Monday, January 30, 2006

Those better be good pies!

Day before yesterday, we had a fundraising dilemma. We had our choice of the Pie Auction for a Veteran's Memorial, or the Ground Hog dinner at the Methodist Church nearby my in-laws house.

Maybe we could make both.

The Ground Hog dinner (complete with 5-foot tall, paper mache ground hog figure - think Punxsutawney Phil- happily waving you into the common room at the Methodist Church) is a 50-year tradition.

For $6 you get to feast on all the ground hog (whole hog pork sausage - everything but the oink), baby white potatoes, biscuits, sausage gravy, iced tea, and an amazing sauerkraut/onion/ham hock dish that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.


Start running low, just raise your little flag on the table, and a helpful Methodist volunteer comes-a-runnin' to see to your every culinary desire.


They discourage doggie bags for obvious reasons. After all, it is..


Stuffed and starting to feel the effects of our gastronomic gluttony we rolled around the floor of my in-laws house for awhile, talked about how sad both OU and OSU men's b-ball teams are playing, then made our way to the door -- going through single file to avoid getting wedged in.

Arriving home earlier than we thought, S suggested we swing by the Pie Auction going on down at the Exhibit building at the fairgrounds. Just to take a peek.

I waited in the car with the girls, while S braved the scrutiny of our fellow townsfolk and snuck into the auction.

She returned no less than 10 minutes later, got in the car, turned to me and said, "those better be good pies!"

Bidding $100. The pie she witnessed being auctioned off went for $175.

We saw people walking out of there with 3 or 4 pies in their arms. S said she counted at least 50 more pies that had yet to be sold, and we arrived an hour and a half after it had started.

We were humbled, and impressed.

Impressed, that our fellow townsfolk would open up their wallets and loosen their bank accounts for such a worthy cause.
Humbled, we lowered our heads and set our cruise control at 5 m.p.h. for the short drive home.

Once home we warmed up a cobbler with some Braum's french vanilla, and ate each luscious spoonful of blackberry, crust, and ice cream, as if it cost $10 a bite.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Big Green House

Just about every person we've meet in our small town asks us the same question when the conversation eventually meanders to the location on Main Street where we bought our house.

"Oh, did you buy the Big Green House?"

The Big Green House [BGH] is a stately victorian (built in 1899) that sits on 5 lots (1/2 a block) directly to our south. It was the first victorian built in this town and has been a historical symbol of the prosperity and growth that our town once shared.

It's a 5-bedroom masterpiece of pre-statehood construction and design. Over 5000 square feet, a full basement, hand-turned woodwork throughout the house, and original hardwood floors. Formal dining and living area, huge kitchen (I counted over 60 kitchen cabinet doors), artists lanai, screened in sun porch, central heat and air, and a 3-car detached garage with additional parking lot to fit 4 more cars. On the grounds there are ample trees and shrubs, a koi pond, dog run and the remnants of what appears to be a horse barn.

As I've been researching the history of our house (more on that in a future blog post), I've uncovered the grandiose past and the princely owners who have called the BGH their home.

The builder of the BGH was one of our towns founding fathers. He was a decorated captain in the Grand Army of the Republic, and was appointed by then President Harrison to be Register of Deeds when a land run of 1899 opened this territory up to settlers.

This dude's name is plastered around the city on dedication plaques, historical markers, and memorial signs. The main cross street in our little downtown has his name, as does the name of the first baby officially born in our town back in 1899 (he won the right to name the baby in a lottery -- paid $52 for that honor).

After the first family's dynasty moved on to greener pastures (our cemetary), an important family of a different sort took up residence in the BGH - think Six Feet Under.

We're not sure if it was used as a funeral home, but the family who called the BGH home for the next 60 years were licensed embalmers (Oklahoma Embalming license #1 in fact). They ran a used furniture store/mortuary in town, and built a large brick building with their name on it in our downtown district.

The house has remained in this family to this day, currently owned by a great grand niece who lives in Montana. She wants to get rid of it, as it has no sentimental value to her at all.

It needs some foundation work, but the house is solid, well built, historically significant, and hopefully haunted. It's been on the market for over 2 years and has gone through several different realtors in town.

This handsome, century old house could be yours for the low, low, discounted price of $150,000.

Roughly equal to the cost of a PMI avoiding 20% down-payment for a 2-bedroom condo in Pasadena.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


The cold water that runs from our tap in my small town is ice cold. Colder than it needs to be. I think you could sterilize a scalpel in this water. Even on the coldest night back in So Cal, I've never experienced tap water running this cold.

When I wash the rice (yes, you're supposed to wash rice before cooking it) my hand gets numb at the about the second rinse.
I usually turn on a bit of hot water to even it out, so I can retain some feeling in my phalanges while performing the wash.

Washing the rice (or anytime I have to expose my hand to freezing water) always reminds me of my good bud, Jon Lue.

I've known Jon since about the 3rd grade. We called him "Loogie" for two reasons. One, his last name was just begging to be made fun of, and two, he could hock a loogie like no one on this earth. I once saw him gag one up and hurl it from the free throw line to the backboard on the playground.

He was that good.

Jon was also the stick-your-hand-in-ice-water-to-see-how-long-you-can-stand-it-experiment champion in my high school biology class. Cold water didn't seem to bother him. We all pulled out after a minute or so. Jon went into a zone and must have left his body, because 4 or 5 minutes later, he was still standing beside the teacher's desk, hand in the bucket, face not showing a lick of pain.

I bet Jon is the rice washer at his house.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bootstraps vs. Fingerholes

We are fortunate in our small town to have a Western Wear shop. However, since no one in my immediate family are farmers, ranchers, horse trainers, or do anything that could be considered western in any way, we have yet to visit our local "hat 'n boot 'n wrangler" store.

Until last weekend.

For a family outing, we decided to head down to the bustling town of Duncan to tour the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center. My wife is a theme type of person, so of course, the girls had to get on their best cowboy get'ups. C had on some fringey pants that S had picked up at a thrift store back in LA awhile back for a $1. In addition to her "chappettes," she adorned a white tee, beige button up shirt, faux-suede hat, with her hair in dueling braids -- she looked the part.

Right down to her purple crocs.

A quick stop at the local Western Wear shop would remedy the fashion emergency.

C picked out a pair of green and light brown leather boots, that looked pretty darn cute on her. As the young, western wear clerkette helped my eldest daughter fit the $35 dead-cow footwear, I noticed four holes neatly sewn into the top of each boot, two holes on opposing sides.

I innocently asked what the deal was with those holes.

Tin foot. Rookie. Outsider. Never bought a boot in his life city slicker.

My wife grinned, came over to give my pathetic torso a hug and said, "oooh, how cute you are to ask that?"

The clerkette grinned and shook her head.

Even my 6-year old gave me that same condescending smile, as she said, "Daddy, those are for your fingers to pull the boots up."

Then the clerkette went on to display and demonstrate to me the two main methods of pulling on one's boots.

The tried and true "boot strap," which consists of two ringlettes of doubled-over and sewn together leather, firmly attached to the top rim of the boot. A cow-person simply needed to grab a'hold of each strap and exert extreme force to insert said foot into said boot.

The finger holes served the same purpose, only one needed to insert one's forefinger and middle fingers into the opposing two holes, and with similar upward motion and force, insert said foot into said boot.

Obviously where the phrase, "pulling yourself up by your boot straps" was derived.

Although, I've never heard the phrase, "pulling yourself up by your boot holes," for equally obvious reasons.

BTW, PK looked adorable in her denim overalls with cowboys all over them, a red, white and blue gingham shirt, braided hair and red boots...wait, did I just spew the word "adorable" and correctly spell the word "gingham?"

Time to go wrench on the elky, me thinks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Missing cattle and their "fries"

From our small town paper...

Now, while the loss of a family pet is both agonizing and tragic, squint your eyes and read the heading above the "Missing Pug" ad.

Now I know you're wondering, just like I was, what would possess a perfectly good micro-herd of cattle to go missing. Good grass, sturdy fence, all the alfalfa they can eat, mild winter temps, and occassional visits from the nice rancher in his F-150 4x4. Sounds like a good life.

Then I found this item in the same paper...

Followed by this item...

Something tells me this herd of missing cattle may have heard it through the barbwire fence vine what those odd, bipedal-hat-wearing-pickup-truck-driving mammals are eating in masse this time of the year.

Hell, I'd run too.

For those of you scratching your head, click here for wikipedias definition.

In addition to this interesting ritual of rural small town fundraising culinary cuisine, I found it even stranger that we were now auctioning off our FFA students. Read the bottom line in the last picture above.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Miss(ed) America

Watching the Miss America Pageant has been a long-standing tradition in my wife's family.

The entire family would gather around the tube, pencil and pads in hand, ready to keep tally and select who would win the "scholarship" crown.

I'm reluctant to say that this tradition reared it's mundane head last night as I witnessed my wife and daughters replay on our living room floor what has transpired for 3 and a half decades on my in-laws living room floor.

"Oh, darn, she's dancing. Dancers almost never win."

Miss America has apparently found a home on the Country Music Channel (CMT). Too hoaky for the networks, and the audience for the mother of all beauty, oops, I mean scholarship contests has dwindled to sub-network audience Nielsens.

Even UPN didn't want it.

"Well, at least she's doing ballet. Ballet is good. Better than tap.
Tappers never win."

Several incarnations ago, the Miss American Pageant had a "game show" segment - this was when the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" was hot on the airwaves. We watched in horror as Miss Oklahoma crashed and burned during this segment, failing to answer the simplest of questions.

"Oh, another dancer. That's good...means that we (Miss Oklahoma) may still be in the running.
3 of the 5 finalist are dancers, so, those are better odds for us."

Loyalties are being tested tonight, between Miss Oklahoma (who my wife has always rooted for, even during her 18 years as a Californian) and Miss Georgia, who is happa (mixed Asian and Caucasian heritage) - like our daughters.

Oh she's playing the piano, that's good. Most of the judges usually like that.

And yes, if you ask most Okie's which of the Miss America's of the past that have been Miss Oklahoma's, they'll be able to tell you.

Quote of the night came from my 6-year old..."She needs to lose some weight in her chest."

BTW, Miss Oklahoma, Jennifer Berry won.

The whole state is saying "yee hah" and "yip yo!"

And she won doing ballet.

Friday, January 20, 2006

How much drugs would $80 buy in 1894?

Before blowing insulation into the walls, my F-i-L and I checked them all for anything that may impede the flow of the blown cellulose insulation.

Dead animals, stray 2x4's, artifacts left by past residences, stuff like that.

I found some treasures revealing the lifestyles of one particular owner.

A bill dating from 1894, for $80 worth of what today would be considered narcotics from a drug company in Illinois.

Who in 1894 would need $80 worth of drugs?

After some extensive research at our local library, the internet, and the history museum in town, I found out that one of our house's previous inhabitants was a prominent druggist in town. He came to this area during the land run of April 1889, setup his shop on Main Street, owned two valuable farms, and "devoted considerable attention to the cultivation of the land and to the raising of live stock."

He was one of the organizers of the Central State Bank (now known as the First National Bank here in town), was a Mason in good standing and a Reformist Republican (was a prominent figure in doing away with the thriving red-light area north of town). He even served as a councilman for awhile.

We don't know if he was the one who built our house or not. That information has yet to be revealed to me.

My research continues.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Death is a weird thing

My wife's Aunt Marie passed away earlier this week. Vigilant readers of my blog may recall the passing of my wife's Grandmother Louise on Christmas day last month.

Marie was Louise's younger sister. Services are today.

All told, there were 9 obituaries in yesterday's local paper. One name jumped out at me and sent the heebie-jeebies down my spine.

Richard C. Emrick

The name means nothing to you. But it was a recent addition to the names that will forever be engraved in my grey matter.

For you see, it was Mr. Emrick who provided me the opportunity to show my girls the honest thing to do when finding something that belongs to someone else -- be it a watch, a laptop, a ring, or money.

After the money I had turned into the police found it's way back to Mr. Emrick, he called to thank me personally. The number he left on my voicemaill was for the local hospital. I figured he must work there.

When I did return his call, I exhaustively had to yell into the phone for him to hear me, but once he figured out who I was, he was the nicest, most gentle soul of a man I could have talked to. His breathing was labored as well, so I know it must have been an effort to make the call in the first place.

Well, it turns out he was not an employee of the hospital. He was a patient. And now, at the age of 64, Mr. Richard C. Emrick is gone.

But the lesson he reminded me of and allowed me to teach to my daughters will live on.

Rock on, Aunt Marie.
Thank you, Mr. Emrick.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A houseful of girls

When I did laundry as a kid it was always whites and darks.

As I entered the workforce it became whites, darks and dry cleaning.

As I got married and started doing laundry for my wife, it became whites, darks, blacks, lighter colors, delicates and dry cleaning.

As we had our babies, it became whites, darks, blacks, lighter colors, delicates, dry cleaning and the newly added mystery-stain-treatment-Shout-the-living-daylights-out-of-it load.

Now, I'm doing laundry for a houseful of girls and it's become, whites, darks, blacks, lighter colors, earth tones, delicates, dry cleaning, Shout-the-living-daylights-out-of-it, and the newest load, pinks and purples.

Laundry is a full time gig.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Bursting the boss' bubble

My wife works for a woman who is building a neo-industrial ultra-moderne revival home in the heart of downtown OKC.

Her new home will be surrounded by many old brick warehouses (some occupied, some not), parking lots, new concrete warehouse loft spaces, and plenty of overgrown empty lots.

The house is boxy, full of glass and steel, porthole windows, exposed beams, open floorplan -- you know the type. Think Pac Coast Highway rental units in southern Malibu. Plentiful out there, a rarity out here on the prairie.

She and her husband are spending a chunk of change on this place, and it will be a showcase abode upon completion.

Which is why my wife was stymied to find out that they're decorating their high dollar home with Danish particle board furniture.

Ikea rules their world too. Perhaps we've discovered the culprit in the missing Ikea catalog scandal of last October.

Seems she spent the holiday break down in Dallas, ordering up cabinetry, furniture, the works -- at the blue and yellow warehouse of furniture held together with white glue, wooden pegs, and allen head bolts.

S found it extremely difficult not to burst her bubble when her boss was enthusiastically (and with some braggadocio) telling her staff about their vacation excursion to the land of "for-ni-tuuura" and "ache-cha-pies" (This was one of Ikea's early radio ads in LA, with two fellas arguing about what Ikea specializes, or accessories).

When S asked if the Ikea down in the big D was setup the same as all the others (accessories downstairs, furniture/restaurant upstairs), her boss surprisingly said, "oh, you've been to Ikea?"

What S wanted to say was "yeah, that's where students and people who can't afford real furniture shop in LA."

But what she actually said was "yeah, we liked to eat the swedish meatballs and follow the arrows painted on the floor."

Now, in defense of Ikea, we moved here with a half-dozen Billy bookcases, so we're still not completely free of our put-it-together-yourself-furniture lifestyle. Doubt we ever will be.

But then, we're not building a big budget neo-industrial ultra-moderne revival showcase home in the heart of downtown OKC.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Excuse me, may I see your permit?

Our chimney is gone.

The brick and mortar were old, crumbly and brittle from age and exposure. The compartmentalized internal structure was made to flue smoke generated from coal burning (for heat) rather than for big, raging, snuggle-up fires.
Access to the chimney from the first floor was long ago walled up many previous owners ago.

And it totally ruined the flow of the upstairs area. Totally.

S said, "off with it's head...BUT, save as many of the old bricks as you can for a future project I have in mind"

There's always a but with my wife.

Here's how we took down the roof section of the chimney..

Here's how we took down the 2nd story section of the chimney...

And not one city official, inspector, or safety officer came by asking for a permit.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Two-steppin' in OK

One step forward...

Oklahoma's oldest radio station switches to Spanish

One step back..
Oklahoma Christian University is apparently reconsidering a proposed policy that would allow the school to fire staff and faculty who get a divorce.

Strange that for a supposed "red" state that proudly decries any attempt to undermine our nations "family values," Oklahoma has an extremely high divorce rate - #2 in the nation in 2002.

Perhaps OCU is trying to address the "family values" issue in their current employee review policy. The article states that OCU will not use this policy to discriminate against prospective employees who are divorced. That's a relief.

But I can hear it now.
OCU Prof. - "You have to stop this affair!"
Unfaithful spouse - "Why because you love me?"
OCU Prof. - "No, because I'm up for tenure and I can't divorce you."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I eat Spam. Why don't you?

A recent email from a ex-coworker buddy of mine in LA prompted a deep craving within for a childhood treat.

Yes, Spam is a CHILDhood treat. For you see, I've been eating Spam since I was a kid.

I blame my father. He was born and raised in Hawaii, and apparently the 50th state has the largest Spam consumption rate per capita. There is an interesting history behind why they like Spam so much over there, but that's for you to research online if you're inclined to do so.

My friend's email goes onto explain how on a recent trip to Hawaii, he was snarfing down a Spam Musubi in the hotel elevator. The tourists sharing his 14 story ride became horrified when he told them what he was eating, "on purpose."

Spam is everywhere. At a recent Hot Rod Show in OKC, we happened upon the SpamMobile, whose happy Spam Staffers were handing out free Spamwich samples and these...

Spam for the person on the go. Good deal.

And if you like it heated up, just stick the single pack under your armpit for a few minutes, and your Spam will be warm and ready to go.

There is a Spam museum which my brother-in-law visited and said was faboo it it's kitchyness. He's not a big Spam eater, but he will eat the bear, elk, deer, duck, squirrel, and fish that he's taken from the wild. Go figure.

Our small town grocery store only carries the regular Spam. I've been buying and consuming the Lite version since it's been available.

Gotta think healthy, right?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Otto speaks!

Otto is my trusty, tried and true 1995 Honda Civic EX, automatic, sunroof, A/C, with a 95-horse VTEC motor, and a FlowMaster 60-series muffler. He was purchased new in the summer of '95 down in sunny Carlsbad, California.

With the exception of the last 9 months, Otto has spent his entire life in the mild climate of sunny So Cal. I'd say I've run his A/C about 75% of my driving time, and maybe used the heater/defroster a few dozen times in the last 10+years before moving to OK.

So it was no surprise when I walked out this morning to start Otto up, and I heard him utter...

"WTF, dude!"

Monday, January 09, 2006

Up from the ashes

Back in May of last year, I blogged an entry on the demise of our small town's one and only movie theater.

Last week S and I were invited to the grand opening ribbon cuttting ceremony at our small towns new 3-screen, state-of-the-art movie complex. We're good buds with the Chamber of Commerce President (she went to high school with my in-laws). Small town, remember.

When the family who owned the old, burned-out theater decided not to rebuild, a group of business owners in town got together, formed a committee of some sort, and decided to write some checks ($250k worth) to kick start the creation of a new movie house in town. Times being what they are, the final budget was 4x the original estimate, but the group sought out Rural development funds, Ag loans and grants to fill the financial gaps.

So here we are, 21-months after the fire and brimstone theater disaster, and I'm taking the girls to their first screening at our small town's new movie house. Our choices were King Kong, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Since C has been bugging me to see Narnia, off we go, with a $20 bill in hand, the taste of popcorn on our tongues, and the whirlwind anticipation of being transported to a land of adventure and fantasy.

The seats reclined gently, the cupholders held both small and large drinks with ease, the floors weren't yet sticky, and the stadium seating afforded my 6-year old ample viewing clearance around the child's head in the seat directly in front of her.

PK fell asleep about half way through, which was fine since she didn't need to see all the nightmare -inducing-beasties in the climactic battle scene. C, on the other hand, was engrossed in the film for the entire 2 1/2 hours, all the while consuming a child sized popcorn, a snack bag of fruit chewies, a handful of Raisinettes (I shared mine), with a few swigs of Sprite to wash it all down.

While I enjoyed the movie, and enjoyed taking my girls to the movie, and enjoyed the fact that we only had to walk 4 blocks to get to the movie, and enjoyed that I had ample change left over from my $20 bill even after buying our tickets, snacks, and drinks, I felt moments of sadness everytime I looked over and caught C digging the ride.

Let me explain.

I loved the Narnia books as a young boy. My librarian Mom thankfully introduced my brother and I to all the Newberry and Caldecott award winning children's books early on in my life and to this day, both of us are better citizens of this earth because of it.

I fondly recall how these books stimulated something deep inside my youthful soul. My imagination never seemed the same after devouring the C.S. Lewis series and I will forever crave the taste of Turkish Delight.

It is those images, wrought from the depths of my young mind that haunted me as I watched my 6-year old's eyes flickering in the darkened theater. For now, when I read her these books, or she ventures to tackle them as her reading skills develop, I fear that the images spurred from the written word, will forever be influenced by the filmmakers visualization.

My only hope is that C's imagination will overwhelm the memories she has of the movie, and the details outlined on the pages, will stimulate her brain to fill in what the filmmakers had to omit due to time and budget constraints.

I hope.

Long live Aslan!

Friday, January 06, 2006

A bad place to lose a cell phone

You may recall from a previous post that my Father-in-law and I spent a cold day, blowing insulation down our walls and on the upstairs floor.

We got around to laying down the floor boards (carrying 48 - 4x8 sheets of lumber upstairs was NOT fun). It was precarious and almost none of the floor joists were on center - which meant a lot of cutting and trimming the tongue and groove boards - but after a few long days, we had all 1275 square feet of the upstairs floor down.

Of course, I didn't notice that my cell phone had fallen out of my pocket until later in the night, after we had finished laying down the floor. When the house was quiet (about 3:30 in the morning) I called my cell phone, went upstairs and listened.

Yep, you guessed it. It was buried in the insulation, underneath a board in the middle of the room.

Sigh. Only me.

Luckily, we had only tacked the floor down in several places to prevent movement. The major job of screwing in some 1800+ screws to hold the boards down permanently was yet to come.

Facing my Father-in-law the next morning to tell him that we needed to pull up some boards to retrieve my cell phone was one of those things that all guys hate to do -- it was testicle shrinking time, folks. Fortunately, my F-i-l is one of the kindest men in the world. He just smirked and nodded and went ahead with the chore of retrieving my long lost cell phone.

Because of the insulation that blanketed my phone, the ring was very faint to human ears. My 6-year old, however, still has the hearing of a coyote on the hunt, and was able to pinpoint the exact location of the phone beneath the 3/4" floor board.

That's the second valuable item that my house has swallowed and then spit back out for me. You may recall my wedding ring incident.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

After I'm gone

Our small towns only dry cleaner died. Just keeled over at her desk. She was 46.

My wife thinks it has to do with all the chemicals they have to use. They sacrifice their lives so that we may have clean suits and shirts.

All these recent deaths have made me start to think about how I want to be remembered after I'm gone.

No funeral services, no graveside services. Just a party at a pizza joint here in my small town and one in So Cal - preferably at an Ameci's (my favorite in LA).
  • Order a small pizza and a large Diet Coke and set it aside in an empty chair for me. My favorite is sausage (sliced thin, not crumbled), anchovy, garlic, and red onion.

  • Order a large beer, but only have them fill it half way. It should be ice cold. See, I only like the first taste of beer. After that, it starts to get bitter tasting and warm, and subsequent swallows never match the arousing taste of the first swig.

  • Put an old Earth, Wind, and Fire CD into a boombox and play it low in the background.

  • Together, everyone should sing "Burnin' Love" by Elvis as loud and as drunk as sober people can sing (I'm just a hunka, hunka burnin' love).

  • Everyone should leave after 1 hour - I don't like long parties.

  • When everyone is leaving, they should all start up their cars at the same time and gun their engines as loud as they will go. Wherever I am (or am not), I'll hear them and will smell the exhaust and smile.

  • Bonus props to anyone who does a burnout as they leave. Just make sure there aren't any cops around, or they'll get a nasty exhibition of speed ticket.

  • Whatever is left of me after my organs are harvested for donation is to be cremated. Save half of my ashes to be buried with S, since she insists on keeping her body intact after death and wants to be buried in her family's plot. The other half of my ashes, she can keep around the house, and when she dies, the girls can sprinkle me in the ground at the house.
  • Preferably somewhere near the garage.

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Wasn't even an issue...really, it wasn't

    Yesterday, while dipping into our small town WalMart to get some GummiBear Multi-vitamins for the really, they're for the girls. I prefer Flintstone chewables.

    I'm walking through the parking lot and I notice a yellow envelope (you know the kind that the Fed sends you checks in) on the ground, with a receipt sticking out of really, it was an actual Federal-check-sending-envelope.

    Something in the back of my mind tells me to "pick it up." And since the back of my mind is where I do most of my thinking (nothing is EVER in the forefront of my really, it isn't), I pick up the envelope and peer inside.

    You guessed it. Cash. Moola. Estados Unidos dinero. Greenbacks. The good stuff. No really, the good stuff and plenty of it.

    In addition to the cash, there is a receipt for $125 worth of groceries AND...there is a partial letter.

    Insert SIGH here. No really, a big sigh would be appropriate.

    The letter had what I believe to be the envelope owners name on it, but no address, phone number, or other identifying information I could use to track this person down.

    To the local phone book my fingers went a walkin'.

    No one by that name in any of the local exchanges. He wasn't local. No really, he wasn't listed.

    To the internet my eyeballs went a ballin'

    Google found one hit for him, as a lost alum of a Fraternity at the University of Illinois at Carbondale. Really doubtful this is my guy. Really doubful.

    Last night, after showing my wife and daughters what I had found, I seized the opportunity to teach my girls a lesson on "the right thing to do." I called the father of one of C's playmates who happens to be the local Police Chief, no really, he's the top cop in our town.

    I told him what was what, and he told me to drop by the station tomorrow and he can help me track down the owner.

    Case closed, at least from my end.

    So,now that you've read this, you want to know how much money was in the envelope, don't you? No really, you do want to know, don't you.

    Well, let's just say it wasn't enough to change our lives, but when it is returned to the rightful owner, it will most certainly make his day.