Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Square Peg - Say What?!

The Square Peg - Say What?!
© S. Bradley Stoner

Sunday, 0900 hours. Up and wide awake. Okay, I slept in. Sue me. Poured a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal. Not the best breakfast, but it works on Sunday. Don’t need all that much energy to run a keyboard. Turn on TV. New is all politics and Iowa. Don’t give a damn about politics and less about Iowa. Texas always has the option of becoming its own country. Turn on weather. Is it going to be nice or naughty today?

A little blond twenty-something is dancing across the screen. Has a little black and white number on that she thinks makes her butt look smaller. Is pointing at a map she can't see. Talking excitedly. Asks her immaculately dressed cohost... (Mr. GQ?)... a question. About “Winter Storm Kayla.”

Say what?! I almost swallow my spoon. When did they start naming winter storms over land? More importantly... WHY??! It’s a freaking low-pressure system. Quite common in the winters of my lifetime.

“But, oooh...,” cute blond continues, “heavy rains in California... Might cause mud slides... especially in areas that burned.”

Well ‘No sh*t Sherlock!

Explains that Winter Storm Kayla will move east into the Four Corners area and turns further details over to cohost.

Suave Mr. GQ adds, “Denver can expect up to a foot of snow. Not common for February.”

Um, I’m sorry, but WHAT THE HE DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS did you just say? I lived in Denver and southwest of Denver for 23 years and then in Montana for another 25... late January through March is when they get most of their snow.

Mr. GQ again. “Later, “Kayla will sweep southeast, bringing severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes...”

Well, duh, this is the beginning of tornado season in the south. It moves north as the year progresses. So this is a surprise how?

Cute blond, again pointing at her imaginary map that only viewers can see, notes that this, indeed, is the case. Clearly she is excited... churning excitement and possible dread for all those twenty somethings living in the south and southeast. Be sure you know what county you live in or are traveling through...

Are you freaking kidding me?? Twenty-somethings don’t even know there friends’ and coworkers’ last names... and you want them to know what county they’re in? Trust me... I know this because my youngest is a twenty-something. He doesn’t know the last names of friends he’s known since the eighth grade.

Here’s a clue, youngsters... not everything is a catastrophe. Not everything is a disaster. Some of this stuff has been going on since before man. Weather is weather. Putting a name on it doesn’t make it worse than it has always been... or better. It’s bullsh*t. It’s ratings. Nobody is watching the weather channel anymore... they’ve got an app for that. Pretty soon cute and suave are going to be voices on your smart phone... oh, and don’t believe everything you hear. Have a nice freaking day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Square Peg - A Sad Day in the Neighborhood. The Tragedy of Darryl the Dodger.

The Square Peg - A Sad Day in the Neighborhood. The Tragedy of Darryl the Dodger.
© S. Bradley Stoner

It finally warmed up enough this morning so I could wear my shorts to take my daily walk. I prefer wearing shorts for my walks. I just don’t look good in sweats and, frankly, wearing jeans or pants kind of sucks for walking. Too restrictive. I like roominess in my walking apparel. It keeps me from chafing and allows that cool morning breeze to freely circulate. I’ve thought about wearing a kilt, but people down here would just stare and wonder about me, even though I’m of Scottish heritage... even have official papers from the Clan. I don’t think Texans quite get that, and I’m darn sure the neighborhood wouldn’t. I get enough stares when I practice outside with my claymore (that’s a Scottish sword for those who don’t know).

Anyway, there I was, happily ditty-bopping along, when I heard footsteps hurrying to catch me. I was afraid to look. I thought maybe Bingo Bob had taken up doing constitutionals (for all you youngsters... Google it). I picked up the pace a little. I figured with two miles to go, I could probably lose whoever was trying to gain on me. Like I said once before, I like solitude when I’m walking. I’m kind of an antisocial walker.

“Hey! Wait up!” It was Duncan Donutz, my retired cop friend.

I slowed my pace a little, allowing him to catch up. “Hi Duncan, how’s it going?”

“Not bad,” Duncan huffed, “Doc said I needed to take up walking and lose a little weight.”

“Too many donuts?” I asked.

“Shut up,” Duncan retorted. “How was your cruise? Nice tan, by the way,” he added looking admiringly at my brown legs, face, and arms.

“Not bad... actually we had a great time.”

“Looks like it,” he said, still admiring my brownness, making me just a little nervous. “It was chilly here while you were gone. Couldn’t wear shorts and tees,” he grumbled.

“That would account for those pasty legs,” I quipped.

“Shut up,” he said again. I get that a lot.

“So, what’s new in the neighborhood?”

“Not much. Oh, Paula Pettingzoo is on the warpath.”

“What has her ticked? Somebody smack that yappy dog of hers?”

“Worse, somebody hit Darryl. Squashed him flatter than flat.”

Now, you have to understand our neighborhood. We have critters... bunnies, cats that no one claims, birds, lizards... it’s a Texas thing. Darryl, aka Darryl the Dodger, is... or rather was a squirrel, well known to every driver in the area. He has/had a tendency to be crossing the street in front of you, then suddenly doubling back, barely missing your tires. He was pretty good at it too. Occasionally we’d hear the squeal of tires as someone traveling a bit fast and unfamiliar with old Darryl brakes hard to miss him.

“Wow,” I said, “so somebody finally hit old Darryl. Too bad. Bet they feel rotten about it.”

Duncan shook his head. “I doubt it. Paula claims she saw the deed. She says the driver a a big pickup truck seemed to be aiming for poor Darryl, gunned the engine, hit him dead on, and sped off. She reports it as an ‘on purpose’ dirty deed.”

“Sounds like a clear case of Sciuruscide,” I agreed. “I’ll bet she is on the warpath.”

“Sci... what?”

“Sciuruscide... squirrel murder. Sciurus is the squirrel genus.”

“Whatever,” Duncan said. “Anyway, she’s been badgering me to ID the truck and driver. Won’t leave me alone. It’s nuts. It was just a squirrel, for crying out loud. I’m not even sure the guy meant to do it, but you know Paula.”

Yep, I knew Paula. The police had quit taking her calls. Every time a cat got hit, every time she found a dead bird in the roadway, she used to call them until the cops finally told her she was getting to be a nuisance and to just call city services and have them pick up the dead critters. That was about the time she started calling Duncan, demanding that he investigate the death of any critter in the area.

“Why don’t you just tell her you’re not Ace Ventura?” I asked.

“Ace Ventura... you know from the movie Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.”

Duncan stared at me blankly.

“Geez... you’ve got to get out more.”

“Probably,” Duncan said. “I don’t know what to do... no matter what I tell her, she won’t quit bugging me.”

“Maybe you should tell her to call Joe Kenda... according to the ads on the Discovery Channel, he’s solved almost 400 murders. Maybe he could help her.”

“You watch way too much TV,” Duncan said.

“Actually I don’t, I just happen to remember ads that are catchy. That guy has some catchy ads.”
“Whatever. Any other ideas?”

“Restraining order?”

“You know... you’re a pain it the ass sometimes.”

“Hey, she isn’t bugging me.”

“Give her time... she doesn’t know you’re back.”

“Heck, she didn’t know I was gone... unless you told her.”

Duncan gave me a sour look. About that time we rounded the corner and there stood Paula.

“Aw geez,” Duncan whined.

I broke into a trot, taking the gravel path under the power line right-of-way. “Left turn, Clyde,” I said, hooking a finger to indicate Duncan should follow. He did. I saw the confused look on his face.

“Another movie?” he asked between gasps.

“You really have to get out more, Duncan.”

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sunday Morning Coming Down
© S. Bradley Stoner

[This is a reprint of an old blog I did back in 2008 - Hey, the Broncos are playing at 3:00, so I have better things to do than write a new blog. Besides, the San Antonio Rodeo is coming up soon, so it’s sort of timely.]

Well, I know it's been awhile since I've been on blog net, and I am not going to make excuses. Suffice it to say that I have been busy with other matters. I have taken time to stop by several of my friends sites, although I admit not as frequently as I would like.

Today is gorgeous here in Texas... about 75 and clear blue skies. I love Texas in the winter!  Our brief cold spells were indeed brief and, in fact, not that cold.  Got down to 38 one night.... oh, brrrr! (Yep, that was sarcastic). Highs were in the upper 40s and low 50s... oh, double brrr!  Unlike some nameless persons in my family, I sort of like cold weather.  It's the really hot weather I hate. The good news, we really don't have that here either. I think we broke 100 one time last year. The hot weather in San Antonio lasts about a month and a half, if that.  And, I'm (pardon the pun) warming up to that.

I'm also getting to like taking my weekends off and being somewhat lazy - told ya'll that I was going to stop and smell the roses this year. This weekend was a truly lazy one, but last weekend... well, it IS rodeo time in San Antonio. Yep, we boot the basketball Spurs out of the AT&T center for three weeks and replace them with the real spurs. Those are mine below.

Yep... we take our ridin', ropin, risk takin' (the Texas 3-Rs) seriously down here.  Sort of a more buck for your buck theory.  Understand, I have been to rodeos all over the country... attended my first one when I was but a stripling boy of no more than six when I went to the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo... but the San Antonio Rodeo is about the best organized, most efficient operation I have ever seen. Load 'em up... let 'em loose... hit the buzzer... pick em' up... and get 'em out... then repeat. If you're one of those cowboys who likes to be dramatic after a ride... don't. You'll get run over by the next bronc or bull out of the chute.  Save the theatrics for the podunk rodeos. You're a professional, for pete's sake!

The opening ceremonies... well, EVERYTHING in Texas is bigger! But you knew that, right? There are twenty palomino and 12 other quarter horses and riders in the opening flag ceremony.  The palominos are wearing full silver-mounted saddles... and you wondered what Nieman Marcus was for.... Here's a little closer view... 

I think the number of US flags equaled the number of Texas flags... but maybe not. This is Texas, after all.

Cherei's favorite part is the bull riding, of course. (Aw shoot, she probably read that bumper sticker that says, "I'm a Lover, I'm a Fighter, I'm a Wild Bull Rider!").  The one on my truck was simpler... it just said, "Cowboys are better lovers." Don't ask why.
And, if you've read my lady's blogs, you'll know the day wasn't all bull riding and bronc busting. Nope, we wandered about the stock show grounds and covered most of the craft shows... some neat stuff, but a lot of it way overpriced from my perspective.  The arena is NOT Nieman Marcus, after all.  There were some very pretty, high-strung quarter horses... some of them out of the Doc line... if you know anything about horse pedigrees, that's a pretty darn good line.  They even set a record at the quarter horse sale... sold one two year old for $50,000 - that's Fifty big ones, folks... for a quarter horse.  Holy moley!

Well, I guess I've rambled enough for one Sunday.  I leave you with a picture of my favorite cowgirl...  yep, that's a big plastic cow and that sweet thing standing by it is my girl... cow plus girl equals cowgirl!

Ya'll come back now, heah?


The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest we become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

-- Cicero , Rome 55 BC

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Square Peg - You ate WHAT?!

The Square Peg - You ate WHAT?!
© S, Bradley Stoner

I was picking up my mail, minding my own business, just happy to be back home for a spell. I wasn't paying any attention. I guess I should have. I didn't hear footsteps... damn sneakers! "Hey! I haven't seen ya for a couple of weeks... where ya been hidin'," Bingo Bob boomed, nearly causing me to jump out of my sneakers.

"Holy crap, Bob! Don't sneak up on me like that! I could've killed you... or worse, you could've given me a freaking heart attack!"

"Sorry," Bob mumbled, but he really wasn't. A grin kept twitching at his mouth and he was barely able to contain it. "So whatcha been up to? Holed up writin' that novel?"

I could have b.s.ed him, but I figured he'd already heard something on the neighborhood grapevine. This isn't an easy place to keep secrets. "Nope... I was out of country."

Bob's eyes went wide. Apparently somebody had nipped the grapevine before it got to Bob. "Seriously? Where'd ya go?"

"Took a cruise to Central America and Mexico."

Now, one thing you need to understand... after talking to Duncan Donutz one too many times, Bob is convinced that anybody who goes to Central America is bringing back drugs or some other form of contraband. He eyed me suspiciously. "What'd you go there for?"

"For pleasure of course."    

"I dunno, I've heard things..."

"I'm sure you have... you've gotta quit believing everything Duncan tells you. Not everybody who visits there is a drug lord or a mule. Some folks just go to see the sights, enjoy the culture, and sample the local cuisine."  
"So where in Central America did you go exactly?" I could feel Bob building up to the third degree and I didn't have the time, or the inclination.

"Well, after two days of sailing, we stopped at Isla Roatan off the Honduran coast. Just wandered around and did a little shopping there. Then we stopped at Belize the next day... well, we actually anchored offshore and took a launch to Belize City where we caught a bus for a tour of some Mayan ruins near the Guatemalan border. That was kind of the highlight of our trip. Heck, I even tried some Belizian Tic Tacs  while I was there."

"Belizian Tic Tacs? How are they different from American Tic Tacs?"

"Well, first off, they crawl."

"They what?!"

"They crawl... and they live in a big cellulose nest."

"Now you're puttin' me on!"

"Nope... they're termites that feed on a local variety of mint. Pop a few of those and you not only get a little protein, you're breath is minty fresh," I smiled, knowing Bob's aversion to eating anything that didn't come from our local grocery store, not to mention his dislike of bugs... a dislike that bordered on hatred fueled by some primeval fear of things with six or more legs.

"Termites?" he spat incredulously, "termites? Did I hear you correctly?!"

"Yep, but you have to chew them up real well or they'll try to crawl back up your throat," I was delighting in watching Bob's discomfort grow. He even stifled a retch.once or twice, so I cranked it up a little. "Yep... you just poke a hole in that nest with your finger, stick it inside, and the little buggers swarm over your finger. Then you just pop your finger in your mouth, suck them off, and chew real fast. Their heads are a little crunchy, but the bodies are soft. Just like Tic Tacs, but a bit stronger on the mint."

Bob's eyes glazed a bit, and he turned just a little green. "I... um... gotta go..." he retched.

"But wait! I still haven't told you what we had in Mexico..."

Bob began trotting away. Mission accomplished.