Friday, December 29, 2006

New Post-Christmas tradition

After one too many "have you seen that gift card from Aunt Josephine?" post-Christmas present unwrapping carnage, I've begun a new tradition this year called...

"The saving of the Christmas leavin's in the back of the Elky until all items are located and accounted for."

Our hectic family schedule being what it is, who knows when I'll be able to fire up the elky and drive the remnants of our under tree wrappings, bubble pack packaging, ribbons, gift trim, bippity-boppity buttons and bows to the dump.

It may be weeks.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

They don't make jackstands or cinder blocks this tall

Wife says...
"You're not putting my Taurus in the driveway to put that THING in the garage, no sirree bub, no how, no way!"

Just finished being thoroughly cannibalized by: "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy

Monday, December 25, 2006

Santa brought a new family member

Introducing Franny

In reality (or as real as our lives can get), she was named after the supposed spirit that may (or may not) be inhabiting our house on another plane of existence.

In the realm of our sweet daughter's childhood imaginations of all things possible, here is how Santa came up with her name, as explained in this letter that Santa left with the girl's new pooch...

This is a huge step for our little family, and one which I'm domestically prepared for, but totally stressing out on a purely emotional basis. Strange how parenting two homo sapiens feels more natural to me now, than training a dog to pee in a certain spot is.

One step forward, two steps back.

Stay tuned on Franny's (and my own) progress.

BTW, she's an 11-week old schnoodle.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The world's ugliest bundt cake

The PTO I belong to hosts a crock pot soup / salad / dessert lunch for the teachers and staff at C's school as a holiday treat.

I volunteered to bring a dessert.

What I took instead was this monstrosity of baked futility.

I used one of those new silicone baking pan gizmos, thinking I could avoid all that "greasing and flouring" the pan before pouring in the mixed ingredients.

The directions say otherwise.

I didn't bother to read the directions. I figured, "hey silicone...nothing sticks to silicone, right?"

So much for better baking through technology and it's ability to make up for ignorant mistakes made by arrogant kitchen amateurs.

A friend once told me that there's no baking accident that a jar of frosting can't hide from the consuming public.

Maybe that only applies to those who are skilled in the art of frosting application. As I am not in possession of such skills, my frosting job only seemed to exaggerate the grotesque shape of my slowly cooling baked accident.

Next time, I'm bringing a salad.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean

Took a road trip the other day to go and accumulate some holiday debt and saw these power poles along the highway, doing the sway back stationary hustle.

I'm not nearly as concerned about my pole now.

How often do you get to hear a man state that with any sense of confidence?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Counting licks

Remember back to the days when you had the time, patience, physical and mental fortitude to be able to pursue an endeavor of this scope and scale...

"C's Counting Chart for the number of Licks it takes her to get to the chewy, chocolatey center of her Tootsie Pop."

The world may never know...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Musicians don't smile

Last week my in-laws treated the family and I to an evening of holiday music courtesy of a live performance by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra.

It was fun filled night of both classical and poppy renditions of all our favorite seasonal medleys, complete with a quirky host telling bad puns and a chorus of attractive and spiffily dressed warblers singing and stepping their way around the stage with elegance and grace.

The only stumble bumble of the evening occured when the leading vocalette gracefully stepped off stage and tucked herself behind the curtain,only to belt out a few resounding phelgmy coughs and crouppy hacks before she realized her wireless mic was still on.

The girls dug the live "band." C was transfixed by the "tiny lady playing the huge harp," and PK kept reminding us that her time on stage was quickly approaching as we were only days away fom the Christmas Musical Program at her local school.

My only comment is this. Why don't orchestral musicians smile when they play like rock 'n roll music makers do.

The wind players not smiling, that I can understand -- their mouths are busy.

But you never see a chellist break out his pearly whites while doing some long horizonal strokes.
Nor do you see a violinist grin like a hungry bobcat as they rosin up their bow.
You'd think even a harpist would crack a happy expression as they plink/plank/plunk away on their totally impractical string instrument.

But not smirk in the bunch.

Except for the maestro. He was all personality and a joy to watch.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Don't kid yourself, size does matter...

...on the roads in my small town and just about everywhere else.

$5,000 worth of damage vs. $500.

File this under "Deathrace 2006 - Peterbilt vs. Impala"

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I sew, I sew, the badges on they go...

My eldest daughter belongs to one of those youth organizations where they earn merit badges for learning to do things that will make them better citizens of the world and beyond...

Meanwhile, back on earth, I'm the lucky parent who gets to sew each and every one of these earned badges onto the required organizational uniform (vest).

My sausage fingers came back to haunt me yet again when dealing with the whole "needle-threading-&-tying-miniscule-knots-in-barely-visible-to-the-human-eye-thread."

I had to stop my "moving at the speed of pouring molasses" progress several minutes and a dozen or so finger pricks later, to find a thimble -- or something that would protect my now bleeding phalanges from any additional sub-cutaneous invasions of the needles vicious head.

It was tedious, painful, and tense work, but I managed to get a new merit patch sewed on, move several around to accomodate space for a new half-chevron, and even remembered to color coordinate the thread I used for each different colored patch.

Looking forward to the day when her kiddie club discovers the joys of iron-on's.

Not that I'm the greatest ironer in the world...but at least I can make a few grilled cheese sandwiches (remember Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom?) while I iron some badges on.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The unused handle on my coffee cup

I've been drinking coffee lately, which is something new for me. I have never been a coffee drinker. I don't know where this new taste has come from, but perhaps the cold weather had tickled a new tastebud on my tongue.

Anyhow, the other night I was enjoying a cup of Biff's Caramel Cream blend when my 7-year old commented that I never use the handle on my coffee cup...that I always hold the cup itself.

I stopped for a moment and looked at my hands and how they were indeed not holding the big blue mug by the handle specfically made for that purpose.

Generally speaking, unless I'm at a Presidential State dinner and want to conform with the other lemming coffee drinkers, I find myself instinctively drawn away from holding a steaming cup of hot liquid, any hot liquid, by a protruding handle.

Is this just a lack of proper coffee cup etiquette training or experience?

In case you've never been to an Asian restaurant and ordered hot tea, generally, Asian teacups do not have handles on them. You are forced to endure the pain of grabbing onto the superheated porcelin teacup to have the honor of scalding your lips, tongue and epiglottis with the hot beverage. And, while I'm a totally westernized, 20th century product of American birth and upbringing, I'd have to say that the majority of my tea has been ingested using the handleless teacup method.

This by no means is an excuse for my avoidance of the western coffee cup handle. I'm not playing that race card. So then it must be instinct. Or is there something deeper in my psyche that prompts my hands to forego the protuberances and head straight for the cylindrical container itself.

Here's an excerpt from the eulogy I gave at my Grandmother's funeral a little over 3 years ago that may reveal an answer...

Bonding with Grandma was never an easy thing for me to do. After all, when I was younger, she was just Grandma.


When I was entering my mid-20's, I strangely found myself spending Sunday evenings at Grandma's house with my best friend and my brother, watching a selection of TV programs being broadcast in her native language. Grandma would always have a bag or two of rice crackers ready, and she'd make us a big pot of tea...the good stuff. The kind of tea that only Grandma could make.

We'd barely notice as she'd shuffle off to the kitchen when the hot water kettle was boiling, then return moments later with a porcelin pot and four teacups (the good ones reserved for guests) on a lacquered tray. She wouldn't fill our cups until she had tasted the steeping tea several times, making sure it had sat long enough to be strong enough to drink.

We'd drink her tea, eat her rice crackers, laugh, moan and groan together at the melodramatic subtitled dramas.

Finally, I had found something to bond with Grandma with.

When my girls and I went to see her last Saturday, the day she passed, I knew it may be the last time I would see her alive. She had stopped taking in fluids and we were told to expect the end to come soon.

I didn't know exactly what I was going to say to her. But I knew that I did want to introduce her to my 8-month old daughter, PK...Grandma's 5th and latest great-grandchild.

When we went up to see her, the words started flowing with ease, because, no matter what physical or mental state she was in, she was still just Grandma.

I told her that she didn't have to fight anymore. That is was okay to let go and get some rest. That her money was safe, all her hotel rooms were rented out, that her kids were healthy and happy, and that Grandpa and other loved ones were waiting for her on the other side.

I told her that her family loved her very much, but that we all understood that she was ready to leave us.

Before I shut the door to leave, I did ask Grandma for one last thing. That the next time I saw her, would she please have a bowl of rice crackers and a pot of tea ready, so her and I could pick up right where we left off.

Later that same day, we got the call that Grams had passed.
I went and made a pot of tea.

November 12. 2003

When I hold my coffee cup, I see my grandmother's hands.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Seeing the lights from the back of the Elky

I'm not sure if this phenomenon is abundant in other states or areas of the country (it certainly wasn't an epidemic in LA County), but here in Oklahoma, the holiday season spawns millions and millions of city sponsored but privately funded light displays of truly epic proportions.

My small town caught the fever to put up temporary Christmas twinklers at the largest city park for a drive-through attraction sometime in it's past and it's now become a major bullet point in the Chamber of Commerce's propaganda package to get people to visit, stay, and spend money in our little town.

The other night, we took advantage of the unseasonably warm evening temps (40's-50's) and piled into the back of the El Camino for a cruise through the megawatt park.

I didn't have any astroturf, but a few furniture blankets sufficed for a soft pad in the bed of my car-truck. A few heavy wool blankets, mittens, earmuffs, hoodies pulled tight, and the girls were ready for a nostalgic 5 mph slow jam amidst the man-made milky way of cheap made-in-Taiwan mini-bulbs, prelit wireframe sculptures, and animated figures of frequent repose.

Norman Rockwell couldn't have envisioned a winter sleigh ride with more holiday fervor and nostalgic je ne sais quo than we had going on right there in the back of my muscle truck.

As I fired up the small block and let the beast exhale some Flowmaster fumes, my wife commented that even growing up a small town Okie, she had somehow managed to avoid what she termed a very "redneckie" activity such as we were about to partake.

Yet here she was with her So Cal born and bred husband and daughters, oohing and ahhing at Christmast lights, while smiling and waving from the back of a pick 'em up bed.

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure the kids behind us were wishing at that moment that they could pop out of the heated leather seats in their Dad's BMW 3-series eurolux sedan and switch places with my girls.

Or maybe they were just chuckling at the expense.

Monday, December 11, 2006

When pigs become hogs...cold hard facts

A few weekends back we took the kiddies out to a Christmas Tree farm up by Tulsa to get an interview with the owner for a story that my wife was working on.

It's an old fashion select-and-chop-your-own-tree joint, where Y2K families can romp through the rows of trees and relive a Little House on the Prairie episode that never existed in their own lives.

The owner has a great attitude towards his customers and was an amateur botanist of the nth degree. The farm is a family affair with his wife working the counter, his son's working the farm, and assorted cousins manning the tree shaking and netting machines (both of which are wonders of modern Christmas Tree technology).

This farm offered a complete family afternoon entertainment experience complete with hay bale maze, hay rides (tractor powered of course), a lunch wagon pulling a portable smoker, a gift boutique and store, free coffee/cider/cocoa and cookies, as well as a visit with a real-live Santa-person in a mocked-up sleigh.

But it was the petting zoo that drew my girls attention for the duration of our 4-hour stay.

Three goats, two piglets and all the kibble you could feed them.

The petting zoo was stafffed by the youngest member of the Christmas Tree Farm family, a strapping young fella resembling Bobby Hill (of King of the Hill) in appearance and dialect. He took to my "city girls" with a keen interest that only a card carrying member of the local FFA could muster with confidence, and proudly dove into a "day-in-the-life" retelling of a pigs life.

He started at the blessed event of the little piggies birth and ended it with the following:"When they get to be hogs, we'll eat 'em."
The whole, "piglets becoming hogs becoming bacon" transformation took C a few seconds to comprehend, to which she replied sternly..."You're not really going to eat these little guys, are you?
Guess my 7-year old isn't quite ready to join the blue and gold brigade -- I'm told the minimun age for FFA membership is nearby the teenage years.

Perhaps by then, I'll have worked up the courage to tell her about the birds and the bees and the bacon and the ham.

Or is that her Mother's job?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Preserving anonymity

Regular YASTM readers may have noticed that I don't use the real names of myself and my family, nor do I reveal my actual location.

It's my little attempt to retain some semblence of security through anonymity in the midst of the all encompasing internet cloud.

However, it seems that I've provided enough evidence in my hundreds of postings for some locals who are familiar with the surroundings of my hometown to figure out my whereabouts.

And I thought I was being so careful...huh.

Still others claim to have stumbled upon my blog accidentally (wonder what they Googled to find me?), the most recent of whom was from the very small town I live in...what are the chances?

As much as I appreciate and look forward to comments and musings related to YASTM, just so you know, if you post a comment that contains a grain or two of information that I feel is too revealing, I will moderate the comment to private-land and it will be seen by my eyes only. Sorry about this, but it's for security sake that I do this.

Call me paranoid, call me a freak, call me a dike-plugger trying to tide the floodwaters of the digital information age. Just don't call me out of my small town moments.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Instant Karma's gonna get you

Instant karmas gonna get you,
Gonna look you right in the face.
Better get yourself together darlin'.
Join the human race.
How in the world you gonna see,
Laughin at fools like me?
Who in the hell d'you think you are,
A super star?
Well, right you are.

We miss you, John.
December 8, 1980

Small town Catholic musings

Excerpts from the newsletter that my youngest comes home with from her Catholic School Pre-K...

This is the small rural town version of "Hey Spanky, let's meet at the clubhouse and put on a show!"

Not being a Catholic, this entire statement fills me with both a sense of dread and wonder, with the question foremost in my mind being, "just what is my obligation for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and why would I even THINK that going to Mass would fulfill that obligation?"

Current page turner-"Empire" by Orson Scott Card

Thursday, December 07, 2006

An infamous day

As my Father tells it, it was his father that woke him up in the early morning hours of that infamous Sunday, and not the loud explosions, or terrified screams, or the Mitsubishi A6M Zeros buzzing overhead.

My grandfather scrambled his entire family onto the shaky tin roof of their plantation home in Puunene, Maui so they could see what the commotion was about at a neighboring island.

My grandfather, of course, knew what the commotion was about. He recognized the red dot painted on the underside of the wings of the planes that periodically flew overhead and had by now filled the smoke-filled skies around Pearl Harbor.

My dad tells me that his father was cursing at the top of his lungs, screaming obscenities at the pilots who shared an ancestral heritage with his own family.

He made my father, my aunts and uncle, and my grandmother watch the entire attack, commenting that this was something important that they needed to all see and remember, because this was going to change everything.

I remember visiting Pearl Harbor as a boy with my family and Grandparents. We marveled at the glass bottom boat that took us out to the Arizona Memorial. Dad pointed out the oil still bubbling up from the sunken ships belly and we all paid our respects at the marble slab wall listing the names of fallen sailors and marines.

At the time I wasn't aware enough to understand the importance of this place to my family, my country, my home. When I was a kid, things of this nature weren't discussed openly among family.

When I eventually do take my girls to Pearl, I wonder what I'll tell them when they inquire what this place is, or why we came here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Do I need to call someone about this soon?

I've noticed that a lot of the power poles up and down the highway have this sort of bend to them, which in the past has always incited a mild "whoa nelly-ish" chuckle from me.

Then I noticed this one in the alley behind my house.

Now I'm wondering just how far this sucker will bend before it snaps like an old and brittle willow switch.

Currently reading-"The Jester" by James Patterson

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Disturbing the peace

Early in the a.m. last Friday, after the snow had fallen all night and during most of the previous day before, I was sitting with my 7-year old in a big comfy chair, looking out one of our three 9 foot tall living room windows.

The air was still, it was early enough in the morning that the traffic on the highway was sparse, and the chilly white blanket outside was muffling the sounds of the world to a serene silence.

I pulled the fleece blanket tighter to my daughter and in my best Mr. Miyagi frame-of-mind, I attempted to paint a perfect picture of the absence of sound that surrounded us.

I spoke of the traffic noise that wasn't there.
I cited the lack of electronic sputter from teevees, radios, cell phones, and CB radios (hey, this is Oklahoma),
I talked of the empty skies above, void of news and cop choppers, airliners, and executive jets carrying celebrities to power lunches on Victory Blvd.
I continued with tales of non-existent horn honks, hypothetical pedestrian yells, unprevailing dogs barks, theoretical leaf blowers, reputed lawn mowers and a complete absence of a 28-year old "teenager" who insists on tuning his Mitsubishi Lancer posing as an EVO 7 at 2 a.m.

And when I finally finished my poetic recounting of all the noises we weren't hearing, and all the peaceful silence the snow covered world was offering us, my daughter offered these words...Her - "Daddy, I hear something."
Me - "What's that sweetie?"
Her - "Your voice."
To which I simply and eloquently, shut my mouth.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Normally, I try to buy items made and manufactured right here in Oklahoma. 'Round these parts we just call it "MIO," or made in Oklahoma.

To this end, there is a flour mill in a town called Shawnee that produces some pretty fine white powdery substance used for baking, frying, dusting, and the like and since moving here I've been almost exclusivelly buying their product for my culinary needs.

The other day while reaching for the trusty MIO flour brand, this nugget of packaging wonder caught my eye...

While it's not MIO (this product is from our neighbors directly to the north -- Dorothy's turf), the simple, totally non-commercial and completely inelegant cover art won me over.

I mean, c'mon. What kind of adult imagination comes up with a chicken leg, a goldfish, and what looks to be a pork chop, happily diving into a frying pan.

Who says great art can't be found in your local supermarket?

Currently engrossed in-"Hundred Dollar Baby" by Robert B. Parker

Friday, December 01, 2006

My first snow day

My 2nd winter as a full time resident of central Oklahoma and yesterday was my first snow day.

Sure, it's snowed here before...couple inches here and there over the last two years, but this one was different in that it became an official "Snow Day."

My wife feels sorry for me that as a kid, I never experienced the excitement of watching the local news in the morning to see if your school was closed, and the joy of reading your school's name scroll up the screen.

She said the sounds of the depressed sighs of thousands of parents across the city could be heard as they faced an unplanned day of having the kids stuck inside the house, making messes and driving everyone crazy with their cabin fevered antics.

I always counter her feigned sympathy by citing the fact that she probably never experienced the eye-burning thrills and chest-wheezing excitement of going to recess during a 3rd Stage Smog Alert in LA in the 70's.

So there (cof-cof, wheeze-wheeze).

Anyhow, this particular storm that was looming on all of our intrepid weatherpersons radar was apparently so bad that schools were announcing their closure the night before the storm even hit. So last night, as Jay Leno sat on the couch with Al Gore (the movie star), the names of dozens of school districts across the state electronically scrolled the good/bad news across the screen.

Upon eyeshine this morning, my first peek out our bedroom window revealed no snow falling and just a dusting of the white stuff barely discernable along curbs and lawn lines.

On went the tv and the local news stations were already scrolling the names. One channel had their scroll line on top, the other on the bottom, one had the names in red with a blue background, yet another had white letters on black.

The entire scroll listing school closings due to weather, took over 25 minutes to get through the entire list.

Now that's a snow day.

Just got an email from my big brother back in sunny So Cal. He writes:"It's freezing here. Literally. This morning was about 37 degrees. Hope it's warmer where you are."My brother cracks me up.

Postscript - between 5 - 8 inches of the white stuff was dumped on our little abode today. The girls dug it. Literally.
Postpostscript - You know it's wintery out when your 7-year old yells at you from behind the closed door to the bathroom, "Daddy, the toilet seat is freezing!"

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Now that's one very old jingle

I've stumbed upon what appears to be a quirky and entirely local Christmas tradition here in my adopted state.

It's a strange marketing phenomenon known as the B.C. Clark Jeweler's jingle. This catchy, singable, and retro-cheesy advertising jingle is over 50-years old, and still going strong.

To read more about this funny little jewelry store that's been around since before statehood (1892...that's older than the original Tommy's Burger in downtown LA), check out their website.

You can download their jingle to your iPod or watch the little animated Santa tv spot that my wife remembers so fondly. She feels, as many Okies apparently feel, that it just isn't Christmas until you've heard the B.C. Clark jingle.

This family run jewelry store seems to have a pretty slick marketing/advertising department. For a 3-store chain, they've managed to develop a well rounded brand identity that would cause my old employer to shudder with delight. One of B.C. Clark's ongoing campaigns which keeps them in the forefront of the minds of brides-to-be across the state is their "Rainy (or snowy) Wedding Day - Wedding Ring Giveway."

Basically, if you buy a ring from B.C. Clark and it rains or snows more than an inch on your wedding day, they''ll cover the cost of the ring for up to $5,000.

So far this year, they've given away 24 wedding rings.

Not too shabby.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

While Yoko Ono shreaks, my daughter sings

A local radio station (several actually) have been playing "holiday" music since a few days before Thanksgiving.

I wrote one station an email basically stating that while I appreciated the 24-7 holiday music selection, I encouraged them to expand their library just a tad beyond the 24 or so songs they have carted (old school) or ripped onto their play list hard drives (new digi-style).

While I just love to listen to Yoko's barely tolerable backup vocals behind John singing "Happy Christmas, War is Over," once or twice a day is more than enough, even for a Lennon fan such as myself.

More than a dozen "War is Over's" in one day (while listening to the station at sporadic intervals at best) is more Yoko than anyone needs to hear while operating a motor vehicle or trying to match sock pairs while folding a load of whites.

In fact, while driving my daughters around, C became familiar enough with that particular tune to be able to sing along to the chorus.
A very merry Christmas, and a happy new year.
Let's hope it's a good one, without any fear."

On a more sentimental note, hearing my 7-year old belt out what has always been a heartstring tugging holiday tune to me, brought a choke to my throat and a few well placed 0's and 1's in the CPU in my head.

December 8, 1980 - Strawberry Fields Forever, John.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cowboy sushi

The other night, wifey was in the mood for some sushi. And since the only raw fish seen around my small town is the kind you bait a hook with (some would say the ONLY proper use for raw fish), we ventured into the city to find an establishment worthy enough to separate our funds from our bank account.

A self-proclaimed OKC restaurant guru and eat-out "in-the-know" co-worker of my wife tells her that there exists only one sushi restaurant in all of greater OKC that is owned by a card carrying member who hails from the land of the rising sun.

How could this be?

Off to my fingers go a typing.

What I find sends my right eyebrow skyward and bends my conscious mind towards believing wifey's co-worker, as every establishment claiming to serve Japanese cuisine that's listed within a days drive, is named after the following items:The first of two of the largest battleships ever built
A cat sushi chef
The first novel in James Clavell's Asian saga.
60's crooner Frankie Valli's backup group
One of the most skilled swordsmen in history
The modern capital of Japan
I don't know about you, but none of these items conjure up images of a wonderous Japanese culinary cuisine experience awaiting my palate that is parched for some nipponese soul food.

Yes, food is just food, and between good cooks and great chefs there exists all those who can whip up a good dish no matter what the origin of the cuisine in question may be. And don't get me wrong...I've had good sushi at joints owned and run by Koreans, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Filipinos...even one run by a lady from Guam..all within the confines of the greater Los Angeles area.

In fact, one of my favoritte places to belly up to the uncooked fish bar and get berated by the barely English speaking sushi chef is run by a family of first generation South Koreans, or Seoul-ites, as they westerly call themselves.

And I must also add the disclaimer that I am in no way an expert at all things sushi, nor am I privvy to the secret preparation methods or training regime that a real sushi chef must undergo.

To rise to an expert consumption level, I'd have to take it up a notch and turn the barstool over to my ex-colleagues at my last gig.

These guys were sushi fiends, downing multiple varieties of uncooked seafood and items barely pronounceable to me, much less edible.

To this day, I can't take a bite of the stuff without thinking about the first time I mixed my wasabi and soy while in the presence of Dave, Stu, and Herb, then was shocked to see, hear, smell, and watch them order bits of raw fish and rice that I hadn't eaten since being forced to try as a kid..."it's'll like it...tastes like chicken."

These three, seemingly meat and potato men from as far away as the Jersey coast and nearby as Whitier (LA Barrio-west), opened my eyes to just how pervasive sushi-consumption had become in our country.

To be honest, I felt more than a little immasculated and out-Asian'd by these three caucasiod raw fish consumers as I ordered my California rolls and raw tuna pieces.

Back to OKC ranch, wifey and I settled into the Frankie Valli backup group sushi/teppan restaurant. We were greeted by an atrractive blonde coed wearing a lovely silk kimono that she wore more like a bathrobe. It was definitely not tailored to fit her statuesque proportions...or so my wife tells me...I wasn't looking (ahem).

The sushi chef was from Korean, but he studied under a Vietnamese sushi chef who actually did learn his craft in Japan. Score.

We were seated next to a large party of "horse people" who were in town for the Quarter Horse show happening at the nearby State Fairgrounds.

The image of cowboy hatted, western wear clad, horse folk chowing down on daintly little rice/veggie/seafood tidbits of food took the entire dining experience to a new level.

S and I ordered, and ate, watched the show at the nearby teppan tables, and generally had a grand time, satisfying both our cravings for some "Seoul" food, and our need to empty out our bank account.

Friday, November 24, 2006

"My fodder hurts..."

The other night PK was kinda listless and not her usual bouncy self.
We asked her what was wrong and if anything hurt.
She said " fodder hurts."

Let me explain.

For the last two months, for 3-days a week, PK's been attending the 3-year old Pre-K program at the Catholic School across the street. It's convenient, safe, clean, a good deal for the money, and we're fairly good friends with her teacher.

In the first few months, PK has learned the pledge of allegiance, the golden rules, the lyrics and melodies to several songs (both patriotic and those of Christian dogma), how to stand in line, how not to complain about cafeteria food, and the difference between a skirt, a skort, and a jumper -- okay, that last one was actually something I learned.

Being a Catholic institution, she also came home one day with a new skill -- the art of something called the Holy Rosary...or at least the opening line of it. Along with the words ("In the name of the Father, the Son...) she learned what I call the "Holy Rosary Vogue" -- using her right hand to make a cross starting on her forehead, down to her chest, over to her left then right shoulder.

All making sense now?

So when she tells us that her "fodder" hurts (pointing to her forehead) we take her temperature and give her a dose of cherry flavored children's Tylenol.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Wishbook

The Sears Holiday Wishbook arrived some time ago via US mail, inspiring a flood of childhood memories of hours spent on the floor of our living room, elbow-to-elbow with my big brother pouring over page after page of the wonderous catalog of toys.

As kids, we weren't allowed to fold or dog ear the pages of the wishbook, thus destroying the virtuous integrity of the sacred tome.

Instead, we had to memorize or write down what we wanted. Which wasn't an easy task, as the 400+ page wishbook of my childhood was a hefty collection of double-sided toy bearing madness.

Studying the wishbook was a Christmas tradition as sacred and familiar as tossing tinsel on the coniferous douglas fir and watching in childhood wonder as my Mom put up the whimsical miniature winter display complete with rolled out fake snow, 1/64th scale sleds filled with tiny gifts, bug-eyed plastic bendy elves, and reindeer with faded paint on their antlers and hooves.

Alas, today's Sears Holiday Wishbook was a mere 123 pages. Barely a shell of the ode to childhood consumerism of my past.

But it was still a toy catalog, therefore it's diminutive girth didn't seem to phase my girls in the least.

Not yet aware of the significance of the sacred wishbook tradition, I gladly guided my daughters down the time-honored ritual of wishbook page flippage.

I plopped down on the floor and encouraged my daughters to grab a pillow and sidle up next to me in front of the wishbook. The only Rockwellian icon missing from this picture was a roaring fireplace. We just turned up the thermostat.

It was then and there that the three of us commenced to study each and every page of that book, commenting, oohing, ahhhing, drooling, and dreaming of Christmas mornings, past, present and future.

Another memory made, another tradition continued. It's the little things...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Priorities with a DishTV twist

The big green house is no more.

After almost two years of being on the market, two different realtors, about a dozen walk-throughs, and a 40% drop in it's original asking price, the huge house next door was sold.

A few phone calls to key contacts within my growing network of neighborhood know-nicks revealed the buyer to be a Director of some department at a major hospital out in the city.

Kids, none.
Pets, unknown.
Wife's profession, unknown, but rumor is that she paints.

An acquaintance who runs one of the two title/escrow joints in town mentioned that the buying couple restored an old house in their old neighborhood and may have been looking for a new project that is located between where their aging parents live and where he works - our town being at the halfway point.

So, it would seem that on the surface our new neighbors may be D.I.N.K.'s who are adequately strapped to take on the daunting task of restoring their stately statehood era abode to it's original splendor.

Sounds like the exact people we were looking for to buy the Green House nextdoor.

Enter Direct TV.

While folding yet another basket of pinks and purples fresh out of the dryer, a quick glance out my breakfast nook window revealed several workmen in blue shirts clamoring around the second floor eaves of the green house, running coaxial cable from a satellite dish mounted very discreetly on an overhang.

An hour or so later I notice two men carrying what looked like a fairly well loaded entertainment shelf unit out of a red pickup and through the front door...then they left.

Satellite TV, home entertainment system...all that's missing is the big plasma screen high def boob tube, which I'm sure will be delivered fresh from sometime soon.

And yet, the brick foundation under the green house is blowing away with each shift in the earth's crust. Additionally, there is no heat or air upstairs, the kitchen is gutted, the electrical wiring is non-grounded (circa 1940's copper), the water heater is rusting through at the base, the exterior asbestos siding needs to be addressed, the entire front porch is falling in from wood rot, there may be termites throughout, the three car garage out back is operating at a slant enough to prevent any of the doors from opening and the house needs an inside cleaning worthy of 2-years of collected dirt, dust, and bird poop (an upstairs window flew open during many a wind storm and the birds found a nice place to crash).

And yet, Mr. New Owner's gotta get his MTV...or more likely his OU football games.

First installs say a lot about what a person can and can't live with/without in their new nest.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Forever Blue...our dominating FFA Judging Team

There are still about a quadrillion things about living in a rural community that I don't quite grok...yet.

FFA is one of them.

For those of us who grew up in a glass and cement, heavy traffic, smog-soaked environment, the existence of FFA is a foreign concept, relegated to movies, an occassional Discovery Channel program, or a hot summer afternoon visit to the county fair at the Pomona Fairgrounds.

But FFA is huge here. And, from what I can gather from a quick gander at the FFA website, FFA is huge all over.

Some Future Farmers of America Factoids...Founded: 1928
Number of Chapters: 7,242
2006 Membership: 495,046
Who knew?

In my small town, we have the bragging rights to have farmed and raised the 2006 National Championship Judging Team.

That's NATIONAL champion. The entire country. All 50 states.

Breaking it down further reveals other diacritical marks. Of the five members on the judging team, four earned one of the top five individual placements in the contest.

4 out of 5!

That's how many dentists recommend you chew sugarless gum over regular gum (who was the 5th dentist anyway?...what a doof).

Not since Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro swept their FFA categories has there been such a livestock judging coup.

Not satisfied at being the red, white, and blue champions, our intrepid Aqua Teen Livestock Judging Force is anxious to take on the world in Scotland for the international competition.

Course, they're about $19,990 short of the expenses they'll need to cover to get there and back again (recently our town Mayor donated a $100 personal check to the cause and issued a challenge to others to kick in).
I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.Excerpt from the FFA Creed

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sick up and fed of email hoaxes

The only thing worse than these dreaded email hoaxes circulating about the getting these dreaded email hoaxes forwarded to me by well intentioned friends, family members, and colleagues.

Under "gullible" in the dictionary there must be listed 99.9% of the people on this planet using email.

I don't know how many times, with just a few clickety-clicks on my keyboard and a google search, I've been able to dislodge the chicken bone in the multitudes of email netlores I've been deluged with in the past year.

Please, please, please, pass these site url's onto everyone you know (this isn't an email hoax, so it's okay to forward it...really it is. You have my permission).

A few million less email hoaxes in our inboxes will help free up the email servers of the world and maybe make the net cloud operate a bit more efficiently.

And of course, the mothership site for email hoaxes...

Salvation from terrorists buying stolen UPS uniforms, Pepsi cans celebrating Islamic extremists, and vomit and feces at the bottom of Chuck E. Cheese's ball pit is only a few mouse clicks away.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

SMART board Mania

Every classroom at C's school has one of these technological wonders.

I think I would have loved one of these in my high school trig class. Everytime I would be called to the board to solve an equation, I'd just have to wait a few minutes for the Windoze machine to crash and toss up the inevitable blue screen of death, then I could quietly go back to my seat while it rebooted.

I'm all for incorporating high tech into my daugher's quest to master the three R's, but I must not be the only person to have fond memories of dissecting an actual frog in biology class.

I smell a PETA conspiracy.

At the very least they could pass out scratch and sniff stickers infused with formaldehyde.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Red Man's revenge

The largest casino in Oklahoma is the 219,000-square-foot Riverwind, owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation.

Rumors are flying that a bigger one is being planned in Oklahoma, that will dwarf the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, which is currently the largest casino in the United States.

Downwind of my small town a spell is a casino owned by the Cheyenne / Arapaho Tribe. From miles around, in the deep darkness of the Oklahoma prairie night, the mega-gigawatt glow of the search lights, parking lot lights, and the million or so bulbs covering the exterior of the casino illuminate their unnatural brilliance onto the surrounding flora and fauna.

At all times of the day, any day of the week, weekends, holidays, birthdays and bar mitzvahs, the parking lot is occupied with cars, trucks, minivans and Peterbilts.

The C/A Tribe is making a killing.

Was watching the John Ford/John Wayne technicolor classic, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," the other night.

I've seen it at least a dozen times in various venues as a casual couch spud viewer but also with a more academic eye as well (a film genre class called "The American Western" was a popular sign-up in grad school).

But this last time, I saw it with a slightly different twist of view.

An important scene involves John Wayne and his troop coming across what seems to be the entire Arapaho Nation, on the move. They're making their way towards the encampment in Monument Valley where the Cheyenne Dog Warriors, the Kiowa, Souix, Apache and the Comanche are all holed up, celebrating the recent defeat of Custer, and prepping to stage for an all out war with the American Calvary.

The dichotomy between this fictional celluloid image of the Arapaho nation making their slow trek across the prettiest scenery in Utah, and the flow of cash moving in and out of the "Las Vegas-ian" C/A Tribal casino a few miles south of my small town, is irony worthy of an Alanis Morisette musical ditty.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Creamed by definition

When I as a kid, when someone was "creamed" it meant (among other things) that the clay wheels on their skateboard hit a pebble on the sidewalk and they took a face-rashing header onto the pavement (yes kiddies, I'm THAT old).

So you can imagine my excitement when I read this headline in our small town news rag using the word "creamed"...

...and my disappointment when I read that they used the word in a more literal sense.

No loss. I love the word "creamed" being used in any context.

BTW, for those who have been sorta following the Associate District Judge race in my small town from a few of my previous posts (Oct. 2006, June 2006), Judge Susie won by 695 votes.

I know that may not seem like much of a margin to win by, but when you take into consideration the name of this blog, 695 votes is a landslide.

Judge Susie creamed her opponent.
There, that's better.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oklahoma Rising

For all you non-Okie's who couldn't care one iota about what goes on in our fair state, next year will be our Centennial.

Projects of every scope, style, and budget are being dreamed, planned, built, and completed in preparation for the celebration with officially kicks off this month (I believe).

My small town was fortunate enough to receive several grants for Centennial related projects, including a sculpture of a well known western figure, an outdoor production of a play (I wonder which play it will be....hmmm?), a tree grove, and a Veteran's Memorial Wall.

I have ties to 3 of the 4 projects (tell me I haven't integrated myself into the community) and may get roped into helping with the fourth.

The home I live in has a roundabout tie to the Centennial as well.

The person who built and lived in it way back in pre-statehood time, was a prominent local businessman. He was sent as part of the areas delegation to the first representative gathering of the people of Oklahoma territory, called the "Advisory Convention" in July of 1889. It was from this first meeting that the state of Oklahoma began to take seed....first as a territory, then 18-years later as a state.
We're Oklahoma Risin', brighter than a star
Stand up and sing about her, let the world know who we are
We're the sons and the daughters, children of the West
We're Oklahoma Risin', risin' up to be the best

From a rugged territory to the Oklahoma Run
We've made our dreams come true, just look at what we've done
We're the Heartland of America, our heart is in the race
We've sailed our prairie schooners right into outer space
We are young and we are strong, we are comin' with a roar
Sooner than later we'll be knockin' on your door
Say hello to the future, gonna shake the future's hand
and build a better world upon this sacred land

Guts and grace and mercy, we have shown them in our turn
When the fields had turned to dust and the skies began to burn
When the storm shook our souls and the mighty buildings fell
Through fires and desperation our faith has served us
Well I choke back the emotion, I'm an Okie and I'm proud
So when you call me Okie, man, you better say it loud
Now we look into the heavens at the eagles climbing free
It's the spirit of our people on the wing, can you see?

We're Oklahoma Risin', brighter than a star
Stand up and sing about her, let the world know who we are
We're the sons and the daughters, children of the West
We're Oklahoma Risin', risin' up to be the best
Celebrating statehood and some of Oklahoma's unique qualities, these are the lyrics to Oklahoma's Centennial Song entitled "Oklahoma Rising," with music by Vince Gill and lyrics by Jimmy Webb.

It's not available on iTunes yet, but I'm hopeful. It's a rousing little ditty that is sure to make any Okie's chest burst with pride. I like it, but I guess I haven't lived here long enough to "own it" just yet.

I'm still partial to Randy Newman's, "I Love L.A." Go figure.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Words to live (or not) by

Our state is forturnate enough to have a pretty darn nice tourism rag, called Oklahoma Today.

In the November/December issue a feature pictorial beautifully highlights some of the centenarians of our fair state and some words of wisdoms they impart.

This was my favorite.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mystery Meat's culinary cousin

On my first visit with my then girlfriend/future wife to the state of Oklahoma, I was lounging around her parent's house, looking for something to snack on. My future M-i-L told me to find something in the fridge and help myself.

So I did.

I grabbed a box of Triscuits out of the pantry. It had been previously opened, so I knew I wouldn't be commiting any food faux paux's by being the first to crack open a new box of snacks.

I had my crackers.

Perusing futher into the frigidaire before me, I stumbled upon a strange and wonderous concoction in the cheese drawer that looked completely and totally inedible. It was dayglo orange in hue, had the consitency of overly curdled cottage cheese and Peter Pan peanut butter...the chunky kind.

But, since it was in the cheese drawer, and the label on the plastic contaner clearly stated that it did contain a cheese spread of some kind, I figured it was not only edible, but would make quite the retro-chic fashion statement once scooped out and placed on my snackin' cracker.

I had my dip.

Off to the kitchen counter I went, anxious to sample my recent dietary digestibles.

The bright orange "cheese dip" was creamy, and salty and sweet all at the same time. It had bits of red squishyness that delicately enhanced the overall texture of the dip, which was both dangerously smooth yet profoundly lumpy. When placed on my "fried-not-baked" cracker of choice, it's bright orange color announced with authority it's presence and station, sitting proudly atop the lowly cracker that only served as it's platform.

I was happy.

In a flash, my M-i-L was standing over me (okay, beside me...she's only 5'4"), glaring at my nosh of choice. She swipes up the plastic dip container, covers it with purpose, and all but throws the orange spread of wonder back into the fridge.

"We use that to make sandwiches. It's not a's pimento cheese spread."

In all my travels both here and abroad, and all those years spent as a youthful participant of the multiculturally varied southern California lifestyle, I had never been exposed to the compound of bread and dayglo orange curdly spread known as the Pimento Cheese Sandwich.

I imagine all the Southern YASTM blog readers could chime in on this topic with length and humor, as well as any golf buffs that dream of playing at the Masters in Augusta. You Southerner's are a wacky lot. And y'all talk funny too.

While here in my small town, I can name you four local eateries that offer that exact item on their menu.

One place in particular puts a healthy sprig of green leaf lettuce on their Pimento Cheese Sandwich offering. That's my favorite.

And when I do order one to eat, I always make sure to do two things.

1). I order a "PCS," which any astute user of the net, will recognize as the three-letter acronym for the breaded topic of this blog entry. Who knows, it may catch on as the "thing" to order with the local youth and I wil have left my mark on this interesting foodstuff phenomenon.

and 2). I always, always...ask for crackers.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Paper Scissors Rock

Even out here on the prairie, around this house, we play it as "Jan-Ken-Po," but the basics of the game are the same.

My 2-year old, PK has ascended to the age where small conflicts and matters of hand can now be settled, hand.

Although, she seems to be attatched to a certain stragedy, which her older sibling quickly learned how to take advantage of.

PK says, "I'm always the Rock. I like the rock."

So, naturally, C is always paper.

And PK loses and gets frustrated and tells C not to always be paper.

To which C responds by telling PK not to always be rock.

To which PK responds, "I'm always the Rock. I like the rock." 2-year old logic and stubborness at work.

And they play again.

And PK is the always rock, C is always paper, and the argument continues.

I told C to teach PK how to play Tic-Tac-Toe.

That should settle things....right?

Flashback time...

In my younger days of travel and mirth, my best friend, my brother, and I stumbled upon a unique video incarnation of the game while trolling the alleys and streets of the seedy Shinjuku district in central Tokyo.

For a 100 yen coin, a video game player could face a game screen and play jan-ken-po with a nubile young Asian female. At one point during the game, the player must select his choice of three large, backlit buttons -- each labeled with the graphic of a hand in the shape of "paper," "scissors," and "rock."

The reward? You best the video player, she removes an article of clothing. She bests you, and you're out 100 yen -- hey, give me a break, we were young, in a foreign land, with yen to burn.

So, I'd like to tell you that we only spent a few hundren yen on this silly game.

I'd like to tell you that each of us gave it a shot, lost and walked away in pursuit of more cultural pursuits in the land of the rising sun.

I'd like to tell you that we imported that game to the states, mass produced it and made a mint by placing it in thousands of video arcades across the country.

I'd also like to tell you that the next time PK plays jan-ken-po with her sister, she'll chose something other than rock.

Not likely.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Jeep

There's a cool old dude who regularly dumpster dives the rolling garbage bins in the alley that runs behind our house. He either does this as a hobby, or perhaps he's making a pretty good living out of it, since he drives a Dodge Pickup that can't be more than a few months old.

And yeah, it's got a Hemi.

In the dozen or so times we've crossed paths in the the open alley, we've always greeted each other with a neanderthal nod and a cordial smile. He seems to be interested only in the large dumpsters, leaving the small privately owned plastic receptacles alone.

The other day, he made a donation and left this by our side door.

I figure he's seen my daughter's at play in our yard at various times during his dogged pursuit of the treasures found in other's trash, and decided to make a gift of this particular find.

It's an older model and beat up some. It's once showroom finish has color faded to an ugly pukey purplely pink, no doubt a result of being left out in the harsh Oklahoma sun. Stickers advertising automotive products placed by a proud papa at one time are now just garrish reminders of a shade tree mechanic's penchance for an O'Reilly Auto parts buy-a-case-of-oil-to-get-a-free-decal promotion.

Sadly, no, this one did NOT have a Hemi.

But the drive motors were both there and the batteries were in place. Contacts were all rust free and the wiring didn't resemble my old Mazda's dashboard after a particular stereo was stolen from it.

Why then would someone have dumped this trash-to-treasure find of kiddie automotive importance?

Near as I can figure. the previous owner had to have been an Oklahoma transplant like myself, who sees the world as a temporary refuge for all the products of planned obsolescence spewed forth by the factories of the world.

See, a true Okie wouldn't dream of dumping such a find...working or not. Pick just about any farmer's homestead nearby, and you'll see the history of his automotive buying selection for the past 70 (or more) years. Old trucks and cars aren't disposed of here. They are just parked next to the one that was parked after it died 20, 40, and 50 years before that.

I've seen a '35 Ford pickup, parked next to a '49 Chevy pickup, parked next to a '62 GMC pickup, parked next to a 70-something Dodge pickup -- all in various states of rust, disrepair, and neglect. It was a veritable museum display of the metal and sweat that was used to bring that farm through the Dust Bowl and into the current century. Hey, if I had the room, I'd keep all my old cars as well.

Back to the Jeep. Turns out the twin 6-volt batteries needed to power the kiddie mobile wouldn't hold a charge. The twin motors appeared intact and in decent shape and the tires were good (no cracks in the plastic -- good for another 100,000 miles at least, with proper care and rotation).

My F-i-L checked the wiring and replaced a few frayed ends. I removed several creepy-crawlers who had taken refuge in the molded innerds of the "engine compartment." Then, in a fit of Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor-dom, we stuck a 12-volt lawn mower battery in the sucker, upped the inline fuse capacity for safety, Mickey-Ducked a few wires together and fired that bad boy right up.

Ever see a Fisher Price PowerWheel burn rubber?

Like any modern car driving woman, C wants to get a fresh coat of paint on her new whip, and lose the decals while she's at it. I've taught her how to hook it up to the battery charger so she can make sure it's juiced up for her next backyard off roading adventure.

I fully expect to find her pulling out an Oklahoma map and highlighting a path down old Route 66 someday soon. Guess I should start stocking up on the beef jerky now.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Savannah by Segway

Another stop my wife and I made during our recent anniversary trip was to the lovely town of Savannah.

The historic and characteristically southern people and environs of Savannah ooze confederate charm and splendor. From the city plan built around a series of park-like squares, to the row upon row and street upon street of architecturally awesome homes and buildings, the city itself is a feast for the touristy senses.

Everywhere you turn, visitors are walking among the dangling spanish moss, gazing upon yet another restored antebellum home, and reading in their booklet how it was somehow related to the massively popular novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

My wife and I took a more modern approach to touring the blocks upon blocks of century old cobblestone and brick pathways. We Segway'd.

My wife's idea. Really, it was. She was a Segway veteran due in part to some time spent at Disneyland one day.

We had such a ball on these rented, two-wheeled, gyroscoping, battery-propelled wonders, that the partaking of such may become a regular feature on our anniversary trips around our beautiful country.

Next year, Providence by Segway. I can't wait.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


A 3.5-year old, a 6-year old (almost 7), 2 hours of walking and knocking (all that was allowed by the hours set forth by the City Council), and we are good for the year.

The trick-or-treating tradition is still alive and kicking in our small town.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tonight I'm gonna cut loose...Footloose

Quick...what song was playing in Ren McCormick's yellow '72 Beetle as he drove Willard around the little town of Beaumont, Texas that got him pulled over by the local fuzz for "disturbing the peace?"

If you don't know the answer to this mindless piece of 80's cinema trivia, get yourself out there and rent a copy of the extremely quotable (in a "so bad it's good" kinda way) Kevin Bacon bubble gum flick, "Footloose."

The relevance of the article above will all come into clear and present view.

Bang your head, mental health'll drive you mad.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Made in Georgia, USA

In our small town we have a Dollar General, which is basically a discount store selling discount merchandise of sometimes questionably discount quality.

They are a pretty big chain here in the Land of the Dollar Stores (Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Doller World, Dollar Plus, Dollar Store, ad. infinitum).

In our Dollar General, I picked a jar of Bread and Butter pickle chips off the shelf and perused the label...

Turning it around to see where these staples of American picnics were lovingly created, I was surprised to see the following...

Truth be told, I wasn't all THAT surprised to find what I believed to be a uniquely red, white, and blue essential of pantries and picnic baskets across our country to have been "outsourced" to the land that originated the Nehru jacket fashion trend.

But it did click over to a memory from not too long ago, when the company I was with outsourced the majority of it's tech support to offshore labor. I understood the economics of it and the reasons behind the companies decision to do so, but it was frustrating to see many of my ex-tech support trench warriors get the polite shove off after many years of dedicated service.

Which brings me to a product which I think has been and will remain to be entirely outsource proof...the Southern Fruit Cake.

My wife loves the stuff, which is why on our recent trek through the Peach State, we had to make a prilgrimage of sorts to this spot...

Honestly, who else in the world would think to create, manufacture, and consume in mass quantities, such a culinary oddity as the Claxton Fruit Cake?

We bought the 5 lb. box from this nice lady, who had been with the company, making and selling the fruited cake of the Georgia gods for twenty-odd years.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Guarding the humble abode

Some people think dogs are the best thing for home security.
Some think a loaded 12-gauge will do the trick.
Alarms. Deadbolts. Motion-sensor porch lights. Wireless remote video camera systems hooked up to a 200 gig hard drive recording device that is secured in a locked "black box" that is buried in the bottom of a closet.

I think I should investigate what it is this fellow has to offer.

Found in the classifieds of the recent Oklahoma Farm Bureau newsletter (we use their homeowners insurance)...

"Don't come any closer or my donkey will kick the livin' cr*p out of you, then bray about it to his fellow asses."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Here come 'da judge(s)

No where is there more election day drama than in the myriad of contests dotting the map across our democratically elected nation.

In my small town, a judge seat is up for grabs between the top two vote getters from the primary of a few months ago.

The incumbent finds herself in a major battle royale to keep her black robe daily wear.

Recently, this ad was posted in the local paper, paid for, by all people, by the third and losing candidate from the primary.

The gloves are coming off.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sausage fingers and ballet slippers

Our 3 year-old has started on her path to grace, strength and agility by taking her first dance class.

She's got the requisite uniform. Leotard with tutu, tights, the proper hair restraining devices, and of course, the ballet slippers.

We tell her it's a ballet class, even though it's more of a movement for 3-year old's type of lesson.. Yet my ultra-aware daughter tells me everyday after class that, "they forgot to let us dance in class again, today." She remains ever hopeful that one day the teacher will get to some grand plies, pas de deuxs and pirouettes instead of telling them to act like an amoeba and crawl around the floor.

The two most difficult pre-class tasks are getting her into her tights (how in the world do women tolerate panty hose?), and tying the laces on her ballet shoes.

Yep, gentlemen. Ballet shoes have laces.

In fact, that's the title of book I'm going to someday scribe that details the sideways world of being a Stay-at-Home Dad.

Anyhow, I've since learned that the tiny laces of my daughter's ballet shoes and the knockwurst fingers on my average-sized man hands are not meant for anything other than a casual impersonal acquaintanceship.

Hard to visualize. Easier to watch...and giggle...and sympathyze. Click here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The State Food of Oklahoma

In my opinion, Oklahoma suffers from an identity crisis in a life or death category. Food.

Our bar-b-que of choice seems to borrow heavily on the Texas style (beef based, saucy, and lot's of it) method of congestive heart failure uber-feasting.

Our Chinese fare is favored in lowest-common-denominator tasteless portions via buffet lines as long as the panhandle juts out to the west.

The Mexican food is decent enough, albeit somewhat generic. I've yet to find a greasy, hardcore East L.A. all-night taco stand with buckets of pickled serrano chiles and raw radishes there for the taking.

Burgers are king, sandwiches are aplenty (except for a good pastrami, but I digress), and donut shops are decently represented even though I'm ever hopeful to stumble upon a Cambodian owned house of round fried dough delectibles.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, our land run bred culinary stylings have circumnavigated the idea of coming up with a single representative dish, and instead have chosen to pursue perfecting dishes that other states proudly claim as their own.

Chicken Fried Steak. Fried okra. Chili. Cinnamon rolls. Biscuits and gravy. Brisket. Pizza. Fried Chicken even.

Of this foodie faux paux, a "glass is half full" person may say that we do it all well, so we don't really have to specialize in one thing.

A "glass is half empty" person may remark that we didn't create anything unique, so we had to do a "Made in Japan" and imitate dishes that others have made.

Finally, a "glass is sitting in dirty dishwasher" person my swear up and down that we're a pretty young state and haven't had the time to develop our own dish, so stop 'yer yammering and pass the gravy bowl.

I have it on good authority that the modern classic Onion Fried Burger can be traced to a small town south of here on Route 66. Good as they are, they can hardly qualify as a statewide culinary phenomenon.

What may be of more import on this topic, is that good eats and atmospheric eateries abound across the state on every highway, interstate, or small town backroad you happen across.

Treasures of comfortable food and drink can be found on several corners of my small town's downtown, which serves as a pretty good measuring stick for the taste defying treats awaiting travelers with a gumption for a satisfying case of near gluttony.

However, I'm skeptical that Oklahoma will ever be one of those states that tourists travel through or fly over, saying to themselves, "Someday I'm gonna get myself to Oklahoma and try some of that famous [insert dish here] that I've always heard about."

I don't know. Perhaps my adopted home state doesn't need to be able to have a dish to call it's very own. We're still so busy living down the whole, Grapes of Wrath, mattress-toting-huckster image, that tying our state identity to a particular dish may seem a silly idea when compared to the many other issues facing our states tourism industry.

Now stop 'yer yammering and pass the gravy bowl.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Read a book, eat a worm

My 6 (almost 7) year-old is half way through the first grade in our small town's one and only public elementary school.

She was recently tested and is apparently reading at the 2nd grade level according to both the STAR Reading Test and the CCC Computer Lab Initial Reading Program (impressive huh...just a little name dropping on my part).

Translation... she's being encouraged to participate in the "dot" reading program.

In the school library there stands a special section of books, each of which are clearly branded with circular shaped stickers...dots.

The student who has reached the required reading level gets to pick a dotted book and must read it on their own. Ater which, they take a reading comprehension test on the book and if they answer 7 of the 10 questions correctly the student earns a "dot point."

Still with me?

After accumulating 10 dot points, the student then earns some "school bucks" that they may use to purchase special prizes at the library.

Books and book related materials, I'm assuming.

It was these dot points that the 2nd - 4th graders had earned that prompted the Principal at my daughter's school to eat 4 live worms.

Night crawlers.

Live, night crawlers.

Apparently, sometime before the summer break, in a fit of ego and pride, the Principal agreed to eat 4 squiggling annelidas if the dot earning students accumulated 4000 dot points over a set amount of time.

The retched little over-achieving readers came back with over 5000 gleaming dot points.

Gol'darn. [token coloful local vernacular phrase]

I recently read about a Principal up in Oregon who agreed to spend an entire hour on the roof of her school, for every 1000 books her students read.

The little buggers read 20,000 books. She was up there for a long, cold, rainy pacific northwest day. But at least she didn't have to eat bass bait while doing it.

I talked to the "dude" before the event, thinking that he must have eaten worms sometime in his past for a frat prank, or as a weird football initiation rite (he played college ball on a scholarship in OK...not a small accomplishment here in the land of elevated college football player reverence).

Of couse, he hadn't. And even though he was a local boy from around my hometown neck of the woods of So Cal, he hadn't developed a taste for sushi. Not that eating raw fish would necessarily enable one to consume worms in an orderly fashion, but an uncooked slice of tuna flesh is closer on the culinary evolutionary scale to a wiggly worm, than is say, a porterhouse cooked medium-rare.

I couldn't leave my homey out there hanging. So we put our deformed San Gabriel valley bred noggins together and formalated a strategy for choking the little suckers down in the most gag-reflex-suppressing manner.

And the table was set.
And the worms were purchased.
And the eating began.

I witnessed the event and videotaped it.

Watch it at your own discretion. It isn't pretty.

Our small town school Principal got game.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Drive-thru banking

Try to recall the days of banking convenience before the advent of the ATM.

I'd rather not.

In fact, banking and convenience had little to do with each other, in my opinion, before the worldwide implementation of the automated teller machine.

I came of age in the Me Generation, where face-to-face contact with living, breathing people to access my funds and visit my money was all but outlawed by service charges and additional fees.

So much so, that I came to rely upon the ATM banking paradigm and had, before moving to my small town, wholeheartedly embraced it as the preferred method of my day-to-day financial institution bizzyness.

I know, I know, we all have war stories whereupon the only solution to a financial snafu (caused by the bank, of couse) could be found in the loving arms and soothing voice of a flesh and blood banking representative.

But for the most part, I prefer dealing with the silicon and plastic bank networked automatons.

The locally owned bank that holds my moola in my small town has decent walk-in hours, 5 lanes of drive-up tellers (with expanded hours), yet only 1 ATM machine that is located inside the well lit, camera surveiled, climate-controlled foyer of the bank itself.

To use it, I have to park my car, get out of my car, lock my car (out of habit, not necessity -- not much jacking of 10-year old rice boxes in my small if I had a Silverado extended cab, that would be a different story), and pass through a double set of glass doors to access the little cash spewing wonder.

Insult to injury, the one and only ATM is a one-way ticket -- that's right, withdrawal only.

It won't take deposits!

To make a deposit, I am thoroughly frustrated at having to deal with a pleasant, smiling, always helpful bank teller within the four walls of the bank interior, or at one of the multi-laned, covered and well lit drive-up teller windows via plastic tubes and compressed air.

And then they have the nerve and unmitigated gall to always be ready with dum-dum lollipops for each of my girls in a variety of flavors.

Sigh. Guess I'll just have to deal.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Space / Time Continuum in Atlanta

The hectic day of escape encompassing a flight from Will Rogers World Airport to Atlanta, rental car run to the hotel, and check-in to the Hilton was finally coming to an end in the way it should for two married adults, alone and away from their kids on their 8th anniversary getaway....

We watched a movie.

Hey, this is a PG-13 blog, all right.

Which brings me to The Lake House.

Of all the selections on the Atlanta Hilton in-room movie service that were available, this was the one movie that I thought both myself and my beloved could sorta get into.

My wife is a real girly-girl when it comes to movie selections.

Nothing in space (too dark and depressing), nothing with guns or violence (please...), nothing teenage-sex-comedy-ish (too sophomoric), nothing slapsticky (unless Adam Sandler is in it...he's on her "list" -- go figure), and nothing scary, gory or bloody.

"Chick-flick" was coined to describe my wife's taste in cinema paradiso.

Back to, The Lake House.

From the movie trailer, my wife deduced that this movie was a love story where two people had to overcome insurmountable odds to be together in the end.

Same trailer, same tv, same room, same space/time continuum, yet I deduced that the plot centered on a mysterious two-year difference in the time line between two people who were inexplicably communicating with each other across the space/time continuum rift.

Space/Time Continuum? You know. Separate time lines. Step on an ant in one time line, and you may not exist in this time line kinda stuff.

Even a casual sci-fi fan and viewer of Star Trek (any of them -- they loved messing with the STC) can grok the concept. Back to the Future did a pretty good 80's job of introducing the STC to the masses in a way that wasn't too difficult to get a handle on.

I find space/time continuum plot lines interesting to watch, if only to see how the filmmakers have fun with it...even in a love story. Does a little movie called Somewhere in Time ring any bells. Thought so.

Keanu didn't get to say "whoa." Sandra Bullock didn't get to jump a Santa Monica bus. There was kissing and love letters and all the formulaic elements required of a good off-the-rack Hollywood movie.

And then there was the space/time continuum stuff, which I enjoyed getting my head around, but which totally confused my wife.

As many times as I attempted to explain how one character affected change in the other characters life, just by virtue of existing in the same time line, only at different points, she would tell me how silly the whole concept seemed to her.

I even went so far as to try to act out, right there in room 1707 of the Atlanta Hilton, in my boxer shorts, how the space/time continuum explains an important plot element in the movie.

To no avail.

Note to self. In the future, or at least at some distant point along my current time line, leave science out of any romantic dramady screenplays I attempt to write.

Venus and Mars. Venus and Mars.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Deer playing chicken

At some point all the animals of the roadside communities are going to stand up and try to put an end to the road kill carnage being witnessed on the highways of the world.

For now, it looks like they'll be concentrating on taking out the smaller two-wheeled variety of dino juice burning invaders.

Mark my words, someday they'll grow a deer large enough to take on the family trucksters so popular now. Explorer and Durango drivers, be warned.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Third party verification

Upon our return from the Peach State (more on that later...maybe), we were enthusiastically greeted by my in-laws who had been staying at our place, overseeing the day-to-day operations of getting our girls up and at 'em, off to school and back again.

My F-i-L took it upon himself to do some finishing work on the front staircase that he built and installed almost 2 years ago.

One day after several hours of working alone in the house, he yelled out "hello" to my Mother-in-law who had obviously retrurned home from a long day of shopping and running errands. The girls were at school. The TV was off, radio silent, computers at rest - he likes to work in silence.

My M-i-L's approaching footsteps on our wood floors indicated that she had entered the house from the side door, and was making her way forward towards the front entry way where my F-i-L was working. This fact alone caused him to wonder why his beloved wife of 46 years wasn't answering his initial "hello" greeting.

"Hey, you're home early..." was his next call out.

The cessation of footsteps in the adjoining living room made my F-i-L deduce that the mother of his children had stopped to drop her obviously heavily laden shopping bags.

It was at this moment that my F-i-L stood up and went to check out what damage had been done to their retirement savings account, seeing as how he wasn't getting a verbal response to any of his inquiries.

But no damage had been done. No shopping bags were filled to the brim. No purse overflowing with Visa and MasterCard receipts. No merchandise waiting to be returned now that it saw the light of day away from the bright lights of the mall.

In fact, there wasn't even a trace of my Mother-in-law.

The loud footsteps that my Father-in-law claims to have clearly heard belonged to no one in his current plane of existence.

From what my F-i-L described, he then experienced a massive case of the "heebie-jeebies."

This from the man who chuckles everytime we've talked about "Frannie," or guffawed outloud when we mentioned the myriad of footsteps heard on our wood floors and going up the hidden staircase behind our bedroom wall in the middle of the night.

Later, when my M-i-L finally did return fully laden with shopping bags of every shape and size, she apparently had to force a confession out of my F-i-L when she noticed he was not quite himself during dinner. Yet, he remained tight-lipped.

Later that night, when they were making their way upstairs to tuck the girls in, C noticed that the heavy crystal glass light fixture in the front entry way was swinging to and fro, as if someone had whacked it with a broom.

Problem is, no one had been in the front entry way for quite some time. They were all curled up on the sofa downstairs reading bedtime stories for at least an hour.

Was a window open, letting in a breeze somewhere? Nope.
Was there a convoy of trucks wheeling down the highway recreating the C.B. McCall song from the 70's, causing a 3.2 shaker up and down our driveway? Nope.
Was there a convention of 2 lb. moths making hooey inside the hanging light fixture, causing it to do the locomotion? Nope.

The phantom light swinging was apparently enough to regurgitate a confession from my normally reserved and non-superstitious F-i-L to spill his nail bucket about the equally strange phantom footsteps earlier that day.

Then my M-i-L got the heebies as well.

Today, I spent the day alone in our house, keenly aware of every noise and every light fixture.

Nothing to see here. Nothing to report. These aren't the droids were looking for. Move along, move along.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Aloha means "hello" and "good-bye"

About this time last year, there is about a one-week gap in my blog postings.

Here is the reason.

It's also the same reason there will be a one-week gap in my blog postings this year.

In the meantime, please feel free to explore some postings from the archives. There are some doozies back there.

Here are a few of my favorites, one for each day of our blissful time away...
Being Jackie Chan
6 Degrees of Separation
Where y'all from?
Why did the turkeys cross the road?
Mattress toting hucksters
Oklahoma is a small town
Dipping of the cookies

I'll eat a peach and some peanuts for y'all.

Friday, October 06, 2006

5 little steps

Frannie did a walk-by our bedroom doors last night.

Both S and I were in bed, wide awake and reading. I was finishing up an old Patterson novel on a group of kids who fly. S was reading a Georgia travel brochure.

The girls were 4 hours into their bedtime.

No trucks drove by. No wind outside. Neither the AC nor heater were running. Dishwasher had run it's cycles and was now dormant. Computers all in sleep mode. Laundry was done for the day and both washer and dryer were at rest.

TV was off. Fax machine was off. Nothing in the oven, crockpot or toaster. We have a coffee maker but don't use it too often.

Our small town was asleep. Our street was asleep. Our house was asleep...almost.

Seems "Frannie" was apparently in the mood for a stroll.

We both turned to see what it was. Sorry, we didn't see anything. But both S and I definitely heard 5 distinct foosteps shuffle along the hardwood floor just outside our wide open double sliding bedroom pocket doors.

We both counted them and after all was unsaid and undone, we looked at each other and said simultaneously, "5 steps."

I've normally discounted the other late-night footsteps my wife and I have heard to the musings of two extremely tired parents and the gray matter games that occur between states of consciousness and semi-consciousness.

But this time we were both wide awake. And anyone who lives with hardwood floors knows the sound of stockinged feet walking on them.

Then again, maybe the water heater kicked on in the cellar, causing a slight shift in the ambient temperature which in turn created a ripple effect under the floorboards, making them creak along a logical path of movement in the grain and placement of the wood planks.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

The sixth pocket

I'm a shorts kinda guy.

I hate wearing long pants. Any kind. Jeans, khakis, perm press, 50/50. If the material is covering my knees, I'm not a happy wanderer.

Ask anyone whose known me for any length of time and they'll only be able to count on one hand the number of times they've seen me in long pants.

I have a decent set of legs, I might add.
I know, I know, that's a vainglorious statement for a guy to make, but if I'd heard any other compliments about any other of my body parts, then bet your behind I'd be regurgitating them as well.
Back to my legs. I think they're fairly well proportioned. Not too hairy. Killer calf tone. Good color. The right amount of scars to be manly without appearing deformed.
My best feature.
My one and ONLY best feature.
Both guys and gals have told me so.
Genetics all the way. I can take no credit.
Of course I probably get more comments on my legs because I wear shorts so darn often.
Even on the coldest of days, I would prefer to wear layers upon layers on top, and shorts down below.

I'm a freak that way.

But now, another freakish clothier attribute has invaded my arena of pants length selection.


Somehow, somewhere, sometime, I've become a 6-pocket pants person.

Two on the seat. That's normal.
Two in front. Normal, normal.
Two down below the front with either velcro or button flaps to secure their contents.


What could possibly occupy said pockets, you ask?

Wallet goes in the left rear. Always has, always will.
Money clip goes in right front. Same-ol, same-ol.
Keys, right front. I'm right handed, so that makes sense for a quick Batman getaway in my Civic-mobile.
Right rear. Stays empty. A wise teacher once told me to always keep my eyes open, my options flexible and one pocket empty.

Right front lower pocket - cell phone. When that sucker rings and vibrates so close to a sensitive area, I want my good hand available to stop that madness.
Left front lower pocket - red (always red) bandana/hankerchef. Kids always need something to wipe their hands on. Always.

Maybe I need a purse.

Do my 6-pocket short pants make me look fat?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

High tech baby announcement

Spotted at a Sonic elsewhere in the state.

'Who cares what the weekly deal is, I wanna know how much that 'dern baby weighed?"

Monday, October 02, 2006

Oklahoma liquor law fun

This November, the good people of Oklahoma will get to cast their votes for or against State Question #733.


Here's the skinny.
State Question No. 733
This measure amends Article 28 of the Oklahoma Constitution. This Article deals with the sales of alcoholic beverages.
With me so far?

The amendment we'll be voting on removes the clause from Section 6 of Article 28 that bans the sale of alcoholic beverages by package stores on certain days. Package store sales of these beverages are prohibited on election days while the polls are open. This measure would remove the ban on sales on election days. If this measure passes, package stores could sell alcoholic beverages on election days.

What I wasn't aware of were the other passages in Section 6. They are listed as follows:
Section 6. (a) It shall be unlawful for any retail package store to sell, at retail, any alcoholic beverage:

On the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday;

On Decoration or Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

Okie's sure have some fun when they talk about when to get liquored up.