Friday, October 28, 2005

hallow e'en


We had a pumpkin decorating contest at work. The Pirate and the Screamer were my personal favorites though neither one received recog-

Most of us were puzzled by the judges’ decisions. It’s always interesting to see how people will interpret an “assignment” like this but the reaction to the artist’s effort is often more curious than the work itself. Our judges were the people we work for (our customer). In the case of the Screamer pumpkin, the judges appeared to be slightly miffed and they asked the artist if that was how he felt when he was at work (Yes, of course he does; it’s how most of us feel there). The wolf was nicely rendered and was effectively spooky when lit by a candle. It was the first time I had seen Wal-Mart’s jack-o-lantern kit in action. The kit of tiny carving tools comes with a booklet of paper patterns that you tape to your disemboweled pumpkin as a cutting guide.

This pumpkin is mine. My premise was that jack -o- lanterns are supposed to keep away evil spirits and I wanted a really tough battle-scarred veteran who could handle the job. He’s out working on my front porch as I type this.

At work I was awarded the prize for “The Person Most in Need of Therapy”, a slim tome called The Portable Therapist, which I have no doubt will aid and abet me on my way to the insane asylum.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

20 things

I've been inspired by Hanna and Maria to be braver about telling my own story, so in that vein, here are 20 random things about me:

I’ve been a vegetarian for ten years.

I never get tired of listening to the Beatles or to Mozart.

I love detective stories.

I’ve battled clinical depression for most of my life.

I’m tone deaf.

I was part of a "Jesus Cult" and lived in their communes for two and a half years.

I rarely make up my bed.

Next year I will be the same age as the year I was born. (53)

Freeway driving terrifies me (I have to do it every day).

I lived in Mexico City for 2 months; spent 2 whirlwind weeks in England, Paris, Scotland and Wales.

I like The Three Stooges.

I have documented part of my family tree to the 1600s – I’m still working on other branches.

I use my cell phone about 3 times a year.

I appeared on a local weekly radio program for eight months as “Desert Rose,” sidekick to “Ranger Rita,” queen of the cowgirls on the “Texas Folk Music Show.”

My last three dogs have been rescued strays.

“Memento” is one of my most favorite movies.

I graduated summa cum laude from college.

I want to move away from the big city, maybe live on a couple of acres, maybe raise a few goats and chickens.

I’ve never bought coffee at Starbucks.

I am a first generation native-born American on my dad’s side.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Autumn is the bite of a harvest apple - Petrowsky

Fall has FINALLY arrived. The monarchs have moved on. The sidewalks are littered with acorns, pecans, and sundry tree droppings. After two months of watching cold fronts being deflected by our unnaturally hot dry weather a front finally burst through to North Texas earlier this week. We have had to turn the furnace on the last two mornings and I am consuming gallons of tea to warm me. Of course we’re wimps here. Forty-four degrees is hardly “cold” but coming so fast on the heels of ninety-plus temperatures it feels cold.

While searching for an appropriate quote about Fall I foundElaine’s Autumn Page, which has some nice poems about autumn. Fall’s my favorite time of year, I think, even though we don’t have the wonderfully colored leaves you see in northern climes. It’s a welcome respite from summer’s inferno and always seems like a beginning to me. Winters are short and not too cold except for those times when a “norther” may blow through and chill us for a week or two. People are preparing their gardens and trees for the brief dormant season because when it starts getting warm again they’ll have to work like crazy to get their seeds planted before the sun comes blazing back.

Monday, October 17, 2005

anatomy of a floor

After five years in this dingy old faux-ranch house I decided I couldn’t stand the carpet in the living area any longer. The key word to describe these houses is “DARK”. The walls of this room are paneled in wood so dark it makes the fireplace the lightest part of the room. I’ve put at least six coats of paint in varying shades of white, pink, or yellow over the paneling in attempts to lighten the room. The floor was another source of irritation. Beige carpet showed all the dirt and anything else was too dark. And so much work to vacuum. It had to go.

Underneath the carpet was the original linoleum that had been glued down almost 50 years ago when the house was built. The yellow sun pattern, which can never have been anything but atrocious, made me wonder what people who built and bought these houses could have possibly seen in it. It had become deeply gouged from innumerable furniture legs, had faded unevenly and was beyond cleaning. I wanted to buy some of those snap-together planks of Pergo or engineered wood to cover the ugly mess and maybe install them myself to save money. (My bad back was protesting at the thought of all the bending that would be required.) Unfortunately the linoleum had been affixed to particleboard, a sure sign of crappy American workmanship. It was deteriorating badly along the door from water that had been tracked in over the years and none of the manufacturers would guarantee flooring installed on top of it.

So I’m having real hardwood floors installed by people who know how install them. A week ago two guys ripped out the old particleboard. What a job! It had so many big nails they had to cut the board into 3 foot square sections as it lay and then pull up a section at a time. When you start ripping out stuff you start finding out what your house is really made of. I got to look at the subfloor and it seemed to be much more poorly done than the “cheap” 1940s tract house I used to live in. This neighborhood was built during a time when pier-and-beam foundations were being phased out in favor of slab foundations and the uneven spacing and wide gaps of the subfloor show how builders in the early 60s had begun to prefer quantity over quality. My floor installers left the original tarpaper or “builder’s felt” on the subfloor a

Sunday, October 16, 2005

monarchs of the fall

My spirits have lifted a bit this week with the coming of the butterflies. We are lucky to be on the flight path the monarchs take each year as they journey to Mexico for the winter and many of them stop here to snack & rest on their way. One of my two abelia shrubs was still blooming this week and each morning there were six or eight monarchs and a couple of painted ladies sipping nectar. The little white flowers emit a wonderful fragrance which I imagine to be something like lilacs. (It's been so long since I've been near lilacs in bloom I wouldn't swear to it.) As the coolness of the day dissipated the abelia became host to honeybees and some fuzzy yellow bees about twice their size which I haven't yet identified. The lantanas planted on the other side of the house are currently being frequented by dozens of yellow folded-wing skippers, gulf fritallaries, and pipevine swallowtails.

Depression is a funny thing. It seems like you can't win no matter how you fight it, and then a little something like butterflies can make you feel that just for now everything's ok.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

wheel of fortune

OK, the tv show "LOST" is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

I was looking through some boxes of stuff and found this image: a reproduction of an old Spanish/Gypsy tarot card and it struck me that the writers of "LOST" might have got inspiration from it. I found two of Hurley's numbers: there are 15 spokes in the wheel and 23 lines in the zigzag across the top of the card. But it's really the White Bear that gets me. I wonder what it meant to the people who designed this card.

For more weird LOST stuff check out EGOPLEX, J.M. Berger's web page.