Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

Okay, it's 6:00 pm and I'm on a layover in Houston and there's a 100 percent chance of snow forecast for Chicago tonight. So far, the flight is only delayed 20 minutes.
But you never know.
I could end up diverted to St. Louis or Milwaukee if the weather worsens.
I'm crossing my fingers. I SO don't want to end up stuck somewhere that isn't my home.

Friday, December 28, 2007

When in Texas, Ride a Horse.

We had a super-enjoyable family reunion today down on the ranch. My cousin saddled up a very nice horse named Pecos. Here I am on the fine equine with a canine watching. It had been, like, 30 years since I'd been on a horse, but it's just like riding a bicycle.
As you can see, we got along just fine.

Food Food Food

That's what I seem to be doing while visiting my family here in Texas. To walk it off, perhaps I should cancel my return flight to Chicago and just walk the 1,200 miles home.

My mom took me to a new Tex-Mex restaurant that featured deep-fried cheese avacadoes: You cut an avacado in half, fill it with fajita beef, mold Monterry Jack cheese around that, coat it with a batter and deep fry it.

Oh. My. God.

Perhpas there IS such a thing as "too much."

Yesterday, I had lunch with my dad at a local Tex-Mex place whose portion sizes border on the obscene.

Then, for dinner, we went to another establishment that has great fried oysters. My dad, step-mother, and I all had the dozen-oyster platter.

Today, we're all going to my aunt and uncle's place on the family ranch for a family reunion. My uncle is the one that makes the award-winning fajitas, so I'm sure there'll be plenty to eat.

We won't be arriving empty-handed either. Last night, I made Lorraine's fabulous eggnog cake (which truly is fabulous -- I've already made one and tried it) and two buttermilk pies, a southern favorite. Each pie contains two cups of sugar, a stick of butter, three eggs and a cup of buttermilk (and three Tbs. of flour, just in case you want to make one). We'll be taking those even thought my Aunt Dixie told us not to bring anything.

I'll take lots of pictures while on the ranch. It'll make great blog-fodder, especially if I get on a horse or something.

After that, I'm spending three days in Austin, visiting a friend with whom we have our circle of restaurants we always visit. There's "Boofay Palassay" (Buffet Palace) and "A-boo Ga-Den" (Bamboo Garden -- one time some of the neon letters were out, and only "a boo Ga den" were working, so we've called it "A-Boo Ga-Den" ever since. That was about twenty years ago. )

We'll also have to eat green enchiladas at a place called Matt's and (please don't laugh) a big breakfast at I-Hop.
We like big breakfasts at I-Hop.

I'd better call Continental Airlines and cancel that flight. . . .

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in South Texas

When I left Chicago, it was bitterly cold, windy and blowing snow.
Now, I'm in South Texas. It's Christmas day, sunny and in the 70's.
Just relaxing by my the pool at my mom's house:
A typical Christmas day in South Texas.

Merry Ho Ho

Just a little bitty update.

I'm in my little bitty home town in south Texas.

Family family family.

Food food food.

The weather is gorgeous. Cool, clear, the high is supposed to be 70.

More later. . .

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Queen of the Night Aria

Many of you may have seen the video that's going around of the seven-year old boy that sings the Star Spangled Banner at a basketball game.
If you haven't, here it is.
It's been making the rounds of the internets recently. He does a pretty good job of it, but frankly, I think his performance was a little . . . "stylish". . . .
And frankly, I'd never let my kid sing a song so filled with violence.

On the other hand, here's a kid that absolutely blows that little wanna-be out of the water. Here's a young German lad singing the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute.
This aria is one of THE most challenging pieces to sing for any soprano and has the highest note ever written for a vocalist, a high F, (which can usually only be heard by a few springer spaniels in Peoria). The high F occurs not once, but eight times during the piece.
This eleven year-old kid nails it! There's a few notes out of tune, but if you U-Tube any soprano perferming this piece, very few achieve every note anyway. . . .

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British Food

I had a Real Christmas Dinner once.

Picture this. Austin Texas. 1984.

I was working full time at a bank making a paltry salary. Needing some extra money, I decided to get a part time job. Somehow, I found a really cool little job as a chef’s assistant at a British restaurant called the Auld Alliance.

The Auld Alliance was a unique place. It was owned by a Scottish fellow and they served your standard English fare: Steak & kidney pie, fish pie, beef & oyster pie, lamb & apricot pie. I do believe the British would put a leather shoe inside a pie and call it 'dinner' if you let them.

However, each night, they also featured four or five French entrees that were really pretty impressive. Lamb with artichokes, steak au poivre, sole with rich butter sauces. As the assistant, I always got to make the patés, both chicken liver and de lapin (rabbit).

By the way, they say rabbit tastes just like chicken.
SO not true.
It tastes like a furry bunny rabbit.

Anyway, I really enjoyed working there and learned a lot from the head chef. Plus, the kitchen staff got to drink as much Guinness as we wanted while at work, so there’s that.

For Christmas, the owner made a traditional English Christmas dinner for the staff. Honestly, it was one of the more memorable meals I’ve had in my lifetime.

The meal began with beluga caviar, the good stuff imported from Russia. It was the first time I'd ever had caviar and I loved it, for it was served with thimble-sized glasses of ice-cold Stolichnaya. Wow.

Then, there was the traditional roast goose with sage and onion stuffing. For those who didn’t prefer goosey things, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding was also supplied. It was cooked just the way it should be: Almost blackened on the outside and quiveringly rare on the inside along with creamy horseradish.

Brussels sprouts, and roast potatoes (roasted in goose fat) accompanied the meats.

Then, came the plum pudding. A real, live plum pudding, made the previous year that had been stored in the back of the cooler for a twelve-month-and-a-day. Set alight and served with a creamy hard sauce, you wanted to break out into a rousing verse of God Save the Queen with one spoonful.

Say what you will about British food. I’ll admit, I’ve had some pretty bad British food that justifies its reputation.

I’ve seen them boil the hell out of cabbage and carrots. God forbid there should be any flavor or texture remaining in their veggies. I’ve eaten those cold, suet-laden pies on the run; the ones filled with jellied veal and ham. And don’t EVEN get me started on the horrors of steak & kidney pudding.

But this traditional Christmas dinner at the Auld Alliance made up for all that.

It went out business soon after than and became a gay bar.

. . . hardly a huge leap for a British restaurant.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Christmas Letter

Have you ever received one of those awful Christmas Letters where someone brags about all the family's accomplishments during the past year?

Here's my interpretation of one. It's from Ella-Maureen Doogie of Durant, Oklahoma:

Seasons Greetings from the Doogie family!

What a great year it’s been for us! Rudd, the girls and I are still here in Durant and doing just fine! The good Lord’s truly blessed us all this year.

First of all, we’re buying Aunt Jeena’s double-wide next month!!!! We were finally able to get that bank loan now that mama’s court case was dismissed and she was able to co-sign. We could certainly use the extra room, especially since we just found out that Rudd Jr. may be up for probation earlier than expected!!!

That was sure a turn of bad luck for him, especially just after having been accepted to community college and all! It’ll be so good to have that boy home again!

Our youngest daughter, Sue-Deen, finally graduated from 8th grade!!!! In September, she even made the drill team at Durant High!!!! We really enjoyed going to all the football games every Friday night to see her on the squad. She had to take October off on account of that “no pass no play” rule but after she dropped English, she was back on the field in no time.

Rudd took a bad fall and had to quit his job at the car wash last summer. We used the same lawyer Aunt Jeena had from her casino law suit and got a real nice settlement. Rudd still can’t work, but he’s drawing workman’s comp so we’re doing just fine!

After the lawyer fees were paid, we had enough money to give daughter Brittany a really nice Sweet Sixteen party last month. Praise the Lord, she’s finally quit smoking!! I told her over and over that she was setting a really bad example for her girls. I think the cost finally got to her, especially since the girls’ fathers can’t pay child support anymore. She also saw how big a chunk those cigarettes was taking from her SSI checks.

Don't tell anyone, but Brittany’s even thinking of getting her G.E.D!!!!

Uncle Booger’s his usual, crazy self. It turns out he’s been on the wrong medication all this time!

I’ve been awfully busy myself! Last month, I signed up for those credit restoration classes at the community center. I’m gonna need good credit because after we get that double-wide, I plan on opening up that day-care center I’ve always wanted to own!!!! Here in Oklahoma, you don’t need a license to operate a day-care in your own home like in other places, so it ought to be real easy.

Since we'll have all that extra room in the double-wide, Rudd's also thinking of combining my day-care with a firearm repair center that he's always dreamed of opening. We'll both be business owners!!!
It'll also give Uncle Booger something to do during the day.

On a sad note, we had to put Rascal down right after Thanksgiving. After having been blind for so long, he finally wandered out on the highway and was hit by a Piggly-Wiggly truck. With his broken hip, it was the only humane thing to do. It’s a good thing we hadn’t yet pawned Rudd Jr’s shotgun like he’d asked us to.

Rudd and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary next year!! Can you believe it’s been 20 years already? We’re thinking of going all-out by celebrating it in Las Vegas!!! We've always wanted to go there and who knows? We might even go crazy get married there! We'll be sure to send you all a post card!!!!

Here’s hoping that you all have a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Until next time,

Lots of Love

From Ella-Maureen and the Doogies!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Highway to Holiness

Apparently, a lot of Christian folks believe that Interstate 35 is the “Highway to Holiness” mentioned in the Bible. Isaiah, chapter 35, verse 8 says: “A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.”

Now, there are dozens of Christianist groups scattered along I-35 praying for lost souls, praying that the naughty adult-type establishments will go away, and praying that God will deign to say that I-35 is, indeed, the highway mentioned in 35th chapter of Isaiah. (They probably think that God had something to do with numbering the chapters, after all.)

I don't know if that'll happen, but I am awfully familiar with I-35.

Growing up in south Texas, we’d always make the six-hour drive north to Dallas to visit our relatives for Christmas or Thanksgiving, most of which was on I-35. I don’t recall it being particularly “blessed,” mainly just boring. I do remember that my mom, being a new single parent and not particularly used to driving on interstate highways, was usually pretty tense during the entire drive. Threats of impending disaster were continually conveyed upon my brother and me in the back seat if we didn’t behave.

My grandmother, Budgie, would always be in passenger seat and took it upon herself to provide a veritable feast for the entire trip. One shoe-box would be laden with sandwiches (half roast beef and half pimento cheese); another with devilled eggs; yet another with brownies and then there’d be thermoses of coffee and cocoa. Heaven forbid, we’d have to stop and eat at those horribly expensive Stuckey’s restaurants along the way. "Highway robbery!"

Those Stuckey’s supplied the only entertainment for my brother and me. We’d play a game called “zip” with the Stuckey’s billboards. The first one to see a Stuckey’s billboard would suddenly scream, “Zip!” which would be followed by my mom yelling that we had almost caused her to careen off the highway into a firey crash. Over the mayhem, Budgie would be offering everyone a devilled egg.

Good times. . .

By the way, there were nine Stuckey’s restaurants between Austin and Dallas, with ten billboards for each restaurant. They all went out of business years ago; probably because everyone’s grandmothers kept everyone from stopping at any of them.

Then there was the time when I was sixteen years old and had just obtained my driver’s license. Mom was letting me drive the car, along with providing continual visions of impending firey crashes if I didn’t use the turn signal, or if I played my 8-Track of Tubular Bells one more time, or if I, perhaps, ran over an errant turtle.

I was instructed to stop for gas in Waco, so I exited I-35 and proceeded to run straight through a stop sign at the intersection.


Mom’s hand backhanded me really hard across the chest. She had a very direct corrective theory when it came to driver’s education.

For years after that, I’d point out that intersection in Waco. “There’s where you nailed me for running that stop sign, Mom.” It became one of our favorite sites.

Later when I was in college, a thirty-mile drive up I-35 was required to get to the night clubs in Austin, Texas. That was back in the day when the legal drinking age was 18, ten-cent drinks were featured on Wednesday nights and free beer was offered until 11 pm on Fridays. Can you imagine that? I remember practically having to use sonar to get home many a night down I-35 in my little Honda Civic.
I-35 certainly wasn't providing me with access to holiness; just to stupidity, bad behavior, and Donna Summer.

Soon after college, I moved to Dallas and lived there for ten years. I-35 then became the highway home to see my folks.

I don’t know if I-35 is, indeed, the “Highway to Holiness” as mentioned in the Bible. It seems pretty narcissistic for anyone to make such a claim just because they live near it. But for my little family, it sure holds lots of funny, bittersweet memories.

Those are best kind.

(An abandoned Stuckey's along I-35)

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More Speed Scrabble

While I was baby-sitting for Portia, I brought my Scrabble tiles and played with myself.

Check this out. Two sessions where I used every Scrabble tile.

(Portia likes to watch)


Baby-sitting Portia

I’ve been away for the past three days baby-sitting for my beloved dog-niece, Portia, at her house.

We had a splendid time.

I have to tell you, Portia is one smart dog. One of her daddies is a veterinarian, so she has a fantastic health-care plan and is also well-trained. She has her schedule and I’ve learned to stick to it.

For example, she expects her breakfast at 6:30 every morning. Sharp. I’ll be sound asleep but woken by the sound of her heavy tail. She gets between the wall and the bed:


I’ll finally moan or something:


It’s as if she’s thinking, “Oh my god! I’m about to get breakfast!
Get up! Get up! Get up!”

So, I climb out of bed and she’s prancing all around. She just about loses it when I put on my coat and get her leash.

“Oh my god! It’s really happening! I’m about to go outside, followed by breakfast!
Hurry up! Hurry up! HURRY UP!”

So, we go to the park a block away. The snow is a foot deep and it’s, like, ten degrees outside. I’ve taught her a “potty command” that works pretty well. I’ll say in a breathy voice, “Portia-go-potty! Portia-go-potty!”

Mission accomplished.
The Eagle has landed.

She knows that breakfast follows, so we trot back to the house. Mayhem ensues as I scoop the food into her bowl.

Then, we head to the kitchen because her medication administration follows. The capsule gets wrapped in a piece of luncheon meat.


The same routine occurs again at 5:00 pm, minus the meds. Then, at night (9:00 pm, sharp) she gets a treat: a handful of baby carrots tossed across the dining room. She’s an excellent catcher. Then, she get a beer. (She likes Miller Lite).

Afterward, we curl up together to watch Sex and the City reruns even though she has beer-breath. Portia loves Samantha but thinks Charlotte needs to be slapped. Hard.

Several times a day, I sing this little song for her and rub her belly.

I love my pup-
py, yes I do.
Because my pup-
py loves me too.
I rub her bel-
ly all the day.
She wags big tail
As if to say:

“I love my Un-
cle Buck, I do;
Because I know
He loves me too.
He rubs my bel-
ly all the day;
I wag my tail
As if to say”
Bark bark bark bark,
Bark bark bark bark.

I know that's silly, but it's awfully cute.

Here’s a pic of her waiting outside the kitchen in her "alligator pose." She’s not allowed in the kitchen, that’s where the food is, thus the anxious, forlorn expression.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Where were you, when. . . ?

I remember exactly where I was during the first manned lunar landing during the summer of ’69. (Watching the TV on the front porch of my great-aunt’s lake house)

I remember exactly where I was when I learned of the Challenger explosion in January of ’86. (I was working in the international department at a bank in Austin, Texas)

Heck, I can even remember bits and pieces of the Kennedy assassination even though I was only four years old. (My parents were upset and that scared me. I remember watching the black-and-white TV)

And now. I’ll always remember right where I was yesterday when I read that Jodie Foster FINALLY acknowledged her lesbianism.

Seminal moments in history. . .


The Last Noel

Each Christmas season, it just gets worse.

I’m not talking about the rampant commercialism or the controversy over “Christmas” vs. “Holiday” or even the silly beverages at Starbuck’s.

No, there’s a much more disturbing trend that continues to sweep the nation and it bugs me to no end. . .

. . . and that’s the way people are singing “The First Noel.”

During the chorus, “Noel, noel, noel. . .” there’s a part on the third and fourth ‘noel’ where people sing an upwards scale, hitting a high F-sharp on the last ‘noel’. (right before “Born is the king of Israel”)

No! No! No!!

That’s the tenor part! The melody doesn’t do that!

But over the years, narcissistic singers have glommed on to that tenor line, the one time the tenors ever get to showcase, and it bugs the hell out of me.

And it gets worse every year.

In mixed choruses, I usually sing tenor because I can sing tenor, and mostly, because there’s always a shortage of them. I’m really a baritone, definitely not a bass and I can sing tenor if needed. (I’m a “closet” tenor).

So, it really irks me to no end when the tenors are about to do their thing and everyone singing the melody suddenly breaks off and robs us of that part.

Years ago, I worked as a church choir director. It almost makes me want to do that again just so I can put a stop to this holiday insanity. I'd give anything to bitch-slap the soprano section during a rehersal of "The First Noel."

Oh, and while I'm at it, the title is "We Three Kings".
Not "We Three Kings of Orient Are."



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Greater Tuna and the Church Lady

Growing up in my little-bitty hometown in Texas, we were faithful members of the little-bitty local Southern Baptist church. (Well, the white one, anyway)

Now, in my little-bitty Southern Baptist church, there was a woman named Mrs. Babcock (not her real name, but close) who epitomized The Church Lady. You remember The Church Lady character from Saturday Night Live?

Mrs. Babcock was also the librarian at the local high school in my little-bitty hometown in Texas. Here's a picture of her from my high school yearbook:Pretty scary, isn't it?

Now, in my little-bitty hometown Baptist church, there was a women's organization called the Women's Missionary Union (WMU) of which Mrs. Babcock was president. The first Wednesday of each month was always the church supper, followed by the business meeting. Church suppers were great, but business meetings were excruciatingly boring for us kids.

Anyway, every month Mrs. Babcock would stand in front of the church during the business meeting and give the report of the WMU. Or as she would say, the "Dubya-Em-Mmmeeewww."

As kids, my brother and I would get the uncontrollable giggles every time that poor woman got up to speak. To this day, my brother and I can imitate Mrs. Babcock giving her Dubya-Em-Mmmeeewww report.

Now then, in Texas there has been this long-running play called "Greater Tuna" about these characters in the little-bitty, fictional town of Tuna, Texas. What makes Greater Tuna so amazing is that all forty-plus characters are played by only two men. Needless to say, there are lots and lots of quick costume changes.

Click here to see the opening scene of Greater Tuna.

Now then! Click here to see the character of Vera Carp who, I swear, epitomizes Mrs. Babcock. (My mom and brother will vouch for the authenticity). Can't you just imagine her giving the Dubya-Em-Mmmeeewww report?

And if you want to see another great scene, click here to see Bertha Bumiller and Vera Carp at Judge Buckner's funeral. The acting of these two men is simply amazing.

These are all characters I grew up with in my little-bitty Southern Baptist church.
(The white one).

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Assistance Ponies

When I was out in Seattle with Lorraine and her family, I was telling them about “assistance ponies” and “emotional support animals.”

Assistance ponies (guide horses) are the newest thing in helping people with disabilities. First of all, horses have a natural guiding instinct. It was noticed in a wild herd that if one horse goes blind, another one in the herd will naturally take the role of guiding it.

Also, assistance ponies live to be about 40 years old; much longer than a dog. They also have a broader field of vision. And yes, they can be house-trained. Whenever they need to go outside, they go to the door and whinny.

You just need a bigger plastic bag to carry along than with a dog.

And, at only 22 inches tall and weighing about fifty pounds, they’re damn cute.

I could definitely use an assistance pony:

“Now, where the hell did I put that remote?”

. . . clip clop, clip clop, clip clop. . .

“Hey, thanks, Trigger! Such a good pony!”

You can take them shopping.

Or on the subway.
Or even on a plane trip.
I can just see it, calling the flight attendant:
"Yes, I'll have a gin-and-tonic and a handful of oats, please."

Emotional Support Animals:

Some people require the accompaniment of an Emotional Support Animal. Most often, it’s for psychiatric conditions such as agoraphobia or post-traumatic stress disorder. If a person requires an Emotional Support Animal to accompany them, say, on a plane trip, then they are required to show documentation from a mental health professional that the animal is needed.

It’s not always dogs or cats. There have been cases of people having ferrets, monkeys and even snakes.
Yes, Emotional Support Snakes.

(I know, I know . . . Snakes on a Plane. . . that was my first thought, too)

When I mentioned that to Lorraine, she said, “If someone was on my flight with an Emotional Support Snake, I’d definitely require an Emotional Support Mongoose!”

She is so funny and witty like that.

I don’t know how one would accommodate a dog on a 16-hour flight, though. Unless Fido could relieve himself in one of those little-bitty bathrooms, he’d have to stay home.

There’s always a catch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Great Gift Ideas

If you’re like me, you’re having trouble thinking of clever holiday gifts that people will actually use and enjoy.

I’ve embarrassed myself my giving stupid gifts in the past:
1) Gift-card credits to e-Bay for my mother. (She doesn't like using the internet)
2) A season pass to Six Flags for a nephew. (The roller coaster scared the bejeezus out of him)
3) Any CD by Enya

Well, after some hits-and-misses, I got the perfect gift idea for you.

Are you ready?

Here goes:

You know those cool little gift bags you get gifts in? You know, the brightly colored ones with the yarn handles and the tissue paper inside? The ones you always try to save and re-use because they make gift-giving so convenient?

Well, give a whole bunch of those as presents. Now, that may sound funny, but I’ve done that and the recipients really love it.

A couple of years ago, I gave my mom about eight dozen of them in assorted sizes and colors. She’s always running off at the last minute, needing to give a gift at work and she hates gift wrapping. (Who doesn't?) To this day, she still thanks me for all those gift bags. And, she appreciates my gift every time she uses one. Which is a lot.

I did the same thing for my step-mother and she likes them too.

If you order them on line, you can get a whole bunch of them at a really good price. Just go to and search for “gift bags”.

If you want to give something way much cooler that is tres chique-n-unique, then there’s that incredible beverage called Sortilège. It's a liqueur made from Canadian whisky and maple syrup and has been produced in Montreal for over 300 years. If you go on a tour of Montreal, they tell you it can only be bought in Quebec.

However, here’s a distributor here in the U.S. where it can be obtained. It’s really unique. You taste it and you think, “hmmm, whisky.” Then it becomes sweet and you think, “hmmm, . . . waffles!”

Everyone loves it and is always impressed. It makes a great gift.
Click here to order it. (If you’re over 21, mind you.)

I hope that helps!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Strange headline

I always look at CNN online first thing in the morning. Sometimes, I think their writers try to make the headlines a little too concise.

Here's an example from today:

Scott Baio, Backstreet Boy get married

Apparently Scott Baio and Howie Dorough both got married - - to other people.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dialog with my mom

What can an eldest son say about his mom? Being middle-aged and all, I'm awfully lucky to have parents as young and young-hearted as my mom.

I'm flying home to my little bitty home-town in Texas on December 23rd.
I love flying and and I have to admit that I love flying from Houston to my little-bitty home town, Victoria Texas, south of there.

I've made this connection in Houston-to-Victoria countless times. I'll have to admit that it's always a little iffy-scary type of airplane.

It's always a surprise what type of plane they'll have for us to fly on. One time, it'll be a 32-seat plane and we'll get a Diet Dr. Pepper during the 40 minute flight.

The next time, it'll be a 10-seater balsa-wood -rubber-band type plane and cows will have to scurry off the runway when we land.

You never know. But that's what makes it exciting.

My mom, Bless her Heart, always wants to know how-and-where her sons are doing, so I always give her the courtesy of phoning whenever and wherever I happen to land.

My mom is only 72 years old, still works as a counselor in the public school system, and still has trouble using the "call waiting" button on the phone.

Here's a typical conversation when I fly from
Chicago-via-Houston-to-Victoria, Texas.

Mom - - Mom? Hey, . . it's Buck

I'm on my cell phone

Oka. . . Mom! . . n. . . That's not Call Waiting.. . .

n. . . don't . . .

(Click! . . beeeeeeeeeeeeep!)

(Pause .............................)


. . . Mom!. . . It's Buck. . .

No. . I'm still here.

No. . Right. .. When you hear that beep

Yes, . . that's not Call waiting. . .

No. . . Mom!. . . That's 'ca - -



waiting. . . . . . waiting . . . .

Click! Beeeeeeep!

. . . . . . . .


. . . Click!

. .. . Click! . . No!
. . No!. . . Mom!

It's ME



YES! I'm still here. .. .

No . . . I'm in Houston. . .

No. .. I don!! . .. No!

Yeah . . no . . I'm in Houston

I'll be there at four-forty .. .

Yeah . . . In Victoria.

. . Yeah . . . Your time. . .

No . . . I'm in Houston. . .

. . . Your time. . .

Yeah . . . .

It's two-twenty.

. . Yes. . In Houston. . .

No. . .

. . .Four-forty!

. . . . Forty!

No . . . . That's fine. . .

No. . . .

wait. . .no. . .

Yeah, . . . Really.

Tuna Casserole. .

It's FINE!!

. . . They're calling my flight now.

. . . Yes, I'm getting on the plane. . .

. . What? . .

. . . What?. . .

No. . . Seat number Seven. . . I think . . . .

Mom. . It's a little plane. . .

. . . I don't know. . .

. . . I'll see you in forty minutes. . . .

. . . Yeah. . .

. . . Tuna Casserole!

. . . Casserole. . . .

. . . I know. . .

. . . Mom?. .

. . No. . .Right. . .

. . . In seat Seven. . .

. . . SEVEN. . .

. . . (Laughing) . . .I remember, . . Budgie what? . . .

. . . (giggling). . Mom, you know. .......

. . . I'll see you in a little bit. . .

. . .mm.hmm. . . I know. . .

. . . I love you too. . .


Friday, December 07, 2007

Living in the Slums

Whenever I can' think about anything to write about, I usually end up writing about
1. Cold weather
2. Tall Buildings

So, today, it's tall buildings. Again.

The Trump Tower is about 2/3 completed. Condos there will average $1,000 per square foot.

Construction on the 150-story Chicago Spire has begun. Condos there will go for $1,100 per square foot. (You do the math).

My little bitty apartment at Marina Towers goes for a fraction of that amount.

When Trump and Spire folks all move in, I'll be, like, the low-life in the neighborhood.

I don't care. I love my little bitty apartment.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


It’s very cold outside today.

When I walked to work this morning, there were only three Fahrenheit-type of degrees outside. Only three. AND it was windy.

It’s a long-underpants kind of day. I’m wearing these polyester long-underpants which are wonderful. I like them because they’re very thin but keep me warm. Also, they’re not the heavy, bulky thermal long-johns. Those are fine if you’re elk hunting in Minnesota, but with office attire, not so much.

But now I know how women feel about panty-hose because the first thing I want to do when I get home is to TAKE THEM OFF.

This cold weather reminds me of when I lived in Toronto.
(National Motto: Hockey. It’s the Law.)

I was making Christmas dinner for a group of people and had bought a big turkey. Which, by the way, cost $65.00 in Canada. I don’t know why. Maybe because it had to be imported from the U.S. or something.

I had a few days until I had to cook it and didn’t have room in the freezer for a big turkey. What to do?

Well, Duh!

It’s Canada.

In December.

The entire outdoors is one, giant freezer.

Mister Turkey remained quite frozen on the back porch until it was time to thaw.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of gun control. . . well, we’re not, but I just couldn’t think of a good segue . . . I think we should do as the Canadians. In order to purchase bullets in Canada, there’s a waiting period while they do a thorough background check (probably checking to make sure you're not a U.S. citizen first of all) Then, the serial numbers of the bullets you buy are recorded in a national database.

After all, guns don’t kill people.

Bullets ripping through human tissue kill people.

I’m just saying. . .

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007


It snowed last night.

During lunch at the conference in Effingham yesterday (which is 210 miles south of Chicago), they announced that the afternoon session at 3:00 pm was cancelled so that everyone from Chicago could get on the road early. Three-to-five inches of snow was in the forecast.

I took that as my cue to leave right then. I was sort of conferenced-out and the last thing I needed was to be ensnarled in traffic trying to get into the city.

Turns out, that was a good instinct. I made it back just as the snow was beginning to fall.
Ensnarling was ensuing.

Here's a pic of Chicago from today's news.
See? Snow.

It snowed most of the night. The Balcony of Terror now looks like a big, white mushroom cap.

I have to admit that I really love winter. Even in Chicago.

The only outdoor activity I actually enjoy is ice skating. I really love it. While I was in Seattle, The Neighbor thought it a bit strange that someone from Texas enjoyed ice skating so much.

It’s because I am from Texas that I enjoy it. It’s the only outdoor activity I can engage in where I can be assured of not getting hot. Getting hot, getting sweaty just goes against everything in my entire being.

Besides, I really need to lose some weight which, apparently, can only be done by getting off of one's backside. According to leading fitness experts, eating Chee-tohs and watching Judge Judy after work is a highly ineffective means of weight loss.

I’ve learned that I won’t go to the gym. There’s the danger of getting hot and there’s also the danger that someone might look at me.

The ice rink at Millennium Park is right outside my office building. So, I keep my hockey skates in a back-pack at work along with a pair of jeans. About 5:30 when most everyone has left, I change into my jeans (I have an office door that locks in case you’re wondering), grab my skates and i-Pod and hit the rink.

"Hockey skates??" says my mother, looking astonished. Isn’t that just awfully athletic and jock-ish of me, keeping hockey skates in my office?

Well, just to assuage any illusions of me being jock-ish, I’ll have you know that the first song on my “skate” playlist is Donna Summer’s "I Feel Love. Click here to listen to it. That song is an absolute blast to skate to.

Brian Boitano never had it so good.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Speed Scrabble in Effingham

It’s Sunday night and I’m playing with myself at a hotel in Effingham, Illinois.
Speed Scrabble, that is.

I’m at another conference for three days and we just got through with dinner.

Remember how Lorriane got me addicted to Speed Scrabble while I was in Seattle last week? Well, I’ve wanted to buy a Scrabble set since I returned but haven’t had the time to venture out to a store that sold them.

Then, I drove to Effingham today for the conference and there was a Wal-Mart across the street from the Holiday Inn where I’m staying. Right after dinner, I scurried across the street and bought a Scrabble set.

No, that's not true. . . .
. . . I bought two of them so I could keep one with Iwanski and Miss Healthypants. (I need to share my addiction after all).

But look how cleverly I managed to arrange my letters.

I’m playing Speed Scrabble by myself, all alone in a Holiday Inn in Effingham.

That’s so sad!

I miss Lorraine.