Sunday, August 26, 2012


August 26, 2012

School starts tomorrow, and I feel like a bride--Something Old (my usual graduate project management course), Something New (new students, new semester, new school year), and Something Really, Really Old:  a course that I haven't taught since the spring that Davis was born.

As usual, I took a day the week before the start of classes to hang out at Davis and Erin's elementary school, Mary Branch, and have a lanyard extravaganza.  Not that many teachers from Davis's years there remain, though his kindergarten teacher and his 5th grade teacher are still in the teaching yoke and remember him fondly.

Even a number of those who taught Erin have moved on.  Still, her presence and influence still pervades the campus.  Several of the teachers brought new grade-level colleagues down to our display to initiate them into the school year and the appropriate ID-wear.

One of the long-time first grade teachers kept returning to the library to run up her tab, and during one of her stops she told me a story about Erin I had never heard.

Apparently, Erin started the student council at Mary Branch.  Maybe I knew that at the time, but forgot.  Anyway, one of their first initiatives (that is still going on, I think) was her pet project to turn the campus green (not with paint, but with environmental friendliness and energy conservation).  As Ms. Hodnett told the story, certain student council members, including Erin, formed an official energy conservation patrol.  They carried ticket books and could write up and issue tickets to anyone, including adults, who were wasting energy (by leaving lights on or water running or otherwise participating in wasteful activities).  Besides whatever actual consequence receiving a ticket had (a fine, perhaps?), there was also the good-natured teasing that came from purer colleagues who had not yet been caught.

Ms. Hodnett had left her room one afternoon to check her mail or stop in the restroom or some such thing.  She left a pair of maintenance workers doing some sort of minor repair to her classroom.  When she returned, the workers were gone, the lights were still burning, and Erin had strolled up with her ticket book and begun filling out an energy citation.

Ms. Hodnett pleaded with her not to give her a ticket.  Erin looked at her skeptically, just like an old-hand cop waiting to hear some manufactured excuse or a teacher listening as a student explained how her dog ate her homework.  Finally, Ms. Hodnett said that it just wasn't fair for her to get the ticket when the workmen had left the lights on.  Erin responded, "Okay, Ms. Hodnett.  Just this once, I'll let you off with a warning, but next time it will mean big trouble."

She really doesn't look that wicked, do you think?

Erin's classmates start tenth grade tomorrow.  I wish them the best school year ever and peace for their parents as they become licensed drivers this year.   And, of course, that they receive warnings instead of tickets, if they ever get stopped.

I've been wondering:  if I leave my lights on and the faucet running, maybe she'll show up and write me a ticket.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Follow Up

August 21, 2012

Within an hour or so of posting about Davis's knee surgery yesterday, my cell phone made its little you-have-a-text noise.  A quick glance revealed the following:

"Where is my cool name?"

Polls open for the Maximillian equivalent for Davis's post-surgery blog exploits.  I'm thinking if he wants "cool," I may have to stick with Cucumber or maybe Cuke for short.  Ice Pack?  Other options?

Monday, August 20, 2012


August 20, 2012

Here's your quiz:

  1. Q:  Name Sissy Spacek's cousin, who served in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M and also played "Artie" on the Larry Sanders show:  Elmore Rual "Rip" A:________________________ 
  2. Q:  What rhymes with hibiscus and also throw the discuss?  A:________________________
  3. Q:  Where can you have the most fun riding dirt bikes and ATV's in the state?  A:_______________
  4. Q:  Where's the best place in Austin to listen to live music?  A:  ________________________

If you answered:

  1. Torn
  2. Meniscus
  3. T.O.R.N.*
  4. A.C.L.**
you would have the answer to why this post is titled "Hobble."  Davis injured his knee playing soccer about ten days ago.  He saw a doctor, then had an MRI last week.  Results?   He will see a surgeon Wednesday morning, and Walter and I will each make an unplanned trip to Columbus to engage in some postoperative bedside nursing sooner rather than later.

If you want to send him a note, he is on Facebook and his email is

*Texas Off-Road Nationals
**Austin City Limits

Monday, August 13, 2012


August 13, 2012

I eased back into the office today.  My desk chair remembered me and everything else seemed just like I had left it on May 8. Nobody had filed the stacks of papers I left on my desk and credenza on May 8th.  Do the little elves who helped the shoemaker at night do the work he left behind need an engraved invitation?  What about the brownies?  I know they are shy and light sensitive, but I left the lights off for three months.  You think they would have taken a peak inside and seen I was a little desperate.

Instead, I am left to shovel the mounds myself.  And tomorrow I'm going to have to force myself to look in the coffee cup and see what miracle may be growing there.  

For now, thought, I'm going to go home.  Maximillian has about another week in his boot.  That means I have just seven days left to convince him to add some chains, studs, and buckles to it so he can have the ultra in steam-punk footwear.  


My envisioned After:

The long summer of our discontent doldrums will end soon.  He set aside the crutches on our vacation, started driving a week ago, and I think, has a research trip to Austin planned for next week.  Soon, I will throw away his nickname and let the memory of this summer fade into our history together.  

We'll be ready for the next chapter.  Now, if I can just face up to coming back to my mess of an office again tomorrow, I can actually get moving on that new chapter.


Thursday, August 9, 2012


August 9, 2012

Thanks for the advice and information about mattresses.  No, I haven't followed up yet.  Yes, I will bubble it up to the top, hopefully soon.  That means I'm still open to suggestions if you have them.

My planned entry today was called "Doors of Taos."  I had planned an artistic and quirky exploration of the photos I took on vacation last year (that I recently re-discovered), showing how much more imagination some people have about their front portals than I do.

If my Mac App store sends me my password, meaning I can log on and download a free collage-maker photo app, and if I can figure out how to use it, that entry might yet be forthcoming.

However, since that little chore is shaping up like so many other small, but cranky tasks on my to-do list (that is, to do something that will take four minutes requires 114 minutes of something else--updating software, sitting on hold, waiting in line, or balancing on one foot swinging a paper bag around my head, and screaming like a chicken), I will have to slope towards a different, less artsy, but still quirky topic.

"Death to the Tyrants.  Death to the Frogs."

Yes, this this Willie's new theme song.  For years, my mom and I have worried about the Leisure Lake frog and toad population.  What was once an expanding and robust part of the local ecosystem--thanks to a Master Naturalist recording, we could identify multiple varieties on our walk around the lake, including, of course bullfrogs who would boom warnings of impending rain and cricket frogs who would imitate insect voices as we walked by--started dwindling a few years ago.  We even stopped seeing flat frog victims in the road, a definite sign of either smarter or fewer frogs in the area.

This spring and summer have reversed that trend.  Twenty-one inches of rain by the end of March plus an unexpected four and a half inches in July have swelled the froggy numbers.  Willie, intrepid hunter that he is, has discovered the passion of frog stalking and trapping.  It certainly helps that I never made it to the flower beds to weed this summer--re-creating the grassy high-veld of his forefathers in southern Zambabwe (Rhodesia).

He traps the frogs under his hammerlike paw than carries them around in his mouth until they wiggle away.  I'm not sure what benefits accrue. . . perhaps frog pee refreshes?  Anyway, this morning, as I was launching Maximillian in his row boat, Willie was directing the equivalent of the Fort Stockton Water Carnival on the shore.  Each frog dived into the lake in sequence, synchronized just like the opening act of an Esther Williams movie or maybe more like this:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mattress Bleg

August 4, 2012

Did I really need to go on vacation to have time to post to "Let's Do It"?  Apparently, yes.

Let's just say that life has been galloping by.  Every day for the last two weeks I have glimpsed bloggable ideas, sometimes as I walk Willie and Teddy, sometimes as I ferry Maximillian around town, sometimes when I'm two-thirds of the way through a scintillating conference call.  I just haven't had time to rif on any of them.

Maybe I'll catch up this week.  Maybe not.

I want to start with a simple, straight forward plea for crowd sourcing (and the hat tip in this case goes to my buddy Janice S. who actually did this on FB earlier this week).

First off, an explanation for bleg (blog + beg).  I don't remember where I first saw this.  I think maybe I read it on Paul Krugman's site a couple of years ago, but Tyler Cowen on the Marginal Revolution blog, blegs when he travels to learn where he should eat (or not eat).  I have been wanting to consult my friends in the same way.  .  . and Janice offered up the perfect bleg topic.


In 1990, Walter and I moved to Nashville, and since the generous Owen School of Management was picking up the check, we moved everything we owned (which is another story about how our furniture detoured through Graceland for several days because our mover was also an Elvis impersonator and our move coincided with Elvis Week--coming this year in just five days).  The next year, when Walter returned to A&M, our mattress stayed with me, and he went to Sears and bought one for our Bryan house (Can you read the subtext here that I was not involved in the purchase process, which didn't matter a huge amount, since sleeping is one of my best things).

Somehow, when we moved completely back to Bryan a few years later, we gave our pretty good mattress with a pillow top, to our neighbors rather than switching the firm and adequate mattress out and giving it away.  

Twenty-one years later we are getting around to thinking about starting the process of considering whether we are up to the challenge of buying a new mattress.  Really.  It's about time.  Except the process is so confounding and confusing, not to mention expensive--firm, soft, pillow top, memory foam, air chambers, too many brands, hard to compare.  Ach!

I've slept on three different mattresses over the last three nights.  They are all better than my ancient Sears no-frills mattress, but are any of them the one I want to spend the next twenty years sleeping on?  How can I even tell?  Even if I found THE ONE, these brands/models aren't available in stores because they are made specifically for the different hotel chains.

It's enough to make me say naughty words.

Here comes the bleg (and note that it comes with a "please" and whipped cream and a cherry on top):

Tell me about your mattress:  

  • what do you like about it?
  • what did you consider as important in deciding when you bought it?
  • do you feel strongly enough to recommend for or against? 
Please help me.  I'm so confused.