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.

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!