August 31, 2007

Can't See The Forest For The Trees

So the first week of school was a great success all the way around. Peach jumped right back into the swing at her beloved GGMS, and Olive had absolutely no problem leaving the warmth of her mother's bosom for greener pastures and an awesome pony puzzle at her precious preschool. I now have a second grader and a preschooler - when did that happen?

Tonight, we took a family hike around our neighborhood after dinner. The hike and bike trail is literally steps away from our front door, and it circles the entire neighborhood for a lovely 2 mile walk. This is old ranch property, so there are lots of big old trees around the perimeter, and the trail winds through them in a very magical, Secret Garden kinda way. Peach and Olive have new metal walking sticks, and while they beg to take them every time, somewhere after about 15 minutes, when they realize it's easier to run and pick up rocks without them, T-Bone and I usually end up with them. Tonight was no different, and as we hit the homestretch, I had Olive by one hand and a stick in the other, and 50 yards behind me, T-Bone had Peach by one hand and a stick in the other. We walked by the park up the street, and there was a group of teen and tween boys at the pavilion, all on bikes and skateboards, having a rap session or a jam session or whatever it is the kids do these days. As Olive and I passed, the ringleader said, "Hi," while the others just stared me down. I said, "Hi," and we kept on trucking. A few steps later, he said, "Don't go to the left. There's trees." Or at least I thought that's what he said. I just kind of nodded and kept on, trying to figure out if he was forbidding me from coming into the park or if he was being sarcastic or if he was just a freak. Again he said, "Don't go to the left. There's trees on the left." Thinking surely I had heard him wrong, I said, "There are trees? What?" And he said, "On the left." I said, "Okay," and never looked back or stopped.

A few seconds later, when T-Bone and Peach crossed the hooligans' path, the ringleader said, "Hi," and T-Bone responded in kind, but he also waved. I heard some murmuring and then, "Sir? Hey, sir? Are you blind?" Yeah. The kid thought we were blind and being led around the neighborhood by small children. Okay - so we had the sticks, and I probably seemed (and was) totally confused by his repeated warnings of the dreaded trees. And it probably didn't help that it was getting dark and I still had my sunglasses on, but they're prescription lenses, and I really WOULD need a stick and a companion to get me around if I took them off. But a 3 year old? Come on, dude.

August 29, 2007

We Interrupt This Nonsense ... Updated!

For a dose of reality. In a former life, I clerked for a judge on the highest criminal law court in the state. By default, I was assigned all the capital cases that came through our office and wrote the opinions that affirmed the convictions, and thereby the death sentences, in those cases. Fun. One case that I particularly struggled with has been in the news lately, and unless Governor Hairdo does something completely out of character, Kenneth's time is up tomorrow.

In law school, I worked on the final appeal and last-minute request for clemency in another capital case (which The Supremes and W denied, thankyouverymuch), and I visited my client on Death Row in Huntsville the week before he was executed. Charlie saw the writing on the wall, and he told me with a smile that he was looking forward to getting a good clean shave before his family saw him for the last time. It is still one of the most unnerving and incredibly valuable experiences I've ever had, and I'm so glad I had the chance to do it. Ditto my visit to the women's death row unit in Gatesville.

Flash forward to my time as a clerk, where my very conservative judge once again listened patiently to my impassioned pleas to reconsider the trial court's decision and then said, "Thanks for the great work, but no." See, here in Tejas, capital convictions are automatically appealed, BUT, basically, unless the applicable law has changed between trial and appeal (yeah, right), or you have some newly discovered and extremely compelling evidence (like DNA), or there was some really egregious misconduct from either counsel table, or some such other rare instance, you're pretty much SOL at the state level and have to hope for bigger and better things higher up the food chain.

Which is how I got through the tough opinions, hoping that someone wiser and more powerful (paging Madam Ginsberg and Co.) would see the light and put the brakes on this runaway train. So far, that hasn't happened, but this case would be a great one to effect change in the system, if only by exposing the Law of Parties as the bullshit legislative lipservice that it is.

Google Kenneth's name if you're interested because there's a lot of information flying around out there right now. In the meantime, I'm going to wash my hands.

Update: Miracle of miracles, Governor Hairdo actually came through. Amazing. So now Kenneth will spend the rest of his life in prison, and we'll only execute two people this week instead of three.

August 26, 2007

Back-to-What Now?

Somehow, the entire summer has flown by, and here we are on the eve of a new school year already. I don't get it. It seems like only yesterday I was making my project list for the summer, which I mostly completed, and now I'm looking at calendars and save-the-date cards that run straight through the holidays. Yes, our Saturdays are now booked through December because the lovely and graceful Peach has been selected to perform in a production of The Nutcracker, and yours truly will be driving her 30 miles (each way) to rehearsal every week. Because they want the parents to drop the kids off and am-scray, I'm going to have several hours to kill, so I'm thinking of bringing a portable fan and a cot and just napping in the parking lot. Seriously.

In other news, as I am on a real self-inflicted injury tear lately, I cut the everloving crap out of my finger last night while cleaning a bigass knife. If it had just been T-Bone and me, I would have made him take me to get stitches, but, honestly, the thought of dropping everything and packing everybody up in the car right before bedtime was just all too exhausting. So I winced, wrapped it in a towel, and finished the dishes with my bad arm up over my head. Damn, fingers can bleed, y'all!

So Peach has had her clothes picked out for a week, and Olive has been wearing her new pony backpack everywhere. She starts on Tuesday. OMG. She is WAY more ready for it than I am. And with the way things have been going lately, I'm not sure I trust myself to be alone in the house for too long. Maybe I should get one of these in case I fall and I can't get up.

August 23, 2007

It's Over

Dear Luby's,

We've been together nearly 40 years now, and while I've noticed a growing distance between us in the last few years, I really always thought we'd work it out and go the distance. I've forgiven your recent attempts to bolster lagging sales by scrapping the traditional cafeteria routine in some locations for a self-serve, all-you-care-to-shove-in-your-piehole format, which I loathe with every fiber of my being. I've excused the ridiculous decision to replace the tea cart ladies with individual "servers" at each table, who I am now guilted into tipping just for bringing me a straw. And I've even overlooked the baffling disappearance of the darling little boats you used to serve the shrimp cocktail in. But after last night's Kids-Eat-Free-on-Wednesdays debacle, I've had alls I can stands, and I can't stands no more. And in this case, it really is YOU, not me.

Not that I don't like to save a buck or ten, but any free event, especially involving kids, usually gives me pause because do I really want to be in a confined space with a bunch of other jackasses' screaming kids? In a word, fuckno. But there we were last night, in line with about 200 other assholes, dreaming of the best macaroni and cheese in the history of the world, and I knew it was over. I knew because I immediately wanted to get the hell right out of there, sweet comfort food or no. I knew because instead of being served by the sweet Luby Ladies of yore, the ones who would smile and call me "mija" when they scooped me up an extra hardy helping of fried okra, I was met with sweaty, mumbling, openly hostile burnouts who seemed to think it was MY fault that they were out of black-eyed peas. And I'm pretty sure one of that dude's jailhouse tats was infected, so I didn't eat the squash he forced on me anyway. Nice try.

And then, THEN, the everloving mac n cheese of the gods SUCKED. And I hate that word. That's how bad it was. And that's how OVER this is. Cold, plain pasta with cheddar cheese melted on it two days ago does not cut the mustard, and back in the day, you would have never let that shit fly. I just don't even know you anymore.

So, I'm out. For good this time.

Kiss my grits,

P.S. And just so you know, you were my second choice last night as this place was closed for filming. Oh, quit your crying, you big baby.

August 21, 2007

Winding Down

Or is it winding up? Whatever - this is the last week of summer, and we've got shitloads of fun to cram in here real quick before the school bell rings on Monday. Here's what's on tap for the rest of the week:

Wednesday - pottery painting with friends we haven't seen in over a year. Friends who live like 15 minutes away. Friends whose baby we haven't even seen yet, and he's 13 months old already. I swear my life is not THAT busy, so this is just ridiculous. I am a terrible friend.

Thursday - hitting the mall for a little back-to-school shopping and a long-awaited trip to Build-Un-Oso. That place always reminds me of the dress-up Snoopy I had many moons ago, a toy that was so etched in my memory that once, during a particularly drunken game of Taboo a few years back, "Snoopy" was the taboo word, and I guess I flashed on an image of him in the railroad outfit because here was my description - "Okay! This guy is CRAZY! He wears a little engineer hat, and he has a crazy little bird friend! You know! He's CRAZY!" I can only recall this verbatim because my partner that night, my best friend in law school, still gives me shit about it to this day. And no, she didn't guess "Snoopy."

Friday - touring and eating my way through the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham. We've been meaning to go during this 100th anniversary celebration, and we almost went last Friday but opted to go bowling instead. And oh yeah, I'm still SORE from the bowling. One frigging game, almost a week ago. Pathetic.

Saturday - TBD. Any ideas?

Sunday - machete-ing(?) my way through the weeds in my back bed, snakes be damned, and whacking the shit out of the privet and rose bushes that are taking over my front yard. And since I know you've been concerned about the GD scorpions infesting my house, I can tell you that the bug guy came yesterday and put the hammer down on those mofos. I already saw a dead one in the driveway this morning, and I'm leaving the little bastard there as a warning to his friends. Boo-yeah!

And THEN, Peach starts school on Monday, and Olive starts on Tuesday. More on that later ...

Finally, as I was sweating my way through a misguided attempt to navigate the outlets last Saturday - had to save that GD 8 percent, right? - I saw this T-shirt and thought of you: It is better to have loved and lost than to live with the psycho for the rest of your life.

True, true.

August 18, 2007

Rockin' Out

Olive loves nothing more than digging in the dirt and collecting rocks. She has filled a set of cans with a variety of "real" rocks, glass rocks, and a couple of what I'm pretty sure are just clods of dirt. Every one of them has a name, so we have friends like Stripey, Bubble Gum, Big Guy, and Corrina, and she neatly lines them up as she does her daily address. She has proclaimed on many occasions that she wants to be a scientist/artist when she grows up, so imagine my surprise when she told me this:

O: Mommy? Remember how I want to be a scientist when I get big?
LT: Yes. We've talked about you being a geologist so you can study rocks.
O: Well, I changed my mind. I think I want to be in a band instead.

Not to be outdone, Peach chimed in, "Well - at least you could be in a ROCK band! Get it? A ROCK band?"

We really could go on the road with this act.

August 16, 2007


Thirty years ago today, I was sitting in a GAS LINE ('member those?) at a service station in Houston when we heard on the radio that Elvis had permanently left the building. I've spoken of my love for E here and here and probably somewhere else, too, but today, as I sit here in my Tribute to The King t-shirt, I just want to share this.

Long live The King, and God bless all those poor sweaty bastards at Graceland.

August 13, 2007

Wash That Guilt Right Outta My Hair

I did it. For the first time in nearly eight years, I decided I needed, nay, deserved, a few minutes alone, and I LOCKED the bathroom door while I took a shower. What is it about my weekly (yes) shower that brings about such urgent issues as a lost tap shoe, a dead bug under the couch, or a strange cat walking across our front yard? Especially when there is a non-showering adult in the next room that can surely handle any and all of these "emergencies?" I just needed to rest my brain - and my vocal chords - for five minutes, and guess what? The house didn't burn down. The family was just as I left them, picking out PJs and bedtime books. And the world kept spinning round and round. So don't judge.

In addition, all is really right in T-Bone's little corner of the world as he is the proud owner of brand new Big Ass TV, AND we met a real live NASA physicist this weekend who promised to take us on a behind-the-scenes tour the next time we're in Houston. She's a real uppity-up over there and has all kinds of security clearance, so they spent the better part of Saturday talking missions past and future, trajectories, and, of course, space diapers. He had a ball and was really glad I dragged him to spend a day in the country with my crazy ass family.

So just look at me and T-Bone, doing it for ourselves up in this mutha.

August 9, 2007

In The News

A couple of items that caught my eye recently:

Reason # 4527 I Love This GD Town

A state trooper was being interviewed about an accident involving a naked driver and her naked passenger, a first for him, and he said, " But she's from Austin, and I figure Austin folks are a little different."

Reason # 862 I Love Criminal Law

I've observed some incredible defense lawyers, but this guy is a legend, and if I'd known he was in the area, I would've gone to gawk. How can you not love this strategy: "Say you sue me because you say my dog bit you. Well, now this is my defense: My dog doesn't bite. And second, in the alternative, my dog was tied up that night. And third, I don't believe you really got bit. And fourth, I don't have a dog."

August 7, 2007

Alpha Bravo Charlie

T-Bone is so good about taping all kinds of documentaries and specials from all those smartypants educational channels in an effort to further build our children's brains. He scans the schedule every Sunday and then previews whatever he tapes before sharing it with Peach and Olive. I've learned more about history in the 12 years I've known him than in all my years of schoolin', and Peach especially loves watching the shows and discussing them afterward. She's a sponge, y'all. It's so awesome.

T-Bone has a particular interest in the space program, so we've seen quite a few things on that subject, and I've decided something: I love all that astronaut lingo. Like, Roger this, copy that. Go, no go. T minus 5, 4, 3 ... You know what I mean. Sorta military, sorta not. From now on, I think I'm going to start saying, "We're go for launch!" every time I back out of the driveway. Because I am just that GD cool.

August 5, 2007

(Insert Some Witty Title That Ties This Shit Together Because I'm Spent, Y'all)

As if it's not bad enough that The Blogging Muse, that bitch, has packed up and left me this summer, now I'm getting berated in my comments for not posting this week. Well, if you lived the thrill-a-friggin-minute life I lead, you'd be slacking, too, pal. Por ejemplo:

Last weekend's trip didn't pan out exactly as I'd planned, seeing as one of my in-laws' best friends died unexpectedly on Friday morning, and Peach was right there in the thick of things when T-Bone's mom got the call. We lit out of here as quick as we could and arrived to find Peach handling everything very well. She had had a "ladies' lunch" with T-Bone's mom and several of her friends, including the dear woman who died, just the day before, so she was understandably shocked (as we all were) and sad (ditto), but the poor baby was hanging in there like a champ. I was SO glad to see her.

The whirlwind trip was just enough to distract me from the fact that I was late, like, you know, LATE. Very late. Because you asked, I'm a 23 day cycle girl, so, yes, I get the pleasure of being a complete bitch every three weeks, instead of four. So you can imagine when Day 35(!) rolled around, I was ready to explode. The best part was when I called my doc and talked to the nurse:

LT: Hi, (nurse). I'm 12 days late, and I thought if I called, it would inevitably get things moving. I'm not pregnant.
Nurse: Well, are you pregnant?
LT: Again, I'm not pregnant. Just REALLY late. And cranky.
Nurse: Have you taken a test?
LT: Five since Day 26. All negative. I'm not pregnant.
Nurse: Because we could do bloodwork. Because the tests might be wrong.
LT: They're not. I'm not pregnant.
Nurse: Well, hmmm. Are you sure you counted right?
LT: Yes. Usually I'm somewhere around 23 days so ...
Nurse: 23! Oh my god! Are you sure you're counting right?
LT: (ok, so this part was only in my head) Well, let's see. I've been menstruating for 25 years now, I've berfed two children, and I'm technically a doctor, so, yeah, I think I'm counting right.

After more dumb questions and munching sounds since I think she called me back on her lunch break, we decided to take a "wait and see" approach. So I waited, and five hours later, I saw my long lost Aunt Flo. And now the old hag refuses to leave ...

Other beings who refuse to leave are the GD scorpions who have taken up residence in about a 3' x 3' area at the top of my stairs. Seriously, W.T.everlovin.F.?! I have killed four of them in the last month, all in that same spot, which leads me to believe that there is obviously a nest or a kingdom or a coven or whatever somewhere around there. And guess what color my carpet is? Scorpion color! The other day, one of them somehow made it into Peach and Olive's bathroom, and when I picked up the trashcan to sweep, there he was. I really didn't want to freak them out, so I quickly tried to squish it with the trashcan. No luck. (And before you say, "catch and release" or "it's one of God's creatures" or some such bullshit, I say, if they breach my borders, all bets are off. They will be killed. Period.). Next, I grabbed the closest thing, which happened to be Windex, and while I think I stunned him a little, it just wasn't toxic enough. Finally, I ran to the utility room and grabbed the spray starch. Of course. I got to spraying, and the second I saw him start to struggle, I poured it on, quietly chanting "Die you motherfucker" through my very clenched teeth. I hate 'em, y'all! SO much. I stepped on one during a fifth grade slumber party beauty pageant, and I've never forgiven the whole species. At 1o years old, I thought scorpion=poison=instant death, so I totally lost my shit, along with the rest of the contestants, the judges, and the emcee. It was not pretty. I did end up winning the crown, but I think it was just because they felt sorry for me.

And now I feel sorry for you for having to read this crap. I'd write more, but my mutilated wrist is throbbing, so I must go ice it down. Or cut my arm off and be done with it. Whichever.