Monday, April 30, 2007

Stalking the Blue Heron

I saw my friend the heron down by the Round Rock again today, and managed to get a picture before he saw me and took off. Unfortunately, this is the only pic I got that was worth saving, and it is borderline!

The rain came, and I had to leave. Notice the layers of paint on The Rock. It is actually limestone, but, back in the 80s, a senior class at Round Rock High School decided that a good senior prank would be to paint it maroon. The school colours are maroon and white. The little brats were caught, and required to paint over it. I suppose, by the time their kids graduate, it might have all worn off.

Here's the incoming storm. The red truck on the bridge has just passed the rock. The stone pillar used to support a rail bridge, which was replaced with the white bridge you see in the background.

Good Deeds

Carrie, at Sixteen Sisters, has a post about good deeds. It occurred to me that it might be nice to mention my own good deeds...

...I'm thinking...

...there has to be something...

...doesn't there?...

...I did put out food and a warm box for the neighbourhood stray cat...

...and have rescued several cats, over the years...

...I always return it if people give me too much change...

...I tell people if I notice that they have money fixing to fall out of their pocket or purse...

...I let people into my lane when driving...

...I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here, aren't I?

Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, after all.

Unlike the good deeds that have been done for me... Mary Lee Harris, who found me a counsellor when my alcoholic SSS got to be too much to bear... Betty Porter, who bought me a pair of glasses when I broke mine while poor and indigent, and who also gave me a complete World Book Encyclopedia... Addy Prior, who sent me a catered Christmas dinner, complete with gifts, three years in a row, and then welcomed me like a daughter when I married her son, not to mention the Journalism summer class she paid for for Vanessa when she was in middle school... the lovely lady who contributed frequent flyer miles so that Jim and I could go to Michigan last summer... Loretta Serrano, who, with some help from other friends, bought me a new computer...

...the list goes on and on.

I think I'm in the red on this one. By far.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The UN is Coming To The T Don Hutto

"A United Nations human rights expert will head to the United States later this month to investigate a highly criticized Texas center for detained immigrant families and two border areas where U.S. officials have announced they would crack down on Mexicans illegally crossing the border, a U.N. official said Friday."

It is a disgrace that the UN has to come in here to look at these "facilities." We are not some third-world fascist dictatorship that has no knowledge of or interest in human rights!

Or are we?

New News About Natalee

Thanks to Scared Monkeys:

Dutch investigators have been digging in the van der Sloot's back yard.

Down in the comments, there is an interview with Paulus that is quite interesting.

The most recent comment from somebody in contact with an Aruban reporter states the following:

" this time some trucks did arrive behind the lighthouse, with dogs and sophisticated equipment and a search is under way on that spot..."

Hoping they find her.

I will STILL never go there.

Edited to add: When you're done with that story, click on their "home" button for more. They update regularly. for the latest.


Quinn does like to interfere with blogging. And Spazz thinks he is invisible in a kitchen drawer.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Jasmine Update

Jasmine had to have a transfusion today, because her white cell count was low. She came through it all right, and goes to MD Anderson on Wednesday to find out if there are any new tumors, and if she has to have more chemo.

She has been upset recently, having finally internalized the fact that she will never play soccer again. Her parents are getting her interested in playing golf. It's the running that will keep her from playing soccer, and there is no running in golf.

It makes me so angry that I'm crying! A child should not have to go through this. She's grateful that her hair is growing back! She has been through surgery and chemotherapy and had her growth stunted. She will never be taller than 4'9". She is trying to build a life with some sort of normality to it. At a time when most girls are thinking about nothing but school and sports, Jazz is wondering if she will be told there is new cancer and she will have to go through the past year's hell all over again.

That's my anger, not hers. She is exhorting her friends to find the laughter.

Pardon me, but today, I don't find it very funny.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Latest Press Release From Jay

From Jay J Johnson Castro, Sr.:

I spoke with Congressman, Ciro Rodriguez, the other day...

He told me that "THEY will not release the mothers. So the will not release the children." Who the hell is THEY? There is obviously no collective guts or conscience in Congress if THEY can allow children to be inhumanely imprisoned in America. It's time for those who are elected to defend the principles of defend them.

Can someone explain why we cannot treat the mothers with the same kindness, care and dignity...mothers that are escaping torture, rape or starvation?

Ciro also asked for an alternative to Hutto. Hello! We've been giving it. But political hand shaking is not freeing the children.

Compare this report about how Corpus Cristi is caring for children with kindness,care and the ICEy inhumanity being committed by CCA in Hutto. Here's the reported by News 8 in's the alternative.

There is hope.

But only if We the People...demand it for the victims of American America...


Thursday, April 26, 2007


I heard an expression today:

"Well, butter my behind and call me a biscuit!"

There are a lot of expressions or turns of phrase that just make me smile whenever I hear them.

"If I was any happier, I'd have to jump back and kiss myself!"

Here's one Mom used to say when she was angry:

"I could chew nails and spit rust!"

Courtesy of SSS:

"Ya gotta take the lousy with the bad."


"If it ain't organized, you can't mess it up."

I'll add more as I think of them.

How to Sell a Used Wedding Gown

I'm looking for things to write about, and coming up blank. Not usual for me. I've been doing some writing at They have a huge list of topics, and you pick one and write about it. I've used some of the stuff I've written here, so I thought I might swap something back. Helium is kind of fun. They have you rate others' articles as well, but that gets a bit depressing, sometimes, although there are some good writers there.

To sell a used wedding gown online, I would use eBay. Here are a few tips for making a good presentation.

1) Appearance. When you set up your sale page on eBay, you will be given a lot of options from which to choose. Choose a pretty background and opt for a Gallery pic. It costs a little more, but you are selling a pricey item, so you want to give it the best presentation you can.

2) Photographs. Get good digital photos of your gown. Either wear it and have somebody else take the pictures (you can cut the pics off below your face if you like), find somebody that it fits perfectly to model it for you, or put it on a dress form, sized to fit. Give it a pretty background-a nice garden, or drapes, or a view behind it. Experiment with backgrounds. Photos of a dress just hanging will never do it justice. Neither will laying it down on a bed. Take lots of pics, showing all its features. Pics from the back, closeups of the train, if it has one, closeups of any marks or damaged spots. If you feel comfortable displaying your wedding picture, do so, especially if you have one that shows the gown well.

3) Measurements. Take precise measurements of: bust, waist, hip (if it's tight), sleeve length, shoulder to shoulder, shoulder to hem, waist to hem, length of train, circumference of hem.

4) Description. Write a good description of the gown. Be precise about the colour and style. If it has an Empire waist, describe it as such. Use words that make the gown sound romantic: "Skirt is a gossamer nimbus of delicate net" sounds better than "It has a full net skirt." Tell a story about your gown. Make it sound as if the gown is loaded with good luck. If you're selling it to pay for the divorce, don't mention that. At the bottom of your description, thank people for looking.

5) Shipping. Pack it very well. Put it in a box, with some sort of stuffing, and wrapped in tissue. Crush up balls of tissue between the gown and the edge of the box. Put that box in a larger box, with styrofoam packing peanuts underneath and around and on top of the inner box. When the whole is taped up, it should not shift around inside when shaken. Always include insurance with the shipping fees. The Post Office website has a feature that enables you to calculate shipping cost, knowing the zip code it's going to, plus the size and weight of the package. You can take it to the Post Office and get it weighed, so you can provide the shipping cost to the buyer as soon as the auction is over.

6) Open a PayPal account, if you haven't already. It's the quickest way to get paid for your gown.

7) Don't forget to leave feedback after the transaction is over.

I hope this is helpful. I have been buying and selling on eBay for years, and have never had a problem.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Mother's Family

I know even less about my mom's family than I do about my dad's. Her mother died when she was nine, and, by the time I came along, she and her father were estranged. I'm not even sure he gave her away at her wedding.

My mom had three siblings, Ormond, Clyde and Ruth. She had an Aunt Janet, an Aunt Jessie and a Cousin Grace. She and her siblings were raised by her Aunt Ethel after her mother died.

Mom was born in Upper New York State, and claimed to be "Pennsylvania Dutch," and descended from Martin Van Buren. She grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. Aunt Jessie and Cousin Grace lived in Cornwall, Ontario.

Mom's father lived in Montreal. He had remarried after the death of her mother, and his second wife wanted nothing to do with stepchildren. Later, when I was in my teens, Mom started writing to him. In 1967, she made a trip to Montreal for Expo 67 and decided to pay him a visit. Her stepmother answered the door, and told Mom that her father had died some time before.

As Mom said, "Isn't that a kick in the pants!" No matter how she tried to joke about it, it hurt, and badly.

She used to tell me a story. When she and her sibs were growing up in Ottawa, her dad worked in logging camps. He visited frequently. One day, she asked him for a quarter so she could go skating. He told her that, if she could withstand his tickling without laughing, he would give her a quarter. Mom had been the most ticklish person on the face of the earth, but she wanted very badly to go skating. She survived the tickling without cracking a smile, he gave her the quarter, and she went skating. But she was never ticklish again. She sold her tickle for a quarter.

She told me the story to illustrate the fact that, if you want something badly enough, you can do what it takes to get it.

I just thought it was sad.

I Wasn't Going to Do This, But...

A blogger who would probably appreciate remaining nameless took issue with Ronni Bennett's criteria for selecting blogs for her blog roll. She mentioned that she does not link pro-Bush blogs. This nameless blogger decided he would rather not be linked by such a one-sided blog. His prerogative. However, he then proceeded to suggest that she change her mind and include the "Bushies" for the sake of granting "equal time." She wrote an entry about it, and he wrote an entry about her entry. In his entry, he mentioned that he was a retired professor of English.

I left him the following comment:

"You know, if anyone tried to tell me who I should or should not link, I might get a mite testy.
Nobody is obligated to give "equal time." Why should any of us support and link blogs with which we disagree?
I had linked a truly funny blog, but removed the link when the blogger left a post on top which I considered distasteful in the extreme. My 85-year-old stepmother reads my blog, and I would be embarrassed were she to click on such a link.
If Ronni Bennett's choice of what to link offends you, skip over "As Time Goes by." Personally, I think you seem to be much more narrow-minded than she.
PS: I dropped out of University, but my grammar and spelling are not all that bad, are they?"

Lo and Behold, I received an email from the retired (Canadian) English professor:

"Thank you for your comments and the narrow-minded label. You made 3 errors in grammar and had 1 poorly structured sentence. (Hints-incorrect choice of verb tense in a conditional sentence; incorrect use of a pronoun; missing preposition). I will forgive you for the 3rd mistake since you are probably an American and even most American Uni graduates would make the same mistake. The Queen's English seems to baffle most Americans. Maybe it is your need to feel independent. If you were a 2nd year non English major taking my grammar class, I would give you a D on that message and if you were an English major, you would receive an F. So yes, not bad for a college dropout. Congratulations on your mastery of a spell checker. Sorry, but you asked :+)) At least I did it on a PM and not in a public forum."

I took his email back to his blog and posted it as a comment, wanting to keep the whole exchange public. He removed the comment; no doubt he saw that he sounded like a snob and also displayed an alarming lack of reading comprehension skills for a retired English professor. I did not label him "narrow-minded," I said he SEEMED much more narrow-minded than she.

Of course, there's a world of latitude there, as Ronni Bennett is not narrow-minded at all.

But, that aside, in my experience, there is a vast difference between SEEMING and BEING.

I am chagrined to note that my grammar skills are declining verily unto illiteracy, although it is heart-warming to be told that I spell as well as somebody who has achieved "mastery of a spell checker."

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Monday, April 23, 2007

St George's Day

St. George. Patron Saint of England. And quite a few other places and things, as well.

From Britannia:

"St George is still venerated in a large number of places, by followers of particular occupations and sufferers from certain diseases. George is the patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to St Mark). He is patron of soldiers, cavalry and chivalry; of farmers and field workers, Boy Scouts and butchers; of horses, riders and saddlers; and of sufferers from leprosy, plague and syphilis. He is particularly the patron saint of archers, which gives special point to these famous lines from Shakespeare's Henry V, Act 3, Scene 1, l. 31:

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge
Cry God for Harry, England and St George!'.

Indirectly, the spirit of George the soldier saint played a part in modern English history when Sir Laurence Olivier's film of Henry V was issued in 1944 as an encouragement to our armies fighting for the liberation of France."

The Catholic Church downgraded St. George when they did their wholesale clean up in 1969, apparently because little is known about him.

However, his story made it back to England, maybe at the time of the Crusades; indeed, Richard the Lionheart called upon St. George to protect his army when he went to the Holy Land in 1191. Of course it must be remembered that Richard didn't even set foot in Jerusalem. Except in story, St. George didn't set foot in England, either, so there's that in common.

The dragon-killing may be a Christianization of the legend of Perseus and Andromeda, according to Britannia.

Here is a link to the story.

I think you all should know that I have stood on the very spot, in England, where the Saint is purported to have slain the offending serpent. So, as the story takes place in Libya, the story must be wrong.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Latest From Jay

Afternoon y'all...Imagine! Imagine what the impact would be if the Texas Legislature passed a resolution against Hutto and for the freeing of the children imprisoned by Chertoff and ICE. Can you or your organization help us achieve that lofty goal?In a democracy...the voice of the people must be heard!

As most of you know, HCR 64 has been languishing in the State Affairs Committee of the Texas House since early February. This bill demands of Chertoff and ICE that the innocent children be freed from the Hutto prison camp in Taylor , TX. It appears that the only way we can force this resolution into a "Public Hearing" by the State Affairs Committee...and then to the House Floor is via a concerted campaign to expose the refusal of the Committee Chairman, David Swinford (of Sherman, Moore, Potter and Carson Counties) to allow a "Public Hearing".

One of our very dedicated supporters, Mark Coates, has suggested three ways we can accomplish this:

1. By writing a letter (email) to the newspapers in the counties Swinford represents: Stratford Star - Moore Co. News (Dumas) -
Panhandle Herald -
Amarillo Globe -

2. By calling Swinford's Austin and/or Amarillo office:
Austin 512-463-0470
Amarillo 806-374-8787

3. By faxing a letter to either of these offices: Austin 512-463-8003
Amarillo 806-374-0868Let's add a fourth way:

4. By e-mailing Swinford and all of the committee members.

Following are the e-mails addresses from the Capitol website. The offices will not do anything but give an auto-reply. Not to worry. However, we need to barrage them with the voice of "We the people", doing so by e-mails, protesting Hutto and protesting the fact that Swinford has not scheduled HCR 64 for a public hearing. Please keep in mind that Reps. Farrar and Vaesey below have signed on as sponsors of HCR 64. They should be commended for championing the children, while the others are complicit with the imprisonment of innocent children by their refusal to address this issue in public.
David Swinford
Ken Paxton
Corbin Van Arsdale
Wayne Christian
Jessica Farrar
Byron Cook
Dan Flynn
Tan Parker
Marc Veasey
When we send an e-mail, make the call or fax...please demand that Swinford hold a "Pubic Hearing" and send the resolution to the floor of the House of Representatives for our elected representatives to be able to vote on such a worthy resolution.

Note: A ringing phone is very disruptive and far more noticeable than an email. So, if you have the time, phone calls and faxes are a good thing to do. Emailing letters to editors, however, are dynamite as they are read by Swinford's constituents! It is imperative that this campaign be taken to his constituents as well as to him and his committee members. Many of his constituents are probably totally unaware of his willful blocking of this bill to free the innocent children. And...they should know. They have a right to know. We all are busy. We have many commitments. We simply request your support. Please stop for a moment and think how you would feel if it was one of your children or grandchildren or a special friend was in one of these facilities...but everyone was too busy to make an attempt to free them. This is a tragedy of national and international scope and implications. If we can't free the innocent children today...what does that mean for our tomorrow? matter what part of the state or country you're from...please help us free the innocent children. You can do so simply by making the contacts in the way that is easiest for you. Then...PLEASE...share this email to your friends and organizations and ask for their support in Freeing the Children. We must...and shall...FREE THE CHILDREN!

My Father's Family

I know very little about my parents' families. The only grandparent I ever knew was my father's mother, Marion Elsie (Jebb) Dobell. I know that she and her two sisters were called "The Three Belles of Brecon," and that one of those sisters was Margaret, known familiarly as "Aunt Daisy." Perhaps the other sister was called "Aunt Barney." If that's the case, her name might have been Barbara. I don't even know if Granny had any brothers. I know she was married to Guy John Dobell in 1901, and, somewhere I have a picture of her taken on that occasion. She was 18, and her bridegroom was over 50, or so I was told. They had four children, Enid, Joan, John and Zoe. My dad, John, was born in 1908, and, rumour had it that Aunt Zoe was born in the ladies room of a London theater. Aunt Zoe had an umlaut over the "e," but I don't know how to do that.

The story,as I heard it, growing up, was that the family business, J. Dobell & Sons, Purveyors of Wines and Spirits, went under in the wake of WWI. There was no more money to keep my father in school, and his father strongly suggested that he should enter the army. Dad, being born into the expectation of a decent education, balked at that, and decided to make his own way in the world. He spent some time in London, and then decided to try his luck in the wilds of Canada. He was homesteading in Manitoba during the depression, and eventually abandoned that project in favour of "riding the rods" to Vancouver in search of employment. He was employed at Courtauld's, a textile company, and transferred, after a while, to Cornwall Ontario, where he met Mom. They married in 1936. However, they didn't move to England until after my grandfather died. I don't know if that was a coincidence, or if there was a severe estrangement there.

After they moved to England, Dad continued at Courtauld's. Mom caused quite a sensation in the family. Apparently, the Dobells' only impression of Americans was from the Buffalo Bill Wild West Shows, which had toured all over Europe in the early part of the century. In consequence, they all expected Mom to show up looking like Annie Oakley, complete with buckskins and six-shooters. She won a certain measure of acceptance by virtue of good manners and extreme stubbornness. She was a tower of strength during WWII, until, having been bombed out twice in Coventry, she decided to return to the States for the duration. She sent care packages, some of which were discovered, unused, in Granny's attic after her death.

Dad spent WWII in the RAF, stationed in India and Burma. After the war, he returned to his employment at Courtauld's, where he stayed until 1957.

Aunt Enid had married Eric Smith, assistant headmaster at a boys' school in Oxford, and they had five children, John, Gillian, Sally, Patrick and Judy. Aunt Joan married Chase Green-Price and had Susan and John. Zoe never married. I imagine they are all deceased, as Dad would have been 99 this year.

Granny lived in a lovely little Victorian house called The Slinget, in the Town of Much Birch, in Herefordshire. The town has a lovely Norman church, where we attended Easter services, and Christmas, in those years the Holiday was at Granny's.

I could practically draw you a floor plan of that house. I loved it. Granny died when I was four, so any memories I have of her are fuzzy, at best. Of course, the little bit of info that I have came from my mother and father.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Cousin John

This is a picture of John and me in the backyard of his home.
By the time we moved across the pond, I think John and his family were living in a different house.
He was a year and a half older than I, and had been the youngest cousin, until I came along. It was his mother who had been instrumental in arranging my adoption.
After we moved to Canada, we kept in touch with my dad's family by letter an occasional trans-Atlantic calls. At the end of my senior year in high school, John came over for a visit. He stayed with us for a while, but moved out to a rooming house and got himself a job and a small motorbike.
Eventually, he returned to England. He did a lot of travelling around the world before settling down in a town very near the one he lived in when we were kids.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Wonderful Gift

My English cousin John sent me an audio cassette last week. I searched and searched, and could find nothing in the house to play it on. Can you imagine?

Finally, today, Jim brought home a jam box from School--an old one that still plays cassettes.

I have been listening to my mother's voice.

For Christmas of 1966, Aunt Joan, John's mother, and Aunt Zoe, her sister, had sent us a tape of their voices, rather than send the usual letter. We were instructed to tape over it and send it back. It contains John's, Mom's, Dad's and my voices. We all sound very stilted, and, in Mom and Dad's case, it may have been the first time their voices were ever recorded. They wrote out what they wanted to say, and read it.

John and I were more at ease with the technology, but not much. I remember being taped in school, and hating the sound of my voice.

But, this tape is a treasure. Stilted as it is, it has my parents' voices. It has been almost 30 years since I last heard my mother's voice, and 11 since my dad died.

I am blown away.

Thank you, John!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Strange Cat Cuteness

At a garage sale last weekend, I bought this plush kitty. When you press on its paws, it mews.

It seems that Hilary has adopted it for her very own. She kneads it, sleeps on it, snurfles it. She makes it mew. I think that, in her tiny cat brain, she has adopted it.
I expect she calls it

26 Years Ago

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Twenty-six years ago today was Easter Sunday. Melissa had been in town for about a week, walking me all over everywhere. On Saturday, she said, "Ronni, when are you going to have this baby? I have to be back in College Station by Tuesday."

We took Chandra to the City Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, and I waddled happily along. Easter morning, we were dyeing eggs in an artistic manner. (Melissa was an artist in batik.)

While she was etching elegant lines through the wax, Kevin and D'Lynn came by, and Kevin said, "When are you going to have that baby?" At that exact moment, I got one of those twinges and replied, "Today!"

Egg decoration forgotten, we threw a brisket on the barbie, called Ken and Marie, and decided it was a party.

As a side note, Kevin had been in the house when Chandra was born, through no fault of his own. He got abandoned there by his brother, who grabbed Kevin's truck and fled, muttering something like, as far as he was concerned, the natural way to get a baby was to go to the hospital and pick it up.

So, this time, the party consisted of all of the above, plus a couple of midwives. By dark thirty, when Vanessa finally decided to make her appearance, Kevin had left, but everyone else was still there, including SSS. I'm pretty sure he was taking pictures of me during contractions, though it might have been Melissa.

Chandra and I had picked out the names Vanessa, for a girl, and Michael for a boy. Back in those bygone days, the gender of a baby was a complete surprise until the moment of birth. I knew, if the baby was a boy, his middle name was going to be Raymond, but we decided that Daddy SSS should have some choice in the naming, so we gave him the choice of Ruth or Renee. He chose Renee, and my younger daughter's name is Vanessa Renee.

That old house practically crackled with energy, and a magic person was born on a magic night. I have just the one perfect picture of Newborn Vanessa.

Happy Birthday, Vanessa!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

u2r2h blog: USA citizens -- MUST READ

u2r2h blog: USA citizens -- MUST READ

Read it and weep.

Here is how it happened. Take your time. Read the links. It's more than one sitting.

It's apparently a repeat from here:

Check it out.


I am at a loss for words concerning this crime.

Probably just as well, as everyone else seems to have plenty to say.

When Cho's confession is made public, I may have a comment or two.

Of course, we are arguing gun control again. I used to be in favour of that, but, after more than thirty years in Texas, I see the other side of the argument. It seems that it would take too much "big brother" to ensure that people either don't own them, or can't carry them around. Or else, everyone needs to carry on e around, and I, for one, don't think that's a good idea. At least, not until there is one invented that is a lot lighter.

The Prez seems to have gutted other areas of the Constitution--why should the "right to bear arms" be sacrosanct?

I don't know. Just musing early in the morning, before coffee.



Oh. Wait. I do have something to say.

I've seen comments and statements here and there on the web, asking why the students didn't rush this guy.

Aside from the surprise nature of the attack, I have to tell you, people, I think that is totally unrealistic. In order for kids...KIDS, mind react that way, they would have had to have been raised in an atmosphere of constant danger. That very atmosphere from which we have tried to insulate our children. We have taught them not to fight each other. We want them to be kind and gentle. We have kept them out of dangerous situations. Because of that, we have no right to complain when they have no great instinct to stand up and be shot.

Liviu Librescu, the 76-year-old professor who died blocking the door to his classroom is a prime example of a life of danger and uncertainty developing the courage and the ability to sacrifice oneself. Please read this: In this entry, Steve Huff has written a moving tribute to the professor.

"As a child, Librescu was sent to a Russian labor camp after his father was deported by the Nazis. He was saved from death during the Holocaust by kind strangers in the town to which he was sent."

Unless we are willing to raise our children in such adverse circumstances, we should not be surprised if they don't have the training to become instant heroes.

And, by the way, I'm not advocating that we do!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Taylor Daily Press

PEACEFUL PROTEST: Jay-Johnson Castro, a resident of Del Rio, speaks to a crowd outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor. Castro has held seven protests near the facility since December. staff photo by DANIEL K. LAI

Protesters still defiant against T. Don Hutto
By Daniel K. Lai

Following a second three-day trek from the state capitol in Austin, roughly 75 protesters staged a five-hour protest and candlelight vigil outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor Sunday.

“We're not going anywhere,” Jose Orta, founding member of the Taylor League of United Latin American Citizens Council, said. “Just by being here we are making a difference. It's the little things that we can see happening. We're not going to move a mountain overnight. We'll take our victories as we get them.”

The 512-bed facility, which was remodeled and reopened in May 2006 under contract to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement service as a detention center for families, caught the eye of several human rights organizations following a Dec. 16 protest march against the detention of children. Previously, the facility housed county prisoners and federal detainees under various contracts with law enforcement agencies.

“We're here because we think this violates everything America stands for,” Jay Johnson-Castro of Del Rio said. “There is no longer this feeling of ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free' in this country. The government baits immigrants with a promise of liberty and then they profit off of their incarceration.

“This isn't about keeping immigrants out of the country because it would be a lot cheaper to send them back home, not incarcerate them.”

According to the lease agreement between Williamson County and Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, the county agrees to subcontract all aspects of the facility's operations to CCA. In exchange, CCA receives payment of about $2.8 million from ICE to house up to 512 inmates. The company pays the county an administrative fee of $1 per day per inmate held at the facility.

“When people come here, they give up everything just to get here,” one of the protesters said Sunday. “I don't know what it would take for me to give up what I have and flee; it would have to be something awful. These people have given up so much already and then to be put in prison is just heart breaking.”

Elgin resident Magdalena Padron, said, as a mother, the issue of detaining children has affected her personally.

“There are no words to explain how I feel,” she said. “We're in a free country. To see them locked up in a free country doesn't make any sense.”

During a preliminary injunction hearing on Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the University of Texas law school's immigration clinic and an international law firm, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks called the continued detention of children in “substandard conditions” at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center an urgent problem.

In March, the ACLU filed the suit on behalf of 10 immigrant children, challenging their detention at the center. Since then, all but three of the cases have been dropped since seven of the 10 families have already been sent home.

The lawsuits - which charge that the children are being imprisoned under inhumane conditions - claim the detainees were subject to psychological abuse from guards, received poor medical care and inadequate nutrition at the center while their parents await immigration decisions.

Sparks set an expedited August trial date.

“As far as I'm concerned, this is a showdown between American democracy and American tyranny,” Johnson-Castro said.

“The government speaks on illegal immigrants who commit crimes,” one protester shouted. “For every one that does, there are hundreds who do not. No one mentions the thousands of dollars immigrants pay into Social Security of which they will never see a dime of. When it comes to the argument of our government having to spend taxpayers' dollars to capture these immigrants, I don't think so. I think these people are enriching us in more ways than one.”
~~I was the "protester" who "shouted" that last paragraph. Well, sort of. I'm pretty sure that's not exactly what I said--I don't believe I said anything about the government paying to "capture" people. I hope I used better grammar, too.

Pastor Niemoller Said...

This is the poem that has been in the back of my mind since I first heard about the detention camps:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for the sick, the so-called incurables, and I didn't speak up,
because I wasn't mentally ill.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Here's a modern variant:

"Re-gaining Unconsciousness" by punk band NOFX

First they put away the dealers,
keep our kids safe and off the streets.
Then they put away the prostitutes,
keep married men cloistered at home.
Then they shooed away the bums,
then they beat and bashed the queers,
turned away asylum-seekers,
fed us suspicions and fears.
We didn't raise our voice,
we didn't make a fuss.
It's funny there was no one left to notice
when they came for us.

What is it about the fact that detention camps exist on American soil that does not outrage you?
Is it that the occupants are all illegal immigrants, as far as we know?
Does that make it OK in your eyes?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

T. Don Hutto Detention Center

Here's the front facade of the building. We had to gather across the street. I'm guessing that, if we were to set foot on their property, we would find ourselves up on trespassing charges in a heartbeat. Jay said that the last time he was there, there was razor wire along the top of the fence and flags out in front. I'm thinking the flags were removed because the government and the company that owns and manages the prison don't want their logo and flag on the news associated with this place.

There are over 400 people in there, over half of them children. Hence the signs.

Here's the group. Very small, but vocal. The train in the background was parked across the street we were supposed to use to get to the place. The Intrepid Thirty found a way around. Maybe a bunch more went home when they found their way blocked; I don't know. What I do want to know is, where were all of y'all?

We are turning into a fascist state, here. Don't any of you care? Do you not care that a whole segment of our population is being demonized? You can sit on your complacent tooshies and have more important things to do, but I must ask you this: who is next? People who criticize the president? People who wear turbans? People who have body piercings? Gays and Lesbians? And, the toughest question of all; when they come for you, will there be anybody left to defend you?

Over 200 children imprisoned in the building shown in the first picture. Children. What sort of terror are they expected to perpetrate? These are not all Mexicans. Many come from other countries. Some may even be legal immigrants. The thing is, we don't KNOW. The prisoners have no due process, no court-appointed lawyer, no rights at all, because the right wingers have been brainwashing us into thinking they are derelicts that suck our lifeblood, when, in reality, they give much more than they take.

When they come for you, who will be left to defend you?

I Can't Put Down The Confession

"G...And I kept thinking, what the hell do I do with the body? And thinking I killed my wife. Thinking--thinking my life was over."

"What the hell do I do with the body?" Well, gee, Stephen, wouldn't the time to think about that have been BEFORE you strangled her?

"...thinking I killed my life was over." What about HER LIFE, Stephen? Does it not occur to you that HER LIFE was a valuable as yours? Damn it, man, you were supposed to LOVE her. That means that her life should be more important to you than your own. What about your children? It's of no matter to you that you have left them motherless? I suppose Verena, who was "great with the children" was supposed to be their "new mommy?" You had already moved her into "your" bedroom. That may be a record in the "movin' on" department, beaten only by Henry VIII!

Damn, you are such a self-delusional piece of garbage! I still wish she could have slapped you harder!

Oops...I Almost Missed This...

On page 10:

"G And that was it. She stopped moving. I went downstairs and I started crying. I was worried, really worried. I sent Verena a text message not to come home."

Crying?? He's crying?? Oh, cry me a river! He's worried, too. Not only worried, but "really worried." So, what does he do? Call 911? She could have been saved it they had got there fast enough. Nope! Our Stevie text messages Verena, the au pair, telling her not to come home. He goes on, after saying that he and Verena had been texting back and forth:

"G I knew--I knew she couldn't come home. I knew if Verena, if she came home she would see stuff."

"She would see stuff." He said there was no blood. He had not yet put the body in the SUV--he hadn't done anything. At this point, Tara was still lying on the floor in the master bathroom. How much access did Verena have to the master bathroom? In a normal household, not a lot, except for cleaning, which certainly would not be happening at 11:00 PM on a Friday night. Or, by "she would see stuff," did he mean that she would see his sin writ large all over his face? "Stuff" is such a vague word.

And then, the story starts to get funny, in a sick, black humour kind of a way.

He has just finished loading Tara's remains into the back of her SUV, and covering in her with a truck bed liner. He is in the garage, stark naked in the Michigan winter, and he hears a garage door opener engage the door. It's Verena, coming home. He has to hightail it back upstairs to get into some jammies before she comes in. Can't you just see him, scampering up the stairs, heart pounding, to get some clothes on before the girl gets inside? I wonder if he took a moment to splash cold water on his face to try and disguise the remains of the tears.

What a revolting piece of shit!

The more I read of this confession, the more I despise this sorry excuse for a man.

More on the Grant Confession

G...I said something about Lou and her, and then she slapped me and I hit her back and she fell toward the bathroom. I don't know what--I heard something hit. I don't know if she hit her head on the wall, on the floor, but it wasn't--she was knocked for a loop. That's when she started saying shit, right at me. It was venomious [sic]. That's it, I'm done. I can ruin your life now.

During this telling, that he grabbed her arm is conveniently forgotten. And, "SHE hit her head." "SHE was knocked for a loop." As if Tara did these things on purpose, just to further annoy her killer. And then, THEN, she had the temerity to start to be "saying shit, right at [him]."

This man married a strong woman; a "go-getter." Now that he has started slapping her around, he seems aggrieved that she is not just lying, sobbing, on the floor, begging him to stop and promising to throw away her lucrative career to come home and be a clerk at the 7-11 where he could keep an eye on her.

As Heinlein said, "Never frighten a little man. He'll kill you." Threatening to "ruin" Stephen's life was the last straw. He was frightened. He killed her.

I wish I could copy and paste from the pdf, as transcribing it is getting a bit tiresome. If you start reading on page 49, about halfway down, and continue on to page 50, he tells over again, how he killed her. This time, he includes that he accused her of having an affair with her co-worker.

Which brings us to Verena.

When asked by the detective, "What was your relationship with Verena before February 9th," he says:

"We were friends. We became close friends. We kissed one night."

When will these guys ever get a quarter for the clue phone? He and Verena were not "friends," they were employer and employee. "Friends" implies a much more equal relationship than that of a 19-year-old girl employed to look after the children of a 37-year-old man.

When asked, "What happened after February 9th?" he says,

"She--she thought that Tara had left. She thought we could do whatever we wanted. A lot of nights I slept in her room. I needed someone to hang on to."

That just makes me cry big tears and play the violin for the pity party! Who told her Tara had left? Who told her they could do "whatever" they "wanted?" Who was all scared and lonesome because he strangled his wife on the bathroom floor with underwear over her face so he didn't have to look at her while he did it?

(Pardon me while I spew chunks.)

A bit further down page 57, K asks Stephen: "Verena....didn't know that you killed Tara?"

And he answers,

"She had no clue."

K says, "...your relationship was sexual at this point."

Stephen says, "We never actually had sex..." and again, "We never had intercourse--" and later, "She slept in my room." There's something in there where the detective asks if they had oral sex, but there are so many "unintelligibles" that I can't safely interpret what was actually said. But this stood out to me:

"She slept in my room."

Let's think about that. He moves Verena into the bedroom that he had shared with his wife, referring to it as "my room." Apparently, no thought was given to the possibility that the children might come scampering in at dawn.

What a scummer!

"K Do you think Tara knew about you and Verena?

G No way. Tara wouldn't have had a clue."

Tara would have "no clue" about Verena, and Verena would have "no clue" about his having killed Tara. He thinks women are pretty clueless, doesn't he?

Sounds as if there might have been more going on than Stephen "wanting to kiss" Verena, doesn't it?

So this guy is basically boffing the au pair (or wanting to) very least, doing SOMETHING inappropriate with her, while his wife is away at work. He kills his wife, and moves the au pair into his bed. Of course, the whole thing is his wife's fault.

This is sounding like something from a Gothic novel!

If you don't know what that is, google it!
Candlelight Vigil

200 Children in Prison

Sunday April 15 - 6:30 - 8:30 PM

Corrections Corp of America
T. Don Hutto Residential Center

1001 Welch St.
Taylor, Texas

Directions: North on I-35, turn right on Hwy 79. Go 15 miles.Enter Taylor on State Loop 427 (W. 2nd St.) (don't take the 79 bypass)Go 2 blocks and turn right on Sloan.Cross the tracks and turn left on Welch.Go 5 blocks to the prison.
There has been a march going on since Friday--some intrepid souls have walked from the Capitol in Austin, and will arrive at the prison (pardon me, "Residential Center") in time for the vigil.
There are CHILDREN in there. It is very difficult to find out how many or who they are, or, indeed, who saw fit to put them there. These people, not being citizens, have no access to "due process." The gubmint owes them nothing. No disclosure, no legal representation, nothing.
Ask yourself this:
Who is next?
People who don't go to church?
Gays and Lesbians?
People who wear turbans?
How long will it be until they get around to you?
See You There!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More Musings on the Grant Confession

Here's the link, again:

I'm not going to go through and count all the times he says "I." I'll leave that to some other sort of analyst. I just like to point out things that seem significant to me.

G She said, "I got to do what I have to do in my job and it's none of your business." So she started to turn around and I grabbed her wrist and--stop, I said. "Just stop it." I said, "you're not going anywhere. We're gonna finish this conversation," and she slapped me.

And a bit later:

G She started to get back up when I put my hand on her neck. She kept saying that--that it was over, that she was going to take the kids and because I hit her, that was it. And I said, no, you hit me first, and she said it doesn't matter. She said, "cops aren't gonna think like that--I'm calling the police." I put my hands on her neck and choked her.

I hear this a lot from guys who hit their wives and girlfriends. "She hit me first!" Like an average third-grader. "She hit me first!"

This disregards the fact that he was, by his own admission, the first to lay hands on her.

"I grabbed her wrist..."

But "grabbing" is supposedly OK.

Of course, the whole argument is specious. No matter the provocation, short of a threat to his life, there is no justification whatsoever for a man to hit a woman. It's that whole Superior Upper Body Strength (SUBS) thing, you know? I could slap a man as hard as I can, and perhaps rock him back on his heels a bit, but, if he slapped me back, putting as much into it as I had, he would knock me across the room and through the sheet rock.

Why do the little darlings think we ask them to open the pickle jars, anyway? SUBS.

Stephen Grant remembers in great detail what Tara said to him, complete with curse words. He seems a bit fuzzy in the matter of what he said to her, though. He is trying to use her cursing at him as an excuse for his actions. That works no better than the argument that she slapped him.

I'm sure that several million people who have read this confession wish she had slapped him a lot harder. Hard enough for him to fall and hit his head on something and be unconscious long enough for her to gather up the children and get out of there.

Stephen Grant's Confession

The above link is to a pdf file of Stephen Grant's confession. 66 pages of things that make you want to beat the man about the head with a band saw blade.

It is full of "Poor me, poor me."

Just a couple of things:

"M Were you looking at her face?

G No, I covered her face up.

M What did you cover her face up with?

G With a pair--with gray underwear or a gray t-shirt."

This piece of garbage covered his wife's face up with underwear out of a laundry pile on the bathroom floor so he wouldn't have to look at her while he strangled her!

Then, he put a leather belt around her neck and dragged her body down the stairs, because she was too heavy to carry.

He claims to have been stark naked when he did this! And, of course, it was all her fault:

"G I was undressed and I--I was ready to go to bed and it just kept getting worse and worse and when she smacked me, I--I lost it...."


"G Yeah, yeah, not just the travel, though the--everything--Tara had--as long as I can remember she belittled me and--and her one way--she knew--she knew if she hit me, I'd hit her back."


"G Um and I dropped her. She was too hard to pick up and the belt slipped or broke. And she fell, and it was the most disgusting--and, it sounded like dropping a watermelon [on] the cement."

He does return to that part of the crime several times in the sixty-six pages of confession. I think that may have been the point when it all became real for him. When he dropped her body, trying to put it in the back of her SUV, and her head hit the garage floor.

Imagine. He is standing there, stark naked, in the Michigan garage, trying to load his wife's body into an SUV, the au pair is due back home any minute, and he drops Tara. Her head hits the floor with a sickening thud. He had known she was dead, but now he knows in a visceral way. She is dead. He has killed her. At one point he says, "My life is over."

I just want to smack him and say, "What about Tara's life? You're still alive to moan about it, you scum!"

I can see a really sick, black-humoured movie being made about this story, eventually. According to the document, he left her body in the SUV from Friday night until Sunday morning, trying to figure out what to do with her. Sunday, he put her in the plastic tub and took her to his dad's metal shop, where he tried to cut her up with a hand saw. A HAND SAW! That didn't work, so he got a band saw blade, broke it up into pieces by crushing it in a vise, and wrapped one end of each piece so he could hold it while he cut his wife's body up. The torso was too big, so he just wrapped the pieces two or three to a bag, and put her torso in another bag...of course, he took clear plastic bags to put the pieces in. When he's done with that, he stuffed all the pieces back into the storage tub and took it all home. It took him till the middle of the night to come up with the idea of putting her out in the snow, and he did so, putting her torso in one spot, and the rest of the pieces and the sled in another. That was after the sled got away from him, down a hill, and the tub fell off, scattering its contents. This all occurred in the dead of night.

He then went home, watched some TV with the kids, and went back to the disposal area. Once there, he dispersed the body parts in and under trees. He had taken a gallon-size zipper baggie with him and stuffed the latex gloves and all the plastic garbage bags in which Tara's body parts had been wrapped, and hid that, too. (That must be what the woman found that gave the police probable cause to get a warrant to search the house.)

He was beginning to think he had got away with it when it got to be over a week later and nothing had happened. He had even been arrested on an unrelated charge and questioned about his wife's disappearance. However, nine days after he spread his wife's remains around the snowy, frozen park, the sheriff announced that his department was going to search it.

In a panic, Stephen again returned to the scene. On foot because his mom was at the house with the children, and he didn't want her to hear him drive off in the dark of a February morning. He found Tara's torso, and hid it closer to where he could get it in her truck. Then, he ran home, gave his mother some cock-and-bull story and took off in Tara's SUV to retrieve his wife's frozen, clear-plastic-wrapped torso from behind a tree in a public park. This time, he took some black garbage bags. He drove home, and later, to the metal shop, where he concealed the body in an upper room. The shop office was a small space with a ceiling, and the rest of the shop was two storeys. He put her on top of the office.

Several days passed. The search of the park revealed nothing, but the remains were thawing in the metal shop. Stephen got another plastic storage bin, and removed the body to the garage again, where it was found in the search of the home the following day.

That was when he attempted "suicide by frostbite," as Loretta characterized it (aptly, I thought), by stumbling through the North Michigan woods, stoned on painkillers and drunk on whisky. He wanted to be found dead. He didn't want his remains to suffer the same fate he decreed for his wife.

This was a horrific crime, and I certainly don't mean to make light of it, but someday, somebody like Tarentino is going to make a sick but darkly humourous movie out of it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Banshee Drools

Meet Banshee. He drools. He kneads and drools.
With Jim, he's a very good bed cat. He just curls up with him, and purrs himself off to sleep.
With me, not so much. I go to bed, and settle down with my down comforter pulled up to my shoulder, and my head snuggled into my two pillows, and my sigh of relaxation.
Then, out of nowhere, this large cat lands on my hip with a huge THUMP. He is not graceful. It feels as if he is dropping from the light fixture, but I know that is an illusion.
Before he has actually landed, the first drop of drool hits the comforter. He kneads his way up to my neck, where he can actually find skin. I pull the comforter up to my ears. His kneading claws sound so loud on the tightly woven cotton. He is purring wetly by this time, and the covers near my head are wet. A drop of drool runs onto my pillow. I turn the pillow over, and the next drop runs down my neck. I push him off, but he comes back.
I feel something cold and wet in my ear. Yep. You guessed it. He has drooled in my ear.
He saves all this love for me.
I feel so special.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why Small Children Run Screaming

A small section of creepy masks. Notice hanging racks above, and standing racks below.
Wigs. The entire front end of the building has these heads hanging from the ceiling, trailing great hanks of hair.
More assorted ugliness. People ask us if we "do" birthday parties. Can you imagine? When you go in, it's about 2000 square feet of racks of clothing, topped with shelves of masks. More racks hang from the ceiling, along with hundreds of wigs. The upper walls are festooned with hats of all sorts. It's a maze back there, and wherever you raise your eyes, there are more and more thoroughly ugly masks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Getting Old

One by one, things go by the wayside.

My waist, for starters!

I used to be a blonde. My hair gradually darkened, but I didn't notice, because I was out in the sun a lot, riding a bike to and from work in all weather. That kept the top layer of hair pretty well sun-streaked, and I just didn't look at much else. Then, I got a car. That's probably where my waist went, too. All that driving and no more biking and walking. Of course, quitting smoking seems to have had quite an effect on the waistline situation.

So, now I've got dumpy, and my hair has darkened to a nondescript shade of blackish-brown, with a goodly dollop of grey. All I can say is, "Come on, grey!"

My hearing is definitely going. All those loud concerts I went to back in the 70s, I guess.

Now, I need trifocals. Right now, I'm switching glasses. I have one pair that works for close work and distance, and another for the computer. It wouldn't be so bad, except that the first pair makes me feel 2 feet tall, and all this changing of height makes me dizzy.

Could somebody please tell me how, at an age when I'm supposed to be running short of calcium, my body appears to have enough reserves of the chalky stuff to put it in odd places, like the first joint of my right forefinger, and the bone at the base of my big toe?

So, thanks to the lack of a waist, I'm wearing baggy clothes. Thanks to the lump on my toe, my beautiful 9 West three-button, hourglass heeled black patent leather shoes are no more. Reebok stopped making my style of tennies--called The Classic, in case anyone cares. They have replaced that model with The Princess, and I've had a lot of shoe sales people tell me they're the same.

They're not.

I wear what I call "Croc-offs." The cheap Payless version of the now-famous Crocs. They are squishy and soft, and have support where I need it, and don't crowd my toes. I have several pairs--one without holes for rainy days and dressy occasions.

I hope they bring out a formal model soon.

Must We Be Naive?

He's all you've ever dreamed of! He brings you flowers. He takes you out to eat. He buys you clothes, jewelry, perfume. He writes loving emails. You spend hours on IM and the phone. He picks you up at work. He charms everyone who is important to you. Your dog loves him. Your cat, not so much.

In this day and age, with the internet, and all, there's no excuse for not finding out about him before you get in too deep. Find out as much as you can from him--his full name, SSI, Drivers' license number, birth date. You may have to do a bit of judicious wallet-snooping when he's in the shower. With that information, you can find out a lot. Criminal record. Credit score. Marital status. All very important things to know.

It's a shame that we need to be suspicious of those we are falling in love with, and I know it would normally be the last thing on our minds.


Some of my mother's expressions apply here.

Better safe than sorry.

A stitch in time saves nine.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

I'll tell you what--a bit of sneaky caution now can save you a hell of a lot of trouble later.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Seventeen Years Ago Today

Jimmy and I walked from our apartment over to the nearby grocery store to pick up a few things. There was a cold north wind. It was about 10 at night.

The traditional thing happened. While standing in line in the checkout, my water broke, and I was a mess. I told Jimmy, "I'm going outside." It seemed to take him forever to come out of the store, and, meanwhile, I was all wet, freezing, very self-conscious, and did I mention freezing? And we still had to walk home.

Once home, Jimmy called his family, and the babysitter, and we grabbed the pre-packed bag and headed for the hospital.

Jimmy's family celebrates births, so both his parents and two or three sisters were there, as well as my babysitter with the girls, who were 12 and 8 at the time. It was a party!

However, the fetal monitor told a non-party story. The baby's heart rate was dropping during contractions, as expected, but it wasn't coming back up. Time for the doctor to come in.

My doctor looked like Sherman Helmsley, and had large amounts of gold hanging off him. bracelets, rings, neck chains--he looked like a refugee from the 70's rather than a successful obstetrician in 1990. We had a good relationship. When we realized that a successful birth would require a Caesarian section, he asked me if I would prefer a general or spinal anesthetic. I chose to be awake when my son was born. I have never regretted that.

Now, 17 years later, I have this lanky blond, handsome son, who makes me proud of him each and every day.

Happy Birthday, Brendan!

Cora Lynne Williams

Here is my Eighth Grade Class. Cora Lynne is on the right end of the second row. There are a lot of kids in this class whose names I do not remember, but she is not one of them.

We were neighbours that year. She was a bit older in years, but not much. In life experience, though, she was the most sophisticated girl I knew. She used to tell outrageous stories about sneaking out with boyfriends. She knew how to set her hair with brush rollers, and taught me. She even gave me a perm. She also introduced me to the sophisticated world of cigarette smoke. To be fair, though my first adventures in smoking were with Cora Lynne, it was another four years before I started to smoke in earnest.

She taught me what words not to say in class. I came from a parochial school, and was the most naive 8th grader in the history of the world, I swear. Who knew that "cock" had another meaning besides "rooster?" Cora Lynne did, that's who. Well, to be fair, everybody did, except me. Cora Lynne told me about it, though, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Her family home was almost a small farm, and I felt very much at home there, as I had spent so much time at the farm connected with the parochial school I attended from 4th to 7th grade.

Anyway, she comes to mind today because I just got an email from her. She found my profile at Classmates dot com, and left me a message.

I am so thrilled to hear from her. She still lives in Chemainus, and knows that town like I know Round Rock. Better, probably, because she and her former husband were in the building trade there.

Thanks for getting in touch, Cora Lynne!

We have a lot to catch up on.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Wedding Meme--From The Marshalogues

Heh. Lifted this from Marsha at:

Where/How did you meet?
At the Sam Bass Community Theater, though it was called the Sam Bass Theater Association back in those bygone days. I was auditioning for "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean," which was Jim's Sam Bass directorial debut. My second show, EVER.

How long have you known each other?
Twenty-three years.

How long after you met did you start dating?
Thirteen years. He was married, I was married, we were friends. We stayed friends for all those years. About five years after we met, Jim and his wife were divorced. I remember my heart sinking when he told me. I realized that I loved him, but, having been friends all those years, I was involved with another. SSS and I had gone our separate ways about a year after I first met Jim. We did not actually start "dating" for another eight years.

How long did you date before you were engaged?
Two years. In the summer of 1999, Jim and his mother took a trip to Alaska, and he proposed soon after they returned. He asked me, and actually looked as if there might be some doubt as to whether or not I would accept. Fat chance! He asked, and now he is stuck with me, for ever and ever and ever...

How long was your engagement?
Ten months.

How long have you been married?
Nearly seven years.

What is your anniversary?
June 11th, like Jim's parents and grandparents.

How many people came to your wedding reception?
Somewhere around twenty.

What kind of cake did you serve?
A white one. Very pretty. Thank you, Rachel, for doing that for us!

Where was your wedding?
Wedding Island, on the River Walk in San Antonio. We took a bow after the ceremony because the passengers on a passing tour boat gave us a round of applause.

What did you have for your meal?
We had reserved a room at our favourite River Walk Mexican restaurant, Casa Rio. It was a terrific meal, but don't let those people serve you their house champagne.

How many people were in your bridal party?
One Groom's Man, and two Bride's Maids.

Are you still friends with them all?
Yes. The Bride's Maids were my daughters, and the Groom's Man lives in Colorado.

Did your spouse cry during the ceremony?
I was too misty to notice.

Most special moment of your Wedding Day?
When I looked into Jim's eyes and said my vows.

Any funny moments?
Jim's ex-sister-in-law welcoming me to the family made me smile.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We didn't actually go on a honeymoon, as leaving Addy alone was not an option at that point in her life.

If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change?
I would not stay in a bed and breakfast. Those people were a bit stuffy, and seemed to expect quiet during the night. Plus, they didn't serve any biscuits and gravy.

Which side of the bed do you sleep on?
I sleep on my husband's left.

What size is your bed?
Normally, we have a California King size, but at present we are sleeping in a double. Don't ask.

Greatest strength as a couple?
We love each other.

Greatest challenge as a couple?
Neither of us likes to manage money.

Who literally pays the bills?
I do. Most of them are on autopay, but those that aren't, I pay.

What is your song?
We don't have one.

What did you dance your first dance to?
That hasn't happened yet.

Describe your wedding dress.
Ivory lace Gunne Sax, circa 1979. High neck, flounce around the shoulders which came down to the elbows and waist. Ankle-length gathered skirt. It cost $40 at the Antique Mall.

What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding?
Roses. Big, old-fashioned roses. Armfuls of them. Thanks to Rachel for that, too. She told me she could get them for $50, and there were many more of them than I thought there would be.

Are your wedding bands engraved?
Jim can't wear a ring. Mine is a rose gold band, purchased at the Antique Mall. It is engraved "G. G. 1882." I often wonder who G. G. was. I hope she loved my ring as much as I do.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

My Kind of Book List

Unashamedly ripped off from Baboon Pirates:

"Following Elisson's lead, if you want to play, boldface the titles that you’ve read.I'm going to add a twist, though. I dislike this kind of list, because it doesn't take into account anything else you may have read by that author.So, underneath each selection, add any additional titles you've read by the author listed. You can tell the ones on the list because they'll have the author's name in parentheses after the title, and the added books will not.I've taken the liberty of grouping together books by the same author, where they previously had been scattered throughout the list. That's just sloppy listmaking, IMHO.Oh, yeah... Seeing the movie or owning the Cliff's Notes DOES NOT COUNT!!!Verstehen sie, mein herrings? Go to it!"

I've added a few that I remembered while reading the list, so my list is bigger than your list, Capitan!

And no Heinlein on your list?

Stranger In A Strange Land (Robert A. Heinlein)
Podkayne of Mars
The Cat Who Walked Through Walls
I Will Fear No Evil
~~et al
The Crystal Cave (Mary Stewart)
The Hollow Hills
The Last Enchantment
The Wicked Day
Airs Above the Ground
Le Mort d'Arthur (Thomas Malory)
The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)

Angels and Demons
Emma (Jane Austen)
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
~~and others
To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (J. R. R. Tolkien)
LOTR: The Two Towers
LOTR: The Return of the King
The Hobbit
The SilmarillionThe Book Of Lost Tales Vols. 1 & 2
Unfinished Tales
Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)
Anne of Windy Poplars
~~and others
Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
Dragonfly In Amber
Drums of Autumn
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
The Fiery Cross
A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (J. K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
The World According To Garp (John Irving)
The Hotel New Hampshire
Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
The Stand (Stephen King)
’Salem’s Lot
Night Shift
The Dead Zone
Needful Things
Pet Sematery
Different Seasons
Skeleton Crew
The Green Mile
Hearts in Atlantis
From a Buick 8
~~and others
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)
The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
Little Men
Jo's Boys
Eight Cousins
Under the Lilacs
The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
The Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe and Everything
So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish
Mostly Harmless
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Horse and His Boy
The Magician's Nephew
The Last Battle
Out of the Silent Planet
That Hideous Strength
The Screwtape Letters
East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
Of Mice And Men
The Red Pony
Tortilla Flat
The Grapes of Wrath
The Pearl
Cannery Row
Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
The Five People You Meet In Heaven
Dune (Frank Herbert)
Dune Messiah
Children of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse: Dune
The Dragon in the Sea
The Santaroga Barrier
The Dosadi Experiment
The Jesus Incident
The White Plague
The Lazarus Effect
The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
The Fountainhead
We the Living
1984 (George Orwell)
Animal Farm
The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
Eye of the Needle
The Key to Rebecca
On Wings of Eagles
Lie Down with Lions
Night Over Water
The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
She’s Come Undone
The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
The Valley of Horses
The Mammoth Hunters
The Plains of Passage
The Shelters of Stone
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
The Bible (OK, big chunks of it, anyway...)
Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
War and Peace
The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)(in French)
The Three Musketeers
Twenty Years After
The Vicomte of Bragelonne aka The Man In The Iron Mask
Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
Great Expectations Oliver Twist
Nicholas Nickleby
A Christmas Carol
David Copperfield
Bleak House
Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
Red Prophet
Alvin Journeyman
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
The Brothers Karamazov
A day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Alexander Solzhentzin)
Gulag Archipelago
Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
The Vampire Lestat
The Queen of the Damned
The Tale of the Body Thief
Memnoch the Devil
The Vampire Armand
The Witching Hour
The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned
Servant of the Bones
Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Márquez)
One Hundred Years Of Solitude
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
Something Happened
Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
Bridget Jones’s Diary (Helen Fielding)
Shogun (James Clavell)
King Rat
Noble House
The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
In The Skin Of A Lion
The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
Charlotte’s Web (E. B. White)
Stuart Little
The Elements of Style
Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
Watership Down (Richard Adams)
Plague Dogs
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
Blindness (Jose Saramago)
Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
~and others
Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
~~and others
The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
The Matarese Countdown
The Road to Omaha
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne Supremacy
The Aquitaine Progression
The Parsifal Mosaic
The Matarese Circle
The Holcroft Covenant
The Chancellor Manuscript
The Gemini Contenders
The Road to Gandolfo
The Rhinemann Exchange
The Matlock Paper
The Osterman Weekend
The Scarlatti Inheritance
The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)
That Was Then, This Is Now
Rumble Fish
White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
Ulysses (James Joyce)