Touch of Grey will, well, touch upon the rainbow that is life. Good music, good times, and good friends combine to make all the splendid colors. Touch of Grey will celebrate this beautiful rainbow.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Conversation With a Twelve Year Old

There she sat on her canopy bed, a remnant from her childhood that she had already outgrown, as she was twelve going on twenty. I watched her for some time, a girl surrounded by the things she loved, Hit Parader and Creem magazines, her favorite tunes (currently "Sweet Leaf" by Black Sabbath) on the turntable, and posters galore on her wall. Oh, the posters!

She looked up suddenly and said, "Oh, it's you again."

Just stopping by, I told her, and wanted to see how she was doing on this New Year's eve of thirty years ago.

"Hey, are you ready for the eighties?" I asked.

"I guess," she muttered, never much one for conversation.

"So I heard Jefferson Starship is going to give a concert that's gonna be broadcast live on KLOL tonight. Cool!" I said, hoping this will help open her up.

"Yeah, I'm set to record it. It's gonna be good. Patti is gonna come over tonight."

Ah, Patti. Her very best friend for life, or so she thought. I didn't have the heart to tell her that many years hence, best friends sometimes don't have so much in common and drift apart, through nobody's fault. It just happens. I decided to just let her enjoy this moment.

She then said, "I invited Todd, but he couldn't come."

Oh, man, Todd. Now I remember. Good ol' shoplifting, class-cutting, destined-for-juvie Todd.

I had to try to steer her onto the right track here, but doubted she would listen to me. Does any twelve year old? Particularly this bullheaded, stubborn chick?

"Maybe you should forget about Todd for a while. How about Donald that took you to the homecoming dance? He's really cute, and you might be surprised how he turns out...."

She cut me off at the pass. "Donald's not cool. He hangs around the kickers. I love Todd. HE'S my boyfriend now!"

Yep, that went over real well. I shouldn't have opened my mouth. Next subject, please.

"Hey, you've still got that Star Wars poster hanging by your light switch, I see."

"Yeah, it's cool," she replied. "George Lucas says he's gonna make all nine chapters into movies three years apart. So I figure by the time I'm 34, I'll have seen them all."

Oh, jeez. How to break this girl's bubble? How on Earth to tell her about the Ewoks, JarJar Binks, and the SIX movies made? I really couldn't do that to her. "Well, just enjoy the movies as they come along," I told her.

Man, this room was dark. Between the blue lights in the ceiling fixture and the black lights on the wall, I could scarcely tell if she was paying any attention to me at all. But I sure could tell how messy her room was.

"Hey, you know, it's not cool to leave all your Mr. Pibb and Tab cans laying around. That's nasty," I informed her.

"Who asked you?" she said smartly.

Yeah, she had me there.

"Well, you're old enough to pick up after yourself," I said. "Give your mom a break every now and then, okay?"

"Whatever," she shot back.

Time to change the subject again.

"What are you thinking of doing this coming year, next year, next ten years?" I asked.

"Uh.....I guess just going to school and hanging out with friends maybe. When I'm done with school, I want to be with rock and roll bands, like KISS, helping them with concerts and stuff...."

"Oh, you mean like a roadie?"

"Naw, not really, just like promoting them and booking their concerts and helping them and stuff."

"Ah," I replied. "A regular Bobbie Fleckman in the making, right?"

"Who??" she asked with a scrunched-up nose.

"Nevermind," I said, wondering if she knew how much she looked like a kid with that nose and those freckles and those braces on her teeth. I noticed suddenly how she seemed so young, so fresh, so small. I suddenly wanted to hold her, to protect her, to never let her get hurt, to shield her from all that I knew would come and all that would go. I wanted to tell her don't cross the street, don't hang around people that do drugs, don't be so caught up in boys, don't shut people out when they try to help you, don't live a day without telling your parents you love them, don't drink, don't drive, don't drink and drive, don't be sad when he doesn't call back because you never really needed him anyway, don't wear fuschia eye shadow with leg warmers and giant hair bows, don't take anything in life for granted, don't......


But I couldn't. These were things that she would have to figure out for herself. Things that would make her the woman she would need to be to deal with everything life had in store for her. So, I just wanted to take a moment to help her remember her dreams.

"So what about being an astronaut? I know that's what you really want more than anything else. Don't you remember how much you love space? If that's what you want, that's what you should do. You're smart enough, you know. And don't let anyone ever tell you that you're not."

"Eh," she said. "Maybe someday."

Oh, honey. Sometimes somedays come and sometimes they don't. Sometimes we get so busy living life that we leave our dreams in the dust and when we want to revisit them, it's too late. You will never have it better than you have it right now. Both your parents and all your grandparents are here. All four Beatles are still walking the Earth, all the Ramones are still making music, you are sheltered, loved, and so full of potential.

How to reach her? I knew she probably wouldn't listen. Would anything I say soak in? If I could reveal her life to her now would it make a difference?

I decided to just enjoy this moment with her and let her be who she was. She would touch down on the ground again when the time was right. I couldn't save her from the heartache I knew would befall her, but I wouldn't for a moment prevent her from experiencing the joy and freedom to come later. Besides, she wasn't a half-bad kid. Stubborn and willful, yes. Wild and untethered? Of course. But loving, polite, smart, and fearless as I've ever witnessed. I didn't want that part of myself to ever be snuffed out.

"You know, you're weird," she said, half-amusedly. "But kinda cool."

"So are you, chickadee, so are you."

And for the first time, I saw a smile emerge from that little-girl face, with a hint of mouth metal gleaming under the black light.

"Thanks!" she beamed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Merry Christmas to All, and to All, a Good Song

So the weather has been chilly lately. You could almost say it's been feeling (and looking) a lot like Christmas, which in South Texas is not always the case. It seems this year many people are getting in the spirit, even my dad, who has been going crazy hanging lights and (gasp!) sending out Christmas cards. He has even enjoyed listening to those ever-increasing numbers of post-Thanksgiving all-Christmas music channels on the radio.

With such a wealth of Christmas music every year sometimes one can get Christmas song overload long before the actual blessed day. A couple years ago, I did a sort of bah-humbug blog about Christmas music, because I had heard too much and just wasn't in the spirit. This year, maybe I will get burned out before Christmas day, but it seems it's hitting just the right spot for some reason. I and my family have thoroughly been enjoying the cool, cloudy days and the "job" of getting those decorations out of storage and displayed for all to see. Could it have a little to do with the fact that this year I am actually off work for Christmas day? Probably so. That's a rare occurrence that will be put to best use this year. I can't imagine anything better than just being with family and listening to wonderful music. I wish the same for everyone this year.

And oh, where to start with the music? Perhaps with a (semi-) contemporary take on the "Little Drummer Boy" showcasing a couple of my favorite artists, David Bowie and Bing Crosby. A beautiful version of this song, with a different, added sentiment by the duo always got my mother in the mood every year. She loved it and thought there was no better version. I must concur. I do hope you look and listen here and enjoy as much as we always have.

Next, a most beautiful version of an old standby, "O Holy Night," by a country artist who doesn't get enough recognition, John Berry. This is just about the most resonant version of a difficult-to-perform song that I have ever heard. I have it for you here.

To get you in a reflective mood, I have a song that seems to not be played too often, though these days I can't imagine a better reflection of the prevailing mood. It is a somber one, to be sure, but with just a tinge of hope that mirrors what much of the nation, I think, is going through. It is "I Believe in Father Christmas," by Greg Palmer, here, and perhaps it will give a little meaning to what our world has been experiencing of late.

They may have "sold" Palmer a "silent night,", but when performed by the one and only Temptations, it is something you can believe in. This is my favorite version of the old classic, and it's just not Christmas to me until I hear it. When you combineTHE best version from one of THE best groups ever, you get pure magic. The harmonies are absolutely perfect. I think you'll hear what I mean here. It is impossible to listen to this song and not be moved.

To put you in a rockin' mood, I must include "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms, definitely one of my all-time favorites, here. This song is simply timeless, and I still love it as much as the first time I ever heard it. There have been many versions made of this song, but the original is still and always will be the best.

And finally, I have included what I consider to be THE most timeless Christmas song ever. It is THE best version by one of our finest artists of all time, and its sentiment is so lovely and simple, it needs no frills. It is, simply, "The Christmas Song," by the incomparable Nat King Cole, here. The words and music are timeless, and I've never heard the whole concept of Christmas expressed in a more beautiful way. It just doesn't get any better than this.

So there you are....a short list of my faves for this time of year. I hope you enjoyed these fine songs, and share some of your most treasured music memories as well. Merry Christmas to all, and may there one day be peace on Earth.

Peace on Earth....can it be?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Never again must the blood of law enforcement officials be spilled upon our streets.

Never again must police officers' widows, widowers, and children be left without the most important person in their lives.

Never again must we allow our safety, our security, our protectors, our freedom, and our nation to be held hostage by a madman.

Never again, America. Never again.

Slain in the line of duty on Sunday, November 29 are: Lakewood WA Police Sgt. Mark Renninger, age 39; and Lakewood WA police officers Tina Griswold, age 40; Ronald Owens age 37; and Greg Richards, age 42.

These servants gave their lives doing what they loved, ambushed by a piece of trash with no regard for life. There are (as of January 2009) 18,274 names on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Too many will be added this year. Too many will be added next year. And with no end in sight of the blatant disregard some have for our men and women in blue, this memorial will continue to grow. I want it stopped. I want it stopped now. Please take a moment to visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund here. I have been a member and contributor of this fine nonprofit for over a decade, and they do so much more than just engrave names on a memorial. A museum is in the final planning stages, statistics are compiled and published, and on and on. This worthy organization is bringing attention nationwide to fatalities of law enforcement personnel and their survivors. Take the opportunity also to follow their excellent blog at . I think you will be impressed.

The Concerns of Police Survivors at this site is also worth considering if one is wondering what they can do to help families who have lost their law enforcement officer. This is also a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping not only the families of fallen officers, but also the agencies who have lost a valued member.

The price our law enforcement personnel pay is too high for any of us to demand. They patrol on foot, on motorcycle, on horse, in vehicles. They leave their families, never knowing if that may be the last time they see them. They give their all so that we may be secure, while they put themselves in harms' way every day and every night. Some may die by the hands of others, while, in the most tragic scenario imaginable, others may die by their own hand. They give of themselves. They also take. This poem can explain better than I just what they take in return....
A Cop on the Take

First he takes ... the oath. Now look at what else he takes:
He takes ... it in stride when people call him pig.
He takes ... his lousy pay check realizing he'll never be rich.
He takes ... a second job sometimes to make ends meet and support his family.
He takes ... time to stop and talk to children.
He takes ... your verbal abuse while giving you a ticket you really deserved.
He takes ... on creeps you would be afraid to even look at.
He takes ... time away from his family to keep you safe.
He takes ... your injured child to the hospital.
He takes ... the graveyard shift without complaint because it's his turn.
He takes ... his life into his hands daily.
He takes ... you home when your car breaks down.
He takes ... time to explain why both your headlights have to work.
He takes ... the job no one else wants -- telling you a loved one has died.
He takes ... criminals to jail.
He takes ... in sights that would make you cry.
Sometimes he cries too, but he takes it anyway because someone has to.
He takes ... memories to bed each night that you couldn't bear, or even endure for one day.
He takes ... time to explain to his family why he can't make the ball game his child is in and why he has to work on the holiday when other parents are off.
Sometimes ... he takes a bullet.
And yes, occasionally ... he may take a free cup of coffee.
If he is lucky ... he takes retirement.
Then one day he pays for all he has taken ...and hopefully, God takes him.

Written by Texas Police Officer Kendricks as a tribute to his late brother, Police Officer Rodney Kendricks, who died from injuries suffered in an on-duty auto accident in Lubbock,Texas - July 2001.

Please pray for our officers, so that never again tears will fall upon a nation that has just lost one of its finest.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Forever Grateful

As I sit here amid an embarrassment of riches, I realize today and every day how much I have to be grateful for. I am free from want, I have two challenging jobs (and a third I could return to any time if I so desired), wonderful friends and family, and my freedom. I couldn't ask for more.

I am forever grateful.

One constant in my life, through good times and bad, has been music. Wonderful music. On a groovy day like today, one song in particular stays on my mind - "Sugar Magnolia" by the Grateful Dead. This is a joyous, happy song from which I took my nom de gurre, a tune which, when savored, leaves me feeling uplifted and free. It also contains some of the sweetest picking ever by Jerry Garcia. It is simply impossible to be blue when listening to this song. Listen here and I believe you will agree.

One of the Dead's most mellow songs, "Ripple", can be appreciated here. If you are near a loved one, grab him or her and have a spin around the room to this lovely tune.

Finally, for your viewing and listening pleasure, I have "Touch of Grey" by Jerry and company here. Title sound familiar? I adore this song and this band. I am forever grateful that they came along in my lifetime.

I can't say it any better than the Dead:
Reach out your hand if your cup be empty.
If your cup be full, may it be again.
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men.
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What a Hip Daddy-O!

Confession: this is a repeat from my old VicAd archives, and is four days late. It is a little late, because this is the first time I've really been able to breathe easy again. We had a little health scare last week going into this week, and we had to get past that for life to resume normally again. The good news: all is well. The better news: my dad had another birthday. We take nothing for granted anymore, and birthdays here lately are certainly no exception. So here is a heartfelt repeat of a little blog I wrote a couple of birthdays ago. The changes that have happened since this was first written have been monumental, but through it all, my father has proven that he is the strongest, greatest man I know. I love you, Daddy-O.

Today is a most special day - my father's birthday. In the lingo of his greaser days, he's a real gone Hep-Cat, a rockin' Daddy-O. How in the world to explain the coolness of a man who, like so many others of his generation, started work while he was in high school, supported a wife and daughter soon after high school, worked his way up through the ranks at an oil tool company by taking whatever shift was offered him, and taking classes at UH downtown whenever he could to allow him better opportunities so he could better support his family? And, contrary to so many others of his generation, remained true to himself and his family (though "the times, they were a'changin'"), became even more cool as the decades flew by, and never embarrassed his only child, even when she was a teenager, by being anything less than hip? The only way to explain to people who are not fortunate enough to know him is to simply say, "He's my daddy Douglas".

Who could have known that the rebel greaser with a treasured black 1958 Chevy (which saw many races down Jackrabbit Road, later known as FM 1960) who didn't do so well in English and Spanish in high school (promting his mother to tell him since he obviously couldn't understand either language, he should just hush up!) would so soon become a responsible family man who shouldered much more than many men ever do, and did it with determination and grace, teaching his child the most important lessons a father could pass on. His thirst for knowledge became mine; his determination to succeed against formidable odds became mine; his love of sports - well, I guess two out of three ain't bad! And his love of music - OH! His love of music.

Imagine growing up in a home filled with music, wonderful music. From The Doors to The Rolling Stones; from Creedence Clearwater Revival to the Beatles.....the soundtrack of my parents' lives became the soundtrack of my life. My favorite memories involve them and their music. Not many gals are lucky enough to have a father who is patient enough to pop in a four-track (yes, you read that right, there, was such a thing) of the 1910 Fruitgum Company just so his daughter can hear "Simon Says" for the umpteenth time while rolling down the highway in his 1966 Ford truck (souped up with mag wheels and loud exhaust, of course). It takes a special man to let his daughter attend her first concert at age 11, even though he worries she is far too young and naive (and of course, she was), and breathes a sigh of relief when she arrives back home safely from this and so many future outings. It is an incredible thing to be raised by a father with a sense of humor (actually putting a BIKINI on a snowwoman in our front yard during a rare Houston snowfall in 1973), and a keen wit. You have never seen a more patient man teach his daughter chess, poker, the necessity to trust and to be trustworthy, and other important facts of life. The love of education was instilled in me at an early age thanks to dad, and that is something that will remain with me the rest of my days.

Because it's your birthday, dad, here are a couple of musical treats for you. I want you to know that I listen to you, even when you think I don't, and remember our talk a few days ago about Dion and the Belmonts' "I Wonder Why". I hope you enjoy the video here, and also your favorite song, "Satisfaction" by your favorite band, The Rolling Stones, here. For all you have meant to me, and all you will always be to me, I love you.

P.S. Thanks for bailing me out when my car died on the highway last night. Just goes to prove, a girl is never too old to need her daddy, Daddy-O.
And for good measure, just because these two songs have been on my mind, I have here "In the City" by the Eagles, from a movie that we always enjoy thoroughly together, The Warriors. Honestly, I ask you, how many fathers can be riding along in the car with their daughters, hear this song come on the radio, and know what it is and from which movie, AND enoy it?! And last, but certainly not least, I have a song I grew up on here, because it was playing on the record player every day. It is "Shape of Things to Come" by Max Frost and the Troopers from the soundtrack of Wild in the Streets, one of our all-time favorite cult movies. I watched that movie as a child, and didn't really understand it all at the time, but now I do, and love it that much more. It is a testament to my father's generation and their belief that they could really change the world. Maybe they didn't change the world in the way they wanted to, but one fine man sure made a little girl's world better. Thanks, Daddy-O.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

See A Penny, Pick It Up

Because you never know what you will find. This story in the New York Times got my attention. It concerns a most unusual penny and might make you want to examine more carefully the handful of change you receive back from everyday transactions.

I tend to look closely at coins, although I usually save them up for a while and then sort through them, then hand them off to dad, who is much more knowledgeable about matters numismatic than I. He has collected coins for as long as I can remember, and I grew up enjoying looking through his coin collections and learning about mint marks, milling, elements used in coin making, and so forth. It is still a hobby both he and I enjoy, and I can't imagine anyone I would have a better time with poring over such minute details.

So, enjoy reading the story about that special penny, and take a closer glance at the coins in your pocket today. Who knows? You may be sitting on a conversation piece.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Helpless Little Waifs

And my inspiration keeps coming this week, courtesy of the VicAd, if you can believe it.

My,my. Remember the good ol' days when reporters would do their OWN work, chase down stories (maybe via a tip or two called into the newsroom) by pounding the pavement and asking hard-hitting questions until they went all the way to the heart of the matter? Well, apparently the new freshman class at the VicAd doesn't. Can't really blame them, the inexperienced, helpless little cub reporters. Decidedly, the editor sets the tone at a newspaper. When an editor (and other higher-ups) inform a new reporter on the job that it acceptable to beg and cajole online (and if that doesn't work, then in the print edition under a misleading title called "Spotlight Blogger") for tips and questions, well, I would suppose the newbie would just think that is the way things are done.

Once again, we have Gabe Semenza begging for the public's help not once, but twice, both online and in the print edition, to help him understand why Victoria County ranks 41st in growth in the state. As far as I can tell, he has had no takers, so he keeps reposting the blog and twice it has shown up in the paper. Can't Cobler and Co. tell this absolutely reeks of desperation? And here we have sweet little naive J.R. Ortega blogging and reposting for about the third time his quest for "health questions" for a new article in Wednesday's VicAd. I suspect that the only thing he knows about the medical field is the health class he took in high school. Not exactly someone I would trust to answer my medical questions. My advice, people: ASK YOUR DOCTOR! And it gets sillier still. Now here is Gabe Semenza asking on behalf of another reporter, Allison Miles (who apparently can't ask for herself), for stories behind people's vanity license plates. Wow. Such hard-hitting journalism there. And last, but certainly not least, we have little Erica Rodriguez trying to drum up business for an article she is working on about what people are thankful for. Um, a hint here, Erica.....I save those personal things for saying grace around the table with my loved ones. NOT GONNA DISPLAY MY LIFE FOR YOU OR ANY OTHER OF YOUR COHORTS. Most of these begging sessions have gone without bites, as far as I can tell. Hmmm.....wonder why? Could it be people are getting tired of the VicAd "journalists" asking you to do their work for them?

And to top it off, today front and center on the website we have a story about a fundraiser for a "trampoliner" who aspires to go to Russia for a championship tournament. There's such a thing? I'm sure this is something one can build a lucrative career from. No? Well, then, what's the point? Sorry, my money goes to WORTHY causes: people and animals who have no voice to speak for themselves; law enforcement funds for families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty; research for medical breakthroughs. You know, little piddly stuff like that. I'm afraid I have nothing left to help send this chick to Russia so she can jump on a trampoline.....

And as Walter Cronkite would say, "That's the way it is."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Fun

Is anything more fun than a REAL Halloween party? You know, the kind where (nearly) everyone comes in costume, each more creative than the last? A gathering of around 50 or 60 friends, coworkers, family, all ready to party on a clear, crisp October night with nearly a full moon and a million stars in the sky? My aunt Debbo and Uncle Jack, notorious for throwing great parties and gatherings, did it again this Halloween at their place in Conroe. Lucky me, I happened to be off, and it was a Halloween to remember. More food in one place than one (even 60) could ever eat, a live band, a spooky set up in the pool house, and people I haven't seen in many years made the night complete. And the costumes! Check out the costumes!

Friends Lisa and Janie came dressed as pirates' wenches; one of my little cousins was a gun-totin' buckaroo; we had assorted friends and relatives as the Queen and a hospital patient; a human breathalyzer test; a life-size whoopee cushion; my cousin as video game hero Mario; my dad as a most decidedly daffy Wizard of Id; my uncle and aunt as "Jack and Coke" - both worked so hard on their costumes, all handmade; me as a mad scientist (yeah, I know, not that much of a stretch, right?!); my grandmother as a "flasher"; paying our respects to Michael Jackson; and some of my uncle's fellow EMS cowokers as hippies. What a wonderful time we all had!

To complete the weekend, I had the opportunity to sup with the Loon and his wonderful wife. A visit to Seadrift to enjoy their company and the art show there was a perfect way to spend a splendid Sunday afternoon. I am grateful for such good friends and their hospitality.

So, how was YOUR Halloween weekend? I hope you had all the treats you could handle. I know I did!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Watch out for that hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent (I'd like to meet his Tailor!)

Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair....Happy Halloween, yall! This, I admit, is a repeat of a blog I wrote a couple of years ago. But, as I say here, Halloween will always belong to Warren Zevon, and this Halloween is no exception. I hope your Halloween brings you lots of treats and a few tricks, if you truly want them! Along with costumes, parties, goodies, and just plain scary fun, Halloween has always meant music to me. Everyone knows and enjoys "Monster Mash" and "Haunted House". But to me, the quintessential Halloween song has to be "Werewolves of London", from his 1978 album Excitable Boy.

 This song is by far his most popular, although by no means, only recording. Warren Zevon was an amazingly talented artist who, sadly, never achieved the fame so many of his peers did. For me, Halloween will always be bittersweet. It is my favorite day of the year, as it is also in the middle of my favorite season of the year. However, because it is impossible to escape Zevon's "Werewolves of London" this time of year (not that I would want to), it is also a reminder to me of a life cut too short.

You see, Warren Zevon died of mesothelioma, a particularly deadly form of lung cancer in 2003, not even a year after he was diagnosed. He was only 56 years old. I believe he still had much music left in him, as his last album released just before he died, The Wind, proves. From The Wind came his last and my favorite song by him, "Keep Me In Your Heart".

This song is simply lovely, a stunningly heartbreaking performance, and a contrast with his darker, more "excitable" music. Every time I hear it, I remember that the world has lost a great artist and feel slightly melancholy. I loved this song from the very first moment I heard it, and it affects me on the deepest level. It is astounding to me that in essence, Zevon wrote his own epitaph with this incredible melody.

Take a moment to celebrate Halloween and Zevon's life by watching these great YouTube vids I have linked. Also included is a great live performance of "Splendid Isolation," a song I have long admired from his 1989 album, Transverse City. To me, Halloween will always belong to Warren Zevon. Keep him in your heart for awhile, won't you?


Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Smith & Wesson Beats Four Aces

Or so I'm told. In my case, four queens beat a full house.

After a lovely evening spent with wonderful friends and family and having been up since one a.m., my dad and I dragged our tired carcasses into my aunt's house at nearly 10:30 last night. Bushed and beat, we planned to play maybe a few hands of poker and call it a night.

Gathered around the table, with our usual banter and bluffing, we played. And played. And played. Until the sun came up this morning. Isn't it funny that when you are with ones that you enjoy and having a splendid time, the hours seem to fly by? An hour spent playing poker with the family slips into another hour, and before we know it, we have spent the better half of a day or so around the table, trading jabs and compliments and fake sympathy and stories. Oh, the stories. The later the night gets, the funnier the stories, many told about my dear grandfather and his brothers who are no longer among us, but who relished a good poker game as much as anyone I've seen. If there is a heaven, they are up there fishing during the day and playing poker at night.

My poor cousin Coby, bless his heart, had a less-than-spectacular round or two last night. Even when he got a good hand, somebody (many times me) had a better hand. The guy just couldn't seem to get a break. But he wound up breaking mostly even at the end, as most of us did. Some of the winning hands were beauts, my four queens for example. My grandmother was one card away from a royal flush, and took advantage of her bluffing techniques to scare us away from the pot. As usual, it worked for her; she really had us going for a time. Full houses, straights, and trips seemed to be the order of the night, along with good music and laughter. There is no time I enjoy my family more than around the poker table. And, as you might have guessed already, it's not really about the cards, although you gotta love drawing to a four of a kind. It's about the people holding them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Eat a Peach!

I just did. Ate a peach, that is. Sweet and juicy, straight from the heartland of Texas. There are so many wonderful fruits that abound this time of year, ripe for the eatin' and enjoyin'.

But that's not really what this blog is about. As music lovers know, "Eat a Peach" is also the title of the seminal 1972 album by the Allman Brothers Band. And what a work it was! It introduced the world to songs that are classics today, like "Melissa", "Ain't Wastin' Time No More", and my favorite cut from the album, "Blue Sky". It's nearly impossible to listen to that song and feel down. A lovely tune, it is. And now I get to share it live with friends and family. A dear pal of mine is treating me to the Allman Brothers Band in concert this weekend, and I am so looking forward to the event. I have never had the opportunity to see them live; after Saturday, I will no longer be able to say that. With a clear sky, a crisp breeze, and tasty tunes, it will be a night to enjoy thoroughly. I have been listening to records and viewing YouTube so I can get a taste of what I have to look forward to, and it is as sweet as that luscious peach I just ate.

I hope y'all enjoy this video of the Allman Brothers Band performing "Blue Sky" in 1982. I know I did!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Grrrrrrrrr, etc.

And also @#*!!$*! Nothing like a vehicle to make your life miserable. Once again, the ol' Buick is IN THE SHOP. Very frustrating, especially when it is likely a recurring problem. But of course it's going to act up; it's paid off. So once again I get the joy of using my father's 20 year old Ford Bronco for transportation. And that is the really sad part. I have used his vehicle for transport while mine is in the shop a much greater number of times than he has had to use my 9 year old Buick while his is in the shop. I'm going to try my best to stay out of the new car market as long as possible, but the time will come. Oh, yes, it will come, and I can tell you one thing: it won't be another Buick. Nevermind that they have discontinued their best models; i.e., Park Avenue, Le Sabre, Regal, Riviera, and replaced them with sad fascimiles that can never compare to the former glory. The thing that chafes me most about Buick is that the one I bought 8 years ago is not as good as the one I bought before that, 20 years ago. The quality of GM vehicles has, for the most part, gone WAY down.

Add to that the fact that the first car I ever owned and traded in for my first Buick, a 1978 Ford LTD, is still likely going strong out there somewhere, wherever it ended up, while the first Buick is but a sad memory. I am NOT impressed with GM and their service, and the buggy electrical problems I've experienced with this latest model have turned me off totally. I'm seriously thinking my next car will likely be a Toyota Prius, or (*GASP*GULP*) a FORD. Can't argue with my folk's track records with Fords. Beats the hell out my history with Buicks.

With all respect to Pilot, Mr. Loon, Rusty, and the other walking testosterone factories out there, I've learned one thing in life, and learned it well. Ladies, lemme tell ya here and now - if it's got tires or testicles, it's gonna give you TROUBLE!

Oh, did I mention my dad's John Deere mower ain't exactly "running like a deer" these days? That's right, folks, DEAD IN THE WATER also. In fact, that's where my car crapped out, as I was following dad to Shiner in my car just in case he ran into any trouble. So by the time we get to Yoakum (thankfully I made it that far), I had to ditch my piece of shiite at the car repair place, and we both go to Shiner and back home in - you got it! - dad's Bronco!!!!


And furthermore, #@*&*!!

And still the grass needs mowing! Grrrrrrr..........

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Jingle Jangle

No, I'm not speaking of spurs here. Actually, I'm referencing those great little ditties from commercials of old that we can't get out of our heads - the commercial jingle.

I had purchased some diet A&W root beer the other day, like I have many times, but suddenly the old song popped into my head: A&W root beer's got that frosty mug taste, A&W root beer's got that frosty mug taste... WOW, where did that come from? Many, many years ago, and there it was, all new again. I started thinking about all the commercial jingles I knew, especially those from the 70s, growing up. It occurred to me that these have become a rarity. Now I'm not talking about modern-day commercials with songs overlaid from bands who have sold out; no, I'm talking about REAL songs created for a specific product. Not just a slogan or catchphrase, mind you, but a real tune that was catchy, short, and stayed with you. For example, I challenge anyone to declare they don't remember this: Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is...... or this one: Brusha, brusha, brusha, with the new Ipana..... See what I mean? Many of these jingles from earlier generations are still around today, albeit in a slightly different form. Everyone knows the Mr. Clean melody, but how many remember the actual words? Mr. Clean gets rid of dirt and grime and grease in just a minute. Mr. Clean will clean your whole house too, and everything that's in it......

Many of the commercial jingles I remember from the seventies were beverage commercials, both alcoholic and not, and, of all things, perfume commercials. Remember the Budweiser commercials with the beautiful Clydesdales prancing to the tune of: Here comes the king, here comes the big number one; the king is coming, let's hear the call; when you've said Bud, you've said it all.... How about the old Lowenbrau (do they even make that anymore?) tune: Tonight is kinda special, the beer will pour, must say something more somehow; so tonight, let it be Lowenbrau.... When women weren't enjoying a Martini and Rossi on the rocks, say "yes", they were Bringing home the bacon, frying it up in the pan, and never letting you forget you're a man....cause I'm a woman.....Enjoli!! And who can forget the new girl and fragrance in town? They call it...CHARLIE!! After the perfume application, women were ready to join their man to See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet.....And then they could get harmonious and Teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony. I'd like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company (that is incidentally one of my favorite commercials of all time).

Ok, here's a flashback for ya: remember the old David Naughton commercial that went: I'm a Pepper, he's a Pepper, she's a Pepper, we're all Peppers, wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too? Be a Pepper, drink Dr. Pepper.....Sure you remember him, he had a song on the radio called "Makin' It". But no, I never heard that song, nor did I skate to it under disco lights at the local roller rink.....ahem.....What about the old Britannia jeans, where beautiful bodies sang how they Want to li-i-i-ive in Britannia.... I do suppose if they drank enough Dr. Pepper, they probably could no longer "live" in Britannia. Now for something completely different - how about one of the most famous jingles: Double your pleasure, double your fun, with double good, double good, double mint gum.....After doubling your pleasure, you could satisfy your appetite with your bologna that has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R, my bologna has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R. Oh, I love to eat it every day, and if you ask me why, I'll say....cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A. You could also choose a hot dog, any brand will do. But for our jingling fun, we go back to Oscar Mayer: Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weiner, that is what I'd truly like to be. Cause if i were an Oscar Mayer weiner, then the world would be in love with me! Add a side of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat, Rice-a-Roni, the flavor can't be beat... and you have a most melodious meal.

For fun after dinner, you could get on your Kawasaki, because Kawasaki lets the good times roll, get aboard, get away, and you're gonna say....Let the good times roll! But don't forget to feed the pooch before you leave. And not just ANY dog food, no. You want to be able to boast....My dog's better than your dog, my dog's better than yours. My dog's better, cause he eats Ken-L-Ration, my dog's better than yours.....

So, get the drift? What has happened to those wonderful, and sometimes silly, commercial jingles that identified a product and stayed in your memory, all the better to spur you to buy a product? I don't know about you, but I really miss them. What were YOUR favorite jingles, from any decade? What are ones that I forgot about? Enjoy your trip down memory lane. I certainly did.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Joker is Wild!

Don't be fooled. Inside this quiet, smooth, gorgeous mackerel tabby beats the heart of a prankster. Cuddles is his name and sneakiness is his game. He loves to play, especially relishing the element of surprise. Anything can become his target - a blowing leaf, a feather toy, even the dog or another cat (usually Sunny, who wins most of the time).

Cuddles, also known as Mr. Smooth, or Long John Silver, came to us as a kitten, as have so many of our cats. From where, we will never know. My mother took him in, and he stayed with mom and dad until mom passed away, then became exclusively my father's companion. Isn't it funny how animals gravitate to a certain person? He is definitely daddy's little boy.

Answering to the names of Buttmunch, Buttinsky (for his habit of GETTINGTHISCLOSE if you aren't paying enough attention to him), and Buttmuddles, Cuddles doesn't really care what you call him as long as you don't call him late to dinner. He never asks for much. As long as he has his daddy, his blankie, his food bowl, and a toy (not even really the latter; he will chase a dust bunny any day), he is content. Cuddlebutt (another moniker) loves to peek around a corner in the house and play hide-and-seek with a person, or a toy, or Sunny.

Long and lean (note the extra length on his tail!), Cuddles is a mischeivous little feline. The joker is indeed wild!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Jack

Happy is as happy does. Simba, a rescued tabby from Port Lavaca, came to live with us about 11 years ago as a kitten full of vim and vigor. He has mellowed out as the years have gone by, turning into a sweet, placid feline that has kept my grandmother company for many years now.

I was not looking for another cat, but he found me while I was working at Memorial Medical Center. The night security guard, an old ex of mine, knew I was a sucker for animals and met me coming off work one night with a ball of orange fur in his hand. He told me that they would have to call animal control to come pick up this little kitten that had been hanging out by the hospital if someone didn't take him home. He knew he had a sucker audience. I tried my best to resist, as I had two cats and grandmother, one (we were living together at the time). Well, you can see how that worked out. He rode all the way home in my back seat with nary a peep. He immediately got along with the other cats, and kept us laughing with hilarious kitten antics. When I moved a couple years later, I left Simba with grandma and her other cat, Missy, since they had grown quite attached to each other, and my two cats, KitKat and Caesar, were enough for me.

Simba has morphed into a tranquil, unassuming, mellow cat who, despite getting insulin injections twice a day and undergoing a radical change in diet for his diabetes, never complains or fusses, and takes everything in stride. He has never fought or raised a paw to any other cats around here, and even hangs out around the dog, although he was never around dogs until he moved here with grandma about a year and a half ago. He is grandma's companion and friend, and keeps her lap warm during the day and her feet warm at night. He is doing wonderful, with his diabetes well controlled, and our little MelloYello continues to add happiness to our lives. Simba is indeed a "Happy Jack".

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Queen of Hearts

Is it possible to heal a heart that has been shattered into a thousand pieces? I didn't think so, but then along came C.C. (Christmas Cat). After the death of my beloved Caesar, a cat who had accompanied me for many years, of cancer, I was left with a great big hole in my heart. I still had KitKat, a cat who came into my life about a year before Caesar, and I loved her very much (she has since died, too), and Sunny, but I missed Caesar very much, and wished he were still around. Close to Christmas in 2005, a mystery cat appeared on the hood of my car, just like she belonged there. I went to investigate, and she, being skittish, started to run off, but then just stopped and looked at me. I went to get her a small bowl of food, and she ate all of it right away, as if she hadn't eaten in a long time. Well, long story short, she stayed, I fell in love, and she is now a very healthy, loving, long-haired beauty that somehow always belonged with me. I will never know how she found her way here, but I do believe that there are unknowable ways of the Universe that bind entities together in ways we will never understand.

She, the sweetest cat alive, is my baby. She was there when my mom died just a couple months later, and must have known I needed her. She walks with me in the pasture, just like a puppy dog, trailing along, "talking" all the way, and she always has so much to say. She is very vocal, and very loving. She stays by my side all the time, and we are practically inseparable. I have had cats all my life, but this one truly has ME, and I have never been so attached in my life. She sleeps with me when I sleep, even though my hours have always been crazy, and she goes wherever I go, at least around here. A perfect feline, she has healed me with her unconditional love and sweetness.

C.C. goes by many names: SugarBear, LoveBug, SweetPea, SugarPlum, AngelBaby, and FattyCatty, StubbyChubby (o.k., the last two were bestowed by my dad, who is amused by her short stature and fluffy coat), all a reflection of her special personality. She answers to all of those, as she does to FuzzyButt and Baby Girl. I don't know who could have been so cruel as to just dump her and leave her to fend for herself, but I firmly believe she saw me with other cats on my property and knew that mine would be a good home. She was so right. I was so blessed that she showed up that cold night. By my vet's estimates, she was at least 3 years old when she first came here, and had already borne a litter. She was not spayed, so I got her spayed and all her shots, and now she is treated like a queen. I have never had a cat so spoiled - all my doing, of course. And the love I give her is returned a thousand times a day, by laying on my lap, giving me "good morning" kisses, rubbing against my leg to let me know she is there, and by laying in front of my computer any time I try to get things done, just so that I can pay attention to her. It's a wonder my blogs get completed at all!

For all the love and happiness she has brought me, my wonderful, special SugarPlum is and always will be the queen of my heart. I never thought such a perfect creature could exist. Now I know better.

Friday, September 25, 2009

King of the Jungle

Big and beautiful, strong and lithe, this 17-pound orange striped long-haired tabby is king of all he surveys. Sunny got his name because of the color of his fur, bright like the sun, but mostly because he could always find the sunny spot in the room, and proceed to lay out, fully stretched, in the warmth. Sunny came to us a stray kitten, as have most of our cats; either dumped out or homeless for one reason or another. Our cats are rescue cats, and they have found a haven here in the sticks. Sunny, also called Bunny, and even Honey, is a unique cat who has strived to earn his keep around here. He has brought us many "gifts" over the years; mostly small field mice, moles, frogs, lizards, and other assorted critters. Once he even brought a foot-long copperhead to our front door, dead of course. I would like to know the story behind that, but I suppose it's his secret. He loves being outdoors, stalking prey in the tall grass, and enjoying the sunshine, but he is just as comfortable on my bed or recliner, reveling in the knowledge that he is loved and safe. I would rather he just stay indoors where I know he is not in danger, as my cats were always indoor cats when I lived in the city. But here in the country, cats seem to play by different rules, and there is a certain wildness in them that longs to be indulged. So it is with Sunny, my Little Man. He does stay close, though, never leaving our small couple of acres. I suppose he doesn't want to be too far from his Fancy Feast, just in case his hunting activities turn up nothing. He will always be our Baby Boy, no matter how big or brave an intrepid hunter he fancies himself to be.