Sunday, August 20, 2006

Trip through Texas

I never realized how much stuff my son had until we had to pack it all up to take him to school last Friday. I did, however, manage to pack it into the back of our Jeep Cherokee. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a squeeze. Being the great mom that I am, I volunteered to ride in the back seat. I just couldn't see my 6'5" son squeezed back there on about 18 inches of seat.... crowded by boxes and bags and other stuff. (click on pictures for a larger view)

So, off we headed on the 400+ mile trip to Lubbock. It was a long, boring, and slightly uncomfortable drive for me. So I pulled out my camera. Why not? When we first moved to Texas, I was surprised that it didn't look anything like I imagined it would. But Texas is a big damn place, and on the road to Lubbock, I discovered the Texas of my expectations. (Keep in mind you are getting the same view I had - through the window with glare and reflection,etc)

Small towns....

Miles and miles of open land....

Classic Americana billboards

A sign that we're getting closer....

The landscape gets harsher

Pumping oil

and windmills!

It was a long trip, and sometimes boring, but the size of this state, and the diversity of it's landscapes, is fascinating.

Oh, my son is settling into his dorm at Texas Tech and doing well. Of course, it's only been two days...... I miss him. I have great hopes for him. And I envy him. He has his whole future ahead of him. He's a smart boy. And a great kid. And I am proud of him.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tombstone Puzzle

My grandmother's parents emigrated to the US from Poland sometime in the late 1800s/early 1900s. I am working on getting more info. Today I got this picture from my brother, who has been with my grandmother at the cemetary where her parents are buried. I have scant information on her family, so I asked if he would get me the info from the tombstones if he could.

My grandmother had told me her mother's name was "Dominique" or something like that... and my brother said that when he was there with her, she told him this was the grave of her parents and two of her siblings.

I am a little puzzled. First, there are two people with the same name apparently: Antoni. Antoni #1 was born in 1891 and died in 1918, according to the tombstone. Antoni #2 was born in 1884 and died in 1944.

Also, I am assuming Dominika is my great-grandmother. Her dates are listed as 1869-1921. Wawrzyniec is likely my great-grandfather and he is listed as 1829-1923.

So... is it unusual for a family to have two children with the same name? And, if Antoni #2 was Dominika's child, she would have been 15 when he was born. And her husband was 40 years older?

Isn't that illegal?

I do know that one of my other great-grandmothers was married at 14 back in 1906, so I guess it wasn't that unusual. But still....

I am just wondering why they would have two children of the same name, and is it really possible that a 55 year-old man was married to a 15 year-old. I suppose it was.... still kind of strange. A possibility is that she was his second wife and the elder Antoni was a child from a different wife. I have found that when a spouse died back in those days, there was always a quick remarriage in order to provide support(financial for the woman, childcare/household for the man). So maybe that is the explanation. I will probably never know because I doubt I'll be able to access any 19th century Polish records.

Edit 8/29/06: Got an email from my brother today. Apparently, I have misread the tombstone. He stopped after work and checked again. The dates for the second Antoni are 1864-1944. I would assume that he and Dominika (1869-1921) are husband and wife. Antoni 1891-1918 was likely their son. I don't have any idea who the fourth person on the stone is. Perhaps a parent of either Dominika or Antoni?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

In the Kitchen

Have you ever gone into the kitchen, turned on the light, and seen, out of the corner of your eye, something scuttle across the kitchen floor? That's a pretty freaky feeling, isn't it? It makes you jump, or at least makes your heart jump..... Well, it happened to me tonight. But the good news is that it was just a baby lizard. Now, I don't actually know the scientific name for the little lizards around my yard here in Texas. They are small, probably the biggest one I've ever seen was maybe four inches long. This one was a real tiny baby. Could not have been more than an inch and a half long. And it was whitish because it was on my white kitchen floor. So I guess these lizards are chameleons because they adapt to the background color?

Do you know the best way to remove a lizard from your house? No, don't stomp on it. I could never kill one. I think they are cute, and they serve a useful purpose because they eat bugs (which I have no problem killing if I'm confronted). I learned this trick when I lived in Florida from a neighbor, because I used to find at least one a week in my house there. I've been in Texas for ten years, and this is only the second one that I've found in the house (although there are plenty around my yard).

Here's what you do to safely and humanely relocate a lizard. Grab a piece of paper and a small tupperware container (or other generic plastic container). Quickly put the container over top of the lizard. Hopefully, he's not moving, because if he is you won't catch him. Note: Do not worry if you catch his tail with the edge of the container and it comes off. This is a defense mechanism. The tail will continue to flop around for a few seconds..... but just leave it. As long as the rest of the lizard is safely under the container, he's just fine. Lizards regularly lose their tails to predators, but they grow back. The continued movement of the tail makes the predator believe it has captured the lizard, while the lizard has a chance to escape. Isn't nature amazing?

Once you have the lizard (with or without tail) under the container, slip the piece of paper underneath. Make sure the lizard is between the paper and the container, then lift both at the same time. You are now holding the paper tightly against the container with the lizard inside. Carry it outside, and let the lizard run off into the grass.

Your house is now lizard-free, and the lizard has found it's way back into nature.

Doesn't get any easier than that, does it?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Weekend Update

Squirrel goes nuts! James Klute said his 3-year-old son was also bitten on the calf while they were kicking a soccer ball at the park.

The squirrel was sent off the field in disgrace after receiving a red card.

Urban Fish Farming In the basement of an ivy-covered building on the surprisingly leafy campus of Brooklyn College is something even more surprising: thousands of tilapia packed tighter than a subway car into 300-gallon fiberglass fish tanks..... "We're subsidizing everybody in the world to grow fish that we can buy back from them," he said. "It doesn't make any sense to me. We should be creating jobs here."

Yes, and real estate big enough to hold hundreds of 300-gallon fish tanks in New York City is definitely cost effective. Sounds like a winning plan to me.

Worm Entrepreneur Shut Down For the last three summers, 13-year-old Joey Cadieux has headed outside with his flashlight on rainy nights to collect nightcrawlers from his yard.

Purchased by passing fishermen for $2.50 a dozen, the wriggling worms brought him $7 to $10 in a good month, just enough for bike trips to his favorite neighborhood pizza joint.

But when a town official recently objected to his stenciled black-and-white "nite crawlers" yard sign, Joey's business got the hook.

Maybe Joey should get together with the urban fish farmer.....

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Perfect Storm

It took me two hours to make a rountrip to the skating rink tonight to get my son to hockey practice. The rink is about 8 1/2 miles away. Why did it take so damn long? Well, sit back and I'll tell ya.

The rink is south of me - just off IH35. From my house, I go east to get to I35, and then south to Austin. There are only two eastbound roads near me. The first one, 620, was shut right in the middle of rush hour traffic because of a gas main break. They are replacing the utility poles, and apparently they hit a gas main. So east and west traffic was closed.

I can get to the other eastbound road by going through my neighborhood and taking Hairy Man Road (yes, that's really the name!). Hairy Man is a winding two lane road.... Hairy Man would take me to the other eastbound road, it is approximately a three mile drive. So I headed that way. But so did every other single person who was pouring off eastbound 620 at rush hour. This is a backwater road, two lanes, and a couple of four-way stops. It took me 45 minutes to go three miles!!!! What the hell!

On top of that, where Sam Bass and I35 meet, a tractor-trailer had overturned. Luckily, it was after the access road on the northbound side, so I was able to get on I35 and head south.

And then, the same deal coming home. I left the house at 6:25. Got home at 8:30. This roundtrip normally takes me 1/2 hour.

On top of that, I only had a quarter tank of gas, and I was just praying during all that stop and go traffic that I would make it to a gas station.

The people who planned these roads obviously never considered the growth we have had in the last ten years and the lack of alternate routes.

Rock the Day

I love YouTube. Go ahead, try it. The search facility is great. I'll get your day started with something special. Knopfler and Clapton are two of my favorite guitarists. I promise to share more later.

Eric Clapton With Mark Knopfler - Layla

How about we amp it up a bit with some Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith?

Led Zeppelin& Aerosmith

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Random Incoherence

We're going to hit 100 today. And the next day. And the day after that. Which makes me wonder: what in the hell was everyone whining about in the rest of the country all summer? Here in Texas, that's a normal summer. Okay, granted they aren't used to it. But still, summer is supposed to be hot. I don't like it, but you get used to it.

Getting a kid ready for college is expensive! Took Greg to Target yesterday and spent $200 on miscellaneous stuff for his dorm room. It's amazing what you take for granted after you have accumulated 30 years of stuff in your house. The stapler is in the desk drawer. But wait, he will be over 400 miles away, so he's gonna need one of his own. A couple of melamine plates and bowls for in-room meals. A rug for the floor, a pitcher with water filter, some replacement filters, some little plastic drawers for organization, collapsable laundry hamper, shower caddy, heavy duty bike lock, blah blah blah. We are so ready now. The big question is how are we gonna fit all this stuff into the jeep for the trip out there??

The world is in turmoil. Again. Can't we all just get along? I know the arab/palestinian/muslim world is in dire poverty and despair, but wouldn't it make more sense to invest in industry and education than weapons? Just askin'.

I love my Ipod. Have I mentioned that lately? All the CDs that have been gathering dust on my shelves have been reborn. I am listening to things that I haven't heard in years. We are creatures of habit. I've forgotten how good some of it is. I've also bought some new music which I've never heard before and discovered some current artists that I actually like! Welcome to the 21st century. It's about damn time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Full Moon on an August Night

I love it when the moon is bright enough to cast shadows. The backyard is dark. But it's not. Everything is visible, even the long shadows of the trees. But yet, it's dark.

And it's still pretty hot at 11:00 PM, too. Funny thing about where I live, hours after the sun goes down and it's still 90 degrees outside.

I had to go to the grocery store around 9:30. We were out of wine. Hockey tryouts are this week, and Jim went to the rink after work and was on the ice for four hours. I knew he would be looking for a glass of wine when he got home. Of course, I wanted a glass, too. And that is the only reason I would go to the store at 9:30 at night. People shop for odd things at the grocery store at night. There were two ladies ahead of me in the checkout line. The first woman had a container of Silk soy milk, some yogurt and a frozen Marie Callender Coconut Cream pie.... she wants to eat healthy, but she doesn't. That's cool. The second woman had a plunger and a bowl brush. I know why she had to make a nighttime trip to the grocery store. She had my sympathy. And I had my box of wine. Yes, I buy wine in a box. Is there a problem with that? It will last a whole week, or more. It's just more convenient. I prefer to get a bottle of some good pinot grigio or cabernet sauvignon, but for everyday, the box will do.