Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Dinners

Ah, the uber-traditional spread at Christmas; turkey and dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, mashed potatoes, various and sundry salads, and maybe some ham thrown in for good measure. Like the Whos in Whoville, the roast beast is the centerpiece of the vision of the proper Christmas dinner.

Well, if you know anything about the bunch I run with, you'll catch on that it isn't quite what we ate this most recent holiday celebration(s). It's not that we eschew the "normal" reveries on holidays, it's just that we aren't necessarily bound to the traditional fare.

At my parents' house, our Christmas Eve celebration was crowned with the preparation of the Christmas Flounder. Four of them, to be precise. One was slathered with basil pesto, while the others were adorned more simply in lemon and inordinant amounts of real butter. My sister had hauled in two of the four on her first fishing trip in a number of years (I'll tell you the approximate number later). There was some of the traditional food available as well, lest you think we are total barbarians. Cole slaw and mash taters and green bean casserole (with french fried onions from Joe's BBQ crushed on top), fruit salad and the like.

We also didn't sit down as one and pass the beans pass the slaw pass the punch pass the cheesecake. Comestibles were in the kitchen/dining room and everbody milled past and grabbed what they wanted of homemade pickles, homemade salsa, stuffed celery, olives, pickled okra and other goodies. For afters, there was a cheesecake, cherry dump cake, various cookies and stuffed dates. If I have forgotten any aspects of the spread, the originators must forgive my memory lapse. I blame it on the deliciosity of the food.

Christmas Day Lunch was at my sister-in-law's house, for yet chapter two of a not-quite-what-you'd-expect celebratory feast. There were reprises of some of what had been offered (and well-recieved) dishes from the Thanksgiving menu (traditional); home-grown macaroni and cheese, "good potatoes", cole slaw and peach and apple pies, fantasy fudge and cookies . That is about where the similarities ended. Uncle Russell was presiding over two pits; one with hot doggies, regular and plump-when-you-cook-em's, the other bore large, juicy cheeseburgers. When the meats came off the grills, we rushed inside, blessed the food and dug in like a pack of dingoes. My choice was a double-meat cheeseburger, with buttercrunch lettuce, tomato and ketchup. I don't know what everybody else piled on their plates, nor do I care. Everyone ate heartily and if you looked from the chin up, amazingly, everybody appeared to be eating what the rest of the country was eating, namely Christmas turkey and dressing.

We all ate too much and enjoyed the food and company just as much as any of the more time-honored dishes that one would think. Both unconventional feasts were a success by any standard.

Closer to the expected dinner, Wedesday when my Aunt and Uncle came in from Wimberley, was the smoked turkey that my Dad prepared. The main difference was that the meal was buffet serve yourself style. Bread for turkey sandwiches and the rest as the night before, if you want to eat, eat, where you want to perch, go ahead. Again, there were plenty of choices to consume, with some college students there to clean up the leftover food, just in case.

As traditionalists at the holiday season, we really stink. Sure, we wrap presents and hang lights on our multi-year trees, but when it comes to food, a mercurial and unpredictable bunch we are. It's not like we go to McDonald's for a couple of family packs of chicken nuggets. We're just very flexible with regard to holiday ceremonial dinners.

And that's the way I like it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!

I have gotten several visits by people googling "Christmas Flounder">. Please click the link to see where this allegedly comes from. Apparently North Carolina is a hotbed of Yuletide Floundering, historically.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Having Been Tagged...

...By a certain Wollf-type person, I feel the compulsion to comply with the outrageous instruction to pass this along.

So here is (are) my response(s) to the request to play along. I will be tagging a new dad and photographer over at The Photosmith to see if he has any time to go out on a limb. I just wonder if he has learned to type on his MacBook with a baby in his arms at 3:39 a.m. CST...

1. Wrapping or gift bags?
I can wrap. I can bag. I have no aversion/attraction to either. I am a manly man and I can do anything. Even if the box is too big for a whole roll of paper. As of Thursday, I know this for a fact.

2. Real Tree or artificial?
Artist-ficial tree. We had real trees forever, but found out that a full 60% of the household is allergic. This reminds me of the time I climbed a local cedar tree to "get my own tree from the wild". What I got was a sparse, allergen-filled monstrosity and a nasty case of poison sumac on my wrists...funny now, but not then!

3. When do you put up your Christmas tree?
We used to have to wait until the middle gal's birthday on Dec. 6 was over, THEN put it up. The last couple of years, we do it at various times, somewhere at the beginning of December. Whenever the temperature drops below 70°, hopefully, so the trek up the attic stairs does not strain a "bustle".

4. When do you take your tree down?
Take the tree down by New Year's Day. Going back to work on 2 January sorta kills the Christmas spirit, and I want to put it away.

5. Do you like eggnog?
I like eggnog, but not the kind with alcohol in it. Not a drinker. But the half-gallon of thick, sweet spicy cream is SO good. Only now, being a solidly established geezer, I find it hard to shell out $4 for such a small amount of anything. Dang me.

6. What was your favorite Christmas gift?
Favorite gift was likely the M-16 replica that blasted caps (if loaded properly). A fine replica; it had heft and working parts. Heck, I probably could have robbed a liquor store with it, the look was so authentic. Another favorite was the plaster bramah bull coin bank. I called it Wooly Bully.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
We had a nativity scene, but the rats ate it. It was an antique, and belonged to my wife's family for years. Stupit rats!

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
This category is still up for grabs. I have never recieved anthing that was horribly inappropriate or just so cheap I wanted to crush it to powder. There is always room for something really bad.

9. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
Uh, we're really bad about sending out cards or written correspondence of any form. When they DO get sent out, they're real, by golly.

10. Favorite Christmas movie?
"A Christmas Story". That is one funny movie, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!"

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
After the December paycheck, after the middle daughter's birthday. And after the Chinese School pays up.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Tough one, at 250+, there is not much that I don't like to eat at any time. Top things at Christmastime are; fudge, gingerbread, my mother-in-law's chocolate pie, any kind of cheesecake my sister makes (hers can send me into a coma, and they're always big!)

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Colored. 6 strings on a 7 foot tree.

14. Favorite Christmas song?
Silent Night can give me chills when done right.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Draws Near...

I was in WallyWorld this evening, and the feelings of panic and holiday tension are nearly palpable. Let me say that I was at the mall yesterday during the day and didn’t get the same feeling. There were a lot of people, but the impression of dread was at such a low frequency, it was nearly inaudible.

But tonight at the discount hangar, the feeling was there. I passed scores of people with stunned, half-lidded stares, trudging along behind their shopping carts. I felt it in my knees as I did the same thing.

Occasionally I would blink my stinging eyes, only to hear a sound akin to frying bacon as my corneas rebelled against the fluorescent lighting that floods the entire barn. The low-level hum generated by the fixtures works on a deep psycho-emotional level. I think if the studies were made public, people would be shocked to the extent that the Bentonville Giant is manipulating our minds in their quest for world domination. I would like to see the facts.

I saw several people that we know, so I felt nearly human, interacting with other humans. It was, in a strange, new millennial way, the essence of the Christmas season. Connecting with people we haven’t seen in a long time, meeting in a crowded place with music playing, it is almost like a party. Except that everyone is expected to buy something from the host, and refreshments are not served, but sold as well. And you’d better not eat them while in attendance.

And those cursed lights glaring down with those cold, pulsing beams.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just In Case...

Yeah, just in case any of you fair readers want to know, or care, I am in need of a new iMac for Christmas. No, the other one ain't broke, it's just that I need a little more horsepower.

I am in the Apple Store at Baybrook Mall, and I am putting a sticky note on the one I want. So if you are feeling generous this holiday season, come in and look for the yellow slip of paper on the biggest iMac.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wood Smoke

I went across the street to see my neighbor a while ago, and he was getting ready to smoke some sort of meat. He and his wife were tending the fire, and during our conversation, the smoke enveloped us. I was standing in the sun and the cool wind was blowing. It reminded me of camping many years ago.

Later, my daughter (broken elbow) made a trip to my parents' house for some sewing work that needed to be done on a choir dress. Not mine.

My jacket smelled of smoke, and I asked my Dad to smell it, and then I asked him to smell it and tell me what it reminded him of. He gave the correct response: it smelled like camping at Lake Sam Rayburn, more specifically, Ebeneezer Park.

That was the place where we used to go in the late fall and winter to camp, when we had the campground nearly all to ourselves. The giant pine trees would drop enormous pine cones, which we would gather and bring home to GranMommy for her stash.

It's funny how the nose leads you down memory lane so quickly!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

How Not To Break Your Arm

...Continued from Wednesday...

With the washer back in the active roster, I closed out the ticket on what I thought was to go on record as a successful, productive day. That was before I welcomed my 12-year-old home. She came in with her right arm at a strange angle and saying something about having her elbow hurt in choir. It seems that she was in class and the teacher had the girls all lay on the floor to demonstrate how much better that position makes the voice project. As my daughter was lying down, her arm was put in an awkward position. Her elbow popped so loud, she said it echoed in the choir room. Everyone turned around, shocked, and asked if she was all right. She lied and said she was fine. As the rest of the day progressed past choir, the last class, her arm got stiffer and stiffer. By the time she got home, she was in quite a bit of pain and her right hand was going numb and cold. Not a good sign.

I had some frozen lasagna in the oven, and it was nearly done, so I called the pediatrician’s office and asked what they thought. The nurse asked if her fingers were pink and I said “no”. That was when she uttered the dreaded words, “You’d better take her to the emergency room”.

There was lasagna heating, the sixteen-year-old was not quite home from swim practice, and my wife was not quite home from work. I called her and told her what was going on and she was understandably in shock at the news.

The lasagna was just about ready, I called the swimmer and she was nearly home, so we waited a couple of minutes to go. Then, off to the Alvin Urgent Care Center.

When we arrived, nobody was at the front desk, there was a lady with a fever filling in the check-in form; hopefully she hadn’t added some of her germs to the stack of paper...I used my own pen. I gave the form to the girl who popped up from nowhere and we advanced to the waiting room. We only sat there for a couple of minutes when we were called back, mainly because one of the nurses didn’t like the color that my daughter’s fingers were displaying. Sort of a blue tint, and they were cold as ice. We were hustled straight into triage where another nurse hammered all of our information in on a computer terminal. Cool and efficient, she made some quick assessments and took us to our own little room.

We waited for about half an hour until the doctor on duty came in and asked her what happened to her arm. This was the fifth of about twenty run-throughs of the story that she would tell that night. He listened patiently and I asked if perhaps it was dislocated. He said that it was possible and did a cursory examination, trying to bend her arm and pushing and squeezing her elbow, all the while she tried to be strong, but I could tell that it hurt.

After the doctor left, we remained in our cell for a short time until the sprightly x-ray technician came in for our trek down the hall and into radiology. Not being a super-modern facility with the film-free digital x-ray (multi-million dollar) machines, the smell of Dektol permeated and nearly-but-not-quite defeated the smell of “stale hospital”. As the technician place the wee lass’ arm in the proper position for the x-ray, it was clear that it wasn’t the proper position for her arm. She silently bore the pain, but big tears fell from her eyes and on to her dress code khaki pants. The tech tried to explain why she had to move her arm in such a way, but the wounded joint didn’t quite understand. I know that it’s his job to place injured and sick people in optimal attitude for radiographic examination, but my little girl was in a pretty good amount of pain. All I could do was reassure her that it was going to be just a minute or so before it would be done.

The two exposures done, we were able to return to our waiting room. The doctor on duty came in shortly and said that there didn’t appear to be a dislocation or a fracture, so he was going to send us to Clear Lake Regional for another doctor’s opinion, along with the possibility that if it actually was dislocated, they could sedate her before they started in on it. Oh joy. Immediately, the patient began to look around nervously like a cat in the car.

My wife arrived from work but could only stay a little while, and she had to go home and see to our other offspring. That in addition to the fact that sometimes our little trooper troops better with Dad; Mom’s presence makes her want to try for a dose of some sympathy and some extra, “this hurts really bad...”. She did, however get to experience the new nurse, Vivian. She was a whiskey tenor with a friendly and chatty demeanor. She came in and hammered on the computer terminal for a little bit, getting more nuance out of the same information we had given an hour or more before, and administering a couple of doses of acetaminophen with codeine for the pain.

In a few minutes, a male nurse came in, asked what happened to her arm (number nine by now) and said that he was going to start an IV so that when we got to the hospital, it would be easier to give medications if necessary. He was very friendly, reassuring and gentle in starting the catheter IV line, and my gal was being a real trooper. They told us that they would be transporting her by ambulance, to which I gasped and dollar signs flashed in front of my eyes. I asked if it would be possible for me to drive her over there (as I should have done in the first place), to which they replied that it would be best, since she would bypass the teeming hordes in the waiting room. I acquiesced, and I called my wife and told her what was happening and added that it would likely cut our wait time.

So the EMTs came in and helped her onto their high-tech gurney. They strapped her on and wheeled her to the door. I headed to the exit to meet them at the ambulance. My girl looked so small tied down to the hardware like that, her right arm still stiff and her left arm wearing an IV terminal. I kissed her on the head and told her that she could ask them all the questions she wanted to. That seemed to cheer her up a little. The driver told me that I should go ahead; she guaranteed that she would catch up with me. She sure did.

On arrival at the hospital, I found the Emergency Room Patients Parking Only lot, and then to the only open space. By the time I parked, Speed Racer, EMT had already pulled the gurney out of the ambulance bearing my little dependant. As I trotted up, she indicated that the ride was fun and that she had talked the whole time. They wheeled her into the ER and as they did, I heard them comment on the volume of people in the waiting room. Good call by the Alvin doctor, I guess, because we went straight to our stall and waited. Thus began our three-hour stay in limbo. We were introduced to our nurse for the evening, a nice blonde woman who didn’t seem to be paying complete attention to our words at any time. She asked what happened to my offspring (number twelve) without actually hearing the explanation. It seemed the words she spoke to us were from a carefully crafted and memorized script. The reason I suspect it was memorized is that I couldn’t see any teleprompters in the cube.

There was a small dry erase board with the words carefully and neatly written; “welcome to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center –Your Nurse is: Charge Nurse is: . So who are they? I don’t know. I never found out. Our charge nurse could have been Clara Barton and we missed her because they didn’t bother to write it down.

As we sat and killed three hours, occasionally we heard the disembodied voice come over the loudspeaker and call out for “Dr. Anthill”...did we hear that right? Could they have said, “Dr. ANTHILL”? We half-expected to see an aardvark amble through wearing a lab coat and a stethoscope. We snickered about this every time over the next three hours. I also drew a "girraffifly" on the dry erase board and we watched “Little People in a Big World”. A couple of times, the nameless nurse came in for some reason or another, and we always anticipated her reaction when she gazed up at the dry erase board with the whimsical creature. She never even looked. We were both disappointed, but I guess it wasn’t in the stage directions for her to “glance at dry erase board”. I also happened to overhear a couple of EMTs comment on the size of the crowd in the waiting room.

Finally “Dr. Anthill” came in, and after the poor girl recounted the story yet again, he explained that he saw nothing on the x-ray. After a quick review of the case, during which at no time did he even touch or examine the arm, he proceeded to splint the ailing wing. He wrapped it and told us that the nurse would be coming in shortly to administer some pain medication through the IV that had been started hours ago in Alvin. So we waited. About fifteen minutes later, Nurse No-Name hurried by and read from her script, “I’ll be back in two seconds to give you your pain meds...”

We got to watch the rest of “Little People in a Big World”, I had no idea that this was even a real show. Finally the nurse came in and administered two milligrams of morphine. Apparently the time warp we were in was coming back to reality. We got processed in the ER, then were led out the door to be reprocessed at the Discharge window. This is where they extracted the $100 for the privilege of being ignored and told what we already knew. The one benefit was that Dr. ANTHILL (actually, no “h”) gave us advice on how to get in to the best orthopedic doctors’ offices the next day.

The entire time we were checking out, the patient, though still in some pain, was talking and singing and humming. I suggested to her on several occasions to settle down and let the morphine bring on the rest she needed. The complete trip home was filled with statements and questions that required answers from me. Not the standard yes or no answers. These required thought and speculation, getting to the heart of some ancient or hypothetical situation. I didn’t have the strength. I finally told her to contemplate how tired she really was; hadn’t she gotten up early this morning and how exhausting it had been to be on the hospital bed for so long?

When we arrived home at nearly midnight, she was hungry; we hadn’t eaten the lasagna before we had left, and all I had eaten since breakfast were four Satsuma tangerines. Before I faded out completely, she indicated that she really wanted to go to school the next day. I managed to croak out the explanation that we had to go to the orthopedic guy quick so as not to drag out the suspense any longer than necessary. She finally settled down and went to bed at about 12:30 a.m., maintaining her wish to attend school on the morrow.

She didn’t wake up till 10 the next day.

We went to Dr. Boone on Tuesday, and he indicated that he didn’t see a fracture, but would treat it as one since, “It’s better to treat a sprain like a fracture than to treat a fracture like a sprain...”. We go back next Tuesday for a follow-up and a fresh x-ray to see if she needs a full cast.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Find It and Listen

OK, you know that I don't blog during the day too much, but I just heard a song that I think many of my readers would appreciate. It is by Greg Brown, an Iowa-raised baritone who is a wordsmith par excellence.

The song is "Canned Goods", it is a live version and it is great. It's a song describing how, in the winter, he is eating canned goods that his granmother put up in the summer, and how she canned the thunderstorms with the peaches and whipoorwill's call. That kind of imagery. Beautiful.

Such a good song.

Find it. Listen.

What Was Left OUT of the Last Post

And that wasn't all. My youngest daughter tried (maybe successfully, we're not certain yet) to break her right elbow.

The long sordid story is forthcoming. Or fifthcoming, depending on when I get it all typed in. I was going to include it on the "Washing Machine" post, but I had over 1200 words and not a one about the elbow. This story alone will likely reach well over 650 words, to adequately capture the ER experience. Twice.

So the story is taking shape now.

How to Repair a Washing Machine

Sunday evening, I didn’t know how to fix my washing machine, much less that I was going to have to fix it. The operation is very simple. The time it took for the actual repair was approximately 20 minutes, including the test. Every good repairman tests his repairs before proclaiming victory. The cost, as well, was minimal. The drain hose (culprit) was only $23 and change, American. The right front tire was only $28; £13.716 British Pounds Sterling.

The notification of the need for these things is rarely at a convenient time, but this one coincided with the Sunday Night Curse. You know, when you need to get some quality sleep before the workweek begins, it is nearly impossible. One of the kids gets sick, your shoulders knot up, your legs get twitchy, you develop a cough or your spouse snores loud all night. Not that I have experienced the last one, I have heard of things like that. From other people.

I was on the threshold of a beautiful sleep, my body relaxing into slumber, when the hall light flicked on, the door to the bedroom opens and my wife’s usually melodious and song-like voice transformed into an exhausted snarl, “There’s water pouring out from under the washing machine.”

Adios to Dreamland. I stumbled out of bed, clawed for my glasses and “dashed” in a controlled fall through the living room into the kitchen. My first vision was a battle line of extremely wet towels and other clothes extending a third of the way across the floor stretching from the laundry room toward my unsteady feet. My wife was looking from me to the floor to the washing machine, standing atop a mound of soaked towels and shirts and socks. As I drew near to the breach in the levee, I heard the unmistakable sound of a babbling brook. Which is much less soothing than you would expect, especially since it was inside my castle. There were no finches and wrens singing in the trees.

Still shaking what would have been blissful sleep from my head, I tried to make sense of the situation. I leaned on the twenty-year-old Kenmore and tried to determine the most likely and easiest way to staunch the flow. I finally snapped to the fact that it was actually off, and the water was draining out on its own. I reached around to the back where the drain hose is attached, and noticed that it was wet there, which was a good sign for me; it could be a simple fix.

As I became fully awake, due in part to the cold water I was standing in, the thought that the ten-gallon wet/dry shop vac might be able to benefit us at that moment. I sloshed out and grabbed it, dragged it nearby and commenced to vacuum out the flood. First I lowered the nozzle into the tub to take care of the headwaters. I then turned my full attention to the shoreline. This was fairly uneventful, just time consuming. The angle was funny (“funny”, “OW”, not funny, “Ha ha”) and my back sort of wanted to spasm. Mainly because of having to drag out a shop vac full of water and Pomeranian hair. When I took it outside to dump it, I noticed we had enough hair to make a whole ‘nother dog. Nice. As the TV struck eleven, I trudged off to bed, leaving a wet pile of clothes on the laundry room. It would stay until tomorrow, I was sure.

Monday dawned warm and muggy, and after I took my sixteen-year-old to school, I went dutifully off to work with the Kenmore on my mind. I stayed until just past the Staph meeting, printed out an important phase of a big, fire-breathing project, and got out at nearly eleven o’clock. I arrived at home, changed clothes and launched into the cleanup that precedes the repair.

While there are typically a large number of clothes in the laundry room, when that same number of articles of clothing are wet, the weight becomes quite different. If everybody wore white t-shirts and khaki work pants we wouldn’t have a problem. And of course, with a dryer, you’re always behind, with the lag time between the washer cycle and the dryer being at least thirty minutes. You would need a dryer the size of a cement truck’s mixer to keep pace.

The clothes all moved, I wrestled the washer out of its usual place. Being a narrow nook more than a room, the 34 inch-wide laundry closet is not ideal for a machine that is 26 inches wide to maneuver around. When I completed my Dancing With the Kenmore moves, I marveled at the ten years worth of guk under the machine. There was dust, lint balls, 137 bobby pins, broken and unbroken coat hangers, a wrapping paper tube, Armor All wipes, Gain detergent bottles, Gain laundry sheets, gum wrappers and quite a few other unidentifiable objects, all in various stages of sopping wet. At that point, I got to slide behind the washer that was pulled out and angled to the side, with just enough clearance for me to get back there, but not much room to maneuver in a crouch. For anyone who hasn’t ever seen me, just imagine a grizzly bear trying to get in and turn around in a 55-gallon drum. Tight fit, to say the least. And if getting into a crouch was comical enough, the inverse was pitiful to be sure.

The space cleaned and dried completely, I turned to the task of finding and eliminating the leak. That was simple; I touched the drain tube, and water came out of the side. I squeezed the clip and pulled it out. Couldn’t be easier. I measured it and then called the Sears Parts Center. Found out the part would be around $22 (American) and decided to jet down to Dickinson to pick it up. No Problem.

Until I got on the road. I noticed the steering wheel twitching like a toad on a hot plate. The farther down the road I got, the worse it became. When I stopped at the Sears store, I checked my tires. Sure enough, there was a huge bump on the right front tire. I limped back to Alvin and straight to Lozano’s Tire for a cheapo tire to get me through. When the workman removed the wheel, I could see the steel belt beginning to fray and slow-motion explode out of the tread. A few more miles and it would have been a blowout of epic proportions.

On arrival back at my home, I quickly replaced the drain hose and repositioned the appliance. I made the test, and proclaimed victory to the dog, and she rejoiced with me in my handyman-ness.

When I started the first load of clothes, the sound of the water reverberated in the newly cleaned and emptied laundry cubby, and made a little panic feeling rise in my liver. I checked about four times, and satisfied that it had been successfully repaired, I closed out the ticket.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oh, What a Day...

This is a "trailer" of sorts; there is coming a very long, convoluted post about fixing washing machines and a couple of other things you won't want to miss. Check back tomorrow and you won't (may not) be disappointed. I already have about 600 words and i'm only half finished.

Things just kept happening on Sunday/Monday. But it will make for an epic post that only a humorless accountant-type would find "not amusing". No offense to you humorless accountant-types.

So please tune in tomorrow (Wednesday if you're reading this "tomorrow") and I hope you will enjoy the show.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Birthday Notice

Yes, believe it or not, it has been 17 years since we were blessed with my second daughter. Looking at the old pictures, it doesn't seem so long. But when I sit and think about the amount of time that has gone by, my knees hurt.

She's a great swimmer, water polo animal, witty and pretty. Full of funny one-liners and smarty-pants remarks (where'd she get THAT?) you have to be close by to hear them, but they're hilarious.

Happy Birthday, Katie!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Animal, Part II

I am sure all my regular reader remembers my "girraffifly" (Lepidoptra giraffenseii) commonly known as the Texas Longneck Jeezerfly. A fine specimen that I made up all by myself, named by the readers of this blog.

Now it is time to introduce an all-new species that my middle daughter discovered. In her fear of arachnids, she is ever-vigilant for new manifestations of spider, and so her watchful eye spotted a fleeting glance at one of these: a Pronghorn Tarantalope.

What you see is a sort of police-sketch-artist-rendition, based on her description. Study this well, and see if you observe any in your area. I am going to study the habitat, range, diet and IQ of this creature, if any.

Please report sightings and behavioral observations in the comments.

Be the first to comment with the right answer (except NancyV) and be internationally recognized! I can say that because of my friend in London and the hit that I received from Japan this morning.

Well, our fiend, Invigilator Tex is the grand winner because of his speedy and correct answer of "nine legs". Congratulations on your quick eyes and wit to match. The world bows at your feet.

Of course, the conventional wisdom is that since this specimen is apparently of the arachnid family that nine legs is a surplus of limbs. My contention is that if eight is good, then nine is great. And being from Texas, it only makes sense that the extra leg (or legs, we're not sure if this one was injured or not) would ensure a perfect fit for being in Texas. Just a theory, but as my father-in-law used to say, "I may not always be right, but I'm NEVER wrong."

Mr. Wollf; this animal was not spotted recently, it's just now that I got the "police sketch" up. The report came in several weeks ago.