Saturday, November 29, 2008

It Was Falbalous

I'm back from a whirlwind one-day visit with my brother at his home in "Falba." It was a great visit and included these experiences, among others:

  • Wandering around a neighbor's 150 acre spread in my brother's old Jeep CJ5
  • Wandering back roads near said 150 acres and visiting with another neighbor who was driving a 2005 Jeep Wrangler
  • Driving into Huntsville for money, food, and liquor
  • Driving my brother's old Ford F150 pickup around the 150 acres looking for the neighbor when the neighbor hadn't answered his cell phone for several hours
  • Meeting up with yet another neighbor on a 4-wheeler after finding the missing neighbor
  • Having an enormous mass of tacos with the 150 acre neighbor and neighbor's girlfriend
  • Starting the day today with coffee, a visit to the same neighbor, and a ride in neighbor's truck around his acreage's bottom land to look for wild hogs and a dead cow
  • A breakfast of fabulous bacon, fried eggs, and pico de gallo
  • Blue-skying and brainstorming things to do with the winnings of a huge lottery
  • Getting instructions on making venison stew and fried venison steak, complete with the frozen venison to go with it.
  • Learning about the work of a poet (Don Blanding) from the early to mid 20th century that my brother stumbled upon and liked.
  • Deciding I, too, like the poet's rhyming work, especially this poem:


    Do not carve on stone or wood,
    "He was honest" or "He was good."
    Write in smoke on a passing breeze
    Seven words... and the words are these,
    Telling all that a volume could,
    "He lived, he laughed and... he understood."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Tonight, I watched No Country for Old Men. The gratuitous violence and senseless killings should be a warning to us and should give us a reason to try to prevent life from replicating art, the way art has, unfortunately, replicated life.

I'm not amused by the film, but I'm shaken by it.

Look, A Lert

It's 3:25 a.m. and I've been up for an hour and a half. I don't have a clue why. I just woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. And I felt totally awake. So, I got up and turned on the television to see what's on at this ungodly hour.

The major network channels have paid programming. One channel promises that, for only $25, I can become an independent business person, selling cheap imported crap at parties I host. Another channel claims that, if I buy a book for just $24.95, I can reduce my credit card interest rates from where they are now (30% they say) to just 3 or 4 percent, simply by following the instructions in the book and investing an hour of my time.

So, I turn away from the major networks. CNN insists on telling me, over and over again, that the attacks on Mumbai are going to change the way the world's counter-terrorism efforts are structured. A foodie channel shows me how commercially prepared hams are prepared and smoked. Another foodie channel has Rachel Ray extolling the virtues of a place I think is called Chino Latino in Minneapolis. HGTV or one of its twins explains how a simple jig can make the job of squaring a board very easy. Another twin is showing the painstakingly slow process of relocating a large house across a pasture to its new permanent "home."

My desire to learn what's on late-night television now sated, I turn to food and drink here at the house. I'm not really interested in yet another alcoholic drink after having something much earlier, but there's no much else besides water. Well, water it will be, then, since I just don't feel like liquor, etc. What about food? There's nothing quite right to snack on, at least nothing that appeals to me at this hour. I've read several articles in the latest Food & Wine magazine, each of which has pumped up my interest in eating, but I'm not interested in getting dressed and driving out to find a store that is not only open at this hour but is stocked with the kinds of pears, onions, and lamb I would need for one of the more appealing recipes.

What does one do at this hour, then? I'd like to read more, but I can barely get through the recipes, much less actually settle down with a book, until I get a new prescription and new glasses. I can't play loud music because I don't want to wake my wife (and the neighbors). So, I blog about being up and alert at, now, 3:41 a.m.

OK, at 4:00 a.m. I will try to go back to sleep. And then, at 11:30, it's off to the Canary Cafe for a Mediterranean version of Thanksgiving luncheon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thank You for The Stinking Holiday Spirit

I don't know whether I'm just a stingy som' bitch who doesn't deserve a thank you or my employees are ingrates. Or maybe both.

I had intended to close up shop about 2:30 or 3 today, but things got in the way. So, it was 4:00 pm before I announced that everyone should go home after they wrapped up anything important. "Happy Thanksgiving and here's an extra hour," I said to them. I heard one verbal expression of thanks. But mostly I heard the door open and close as they scrambled to leave. No "thank you" or "happy Thanksgiving" or "it's about time." Nothing.

I may not need appreciation, but I want it when I go beyond what's required and give a little more than I must. I don't expect people to bow and scrape and express heartfelt devotions, but a fucking "thanks for the hour" would be nice on occasion. Depending on the payscale, it's like I handed them between $30 and $50 when salary and benefits are thrown in. Yet they don't think it's appropriate to say "thank you" for that. Maybe they don't know. Maybe they weren't taught. I'm not going to teach them. Next time, I should just pocket the $50 and send them home early without pay.

"Happy Thanksgiving," I will say sweetly.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thoughts on Family

Thanksgiving never was a religious holiday for me. It was never a day to give thanks to some master of the universe who dispensed goodness and to whom we all should be grateful. But I "got" the meaning of Thanksgiving, in the secular sense, despite the fact that my family was never one to do much beyond partake in the edible traditions. Turkey and dressing and masses of foods of all kinds were the center of the celebration, even though in our deeply unexpressive hearts I think we all truly appreciated the family we were and knew that's what this tradition was all about. We celebrated being a family and having one another, though we wouldn't verbalize it.

My childhood family is widely dispersed now and it's hard to simply come together, much less recapture that feeling of belonging that was palpable when I was a child. We're rarely together and even when we are, there are too many years of being apart and too many divergent experiences to get through for us to really be a family anymore.

My parents are long gone and there is stress and strain in the relationships between some of my siblings, including me. It's a heartbreaker to realize that family was a fleeting thing and that, once grown, our family morphed into a group of related, but disconnected, people, some of whom are ill at ease with others and don't understand one another and, from the look of things sometimes, don't want to.

I'm still close to several siblings, though apparently I've been discarded by one or two for reasons I can't begin to fathom. But that sense of family is tenuous for many people nowadays.

So, this Thanksgiving Day, my wife and I will eat a traditional family meal at a not-so-traditional restaurant. One sister will eat a Thanksgiving meal prepared by a church and shared with folks whose fortunes are slim and who can use a helping hand. One brother will go hunting with friends. The other two brothers and another sister? I don't know. They won't break bread together, since they're scattered about from Texas to Mexico to California. The niece and nephews similarly will be strewn about the country, enjoying grandparents or extended families or friends or, possibly, their own company.

That's the way families in our society tend to spread apart. And then, as time takes its toll, one by one people grown infirm or die and the ones left behind wish and worry that they didn't take the time and extend the effort to be together for that "one last time."

I wonder if the dispersal of the extended family and the creation of millions of familial diaspora have contributed to the existence of a society whose members often are distant and disconnected and lonely. I guess that won't be a subject of conversaton around my family's Thanksgiving Day meal this year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gruel: It's What's for Lunch

It's looking less likely that a trip to Strawn is in the cards today. It's 120 miles one-way to Strawn and it's now 10:26 a.m.

Why do I let myself get all excited about such things?

I guess I won't have chicken-fried steak for lunch today. Maybe a nice cold bowl of watered-down gruel is what I deserve today for being so greedy in my lust for CFS.


Like a crack addict who knows the drug is bad and dangerous but can't stop using, I have a dependency issue with chicken-fried steak. There are dozens of reasons not to eat meat and just as many more not to eat meat dredged in flour and fried in oil. But I can't stop myself. Even the cholesterol police and cardiac squad haven't been able to dampen my lust for CFS. I've to the conclusion that,as Leonard Cohen says, "there ain't no cure, there ain't no cure, there ain't no cure for love." And I LOVE chicken-fried steak. At least I love truly wonderful, magic-laden CFS.

And, if an acquaintence is right, I'm going to have some wonderful CFS today. Unless something unexpected or unnatural or unwelcome comes my way, I'm driving to Strawn, Texas to try a chicken-fried steak at Mary's Cafe. I've never been there, but a guy I spent some time with early this week claims it's the best chicken-fried steak in Texas. And he claims to be a connoisseur of CFS.

He does have some credentials. He rides a huge Harley-Davidson motorcycle, on which he's put 54,000 miles in the last three years, wandering around the back roads of Texas, checking out diners and the like. He says he's eaten chicken-fried steak at hundreds of places all over the state. And he says Mary's is the best.

My personal favorite, thus far, is Ranchman's Cafe in Ponder, just north of Fort Worth. Their chicken-fried steak is, in my view, a nirvana-equivalent.

Maybe I won't even be able to get to Strawn today. That depends in large part on whether my wife has other plans.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Autobiographical Burgery and Such

If you were here over the last couple of days and saw some of my attempts at writing purposive, deliberate fiction, you know why I don't like to share my rough work early, if ever. It's lacking in several fundamental ways and it takes me a very long time to make it right, the way I want to see it. So, I've once again decided to pull off the most recent pieces and rework them, publishing them later in another place that won't conflict with and compare unfavorably to the drivel I typically post on here. If you're really interested in reading them, let me know and give me an email address and I'll see to it that you are among the first to know when I consider what I've written to be worthy of any audience. My email address: kneeblood AT

Next week is Thanksgiving and we have no idea what we're going to do, aside from work the first three days. A local restauranteur with Mediterranean roots sent me an email, encouraging me to have turkey with a distinct flare at his place. We may do that, or we may wander the countryside in search of something tasty.

We probably won't stay home because the kitchen faucet revealed yesterday that it has been leaking for a very long time and has ruined the fibreboard base of the cabinet under the sink, soaking everything we store there. I'll spend at least part of the holiday ripping out cabinetry and hoping it can be replaced and repaired by someone more skilled than I. And, of course, we'll need a new faucet and, while we're at it, should get a new sink. We may go overboard and get new countertops while we're at it, but I'm afraid the cost may dissuade me from doing that.

In the meantime, of course, there will be little use of the kitchen, so we'll depend on Chinese delivery (last night), frozen pizza, carry-out Indian, visits to a favorite Thai place, a visit to a burger joint or two, and other such expensive options.

There's more to tell, but no more energy to tell it. Later I'll regale readers with more, possibly even more interesting, information.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Today, as I was ripping north along I-35 near Eddy, Texas (just over half-way between Temple and Waco, I glanced down at my odometer and noticed this: I quickly pulled over to the side of the road so I could capture this momentous moment for posterity. One hundred seventy-five THOUSAND miles! The old blue bastard has served me reasonably well from the first day I took him home from the dealer, spanking new and sparkling. Sure, I've spent enough on his upkeep and repairs to have funded my retirement, but he's been reliable all the way through.

I say all of this as a preface to my real feelings about the Bastard: he needs to be replaced with a young stud, something quick like me (that didn't come out quite right). I need a car with a sense of urgency akin to mine. After all, if I'm going to become a mid-fifties thrill throbber, I need something that will appeal to the dull-witted big-breasted, young sex machines that will try and fail to demonstrate that it's not the thought that counts, it's the cup size.

My earlier considerations of a Honda Element and Subaru Forrester are not looking so attractive now. Maybe a Ford Mustang with seats that recline fully and give off a throaty growl as they are reclining. Or, perhaps a big, beefy Corvette with a convertible top and seductive shift-knob.

I can picture it now: I walk up to a twenty-something woman who has just been poured into a very tight pair of jeans and 36D bikini top that has been reconstructed to just cover a 48EEE package. I put on my best 30-something smirk and say, "Care to take a slow ride in my fast car?" I smile a lewd, lascivious smile, instantly revealing my carnal intentions to this young and easy target.

"Oh, gee, uh, I'm like giving my boyfriend, Apollo, a birthday present tonight. He's leaving for Afghaniraqezuela tomorrow and I may never have a chance to do him again. But thanks!"

And so I set my sights on something else. Maybe 200K?

And then I think back to the train and the meal I'd prepared for someone else, someone who really didn't want a hormone-deficient hanger-on for a travelling companion. I started polishing my pen, hoping the seduction would be more successful and less expensive than the Corvette.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paying Attention

If I had been paying attention, I would have noticed the frost covering the roof of my house and the houses all around us this morning. I would have wondered why it felt so damn cold as I wandered around the house in my t-shirt and shorts and flip-flops.

If I had been paying attention, I would have realized that the howling winds that I barely noticed yesterday as I dashed from my car to the office building and back were cold winds.

But I wasn't paying attention. I've been so wrapped up in meaningless bullshit that I haven't taken the time to notice the weather changing, the house growing cold, and the need for warmer clothes. My mind has been on things that I've let take on an air of importance that they don't deserve. And the things that really are important, that really do matter, that should be experienced and savored and appreciated for all they're worth, have gone unnoticed.

Yesterday, I did take just a while to turn off the news, leave the office behind me, and try to ease my way back into being human again. After my meeting was over and I went home, I took an aimless, albeit short, drive. Instead of listening to NPR, I put a couple of John Prine CDs (Great Days: The John Prine Anthology) in the player and let his music fill the car. I don't know what it is, but some of his music hits a very sensitive spot in me; I can't help but get very emotional when I listen to it: Hello in There, It's Happening to You, The Oldest Baby in the World, Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.

Today, I get on the highway again. I'll have a solid four hours to listen to music, talk to myself, sing, and write poetry if I want. I'll probaly opt to listen. I have no way of recording anything I might "write" and no audience that I'm willing to share much of it with, anyway.

I'll be back Wednesday. Until then, I may not be in the mood for writing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Work

I won the Saturday 6:00 am bingo again yesterday. My eyes popped open well before 6:00 am and I finally got out of bed just after 6:00. But yesterday, I had to go to a client's year-end planning session all day, so I think my brain tricked itself into awakening early...if it had realized there was a workday ahead, it would have insisted on waiting for the alarm clock to have made such a horrific racket that I would have jumped out of bed just to escape the noise.

The same thing happened today. I got up before 5:45, even though I know I have to drive to Central Texas again. While this isn't, strictly speaking, work, it is to attend a meeting for a professional association on whose board I it behaves like work and treats me like work. At least this time around I don't have to turn right back around and drive home; I'll stay there through Tuesday afternoon. But then, it's back to the real world of work.

During the past week, I secured one new account, tentatively secured another, and failed to get a third. All these accounts are small.

That's my life in a nutshell this week. Work. More work. Awakening early in the hope that I'll have a quiet weekend day. Only to find more work.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wandering Around the Edges

Jeezus! This has been a wild goddamn week!

It started for me, as weeks often do, with Monday. Monday wasn't bad, though I don't remember much about it. But it couldn't have been bad.

Tuesday, I called Tammie and Torrie at Compass Bank and read them the riot act. They had called and left messages for me, trying to reach some former neighbors who left town in a hurry in July. I have no doubts that these neighbors left huge credit card debts, etc. at Compass Bank. But that's not my problem. And I don't appreciate the goddamn bank trying to involve me in locating the overextended bastards. How dare they call me and ask me to have my former neighbors call them?! A good thing on Tuesday: I got a signed contract from a new client!

Wednesday, I was busy as hell all day long, but we shut down the office (well, we answered phones) at 4:00 pm for our Open House, which was a celebration of our recent move to new office space and our 10th anniversary of being in business. I personally sent out about 110 invitations and got responses from about 75 people. The others either didn't get my email invitations or they are uncivil bastards who don't respond to RSVP emails and are, therefore, scum from the bowels of hell. About 50 said they'd be there. About 45 actually showed up. We had bought enough wine for all 45 to have had a private bottle...along with beer and softdrinks. We ended up with an unopened case of red wine (3 regular bottles and one mega-bottle of one-off red were consumed, leaving our case unopened), 8 bottles of a nice chardonnay, and 8-9 bottles of a much, much better chardonnay that tastes more like a nice New Zealand sauvignon blanc. So, we have plenty of wine for a week or two, but we are considerably poorer. Another good thing on Wednesday: I learned on a phone call that we are getting another national client as of next Wednesday (for contract signing), and physically getting the client in-house on December 1.

Thursday, I drove to Austin to pitch a prospective client. I was out of the office all day long (4 hour drive down, 4 hours back, plus 1 hour with the prospect, then an hour and a half in my office when I returned). When I got back, I worked in my office for quite awhile, then took a cold bottle of wine to Thai Tanee, where I had a very good pad kee mow and some nice cold office-party wine.

Today, I got the word on yesterday's trip: they chose someone else. Fuck! But maybe it's best, since we're going to be going nut-case bat-shit crazy just to bring the other two new one on-board.

Also during the week, I had a wild exchange of letters and bloggestry, etc. with a friend who unexpectedly seduced me, forced me to ride with her on a long and aimless train ride, and then dumped me unceremoniously in the corn fields of Nebraska, waiting in a forlorn depot for another cross-country train to take my wounded ego to a place where it could be soothed and made whole again.

Apparently she needed her space and I was taking too much of it. Fortunately for me, I met a lovely woman on the tracks, a woman who was seeking the same solace and solitude I was after. She and her sister, Mercy, were as sweet as the seasons and twice as nice.

While the sisters were comparing notes and gasping at what they had done, I was talking to an accountant who claimed our books were beautiful and our processes were perfect.

I came home right on time, then grabbed the computer for an international conference call that lasted two hours. Three of the participants were in Kuala Lumpur, one in Dublin, one in Atlanta, one in Lahore, Pakistan, and little old Dallas. Interesting call, but exasperating, nonetheless.

Enough! I must mosy back to my dreamland where I can think and slink and wander around the edges.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'll Sleep With You in Return for a Late Model Subaru

One and a half hours of testing mattresses is enough for me. Or, maybe not. I really like the Sleep Number. But maybe I like the Tempurpedic even more. Or maybe the old standard inner-spring mattress is my thing. After lots of testing, I don't have a clue. I need to actually sleep with the mattress for a few nights before I know whether we should make a long-term intimate commitment. "I'd gladly trade you a marriage tomorrow for a honeymoon tonight." Or something of that ilk.

But I already know I love the Heavenly Bed that Westin Hotels puts in their rooms. Why not just buy one of those? Well, considering the prices of some of the Tempurpedic beds I saw yesterday, the reason is the same: I could buy a well-equipped late-model car for what they want for their beds!

I know, I know, I spend a third of my life in bed, so I should pay whatever it takes to make that time as comfortable and relaxing as it can be. Easier said than done. If I want to buy a late-model Subaru Forrester, I can pay it out over five years, even more. Not so a bed.

Hmmm, there's a thought. I've heard that sleeping in a Forrester isn't that bad...

Oh, before I forget, as I write this, I have to remember to tell Isabelita Happy Birthday! tomorrow.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


It being the weekend, I had absolutely no trouble popping out of bed this morning well before 6:30. If I had arisen when I awoke, I would have been up around 5:00. But, I did not want to make a racket that early in the morning, for fear of waking my wife and risking her being in a foul mood all day. So, I lay there thinking about all sorts of odd things that, in hindsight, make no sense.

For example, I was thinking about how one could build large refrigerated warehouses out of stackable concrete cubes. Another thought that passed through my mind as I was laying in bed, waiting to get up, was that it would be fun to take a train from Chicago to San Francisco, through the Pacific Northwest, on Amtrak, getting to know the passengers and writing a set of short stories about their lives. I know where that idea came from, though. I watched Bill Moyers Journal last night and heard him talk about just such a trip he took with Studs Terkel back in the 1980s. They got paid for that...I would pay my own way by washing dishes and cleaning up train cars if I could do that.

When I finally did get up today, I spent a good hour in the kitchen, which was a bit of a disaster area after yesterday's laziness. An almost unheard-of early morning breakfast before work (eggs and turkey bacon) left skillets and plates and flatware dirty in the sink. Then, after-work laziness left more of the same in the sink. Then, perfect margaritas left salt-laden glasses and sticky shot glasses and lime juice rings on the counter. The stovetop, which has a built-in spill-attracter and quick-burn-the-spills-onto-the-stovetop-adapter, needed a team of mules to rip the burnt-on oil and such from the surface. I turned out to be the team of mules it needed, along with my side-kick, CeramaBrite. The kitchen is now so clean I would happily eat off of the counter and, in a pinch, the floor.

There was talk yesterday about taking advantage of "dollar days" tonight at the Lonestar Park racetrack, a local horseracing venue. Today, everything is one dollar: admission, parking, hot dogs, beer, everything. Tonight is the first "dollar day" of the season, so I expect it will be a madhouse of people. I personally have no interest (I wouldn't mind so much if it weren't for traffic, parking, and crowds), but I don't want to upset the applecart, so I may bite my tongue and tolerate it if there appears to be a genuine interest on my wife's part.

Because I have to make a presentation to prospective clients next Thursday in Austin, and these prospective clients are among the vestiges of a time long ago when business suits were worn to conduct business, I will try to find a suit today. I really need to have a decent suit; everyone should have one. But, it has been so long since I wore a suit that I have ignored it. If I don't succeed, I'll settle for a sport jacket and slacks, which I already have but which are old and decrepit. That may not satisfy the suits guys, but it's not a big enough client for me to invest too much time and energy. That speaks volumes about my dedication to my business, doesn't it?

There, I've satisfied myself that I can, at least, string words together to form sentences, so I'm going to stop now and make some coffee. Yes, I've been up for well over an hour and have not made any coffee yet. Something is, indeed, going haywire in my tiny little brain.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Perfect Margaritas, Free for the Asking

It's finally Friday night again yet I continue to be unable to think creatively. Is that what over-eating does to me? If I fasted for a month, would I be apt to spontaneously erupt with mind-bending brilliance on a routine basis? Or have I entered that stage of my life in which my brain cells simply shut off for long periods of time, trying in vain to recharge?

Maybe the perfect margarita will help. OK, I convinced myself. I'll make a perfect margarita for myself. I know exactly how to do that. And I have all the ingredients, including damn near a full cup of freshly-squeezed lime juice. I can have more than one perfect margarita. If I empty the cup, I can have a damn litter of margaritas!

Who wants one? Come on over, there's plenty of tequila and triple sec and lime juice.

Dark of Night

The results of this year's presidential election assure that I won't be packing my bags and leaving the country in the dark of night, heading for refuge in Mexico. The election is good, but it's something of a shame I wasn't forced to escape into my fantasyland.


I got up a tad earlier than normal for a work-day. After showering, shaving, and otherwise preparing myself to be acceptable to humankind, I got lost in Wikipedia. There's so much there that I never knew, but want to. The trick, of course, is to ferret out the fact from fantasy and fiction. I'm one who believes the bulk of what is there is based on fact, if not always correct in every detail.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I've been trying to think of something worthwhile to write for days, but I just can't muster the mental discipline. There's plenty of fodder in the field, just no fire in the belly. In spite of my deep appreciation for the election, there's something gnawing at my elation and I'll be damned if I know what it is. So, I sit in front of the television and listen to Jim Lehrer, letting him think and speak for me.

An exchange with a friend a few days ago described an experience she had that describes, in tone at least, one that I have every now and then: "you wake up happy and it takes you a few minutes to realize your father is dead." I thought I was the only one who had such jarring experiences. When they happen, they knock the wind out of me as sure as a fist to my chest; my world crashes into the edge of the universe and I'm speechless and I can't breathe and everything I've ever known is broken and wrong and ugly and painful and I want the hell out.

It disappears, of course, and all is tolerably well with the world. Tolerably well is not ideal. Sometimes it's not even acceptable.

There's too much that it affects and too many people who stumble unknowingly into the caldron that it creates. Moods cannot redirect rivers and fracture continents and make mountains shatter into rubble. So it's not a mood. Whatever it is, it's not acceptable.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Acting LIke It Was a Weekend

I treated this Saturday and Sunday as if they combined to be a weekend. It was a pleasant thing to do and I shall do it more often if obligations will stand in abeyance on a routine basis.

Saturday, a very late breakfast was had at The Mecca, a very old, very popular diner-style restaurant that I'd seen before, but had never been inside. It is in an old delapidated old two-story house. It's a very old-fashioned place, the perfect combination of wear and tear and great menu items that draws in the almost-famous, would-have-been-famous, used-to-be-famous, and lots of middle-aged and older bikers, cops, families with all their upteen children, and on and on. Most people I know would not go inside because they would be uneasy, at best, or afraid, at worst. It's not a particularly inviting place from the outside, and inside it doesn't get any better, except the staff are friendly and all the people eating there appear to be friendly (or, at least, they don't throw threatening looks toward entering guests). I highly recommend it. Their Saturday cinnamon rolls are said to be wonderful (they say...and I overhead some customers say).

Then, a long drive in the country, north along I-75 to Melissa, thence east to Bonham. An hour or two spent looking for a national grassland area, only to give up after finding and wandering around an old, almost deserted park that was heavily wooded and had a beautiful lake right in the middle. About 8-10 old stone and log cabins, still standing but much the worse the wear for doing so, were near the lake. I'd like to go there and camp one day, but the signs say that is not allowed. That, plus I need thick, soft queen-sized (minimum) mattresses when I camp, along with nice lighting, no bugs, and better eyesight.

On the way home, lured by a sign that advertised home-made tamales, we stopped and visited with a little old white lady who claimed she'd been selling them from the little building in front of her house for 29 years. We bought a dozen and headed home.

When we opened the package, it became instantly apparent to me that it is simply wrong to buy tamales from little old white ladies in East Texas, no matter how long they've been making them. Little old white ladies in East Texas apparently have no idea that tamales are supposed to taste like...nor look like. They were slippery, perfectly formed little brown logs that plopped out of the corn husk casings far too uniformly. They looked to me like (and I don't mean to offend anyone's sensibilities, so if you have sensibilities that are subject to offense, stop reading now) perfectly formed little turds, as if they had been produced by a perfect replica of a perfect little humanoid. They tasted only moderately better than they looked. Fortunately, we had made a rather nice batch of chile con queso which, when used to drown the little turds, helped cover their stench and their unsightliness.

Sunday, another breakfast out, this time at Rosita's, a neat little Mexican place on Maple Avenue. Like other restaurants we like, it's authentic; we can never say authentic what, but it is authentic something. Real food, real waitresses with real foibles, etc. But worth every penny. This morning's meal was ordered off the menu (they actually have a Mexican breakfast buffet that looks pretty good); migas and chilaquiles. The chilaquiles were far better than the migas, but I've long been spoiled by Bigote's migas; there are none better worldwide, I'm sure, and certainly none better in Arlington, where they are located.

Later in the day brought a much more extensive wander, including a visit to the Oak Clff section of Dallas and some strange little eating and grazing places. First was a tiny, very old Mexican grill, with a walk-up window and a couple of old concrete tables and benches. It's on the fringe of the Bishop Arts District, the gentrification of decades of Mexican-American homes and apartments that have succumbed to young, well-off, and tragically un-hip people who don't realize that their lifestyles are killing cultures. Despite the impending death of all things Hispanic, the little place survives and they serve a nice taco de lengua and a decent taco de tercera. Thence, a brief drive down a one-way street, smiling broadly at a Black copy during the process, and a stop at a newly opened coffee/book/bakery shop whose name escapes me. I prowled around, glancing at books about Sarah Palin, books about lesbianism and pottery and their relationship, books about freedom and purity, and other stuff that didn't grab my attention very much. But the purchase of a couple of cookies was propitious. After leaving and driving a good 3-4 miles, I tasted a coconut macaroon and an almond cookies and felt urge to return.

So, a u-turn and undue speed and, bam, there it was again...a place where baked goods drove my life and my decisions. I'm normally not like that for sweets; but these were more than sweets. I can only imagine being hooked on some powerful drug...

More driving and wandering and being hyper-lazy before stopping at a couple of grocery stores and then home to unload it all.

I want to retire. I really do. I want to be independently solvent and have a bunch of grocery stores nearby that will call my name.