A little more of a little of this, a little of that...
We have been on the road every weekend for the last seven weekends, plus a mid-week journey to Lawton, OK in September. By my husband's calculations, we tripped the light fantastic some 4650 miles, not counting just plain running around once we got to our destinations. (For example, while in Gulf Shores, we had to make a 22 mile round trip every time we went into town for supplies or dinner.) If you add to that trips to College Station and Lubbock in August, it's another 1000 miles. I have no desire to know how many gallons of irreplaceable fossil fuel we burned, or how much that cost us at an average of $3.50 a pop. Here's our tour schedule:
2012 -- Old Farts Whirled Tour -- 2012
Richard did most of the driving while I fiddled with the a/c (70% of the time), slept or zoned out (remaining 30%). Richard also managed to get pulled over on three separate occasions, and each time got off with a warning. The first time was in Oklahoma for having a burned out light bulb, see picture above, which we keep forgetting to get fixed. The second time was for driving FIVE MILES OVER THE SPEED LIMIT (limit was 70) outside Jacksboro, TX. The third, and hopefully final time, was last night, again for speeding (12 miles over) near Jewett, TX. The cop was sitting on the other side of Highway 79 as we zipped past. Even before the lights began flashing, I knew we were doomed. I'm still amazed he managed to talk himself out of that one.
Thankfully, we aren't going anywhere for the next three weekends, which will be a relief for our poor car. And our cats, who know they are being ditched when they see the suitcases hauled out, or the coolers filled. Besides, getting up at 3:00 AM to hit the road by 5:00 gets old very quickly.
A young Aggie couple we know is getting married the end of November. The invitation arrived in the mail last week and it very clearly says formal attire. I wasn't sure if the bride really meant formal as in tuxes and gowns, or if this was her way of insuring that no one shows up at her wedding wearing anything less than a suit or dress.
We have been appalled at what some people seem to consider appropriate wedding attire. I will never forget seeing a man in shorts and flip-flops. His female companion was better dressed, but only just; she wore cropped pants and Crocs. This was a nice wedding and I almost went over there and said, "Are you poor or are you stupid?" Stupid, I should think. Even poor people can manage a dress and a cheap suit. And it's not just weddings that seem to bring out the worst dressed in people, funerals are another. I've seen folks show up looking like they'd been shopping at Wal-Mart. At the last service I attended, I felt I'd overdone it in my black and grey dress with a black blazer and black heels.
Anyway, at our tailgate yesterday I cornered Brittany, the bride-to-be, to get the lowdown on what she meant by formal attire. I was glad I asked because now I've got to corral Richard into getting fitted for a tux. Fortunately, I have a formal gown. Unfortunately, it's been a few years since I last wore it, and I'm not sure it fits anymore. Since I don't want to spend the money on another one-and-done outfit, especially so close to the holidays, it will be an impetus to lose a few pounds.
Being prone to teasing, something I inherited from my dad, I told Brittany I thought a baby-blue tuxedo with a frilly ruffled shirt and navy cumberbund and bow tie would be awesome. She didn't crack so much as a smile. She either has no sense of humor, or one is not allowed to poke fun when it comes to her wedding. Like the signs that tell you not to joke about guns and bombs while going through airport security.
Speaking of dress, Brent drove in from Lawton last Friday night to go to the Aggie game with us on Saturday. He showed up at the door at 7:30 PM still wearing his camos and boots. Poor guy was so anxious to get out of Oklahoma, he didn't even take the time to change his clothes for the drive home. Still and all it was cool to see him decked out in uniform, and he wears it so well.
Paige turned 20 on Saturday. One more year and she will be truly legal, not that being underage has ever stopped her, or her brothers, from stepping over the line.
Mitch's girlfriend was in town over the weekend, and the two of them spent Friday at the state fair, the same day Big Tex, the iconic giant man who has greeted fair visitors for 60 years, burned to death. Authorities believe the fire was started by an electrical short, but I have my suspicions. You ask me, I think the people who invent all the crazy fair food from fried butter to fried Coke and even fried bubblegum, got together and said, "Hey! Let's fry Big Tex!" "Oops!"
Liar, liar, pants on fire,
Burning man: http://interactives.kxan.com/photomojo/gallery/4757/1/iconic-bix-tex-burns/bix-tex-burns/
Traumatized kiddos: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021581663
Body bag: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021581663
From the 2012 Resident Move-In Guide, I quote, "(We are) not a pet friendly community. If you are seen with a pet or are housing a pet, you will be fined appropriately." Never ones to back down from a challenge, my daughter and her three roommates went out and adopted a tiny black kitten. Before the girls even had a chance to name their new pet, it died. From the pictures I saw of it, the little thing looked sickly, so I wasn't surprised when it happened.
My husband and I counseled Paige against getting another cat, but our parental clout doesn't carry much, well, clout, from six hours away. Within a few days another kitten was installed, and the girls dubbed him Tito Paquito. From his pictures, Teets (their name, not mine) looks pretty healthy and appears to be thriving in that zoo called college life. But I'm not happy with the girls flaunting the rules, and I worry about what's going to happen to the little guy when (if) management gets wise to his presence.
When we expressed our dismay over the acquisition of a replacement cat, and the heartbreak that will likely ensue when management demands the girls get rid of it, we were told that Kelli, one of the roommates and Tito's rightful owner, was going to have the cat certified as a service animal, thereby getting around the pet ban. Honestly, we didn't know whether to laugh or cry over such chutzpah. Kelli, it seems, suffers from anxiety, and this will be the basis for getting Teets certified. Personally, I think the girls are certifiable, but that's another story.
Here's a true story: when my husband worked for Greyhound, they had a situation involving a service snake. Yes, you read that correctly. Snake. In a Greyhound version of Snakes on a Plane, a man boarded a bus carrying a snake in a duffel bag. At some point during the trip, the man took the reptile out of the bag. Naturally, all hell broke loose, forcing the driver to pull over and yell, "Enough is enough! I have had it with this $#&@! snake on this %#&!# bus!" Actually, I made up that last part. Anyway, when the man was told he could not have a snake aboard the bus, he showed papers stating that the critter was a service animal; its owner had emotional issues and the snake helped to keep him calm. The snake may have kept him calm, but I can't say the same for the other passengers. Regardless, man and serpent were allowed to travel to their destination, and there wasn't a thing Greyhound could do about it.
This got me to wondering if the feline variety can even be trained as service animals. Dogs, with their pathetic need to please, are naturals, but our two cats are trying to kill me, or at least maim me for life. They sit down suddenly in mid-stride when I am right behind them, dart out at my feet when I walk by, and force me to step over or around them while I am carrying large loads, hot pans, knives, boiling liquids, glass, nuclear warheads, scissors, and other similar items of death and destruction. One time, when I slipped and fell in the bathtub, instead of running to Richard to summon help, they both sat there and smirked.
Google, that wonderful on-line card catalog, tells me that there are service animals and emotional support animals (ESA). Under Department of Justice guidelines (the DOJ is charged with administering the Americans with Disabilities Act), a service animal is any dog that is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The guidelines exclude all other species, both domestic and wild, trained and untrained, from the definition of a service animal.
An ESA, on the other hand, is not task trained and, in fact, requires no special training beyond that of a well behaved pet. These animals provide comfort, companionship and emotional support, and are not considered true service animals. If a medical doctor believes that a patient with a disabling mental or emotional condition might benefit from an ESA, the doctor can write a letter of support. If the patient lives in "no pets" housing, the letter is usually sufficient to allow the ESA on the premises, and to travel with its owner in the cabin of an aircraft.
CAN cats be trained to assist humans? Google had very little to offer on the topic. Some cats can warn their owners of an impending seizure. Supposedly these cats are ultra sensitive to the minute changes that occur prior to onset. By playing up and reinforcing the cat's natural radar, it can be trained to alert its owner before a seizure happens. As awesome as this is, it still doesn't get the cat into Wal-Mart or a seat at Chez McD's; only a real service dog has that right.
If you've never seen it, check out the season 3 episode on Malcolm in the Middle called "Monkey". In it, Lois' co-worker Craig, who is temporarily confined to a wheelchair while his broken bones mend, gets himself a helper monkey, a small capuchin named Oliver. Everything is going peachy until Oliver's homicidal tendencies surface, and Craig is in fear for his life.
Monkeys and kitties and snakes, oh, my!
My little website only averages about 16 unique views a day, so it was a huge surprise when I got a REAL (meaning unsolicited) comment to one of my blogs, one I didn't have to browbeat a family member into writing. It was so exciting and really made my day. MB wrote: Hello, I love reading your blog. It is really very impressive. I want to leave a comment in your support. Carry on with good continuation. Best of luck for your blogging efforts. MB loves my blog and thinks it's impressive! Whoo! Head rush! Thank you, MB!
This shred of acknowledgement has furthered my ambition to expand my little empire. To do this, I'd have to make a formal announcement via email and Facebook, something along the lines of Hey! I have a blog! Go read it and if you like it, tell your friends! The problem with this is that I abhor being the center of attention. I seldom ever pose for pictures, and even posting a Facebook status makes me uncomfortable.
So why would someone who shuns the limelight start a public blog in the first place? Firstly, the interwebs is so vast, the chance of somebody randomly stumbling on SOTSOTR who actually knows me is minuscule. Secondly, as I mentioned elsewhere on these pages, I love to write. Thirdly, I needed a creative outlet, now that I'm too old to make babies. A good friend pointed out that I could have just bought a notebook and started an old-fashioned, hand-written journal, but there's only so much you can do with pen and paper. Most importantly, I think keeping it public forces me to maintain a writing standard that would not exist in a private, eyes-only journal; a sort of "all the news that's fit to print" mentality.
It's interesting that both times I typed the word public in the above paragraph, it came out pubic.
As much as there is a part of me that craves a wider audience, there's a bigger part that worries about the consequences. As things stand now, I can write when I have something I think is worthwhile to write about and, hopefully, worthwhile to read. Basically, I can go at my own pace. But if I suddenly found myself with several hundred page views a day, the pressure to churn out blogs for the sake of my readership would eventually drive me crazy. I remember what a dear friend wisely replied to my comment that she should sell her crafts and make some money: "If I did that, it wouldn't be fun any more."
And isn't that what it's all about?
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