff,” she said, “feed to cat. Cat I don’t like!”

“Promise me,” Mrs. Chang continued, “you never buy this stuff again. You buy chicken or fresh fish. Tofu for cat!”

I paid for my shopping and worked my way home through the traffic and school zones.

That’s one thing about living in Houston. You learn where the school zones are and plot ways to avoid them. Of course, there’s an entire department of street planners who are on a mission to plug up shortcuts with school zone signs.

Well, they missed one and I can bypass three schools by snaking through a neighborhood disguised as a lawn mowing crew. I have to pull a trailer with lawn mowers, leaf blowers and half a dozen workers, but, hey, it’s worth saving 20 minutes or so crossing town.

So, I got home and reviewed my chicken pad thai recipe. Hmmmm, turns out that tofu is optional. It’s a filler. Not needed, exactly. The recipe works just dandy with chicken all by its own self.

Mrs. Chang’s words echoed in my head, “Tofu for cat.”

OK, well, I’ll just give Kink a treat, I thought.

“Yo, Kinkers!” I shouted, “wanna snack? Snacktime for Kinks!”

I heard the telltale scrambling of a cat who’s heard the word “snax” and is on his way to the kitchen for a treat. Sure enough, Kink was rubbing around my ankles in no time awaiting his treat.

“Tofu! Tofu!” I shouted and danced around the kitchen doing an improvised tofu dance. Kink got caught up in the moment and gamboled around the kitchen with me in anticipation. We did the tofu dance and Kink realized he was in for something special.

I went to the counter, opened up the tofu package, drained the water and cut off a few pieces into Kink’s bowl.

Kink was turning little circles on the floor urging me to hurry up.

I put the bowl down and Kink dived into it immediately and with great gusto.

And, just as immediately and with even greater gusto leap back and hissed!

Sssssssssssssssss! Kink was at full alert. Tail fluffed. Claws out. Eyes big.

Quickly, though, he calmed down and approached the bowl sniffing wildly. When he was an inch from his bowl he backed up, wrinkled his nose and tried to bury the bowl. His eyes were closed and he was trying frantically to bury his bowl into the tile floor.

Not a good sign.

After a few minutes of scratching at the bowl and floor he sauntered off into the living room, crawled into my chair in a direct act of defiance, curled up on my TV remote, and went to sleep.

I cleaned out the tofu in the sink and dried his bowl.

Later that evening I announced dinner.

“Dinner’s ready!”

“What are we having?”

“Chicken pad thai.”

“Oh, that sounds good. What’s in it?”

“Chicken, bean sprouts, rice stick noodles and spices.”

“That’s all? Sounds good. Simple, nutritious. You could use tofu instead of chicken, you know.”

I counted to ten. Twice. “Yeah, I read something about that at the Food site. Maybe next time.”

Or maybe not.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stick Me with a Fork, I'm Done!

It's not often that fondue gets featured in a commercial.

Here at Twelve Two Two Fondue we're always on the lookout.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Would I Lie?

Home from an exciting Spring Break trip my daughter wanted to know if I had written anything about her in the book.

“Maybe,” I said warily.

“Maybe what,” the Inquisitor inquired, turning to inspect me more closely.

“Maybe I wrote something, sort of, about you, sort of.”

“That’s two “sort of's” in one sentence, Dad. You wrote a pack of lies, didn’t you?” The Inquisitor was going to get the truth no matter what the cost. “Here’s the book. Read it to me. I want to hear your words.”

I read. She listened.

When I was done I looked up and the Inquisitor was not happy.

Not. Happy. At. All.

Taking a deep breath she held forth. “That was a big pack of lies. I’m an Inquisitor, not a Princess! You portrayed me as a Princess. How could you? You’re a big, fat liar. That’s what you are.”

I shifted in my chair, hurt from the application of such torture: the stinging rebuke, not to mention the fat comment. I had one card to play and I tossed it down hoping to play a trump.

“It’s not a lie. It’s fiction.”

“Same thing,” the Inquisitor huffed, unmoved.

“No, it’s not the same thing,” I said, “A lie is an intentional attempt at deception. A liar knows the truth and deliberately tries to deceive the listener to believe something else.”

“Same thing,” the Inquisitor restated, unmoved.

“Fiction is recognized by everybody to be made up. Fake. Not real. Imagination. The fiction writer never intends to deceive because it is understood by the word ‘fiction’ that the accounting is imaginary.”

The Inquisitor put down her tools of torture and softened slightly.

“So, all that stuff about me you just made up? Like, out of your head? Like, out of thin air?” my daughter asked.

I didn’t like where this line of reasoning was going so I jumped in before the out-of-your-head and out-of-thin-air concepts got linked.

“Yeah, you know, fiction. Made up. Ha ha!” I tried to lighten the mood.

“So, all of it was fake, false, fiction. Not a lie. Tall tale,” my daughter continued, “All the whining, whimpering, childish behavior, petulance and selfishness? All fiction?”

“Yep,” I replied confidently, feeling my oats, “Not a stitch true.”

“Even the Princess part, not true?”

I paused.

“Er, no, uh, well, that part, ahem, was, uh,” I grasped for words but none came so I went with the facts, “true.”

The Inquisitor turned to inspect me more closely.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gas Resolved

If my daughter ever came up to me and said, "Daddy, I'm going to marry a plumber," I would give her my blessing in a New York second.

We have been associated with a plumbing company for about 10 years and they've always been there for us when things backed up, broke, leaked, caught fire, bubbled, gurgled or just didn't work.

Always. Professionally.

I love my plumber, although that admission might make him uneasy.

We concluded the Great Gas Project today and fixed a couple of other gas-related problems in one fell swoop. Now, the gas fireplaces are functioning and we have gas to the cooktop which we thought we were going to have to replace with electric.

Our plumber said, "We can do it," and he did, threading a coiled, stainless steel pipe through a narrow opening to bypass the leak and restore gas to our center island cooker. It was a difficult job and even I pitched in to help by holding cable, lights, tools and coffee.

Thanks to our plumber we have heat in the house, hot water and a cooking surface.

I heart my plumber.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008



Last week we had a special dinner with special friends in Austin.

We dined at Roy's.

Roy's is billed as Hawaiian Fusion which means, I think, a merging of Southwest and Hawaiian cuisine. Shoot me, Roy, if I'm all that wrong.

The combination of seafood fused with spicy southwest flavor, however, is indisputably good evoking thoughts of "I want to have Roy's baby" from around the restaurant.

The decor was subdued and we were offered a corner table away from the raucous bar, suitable for conversation. It was perfect. Roy's specializes in ESP, apparently, because our table was just right. We could enjoy the sights and sounds of the restaurant, but still enjoy intimate conversation amongst ourselves.

We started with Lobster Pot Stickers (not pictured) which were served on a long rectangular tray artistically decorated with spicy miso butter sauce.

This was followed with entrées of butterfish and sablefish. Artfully presented, the meals were served on large, square, heated plates and accompanied by an interesting medley of vegetables and sushi rice.

Desert was ordered when I made the reservations on-line: melting hot chocolate soufflé.

I ordered four.

Four were eaten.

There were no doggie bags.

Melted Hot Chocolate Soufflé

Dooce not tempted! Not at all. Not even a little bit. Not even to the point of licking the plate. Nope. She's a rock!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dooced, Again

What can I say but, "You go, girl!"

My friend, Heather Armstrong, aka Dooce, took top honors at Austin's 2008 South by Southwest Conference and Art Festival.

Dooce swept the slate with:

Best American Blog

Best Designed Blog

Blog of the Year

And, to top it off, Heather received the Bloggies' Lifetime Achievement Award.

It's an outstanding accomplishment for this young writer, photographer, designer and all-round fun person.

And since I'm not averse to name dropping, as I mentioned to the Queen the other day, I am quadruply honored to have had dinner with Heather and Jon on a cold and windy night in Austin last week. Details of that meal and the restaurant will follow shortly.

Today, though, is Dooce's day and from all of us in the blogosphere, High Five!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

More Gas

The lesson learned from the Great Gas Project (still on-going) is that our documentation was woefully out of date.

“Our documentation.” Read that, “I lost track of stuff. It’s my fault. There, I told the entire Internet! Happy now?”

Anyway. Blame it on the paperless society but over time we put our bill on auto-pay and our statements on some email account lost to obscurity.

Today I resolved to get things in order. First, a trip to the Gas Service Company (“service” is our middle name!) website.

I tried to login using a variety of email addresses and passwords but nothing worked. In desperation I tried the oldest email address in recorded history and several tumblers fell into place. Then I keyed in the oldest password in recorded history and the vault creaked open.

But not completely open. There was a toll to be paid.

“Welcome valued customer! Since you haven’t accessed this site in over 12 months we’ll have to ask you a few security questions before you may pass. Press OK to continue.


Question 1: What is your horse’s name?

Answer: I don’t have a horse.


Answer: Silver


Answer: Sea Biscuit

Incorrect. Three attempt failure. Next question.

Question 2: What is your second cousin twice removed mother’s maiden name?

Answer: Who?

Answer: Smith


Answer: Jones

Incorrect. Three attempt failure. Final quesiton.

Question 3: What is Junior Sample’s phone number?

(Ohh, ohh, I knew this one.)

Answer: br549

Incorrect. Answer is case sensitive.

Answer: BR549


Answer: Br 549

Incorrect. Three attempt failure. Your account has been locked. To unlock your account call the Gas Service Company Customer Service line. Thank you and have a nice day.

“Well, isn’t that special,” I thought. Looking through the website I found a link to Customer Service and a toll-free number. I dialed it.

Welcome to the Gas Service Company Customer Service service. For English, press 1.


Please listen carefully as our options have changed. To report a leak press 1, for billing enquiries press 2, for rate plans press 3, to reset your password press 4, for all other inquiries press 0.


To reset your password press 1, for all other enquiries press 0.


Enter your account number followed buy the pound sign.


Enter your street address followed by the pound sign.


Enter your phone number followed by the pound sign.


Enter your account number for verification followed by the pound sign.


To reset your password confirm by pressing 1.


Our business office is currently closed. Please call back during regular business hours Monday through Friday, 7 AM to 9 PM Eastern Standard time. Thank you have have a good day.

Slowly I turned...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Out of Gas

Monday, 6 AM

“You need to check the bar-b-que. I went out back this morning and smelled gas. I think the tank is leaking. Bye, I’m off to work.”

That’s the last thing I needed to hear at 6 AM, a complicated set of instructions. I rolled over and drifted back to sleep. I was driving a tank and it was almost out of gas. Pulling into our local gas station I looked down for the control that opened the gas cap door.

I couldn’t find it among the complicated maze of buttons, levers, handles and dials. I pushed a likely button and the trunk lid popped up. The next button I tried opened the sun roof. It was raining and I couldn’t find the button to close the roof. I pulled a handle and the turret swung around.

I was wet, out of gas, frustrated and Kink was attacking my toes with his sharp little claws and teeth. He thought my thrashing around was a game and was eager to join in. Suddenly, I was eager to get his claws out of my ankle.

“Kink, old buddy, chase this!” and I threw one of his cat toys that I keep in a stash on the nightstand. Kink dutifully chased after the stuffed mouse losing interest in my feet.

Daylight in the Swamp, I thought, and made my way to the shower.

Later, over a bowl of Special K, I glanced up and caught sight of the bar-b-que pit on the patio. Dimly, a voice rose in my semi-consciousness:

“You need to check the bar-b-que. I went out back this morning and smelled gas. I think the tank is leaking. Bye, I’m off to work.”

Sighing I went out to the patio and sniffed. Smelled like Texas. Hibiscus with a hint of longhorn. No gas. I checked the propane tank and the valve was shut. To be on the safe side I squirted a little soapy water on the fittings. No bubbles. No leaks. False alarm. But, better safe than sorry.

Tuesday, 6 AM

“You need to check the spare propane tank in the garage. I smell gas and I think it’s leaking. I put the tank in the driveway. Bye, I’m off to Midland. See you tomorrow night.”

Stop the madness, I thought! What’s next, a volcano in the back yard? I drifted back to sleep. I was driving a tank up a steep slope, hot lava running on either side of me. In the distance I heard, “Mr. Frodo! Mr. Frodo!” I tried to go faster but I was out of gas. My tank sputtered to a halt. Suddenly I was lifted on a river of lava and tumbled down the side of the volcano. Just before hitting the bottom I heard a familiar sound, “Purrrrrrrr-RUP?” Kink was on the bed chasing a three-legged lizard on the bed. I assumed the lizard had four legs prior to meeting Kink. Time for a shower.

Later while chomping on an English muffin words surfaced from my semi-consciousness.

“You need to check the spare propane tank in the garage. I smell gas and I think it’s leaking. I put the tank in the driveway. Bye, I’m off to work.”

I got up, went into the garage and opened the door. There on the driveway was the propane tank. I sniffed. It smelled like a Texas garage, oil with a hint of longhorn.

Returning to the driveway with my soap mixture I tested the valves for leaks. No bubbles. No leaks. False alarm. But, better safe than sorry. I hauled the propane bottle back to the garage and closed the door.

Wednesday, 7 PM

Usually I get a “Honey, I’m home!” but tonight I got “I smell gas in the garage. Did you check the tank?”

Yes, I checked the tank.

“Well, I still smell gas. And it smells like gas in the kitchen. I think we have a leak.”

Later, during dinner, “Do you hear that rumble in the wall? Why is the wall rumbling?”

I put my ear to the wall and sure enough heard a noise more like gas bubbling through water. Hmmmm, maybe I should turn off the gas at the meter. I got my flashlight and wrench and went to the side of the house, found the meter valve and turned it off.

The bubbling noise stopped.

We called the Gas Service Company Emergency Hotline and within 20 minutes the serviceman pulled into the driveway. It didn’t take him long to determine that, yes, we did have a gas leak and it was a pretty big one. Luckily we caught it early, but he was going to have to remove the meter and cap the gas line until we could contact a plumber to troubleshoot the source of the leak and either isolate it or fix it.

Great. No cooking, no hot water, no heat. A Canadian front had just blown through and the temperature was dropping to the 30’s.

“You’ll have enough hot water to last you until the morning,” the serviceman advised cheerily.
By now it was nearly midnight, but I called our plumber and got his answering service. The operator took our details and promised we’d get a call in the morning around 7 AM.

Thursday, 7 AM

Today was doubly, triply, complicated. First, we had to rearrange our work schedules, move or cancel meetings and organize ourselves to get the gas leak problem solved. Second, we had planned to drive to Austin for a special dinner which meant we had to get the leak problem sorted out by 4 PM at the latest. Fortunately, things went mostly well.

The good news was that the plumber came out and identified the source of the leak. The bad news was that the leak was isolated to the gas pipe feeding our gas cooktop. The pipe was under the concrete slab in the kitchen. Not an easy fix. Possibly not fixable at all.

It was 4 PM. We were out of time and had to go.

Friday, 6 AM

We departed Austin for the two and a half hour drive to Houston, planning the next stage of what had become the Great Gas Project. There were two critical stages: getting an inspection by the City Engineer and restoring gas service to the house so we could have heat and hot water.

Surprisingly, the City Engineer inspection was easy and we passed, but getting scheduled to restore service bordered on surreal.

“Thanks for calling Gas Service Company. How can I help you?”

“Hi, uh, we had a leak the other day and your guy came out and capped our pipe. We got the leak fixed and we need to restore service.”

“Hold for one moment.”

Twenty minutes of ABBA’s Greatest Hits.



“We can schedule you for April 26th. Is that OK?”

“April 26th? We won’t have any heat or hot water until the end of April?”

“If that’s not a good date then our next available opening is May 19th.”
“You’re kidding.”

“Sir, our April availability just closed. We can restore service on June 4th. Would you like me to schedule that date?”

“No, I’d like to speak to your supervisor.”

“One moment, sir, I’m going to put you on hold while I locate a supervisor.”

After listening to ABBA’s Greatest Hits three times I hung up.

I called the Gas Service Company Emergency Hotline.

“Gas Service Company Emergency Hotline. How may I assist you?”

“We have no gas, it’s 39 degrees, we have no heat or hot water and my wife is a trained Army sniper who’s running out of patience.”

“Right, sir, I have your account here and if we can just confirm a few details we can get your service reconnected. We need to have the following documentation in order. Are you ready?”

“Ready. Fire away. Oh, not you, honey, I’m talking to the guy at the Gas Service Company.”

“OK, here we go. Plumber certification?” Check.

“City inspection?” Check.

“Broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West?” Got it.

“Killed a gorgon?” Two hours ago, pictures on Facebook.

“Authorization letter from Dick Cheney?” What, we don’t need Cheney’s authorization. According to your website all we need is the gorgon.

“Sorry, sir, but Cheney authorization was required as of this morning. No Cheney, no service.” Hang on, I replied, I’m calling him now.

“OK, sir, thanks, we just received Cheney’s authorization from an undisclosed location. We’re good to go. Our serviceman will be at your house shortly.”

The doorbell rang.

Hey, Gas Service Company Guy, I’ve got to go, there’s somebody at the door. Later.

I went to the front door and met the Gas Service Company serviceman.

Friday, 8 PM

OK, sir, you’re all hooked up and you’ll have hot water in about two hours. Thanks for doing business with the Gas Service Company and, remember, Service is our middle name.

Yeah, I’ll remember that, I said, and as I closed the front door the lights went out.

Friday, March 07, 2008

No Doubt

For those of you of little faith who doubted the Great Hippo Calamity comes proof!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New E Key

You don't need another laptop.

How many times have I heard that? How many?

It's not about "need." It's about keeping up with the Jones.

Like, Basketball Jones, I got a Laptop Jones.

So, to cut to the chase, the new Key of E arrived this morning, a day earlier than I expected.

I ordered it on-line Saturday, it shipped Monday from Shanghai, China. It arrived in Anchorage, Alaska yesterday and arrived on my doorstep this morning at 9:19 A.M.

Custom laptop, built, shipped and delivered from Shanghai, China in four days.

How much further can the World shrink?

I was enjoying my morning coffee, reading the newspaper when the FedEx truck pulled up outside. I know the sound of the FedEx truck; quite different from the UPS truck. The FedEx guy, Ali, knows me by name.

"You bought another laptop," Ali stated in an accusatory tone, "I just brought you a laptop not that long ago."

"It was two years, Ali," I replied as gently as I could while signing his tablet manifest, "Two years. 2006. Eons ago."

Ali pondered as I handed him the manifest. "We'll be having this conversation in 2010, won't we?"

"Count on it," I replied. At that moment the phone rang. "Hey, thanks, Ali, but I've got to take that call. It's probably Hillary, again."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Phone Calls

*ring* *ring*

Yello, this is Bill!

“Hello, this is Hillary Clinton.”

Yo, Hills, wazzup, babe?

“Today is a very important day.”

Yo, Hills, every day is an important day. I live by important days. Today, the pool guy comes. That’s important. I got to shop. That’s important. Yo, I hear you, girl!

“You can make a difference.”

Yo, Hills, I make a difference every day. I’m out and about with my crew and we’re making it, you know, a difference. We’re doing things, like, differently. Just today, for example, I ordered a TALL coffee of the day instead of a GRANDE coffee of the day. My contribution to the atmosphere. That’s different!

“It’s important that you participate in this process.”

Hey, that’s what she said! Get it? Oh, well, yeah, you’re right as usual. I need to get out there and express my opinion. I’ll need lots of spray paint for that. Thanks, Hills, for the encouragement.

“And, remember, it’s not who you vote for but that you vote.”

So, you think it’s OK if I vote for the other guy? Hills? Hey, Hills, are you there?


Hills, baby, how can we have a relationship if you keep hanging up? You’re, like, stressing me out.

[some time later]

*ring* *ring*



It’s for you.

Who is it?

John McCain.

Again? OK, put him on.

Yo, John-meister, what up bro?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Glad to be Awake

I dreamed I was having a heart attack.

In my dream I was lying on the grass in a park watching shapes in the clouds when suddenly my left arm became heavy and I had a hard time breathing.

I clutched my chest.

People walked by, oblivious to my condition.

I tried to cry out but only mouthed a few words in silent slow motion.

Looking up the clouds parted and a pair of yellow, devil eyes appeared. They were devil eyes because the irises were vertical, the pupils yellow and glowing.

It was the Devil!

I was dying and going to Hell!

Then the Devil made a charming purrrrr-RUP noise that Kink uses to tell me he’s around and about.

I opened my eyes and stared into Kink’s yellow devil eyes. Kink blinked slowly and dug his claws into my chest in a gesture of love.

Ah, Kinkster, you old devil. I scratched him behind the ears and he put his chin on my chest and purred. Within seconds Kink’s breathing became regular and rhythmic and I knew he was asleep. As I continued to scratch his back he stretched out, kicked his legs a few times and sighed.

Kink runs around all day and seldom sleeps or naps. He’s always checking out what’s happening and doesn’t want to miss anything, whether it’s the barky dogs next door, the pool guy or the folks who walk the bichon frises 90 times a day. Kink is there. It must wear him out because by the time we turn in for the day Kink is right there with us.

The sleep of the innocent.

The sound of a train rumbled in the distance and I drifted off.

“Tickets! Tickets, please. Sir, do you have a ticket for your cat?”

I fumbled in my pocket but couldn’t find a ticket for Kink.

“I thought I had one,” I pleaded to the Conductor, “but I seem to have misplaced it.”

The Conductor’s eyes narrowed and turned yellow with vertical slits.

I clutched my chest.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Maque Choux Collision

I was driving along, minding my own business, thinking about corn.

I was driving along, minding my own business, composing a menu for dinner.

Maque choux. That’s the ticket! Corn and onions and tomatoes and something else. I was starting to think about the something else when I realized I was driving along at 20 miles per hour.

Wha? 20 MPH?

You know, it’s illegal to drive at 20 MPH in Texas. Yes, it’s true. Even school zones are marked at 75 and you can get a ticket for doing less than 90. The speedometer in my truck starts at 50.

So, here I was cruising along behind a lady on a cell phone and joggers were running by laughing. Squirrels were throwing acorns at the cab. Kids on skateboards were doing ollies over the hood and grinding on the cargo rails.

It was embarrassing.

Cell Phone Lady, meanwhile, was totally absorbed in her call and totally oblivious to the traffic stacked up behind her, the squirrels, joggers and skateboarders.

I switched to NASCAR mode and the announcer, his voice so clear...

It’s a fine day out here at Sweetwater Raceway and the excitement is building with only one lap to go.

Ricky Billy is right on the tail of Cell Phone Lady and it looks like he’s going to attempt his trademark move, the Switch-a-Roo. Yes, Ricky Billy has downshifted and pulled out to pass Cell Phone Lady taking advantage of the left turn lane green arrow!

It’s a gutsy move but if anybody can pull it off it’s Ricky Billy. Look at him go. He has got the arrow and is home free!

But, wait! Cell Phone Lady still has a few tricks up her sleeve! She’s making an illegal left turn from the right lane without signaling! Brilliant! Ricky Billy is going to have to brake hard to avoid a huge fireball and, sure enough, he throws out the anchor, screeching to a halt only inches from the pedestrian crosswalk.

Cell Phone Lady doesn’t even look back and sails through the green arrow and under the checkered flag for an unexpected win to this exciting NASCAR event!

Ricky Billy looks pretty upset there at the pedestrian crosswalk and if I didn’t know better I’d say he was swearing in bad French.

The NASCAR announcer faded into the background.

After a cycle of the traffic light I arrived at Kroger’s, slightly rattled, to pick up ingredients for dinner. Corn, onions, tomatoes and something else.

The veggie section of the store was just being stocked and everything looked great. Fresh corn, onions, tomatoes and okra.

Okra! That’s it! The missing ingredient. Great, now I had all the stuff I needed for my maque choux.

Returning home without incident or crazy Cell Phone Lady drivers I set about to prepare the maque choux.

Here’s the blueprint:

fresh corn
bell pepper (I had a red one)
fresh tomato
fresh thyme (I had sage)
salt and pepper

Sauté the onion, corn, celery and pepper until the onion and corn is caramelized. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Add some water if the mixture looks too thick or dry.

This batch turned out particularly well and I couldn’t wait to serve it.

Then, the questioning began.

What’s this?

Maque choux!

With okra? And sage?

Well, yeah, with okra. Doesn’t it always have okra?

No. Your okra and tomato thing has okra in it. Maque choux just has corn, onion, tomatoes and thyme. No okra. No sage.

Are you sure, I asked, before I thought that question through?

Definitely. Here look at the recipe.

Ah. I guess rather than a near miss I had a collision after all. I call this Okra Tomato Thingie Maque Choux Collision. What do you think?

I think it’s very good but would be even better without the sage.

Yeah, but then it wouldn’t be a collision.


Sage advice.