Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Wayan's Bros. come back to haunt me

So, I'm standing in line at our local WalMart, getting some diapers and wipes.

Two very hickey, country-music-listening, skoal-spitting, dusty-hat-donning, boot-wearing, pickup-truck-driving locals are in front of me buying some chips and salsa.

I try not to eavesdrop on conversations around me, but I find myself doing it more here than ever before.

Here's what I heard on this particular occassion:

Hick 1 - "...buddy, you'll git yer head blow'd off fer doin' sumtin' like that."
Hick 2 - "No way."
Hick 1 - "You 'member that scene in that movie...you were jus' like in that movie, sheeeut, that was funny..."
Hick 2 - "What movie?"
Hick 1 - "You know, that funny one, with those dudes from that funny a*s tv show..."
Hick 2 - "The menace one?"
Hick 1 - "That's it..the menace one...what the heck was it called?"

They ponder while paying for their snack food.

Hick 1 - "Don't be a Menace..."
Hick 2 - [finishes] "...to South Central while drinkin' yer Juice in the Hood."

They both chuckle and start recalling their favorite parts of the film as they leave the line and head for their idling pickup in the parking lot.

Don't be a Menace to South Central while drinking your Juice in the Hood.

1300 miles, almost 10 years and many credits later, and a low budget movie I worked on comes back to haunt me in the form of two Okies in a line at WalMart.

Life is a joy to behold at times.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Our first small town wedding

The other night we sat on our side porch and voyeuristically observed a wedding at the church across the street.

Married couples have a bad habit of comparing their wedding to all others, and this was no exception.

Looked to be a standard wedding by local standards, however their selected mode of transportation for their church getaway was as unique as it was distinctly small town.

Behind the shiny silver and black Dodge 2500 Ram pickup, was a flatbed trailer, onto which sat two barcalounger chairs (of questionable age and condition), several rows of hay bales draped in white sheets, with beer cans strung about the perimeter in long, dangling streams of silver, red, and gold.

A large hand painted banner stating, "Just hitched!" hung from the tail of the tailgate.

Exiting the church, the wedding party (7 bridesmaids, 7 groomsmen, bride and groom) climbed aboard the flatbed and proceeded to make a slow cruise up and down main street to the celebratory honks of passing pickups and Lincoln Town Cars.

Neither the bride nor the groom wore wedding cowboy hats.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Circus and casseroles

Yesterday we celebrated C's last day of school for the year. Here in OK they get out early, and crank up again mid-August.

Her class practiced and performed a Circus act for the entire school.
C was a clown (even got to tell a joke - see below), a trained elephant, and a tightrope walker. She wanted to be a stilt walker since she owns and is relatively comfortable on a pair of stilts. She inherited this skill from her Mom (who can also ride a unicycle, juggle, and make the funniest faces).

Alas, this circus had not stilt walkers.

Afterwards, the school had a potluck picnic lunch. You've never seen so many casseroles in your life.

There were casseroles with meat, casseroles with veggies, casseroles with macaroni, casseroles with cheese, casseroles with breadcrumbs, casseroles with rice, casseroles with spuds, casseroles with saltine crackers, casseroles with fruit, casseroles, casseroles, casseroles!

I brought a baked ziti dish with Italian Sausage.
Made it myself.
From scratch even.
Really, really.
Okay it was a sorta like a casserole.
Okay, I had to substitute brawtwurst for Italian Sausage, since our local market doesn't stock or sell Italian Sausage.
I asked the butcher.

Here is C's clown joke:
Why is 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7 8 9.

Killed 'em in the gym. Had 'em rotfl.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wheat harvest and the pests that come with it

People have been telling me about all the niceties that accompany the annual wheat harvest here in our small town. Here's what we have to look forward to in the coming weeks.
  • Wheat bugs (least that's what the locals call them). Near as I can gather they are small, plentiful, black, and oh yeah, they'll bite.


  • Dirt, dust, and everything else that a combine can muster up from the harvested ground. Airborne and headed straight for my eyes, nose, and other open bodily orifices.


  • Expected traffic congestion on the roads as combines make their way from field to field, farm to farm, taking up both lanes, and most of the shoulders.


  • Field mice scampering out of the acres and acres of waving whaeat, directly into the dumpters, cellars, attics, and abandoned car seats of our small town.

  • Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    On safari in Oklahoma

    The other night we attended a nightime safari courtesy of S' new job and the Little River Zoo in Norman.

    After a satisfying meal of fried chicken and assorted salads, round about dusk the attentive staff handed out complimentary flashlights and we ventured out into the "jungle" with 15 other intrepid souls and several tour guides.

    It was quite an interesting tour, very informative, and kinda fun walking in the darkness, only to stumble upon animals in caged/natural environments. For a little zoo, they had a great collection of animals.

    Among other things, we got to:
    ... howl with the coyotes (who knew that they'd respond to homo sapien howlings)

    ...shine our little flashlights into the eyes of a sloth the size of an NFL Linebacker

    ...rouse a pair of brown bears from their blissful slumber

    ...watch a lynx attach a feather duster

    ...tickle the chin of a porcupine, to which C posed the question to the group leader, "how do they get the pork out of a porcupine?"

    Skunks strutting, armadillos armoring, peacocking cocking, pythons flexing, dragons hissing, wolves panting, kangaroos feeding, and humans sweating (85 degrees and 85% humidity at 8:50 p.m.---uggh), were all just a small part of the evenings adventure.

    Best part of the evening for the girls - getting to keep the flashlights.

    Monday, May 23, 2005

    Deteriorating armadillos

    I wonder why some roadkill seems to deteriorate faster than others.

    When driving down lonely country roads, with not much to notice other than an occassional pickup truck to wave to, noticing the disintegration rate of roadkills can be a fun distraction.

    You wouldn't think that armadillos would turn into a flattened pile of mush as fast as something softer and less armor plated like an opossum, or raccoon. However it's been my observation that they tend to "melt" into the road quicker than other types of roadkill.

    Maybe they're favored more by the local turkey vultures over other roadkill varieties, and thus are scavenged into oblivion quicker. I hear vultures can be very picky when deciding which dead, rotting, and festering carcass to eat and then regurgitate for their young.

    Well, time to make lunch for the girls. Bon apetit!

    Sunday, May 22, 2005

    Redhawks vs. Stingers

    Celebrated my Father-in-Law's 65th birthday last night with the family at the AAA ballpark in the city.

    Some observations:

    Our seats were 10 rows back, directly behind home plate - they were $10 a seat. The stadium is only a year or so old, and was very nice, modern, clean, with plenty of parking ($5)

    No peanut vendors tossing bags 14 aisles over with the accuracy of a combat Marine sharpshooter. I actually had to get up out of my seat, and go to the concession stand to buy a bag of peanuts.

    Not a single beach ball was blown up, tossed from the top section, and sacrificed for the enjoyment of the fans and torment of the stadium workers.

    7th inning stretch. No "Take Me Out to the Ball game."
    No "..buy me some peanuts and cracker jack."
    No "root, root, root for the home team."
    Instead, a rotund girl sang "God Bless, America."

    The stadium did have an interesting twist on the hot dog selection. This season only, they're offering several different styles of hot dogs from around the country. I could have ordered a Fenway Frank, a Dodger Dog, a Chicago Red Hot, a Cincinnati Cheese Coney or a Milwaukee Brat.

    I was craving a Dodger dog and it was good, but not quite the same. Missed the "crank-em-on" onions and relish machines, and the buns weren't as steamed and soft as I like 'em. S tried the cheese coney, which had a strange chili flavored with chili powder, paprika, nutmeg, chocolate and cinnamon.

    C got a $5 jumbo bag of cotton candy. Not nearly as moist tonight as under the big top, so she enjoyed it much more. Temps were in the high 90's when "play ball," blared from the speakers, but by the 7th inning stretch, it was a comfortable 84 degees..brrrr!

    The Redhawks were routed by the Stingers from Salt Lake City, 9 - 1. Salt Lake is the AAA farm team for the Angels, so I was secretly rooting for them. Redhawks are the farm team for the Texas Rangers if anyone cared (not us).

    Friday, May 20, 2005

    What's your suffix?

    My small town has one phone prefix. The entire state of Oklahoma has only three area codes.

    Which makes it easy when giving out your phone number to anyone local, since all you have to tell them is the last four digits of your phone number.

    If they say, "huh?" or "what?" or they look like they're confused or waiting for you to finish, then you know that they probably don't live in your small town.

    It's taken me awhile to not cite my entire phone number when someone asks for it here in OK. The southern California area has so many different area codes you just automatically rattle off the 10-digit string when spewing forth with your phone number.

    The other day, I misdialed, realized I had, and hung up. Seconds later, I received a call from an "unknown" number.

    I didn't answer it.

    A few moments later, I received a call from that same, unknown number. Didn't answer it.

    Still later, same unknown number, same response from me.

    An hour or so later, same unknown number. Voice mail message. Got ya.

    Here's the message they left me:
    "Hi there, um, I just got a call from ya...well, not just, it was earlier today, an I was wonderin' who ya are, and why ya called me, but didn't talk to me."
    She continues..."So, anyway, I did this star-sixty-nine thingy and it called ya right back, but ya weren't there, so I was hoping to catch ya to talk with ya, but since you're not there again, I'll just leave ya this message ta let ya know, that I was calling ya back and just wanted to find out why ya called me."
    I was amazed that someone would be so interested in a "called-the-wrong-number" phone call that they'd pursue the caller to this extent.

    Or maybe she was just bored.
    Or maybe she was lonely and bored.
    Or maybe she was lonely and bored and just wanted to try out the star-sixty-nine thingy.

    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Bigtop comes to my small town

    Last night, my folks and I took the girls to our local fairgrounds to see the visiting circus.

    I've been to circuses big and small, from the spectacle of the Ringling Brothers and various Cirque de Soleil performace, to intimate Circus Vargas venues with mostly European acts.

    Tonight's little circus rated a few "oh-how-sad" points below even Circus Vargas. Tent was big but in need of some patching. Sound system was decent. Three rings, no waiting.

    Still, the performers seemed to be genuinely trying their best, most of which were doing things far from anything my old body could muster. I found myself clapping louder and cheering more to make up for the small crowds and lack of enthusiasm from the dozen or so that were sweating under the big top.

    One thing I love about these small circuses is how the performers double as ticket takers, sno cone vendors, face painters, and animal handlers. It's like seeing Tom Cruise setting up a c-stand on a set.

    The high heat and humidity in the 3-Ring tent didn't help spirits much. The humid conditions did make for some interesting viewing of my 5-year-old tackling a fluffly pink ball of cotton candy. The moist air was melting it faster than she could eat it. Still, she persevered and devoured the dyed sugar syrup and air with mucho gusto.

    I usually try to support any circus that shows up in my area, even when I lived in So Cal. Perhaps it's the romantic traditions that these faithful few survivors of a bygone era of entertainment carry on, that brings me back for more.

    Or maybe it's just the cotton candy.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    Where y'all from?

    My folks from Oceanside are visiting for the week.

    Went to breakfast at the little diner downtown. My Pops commented that the coffee was good and the waitress responded, "...it never gets old around here." Cute waitress-speak.

    As we paid our bill she asked us, "so where y'all from?"

    We live directly across the street from the large Catholic Church on Main street, and at 10:30, the mass bells tolled loudly. My StepMom took PK over to attend mass and seemed to enjoy it. As she was leaving, the Priest greeted the attendees as they left the church and he asked her, "thanks for coming...so, where ya'll from?"

    We ate dinner downtown at a famous bar-b-que joint, pigging out on smoked sausage, brisket, baby back ribs, beef ribs, cole slaw, homemade bread. and all the sweet tea you can drink.

    As we left, some perfect strangers who were dining near us, came up and commented, "...your children are so well behaved." We thanked them graciously thinking we would escape the question.

    Then they continued, "so,where y'all from."


    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Smoked Meat Sale

    The scrolling lighted sign at the local bank in town currently flashes the following text:

    MAY 21

    Now, I know that any local or long time resident of my small town probably knows exactly what this disjointed and slightly random series of words mean. I however, had to investigate.

    Apparently, a popular means of raising money for church activities out here is to hold smoked meat sales. Smoked, as in, taking raw meat, seasoning it, then "cooking" it in a smoker.

    Ribs are $20
    Half rack are $10
    Sausage - $15
    Chicken - $7.50
    Wild Turkey (not the 'shine, but Ben Franklin's choice for our national symbol) - $15

    The nice lady at the Nazarene I spoke to felt it prudent to "get my order in early, cuz we sell out every year."

    I love sausage, smoked or otherwise.

    The Nazarene lady informed me that "folks in town love our sausage too." That made me feel downright at home.

    Friday, May 13, 2005

    Severe weather

    We're in our second night of severe thunderstorms.

    Did I say severe? I mean, way freakin' severe.

    What does all this mean?

    Get your candles ready (where did I leave those matches?), flashlights by the nightstands, and trusty am/fm battery operated radio at the ready. My buddy gave me one of these cool wind up radio/flashlights that powers up to 30 minutes with a few cranks of a small handle. Gadgets of necessity.

    Oh yeah, we're under tornado warning as well. Swell.

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Bob's Country Bunker in my backyard

    From "The Blues Brothers" - a modern classic

    Elwood: "Er.. what kind of music do you usually have here?"

    Claire: "Oh, we got both kinds. We got Country, and Western."

    'nuff said

    Send mp3s.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Running to Errands

    Yesterday, I picked C up from school in the car. She inquired why, since we usually walk to and from school.

    I told her I had some errands to run.

    She complained immediately and resolutely.

    I ask why she doesn't like doing errands.

    She retorted, "I've been to Errands house and it's not very fun."

    She has no friend named Aaron [Errand], nor do we really know anyone named Aaron. I think her mind was reaching for something to monku about, and that just popped right out.

    C's not the only one who complains about running errands. My car hates it too. Since our town is all of 2 street lights and about 10 blocks, my cars 4-banger never really gets to warm up properly. Not very healthy behavior for an internal combustion engine. Course, after 7.5 years of driving in stop-n-go traffic and playing chase-the-green on city streets, this might be a much needed respite for my litle ricer.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    Movie house goes dark

    This was the local movie house.

    One screen and one screen only, it had been continuously operating in town for quite awhile.

    Then it meet Jesus. Literally.

    Last year, the day before the film, "The Passion," was set to begin it's much anticipated run here, the theater caught fire and burned to the ground.

    Luckily the fire was contained to the one structure and the entire east side of Main Street was spared. However, our Main street area lost it's only form of evening entertainment.

    The local paper printed a somewhat controversial picture of the cinema structure fully engulfed in flames and smoke. Some readers claimed to have found a skeletal face emerging from the smoke in this one particular photo.

    I have yet to see this photo, but it's high on my priority list. Next to digging the weeds up in my garden and getting my Master's degree in physics.

    Big news this month was the pending construction of a new tri-plex that is scheduled to open by this fall. Not in the original location of course -- too small for a triple screen facility, and it's got the stigma of the smoky skull hanging over it.

    The new movie theatre complex will be on Main Street, centrally located by a not-to-shabby pizza restaurant and greasy-spoon burger joint.


    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    A small town Mother's Day

    Spent Mother's Day brunch eating delectable vittles prepared by S for her Mom and Grandmother.

    As the sun set, we decided to let the Kentucky Colonel do the cooking, and we grabbed a 12 piece meal, drove 7 minutes to the nearest lake, and dined waterside in the shade of a large tree.

    The small lake was hosting about 4 small john boats. No one seemed to be catching much fish, but I'm not sure if that made all that much difference to the anglers. Nature and tranquility was the lead-in story at this event.

    We watched the girls gather stones to try and skip off the choppy water. C spotted a turtle surface and dive back down into the safety of the shallows. The light breeze kept the bugs away, and we didn't have to swat one fly away from the Colonel's secret blend of 7 herbs and spices.

    Spotted several colorful birds that I need to look up at birds.com to identify what they were.

    Temp was hovering in the mid-70's by the time the sun started dipping towards the horizon. Round 8 p.m. we decided we had enough peace and quiet for the day and piled back into the car for the short drive home.

    Highlight of the trip home was the large squashed bullfrog in the road. Looked fresh and would make a tasty Mother's Day meal for some scavenger.

    Happy Mother's Day!

    Friday, May 06, 2005

    Freeway shootings and Hay bales

    Actually caught a glimpse of CNN last night and was depressed to hear about all the freeway shootings going on in LA. Sad.

    Big news around these parts is that the the lack of rain has forced most of the wheat farmers around here to cut and bale their wheat, rather than harvest it.

    I don't know the economic ramifications of this, if any, to the local communities, but I know the farmers that hang out at the local Daylight Donut shop (open from 5 a.m.-11 a.m.) don't seem none to happy about it.

    What you do see around town is a lot of pick up trucks with 4 foot long steel spikes jutting out the back and into the air. I've been told these are used to hydraulically lift the rolled bales of hay, which, if you ask me, is asking way too much from a small set of hydraulic lifts and a 1-ton pick up. Even a Hemi.

    The large round bales are 4 - 6 feet in diameter and can contain between 1000 to 2000 pounds of hay (roughly the equivalent of 20 to 45 small square bales).

    Too bad I'm allergic to hay, otherwise, I'd see about welding one of these spike bale lifters onto my Civic and hiring myself out. Couldn't look any worse than some of these cars.

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    Pickup trucks and Lincoln Town Cars

    As I've been driving down the local country roads, I've noticed the abundance of two forms of wildlife. Alive and dead.

    I've also noticed the abundance of two forms of vehicles. Pickup trucks and Lincoln Town Cars. That's right, you read right, Lincoln Town Cars.

    The other night, I had the opportunity to talk to a genuine wheat farmer and posed the question, "why do all farmers seem to have a pickup truck in their yard and a Lincoln Town Car in their carport?"

    He chuckled manly. His wife sitting next to him smiled slyly.

    "I've got a '99 Town Car and an '03 Chevy pickup."

    Expecting more of an explanation, but not receiving even a morsel more, I returned with my much practiced "I-understand-without-really-understanding" nod and smiled back.

    Later in our conversation he mentioned that when "he and the missus" go on the town, they like to drive in comfort, thus the necessity of the Town Car. Near as I can figure, this is a tradition that must date back to Pa Ingalls times, when he and Ma would pack up Mary, Half-Pint, Carrie, and Jack into the custom-made in St. Louis buckboard and head into Walnut Grove for church-doins and social eventuns.

    I asked him if I'd need to get a Town Car to "fit in" around town. He raised an eyebrow and said, "whyn't you start off with a Taurus or Crown Vic first, then work your way up to the Townie."

    Silly me. I should have known that I'd need to begin at the bottom of the corporate grain elevator then work my way up.

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Teen drivers = menace

    I admit that I too was a teenage driving menace, but at least I wasn't a menace to other drivers (meaning, I never hit one). However, there is a certain curb, and a certain 18-foot tall chain link fence and a certain soccer field that would have labeled me as a menace for sure.

    Back on point. A few weeks back, S was cruising down Main Street with C and PK. A 16-year old in a 1990 1-ton pickup truck failed to yield and made a left turn from the other direction, right into S' lane.

    She hit the kid so hard, she spun him around and flipped the truck on it's side. He climbed out, but the truck, had it not been on it's side, was still driveable. The front of our car, a 99 Honda CRV, was a Nascar spectators wet dream.

    No one was hurt, and C was more amazed that we had "ballons" in our car (airbags deployed) than she was scared.

    The police report cited the "teenage menace" as the cause of the wreck, and his insurance company promptly coughed up a check. We were sad to say goodbye to our CRV, since we bought it new when C was born and it was our first "family car."

    The search for a replacement car was on, and soon we found ourselves cruising around town in a low-mileaged used car, courtesy of the Honda dealer in Edmond, some 60 miles away.

    Here's where the small town moment occured.

    The other day, a family pulls up, smiling and gesticulating madly at us to roll down our window. We heard the driver yell out, "hey, you bought my car!"

    Turns out our cars previous owner use to live in our small town, had traded it in on a new car several months ago, and recognized it as we passed each other down the main drag. He no longer lives in our town, but was passing through on his way north.

    So, what are the chances that the same car ended up back in the same small town, 60 miles and several months later, and that both the previous owners and current owners would both happen to be in that car, on the same road, at the same intersection, in that same small town?

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    6 degrees of separation

    I grew up in Southern California (1)
    I have a childhood friend named Cheryl (2)
    She has a younger sister named Carol (3)
    Carol went to New York to work after grad school.
    Carol met and married Brook (4) (who grew up in a cabin in Colorado).

    That was some time ago.

    Turns out Brook had an Uncle and Aunt who lived in our small town (5)

    We looked them up.

    His cousin still lives here (6)

    How could our world be so humongous and so small at the same time.

    Monday, May 02, 2005

    Yet another California family

    Went to register C for Kindergarten at the public elementary school last week. School begins here in mid-August.


    When I was a kid in LA, mid-August was still eons away from the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon -- which, for my friends and I, always signaled that summer vacation was coming to an end.

    But I digress. After turning over all the necessary paperwork, the enrollment administrator who was scrutinizing whether my atrocious handwriting revealed the correct information on the form, noticed the California address on C's shot record card.

    "Oh, are you the California family that bought the house on 13th street?

    "Uhh, no."

    "Oh, then you must be the family that bought the house on Main street."

    "Yep, that's us."

    "Well, welcome to our town."

    She seemed genuinely happy to greet us. I, on the other hand, was attempting to calculate the ramifications of being the second family to move to our small town from California.

    Is this the start of a trend? Will there be California-immigrant backlash? Will people look to our families as the commencement of the invasion of the West Coasties and the end of their peaceful, bucolic existence as they know it.

    I must find out who this other Calilfornia family is, and what their intentions are in establishing residence in MY town.

    Sunday, May 01, 2005

    Waving to total strangers

    When driving down a country road, you wave to any approaching driver, regadless of race, creed, religion, pick up truck model, or tractor choice (John Deere green, International Harvester red).

    This is the etiquette.

    Yesterday, I waved to Ford, Chevy, Nissan, and Toyota pickup trucks.

    It was a banner day, since I also waved to both a John Deere and an International Harvester.

    You thought the rivalry between the Bloods and the Crips was bad, you don't want to be around when these old farm boyz start talking cr*p about each others choice in tractors, lawm mowers, etc.