Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rain, Rain, Come Again, Go Away Some OTHER Day!

It rained here today.

So you say, "Big deal, you're on the Texas Gulf Coast, it's positively tropical!" Ah, not lately, Dear Reader, not lately. It has been very dry for something like 39 days, with no appreciable rain. Burn bans are in effect and many municipalities are calling for water conservation measures.

People are putting stamps on letters with paper clips. The Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are using a wet handkerchief and the Lutherans are issuing rain checks. We have catfish in the pond a year old that don't know how to swim yet.

To say it has been dry is an understatement. I got out of my car the other evening and smelled the aroma of hay. Fresh, dry hay. Since there were no hay bales or rolls nearby, I looked over at my lawn and saw the brown, withered grass doing it's best imitation of Coastal Bermuda.

The high pressure "bubble", as the weather people refer to it as, has maybe slipped a little. "Bubble" is a little misleading; it sounds like Lawrence Welk is playing a polka in the clouds, with happy people dancing in the streets to "champagne music". We're all sweating like pigs in the heat. It's been over 100º for, like ten days in a row, so there's not much of the implied "kicking-up-of-the-heels" going on around here.

I think they should describe it as a looming, apocalyptic dragon slowly cooking us in our own humid shirts.

But it rained today. For about 30 minutes in Pasadena (where I work) and maybe about the same amount of time in my home town. Of course, the pavement was about 120º F and the entire parking lot was nearly dry half an hour later.

Maybe our weather is getting back to normal.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

HMS Titanic, Highland Bayou Style

The captain of the Titanic was confident of a smooth, productive maiden voyage of his ship, no doubt. I was mostly confident that today was going to be a good day on the water with my youngest daughter for our first fishing/boating adventure.


We drove down to Highland Bayou in my neighbor’s truck with a borrowed pirot. I had never used a pirot. Have heard about them all of my life; a shallow flat bottomed boat with the bow and stern interchangeable. This one is fiberglass and has two seats molded in. During the drive down, I mentioned that if we were to go over due to wind or other wave action, that she should not panic. The water is warm and shallow, and we’ll just be wet, no big deal.

I found a place on the Southern side of the bayou, a place fairly unfamiliar to me. It was either that or park where I usually do, and carry the sixty pound watercraft for 300 yards, OVER the levee and to the water. No thanks.

We had a bucket, an ice chest (I don’t really know why, now that I think about it), my tackle box and the rods. I got in the boat myself, then encouraged my offspring into the back of the boat to find a seat. I knelt in the middle to paddle the craft to our destination.

I had decided on the way down that this was going to be an adventure rather than strictly a fishing trip. My young protégé is a casting neophyte, the pirot is a new kind of vessel for me to pilot. I wasn’t planning on trying to bring in a couple of limits of fish, we were just out to have some fun.

So back to the water; the pirot is kinda twitchy when it’s loaded. As I shoved off, the quick action made some extra side-to-side motion, and we took on a couple of quarts of the bayou. My daughter tensed up, but didn’t panic, and I told her that we were OK, just stay low and don’t move too radically. Me, on the other hand, had to paddle the whole cruise liner out into the watercourse necessarily shifting my prodigious weight as I propelled and steered the boat.

As we progressed, my girl wondered how deep the water was. I had brought along a five foot piece of pvc pipe as a nod to my Grandaddy with his “calcutta depthfinder” (a cane pole). I invited her to poke it down into the water as we were gliding along and see how deep it was. She was pleasantly surprised with the two and a half foot depth of the seas. She was less pleasantly surprised with the amount of water that was in the boat with us; up to her ankles. I was informed later that each time I paddled, the water was within an inch of so of the gunwales.

We had progressed about 150 yards out to the channel, and I was notified of some more water invading our sanctuary. That was it. I decided to come about and steam back to our berth. In the middle of the turn, my first mate announced, “Daddy, Daddy, we’re sinking!”… and it was true. The stern sank quickly with her bailing out vertically as the hull slid beneath the surface. The water made rapid progress in my direction as well; past my feet, up my calves, then inundating my back pockets and finally my chest. The last bit of “dry” was the bow as it looked to heaven one last time.

By this time we were laughing in surprise and shock. The bucket with my cast net went down, down to Davey Jones’ locker; really only about three feet. But the mud was pretty deep. I grabbed my (luckily) floating tacklebox and put the rods on top. The crew was confused about the depth of the water, since the mud was so soft in that particular spot, she thought it was deeper. She seized the sunscreen and tried for the paddle. I retrieved that after getting the ice chest.

After gathering all of our floating cargo, laughing, I made sure to hem it all in for my fellow castaway to hold while I salvaged the ship. I turned it on its side, then lifted it over my head, then plopped it back on the surface. No big deal. We then tossed our flotsam and jetsam in, and I let my crew climb my leg and flop back in the boat giggling.

When I made sure that we had everything, I allowed myself a time to laugh at the ridiculous outing we were in the middle of. My thoughts of earlier came back to me; this was not solely a fishing trip, but was to be an exploration. Well, that it was! My girl asked if I were disappointed, and I replied, “How could I be? We had an adventure!”

While making our way back to where we put in with me towing the boat (which was riding nicely in the water minus the 255 extra pounds), I took the time to have the wee lass practice casting my Shimano Calisto reel. Suffice to say, she will continue to practice.

The epilogue to this escapade is that my gal got to skipper the pirot around a little bit while I learned her how to paddle a boat around. She made several large circles in the channel, paddling, switching, back paddling, digging deep and using the paddle as a rudder. She did really well, and was excited to be the captain of such a fine, albeit low capacity, craft.

The moral to this story is to always be ready for something different. Don’t be content to follow plans every time, and a good hint is to leave your cell phone in the car like we did.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Missus Takes the Family for an Evening Stroll

Yes, the little dogs have been worrying a place at the end of the deck for several days now, culminating in an irritating yapfest earlier this evening. I figured it was a possum or something. Couldn’t be a cat, it was too quiet over there when the dogs were racing around sniffing and barking. I well remember the hiss that the stupid little black cat could utter.

Sure enough, as I was locking the back door for the night, I flicked on the porchlight just to see what I could see. What I saw was Mrs. O. Possum and the entire clan of little possum-lings clutching her fur, out for their evening constitutional.

Her expression, if possums can have expression, was one of slight bewilderment and mild confusion. Not that there is anything unusual about that kind of expression for a possum, but she looked as if she hadn’t any clue how she got on my back porch with no fewer than nine ugly little carbon copies of her gripping her pelt. She was panting a little, maybe because she sensed the air conditioning inside in defiance of the high humidity and heat of the Gulf Coast night. Perhaps she was plotting on how to buy a minivan to tote her brood rather than doing it the old-fashioned way. Who knows what goings-on are going on in the mind of a possum. If anything.

I will need a larger trap than I have to relocate the entire family to the Soderberg Marsupial Trade School and Re-education camp. I’ll have to see if they have a “loaner”.

Until then, I’ll have to staple my dogs to the tree in back.

Sounds Like...

The mind of a smart aleck is a terrible thing to have trapped in your skull. You who know me have heard what comes out of my mouth when the muse inspires.

On Thursdays in the office, we have a “snack day”, mostly just to feel better about the work week. We have half days Friday throughout the summer, so it’s a nice distraction to have food within easy reach to get ready for the slightly longer weekend.

My friend Sparky brought in some fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. We had some fresh basil as well, so the salad was a big hit. She decided to leave the olive oil up at the office for other snack days.

So much for the setup.

On Friday, our office manager strolled past the table we had the food products on the Thursgraze Snack Day. As she notice the olive oil bottle, she inquired about the owner.

Now, the way she worded it was crucial to my response, otherwise, I wouldn’t have said anything, or it just wouldn’t be funny.

Her exact words were, “Whose olive oil?” to which I replied instantly, “She’s Popeye’s girlfriend…why?”

She laughed heartily, and a couple of others moaned. I think that they were just jealous. You see, they’re smart alecks, too, and to get beaten to a perfectly laid out straight line was too much for their egos.

Reminds me of the “electric cat” episode of a couple of years ago.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Big Night

Summer evenings on the Coastal Plains of Texas can often mean muggy, sticky, mosquito ridden hours that go on forever. This evening however was different for a couple of reasons.

First, a mild “cool” front came through. All that means is that the pressure is high and the humidity is low. Weather reports had it at around 39% today; normally it’s 90% or higher. High temp was in the low 90’s. The evening turned off really nice, just a few small clouds, a soft South breeze. Mosquitoes were hunting in the cow pastures.

They missed a bonanza, because there was a stadium full of warm-blooded family and friends making ready to witness the graduating class of 2009. I was there because my middle daughter was one of the 496 eager grads just outside the stadium. They were all wearing their orange caps and gowns, the girls’ hair all straightened and/or curled, the boys’ necks all crammed into buttoned collars and ties. No doubt most of them were visited by butterflies and flop sweat.

As the stands filled up with interested and obligated spectators and the sun edged down, the breeze was refreshing and made the hard bleachers a little less offensive. The only thing we were concerned with was saving space for my parents, who were to be a little late. Even that assignment was made bearable by the parade of humanity in a variety of forms that issued past us.

This being Alvin, the Alvin ISD police were checking bags on the way in; they banned the air horns and cowbells and all manner of obnoxious noisemakers that had plagued previous graduations. The reason being, enthusiastic family cheering for one graduate virtually obliterated the names of the next three or four kids. So much for the dignity of the ceremony.

The graduates filed into the stadium single file down the track on each side. I was told that we should be on the South side. Sure enough, of the four hundred ninety-something high school seniors mine was there way back in the back with the “S’s”.

As I watched her in her orange cap and gown, I had that strange feeling that amounts to wonder at the speed of life. *Cliché alert*; It seems like such a short time ago that she was just a little kid running around the house with a busted piñata on her head. No, really. She has grown up so much. She is over five feet nine inches tall, and with the shoes she wore, she was nearly six feet even. Taller than nearly all of the girls and a great percentage of the guys. She looked like royalty, striding along the padded track with her wide, bright smile and her long blonde hair. Like Graduate Barbie.

Now she was in a group of kids that had gone through 12 years of school together, and were about to hit the streets as real people. They filed onto the new field of artificial turf filled with an army of chairs in a long, neat rectangle.

The crowd settled down and the color guard came out, the national anthem was played by the band, minus the seniors. The introductions of the officials were made and the speeches were speeched by the student class president and the smart kids. The top 10% was introduced, honors made and the long list of graduates’ names was read.

We sat through the lengthy list, waiting for the nineteenth letter of the alphabet that would signal Katie’s moment. We watched as her row stand up and walk to the staging area to be called up to receive their “diploma”.

Hearing her name, our entire group stood up and yelled, “Yay Katie!”. I texted her later during her time of Project Graduation all-night-soirée and asked if she had heard our exclamation. Her reply was, “LOL yah! ☺”. It made me feel good to have been noticed from that far away.

I am proud of my girl. She took the Math classes that I didn’t even know existed. As a matter of fact, I don’t think anyone in my immediate family has even touched that level of ciphering unscathed.

She is one of the reasons that I have to go on, and I love her so much. Congratulations Katie-Belle.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Wordy Guy X!

Yes, the ever-sensational Wordy Guy has bestowed another puzzle gift on us. On you, I mean, I already knowed what this one means.

As always, do your best, dig deep in your brains, and NO CHEATING...


A. Extremely ridiculous

B. Extremely mournful

C. Extremely humorous

And remember, last time Innominatus got the actual Wordy Guy to chork on his java with the dandy usage guess.

I'll have the answer and winners on Monday nite!

Well, here it is Monday night, and as promised I am announcing the winner of the Wordy Guy XI, or "X!" as I have in the title (on purpose)(really, I did it on purpose).

This is going to be difficult, since Innominatus came in first with an answer that very well could indicate that he knew the meaning of "lugubrious". But I can't let him drift through on his lightning-quick smart aleck answers forever. So this week's bragging rights goes to Falcon. His "process of elimination" educated guess was right on the money.

While Joe Biden's hair could be described as "extremely mournful", it wasn't decisive enough for the win.

And I mention "money" just as an expression, as you know there are no monetary prizes issued here.

Just a warm feeling of questionable accomplishment. So Falcon, revel in your moment. Thanks for playing!