Monday, July 30, 2007

Cricket Duty

What is it about our county courthouse? Is it infested with insects all year?

The last time I had Jury Duty, it was roaches, but today we were treated to crickets. Thanks to all the weird and abundant rain recently, we’re enjoying a Bumper Cricket Crop. (It’s all over the newscasts & newspaper…how they’re EVERYWHERE in Abilene! And they seem to have made the courthouse Cricket HQ…)

SIDE NOTE: Oh, and to my Yankee friends (that’s YOU, Melanie!), I don’t mean those little brown field crickets that are smaller than your thumb…I’m talkin’ BIG, black, MEATY bugs that cast a shadow. When they fly into you, it packs a wallop! When you step on them, there’s a powerful, audible crunch as the exoskeleton explodes…and then actual…well, mass. Volume. Gristle. It’s not like stomping on an itsy-bitsy spider and wondering if you got it or not…

This happens in West Texas every once in a while. Once back in the ‘Eighties, thousands…maybe millions…of crickets “beached” themselves in a sheltered corner of the Margaret and Herman Brown Library at Abilene Christian University. (Youthful scamps will, on occasion, pull some of the metal letters out of the bricks to make it the “Margaret and Her Brown bra” building.)

Anyway, the pylon of cricket corpses (well, *some* were still kicking) was perhaps 20 feet high as they tried to reach the lighting near the roof. Sure wish I had a picture…mere words can not describe the black, undulating WALL OF CRICKET LEGS you would pass on your way to class. Shudder. (That year, one rascal put a big sign on the boys’ dorm: “ACU: Abilene CRICKET University!”)

Today, there were crickets in all phases of life…hopping, writhing, deceased, half-crickets, bits of cricket…all over the courthouse. Not just in doorways or corners, either…

...but under our chairs... in the bathroom stalls... the Snack Bar, everywhere. (One LUNGED at me when we were dismissed for a break; Falisha would have come out of her sandals!)

Jury duty was boring and uneventful this morning; after about an hour, 40 of us were picked for 104th Circuit Court tomorrow. (I’ll be the one in BOOTS.) And since it was so dull, I’ll post below the story of the last time I tried to be a Good Citizen.


March 3, 2003

Well, I may have gotten an unintentional "Section Eight" on jury duty today.

I got there about 15 minutes early, and there were already over 150 people there. (The taped message jurors were instructed to call over the weekend said to appear "Monday as summoned"; many people thought the poorly-recorded woman's voice said to "appear Monday AT SEVEN." By 8:30 a.m., those folks were hopping mad!)

Anyway, I picked a seat in the far, back corner so I could spread out with my school stuff. Besides all my Sugar Buster snacks and water, I had 2 books plus a professional magazine in a hard, protective cover that librarians route to each other; I needed to spread out so I could write down titles & ISBN numbers of the titles I wanted.

Well, after about 15 minutes-- just as the room was full and it was nearly time to start--a ROACH crawled over the top of my magazine!!! I gasped, flung the magazine against the wall, and did several large leaps down the congested aisle. HUNDREDS of faces turned to look at me. Embarrassed, some gibberish came out of my mouth that sounded something like "BUG!! There was a bug. ROACHES!! There's roaches over there."

Some people just shook their heads at the Crazy Lady and turned back around. The ones who continued to stare saw that I was not completely insane--a GIANT roach that looked like an oversized golden raisin with legs & antennae crawled up the wall behind my chair and into a crack near the ceiling.

Oh, and the man who came to my "rescue" would not kill it because, as he announced not once, but *twice*, to the curious onlookers, "Roaches are an important part of our ecological balance." (Yeah. Who's crazy now?)

So anyway, a few minutes later, a lady sat down in the roach chair I'd just vacated. I thought it was only fair to tell her about the roach and its wall crack refuge not far from her head. She laughed and said that if the court clerks had hidden surveillance cameras on the jury pool, I'd be dismissed without being assigned.

Sure enough, after the room was thinned with a round of juror disqualifications, then exemptions, and then pleas to the judge to waive duty, the deputy called 3 sets of 40 people, and then two groups of sixteen,and then the court clerk told the 20 of us left standing in the back that we were dismissed. As we picked our way through the seated, chosen people, there was some distinct grumbling about how we were the lucky ones. My sister said that everyone probably thought I did the little Crazy Display on purpose to get out of my civic duty. ("Sure...she's crazy, all right...crazy like a fox.")

Insanely yours,

UPDATE: Day Two of jury duty was a bust. Packed Mere Christianity (on a friend's borrowed iPod) and Shackleton's Stowaway in hardcover...but talked to a friend for more than an hour instead. (We stood in the courthouse hallway for about 45 minutes before we joined our fellow jurors on the floor.) After nearly an hour and a half of waiting, the judge came out and dismissed us all because the case was postponed...which is probably just as well because my body is ACHING after yesterday's exercise frenzy--a 4:30 BodyPump class, a 5:30 Advanced Step & Abs class, and then a mile and a half walk with May Bee, a friend, and her greyhound, Tommy!

A little sore and looking forward to curling up with a good book in the air conditioning this afternoon,

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Little presents

I prayed myself to sleep last night, wrestling with inner conflicts and asking God for guidance and wisdom and patience and faith. As I prayed, a distracting light kept shining in my eyes. Finally getting up and peering through the blinds, I was amazed by the beauty of the moon through the pecan branches outside my bedroom window...a lovely reminder that He is in control and on watch and more majestic and powerful than any other king and that I should go get some sleep. (And I did!)

And then, this morning as I was cleaning ("cleaning" to me means trying to part with things because of Chronic Packrat Tendencies), I came upon another lesson He had planned for me, courtesy of my precious niece. Last month, Sporty Niece (photo above) accidentally left her Sunday School artwork in my car, a door hanger where she had written a Bible verse--Phillipians 4:19, "God will supply my needs." Inside, she had written her WANTS on one card...

and her NEEDS on the other...

What a great reminder that His children will be okay, no matter what happens. As long as we have our Needs card filled, everything else is just "desserts and a puppy."

(Please remind me of this as often as needed!!) :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Goodbye, Harry. (No spoilers.)

Just finished the seventh and final Harry Potter's hard saying goodbye to this series!!

Walked/ran 4.5 miles this morning (1.5 with May Bee and 3 with Misha). Listened to the C.S. Lewis audiobook Mere Christianity on a friend's iPod on the last two 1.5 mile laps.

Off to work on the Deathly Hallows quiz...more sniffling...I remain,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Y'all wish me luck...

This morning at 10:30 will be the first time I've ever taken a dog to the vet by myself. (I'm allergic to cats and dogs...including our Mike has always done it solo or with me in a separate car so I could dash out if I got sick.) Today's Sneeze Fest while trying to hold May Bee (the naughtier of the two dogs!) while she gets two shots should be hysterical...

No, wait. It's a shot and a nasal spray. (Pertussis and bordatella? Bordatella? Am I making up a word there? The appointment card is out in the car so I have no idea. And hold on...pertussis? Am I thinking of BETHANY now? Do dogs even get the "dip-tet" series that gave us so much laughter in Raising Arizona?)

Oh, well. No matter what they do to May Bee (who tinkles copiously when she gets nervous), this will be an exciting morning. I'm skipping 4:30 aerobics because I don't want to ruin my hair & makeup & NICE smell (fresh out of the shower with Beauticontrol perfume on!) before the last Ladies' Bible Class on Daniel at 8:00. Good reason to spend this rainy day curled up with Harry Potter!

Oh, and if last night's YouTube debacle/debate didn't convince you to give up the news during the upcoming election, then at least watch the FUNNY news on YouTubesday:

...and Karen’s personal favorite…she and the kids have watched it HUNDREDS of times:

UPDATES: Okay, the spelling is "Bordetella," dogs apparently do NOT get pertussis vaccine because her appointment card said "Leptospirosis," AND they gave her another rabies vaccination while we there, too! She weighs 55.2 pounds and while she did not tinkle, she did wriggle and squirm and put up quite a fight (there was dog hair everywhere, including IN MY MOUTH, by the time they were finished)!

After the weigh-in, the vet and his assistant were surprised to walk in the exam room and see my 55.2 pound dog in my lap like Mrs. Pumphrey's Pekinese Tricki Woo...May Bee was a mite nervous. :-)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Reasons to smile... (LONG)

Reasons to smile? There's TONS of 'em!

*Friday was the last day of summer school…which makes today the first official day of summer vacation! Bring on the R&R&R (rest, relaxation, and reading)!

*Speaking of reading, the “Welcome Back, Potter” parties at Hastings and Books-A-Million Friday night/Saturday morning were FUN…even though old librarians are no longer used to staying up that late. As I drove home from Hastings, it dawned on me (no pun intended!) that several times in college, we stayed up all night long and actually attended classes the next day without a wink of sleep. (How did we do that? I’ll bet we smelled kinda’ funny and didn’t make a lick of sense...)

*Speaking of Harry Potter, I traded a brand new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I bought two copies) for Kirsten’s old refrigerator! She had the good sense to go home and get in bed while I stood in line. (How cool is this?! For years to come, when people compliment the old side-by-side, I can wink and say, “Like that? I bought it with a book.”)

*May Bee hates jazz! Last night, she stalked and growled at the bathroom radio as Jon Faddis played some (admittedly kinda’ high & irritating) trumpet notes from his new CD Teranga. She even walked to the other side of the wall to see if there was something going on BEHIND the radio. It was adorable. She wouldn’t get her teeth brushed until she was sure there wasn’t some creature suffering death throes up on the bathroom counter…

(Funny jazz trivia: In a scene from The Simpsons, the KJAZZ radio station features a sign that says: “Jazz: 152 Americans can’t be wrong.” Snort!)

*When I called Karen to see how her vacation was going, she was safely tucked into our favorite Tuscaloosa hotel--the Quality Inn on Jug Factory Lane! It’s close to a Chili’s and a Taco Casa, a Books-A-Million, and a Food World so you can stock up on groceries, like grapes for the room & drinks for the trip. It also has a pool AND a free breakfast in the morning. And an elevator! When I called, she and the kids were saying their “good nights” to each other and saying their prayers for such a wonderful first day of travel.

*On the second day of her trip, when everything went to heck-in-a-handcart and her car wouldn’t start, the people of Tuscaloosa took the best care of her sweet little family…fellow hotel visitors even carted her around town in their own cars to buy batteries and what-not! (I love America. And The South. Yankees, go home…and stay there.) (Seriously. NOT kidding.)

*May Bee finally (and partially-successfully) socialized with another dog in the park! There was a little growling and tail-tucking on MB’s part and high-pitched squealing on the other dog’s part, but the other lady (the owner of an adopted, formerly-abused Basenji mix) assured me that her dog really, REALLY wanted to interact with other dogs, but just didn’t know how. We mommies patiently allowed them to work up to successfully sniffing and kissing each other, and it made us ALL so happy. (Her dog was afraid of her teenaged son when it first came to live with them, and she also couldn’t take off her shoes without the dog acting like it was about to be beaten. Isn’t that horrible?)

The lady was also glad to see a Gentle Leader on May Bee; she was relieved to know that I wouldn’t think her dog was muzzled. Oh, and she complimented MB on her “good watchdog” properties when a bearded, unfriendly man came up behind us. (Probably a Yankee.) Hooray, May Bee!

*My new White Stripes CD is amazing, and Jack White is a genius, and my next dog will be named Meg in Meg White’s honor. Last night, on the way home from church, I sang “Conquest” (which reminds me of the ‘Sixties, for some reason!?) at the very top of my old, wretched lungs.

*Speaking of church, it was wonderful, as always, and I cry every single week. Oh, and Lynn (a N.H. Yankee who knew my grandparents and is okay in my book) visited last night and stayed for the fellowship dinner afterwards. She had to put down her dog Molly three weeks ago…her best friend of thirteen years. (Please pray for Lynn, who has never felt so alone--two thousand miles from her New England home without her most steadfast companion and trying hard to concentrate on her master’s thesis…)

*Today, I’m putting The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou in the mail back to NetFlix…after watching it three times. Bill Murray is a genius. If kids today only knew how funny he was on SNL. (Remember French camp? “It's a little, bitty cat.” & Strother Martin’s “What we got here is a failure to communicate bilingually!”? Ha!) Oh, and Bill Murray is supposed to star in next year’s The City of Ember film, a book Karen & her kids LOVED.

Plus, NetFlix just mailed me 35 Up in Michael Apted’s Up series; Falisha and I are addicted to these! Every other movie in my queue is an Up documentary!

*Mr. Hufstedler is going to lend me a semi-automatic this fall when I get my license to carry. This way, my dad can take his sweet time shopping for a Makarov…

*God is good. Life is sweet. Tomorrow night we finish up Daniel in Ladies’ Bible Class. Have a great week, everybody!

WEIRD UPDATE: I haven't looked at Google Analytics in ages so a quick visit today held a few surprises! Today's far in 2007, 2,520 visits have been paid to this blog from 32 different countries/territories. The average visitor looks at 1.78 pages and spends eight minutes and 18 seconds on the site. The top keyword search is "Cali Gonzales," and six people came looking for a porn term (bet they left disappointed). The most popular page on this blog, besides the Welcome/index page, is the tribute to Aunt Judy. I've had 24 visits from China, 17 from the UK, 11 from Canada, 7 from India, 6 from Spain...and 103 from Atlanta. (Hi, Atlanta!)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Potter mania pics!

Kirsten & family & students & me!

Hastings had free "butterbeer"!

Registering for prizes...hooray!

...which we didn't win. Boo!

So many good-looking Madison kids were there!

One student gave me Botts' two of the WORST flavors.
(Pickle and dirt. And yes, I ate them.)

Sue & Trisha were there!

Oh, and former students, too! Tiffany is now a grown woman with
her own business at !

And in keeping with the British nature of the event,
I wore my "tea teeth" for the occasion! :-)

(Seriously. I need to give up coffee. Or go for whitening. Or both.)

And yes, I know these pics could have been cropped and retouched and had the Red Eye removed...but it's nearly 1:00 in the morning and I was at work at 7:35 a.m. (last day of Summer School!) and I'm EXHAUSTED and going to bed with my new book.

UPDATE: I got to page 4 before I fell asleep. :-)

May Bee and Misha (and their 6:00 a.m. cries for breakfast) and the Fed Ex man (and his 7:57 phone call) have ensured that there's no rest for the weary...but that's okay because the trip to Hastings last night not only put the Harry Potter book on my nightstand, but the new White Stripes CD in my laptop! Summer school is over, and LIFE IS GOOD!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Empty Nest Syndrome... my heart...

...and even in my yard.

The baby birds have left the nest.
(Sniffle. Swallow. Smile.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wedding weekend!

A-town in the house!

Glowing with happiness!

CUTE shoes!

"The Continental" pronounces it "cham-pan-ya."
(We just say "yummy.")


The wedding chariot awaits...


One GREAT thing about this weekend was how much time we were able to spend with Bethany, Aunt Sue, and Uncle James. They all looked great, and we had such a nice time together, with plenty of Mom Sugar & Mom Hugs from Bessie Lou.

Oh, and the food! Karen and I enjoyed real Jersey-style pizza at Saccone's in Cedar Park, a delicious wedding buffet & Kirsten's beautiful wedding cake, a fellowship dinner at Leander Church of Christ, CHUY'S, and TWO of Uncle James' world-famous breakfasts!
What a lovely weekend...what a blessing...

Now Karen begins her cross-country trek with three kids in tow as I wrap up Summer School...and get serious about DIETING and READING the Lone Star selections for next school year and RUNNING with these dogs in the park and SAVING money and PACKING boxes and CLEANING and ORGANIZING.
(Are you jealous yet?)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bye, bye, birdies.

Taken on the 12th...the babies are growing up fast! (Can you see the baby in the back with its beak up and open? They were disappointed when it was just wormless Camera Lady again...)
And today is Friday, the 13th, which means Karen and I will leave for Austin after work today to attend Jason & Tiffany's wedding. Tonight, we'll take dinner to Aunt Sue and Uncle James and spend the evening in their beautiful home...AND BETHANY IS SUPPOSED TO JOIN US!! Wheee!

Then, tomorrow Karen and I will attend the wedding (I only said two in the RSVP) and then we'll head into Austin. Not sure what we'll do yet, except for one thing about which Bethany is adamant and Karen is enthusiastic--dinner at Chuy's!

Sunday, after worship services at Leander Church of Christ, we'll head back up 183 for Home Sweet Home.


This is the nest as I walked up to it last night, thinking the big bird in the front was the mama about to fly off...but NO, it's just the fattest, grumpiest, and GREEDIEST of the siblings. (In other words, the "Kristy" of the family!) :-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

YouTubesday...LONG version.

FIRST OFF: I'm sick in bed!!!! I was supposed to have attended a Ladies' Bible Class at 8:00...and have made banana bread this afternoon, and have run errands before that--and was certainly NOT SUPPOSED to have spent the last twenty minutes of work today curled up on the floor with a horrible stomachache! It was so was Melanie's first day (the new aide from Belgium, who probably thinks I'm krazy-with-a-k). Also, a computer technician stopped by the campus with more squash and some black-eyed peas from his garden only to find me on the floor near the computers. He had to help me up...oh, man, I'm getting OLD.

In fact, it's eight hours later and I still can't stand up straight. I'm going to go take some more right back…


Okay...back to the draft I started this morning before school...

(One commenter wrote, “I like how apparently Margie is too incompetent to figure out ‘stir’ on her own, but ‘mixing with a circular motion to ensure uniform consistency’...THAT she gets.” Another person wished for the bots…like any good MST3K fan.)

That "Scalloped Cauliflower" recipe, btw, nearly made me urp. (White sauce? Scalding? SCUM? FAT? LUMPS? Greased baking dish? Bread crumbs?) ICK! Why not just frost the whole head and decorate it with gummy bears?

Forget steaming cauliflower and allowing its tasty wholesomeness to delight your senses. Drizzle maple syrup on it instead, Margie. Or get your grape jelly to 220 degrees and let it “sheet” from the spoon all over Tim’s poor, soggy, boiled cauliflower.


I originally went to YouTube looking for videos about how to cook squash because one of the guys at the Tech Center brought me two from his garden. I used the first one to make Squash Muffins, a recipe my old Girl Scout troop leader submitted to a Plymouth, New Hampshire cookbook (typed up and emailed twenty years later by the world’s best childhood friend, Melanie Cray!).

Two of the best videos came from YouTube user “foodwishes.”


Update: This afternoon, while I lay dying from gallbladder disease or kidney stones or whatever is wrong with me, Falisha sent me this YouTube video. It hurt to laugh...but I did, anyway.

Here's my deepest wish...I'm going with Kirsten to Germany in 2010, and I'd LOVE to find a video that will get me in shape while simultaneously teaching me handy Deutsch phrases I can sling about in bahnhofs (trainstations) and the streets of Oberammergau. Let's see...what useful phrases could I repeat while smiling and hopping and stretching?


Ich brauche eines Abführmittel!
("I need a laxative!")

Ich hasse dein Pauschaltarif.
("I hate your flat-rate tariff.")

Lassen Sie uns Holländisch gehen!
("Let's go Dutch!")

Ich liebe y'all!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Bird watch.

Oh, come on. How cute is this?
(Click to enlarge.)
That Audubon guy was really...

...onto something.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Nature post...get out the granola.

Baby bird update: When I first walked up to the nest, one bird in the back was enjoying a stretch, his (lime-green) beak up in the air, but as soon as he realized that I wasn't Mom, he plopped down into the feathery safety of his brothers and sisters.

Yesterday, I got the cutest video of two of the babies with their crazy lime-colored beaks resting on the rim of the nest, their beady eyes blinking at me...wishing I would offer them something to eat, probably!

I try to only go to the nest once a day to disturb them as little as possible...yesterday for video, today for a photo. They'll start to fly soon...let's hope they avoid the backyard because May Bee brought me another dead bird yesterday. She wouldn't even drop it to play Frisbee!

After I ran shrieking into the house, Mike went out with a plastic shopping bag and disposed of May Bee's treasure. ICK! This is not the first dead thing she's brought us, either. Below are the pictures of the (not-so-healthy and much-chewed) squirrel she brought to our doorstep in June.

May Bee's exercise this morning: 2 miles around Red Bud, 3 times down the slide (twice on the little one & once on the big one), and Frisbee in the backyard

Misha's exercise: 1.5 miles around the park and bullying May Bee into giving her the Frisbee after Little Miss did all the hard work of catching it

Kristy's exercise: slapping mosquitoes...tons of mosquitoes...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Random pics

Birds' nest in our cactus, with BABIES inside...

Two handsome boys at Kirsten's 4th of July party... well as a pretty young lady trying on her flower girl dress!

And Jaeger soaked up love...

...and attention and affection from all visitors!

Speaking of dogs, Misha & May Bee nearly gave Mike and me HEART ATTACKS last night. I heard Mike yelling for me to get some clothes on (I'd changed into a pajama top to avoid getting lime juice on my Dry Clean Only silk top). After Mike had put up the John Deere, let the dogs out, and taken a shower, he realized that he'd never closed the gate...and our dogs were LONG GONE.

We jumped into our cars and went up and down the neighborhood, calling their names and wishing they had their collars on and praying to Jesus to help us ( least I know what was going on in MY car). Later, after the dogs were safe and home where they belong, it turns out that both of us looked for them on Buffalo Gap Road, afraid that they'd been hit on the giant five lane behemoth just over a block away from our house...and were both relieved when we didn't find them there.

So, anyway, I found them after about ten minutes of frantic searching and praying--they'd stayed together like the good sisters they are!--and they jumped into my car with delight and abandon and got mud all over everything and I don't care one bit. Thank you, Lord, for keeping my babies safe!! Whew!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fort Worth Fun

What a fun day! Since it was gloomy and humid (we're at the end of an unprecedented super-rainy June)...AND since Bethany announced that she needs to leave Abilene early to get back to Austin for two job interviews...we decided that the $20 entry fee for the 5K run would be better spent on gas and fun in Fort Worth.

Even though Falisha was sick, she still came and joined us for the day. We shopped at Plato's Closet and Ruby, ate at Fortuna's on Camp Bowie, toured The Modern, and (when it finally stopped raining for a minute) visited the Botanical Gardens. We peeked at a wedding held on the Rose Garden steps, snapped a lot of pics, and (thankfully) weren't too far from our car when it started to sprinkle again.

After a quick stop at Central Market, we headed for home. About halfway there, Bethany realized that she hadn't seen Karen or the kids so we took a little side-trip up through Eastland and made a brief visit to Breckenridge. (If I'd known we were heading to Karen's, I would have brought her some of that Seltzer's sweet Lebanon bologna she likes...even though it makes me shudder. I have a pound and a half of the regular Seltzer's in the fridge right now...well, nearly a pound and a half...Bethany and I have been raiding it, slice by slice!)

Karen and her family were such great hosts, considering the late hour of our barely-announced visit (Bethany called when we nearly to Eastland asking if we could come and which highways to take). Karen greeted us with freshly-squeezed non-alcoholic mojitos, complete with mint from her garden. (Out of club soda, she used diet lime soda...and Bethany liked it even better!)

Snaps from the day...

Happy, tired feet.
Ready for their own bed...and a pedicure!

UPDATE: Walked & ran 4.5 miles this morning with the dogs (3 with May Bee and then a mile and a half with Misha) so I don't feel too bad about missing the 5K. When I got home, my clothes and hat were SOAKED with sweat...Bethany used the word "gross" to describe me. (I looked so bad that Dan & Kirsten didn't even recognize me; on the last lap, I saw their Suburban drive by without even waving to Misha and me. LOL)

UPDATE #2: Ooh...forgot to tell you...we got to see the Ron Mueck sculpture exhibit!! Only people on my diet support board know about my love for Ron Mueck, ever since his Big Man graced the cover of Discover magazine in February. (All I could talk or post about for a week or so was the Discover article about the health dangers of visceral fat!)

For more Ron Mueck info:
and (warning: nudity...startling and um, thorough nudity)