Sunday, July 31, 2005


Please............ have fun. I can think of a few captions for these pictures, but I'd love to see what other people can come up with.

I've mentioned that my cat thinks the dog is her momma? And that the dog's not too crazy about the idea, but HE'S a nice dog?

Have fun.

Picture A

Picture B

I'm so GLAD I don't have squirrels in my backyard.

I found this story on a garden club online that I'm a member of (

It makes me very glad I don't see squirrels in my yard... GOOD DOG BRAIN!

Neighborhood Hazard (or: Why the Cops Won't Patrol Brice Street Anymore)

I never dreamed slowly cruising on my motorcycle through a residential neighborhood could be so incredibly dangerous! Little did I suspect...

I was on Brice Street - a very nice neighborhood with perfect lawns and slow traffic. As I passed an oncoming car, a brown furry missile shot out from under it and tumbled to a stop immediately in front of me. It was a squirrel, and must have been trying to run across the road when it encountered the car. I really was not going very fast, but there was no time to brake or avoid it - it was that close. I hate to run over animals, and I really hate it on a motorcycle, but a squirrel should pose no danger to me. I barely had time to brace for the impact. Animal lovers, never fear. Squirrels, I discovered, can take care of themselves!

Inches before impact, the squirrel flipped to his feet. He was standing on his hind legs and facing my oncoming Valkyrie with steadfast resolve in his little beady eyes. His mouth opened, and at the last possible second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the scream was squirrel for, "Bonzai!" or maybe, "Die you gravy-sucking, heathen scum!" The leap was nothing short of spectacular ... as he shot straight up, flew over my windshield, and impacted me squarely in the chest.

Instantly, he set upon me. If I did not know better, I would have sworn he brought 20 of his little buddies along for the attack. Snarling, hissing, and tearing at my clothes, he was a frenzy of activity. As I was dressed only in a light t-shirt, summer riding gloves, and jeans this was a bit of a cause for concern. This furry little tornado was doing some damage! Picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser,dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and leather gloves, puttering at maybe 25 mph down a quiet residential street, and in the fight of his life with a squirrel. And losing...

I grabbed for him with my left hand. After a few misses, I finally managed to snag his tail. With all my strength, I flung the evil rodent off to the left of the bike, almost running into the right curb as I recoiled from the throw. That should have done it. The matter should have ended right there. It really should have. The squirrel could have sailed into one of the pristinely kept yards and gone on about his business, and I could have headed home. No one would have been the wiser.

But this was no ordinary squirrel. This was not even an ordinary peeved-off squirrel. This was an EVIL MUTANT ATTACK SQUIRREL OF DEATH! Somehow he caught my gloved finger with one of his little hands and, with the force of the throw, swung around and with a resounding thump and an amazing impact, he landed squarely on my back and resumed his rather anti-social and extremely distracting activities. He also managed to take my left glove with him! The situation was not improved. Not improved at all. His attacks were continuing, and now I could not reach him.

I was startled to say the least. The combination of the force of the throw, only having one hand (the throttle hand) on the handlebars, and my jerking back unfortunately put a healthy twist through my right hand and into the throttle. A healthy twist on the throttle of a Valkyrie can only have one result. Torque. This is what the Valkyrie is made for, and she is very, very good at it. The engine roared and the front wheel left the pavement. The squirrel screamed in anger. The Valkyrie screamed in ecstasy. I screamed in ... well ... I just plain screamed.

Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a slightly squirrel-torn t-shirt, wearing only one leather glove, and roaring at maybe 50 mph and rapidly accelerating down a quiet residential street on one wheel and with a demonic squirrel on his back. The man and the squirrel are both screaming bloody murder. With the sudden acceleration I was forced to put my other hand back on the handlebars and try to get control of the bike. This was leaving the mutant squirrel to his own devices, but I really did not want to crash into somebody's tree, house, or parked car. Also, I had not yet figured out how to release the throttle .... my brain was just simply overloaded.

I did manage to mash the back brake, but it had little effect against the massive power of the big cruiser. About this time the squirrel decided that I was not paying sufficient attention to this very serious battle (maybe he is an evil mutant NAZI attack squirrel of death), and he came around my neck and got INSIDE my full-face helmet with me. As the faceplate closed partway, he began hissing in my face.

I am quite sure my screaming changed intensity. It had little effect on the squirrel, however.

The RPMs on The Dragon maxed out (since I was not bothering with shifting at the moment) so her front end started to drop. Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a very raggedly-torn t-shirt, wearing only one leather glove, roaring at probably 80 mph, still on one wheel, with a large puffy squirrel's tail sticking out of the mostly closed full-face helmet.

By now the screams are probably getting a little hoarse. Finally I got the upper hand ... I managed to grab his tail again, pulled him out of my helmet, and slung him to the left as hard as I could. This time it worked ... sort-of. Spectacularly sort-of ... so to speak. Picture a new scene. You are a cop. You and your partner have pulled off on a quiet residential street and parked with your windows down to do some paperwork. Suddenly a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a torn t-shirt flapping in the breeze, and wearing only one leather glove, moving at probably 80 mph on one wheel, and screaming bloody murder roars by and with all his strength throws a live squirrel grenade directly into your police car.

I heard screams. They weren't mine... I managed to get the big motorcycle under control and dropped the front wheel to the ground. I then used maximum braking and skidded to a stop in a cloud of tire smoke at the stop sign of a busy cross street.I would have returned to fess up (and to get my glove back). I really would have. Really. Except for two things. First, the cops did not seem interested or the slightest bit concerned about me at the moment.When I looked back, the doors on both sides of the patrol car were flung wide open. The cop from the passenger side was on his back, doing a crab walk into somebody's front yard, quickly moving away from the car. The cop who had been in the driver's seat was standing in the street and was aiming a shotgun at his own police car.

So the cops were not interested in me. They often insist to "let the professionals handle it" anyway. That was one thing. The other? Well, I could clearly see shredded and flying pieces of foam and upholstery from the back seat. But I could also swear I saw the squirrel in the back window, shaking his little fist at me, shooting me the finger ...

That is one dangerous squirrel. And now he has a patrol car. A somewhat shredded patrol car ... but it was all his.
I took a deep breath, turned on my turn-signal, made a gentle right turn off of Brice Street, and sedately left the neighborhood. I decided it was best to just buy myself a new pair of gloves. And some Band-Aids.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Time for a garden update... with Critters!

This is that new bed I planted this spring. It's filled in nicely and the ferns are even beginning to spread, pushing up curled fronds here and there. Occasionally, I decide those frond don't go there, and then they're gone!

Time to repot this plant. I can't remember what it's called. It started out as a house plant given to me as a gift. It was in a 6 inch pot. Time to divide it and plant some of it in the shady parts of the garden. I tried it out in the bed above, and though you can't see it, the plant's beginning to do okay.

There have been some violets growing behind the airconditioner since I moved here 5 years ago. I love them, as they are beautiful, hardy and I don't have to take care of them at all, other than reminding good Sr. Medina not to weed whack them.

A cluster of the little gems.

Do you want to know what dug this hole? Me neither. I have my suspicions, and they aren't happy ones.

What's Lady Spit Fire looking at? As she's hiding in the dog house... aka "the Doggy Condo" ?

It COULD be the doves on the ground. Not these of course, they're smart enough to be up in the tree.

It might have been the nice red cardinal on the ground.

Either way, she came up empty. More dove feathers in the house. A few more and I might stuff a pillow for her, or just tie them together as a kitty toy. Then she could kill IT!

And, finally, a lucky shot of a visiting bunny. Lucky, cause the bunny's not in MY yard.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My Great Grandma Picked Up Sailors

No, really. She did!

My grandma told me a story about her mom, my MawMaw.

I knew my Maw Maw......and believe every word of this story.

My MawMaw used to go out wade fishing in Corpus Christi Bay. She was only 4 foot 10 inches tall, so when she went out far enough to fish, she was up to her armpits. She was in her late 60's early 70's, back in the late 60's and 70's. She was a good fisherwoman. She usually caught whatever was biting and kept anything big enough to fry. She made a mean fried eel.

I haven't had fried eel since she died and do wish I could have it again. I never quite have managed to duplicate her cornmeal crust. It was wonderful. When she had a fish like sand trout, croaker, flounder or redfish, we'd even knaw on the fins that crust was so good.

Occasionally, we tease my mom that my dad married her so he could have free access to my Maw Maw's cooking.

Anyway, as she fished, she often ran across young sailors stationed at the Naval Base. They were too young to drink or go to the clubs legally and Corpus didn't have all that much for a young man not bent on trouble to do. So, they fished. They must have been thunderstruck at the sight of a little old lady with hair whiter than snow, a face that showed every laugh she'd ever roared, a short round body almost as big around as she was tall, carrying at least one pole, a stringer, a bait bucket, a pair of pliers or two and a knife, wading out beside them.

Occasionally, in season, the pole was joined by a flounder gig, and she was known to float a crab trap nearby, baited with a few chicken necks. She liked crab.

Many of the young sailors, being basically landlubbers who thought the Navy would be fun*, didn't really know how to fish. More specifically, they often didn't have a clue how to wade fish in a shallow bay. My MawMaw helped'm out, showing them how, where, when and what to use for bait. She also showed'm what to throw back and taught them to stay away from hardhead catfish, and provided some medical care when they didn't follow instructions.

( ) for reasons you don't wanna mess with a hard heads. Good eating, but mean little buggers.

Then, she'd take a couple home (sailors AND fish), show'm how to clean the catch and fry it up for breakfast. She had regulars.

My grandma said she had fun telling people her mom picked up sailors and had them over for breakfast. She claimed she rarely told the whole story. Said it was funner to watch the people's faces. She and my dad got along real well.

Oh yah, Maw Maw was my mom's grandmother. Seems there is a long line of women in my family known to not let anything stop them from doing what they wanted to do. I need to remember that more often. I wanna go fishing. Any sailors out there?

* back then, the recruiting jingle was "Join the Navy and See the World", and my dad says it was true, to a certain extent. Mostly tho, he said you mainly saw a lot of other guys in underwear trying to sleep and not get seasick. Fun, fun, fun!

Tribute, and why I love Texas small towns.

Comfort, Texas. You should be proud of yourselves.



I've heard back from the person who told me that my "health issues" were too much for him. Seems he wants me to come in for an interview. Could it be?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Open My Heart


Open my heart,
And let fly the joy:
A child's laughter ringing,
A soft voice singing,
Lover's meeting,
Loving greeting.

Open my heart,
And let fly the joy:
A flower's bud and seed,
A kind and thoughtful deed,
The first raindrop and the last,
The welcomed warmth of hands clasped.

Open my heart,
And let fly the joy:
One perfect bloom of rose,
One loyal dog's nose,
Marshmallow clouds floating in blue,
My first memory of the wonder of you.

Open my heart,
And let fly the joy:
A river's flow, both deep and fast,
A remembered lover's face from the past,
Holding true and holding strong,
Holding loved one's memory long.
Nancy France
copyright 1999
May all those who love, love long and love well.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Peanut butter sandwiches.

I was reading a post on the Sarcastic Journalist's blog ( )about how hard it is to sleep with a wriggly baby. As I was reading the comments, what my youngest brother did to my dad with peanut butter popped into my head. Be prepared. This is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

You have to understand, my dad was in charge of the night shift at our house. Mom was a nurse, and she worked from 11 pm to 7 am. She was there during the day, (sleeping while we were at school) and Dad was there at night. I don't say Mom slept WELL during the day.. but that's another story.

So, Dad was the one we went to when we had a nightmare, earaches, toothaches or tummy troubles. Come to think of it, he probably had years where he didn't sleep too well either. Five kids have a LOT of all of the above, and we took turns. My dad got so he could pretty much sleep through anything, as it wasn't unusual for him to go to bed by himself and wake up with anywhere from 1 to 4 kids sleeping in the bed with him, on him, on each other, and when necessary.......on the floor. He got used to looking down before walking too.

He was good at night. If you had an earache, as I did a lot, he would try everything from warm cloths to (and yes, I'd never do this but it was an old remedy and he was careful!) holding my ear above the flame of a candle. This last remedy was saved for times nothing else worked, and it did help. I don't know why, unless the heat relieved some of the pressure. My favorite remedy was for him to hold me with sore ear placed right over his heart. Somehow, that steady lub lub always made me feel better.

With five kids in the house, we got pretty good at taking care of ourselves when need be. We were allowed to make a sandwich if hungry and have a glass of milk (never much soda in the house-too expensive- but we bought milk four gallons at a time-- two or three times a week).
Even the "little kids" my youngest sister and brother knew how to push a chair up to the counter, reach down a cup, peanut butter and bread and a knife and make a sandwich. Still, at age three, my brother L. was precocious in his sandwich making abilities. When awake, the rest of us did our best to prevent him from climbing, but the little guy was not only good at figuring out ways to get high enough to do what he wanted to do, he was also patient.

One night, L. woke up hungry. He was about three almost four and just beginning to taste the first delights of being able to take care of things by himself. So, he went into the kitchen, scooted a chair (quietly) to the counter, assembled all the necessary things for the peanut butter sandwich, and had a ball. The next day, we wiped peanut butter from places I didn't know peanut butter would stick to--but it did. Dad was not involved in this clean up, for reasons that will become clear very soon.

L. was pleased with himself. He'd had a feast, and no pesky older brothers and sisters or parents to tell him that dreaded and hated word "NO". He was so pleased with himself that he decided to take the peanut butter, a bread knife and a piece of bread back to bed with him. Well, to be honest...not HIS bed. My dad's bed.

L. continued his feast, spreading peanut butter on the pillow, head board and various parts of the sheets. As I mentioned before, my father'd developed the ability to sleep through anything. I suspect the ability was first developed while serving aboard a ship at sea, but it was perfected by long years of little kids climbing into bed with him. One kid with some peanut butter didn't disturb his slumber in the slightest. Too bad.

I suspect waking up in the morning in a bed covered in peanut butter would have been bad enough. Waking up in a bed covered in peanut butter, bread crumbs, a table knife and a sticky boy child? Hey a little worse. The thing that made my father swear off of peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter cookies and peanuts altogether was the fact that my brother, at this tender age of three...had a tendency to wet the bed. And he'd had a lot of milk with that clandestine peanut butter feast.

My father, bless him, does not have a strong stomache. He can change diapers, but it is a real trial for him. It's not that he doesn't want to do his part. He can change 'wet' diapers with the quickness and facility of any veteran parent. Just don't ask him to do the other kind. 'Cause afterwards, when the kid is diapered and clean...he'll be out of commission for a few moments.

He still doesn't like peanut butter. It's just that, after 35 years or so... he's learned to tolerate it again. Barely.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More Rain is Good, Discrimination Sucks the Big One

Two Mexican Whitewing doves hanging around the feeder. They tend to bully the other birds, but the finches and some of the sparrows just ignore them, knowing that the doves are slow.

Miss Spit Fire almost caught a bird yesterday. She came within a close inch of catching one of the finches feeding on the ground. I'm not sure what she'd do with a bird if she caught one. Probably drop it quick if it flapped it's wings too hard. Not to be denied a victory, Miss Spit finally just picked up one of the dove feathers and came inside. We've several feathers inside now. Was wondering how they'd gotten in, now I know. They're trophies.

More rain is a good thing. It's just that it scares the dog, he comes and sits on my feet and then pants. And drools. Silly dog.

Good news: I'm going to get to continue the job with Humoungous Oil Company for another month. The engineer we'd been teaching isn't quite fluent enough yet. In one month, they wanted fluent? He does pretty well considering! Oh well.

Bad vibes. I applied for a job I found on . It sounded perfect for me:

Qualifications: Candidates should have strong grasp of ESL teaching techniques in addition to appropriate experience. Equally importantly, I am looking for candidates with warm and engaging personalities. You should be someone who truly enjoys relating to others (particularly your students). This is important to me on a personal level (bc it's my personality and the business atmosphere that I promote) and it's the personality type that I feel will do best with our Latin American clientelle who are culturally very warm and relationship-oriented people. It is my hope to find teachers that can grow with this program over the long-term.

Believe me. I'd be perfect for the job. I could even make sure the boss person uses spell check.

The answer I got:

Your background sounds interesting. I'm wondering if you feel that your health issues might create the potential for attendance problems at work. I must be honest in saying that it would be really hard on me to have a teacher who had significant issues with being able to show up to workconsistently in addition to bringing the type of energy that is so important to creating a positive and stimulating atmosphere to the classroom.

By the way...the answer to that is NO. My health would not preclude my being an effective teacher in this situation. Chasing down first graders might be a little hard on me, but the grown ups shouldn't run very fast. And besides, the cane comes in handy for tripping people.

Sigh. I shouldn't joke, I suppose.

It's not funny.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

T'under and Rumblin's

We are having WAYYY more rain than I was expecting. So far, we've not had any flooding in our neck of the woods (okay...suburbia), as the ground was so dry that the first few days the secondary sound, after raindrops hitting the ground, was raindrops being SLUURRRPPEEPED up thirstily by the ground and plants.

Now tho, we're getting just the first hints of some ponding in the backyard. (this picture is of Brain Dog's favorite runasfastasanydogcan route around the yard).

I may take this opportunity of RAIN to try to seed the bare areas...AGAIN. I think I seed these areas about 3 to 4 times a year.......for the last 3 years. The bald patches are filling in, but it takes so long in the shade and where the dog.. errrr.. "goes". Give me another 5 years, and that back yard WILL have grass everywhere. That, or I'll have all the places the dog runs paved.

Dang. I wish I could figure out how to put these pictures in properly oriented. (vertical vs horizontal)

This pothos ivy has escaped a pot I'd planted it in and is growning up the fence. This ivy stays small leaved when in a pot, but starts to sport HUGE leaves when rooted firmly in the ground. And I SWEAR..the dog's learned to SMILE every time I point a camera at him.

Hurricane Emily looks as if it'll pass far to the south of us. We may get more rain when the outer bands stir up the weather patterns, but miss the winds completly. Time to contribute to the Red Cross, as it looks as if Mexico will be hit, and they'll need some help afterwards. Which reminds me. I don't often rant...well I TRY not to... but it really CHAPS MY BUTT when people pray to have the hurricane miss them and hit someone else. Now, I'm all for praying, but I will NOT pray for God to spare ME and whomp on someone else. Better, in my opinion, to ask God for protection for all in the hurricane's path, let Him handle it and then be ready to help neighbors as they need it.

The hubby man, whom I will now and henceforth refer to as "the Mister 'Pup" prepare for hurricanes like this:

1) We don't buy a lot of water, a couple of cases of small bottles as drinking water, but the rest of the water we'll need we'll have stored in some collapsible 5 gallon water containers we bought from a camping supply store. That way, we fill them up only when needed, the water doesn't go bad. Stored water can go stale, and grow bacteria. Don't keep it longer than a month or two, even in commercially prepared containers.
2) Pet food and supplies. Our dog and cat are our fur children. We won't be going anywhere they can't. We've got some cages for both of them that fit, when disassembled, into the van. We have a spare kitty litter box and kitty litter already set aside. Even if they or WE have to stay in our van. They are going with us.
3) Human food. Taken care of, we keep canned food on hand and replenish as we use it during the year. We've a portable gas grill and several small canisters of propane stored safely, as well as a charcoal grill and a small supply of charcoal. If power's going to be out longer than that, we'd not be able to stay at the house anyway (health issues) and we'd have to relocate to somewhere electricity was available.
4) Van and car are kept at full or 3/4 at minimum.
5) Our families (Mr. Pup and mine) know that if a hurricane comes towards the parents who live on the coast (MINE-- live 30 feet above sea level) The parents go to one of my sisters living farther inland and near a very good hospital (Dad and Mom both need access to health care) and my other sister and her family heads towards us. There's an advantage to living on the dry side of town. If things become worse even here, we go to my in-laws, near Austin.
6)Medicines: both the 'Pup and I are on several daily meds. We keep them in plastic boxes, ready to grab and pack at a moment's notice. We can grab them, even if we grab nothing else but them and the "kids" and dive into the closet in case of tornados. We generally keep a packed suitcase with comfortble clothing and extra "necessaries", which in my case includes a book and booklight.
7) Batteries. Rechargeable, flashlights everywhere around house.. Really.

Yah, I know. We're the poster children for preparedness. 'Pup has been hit by 3 tornados in his earlier life (before ME) and gets a little.....focused.... when thunderstorms and sheer markers pop up in our area. Me, I like thunderstorms, but I really RESPECT hurricanes.

We had a doozy of a thunderstorm earlier today, before noon. The 'Pup and the Brain Dog were on the bed. Brain Dog doesn't like thunder. It offends the ears and makes him scared. Usually, that means that he snuggles up to one or the other of us, and hides his head. This morning tho, he kept looking up, and BARKING at the thunder and looking at "daddy". 'Pup said it was obvious the dog expected him to DO SOMETHING about the noise. NOW. That dog's gotten downright talkative and uppity the last 5 years. Doofus.

A couple more pictures of "after the rain"..........or it may be........."between rain storms".... I'll let you know.

Passionflower vine is still blooming, and threatens to take over the back yard. The morning glory vines have had to be pulled up, cut back and yet they still are trying to escape the fence and cover every single inch of soil, standing plants and trees. Anyone need some morning glory vines? We could pull up a few feet of them, with roots, and you'd have a covered trellis in no time. I'm even willing to deliver, within the Houston area!

Remember my cucumber vines growing in raised pots near the trellis in my side yard? They've produced more veggie porn. 'Nuff said?

Next year, deeper pots, drip irrigation system and we'll see!

Y'all stay safe, dry and prepared for life's little surprises. Hugs and Kisses!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Raindrops, Tater Tots and Moonrocks

This is a story I wanted to post the day before yesterday, when I got home and discovered that I couldn't get on the web. Hubby dear managed to fix the problem by staying home, going to OPLINK and getting a new modemthingiemajigie. No digital pictures today. You'll have to provide your own pictures in your heads.

I got to tell a story on the radio, on a call in show, about my dad and some moonrocks.

I thought I'd tell it here too.

My dad worked for Texas A&M University in the '60's and 70's. He'd been in the navy, and served as a nuclear reactor operator on a couple of nuclear powered ships. Mostly, my mom says, he took every course possible on land to avoid actual sea duty. The man liked home life, his baby daughter (moi, of course) and never particularly cared for communal living. The food was okay, not as good as my mom cooked, but as my grandmother couldn't cook dishwater without burning it, he could take even Naval institutional cooking with some equanimity.

When he got out of the navy, he'd gotten a master's degree in Secondary Education...With an eye to teaching shop. Texas A&M offered him more money (I suspect, knowing what teachers made in Texas in those days, it was a LOT more) to be a nuclear reactor operator at the reactor in College Station. With mom working as a nurse at night, and him working during the day, they were even soon able to buy a house (well, the shell of one and dad finished the inside and some of the outside finishing work) for what soon came to be a family of five kids, a dog or two, various numbers of cats, assorted rodents and other critters my mom tried real hard not to know we kept as pets, and the two of them. I remember going with my dad as he worked on the house. I was five years old, but he patiently showed me how to measure something, cut it (my hand on his with the saw) and hammer it together. Sometimes, he even let me bang in a nail, one or more that he'd hammered into a scrap board and let me have a go at. I never squished my thumb that I can remember, but I believe the one time my dad tried to bring my brother along (one year, one week and one day younger than me!) I think my brother nearly hammered several things....My head, his hand and my dads....Anatomy. Last time my brother came along I think... Or perhaps I just remember it that way.

We got a color TV soon after we moved into the house. I remember that day, as my mom proudly and excitedly said, "Just think Nancy, you'll be able to watch your cartoons in Color!" I was confused. I looked up at her (she told this story a couple of times) and said, "But mom...They're already in color." I meant it too. I remember them. They WERE in color. ALWAYS. (hey I never promised to be normal)

My dad used to take us to the reactor and give us tours, all sanctioned and okayed with the university. I was going to say, "with the people in charge" just now, but I realized, that back then... I thought my DAD was in charge.

I can still remember the entryway into the reactor building, the desk where my dad signed us in, and the pen-shaped detectors we all wore, as a way of monitoring radiation exposure (none, ever! or my dad would never have taken us) and then the bright smell of the room where the pool holding the reactor was located. The air must have been filtered I now realize. It was always cooler and just slightly different ...tasting.. Yah, I know that doesn't seem right...but it did. It was probably a lack of dust, pollen and country odors I was detecting.

The reactor was housed in a deep pool. The water in the pool was actually "heavy water" my dad would explain, and was a good radiation shield by itself. At the bottom of the pool, the reactor glowed a lambent blue. No other color like it, except perhaps...picture the blue of a sky in summer, with no clouds, just after sunrise...but slightly more electric. The water was so clear, that I would actually feel frightened of the depths. It looked as if, had you fallen in, that you would have dropped, not sunk, to the bottom.

When we came out, we would have to stand on another radiation detector, putting our hands in between two plates of cold metal. I can remember feeling some awe, once I was old enough to understand what, exactally, they were looking for... but by then, it was really quite routine. I'm not sure why we had so many "field trips" to the reactor. It was a treat to go anywhere with my dad, and I suppose he may have taken us there as a way of showing us off. He always made us feel as if he were very happy to have us with him. I think he was a little proud of us too.

My dad liked his job. During lunch breaks, sometimes the other operators and nuclear engineering students would play dominoes. On many of those days, my dad would come home with pockets FULL of quarters. Those were GOOD days. Now, you have to understand. My dad did NOT carry much money to work with him. The one time he'd had fifty dollars (to pay a bill) and then had almost had to destroy the money and his clothes due to some overexposure, was the last time he took more than a couple of dollars to work with him, EVER. Besides, he was a soft touch and my mom knew better than to let him have enough to buy more than a few icecream treats a week. Hey... Five kids... Icecream man... Guy who liked seeing his kids smile... He was a PUSHOVER! We LIKED domino days.

When the astronauts landed on the moon, NASA sent the moonrocks to A&M to be irradiated. My dad, perhaps because he'd had a security clearance from the navy, was chosen to be the person in charge of this. He was very proud of that job and was delighted everytime he got to do it. Watching the moon landings was not an option in our house. We did it, and cheered.

Usually, after the 'rocks were irradiated, my father would be in charge of packaging them in the special lead lined canister and would then take the canister to the airport nearby (small planes only) and the moonrocks would go back to NASA. Then, he'd come home and tell us what he'd done that day at work. Never failed to impress me! I don't know about my siblings. But my dad knew I liked hearing about it.

Then, for some reason, in 1971, they asked him not to deliver the canister to the airport, but to drive it down to NASA himself. My dad, being the family man that he was (still is) , decided it was time for a field trip. An educational field trip. For all five of his kids. And the moon rocks. In his 1969 green Volkwagon 'Bus'.

So, he loaded us up: snacks, drinks, hats and the canister of moonrocks. The radioactive moonrocks. Which necessitated, by law, that he have a sign on all four windows of the 'bus'. It said, "RADIOACTIVE CARGO". It was yellow, triangular and easy to see. So were all five of us kids. He asked us to wave at all the cars we... encountered ... and smile.

I say "encountered" because my dad always, ALWAYS drove the speed limit. Which meant that he rarely overtook anyone. Many people, as they do now, didn't follow the speed limit. They liked going faster. Which, of course, led to THEM overtaking US.............................for just as long as it took for the driver or someone in the vehicle coming from behind to 1) note a yellow triangular sign, 2) read said sign, and 3) count the waving kids. We were rarely passed. It was amazing how quickly some of them fell behind us.

I asked my dad why he didn't speed up. I (even at eleven I must have had my dad's sense of humor) suggested that this would be the one time not even a policeman would give us a ticket. I remember my dad smiling, and saying he thought we had "plenty of time, now don't forget to keep waving." I wasn't surprized at his answer, I giggled.

Once we delivered the 'rocks to NASA, we got a "deluxe" tour. People shook my dad's hand, seems he was known there. I was very impressed with my dad (tho, always was anyway). We got to go to the control room and even got to sit in one of the chairs in front of a monitor. I was probably more impressed than my siblings. My ten year old brother, nine year old sister, seven year old sister and five year old brother just weren't as much "into" space as me. I was already an avid reader of science fiction (I told you, I wasn't "normal").

The fall after that, when we had to "Write About Something You Did This Summer", I did. I got an A. Thanks dad! To this day, when I'm at a new job, or anywhere where the "get to know each other" routine includes the question: "What is the oddest thing you've ever done" comes up, I have an answer. Thanks again, Daddy.

My dad was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. He's been a smoker all of his adult life, and at first, we thought it was lung cancer, spread into his brain. But, his lungs are clear. I wish I could say the same for his mind. He can no longer button, zip or tie things. He forgets how to do things, like: what comes first when one dresses oneself in the morning? He couldn't read or write for a while, tho with some chemo and some steroids, those functions have come partially back.

My dad used to read a book a day. Everyday, except days he'd spend on two or three rounds of golf. And days he spent 'running' the proshop, "holding" the job for the man who'd been paid but who'd had to take a leave of absence for health reasons. My dad liked the job, never took money and said he just wanted to make sure the job was still there for his friend to return to when he was able.

He was and is a champion tea drinker. One of the earliest pictures of him and me include one of him solomnly drinking cup after cup of "tea" served in the finest of plastic tea sets. He continued to drink tea with both my sisters, and then with four grand daughters and now with one of his two great grand daughters (the other prefers trucks and cars, thankyouverymuch!).

Somehow, he can communicate with any little kid who wants to hold a conversation. I REMEMBER holding LONG conversations with him, tho I've not a clue what they were about. I've been close enough to overhear other conversations he's had with tiny girls and boys... and never understood a word of what the child was saying, but somehow... my dad seemed to. Seems to even now.

So, here's to my Dad. Y'all know what the moon rocks are, the tator tots and raindrops will have to come at another time. Or, perhaps you know what they are already.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Good news for us, bad news for the rest of Houston evidently, as Hwy 59 again turns into a river, rather than a major traffic artery.

(photo from KTRK channel 13 ABC news coverage, Houston Tx right after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001)

Y'all..........when it REALLY rains in Houston.... 18 wheelers start floating. No kidding.


better pictures from MY yard.. happier:

The yard already looks greener.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Found this on the web............

I read and write to a message board on Yahoo. It's a pretty nice community, and most of the folks there are funny, smart and entertaining. There is one Fool, but even he CAN be entertaining at times, annoying as hell at other times.

Anyway, one of our good posters posted this poem:

Note: If you are not a resident of TEXAS or never have lived in the hot, humid Southwest, you may not understand the weight of this blessing!

Bless this house, oh Lord, we cry.
Please keep it cool in mid-July.
Bless the walls where termites dine,
While ants and roaches march in time.
Bless our yard where spiders pass
Fire ant castles in the grass.
Bless the garage, a home to please
Carpenter beetles, ticks and fleas.
Bless the love bugs, two by two,
The gnats and mosquitoes that feed on you.
Millions of creatures that fly or crawl,
in TEXAS, Lord, you've put them all!!
But this is home, and here we'll stay,
So thank you Lord, for insect spray.

And for airconditioning...........ohhh dear LORD thankyou for airconditioning.


Rain clouds EVERYWHERE around Houston .. all of HOUSTON got rain.

Except little ol' US. I swear, I watched the rain come up from the gulf, heavy, strong and solid. Just as it got near where I live, it broke into two heavy cells.... with a dry, no rain strip of land between them. Guess where I live. Gotta water the yard tonight.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Rainbows and warnings

A lazy Sunday day... Last night we fertilized everything in the backyard. We used some fish emulsion in the mix, and it was smelling a bit like jetty after a good night of fishing. A little salty and fishy... I'm hoping that the nice nibbles will make the plants perk up a bit after the nasty, dry heat of June. We had less than half an inch in June, when we usually have about 4 to 6 inches, spread out in random rainstorm.

So, with it too hot to do much outdoors this afternoon, we decided to go driving in the area to the north and west of us, near and around Hempstead, Waller, and Katy. The Mister had been noodling around the 'net and had come across several parks we'd not visited. They were nice, good places for kids to play, but the car thermometer told us it was 97 outside, and we didn't get out... wimps that we are... we like airconditioning and even our van's valiant efforts weren't completely effective.

While out, we saw some rain showers in the area, and hoped they'd head towards our house. Worryingly, we also saw smoke from a grass fire (whitish with yellow, no hydrocarbons so prob not a house) towards our house. It's land is very flat in this area, and you can see for MILES when the trees aren't in the way.

We were very happy to see the rainclouds and even caught sight of a rainbow. I don't have a panoramic setting on my digital camera, or I could show the whole arc of this rainbow. There is even a second one, so faint that it didn't show up just above (to the right) of the visible one. Amazingly, as we seemed to be following the rainclouds south and east towards home, the temperature went down from 98 to 90 to 88 to 85 within just a few moments. I was even able to get out of the van to take the picture of the rainbow.

We only got a sprinkle at the house, but the storm that blew through while we were touring the country side must have included a lot of lightning as the power was off for several miles before we got home, and it was obvious that we'd suffered at least a short term power outage as well.

Then, as we were checking the address of the next park, and entering it into the GPS, (yeee gads, I love Ms Garmin!) I caught sight of this mailbox and cactus. "Humm," I said to myself, "what a nice prickly pear!". Then I thought again. I'd be willing to bet good money that the mailman is EXTREAMLY careful when delivering mail to this house... wouldn't YOU be?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Only in Texas..........

Need I say more? Hubby and I like going different routes. In this case, we were going to visit my mom, she's shopping for a new computer and is using my dearest to do her research. And, since we'll be needing a new PC as well, he's really killing two birds with one stone. I think he and my mom actually had the longest conversation they've ever had, and I believe, after five years, she's actually beginning to see what it was that made me marry the

I'm guessing a lot of moms are like that?

Anyway, when we passed this sign, I had to go back and take a picture of it. Y'all understand why, I'm sure... is anyone else trying to figure out just HOW they combine the three main attractions?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Came outside yesterday, and saw that my garden had given me a wedding anniversary gift. Sigh...........these are the only flowers I got. Hubby is a good guy, but flowers and mushy stuff aren't his forte. He tends to show his love in more prosaic making sure the bills are paid, making sure I know how to get where I need to go, and telling me he's always glad to see me home. He says he just likes knowing I'm in the house.  Posted by Picasa

Yah, it's been hot. (I think this may be a case of thermometer in the sun.... but that's how hot it felt Posted by Picasa

Took a wrong turn to work the other day, and came to a corner with a bail bondsman's unique and very arty way of attracting business. I wonder if the orange woman represents the bondsman's major client base? Whatever, I like it all. No, not something I might want in my yard, but glad to have it in my city. Posted by Picasa

I do wonder where the gate came from, as I'd like to have one like it. The prickly pear cactus on the right could use some TLC, it really should look a little greener. Posted by Picasa